Sunday, February 28, 2016
Book: City of Gold
Matthew Connor Adventure Series (Book 1)
by Carolyn Arnold
Publisher: Hibbert & Stiles Publishing Inc
Date of publication: 27 November, 2015)
Genres: Suspense, Adventure
Finding the Inca’s lost City of Gold would be the discovery of a lifetime. But failing could mean her death…
Archaeologist Matthew Connor and his friends Cal and Robyn are finally home after a dangerous retrieval expedition in India. While they succeeded in obtaining the priceless Pandu artifact they sought, it almost cost them their lives. Still, Matthew is ready for the next adventure. Yet when new intel surfaces indicating the possible location of the legendary City of Gold, Matthew is hesitant to embark on the quest.
Not only is the evidence questionable but it means looking for the lost city of Paititi far away from where other explorers have concentrated their efforts. As appealing as making the discovery would be, it’s just too risky. But when Cal’s girlfriend, Sophie, is abducted by Matthew’s old nemesis who is dead-set on acquiring the Pandu statue, Matthew may be forced into action. Saving Sophie’s life means either breaking into the Royal Ontario Museum to steal the relic or offering up something no one in his or her right mind can refuse—the City of Gold.
Now Matthew and his two closest friends have to find a city and a treasure that have been lost for centuries. And they only have seven days to do it. As they race against the clock, they quickly discover that the streets they seek aren’t actually paved with gold, but with blood.
Excerpt from City of Gold
From Chapter 4
IAN BRIDGES USUALLY TOOK PLEASURE in knowing what most others did not. In this case, he knew that the famous treasure hunter, Gideon Barnes, was none other than the mayor’s son. And it wasn’t welcome news. An interested third-party had hired Ian to get the Pandu statue back at any cost, but with it now secured behind bulletproof glass and the high-profile identity of its discoverer, the situation had escalated, leaving him with limited options for the object’s retrieval. Sadly, murder, although it was his gifted skillset, wasn’t a service required by this employer. And bribery presented too much risk and was certain to attract undesired media attention.
The crowd at the exhibit had thinned, leaving behind those who didn’t rank high enough in society to secure an invitation to the Connor mansion. Ian made his way toward the statue, his confidence building with each step. Yes, the situation certainly posed a challenge, but he had faith in his abilities. He wasn’t familiar with failing, and he wasn’t about to learn the lesson now.
The statue was enclosed in a glass cube atop a four-foot-tall pedestal. A red rope with brass hardware surrounded it, encouraging people to stand a couple feet out of its reach. The area was obviously off-limits. But he still considered stretching out to touch the glass. He’d love to smear his fingerprints all over it simply because its contents were so highly esteemed. It was treated more regally than some people were, and yet when he looked at it, he saw nothing more than an ugly man in a dress. Clearly burying an item in the sand for thousands of years transformed even worthless idols into sought-after treasures. What his employer saw in it or why it was sought after in the first place wasn’t information Ian required to do his job. Whether it was to provide bragging rights to its owner or to sell it or something else, he didn’t care.
“It’s beautiful,” a woman said. He turned in the direction of the sound and a woman in a black evening dress sidled up next to him. Her hair was a rich red and fell over her shoulders in flowing curls. Her fingers were long and adorned with rings, her wrists were slender and wrapped in silver bracelets. She also wore a silver cuff on her upper arm. Now this woman had a brand of beauty he could appreciate.
She seemed to assess him as he did her. “Where are my manners?” She positioned her purse under an arm and extended her hand. “My name is Veronica Vincent.”
“Ian.” He took her hand and was certain to make eye contact as he shook it. While some women might find the move too familiar and bold, this was the territory upon which he loved to tread. Eyes truly were the windows to the soul.
“Just Ian? Or do you have a last name, too?” Her seductive smile curved one side of her mouth slightly higher than the other. With it, her eyes narrowed marginally. Oh yes. This woman welcomed the attention and reciprocated his attraction.
“My friends just call me Ian.” He had to keep some anonymity. His line of work didn’t afford him the luxury of screwing up because he wanted to get laid.
“All right. Mysterious. I like it.” She slipped her arm through his.
They stood like that for a while, him watching her, her watching the statue.
“You think that thing is beautiful?” He’d come to learn that women found a controversial subject more entertaining than one that had him acting the yes-man.
“Absolutely.” She pried her eyes from the robed sculpture, letting them drift to meet his. “I take it you do not?” There was a small hitch in her eyebrows, and he knew he was in.
He shook his head. “Not in the least. They do say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but I am starting to wonder if we’re looking at the same thing.”
She pouted. He was scoring gold here.
“And while this statue is the most hideous thing I’ve ever seen, you, on the other hand, are very stunning.” He threw her an arrogant smile. He was due for a night of blowing off steam, and there was no better place to clear the mind than between the legs of a beautiful woman.
A quick Q&A with Carolyn Arnold about her book and its audience.
Q: What inspired you to write City of Gold?
Carolyn Arnold: A while back, I was searching for an action-adventure book to read, and I quickly noticed that most stories in the genre start off at a point long ago in history with people who never enter the story again after an initial prologue. But I wanted to read something more in the vein of Indiana Jones, that started in the present day, with action right from the start that just keeps going. Who doesn’t remember the boulder scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy is running for his life? Now, that’s what I’m going for!
Q: Many people have written about the Inca’s lost City of Gold. Why did you choose to write about it?
CA: I chose to write about this particular legend because I find it absolutely fascinating! A city made of gold and treasure beyond imagining? How could I resist? I studied and researched to the point of obsession, and I even wished to be an explorer myself so I could set out in search of the city.
In fiction, the City of Gold is referred to by many names. The most common is El Dorado. But El Dorado actually referred to a ritual, not a place. Paititi is the true name for the lost City of Gold. Paititi translates to “city of the jaguar,” “all white and shiny,” and “white gold.” Many stories have emerged about the city and explorers have set out in search of it throughout South America, many losing their lives.
I examined the history of the city and explored the area on Google Earth. Plucking clues from different reference materials, I picked a spot where I think Paititi might actually be located. But who knows? What I do know is every story written about Paititi is unique and stands alone, and because Paititi hasn’t been discovered (yet?), there is a lot of room for play for a fiction writer.
Q: What can readers expect from this book and this series?
CA: This book and series is not your everyday action adventure. In fact, it’s been designed for the mystery lover. For example, in City of Gold, there is a kidnapping, a ransom, and a police investigation, as well as lots of action-packed adventure and exploration itself.
The series will follow that same kind of trajectory, with Matthew, Cal, and Robyn continuing to unearth treasures around the world. Think a modern-day Indiana Jones.
Q: Does this book contain a special message for your readers?
CA: Yes! I want people to believe again and realize that all things are possible. I want people to play more, explore his or her inner child, and live lives of passion and joy. When things are dark in our lives, what does it hurt to hope? Somewhere along the line of human history, it became foolish to believe in something without first seeing it with our own eyes. But what if we gave ourselves over to optimism and positivity? Maybe we’re afraid of being hurt or disappointed, but what harm does it really do to believe? I can speak from personal experience that keeping a positive attitude only added to my life and brought joy. While the end result to my situation didn’t bring happiness, it didn’t hurt anymore because I held a positive attitude throughout the experience. In fact, I believe it even made miracles during that time possible.
So, if you’re looking for something to believe in, or if you just want to sit back and fall into an adventure, I encourage you to pick up a copy of City of Gold today.
About the Author
Carolyn was born in a small town, but that doesn’t keep her from dreaming big. And on par with her large dreams is her overactive imagination that conjures up killers and cases to solve. She currently lives in a city near Toronto with her husband and two beagles, Max and Chelsea. She is also a member of Crime Writers of Canada.
Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD Online:
Website - http://carolynarnold.net/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/Carolyn_Arnold
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolynArnold
And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at http://carolynarnold.net/newsletters.
Purchase links for City of Gold:
The book is also available in paperback and hardcover.
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Book: That Other Me
By: Maha Gargash
Publisher: Harper Perennial (HarperCollin's)
Publication date: 26 January 2016
That Other Me by Emirati author Maha Gargash is a novel of beautiful prose handling the lives of members in one Emirati family and the workings within that family. It is a story of how very different women rebel against one man.
Set in Egypt and the UAE in 1995, the novel covers various themes such as women, education, love, family, duty, and entitlement.
It is narrated in the first person perspectives of Majed, his daughter from a secret marriage Dalal, and his niece Mariam. We get some history pertaining to Majed and his brother Hareb, who is Mariam's father.
Majed is an obnoxious character with many faults, constantly berating those around him. I liked how Gargash enables the reader to see these faults through Majed's speech and thoughts. We don't need to know what others think of him; we get to do that for ourselves through him. The same method applies to Dalal, although Mariam is aware of some her own faults.
Moreover, each character has more than one fault, making the reader like and dislike each and every character, except possibly Majed who is also a misogynist.
"I'd overpowered them. I'd broken them and slashed their resolve."
There is also the idea of Hareb's death. Mariam blames her uncle for her father's stroke, whereas Majed constantly compares himself to his older brother. He tries to highlight how the company is better under his management and how his brother was too naïve. Mariam also struggles in silence because of this burden of her father's death.
"[Adel] wants me to open up, but how can I with all this self-blame, this guilt that runs as deep as the river to my side, as thick as the silt at the bottom."
Both Dalal and Mariam have some haughtiness when dealing with Egyptians; however, we see that Dalal is a lot more like her father in terms of pride, condescension and haughtiness.
Although they are fairly good friends, the cousins are very different both in their attitudes and their view of the world. Dalal may be younger but she understands men and the world better than her older cousin.
Dalal is mostly ignored by her father Majed, who divorced her mother and left them in Egypt in the slums of Imbaba – as punishment. He also has several spies tailing them to see what they're up to and thwart any plans to hurt the family name "Al-Naseemy".
"The spies my father sends to watch us – there are two of them tonight – are caught off guard too. As mama breezes past them, one is quick to pretend he is looking for some important item in his pocket, while the other drops to the ground to tie his shoelaces, even though he is wearing sandals. What a clumsy duo!"
There was character development, whether good or bad, not only for the three main characters, but for others as well. Readers will be surprised by some transformations.
The theme of entitlement is evident especially with Majed and Dalal, to the point of irritation and scariness. Majed's selfishness and berating attitude is constant throughout the novel, not only with his subordinates but also with his wife, his children and Zohra, his secret wife. We see him mistreating everyone and no one stands up to him except Zohra and later Dalal, who tries anything and everything to defy him, and finally another character (no spoilers, sorry!).
At one point, Majed says he will change his ways and embark on a path of righteousness; however, this endeavour is quickly tainted by his ulterior motive to marry off his niece in order to get rid of her. He also considers the wealth of her matches in order to acquire additional wealth for himself and his business.
Although Mariam is older than Dalal, she is less outgoing and extremely shy to the extent that she can't summon the courage to say "good morning" to her crush, Adel, which appears to be a childish and fantastical crush. Adel is a minor character in the novel, but he helps Mariam – eventually – mature a bit in her dreamy view of him and the world.
"Always, my courage drained like water down a bathtub. I could almost hear the gurgle and slurp of it as my mouth turned dry."
The word choice and flow in That Other Me is simply beautiful. I enjoyed Gargash's writing A LOT. The words just flowed on the page, prompting me to carry on. The switching of viewpoints kept the novel interesting. You want to know what happens next.
I liked how Gargash managed to maintain the time frame and background information through the three perspectives. You do not feel lost. You also get to see each character's observations regarding one particular event like Hareb's death or Dalal's actions.
The novel also handles the themes of parenthood and love (both family and romance). Dalal constantly tries to earn the love and admiration of those around her, at first with her father, then her mother then others.
"Clara had a sweet voice that often grew croaky at the end of the day as she tended to my incessant needs. Whenever she felt a tantrum brewing, she would burst into song at the top of her voice… One day my father shouted at her, accusing her of scaring me. I liked that he did that. I thought it showed his love for me."
With Zohra, Dalal's mother, the reader begins to worry that the mother may not have her daughter's best interest at heart, as seen when she tries to get quick fame for Dalal while obviously trying to spite her ex-husband, Majed.
There is also the theme of women and education. The story begins with Mariam, who is under Majed's care, studying dentistry in Egypt. We get the views of other women in her family regarding education. For the grandmother, Mama Al-Ouda, a girl should only learn to read and write. Travelling abroad to be educated is not natural and spoils a girl's mind.
We see that one of the women on the side of Majed's wife, Aisha, is an independent woman, a source of disgust and contempt for Majed.
"It was in the early 1980s that, after a couple of years of marriage, she divorced her husband with the excuse that he was a lazy drunk, indifferent toward her. To the chagrin of her family, she didn't go back to live with them. Instead, she rented an apartment and sought employment at the Ministry of Public Works. Then she took study leave to get a degree in architectural engineering (a most unusual vocation for a woman)… and returned to the Ministry once she was done to work as an engineer in the Tenders and Contracts Department. What business does she have sticking her nose in a man's world, as if she were his equal?"
This issue of education remains till today in the poorer parts of the Arab world, Egypt included, as the elderly believe women need to become wives and mothers before being educated or allowed to work.
A reader of That Other Me needs to remember that this is a work of fiction as it has some scathing views of the ultra-wealthy Emiratis.
I liked Gargash's use of Arabic words, some of which are non-translatable, while others were used to give a better feel of the novel and the settings, like "habibchi" as said by Dalal's manager.
The imagery in That Other Me is brilliant, constant and fresh. There are a lot of scenes and speeches worth highlighting/quoting/noting throughout the book. (I'm holding myself back).
I loved Gargash's use of poetic justice. Simply wicked!
Overall, That Other Me is an enjoyable, mind-provoking and flowing read. I'll definitely be interested in reading more of Maha Gargash's work in the future.
Note: The number of quotes I highlighted in the novel is HUGE. Naturally, I couldn't quote them.
Note: I received a reviewers' copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you :)
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Welcome back Ladies and Gentlemen, Artists, Poets, Writers, Authors, Dreamers, Friends and Family; Welcome EVERYONE to Nadaness In Motion's bi-weekly picture-prompt writing challenge Takhayyal.
|Craft of the Witch via Tumblr. Klevakova Ksenia Photography. Image found online.|
Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity.
Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction; you name it and write it.
· No nudity, violence, and/or abuse.
· Leave the link to your post in comments below OR post your piece as REPLY to this post
· Your piece MUST be inspired in some way or other by the above picture
· Multiple entries allowed
· It is not required but it is a nice and encouraging gesture to comment on others' pieces.
· Feel free to add your Twitter handle (@....) so I can tag you in my tweets!
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Book: Jess Under Pressure
Author: E. Graziani
Publisher: Morning Rain Publishing
Date of Publication: 15 June 2015
Genres: Women's Fiction, Self-help
"Just as randomly two human cells come together to create life, it can easily and indiscriminately be snatched away."
Jess Under Pressure by E. Graziani is a powerful novella of regaining one's life, overcoming obstacles, breaking free and above all learning to live and love once again.
The story is about Jessica Britton, a renowned psychologist, whose book Give More, Do More, Be Better has inspired thousands of women. However, things are not perfect for the doctor, who discovers her husband cheating on her when he and her publicist die in a car crash.
At the beginning of the novel, Jessica tells one of the show hosts: "Life's a very demanding undertaking if you don't know where to turn for support." This phrase is quite ironic considering her upcoming predicament – she hasn't been told of her husband's death and infidelity yet.
Throughout the book, we see Jessica being interviewed by several talk show hosts. At first, she is confident and professional but after the scandal, the renowned doctor breaks down. We also see her struggling with her teenage daughters.
Each chapter of Jess Under Pressure opens with a quote from her book. Ironically, Jess is incapable of following her own advice. But when she suddenly decides to take a long drive away from home, she meets a group of women who help her stand on her own two feet, while also using some of the directions in her book.
Many of the quotes taken from Give More, Do More, Be Better ring true in modern society, and in almost all countries around the world. (These quotes will be in purple)
"Women often feel pressure to present a 'Superwoman' persona because they believe everyone is doing it."
Despite being a well-known psychologist, Jessica lived under an illusion that her life was perfect. I like how the author gave her such strong faults.
"She wanted her life back the way it was – no she wanted her life back the way she believed it was."
Jess Under Pressure comes at a tough time for me and many of the lines in both Jess's book and the novel itself come out strong. I think they will resonate with many women, old or young.
I like the interaction between Jess and her children or at least Jess' attempts to do so. As a reader, I can see how she is trying to cope with several things at the same time. Still, despite being a successful writer and psychologist, she seems incapable of dealing with her own children. Her statements to Kate in particular appear shallow, like she is unaware that her daughter has grown up and that she is treating her as a child, which naturally has caustic effects.
"Sometimes, she wanted to run away screaming, and other times, she felt hollow, tired and spent. The energy was being sucked out of her exponentially as the dichotomy of feelings swirling and churning within her floated like sickening pond scum to the top of her psyche like toxic goo."
Also, one of the things I liked about Jess Under Pressure, was Graziani's description of Jessica's emotions and how she struggles with her husband's death, his cheating and her love for him.
The moment Jess meets Susie and later the rest of the gang, she begins her transformation and development. She admits to Susie: "I should be helping you. I'm trained to help others… but I can't event help myself. Everything I've been saying is a lie."
We also see how Jess thinks she has everything and later how she feels she has nothing. But as the women begin to tell their stories, Jess realises that many of them have been through worse experiences and she begins to be thankful at least that her children are alive and well.
One of the dialogues I truly loved in Jess Under Pressure was this one, where Jess talks to her younger daughter Laura, while she's still at Susie's, and which shows her character development.
"I promised my friends that I would stay a little longer. We just had dinner together, and they left not too long ago."
"You have friends?"
"I made friends here. Everyone needs friends."
"You never needed them before."
"May be I did, and I didn't realise it. But I do now, and I'm happier that I do."
"You sound happier."
"I think I am."
Other quotes from Give More, Do More, Be Better:
"Sometimes we are at the mercy of events beyond our control – the key to knowing ourselves better is how we react to them."
"If we cut out stressing about all the things we are powerless to prevent, we would all live healthier, better, and happier lives."
Note: I received a free copy of Jess Under Pressure from the author in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
E. Graziani resides in Ontario, Canada with her husband and four daughters. She is a teacher and life-long learner who believes in setting new goals for herself and working hard to achieve them. Her love of history, word artistry, and storytelling help to fuel these goals as do her students who particularly enjoy her classroom read alouds.
Add the book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25743557-jess-under-pressure
Sunday, February 21, 2016
It gives me great pleasure to announce featuring author Robert Eggleton and his book Rarity from the Hollow. The book is a different kind of book than what I usually feature on my blog but that's the fun of it.
Update: Post updates include new reviewer comments and a new blurb.
The original post also included a giveaway for five ebook copies of Rarity from the Hollow. This section has been removed so as not to confuse readers.
Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire.
“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.”
—Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest
“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.”
— Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review
. "…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy." -- Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)
“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” --Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)
“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” —Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author
“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” -- The Baryon Review
Political Allegory: You would have to read the novel to find out how Lacy Dawn, the protagonist, convinced Mr. Rump (Bernie Sanders) to help talk Mr. Prump (Donald Trump) into saving the universe. The political allegory includes pressing issues that America is fighting about today, including illegal immigration and the refuge crisis, extreme capitalism / consumerism…. Mr. Prump was a projection of Donald Trump based on the TV show, The Apprentice. Part of the negotiations in the story occur in the only high rise on planet Shptiludrp (Shop Until You Drop), a giant shopping mall and the center of economic governance, now more easily identifiable as Trump Tower. There is no political advocacy in the story, other than sensitizing readers to the huge social problem of child maltreatment, but the allegory is much more obvious now that Donald Trump is a household name.
What the author says about his book? (Important to read)
Robert Eggleton: My work utilizes the science-fiction/fiction cross-genre as a backdrop. It is not hard science fiction and includes elements of fantasy, everyday horror, a ghost -- so it's a little paranormal, true-love type romance, mystery, and adventure. The content addresses social issues: poverty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, local and intergalactic economics, mental health concerns – including PTSD experienced by veterans and the medicinal use of marijuana for treatment of bipolar disorder, and capitalism.
My story does include marijuana smoking, but that subject has been frequently broadcast in the news when legislation is introduced or debates emerge.
Except for a scene involving domestic violence in the third chapter, there is no violence or horror -- no blood, guts, gore, vampires, werewolves, but there is one comical and annoying ghost. There are no graphic sex scenes in the novel. The renewed romance between the protagonist’s parents does include off-scene sexual reference, but nothing that is beyond real-life typical teen exposure.
The android coming of age during his pursuit of humanity is reality based. Any boy above thirteen years old would attest. However, Lacy Dawn never lets the android get farther than to kiss her on the cheek, once. The android expresses no interest in sex. He falls in love, all consuming love by the middle of the story.
The “F word” is used twice, but there is no other profanity. There are two mild sex scenes past the middle of the story that could disturb some folks with conservative values on the subject, but one of the scenes is comedic and the other involves the habitation of a maple tree by the ghost mentioned in this paragraph, so Rarity from the Hollow is not erotic. It has a HEA ending like a romance novel.
What other reviewers have said about Rarity from the Hollow
“…Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate...” http://awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/
Another said: "…I was hesitant to accept. I usually do not read or review books that discuss child abuse or domestic violence; however, I was intrigued by the excerpt and decided to give it a shot. I am glad that I took a risk; otherwise, I would have missed out on a fantastic story with a bright, resourceful, and strong protagonist that grabbed my heart and did not let go..." http://www.onmykindle.net/2015/11/rarity-from-hollow.html
Add the book on Goodreads.
Add the book on Goodreads.
Excerpt from Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton
Please note that the book has adult content and/or strong language. It is not meant for children.
From chapter 13, Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé:
Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn's name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.
I hear her voice. Why won't she answer me?
“Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods.
Nobody responded. The trees weren't supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.
I will always love you guys.
Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.
Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front.
Jenny looked to the left of the path.
There ain't no cave Roundabend, but there it is.
She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face. Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn't exit and into a blue light that did.
“All right, you mother f**ker!”
“Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you're supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story)."
DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner. Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.
"Grrrrr," emanated from Jenny. It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn's dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house. It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate. No one moved. The spaceship’s door slid shut.
“Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”
“You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.
Stay between them.
“Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I'm old enough -- like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend -- what you call it -- my fiancé.”
“You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce.
“MOM! Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”
Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.
He ain't got no private parts, not even a little bump.
“DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”
Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.
“Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.”
I will need much more training if I'm ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.
“Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”
Jenny's left eye twitched.
DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…
…(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There're a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain't complained since the shots started -- not even with an upset stomach.”
"He's a doctor?" Jenny asked.
“What's your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know. You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that's different -- even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”
“Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.
Mommy's right. Maybe I need a different argument.
A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.
"What's that?" Jenny asked.
She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.
“But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.
“Mommy, I'm so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn't talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he'd be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain't had no chance to talk. All I know is that he's home and I'm sooooo happy.”
“Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more….
It's unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that's a good sign. Maybe she's right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They've been together for a while and I ain't seen a mark on her. That's unusual too. He ain't got no private parts and that's another good thing. Hell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. I'd better play it smart. I don't want to lose my baby.
“What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.
“I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”
“My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition -- the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said.
They both glared at him.
"Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said.
“I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her.
“I love you too,” DotCom said.
Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile -- at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.
Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up. My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”
About the author:
Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next -- never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency.
Today, he is a retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialised in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction.
Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia.
Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.