Class Warfare

The windshield wipers flapping back and forth on the rapidly icing window were no help at all. Maureen opened the wings to let the cold, outside air defrost the inside of the windshield of her 70 VW Bug.

The thin layer of snow on the ground had turned the slick ice below it into a booby trap. “At least I know that,” Maureen thought as she inched along toward the closest free parking lot to the law firm where she worked. “Why didn’t I walk?”

“You could slip on the ice walking those four blocks from the closest free parking lot,” said the voice inside her head. “Look at your shoes.” Dress shoes. Christmas party. Sheesh.

There was really no point in having driven. Even parking at the closest free lot, she had a quarter of a mile to the old building on 17th street that housed the law firm where she worked. “Christmas party,” she thought.

“I could’ve put my shoes in a bag and carried them,” she sighed. “I don’t do my best thinking at 6 am.”

She slowed gradually to a stop at the light on Downing. Watching a big Chevy slide to a stop, almost in the middle of the intersection, Maureen made up her mind. When the light turned green she turned left, left again, pointed her car toward home and pulled into the parking lot of her apartment building. “This is as close as free parking needs to be.” She closed up the wing windows, locked the car and went inside to change her shoes. She put her fancy disco sandals in her daypack, put on her boots and headed out the back door. “Much better,” she thought, taking long strides down the alley, down 13th street on the old flagstone sidewalk, bordered by winter grass and frosted leaves. To the west, a band of grey/blue was attempting to make some headway into the dim, grim light of 7 am Denver December. Maureen looked at the snowy peaks of the distant range hoping for the Alpenglow to climb up the front of Mt. Evans, but no. Still, if there was light over the mountains, maybe?

“You’re late.”

“I know. I started out driving but the roads were slick, and I decided to turn around and walk.”

“Seriously? It’s not even 10 degrees out there.”

“Well, yeah. Are the bosses here yet?”

“Of course not.” Lori laughed. “Losing valuable billable hours.”

“It’s bad out there. I wouldn’t want to be on the Interstate.”

We’re here,” said Lori who had an elevated sense of justice.

“You take the bus,” Maureen laughed.

“Yeah, well…”


On this Side



“A couple of months.”

“A couple of MONTHS???”

“We aren’t even in spring yet. That’s a couple weeks away.”

“A couple of WEEKS???”

“Yeah. Thank goodness.”

“I want SUMMER!!!!”

“I don’t think you’re in charge, EJ.”

EJ. Elizabeth Jane.

“I’m going outside. I’m sure there’s some green grass somewhere.”

“You can go to the back yard, but come in when I call you.”

Outside, EJ began a systematic study of the grass. Starting at the fence, she walked down to the alley, back up to the house, down to the alley, back to the house, each time a foot or two further inside the yard. When her mother called her for supper, she’d only finished half the yard and the sun was going down.

“EJ!!! Elizabeth Jane!!! Come in. Your dad is home, supper’s on the table.”

“I’m not finished!”

“Finished what?”

“Looking for spring!”

Shuffle Bored

“You wretch.”


“Nothing. A script for that play.”

“What play?”

“The one. You know. I told you. The one next month at that theater.”

“Sorry Babe. If you told me, I don’t remember.”

“Do you even listen to me when I tell you things?”

“I always listen. I might not always remember.”

“Part of listening is remembering.”

“I’m sorry, Char. I have a lot going on at work right now.”

“But I’m your girlfriend! I’m ‘going on’ too and this is your LIFE not just your job.”

“Sweetie, come here.”

“I have to learn these lines.”

“OK. You want me to help?”

“No. You have ‘important’ stuff to think about.”

Jack shrugged. Char could be moody. He’d always known that. And self-centered. He’d always known that, too. In fact, he’d always known Char. She had been the literal “girl next door,” and he’d decided, way back when they were six that he was going to marry Char. Twenty years later, it still had not happened, but they were, at least living together.

“Why can’t we get married and live together?” he’d asked her.

“What if we can’t get along? We need to know each other before we get married,” she’d answered. He’d brought up the point that they’d known each other since they were two. She’d just said, “It’s not the same. What if the way you brush your teeth drives me insane? I need to know that before I make a life-long commitment.”

Jack had thought, “But we’ve been on camping trips together, our families, just us, you KNOW how I brush my teeth.”

In some of Jack’s wiser brain cells he knew Char wasn’t all that into him, but he had managed to convince those cells to shut up most of the time. ALL of his brain knew she was hard to please.

He put down his book and went to the basement where he was slowly regaining space from the bizarre 1960s interior design the homeowners had done back in the day. It was a big job, involving the up-rooting of asbestos/asphalt tiles placed in arcane triangles exactly 8 feet apart. And why in hell would anyone put numbers on their floor?

“It has to mean something,” the realtor had said, “but godnose what.”

“Mom would know,” said Jack.

“Your mother’s dead, babe,” said Char.

It was Jack’s inheritance that had bought their house. Jack was a little nervous about buying a house with a woman who didn’t want to marry him, but whatEV.

He hadn’t done much with the floor lately, but tonight he felt a real need to do something that would lead somewhere.

He went at the tiles with a heat torch, a knife and a flat shovel. One at a time they came up. He stacked them in a pile to the side. They had called in an expert who said that since the tiles were in pretty good shape, they weren’t dangerous and they could cover the whole mess with a carpet or even pour a new concrete floor over them, but Char was freaked out by the asbestos. Jack shook his head.

When Jack came to, he was outside in the cold air, wrapped in blankets, strapped to a gurney, an oxygen mask over his face.

“You’re lucky your wife smelled fumes,” said the EMT.

“She’s not my wife,” Jack mumbled.

“WhatEV’. you’re lucky. The fire department was able to put out the fire before it could do much damage and we were able to get you out of the basement. What were you doing down there? You don’t look like a guy who snorts glue or some shit.”

“What?” Jack’s head hurt. He realized his hands were burning, but he couldn’t lift them to see why. “My hands?”

“Third degree burns. Probably be OK.”

“Where’s Char?”

“She went to her mother’s. She said she’d call. Lie back now. You’re hurt, you’ve had a close call. We’re taking you to the hospital.”

A cell phone rang, Jack’s. “Can you get that? It’s in my right front pocket. It could be Char.”

The EMT found Jack’s phone, “Just a moment, Ma’am,” he said, and put the phone to Jack’s ear.

“You wretch,” she said, and hung up.

Lamont and Dude on New Years Morning

“The beach is a mess.”

“Yeah, it always is after New Years Eve.”

“I just don’t get it. How can people get so excited about this arbitrary celestial demarcation? I’ve been through the end of a lot of these so-called Decembers. It’s pretty much just more of the same the next day.”

“Lamont, I wonder if you’re ever going to understand humans are just…”

“In love with their little rituals? Let me tell you, those little rituals have caused more human deaths than scurvy.”


“First thing that came to mind. Of course, the Druids had it going on, I’ll give them that. Those rituals were full of fire and blood and mystery. And, of course, I was the center of all of it.”

“Ah, now the real reason. You could be the center of it now if you had a party on New Years Eve.”

“What? A lot of booze, scantily dressed women on the verge of scurvy, moldy hors d’oeuvres and bad music? Been there, done that.”

“Well, you know the thing is we’ve pretty much been every where and done everything.”

“EveryWHEN. That’s where we’ve been.”

“Remember that time you were holding those three champagne glasses between your fingers, and you fell down the steps?”

“Yeah, that was amazing. Ripped my jeans, broke none of the glasses.”

“That’s coordination, Lamont, and a clear illustration of your values at the time.”

“Surprising is what that was.”

“When was that?”

“The human iteration before this one, I think. In any case, we were young. You were a girl.”

“So were you.”

“True. What were we doing?”

“I dunno. Does anyone know what they’re doing in their 20s?”

“I would think we would.”

“I don’t remember remembering as much in that iteration as in this one.”

“Kind of a blessing, isn’t it, not remembering all that?”

“Maybe but you wouldn’t be on TV all the time if you didn’t remember all that, and I wouldn’t be nearly as convincing in the Smilodon suit.”

“I wonder what’s next?”

“I dunno. Who cares? Let’s clean up the beach then catch some waves.”

“I’ll get a coffee can for the broken glass.”

“Good idea. It seems that whatever the year, you always have to watch for glass on the beach.”


Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them an unusual perspective on life, the universe and everything.

More Things Going Bump in the Night

“Jordan, sweet boy, I”m right here. I’m right here. Tell me about your dream.” Tom lifted the little boy out of his crib. Jordan needed to have his crib converted to a toddler bed, but Tom had put it off. “I’ll do that tomorrow,” thought Tom, holding his son to his shoulder. Jordan’s sobs slowly subsided and he put his thumb in his mouth.

“Look under the bed, sweetheart,” he said to Miranda. “See if there’s a door.”

“I might not be able to see it, Daddy, if it’s Jordan’s door.”

“Good God. You can’t expect me to believe that trolls have some kind of exclusivity in the construction…” he stopped. He was talking to his five-year-old daughter, not arguing with his wife.

Just then Joan’s nurse — a brisk, cheerful Filipino woman — came out of Joan’s room.

“She’s sleeping, sir. You want I go home?”

“Yes, Blessica. Thank you again.”

“What wrong with Jordan?”

“Bad dream.”

“Those duendes, they…”

“What? Duen… WHAT?”

“Bad men come in the sleep. Maybe live in this house a long time.”

“We built this house, Blessica. Just three years ago.”

“That doesn’t matter to duende Mr. Tom. The world is older than your house. Who knows about the ground you built your house on?” Blessica shrugged.

“Trolls, daddy. I told you.”

“Night horse,” sighed Blessica. “All the children have them. Maybe closer to old times. We grown ups? We far away. You want me stay, Mr. Tom?”

Suddenly Tom felt totally overwhelmed. How in the world had his life gone sideways like this? A wife with a fragile brain. Her Filipino nurse offering to spend the night to protect them. Trolls building doors under the beds of his children. His little boy crying on his shoulder. His little girl giving him advice — from direct experience — about supernatural beings that lived under the ground and invited children from the surface to tea parties.

“Blessica, take the guest room for tonight. I’ll pay you to stay in case…”

“OK, Mr. Tom,” she said.

“…something happens, and this is more than a nightmare, my wife…”

“I understand, Mr. Tom. I will go get my overnight bag from my car.” As a mental health nurse, Blessica was always prepared.


Here is a link to all the other five episodes of this saga… Backwards, unfortunately…

4:30 on a Sunday Afternoon


“I didn’t say anything. I am just sitting here.”

“But your face.”

“Faces don’t talk unless the hole in the bottom region opens and emits sounds. Mine wasn’t.”

“Your face says a LOT.”

“I can’t help it.”

“So what’s wrong?”

“I don’t know. It seems like every time I turn around there’s some kind of, I don’t know.” Hubert sighed.

“Some kind of WHAT? Did I do something?”

“No. Not you. I guess it’s the times we live in. I just don’t understand it. So much is so easy that was once so hard and so much is hard that was once so easy.”

“Like walking, Dude? Your ankle is going to heel.”

“Stuff we took for granted isn’t…” Hubert took a long pull on his coffee. At least THAT still worked like it was supposed to…

“Did you know that during the reign of the Sun King the Great Pyrenees was the official dog of the French Court because it was just such a beautiful and majestic creature?”

“Are you trying to distract me?”

“Yeah, seems like a good idea. Look at Foster over there. Is that majesty or what?”

The big old dog looked up at the sound of his name. Seeing that nothing was happening that required his attention, he lay back down.

“Can you imagine how beautiful that was? All those people in those ornate, baroque, silk clothes, wandering around an absurdly manicured garden, prancing through the short labyrinths — short in matter of height not length — and all over the place were dogs like Foster.”

“Foster isn’t a Pyrenees.”

“Same basic theme. Big, white, livestock guardian, calm, independent. Why are you always splitting hairs? Did you ever think about that? How that egregious insistence on absolute precision in all things might lead to your depression?”

“If you don’t like me, you can leave.”


“Well, yeah. Why would you want to stay around here if you’re unhappy?”

“Hmm. Good point. Here, Foster. C’mon boy.”

The big dog stood slowly, stretched an immense white dog stretch, looked at Hubert questioningly, shook all over, throwing hair and dust all around the room and went to Anabelle. “We’re going for a walk. See if you can be a little less whiny and self-indulgent by the time we get back.”

Meandering Post about Writing

This is the first time I’ve been without a creative project in a VERY long time and it’s weird. Baby Duck consumed most of 2019 and the culmination was fantastic. The Price was finished at the end of 2018. Besides those projects, I had a personal project that I also finished, a little book for a tiny audience of me and two other people. Yesterday I cleaned up my “studio.” It was filled with Baby Duck stuff for the book launch. Now it’s ready for something, but I have no idea what. Painting is a sketchy (ha ha) thing for me. I have to really FEEL it to do it. No stories to tell at the moment, either, so my life feels like it’s in a holding pattern.

A huge curve in my life’s normal pattern is the injured foot. It hasn’t even been that long — five weeks, and I know a bad sprain can take much longer to heal.

So, in the meantime, the dogs have gotten used to not going on a walk every day — or at all. And I continue to ride the Bike To Nowhere because I can do that and it’s about the best training there is for Langlauf which is the purpose of life anyway. I discovered videos on Youtube with absolutely fantastic rides lasting an hour or more — sometimes I ride the whole time, sometimes just 10 miles of wind sprints, basically a chain of fifty yard dashes from the seat of my Airdyne. They are produced by “Ride the World.” Here’s my favorite so far. To get to this spot, you “ride” a narrow road of amazing hairpin turns…

Last week there was lots of exciting chatter after my front page spread and interview. The guy who runs the papers in the San Luis Valley asked if I would be interested in doing a column — weekly or monthly — and I said sure. He also asked if I had any ideas for such a thing and, honestly, I don’t, but I shared a couple of ideas. He wrote back saying we’d meet at the end of this week, but it’s Thursday afternoon and there has been no word. Once more it looks like my promising journalism career is nipped in the bud. It was nipped in the bud back in 1974 when I got my BA and went immediately to the Boulder Daily Camera and asked for a job. “Can you type 35 wpm?” as the guy at the desk.

“No,” I said.

“Sorry,” he said.

But I don’t really have anything to say in a column. People around me know this place better than I do. I’m not going to write about politics. I could write about writing or putting a self-published book together, but I’m not sure I’m even interested in that — or that anyone else is, either.

And what can you tell people about writing? After teaching it for more than thirty years, what I know about it comes down to only a handful of things. First, to write you have to write. Second, you have to keep writing, even if you have no reason to write and nothing to say. Third, you will, sooner or later, maybe, find yourself becoming interested in the words you use and the way you use them; but you might not. Fourth, you might start reading what you’ve written. This can go one of two ways — you can fall absolutely and uncritically in LOVE with it and, as we know, love is blind. OR you can think it’s such shit that you quit. Of the two, love is more dangerous BUT it will keep you going. And then…

Somewhere in there you’ll discover your voice. And you might discover your story, too, and after that? You have to stay true. Stories live apart from the writer. I think starting with a character is the easiest because, just like other people, characters carry a world with them and that gives you a lot of information you won’t have to figure out by yourself. A strong character will tell you a LOT about him/herself and where he/she is from and what he/she values in life, yet, in many ways, it’s like meeting a new person.

Since I write historical fiction, I have to do research to learn about the worlds in which my characters live because THEY take it for granted that I know already. Since it’s THEIR world, they think everything around them is normal and part of everyone else’s life. You can tell them, “Dude here’s the thing. I live in the future. I’ve never hitched a horse to a wagon,” but that guy is NOT going to believe you so you have to learn how he does it.

In a way, the same is true if you write about the future. That future guy is all, “Dude, you know about this, they’re all over the place,” and won’t believe you when you say, “No, I didn’t know you could use a Fardel Gambit to escape a Bastorian Jail!”

That part of writing a story is fun. It’s fun going back in time and discovering that in the 13th century there WAS no paper or that in the 12th century there was an enormous earthquake in Northern Italy and thinking of the effect that would have on the world in which your characters live.

I actually have a WIP (sounds nasty. Means “work in progress”) but I’m not convinced. Necessarily it echoes some of Martin of Gfenn because it’s the story of a young guy learning to paint, but I don’t want it to be a repetition of that story and sometimes it feels like it is. I haven’t figured out who the protagonist is, either. I have only a vague idea of the world in which the teacher lived/lives. Lots of stuff still kind like a fog. Sometimes things just start that way and you have to let them do their thing until you’re doing it with them.

My goal, though all writers are often required by the people in their stories to abandon the goal, is to show the OTHER medieval world, the one in which young men joined the church not to serve God, but to get an education the only way that was possible. I want to write about the wandering scholars, their art, their values, their world.

I read this quotation from Picasso yesterday. It pretty much sums up my feelings about the WIP. “You mustn’t expect me to repeat myself. My past doesn’t interest me. I would rather copy others than copy myself. In that way I should at least be giving them something new. I love discovering things.”

So maybe tomorrow morning I should just roll up my sleeves and see where Bro Benedetto and his illegitimate son, Michele, want me to go.

Dammit. I just got an idea for a newspaper column… I could interview a different artist in the San Luis Valley every month and write about that. Shit. See what happens when you “just write”? You get ideas.

Rock On



“Remember the trolls?”

“Miranda, honey, I will never forget the trolls. Why?”

“They want to meet Jordan.”

“I don’t think your mother can go through this again, Miranda. She’s very fragile now, you know. She’s only been home from the hospital a few months.”

“I know. I told them that Jordan is still a baby and can’t even walk that good, but I wanted to let you know in case…”

“Miranda you never told me much about these trolls.”

“There’s not much to say, Daddy. They’re just rock people.”

“‘JUST rock people’? Miranda, that makes no sense to me.”

“Weren’t there trolls in your day? They told me they’ve been around as long as the sky and the planets and the sun and the stars.”

“I’m sure if they’re rock people that’s true, but…”

“Haven’t you ever talked to a rock? I talk to rocks all the time.”

“Miranda, you’re five. Five year olds talk to everything all the time. It’s part of being five. It’s not part of being a daddy. Daddys who talk to rocks, well, Miranda, it usually doesn’t end well.”

“But daddy, you told me rocks are in EVERYTHING. They’re in my crayons and clothes and even in me!”

“That’s true, sweetheart, but usually they don’t build secret doors under a little girl’s bed.”

“I didn’t know that, Daddy. I thought that was part of growing up, like a loose tooth. If there’s a tooth fairy and Santa Claus, why not trolls?”

Tom closed his laptop, recognizing that this was an important moment in the life of his little girl and how he dealt with it would affect her life forever. The long litany of life’s disillusionment sped through his mind. He sighed. “Come here, Miranda,” he said, lifting his little girl up on his lap. “I confess, Miranda, I don’t understand the story of the trolls. I don’t know what happened that night other than your mother and I were terrified we’d lost you forever. When the police officer said it happened all the time — little girls disappearing behind tiny doors built under their beds — well, it really didn’t help. How could such a thing happen?”

“Simple, Daddy. The trolls came up from the middle of the earth and opened the door. Those doors are everywhere. We just can’t see them most of the time. Are you going to tell me there’s no Tooth Fairy that it’s you and mommy? And there’s no Santa Claus? That’s you and mommy too?”

Tom nodded. Clearly the trolls were not going to be dismissed as one of those inscrutable stories adults tell children, stories meant to nurture that magical sense of wonder which kids have on their own, all the time. Thinking about it, was it any crazier to tell his kids that a fat guy in a red suit landed on the roof with reindeer? A real door under Miranda’s bed was really LESS crazy than a fantasy fat guy flown through the sky by ungulates.

“Miranda, I’d really rather Jordan didn’t go visit the trolls if there’s anyway we can keep that from happening. Your mother would never recover from a second experience like that. Maybe you can explain that to your rock friends?”

Just then, from down the hall, the last room, came a cry from a little guy who was supposed to be sleeping. “Daddy! DADDDY! DADDY! I have a bad dream!!”

“Sorry Dad.”

Last spring I wrote a story about a little girl’s experience with trolls. Seeing the prompt today, there was only one place I could goHere are links to the “backstory.”

Part One: Bad Dream

Part Two: Hot Knob

Part Three: Blasé Cop

Part Four: Real as Real

Love on the Beach

Her winsome smile, her dimples, the way she sat on the edge of the ottoman beside his big leather easy chair when he told her about his day. With her sitting there, looking adoringly at him, Paul could believe he was the most interesting man in the world, not just an accountant sitting in a half/cube surrounded by other number crunchers.

He sighed.

“No way around it. Those were pretty boring stories, and she just listened.”

He got up, thinking a cup of coffee might help him shake off the empty feeling that shadowed him everywhere now. He needed to get some work done.

“Go on Tinder,” said Francine, his — and several other accountants’ — secretary. “Seriously, Paul, Lulu’s not the only fish in the sea. Francine waved her little left hand over the wall of her cubicle. Yeah, yeah there was a that diamond. Francine had gotten married just a few months ago. Second husband. She caught the first one cheating with her — such a cliché — her best friend.

“They aren’t Lulu.”

“Don’t you get it YET? Lulu wasn’t Lulu. If she had been Lulu, she’d never have left you.”

“Who was she, then?”

“Paul, look. Mr. Shorter is trying to get your attention.”

Paul turned around and, sure enough, standing in the ONE office with a door on this whole floor was Mr. Shorter. He did NOT look happy.

If you have TIME Paul,” he said mockingly.

“Yikes,” whispered Paul.

“Good luck, babe. Think about what I said.” She waved the diamond in this face again.

“Yes sir?”

“Come in and sit down.”

Paul took a seat in front of Mr. Shorter’s desk.

“Let’s get straight to it. Since your wife ran off with the circus your work has deteriorated abysmally.” He might be the boss of accountants, and an accountant himself, but his undergraduate major had been English. His dream of becoming an English teacher was shattered when he looked at his probable yearly earnings and he went for an MBA in accounting rather than following his passion for Thomas Pynchon about whom he hoped someday to write a totally incomprehensible analysis about subterranean themes in Pynchon’s work. “I understand you have a broken heart, but negligence hurts the business and could adversely affect our clients. Inaccuracy in calculations results in multitudinous regrettable outcomes, as you are doubtless cognizant given the issues experienced last month when we came precipitously proximate to losing the Lamont Account because of your mistakes. In the last colloquium, the board decided to let you go because of your problems handling that extremely lucrative account. I persuaded them that such a remedy would be an excessively punitive given the twelve years of exemplary performance you have given the firm, but you are henceforth on probation.”

Paul nodded. Mr. Shorter’s utilization of the vernacular made everyone want to scream, but he did make his point. Paul wasn’t totally surprised. The problems had been with the annual report for the Lamont Account, an enormous project he and his team worked on for months. It had come due the week Lulu left him. He was in no shape, mentally, physically, emotionally, for the intense (though often manufactured) pressure of that project. Mr. Lamont himself was never easy to deal with, and it was the company’s biggest account. And, let’s face it, Paul was a wreck.

Meanwhile, on the patio outside the narrow, three-story beach house next to the boardwalk in Pacific Beach, California, Lulu stood waiting for the charcoal to get hot enough to toss on the tuna steak her new love had caught that morning.

“I’m going out with Carmine and Tony,” he’d said. “We’re hoping to catch some yellowtail.” They’d been lucky and caught three.

She looked up at the ocean and saw him heading in, riding a six footer. It would be the last ride of the day. She loved living in California. It was so much more interesting — and a lot warmer — than Chicago. Once more she thanked her lucky stars she’d met Dude on the El that day as she went into the city to shop. What if she were still back there? November, Paul, those endless recitations of quotidian tedium of an accountant’s life. It had been such a strange coincidence, clearly it was meant to be. Dude’s pal, Lamont, was meeting with the board of Paul’s company about the annual report for his motivational speaking limited partnership.

Well, Lamont was definitely a weirdo and, thankfully, not around much.

The only thing about her new love that puzzled her was the plethora of hyper-realistic paintings hanging all through the house, pictures of dinosaurs, salmon, Smilodons, mammoths, a bear, an oak tree, pictures that sometimes, if she caught one out of the corner of her eye, bore a strange resemblance to Lamont, sometimes even to Dude.

But who could really care? Dude was funny, kind, had great stories, adored her and she was sure they would live happily ever after.

Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past lives which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.


“I HATE going out with you and your troglodyte friends,” said Cammie, scrutinizing her acrylic nails. “Do you like them?”

She held up ten miniature American flags for Justin to judge.

“Stupid and expensive and, Cammie, you can’t even open a bag of chips with those hands any more.”


“We’re going to ride go-karts, c’mon, Cam. You used to think that was fun!

Cammie sat silently for a moment. She actually DID think it was fun. But…

“Yeah, in high school. We’re too old for that now.”

“You’re only as old as you feel, sweet cheeks. Age is just a number. Oh, I didn’t tell you. Tony’s coming.”

“Tony Lamontino?”

“Yeah. He’s back from Nepal.”

Justin knew perfectly well that Tony Lamontino was Cammie’s first love. He’d always suspected she’d only married him because he was Tony’s best friend. Cammie took another look at her patriotic digits.

“I bet you want to come with me and my troglodyte friends now,” said Justin, a tiny, bitter edge in his voice.

“Will you see Tony again?”

“No. He’s off to New York in the morning.”

Cammie thought for a moment. Tony Lamontino. He was so beautiful with his dark hair, blue eyes, muscular chest, wide grin, adventurous spirit. There was no one like him in the senior class at Campbell Grover High School. He’d taken her to the prom. Her mind drifted back to the sweet pink dress she’d worn, the bundle of tiny pink roses on her wrist. They’d danced, dance after dance, the last dance, “It’s you and me and all other people/And I don’t know why, I can’t keep my eyes off of you.” Tony’s gentleness and the care he took of her, not pressing any sexual advances after the prom but saying, “It’s too sweet a moment for that. And you’re too pretty for me to rumple up in the back seat of my car.”

“OK. I’ll go.”

She went to the bathroom to fix her make-up and hair. She looked at herself carefully and critically in the mirror. The lighter blond highlights were good, definitely, she thought. Yeah, she’d put on a few pounds but she was still hot, no question. She was glad those butt-crack revealing bell-bottoms jeans were over, that’s for sure. No one kept their high school figure, did they? She dug her light blue sweater out of her drawer and pulled it over her white t-shirt and jeans. Cute. Definitely cute. No one would think, “Thirty.”

They were a little late and everyone was already there when they arrived, all of Justin’s high school pals and their wives. Tony stood at one end next to an exotic looking black guy Cammie had never seen. “Who’s that?” she asked Justin.

“Oh, that’s Tony’s husband, Jacques. They met in Paris.”

I promise some day to try to write a love story with a happy ending. 🙂