The Devil You Know, Part I #52weeks52stories


#52weeks52stories: Week 11

Word prompt: assailant

Word Count: 3634


“I don’t like leaving you alone with that maniac still on the loose. I’m calling Reynolds to cancel.”

“You’ll do no such thing, Francis Bennett!”

Sally grasped both of her husband’s hands in her own, clutching them to her chest.

“You and Bill have worked hard for this. No one believed a couple of baby boomers could compete in today’s marketing madness of social media. You’ll proving all the naysayers wrong. You two beat out national companies to get this meeting and you will not miss it.”

She kissed his hands.

“And besides, even though the thought of this guy still out there in the shadows unnerves me, I’m more concerned for my clients, the poor dears. I don’t fit his profile.”

The list of women attacked by Marbury’s Senior Citizen rapist now numbered four—all 69 to 89 years of age; all widowed; all in poor health or recuperating from illness.

Francis ‘Frankie’ Bennett pulled his wife into his arms.

“I know, honey, I know. But no one knows what drives these sickos… better safe than sorry.”

“And I promise I will be safe. Now go finish packing. If you miss your flight, you know Bill will have a mental break.”

Husband and wife shared a laugh before Frankie kissed Sally’s forehead and left to pack.

She retook her seat at the breakfast nook. She gave the article about the Senior Citizen Rapist another read before closing the browser on her tablet.

Sally didn’t know Pearl Wright, but her heart went out to the eighty-one-year-old grandmother of twenty-three.

Plagued with heart problems, Pearl was a regular client of Angels Assist, the home-care agency Sally worked part-time for as a services scheduler.

It was Angels Assist volunteer, Leanne Brinkley, scheduled to prepare breakfast and do light housework, who discovered Pearl’s battered and bruised body.

Awed the elderly woman survived the brutal attack, Sally also worried about Leanne.

After calling police, paramedics, and Pearl’s family, the perky volunteer went into mild shock and was hospitalized overnight.

Angels Assist staff and volunteers were all concerned with their safety. Staff was requesting security escorts and volunteers were canceling late evening and early morning assignments. Any more schedule changes and Sally would have to add herself to the schedule. She didn’t mind though. With Frankie away, she liked to keep busy, but there was no way Sally would tell him she may have to do home visits. He’d cancel his trip for sure.


After completing her weekly reports, Sally emailed the new schedule to supervisors and Blanche, the owner. She uploaded all the documents to the office server and powered down her tablet, grateful for the technology which allowed her to do most of her job from home.

Pouring another cup of coffee, Sally opened her journal and went to work on their upcoming anniversary banquet plans when the phone rang. The name ‘Kristen’—an agency volunteer—flashed on the caller ID.

“Hey, Kristen. How are you?”

“I’ll be a lot better when I know you don’t hate me.”

Sally’s brow knitted in confusion.

“Hate you? What’s going on, Kristen?”

“I-I… have to cancel my hours of availability.”

Sally’s hand shook as panic gripped her. The thirty-something Kristen was pregnant, expecting her first child after she and her husband tried for years.

“Are you okay, Kristen?”

I’m fine, Sally. Midway through my second trimester without morning sickness or heartburn anywhere in sight.”

She paused.

“It’s just… these attacks on elderly women.”

Grateful mother and child were fine, a hint of annoyance niggled at Sally while Kristen continued.

“I don’t know Mrs. Wright—was never scheduled with her and I only know Leanne as another agency volunteer. But my husband knows Leanne’s family. Her dad was his supervisor years back when he first got hired into the fire department. After he heard what Leanne went through… well, he kinda lost it and insisted I stopped volunteering.”

“Kristen, it’s okay. We’re all unnerved by these attacks and to have one hit so close to home is terrifying.”

“I know, Sally, but – “

“No buts. I hate to even think what could have happened if it had been you instead of Leanne who found Mrs. Wright.”

“That’s what Rory said. We’ve tried so long for this baby, and at my age, the shock alone might – “

“Enough, sweetie. Don’t allow your mind to go there. We’re all grateful Leanne is better and pray for the same for Mrs. Wright.”

“Thanks, Sally. I only had one assignment on this schedule—an overnight tomorrow with a woman recovering from eye procedures for glaucoma. I took it because it was light duty and Rory was scheduled for a four-day shift at the fire station.”

“We’ll get this covered, Kristen, please don’t worry over it.”

Sally pulled up the current schedule.

“This was your only assignment this week. I’ve got next week’s schedule done and you were on for two four-hour respite visits near the end of the week. I’ll have no problem getting those covered. You just concentrate on that sweet baby you’re carrying and putting your hubby’s mind at ease. We’ll all breathe easier when this psycho is caught and behind bars.”

She could hear Kristen exhale over the phone.

“I agree, Sally, and thank you. I’ll be in touch when I can help out again. Take care.”

Sally Bennett smiled as she ended the call. While she hoped the maniac terrorizing the city was caught soon, she doubted Kristen would be volunteering again anytime soon. She’d be a new mom in less than four months, and free time would no longer exist for her.

Sally red-lined the two shifts under Kristen’s name on the new schedule then opened the staff database looking for someone who could cover tomorrow’s overnight assignment on such short notice.

Sally entered the hours of coverage needed, pressed enter, and groaned when no names appeared on the screen.

She’d have to take the assignment.

Sally was good with it, though. She subbed once or twice a month, and Frankie would be away, it would give her time to keep her own caregiver skills sharp.

She was jotting down the address and contact information for Graciela Ramirez when Frankie bounded back into the kitchen.

“I can take you to the airport.”

Frankie Bennett pulled his wife from her seat into his arms. “We are not going to start that again, Sal.” He kissed her forehead. “It’s an hour’s drive one way, parking costs a small fortune, and you can’t go past the security check-in.”

“I know, I know. It just seems as though I’m always telling you goodbye lately.”

“Well, this is the last trip for a while and you know what happens when I get back, right?”

He began to lead her around the kitchen in an exaggerated waltz. “We have an anniversary to celebrate.”

Sally giggled as he spun her around.

“Yes, thirty-two years and we’re still on speaking terms.”

“And don’t forget the fabulous five.”

“As if they’d let us. I know they’re cooking up some big surprise for us. Joanie called, and I could hear it in her voice.”

Frankie laughed. “Five kids and the one who can’t keep a secret is the one who calls the most.”

Sally laughed, but stopped suddenly, running from the kitchen.

When she returned, Frankie was closing a browser on her tablet.

“Doing my job for me, Bennett?”

“No, my sweet sunflower. Just making sure my flight’s on time. Where you run off to?”

She held her hand up, a medicine bottle balanced on her palm. “I knew you forgot these—one bypass surgery is more than enough. We don’t need to go through that again. And what did I tell you about calling me sunflower? Can’t you think of a more feminine flower?”

“Ah, yes, my love. There are more feminine flowers, but they’re also fragile and wilt under pressure.” He stretched his arms toward the ceiling. “But the mighty sunflower is strong and resilient, rising up in the field to provide beauty, shade… and a tasty little snack.”

Giggling, Sally threw the medicine bottle at him.

Frankie caught the bottle of Lipitor. Stashing it in a side pocket of his suitcase, he backed toward the door leading to the garage. “I’d better get out of here while I’m still breathing.”

Sally Bennett grabbed his lapel, kissing him deeply. “Good luck with your meeting. You guys got this. And stay out of trouble.”

He wiggled his eyebrows. “Aw, sweetie. Don’t I always?”


Estelle Ramirez showed Sally around the large well-kept home.

“Mom’s vision is still blurred from the surgery, so even though her television is on, she can’t see the screen. She never misses her Spanish-language novellas, though.”

Sally smiled and nodded once as they approached Graciela’s bedroom.

“I made her favorite dinner—albondigas soup—but she didn’t eat much. There’s sliced fruit in the fridge and sweetbreads on the counter.”

“You done all the work, Estelle. What did you leave for me?”

Estelle Ramirez smirked.

“Trust me, Sally. The queen will keep you busy. She’s independent and spirited. My grandmother and great-grandmother lost their sight to glaucoma. Mami knows she is blessed new medical procedures may help her avoid that.”

Reaching for the doorknob, Estelle tilted her head toward Sally. “That doesn’t make her any less grouchy, though.”

She opened the door and Sally followed her into the darkened room. Even with the low lighting, she could tell it was beautifully decorated in golds and reds with a Latin flavor.

The large queen-size bed was empty, but looking past the bed, Sally saw her charge for the evening.

Graciela Ramirez sat in a gold brocade high-back chair. Sally pursed her lips to hide her grin as Estelle’s reference to ‘the queen’ came to mind.

Despite her diminutive size, the senior Ramirez was regal in her appearance. Her iron-gray hair, swept over one shoulder, was long enough to reach her lap. Long, slender fingers rested on the arms of the chair. Already dressed for bed, Graciela’s winter white robe could put some ball gowns to shame.

Sally’s grandson, Mark, would say Graciela Ramirez was large and in charge.

“Mami, this is Sally Bennett, from the home-care agency. She’s going to stay with you tonight.”

“I do not need a babysitter.”

Sally was struck that despite the thick accent, Graciela’s voice was strong, deep, and clear—not frail and wispy like most of their clients in their seventies.

“Do not start, mami. We’ve argued about it enough. This was the only shift I couldn’t switch this week, and I’m not leaving you alone. I’m grateful for places like Angels Assist. You should be too.”

“I don’t need a babysitter.”

Dragging her hand through her short, dark curls, Estelle then gestured at her mother.

“As you can see, she’s stubborn.” Estelle turned her head, speaking in Graciela’s direction. “But I’m sure she will be show all the grace of her name and the manners she instilled in me.”

“I’m sure we’ll be fine, Estelle.” Sally’s voice held a confidence she didn’t feel. Graciela was a force to be reckoned with, even with limited sight.

“Mami is tricksy too with her language. She likes to play poor old Spanish lady and will refuse to speak English. Ignore her until she does.”

Sally covered her mouth too late and her giggles escaped.

An indignant Graciela raised her hand and pointed in Estelle’s direction.

“Oh, mi hija.”

Resting her fists on her hips, Estelle shot back, “Don’t you ‘oh my daughter’ me.”

Estelle went to her mother and knelt at her feet. She cupped Graciela’s cheek while speaking in a low hushed tone. The senior Ramirez smiled and leaned into her daughter’s hand.

Sally could see the love between mother and child. Their banter was part of that love.

Rising, Estelle kissed her mother’s cheek and turned to Sally.

“She’ll be good… for the most part.” The two women shared a laugh as Graciela feigned a look of innocence.

“Her next meds are due at nine and she must take them all.” She picked up two small bottles from the dresser. “Two drops of each in each eye. They sting and blur her vision even more, but the stinging passes quickly.”

Replacing the bottles on the dresser, Estelle reached for another containing pills.

“She also gets two of these… no matter how she feels. Mami doesn’t have a blood pressure problem, but it has been elevated since her procedures. The doctor doesn’t want to risk any break-through pain exacerbating the problem and wants her to take these as prescribed until he sees her on Thursday.”

Graciela crossed her arms, mumbling and pouting like a petulant child.

Estelle threw her hands up. “I’m going to work, she’s all yours. Call me if you need anything.” She headed for the bedroom door but turned before leaving. “Thank you, Sally. You’re a lifesaver.”

Removing her cell from her back pocket, Sally opened the Angels Assist app and entered the names, dosage, and time for Graciela’s meds.

Sally didn’t have to look up to know the senior citizen was staring at her, sizing her up. Closing the app, Sally gazed out the window at the beautiful twilight caused by the setting sun and knew she was in for a long night.


Graciela Ramirez did not disappoint.

Between numerous requests for snacks and drinks, Sally had caught the spry old woman stumbling through the house three times.

Saying a silent prayer, Sally was grateful when the hall clock chimed at nine.

A new argument started when Sally sat Graciela on the edge of her bed to put in her eye drops.

The client refused to open her eyes.

Sally snapped at the old woman before she could catch herself.

“Mrs. Ramirez! Didn’t your mother and her mother both lose their sight? Is that what you want to happen to you? It seems to me someone as independent as you would do everything they could to keep their sight. And that includes taking your meds.”

Sally saw the look of shame on Graciela’s face as she opened her eyes.

“I-I… am sorry, Sally Bennett. I’m acting like a sullen child. But the drops do burn, and those pills make me fuzzy in the head. I don’t like not being in control of myself.”

Sally Bennett’s heart broke at the sadness in Graciela’s eyes.

“So many of my friends have passed on. And the one who are still here? They wear diapers and have to be spoon-fed. They use mobile chairs and hospital beds.”

She pointed to the foot of her bed.

“There’s a cane there somewhere near the foot of my bed. I stumbled over my house shoe a few weeks ago and Estelle rushed out and bought it for me. I feel like I’m being rushed to the grave sometimes, and I’m not ready for that.”

“Sounds to me like Estelle doesn’t want that either.”

The older woman squinted, trying to focus on Sally’s face. “How so?”

“I don’t think Estelle bought that cane because she thought you were getting old and frail. I believe she bought it for support—to help you with your balance and keep you from falling and injuring yourself… to keep you here with her longer.”

A lone tear slid down Graciela’s cheek, betrayed by the huge grin on her face.

“You are a wise woman, Sally Bennett. I’ve been so busy arguing with everyone, trying to get my way, I never stopped to consider anyone else’s feelings. Especially my sweet Estelle. Thank you, Sally Bennett.”

Graciela then tipped her head back and waited for the eye drops. After Sally finished, Graciela held out her hand for the pain pills and water, taking her meds without argument.

She crawled up into the center of the large bed and Sally was struck by how much the septuagenarian looked like a child in her parents’ bed.

“If you’ll hand me the remote, Sally Bennett, I’ll listen to my novellas until the pills make my brain thick.”

Laughing, Sally passed her the remote.

“Estelle put me in the guest bedroom two doors away. I’m going to read a while then come check on you. If you need me before then, just call out. I’ll leave the door open.”

“I like you, Sally Bennett. I hope you’ll come visit me when I’m not a client.”

“Is that an invitation?”

“I suppose it is.”

“Then I’ll be here.”

Sally smiled as she made her way to the guest bedroom. Graciela Ramirez was a lot like Carol Jean Munson—Sally’s mother. Strong, proud, and independent, she felt both women saw accepting help as weakness.

Grabbing her reader from the side of her overnight bag, Sally snuggled in the easy chair next to the closet. The muted lighting of the Ramirez home had grown on Sally and she reached over and turned off the lamp, choosing to read by the illuminated light of her ereader.


Startled and disoriented, Sally bolted upright. She looked around the dark room, trying to get her bearings.

She laughed at herself after glancing toward the hallway.

Real good, Bennett. What kind of caregiver are you falling asleep on the job?

A swipe of her ereader provided light and the time.

12:50 am.

My word! Has it been almost four hours since I gave Graciela her meds? I’d better see if she’s sleeping or needs them again.

Sally held the reader over the edge of the chair, looking for her overnight bag. She reached for it but froze when she thought she heard a large thump.

What was that noise?

She sat motionless on the edge of the chair listening for the sound again. Hearing nothing, Sally grabbed the bag and tossed it onto the foot of the bed. Reaching for the table-side lamp, she heard the noise again, louder and closer.

No, no! I hope Graciela isn’t up trying to get her own meds. Why didn’t she call out for me? Damn it! Maybe she did, and I was asleep.

Feeling her back pocket for her cell, Sally raced the few steps down the hall to her client’s room.

She froze in the doorway.

A dark figure was on top of Graciela.

Without thinking, Sally charged the bed, launching herself at the assailant. She heard a sharp intake of air as the intruder fell toward the foot of the bed.

Sally took the few precious seconds to drag the small woman from the bed. Not able to tell if Graciela was wounded and too terror-stricken to speak, Sally pushed her toward the bedroom door, screaming one word, “Run!”

With her arms out in front of her, the spry senior bolted for the door, feeling her way down the hall.

Before Sally could follow, she felt a hand grab her arm, pulling her back to the bed. She whirled around, swinging blindly with her free hand. Her punch connected with the intruder, but he didn’t let go. As he pulled her closer, Sally bit the hand clutching her arm. Muttering a curse, he let go and Sally flipped onto her back, kicking her legs wildly.

Her attacker leaned down, grabbing the front of her shirt and flung her from the bed. She crashed into the dresser, slumping to floor.

Praying Graciela had found her way out, Sally knew her time was growing short. Her heart raced as she looked up at the shadowy figure approaching, blocking her path to the door.

His breathing was hard and labored.

Sally froze. Something about him was familiar.

She could see him raising his arm and the hallways light behind him allowed Sally to see he wore a ski mask… and the glint of his knife.

Adrenalin barreled through her body. Sally Bennett would not hand this killer her life.

She kicked out both legs, catching the masked figure in the knee.

As he doubled over in pain, Sally leaped from the floor, throwing herself across the bed and toward the door.

Her assailant recovered quick enough to grab her ankle.

Clawing at the bed, Sally struggle for purchase. As he dragged her across the large bed, Sally grabbed at the low bed railing, but its surface was too smooth to hold on to. Sally still clawed and groped until her fist wrapped around something.

Graciela’s cane!

The middle-aged woman was tiring, but holding tight to the cane, she swung around towards her attacker. The blow made him let go and allowed Sally to turn and get in two more good swings. The intruder stumbled backward to avoid the blows.

Sally launched herself across the bed one last time, this time falling to the floor on the other side.

She popped up, threw the cane toward her assailant and dashed out the bedroom door. She heard the cane clatter to the floor and knew the man was rounding the foot of the bed, but she refused to waste time looking behind her.

Barreling down the hallway, Sally thought she heard the killer stumble and fall, but it was Graciela’s screams that guided Sally to the front door.

Graciela Ramirez had made it out the house and stood in the front yard screaming. Lights came on in several houses, and Sally grabbed her client and headed for the closest one, still not looking behind her.

A woman opened the door and called out to Graciela by name.

It was only then Sally looked behind her… and saw two men from the neighborhood run into the Ramirez home.

She called out to them. “Be careful he has a knife!”

The woman pulled the two women inside and closed and locked her door.

Sally Bennett and Graciela Ramirez stood in the foyer clutching each other tightly, grateful their nightmare was over.


©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved


Touch #52weeks52stories


#52weeks52stories Writing Challenge: Week 10

Word prompt:  friend

Word count: 1193


“Hey mom, look at my rock.”

Jill Morgan, distracted by dinner preparations, responded without looking at her eight-year-old-son.

“That’s nice, Jeffie.”

“And it’s cool, mom. It changes colors, see?”

Jill glanced over her shoulder to see the glow of the smooth orb in her son’s hands change from green to red.

Potato and peeler fell from her hands to the floor.

“Jeffrey Alan Morgan!” What did your dad and I tell you about messing around near the old rock quarry?”

She rushed over to him.

“They shut that place down and walked away without any notice. We have no idea if there are open shafts or toxic chemicals in that place.”

Grabbing the rock from his hands, Jill’s face went blank. The glow was gone, and she held a plain piece of gray slate. She tilted her head down to her son. “Are you playing a trick on your mom?”

His eyes locked on to the rock, Jeffie shook his head. “No, mom. Honest. It changed colors. You saw it, right?”

“I saw something, I’m just – “

Sizzling pops behind her grabbed Jill’s attention.

“Dang it!” She raced to the overflowing pot but was startled by the ringing land-line phone.

“Oh, for the love of…” Sliding the pot from the burner to the counter, Jill stomped across the kitchen to the phone, tossing the stone back to Jeffie.

“You take this thing back to wherever you found it, Jeffrey Alan, and come right back here for a hot bath, just to be safe.”

Rock and child were forgotten as she answered the phone to get a health update from her husband about his dad. Jill didn’t see the red glow return to the rock cradled in Jeffie’s hands.

Frowning, the eight-year-old walked out the back door and sat on the steps. Why did the colors stop when his mom touched the rock?

Jeffie Morgan needed answers. With a quick glance over his shoulder, he hopped from the porch steps, headed for the far back corner of the backyard—the corner on the side of the garage shrouded in bushes and trees.

He ducked down and crawled under the lowest bush, scooting forward until his body cleared the thick branch. Pushing himself to his knees, Jeffie sat up in the small hollow created by the bushes. The denseness of the foliage kept the pocket cool, allowing enough light to stream through the brush so the child could see clearly.

“I know you’re here, Hypo.”

At first a transparent outline, Hypo faded into corporeal form.

The alien sat in the dirt, his thin lower limbs crossed at each of his two sets of knees.

“Why didn’t the rock work for my mom, Hypo?”

The Hypogean extra-terrestrial extended his upper limb to Jeffie, who placed the rock in his two-digit hand.

The stone flashed a bright yellow, rising into the air. As it hovered, Hypo reached out and touched Jeffie’s arm.

Jeffie Morgan wasn’t afraid. He learned soon after finding Hypo near his favorite tree swing two days ago touch was the only way he and Hypo could communicate and hear each other.

“The globule illuminates only for the one who created it and the one it was created for.”

“But why, Hypo?”

“When we met, you were despondent because you thought your elder was losing his life source. I filled the globule with my energy to help you feel better.”

Arthur Morgan, Jeffie’s grandpa, had a heart attack three days earlier and Jeffie’s dad flew to San Francisco to be with him. Grandpa Art was better and would leave the hospital soon, but Jeffie, afraid he’d never see his grandpa again, had sat in his tree swing and cried.

“When my people experience distress, it disrupts their life force. Sharing our energy helps to calm the disruption. I believe your people would call it a boost.”

“I think I understand, Hypo.”

The globule ceased to spin and lowered back into Hypo’s palm. He gave it back to Jeffie.

“Our life forces are different, and this will serve you well into your later years. But, I must caution you again against sharing the knowledge of it. Your people are impetuous and act before knowing the facts.”

“You haven’t told me how you know so much about us, Hypo.”

“We’ve been watching you for thousands of years, Jeffie. In some ways, your people have made great strides. Your technology, though crude, serves you well, But the minds of humans… your thought processes, still hold you back.”

Hypo’s body, a pale coral in color, morphed to deep, dark red.

“I must go now, Jeffie Morgan. The lunar eclipse approaches and it is the only time we can exit your world undetected.”

“What? No, please. Can’t you stay longer? You can stay in my room so you don’t have to worry about the sun.”

Hypo’s coloring returned to his normal shade.

“No, Jeffie Morgan. Even if we didn’t have to avoid direct sunlight, extended exposure to the atmosphere of Etieran—this place you call Earth—would weaken us over time. The moon has no atmosphere, but still has solar exposure. That is why we live inside it.”

Jeffie hung his head.

“Why does your energy darken, Jeffie Morgan?”

“I liked having a friend.”

“Please explain.”

“We haven’t lived in Southbrook very long. My dad’s job sent him here. In San Francisco I had friends and people didn’t care my mom is black and my dad is white.”

A single tear rolled down his cheek.

“Here, they treat me like I’m the alien.” His face brightened at his joke.

“I understand, Jeffie Morgan. It’s something else we’ve witnessed about your kind that bears no logic. The separation of your species based on how your outer surface appears. The mistreatment and alienation… wars fought and life forces lost. Hypogeans do not have this.” His deep-set emerald eyes blinked sideways. “Nor do we want it.”

“I get it, Hypo. I just have so many questions. There’s so much I want to know.”

Hypo’s coloring flashed to deep purple.

“I must go. Hypogeans are in danger of discovery. That can’t happen.”

“But I know about you, Hypo.”

“Yes, you do, Jeffie Morgan, as do many others. When there’s no sense of danger detected, we interact.”

Hypo’s touch on Jeffie’s hand lightened as he faded from view.

“We will see each other again, Jeffie Morgan, and be encouraged. The elder—your grandpa Art—and your parents will be with you for many years to come.”

Hypo’s departure paused and he gripped Jeffie’s wrist with his two digit-hand.

“Take care… my… friend.”

Jeffie was sad Hypo was gone but happy they’d met.

Spreading a few branches on the ground, he placed the globule on them and covered it with a few more. He would follow Hypo’s instructions and keep it hidden.

Laying on his belly, Jeffie crawled from the dark hollow.

He didn’t need the globule right now anyway. Hypo said grandpa Art was going to be fine and that was enough to make Jeffie happy.

Heading for the back door, Jeffie began to run.

He didn’t even mind having to take a bath.


©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Priorities #52weeks52stories


Cinna’s designer heels clicked against the pavement as she left the office building.

It had been a long day. A long disappointing day.

After seven weeks of knocking herself out, the promotion she wanted more than anything went to someone else.

Cinna didn’t deny Elsa had more experience and more seniority at Langley, but the woman’s natural bad attitude and inclination to pick a fight over the most trivial office task would only lead to endless headaches for the accounting department.

She wasn’t looking for more headaches, Cinna wanted to buy a home. The increase in pay for department manager would have made that possible.

Clicking the remote on her car fob, Cinna opened the door to the Lexus and dropped into the seat as though she bore the weight of the world on her back.

Selling her condo would still get her the down payment for a house, but she’d planned on hanging on to it as an investment and lease it out.

Dammit! Nothing ever worked out for her.

She would be thirty-three-years-old next month and wasn’t where she wanted to be in life. She didn’t have her own home… or a husband and children to share it with.

Cinna sent Art Clarey on his way early last year.  After four years together, Cinna knew the hapless optometrist didn’t hold her happily-ever-after.

In no mood to cook, Cinna stopped at Boston Markets, but after several minutes could only decide on an order of macaroni and cheese.

Her mind raced as she returned to her car. What would she do now? She didn’t have a plan B. Cinna wanted forward movement in her life. She thought about checking what positions were available in her field when she heard a noise. None of the other customers coming and going didn’t seem to notice, so Cinna continued on to her car.

She heard the noise again.

Something slammed shut, and someone cried out.

Turning, she followed the walkway to the edge of the storefront.

Glancing toward the back of the parking lot, Cinna saw a woman and two young children. One of the children–a boy– was holding his hand and crying as the woman lifted the lid of the trash bin.

A mother and her two children… hungry and looking for food.

A myriad of emotions washed over Cinnamon Hinkley… shock, disgust, anger, pity… and shame.

She didn’t have the things she wanted, but she had everything she needed. She didn’t have to wonder where her next meal would come from or where she would sleep each night.

A mother and her children.

Cinna didn’t know what led them to this moment in their lives rummaging through a trash bin, but it didn’t matter.

She went back into the store and placed a different order… a much larger order. She couldn’t solve all their problems, but they would not eat from a dumpster tonight.


©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved




“Burned” #52weeks52stories

Dark Alley


#52weeks52stories: Week 8

Word Prompt: Cocaine

Word Count: 3205


“You know the D.A. is going to plead this down or toss it altogether, right?”

Sinclair glared at Tompkins, ready to explode but caught himself. They were both exhausted and pissed off and it wasn’t Tompkins’ fault. And he was right.

“Yeah, I know, dammit. The war on drugs turns into a polite request to cease and desist when your daddy’s rich.”

He laughed as he finished the case notes.


They’d spent the last six weeks tracking down a new shipment of lethal cocaine that was leaving a growing number of dead bodies in its wake. Weeks of interviews and stakeouts paid off in a whole lotta lip and even more contempt. But from the trailer park to the barrio to the hood, they hassled everyone and got a lead on the supplier—a guy named Spence.

Not able to get any more information on the guy the detectives believed they were being played when one of Tompkins’ paid informants called in with a tip which changed everything.

Supposedly, Spence was pulling up stacks and leaving town… and having a going-out-of-business sale and delivering the last shipment himself to customers.

Only a drug dealer would turn illegal activities into a money-saving event.

After sharing the info with their captain, Sinclair pulled all available bodies for backup. As he left the office, he tossed a Kevlar vest to Tompkins. “Please don’t get shot, and if you get shot, please do not die. I hate paperwork.”

Tompkins chuckled and tossed up his middle finger… and the car keys. “Just for that, you drive.”

The tactical team was in position at the stake-out—behind the public library–when, as promised, an assortment of thugs and lowlife began to arrive. A pimped out gun-metal gray Impala pulled up and Tompkins swore under his breath as the riders got out. They were all known felons.

“Can you believe this shit? They can’t live in the same neighborhood or sit down together for a meal, but they have no problem calling a truce over drugs.”

Pat couldn’t believe it as members of a big numbers cartel talked amiably with men from the Irish mob. A pumpkin orange Hummer joined the group, and Court-Case, aka Courtney Casey, stepped out. The head of the local Crips gang was accompanied by two enforcers.

“What the hell did we stumble into, Tomp? No one has mentioned any of these guys. With the lack of information on the street and the number of deaths involved, I figured we were dealing with amateurs. These guys are no amateurs.”

From his position just inside the library, Sinclair glanced around the area, glad there was plenty of backup. The crew assembling in front of them were always armed and thought nothing of shooting a cop.

The last vehicle to arrive was a late-model black Yukon.

A skinny blonde kid not old enough to be out this time of night hopped from the rear passenger door and open the front door.

What the hell?

With a mop of tousled, dark curls and skinny jeans, the last guy to exit the vehicle didn’t look old enough to be out alone either.

The baby-face was familiar but neither Sinclair or Tompkins had arrested him before.

The kid and Skinny Jeans greeted the group of law-breakers and ushered them to the rear of the Yukon. Skinny Jeans’ driver, a muscle-bound weightlifting type, was already pulling out and stacking bags of what Pat assumed were the drugs.

His voice low and clear, Pat spoke into his hand radio.

“Alright, people. I doubt it’s going to get better than this. We’ve got some true bad-asses out there so when I give the signal, move in fast, hard and loud and don’t stop until everyone’s in cuffs. Units 9 and 13, hang three steps back just in case some of these guys have their own spotters hidden -”

Before he could continue, Pat heard Court-Case laugh and watched him slap skinny jeans on the back.

“You’re stand up for a white boy, Spence. Been a pleasure doing business with you.”

Spence? This kid was the mastermind behind the drug operation that killed seven people and had his whole department on overtime?

Gripping the radio, Pat removed his Glock 22 from its holster.

They all watched as the skinny blonde kid offered Court-Case a sample.

Sinclair growled into his radio, “Move in!”

Law enforcement stormed the drug deal. Team members charged from darkened doorways, parked cars, and two even popped out of an abandoned dumpster. Three sharpshooters were focused on the melee from the library’s roof.

Court-Case, the blonde kid, and the Irish Mob guy all froze their hands in the air. The kid was terrified, and the two older men were no strangers to the drill. They knew it was better to not resist, use any info they had as leverage for a deal and live to see another day.

The Latin guy and Court-Case’s two enforcers weren’t as smart and fired at police.

None of them would live to see another day.

The muscle-bound guy tried to make a run for it. He thought he had a chance when he saw the tactical team member chasing him was female. Puffed up by machismo and steroids, he turned and barked at the fast-approaching police officer. “Don’t come any closer, little girl, you don’t want any of this!”

Thirty-nine-year-old Yvonne Baker almost smirked as she caught up with the arrogant bastard.

He swung one of his big meaty arms at Yvonne, which she ducked with ease. After a kick to his shin, a fist to his solar plexus, and an open palm to his nose, the man was laid out on the ground wondering what happened.

Skinny Jeans leaned against the Yukon, arms folded across his chest. He was too calm for Pat Sinclair’s liking.

“Sure, is a lot going on, officers. Who are these guys?”

Pat was almost too stunned to speak. This idiot was going to play the innocent victim.

“Turn around, hands against the truck, feet apart.”

Skinny Jeans feigned a crestfallen look. “Why? What did I do?”

Wayne Tompkins had enough. “You heard him, turn around!”

“Hey, Not so rough! I’m an innocent party here.”

Tompkins completed his search as tactical team leader, Larry Brent, passed the IDs of the dead suspects to Pat. “They’re all tatted, connected, and very dead.”

Pat shrugged. “All their choice. Your team good?”

“Donner took a round through his sleeve and is bitching about having to buy a new uniform shirt. I told him it was better than his wife buying him a suit to be buried in. That shut him up.”

Tompkins made Skinny Jeans sit on the ground next to the Yukon. Without a word he walked over and handed Pat the young man’s driver license.

Pat’s face fell. “Shit. Are you f-”

He was cut off by Luca, Brent’s second-in-command.

“Detective, you want to see this.”

Still reeling from learning Skinny Jeans’ name, Pat stepped to the rear of the Yukon and looked inside. His brow knitted in awe and confusion.

“What the hell is going on?”

The vehicle was filled to the brim with cocaine.

“Creighton has a drug problem, but this town just isn’t big enough for this kind of weight. Is it pure?”

Luca hefted a bag back into the truck. “We’ve checked three bags so far… it’s the real deal. If all the bags are pure and the same size… we’re looking at close to six million street value.”

Tompkins let out a low whistle. “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

Sinclair looked at the college student sitting on the ground. “There’s no freakin’ way he’s the Wizard, either.”

The coroner signaled he was done with the first body and moved on to the second.

“Brent, make sure I get photos from every angle and a sketched layout of the entire location.”

“You got it.”

“Come one, Tomp. Let’s get these guys downtown and try to figure this puzzle out.”

Pat brainstormed as he made sure all suspects were securely in police vehicles and headed for the station.

Connected gang associates, a new body count of ten, more cocaine than Creighton had seen in his entire career, and a nerdy rich kid playing dumb.

Things would get worse before they got better.


Two hours later, Pat Sinclair hadn’t made one connection in the case. Court-Case and the other suspect, who turned out to be Shane Peters, had lawyered up and weren’t talking in anticipation of some kind of deal. The blond kid, sixteen-year-old Elliott Olds—a runaway with no prior criminal record, was turned over to juvenile detention. The only talking forty-two-year-old Harvey Newsome was doing was to complain about “that bitch” breaking his nose.

It was no small shock to everyone to find out ‘Spence’ was Cecil Spencer Delk, a candy-ass junior at the local college with a Breaking Bad complex, and his dad was none other than local millionaire businessman, Cecil Delk, Sr.

Pat sat across the table from junior and senior Delk and the sly, slick, and wicked attorney of the local moneyed crowd, Jay Coolidge.

Wayne Tompkins stood in the corner, glaring at the threesome.

“Detective Sinclair, this has gone on long enough. My son has done nothing wrong and we’re leaving.” Delk, Sr., resplendent is a tailored Tom Ford tux was more annoyed at being pulled away from his gala event than his son being a drug trafficking suspect.

“We’re not done here yet, Mr. Delk. Your son still hasn’t told us what he was doing with known gang members and a vehicle loaded with cocaine.”

The junior Delk slammed his fist down on the table. “I told you Harvey is my personal trainer. After our workout, he was giving me a ride home and said he had to make a quick stop. I had no idea he was mixed up in drug trafficking.”

“Yet, it was you, not Harvey I saw talking with one of the other suspects.”

“Hey, I’m a friendly guy.”

Coolidge decided to join in and earn his retainer. “You have no evidence against my client, Detective. This is an unfortunate situation, and I applaud the Creighton Police Department for its fine work in seizing that drug shipment before it hit city streets. But my client, an earnest, trusting young man from a good family only exercised poor judgment in friends.”

Pat’s anger rose at the smugness of the trio. “If you were coerced or blackmailed into dealing, Cecil, now would be the time to tell me You cannot play with people like this. It’s like playing with an open fire and you will get burned.”

“Are you deaf or just stupid? I told you my son is not involved in this nasty drug business… and we’re leaving.” Delk Sr, stood just as the door to the interrogation room opened. Rick Morgan, precinct captain strode in.

“I’m Capt. Morgan, Mr. Delk, and I’m sorry but Cecil isn’t going anywhere tonight.” He motioned to Wayne to put Cecil back in cuffs.

Coolidge went on the defense. “What is the meaning of this? You have no grounds to arrest my client.”

“Your client was in the company of known felons at the scene of a large-scale drug buy. Conspiracy to traffic and distribute is a good start and will hold him until the feds show up.”

“This isn’t a good career move for you, Capt.” The threat in his tone and words did not go unnoticed.

“Thanks for your concern, Mr. Delk, but you let me worry about my career.” He motioned for Tompkins to remove Cecil from the room.

“We’ll have you out the second you’re arraigned, Cecil, don’t worry,” Coolidge offered. “They’ve got nothing.”

Pat Sinclair looked on in silence, racking his brain for some type of connection in all this for Cecil. Coming up empty, he played his last card.

“Detective Tompkins, just a second, please.”

Wayne paused at the door with the angry young man.

“Cecil, you do know those guys you were with? They’re not friendly guys like you, and they’re also not street punks. They run the streets for their local gangs, but it doesn’t end with them.”

Arrogant to the end, Cecil smirked. “You trying to make a point, Detective?”

Slipping into some arrogance of his own, Pat Sinclair leaned against the doorway. “My point is we picked up two million dollars in cash, and coke with a street value over six million. Your new friends? They deal in hundreds… maybe thousands, but millions? There’s someone bigger at the center of this and they didn’t get the drugs and their money was lost. Someone will have to answer for that.”

“Are you trying to intimidate my son Detective?”

“No, I’m trying to prevent any more lives being lost, Mr. Delk. If your son would just tell us where he got his coke from-”

Cecil kicked the door, pulling against the hold Tompkins had on his cuffed wrists. “I told you it’s not my coke!” With a glare over his shoulder at his father and attorney, Cecil Delk leaned toward the open door. “Get me outta here.”

Pat exchanged a knowing look with Tompkins and their captain before Tompkins took his suspect to booking. Rick Morgan followed close behind.

Delk and Coolidge also headed for the door.

“You must be desperate, Detective, using scare tactics on my son.”

“I’m not desperate and they’re not scare tactics, Mr. Delk. You’re a businessman, think about it. You negotiate for a product and end up without the product and payment. You’d be upset, right? And probably seek legal recourse, right?”

He walked over to the table and gathered his notes.

“People in the drug business don’t take legal action, Mr. Delk, they take lives.”

Delk’s smug facade faltered. He shot a glance at Coolidge, tilted his head toward the door and left without responding.

Pat hoped he was wrong, but Delk’s reaction spoke volumes.


Morgan sat on the desk across from Tompkins.

“Unless we get something solid on that kid, he’s going to walk or get fluff charges.”

Pat shook his head. All that dope and dead bodies… and he wasn’t going to do any hard time for it.

“As it stands now, Casey and Peters will get deals if their info on a couple of cold case murders pans out. Newsome’s going to be stuck with the hard federal time—life—unless he decides to give up his real boss.”

“I don’t think he knows, Capt. I think he believes Cecil is the boss.”

“Then it sucks to be him.” He stood. “But it won’t be our problem for much longer. DEA will show up sometime tomorrow to get the coke and Newsome. I’d love to have you both on-hand, but the commissioner is crawling up my ass about overtime hours. So officially, you two are off for the next two days. I hope this thing is just a bad memory by the time you clock in again.” He waved and headed for the on-call room for a quick nap before having to deal with the feds.

Tompkins scrubbed his hand down his face.

“Damn, I hate this shitty job sometimes.”

“Man, you and me both.” Pat sat up in his chair. “Wayne… before I let this go, there’s one more thing about this case with Delk.”

“What’s up?”

“I believe Delk, Sr. is in it up to his eyeballs.”

Wayne frowned. “Seriously?”

“Not many people in Creighton have the money to do business with this volume.”

“So, he’s guilty because he’s rich?”

“No, because of his son’s reactions.”


“Cecil didn’t say, “it’s not my coke,” he said, “It’s not my coke.” He knows the real owner. And when you took him out of here, the look he threw at his dad was accusatory.”

“Maybe you’re on to something, Pat. But we’ll never know for sure unless something major happens.”

He shut down his laptop.

“I’m gonna head out. Deb’s not over the flu and I need to get the Tompkins crew up and ready for school.”

“Up for school?” Pat glanced at the wall clock.

4:04. In the morning.

“Man, go on. Get out of here. I had no idea it was that late… or early. Last I noted the time was when Cecil’s daddy and lawyer showed up—at twenty minutes after one.”

Tompkins laughed, grabbing his coat. “Well, you could say we’re dedicated professionals more concerned with tracking down criminals than tracking time.”

“No, I think it’s more we’re a couple of schlubs who keep falling for the captain’s “It won’t take long” line.”

They shared a laugh, both knowing they would do anything Rick Morgan asked of them.

“I hope Deb feels better and tell Tyler he owes me a rematch in horseshoes.”

“Dude, I hope so too. Her mom said if Deb wasn’t better by the weekend, she was coming to stay with us to help out.” Tompkins shuddered. “I do not want that!”

“Better you than me! Enjoy the next couple of days off. See ya’ Friday.”

“You too, Sinclair.”

Pat knew Wayne Tompkins was already switching from police detective to husband and father in his head before the elevator even reached the first floor.

He made the last few entries in his own case file notes and emailed a copy to the captain, the desk sergeant, to himself, and to the queue of the records department.

With his part in the case done, fatigue to bore down on the fifty-two-year-old detective. He eased his bulky frame from his chair and stretched. The aches and pains of age joined in with the past job-related injuries and scarring to once again bring thoughts of retirement to mind.

Why do I keep doing this shitty job? I’ve put in my time. Served my community. Tried to be a good cop and make things better. Twenty-seven years is long enough. Let the new guys have it.

Pat grabbed his coat, needing to get home to Carla, the love of his life.


Pat Sinclair was relaxed and in a great mood as he drove into work. The two days spent with Carla were just what he needed. They’d taken a short road trip and made plans for their future. Pat wasn’t looking forward to telling his partner he was putting in his papers and would be gone by his next birthday.

Knowing his quiet time had to come to an end, Pat clicked on his police scanner to get the buzz.

“14, detectives have already left, and on-site cleanup is complete.”

“Identifications, B1?”

“Affirmative. And notifications have been made for the two victims, a white male, late teens-early twenties, and a white male, mid to late forties.”

Pat frowned as the communication continued.

“B1, these were the victims found bound, gagged and killed execution-style last night?”

“Affirmative, 14.”

Pat knew they wouldn’t say names over the police scanner, and he didn’t need to hear them.

He knew.

The Delks arrogance and total lack of street-smarts cost them their lives.

Pat felt bad for the family left behind. But, he had tried to warn them.

If you play with fire, you will get burned.


©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Mona Lisa Smile #FlashFiction

Rainy Day

Flash Fiction: Word prompt – Mona Lisa smile

His chair was empty and cold just like the coffee he hadn’t drank.

She stared at the cup of coffee, unblinking and unmoved, the Mona Lisa smile still gracing her face.

She tried to remember the words he’d said. Something about ‘not working’, ‘better as friends’, and ‘he’d met someone.’

He had said more, but she wasn’t listening.

She was remembering.

When he said he loved her.

When he said she was the one.

When he asked her to marry him and slipped the ring on her finger.

She looked down at her hand, the ring still in place, heavy and laborious.

He told her to keep it and remember the good times.

Good times?

Instead, she remembered when he said he had to work late and turned off his phone.

She remembered him canceling their weekend trip to Vegas because the ‘big project’ at work was past due… and he turned off his phone.

Lastly, she remembered how he canceled their dinner… on her birthday… because of work.

And he turned off his phone.

She’d told all her friends she was spending her birthday with him and refused to sit home alone.

She went out to dinner and saw him… with her.

She didn’t know if it was a casual fling or a new beginning.

It didn’t matter.

It was over.

She went home and waited.

Waited for him to tell her.

Two days.

Five days.

A week.

She emotionally removed herself from the relationship.

She pulled away from his hugs and turned away from his kisses.

She knew she should walk away but she wouldn’t let him off that easy.

He had to say the words.

One day, he looked into her eyes and he saw it.

She knew.

He left quickly… because of work.

Three days later, he called and asked to meet her for coffee.

And he told her… at last.

She never spoke but just sat there before him cloaked in serenity, Mona Lisa smile in place.

He stood to leave, leaning in to kiss her cheek.

She turned away… and he left.

Looking at the two-karat emerald-cut ring on her finger, a wave of sadness passed over her.

Not for herself but for the woman she replaced… and the woman who replaced her.

They were all members of a club by default. There would be no meetings, only dues paid in full. His new woman would pay hers soon enough.

Gathering her things, she stood and placed a ten-dollar-bill on the table for the coffee no one drank.

As an afterthought, she removed the ring and left it on top of the cash.

Heading for the door, she noticed new customers arriving with wet umbrellas and damp jackets.

“It’s really pouring out there,” an older man said as she walked past him.

Her Mona Lisa smile grew. She loved the rain.

She reached to push the door open and felt a tug on her other arm. Turning, her waitress stood next to her, holding out the ring.

“Is this your ring, ma’am?”

She shook her head once and said, “Not anymore,” and stepped out into the cleansing rain.

©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved




Flash Fiction: Word prompt – downsized


Ramsey felt God had punished him enough.

An honors graduate of Northwestern with nineteen years professional business experience should not be managing a second-rate grocery store.

He fumed thinking about the brand new sixty-foot boat his brother now owned.

Ramsey Carter’s pulse quickened remembering the sadness of his wife’s eyes viewing the photos from her sister’s European vacation.

The former new accounts director owned a boat once. Ramsey took his wife to Europe for their eleventh wedding anniversary… thirteen years ago.

But that was all in the past. The boat was sold two years ago in Ramsey’s second full year of unemployment. Unless they won the lottery, the Carters would never see Europe again.

Closing his laptop, Ramsey pinched the bridge of his noise. Grateful the new work schedule was complete, Ramsey wasn’t looking forward to the usual employee complaints. His penny-pinching regional manager decreased Ramsey’s allotted monthly staffing hours again. The deli and bakery would have to close five hours early to keep checkout lanes and customer service staffed.

Senior employees would scream. Insisting they’d already paid their dues by working the inconvenient shifts and doing grunt work, being scheduled for swing or short shifts was a slap in the face to long term staff.

Ramsey Carter agreed with them. He believed years of service and loyalty to an employer should mean something… have some value.

Or at least he used to.

He believed it right up to the day Bentek Corp’s security escorted him to the parking garage. Security manager Dick Roddy took Ramsey’s employee identification card, handed him an envelope, and walked away.


So, while understanding employee anger at their situation, Ramsey had a job to do. Take the newly allotted hours and staff the store for eighteen hours a day, seven days a week.

At least he wasn’t firing anyone. Yet.

Swearing under his breath, Ramsey eased his large, brawny frame from the cheap, aluminum office chair. Though he’d been tempted to bring in his own chair, Ramsey resisted. That spoke of a long-term commitment to Good Buy Foods he wasn’t interested in making. Grabbing his store keys, Ramsey headed for shipping and receiving to double check the evening lock-down.

Passing through Household Goods and hearing his name called, Ramsey turned. The throbbing in his head was immediate along with the bitter taste in his mouth.

Delia Pennock, health and beauty clerk, teetered toward him on heels too high… and unsafe for the workplace.

How many times would Ramsey have to warn this woman?

Before Delia caught up to him, Ramsey’s inter-store walkie buzzed. The display showed the call was coming from Ramsey’s intended destination — shipping and receiving.

“What’s up, Minas?”

“Need you back here, Ramsey. Now.”

“On my way.”

Red-faced and out of breath, Delia reached Ramsey as he returned the walkie to his belt-clip.

“I love how you’re letting your hair grow out, Ramsey. Those dark curls are sexy and rakish.”

He ignored her attempt at flattery. “What can I do for you, Delia?”

“Well, I know you’re working on the next schedule. Do be a dear and not schedule me for the opening shift or on the checkout stands.”

“Sorry, Delia. The schedule’s done. You open on the express checkout week two of the schedule.”

He turned to leave, but Delia caught hold of his arm. Ramsey looked back to find the bottle-blonde attempting a full-fledged pout. Pursing his lips, Ramsey stepped out of Delia’s grip.

“Ramsey! Six in the morning is just too early for someone with a social life as active as mine.”

“It’s your turn, Delia. You know the rotation.”

Delia had gall. He had to give her that. Most employee scheduling concerns were about babysitting issues, evening classes, and caring for disabled family members. Only Delia would want special treatment so she could sit in a bar all night.

Though her employee file carried a birth-date making Delia thirty-nine-years-old, Ramsey Carter would swear in open court sitting on top of Bible-mountain she was older than his forty-seven years. Even from where he stood, Ramsey could see the layers of makeup on Delia’s face intended to hide wrinkles. It didn’t.

“But, Ramsey-”

“I have to go, Delia. Problem in S and R. And Delia,” he looked at her feet, “the shoes.”

“Oh, okay. We’ll talk… later.”

Ramsey walked away in double-time to keep from laughing in the woman’s face.

If the employee rumor mill were to be believed, Delia Pennock lured three of the last four store managers into sexual trysts outside… and inside the store. The fourth manager was female and not into women, even though it was said Delia tried anyway.

Ramsey Carter had no intention of becoming the over-the-hill party girl’s latest conquest.

Toni Temple-Carter was the sunshine in Ramsey’s life. He’d loved her since the day she’d walked into their seventh-grade English class. But the shy, awkward Ramsey Carter resigned to be just friends with the dark-skinned beauty. For six years Ramsey watched Toni date other guys, his heart breaking piece by piece each time. When he learned Toni would also be attending Northwestern, it cheered him to know he would still get to see Toni from time to time.

Ramsey’s world spun out of control the day Toni Temple plopped down on the bench next to him in the Student Union.

“Do you like me, Ramsey… at all?”

Ramsey, still gawky at nineteen, sputtered for the right words.

“Huh? Like you? Of… of course, Toni. We’re… friends. Have been for a l-long time.”

“Why haven’t you ever asked me out?”

Ramsey’s eyes widened in disbelief.

“Ask… you out? Because… I thought… we’re friends. I didn’t think-”

“Ask me out.”


“Ask me out.”

Understanding registered with Ramsey and the two young people shared a grin.

“Will you go out me, Toni?”

“Yes, Ramsey Carter. I thought you’d never ask.”

They’d been inseparable ever since, marrying five years later.

Committed to each other, the Carters had avoided most of the pitfalls which darken some marriages. When their second son entered college, Toni and Ramsey were excited about the future and making plans. Plans which imploded less than a year later when Ramsey was downsized out of Bentek Corp.

Toni was steadfast, never complaining about their financial situation. At the end of her work day, the nursing manager would often pick up extra hours in patient care to help with their household budget. Toni never blamed Ramsey or even Bentek for their lot and Ramsey was in awe of her. Each time he looked at her, Ramsey saw nothing but love in her eyes.

Other downsized Bentek employees lost everything… homes, savings, and their marriages. But Toni was Ramsey’s fortress, holding him up and shielding him from the depression which threatened to take him.

Yes, the Carters sold their boat, the cabin upstate, and their timeshares. And they no longer splurged on artsy furnishings or ate out. But they had saved their home and kept both their sons in college. Toni often said they were an unbeatable team, but Ramsey knew better. Toni’s love for him was his armor against the world, and her endless faith in him gave him the strength to keep moving forward.

When Ramsey suggested putting their artistic sides to good use by getting into the on-line graphic arts business, Toni not only agreed, but she researched and found the best on-line classes they could afford. Eighteen months later, the couple was close to realizing their dream and beginning a new journey together. Ramsey knew it would be a struggle at first, both of them working full-time while trying to start their own business.  But Ramsey looked forward to the day when he was his own boss.

Opening the security door separating shipping and receiving from the rest of the store. Ramsey Carter gawked at the sight before him.

Department manager, Minas Fortuni, stood at the bay doors attempting to unbend metal around a three-foot hole in the door.

“What the hell?” Ramsey inched forward, his stomach churning at the paperwork in his immediate future. “What happened, Minas?”

Shaking his head, Minas gave up his futile attempts to close the hole.

“That last delivery guy… from Buckley Dairy… didn’t swing the back end of his trailer wide end enough. Backed right into the door. He leaned out the window and saw what he’d done. Know what he did then, Ramsey?”

The store manager stared at the hole in the door, still incredulous.

Minas continued. “He said, “Oops, sorry, dude” and drove off. Just like that.”

Ramsey hung his head defeated. He was tired, hungry and he wanted to go home. This day had to end.

Ramsey Carter decided it was time to delegate. “You busy this evening, Minas?”

“No, and I already put in a call to Rolla-Doorz. It’s going to cost extra, but they’re sending a guy over.”

“Good thinking, Minas. If you’re willing to stay and cover for me, I’ll authorize the overtime… as long as it takes.”

“Of course, I’ll stay. It’s Patty’s turn to host girls’ night. You’re saving me from watching a bunch of baby boomer females get drunk and cavort around the house to the soundtrack from “Grease.” It’s a win-win situation for us both. Go home, man… I got you covered.”

“Thanks, Minas. I owe you for this… big-time!”

Returning to his office in record time, Ramsey made quick notes about the incident and put the Buckley Dairy file on his desk for tomorrow. Before Ramsey could lock his file cabinet, Dale Johnson from the meat department leaned into his office.

“Hey, Ramsey… got a slip and fall near aisle twelve. The woman says the floor was wet and Good Buy Foods is going to pay for her pain and suffering.”

Ramsey leaned against his desk, ready to scream.

“Is the woman okay? Anything broken? Bleeding? Do we need to get paramedics here?”

Dale smirked. “Ramsey… she’s fine.”

“Is someone with her?”

“Yeah. Gail from the front desk.”

“Okay, on my way.”

Ramsey pulled an accident report from the file cabinet along with the store’s Polaroid and headed out of his office. He stopped and returned to his desk, grabbing his cell phone.

Ramsey had to let Toni know he’d be late getting home… again.


©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved


A Strong Heart #52weeks52stories

Heart image

#52weeks52stories – Week #4
prompt: “I’m trying to erase you from my mind…you’re my religion and my belief…“

My body is heavy, weighted to the bed by a cocktail of painkillers, monitors, metal, and casts.

And lying here, even now, I wonder where you are.

Trapped tears pool and sting my eyes, unable to flow past the eyelids swollen shut. A broken wrist and dislocated shoulder keep me from wiping the tears away.

Tears I shouldn’t be crying for you. Tears you do not deserve.

I loved you. For seven years, you were my religion and my belief. Since the day we met rollerblading on the pier, I knew I’d found my soulmate.

To me, you were the smartest man in the world. It didn’t matter to me you failed the state bar exam and I passed. I didn’t blame you for taking your frustrations out on me. I was insensitive for wanting to celebrate my own success. I should have been more considerate of your feelings.

When you failed the exam two more times, I shouldn’t have chastised you for not trying hard enough. You carried the burden of repeated failures. I deserved the slaps for thinking only of myself.

Our night out with friends to celebrate your new position was one of our best times together… until we got home.

I was confused when you threw me into the wall and accused me of throwing myself at your friend, Marty.

You punched me in my side and said I embarrassed you by dancing like a slut, even though I only danced with you.

The next morning, fed up, I packed with one hand, determined to get away from you. Your tears and promises to change broke my heart and I stayed.

Only things didn’t change. I was still your punching bag when things didn’t go your way. When you missed out on a promotion, lost a case or even had car trouble, it was my fault for not being supportive enough; for being too consumed with my own career.

And still, I stayed, making excuses for black eyes and bruises no one believed. That’s when I knew I was as broken inside as you… and I had to save myself.

But I was foolish to believe you’d allow me to walk away.

Your silence made me believe you accepted my decision.

But I was wrong. Again.

I opened my door to you for old times’ sake, trying to be a friend. I didn’t see the first punch coming… or the second, but you swung your fists until I fell to the floor. Trading fists for feet, you kicked with wild abandon, not aiming or caring where your blows landed.

No longer feeling your kicks and punches, I knew I was in shock… and probably dying. But as I slipped into the darkness, I’m sure I heard you say, “You’ll always belong to me. You can never leave.”

I awake to the rhythmic beeps and low hums of medical devices standing watch over my body. My senses are dull, and my thoughts muddied with memories I don’t recognize. I am aware of pain only after I attempt to breathe deeply. The sharp stings ripple deep inside my chest and though still disoriented, I try to keep my breathing shallow.

My injuries are extensive and will take weeks to heal. As the doctor discussed the severity of my injuries and the violence it took to inflict them, I heard something akin to pride in his voice when he said, “Young lady, I’ve seen men succumb to less than what was done to you. Those broken ribs were a problem… we were afraid they would puncture a lung. But that didn’t happen. Your heartbeat was always strong. You were determined to live. You’re a survivor.”

A survivor.

You broke my heart and battered my body. But you couldn’t break my spirit.




The DA contacted me again.

He said you took the deal.

Your sentencing is in a couple of weeks and I’ll be allowed the opportunity to make a victim’s impact statement.

But I won’t.

Because I’m not your victim. I am your end.

I’ll attend your sentencing and smile as you’re taken from the courtroom in shackles.

And then I’ll walk away… with no fear, and not haunted by the way you brutalized me.

It’s said people pass through one’s life as a blessing or a lesson. I’ll remember this lesson… but not the man.

I’m already trying to erase you from my mind.



©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved



Anderson Bell and His Dead Lobsters


Anderson is my protagonist for a proposed full-length romance novel. This is not a story excerpt, but more character development.

How many seafood wholesalers does it take to sell five hundred dead lobsters? Just one. One slimy, sleazy, lying bag of garbage! Rage still coursed through Anderson Bell. Focusing on the road, he took deep breaths trying to calm down.

This was a rare feeling for the forty-seven-year-old restaurateur. Running an upscale restaurant with as many as one hundred employees during the summer months had its own unique stressors. Overbooked reservations, rude dinner guests, sick employees and late supply deliveries were weekly issues Anderson had long ago put in their proper place…deal with it and move on.

He’d learned this as a child from his father.

But the lobsters. The dead lobsters. The five hundred. Dead. Lobsters.

A sense of foreboding swept over Anderson when the delivery truck driver rang the exterior bell for entrance to the back lot.

He was six hours early.

Anderson immediately headed for the delivery bay. Falling into step behind Vance and Eric, two members of his stock crew, the three men silently approached the bay doors. Eric threw the release lever, and the doors began to rise. Anderson couldn’t wait. Just as the doors reached waist height, he bent over and went under them, walking out to the end of the dock.

The driver was already at the rear of the semi, releasing chains and keying in codes to get to his precious cargo. However, before he was finished Anderson could smell it. Spoiled food. Decay. Rot.

The driver smelled it too. He frowned as he caught hold of the door latch and swung the door open.

Simultaneously, the four men took several steps back and turned away. The odor was indescribable. During a special assignment, back in his Air Force days, Anderson’s unit had stumbled upon the decomposing bodies of murdered locals. The fumes coming from the truck were ten times worse.

Vance suddenly ran to the truck, slamming the door closed.

Eric fell to his knees and gagged.

Feeling a wave of nausea, Anderson took a few more steps away from the bay and tried to inhale fresh air in through his nose. Turning back to the truck, he saw Vance advancing on the driver.

“Man, what the hell is this? You got shit for brains or something? Those lobsters have been dead for days!”

“I-I…I didn’t know. I just picked the trailer up less than an hour ago!” He backed away as Vance approached, his hands raised in front of his face.

Returning to the edge of the bay, their words replayed in Anderson’s head. Dead for days. Picked up the trailer less than an hour ago. He didn’t like where this was leading.

Jumping off the dock, Anderson’s face didn’t reflect the pain that shot through his recently repaired ACL. Gesturing for Vance to stop, Anderson questioned the driver.

“What’s your name?”

“Dell. Dell Hanks.”

“Was this a scheduled run for you, Dell?”

“N-No, sir. I just got in this morning with a load of coffee from Georgia. I was ahead of schedule and my boss will get every damn second out of you he can. Anyone else would have let me go home to sleep. But Paul said he’d just got a call for a local run I had to do before my shift timed out. He gave me two addresses. I was to show up at the first one, and they would hook up the trailer, then take the load to the second one—here—and it would be unloaded.”

“Son of a bitch!”

Anderson glanced at Eric who had figured out what Anderson was already thinking.

He’d been scammed.

Anderson Galen Bell had been a mild-mannered, easy-going person all his life…much like his father. A successful and well-respected dentist, Arthur Bell believed life was far too short to spend it angry and vengeful. He and his wife, Sara, had taught their boys it wasn’t so much about turning the other cheek, as it was deciding their own path and who they allowed to control them. His line of thinking didn’t always work, but it had served Anderson well for most of his life.

Now was not one of those times.

“Eric. Vance. You guys get the protective gloves and masks out of storage. And bring some for Mr. Hanks, here.” The driver tried to protest, but Anderson cut him off. “This goes above and beyond anyone’s job description. You, as well as my men over there, will be well compensated for disposing of this nightmare.”

Dell’s eyes widened at the thought of making a few bucks.

“You’re not going to call my boss, are you?”

“As far as I’m concerned, Dell, you made your delivery and went on your way.”

The long-distance trucker relaxed.

“Now, do me a favor, and pull the rig around to the incinerator. It’s to your right over there, down a small incline. Eric and Vance will meet you over there and you can give these poor crustaceans a…proper cremation. Don’t dump the water. God only knows if it’s toxic or not. I’ll go call the water treatment plant.”

Trying not to visibly limp, Anderson returned to his office. Placing a call to the water treatment plant, he wrote down the instructions for getting rid of the tainted water. He then made out three checks, each for five hundred dollars and sealed them in individual envelopes. Turning to his computer monitor, Anderson scrolled through his recent invoices until he found what he was looking for, and made several notes.

Satisfied, Anderson attempted to stand. Pain shot through his knee, causing him to cry out and fall back into his chair.

Dammit! Dr. El-Kass had warned him about doing too much too soon. He had not been happy when Anderson cut his physical therapy short and returned to work. The doctor told him one wrong move could not only undo the repair but also do additional damage.

Anderson Bell had grown tired of sitting around at home with his leg up.

He had an efficient staff and good managers. Luminarias did good business whether he was there or not, and the customer feedback box was always full of compliments for food and staff. But the summer months were special to Anderson. As a child growing up just outside Detroit, Anderson’s family made several day trips to Bayview during the summer, and always spent the first two weeks of July there, without fail. Those trips were the best times of his life, and Anderson couldn’t miss out on another chance to try to recapture the simplicity and innocence of his youth.

Bayview was gearing up for the arrival of tourists and no less than ten festivals before the cool breezes of fall swept in off the water.

Anderson had to be a part of it. It was all he had to look forward to. The restaurant and the days of summer.

Not much of a life, but it was his.

He’d lost his dad to bone cancer six years ago. Sara Bell died less than a year after her husband from a heart attack. Anderson’s brother, Lawrence, lived in northern California. His parents each had one brother and neither had ever left Pennsylvania as his parents did. Anderson knew little or nothing about them or his cousins.

He was alone.

Taking a deep breath, Anderson slowly rose from his seat. The pain was subsiding, his knee almost numb. He knew that meant swelling.


He didn’t have time for this.

Anderson grabbed the bottle of anti-inflammatory pills and swallowed two without water.

Taking a few steps toward his office door, Anderson tried not to limp. He didn’t want to stress his knee or appear weak in front of his staff.

He also couldn’t appear weak during the errand he was about to run.

Clutching the envelopes in his hand Anderson Bell went in search of his day manager, Gayle Norman. He frowned finding her office empty. Passing the banquet rooms, Anderson heard Gayle’s deep throaty laugh. Following the sound, he found Gayle at the beverage counter instructing the newest member of his summer staff on the proper way to change the filters in the ice maker.

“Did I demote you?”

Gayle turned at the sound of Anderson’s voice, already laughing at his comment.

“Bennie’s wife went into labor, Nina had a flat tire on Old Highway 14, and Willie fell off his porch this morning. Broke his wrist. I am the wait staff now.” Laughing at her own words, Gayle gestured at the young woman next to her. “This is Donna, the new hire I told you about a couple of days ago. She wasn’t supposed to start until next week, but she has prior experience, which I need today. Donna, this is Anderson Bell, the owner.”

Anderson shook hands and exchanged greetings with the pretty African-American young woman, and turned back to Gayle.

“Vance and Eric are doing a disposal job at the incinerator. A delivery driver is helping them. When they’re done, give them each one of these.” He handed her the envelopes. “And give this to Vance—I have a quick errand to run.” Giving her the instructions to dispose of the near toxic water, Anderson was already thinking about his next stop.

Shaking her head, Gayle pointed at Anderson’s leg. “That knee says otherwise.”

“I’ll be fine, Gayle, and this won’t take long”, bowing as he backed away, “thank you, ma’am!”

Anderson almost believed he would be fine until he reached the doorway and turned. The jolt of pain caused him to freeze in his tracks. Checking over his shoulder, he saw the two women were back to work and hadn’t noticed his misstep.

Exiting his restaurant, Anderson quickly made his way to his late-model Chevy Tahoe. Taking one more look at the address he’d scribbled down, his anger easily reared its head again as he pulled out of the parking lot.


©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

The Last Medal

Medal of Valor

Image from NCO Journal

Word prompt: ambush

She didn’t need a shrink to tell her she had PTSD.

Virgie Hudson knew of the price she’d paid for thirty-two years of military service – twenty-two of those years… on the front lines.

The day after passage and ratification of SB 1200 allowing women into combat, Virgie left behind ten years of desk and training duties. Like her father and brothers, she would now get to serve on the front lines.

As one of only four women who would lead combat forces, Virginia’s service was legendary. She had numerous medals and awards. She also had numerous scars… on her body and her mind. Virgie remembered all too well how and when she’d received each scar – physical and mental.

For every inch of ground taken, every hill won, every town liberated, there was a memory attached.

The good memories made Virginia smile.

The day her unit entered the town of Ras al-Ayn, the grateful Kurdish women’s militia cheered. After fighting ISIS forces for days, the exhausted women thanked the Americans’ for their help… and for some relief. With American support, ISIS guerrillas made a hasty retreat.

The memories of losing team members played on repeat in her mind often. Pfc. Jeff Ollenbeck – lost to a land mine. Pfc. David Jencks and LCpl. Donald Morgan – killed in an ambush attack. 2ndLt. Shelley Cooper – taken down by a sniper. There were more. So many more.

Why did she survive?

Virgie squeezed her eyes shut and yanked at her thick, black curls attempting to block out the faces of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

She grabbed the tumbler of bourbon from the table in front of her, gulping it down in one breath. Even in those brief periods when fallen Marines didn’t cloud her thoughts, there was always the children.

The children Virgie couldn’t save.

It took several days to get into the small isolated town east of Mosul. When a ten-thousand member Iraqi counter-terrorism force arrived, militants soon scattered over the borders into the mountains of Turkey and Iran.

Villagers wept as Col. Virginia Holman Hudson’s team set up aid stations. It was obvious many of the town’s residents survived severe beatings and torture. Virgie knew one young woman wrapped in a thread-bare blanket and shielded by an older woman was a rape victim.

A silent signal to her senior officers was acknowledged only by their scattering to inspect the village. One of her team interpreters called out to Virgie.

“Col. Hudson, the children!”

“What about them, Lance Corporal?”

Accompanied by two female villagers, LCpl. Dirks approached her. “A man took the children yesterday morning.”

In rapid speech and dialect Virgie didn’t understand, she did recognize the word for ‘hill’. The woman gestured and pointed at something behind Virgie.

Virgie looked over her shoulder and saw a small, flat, mud-brick building sitting on a low hill about four hundred meters away. With one movement of her hand, the strike team fell into formation, heading for the building. Virgie led them until her second-in-command, 1st Lieutenant Reynolds pulled her back.

“Excuse me, Colonel, but you know I can’t let you do that.”

She nodded once. “Dammit, Rey… find those children!”

Led by Reynolds, the strike team moved forward up the small incline to the building. Virgie fell into step behind them.

They had traveled half the distance to the building when a man threw open the building’s only door. His maniacal laughter was rife with anger and madness.

“Hold fire!” Virgie held up her hand while glaring at the insurgent.

Stepping forward, Virgie questioned the man in flawless Arabic. “اين الاطفال?” Where are the children?

Not getting any response other than wild-eyed mania, Virgie switched to Kurdish. بچوں کی کہاں ہیں?

Recognition dawned in the mad man’s eyes. He lifted his arms and yelled, “کان کے بچے ہیں!” The children are mine!

Virgie recognized the small detonator in his hand, attached to a wire feeding into his sleeve. Before she could give the order to fall back, the crazed terrorist yelled out again, “Allah is great!”, and detonated the bomb.

What happened in the next few seconds was an eternity to Virginia Hudson.

The expression on the bomber’s face never changed as the impact of the explosion behind him ripped his body in half, each section set ablaze. Virgie lost sight of him when someone threw her to the ground, covering her body with their own. Except for the monstrous roar of the burning building, silence bathed the area.

Then sounds flooded the area.

Like a chorus, the wails of the villagers pierced the silence. Virgie pushed against the body holding her down, but stopped struggling and listened. She heard a different noise… coming from the burning building.

With one final shove, Virgie pushed the body off her enough to roll from under and to her feet. Reynolds lay a few feet away rubbing his chest from the impact of her blow. Virgie headed for the building but another team member grabbed her.

“Let go or you’re losing a stripe! I don’t care who it is!”

Anger rose inside of Virginia as she spun around and looked up into the face of Cpl. Lawrence.

“Col.… there’s nothing we can do for them.”

Her body sagged, already knowing the truth. The tears streaming down the big Marine’s face caused Virgie to look at the rest of her strike team. They all wept–male and female alike.

Donnelly watched out for Dirks, now on his knees, giving up the contents of his stomach.

Sanchez clutched the cross around his neck.

Though his face was wet with tears, Gilmore’s eyes flared with rage.

“Dirks? How many?”

Without raising his head, Dirks responded, the words causing him physical pain. “T-Thirty four, ma’am.”

Anger and grief warred inside Virgie. Anguish strangled her heart as bile rose in her throat. Closing her eyes, Virgie called upon the false sense of calm needed to do her job. Opening her eyes, Virgie spoke, knowing Reynolds was back at her side.

“Secure the perimeter, Lieutenant.”

Virgie gave the order almost as an afterthought, not moving from where she stood. Only after the cries for help stopped did she turn to look at the building crumbling in the fiery blaze.

Col. Virginia Holman Hudson knew her military career was over.

She’d had enough.

©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved


Lottery of Life #52weeks52stories

Apologies for posting an incomplete story this week, but a death in the family took me away from writing. Get to know Delia Freeman and look for part two of her story later this week.
#52weeks52stories: Week 3
Word prompt: Lottery
Word count: 1376

Delia Freeman stepped over the drunk on the sidewalk, not sure if he was dead or alive.

There was always a drunk or a junkie or some other lost soul invisible to society crouched against the back wall of Tilly’s Quick Stop.

Delia wasn’t heartless or uncaring to their situation… she was one of them. Once a young woman with a promising future, now caught in the vicious grip of poverty and hopelessness. If anyone looked hard enough, they might see the former up-and-coming college-educated accountant hidden beneath the layers of depression, low self-esteem, and self-hate.

If anyone looked.

She reached the front door of Tilly’s and had to push her way through the usual crowd of drug dealers, con-men, and thieves.

“Hey, Miss Delia. You looking mighty tasty today. Girl, we need to do some conversating.”

Delia cringed and took a step back. The mixture of stale beer and poor hygiene wafting off the wide-eyed crackhead turned her stomach.

“Man, she is a nice piece, but back up off ‘dat. You know she Perk’s woman.”

Perk’s woman. She was anything but his woman. That would mean she was loved and cherished… and wanted.

But Delia was none of those things. She was his financial support, cook, cleaning lady, errand girl, and punching bag. And when she was exhausted, longing for peace and sleep, he’d climb on top of her and rut like the greasy pig he was.

No. She was not Grayland Perkins’ woman. She was his prisoner.

Delia wasn’t held captive by weapons or threats, but the cruel icy fingers of fate.

Glaring at the assembly of lowlife, Delia entered Tilly’s and headed for the beer cooler.

“Evenin’, D.”

Turning, Delia saw the tiny great-grandmother with the sparkling eyes seated in a camp chair behind the counter.

“Hey, Miss Myra. You doing okay today? Those idiots outside not bothering you, are they?”

“We have an understanding—do not darken my doorway unless you have cash in hand. End of story. No one wants to cross a gypsy.”

Delia laughed and wondered how the old woman did it. While crime was rampant in the neighborhood, Tilly’s was trouble-free. The liquor store a half-block away had been robbed three times and had three attempts—all in less than a year. But Tilly’s didn’t even have bars on the windows or a front gate.

Myra Tilly shared counter hours with her children and grandchildren. While she didn’t work weekends, the septuagenarian was behind the counter Monday through Friday without fail.

Reaching the cooler, Delia had a moment’s panic when she didn’t see Perk’s favorite brand.

The last time she took another brand home, the man flew into a rage, accused Delia of open defiance, and choked her into unconsciousness.

Delia touched her neck at the memory and said a silent prayer of thanks when she saw the twelve-pack on the bottom shelf.

After grabbing a few other items to make her lunch for work, Delia unloaded her hand-basket on the counter.

“Baby, you’re too young to look so tired and beat down.”

“I know, Miss Myra. Just waiting for the winds of change.”

“Girl, you can’t wait for change. You gotta’ make it for yourself.” She rang up and bagged Delia’s items. “Keep on waiting and you’ll end up old like me… and still waiting.”

Embarrassed, the young woman dropped her head.

“I know you’re right, Miss Myra. I do.”

“Knowing I’m right don’t help you either. Child, how old are you?”

Delia’s body went rigid, amazed at the timing of the old woman’s question.

“Today’s my birthday. I’m thirty.”

Myra’s face brightened.

“Happy Birthday, sugar! Shoot! I don’t have anything in here even close to a cake.” She snapped her fingers. “Hang on a sec.”

Delia watched, amused, as the petite senior citizen scurried to the opposite end of the counter. Removing something from a lower counter, Myra returned to her customer wearing a triumphant grin.

“I keep a box of these on hand for the few people who pass through my door and understand fine chocolate.”

Delia’s eye widened as she watched Myra drop three bars of pricey imported milk chocolate in her bag.

Myra winked, clapping her hands together. “One for each decade.”

Delia was touched by the woman’s gesture. The big box store she worked for gave her a twenty-five-dollar gift card, and her supervisor bought her a super-pretzel from the store’s snack counter. That had been the extent of her day of birth being acknowledged.

“Miss Myra, that is so sweet of you. Thank you!”

“You’re welcome, child.”

She grasped both of Delia’s hands. “I know you’re supposed to make a wish and blow out the candles on your cake,” she shrugged, “but no cake, no candles, so I’m making the wish for you.”

She tightened her grip on Delia’s hands.

“By your next birthday, I wish for you to be happy and healthy and doing something with your life you love. And if you haven’t found that special someone, I at least want you to be free of relationships… and friendships that are squeezing the life out of you today. This is my birthday wish for you.”

Delia averted her eyes, blinking to hold back her tears. She returned her gaze to the spry store owner.

“This is the nicest thing anyone’s done for me since my mom died. Thank you, Miss Myra. And I promise to keep my eyes open for opportunities to get that wish.”

Myra beamed. “Good!”

Delia gave her friend’s hand one last squeeze, then let go, reaching into her bag and retrieving her wallet. She pulled out two bills and handed them to Myra.

After making change, Myra dropped the coins into Delia’s hands.

Delia reached for the bills, but Myra didn’t let go.

“Wanna do something crazy for your birthday, young lady?”

Delia tilted her head and smirked. “With six dollars? What did you have in mind?”

Myra’s smile grew as she pointed toward the sign next to the register.

“The lottery? Are you kidding me?”

“C’mon, baby girl, take a chance. It’s up to fifty million!”

Delia scoffed.

“I’ve never bought a lottery ticket in my life, Miss Myra. I don’t even know how to play or what’s involved.”

Myra handed Delia a Lottery form. “Most people play their six favorite numbers and add a random number. Or, you can do quick picks and allow the machine to pick the numbers. One dollar a ticket.”

Delia rocked against the counter, staring at the lottery form. What did she have to lose besides six dollars?

“Fine. I’ll do it. Give me six of those quickies.”

Laughing, Myra turned on the machine. “Quick picks. They’re called quick picks.”

Before Myra could press the first button, Delia yelped. “No, wait! Make it five.” She grabbed the pen on the counter and filled in six circles on the form.

She paused, chewing the inside of her lip. She needed a random number.

Myra watched her and chirped in. “Today’s your birthday. Go with that.”

Delia considered the suggestion.

“Miss Myra, when is your birthday?”

The old woman’s eyes sparkled.


“No way! We’re birthday sisters? Now I have to use your birth date.”

Delia filled in the last circle and gave the form to Myra. She marveled at the brisk pace Myra keyed in numbers as she went through the process. So much for the argument senior citizens didn’t get modern technology.

“Here you go.”

Delia took the single slip of paper, confused.

“There are six rows of numbers on that slip. Each row is a ticket. Your chosen numbers are the first row, followed by five quick picks.”

“Look at me, turning thirty and playing the Lottery.”

Delia dropped the ticket with her wallet into her handbag and gathered up her purchases.

“Miss Myra, I walked in here tired and grumpy, feeling sorry for myself, but you made my entire day. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, child.”

“I’ll stop by tomorrow to wish you happy birthday.”

“I look forward to it.”

Delia left Tilly’s feeling better than she had in any recent year. She didn’t even hear the catcalls and lewd suggestions from the corner crew.

Nothing could taint her mood. She was happy.


©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved