My latest ramblings. Thanks to Jacob Flores for hosting me!
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Winter Solstice Ramblings
Here it is, December 20th, which is, according to the Mayan calendar, the day before the end of the world.
I’d love to use the “end of the world” theory during tonight’s seasonal shift at Target. “Come on, these sweaters don’t need to be folded; no one will be here to buy them tomorrow.” If I try that theory on my supervisor, end of the world or not, I won’t be around for tomorrow’s shift.
It’s a shame how this year the Winter Solstice receives a bum rap. Is it a length issue? Naw, the Winter Solstice is always the shortest day of the year. I find it hard to believe after December 21st, the days grow longer, probably because they also grow colder. No, the pesky Mayan calendar blames 2012’s Winter Solstice for being the end of the world.
Come on, everyone loves the Winter Solstice. The Christian Church loved the Winter Solstice to the point they made sure they placed Christmas on the Roman Winter Solstice, which, according to 45BC’s Julian calendar, fell on December 25th. The Romans weren’t happy with merely conquering irritated “pagan” tribes and angry barbarians; they wanted to conquer the calendar. So what if the ignorant pagans had designed monuments which celebrated the Winter Solstice on December 21 or 22. The Romans dismissed the problem. They had a tendency to dismiss, eh?
Gee, think it’s a coincidence Christmas is on December 25 and a week later the New Year begins? Nope. Even back then they wanted an excuse to kick back for a week.
The reality is, before the Christians stole the Winter Solstice’s short thunder, Northern European people partied hard. The Winter Solstice sounded the survival alarm. No more fooling around! Peasants feared their livestock wouldn’t survive the grueling weather; they slaughtered the animals to make sure the family survived the grueling weather. Back in the day this was not a good time to be a vegetarian. The wine had fermented, that is if a peasant could afford wine. The Winter Solstice encouraged people to throw a party celebrating life. Once the party ended, the frightened masses hunkered down to pray they survived the harsh winter months.
As I said, ancient monuments monitor the Winter Solstice. The magnificent Newgrange tomb in Ireland’s Boyne Valley registers the Winter Solstice sunrise. If you can’t attend the Winter Solstice in person, the tour guides will recreate the event for you. The event is a damned impressive experience. In Salisbury, England, Stonehenge records the Winter Solstice sunset. I bet the Druids had ways of telling each other about each event using their mystical hotline. “Ranith, Winter Solstice is a go. I repeat, Winter Solstice is a go.”
“Roger that, Holly. I’ll let you know when we reach Winter Solstice’s end.”
The Winter Solstice is celebrated across the world, from Africa to China. This is a serious multi-cultural event. People celebrate the shortest day of the year knowing the days now become longer. There’s hope.
I won’t mention how the “Christmas” tree, the “Yule” log, mistletoe, ivy and pine greens are holdouts from well before Christianity borrowed the Winter Solstice. Oh wait, I did mention them.
Hey, why not? Regarding the potent Winter Solstice, it’s always good to hedge the bets and embrace the ancient customs. Certain customs remain viable for a reason. Even in this modern time of electricity and seemingly endless power, deep inside everyone a primordial speck celebrates when the days grow longer. The Sun has escaped from the Black God to grow stronger again. The year’s Spring crops will grow. Basic and beautiful.
I refuse to believe the world will end on such a celebrated day. The Druids won’t let it happen. In fact, there’s probably a rumble between the Mayans and the Druids taking place to make sure there’s no misunderstanding.
No matter how you celebrate the season, hope it’s a happy one!
Which leads me to my latest novel “Cupid Knows Best”. Yep, I succumbed. The novel contains a Christmas story.
Here is the excerpt!
When it comes to his professional life, photographer Carl Conrad is at the top of his game. He molds impressionable minds at university by day and jets off to Paris for gallery showings on long weekends. Unfortunately, he pays for it with his disastrous personal life: Carl kicked his boyfriend to the curb after one too many punches, so now it's just him and his hamsters, one of which he suspects may be a space alien.
Then Cupid takes pity on Carl and hits him where it hurts. It takes Carl all of three seconds to fall head over heels in lust with set design student Marcelino Moya, despite the man’s questionable—okay, deplorable—fashion sense. Convincing Marcelino to give him a chance is the hard part, but Carl is up for the challenge, pun definitely intended.
Marcelino plays hard to get, but he isn't immune to Carl's charms. Carl talks him around to dinner, dating, and eventually moving in. There's just one tiny word standing between Carl and perfect happiness. Why won't Marcelino say the “L” word?
I massaged Marcel’s thigh and kissed his forehead. “You created a wonderful party, lover.”
“You really did, Marcelino. Here’s to the return of playful gatherings. You inspire me to drag my sad ass out of my doldrums and throw a private party at the gallery.” Hindy turned and kissed Tim’s cheek. “What am I saying? My fair Tim drags me out in quite an efficient manner.”
Tim fluttered and blushed. “See, I’m stronger than I look.” They kissed in hotter commitment.
How cute. Tim recovered from his near swoon and relaxed back. His fingers curled in Hindy’s hair. I adored how Tim had succumbed to Hindy’s elegant worship.
After he recovered, Tim pointed at our tree. “Marcelino, the tree is delightful. I’ve been meaning to say something all evening.”
“Thanks. When Carl told me he never bothered with a tree anymore, I straightened him, well, you know what I mean, out on the problem. This holiday fiend needs a tree to celebrate the festive season.”
“Of course clever Marcel created our flamboyant rainbow tree.” My witty planner had purchased simple glass ornaments in rainbow colors and artfully arranged them in zigzag waves across the blue spruce. The compact tree’s rounded bulk dominated the room’s right window corner. “I love the sight. I never realized how I missed having a tree.” I stood and bowed toward my guests. “Anyone want more wine?”
Agreements filled the air. I brought an open bottle of pinot grigio and a bottle of Malbec to the coffee table. “Have fun.”
Hindy huffed in annoyance. “Marcelino, when will you properly train this rude beast?”
“Carl isn’t too bad. He’s just a little undomesticated.”
I returned to my cuddle against Marcel. “Why should I bother? You look after me so well I feel content to drift along.”
“That’s not true. I noticed someone has learned how to empty the dishwasher, and no lie, Carl even uses the vacuum cleaner.”
“What a miracle! Dearest, I salute you for transforming Carl.”
“Yeah, right.” I grinned and winked at Cupid, who sat alongside the bewinged Cher doll that passed for our tree’s angel. Yeah, I had started making the domestic effort for my man.
Hindy patted Tim’s knee. His eyebrows performed their usual hairline tango. “Tim, trust me, you are lucky to have found a tidy man. I’ve seen this place when—”
“Stop spreading tales.” I rolled my eyes. “Here’s the deal. Four months ago, Hindy dropped by one evening after Martin and I had conducted a stellar battle over him slapping me. The kitchen table’s contents were sprawled across the floor. During the argument, we tossed our food-filled plates like crazy people. Then we started on the glassware.”
“Too bad you didn’t crack a plate over his evil head.” Marcel scowled and sipped his wine. “Or better yet a grease-filled frying pan.”
“The temptation flirted with me.”
“I wish temptation had flirted you into real action. Enough, enough, I don’t want to talk about the odious man. Tonight I want to celebrate the season with true friends.” Marcel slithered from his sprawl and flicked on the TV. He clicked around until he laughed in merriment. “There it is. Bridget told me about this festive channel.”
Hindy sputtered in disbelief. “How remarkable. They actually broadcast a film of a burning Yule log? Hilarious.”
“A Yule log and traditional Christmas carols. How fun.” Tim raised his glass in glee before he poured Malbec. Damn, his shaky aim almost baptized my floor in dark-red goodness.
Marcel switched on the tree lights. The sparkly glow filled the room.
To my relief, Tim’s wineglass landed on the table before he applauded the festive light show. He seemed toasted enough to forget he held a glass in his hands. “Why did you turn off the lights during the party?”
“I don’t want to burn the living tree’s branches.” Marcel pointed to the large copper bucket holding the tree upright. “See, the spruce has a root ball. We’re donating the merry little tree to whatever city park needs trees. We can visit the spruce like proud parents.”
Hindy’s knowing stare met mine. “We are blessed old farts.”
“I agree.” I raised my glass for a communal toast. Our glasses clinked together without breaking anything although Tim almost fell off the couch. When it came to drinking, the slim blond was a lightweight.
Marcel switched off the room lights and returned to my side. He ruffled my hair. I wrapped my arm around his waist and pulled him close for a satisfied kiss.
We basked in the rainbow tree’s glow while watching the televised Yule log and listening to classic holiday tunes. The cozy scenario made sense. Tim and Hindy looked as settled as any old couple resting on a park bench, well, that is if the old couple wore black leather, black seersucker, or red-and-green plaid wool trousers. They sat holding hands and smiling for no good reason.
A gasp brushed my cheek. Marcel scrambled to his feet and pointed in fine dramatic style. I managed not to drop my wine. “Look, how cool, it’s snowing!” The pale light seeping through the right window framed his broad shoulders.
I admired his proud silhouette. Tim and Hindy stood to occupy the tall front left window. I stood and joined Marcel. There, a couple graced each window. Fitting. Outside the large flakes filtered down in indolent sloth. The streetlights illuminated their stately descent through the naked tree branches. This too made magical sense. I hugged Marcel close and kissed his temple.
Hindy shook his head in dismay. “I fear it’s time to find a cab.”
As he laughed, Marcel leaned over and prodded Hindy’s shoulder. “Why? You can use the spare bedroom.”
“Stay the night?”
“Look, we have plenty of treats and wine. I say let’s sit, eat, drink, and continue the celebration.” Marcel raised his glass into the air.
Tim clapped in glee. “I’m off tomorrow. I say yes.”
Hindy also lifted his glass into the air. “How wise. Why suffer winter’s bite? Jezebel loves her food dispenser, so no worries.”
Familiar thumping made me laugh. “Spazz wants to join the party.”
“Can I meet him in person?”
“Come on, Tim, I’ll let you hold his travel ball.”
Tim cooed in delight. Spazz entered his travel ball and danced in glee. My nutty hamster hated being left out of the action. Einstein stirred and started roaming through the colorful tube tangle. “Wow, Einstein is awake. These guys agree. They want to party. Go ahead, set Spazz on the floor.”
The merry Spazz rolled into the living room. He managed to bounce against Hindy’s and Marcel’s feet before he rolled back into the spare bedroom. I swear that hamster owned superior taste. No wonder, he was an alien.
We settled back into our comfortable cuddles. Marcel winked and kissed my cheek.
This time Hindy raised his wineglass into the air. The Yule log’s flames reflected off the glass. “My dear Tim, love for a pet is a sign of a good man. If you move in with me, will you bring along any pets? As you know, my ancient Jezebel is a sweetie, but she isn’t much on furry intruders. She does approval of you, which is enough for me.” Hindy set down his wineglass and stroked Tim’s long fine hair.
Marcel gasped. He gripped my shoulder until my muscles whimpered for release.
Tim almost hyperventilated. “Hindy, is this an offer?”
My friend flicked his pale left hand flicked through the air in imperial dismissal. “I planned to wait, but since our dear friends have created such a lovely romantic environment for us, I need to ask you tonight. After all, their love brought us together. Wise of them.” Hindy turned and winked at us before he grasped Tim’s hands. He kissed Tim’s knuckles and sighed in adoration. “Care to move in with me, sweetie darling? Care to be my much-needed breath of fresh air and keep dragging me from my shell?”
“Yes, yes, yes!” Their hug created a devoted tangle of black and blond hair.
Marcel’s triumphant smile tried to blind me. I squeezed him close. “Congratulations, matchmaker.”
A brief wing flutter vanished into the sparkling snow. Cupid, you are da man.
Thanks for reading!
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
As part of the Next Big Thing Blog Hop, I'm here to chat about my new WIP, the second in the Cupid Knows Best franchise. There’s a nasty word, franchise, but this is not really a series. This second book is nothing like the first book in the Cupid realm, entitled, spiffily enough, Cupid Knows Best.
There’s no first POV in this book. Amazing how certain readers despise first person point of view. It makes them break out in hives. When I first started I made the decision to switch to the third POV because this book demanded I burrow into more than one character’s perspective, much like a mental pilot.
In the comments section, let me know your favorite song. One lucky person will win an ebook of Cupid Knows Best.
Time for the TEN questions!
What is the working title of your book?
The Gospel According to Cher. Her song “Believe” plays a huge part in the story.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
As I developed the secondary character Hindy from Cupid Knows Best, I wanted to know more and more about the diva gallery-owner. I gave Hindy a tragic yet weirdly funny love life. This book piles more trauma and drama on the devastated diva until Hindy meets lovelorn Patrice. Patrice is a character I kept dreaming about last year. He’s a frightened drag queen with a heartbreaking romantic past who really needs someone to take care of him, to protect him. The romantically-bruised Hindy does not seem like he can handle the huge task until Cupid steps in to maneuver the pair together.
What genre does your book fall under?
It’s a comedic gay male romance with vaguely supernatural spice.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?
What a tough question. Handsome Daniel Henney is a great choice for Patrice. He’s a little older than Patrice, but he’s half-Korean, half-Irish which is the perfect blend.
Here’s some pics of him. Cute, right? I think he’d look lovely sporting tiny braids.
Hindy, ahhh, dear, diva Hindy. I need a sexy, commanding man who can flash-freeze someone with a look but who also succumbs to tears when his romances fail. I know Michael Fassbinder seems to be in everything, but he has the right look for Hindy. He’s also the perfect age.
What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?
Really? Ha, I imagine the words being said in the big movie announcer voice, like “In a world torn by turmoil…” yep, that voice. Eeee, well, here goes!
When Cupid brings together a dramatic diva and a drag queen together in the wilds of the Adirondack mountains, who will end up wearing the spike heels in the relationship?
Yeah, what a sucky sentence. I’m not much for one sentences zingers.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I plan to offer the novel to Dreamspinner in February. How’s that for putting the cart before the horse. Is the correct cliché?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I wrote most of the story during National Novel Writing Month, or, in shorthand, NaNoWriMo, from November 1st to November 21st. I’m finishing the first read through now. Major editing will take place in January.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre.
Cupid Knows Best or my other comedy An Elf for All Centuries. I haven’t read a book like this in the m/m genre which probably means it’s doomed. There's no cops, firemen, cowboys, or shifters.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Like I said, a demanding secondary character and a dream. The combination works for me!
What else about your book might interest the reader?
Hindy and Patrice should not click together. When they grow to understand each other, they realize how much they need each other. As in any good romance, ugly forces conspire to drive them apart, but Cupid, a mystical romance Moose named Big Floyd, Nate Jennings, the FBI profiler turned B&B owner and other characters help Hindy and Patrice’s romance blossom.
Here’s a little unedited excerpt:
Doors slammed shut. Sunglasses assumed positions atop nose bridges. Black hair shook back from high cheekbones. Hindy felt like a fighter pilot ticking off the take-off countdown. They prepared to enter romantic orbit.
Cupid rested on Esmeralda's black dashboard like a spiritual GSP system. The silver lip base shot wobbly sparkles across the interior. Hindy started Esmeralda, revved and roared from the parking lot.
Patrice raised his arms in the air. “Whooo-hoooo! I am outta here!” He almost stood in glee. Good thing Hindy had Esmeralda's top down.
Gleeful laughter seemed like the proper response. Laughter felt fine. Hindy crested the hill into the— fuck no. He slammed on the brakes. The car skewed to the right. Cupid slid down the dashboard until the windshield trapped his blond curls.
Patrice bounced up and down in manic glee. “Big Floyd! Holy cow, its Big Floyd!” His bouncing threatened Esmeralda’s delicate suspension.
Cow? Not the correct way to describe the lumbering beast. Hindy stared in epic disbelief. This could not be happening to him again. Hindy blinked. Hard. The huge animal’s mild brown eyes regarded him in disquieting intelligence. He suffered the damned phantom moose again?
Despite his trapped position between the windshield and dash board, Cupid started twirling. Cher belted out “Believe.”
Big Floyd swayed his antlers from side to side. The men watched as he high stepped around the car shaking his antlers to the throbbing beat. Once he performed a complete revolution, the hairy creature threw back his head and released a braying hoot.
Big Floyd’s head swooped down toward the ecstatic Patrice. He released another hoot. Patrice clapped in delight. The moose turned, shook his tail, and stepped into the pine forest.
Before he disappeared into the old trees, a silver shimmer surrounded his powerful body. Another raw hoot echoed through the foliage before Big Floyd’s tail flickered and vanished through thick pine growth. The strong sunrays illuminated the little dust motes swirling around the pine needles.
Cupid ceased wobbling around. Only birdsong and the creaking of Esmeralda’s springs filled the warm air. Hindy blinked for the fiftieth time.
Patrice’s goose honk laughter snapped Hindy from his stunned panic. He stared at his thrilled lover. Bouncing in joy suited Patrice. “Patrice, you did see what I just saw, correct?”
“Indeed I did, Spike! We have Big Floyd’s double supreme blessing! Whooo-hooo!” Patrice lunged forward to kiss Hindy before he hoisted Cupid into the air. A few glitter flakes drifted to rest on his shoulders. “Floor it, lover! Let’s go to my new home! New York City, here I come to cum!”
Hindy pressed the gas pedal to the floor.
Thanks for dropping by. Please comment! I’ll pick a winner on December 26th.
On December 26th, make sure you hop to these blogs to keep the “Next Big Thing” Blog Hop going strong!
Augusta Li and Eon de Beaumont
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Lovely 4 kiss review for Cupid Knows Best. Here's a snippet:
"Ms. Garcia writes such interesting, unique heroes that I find very addictive to read about. Her heroes are quirky and are definitely one of a kind, and I easily become fascinated with each and every one of them. Even though they are a little unconventional, they still come across as wonderfully well-written and humanly flawed men."
"Ms. Garcia writes such interesting, unique heroes that I find very addictive to read about. Her heroes are quirky and are definitely one of a kind, and I easily become fascinated with each and every one of them. Even though they are a little unconventional, they still come across as wonderfully well-written and humanly flawed men."
Friday, November 30, 2012
On Monday, December 3rd, one lucky commenter will receive an ebook of their choice from my back catalog! Just tell me your favorite adjective. It's that easy.
In honor of RJ Scott's Christmas Blog Hop, here is a new version of my m/m holiday comedy Misplaced at Birth: A Tale of Two Elves. I apologize in advance for using any trademarked names. I do it only in fun.
On Monday, December 3rd, one lucky commenter will receive an ebook of their choice from my back catalog! Just tell me your favorite adjective. It's that easy.
Misplaced at Birth: A Tale of Two Elves
Hermey the Elf frowned at his wonderful, hand-carved locomotive. The bright yellow paint gleamed in shiny cheerfulness. The color would make any child happy. The sight should inspire him. Instead the Elf set down his brush and sighed like a dying daffodil trapped in a deadly Wordsworth poem sequel. Woe, life seemed unfair. No one in gloomy Mirkwood liked toy trains, or even knew what they were, which meant the other Elves mocked Hermey’s unique skills. Worse yet, the tall Elves stared down at Hermey in smug superiority. Hermey’s two-foot stature made staring down at him effortless.
The frustrated Elf spent his time building magnificent toy trains, boats, cars, dolls, and clowns, but did anyone thank him? No, instead they wondered why Hermey refused to learn how to swing a sword, shoot a deadly arrow, or neatly hamstring an attacking Orc.
Please, Hermey stood a dainty two-feet tall, hardly built for battle, not in any realm. The thought of hurting anyone or anything sickened him. Pleasant Hermey wanted to dance, sing, build toys and bring joy to everyone in the Middle Earth. Unfortunately his giddy intentions didn’t cut the lembas in deadly spider-infested Mirkwood.
Shooting a living thing did not enter Hermey’s cheerful personal matrix. Couldn’t everyone try to be merry friends? Although sometimes, when the tall blonde sourpusses pushed Hermey too far, he wanted to clamp his strong teeth into their shins until they shrieked in pain. What an easy attack. When trapped in a Mirkwood social gathering, Hermey only saw their bony legs. The sad Elf swore that the tall gits kicked him just for fun. Over the years, the snide, “whoops, sorry, didn’t see you down there, Shorty,” apologies had grown tedious.
After sighing in profound dismay, Hermey applied a second coat of paint to the caboose. The deep cherry red hue looked stunning, but did anyone in violent Bummerville care? No, instead of clapping their hands in glee, the unpleasant Elves muttered behind their calloused from shooting arrows palms. When they bothered to acknowledge Hermey, the tall gits capriciously tapped their fingers against their temples and rolled their eyes in open ridicule.
The situation swerved into emotional disaster. Why didn’t Hermey fit in? Why?
As he walked forward, Santa swallowed in trepidation. He cleared his throat in great gusto. The years had taught him never to surprise Legolas during archery practice. Such a mistake offered life-threatening danger. Poor Donner had nearly lost a kidney to the Elf’s legendary quick and lethal battle reflexes.
“Ahem, please, dear Legolas, you cannot keep distracting the Elves from making their toys.”
Legolas turned from aiming his arrow. A scowl darkened his handsome features. He sternly pointed down at Santa’s rosy cheeks. As usual Santa tried to stand his ground but his sensible feet took a step back from the angry Elf. “Listen, Santa, how many times do I need to repeat myself? We are defenseless up here. We need a real army. We need a well-trained squad of tough Elves who can fight to the bloody, gut-strewn death. You think life is a merry bowl of cherry jelly. This realist know better. What if the polar bears organize and attack your decorative rock candy castle? The lacking structure isn’t even crenellated. What a pretty joke. Santa, do you ever ponder the serious structural problem? We are completely helpless. If the nasty bears attack, what will we do, throw rag dolls or teddy bears at them? Talk about a tactical farce!”
Santa nervously examined the tall, angry Elf glaring down at him and shook his head in silent frustration. He owned no idea what odd Elf strain had created this tall, blood-thirsty Elf. Legolas looked and acted different than the other Elves. Violent Legolas refused to make toys, learn how to chuckle warmly or sing cute holiday ditties. In fact, his dreadful singing skills frightened everyone. The cacophony made the wolves howl and forced migrating geese to change course.
Instead of joining in the typical merry Elven antics, the solitary Legolas carved bows and practiced tossing knives, which he crafted in the forge reserved for fixing the important Christmas sleigh rails. He tried to gather the other Elves to join in daily target practice instead of singing cheerful songs practice. He made the more sensitive Elves weep in terror.
This week poor Vixen and Blitzen languished in the reindeer clinic because Legolas had angrily drilled arrows into their hairy rumps. When confronted about his unpleasant deeds, Legolas declared he thought he had spied the two reindeer consorting with the polar bears to plan the suspected hostile takeover. Better safe than sorry in Legolas’s suspicious mind.
The situation swerved toward complete disaster. The freakishly tall, brutal Elf refused to conform to life in merry old Christmastown.
No matter what, Santa always tried maintaining good vibrations. He patted Legolas’s leather-clad thigh and smiled. “Look, my friend, who don’t you go help Mrs. Claus with the seasonal dusting? Only you can reach those stubborn upper corner dust bunnies. She does appreciate your clever help.”
Legolas narrowed his eyes before he nodded in silent resignation and walked toward the candy castle.
Santa shook his head. Why didn’t Legolas fit in?
All right, this nonsense broke the lembas. As he stared over his empty workshop, Hermey stomped his size two shoe in angry tantrum. His wonderful toys had vanished from his secret workshop. The stunt conquered his sweet-natured temper. His rage refused to step down. He needed an explanation!
Hermey determinedly cocked his bright green felt cap, yes, another thing that everyone mocked, and stomped down the hall to his Father’s study. Time to compose his nerves. No use charging in swinging unless Hermey aimed for his Dad’s knees. Fine. Hermey gently knocked on the carved door. No response. He knocked harder. Nothing. He pounded his tiny fists against the surface, taking care to hit the carved Elves in the carved landscape. Silence. After violently kicking the door with both diminutive feet, a gruff “Enter!” finally answered his effort.
After he marched in, well, as aggressively as a tiny, felt-capped Elf sporting an adorable perfect blonde hair curling over his pale, sensitive forehead could march, Hermey stared up at Thranduil’s brilliant visage. His powerful father frightened the soft cherry jelly center out of him. The king had always acted kind to Hermey, but the sensitive elf realized he disappointed his father. “Father, if I may ask, with great respect and love, of course, where are my toys?”
Hermey knew his Father hated any family confrontation. Sad how his Father never understood how to deal with Hermey’s problems. What did a warrior know about candy, soft green felt and merry songs?
The Elven King tried looking vague. “Errm, what toys?”
For once the furious Hermey refused to back down. “Father, the toys in my private, locked with my key workshop.”
His Father rolled his eyes, studied the ornately painted ceiling then he shrugged. The shrug hurt Hermey. “Hermey, my lad, listen to me. You are becoming a laughingstock. My son should not make toys. Toymaking is not a proper occupation for a prince. Tomorrow morning you must report to archery practice. That is an order. Enough is enough. Since you are Prince, you must learn how to kill our enemies.”
Order? His Father issued orders? Hermey clasped his petite hands to his bow-shaped red lips and winced in epic dismay. “But Father, please, I am a peaceful toymaker! I—”
His Father regally held up his hand and shook his golden head. He stood. Usually he scolded Hermey but never acted stern. This time Hermey sensed he lost the battle. “Son, please, I have endured your strangely cute quirks for 150 years. Now you must move along and grow up. Meet me at the archery range at eight sharp, all right? Listen, everything will work out perfectly; you can learn how to shoot Orcs in the— lower regions. Your special skills will prove invaluable during a battle. They will never see you coming at them. Now run along.” As he walked forward, Thranduil leaned down and patted Hermey on his felt-topped head. He gently shoved him out the door and briskly turned the key.
Hermey stared at the door in depression.
After that sad encounter, the king needed a stiff drink of strong 120 proof Elven mead. He hated acting cruel to Hermey. It was like kicking a fluffy golden puppy.
By the Stars, Thranduil now understood when he had taken in that abandoned bundle, he invited nuisance into his already troubled realm. What an innocent mistake; after all, the tiny child had possessed blonde hair and pointed ears, and, since someone had stolen Thranduil’s newborn son, it made sense to accept the breathing gift. How did Thranduil know little Hermey intended to grow up, well, turn into a stunted, toy-loving pacifist? Bah, if only he hadn’t gone hunting on that snowy day. Seeking refuge in the strange cave had granted him years of behind his back snickering about Hermey’s odd problems.
The king frowned. No more. Hermey needed to grow up. Thranduil wondered if Gandalf knew any spells to at least grow Hermey to three or four foot in stature. He poured his mead, settled back behind his desk, and started penning a note.
In Hermey’s tormented mind, mocking laughter echoed in the lonely hall. Hermey stomped his tiny foot and shook his head. “I refuse to learn archery! I will not kill! I am a toymaker! Fine. I— will run away from home!” A tragic sniff filled his throat. Once back in his snug room, Hermey bundled into warm green felt winter garb, packed a special few toys he had hidden away, and skipped off into the blizzard.
That evening, no one realized what happened to him because no one paid much attention to Hermey. No one cared if he missed the communal meals. The Elves knew the weird little toy freak often ate in his workshop.
No one cared about someone too different.
Legolas shot another bullseye and smiled in delight. Twenty dead to center hits in a row. He could protect everyone. His accurate skill level had captured an all-time high. Legolas understood he needed to act as a one Elf army. He’d rip the rebellious polar bears limb from limb. If the Abominable Snow Monster dared to bother the Claus compound, Legolas would thrash his hairy hide into steaming bumble chunks.
Not again! Sighing to himself in teeth-gnashing annoyance, Legolas turned and patiently stared down at frowning Santa. “Yes, Santa?”
Santa scuffed his perfectly polished boot toe in the soft snow and finally stared up. Legolas knew Satna hated looking up at anyone. Legolas couldn’t help that he towered a good foot over him. What should Legolas do, remove his own shins?
He waited for Santa to stop waffling. “Legolas, my boy, Jojo told me you did not attend Elf practice again today.”
What nonsense! Legolas tossed his mane in disgust. “Of course I missed stupid Elf practice. I told Jojo I need more archery practice. Look, when the Abominable Snow Monster attacks us, what will you do? Hide under the dining room table until he eats every last creature in Christmastown? That violent creature lurks out there waiting to make his final move. Ha, I suspect he has already struck a deal with the sly polar bears. Without me, we are completely vulnerable. Why won’t anyone believe me?”
A frustrated Santa regarded the statuesque, blond Elf. Since Legolas was a foundling, Santa had no idea who his parents were, but obviously they were not true Christmas Elves. For one thing this tall Elf was entirely too handsome and as dangerous as a timber wolf. Legolas hated snow. He hated peppermint. He despised tinsel. He refused to chuckle warmly, wiggle his pointed ears and go “hee hee” or “ho ho.” Even worse, Legolas hated toys. No, wait, worst yet, the dainty female Elves relentlessly chased after the tall, blond Elf. Thank goodness Legolas loved his arrows and knives more than the ladies.
Even worse, a few of the more giddly, lighthearted reindeer mooned after the Elf’s fit and heroically trim form. When he watched Legolas march by, Rudolph’s bright nose refused to stop glowing. What an annoying distraction, especially because the other reindeer refused to cease snickering about Rudolph’s “glow-on.”
No, this strange, easy-on-the-eye yet war-mongering Elf did not fit into Christmastown.
Still, benevolent Santa believed in everyone receiving one last chance. Harmony and joy must be maintained. “Legolas, please attend Elf practice tomorrow. Make Jojo happy. All right, make me happy. Please? I know you only want the best for everyone. Try to make everyone happy. Can you try?” Santa could not resist patting Legolas’s warm cheek.
Legolas sighed, glared at the target then he shrugged. “I understand, Santa.”
“That’s my good little—er, big Elf. See you at dinner.” This time Santa quickly patted Legolas’ right ass cheek. He mentally scolded himself. This distracting Elf drove everyone insane. Legolas didn’t fit in.
As Santa walked away, the frustrated Legolas allowed his simmering rage to flow through his muscles like molten lead. He almost fired off a shot at Santa’s red cap. He knew he could knock the cap off of Santa’s head without harming the well-meaning elder.
His rage bled away. Santa had tried but failed in his mission to help Legolas fit in to the silly Elf community. Living here simply did not work for anyone. Legolas must strike out on his own and seek a new life. Yes, Legolas planned to make everyone happy by leaving forever. Leaving sounded logical.
The sorrowful Elf hoped the polar bears put off their sneak attack. He hated the thought of his helpless mentors becoming dinner.
As he packed, the wind shook the candy castle. Slow dashed against the windows.
Good, at least this wicked weather would place a damper on any sneak attack.
Legolas marched into the wind-whipped snow. He kicked aside a few prettily decorated packages that blew against his boots. He hoped the sneaky polar bears choked on the tinsel. He hoped he’d have one last crack at shooting the Abominable Snow Monster. He peered around in anticipation. One battle, please give him one last battle to prove himself.
After an hour, only the snow attacked him. He scowled in defeat and marched on.
Hermey struggled against the howling snow. This wicked weather seemed bizarre for Mirkwood. The nasty drifts already threatened his stunted height.
What was that ahead? A cave? Yes! Trudging forward Hermey struggled up and into the rocky lip. The petite Elf shook off the nasty snow and peered into the gloomy cave. Since no Orcs or giant spiders attacked him, he lit a candle and traveled deeper. Goodness, this cave seemed incredibly elaborate. Crystal spires dripped from the ceiling and rippled across the floor. Thinking that they might taste like sweet rock candy, Hermey licked one. He spent the next minutes spitting out the salty taste. Yuck.
The exhausted Hermey walked for what seemed like three hours before he stopped and peered in confusion. Wait, did a fire’s merry glow beckon to him? After slowly moving forward, Hermey paused and sucked in a gasp. The most handsome Elf he had ever seen sat huddled near a warm fire.
“Hello?” Ack! Hermey pressed against the rugged wall and cringed in alarm. He swore the Elf had pointed a nasty arrow his way.
“Halt, who goes there?”
“Erm, Hermey the Meek and Innocent! Honest, I possess no weapons aside from a teddy bear.”
A mocking snort cut through the air. “Then you are a complete fool. Show yourself, but be assured that if you make a wrong move I, Legolas of Christmastown, will take your right eye out with one skilled shot.”
Well now, what a decidedly hostile greeting. This Christmastown sounded no better than Mirkwood. Hermey grimaced and waved one tiny hand from beyond his rock. Then the next. Finally he displayed himself. “It’s only me, Hermey the Meek and Cheerful. Honest, I am harmless. I am two feet of happiness and joy.”
To Hermey’s relief, the threatening bow lowered. The scowling Elf waved him forward. “Yes indeed, you seem harmless and alarmingly cute. How expected in this sorry old world. Forgive my caution. Now come and warm yourself by the fire. However did you enter this cave?”
Hermey jerked a nearly-frozen thumb over his tiny shoulder. “Through an opening about three hour’s walk south. I escaped a horrid blizzard. I thought I might become brother to a snow cone.” Hermey suddenly frowned in confusion. “Wait, how did you get in here?”
Legolas frowned in consideration. “Most odd indeed; I entered through a passage on the extreme north side. Hmm, this cave has two entrances. How interesting.”
“Indeed. Well, as I said, I am Hermey.”
“I am Legolas. Sorry for the threat, but I pride myself for always being on the alert.” Different sized hands clasped in greeting. Legolas sighed in sad dismay. “In truth I set out hoping to find Elves like myself, but if you are the standard from the other side, then I fear I have done myself no justice.”
Hermey shook his head in amusement. “How funny; I did the same thing!” Sudden awareness filled Hermey’s eager mind. “Wait! Legolas, do the Elves in your world look like me?”
“Indeed, they are all petite and slight. They only wish to make toys and act disgustingly cheerful. They refuse to arm themselves. Peril could arrive at any time, but they insist in pursuing frolic and song. Their unwise pacifist attitude drove me away, plus I could only stand so much of Rudolph shoving his glowing nose against my cock. I’m not into bestiality.”
Huh? Aside from the weird glowing nose in the cock reference, the world Legolas described sounded perfect. Hermey hugged himself in joy. “Fair Legolas, I bring you good news. On that side of the cave, the Elves are as tall as you and they feel obsessed with shooting arrows and learning swordplay. They fear attack, so they want to be ready. They live for killing Orcs, giant spiders and, well, anything that annoys them. Frankly I feel surprised that I survived for so long.”
Legolas’s sapphire eyes widened in delight. “Truly? They wisely wish to hunt evil and maintain order?”
“Do they ever! And your Elves make toys?”
Legolas’s upper lip curled in utter disdain. “Make toys, sing and act merry. They are fools for they refuse to realize certain death stalks them every waking minute.”
Hermey clapped his tiny hands in glee. “Legolas, are you a foundling?”
The two Elves stared at each other in complete shock. “Yes!”
“I believe your true father awaits you back there. Legolas, tell me of your wonderful world.”
As the Elves exchanged their tales they sipped mead and nibbled on their food. They huddled together for warmth. Their gazes suddenly met. “You have a most adorable mouth, Hermey.” Legolas dropped a sweet kiss against Hermey’s rosebud mouth.
Hermey wrapped his little arms around Legolas’ waist. “You make me feel all warm inside.”
Legolas arched his brow. “Before we find our true destinies, shall we merge our worlds?”
Hermey could think of nothing better. Running his hands over Legolas’s firm flesh felt better than carving rocket ships.
Legolas thought clever little Hermey offered more delights than a full-scale polar bear battle.
During their careful merger, they knew their exiles had finally ended.
As he fell asleep, Legolas vowed to find whoever had stolen him away and have their guts for garters.
The contented Hermey cuddle against Legolas’s chest and drifted off imagining room after room filled with toys, joy and song. At last!
Hermey lifted the huge knocker, it placed at low level for small folk, and let it thud. Since it was the off-season, Santa himself answered the front door summons. “Yes? Why, sweet Elf, who are you?”
Hermey respectfully swept off his felt cap to better display his sleek golden curl. “I am Hermey, a master toymaker. Dear Legolas told me you might need me here.”
Santa stared down at the petite, rosy-cheeked Elf and smiled in merry glee. “More than you know.”
After hearing Legolas’ tale, Thranduil stared at the tall, aggressive and impressively weaponed Elf and wiped away a tear. “My son! My true son!”
They embraced in great joy.
A YEAR LATER
The two Elves huddled in their bedrolls before the flickering campfire deep in the magical cave. Legolas arched a doubting brow. “You carved how many trains?”
Hermey grinned in pride. “154. Isn’t that grand? I broke the Christmas record for carved trains. How many Orcs did you shoot?”
“In one hunt? 51. It was quite a bloody day. Father thinks the world of me.”
Hermey sighed and smiled in delight. “Legolas, I think the world of you too. I missed you. Imagine, you guided me to my true home.”
“Thanks, Hermey, yet you did the same for me. Next year let us try and meet more than once, all right, so we can compare notes. I think you bested me; 154 trains to 51 Orcs sounds like you spanked me. Let the competition begin!” Legolas tugged on Hermey's adorable curl.
Hermey giggled and batted his lashes. They leaned toward each other. Their lips met. Hearts beat faster.
As the night progressed, once again the happy Elves discovered being different made them much the same.
All was well in their worlds.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Not sure if this book is for you? Here are the first three chapters to give you a taste of what the book is about...
The Trauma of Moving Along
Amazing how cruel threats from a violent ex-lover turned the heart into a bleeding mess. Violent Martin’s plan to stalk me like a wounded deer stumbling through the forest did not thrill me. The high priest of punching’s stalking felt uncool as fiery hell.
Why had I answered his call?
My lips tightened around the dwindling joint. The glowing tip flared bright. Pungent smoke filled my lungs and spilled from my nostrils. Someday I wanted to learn how to blow a nose smoke ring.
Someday I wanted to learn how to select a stable lover.
The nasty internal laughter bouncing around my skull needed to cease.
I pointed at my smoking pal. “Ernie, my dear, how is this for a sweet idea: Why don’t I move to Niagara Falls, crawl into a huge rubber ball, and roll off the wet edge every damned morning? Why not play the toss and retrieve game?” I waved my left hand in the air. “Wait, call on me, I know why not. After a few rescues, the irritated EMTs will let me drown in the raging water. Bounce-ouch-bleargh-glug.” Ouch, those harsh noises hurt my throat.
A nasty grin like bright-green acid greeted my words. “No one is stopping you from living your dangerous wet dream, dude.” Ernie accepted the joint, snapped the remainder into a clip, and sucked in the smoke.
“Gee, aren’t you a bundle of prime sympathy? Here’s a better idea. What about slapping local hospital logos on the ball’s exterior? Do you think the esteemed institutions will sponsor me? Maybe I’ll drum up enough funding to cover my interment.” The weird concept appealed to me. The stunt sounded more promising than the epic romantic disaster devouring my life.
My brain cells sparked in protest. Without Martin in my life, I should feel better. Yeah, right. Great cosmic dude in the sky, spin me another fairy tale.
Ernie peered through the bluish smoke haze curling between us. “Carl, time for me to state the obvious: you need to move along. You know you need to stop letting Martin mess up your mind.”
“I can’t halt his manic messing. Devious Martin is the ultimate interior mental mess maker.” Over the past weeks, my stupid Martin-plagued life had driven me to race in sweaty mental circles that sour old Dante had never envisioned. If I met a frenzied Jack Russell terrier overdosed on puppy uppers during my lunatic spins, I’d call him brother. We could run wobbly circles together. Skid, turn, and attack unsuspecting ankles.
I hated feeling on edge, or, more accurately, feeling ready to fall off the teetering, sharp-fanged edge. If I plunged down, it would be in grand bloody chaos sans the protective rubber ball.
I glanced at the utilitarian wall clock. The red second hand always clicked back twice before it lunged forward. Unnerving. The first Photo Two class of the shiny new fall semester started in a few minutes. Instead of wrapping my mind around the class, I hid in my office, sneaking in an herbal smoke break with my pal and fellow professor Ernie Sanders. Students expected their professor to project confidence and wisdom, not hare-brained scatterings and musing about bloody fangs or waterfalls. I needed to chill to achieve a level mind-set.
Sometimes a blissful little high helped my teaching skills.
Ernie handed me the joint’s remains. He stretched his lanky frame. My friend’s elongated appearance reminded me of an El Greco Christ, right down to his wavy brown hair and lush beard. “Thanks for the savory smoke treat, Carl. I need to scram. My aspiring Van Goghs await my sage advice. Wait, don’t you have a class across the street?”
“Yes, but I need another minute to compose my mangled thoughts.”
Ernie shook his unruly hair. “I will repeat the same thing to you. Maybe I’ll learn a few other languages to keep the concept fresh. Here goes: stop allowing good old manic Martin to poison your mind. You realize you let him win. Inside your brain, he still hits you. He still ruins your sad life.”
“My sensible friend, you are right, but you just heard Martin’s sick phone call. Clever speakerphone technology makes you my sane witness to his obsessive behavior. The nutcase plans to stalk me. Golly gee, my wicked ex suddenly feels the need for closure. How does stalking me help the problem?”
A sharp smirk curved Ernie’s lips. “Admit it, Carl, placing his stuff into storage, changing the locks, and leaving the city for a week never gave Sir Punch-a-Lot the chance to perform closure with you. Aw hell, don’t start with me again. Stop baring your teeth at me. Yes, splendid, I realize his last punch chipped your tooth and made you panic. Fine.” Ernie performed his classic frustration move. His fingers fluttered near his ears like spastic birds. “Damn, you sucked me into your drama again. Listen, here’s my simple advice. Find someone sane for once. Hell, I’ll lend you Bobby so you can hang out in a play park and meet a nice, normal dude raising a kid. To my thinking, any guy who raises a kid is grounded. That’s what you need, a Mr. Happy and Grounded in your tumultuous life.”
I bared my teeth one last time. “You know I don’t understand kids.”
“You teach kids.”
I held up my hand. “Ah, wait, I teach young adults. I understand them, except when they act like smartasses.”
“Fine, no playtime in the park.” One finger pointed at me. “Above all, you need to stop thinking with your dick. Constantly picking up your boyfriends in your favorite dance club is unwise. Please, join a reading group or a Photoshop-enthusiasts club or something equally civilized. Join a hamster-lovers group.”
I choked on laughter. Ernie groaned in disbelief. “Forget that I uttered those silly words. You know what I mean. Train Spazz to dance.” He shook his finger. “Above all, spend quality time talking to your prospective lover before you dive into fucking him silly.”
“Excuse me, physical attraction is important to me.”
“Dude, care to sound a little more shallow? Fine, don’t blame me when the next handsome nutcase you unearth turns out to be worse than Mayhem Martin. Now get off your ass and head to class. See you later.” Ernie opened the door, peered around, and left me with my smoky thoughts.
Dear Ernie meant well, but he tended to oversimplify life. His settled life with his devoted wife, Bridget, and their three wonderful kids defined fairy-tale perfection. Visiting their house almost gave me a sugar high. Ernie had enjoyed fifteen years of bliss and appeared ready to experience thirty more with sweet, sensible Bridget.
My longest relationship had clocked in at five years. Not bad, but now, as I grew older, I wanted to settle into stability. I wanted to experience a true long-term relationship. Perhaps it was a fantasy, but surely someone out there wanted to share their life with a successful, financially secure but emotionally insecure photographer who talked to his hamsters like they were people.
Ouch. My description sounded iffy. Common sense smacked away my doubts.
Imagine me falling for a man raising a five-year-old kid. Not a sane concept. I never planned to nurture a sensitive child. I understood my limitations. Raising a child topped my important “do not go there” list. At least I embraced my selfishness. Geesh, nurturing my hamsters sometimes challenged me.
Damn, I sounded like some kid-hating ogre. I didn’t hate them; instead I feared warping their impressionable minds. Children’s innocence struck me as too fragile, too special. No way did I want to be responsible for shaping a susceptible young mind. What if the child I raised turned into a criminal or, worse yet, a serial killer? Yikes, what a nasty concept.
I shook in apprehension. Come on, pot, mellow me out. Work the clean magic.
Sensible Ernie understood my problem.. Martin created my ugly stress. Everything, including any world crisis currently raging in sick destruction, could be traced back to Martin. I embraced the fact as divine truth. My troubled mind had transformed my rampaging ex into the Antichrist dressed in a slick Armani suit.
Wait, I needed to add in his four-hundred-dollar haircut. Definitely the Antichrist cloaked in Armani sporting an expensive haircut and custom leather shoes purchased on his frequent Italian weekend shopping trips, trips he wrote off as banking business. Martin’s high-end tastes alone should have told me he was the slithering embodiment of perfect evil. His skills as a habitual liar added more rusted links to his Jacob Marley-style chain. Amazing how he managed to survive in the financial sector.
Mocking alarms rang in my brain. I blinked in disbelief. Wait, had my thoughts produced such rabid nonsense? Dangerous Martin and the financial sector created a perfect monster match, unlike this forgiving hippie professor and bruise-creating Martin. Wall Street adored beating up everyone. Martin adored beating me. Ladies and gentlemen, what a cruel pairing.
Being hit in the mouth by a man wearing a scarab ring changed one’s point of view, especially when I had given said man the heavy silver ring as a birthday present. Hell, my violent ex should have gotten his classic line, “Really, I’ll change, Carl, please, I will,” tattooed across his aristocratic forehead. How wonderful—Martin had enjoyed changing from a hypercritical type-A lover into an occasionally enraged psycho who enjoyed a human punching bag near his bony fist. No, thanks. My not responding to his cell phone calls or e-mails had led to today’s surprise attack.
Why had I answered the flaming nutcase’s phone call? Tomorrow I planned to buy an external answering machine for my office phone. I needed to hear who was calling before I picked up the phone. If I endured another long, heated tirade on how Martin promised to change for me if only I accepted him back into my life, I’d go bonkers.
During the weeks after I kicked him out, Martin had never apologized for hitting me hard enough to break a tooth. Instead he called and threatened me. He claimed he needed me. He claimed he planned to wait for me outside my apartment in order to correct our relationship’s tragic problem.
What did he mean by “correct”? A snickering inner voice told me that Martin’s violent correction might place me in the hospital.
I warned Martin that if he stalked me, bam, time for a restraining order. A startled Ernie had sat and listened to the sordid, heated exchange via my glorious speakerphone.
My deranged ex made me want to run screaming in mad circles around Washington Square. The manic Jack Russell could join me. Yee-haw, we’d make the stubborn pigeons fly for cover. We’d scare the tourists and drug dealers. Someone might photograph our stunt and wonder why we resorted to performance art to release emotional pain.
I appreciated the concept. Imagine—we might end up on an artsy-fartsy TV show. Carl and the Crazy Terrier Performing Live in Washington Square.
One more deep herbal puff entered my lungs. I shut my eyes in order to find relaxation. My secret, silly mantra whispered free: be cool, be calm, be Carl. I breathed in, held, released. Ahh, better, much better. Smelling the herb-scented air calmed me down. My spiking blood pressure dropped a few points, much like the stock market.
Someday the antidrug screechers would try a few tokes and understand why marijuana needed legalization. A few puffs a day chased the anger away. The lyrics from “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” drifted through my mind. Yeah, go Bob D.
Annoying reality rattled my mental cage. Reality banished my relaxation. Did I have everything ready for class? My agitated mind blanked in cluttered confusion. Crap, I needed to hustle. I grabbed my battered leather satchel. Up, up, and away! Supermoron stumbled to the rescue! I should have left before Ernie.
I wondered if Ernie could lend me some of his common sense. He had plenty to spare.
The uncertain office lock required caressing and proper jiggling to engage. Great, locking my office door wasted another minute. I jogged down the hall. Now the touchy elevator refused to cooperate. Evil Martin had probably cut a cable. I thundered down five flights without tripping over my old clogs and paused at the lobby door to catch my breath. Joe the guard waved at my spastic hand gesture.
Flying pigs on high, no one ever listened to my endless heartfelt requests to move my office across the street. My classes occurred in the main building, but no, my cramped little office hid across the street because the main building lacked the proper space. Authority adored ignoring me.
Damn, I sounded whiny.
The light tending Broadway’s constant flow smiled on me. I started across the busy street, yelped, and danced my toes away from hungry tires. Gee, a senseless cabbie’s racing yellow deathmobile tried to send me to the big angel convention. In the city, sometimes red lights existed only for logical drivers.
I aimed the one-fingered NYC salute into the air. “You colorblind, crazy, moronic asshole!” There, cool—shouting gained me laughing pedestrian attention.
Damn, I needed therapy. I barely recognized the angry man messing around in my head. I wanted him to move out, wanted to serve him an eviction notice. Martin’s abuse had created the violent creature. His appearance in my mind sickened me.
The main building offered me solace from physical injury. Well, unless I tripped over my feet, which, with the way today was staggering along, might happen sooner than I expected. The grinning security guard waved at me. “’Lo, Prof C.”
“Hiya, Vince. Imagine, here I am, late as usual.”
Vince laughed. “At least you are here and not pushing up daisies, right, Prof?”
“Amen to that thought.” Yeah, everyone liked the wacky clog-wearing hippie photography professor. I was a legend and not necessarily a positive one, at least not with the grouchy establishment. Tough beans, my students loved me.
Unfortunately I had developed a bad habit of loving a few students. Silly boy. Here I had hoped that mature Martin would break the cycle. No, instead he tried to break my jaw.
Stop, I heard Ernie scold me. I needed to focus on my new class. I needed to move forward and evict the angry man from my life. Wait, which angry man? The one kicking my brain wall or—
My ragged sigh hurt my throat. I needed therapy, but the concept of spilling my deepest emotions to someone I had never made love to bothered me.
Geesh, such a weird dilemma meant I needed therapy.
Cupid Takes Aim
No more running. The thankfully working elevator hauled me upward. I pushed open the fingerprinted glass doors leading to the studio critique space. Leaping lizards, what a full class. Wait, I remembered asking the registrar to limit the student number to twelve. Granted, of late, plenty of minor life details escaped my notice, but I remembered that crucial detail.
More kids than that simple number crowded the room. The herbal cloud gently swirling in my brain still allowed me to count beyond my fingers. Cool, I recognized familiar faces from the spring semester’s Photo One class. Either they loved me enough to desire further artistic torment, or last semester I had granted enough As to ensure their return. Last semester I had handed out too many As mainly from trepidation. How sad. I feared a few students might report my erratic behavior to the dean.
Time to shove away negative thoughts. Pleasant to realize how my status as a popular photography professor held firm. During the last semester, my artistic concentration had wandered in the weeds. Hell, my lack of focus came from not knowing if my live-in lover planned to drop to his knees and beg me to keep him, or swing a big bad fist into my surprised face. Martin the loony part-time boxer loved using me as his astonished victim. He realized this pacifist never hit back; yeah, I threw things and yelled but never hit. I prided myself for my sterling nonviolent record.
Today refused to cut me any slack. I lost count of how many times I told myself to stop dwelling on the past and move along. New semester, new students; life swerved into the happy lane, correct? Correct, decorated with plump sugar cookies and twinkly red glitter.
Teaching photo classes for non-majors thrilled me. My classes supplied me sweet new young things to look at while I taught. The photo classes pulled in students from across the disciplines. A clever mix of ideas and concepts waited to challenge my artistic perception.
“Hello, everyone, sorry to be late. As you know, I’m Professor Carl Conrad. Wow, is everyone here for this class?” Their enthusiastic nods told me yes. Groan. “Really? Wow again. Well, let’s see what’s going on here.”
Someone had neglected to study the student list before arriving in class. The document had resided in my e-mail in-box for weeks, but as I planned my escape from Martin, reading the names lurked low on my priority list. Usually I enjoyed examining the names and trying to imagine what a student looked like ahead of time. To my surprise, my random guesses often rang true.
Had I brought the list with me? Whoops. I fumbled through my notes and papers. Amused little smiles aimed at me. I smiled back and took the time to examine faces. A lame joke about setting a bad example by being late almost emerged when the most amazing sensation hit me.
Great googly moogly on hot buttered cinnamon raisin toast, this wild feeling felt nothing like Martin’s hard fist hitting my cheek. Damn, I shouldn’t have skipped lunch.
I mentally aimed my inner camera lens and focused directly on achingly delicious subject matter. My lens zoomed in and ignored everyone else in the room. Buzz, click, frame, and drool. The wild scene lasted for a split second. Everything moved in slow motion. Fascinating how the world transformed into a weird fantasy.
Yes, I had been hit in the head too many times.
Today the new lust of my messed-up life sat before me in masculine perfection.
Okay, aside from his outrageous outfit, complete with magenta socks and orange Keds, the vision embraced masculine perfection.
Boom, done. My heart’s quick decision made sense to me. My cock and brain deliberated for a few seconds until they signed off on the magical contract. Master Lust stepped forward and turned Heart, Brain, and Cock into a strange version of the Supremes backing the divine Diana. They crooned in romantic urgency.
Did the manly subject matter at the other end of my lusting mental lens accept my desire? Falling in lust never seemed hard, but convincing the unaware victim he needed me as much as I desired him would provide the true challenge.
I located the wrinkled list. My waking brain operated on autopilot. My mouth opened and closed while I spoke to the students. The advanced class’s basic concepts filled the air. The new students learned what I expected from their creativity over the upcoming semester.
In the background, oozing lust kept shrieking in joy while turning cartwheels in my mind. Damn, lust needed to cut its jagged toenails.
The time came to scare certain students into dropping the class before they found themselves in serious trouble. Nothing upset me more than a heartbroken student wailing in distress when I smacked a dreaded “incomplete” on them. Well, lately Martin had upset me more, but—
Lust kicked and stomped me into focus. It controlled my primitive urges. The panting ooze admired the tasty man sitting a mere five feet away from my twitching right hand. Ooo-la-la, two simple steps would allow my happy fingers to caress his tea-hued cheek. Touching his tempting flesh might be worth dismissal.
Eager lust battered my senses into mush. My opening blather concluded. I needed to begin the roll call. The desire to attach a name to the appealing man ruled me.
The alpha-ordered list refused to cooperate. The sixth name jumped out at me. The letters danced, waved, and wiggled their taut asses at me before they calmed down and resumed spelling his name. I sensed the reality. The seductive man looked like his name in a luscious manner far beyond my lust-fried comprehension.
I clapped my hands in decision. Expectant young faces regarded me with varying emotions. “Before I call the roll, time for one last reality check. Is there anyone here who wants to drop the class? If you have any, and I mean any doubt about this class, please make it easy on everyone, especially me, and bail now. Remember this is an advanced class. We’ll mainly focus—hey, a little photo humor there—on learning the digital process, but if anyone is interested, we may play in the darkroom a few times. Don’t let my cuddly reputation fool you; I am a stickler about deadlines. Once a project is a week late, I lop off ten grade points, which means after a month you have an F. Above all, I expect performance, dedication, and drive.” I hoped that the students didn’t expect the same responsible trio from me.
No one screamed, “Please, you wicked, cruel bastard, let me leave now!” I hated turning away eager students, but a seventeen-person class meant mayhem in the critique situation.
Please, mayhem in an empty classroom with a classically muscled dark body pressed close in passion suited me.
Agggh. I needed to cease waffling. Sanity slapped me to move along and finally call the roll. In a minute I’d obtain a name for the exquisite face. Excitement flushed me until I feared my pores might spring lust leaks.
I shrugged and cast my special evil grin over the poor young dears. “Okay, everyone wants to stick around for the torment? You have been warned. Time to establish who belongs before I make my decisions. Jeremy Atkinson?”
A tall slender guy with long red dreads tossed me a friendly wave.
A Goth brunette sporting too much eyeliner and enough piercings to threaten a weather balloon managed a bored nod. There sat a potential attitude problem.
I tried not to grin. “Ralph Digglestaff?”
Not the name I expected to match with the burly, bald dark-skinned dude waving at me. What a great porn star handle.
A man who looked like James Dean’s long-lost love child nodded in lazy regard.
“Hello, Rachel. I guess I didn’t scare you away last time.”
The petite blonde woman snapped her gum and grinned. “Nope, Prof C, I am back for more.”
The moment arrived in grand glory. My heart tightened in anticipation. “Marcelino Moya?”
Bull’s-eye. Hold on, did I hear a faint accent? My desperate-for-more-words lust pushed me. I raised a curious eyebrow toward my new erotic partner. “I guess your parents wanted to give you a memorable name.” The seductive man looked like his name in a luscious manner far beyond my lust-fried comprehension.
Possibly the most sensual grin ever to grace human lips appeared. “It is a memorable name, which is helpful in the performing arts. I can’t wait to see the words ‘set designs by Marcelino Moya’ appear for real on the silver screen.” The way he rolled his name off his tongue threatened my tattered reason. His cock-stiffening grin grew wider and sexier. Now how was such a miracle possible? The man’s generous mouth shape needed a “proceed with caution” warning flashing beneath the succulent skin.
Yum, my dream was a performing arts hunk possessing a subtle Hispanic accent. Deeee-licious. Yippee on high, mark me smitten to the skies. Ha, if I walked back out onto Broadway and let the mad cabbie plow me down, I wouldn’t even feel the pain. Instead I’d float right over the problem held aloft by Cupid’s blessed wings. The blind bow boy’s arrows had pierced my heart. Now I needed to bribe him to aim at luscious Marcelino’s masculine bounty.
Mmm, Marcelino. The rare name tasted fine on my tongue. I wonder what he uses for a nickname? I wonder how his full lips taste?
An alarm rang in my mind. Lust scowled in annoyance. I wondered if he was gay. Yeeeeah, sigh, my heated lust always overlooked the crucial details.
I expected my sensible pal Ernie to burst through the door and scold my impetuous desire.
Gee, how fortuitous, the door remained closed.
Lust shut off the alarm and screamed full speed ahead.
I always imagined myself divided into thirds. Now one third of me laughed hysterically at this thirty-six-year-old professor drooling over a sleek student. The second, sensible third snapped, “Don’t even go there, you stupid man. He’s too damned young. He’s rebound material. Stop staring at him.”
The rebellious sexy third hissed, “Ohhh, yesss, imagine that sssmooth lussstrousss body under you in bed. Yessss. He’sss not too young. He looksss old enough to sssamba.” Hmm, since when did the snake from Eden occupy my wanton third? Fascinating. Snake, could you talk louder? I like your ssstyle.
Marcelino’s physical appeal required little imagination. This afternoon he offered me plenty of his wonderful body to admire. My future lover had dressed his sculpted body in a clinging, practically painted-on red tank top and tight black jean shorts. The shorts displayed muscular thighs. Yum—my dream either ran or biked. Bless this hot NYC September. I hoped the weather never turned cold. Did nipple rings press against the thin red fabric? Indeed they did. My arrow-pierced heart flipped in glee.
I ignored the magenta socks and orange Keds. The weird mix was a problem for later, but the faint scar looping around his throat demanded my attention. The scar added a rakish touch.
Marcelino inhaled a deep breath and stretched. Save me. Cupid needed to stop the rapid-fire arrow practice. I thanked the stars for my loose old jeans. I usually maintained control over my mature cock, but right now control jumped into a battered, rust-peppered van and rode off to New Jersey. Before roaring into the Lincoln Tunnel, control merrily waved bye-bye before hugging a blond surfer himbo. Ouch. Thanks.
Despite Cupid’s expert arrow skills, I marched through the remaining roll call. Unfortunately I suddenly existed in a room occupied by featureless mannequins and one wildly sexy breathing dream. My overheated lust imagined my precious Marcelino standing, strolling, and pressing the sweetest, wettest hard kiss ever concocted in the history of kissdom against my eager lips. Yeah, oh yeah, primal brain adored the silent movie. Lust urged primal brain to play the film a hundred more times. When our lips caressed together, pointy toenails pressed pause. Yum.
I had been hit in the head way too many times or maybe too much pot had entered my lungs. Today I endured waking hallucinations but still managed to teach. Remarkable. I dropped back into strict reality to monitor my progress. I talked to the students, registered four pleading souls who begged me to be let into the class, and discussed schedule conflicts with two others. Whee, I performed extremely well even as I completely ignored everyone aside from the man in the orange Keds.
Good old lust sprawled barefoot in its private theater. One oozing foot propped up on the back of the next row. Lust devoured dripping, buttery-slick popcorn—slurp, lick, lick, lick—while repeatedly watching the intense kissing scene. Smart move to put the searing kiss on the big screen.
Waking brain guided me as lust appreciated Marcelino’s dainty goatee and thin mustache. The careful grooming told me the sublime Marcelino worked at his facial hair. Such a calculated yet casual look demanded strict maintenance. His dusky complexion, jaunty facial fussings, long black hair decorated with hilarious purple streaks, and multiple earrings transformed my potential treat into a sweet pirate. I wanted to make him walk my plank.
Yikes. In a few more seconds lust seemed destined to enjoy a messy one-handed date.
I wondered if I had truly lost my mind. If that was the case, count me as insane, because I loved the bizarre sensation.
Hold on, did I announce the conclusion? No, surely we had more time than those brief minutes? No, aww, please, this special class doesn’t need to end. Please.
Wait, what about the information sheets? Yes, quick! My friendly but official voice took over. “Right, students, one last thing before you enjoy your freedom. You need to fill out these forms. I need basic nonsense: your name, a contact e-mail or phone number, your major, and anything else you feel I need to know. My office number and my cell phone number are there. I’m easy to track down. I can’t stress this enough: feel free to call me at any reasonable hour. Even if it’s not about this class, I’m still a good listener.” During my speech, I locked my gaze on my sweet erotic film star’s face.
Marcelino’s star turn in the major motion picture running through my head thrilled me. He starred in one hot homoerotic porn flick directed by me. The film also costarred me. The credits: written, produced, and art directed by me. Primal lust enjoyed the private screening. Okay, maybe two entities enjoyed the flick. Did jaunty little Cupid count as a person? No matter; the raunchy, sweaty sex scenes ranked in the amazing zone.
I planned to make my spicy Marcelino understand his crucial new role in my flick, because my imagination needed to fill in a few small details. This detailed-oriented dude demanded to see the naked territory for real. I prided myself on desiring factual realism.
The other students filed out. Marcelino, Jeremy, and Ralph sat and dutifully filled out their info sheets. I blessed my dear thoughtful student. How considerate of Marcelino to grant me a few more minutes of visual delight.
Ralph and Jeremy turned in their papers and escaped to enjoy the sunny day. Alone at lust! I tried not to watch him, but I noticed that Marcelino wrote in an extremely slow manner. Great, he could take all the time he needed. Perhaps English wasn’t his first language. I tried not to stare, but I noticed his lips moved as he wrote.
Another few minutes passed before Marcelino handed me his paper. He shook the same hand that had enjoyed imaginary wet fun in lust’s raunchy, pheromone-soaked theater. How wonderful. “Here you are, Professor Conrad. I’m extremely honored to squeak into your class. I own your photography books and have always admired your work. My set design classes inspire my creativity, but your class will stimulate my visual skills in a different manner, I know they will.” Marcelino rolled his eyes in dramatic exasperation. He swatted my arm. “Damn, when you’re not a major, it’s tough to take photo classes. The registrar told me your classes are always overbooked, but I begged shamelessly until she let me in. The woman grew sick of me haunting her office.”
Wise Sheila had succumbed to seductive begging. Whimper, moan, drool. Waking brain needed to remind me to send Sheila ninety white roses and a bottle of exquisite French wine.
Focus, here. Quick, I needed to talk the man. His speech’s flamboyant tone indicated I might have a chance with him. “Marcelino, have you been over here long?” Ouch, my query sounded inane.
Instead of regarding me like I turned into the conversational village idiot, Marcelino shook his thick, lustrous shoulder-length thick, lustrous, purple-streaked hair. After reeling off the adjective arsenal, my inflamed lust urged my fingers to touch the inviting mane.
I needed to cease acting like a dolt. Scaring away Marcelino occupied the same pain level as a sans-anesthesia root canal. No way. Focus.
“Over here? Oh, quite a while. My family moved to Atlanta from Argentina about thirteen years ago. What a huge change, but my papa scored a super position with Coke. I recently transferred here from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Their graphic design program is top-notch, but when the set design bug bit me, I switched schools. My parents aren’t thrilled with me changing majors after three years, but I need to follow my heart. To me, it makes sense to study set design in a city filled with theater and plays. I am over the moon in happiness. I moved in July to settle in for the new semester, and I dig the intense place. Such vitality and pulse, with wild twenty-four-hour party people who never seem to sleep.”
Cute and verbose, which suited me because I didn’t need to work at charming the splendid man. How the hell did my befuddled brain manage small talk? All I wanted to do was clamp my lips directly against Marcelino’s. “Right, exactly. That’s why I like teaching here. The Village surrounds us, Soho offers its many charms; hell, this area supplies constant stimulating paradise. You walk a few steps and there’s something exciting to do or see.”
Marcelino nodded in happy agreement. “I love the wicked vibe. I was lucky enough to score a dismal apartment with three other students down on Avenue B. The place is disgusting—damn, the roaches rule the floor, plus with one bathroom we’re in a constant state of waiting, but that’s the only way one can afford a apartment here.” Smiling again, Marcelino shook his head. “Although calling the dump an apartment is generous, but if I start calling the space the Roachery, people might think me crazy.”
Dear Marcelino wanted to join my insanity slide. “I like Roachery. When I first moved to New York, I experienced such a nasty place. Housing is too damned expensive.”
“You said it! Hopefully I’ll find something else soon, at least a place with less guys or an extra bathroom. I despise sharing a bathroom with those slobs. I’m the only dude who cleans anything! Time will tell.” Marcelino presented me with a playful little salute. “Like I said, Professor, I look forward to your class. I have loads of shots I snapped around the city. I want to explore collage technique aside from messing around in Photoshop. Your layering negative results look intense. I want to see what I can do with the heady mix.”
Prancing purple peanuts, not only was Marcelino adorable and sexy, but also he understood my recent work. Hello, hyperventilation. Dare I push now? What a moronic idea. Someone’s sexual orientation wasn’t obvious. In the art world, wearing flamboyant colors didn’t translate into gay. If I flirted too quickly, a fast fist might meet my face. The sexy, muscular male smiling at me came from Argentina, which meant, well, the news meant I needed to stop acting like a moron.
My silly mantra rang in my mind: be casual, be cool, be Carl. Acting coherent remained a priority. “Marcelino, you flatter me. I’m excited that you want to pursue more advanced concepts, but I want the ideas to come from directly your soul, all right? We can explore your ideas and, if you’re not too busy, set up a time to discuss your work aside from class.”
“You mean that? Wow, Professor, your plan is wonderful. I’ll keep it in mind. Marvelous, private study is a high honor.” Marcelino smiled again before he turned toward the door. “Time to enjoy the perfect day. Professor C, see you Thursday.” After winking at me, my walking, talking wet dream left the room. My internal lens zoomed in on the cute, tight black-clad ass sauntering away from me.
I suddenly breathed again. Whew, fuck me twice like a loaded dice.
I imitated an overwhelmed Southern belle with her stays tied too tight. My knees succumbed and collapsed. At least a stool caught my defeated ass. My pierced heart bled in satisfaction.
This semester promised me a hoot. Serious lust hammered me. And did I hear that Marcelino had already attended college for three years before transferring? Even better. I estimated he was twenty-one or twenty-two. If he had been nineteen, no way. Common sense commanded me to stay away from anyone under twenty.
I already had made a lethal mistake by courting sweet young Sam. What a cute head case. Our wild time together had turned into a romantic drama staring a fluffy neurotic puppy who refused to stop chewing my aching mental slippers.
When I broke up with him, unstable Sam didn’t appreciate the news. I feared he planned to pee on my bedroom floor in hysterical retaliation. What did I do to top my stunt? I hooked up with mentally unstable boxing banker boy Martin. Yep, from bad to worse.
Cupid whispered that my romantic luck deserved to change.
Lust needed to tone down the manic oozing. I scolded the wild entity. No more throwing popcorn at the ripe red lips filling the screen. I had already made the first move. Acting in haste created problems.
How thrilling to have my next lover’s address and phone number. I didn’t plan to show up on Marcelino’s front step, but knowing where he lived satisfied me.
Yeah, and I called Martin a stalker? Lust needed to calm down.
That afternoon, working in the darkroom didn’t appeal to me. I drifted home in a balmy daze. Everyone I passed received my finest smile. I barely remembered grabbing my mail, unlocking the many locks or entering my cluttered foyer. The mail dropped onto the small round wooden table next to the week’s pileup. My schedule called for mail sorting on Saturday.
Frantic rattling down the hall told me that Spazz had heard the locks click open. I owned one smart hamster. His fuzzy reddish-brown body pressed against the colorful plastic bars. The elaborate hamster habitat sprawled across the dim interior hallway atop low bookcases. Over the years I had added tubing, tunnels, and assorted hamster-pleasing compartments. My hallway looked like a demented science project.
I leaned close and blew him a kiss. “Hey, Spazz, ready to rock and roll?”
Hail the dancing hamster. Spazz reminded me of an old-school punk rocker pogoing at a Circle Jerks concert. He bounced up and down in relentless anticipation. The fuzzball knew what happened next—yes, his favorite activity in the universe: time in his clear travel ball. I twisted off the lid, held the opening to the habitat’s colorful door, and grinned as he barreled in. “Have fun, Spazz.”
He disappeared into the sunny living room before I finished my sentence. That crazy hamster loved to roll around the apartment.
“Einstein? Hello, Earth to Einstein. Hey, little dude, still with me?” Einstein had passed out in the exercise wheel again. He looked like a limp drunk after a serious bender. The little guy slept with such intensity that I reasoned he used his brain too much and passed out from the effort. I stroked his fuzzy back and received a slow, sleepy stare. He blinked, shifted, and returned to his learned dreamland.
There—I should have known that Martin had the potential to be a monster. He had never liked my hamsters, but I’ll give him this: at least he never went Fatal Attraction on my fuzzy guys. He ignored them or made snide comments when I added a section to the epic habitat. Wait, he did complain when Spazz’s travel ball had almost tripped him. Spazz seemed to aim for Martin.
Had Spazz deliberately attempted to bring down Martin? Hmm. Wise hamster.
I bet Marcelino adored all creatures great and small.
Now to convince him to adore me.