Thursday, March 16, 2017


 By Sherry Morris
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Story Summary:

In World War II Washington, Miss Della Davis toils on the night shift in the President's typing pool. She likes the quiet as she goes about transcribing sensitive documents into an embarrassingly erotic government code. She also likes a certain Secret Service Agent Jones, who frequents her lonely office with a debonair smile and a sack of hamburgers. But Della wants more. She yearns for intrigue and danger. To be a woman for her country. Agent Jones has one thing on his mind--to make Della forget about her career and yearn only for him. He sets up an elaborate sting. Will she take the bait or are women the smarter sex?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 30

Norma Jean greeted me as I waved to the blur of Tammy’s teal Thunderbird flying into the noon sun. I closed and locked the etched glass front door and petted my dog. “Doctor Claytor said I’m not any worse girl. I guess that’s good news. So I’ll just have to try harder to stay awake...Scooby snack?”
Norman Jean charged into the kitchen to the counter where I keep a big jar of dog biscuits.
She did.
“Lay down.”
She did.
I handed her the treat as she lurched up, grabbed it in her massive jaws and ran to the green Oriental rug under the kitchen table to relax upon while feasting.
I climbed the stairs to the master bedroom and flipped the light on in my walk-in closet. I tugged a green laundry basket off the top shelf, over the rod and lowered the folded blankets and sheets to the floor. I carefully opened the layers of the Christmas flannel fitted sheet and pulled Mike’s manuscript out. I placed it on the off white carpet. I groped around for the reassurance that my own manuscript was neatly concealed inside the Harry Potter blanket. Yeah, that’s right. I like Harry Potter. Actually, I wish I could channel J. K. Rowling. I replaced the laundry basket onto the shelf and grabbed Mike’s manuscript.
Propping my feather pillows up, I snuggled in bed to read. I reached over to the nightstand and fished out a red pen. I went through chapter one and circled all the places where Mike was telling and I thought I could rewrite it, showing the reader how the characters are integrating within their world. It is my strong point. That and dialogue. I know how to shiver naked on the icy bridge. Feel all the way to my bones, the humiliation of my husband’s affair. The evil glee of plotting revenge on the boss.
I’m going to have to retype this whole manuscript. I wish I had his computer disc. If only he’d typed it into a computer. This was an old fashioned typewritten manuscript. Just the way Ernie Hemingway began his before Momma interrupted him with coffee. That he didn’t want.
If only I could channel Hemingway. And he could dictate to my muse. Or J.K. Rowling. Now wouldn’t that be something. A romance novel written by a man, Mike Taurus, an old man at that and revised by one of the literary greats of his time, or my time. Harry Potter meets the Old Man and the Sea on Make Believe Island.
I lay the manuscript beside me, covering it with one of the pillows. I drew the white blanket up from the foot of my bed and covered myself. One chapter was enough for today. If I revised a chapter every day, I’d be done in three weeks. But then I need to type it too. Maybe I should just skip the red pen and type directly. Yeah. Maybe I’ll use Alphie. Whoever invented portable word processors, I love you. Then I can upload it every day to my computer, but hmm...maybe I should get an external flash drive. That way I can take the little external hard drive with me and nobody—  Perry nor Tammy, could steal it off my computer’s hard drive. Yeah. That’s it. I’ll get a flash drive. I was getting sleepy. Really sleepy.
I reached on my nightstand for my stereo remote control and clicked the power button, C.D. and play. I ratcheted up the volume. I’d left one of Momma’s Dean Martin C.D.s in the player. I borrowed it from her Corvette, while she had gone missing. It felt comforting to me. “That’s Amore” played. My tummy growled. I wanted pizza. I tried to conjure up my dream weaver. But he was an Englishman not an Italian. And I could never conjure him up anyhow. He came to get me when he wanted me. Darn it. I miss you Ashley. If only you were real.
I had an image of the T.S.A. guy from Dulles. Tall, dark and deliciously mysterious.
No use. I couldn’t sleep. I heard the rumble of my garage door opening. Jumping up, I darted inside my closet with Mike’s manuscript. I quickly replaced it in the Christmas sheets, straitened the shelf, switched the light off and shut the door.
I slipped my fingers thorough my hair and plucked a lose curl I’d shed and carefully placed the single strand on the knob.
I crept down the stairs and booted up my computer, in the built in niche in the living room. Peeking out from the living room window, I caught a glimpse of black moving up my front steps. Great. Here come da come da judge. He looked as ridiculous as Flip Wilson. I loped over to the front door and opened it for him.
“Hey Oh-Donna. How’d it go at the neurologist?”
As if he didn’t know. I’ll bet he was onsite, peeking through a two way mirror or something. Just because people are watching you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paranoid.
“He said I hadn’t changed.”
“He? You were supposed to see a lady, Doctor Claytor!”
Just as I suspected. He had some scheme going, involving this lady neurologist. “You’re right, it was a lady. How’d you know?”
“So did she give you some medication?”
Perry ignored my question. That answered volumes.
“No. She never even mentioned it. Surely there must be something she could give me...? Well, but if I don’t have an infection, I guess there isn’t anything to treat but the symptoms and Ibuprophen or Aspirin takes care of that.”
I grabbed two plastic grocery bags from Perry. Carrying them into the kitchen, I asked, “So what’s for dinner?”
“Baked chicken, green bean casserole, Rice-A-Roni and blueberry cobbler.”
“Yum! Are you stuffing the chicken?”
“With cranberry bread crumbs, walnuts and sausage.”
“Fennel please?”
“Naturally.” He unzipped his robe and waddled back to hang it in the foyer closet.
“Perry, what’s the E.T.A. on dinner?”
“About eight.”
“Can I borrow your car?”
“No.” he rejoined me.
“Come on.”
“No. Nobody drives my Caddy.”
Tammy sprinted in. “Especially not a brain damaged sleepy girl like you.”
“Hello Tammy.” I grumbled. I would have protested her childish rudeness but what argument could I make against the truth?
She opened the refrigerator and pulled a strawberry yogurt out. She peeled the lid off and stuck her tongue in, while fishing a clean spoon out of the dishwasher.
“Tammy, let me borrow your car.”
She huffed haughtily. “Where do you need to go Oh-Donna?”
“To Best Buy. Or Comp City U.S.A. Or Costco. Maybe even Wal*Mart would do.”
“Eww...I wouldn’t be caught confused in any of those places. No way.”
What a snobby witch. Those are decent middle class stores and I enjoy shopping in all of them. “Well then take me to the Ford Dealer on Route Seven. I need to buy a new S.U.V. anyhow.
Tammy said, “Yeah, that’s right...Perry said you hit a didn’t save the meat did you? Eww...
“Tammy, I nearly got killed that day. Stop making dumb jokes.”
“Who you calling dumb, sissy-girl?”
“You’re the sissy-girl.”
Perry said, “Outa the kitchen. You’re in my way.” He was at the sink with his hand up the chicken’s butt.
Tammy opened the French doors and carried her yogurt out onto the deck. The dog ran out with her. Before I headed to the living room, the blinking red light on the answering machine caught my eye. I pressed play.
A man’s disembodied voice said, “Hello Orpha. This is Kent Cortez, T.S.A. We met at Dulles International Airport. I had to ask you to remove your suit coat, remember? I’m very sorry for that, but we have procedures to follow. I’d like to make it up to you. I was wondering if you’re available to have lunch with me tomorrow. Give me a call. My number is seven oh three, five five five one two seven seven.” Beep.
Perry laughed.

As I scrolled the caller I.D., I grabbed a sticky pad and pen from the drawer. I wrote Kent’s number down and then punched redial. I stepped into the living room. Okay, should I be spooked, worried, appalled? The T.S.A. screener looked me up. Is he some sicko stalker getting his jollies from making ladies strip, using his position to get off on? Or is he a sweet gentleman, truly sorry for the embarrassment? Oh God, how embarrassing. He thinks my name is Orpha. Well, it is. But I go by Donna. He read it on my license...

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 29

Chapter Seven

I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You

I sat shivering in the tissue paper the medical system favors. Keeps laundry costs down and all of that. I adjusted the opening of the sleeveless top, trying to keep my breasts covered as I gripped the drape around my rear. My toes appeared periwinkle, dangling over the table.
I stared out the second story window, in between the white vertical blind slats. Another building across the way, some activity in the parking lot, you know, people walking and driving around. A delivery truck. Must be an icky job picking up those specimen containers and taking them to the lab.
Knuckles rapped on the exam room door.
I never say come in.
Dr. Brenda Claytor came in. “Good morning, Miz Payne. How’re you?” She feigned caring while flipping through my chart.
“I’m having problems staying awake and I get headaches. It feels like a hippopotamus is sitting on my shoulders and my head is inserted in his rear end.”
“Fine, fine.”
“Your last M.R.I. was fine. It didn’t change from the baseline.”
She pressed the nurse call button and then took a little pen light out and started making me do eye exercises. Then she moved onto my ears and nose. What was she looking for? Hippo poop?
I ah-ed for her. Icy fingers palpated my lymph nodes.
The nurse arrived in a cheery zoo scrub shirt as the doctor finished listening to me breathe.
She said, “Open wide.”
She’d already done my mouth. But I opened it again. Maybe she has a brother-in-law who’s a dentist and she wanted to refer me to have my Mister T tooth pulled. I’ve got a baby tooth, a molar, with no tooth under it, known as tooth T. It’s one big silver filling. Every dentist I go to wants to crown in before it cracks. For $900 and up. But they do say the root is still good, so I’m keeping it until it does crack.
The nurse handed Doctor Claytor a wooden stick with cotton on the end. She bushed the insides of my cheeks with it.
What in the devil could that tell about my sleeping patterns? The PH value of my drool?
Nurse Zoo-ey wrapped a thick brown rubber band around my bicep and said, “You’ll feel just a little stick.”
I looked away and it was more than a little stick. Wait a minute. The only cheek swabbing bills I’ve remembered filing at Heavenly H.M.O. are for D.N.A. tests. Why would Dr. Claytor, a neurologist, want to check my D.N.A.?
Perry! I’ll bet he put her up to it. He’s trying to prove I’m not Daddy’s daughter, so he and Tammy can get a bigger cut. Wait. I didn’t get a cut anyway. Daddy left everything to his wife, Chloe. And now Momma is deceased, so maybe I’m in her will. Yeah, that’s it. Momma wouldn’t leave me out. Would she? I sighed.
The nurse said, “Hold this cotton ball while I get a Band Aid on it.”
I did. I pressed it down hard, so I wouldn’t get a big yellow-green bruise.


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Friday, February 24, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 28

Awakening on my four poser bed, all warm and snuggly underneath white cotton sheets and a blue damask comforter, I listened. I detected the drone from a construction site in the distance. No doubt they were moving dirt under the lights at the office parcel in the front of my development. The latest phase of my planned community. It would be nice when they built the commuter train station, but that was at least a decade off.
I heard water running in the bathroom across the hall. And Perry singing in the shower. He apparently left his heart in San Francisco. Not that I think he really had one to begin with.
I detected the slight shaking of the floor trusses echoing from the guest room. Tammy must’ve been doing her step aerobics.
I let a out a big sigh. I guess it’s nice having people around for a change. Living alone was well, alone. We’ll see how long I can take these two. Or more likely, until they show their true colors and I realize the joke’s been on me.
My shoulders jerked as the phone rang. I reached over and glanced at the green back lit L.E.D. readout. “Unknown”. Great. Probably a telemarketer.

I let the machine in the kitchen pick it up and rolled over.
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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 27

“Oh-Donna, wake up!” Tammy demanded. “You know, you’re eventually gonna have to get some medication for your condition. You can’t spend your whole life asleep.”
She’s right. I’ll never get the revisions completed on Mike’s manuscript if I can’t stay awake. And I can’t begin a new work of my own until I finish his. I will be published. I will make that happen. In the prime of my life I will make my dreams come true. I have stories to tell that only I can voice. And the world needs new stories. Mine. And Mike’s. Damn it.
Tammy picked up the revision letter. I snatched it from her.
“What are you doing, Oh-Donna?” she accused.
“None of your business.”
“You said that book belonged to the geezer’s heirs.”
“So why are you reading it? Isn’t that against the law or something?”
“Mind your own business Tammy.”
“Just where would you send it, if you did want to get it published?”
“To a reputable literary house.”
“Such as?”
“Really Good Books, Charlatan Press, Premium Press America...why?”
“No reason. Just curious.”
Tammy is never just curious. She’s concocting something. She’d better not have stolen my manuscripts! Or maybe she’s planning to take this one when I fall asleep. I have to get it out of here. Quick.
I clutched Mike’s manuscript to my chest as I cast evil eyes toward my doe-eyed sister. She was a work of art. Damn her.
Perry called out, “Dinner’s served.”
I stuffed the manuscript and letter back into my purse, slung it over my shoulder and trudged to the kitchen. I plopped down in the wooden chair.
He said, “That’ll be ten dollars.”
“What’ll be ten dollars?” I asked.
“Dinner. Ten bucks each.”
“It did not cost you thirty dollars for the ingredients of this meal.”
“It was Twenty dollars and nine cents.”
“So you’re making me and Tammy pay for your free meals?”
“I shopped and cooked. Only fair.”
“Fine. I dug in my purse and fished out ten dollars worth of change. I shot it across the table at his honor, one coin at a time. I made sure I used up all the pennies and nickels I could.
He counted them in between shovel fulls into that fat mouth of his.
I sank my teeth into the first bite, careful to get a sampling of all three layers. “Yum...” I groaned. The ground beef, yellow squash, mushrooms, onions, carrots and the fluffy mashed potatoes all had distinct flavoring. I savored the warmth and yanked a piece of Yorkshire pudding off. Steam rose as the pastry collapsed. I shoved it in my mouth. Flaky and eggy and oh so good. I sipped some water. That even enhanced the other flavors. “Perry, you’ve out done yourself.”
He grunted.
Tammy gobbled her plateful while pacing backwards around the kitchen.
I asked, “What are you doing?”
“Working the backs of my glutes. She then segued into squats.
I watched. Good food and free freaky entertainment. Oh, wait, I forgot. The whole dinner show cost me ten bucks. That’s okay. At least it lightened up my load. That change gets heavy. Momma always had a heavy purse too.
Perry said, “Oh-Donna. So when are you going back to the doctor?”
I grunted.
“You need to make an appointment.”
“Don’t boss me Perry.”
“Fine. Let yourself get worse. One day you won’t wake up at all. Is that what you want Oh-Donna?
“No. Of course not.” How could he say such a thing?
Tammy said, “If you give me a day’s notice, I can drive you to see the doctor. But I have clients and they need the courtesy of twenty-four hours notice.”
“Fine. I’ll make an appointment tomorrow. I mean that tomorrow I’ll call the neurologist’s office to schedule an appointment for a future date. I’ll give you plenty of notice.
Norma Jean sat tall beside me with those big sad eyes. I plucked a big chunk of ground beef off of my plate and tossed it in the air. She bumped it seal-like with her nose and rebounded it back to my dish.
Tammy said, “Eww gross!”
I picked it back up and threw it again. This time she was able to snap it between her jaws as she wagged her tail.
I was feeling really sleepy. After finishing my meal, I scooped up my purse and headed to bed. This time I had normal nocturnal sleep, even if I did turn in at seven thirty.


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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 26

Percussion. Percussion and piano seeped into my mind. Burt Baccarat-esq. I began humming along to “Say a Little Prayer”. Staring at the black type on the white paper, the characters danced and marched. I felt myself being pulled almost cartoon-ishly into the story. I closed my eyes and folded my hands prayer-like. I dove right in.
When I opened my eyes—there he was. My dream weaver, Ashley. And he was holding a Winnie the Pooh beach towel. I stepped out of the aquamarine surf and he enveloped me into the towel.
Ashley gently dried my face and said, “Hello love. What took you so long?”
“Oh, I was reading a good book.”
“Funny you should mention good books. I’ve got someone I think you’d like to watch.”
Ashley briskly dried me off. My nipples responded to the extra stimulation as he lingered over my itsy bitsy teeny weenie yellow polka dot bikini top. We took a circuitous path from the beach to the bungalow and peeked in the side window.
I watched a man sitting at a typewriter, rubbing his eyes. It wasn’t Mike. Young Momma Chloe with her Rita Hayworth styled hair, brought him a cup of coffee. With the flip of his hand, he cast her away and stormed out of the room. Momma tried a sip of the coffee and leaned down, looking at the typed page. I could read it too. “THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA.”
I said to Ashley, “Oh my God. That was…that was Ernest Hemingway! Momma knew Ernest Hemingway!” I latched onto Ashley’s warm arm and said, “Is he...could he have been...?”
“Is he could he what?”
“No, it’s silly.”
“Silly putty. Loved the stuff. Used to roll it onto the Sunday funnies and get the color ink transferred to notebook paper.”
“He couldn’t be my father, right? What year is it? When did he commit suicide?” Suicide. Nope. Never mind. I certainly don’t have those genes.
Ashley flipped me over his shoulder, fireman style. He carried me down to the beach. He eased me on top of the Pooh towel and sidled up. His beautiful brown eyes sparkled with love. I ran a finger across his full lips. The Donna song crept in with the tide. Shoot.


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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 25

I locked my front door and threw my back against it. Thank goodness they finally took off for work.
I carried my oversized palm tree motif mug of coffee to the glass topped table in my living room. I slurped a hot gulp and then settled into the recliner. I dug in my purse and yanked out Mike’s manuscript.
Reading the revision letter from the editor, I tried to assimilate what she wanted.
It seemed pretty straight forward. I just had to show action, not narrate, watch out for missing words and move the subplot resolution to an epilogue.
I pressed the four hundred pages to my chest. Smiling, I said, “This is for you Mike. I’ll try my best to get you published. Your life’s love was not in vain.
I set the letter aside and began reading.
Okay, I knew right away what the editor meant about missing words. She obviously thinks people speak in complete sentences. Yeah right. Assistant Editor Betty McNeely is probably a twenty-one year old size zero trust fund girl, with no real life adventures.
Well, if that’s what she wants, I can do that. Simple enough. I picked up a yellow highlighter and went through marking all the clipped dialogue.

Norma Jean bounded onto the sofa, spun twice and plopped down with a groan. She contemplated me, raised her eyebrows and shut her eyelids.
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