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Monday, February 20, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 24

Chapter Six

Someone To Watch Over Me

It’s not that I don’t love my siblings. Of course I do. I can’t help it. Maybe it’s just because they are familiar. I’ve known them for thirty-nine years. I wish them wonderful full lives and that all of their dreams come true. Those which don’t involve me. I grinned.
I just plain don’t like them. Sometimes I hate them. But then I stop to think, they can’t help being so arrogant, greedy and narcisstic. Those are their personalities. The nature/nurture thing. Wherein my personality was formed by nature, by my biological parents, whom I now know were not Nathan and Chloe Payne. My parents were warm, sweet, brave people. Like me. At least I hope that’s how others see me.
Tammy and Perry’s biological father, Dr. Nathan Payne, was a sociopath puppeteer. And I can’t pass judgment on their mothers, as I didn’t know either well.
My stomach knotted. “Oh my God, Mike! We left him in the grave he was digging!”
Tammy said, “Eww! Stop it Oh-Donna! Why’d you have to bring that up?”
Not only didn’t I attend a memorial service for Momma, I just left my poor biological father’s mortal body to be eaten by the worms, maggots and alligators. I’m going to Hell for this. Straight to Hell. But not if it’s not my fault. I’m retarded like they say. No I’m not! “Wait a minute. Perry, did you call the cops about Mike?”
“I notified the chief.”
“Chief? Fire chief? Indian chief? Chief executive officer? Wait. You mean the chief of security at the hotel! Damn you Perry! I thought you called from the island. Does Mister Rollins even know you didn’t notify the proper authorities?”
“Not my problem.” he snickered.
Well, Perry is a judge, so he should know the law, or should I say loopholes, in these delicate situations. If I do notify the authorities now, long distance, that could bring up some weird questions and maybe we’d get in trouble. I suffered a stabbing sensation as though an ice pick had been inserted at the base of my skull. And someone was applying pressure to it.
I hurried to my kitchen and opened the cabinet next to the refrigerator. I extracted a bottle of coated aspirin and shook two in my hand then replaced the cap and bottle. Grabbing a diet soda from the fridge, I washed them down with caffeine. That’s supposed to accelerate the healing powers. I needed peace and to lie down. And some music to pull me back into my happily ever after. My debonair dream weaver, Ashley, would know what to do. He’d take care of everything. I headed back down the hall.
Before I started up the oak stairs, Perry asked, “Oh Donna, how would you like me to make you a nice sheppard’s pie for dinner tomorrow? With Yorkshire pudding and my famous tossed salad?”
Yum...Perry was a delicious cook. And darn it, I’m tired of eating meat, eggs and cheese on this stupid diet. Maybe if I go off it for a few days, it will shock my body back into losing when I resume.
I smelled orange oil. It emanated from the fresh dusting cloth Tammy was busying herself with along my oak banister. She was working the crannies on the balustrades. That was something my sister and I did have in common. We were compulsive cleaners. Not that I felt up to cleaning lately. I had been experiencing weakness since my Rip Van Winkle incident.
“Oh all right. You guys can stay with me, but only temporarily. I’ll give you both a week. And I reserve the right to throw you out at any time.”
Tammy said, “And I reserve the right to leave at any time.”
“Good.” I said.
“Good.” Tammy had to get the last word in.
Retrieving his black judge’s robe from the living room sofa, Perry said, “I’ve got to go and pick up some things and see about getting a renter or buyer for my house. I’ll be back later tonight. I’ll bring groceries. Oh-Donna, give me your credit card so I can—”
I glared at him. So help me, if he finished that sentence...
He scowled with a snort and scrammed.
Twirling the rainbow feather duster along the baseboards in the foyer, Tammy sneezed.
“God bless you.” I meant it.
Norma Jean whined at the kitchen door. I opened it and let her onto the deck. I slammed it before a wasp flew in. Norma Jean sprang onto the deck and snapped at it. The second try trapped the insect between her jaws. She chewed and swallowed, then galloped down the stairs to the small yard to daintily do her business.
I let her back in, locked up and went up to my bedroom to take a nap. I slept all the way through until dawn. No dreams. Darn it.

~*~

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 23

~*~
Perry and Tammy walked me up my brown brick steps. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or suspicious. I said, “Thanks so much. Hey, wait a minute! We didn’t go to Momma’s funeral!” How in the heck could I have forgotten that? The whole reason we went down there.
Perry said, “It’s done.”
“Whaddaya mean by “It’s done?” I asked angrily.
“After the autopsy, they cremated her. Saved us money. I have the death certificate, so we can proceed with disposing of her estate.”
No. Not again. This is just like when Tammy had Daddy turned and burned. He wanted a Christian funeral with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. And now they’d done the same to Momma.
“But she wanted to be buried with her babies on Make Believe Island.”
“We don’t even know who owns that Oh-Donna. Her gigolo is dead, so what was the point in burying her anyhow? Nobody would visit her grave.”
I smacked him in the face.
He grabbed my wrist. “Don’t you knock me down these stairs Oh-Donna.”
I had a habit of shoving him down stairs. Well, the three stairs from the living room to the foyer of our childhood home. “When did you have time to get the death certificate?”
“Sleeping beauty, do you really need to ask about time?”
He was right. I was off in another dimension. Damn it. Why can’t I be two places at once? No, just one place. In my dreams.
Tammy snatched my key and unlocked the door. I tried to block her from going in, but couldn’t. Miss Muscle and all that. Perry squeezed by too. Norma Jean followed. So that left me standing out under the portico.
I stomped in and yelled, “Get out! Get outa my house now!”
Perry said, “Oh-Donna. You are retarded. We have to stay and take care of you.”
“I am not retarded!” Oh God, are they right? Am I retarded? How could I have not realized we didn’t have a funeral for Momma? And maybe that’s why I was such a convincing handicapped person in Florida. Not one person questioned why I had a Great Dane when it was clearly against the hotel rules to have a pet over twenty pounds.
Tammy said, “I am your new roommate Oh-Donna. Since you had me evicted from my apartment, I have no other place to go.”
“I did not have you evicted. Why would I do that?”
“You stopped paying my rent.”
“I did not. I never paid your rent.”
“You were executrix of Daddy’s estate. He paid my bills.”
I remembered Momma’s check book. “Momma paid your bills.”
“Well you turned her against me and she stopped. They don’t have any grace period. The rent wasn’t received. They booted me right out. All of my things are gone. And—” she began to sniffle, “they even ripped my Manhattan skyline mural off the living room wall.”
I remembered how cool that looked, enhanced by white theatre lights installed around the perimeter of her living room ceiling.
Perry said, “Tough break, Sis. But not to worry. We’ll stay here while we rebuild Little Mount Vernon.”
I suggested, “Perry, you have a fine house in Georgetown. Why don’t you two go there?”
“I’m selling it.”
“Why?” Oh, I know why. Momma isn’t paying for it any more.
Perry said, “We’ll use the insurance money and rebuild Little Mount Vernon. We’ll move back in and it’ll be just like when we were kids. We’ll have a wonderful time.”

I didn’t remember having any particularly wonderful times with him and Tammy in that childhood home. “You’re up to something Perry Lucifer Payne...”

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 22


~*~
I nervously said goodbye to the fight attendant and pilot. As I stepped off the plane and made my way through the thingy that attaches to the terminal, I steeled myself. The last time I arrived at Dulles, I was arrested for burning down Little Mount Vernon. No arrogant police officers were waiting to take me in. I strolled into the airport Scott-free.
“Come on, Oh-Donna. Let’s get your lap dog and get to your place.” Perry barked.

~*~

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 21


~*~
We flew home on a smaller jet. There were only two seats on each side of an aisle that I swear was twelve inches wide. The ceiling height was absolutely claustrophobic. I wasn’t afflicted with that malady, thank goodness. Perry was bent in half and cursing as he approached his seat.
I looked forward to reading Mike’s novel. Perry and Tammy were seated way in the front. Business class. Ha. I jumped up and moved down the aisle so a very tall red headed woman (or was it a man in drag?) could get to her window seat. She thanked me and we strapped in.
Scott, the flight attendant asked us, “Are you willing and able to help evacuate the plane in case of emergency?”
We watched as he motioned to the emergency exit door next to the redhead. “Yes.” we said in unison.
I squinted past her and tried to figure out the diagram for door removal. I asked red, “How are we supposed to pull the door into us in this tiny space?”
She studied it and said, “Oh, we pull it in and then throw it out.”
“Okay.” I peeled the foil and paper from my half roll of Cinnamon Mentos. I offered her one.
She accepted. “Thanks.”
I felt warm and fuzzy because a stranger accepted candy from me. She trusted it wasn’t poisoned. I wonder if my own siblings would trust me. Never mind, Perry would eat anything.”
She said, “This is my first flight since nine-eleven. I was there. Four blocks away.”
Okay, so I scooted my purse farther under the seat in front of me. I wasn’t going to get to read. But I did have what appeared to be a nice lady who was interested in conversing with brain damaged Donna. I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip away.
I listened and reassured her and asked questions. People like to talk about themselves. It’s a universal thing. If you can speak the language, or better yet, listen to the language, then you have a friend for a moment. As lonely as my life has been lately, a moment is something I’ll treasure.
Her name was Louise and she told me what it was like watching out her office window. The blackness. Then the second tower fell. They made their way to the lobby and then hurried from building to building, making their way to the water to escape to New Jersey.
She said when they came back a week later, the sight was surreal. She has a photo journal she kept, as they were bussed to their building each day. She said they could tell when the rescuers came upon a large mass of bodies. A distinctive odor of death.

~*~

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 20


As soon as the valet lifted me into the backseat of the Chrysler convertible, I smiled. I had two dollars ready and pressed them into his hand. “Gracias.”
“De nada,” he replied and slipped the bills in his pocket.
I just love the Latin accents down in south Florida. Northern Virginia is home to a huge population of them too. My high school Spanish gets me by.
As we waited at the stop light at the hotel exit, I turned, while petting Norma Jean. “Good-bye wheelchair.” At least that charade was over. I felt like such a fraud. Ashamed. So many wonderful people were imprisoned in wheelchairs for real. In my case, this sham was only necessary to keep Norma Jean safe with me. But still, I felt guilty. An ominous vibe shuddered down my spine. I hate premonitions.

~*~

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 19


~*~
I reluctantly opened my eyes to see my sister dressed in a pink silk pants suit, tailored to show off her perfectly altered boobs.
“Whaddaya want?” I groaned.
“It’s time to check out. We’ve got to drive up to Fort Lauderdale, return the rental car, drop the dog at the pet receiving place and get through security. Are you gonna take a shower or what? You look like crap.”
I stood up and shuffled out of the closet. Perry was noshing on croissants and bacon. He said, “Jeeze you look like shit Oh-Donna. Poof your hair or something.”
“Good morning to you to, Cary Grant.”
He grinned and shifted to release a noxious cloud.
Tammy squealed, “Eww Perry. Stop that!”
He laughed and clicked the remote.
I grabbed the handle on my duffle bag and rolled it into the steamed up bathroom. I untangled my purse straps from the suitcase handle. I unzipped it and stuffed my hand inside. Good, the manuscript was still there. I locked the door and undressed.
The hot shower pelted my shoulders. Felt great. Oh-no! Norma Jean needs to be walked! I stumbled onto the soaked bath mat and stuck my head out the door. “Perry, please take Norma Jean for a walk. She needs to do number one and number two.”
Tammy yelled, “Hurry up in there Oh-Donna.”
“Perry, please?”
“Not a problem. I’ll grab some doughnuts on the way.”
Shivering, I stepped back under the hot spray. It’s funny. Perry and Tammy have no feelings for other people, if there isn’t something in it for them. But for some reason, they are kind to my dog. It’s weird, because we didn’t have any pets when we were growing up.

~*~

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 18


Chapter Five

Dream Weaver
~♥~
It was just like trying to walk down a steep mountain. Impossible. The forward momentum forced me to run or tumble. I chose to run. Especially since I’d spent so much time in a wheelchair the past two days. I needed to run. Needed to feel my legs work. Fell the blessing of walking. Running. The wind in my hair was warm and soothing.
The bubble gum colored swirls dimmed into starlight as the terrain leveled off. My feet were thudding down onto wooden planks. I could see trees. And the lookout tower. I enjoyed a huge sense of peace, understanding that I was in my happily ever after again. Finally. On Make Believe Island, where the future is much better than the past.
And there he was. The tall, blond bearded man grinned. He alluringly beckoned me with one long strong finger. In his low English intonation, he invited me. “Hey you, step back in to our dream.”
I marched over to him. He grabbed my waist and swung me around as we kissed. Oh what a kiss. I just loved the way his soft whiskers tickled/abraded my skin. And the length of his tongue. Wow. This guy was the best kisser ever.
He set me down. “Well, Cinderella, how’d it go?”
“Momma and Mike died.”
“I’m sorry love.” He hugged me tightly. “How did the reunion with your brother and sister turn out?”
“Horrible. As usual. Why would it be any different?”
“Oh people can change love, given the right incentive and twists of fate. I’m sorry it hasn’t happened for those two yet.”
“So am I back now?” Please say yes.
“For now, yes.”
“Do you mean I don’t ever get to stay?” My voice trailed into a whine. “That week we had together was so so so sublime. I thought it was forever.” I searched his big brown eyes, with long thick lashes.
“I’ll promise you paradise love. But paradise comes in its own divine time. It’s not for us to decide when we want it.”
I sighed with resignation. “So, in other words, I’ve still got work to do in the mortal world. Things to discover. Clues to assemble and deeds to make right before I get to my happily ever after?”
“Yep.” He smiled and touched my nose. I felt engulfed in serenity as my dream lover took my hand and we strolled off the weathered dock, onto the moonlit beach. I enjoyed the waves lapping the hem of my white gauze dress. I hiked it up. Much more appropriate for the tropics than the synthetic mourning suit I traipsed around in earlier in my waking world.
“Ashley, so what else is there I need to do? I’ve already solved my father’s murder. Doctor Payne’s. Momma died, so she doesn’t need me to take care of her. And her friend, Mike— by the way, she told me he was my real father. Isn’t that romantic? And so wrong? I’m really mad she kept him a secret my whole life. I had to live as that pathological lying sociopath’s kid for thirty-nine years! Mister Puppet Master. He manipulated my reality. I have no idea if my whole life was a complete illusion. Did I just go through the motions in smoke and mirrors? “
Ashley squeezed my hand. “He loved you very much.”
“I know that. Everything he did, he did because he thought it was the best thing for me. All of us. But for his own bizarre twisted reasons that I’ll never understand. And now he’s gone. I always had thought he’d outlive me, just so I’d have a completely sucky life. Do you know how much it hurt when friends would tell me how much they looked forward to seeing their relatives, going to the beach on vacation with them and how wonderful their visits were?”
I noticed the red lights of a tanker ship anchored well offshore for the night.
Ashley pointed to the sky. “Look at the rings around the moon, Love.”
I glanced up at the orange and yellow halos. “I’d smile and nod, but actually had no idea how they could possibly look forward to that. I dreaded seeing my relatives. I always came away insulted, dejected and with my gut twisted into a knot of woe.”
“Cinderella, that’s enough. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Move on.”
“I can’t believe you said that to me. Momma always told me to stop feeling sorry for myself. And now you too.” He’s supposed to love me no matter what. Why can’t I feel sorry for myself once in awhile?
“Don’t waste time on that sweetheart. Nobody can make you feel trivial, unless you allow them too. And most of those people are gone now.”
“You’re right. I’ve just got Tammy and Perry left now.”
We slinked around Mike’s bungalow and peeked in the back window. By the glow of a kerosene lamp, I spotted a partially eaten wedding cake. And a marriage certificate.
So Momma and Mike were married. What, was she a bigamist?” My stomach churned.
We plodded to the front of the house and observed them sitting on the porch. A young Mike and Chloe.
My dream weaver whispered, “Listen.”
Momma Chloe said, “One week into our honeymoon and you have to run off to Mexico City for your next assignment. And I have to take a crash course in nursing for my next deep undercover job. Whey did we ever think two secret service agents could marry and live happily every after?”
Oh no. Damn it. I hear the Donna song. They’re pulling me back again. I tried to tippy-toe up to kiss Ashley, but the music got louder and the stars swirled. I heard Norma Jean smacking her lips. And Tammy saying, “Wake up Oh-Donna. Oh-Donna. Wake up.”

~*~
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Monday, February 13, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 17


~*~
As soon as Tammy closed the door to our handicapped accessible room, I leapt out of the wheelchair, clutching my purse and plopped down on the double bed closest the window wall. I hugged the bag to my chest. My heart. Mike’s manuscript. I had to make it work. I must figure out the changes his editor wanted and get it sold. As one dejected, rejected writer to another, I had to do this for him. So that his life’s labor wasn’t for naught.
Perry switched on the T.V. and assumed the position, propped on the other bed, with both pillows behind his bald head.
Tammy carried her pretty little designer suitcase into the bathroom. She soon emerged dressed in cerulean spandex as she pulled her hair into a ponytail. “I’ll be down at the gym. You guys wanna join me?”
Wow, Tammy was actually inviting us? I’d love to work out with my sister. Bond with her while sweating on the treadmill. Hmm...I didn’t pack anything but dress clothes, since we came for Momma. For Momma’s funeral. I fought the tears welling again.
Perry grunted, “It’s not my thing.” he flipped through network news, “Leave It To Beaver”, “Sponge Bob Square Pants”, the latest Avril Lavigne music video, then settled on “Judge Judy”. “Oh-Donna you go. It’ll be good for you.”
“I can’t go, because I’m supposed to be disabled.”
Tammy said, “I’m a certified physical therapist Donna. I can show you some upper body exercises, tone your floppy arms up for ya.”
She just had to insult me. I glared at her and then fetched Norma Jean’s chrome dishes from my pink rolling duffle bag. I poured kibbles from a zip locked bag and served her fresh water from the bathroom. I set both bowls in the huge walk-in closet. I squatted on the floor and patted her back as she gulped.
Maybe I can get a rollaway bed and set it up in here. The other two would love that. Keeping Oh-Donna stashed in the closet. But wait. The big walk-in closet under the stairs at Little Mount Vernon, my parent’s house, is where I had my first special dream. There was music playing. I remember, I was pulled into the dream by Mr. Ashley Jones. Umm...yum. Ashley. My debonair dream weaver.

I could hear a melody faintly emanating from the guest room next door. Country music. “Islands in the Stream”. I felt dizzy. I laid down on my back. Norma Jean licked my hand. The closet swirled. Phone books, an ironing board and hangers danced around me. I experienced forward propulsion into the beautiful raspberry and turquoise swirls.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 16

The valet pushed my wheelchair up the ramp and into the lobby of the Fontainebleau Hotel. I fumbled in my purse, trying to extract my wallet, which was lodged under the thick manuscript. The valet was summoned by the bell captain before I reached it. I sighed.
I contorted and slung my purse back over the corner of this miserable torture device and hung it on the back of the chair. I grabbed the metal bars and rolled myself up the incline between the main lobby in front of the Rat Pack bar, past the car rental desk and up to the check-in area. Perry and Tammy had already beckoned the security guy who was so nice to us before. They’d filled Mr. Rollins in on Mike’s unexpected death.
Fred Rollins said, “This is horrific. But romantic. Mike died digging the grave for his true love.”
Perry quipped, “Oh, yes, of course. Something like out of romance novel.”
The security guy asked,” Must’ve been an open and shut thing. The police didn’t question you long?”
“We didn’t wait on the police. We—um—needed to get our sister back as soon as possible. She’s not well.”
Mr. Rollins studied me.
I coughed. Don’t know why, I just thought I should for effect.
“Do you need me to have the house doctor look in on her?”
Perry said, “No, no. We just need to tuck her in. She’ll be fine.”
“All right. I’ll pass the word along to the other employees. The old boy sure will be missed. He was here on opening day, you know?”
Perry whirled my chair around. I pulled some unthought-of muscles in my side, flailing for my purse. I hugged it to my chest. My heart. We were squeezed onboard the elevator in record time.
When the room service guy wheeled his cart off on the second floor and the doors closed, Tammy asked, “So can we go home now? We don’t need to stay overnight, right? Maybe we can—” She let out a high pitched moan. “The dog. We can’t just hop the next plane to Dulles. Sheesh Oh-Donna. I have to find another flight that will accommodate Scooby Doo-ette.”
The dog began nuzzling my sister.
She petted her. “I’ll get you home safely girl. Don’t you worry sweetie. Maybe I can fly out earlier, after I arrange things for you and Oh-Donna.”
Perry said, “We have to claim Chloe’s remains and procure the death certificate in order to liquidate her estate.
I accused, “You didn’t love her one little bit, did you? That woman worked hard at building a second career after she retired from the secret service. She worked sixteen hour days on her feet as an R.N. to see you through law school and to pay for Tammy’s make-up artist academy and then for her personal trainer training.”
My siblings rolled their eyes at me.

~*~

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Serial Fiction: Mistake 15

~*~
My beautiful nature moment was broken by a ten second odoriferous rip emanating from my brother.
Tammy squealed, “Perry, eww!”
I said, “I’m perfectly capable of burning the trash. Go away. Wait on the porch or the dock for the boat.”
Perry said, “We’re here to make sure you don’t burn the house down this time.”
I inhaled, as anger seethed. “Perry Lucifer Payne, I did not burn down Little Mount Vernon and you know that.”
He laughed nastily.
They followed me to a clearing, in sight of the graves. Here come my tears again.
Tammy screamed, “Eww! I smell him. The Mike guy! Eww! Oh-Donna, bury him or something.”
She charged past me and I almost sensed the island shaking as Perry tried to keep up with her. I guess it was a macabre scene. To me it was just so sad. Tragic and romantic. Mike died digging the grave of the woman he loved. My momma.
I watched my siblings until they disappeared behind the old forest fire watch tower in the middle of the island. Great. They’re running the wrong way. They’ll get lost for sure and I’ll have to find them and lead them to the dock.
When the surrealness of the moment wore off, I found myself belatedly sharing their response to the graveyard— knowing Mike’s corpse was in the open pit gave me the creeps too. I shuddered before I spun on my heels and dashed down a well worn path which looked as if it had been recently cleared by a machete.
Norma Jean galloped ahead and danced around charred cans. I set my purse down, in a thicket of greenery which I hoped wasn’t poison anything and dumped the trash into the center of a ring of rocks. I struck the match. Sulfur ran up my nostrils. I lit a couple of my used tissues and a German chocolate cake mix box. I watched as the wind enabled a nice conflagration, even if it was of short duration. When the fire died down to just a few thin gray ashes with orange embers, I scooped some sand on it, picked up my purse and trudged back to the house.
Squinting, I placed my hand over my eyes and peered at a boat in the distance. I turned toward the turquoise bungalow. “Goodbye Momma. Goodbye Mike. God speed you to your next incarnations. I love you.”
I retrieved my panty hose and shoes from the porch and footed my way down to the shoreline. The cold water made me shiver at first, but somehow it soothed me as I strolled calf deep in the ocean spray. I plopped down on the dock, waiting for the captain. “Oh shoot” I hope they aren’t using binoculars! I’m supposed to be paralyzed. Shoot shoot shot. What If I’ve blown our cover, Norma Jean?”
Perry and Tammy arrived. Perry huffing, Tammy the picture of physically fit beauty. I jealously snorted. Knowing I’d never have her taught sculpted upper arms and back.
“What took you so long?” I asked.
Tammy said, “We found another—”
Perry cut her off. “We found a path and circled the island.”
The drone of the boat’s motor approached.

~*~

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