Old age rears its ugly head in the strangest places.
I had just had a lovely massage. Well, lovely doesn’t really describe the thumbs and elbows that get pressed into my flesh weekly by Chinese reflexologists who strive to keep me upright. In any case, I was walking through the parking lot post massage on my way to Trader Joe’s when my sweetie pie handed me a cold bottle of water. I took a drink and it went down the wrong way, which caused me to cough and, ipso facto, triggered a back spasm the moment I walked through the door.
“What?” Ryan stared over the grocery cart.
“I have a back spasm!” I grabbed my angry tailbone and tried to think about what I’d come in to purchase. “Ow!” Then I turned and ran up the nearest aisle. Butter, bread, eggs, cheese. No help at all. I rounded the corner and hurried down the next aisle. Frozen foods: Mandarin Orange Chicken, Angus Beef Burgers, ice cream, popsicles. Nothing useful. Halfway down the row, my back pulsing like a bass drum, I began to despair. And then I saw a bag of frozen corn. I scooped the red-and-yellow sack from freezer with the intention of inserting it into my pants.
But…my logical brain made me pause. There were shoppers all around me. What would they think if they saw me shoving corn under my shirt? So, I ran to the end of the aisle, corn in hand, bolted around the bend, and scooted to the checkout line. There I found Olivia, a nice young woman Ryan and I spoke with every week.
“Olivia! I’m going to buy this!” I held up the bag. “But I have to put it in my pants first!”
Lovely girl that she is, Olivia didn’t skip a beat. She smiled. “That’s fine!”
And so, I slid that gloriously frozen bag of corn into my shorts. But I still had shopping to do and while I tried to concentrate the pain persisted. And then the bag of corn started falling down my leg. “Is there a restroom?”
Ry pointed to what looked like a far-off corner. I toddled in that direction, sensing the bag of corn slipping from its perch in my pants. What if it dropped to the floor? Would the people behind me assume I was a shoplifter? My brain whirled. Would I be arrested? Surely, I could explain.
Once inside the restroom, I adjusted the bag of corn. While I had to waddle a bit to keep it in place, I thought it would stay put, but as I walked through the store that cold bag started to slip again, so I had to slap my hand over my butt to keep it in place. Yes, I wondered what that looked like from behind, but surely my hand on my own backside was far better than having that bag of corn plop down at my feet.
“What else do we need to get?” Ry asked.
“Nothing!” I really needed to sit on that corn to get the spasm to stop, so we both zoomed into Olivia’s checkout line. I suddenly realized the corn needed to be scanned. I briefly considered retrieving another bag, but knew I’d never make it to the frozen food aisle and back without a corn accident.
Ry, as always, came to the rescue. “Give me the bag.”
I dug my hand into my shorts and proffered the corn. When Olivia reached out for it, Ryan waved his hand. “I’ll scan it for you.”
Once inside the car, I placed my bottom on the frozen bag and waited while the pain subsided. (Cold is rather magical.)
Later, when we got home, I went to throw the corn away, but Ry stopped me. “Just put it in the freezer,” he said.
“I think we should throw it out.”
So, in the freezer it remains. Now, every time I open the drawer, that bag of corn stares at me accusingly.
“I paid for you,” I mumble as I close the door, noting perhaps a little gratitude is in order. “Thank you for saving my butt.”
ANCIENT RUINS, HAUNTED MEMORIES, AND A RUTHLESS CRIMINAL COMBINE WITH A TOUCH OF MYSTIC PRESENCE IN THIS TAUT MYSTERY ABOUT A CRIME WE ALL MUST ADDRESS.
Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense
September 13, 2021
Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—an ancient pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.
One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.
Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.
One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target. In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.
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