Snippet Sunday~~ NaNo falling Behind

Snippet Sunday

Hi, Y’all this hasn’t been the best week. I have been gettign sicker instead of better. and had to go back to the Dr again. Yes the fluid is still trapped  in my sinuses( noKidding perhaps that’s why I have the headache from hell for two months?) More antibiotic and nothing to relieve the headaches not much he can give me that don’t affect my seizures or stomach.  To top it all off being in the Dr office and crowded sotre afterwards cased me to catch  a cold right in my chest.  It’s hard enough to type with a headache but do it propped on pillows in bed with  chest on fire. But I ma managing a few words a day.

 

I write in  first-person split views.  I tried hard this time for third but the first chapter was so flat i had to redo it.  If you missed it last week you can find it here.

Remember this is a very raw rough draft.

Baseball Bats and Cowboy Hats Copyright 2015

TJ

This week  is TJ’s  a small portion of TJ’s take he was very fidgety.

The ride from Iowa City seemed to take forever. It’s not the first time I have stayed in a host house. Last year we had a married couple that had kids at home. That was quite an experience. The kids at last year’s host house were active, loud and followed me around all the time when I was there.

I grew up mostly alone. My older brother was killed when I was eight. He was 4 almost 5 years older than me. He was hardly ever at home hanging around my uncle Tito. I try to not think of that day when we got the news about Manny and Dad. It still saddens and angers me in so many ways.

When I was offered to stay here if I would donate a couple hours a day to some farm chores I jumped at the chance. When I found out our host had a couple horses, I was ecstatic. Not only do I get to play baseball in a prospect league with a chance of draft I finally get to work on a real farm.

Having some of the other team mates around will be different but nice as well. Especially when I found out my best friend and current roommate, Simon Beckner was staying here as well.

Simon comes from money so he volunteered to drive his SUV. This way we have transportation to practice and town if we need it. He is excited as I am about staying here and getting to work with the animals. He wants to be a vet, though I don’t know how he plans to do that and play ball.

I hate this music he listens to. I think e only owns 6 songs on his IPod since the same six have been playing for hours. I can’t call it rap since it has singing and it I slower than hip hop.
“And how much longer till we get there? Your music is giving me a headache”

“I have some aspirin in the console if you need some. We are in Edenfield now where the Stadium is I want to map out our route from The Field to Mrs. Thomas’ so we know how to get here and how long it takes.”

“You always do think ahead Simon but I really need to get out of this car.”

“DO you want to get out and look around at the Stadium?

“No I can make a few more minutes.”

“I think it’s more like 20 or 25.” Simon ( says sarcastically)

I love Simon to death but he can be hard to take in large doses. At least at home I can go to my room and ignore him.

“At last we get to be in the same house. You know how meeting new people is for me.”

Simon isn’t small but he is very different and get picked on a lot. He isn’t violent in nature and won’t defend himself. I on the other hand have no problems decking some homophobic butt-head first and asking questions later. That goes for anyone I care about. I won’t lose anyone else without taking action.

“I think we know a couple of the others form our school and team.”

“I think there is only one from our school. Carl Brorby.”

“I know Carl he is pretty cool. But isn’t he really wanting to play professional baseball? Why would he want to work on a farm?

“Yeah. He is majoring in business. I think he can works with his brother some in construction. Some of us will help with the animals some with minor repairs.”

 

“I see. I guess I figured we were all going to be used as ranch hands.”

Can I change the music since we are almost there?”

“I guess I can listen to a few minutes of some country cowboy whining about  losing their girl, house truck and dog.”

I playfully punch him, then search for a good station.  I figured being near the country it would be easier but most were Simon’s kind of music, some rock and I finally found one with older country music.

 

We left the main road and the sight was stunning. Lots of grassy pastures with cows, or goats grazing, some trees, fields with wheat and corn coming up and windmills. I love windmills.

After a few miles on this off road we turned onto a gravel road.  I could see in the distance a large yellow house with white trim, a natural wood barn. The closer we got I saw a small herd of goats.

We pulled up and Simon got out to greet out host while I gather my phone and Walkman placing them in my pockets.

I looked up to see the most beautiful woman standing with Coach Rick that I have ever seen. Where is her husband? Wouldn’t he want to meet us to show us our chores?  Maybe he works somewhere else. I see Coach Rick glaring at me so I tuck the Walkman into my shirt pocket and head out to meet my host.

I hopped out of the vehicle and jogged up to Coach and the hostess. Why the heck did Simon park so far from the house. Then I saw the others tossing ball and figured he didn’t want to t chance a ball through his window or a dent. The way we pitch a ball can do some damage.

Excitement overtook me as I took her small fragile looking hand in mine.  I had a strong urge to pull her into my arms and kiss away that nervous look. I only met her moments ago and deep down I want to protect her.  Hot dam no ring! How on earth could a women this gorgeous be single? I guess she could have a boyfriend but all is fair in love and war.

“TJ go join the others while we finish out business.”

He doesn’t look very happy with me. He turns his head back and begins talking with Annie.  A sweet name for a lovely woman. The way the coach is looking at her and talking so gentle I wonder if he has a thing for her?

My friend Vicki  Locey is also writing an intiguing MM romance for NaNo too. If you would like a sneak peak at hers check it out here.

http://thoughtsfromayodelinggoatherder.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

Till Death Do Us Part–Chapters 6-10

Spooktacular Sunday October 2015

Hi Ya’ll! I hope you enjoyed last weeks free read.  As I mentioned last week I appreciate all comments and constructive criticism so feel free to leave comments!

Till Death Do Us Part Cover red title

Till Death Do Us Part

Copyright © 2015 <Cathy Brockman>

All rights reserved

Edited By Ellie Mack

Proofread by Vicki Locey

Novelette: 17,121 words (63pages)

Genre: Male/Female -Supernatural, Contemporary

Heat rating: 2

Blurb:

 What happens when we die? I’m not sure about everyone else, but for me, Bill Parker, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my wife Mandi and my kids alone. So, I stayed behind, attached to my wife… I mean my widow.

 

Currently she’s seeing this new guy. I don’t trust him for one second. He has an air of danger about him. It’s my job to protect her and my family, but how do I protect them when the only contact I have with her is in Mandi’s dreams?

1-5 can be found here:

Chapter 6

Free shows abound

I awaken, the next morning, to lots of clattering and loud voices coming from the kitchen.

“I don’t care! You’re my wife and I have the right to make love to you any time I want. You should be more compliant! This is getting old!” Mark kicks the chair out with his foot and sets his coffee down on the table, so hard that it sloshes over the side.

“Actually, I’m not your wife yet!” She puffs up like an angry cat, crosses her arms over her chest, pursing her lips in that oh so familiar scowl. “I won’t be if you don’t show me a little more respect! The last couple of weeks it seems as if you’re changing!” She tosses a dishrag at him and smacks him in the face with it.

That’s my feisty baby doll! She may look sweet and innocent, but she can be hell in heels when she’s had enough.  Wait a minute! He said wife and she said wedding? What the hell? I hope that I misheard!

“Honey, you know I love you and wanted to wait until I had enough tips saved up to get a ring, but will you marry me?”  He doesn’t even kneel. Just blurts it out. She looks as shocked as I am.  Then shocks me more when she faintly says a yes. I know she’s only doing it for financial security and because she doesn’t like living alone. I’m not sure of his motive yet, but I don’t think it’s love. He has some issues and I’ll find out what they are. A light bulb goes off in my head. While they’re busy arguing over breakfast, I’ll go upstairs to their joint office and see what I can find.

After a couple of hours digging, I hear Mandi’s music playing loud. That must mean the leech has left. I hear the mower outside. Shit, he’s sucking up.

I haven’t found anything on his desk. In fact, there isn’t much there at all—just a calendar, his pay stubs, and the receipts of his recent purchases. I knock them on the floor as I leave the room.

Downstairs is a sight for sore eyes. Mandi has on a pair of tight-fitting exercise shorts and a sport bra. She goes to the utility closet and pulls out the broom, mop bucket, mop and vacuum, along with her basket of cleaning supplies. I always get a kick out of how organized she is. Everything has to be in the right spot. Heaven forbid you get something out and don’t put it back. I notice she has the living room basket, so I settle on the couch to watch the show.

I always loved watching Mandi clean the house. No matter what she does, she gives it her all.

She gets her supplies all lined up on the bar, which separates the dining room –  her dusting items, the glass-cleaner, a roll of paper towels, a blind duster and a stack of white soft dusting cloths. I grin, as she sprays the ceiling fan duster and tries to slip the gadget over the blade. The fan moves and she totters and stumbles. I decide to help. I get up on the nearest table and steady the fan so it doesn’t move as she slides the duster back and forth a few times over each blade. She’s sneezing and cursing under her breath. I hop off the table, flick the dust bunnies out of her hair and move to the next one. After we finish the two in the long living room, one in the dining room, and the one in the kitchen, she lays the long handled duster next to the stairs.

I chuckle because she stands with her hand on her hip and the other on her chin, with one finger extended to her pull lightly on her perfect lip. Her face scrunches up and it’s so cute, as she contemplates the scent she will use today. She chooses the lemon; placing the orange, lavender and rain cans of duster, glass cleaner and liquid cleaner back into the basket, she sits it on the kitchen counter. She turns off the radio and places her mp3 player in the cute, little, frog speaker dock.

The music begins and Mandi sets off wiggling and dancing around the living room, meticulously removing each of the whatnots on the table to the tune of Golden State of Mind by Joy Wave. I laugh when she picks up the spray can and uses it as a microphone. Her and Kelly used to dance around cleaning together like this when Kelly was little and stayed home on the weekends. Kelly became a very good duster—and she can sing too. Her mom…not so much, but she’s a riot to watch. She sweeps, mops and vacuums next. All the while, she’s belting out the current tune playing, shaking and shimmying. She always said Saturday cleaning was her workout for the day.

I heard the lawn mower stop and the weed eater start up. Mandi did an encore performance in her bedroom, office and bathroom. She leaves Kelly and Will’s room and bathrooms to them.

After gathering the supplies, she traipses back downstairs, heading into the kitchen. She unloads the dishwasher, wipes down the counter and flops into the booth in the breakfast nook with a bottle of cold water. I had joined in with the dancing with her, holding her tight during the slow songs. The way her body glided with mine, it’s as if she knew that I was holding her.

Mandi gets up to toss her bottle in the recycling bin, when Leech comes inside and tracks wet grass onto the mudroom floor. The jerk doesn’t even have the decency to brush off before he comes in.

“Hey! I just spent the entire morning cleaning! Can’t you at least brush off and take off your shoes?”

He shoots her a nasty look, but quickly turns it into a smile. “Sorry, darling, I was so thirsty that I didn’t think about it.” He goes to her and pulls her into his arms (after kicking off his shoes and leaving them in the middle of the mudroom.) “I forget you’re a neat freak. Remember, only a few months ago I was a lazy bachelor.”

You’re still a lazy bastard… I mean bachelor. I thump him hard on the head.

“What the hell! Mandi, why did you just thump me on the head?”

“I didn’t, but should’ve for you are dragging all that grass in on my wet floor and getting me all sweaty. You had better be glad I hadn’t had my shower yet, or I would’ve done more than thump you.” She handed him the broom, as she headed off for her shower. Another one of her cute quirks—she takes lots of showers and baths. She puts her clothes in the hamper, even if she only has them on for an hour or so and hasn’t done anything. She claims that if they touch her body, they need washing. Gotta love that gal!

I turn to see Mark sweep his mess into the dustpan. I can’t resist knocking it away just as he starts to dump it into the trash.

He curses and looks around furious. “I’m warning you to quit messing with me or you’ll regret it. I’ll figure out who you are soon.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 7

What’s the big rush?

 

The next few days are about the same. It seems like Mandi and Mark are arguing quite frequently, and he is staying away a lot more. Of course, that makes me very happy, though it doesn’t seem to make Mandi as pleased.

While he is out, I take my place in Mandi’s bed, holding her. I look forward to visiting her again in her dreams. I can’t get into her dreams on my own, but she can call me in by dreaming of me. It hurts me a little that she hasn’t dreamed of me since that one night.

I’m pleased by the fact that Mandi seems to be having second thoughts about Mark. But, then again, she only let him stay out of need. A loveless marriage will never work.

Tuesday evening, they are sitting at the dinner table. For once, all four of them are together.

I keep pushing the fork away as Mark tries to put it in his mouth. I know that’s juvenile, but  even the kids thought him missing his mouth and spaghetti falling all over his long pointed chin and shirt is funny. I like hearing them laugh.

I would dump the whole bowl on his head, but that may frighten the kids, so I stick with tiny, subtle tricks.

Mandi grins and I wonder if she has figured out what I am doing.

She gathers the dinner plates and goes to put them in the sink and get dessert.

“Bill, stop messing with Mark,” she whispers.

I guess that answers my question. I open the refrigerator door for her, since her hands are full of plates, silver wear and napkins. I pick up the cheesecake and set it on top of the plates in her hands.

“Thanks. Don’t do anything more to Mark. Do you hear me?” She whispers again, as she makes her way back to the table.

I am so tempted to push his head into his dessert, but I refrain. I don’t want to make Mandi mad at me.

“This looks good. You always make a good dinner.” Mark takes a bite. Murmuring ‘mm mm’ about his mouthful.

The kids nod in agreement, as they dig into the delicious looking cheesecake, making noises of appreciation of their own.

“So, I was thinking we should go this Friday and get married.”

Forks clank to the saucers; I think one may have hit the floor. All eyes are set on Mark, even mine.

“Why so soon? I mean, we haven’t had a lot of time to discuss it or plan a wedding or anything.” Mandi appears more nervous than surprised.

I can tell because she always twirls a strand of her hair when she is nervous or anxious.

“I just figured it would make things easier for you. I’m sure those busybodies at your church, and at work, are whispering and spreading rumors. I just want to make things are good for you, dear.” His broad smile is as fake as a three-dollar bill. When he drops the smile, I notice a little twitch in his left eye. Is he nervous? Worried? What is this man up to?

“I don’t think I can pull off a wedding in just one week, Mark.”

“Sure you can. We don’t need anything fancy; you’ve already had your storybook wedding. Besides, a big wedding costs lots of money. I figure we can go to the courthouse Friday, if we get our license by tomorrow.”

The tension in the room gets thicker and thicker.

“My family will have a cow if I elope!”

“Well, why don’t you call your pastor and see if he can marry us Friday evening? If so, then all you have to do is call your family. I’ll call my sisters and you can have a small wedding. I will even pay for a cake and some fixings for punch, but let’s keep it simple. OK?” He picks his fork back up, shoving the last bite of cheesecake in his mouth. I hope he chokes on it.

The silence stretches and stretches. Both kids sit quietly, slowly nibbling their desserts, keeping their eyes cast down.

“OK. Fine.” Mandi concedes quietly.

No! No! No! I pace around frantically. How can I stop it? I only have a week! I have to find out what he is up to and fast. I slam my fist into the wall where she keeps photos of us with the kids. My picture crashes down.

Everyone jumps, startled. All eyes are on the mess on the floor. I hear Mandi mutter, ‘Sorry.’

“You didn’t do it. It must’ve been a small tremor. Either that or you have a ghost.” Mark looks over at Mandi with a smirk on his face.

Mandi jerks her head up, eyes wide. The kids shake their heads in disbelief.

Mark gets up, goes to the broom closet and retrieves the broom and dustpan. He bends over, picking up my picture. He takes a long look, before placing it on the table. His thin lips curl up into an evil grin.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 8

There’s a ghost in the house

The leech doesn’t have to work tonight, so I’m stuck with him. The way he is hanging on Mandi and is all lovey-dovey makes me want to gag, so I decide to see what the kids are doing.

Will is in his room playing some game where he chases zombies. I glance around his room and realize that he has all sorts of zombie posters, though they are mostly games or movie ads, a stack of the Walking Dead DVDs, a few comic books and tons of gaming books and magazines – no wonder the kid doesn’t have a girlfriend, he is too busy killing zombies or figuring out how… At least his calendar was the swimsuit issue!

After watching a few minutes, I slip into Kelly’s room. It is no longer pink and frilly as it was a few years ago. Gone is all of the princess stuff, except for her tiaras that rest on top of her bookshelf with her pageant trophies. I notice there aren’t any recent ones. I guess she has outgrown those.

I notice her school books tossed on her bed. She is supposed to be doing homework, but she is on the computer and the phone at the same time. She is so much like her mother, always multitasking.

I browse around at her bookshelf and the photos of her and a few friends when a bit of her conversation catches my attention.

She’s relaying tonight’s dinner conversation with her friend on the phone. It sounds like she’s torn about the wedding. She likes that Mark spends money on her, gets her what she wants, but she doesn’t like him all that much. Perhaps she is too much like her mother.

She laughs at something the other person is saying. I am about to leave when I hear her say, “I think we have a ghost in the house.”

 

                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 9

Speak now or forever hold your peace

I am getting a bit nervous that everyone’s noticing me. Well, at least they think the house is haunted. It’s not the house that’s haunted since I can go anywhere Mandi goes. This means I will be attending my widow’s wedding today. Great! I wonder if I can stop it.
I sit quietly in the car as we head to the church. Mandi and Kelly are both quiet. It feels more like we are going to a funeral than to a wedding. Kelly helps carry in her mom’s dress and stuff. Kelly has apparently dressed at home. After everything is out of the car and inside the church, Kelly plops down in a pew,  puts her ear buds in and begins texting on her phone while listening to music. Mandi’s sisters are in the back, setting up the cake and drinks. That leaves Mandi alone in a small room getting ready.

As she takes off her yoga pants, I grab her dress while her back is turned, hoping if I hide it, she won’t go through with this charade.

“Bill! What are you doing?”

Oops, I’m busted.

I try to tell her, but she can’t see or hear me. Darn!

She grabs for the floating dress. I hang on for a moment.

“Bill, you let go right now! I know you don’t want me marrying Mark. I understand. But you are dead now, and I have to move on.”
Reluctantly I relinquish my hold on the dress. At least it’s not a traditional wedding gown. It’s a pretty, simple sundress with pink flowers on it. She will look beautiful, as usual.

“Please don’t mess this up for me. You don’t have to worry. I don’t love him like I did you, but I need him. You understand that, don’t you?”

No, I don’t understand. Well, I do. I know it’s hard making ends meet alone, but I can’t understand why she chose him. She could do so much better.

I stand silently as she finishes getting dressed. I even walk down the aisle with her. She smiles as I link my arm through hers. “No more shenanigans, I mean it,” she whispers, as we leave the room and stand in the back waiting for our cue.

Finally, their song begins to play, and we make our way down the aisle. I hate leading the woman I love down the aisle with a man that I don’t trust. But, what can I do?
I could do plenty. I could knock over the candles, but I don’t want to hurt anyone or damage the church. I could flood the baptismal booth, and the pastor would have to postpone the ceremony. But all that will do is delay the inevitable. Instead, I step aside and study one of the panels of stained glass while they say their vows.

“I am very proud of you. You’re doing a good job though we don’t agree with the things you are doing to the man.” I jump at the sound of an unfamiliar voice. Turning around, I see a short, rather pleasant looking man. No, he isn’t dressed in white, glittering, or has wings. He’s dressed in a casual tan suit with a pale blue shirt underneath.

“I didn’t mean to startle you.” He gives me a reassuring pat on the shoulder and a gentle smile.
“Who are you?” I look around to see if anyone else is noticing our conversation, but all eyes are on the wedding taking place.
“I am Peter. And, before you ask, no I am not a disciple! I am assigned to watch over you and help you when I can.”
“Why have I not met you until now?” I glance back at Mandi and sigh.
“We like to give new charges time to get accustomed to their new jobs. You are doing quite well. I know it is hard to watch your loved ones move on, especially this, so soon.” He motions back to the couple taking vows that neither of them means.
“I wanted to tell you that you are not alone. I am always near. Call my name and I’ll be there.”

“What no music or dancing with the lyrics?” I chuckle, turning to find I am once again by myself. I focus my attention back on the funeral—I mean wedding—taking place.
I’m happy that they chose their vows and not the traditional ones. There was no honor, cherish, obey or love till death do us part. Just some sappy crap Mark said and a simple agreement from Mandi,  then a swap of rings. When the pastor says “Is there anyone here that has reasons why these two should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace,” I see Mandi’s eyes flit around anxiously, the muscles in her jaw twitch nervously, as she sucks in a deep breath and holds it. I resist temptation and remain silent, though, when the pastor says you may kiss the bride I knock a hymnal off a side table to cut it short.
When we arrive back at the house, there is a sprig of strange flowers hanging over the door with an apple slice that looks like a star attached to it.
Mandy “aaawwws” as she takes it down and brings it inside.
As we open the door, we are assaulted with a strange odor. It smells like burnt weeds, maybe herbs.
It looks like our Mark had been busy here while we were at the church. There are candles all over the house, some around pictures that have me in them. I have to say, it is a bit creepy.
I am about to gather them up and toss them in the trash when the door opens, and Mr. Leech walks in with Kelly. She had conned him into taking her to get a big tea at the drive-in since it was still happy hour.
“How sweet! You decorated the house while we were at the church!” Mandi hugs Mark.
He looks around anxiously and flashes a fake smile to Mandi.
“Yuck! What’s that smell?” Kelly whines grabbing her nose.
“It’s incense. I thought you liked it,” Mark says casually.
“Yeah, but not one that smells like someone burned a pot of dressing or set weeds on fire. Why is some of Mom’s rosemary sprinkled around all these weird candles?” Kelly asks.
“I was just trying to make the house smell good, sorry. I chose the wrong kind of incense. I thought Frankincense smelled better than this.” He sets the box of gifts he is carrying on the bar that separates the kitchen and dining room.
“I’m gonna grab my stuff to stay over at Amy’s tonight. Will has already gone to one of his friends. I can’t remember which one. I’ll be ready to go in a few minutes. Will one of you take me?” Kelly waves in the air as if trying to make the smell disappear.
“We both will. I think I’ll take your mom out for dinner and show off my new bride.” He pulls Mandi in for a kiss.
“Ewwwwww! Get a room!” Kelly dashes through her bedroom door.
Mandi goes to freshen up quickly, and Mark heads to the study, so I follow him. He hurriedly grabs a stack of books,  shoving them into the bottom desk drawer Mandi gave him to use.
After they leave, I open the drawer and pull them back out. The title of one is, How to Get Rid of Unwanted Ghosts. Another is a book of spells; there is one on herbs, another on candle magic. I laugh. Obviously, this stuff doesn’t work, but it will give me something to read, while they are out to dinner, and occupy me while they are in bed consummating their marriage. I shudder at that thought. I take the book of candle magic and pick up Mandi’s mp3 player and headphones, as I head back to the guest room, which I now call my room. There is a paper sticking out of the book on candle magic, so I pull it out to find a list printed from the computer of local mediums. Why is he so desperately trying to get rid of me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 10

Happy Holidays, Ho! Ho! Ho! And all that good stuff.

 

After the wedding, things become relatively normal. Winter has set in though, and it is cold. The holidays are frantic with Mandi and Mark arguing some about what to do and when to go where and at what time, as well as what  gifts to get for whom.

 

After a bit of fussing, and some unfair tactics, Mandi gets her way. That’s after a bit of compromising.

They agree to split Thanksgiving up into two visits. They will go to Mandi’s family first. Now, I always loved going there to visit, especially Thanksgiving. Mandi’s mom is an excellent cook. She goes all out with ham, turkey and dressing, chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes, yams, green bean casserole (Kelly’s favorite) and of course pie. Lots of pie! I think that was my favorite.

This year is no exception. The dessert table is full of fruit salad (Mandi’s favorite), chocolate pies (Will’s Favorite), pumpkin pie, and my favorite–Pecan Pie.

I wonder if I can taste anymore. I haven’t been hungry or thirsty since I died, but what I would give for a taste of that pie. I catch no one looking and cut a little sliver before taking a bite. I can still taste, I think, or do I just remember how good it is, because it is as delicious as I remembered! Wow and all this time I thought I couldn’t eat.

After lunch, the family split up. Mandi and Mark drop the kids off at my mom’s, but Mandi doesn’t go inside. My heart aches when I see Mom come out on the porch and wave to Mandi. I wave back, wishing she could see me. I haven’t seen her since the funeral. When Mandi drops the kids off for a visit, she always stays in the car. Maybe I can talk Mandi into taking me there one day, perhaps the next time she dreams about me.

They head to Mark’s younger sister’s house for dinner. It’s still early, so Mark settles in with his brother-in-law to watch the ball games. Mandi sits in the kitchen with two of Mark’s sisters. The other one watches the games with the men. Mandi and Mark’s family get along fine. They seem to love her, which doesn’t surprise me. Mandi is the kind of person that everyone loves. I can’t help but notice that she looks lost and sad. Sure, she has a big beautiful smile, but I know that is her public face. The fire I love so much about her seems to be dwindling to barely a flicker these days. I hate seeing her like this.

Thanksgiving finally is over, but the Christmas season has just begun. I notice Mandi has put most of it off until the week of Christmas, which is very unusual. She usually starts in the summer and by now has the biggest part of shopping over and her baking under way. She hasn’t even mailed out Christmas cards this year, which she usually does the weekend following Thanksgiving after decorating the tree, the house, and the yard. She hasn’t done any of that. I was never big on the holidays until I met her, and then I got caught up in all her enthusiasm. Where has it gone?

A few days before Christmas, Mandi is in the mall trying to find a gift for Mark. After walking for hours, I see the big bookstore ahead, so I give her a slight nudge towards it.

“Darn it, Bill. Quit pushing me! We can’t go until I find Mark a gift!” she exclaims.

The woman passing her gives her a funny look and quickly moves on. I can’t help chuckling. I finally corral her into the bookstore, though she went straight to the coffee shop.

After she finishes her big raspberry latte with soymilk, she heads straight for the exit back into the mall. At least we had to walk through the maze of bookracks. As we reach the self-help and non-fiction aisles, I notice a book called How to Exorcise a Ghost. I give it a shove, and it falls on her foot.

“Damn it, Bill, that hurt!” She picks it up, her eyes widening at the title. “Don’t tempt me!”

Oops, wrong choice.

“Come on. Enough wasting time. I’m not going to find Mark a book in this section.”

The man at the end of the aisle looks at her as if she sprouted an extra head and hurried off.

I see a big book of spells in front of her as she puts back the last book. I look around, and no one is near. It seems everyone is avoiding the woman that keeps talking to herself. I pick up the spell book and gently push it into her chest. She takes it and looks it over. “What on earth are you trying to tell me?” She flips open the book and begins browsing through it. I look over her shoulder, and when she gets to purification spells, I put my hand on the page, so she can’t turn it. She reads a few lines, and her brow lifts when she spots a page with herbs and candles.

“Hmmm, I think I see now. So, why would Mark be doing purification spells, and if he has, why haven’t they worked?”

Another woman enters the aisle, but as Mandi keeps talking to herself, I mean me, the lady turns away. This was more fun than the tricks I played when I was alive. My favorite was making a fart sound in a crowded aisle, looking around, saying ‘Ewwww,’ who did that and walked away. Will got a big kick out of it.

“Are you still here, Bill? Darn, I wish you could answer me!”

I drop a book beside her, so she knows that I am still here.

“It says here the purification only works on negative energy. Maybe that’s why the spells aren’t working; either that or he isn’t qualified to do them. It says here you have to be a true believer or a practitioner, and if the spirit is not full of negative energy, it still may not work.”

She puts the book back on the shelf and wipes her brow. “I’m glad it didn’t work. I need you now more than ever.”

She then gathers up a baseball collector’s book for Will and a couple of coin savers and coin collector books for Mark, along with a boxed set of Beautiful Creatures for Kelly. She also finds a couple of cookbooks she doesn’t already have in the sale bin. I’m surprised she found even one she didn’t already own!

At the checkout, she swipes her debit card.

“I’m sorry, it says to use other tender,” the clerk says politely.

Mandi scowls. “I know there’s money in here, I just got paid yesterday.” The cashier wipes it on her shirt and scans it again.

“Sorry. Still not working.” The clerk hands her a little slip that says to call her bank. She digs around in her purse and pulls out a credit card.

“Sorry, Ma’am. Do you have cash?” The clerk shakes her head handing back yet another refused the card.

A line is now forming behind us. Mandi huffs and takes out another credit card.

Another, “Sorry.” The pleasant tone of the clerk vanished two cards ago.

Mandi leaves the books and heads straight out of the door. In the car, she calls the number of her bank. “Overdrawn? No Way.”

She calls both card companies. “Over the limit!”

I can hear her heart pounding and pull her close to me as she sinks into my arms, sobbing violently. I wipe a tear from her chin and kiss the top of her head. She lets out a long sigh and starts the car up. As Christmas music floods the small space, she slams the button, shutting the music off.

Back home, I follow her in the door, ready to watch the action.

I can’t help from saying in a deep, exaggerated voice… “Let’s get ready to rummmmmbbbbbble!!!”

She attacks full force. “Why the hell is my debit card overdrawn, and all my credit cards are over the limit?”

“Hi, honey, where’s my good morning kiss? Seems like someone got up on the wrong side of the bed.”

“I’m not in the mood for your bullshit. I gave you my check yesterday, and you were supposed to deposit it with yours. How can we possibly be overdrawn when I had money in there to begin with?”

“Calm down, honey. I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation.” He reaches for her, and she slaps his hands away.

“Don’t touch me. Explain.”

“I took them to the bank as soon as I got off work. I did work late.” He lightly smacks his forehead like in that popular vegetable juice commercial. “That’s it… I deposited the checks after hours, so they just aren’t on the books yet. The money should show by Monday.”

I want to smack him in the face.

“Monday? I need the money now! I have a few gifts I need before Monday morning. I need to buy some groceries and stuff to make my candy for work,” she shouts.

He walks nonchalantly to the fridge and takes out a bottle of cola. “Look, I get paid Sunday. I’ll ask for an advance and give you all my tips. How’s that?”

“I don’t have much choice, do I? Monday, I want to see the deposit slip.”

I watch as he swallows hard, his fingers nervously drumming on the bottle. “I’ll try to get to the bank as early as I can Monday, and see if I can get this cleared up. That is if I don’t have to work over. With the Holidays there are lots of parties and I need to work for the extra money. ”

“I suggest if you want to eat here and sleep in my bed, Monday you produce a deposit slip with my check and yours, plus the other two hundred dollars I already had in there.” The pictures on the wall shake as the door comes to with a loud bang!

Mark raises the bottle to his mouth, and I give the bottom of it a rough smack.

Loud expletives fill the room as Mark lets the bottle go. Cola everywhere! When Mark lifts his hand from his mouth, I am disappointed that there is no blood.

“Damn you! I think you chipped my tooth!”

Good. A victorious smile spreads across my face, and the door lets out another bang as I go to find Mandi.

 

 

I hope you are enjoying it so far! Come back next week for the exciting conclusion!

 

 

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