Thursday, November 26, 2009


Two days of cooking, ten minutes of eating, cleaning up after, and now we can sit and watch Charlie Brown. Must be almost, almost the Yule season.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nicole and Fluffy at Thanksgiving, a children's story

Once upon a long winding street, in a white house with a big grassy yard, there lived a dog named Fluffy.  He was a brown dog with a long nose that was pointed so that he looked just like a fox.  And he was very, very little.  fluffy liked to sit in his yard and watch the people and animals go by, and he loved to bark at them.
     Fluffy had lots of friends.  Even though there were a lot of other dogs in the neighborhood, everyone just seemed to like Fluffy the best.  Ladies with tiny babies in strollers would stop and pet him through the fence and the babies would reach their fingers through and laugh when he licked them.  Fluffy probably had more friends than anyone else on his street.
     Fluffy even had friends in other states.  His best friend was named Nicole, and she was then four years old.  Nicole was a very smart girl who could draw pictures and was even going to school. And, of course, Fluffy was her best friend too.
     Fluffy and Nicole hadn’t seen each other for a while, but they always talked on the phone, and sometimes they sent each other cards and letters in the mail.  And they hoped that soon they would be able to see each other in person.
     One day Nicole’s mother said that they would be going to California to see some other their family for Thanksgiving.  So Nicole and her mommy and daddy got in the car and drove for a very long time across the desert.  They passed the cacti and jack rabbits and the Colorado River, and Nicole waved at all of them and smiled.  For the whole trip the laughed and smiled, because she was going to see her very best friend in all the world, Fluffy the dog.
     After a whole day of driving, when it was starting to get dark, Nicole’s mother said that they were almost there.  Nicole saw that they weren’t in the desert anymore, and her mother said that they were in San Bernardino, and that was very close to Los Angeles. By now Nicole was starting to get a little sleepy, so she didn’t notice when the passed Pomona and West Covina and all of the other towns along the way.  In fact, the next thing she knew, they were climbing the hill that led to the winding street where Fluffy lived with Nicole’s aunt.
     As soon as the car stopped, Nicole jumped out onto the sidewalk and listened.  She could hear Fluffy barking, just like on the phone.  She ran to his gate and opened it up and they played and played.  They played until nighttime, when Nicole’s mother made her go to sleep.  And they played all the next day, and the next, until it was time for Nicole to go back to Arizona.
     Then they were a little sad, but Nicole knew that they would see each other again soon, and she told Fluffy that it would be all right.  Then everybody kissed goodbye and Nicole and her family got back in their car and drove all that long way back through West Covina and Pomona, and across the long desert.  Past the cacti and jack rabbits and the Colorado river, until they got to Nicole’s house.  But Nicole did not see any of the scenery this time.  She was sound asleep with a big smile on her face, dreaming about the next time she would see her friend.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving After the Fall

     Turkey was not going to happen.  If any survived the Event, they hadn’t been found yet.  But there were chickens around, and Shay planned to catch one, and she had a lot of dried Indian corn to grind and make cornbread.  From that she could make a tasty stuffing.  She had one can of cranberry that she thought looked okay.  Not swollen or anything, just a little dented.  Shay was pretty sure she could pull together an approximation of the feast that Brady would remember from past years. 
     He was coming home after almost ten years. She had gotten a letter!  It was the first letter she had gotten since the reorganized Pony Express Service had begun its deliveries.  Until that time, Shay had not had any idea whether Brady was alive, dead, or Other.
According to his letter, Brady had been in D.C. when the Event happened, and had not been able to get outside the fence until now.  They weren’t letting anyone out unless they were absolutely certain that they weren’t Other, and if they let Brady out, he was alive and well.
     Shay rummaged around in the cabinet over the sink, looking for a square cake pan.  One of the funny things about the A.E., After Event, was the shortage of grains.  Most of the standardized grain varieties just wouldn’t grow anymore, so it had been necessary to raid the heritage varieties stored in seed banks and try to get enough of them growing.  The first few years had been almost entirely grown for seed, and it had only been in the last few years that any had been available for distribution, and only this year that any had gotten this far west.  She patted the sack of dried corn fondly.  It had been difficult to get the seed, but the results were worth it. 
     A sound came from the lane out in front of the house. Shay froze. Was it Brady? She listened carefully, the sound of hooves pounded toward her from the east, but never slowed.  It wasn’t Brady after all.  She tried not to let disappointment take over, there was no predicting how long it would take to come this far.  The roads were uncertain and plagued with thieves. Then the hooves sounded closer again returning. Maybe it was him after all. Her heart leapt in her breast as she froze in her tracks.  Footsteps sounded on the wooden steps and there was a tentative knock on the door.
     “Shay?” the query came muffled from the other side of the door. “Shay, are you here? They told me you were here.”
     Shay gulped a breath of air, apparently she had been holding it while he walked up to the door.  Her knees unlocked and she ran the few steps to pull open the door.  It was Brady, a little older and worse for wear, but Brady!
     “Oh my God, Brady, it really is you!” He looked to thin! But then, so did everyone these days.
     Now it was Brady’s turn to freeze.  He stared at her as if he’d never seen her before, and didn’t move forward through the doorway until Shay laughed and grabbed his hand to pull him in. Then he acted, and pulled her right into his arms.
    “Brady! I didn’t know if you were alive or dead until I got your letter. I was so afraid!”
     “I had no way.”
     “Of course you didn’t.  How could you have contacted me, cell phone?” She laughed again, almost hysterically this time.  “But I waited.  It was so hard.”
     “Shay, you never ....”
     “No, I never.  And they tried to make me.  I’m a young woman, most likely fertile.  They tried very hard.”
     “Shay, I was in D.C. through all of it.  I probably am not a fertile male.  The pressure is only going to get worse.”
     “I know, my darling. but they will give us time to try.  If I don’t get pregnant in six months or so, we may have to do something to appease them, but for now, it’s just us.”
     Brady bent to press his lips to Shay’s forehead, then her cheeks, first left, then right.  He pressed a firm but chase kiss to her lips. “ I have been riding for weeks, and I need to clean up.  I don’t want to come to you reeking of the road.”
     “Oh, Brady, I’d take you reeking of the sewers if need be! I never thought I’d see you again.”
     What little sense of propriety Brady had melted away with her words.  “I don’t think I’ve been in any sewers, but if you’ll just get me some water, I’ll wipe off the worst of the dust.”
     Shay brought the bucket of water from the spring, and a soft cloth and wiped the dust of the road off Brady’s face.  She treasured every stroke of the cloth as it touched her husband’s face.  He looked older and there was some gray in his dark brown hair.  She gently touched the lines beside his still-vivid blue eyes.  He looked so beautiful to her.
Slowly she wiped off the accumulated grime of weeks of riding, adoring every inch of skin revealed.  As Shay pushed Brady’s shirt off his shoulders, she traced a long scar on his left arm.
     “I got that in the invasion.  But it’s not a battle wound, it was an exploding glass window, a big piece cut right through my shirt.”  Feeling her touching another scar on his lower back, he said, “But that one was caused by an actual claw.”
     The scar was jagged and extended at least six inches, and was far too close to his kidneys for comfort. Shay brought her arms around to the Brady’s front and opened his jeans, one button at a time.  She pushed them over his lean hips, waiting while he stepped out of them.  Underwear was now an anachronism, so he was naked in front of her. 
     The bucket of water was grimy, so Shay dumped it outside the door in her small flower bed, and went to pull another bucketful of water.  She walked down the short path to the spring, feeling Brady’s eyes on her back as she went.  The respite was welcome.  Brady’s return was so overwhelming, and she didn’t want to break down in tears right in front of him and ruin their reunion.  Dipping her bucket into the spring of cold water, she pressed her eyes closed tight and tried to focus on the joy of their reunion.
      Ten years! Another few months and she would have been forcibly paired with a man who could give her children.  Even now, if she didn’t get pregnant, they would make her have sex with someone who could impregnate her.  If she were fertile, anyway.  But those problems would have to wait for another day. 
     Shay tossed her long blonde braid over her shoulder and started back toward the house.  Brady was standing in the open doorway, completely naked and obviously delighted to see her.  Oh my!  She hurried toward him, dropping the bucket and oblivious of the water spilling onto the ground.  Road dust be damned! 
     Shay flung herself into Brady’s waiting arms, and he lifted her off her feet. His kisses burned into her lips and she opened hers to allow him entrance. She felt his hands stroke down her back and lift the bottom of her cotton shirt to pull it over her head.  Bras were also gone, not all new things were bad, so now she was naked from the waist up.
     Brady stroked his hands back down her back and slipped his fingers into the waistband of her long cotton skirt.  He pulled it down over her hips, feeling how much thinner she was.  He remembered her as a little more than curvy, and always fretting about it.  No amount of reassurance had convinced her that her love found every line, every curve of her endearing and enticing.  Now she was more like the frame she had sought  in that long ago day, and he found her just the same, it was her heart and her soul that he loved, the heart that had waited so long, and the soul with the strength to resist the pressures put on her to move forward and leave their love behind.
     Now that they were both completely nude, Brady couldn’t stop caressing her, giving her little biting kisses that followed the pathways made by his hands on her flesh.  He moved from her mouth to her neck, inhaling the fragrance that, even now without scented cosmetics available, was uniquely and sweetly hers.  His lips descended to the rounded mounds of her breast, hands stroking, cupping, and lips closing over a rosy tip.  He heard her gasp as he grazed her lightly with his teeth. 
     Shay was as hungry for Brady as he was for her.  Her own hands roamed over the planes and valley of his skin, tingling with awareness.  She pressed her lips to his shoulder and closed her eyes.  No amount of contact could make up for ten years of doubt and worry, but it was enough to have him back at her side now.  When Brady pressed the length of his lean masculine body against hers, she whimpered. Then she took his hand and pulled him toward the bedroom, trembling slightly with emotion and need.
     Brady kept his other hand on Shay’s waist, needing to touch her with both hands. She looked so beautiful, even more beautiful than he remembered, and had her skin always been this soft?  Her hair in that braid was catching his attention too.  The moment they entered the bedroom and fell to the bed, tangled in each other’s arms, Brady pulled the braid loose, sinking his hands in the long waves.  She had worn it shoulder length before, now it fell around both of them in a silken curtain.  He moaned deep in this throat and captured her mouth in a kiss. 
     “Now, Brady, I’ve waited so long, now!”
     “I missed you so much,’ He said, stroking her body in long, slow sweeps. “I want to relearn every inch of you.” As his hand slipped between her thighs, he felt how ready she was for him.
     “We have time. But this time, this first time again, I want you inside me, now! I ache for you.”
     Brady pressed Shay’s thighs apart with one muscular leg and slid inside her in one smooth stroke.  He groaned and held still.  “Give me just a minute, I don’t want to end it this soon.”
     “I love you inside me,” Shay gasped, wrapping her legs around his waist and clutching Brady to her with both arms.
     “Oh, Shay,” Brady pushed slowly, building a rhythm, in, out, pressing against just the spot inside her that he remembered made her writhe.  And  he wasn’t disappointed at her reaction.
     “Brady, oh my God! I love you so much!” And just like that she was over the top. 
     Her muscles contracted around him, and he was quick to follow her into bliss.  “I love you, Shay,” he cried out.
     As her love collapsed on top of her, spent for the moment, Shay prayed that Brady would be able to impregnate her, and soon.  If not, they would be forced to have another man in her bed, and she hated the idea.  But the Event had made fertile people very valuable, and the Others were out there, probably getting ready to attack again.  Shay would have to make sure and have a baby for the sake of humanity. 
     But for today, for this Thanksgiving, Shay had the love of her life back, in her arms and in her bed.  And that was more than enough.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Zombie Pilgrims on Parade


     “Welcome everyone to the 30th annual Graves Department Store Thanksgiving day Parade!  I’m Zanku Kitty, here with my co-host Grief Abandon.  How’s it hanging Grief?”
     “It fell off, Kitty, but thanks for asking.”
     “Oops, my bad. Well you can’t have everything, Grief.”
     “I wasn’t going to mention your nose, Kitty.”
     “Well I never!”
     “Even if  you did, I couldn’t do anything about it.  Can we move on, please?  I see the first float is heading our way.”
     “Zombietown, Massachusetts is known for this spectacle on Thanksgiving Day every year, Grief  The residents do their best to attract as many tourists as possible to share their Thanksgiving Feast.”
     “A truly welcoming atmosphere here, Kitty, and this float received the Mayor’s Prize for epitomizing this year’s theme, “Lend a helping Hand.”  That lovely young thing at the front is waving the mayor’s actual hand, loaned to us for this occasion. Don’t lose that hand, Wendy, the mayor needs it to sign the Parks Bill next week.”
     “And coming up next is the High School Shuffling Band.  You have to admire these young people for their determination.  Most of the percussion section had their hands sewn on extra tight, just for today’s performance.  Can’t have a repeat of last year, Grief!”
     “That was quite a melee, Kitty, all those kids digging through that pile of limbs trying to match whose hands were whose.  I’m glad they took precautions, be prepared, I always say!”
      “That’s good advice, Grief.  Maybe you should have taken it yourself last night.”
     “Do we have to keep getting personal, Kitty?”
     “Sorry, Grief.  But if a certain body part were to show up, what would it be worth to you?”
     “Kitty, you bitch! What do you... Our producer indicates it’s time for a message from our sponsor, Graves Department Store, the store that helps you keep it all together.  We’ll be right back.”
     “Welcome back to the parade, I’m Zanku Kitty.”
     “And I am Grief Abandon.  We are starting to see a few of the parade-watchers heading indoors now.  With the icy wind, there have been a few wardrobe malfunctions, and some of the mama’s don’t want their little zombies to see anything fall off that they didn’t know was there to start with.  But I’m sure we’ll see them all later at the big feast.”
     “Along with all of our wonderful visitors, Grief.  The city council has extended their usual gracious invitation to all the living to come join us and bring their brains, er, families. It’s sure to be a delicious spread.”
     “Let’s talk about the float approaching us right now. It’s certainly unusual, Kitty.”
     “Yes, it is, Grief.  My notes tell me that it is the Merchant’s Prize winner, selected for its fine selection of Zombietown’s wares.  The town is known for it’s outstanding prosthetic devices.  The young people modeling these fine products are members of the local sports teams.  As you can imagine, they are big fans of the artificial limbs produced here.”
     “Yes they are, Kitty.”
     “Perhaps you should stop by one of the shops after the parade, Grief.”
     “Shut up, Kitty.”
     “If you think I’m going back to the motel with  you with that big gaping hole in your....”
     “Look, Grief, here comes the Mayor himself, Bob N. Bob and his death-partner, Chompers.   Hello, Mr. Mayor.  Do  you have a few words for our viewers at home?”
     “Hello, Kitty, Grief.  It’s a great day for the parade and for the town!  I want to remind all of our visitors to be sure to come to the town hall after the parade for the big feed.  It’s always an experience!”
     “Thank you, Mr. Mayor.”
     “You’re welcome, Grief.  And you’re looking very nice today, Kitty.”
     “Thank you, Mr. Mayor.  At least someone around here is a gentleman!”
     “You’re very welcome, Kitty.  After all, a nose isn’t everything.  Many of our finest citizens are among the noseless.”
     “Mr. Mayor, I think Kitty is overcome with emotion at your kind words.  Perhaps you’d better rejoin the parade.  NOW!”
     “I see what you mean, Grief.  Let’s go, Chompers.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.”
      “Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. Mayor.  Keep up the good work, Chompers.”
     “Grief, what does Chompers do again?”
     “The mayor. Look, Kitty, here comes the Founders Float.”
     “Zombietown, Massachusetts is the only town in all of North America featuring the actual founding fathers riding on a float.”
     “Look at Zedediah Claw.  No, Daddy Claw, no don’t wave!  Shoot, somebody pick up Daddy Claw’s hand and tuck it in his jacket.  These founding father’s get so enthusiastic, they forget how breakable they are.”
     “He’s probably excited about the feast, Grief.  Remember, all you tourists are invited to the feast immediately after the parade.  Just come right on in, someone will take care of you.”
     “Here comes Santa Claus!”
     “The kiddies are getting really excited.  This is the first year they could find anyone to fill out the suit.  Hiya, Santa!”
      “Hello Kitty! Have you been a good girl this year?”
      “Why, Santa, you old devil, you tell me.”
     “Him too, Kitty?”
     “Don’t you look at me like that! I can’t be exclusive with someone who just falls apart at the least little thing.”
     “What do you want for Christmas, Grief?”
     “All I want for Christmas is my ...”
     “I can tell you what he wants, Santa, can I sit in your lap?”
     “Sure thing, little girl, whisper right here in old Santa’s ear.”
     “Kitty, don’t you dare! Don’t be sharing our private business with that old rickety lech.”
     “I see, Kitty, I see.  That is a problem. Grief, you want to come up here on Santa’s lap and tell him what size you’d like?”
     “Oh my God, Kitty!”
     “I was only trying to help, Grief. Santa understands that, don’t you stud?”
     “We are almost out of time, here.  Kitty and I would like to thank you for joining us for the Graves Department Store Thanksgiving Day Parade.  It’s time to head on down to the town hall for dinner.  I hope to see you all there, with bells on.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Thanksgiving Pie Tale

WELCOME TO THE FIFTIETH ANNUAL THANKSGIVING DAY BACHELOR AUCTION AND PIE BAKE-OFF read the sign outside the Town Hall in this little hamlet at the edge of nowhere.  The travellers where surprised to see such an event in a small town, but curious, so they pulled into the little parking lot in front of the building.

     “Do you think they mind strangers coming?” Cassandra slung her purse over her shoulder as she stepped out of the little red MG convertible.

     “Oh, I doubt it, Cassie,” said Angela. “Or they wouldn’t have such a big sign up.  Anyway, the worst they can do is tell us to go away.”  The two women began to walk up to the big metal quonset hut that housed the Town Hall.  There were quite a few pick-up trucks and some cars parked around the building, and the big double doors were open wide.
    Inside, it was crowded, and nearly everyone looked like they came from the local farm areas, but there were a few people who also looked like tourists among them. They strolled around the edge of the room.  The pie bake-off had already happened, apparently, and they were offered samples of the winning pies.

     “Mmmm, did you taste this apple pie, Cassie? Lots of cinnamon, I love that.”

     “I like the pumpkin with the crumbly topping, wow, can these country people bake pies.  I just buy them at the bakery when I bring them for Thanksgiving at Mom’s.”

    “Look,” said Angela, “I think it’s time for the auction to begin, everyone is going over to that end of the hall by the little podium. Let’s go watch.”

    “Okay, but I’m taking another piece of this yummy pie.  I didn’t even see the chocolate one.  I really wish I knew how to bake.  I’d bid on anyone who could bake like this. It’s a shame none of the bachelors is a pie baker.”

    “You’d really bid on a guy just because he could bake a pie?” Angela could hardly control her giggles.  “You really would? You swear?”

      “Angie, I get tired of fast food and I can only burn water on a good day.  I can’t live forever on microwave popcorn.  So, yes, I swear, if there were a guy who could bake a silky, dark chocolate cream pie like this one, I’d not only bid on him, I’d marry him.”

     Angela couldn’t control herself any longer, she clutched her stomach and bent over laughing, revealing what had been behind her on the wall. A poster that said,


     Cassandra turned pale as her sister continued to convulse in helpless laughter. “It’s not funny, Angie.  You set me up!”

     “Like you haven’t set me up a hundred times! I wouldn’t be married to Sam now if you hadn’t set me up on that blind date.  Looks like we’d better take a seat and see which of our handsome bachelors made that  yummy chocolate pie.”

     Cassie knew how much Angela loved Sam. He was with his platoon on maneuvers, and Angie missed him dreadfully.  She was worried he’d be sent to Iraq next, and this trip was supposed to be a distraction.  Home for Thanksgiving was just too lonely without Sam.  “Okay, you know I never back out on bet.  I guess this was a bet.  I only hope he’s my type.”

     A matronly woman in a floral dress and a flower-trimmed hat stepped up to the microphone, “Welcome to the auction! I know you’re all anxious to bid on a bunch of guys with such a crisp crust and well-spiced filling.” There was a polite smattering of applause and a few chuckles from the assembled audience.  “Without any further ado, here is your Master of Ceremonies, Bianca Hatfield.”

     From off to the side, up stepped a young woman dressed in a pair of tight jeans and a short black jacket, her long auburn hair pulled up in a tight ponytail.  She raised her arms and said, “We begin! Gentlemen, this way please!” And at her call, a dozen men walked up in front of her and turned to face the waiting crowd. “Here they are, ladies, the finest pie bakers Miner County has to offer!  Remember, when you bid all the money goes to charity, so be generous.”

     The men lined up in front of the audience were all sizes and shapes and ranged in age from about twenty to maybe forty-five.  They were all smiling, and a few of them were blushing at the catcalls that had begun with their arrival.  The country crowd was getting rowdy and having fun with these men they had known all their lives. 

     “All right! We will begin with baker of the Crispy Apple Tart. Let me remind you ladies that you not only win the bachelor in question, but also a baking session in their own home kitchen to recreate their winning pie!  What am I bid for the bachelor responsible for the Crispy Apple Tart?” 
      Cassie scanned the men to see who would step forward and take credit for the delicious apple tart she’d tasted.  Not one of the men moved forward or stepped onto the podium. “Angie, do you think he’s not there? Why doesn’t one of them step forward?”

     Angela craned her neck over the tall woman seated in front of her. “I don’t know, Cassie.”

     The bidding had begun, starting at twenty dollars and climbing to over three hundred before the auctioneer called, “Going, going, gone! Sold for three hundred fifty dollars!  Now, anyone have a guess who our winner, Mamie, bought to make her a pie?”

     Cassie was amazed to observe that it had been a secret auction.  Those who lived here obviously knew the rules and were good-naturedly calling out guesses, until the auctioneer said, “Pie-maker, show yourself!”

     A man stepped forward, to cheers and whistles from his friends in the audience. “Never knew you could make apple pie, Ed!” yelled a masculine voice from toward the back. “Thought you were a pumpkin man!”

     “Nope, apples have always been first in my heart and my pan!” said Ed as Mamie, an apple-cheeked woman about his age, led him away.”

     “I have my doubts about whether there is total secrecy here,” Cassie whispered to Angie after watching three more happy couples wander off to the back of the hall. 

     “We’ll see, which one do you think made the chocolate?” She looked under her lashes at her sister, who had been staring at one corner of the line of guys the entire time the bidding had been going on.

“Oh, I don’t care,” she said. “I probably won’t win him anyway.  I don’t have the kind of money it will take for the Best of Show pie.”

     “But if you could? Which one?” 

     “The one with the white shirt, and the black boots.”

     “Wow! He is pretty cute, but not your usual type, you usually go for the blonde, urban types.”

     “I think I’m tired of the usual types.  They haven’t worked out so far, have they? I think I’m ready for the cowboy type, with all that wavy black hair and those chocolate brown eyes. Think it’s a hint?”

     “I don’t know, Cass.  Let’s hope so, I like your new type.”

     The bidding continued, and with each bid Cassie’s heart beat louder.  Would he be the next one to go?  The others were okay, but she was getting awfully set on that guy on the end.  He was tall, she noticed, and his jeans hugged his hips in a way that she really liked.  “Do you think they’ll turn around so we can see the other view?” she whispered to Angie then blushed furiously as she realized what she’d said.

     Angie was lost in giggles once again, clutching her side.  “I had no idea this little car trip would turn out to be so much fun!  Maybe you should ask, no, I will!” and before Cassie could stop her, Angie called out, “We want to see the rear view!”

     “All right, we have a request from the audience!” said Bianca, looking very serious.  How about it, gentlemen?  Let’s see if another angle will help loosen the purse strings.”

     As one, the remaining six guys, the best looking of the original dozen, turned to face the stage.  A line of jean-clad behinds faced the audience and the cat calls grew in volume.
There were even a few shrill whistles and masculine laughter was very audible.

     “How is that? Everyone got a good look?” The guys turned back around, laughing themselves.  Overall, the afternoon was  fun for everyone present, and the hilarity was growing with each winning bid.

     The next bachelor was the one who had baked a banana cream pie.  Not only did that get the crowd going, but two ladies were very determined and managed to bid up to almost a thousand dollars before one waved to the other and said, “All yours, I don’t need banana cream pie that much.”  If it got much wilder in there, someone was going to have to call the riot squad.

     Cassie’s heart sank, though.  If the bids were this high now, they were only going to get higher.  She knew which guy she wanted, and she’d sworn to bid on the chocolate cream pie.  Even if they were one and the same, it was bound to be more money than she had. 

    The next three bachelors were bid on and won, the ladies squealing with delight and the guys smiling and accepting the hugs and kisses and pats on the behind as they passed through the crowd.  It was down to only two pies and  two guys. Cassie held her breath.  If the guy with the chocolate eyes had baked the Second Place autumn pear pie, she was done for. 

     “They’re both cute, Cass,” whispered Angie. “Either way, it should be fun.”

     But Cassie had her heart set on the guy with the beautiful eyes (and cutest butt) and was prepared to be heartbroken if she didn’t get him.  This is ridiculous! I don’t even know him, and I’m acting like we’re going to break up or something. She watched the bidding on the next-to-last pie rise to almost twelve hundred dollars and waited to see what would happen.  When the auctioneer said, “Sold to Amber Conahee for twelve hundred dollars,” the two men looked at each other, then at the audience, and Cassie knew she wasn’t the only one holding her breath.

     Then, just as she thought she might turn blue, chocolate-eyes took a step back.  He was still in the running.  He was the only man standing, and she was about to take the chance of her life.

     “Do you think they’ll take a check, Angie?”

     “I saw one lady pay with one, Cassie, so yeah, they probably will.  How much are you planning to bid?”

     “I have two thousand three hundred twenty dollars in my checking account.”
     “All of it.”

     Angie looked at her, big eyed.  “All of it?”

      “Yep, for once in my life I am going to do exactly what I want to do.  I get paid next week, I’ll be okay.”

     “Ladies,” began the auctioneer, “ I know how many of you had a piece of that delicious Dark Chocolate Dream pie.  And I know you’ve probably guessed by now who the baker might be.  Shall we open at five hundred dollars?”

     The audience was much quieter for a moment.  Then,“five hundred,” shouted a petite redhead, waving money over her head.

     “Six!” shouted another and the bidding was fast and furious until it reached the two thousand dollar mark, when it began to slow.  Cassie joined the bidding early on, and more and more women had dropped out until it was now between her and the redhead who had bid first. 

     “Two thousand three hundred!” the redhead yelled, and the crowd went wild. 

     “Two thousand three hundred twenty.” said Cassie, clutching her checkbook. She saw now that the object of her desire was looking straight at her.  He was so handsome, and she saw kindness in his eyes and laugh lines by his mouth.  She wanted him more than she had ever wanted anyone or anything in her life.

     “Two thousand three hundred twenty-five,” screamed the redhead.

    Cassie felt despair begin to gather around her like a dark cloak.  She had no more money, none at all. It was over.  She turned to congratulate the redhead and felt her sister press something into her hand.  It was a fifty dollar bill.

     “Get him, Cass! Sam and I owe you for helping us find each other.”

     “Two thousand three hundred seventy!” Cassie shouted, voice hoarse with emotion.
She looked around, and the redhead looked back at her, then grinned and shook her head.

     “Any other bids?” asked Bianca. “No? Okay then, going, going gone. Sold to the pretty blonde in row three.  Thanks, honey, that money will do a lot of good.” 

     Cassie stood frozen by her seat.  She had won him, what was she going to do now?
What was I thinking? He’s headed this way! I don’t even know him, what have I done?
Then he was standing right in front of her.

     “I’m Bob Stone and you must have really liked that pie.” His eyes twinkled gold flecks in the dark brown reflecting the light. 

     “I did, and I understand you’re making me another one?”

     “You bet, come with me and we’ll get started.  What are you doing for dinner?”

     Angie shook her head, “Don’t mind me, I’ll check into the motel. Going to do everything you said you’d do with the maker of that pie, Sis?”

    Cassie smiled, “You never know.”

     Angie watched her sister walk away, hand in hand with the tall cowboy in the tight jeans. She shook her head, it wasn’t like Cassie to fall this hard.  But she was due, it was about time she let her heart lead her. As Cassie walked out the door, Angie felt someone standing close to her.

     “That girl got lucky,” said Bianca, the afternoon’s auctioneer.

     “He does seem nice,” said Angie.

      Bianca smiled.  She pointed to the window where they could see Cassie reaching on tiptoe as Bob bent to press his lips against hers.  “They’ll be fine. They’ve both been waiting for each other.  It works like that here sometimes, if you’re very lucky.”



I MET A VAMPIRE, nd I know this for absolute sure, this time. I was going home later than usual, a little after dark,  and decided  to cut across the park in the middle of town.  It’s  faster that way.  I just barely had time to make my appointment with the cable guy. It was real hard to get the appointment for after six, and I was no way gonna miss it.  Another week without Idol just wasn’t something I was willing to face. It’s such a cool show.  Do you watch it?

     Sorry, ok, I’ll go on.

      I had just come to the part of the path where there are those big, tall trees on both sides, that kind of crowd into the pathway,  you know?  Anyway, I almost walked right up to him, he was just there.  I think he appeared or something, you know how they do.

    He was just there.  He was standing in the path, not walking or anything,  I couldn’t walk past him without saying somethin.  So I said, “Hey, how ya doing?” and he didn’t answer me.  He may have been standing still, but I was walking, so I was getting closer and I was starting to worry that something was wrong, maybe he was deaf.  I didn’t want to hurt the guy’s feelings. So I thought I’d get closer and smile, nod, something friendly like that.

     It’s weird enough to run into someone you don’t know here, nobody comes to this town that doesn’t have people here, unless it’s like a Keebler delivery man or something.  And this guy was no delivery man. So I wanted to be really friendly, make a good impression. I think that’s real important and....

     What? Oh, okay.

      He was a little taller than average, about like Bob Clem over there, maybe six one or two. Wearing black pants, nice, not like work pants,  and a blue shirt.  I’m not sure what silk looks like, but I think it might have been silk.  It was really smooth.
But that was later on.   He looked kinda like he worked out, big and strong, you know?  And his hair a little long and had these curls that fell over his forehead. But not girly, no not girly at all.

     I’ll try to tell this how it happened though.  I kept walking and when I got close I couldn’t get past him on the path without him moving or me stepping into the trees.  And I was no way going off into that dirt in my nice work outfit, It was brand new, and cost a lot,.  If it went into them trees I was going to snag my hose for sure, and my shoes would be beat all to hell, heck, well beat bad. 

     So, one of us had to move.  And I said “Excuse me, would you please step over so I can pass?” as polite as you could ever imagine.  And he still didn’t say anything.  But he looked at me.  And his eyes were amazing.  They were dark brown, I think, or maybe black.  I don’t think he blinked at all.  And then I couldn’t move.  I saw him coming toward me, and I didn’t mind at  all.

     Fact, I was so happy that I walked right up to him, wrapped my arms around his neck and planted one on  him, right on the lips!  You all know me, known me all my life. I don’t kiss strangers, at least I didn’t til then.  He made me do it.  I  ran my hands down his back over that silky shirt, and pressed the whole front of my body into his, there was no  open space between us.  And he didn’t say nothing, but he kissed me back, hard, and it felt good.  I know he had me under some sort of mind control, because I woudn’t ever be standing in the park kissing some stranger, and I sure as heck wouldn’t have done what I did next. 

     I asked him back to my place.  I did, as bold as you please.  I said, “Come with me now,” and I reached for his hand, and grabbed it, and pulled him along the path til we got to the little bridge.  Now, I hear tell that flowing water is a problem for some of them, but he crossed right over that bridge, or maybe it was holy water I was thinking of, I don’t know. But whatever, he came with me out of the park, and walked across First Street and stopped on my porch.  He didn’t move til I said, “Come on in.”  He just stood there looking around.

     That’s another reason I think what I do, he didn’t come in til I said to.  I hear they have to be invited in.  And he came in and stuff and then he left before morning. That’s it, that’s what happened.

     Oh, I’m sorry.  You need details?  I don’t really want to tell all that stuff, it’s embarrassing, even though I know it all happened because I was under his spell. But I know it’s important, for the record and all, so I’ll tell you.  Or can’t I just write it down? No?  Okay.  I’m gonna need some water to drink before I go on.  And maybe a bathroom break?

     Okay, where was I?  Yes, I asked him into my house.  I guess that’s important because they can’t come in otherwise, right?  Anyway,  I told him to come in and sit right down on the davenport.  And he did. And I set right down next to him, close up.  I couldn’t stop looking into those eyes.  I hadn’t turned on any lights and it was kind of dim in the living room, but it looked like those eyes were lit up from inside, almost like a fire deep inside.  And he finally said something to me.  He said,  “Who are you?” and I knew he wanted me.

     I leaned into  him and wrapped those long, strong arms around me and pulled me real tight against that soft, soft shirt. It was blue, I think, pretty sure. The streetlight coming through the window made the silk a little  shiny, that’s another reason I said I thought it was silk?  It’s shiny isn’t it?  I don’t have anything silk.  I did have that nylon shirt, it was soft and... oh, I’m sorry, I get a little distracted sometimes.  The next thing I knew, he had magicked me into taking him into  my bedroom.  I would never do anything like this, except I was under his spell, you understand.

     So we started kissing again, and hugging and I unbuttoned his shirt and he put his hand down the front of my top and  we kept on kissing.  He was real warm, they aren’t supposed to be warm, are they? And he ran his tongue right down the side of my neck, and I waited and waited. 

     No, he didn’t bite me.  I thought he would.  I was sure he would.  Why else would he put me under his spell like that.  But he didn’t  He just kept kissing me and finally I said,  “What’s wrong?  Not good enough to bite?” and he looked up. 
     He looked right at me with those brown lit up eyes and lied. “I wouldn’t bite you,”
he says to me. “You looking for someone to bite you?”

     “ I know what you are!” I said. “You magicked me here with those eyes of yours and now you gotta bite me and bring me over. We’ll be together forever!”

     And I swear, I never seen nobody run so fast!  He jumped off the davenport tripped over the coffee table,  and made for the front door Didn’t even say good-bye.  And I know why, too.  Once he knew I was onto him, he had to go.  He knew I’d run right down here and tell  you all and he’d be in big trouble. If I could escape, that is.  And if he didn’t make me one of them.  I guess a good churchgoing woman like me can’t be one. But he could have tried couldn’t he?  . 

    So tonight I met a vampire.  But he got away.