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“...been rumors of war and wars that have been, the meaning of life has been lost in the wind, and some people thinkin’ that the end is close by, ‘stead of learnin’ to live they are learnin’ to die.” ––Bob Dylan

 

Itzel’s final memory log:

Earth. Four elements make up ninety percent of the planet…iron, oxygen, silicon, and magnesium. After a billion years, artistic forces wrestled away the chisel, and replaced it with a paintbrush.  The first flowering tree was a magnolia. A palette of color washed over everything so that Earth became pleasing to the eye. Genesis was formed with those four raw materials, revised, and revised again. The development of humanity started out well, yet as the brain developed, a strange irony arose. You preferred the chisel to the brush. 

 

 

CHAPTER 1 

The Day the Music Died

 

The music stopped. How did that happen? Before Max died…no, before that; when?  Here I sit, still as death, snuggled into his favorite chair, surprised at how quickly life dissolves when it loses meaning. Yes…there’s my answer. The music stopped when I no longer served a purpose.

            The coffee was cold in Itzel’s mug, yet she continued to sip because there was nothing else to do. A teardrop gathered in the corner of her eye, and she willed it not to flow. Crying was useless when no one was around to comfort you.

            Itzel pushed herself out of the chair and walked to the kitchen window. A soft rain floated to the street. She thought of going to see the new movie everyone was raving about. She opened the window to hear the sound of the rain. The ambient songbird program had ceased when the first drops were picked up by sensors, and would resume shortly after the rain ended. It’d been years since she’d seen a live bird, although it was reported that numbers were up slightly. 

            Itzel strolled into the office and stared at WallEye. She and Max had never been able to afford Holovision. WallEye provided a flat dimension, yet it was better than nothing. She needed to find something…anything that would fill this void. She began sifting through channels,shush, shush, shush, stopping for a moment to switch to the network. From there she could surf the web, make phone video calls, play virtual games.

            Perhaps I should call a friend…no, they won’t want to be disturbed. Each had lives that were separated from work…even family. They needed space. She hated the botheredsound in the voices when she called friends. If Max were alive, he’d be in his chair watching WallEye…already dead in so many ways. Sometimes she felt guilty for not missing him much, but he’d been more companion than husband; a comfortable quilt providing warmth and security without really meaning to.    

            Without thinking, the words escaped from her lips.“No reason to go on.” She stared at WallEye, and an advertisement materialized. Her words had prompted popups, businesses that hawked quick-fix happiness. 

            “That one,” she pointed.

             A large logo for RepliCan slowly dissolved, and was replaced by a smiling, well-dressed man. 

            “Hello, Itzel.”

            “Hey.”

            “We know why you’re here.”

            “Doubt that.”

            “We can’t blame you for being cynical.”

            “Cut the dog’n’pony; what kind of snake oil you selling?”

            “Relief for an aching heart; tonic for loneliness.”

            “Happy pills?”

            He shook his head. “We offer joy you can touch.”

            “Replicas?”

            “At competitive prices, satisfaction guaranteed, or your money back.”

            “What’s the damage?”

            “Analysis shows that you pre-qualify for a 2093 refurbished M3 of your choice.” Her current bank balance popped up. 

            Itzel had never dreamed of such a thing. Acquaintances raved about them, yet she and Max had never discussed investing in one.

            “Try for a month, and if you’re not completely satisfied, you’ll get a full refund.”

            “Show me a demo,” she said.

            “Very good, Itzel—beautiful name by the way—let me know if you’ve any questions. My name’s Tom, and it’s been a pleasure to serve you.”

             Tom’s image dissolved, replaced by an M3 demo compilation, with an optional icon if she wanted to see replica’s going beyond the call of duty. But the onset of menopause had reduced her sexual appetite to a tiny pilot-flame. Another feature caught her attention. A serious looking man in a white lab coat said, “Here at RepliCan, we’re able to customize to your specific needs.”The scene changed to an old woman opening her front door, and being faced with a replica of her dead mother. A tearful reunion followed and the image faded, replaced by a father playing with a deceased daughter, a wife reunited with a missing husband…all programmed with real memories and crafted to look, and feel, authentic. 

            A shiver ran down Itzel’s spine, yet an idea took shape in her mind, and she smiled self-indulgently. “The King,” she murmured. 

Here is an exerpt from my newest novel, LUCIA

 

CHAPTER 1: Lucia (1987)

Lucia lifted the hand mirror to examine herself. She was up earlier than usual—before the rooster determined that it was time. In early mornings, Lucia had a few minutes for herself—to think and to dream. She undressed and climbed into her tiny shower. There was a hand mirror in there, and she gazed at the twenty-two-year-old woman she had become. Her naturally wavy hair was short because it was unconquerable when it grew longer. She never needed makeup, using red lipstick to highlight her full lips. She touched her eyebrows, and wondered if she should thin them with tweezers. No, she thought, a waste of time.

     It was a rare morning. Her mother, Giselle had taken a bus with the younger half-brothers to visit the family of her latest lover. The man was a truck driver, and they’d found each other a month earlier at the open-air market in Zacatelco. He had purchased quesadillas for her and the half-brothers, which entitled him to move in with Giselle. Lucia called it the Mexican repayment plan. She and the half-brothers would be introduced to his mother. She would ignore them, judge harshly, and that would be the end of it. That’s the way it always happened.

     Yet, this morning was Lucia’s. She had time to review her life, to feel proud of her accomplishments. For the first time in her life, she liked herself. She turned on the shower to warm up before she stepped in, and then she closed her brown eyes to feel the water pouring down her body. As she soaped, her fingers slipped over her well-rounded behind. She washed her moderately-sized breasts, topped with tall, brown nipples. 

     The water felt good—cleaned bad memories, and replaced them with dreams. Shampoo was applied to her head, and rinsed. Then, she washed her dark pubic hair, allowing fingers to slide over the sensitive areas. She closed her eyes to think about her boyfriend, Enrique, and shivered. It had been a long time since she had the luxury of pleasuring herself. Between juggling classes at the University, helping with the half-brothers, and the other responsibilities on the family ranch, there was precious little time for self-indulgence. 

Get a taste for:

Adobe Walls, is a collection of edgy fiction that will transport readers into strange worlds, filled with wonders. Here is an exerpt:

The young woman timidly stole glances at the stranger who’d given up his seat for her. He connected with her gaze for a moment and smiled. She shyly stared into her lap, controlling the urge to return it.

      He looks out of place, she thought. This bus carries ordinary people to everyday places, and he does not look ordinary. As he gripped the metal standing-rail over his head she saw that he was taller, and stood straighter than other men swaying in the aisle. His smile contrasted sharply with the somber faces of other travelers. Even his eyes had smiled. She read his face as only a woman can, and there was kindness written there.

     

A buzzer sounded, someone requesting a stop. The driver braked hard, so that those standing in the aisle stumbled into one another. A woman thanked the driver as she stepped off, carrying two heavy sacks. A moment later, bodies were swaying again as the ancient bus ground through gears. 

      The woman continued her appraisal of the stranger, who had sacrificed his seat for her. He wore a clean yellow shirt, blue jeans, and a colorful Mexican belt decorated with a Maya-Greco glyph.  Although it was hot, his armpits were dry. He straddled a blue canvas shoulder bag between polished brown boots. Medium-cut curly black hair framed the face that had smiled.

      Was his family here, a wife or girlfriend? Thoughts are all I’ll ever have of this man, she sighed. Mexican women do not ask such questions of strangers. We’re not even supposed to think them.

A few minutes later, the stranger pushed a red button on the railing, and another stop was made. He shuffled forward. 

      “Con permíso,” he said softly to those he squeezed past.

      She knew that the nearest town was, Nativitas. He’ll either walk or take a public transport to his wife, or girlfriend. He will take her in his strong arms, and time and distance will soon dissolve from memory.

      The brakes squealed in protest, and a gaseous, shhh,followed.

      “Gracias,” he thanked the driver.

      “Estamos para servirle,” replied the driver.

      As the bus jerked forward, she watched the stranger until she could no longer see him. He smiled at me, she thought, taking a deep breath, and closing her eyes.

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