Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2019

Meridian couldn’t help but keep looking at the ghost.  John took her by the hand and helped her walk to the back where the bathrooms were.  John was kissing Meridian all over, and it was obvious that he wanted more.  Relic and the rest of the guides, along with Luna, walked to the bathrooms and watched.  Meridian and John had gone into a bathroom stall, and he began to pull her underwear down from underneath her skirt. As the pair continued to get to know each other in the stall, the ghosts hovered above and watched with a look of concern.”

–From Meridian Chronicles: Black Widow Curse & The Coven by M.D. Fryson

M.D. Fryson is a wife and mom to three boys as well as an animal lover especially horses she used to ride, train and show. Her favorite books are anything astrology, self help, motivation, romance and humor. She loves chocolate, coffee and her family (not in that order), and the beach. She likes to garden, hike, jog, swim and travel. Her most recent release is the paranormal romance, Meridian Chronicles: Black Widow Curse & The Coven. The third installment to this series comes out September 2019 and she is nearly finished with the last book to the series that comes out in 2020.

Book Description:

 MERIDIAN’S curse has left her in a state all her own of amnesia. She is on Earth lost and afraid with only fragments to piece together her mysterious circumstance. The curse has taken the unimaginable from her, but that is just scratching the surface. The Black Widow curse will reveal itself through the demon’s riddle, the Coven and the Fairy Nymphs.

A trip back to Salem is just what the psychic ordered, but treachery lurks with an ex coven member who calls on demons. The demon realm offers more riddles than answers, but a stroke of luck from the high demon court, brings in a sophisticated demon, Lahash who has grown tired of the games.

The curse hides Meridian’s identity and her memory will unlock the Universal secret of her twin soul to find her way home. As Meridian finds Aiden so do the impacts of her curse and what it could do to their budding relationship.

Meridian’s soul and fate are in the cross hairs, while the odds rise between the demons, witches and the fairies. \

Finally having found Aiden, the Fairy Queen comes through to send aid to Meridian, but she still doubts herself and contemplates running away from it all. Who is Meridian’s twin soul? Will she go back to Etheria or will the curse reign down on Meridian?
Find out in this dark and twisted paranormal romance.

Interview:

Welcome, M.D.!  Your new paranormal romance series sounds thrilling! Can you tell us how you came up with the idea?

M.D.:  Hello and thank you Richard for the invitation for the interview!  The core of the story is around the protagonist, Meridian who is a realm born spirit guide, in that she was born of her realm of Etheria, versus how the majority of the spirit guides came to be, through the process of living several lives, learning their lessons the universe has sent for them, so that they can at some point, transcend to becoming a guide, to watch over human kind.

Meridian is young in terms of the time in a realm born guides existence that they are released to watch over humans.  She doesn’t get that chance because in the first book Hall of Souls & The Book of the Fairies, she is cast out by the realms leader who has his own secrets and covert agenda.  As she arrives on Earth, she doesn’t recall much of her previous life and she is very much like a child in that, she doesn’t understand what being a human is like and the situations that present their selves.

The idea came to me, from my own life experiences in that the curse is a bit figurative for how I felt about myself in a dark time in my life. Many people that I have had an experience with, gave rise to the traits in many characters, good and bad.  Which brings me to my next point.

Life is full of good and bad and I think for me, being able to write a genre I love, fantasy, wrapping up elements of my own views, feelings and experiences into fictional characters while weaving a couple of messages in the story was how I came up with the idea.

The ideas and concepts of a past life, reincarnation and karma is something that a lot of people believe in.  Many believe that there are other beings at work such as guardian angels, spirits etc., so I wrapped them into the story as well.  Having been exposed to a plethora of beliefs, there are some I find easier to write about.  It isn’t necessarily that I believe in all of them, but I appreciate the different view points and they make up the world we live in.  I wanted the story to be fantasy/paranormal but in a way that hopefully some readers could relate too.

Can you tell us a little about the main characters?

M.D.:I mentioned Meridian.  She goes through quite some prolific changes through the series. There are two more books to this series (and I am thrilled that I am finished writing them already, now just editing) Anyway, another character is Aiden, he is inspired by my husband from his physical features all the way to his music taste and a little of his background.  His wonderful personality is in there, right along with a bit of his sarcastic side.

Relic, a spirit guide who in his previous life, was a rock star.  If someone were to ask me how to describe him, my husband shouted out, that Relic reminded him of a guitar player from Motley Crue, Nikki Sixx.  I decided that was pretty close.  His personality is very sarcastic, witty and he is very full of himself, but he is tolerated by his group because deep down he is a good spirit, he just doesn’t like to be vulnerable. In a way, a lot of his banter is inspired by my husband who is very witty

Selena is the Fairy Queen and what can I say, she is very cold and calculating in the first book, but some events that take place between her daughter and her, humble her a bit and in the second book readers will get to see her go through the realizations that despite she may feel strongly about certain things, she needs to help the spirit guides and win her daughter’s approval.  She has the power to turn spirit guides back from fallen, that the leader of Etheria has cast to Earth as a form of a demon.

Warrick is the main antagonist, but in this book I introduce another one, a witch named Raina.  Now she is certainly a dark witch with an agenda and she finds out Meridian’s secret and wants to capitalize on that for her own reasons.

Warrick is the leader of Etheria who is threated by Meridian and the gifts she has yet to realize about herself.  He carries a big secret in the first book, that in this book, gets exposed. I can’t tell you or it would spoil the story!

They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point where the reader just can’t put the book down. What is one of the pivotal points in your book?

I would say when Warrick’s identity and the way to break Meridian’s curse is exposed through a ritual conducted by the Queen and other fairy nymphs along with a witch coven in Salem.  They help Meridian unlock the mystery.

Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?

M.D.: Yes.  After I get the first draft, I reread and rewrite for the second draft.  My last book I wrote, I sent to beta readers and then had a small rewrite and proof read before it went to the editor.  After that comes back, I rewrite again for another draft, it goes to the editor.  Then I reread, then to a proofreader then I reread again before I am finished.  Whew!

Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?

M.D.:  Very much so.  I believe when a readers sees the cover, it generates a feeling and an idea.  I think that it is important to convey the tone of the story through the cover, so that a reader can feel for their selves and carry with them through the pages as they read.

What did you want to become when you were a kid?

M.D.:  Well, an astronaut!  To this day I binge watch the space channel because to me the Universe is fascinating to me in that there is so much out there that we have yet to discover.  If I had it to do over again, I would have studied to become an astrophysicist.   But I settled for a Business Degree in Marketing, because math was too scary for me! That degree has allowed me to have experiences in the investments/management and advertising worlds.

Do your novels carry a message?

M.D.:  Absolutely!  Now I will say that aside from the message, my books all end in cliffhangers, (you have been warned)  My life at one point felt like a never-ending precession of cliffhangers, so I have to be true to myself when I write.

However, in the books and through out the series, the message I convey is that no matter how far you fall off track, that there is always hope no matter how dark it gets and there is always a light at the end of the tunnel if you simply look and push through the hard times.  Life is a gift and we can either allow our mistakes to define and rule us, or we can choose to be an inspiration to someone who may have went through something similar.  Taking the high road isn’t the hard part.  Finding the high road to me is the toughest and once you are there, keep going. The energy we put out into the world always finds its way back, just may take some time.

Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers and fans?

M.D.: If you get the chance to read the book, I hope you enjoy it!

Read Full Post »

What you don’t know about the amazing Josephine Baker

By Sherry Jones

When I give talks on the great African-American performer Josephine Baker, I always ask what my audience knows of her.

“Singer,” someone will call out. “Dancer.” “Paris.” And, always, “Banana skirt.”

But few seem to know of the most fascinating aspects of this woman’s life.

Yes, she danced topless on the Paris stage (at age 19!) wearing a skirt ringed with rubber bananas, a witty send-up of her own status as a sex symbol and black exotique–emblematic of French colonialism and the national craze for all things African. And her scandalous bootyshaking crosseyed antics made her a superstar.

But Josephine Baker was so much more than a comedic dancer in a silly skirt. She is one of the most remarkable women ever to have lived: a survivor who grew up in poverty, abuse, and neglect; an entertainer who perfected the art of intimacy with her audiences, entrancing them; a beloved singer, opera diva, movie actor, recording artist, and fashionista; a woman of color who became the most highly paid performer in Europe, and more.

Much more.

Fighting for a cause

As is true for so many women, by the time she turned 30, she was just getting started.

In 1936, she turned 30—and, as is true for so many women, began to empower herself. Soon afterward she joined the cause against Nazism, using her skills as a pilot to fly medical supplies weekly for the Red Cross.

While on tour in Berlin, Josephine had experienced racial hatred first-hand from Hitler’s Brownshirts, and she hated the Nazis in turn. By the time they invaded Paris in 1940 she was already working as a spy, seducing generals and diplomats to get information that she sneaked across borders under the guise of touring.

She risked her life every time she passed a customs checkpoint; as a woman of color, if caught, she would be sent to a concentration camp—or worse.

In her castle on France’s Dordogne River, Josephine Baker harbored other members of the French Resistance, who gathered there to plan their next missions, using her remote Medieval fortress as a base. When the Nazis got suspicious and searched the castle and grounds, Josephine took off for Lisbon, the spy capital of Europe, to await orders from Gen. Charles de Gaulle, leader of the French Resistance.

Josephine Baker’s eldest adopted son, Jean-Claude Baker, wrote snidely of Josephine’s later accomplishments, saying she was a thrill-seeker who, unable to safely perform in Paris, chose the excitement and glamour of spying.

Really? She never accepted a dime for her Resistance efforts, and, penniless, often had to sleep in unheated hotels, where she caught pneumonia and nearly died from the complications. With no money for food, she became emaciated. She spent more than a year in a hospital in Morocco, but when U.S. troops flooded the streets, she dragged herself out of bed, got dressed, and went out to greet them. She spent the next several years entertaining the troops, touring throughout Europe, all without pay.

A fully empowered woman

When the war had ended, she emerged a woman aware of her powers. Fighting racism, always a desire, now became her driving force. Unable to bear children, she began adopting babies from cultures around the world. Her vision: a “Rainbow Tribe” of multicolored, multicultural children who loved one another, showing the world that hatred is not innate, but learned. She would eventually adopt 12 children.

The United States would be her next frontier in the fight for equality. Invited to perform in a Miami nightclub, she insisted that its owner include black people in the audience. Because of a city curfew, the nightclub owner had to bus and even fly people in to achieve integration, but the experiment worked: soon other clubs in the city were integrating, too.

Ms. Baker continued her one-woman show for racial justice during her U.S. tour, calling out racism and publicly announcing that she would not appear in any venue that segregated its audiences.

Ultimately, Ms. Baker lost bookings, a film deal, and popularity with U.S. audiences as her fight for equality led the FBI to brand her as a subversive and possible Communist sympathizer. When she left the country, she was told not to come back. She never did until 1963—invited to participate in the March on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Josephine Baker was the only woman to speak.

About the Author

Author and journalist Sherry Jones is best known for her international bestseller The Jewel of Medina. She is also the author of The Sword of MedinaFour SistersAll QueensThe Sharp Hook of Love, and the novella White Heart.  Sherry lives in Spokane, WA, where, like Josephine Baker, she enjoys dancing, singing, eating, advocating for equality, and drinking champagne.

Her latest novel is Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

Website: http://authorsherryjones.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sherryjones
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sherryjones
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/sherry-jones
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sherryjonesfanpage
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/josephinebakerslastdance
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cybersecuritytechnologywriter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1219600.Sherry_Jones

About the Book:

From the author of The Jewel of Medina, a moving and insightful novel based on the life of legendary performer and activist Josephine Baker, perfect for fans of The Paris Wife and Hidden Figures.

Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine’s early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.

With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry Jones brings this remarkable and compelling public figure into focus for the first time in a joyous celebration of a life lived in technicolor, a powerful woman who continues to inspire today.

Purchase Josephine Baker’s Last Dance in paperback,  ebook,  and  audiobook  formats on  Simon and Schuster’s website (available on Amazon,  Barnes and Noble,  BooksAMillion,  Indiebound,  Kobo,  and  other sites). Learn more about Sherry’s books  at  www.authorsherryjones.com

 

Read Full Post »

Joab Stieglitz was born and raised in the Warren, New Jersey. He is an Application Consultant for a software company.  He has also worked as a software trainer, a network engineer, a project manager, and a technical writer over his 30 year career. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

Joab is an avid tabletop RPG player and game master of horror, espionage, fantasy, and science fiction genres, including Savage Worlds (Mars, Deadlands, Agents of Oblivion, Apocalypse Prevention Inc, Herald: Tesla and Lovecraft, Thrilling Tales, and others), Call of Cthulhu, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and Pathfinder.

Joab channeled his role-playing experiences in the Utgarda Series, which are pulp adventure novels with Lovecraftian influences set in the 1920’s.

Website Address: http://joabstieglitz.com

Twitter Address: @joabstieglitz

Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/rantingsofawanderingmind

About the Book:

An Innocent Favor for a Dying Old Friend…

Fifty years ago, a group of college friends dabbled in the occult and released a malign presence on the world. Now, on his deathbed, the last of the students, now a trustee of Reister University enlists the aid of three newcomers to banish the thing they summoned.

Russian anthropologist Anna Rykov, doctor Harry Lamb, and Father Sean O’Malley are all indebted the ailing trustee for their positions. Together, they pursue the knowledge and resources needed to perform the ritual.

Hampered by the old man’s greedy son, the wizened director of the university library, and a private investigator with a troubled past, can they perform the ritual and banish the entity?

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

Interview:

Would you call yourself a born writer?

I have been writing all my life. I wrote stories for myself as a child. In college, I excelled at classes that had papers (as opposed to tests). In my various jobs in the computer networking world, I have gravitated toward writing tasks, such as requirements, training, and policies and procedures.

My writing career really started when I decided to hunker down a write a chapter a week. I was reasonably successful, writing and publishing my first three books in roughly six months each. The constraints of my day job reduced my time over the last year or two, so book four took about nine months, and book five is still in progress.

What was your inspiration for The Old Man’s Request?

I am a big role-player and have written numerous adventures, character backgrounds, and other material for a variety of genres. I took notes of the games I ran over the years, and ideas from some of those became the inspiration for my books. I am also a history buff, especially with respect to the 19th and 20th centuries, which provide source material as well.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I like to introduce obscure historical figures and events into my stories. Other than that, my works are pulp escapism.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Writing and publishing a novel was a life goal. I had started writing a Tolkeinesque journey tale in the 90’s in dribs and drabs “when the muse hit me.” Twenty-five years and 300 pages later, that story had changed in terms of plot, tone, and style. I considered revising or even restarting it, but instead I decided to start fresh with another idea that had been on the shelf all that time. So I sat down and wrote one chapter a week. Using that method, I published my first three novels in six months each from start to finish.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I try to write a 1500-2000 word chapter each week, but that is constrained by the requirements of my day job, running/playing in several games each week (which does provide inspiration for future projects), and my family.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Writing the books was the easy part. I outlined the plots in terms of 10 chapters each. As I composed, some chapters expanded to two or three. I followed my outlines fairly closely. The most challenging aspect of this enterprise has been promotion.

What do you love most about being an author?

I enjoy the creativity, but also hearing that people have read and enjoyed my work.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

When I wrote the first book, The Old Man’s Request, I didn’t write it to sell. I wanted to achieve publication. So I went with Createspace. The publishing process was simple and I am happy with the product.

Where can we find you on the web?

My books are all available in Kindle, paperback, and audiobook formats on Amazon. Readers can also follow me at joabstieglitz.com.

 

Read Full Post »

 

 

Inside the Book:

Title: The Secret of the Woods
Author: Sara Beth Harper
Publisher: XLibrisUS
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Ebook
Leaving their rough street life behind, five children escape into the forest, which turns out to be more dangerous than their former life had been. Evil goblins, the orcs, and their dogs track them through the wilderness, desiring the magic piece they unwittingly acquired when Michael promised a dying boy he would deliver it to Camelot. They didn’t know the danger that dogged the footsteps of the person that possessed it! Scared, lost, and confused, they stumble through the days, trying to find answers though they could trust no one. They find their inner strength and determination and vicious will to survive. They find friends when they need them the most, and they find love and happiness at the most unexpected places. They overcome fear and hate and finally know they are here for a reason when their unexpected, surprising identity comes to light.



Purchase Here

 

Meet the Author:

Sara Beth Harper lives in the hills of south eastern Ohio with her big family. Was inspired to write by sleepless nights and a vivid imagination. Loves anything nature, cooking, friends, family and Jesus. She holds Him and her faith closely and knows she could not have written without Him!

Giveaway

Sara is giving away a $25 Gift Card!

 

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins March 4 and ends on March 19.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on March 19.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule

 

Read Full Post »

Title: THE DESIRE CARD
Author: Lee Matthew Goldberg
Publisher: Fahrenheit Press
Genre: Crime/Suspense

BOOK BLURB:

Any wish fulfilled for the right price. That’s the promise the Desire Card gives to its elite clients. But if the Card doesn’t feel like they’ve been justly compensated, the “price” will be more menacing than the clients could ever imagine.

Harrison Stockton learns this lesson all too well. Harrison has lived an adult life of privilege and excess: a high-powered job on Wall Street along with a fondness for alcohol and pills, and a family he adores, yet has no time for. All of this comes crashing to a halt when he loses his executive job and discovers he has liver cirrhosis with mere months left to live.

After finding himself far down on the donor list, Harrison takes matters into his own hands. This decision sparks a gritty and gripping quest that takes him to the slums of Mumbai in search of a black market organ and forces him under the Desire Card’s thumb. When his moral descent threatens his wife and children, Harrison must decide whether to save himself at any cost, or do what’s right and put a stop to the Card.

THE DESIRE CARD is a taut international thriller that explores what a man will do to survive when money isn’t always enough to get everything he desires. It’s the first book in a series followed by PREY NO MORE that focuses on other people indebted to this sinister organization, where the actual price is the cost of one’s soul.

PRAISE:

“Careful what you wish for, especially from a nefarious shadow organization, in this gripping start to Lee Matthew Goldberg’s fast-paced, highly compelling, buzz worthy new series. If you love characters morally compromised, richly drawn, and constantly surprising, you’ll love THE DESIRE CARD. I burned through the first book and can’t wait to get my hands on PREY NO MORE to see where this endlessly exciting story takes me next! Loved it!” – Daniel Palmer, critically acclaimed suspense author

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

Chapter 1

HARRISON SAT OUTSIDE THE OFFICE OF THE MANAGING DIRECTOR AWAITING HIS FATE. The end of the month meant slash and burn time, but he had successfully avoided the axe for twelve months now. Something told him this wasn’t going to be lucky number thirteen. After almost twenty years of dedication, he swore he wouldn’t beg, wouldn’t give that fucker Thom Bartlett any satisfaction in letting him go. Thom, with his faux British accent even though he lived in the U.S. since he was two, his nose up the CEO’s ass at every chance, his chastising of Harrison’s “extracurricular activities,” even though Thom was just as guilty of similar vices. Harrison stared at this fucker’s door, as if by monitoring he could will it to stay closed and ensure that he’d forever remain a part of Sanford & Co.’s Mergers and Acquisitions team.

A sharp pain in his abdomen caused him to pitch forward. His stomach churned as a flood of bile crept up his throat. Thom’s door now appeared so out of focus that for a second Harrison forgot where he was.

“Bad lunch?” his buddy Whit whispered, from a nearby seat.

Thom’s ancient secretary glanced up at them from her fury of typing and went back to punishing the keys.

Harrison clutched his stomach and let out a stifled belch. The air now smelled like he’d been dining on garbage. His chronic halitosis had only been getting worse. He could barely recall the last time he’d kissed Helene like when they were young with an appetite to devour. At most he received a peck while she held her breath. It’s not like her body hadn’t also changed, and yet he still found her a knockout: whip-smart and sophisticated, alluring whenever she was in deep thought and chewed on the earpiece of her reading glasses. Only once had he participated in a particular “extracurricular activity” outside of their marriage. It was something he instantly regretted—but she had been treating him like a pariah in the bedroom for almost a year, and he found himself in the arms of another. So now he let her give those little digs about his hygiene, one of the small pleasures she seemed to have during the scant few hours a day when he was home.

Whit seemed to inch his chair away from Harrison’s death burp and occupied himself with the new Breitling hanging from his wrist. Here the two were about to be sliced up and gutted and Whit had spent last weekend dropping $10K on a watch. Sure Harrison indulged in more luxuries than most and hated his old Tag enough to go splurging, but unlike Whit, he had two kids in uptown private schools to worry about.

“Drinks at Mobeley’s later tonight?” Whit asked, placing his hand on Harrison’s shoulder. “Whatever the outcome of this summons might be?”

Harrison nodded with tired eyes.

“You’re a VP here, Harry. Higher up on the rung than me. You’ve got a better chance of surviving.”

Whit’s hand still massaged Harrison’s shoulder, but his encouragement was not convincing. He had probably expected a similar consoling reply, except the room was spinning too much for Harrison to care.

“You’re not looking well,” Whit said. Thom’s secretary seemed to glance up from her typing again to nod in agreement. The two of them caught each other’s eye, as if they were conspiring against him. Well, we couldn’t all look like Whit. Just a few years younger but still with a full head of thick black hair only slightly graying at the temples, something that made him appear even more distinguished. Pecs and abs that he never shut up about. A terror on the racquetball courts who slaughtered Harrison every time. The son of a well-known surgeon at N.Y.U Medical with a hot Japanese wife barely out of her twenties whose goal in life was to be at his beck and call. Whit had been made an Associate two years earlier than Harrison and was able to maintain a rapport with the higher ups that Harrison could never manage: calling the CEO Dougie to his face instead of Mr. Sanford and still having a job the next day.

The secretary picked up the phone on her desk while still typing away.

“Certainly, Mr. Bartlett,” she chirped into the receiver, and then turned her disapproving gaze to Harrison. “Mr. Bartlett will see you now, Mr. Stockton.”

Harrison gathered up his briefcase and overcoat. He had to hold onto the seat as he stood, his feet pivoting and almost sending him to the ground.

“Gotta watch those martini lunches,” Whit said, slapping Harrison on the back and pushing him toward his doom.

Harrison put one foot in front of the other slowly, avoiding Thom’s inevitable decision for as long as possible.

Even if he wound up getting let go today, an outsider looking in might assume that his life was still going well: two decades of marriage, healthy kids, and a fantastic New York apartment; but he felt like he’d just been going through the motions for too long. A major chunk had been missing, a spark of excitement, adventure, and meaning. He couldn’t put his finger on what it was, just that he desperately longed for it to exist.

As he put his hand on the doorknob and turned, he tried to think of what would make him happy, something he wanted more than anything that would cause him to shoot out of bed every morning with a smile.

He squeezed his eyes shut, willing this desired vision to appear, but all he saw was darkness.

Who in their right mind didn’t covet Thom Bartlett’s office? High floor with downtown skyline views, fluffy clouds outside of the windows, a wet bar that Harrison eyed. Some good Scotch had already been opened. Harrison had forced himself to keep sober during a gobbled lunch of an Italian sub without his trusty flask to chase it down. Now his hands trembled at the thought of that Scotch burning his throat.

“Can I offer you something?” Thom asked, indicating the bar with a grand sweep of his arm, as if to say, yes, I have a bar in my office, which you, dear sir, never had here and regrettably never will.

“I might as well,” Harrison coughed, scooting over and pouring two shots worth into a glass. He sat across from Thom and put the comforting drink to his lips.

Thom fiddled with a stack of papers in a folder on his desk. He looked up at Harrison through the thick frames he kept low on his sloping nose, almost touching his top lip.

“So Sanford & Co. has become swollen lately. We’re too big for our own good right now and need to restructure–”

“Just spit it out,” Harrison said, knocking back half the glass of Scotch.

“I’m sorry, Harrison. We’re going to have to let you go, effective today.”

Thom delivered this news while fixing his Windsor knot, which Harrison figured had taken him numerous tries that morning to perfect. Harrison wanted to grab him by that knot and choke his tiny little bird head until it popped off.

“I’ve given practically twenty years to this firm,” he said, running his hands through his thinning hair. “I sleep here, I eat here. I barely exist at home anymore.”

“It’s the same for all of us, mate.”

“I’m not your fucking mate,” Harrison said, finishing the rest of the Scotch and starting to sway.

“Old boy, I am not the villain here. Every firm on the Street has been feeling this strain since the economy collapsed. Now we are offering you a solid severance package, which I think is more than generous. I’ll also save you the spectacle of having security escort you out.”

“What was Sanford’s reason?” Harrison asked quietly, not wanting to hear the answer but knowing that he’d be unable to leave without one.

Thom had already started pushing the folder across the desk, shutting Harrison up, getting this over with. His face looked exhausted from delivering executions.

“We’ve heard from some clients,” he said, taking off his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Heard what…?”

“Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately, huh, Harry?” he asked, his voice rising to the level of an uncomfortable squeal. “Your skin, mate…sorry, but you’re looking rather yellow, and your eyes, well there’s this permanent creaminess to them… I’m just using the client’s words–”

“Which client?”

“Which one hasn’t mentioned this is more like it.”

Harrison went to respond but now Thom was on a roll.

“As a VP, this is a face-to-face business. I go for manicures, mate, you think I like it–it’s a requirement. Maybe if you cut back on the drink….”

“I’ve advised some huge mergers here over the years.” Harrison pointed at Thom with his empty glass. “I didn’t realize this was only a pretty boys game.”

“You’ve let some messy pitchbooks slide through recently, as well.”

“Shouldn’t the analysts be blamed for creating them?”

“Don’t think they haven’t been dealt with, too.”

“So maybe I’ve gotten lax with a couple of pitchbooks for smaller clients, but never any of the big ones.”

“When…was the last time you’ve been to a doctor, Harry?”

“Doctors,” Harrison said, brushing them all away with a flick of his wrist. He had always believed that no matter what, doctors tried to find something wrong with you so you’d give them more business. And yeah, his skin had developed a yellowish hue as of late and sometimes his gut felt like it was rotting. Varicose veins had multiplied along his thighs and there were moments when he’d lose balance and have to go and dry heave in an empty stall once no one else was around, but he was a professional drinker just like his dad had been, and that son-of-a-bitch had put back a liter of gin and a pack of smokes a day up until the ripe old age of eighty-eight. Hell, who needed to live longer than that anyway? Life could be brutal, and if some booze, some smokes and some pills provided a relief from the banality of it all, then screw any doctor who’d tell him otherwise.

Thom tapped on the folder to indicate that it was time to wrap this up.

“I have to make sure that you understand what’s in the package,” he said, pushing it closer to Harrison until it practically fell off the desk.

Harrison opened it up and flipped through: six months pay, benefits as well, blah, blah, blah. He closed it shut and went to throw it in his briefcase.

“Tut tut,” Thom said, wagging his finger. “There’s something you missed that Mr. Sanford wanted to make sure you saw.”

Harrison re-opened the folder and spied a card clipped to the first page.

[]

“What the hell is a Desire Card?”

Thom reached over and un-clipped the card.

“You have been a valued employee here. Mr. Sanford wanted to make sure you understood that we’re not parting on bad terms. This is what’s best for everyone.”

Thom handed him the card. Harrison turned it over and over with his stubby fingers.

“It’s like…a phone or something too?”

“Of sorts, just to keep their network as secure and exclusive as possible. We didn’t include this in everyone’s package, so you know. This is an organization that Mr. Sanford has a long history with, very hush-hush obviously, very elite. If you want something…anything…they have the power to make it happen.”

“Can they get me my job back?”

“Cute, Harrison, don’t ever lose that charm.”

Thom reached over to take the empty glass away.

“So tonight, Harry, instead of drowning your sorrows in a bottle, give the Card a try and have them ring you up a girl I guarantee you’ll enjoy. Or whatever else you wish. We promise we’ll give a glowing report to any future job prospects so consider this the start of a paid vacation.”

Thom stuck out his hand to shake, the nails manicured, no rogue cuticles to speak of; but the hand was delicate and unassuming, not someone with the power to hold Harrison’s life in his palm, just a meager messenger. Harrison slipped the Desire Card in his pocket and shook Thom’s hand, squeezing hard as Thom grimaced.

“And see a doctor,” Thom replied, giddy now that this ordeal was over.

“Watch out, you’ll be gutted next,” Harrison said, rising and feeling his legs give out. He collapsed back into the chair as Thom let out a spurt of a laugh.

“You all right there, mate?”

“Piss on England.”

Harrison gave standing up another try. He gripped Thom’s desk for support. Thom looked worried that Harrison might take the whole desk down with him, but Harrison was doing his best to maintain even though it felt like he was viewing Thom through the wrong end of a telescope.

“You can go ahead and send Mr. Carmichael in,” Thom said, fixing his Windsor knot again that had become slightly askew. “Best to Helene and the children.”

Harrison slung his coat over his arm and gripped his briefcase as he headed for the door. After a few steps, his vision became cloudier and he could feel the creamy tears falling from his eyes. They stung his cheeks as he grappled with the doorknob and lurched into the hallway.

In the front office, Whit was leaning over the secretary’s desk; the two engaged in hushed words that stopped once Harrison emerged. Harrison ran his finger from one side of his neck to the other. Whit gave him a solemn nod back, but Harrison couldn’t hold it in any longer and puked up the barely digested Scotch.

“Oh my!” he heard the secretary say.

He stared at his sickness bubbling on the floor, a mix of half-chewed capicola and salami in an amber soup with specks of dark red blood throughout, the clots of blood so dark they looked like tar. He wiped his mouth and trudged past all the onlookers toward the elevators outside, glad that a part of him would remain embedded in Sanford & Co.’s carpet.

As the elevator arrived and he stepped inside, he wished for the undoing of everyone involved in his termination, knowing that only their collective downfall could get him to shoot out of bed with a smile.

 

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of SLOW DOWN and THE MENTOR (St. Martin’s Press), which was acquired by Macmillan Entertainment with the film in development. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The first two books in a thriller series, THE DESIRE CARD and PREY NO MORE, are forthcoming from Fahrenheit Press in winter 2019. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, Essays & Fictions, The New Plains Review, and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series (guerrillalit.wordpress.com). He lives in New York City. Follow him at www.leematthewgoldberg.com and @LeeMatthewG.

 

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: