Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Floor 21 by Jason Luthor

Title: Floor 21
Author: Jason Luthor
Publisher: Scout Press
Pages: 355
Genre: Sci-fi/Dystopian

The last of humanity is trapped at the top of an isolated apartment tower with no memory of how they got there or why. All travel beneath Floor 21 is forbidden, and nobody can ever recall seeing the ground floor. Beneath Floor 21, a sickness known as the Creep infests that halls of the Tower. A biological mass that grows stronger in reaction to people’s fear and anger, the Creep prey’s on people by causing them to hallucinate until they’re in a state of panicking, before finally growing strong enough to lash out and consume them. Only a small team known as Scavengers are allowed to go beneath Floor 21 to pillage the lower levels in search of food and supplies.

Jackie is a brilliant young girl that lives far above the infection and who rarely has to worry about facing any harm. However, her intense curiosity drives her to investigate the bottom floors and the Creep. To deal with her own anxiety and insecurities, she documents her experiences on a personal recorder as she explores the secrets of the Tower. During the course of her investigation, Jackie will find herself at odds with Tower Authority, which safeguards what remains of humanity, as she attempts to determine what created the Creep, how humanity became trapped at the top of the Tower, and whether anyone knows if escape is even possible.

For More Information

  • Floor 21 is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
First Chapter:
Recording One
My name is Jackie, and it’s not so bad living here. Seriously. At least, I don’t think so anyway, but I guess it’s hard to say. Then again, I’ve never really been anywhere else. I’ve rarely even been below Floor 12. My parents won’t let me. They say things get bad down there, so I have to stay up here, on the higher levels.
Don’t get me wrong; I mean, I wish I didn’t have to. Things get kind of boring, walking the same halls every day. I’m always trying to find something new to do, but it’s kinda hard when you’ve lived your whole life in the same tower. Sometimes I’ll wander up to the rooftop, where we have the gardens. That’s where all of our food comes from, so we all take turns planting and harvesting. I don’t mind the work, actually, unless it means pulling carrots. Those suckers are really hard to yank out of the dirt.
When I think of it, it’s actually kind of annoying having to go to the rooftop, and not just because of the work. It’s really more about what we have to pass by as we head up there. So, the top level of the Tower is Floor 1. None of us are allowed inside, so every time we go up the stairs, we’re forced to stare at that big, golden number—the number “1” that sits on the locked entry door. I really wish I knew what was inside, but you know, nobody’s allowed in. Instead, we just have to pass by every few days when it’s our turn to work the gardens. You might as well string some candy in front of my face and tell me I’m not allowed to eat it.
Of course, you can’t just pick vegetables all day. That gets boring quick. Besides, most of the time I’m in school. Well, school’s probably too strong a word for it. We meet most days of the week in the library on Floor 6. Our teacher, Mrs. Bloom, tries to lead class the best she can. It’s just too bad our books aren’t great. A lot of them are about to fall apart, and most of them were scavenged from the lower floors. I’m not talking about something like Floors 13 or 14. I’m not even talking about Floor 21. I mean the books were taken from way down below . . . like, as far down as Floor 30.
I know, right? I can’t believe it myself. That’s what we have the Scavengers for, though. Without them we’d never get new books or supplies. They’re pretty much the bravest people in the Tower. They say that anyone who makes it onto a scavenging team is the type that could have been a police officer or even a soldier before all this happened. I mean, that makes sense. They wear all that riot gear, and it looks like they know how to fight. Sucks, though, since as tough as they are, every once in a while we lose one of them. That just goes with the territory of being a Scavenger.
Point is, life is only livable because of them since it’s not like we’re rolling in things to do. Sometimes I’ll sit around in the lobby with the other kids and watch movies on the Blu-Ray player, but that doesn’t always work. For instance, if it’s a really cloudy day, then the solar panels on the roof will die out, which always sucks for everyone. If we want light then, we have to burn candles, and we don’t have many of those. Then again, we don’t really have lightbulbs, either. Well, we have a few. Want to take a guess where we get those from? Yeah. Scavengers. We get everything from them.
I kinda always wanted to be one. Who wouldn’t want to be? They get to see stuff from a long time ago, before we had to live on the top of the Tower. Speaking of that, nobody really talks about the Before, and I’m not even sure how much anyone knows about it. I guess it makes sense to think that once upon a time we lived on the lower floors. Maybe even the ground . . . if there is a ground. I’ve never met anyone that’s seen it, not even the Scavengers, and they’ve been farther down the Tower than anyone.
When you stop and think about it, I mean, our lives don’t make sense. We couldn’t have always lived up here, right? It gets me pretty antsy thinking about it because, I mean, this is a tower, so we had to have come up the stairs at some point. Didn’t we?
I don’t know, and thinking about it gets me frustrated. When I’m in this kind of mood, I go to the rooftop and look out. You can actually see other towers rising up in the distance. Some aren’t even that far from ours. I stare at them, and I’m just like . . . is anybody over there? Is anybody looking back at me? Does anybody know or remember we’re trapped in this place?
Or are we all that’s left?
After I’ve gotten myself sufficiently depressed, I’ll stare over the edge of the roof, trying to see how far below I can look. Thing is, it’s impossible to see much. This tower just vanishes into the Darkness. Nobody, and I mean nobody, even knows why. It’s just blackness down there.
Oh, about Floor 12. Yeah, that’s where the Creep really starts. The Creep? It’s this . . . gunk. Super-disgusting stuff that you shouldn’t touch because it makes you feel weird, and the lower down the Tower you go, the more you see it. It starts to cover the walls, and it’s kinda gross. It’s really slick, like saliva, and it looks all muscle-y. Almost alive. Good thing you don’t have to worry about it when you’re higher than Floor 11. Still, I wonder what it is. We all do. I know that when you touch it, you can start hallucinating. I did once. Well, okay, I’m lying. I’ve touched it a few times when I’ve been on the lower levels, which is why my parents made the rule that I couldn’t head down there in the first place. I mean, I don’t pay attention to them, but I get why they don’t want me going that far below into the Tower. The Creep makes you see . . . things. Shadowy things. Sometimes they’re right in front of you, but most of the time, they’re in the corner of your eye. They say that by Floor 21, you don’t even have to touch the Creep to hallucinate, which is a total trip. Must suck to live down there.
Still, I wonder. I wonder about this all the time, actually. I wonder about what’s below Floor 21.
Um, Mom told me I should start recording my thoughts when I’m in these kind of moods, so this one might be short. I mean duh, it’s my first one. At first when she said I should record myself, I was like, okay, no. Because she’s crazy, and I don’t want to seem crazy, too. That’s no exaggeration by the way. I mean, she’s been a total whacko ever since I turned thirteen. Also, I mean, who cares about what I have to say? It’s not like I’m ever going to listen to this.
But . . . here I am. Probably because I really am going as crazy as her, but also because I go nuts thinking about how nobody else cares that we’re trapped here. I get it, we’re alive, so we should be grateful. But do you know how insane it makes me being the one person asking “why” when everyone else is acting like this is just the way things are? God.
Anyway, guess I’ll try to keep this up. I’m supposed to meet with Allison tonight. Don’t know what we’ll do. Try to find a new movie in the Blu-Ray collection, I guess. I think one of the boys said the Scavengers hauled up a game system from the Deep Creep. I haven’t seen one since I was a kid. The last one we had broke when I was, like, ten. That’s what? Seven years. Dang. I’d really like to play a video game again.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Have You Received Since You Believed: Quest For The Holy Spirit by Brian Holins

About The Book

Title: Have You Received Since You Believed: Quest For The Holy Spirit
Author: Brian Hollins
Publisher: BookBaby
Publication Date: June 12, 2016
Pages: 59
Genre: Christian Living

The Spirit that is within me that leads and guides me into all truth is again personified when I receive Christ as my Lord and Savior. The Spirit that is upon me after I ask for him is how I receive power. How could I believe that he would cope upon me if I have not really received first that he dwells within me? This is what I wrestled with for many years. The problem was, I really didn't believe the way I thought; and maybe I also didn't understand the purpose of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. Bottom line, now that I think about it, I just didn't believe right. 

Have You Received Since You Believed: Quest For The Holy Spirit is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads

Meet the Author

Brian G. Hollins, Pastor - Pastor Hollins was born in Los Angeles, CA, in 1963. He moved to Shreveport, LA as a child where he presently resides. He has been married for 30 years to his beautiful wife Henrietta. Brian and Henrietta have four children: Oliver, Jordan, Jade, and Lauren. Pastor Hollins served 28 years in the Fire Service and retired in March of 2009, holding the position of Chief Training Officer. 

He was called to the ministry in November of 1999. On August 10, 2002, Pastor Hollins was appointed to the position of Pastor of Emmanuel Church of God in Christ. On May 23, 2007, Pastor Brian and First Lady Henrietta founded Emmanuel Christian Ministries. On October 21, 2013, following the leading of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Hollins changed the name of ECM to Abounding Grace. Paster Hollins founded "Have Faith in God" Radio Broadcast which is heard mornings at 9:00am CST, on KOKA radio 980AM and www.koka.am and on The Promise on 90.7FM at 3:30pm to 4:00pm. He is the author of two books, "Don't Take The Bait" and "Have You Received Since You Believed". Pastor Hollins also serves as a Volunteer Chaplain for the Shreveport Fire Department.

For More Information:

Visit Brian Hollins' website
Connect with Brian on  FacebookTwitterGoodreads

Book Blast Event

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Chapter reveal: Write to Die, by Charles Rosenberg

Write to Die
Author: Charles Rosenberg
Publication Date:  July 26, 2016
Category:   Mystery/Thriller
Formats:  Trade Paper, ISBN:  978- 1503937611, $15.95,  Kindle, $3.99
Page Count:   498 (approximately)
Publisher:   Thomas & Mercer
Publicity Contact:  Maryglenn McCombs  (615) 297-9875 maryglenn@maryglenn.com
Book description: Hollywood’s latest blockbuster is all set to premiere—until a faded superstar claims the script was stolen from her. To defend the studio, in steps the Harold Firm, one of Los Angeles’s top entertainment litigation firms and as much a part of the glamorous scene as the studios themselves. As a newly minted partner, it’s Rory Calburton’s case, and his career, to win or lose. But the seemingly tame civil trial turns lethal when Rory stumbles upon the strangled body of his client’s general counsel. And the ties that bind in Hollywood constrict even tighter when the founder of the Harold Firm is implicated in the murder. Rory is certain the plagiarism and murder cases are somehow connected, and with the help of new associate Sarah Gold—who’s just finished clerking for the chief justice—he’s determined to get answers. Will finding out who really wrote the script lead them to the mastermind of the real-life murder?
Chapter 1
The story began when his phone rang.
He struggled out of a deep Sunday morning sleep, fumbled the phone to his ear, got out “Hello” and heard a deep voice say, “Rory, Joe Stanton. I need to see you.”
“Joe, I just saw you on Friday.”
“Well, so what? I need you again. My office. Five o’clock.”
Rory wanted to say, “It’s Sunday, and I have plans.” But he knew he had no real choice. Joe’s studio, TheSun/TheMoon/TheStars, was his firm’s largest client. Joe was the general counsel—the guy who distributed all of the litigation work on which Rory’s law firm feasted. But even as he stifled his real thoughts and said, “Okay, see you there,” he realized Stanton had already hung up.
Rory had been on the studio lot so frequently in the past few years that they had finally caved and given him a drive-on pass, something unheard of for outside lawyers. He flashed it at the guard gate—the security camera would later document that he drove through at 5:06 p.m.—and made his way, via the fake streets used to film cityscapes, to the oddly named Executive Office Structure. There were a few other cars around, but not many, and Rory amused himself by sliding into the slot reserved for the studio head.
Joe’s office was on the top floor, and Rory took the steps up, the better to add a little more exercise to his day. His bad knee always did better going up than down. It had surprised him that the entry door into the stairwell was unlocked and annoyed him that he was out of breath by the time he got to the top.
The door to Joe’s assistant’s office was wide open, and nobody was at the desk—amazing in itself because when Joe was in the office, an assistant was always there, too, day or night. The door to Joe’s own office was to the right of the assistant’s desk. It was closed.
Rory knocked. When there was no answer, he knocked again, louder, eased the door open and peeked around the edge. Joe was sitting in his leather chair, behind his over-large black granite desk, his body tilted slightly to the left. An ugly black-and-blue bruise spanned his neck from ear to ear, and his swollen tongue protruded from his mouth. Blood clotted in his hair.
What went through Rory’s head was remarkably rational, considering that his heart rate had accelerated to twice normal speed. If I go in there, I’ll get my fingerprints and probably my DNA all over everything. And the guy’s clearly dead, so I can’t help him.
He closed the door, but not all the way, called 911 on his cell, calmly reported the body and its location and waited. While he waited there in the assistant’s office, the door to Joe’s office swung entirely open again on its own. He wanted to turn away, but he had the odd feeling it was somehow disrespectful to the body to do that. So he just stared at it until suddenly a breeze, or something, slammed the door shut again.
The 911 call had apparently alerted studio security as well as the city’s emergency system, because within a few minutes a studio cop showed up, out of breath from running up the steps. Rory pointed to the door and tried to say “Dead,” but all that came out was a croak. He tried again and got the word out.
“Anyone else in there?”
“Don’t think so, but I’m not sure. I opened the door, but then it closed again on its own. The wind, maybe.”
The guard motioned him away, drew his gun, flattened himself to the wall beside the door and, while turning the doorknob with his spare hand, kicked the door wide open. Crouching slightly and holding the gun straight out in front of him, he cleared first the open doorway and then, moving inside, the space to each side of the door. Rory thought it a brave thing. If somebody had been inside with a gun or a knife, the guard could’ve bought the farm.
“The room’s clear,” the man said. Then, as if he had not yet really focused on the corpse in the chair, he added, “Oh my God.”
Rory heard the sirens as the police and paramedics arrived, and he watched LAPD uniforms stream out of the stairway, consult the studio guard and go through the same routine of clearing the room, guns drawn. Within ten minutes, there were six more people, including men and women wearing white coats with LAPD insignia stitched above the pockets. Suddenly, yellow crime scene tape was everywhere.
Rory heard the studio guard on his walkie-talkie telling the front gate, “Don’t let any media in here . . . No, nobody, even if they’ve got a pass . . . They’ll be coming soon, they’ve probably already heard about it on the police scanner. And post somebody on the walk-in gate on the back lot.”
A Detective Johnson, according to his name plate, a big African American guy who was actually taller than Rory’s own six foot five, and maybe heavier, too, emerged from Joe’s office wearing white booties and latex gloves. He peeled the gloves off and took out a small notebook. “You the guy who found him?”
“The other detectives will want to talk to you later. I’ll get the basics from you now.”
It didn’t take long. Rory answered that he didn’t know if Joe had any enemies, in part because he didn’t know the victim very well.
“Any idea why he wanted to meet with you?”
Rory shrugged. “I’m an outside entertainment lawyer representing the studio in a big copyright case. There’s a court hearing going on about it right now. Maybe he wanted to talk about that. But he didn’t say. Just said he wanted to see me today.”
“I see.”
“So, Detective,” Rory said, “is there any way he could have . . . choked himself, somehow? Is that possible?”
“Not unless you can strangle yourself and make the rope disappear afterward.”
“No sign of it?”
He shook his head. “It was good you didn’t go in there. A lot of people would have. How did you have the smarts not to?”
“A long time ago, I was a deputy DA. You learn stuff in that job.”
“And now you’re—what did you say? An entertainment lawyer?” Without waiting for Rory to confirm, he rolled on: “Hey, have you heard this one?”
Here we go, Rory thought. Even in the middle of a gruesome crime scene.
“What’s the difference between a dead lawyer and a dead armadillo in the road, Counselor?”
“I don’t know. What?”
“No skid marks in front of the lawyer.” He guffawed at his own joke.
Rory had been thinking up good responses to lawyer jokes for years. Maybe this wasn’t the time to try one out, but then again, maybe it was.
“That’s funny, Detective, but what about this one? How many clients does it take to screw in a light bulb?”
“Uh, I dunno.”
“Well, no one knows, because clients always call their lawyers to come over and help.”
“It’s a client joke.”
“I gotta think about that one.”
“Yes. Do that. May I go now?”
“You have my card. If any of the other detectives need to talk to me, please tell ’em to give me a call.”
“I expect they will.” He paused. “Say, do lawyers often tell each other client jokes?”
“Nope, but they should.”
Rory left Detective Johnson, walked back to his car in the parking lot and opened the door. Then he turned around and threw up on the asphalt, getting some on his pants. When he felt like it wasn’t going to happen again, he drove home, cleaned up and tried to eat something. But he wasn’t hungry. Then he tried to sleep but found it hard. He finally got up, rummaged in his medicine cabinet and found a bottle of Valium that an old girlfriend had left behind. He took one and fell into a troubled sleep.

Excerpted from WRITE TO DIE with permission of the publisher, Thomas & Mercer. Copyright 2016 (c) Charles Rosenberg. All rights reserved. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Chapter reveal: WHISTLE BLOWER AND DOUBLE AGENTS, by Ruth J. Anderson

Author: Ruth J. Anderson
Publisher: The Peppertree Press
Genre: Thriller/Espionage
Release date: July 2016
Purchase at Amazon and B&N
About the bookDuring a visit to the CIA on a safeguards inquiry,an Atomic Energy Commission nuclear scientist finds that the safeguards program of his agency was flawed and allowed for nuclear material to be stolen from within the nuclear plant and passed on to other countries.  Deeply alarmed, he reported this finding to the AEC, and later to the U.S. Congress and the President.  But when the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman falls in love with a beautiful female undercover CIA operative, what follows is a pulse-quickening, globe-spanning page turner that will leave readers wondering where truth ends and fiction begins—if at all…
A loud persistent buzz of the telephone awakened Jim Miller
some time before six o’clock in the morning—a telephone used
strictly for official business. When it rang, it usually meant trouble.
His wife Nancy referred to it as the ‘hop’ line, because it was
the only time Jim moved swiftly from a lying-down position. He
preferred to waken slowly—dozing several times before greeting
the day.
“Good morning, Jim, hope I didn’t wake you,” the voice on the
other end teased.
“Good morning, Mr. President, nice of you to call and no, you
didn’t awaken me,” Jim lied.
“Lunch in my office today at noon?” The question was more of
a command than a query.
Jim Miller knew quite well, no one turned down an invitation
from the President of the United States.
“Yes, sir!” his enthusiastic answer met deaf ears as the telephone
went dead on the other end.
The brutal heat of a steamy summer day hit the black top of
the limousine like a hot torch touched to a metal instrument. Jim
turned his head slightly to observe the familiar white building to
his left as it came into view. Strangely enough, everyone referred
it as the ‘House’ even though its main purpose was business—the
business of politics. Through the ages, numerous families had
been sheltered here. Allegedly, the ghosts of many great men still
walked its halls, lingering in the darkness to observe the living.
Jim entered the White House and turned the corner leading to
the hall, which led to the Oval Office. It surprised and pleased
him to see George Keannealy standing in the doorway as if awaiting
his arrival. The tall, handsome man—young for an American
president—was exactly the same age as Jim. His laughing blue
eyes, permanently creased at the corners, complemented a wide
mouth always eager to smile. Impeccably dressed, he wore an
understated single-breasted gray suit, complemented by a dapper
white dress shirt with a striking dark rose silk tie sprinkled in a
fleur de lis pattern. His appearance bespoke of wealth and good
taste, while his boyishness depicted youth and energy.
In the deep pockets of his memories, Jim recalled how he had
first met George and his wife, Sarah, now the First Lady. Indeed,
Jim had known Sarah before George. In her late teens, she had
dated Jim’s roommate at West Point. As he thought back to those
days, he realized how indebted he was to Sarah, since she introduced
him to Nancy Forsythe, his wife. From high school on,
Nancy and Sarah had been close friends, attending the same prestigious
schools and parties.
When Jim and Nancy became seriously involved, Nancy’s ultra-
wealthy and society-conscious family opposed their engagement
at first. Her family owned a string of very fine department
stores, headquartered in New York City. Despite their ostentatious
background, Nancy did not come across as the average snobbish
debutante. Early in their courtship, she had seen in Jim the potential
to be a good husband, father, and a successful man. She
had carefully factored in her support and guidance to assure that
success. And had skillfully convinced her family he would make a
fine asset to the clan.
Although not beautiful by a model’s standard, Nancy certainly
would be considered pretty. Or perhaps ‘stylish’ would be a better
word to describe her. She wore her streaked blond hair pulled
back severely in a French twist—the fashion of the day. Ringlets,
slipping out across her delicate face, created an aura of sweet serenity.
Her good friend, Sarah, distinctly contrasted in personality
and looks to Nancy, a different breed altogether. In her early days
at Smith College, Sarah earned the name ‘party girl.’ Whenever
she could escape the confines of the staid old institution, she could
be found drinking, dancing, and sinning with the best or worst of
them. The dark-eyed, redheaded beauty had young men swarming
to her side, like honeybees to a savory hive. Her family, the
epitome of old money, handed the financial management of their
company to a slow-witted heir, who knew little about stocks and
bonds. Like all things old and neglected, the money soon began to
dry up and pass away.
Fortunately, during this financial deathwatch, Sarah approached
womanhood. Their adolescent daughter grew into a ravishing
beauty in both form and grace. In a last ditch attempt to salvage
their good name from the disgrace of poverty, the Lacroix family
gathered what was left of their substantial fortune and situated
her in one of the best schools in the country to mingle with the
wealthy and influential. Hopefully, she would find a rich husband,
one generous to a fault, who could not conceive of allowing his
wife’s family to languish in pauperism.
When Sarah married George Keannealy, it was the happiest day
of their lives. At last, her family was connected to the moneyed
gentry, if not by blood, by marriage. They hoped and prayed for
an early issue of this marriage. Children, after all, would bind the
families together once and for all.
In contrast, Jim’s family was about as middle-class as a suburban
Chicago family could be. His father had been a small town
lawyer, not particularly successful, who died from the ravages
of alcoholism when Jim was a teenager. An only child, Jim was
raised by a doting mother and grandfather. His mother worked
in a hospital as a nurse’s aide, while his grandfather, a widower,
held a minor position in the state government. He devoted his
spare time to the proper guidance and disciplining of his grandson,
whom he adored.
Growing up during the years before World War II, the young
boy became enthralled with the military. His grandfather encouraged
him. Pragmatic in his reasoning, he supported Jim’s desire
to enter the United States Military Academy at West Point, New
York. He accepted long ago that no financial way was available
for him to send his gifted grandson to an Ivy League college. West
Point would offer Jim a four-year college education, with a basic
curriculum stressing mathematics, science, and engineering.
Simultaneously, it would focus broadly on shaping his character
around the ideal of its motto—duty, honor, country. And that
pleased the old man very much. Over his mother’s protests, Jim
applied for, and was accepted into the military academy. Accepted
eagerly, considering the superiority of his grades and his outstanding
abilities on the football field. Always an overachiever, Jim excelled
at the Point, graduating second in his class.
High school and college football along with years of rigorous
training in the army, had kept Jim physically fit. Broad shoulders,
narrow hips, and muscular arms and legs fitted nicely on his 6 foot
3 body. He was more rugged looking than his friend, the president,
as a broken nose during some of his combatant situations on the
field saw to that. Nevertheless, he was polished in personality and
mannerism, and adroit in all of the formal niceties. Underneath
this diplomatic facade, however, was an aggressive nature that
could be called upon at will. Indeed, a complete change in character
and temperament could occur in precise seconds.
At the Pentagon, where he was stationed now, women found
him far more attractive than his wife could appreciate. Perhaps it
was the splendid military uniform—the high rank of a four-star
general—and the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that
added to his presence.
While a great deal of Jim’s service had been abroad, where
his knowledge of several languages had been an asset to his military
career, he and Nancy had not lost track of George Keannealy
and his wife, Sarah. Indeed, whenever time and purpose allowed,
they visited each other in foreign lands or in the US, especially in
Connecticut, where George and Sarah had purchased an imposing
estate, which was linked with its own golf course, tennis courts,
swimming pool, and a small compact runway to accommodate a
private plane or helicopter.
“Lighten up! You don’t have to stand at attention here, particularly
behind closed doors. We’ve known each other far too long,
and I’m not about to be pretentious around you,” the president
chided. “And for god’s sake, call me George,” he smiled—that
wonderful smile that had ultimately won him the election. He
pointed abruptly to an overstuffed chair, upholstered in a striking
black-watch tartan. “Sit,” he said, “and let’s get down to business.”
Jim slid quickly into the comfortable chair designated for him.
Leaning forward, he eagerly anticipated what the president would
tell him, since he had not given him the slightest inkling over the
telephone. He knew it would be something important, otherwise,
George would not have asked him to the Oval Office solely for a
bite to eat.
Just as George started to speak, the door to his office swung
open, and an attractive female head announced “Lunch is here Mr.
President. Shall I send in the steward?”
“I’m famished,” replied George. “Bring it in.”
A small dark mahogany table in his office was opened to full
length and spread evenly with a crisp white-linen cloth. As the
table was set, Jim could not contain the laughter building inside
of him.
“Go ahead and laugh,” George said. “I’m still having my peanut
butter and jelly.”
Jim knew that at the president’s country estate, there had always
been peanut butter and jelly served with lunch and sometimes
breakfast. But it almost seemed bizarre to have it served
within the stateliness of the Oval Office. The meal consisted of all
the foods George liked—tuna fish salad and homemade vegetable
soup, and of course, the ever-present and important peanut butter
and jelly.
After lunch, George began to divulge what was on his mind.
“Jim, there are some openings at the Atomic Energy
Commission, and I’d like to nominate you for the chairmanship.”
His hand went to Jim’s shoulder to quiet him. “Now hear me out,”
he said firmly. “You have all the qualifications for the job. With
your background in engineering, you should be quickly confirmed
on the Hill. And, from a selfish standpoint, I also need someone I
can trust in that position.”
The president left the small dining table now; moving to the
French doors, which led to the White House residence and the
Rose Garden. The garden was in full bloom this time of year and
adorned in resplendent beauty. It was a catharsis to George and
he was often found there inhaling the peaceful quietude, particularly
during troublesome times when the burdens of the office laid
heavily upon his shoulders.
“I am flattered, George, that you would consider me for this
high position, and grateful for your trust in me,” Jim said, almost
reverently. He wondered privately, however, why he would be
pulled out of the Pentagon and moved to the AEC at a time when
disturbing forces in the Far East were becoming more and more of
a concern to peace in the world.
“That’s the key word, ‘trust’,” George said, as he continued to
stare out at the garden.
“I’ve chosen you to tackle a very grave and important problem
that has arisen in the nuclear industry. You see, there’s a nuclear
processing plant located in Axion, Pennsylvania, which has a
consistent and unexplained MUF in its accounting records … you
know what a MUF is, don’t you?” he asked.
“Yes, it stands for, Materials Unaccounted For,” Jim replied.
“That’s right,” the president interrupted, “and the MUF we are
talking about here appears to be a diversion of weapons’-grade
uranium, the kind from which you can make atomic bombs.” He
paused dramatically, and then continued, “A substantial amount is
missing from this plant. AEC officials are still checking, but I’m
told that, given the right circumstances, the amount of missing
material could equal several good-sized atomic bombs.”
“I presume the FBI and CIA are on board with this?” Jim asked.
“You can bet your sweet ass on that,” George replied, looking
at his watch. “As a matter of fact, the FBI director should be showing
up here any time. I want you to meet him.”
He turned from the garden scene before him, and walked briskly
across the red carpet etched with the great seal of the President
of the United States. He stopped abruptly when he reached his
desk, and his hand laid siege to the red authoritative telephone,
waiting there for his bidding.
“Has Herman arrived yet?” the president questioned annoyingly.
“Well, damn it, send him in,” he ordered.
The man who entered through the Oval Office portals had light
brown hair, graying at the temples, and cut very short all around.
He was obese, so when he walked, he waddled lazily like a duck
emerging from a pond. His 5 foot 7 inch frame struggled to balance
the excess poundage it was forced to carry. Thick black eyebrows,
that met in one long solid line above a small pug nose, was
as unkempt as his rumpled suit, but it was his black piercing eyes
that were the real focal point of his face.
After the usual introductions and handshakes, Herman Glover,
director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, slowly moved his
large mound of flesh to the unfortunate sofa that would be obliged
to hold it. He slid the well-worn, government-issued briefcase
down on the floor near his feet, and waited patiently for the president
to open the meeting.
“Jim, as soon as we can get you confirmed and into your new
position, Herman will be sending you several undercover FBI
agents to work with you. However, they will be reporting directly
to him.”
Herman Glover looked straight at Jim and grinned—a grin
not unlike the proverbial grin on the Cheshire cat in Alice in
Wonderland. If only he would disappear like the cat, thought Jim,
for in his gut, he knew Glover was not a man to be trusted.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Chapter Reveal: ‘Curse of the Blue Vagina’ by Jonisha Rios

blue vagina cover (jpeg) (1).jpgTitle
Publisher:  Leticia Gomez Publisher/Cafe con Leche Books

I bet you’re wondering why I’m sitting in a cramped
jail cell wearing my wedding dress the morning
of my Big Day. Well, I sorta lost it at breakfast.
Only I would never actually hurt anyone. Besides I’m
Latina. I’m a good person by nature. Contrary to what
most people think, we aren’t all hot-tempered, that is,
unless you did something to seriously piss us off. What
were they thinking locking me up like this? I mean if the
people at the IHOP thought I could kill anyone with a
spork, then they’re crazier than I am. A spork wouldn’t
even pierce the skin. Trust me I know. My sister tried
stabbing me with one after I ate the last chocolate Jell-
O-pudding pop when we were kids.
In exactly two hours and forty-five minutes, I’m
scheduled to become Mrs. Ray Lopez. The title of Mrs.
is a big deal in my Nuyorican family because it means
that not only would I escape life as an old maid, but also
that the rumors of me being gay would finally be laid to
rest. I’m set to get married at a low-key chapel called
Saint Luke’s. It’s the only church in town that typically
takes in more funeral services than weddings. Sure,
Uncle Paco and a string of other dead relatives had been
carried down that aisle before me. Who cares? I’m determined
to make my “Special Day” happen come hell
or come high water. Besides, the church was in need of
some money so I booked it for a steal of a deal.
I’m running out of time and the officer out there refused
to let me make my one phone call, until I “calm
down,” so everyone at the church will probably think I
went AWOL. Oh well, fuck it, at least now I get to have
some time to be by myself and get to the bottom of my
My relationship with Ray has never been smooth or
easy. In fact, lately it seems like we’ve been apart longer
than we’ve been together. Thing is, despite that, I thought
we had our shit together and were moving ahead. Now I
may never get married, and it’s all because of the Curse
of the Blue Vagina!
“What is that?” you ask. To put it simply the Curse
of the Blue Vagina is to women what Blue Balls are to
men. Problem is when men get “Blue Balls”, they are
left physically unsatisfied, which is temporary, and
when women get the “Blue Vagina”, they are left
emotionally unsatisfied, which lasts forever.
You may think that this Curse is total nonsense,
but it’s not, it’s very real it causes your vag to turn a bluish-tinted
color that creates a recurring painful sensation that
ultimately leads to heartbreak. And it is not to be
confused with Bacterial Vaginosis or the Blue Waffle
Disease that creates a similar blue discoloration.
No! This kind of BV comes with its own different
set of symptoms along with a plethora of blue shades
to match that ultimately take an emotional toll
on you. To make matters worse, it only seems to
affect a certain portion of the Latina population.
(Mostly those of us who were raised in
conservative Catholic families, where guilt is part of
our natural upbringing.)

It is said when you have BV, not even El Cuco
himself will come and haunt you. You become like a
walking stick of dynamite. Don’t even think about
making yourself all cozy on Abuelitas plastic covered
couch because you’re likely to burn a hole right
through it.

This is not some old wives’ tale either. There’s
a documented history of women out there who have
devastating stories to tell. If you don’t believe me, just
go to your local Santera, and she’ll pull out a dusty old
book, something as fearsome and heavy as the Bible.
In there is where all our sisters have gone astray. If you
don’t pay attention to how you’re living your life, it will
strike you down like the plague.

It’s horrible. Your mind gets all fuzzy and your heart
starts palpitating. Your stomach feels like you have but-
terflies fluttering then dive-bombing to their death.
This ain’t nerves. Your body gets rocked by convulsions
like it’s expelling the very devil himself.

And here is the kicker—apparently I’m stuck
with this unless I find out what caused it, and break the
spell once and for all. The Curse came back to haunt
me last night at my bachelorette party.