Super Bowl, Happy February, House Decorating, The Party : Monday Blog Post

In my backyard, a Rufus Sided Towhee

Newest News:

Apologies. I scheduled this for Monday the 3rd and I’ve spent all week trying to get it to post. So, given that, here’s the post.

So Sunday was Superbowl. We didn’t have big company or anything, but I still made chicken wings but with an oriental-style orange ginger sauce. I bought a half ring of shrimp to nosh on and made my own queso for the tortilla chips. Pretty low key. What was your fav snack for the big game? Did your team win?

Anyone else glad it’s February? I thought January lasted an extra four weeks at least. Nothing bad happened to me or my family. It just seemed like an extra long month.

Hubby has decided to paint the second bathroom. I guess he wants a project. He’s decided to paint it a light sage green. My feeling is that I don’t care, as long as it isn’t horrible. Anyone else let the spouse do the decorating? It’s just really not my thing.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my serial story, The Party. I know I’ve missed the last two Fridays. I’m a little overwhelmed with ideas about it, to be honest. That means I should be writing, but it’s sort of like standing in the grocery store cereal aisle. Just so many choices! Anyway. I think I have at least one character’s future identified. There may also be some joining up of characters. A big surprise for them because aside from my destroyed family, none of the characters know each other. We’ll see how it goes. If you’ve been reading the serial, if you like it or have a comment, feel free to drop a line or two in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Giveaways:

The St. Patrick’s Day giveaway will start soon. I’ll post links as soon as I get them.

Where will I Be?

Pine Library, 6124 W. Randall Place, Pine AZ, Friends of the Library meeting, April 27th at 1pm. More info to follow.

Phoenix Fan Fusion, May 21st – 24th.

Payson Book Festival, July 18th at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino, Payson AZ.

CokoCon 2020, September 4 – 7th, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Phoenix Tempe, 2100 S Tempe, AZ

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Releases:

My 2020 Calendar, which I’ve titled Arizona Reflections, is still available. The beautiful pictures of Arizona wildlife, insects, reptiles, and landscapes relaxes me every time I look at them. The wall calendar has both U.S. and Canadian holidays listed and blocks for keeping track of appointments. You can find the calendar for purchase at: http://www.lulu.com/content/legacy-lulustudio-calendar/arizona-impressions/25183877. Alternatively, you can go to my website, at my Books and Other Products page and it’s the first thing you see. I hope you enjoy it.

Gold Dreams released May 13th, 2019. It is up on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, (Direct link doesn’t work, copy the URL and paste it into your browser, or go directly to Kobo.com and search for Gold Dreams, Connie Cockrell), and Smashwords. The print version is available on Amazon. You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads or BookBub. Your review is critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

Mom’s Birthday, Martin Luther King Day, Women’s March 2020, The Party: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

So, had she lived, mom would be 83 today. Her birthday fell on what used to be Washington’s Birthday, but is now Martin Luther King Day. To my mom, happy birthday. I miss you very much. I have no plans for this three-day weekend, I’m retired after all. I do plan to remember the struggle of our neighbors without white skin and to work so that everyone has the same level of respect and opportunity throughout this nation.  

I attended the local Women’s March on Saturday. We had some great speakers. Did a short march down our main street, and just felt recharged and invigorated after spending the morning with such a wonderful group of compassionate, involved women and men. Were you able to attend a march near you? Leave a comment!

On the writing front. Last week did this blog post, another one for another blog, and did a chapter on The Party for Friday. It felt good to get back in the writing saddle after such a long break. I have some great ideas for The Party. I’m enthusiastic again.

Giveaways:

I missed the Valentine’s Day giveaway. I’m not sure how. However, I am signed up for the St. Patrick’s Day giveaway. I’ll post links as soon as I get them. I’ll post the Christmas winners as soon as I’m notified.

Where will I Be?:

Tempe FanCon. It’s this Saturday! January 25th from 10am to 4pm at the Tempe Public Library. Come in cosplay costume or not. It’s up to you. I’m at table 77 of over 90 author tables. So much variety. Panels, other entertainment, food vendors. Come on out and enjoy the lovely winter weather and find some great books. Check the website for directions, the site plan, and a list of the authors!

Phoenix Fan Fusion, May 21st – 24th.

Payson Book Festival, July 18th at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino, Payson AZ.

CokoCon 2020, September 4 – 7th, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Phoenix Tempe, 2100 S Tempe, AZ

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Releases:

My 2020 Calendar, which I’ve titled Arizona Reflections, is still available. The beautiful pictures of Arizona wildlife, insects, reptiles, and landscapes relaxes me every time I look at them. The wall calendar has both U.S. and Canadian holidays listed and blocks for keeping track of appointments. You can find the calendar for purchase at: http://www.lulu.com/content/legacy-lulustudio-calendar/arizona-impressions/25183877. Alternatively, you can go to my website, at my Books and Other Products page and it’s the first thing you see. I hope you enjoy it.

Gold Dreams released May 13th, 2019. It is up on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, (Direct link doesn’t work, copy the URL and paste it into your browser, or go directly to Kobo.com and search for Gold Dreams, Connie Cockrell), and Smashwords. The print version is available on Amazon. You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads or BookBub. Your review is critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

The Party: Chapter 19 – Duncan Angelson

Yes, this is political. I offer you trigger warnings for language and sexual and racist slurs and comments. Future episodes may also contain rape, abuse, and other unpleasant things.

Chapter 19: Duncan Angelson

Duncan stood at the head of the conference table. As President Master’s Chief of Staff, it was his responsibility to lead this meeting. It was an assembly of the movers and shakers of the new party. The People’s Party. More like the oligarch’s party he thought. But that would have been bad branding. Joe Evans sat to his right. The leader of this committee of blood-sucking bastards. Greed was the main goal. The only goal, really. As long as the money flowed into their coffers, they didn’t care what kind of atrocity they perpetrated on the land, air, water and especially the people. He didn’t know what had happened. He’d been a firebrand in his college days. Power to the People. Now. Now he didn’t know what he was. A turncoat. A traitor.

He pulled his thoughts from the self-flagellation and pointed at the screen. He’d just played the video from Collinwood. Two hundred and seventy-four people, men, women, and children were recovered from the town. A few were driving out just moments before the bombing, the rest were refugees from the town edges. They’ve all been interrogated, the children sent to the reeducation centers. They didn’t know anything anyway. The adults have been sent to the factories or in the case of the women, the uneducated sent to the farms or the brothels, the educated to the research centers and computer farms. Low end work, of course.

Heads around the table nodded. This group had decided that women were to be homemakers or low-end admin workers. The move immediately cut the workforce in half. Along with that move, girls had been taken out of school after the sixth grade. They had enough education to read and write but not enough to be a threat. Barefoot and pregnant, they’d laughed after they’d voted on the restrictions. Duncan had heard an earful from his own wife when the bill passed in Congress. A high-end lawyer, she was furious and gave him a complete recitation on all of the laws this new bill broke. It didn’t matter. She was kicked out of her firm and as a partner, received her share of the business but of course it had to go into his account. Hers had been closed. Can’t have the little ladies with their own money now. Could we?

Joe Evans grinned and slapped the table. “That’ll slow down the insurgents, now, won’t it?”

The men around the table laughed. “Now, Duncan, What’s the scoop? Anyone know about the insurrection?”

“A few had been stops on the underground. A place for escapees to stop for rest and food. None of the people we gathered up were of any importance.”

“Damn shame. It would have made some good TV to have a couple of hangings.” Joe looked around the table then back at Duncan. “How are you doing on the releases of the few we gathered up that weren’t really black or chink?”

“We’ve run the criteria through the database. We have about three hundred possible men to release. The first twenty-five have been investigated and proven to be good candidates.”

“What do you mean by that, good candidates?”

Duncan looked to the right end of the conference table. Rory Calhoun asked the question. Calhoun was the CEO of Agraland, a conglomerate of factory farms, genetically modified seed production, and pesticide manufacturing. He profited a great deal from the free female farm labor and the forced servitude of men in the chemistry and manufacturing fields.

“Just as your committee laid out.” Duncan said. “Miniscule racially impure DNA, no problems in their assignments, good conduct at their factories.”

“Submissive, you mean,” the man next to Calhoun said. The men all laughed.

Duncan smiled. “Yes. They have all conformed to the requirements of the factories they were sent to, didn’t cause a fuss, and are all healthy.”

“Should be.” Calhoun made a face of disgust. “My racehorses don’t get treated that well.”

Duncan knew that the man from Kentucky objected strenuously to the agreed upon treatment of the people doing the slave labor. That’s exactly what it was and in his complaints said so himself. His ancestors didn’t treat their slaves with state-of-the-art medical care and well-balanced diets. He didn’t see why he should waste money on it for his own slaves. The rest of the committee, thank all that was decent, disagreed. “Perhaps so, but don’t you have the best productivity ever?”

He grunted. “That’s so. But it costs a fortune.”

“But less than before, right, Rory?” Joe Evans asked.

Cowed, Rory Calhoun agreed. Joe brought them back on track. “So, Duncan. When are they to be released?”

“If you all are good with it, next week. We have a whole media circus lined up for it.” He looked around the room. “What about their wives and kids? It was never brought up.”

Rory Calhoun rolled his eyes. “For Christ’s sake, Duncan. Now you want to release their families?” He shook his head. “Camel’s nose under the tent if you ask me.”

Joe Evans nodded. “Perhaps. But if we release the man, it will look bad on the TV if his wife and kids aren’t with him.” He thought for a moment. “I say, let’s try it with these first twenty-five. Get the wives and kids out of wherever they were sent and have them arrive just after the men are released. It will make great TV.”

“It would make the party look benevolent.” Duncan looked around the table. “Show of hands for releasing in a week with wives and kids?”

Joe Evans was first with his hand up. The rest followed. Last of all was Calhoun. “I still think this is a bad idea. You do for one, we’ll have to do for all.” He raised his hand. “But let’s see.”

“Motion is carried,” Duncan said. “That’s all for today, gentlemen.”

The men around the table began to stand up, chatting with their neighbors. “We haven’t gotten you out to the farm for dinner yet,” Joe said to Duncan. “Emily said Saturday would be perfect. Come out early. She wants to brag about her garden to Monica. We can shoot some skeet before dinner. Casual dress for the afternoon. Formal for dinner. I have some people for you to meet.”

Duncan nodded. “Perfect. I’ll tell Monica. Anything I should prepare for?”

“No.” Joe laughed. “I’m bringing the Eastern Federation Defense Secretary, Illy Romanov. Thought some personal connection would be helpful.”

Duncan inwardly groaned. “Sure. Some of our defense people too?”

Joe slapped him on the back. “Of course. See you there.”

Duncan watched him leave the room with Calhoun. Smarmy bastards, both of them. Really, he thought. Where did I go wrong?

Thank you for reading.

The Party: Lt Col Flynn – Flash Fiction Friday Post

Yes, this is political. I offer you trigger warnings for language and sexual and racist slurs and comments. Future episodes may also contain rape, abuse, and other unpleasant things.

Chapter 18: Lt Col Flynn

Tyler Flynn crouched behind a bush on a hillside overlooking a small town in West Virginia. In his earpiece, he heard a single click. Go time. He made a motion with his hand and watched as his troops moved down the hill. He was responsible for surrounding the southeast side of the town. Not too close, though. The plan was to bomb the place.

Two days ago he’d been in a staff meeting with Colonel Marcus and other company commanders. A map of the town, Collinwood, was projected at the front of the conference room. They’d already discussed their individual approaches. Three sides, in all. Now the rest of the plan was being detailed.

When Marcus said the town was going to be bombed, the room fell dead silent. “I know,” Marcus said. The man wasn’t stupid, Flynn thought. “A daylight raid, us surrounding the town, and a full-scale bombing. Yes. There will be elderly, women, and children in there. The order is to kill every person.” He looked around the room. “We’re sending a message, gentlemen. There will be cameras, in the air and with the surrounding men.” He took a deep breath. “This will be televised. Anyone escaping will be captured and eventually interrogated for information on the insurrection. Any questions?”

There weren’t. Later in the day, the men were briefed. They didn’t like it, he could see that clearly on their faces. But like their officers, no one asked any questions. This was no longer an army where questions were welcomed.

So now it was beginning. A few cars had left town, but his team didn’t stop them. There were details further down the road to pick them up. In his earpiece, he heard Marcus’ voice. “Bombing run beginning. Hold your positions.”

Flynn keyed his mic. “Hold your positions. Bombing run initiating.”

From his position he could see his men taking cover. It didn’t take long. Drones came overhead and flew straight for the town. Bombs fell, silently, and Flynn felt as though he were watching a silent movie. The bombs fell, black silhouettes against the bright blue sky. They hit, first at the edges, then moving into the town center. Factories, churches, schools, stores. They all lit up in flame and then smoke. He could hear the screaming from his perch on the hill and his stomach rolled. Another flight of drones followed, hitting buildings untouched by the first pass. People were beginning to straggle out of the town.

“Pick them up,” he said into his mic. As he watched, his men stood and began to move forward. He watched as his men directed the people to the temporary confinement area. Trained since birth to trust their own soldiers, forgetting they didn’t live in that world any longer, and truth be told, more than likely confused from the bombing, the survivors did what they were told.

He knew there was first aid set up there, there hadn’t been any orders to be cruel. The people would be treated and moved into the fenced area. Flynn looked at the town, it was totally on fire. There didn’t seem to be a single building that wasn’t already a pile of ruble or on fire. Immaculata my ass, he thought. More like Satan’s spawn. He spat to the side to try and get the taste of treachery out of his mouth. It didn’t work. He moved down the hill. It was time to join his men.

Thank you for reading.

The Party: Chapter 17 – Andy McGuire, Flash Fiction Friday Post

Yes, this is political. I offer you trigger warnings for language and sexual and racist slurs and comments. Future episodes may also contain rape, abuse, and other unpleasant things.

Chapter 17: Andy McGuire

Andy sat in the row along the wall behind his boss, Duncan Angelson. Andy had a lapful of files, all color tabbed and memorized. He’d read the entire pile, of course. He had no idea what his job, Special Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of the Chief of Staff, was before the President for Life, but now, it seemed to him, to be nothing but a go-fer for Duncan.

He tried to focus on the current speaker, Joe Evans. Not that he was interested but because if Duncan raised his hand over the top of his leather high-topped chair, Andy had better have the file that pertained to whatever the current blow-hard speaker was talking about.

The meeting had begun half an hour ago and to Andy, it was overkill. Hadn’t The Party already contained any possible interference? Thousands had already been rounded up, killed, detained, children sent to camps. There he caught a breath. Camps. What had some of the World War Two Jewish survivors said about camps? They’d been stunned by the term. “Camps!” They’d said. “You think these were summer camps where we swam and hiked?” They were outraged.

Andy had to agree. He knew entirely too much about camps. This isn’t what his college classes had prepared him for. He managed to check into Joe Evans interminable speech. Nothing yet. The blow-hard was still pontificating on how he and his organization deserved credit for the current state of affairs. As though the Sons of America white supremacy organization was the be all and end all of political high-ground.

Andy wished he had the spine to record this crap. Someday, he thought. Then quashed the idea. No. Not the country he’d grown up with. Damn his father, shoving him into this hell hole. But that’s what it was now. Sons—shoved into opportune positions to further the family fortunes. He tried to clear his throat of the bile, but quietly. No need to draw attention to himself.

He envied his sister, kept at home, though he knew full well that she chafed under the confinement. Safer for her, he thought. At least she’s not in this mess. But he knew she’d disagree.

He focused. What had Evans said? Oh, yes. Duncan had his hand up. Andy pulled the file and passed it up. Numbers on Jews rounded up. Dim wit, Andy thought. Bankers, stockbrokers, docs, lawyers, judges, social workers, it was endless. The Jews were everywhere and were the glue holding the whole country together. What were Joe’s people thinking? It was obvious to him but the rest? Nope. Just shoving their heads in the sand.

It didn’t matter. The whole thing was water under the bridge. There were no more independent judges or lawyers, doctors or social workers. Everything was now about the Party. There would be no dissent. There would be no others. Andy sighed. The numbers were rolling in. Production was down. Mental health issues, as far as the Party tracked them, were up. There weren’t enough people to do the work in farms or factories or even in fast food places.

Joe Evans sat down. The next person, some professor of what and which that Andy didn’t catch, stood. He chanted on about the rebalancing of socio-economic status. As though no one recognized the euphemisms. Andy understood. They were going to start to transition the enslaved population into the subservient roles in society. Slave labor, though he already knew that was happening.

Then, Andy perked up. The sad-sack professor began talking about women. Not just baby-makers, he said. Servants. Nannies, housekeepers, more. Andy’s thoughts flashed to his sister. She’d stab someone’s eyes out with a pencil before she’d submit to this crap. He feared, for the first time in this whole nightmare. CarrieAnn would die before she’d put up with this crap. His hands began to sweat.

The Doctor sat down and Andy tried to breathe. Can’t happen, Andy thought. Cannot happen. Then the Director of Homeland Security stood up. “We’ve found a pocket of dissidents,” he told the room. Andy paid attention even though he didn’t have any files that pertained to that topic.

“It’s been a difficult road,” the Director said. “Here’s the near end. After much surveillance, we’ve found what we think is the center of the resistance.” A map flashed up on the end wall behind the Director. “Look here.” He walked back to the projection and pointed at a map of West Virginia. “A small town, apparently a hot bed. We’ve been slowly extricating the loyalists from the town. We’re now ready to move.”

A new slide appeared on the wall. “We have three divisions of the Army surrounding the town and one company of the Immaculata at strategic points. We’re going to hit in twenty-four hours. The entire town will be obliterated. The resistance will be sorely injured.”

The room erupted in clapping. Andy’s stomach rolled. The town was his sister’s college town. She had friends were there—favorite teachers. Duncan turned and gave Andy a look. Andy’s half effort to rise failed. He sank the two inches back into his chair and Duncan turned back to the table. What would CarrieAnn think of him? He clasped the files to his chest and closed his eyes in an effort not to see the glee on the faces of the people supposedly superior to him.

The meeting finally closed, and Andy followed Duncan from the room. They had to stop every few feet to shake a hand or trade a quip. Nothing to do with him, he thanked his lucky stars. He was in no shape to be social.

Duncan waited until they were back in his office. “What the hell, Andy!”

“Sorry, boss.”

“Don’t be sorry. I don’t want to bring your father into this.”

“No, Sir. Won’t be necessary.”

“Better not be. Get out of here.”

Andy scurried out. It took eighteen minutes in the bathroom to get his emotions under control.

Thank you for reading.

The Party: Chapter 16 – Bill Brown, Friday Flash Fiction

Yes, this is political. I offer you trigger warnings for language and sexual and racist slurs and comments. Future episodes may also contain rape, abuse, and other unpleasant things.

Chapter 16: Bill Brown #9645990

Bill, rose stiffly from bed at the chimes. It had been two weeks since he’d asked Officer Fernald about writing to his family. Before he knew what was happening, Fernald, someone Bill had thought was pretty nice, given the circumstances, was zapping him with the cattle prod. The officer, while Bill was still writhing on the hall floor, blew a whistle. Three other guards ran up and Fernald began beating him with the prod. The others joined in with their prods and with boots to the back, stomach, anywhere they could reach.

Bill had woken in the infirmary, hands and feet strapped to the bed. A tube was in his mouth, he couldn’t breathe through his nose, and an IV was hooked to his arm. A headache felt like the top of his head was going to blow off. A white-coated doctor came in.

He glanced at the monitor beside the bed, turned so Bill couldn’t see it. “Well, 9645990, you’re a lucky guy.”

Bill didn’t feel lucky. Every part of him hurt.

“I would suggest, in the future, you not ask for anything. You have four broken ribs, a broken arm, kidney damage, and your left femur has a fracture. Your nose is broken, that’s why you can’t breathe through it. I’ll get the nurse to unhook the ventilator. It looks like you’re breathing on your own now.”

Bill grunted. It was all he could do with the ventilator in his mouth.

“I’ll see you get some water. Your mouth is probably very dry.”

Bill managed a small nod.

“Headache?”

Bill nodded again, though the movement made his eyes water.

“We’ll get you something for the pain.” He looked at the monitor again. “Trust me on this. The next time you’ll be headed to the morgue.” With that he turned and was gone.

After the nurse came in and unhooked the ventilator, given him some water and took a few minutes to wipe his face. Bill felt somewhat better. The male nurse had been gentle, but all of the activity had ramped up the pain levels. He was happy when the nurse came back and shot something into his IV bag.

“Pain meds. Doc says you can have them for the next twenty-four hours. After that, you’ll have to suck it up.” With that the guy was gone.

A day later, despite the kidney pain, and casts on arm and leg, he was sent, with a crutch, back to his dorm. No one spoke to him.

It was two days before one of his dorm mates told him, they’d all been hit with the cattle prods for his indiscretion. The whole thing was a huge lesson for him. And, he realized, for everyone. They really were nothing but farm animals. Slaves, he finally recognized. And anything any one of them did was going to result in punishment for the whole group. Bill went into a slump, emotionally. It was too much to take in.

After a week, the other men began to talk to him again. George, from his work room, walked with him a moment on the track. “You okay?”

Bill shrugged. “Yeah. I can hobble along, after a fashion. Try and get my strength back.” The crutch hurt him under his arm. Especially since he couldn’t change sides with it. But he’d learned his lesson. He didn’t ask the guards for anything.

“Happens to at least one person in every group. They make an example. Sorry it had to be you.”

“Me too.” Bill nodded to George, then George moved off before one of the guards blew his whistle.

Bill hobbled on. It took him the whole thirty minutes to get around the track once. He was breathless and light-headed as they went back into work. He’d learned his lesson. Now, he watched everything around him. What he’d thought was kindness on the part of any of the guards was simply a strict adherence to their rules. Mostly it was that they weren’t sadistic assholes. And some of the guards were sadistic. They’d cattle prod a man for no reason, then snigger when the man fell to the floor, flopping like a fish out of water.

He noticed they didn’t laugh, though. They eyed the cameras; then would kick the guy they’d just zapped to stand up with a slur matched to the man. Nigger, Spic, Kike—Bill thought those names had been long forgotten, but apparently not. He also realized the guards were under as much scrutiny as the workers were. Perhaps just not punished as much. Though after a month and a half, he recognized that guards were replaced. Especially the sadistic ones. Just one day, someone else would be in the old guard’s place. That was something, he thought to himself. But it didn’t make it much better. He was still a slave. And that stuck in his craw.

Thank you for reading.

The Party: Chapter 15 – Lt Col Flynn, Flash Fiction Friday Post

Yes, this is political. I offer you trigger warnings for language and sexual and racist slurs and comments. Future episodes may also contain rape, abuse, and other unpleasant things.

Chapter 15: Lt Col Flynn

Lt. Col. Tyler Flynn stopped in the hallway at work as someone tapped him on the arm. He turned quickly, startled.

“Uh. Sorry sir. You must not have heard me calling you.”

Flynn felt a little ashamed. He still wasn’t used to people calling him Colonel. “Sorry, Captain Woden.” Flynn just now remembered that Woden had been a lieutenant just a couple of weeks ago. He’d been promoted in the catch up the same as he had. “I guess I’m still not used to my new rank yet. What is it?”

“Yes, sir. I agree. Everybody has a new rank and it’s a bit confusing for sure.” He took a breath. “I just wanted to let you know you’ve been relieved of the Interview room duties. Beneath your pay grade, so to speak.”

Flynn took the paper Captain Woden handed him and skimmed through it. Yes, orders relieving him of that task. “It doesn’t issue any new order.”

Woden shrugged. “Probably something coming through the pipeline, Sir. Congratulations.”

“Thank you, Lee. Appreciate it.” Flynn tucked the order into the covered notebook he carried.

“No problem, Colonel. Hope the next assignment is better.” He stepped back, came to attention and saluted.

Flynn saluted back and went on his way as Woden turned to go back the way he’d come. New assignment, he thought as he walked on. He was glad to drop the interviews. He left that room every day drained, with his soul sucked dry.

A couple of hours later, his electronic pad dinged. A new message had arrived. Flynn opened it up. Here was the new assignment. He was to report to Colonel Marcus, a special operations department, he saw. Marcus reported to a General Billings. Mad Dog Bill, he’d heard the man called. That meant he no longer reported to Colonel Green. Not that it mattered about Green. He didn’t know the Colonel all that well though they’d gotten along well enough. He noted that there was an appointment scheduled for three this afternoon. A meet and greet, Flynn figured. Just an introductory thing. It was for the Officer’s Club. So probably multiple new officers. That was fine with him. He shut the email. Special Ops, he thought to himself. Wonder what kind of Special Ops. Something more in line with why he joined the Army, he hoped.

At the Officer’s Club, Flynn checked his hat at the front lobby and went into the bar. Sure enough, several officers were already there, standing in small groups, drinks in hand. The colonel wasn’t there yet. He got a beer from the bar and joined a group with an acquaintance of his, Major Peter Farland. “Pete. Good to see ya.”

“Good to see you, too, buddy. Long time!” Pete clapped him on the arm. “This is Roger Luton, best comm officer you’ve ever seen.”

Flynn shook Captain Luton’s hand. “Nice to meet you.” He thought Pete’s accolade a little over the top. His wife, now out of the Army, was one of the best in his estimation but that didn’t count any longer, did it.”

Pete went on. “Tyler here is the best behind the lines guy you ever want to work with. He can find his way through the dark, blindfolded and still get the mission done.”

Roger grinned. “Good to know.”

Introductions were cut short as the room was called to attention. A solid looking man, crewcut dark hair and dark blue eyes that looked like they didn’t miss a thing strode to the front of the room. He stood on the slightly raised fireplace edge. “At ease.”

The men relaxed, but not too much. Sloppy wouldn’t cut it. “Welcome. You’re all newly assigned to the 708th Special Operations Group. This afternoon is a chance for you all to meet each other. The rest of the group will be in at four-thirty. In the meantime, I’ll be moving around the room to meet each of you. Dinner will be at six. Make whatever phone calls you need to make, dinner is mandatory. As you were.”

With that, he stepped down and began to make his rounds. Flynn was impressed. Direct and too the point. He liked that.

“What a hard ass,” Luton said.

Pete agreed. “I heard he’s a hard-ass. That kind of proves it right there.”

Flynn checked his watch, Just fifteen oh three. “I’ve gotta make a call. Be right back.” He went out to the lobby where it was quieter, and on his cell called his wife. “Laura,” he said when she picked up. “News. I’ve been transferred to the 708th Special Ops Group. I’m meeting the commander, Colonel Bill Billings.”

“Is that good?” Her voice made it clear she was suspicious.

“Unclear. We’ve got a mandatory dinner at six, so I thought I’d let you know.”

“Not social, then.”

Smart woman, he thought. She’d been in long enough, even in this new Army, to read the signs. “Apparently not. Our old friend Pete Farland is here, too. Major now.”

There was a pause on the line. “Interesting.”

“Right.” She knew not to mention her thoughts on the phone. “So I’ll see you when we’re released.”

“Be careful,” was her response before she hung up.

He sighed. He could remember when she would have said, “have fun.” No longer. Now everything was a test of some sort. Thank god, he thought, he had a smart wife. He tucked the phone in his pocket and went back to the party. Water might be the drink of the evening, he thought. Better safe than sorry.

Thank you for reading.

The Party – Chapter 14: Stacy Zimmer – Flash Fiction Friday Post

Yes, this is political. I offer you trigger warnings for language and sexual and racist slurs and comments. Future episodes may also contain rape, abuse, and other unpleasant things.

Chapter 14: Stacy Zimmer

“What’s your name?” Stacy decided to ask.

“Dressel. Daryl. You?”

She told him. “When’d ya get out?”

“Twenty oh seven.” He eyed her, waiting.

“Thirteen years. Long time. Been on the street the whole time?”

Dressel shook his head. “Nah. I had a family. But the PTSD was too much. I left.”

Stacy understood. The comment about doing something though. That was hanging like a ball of fire in the middle of the alley between them. “I got a place. Not much. If you want a hot an a cot.” She watched him think it over, his tongue running around the inside of his mouth, visible in his sunken cheeks.

“If it ain’t too much.”

“Nah. We can talk.”

He nodded and rose, gathering together the cardboard he’d been sitting on and bundling it into his backpack.

She could see his slow rise. Probably arthritis from living on the cold streets, she thought. She was kind of stiff herself as she stood. The thought crossed her mind that she could have been seriously hurt while she was out of it. That gave her a bit of comfort and security at her rash, impromptu invitation to dinner and a bed. No matter. She still had her knife on the bed stand, and a nine mill under her pillow. She could put a chair under the doorknob. It would be all right.

At her apartment she fixed a pound of spaghetti and threw a jar of sauce over top of it and put it on the table with the usual green can of cheese on the side. She poured some cheap red wine in water glasses. It was too sweet for spaghetti, really, but she didn’t have anything else. They ate in silence after he thanked her for the food and wine.

She didn’t mind the silence. Just having someone else at the kitchen table was enough. It kept the memories in check. After dinner she did the dishes while he used the shower. She was surprised to see him come out of the bathroom in different clothes.

“I have a washer,” she told him. He nodded. “I’d appreciate that.” So she showed him how to use it and he put everything cloth he had in there and did his laundry. She poured the last of the wine between them and sat in what passed for a living room. Stacy sat in her favorite chair. He sat on the loveseat.

“You made a suggestion, in the alley,” she said.

He nodded. “I know some people.”

While she rubbed her forehead, she thought this sounded just like back in the sandbox, talking to the natives. They always knew someone. Someone bad, or someone they could trust, or just someone with information. There were always some people. “You know they round up dissidents.” She said it as a statement, not a question. It was a fact, after all.

“Yeah. But when was the last time someone took a look at either of us? We’re invisible.”

Stacy drummed her fingers on the greasy arm of her chair. She’d gotten it at a thrift store for seven bucks. Good enough for her. A sip of wine allowed her to think a little longer. “So why aren’t you already involved?”

“Who said I’m not?” He sipped his wine and watching her, waited.

That’s how they’d worked in Afghanistan. A local did the recruiting. Always. Then if the local thought the recruit was trust-worthy, set up a meet. Stacy didn’t think much of being on this side of the equation. But, if she didn’t like the idea, she only had to say so. This guy, if Dressel really was his name, would just disappear and she’d never see him again. Even if she went to the authorities, and why the hell would she? She didn’t have a damn thing to give them that they didn’t already know.

She drank some more. The kitchen wall clock ticking could be heard, counting off the seconds as she pondered the suggestion. Did she miss the action? Is that why she was even considering this dumb ass idea? More like she missed the purpose, as her therapist kept telling her. Did she miss it enough to be executed by firing squad after a long painful session with interrogators if she was caught? Stacy could feel her heart rate pick up. That was excitement, she realized. Not fear. And weren’t the bastards taking her pay? That definitely deserved a poke in the eye with a sharp stick as far as she was concerned. “It’s a dumb idea.”

Dressel nodded. “Most likely.”

Stacy shook her head and closed her eyes. “I’m gonna regret this. Yes.”

He grinned and held out his glass in a toast. “More than likely. Hoo Ra!”

She saw his toast after she’d said yes and held up her glass. “Hoo Ra!” They drank what was left of the wine.

“Welcome to the revolution.”

“Fuck you.”

They both laughed.

The next morning, when she finally rolled out of bed, he was gone. There were forty dollars on the table and a short note.

            Someone will contact you. Code word, Sybil Ludington.

Response, Great ride.

That was the end of the note. She burned it in her stove’s gas flame after memorizing the code and response. While she made coffee, she considered her tipsy decision from the previous night. There was some regret, and to be honest, a little fear this morning. But also, she felt better than she’d felt for a long time. Purpose, she thought. Is that all it takes? She shrugged as she poured some dollar store knock-off off, too-sugary cereal into a bowl. Must be. As she ate, she considered how to prepare. Lists of supplies, weapons, and other details came flooding through her mind. She was grinning, she realized as she washed cup, bowl, and spoon. Oh yeah. This was going to be fun.

Thank you for reading.

Handmaid’s Tale vs The Party, Vocal Media, 2020 Calendar, New Giveaway: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

So, how many of you have seen or are watching the Margaret Atwood tv show, Handmaid’s Tale? I just started watching it and oh my. It turns out that in my new serial, The Party, I use similar tropes and cattle prods! It’s all my own work since I hadn’t seen the show or read the books but isn’t it amazing how ideas percolate through the writing world! Anyway, with that reminder, I have a segment to write for Friday so I’d better get busy! Is there a particular character you like best?

I thought I’d mention the site called Vocal. Lots of great content is on there. I’m posting The Party there, as well as on my blog. You can find my page at https://vocal.media/authors/connie-cockrell. That’s my author page. You don’t have to leave a tip, of course, but it would be nice if you can. The funny thing is I started the page two years ago and just kind of forgot about it. But it’s nice to have an alternate site people can visit and share. While you’re there, check out some of the other posts by other people. Like I said, some great content.

Giveaways:

The Summer Giveaway is now closed. The organizer will have the prize winners chosen soon and I’ll let my winners know after that.

In the meantime, the Ghoulishly Great Reads Halloween Author/Blogger giveaway is now open! Twenty-two authors are participating giving us a $66 Paypal grand prize plus 22 other great prizes and 22 free books. So jump on this giveaway, over on my website Giveaways page. It won’t last long.

Where will I Be?:

I don’t have anything on my calendar until the December Mesa Book Festival. The date is December 14th from 10am – 5pm and the location has changed to 225 E Main St, Mesa. This is the Benedictine University, for those familiar with Mesa. I am sharing a booth space with the wonderful Marsha Ward. The site only promotes the author registering the table, so you’ll only see Marsha’s name, not mine. But I promise, I’ll be there. You can find all the details and a map at https://anthology.org/category/mesa-book-festival/.

On the other hand, if something juicy comes up, because it’s a long time between now and December, I’ll let you know. Do you know of an event where you’d like to see me? I’d love to know about it. Contact me here and say the word.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Releases:

Reminder. I have the 2020 Calendar, which I’ve titled Arizona Reflections, now available for sale. I love doing these calendars. The beautiful pictures of Arizona wildlife, insects, reptiles, and landscapes relaxes me every time I look at them. The wall calendar has both U.S. and Canadian holidays listed and blocks for keeping track of appointments. You can find the calendar for purchase at: http://www.lulu.com/content/legacy-lulustudio-calendar/arizona-impressions/25183877. Alternatively, you can go to my website, at my Books and Other Products page and it’s the first thing you see. I hope you enjoy it.

Gold Dreams released May 13th, 2019. It is up on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, (Direct link doesn’t work, copy the URL and paste it into your browser, or go directly to Kobo.com and search for Gold Dreams, Connie Cockrell), and Smashwords. The print version is available on Amazon. You can also see all my books on https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads or BookBub. Your review is critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

The Party: Chapter 13 – Andy McGuire – Flash Fiction Friday Post

Yes, this is political. I offer you trigger warnings for language and sexual and racist slurs and comments. Future episodes may also contain rape, abuse, and other unpleasant things.

Chapter 13: Andy McGuire

“Andy McGuire, for Admiral Page, please.” Andy paused as the secretary, a Seaman Secore, he noted in his contacts, asked him to wait a moment.

“Admiral,” Andy said as the general picked up. “I just wanted to give you a heads up. Orders will be coming down today for the next destroyer class ship to be built by Omega Corporation.”

Andy waited as the Admiral objected. “I know it seems that Norfolk should be the spot for the ship’s construction.” He listened a moment. “Yes. Seaway Industries has done a fine job for years. But there has been some extenuating information that makes Omega the better choice.”

Again, he listened. “I understand, Admiral. Portsmouth has traditionally been repair and refit docks. But there doesn’t really seem to be any issue with building a ship there, is there?”

It took a minute or two for the Admiral to wind down. “Yes, Admiral. Some personnel movement and housing accommodations will need to be made. We understand that.” Andy closed his eyes while the Admiral ranted some more. “I understand, Admiral. It is likely to affect the Norfolk area adversely. We have taken that into consideration.”

When the Admiral slammed the phone down, Andy sighed and hung up. He didn’t understand why he was the one having to make these calls. It wasn’t his fault that Omega Corp was a member of the elite class now and that Seaway wasn’t. He knew for a fact that the owner and CEO of Omega pitched a fit when the contract for the destroyer was slated for Norfolk. He pitched a fit to his buddies now running the company and they’d directed the ship go to Omega. And, he sighed, that’s how business was done now. If one of the elite wanted something, they just told their buddies and got it. No matter if they had any experience with it or not.

He typed a text to his boss, Duncan Angelson, with the news that the Admiral had been notified, and then stood up. He needed coffee. In the break room, Andy started for the mugs.

“I’ll get that for you, Mr. McGuire.”

Andy stepped back. “Of course, Mrs. Olsen. I saw you setting up cookies and didn’t want to bother you.” Andy smiled at the older woman. One of the very few left on the floor. Safe enough to have here because her job was to keep coffee and hot water for tea ready at all times and to set out little snacks like cookies and fruit throughout the day.

“No problem, Mr. McGuire. I enjoy helping out.” She poured coffee into a mug for him from the 32-cup pot and handed it to him. “I hope your day is going well?”

“Well enough,” Andy said as he walked to the creamer and sugar area. “What cookies do you have today?”

“Oh!” She beamed at him. “I brought in those oatmeal chocolate chips you like. You know, from Busters, over on 9th street. They make the best ones in town. At least in my humble opinion.”

“Great. Could you get me two of them?”

“Of course.” She selected a small dessert plate from the stack on the table and after putting a paper doily on the plate, used tongs to gently set two cookies on the plate. “Anything else, sir?”

“No. I should have these. But thank you for asking.” He stirred his coffee. Two sugars and creamer. He took the plate she offered. “How are you, Mrs. Olsen. Your new apartment okay?”

She nodded. “Different from the big house my husband and I had for so many years. But yes. I’m getting to know the neighbors and the area. It will be fine.”

He gave her a smile. Her husband had died from a stroke a year ago. As a widow, it was easier to convince management that it was their civic duty to help her financially. Her husband had been playing fast and loose with his boutique stockbrokerage client money. He’d left the brokerage in shambles, and his wife penniless. Andy felt very bad for her. None of this was her fault at all. “Glad to hear it.” He picked up the mug and the plate. He raised the plate in a salute. “Thanks for the cookies, Mrs. Olsen.”

“Mr. McGuire. Glad to be helpful.”

Back in his office he ate the cookies with his face over the plate. He didn’t need chocolate smudges all over his white dress shirt. He had a meeting with Duncan in half an hour. More adjustments to government contracts, he supposed. The whole lineup of elites were grabbing everything they could at full speed. The entire constitution was down the drain and ethics were a thing of the past. He drank half of his coffee in a gulp and forced the anger down with it. He wondered if he shouldn’t be lining his pockets as well. At his level, he knew what was going on and where to get it.

He ate the last bite of cookie. No. No. He couldn’t do it. It wasn’t his money. You’re a fool, he told himself as he drank the last of the coffee. Everyone else is doing it. You’ll be a laughingstock and die penniless.

Andy put the mug on the plate and set it on top of the bookshelf by the office door. Mrs. Olsen would be around later with a cart to pick up dishes. So what, he thought. At least I’ll have my honor and my dignity. He went back to his pad to prepare for the meeting. He idly wondered when this new brand of mob bosses would start a war over the spoils. Probably not long, he thought. There were billions out there. Billions.

Thank you for reading.