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Secrets in small towns are similar to secrets in big cities.  The only difference is more people in that small town may know the secret.  That can get dangerous. 

This short story will be told in three or four parts.  Kick your feet up and enjoy Chapter 1. 


A Hot Day in Bane, Georgia – sometimes the asphalt was so hot it melted under your feet. 




MARY BEEKMAN LAY FACE down floating in her pool.  The seventy-seven-year-old was fully clothed.  She wore white shorts and a pink top.  Her slippers were poolside.  They were next to a teak wood Adirondack pool chair.  A full glass of vodka and orange juice was at the side of the chair.  A straw with a thick coating of red lipstick on one end lay near the glass.  In the chair on a pink fluffy beach towel was a book.  Its title was Sue Your Neighbors And Win.


It was one hundred and two degrees.  The humidity was near a hundred percent.  That made it one of the hottest days in Bane, Georgia.  Mary Beekman’s lifeless body had turned up the heat on the town.  Or it had just cooled it down.


Bane Town’s population was one thousand.  The town had not had a murder in sixty years.  The average annual income in Bane’s was seventy thousand dollars.  Its primary employers were leather companies.  Per capita, Bane was one of the wealthiest towns in the country.  It was two towns over from Atlanta, Georgia.  Few people heard of Bane.  The citizens wanted to keep it that way for good reasons.


Detective Greg Tilman walked next to the pool.  His button-down white shirt was soaked.  Sweat dripped from his face.  He left a wet trail on the ground behind him.  He removed his cowboy hat and rubbed his sleeve across his forehead.


“Whew,” he said.  “Mercy sakes.”  He fanned his face with his hat.  “It’s hotter than a damn barbeque pit in July.”  He looked up at the sun.  His face was red and getting redder.  “What the hell?  Why choose a day like today to die?  There’s not a damn place to cool off.  My doctor warned me to stay out of the sun.  It’s hell on your skin.  You get that damn melanoma.  That stuff’s deadly.  And I got hypertension.  That high blood pressure disease.  Talk about a deadly killer?  My family has a history of that.”  He wiped his forehead with a handkerchief.  “Sweating bullets.  Damn it.”


Detective Tilman walked away from the pool to a nearby medium-sized Oaktree.  The leaves provided a little shade.  “Will somebody do me a favor, please,? he asked and cleared his throat.  “Slide that chair that’s against the house over here.”


Two Bane Town deputies looked at one another.  Both had been deputies for six years.  Both were around thirty-five.  They wanted to tell Detective Tilman what he was asking was wrong.  But they had to be delicate about it.  Detective Tilman was an icon in Bane Town.


Detective Tilman was seventy-two.  He had fifty years of law enforcement under his belt.  And about one hundred extra pounds that contributed to him sweating profusely.


“Sir,” Deputy Form said.  He was one of the deputies.  “Ah…isn’t this a crime scene?  Or shouldn’t we treat it as a crime scene until we know otherwise?”


“Great observation there, Deputy Dawg,” Detective Tilman said, playfully mocking him.  “But think like a killer if you were a killer.”  Deputy Form looked confused. “Play along with me for a minute, son.  Would you tell her,” he pointed at Mary in the pool, “go on over there and lay face down in the pool until you drown.  In the meantime, I’m going to sit here in the shade and watch you die.”  He paused.  “See.  That doesn’t make sense.  Now, I’ll take that chair.  Thank you very much.”


Thank you for stopping by.

Sign up for my email list if you like this story and be notified when there is a new post.  

Stephen Wallace

Read Free Chapters of The Concierge – A Suspense and Thriller Novel


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This is the description of my book, “The Concierge.”  It is the first book in the series. 

The Concierge

Parents are going missing around the country.  Children are showing up alone at charitable organizations.  They will not give their names nor addresses.  Some refuse to talk at all.  But, the notes the children carry have these organizations hiding them from law enforcement. 

Individual police departments think these events are only happening in their cities and towns—the missing parents and children too few to raise a national alarm.    

One detective, however, is secretly investigating the missing parents and children.  Despite what top officials say, he knows it is nationwide. 

His research has led him to a man named Clay Vanster.  Clay appears to be rich and powerful.  Many people know him.  The problem is no one knows what he looks like or where he is.  Except for one person—Thomas George.

Thomas is the Head Concierge at the luxury five-star Merle Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.  He is the best in the business.  Rival hotels attempt to hire him every month.  His colleagues envy and respect him.  He has met and served Presidents—domestic and foreign.  Businesspeople around the world speak highly of him.  He raises money for charitable organizations and police departments.  Politicians, actors, and other influential people stay at the Merle when visiting Atlanta.  Thomas’s attention to detail attracts them and keeps them coming back.

No one has a negative or disparaging word to say about Thomas.  He is described as humble and sincere.  His charm mesmerizes people.  He is willing to help anyone in any way that he can.  Anything guests want he makes happen.

Detective Green wonders, with such a stellar reputation, why would Thomas have a business relationship with Clay Vanster?  If his research is correct, Clay Vanster could be involved in horrific crimes? 

Is Thomas’s connection to Clay a simple coincidence?  Who is Thomas George?  And what is the depth of his relationship with Clay Vanster?

The Concierge

You can see The Concierge and read more of it on Amazon. 

I hope you enjoy this sample. 










THREE SMALL CHILDREN shivered outside of Chicago Children Center door.  They had knocked on the door and were waiting for someone to let them in.  It was twenty-eight degrees.  The wind chill felt like fifteen.  It was one thirty-two a.m.  It was March.


The two boys were four and five.  The girl was six.  They were blindfolded, scared, tired and freezing.  Their hands were shoved in their pockets.  Their breaths came out as steam.  Their clothes were dirty.  Their faces were filthy.  They had no idea where they were or who was coming for them.  The only thing they were sure of—even though they were scared—was to wait and not move as instructed.


The girl pounded on the door with her fist.  Much harder than before.  Even though she wore gloves it stung her hand.  Waiting for someone to open the door she reached out to her sides and put her arms around the boys and pulled them close to her.


Clicking sounds came from inside the door.  The children jumped.  The door opened.  A woman’s voice said, “Oh dear.  Not again.”  The woman was forty-nine-year-old Helen Lisan.  She quickly pulled the children inside, almost tripping them.  “Take those off your eyes.”  She was pulling the blindfolds off their eyes as she said it.  “Jay!  Teresa!  I need you!” she shouted down a hallway.  “Stay here,” she ordered the children and ran outside down the steps.


She stood in the walkway, scanning the area.  Someone left them here, she thought.  Who left them?  She stared at the parking lot in front of the strip mall across the street.  It was empty.  She looked up and down the street.  No cars or trucks were parked along the curbs.  Parking there was illegal.  Cars were towed when they did.


She walked almost to the end of the walkway and stopped and looked around.  She did not see anyone.  But she could feel them.  They were there.  Anyone who took the time to drop off those kids would not leave them in the cold and dark alone.  Someone was there, watching.


Maybe she should call out to them?  Tell them she could see them.  Flush them out of hiding.  Who were they?  What were their intentions?  Why had they chosen her place to leave the kids?  Were they telling the truth?  She folded her arms and looked and waited.  A chill came over her.  It was more than just the cold she felt for wearing a thin sweater outside.  She was scared.


She backed up, scanning the area.  Halfway to the door she turned around and rushed back inside the building and locked the doors.


Jay and Teresa who worked at the Center were with the children.


“She was holding this,” Jay said to Helen.  He gave her the note that the girl had been holding.


Helen unfolded the note and silently read it.  Please don’t turn us in to the authorities.  Our parents will get us back and continue to abuse us and kill us.  Please help us.


Helen swallowed to compose herself.  She pulled Jay and Teresa away from the children.  “Feed them if they’re hungry,” Helen said.  “Get them clean and put them to bed.  No one is to know they’re here.”  Jay and Teresa nodded.  “No one.”  She stared at them.  “Just like before, I’ll take any blame that comes down.  They’re my responsibility now.”  Jay and Teresa said yes.  “Thank you.  Now go ahead and help them.  Hurry up.”


Jay and Teresa led the children away.  None of the children talked.  As young as they were, the man and woman who left them on the steps had made them understand the dangers that awaited them if they did not follow instructions.  The children did not want to go back home.


Helen went to her office and made notes about the children.  This was the fifth time in three months that children had been dropped off alone at the Center’s door.  It was always early morning hours—one to two o’clock.  No one was around.  No vehicles were around.  Each time the oldest child carried a note.  All the notes were the same.  Don’t tell the authorities.  The parents would abuse and kill the children.  Help us.  And all the children showed classic signs of young abuse victims.


Her duty was to call the authorities.  Failure to do so could cost her the Center.  And she was committing crimes—possibly assisting in kidnappings.  She had vaguely described the situation to her attorney.  Her attorney had indirectly let her know that the less he knew, the better.  Because if she were committing a crime, he would be obligated to report her.  That was why she had spoken to him in hypotheticals.


The facts were saying whoever dropped off the children were telling the truth.  Physicians, psychiatrists, and therapists who secretly examined, evaluated and spoke with the children saw the signs of abuse.


The evidence left Helen with no choice.  No matter how many children came to her, she could not live with herself if she turned them over to the authorities and they ended up dead.  She wished she had more information on the children.


Whoever had instructed the kids on what to do and say had done their job.  The kids did not crack under questioning.  They did not say their names or their parents’ names.  Nor would they say where they lived.


Helen assumed the kids saw the people who had helped them escape from their lives of hell as angels.  She would if she were in their shoes.  What else could she do?  She had to protect them.  The Center was now their safe place.


What Helen did not know was that this scene was playing out in more than twenty different cities in eighteen different states and growing.  Each charity wrestled with what to do.  The possibility that they could send a child to their death forced them to keep the children a secret.  And each charity wondered and feared who else, and what, they were protecting with this secret.


If you enjoyed the Prologue in The Concierge, stop by Amazon and purchase the book.  I have written other books.  They, too, can be found on Amazon under Stephen Wallace.  You can read free chapters of each book.


Take care of yourself.

Stay healthy and safe.


Stephen Wallace





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‘Not So Pretty’ came from an article I read over a decade ago.  It was basically about people ignoring the obvious.  It made them feel better about themselves.  And they were willing to allow someone to be sacrificed.  All of it was to keep up their pretense of being ignorant of the facts.


Enjoy Part 4.  Thanks.       



KEVIN COULD SEE SOMETHING was going on up the driveway near David.


Kevin moved in the backseat of the cruiser to see what it was.  He saw through a small opening between the police officers and David’s men.  “That’s my daughter!” Kevin yelled.  “Let me out!  Let me out of here!”  He jerked his hand and tried to pull it free of the handcuff.


Officer Newman opened the front door and put up the back window.  He turned around to Kevin.  “Shut your mouth,” Officer Newman said through clenched teeth.  Kevin complained that it was his daughter.  “Listen, jackass.  We’re almost home here.  You’re going to blow this.  Let him give us your daughter.  That’s what he’s ready to do.  Keep your mouth shut.  Or I’ll put you in the trunk.  I swear I will.”  He got out and shut the door.


Officer Pelllgram wanted to rush to Callie.  Officer Newman put a hand on his shoulder.  “We should let him talk to her,” Officer Newman whispered through an almost closed mouth.  “She doesn’t appear to be in danger.  She seems to like him.  Let’s let him finish.  Then he’ll bring her to us.”


“Okay,” Officer Pellgarm said through an almost closed mouth.  “You’re right.  We’ll wait.”


They watched David talk to Callie and waited.


“Before you go to your father, can you tell the police officers what happened tonight?” David asked her.  “Tell them why you’re getting home so late.  So you don’t get into any trouble.  And me too.”  He smiled at her.


“Just let her come to me,” Kevin said.  His voice was barely heard outside the cruiser.


“Mr. Atkins, stop talking, sir,” Officer Pellgram said.  “Let your daughter talk to him.”


Neither officer liked what they felt.  Years of experience and instincts told them David was telling the truth.  They doubted David was a hero.  But for this moment, they were going to treat him like one.  Callie was not running from David.  She was holding his hand and leaning against him.


“It’s okay, sweetie,” David said to Callie.  “Go ahead and tell them what happened.  You can do it really quickly.  Then you can go to bed.”


David made sure the officers and Kevin could see Callie.  His men formed a semi-circle around her.


“Mommy took me to David’s house and left me,” Callie said.  “I begged her not to leave me.  I was scared.  She told me to be a good little girl and do what the men told me.  She said she would be back for me later.  I was crying when she drove off.  The men tried to stop her from leaving.  But she left anyway.  And the men took me inside to see David and Mrs. Jason in their big house.  It’s bigger than ours.  We had dinner.  Mrs. Jason gave me Terra’s coat to wear home.  She didn’t want me to be cold.  Terra helped me stop crying.  We go to the same school.  She’s my friend now.  Mrs. Jason is her mom.  I told Mrs. Jason where I lived.  David drove me home while I slept.  Mommy just left me.”


“That’s good, sweetie,” David said.  “You need to sleep now.”  David hugged her.  She hugged him and thanked him.


“Tell Terra bye for me,” Callie said.


The officers looked at one another.


“I will, sweetie,” David said.


“Callie, I’m Officer Newman,” he said.  “I need to take you to my car while we talk to your father.  Then you’ll be ready for sleep.  You’re not in any trouble.  We just need to ask your father some questions.  Everything will be alright.”


“Can I stay at Terra’s tonight?” Callie asked Officer Newman and David.


“Maybe another night,” Officer Newman said.  “We just have a few things we have to do tonight.”  Officer Newman had walked up to Callie from his cruiser.  He put his hand out.  Callie did not take it.  She looked back at David.


“Go ahead, Callie,” David said.  “Take the nice Officer Newman’s hand.  He’s a good guy.”


Kevin had been rolling his eyes and fuming.  “This is ridiculous,” Kevin said.  “I’m her father.  Damn it.  I demand that you give me my daughter.”  The cruiser’s door was partially opened.


“Mr. Atkins, we can’t do that, sir,” Officer Pellgram said.  “This is an investigation, sir.  A serious one.”


“Officer Newman, I’ll admit to one thing,” David said.  “My men took Callie away from her mother.”


Officer Newman was stunned.  David tricked them.  They should have known.  Once a criminal.  Always a criminal.


“I can explain,” David said.  “Sandra had put Callie out of her car.  She thought my men would give her drugs in exchange for her daughter.  She was surprised and angry when they didn’t do it.  She then tried to grab Callie and put her back in her car and take her to Elk Street.  My men knew Callie wouldn’t last ten minutes on that street.  They slammed Sandra’s door closed.  Sandra sped off and left Callie.  She thought my men were going to hurt her for wanting to take Callie to Elk.  They saved that little girl.  And I would’ve done the same.”


Officer Pellgram had walked up to Officer Newman and Callie and David.  “Can you prove that story?” Officer Pellgram asked.  “Because that’s not what the mother or father said.”


“Here’s an easy way to prove it,” David said.  “Ask Sandra, since she was so anxious to find Callie, why didn’t she tell you where Callie was?”


“We’ll do that,” Officer Pellgram said.


“And I have her vehicle on my camera at home,” David said.  “Oh, yes, I forgot.  I also have her out of her car, leaving Callie behind.  I’ll give you a copy of it if you want it.”


Officer Newman and Pellgram hid their enthusiasm.  Kevin and Sandra were going to be arrested.  Both of them were guilty of child neglect and the endangerment of a child.  These were just the first two charges.


“Thank you, Mr. Jason,” Officer Newman said.  “You know the drill.  Don’t leave town.  We’ll have questions for you and your men.  We ask you not to discuss this case with anyone.”


“I won’t,” David said.  “Maybe you guys should start looking at me as a good person.”


“Maybe you should let us,” Officer Newman said.


As David and his men were leaving he looked back up the driveway.  Callie waved to him. He waved back and continued down the driveway.


Two more police cruisers parked in the driveway.  An unmarked dark car with the letters CPS on the side parked in the driveway too.  It was Child Protective Services.  David glanced over his shoulder.  The image he saw made him feel good for Callie.


Kevin and Sandra were in handcuffs.


David shook his head.  Sandra was in her house the entire time.  She and Kevin had lied to the police.  But once he showed up with Callie, their story fell apart.  Sandra could not come outside to confront him or Callie.  She knew his and Callie’s stories would be the same.


David watched as Kevin and Sandra were taken to a police cruiser.  He heard an officer say, “Endangering a Minor,” to Kevin and Sandra.


If you liked PART 4, send it to a friend.  And please sign up with your email address on the left.  I’ll send you updates when my books come out.  I’ll send you a free complete short story.  And, you’ll be notified when there is a new blog post.

I look forward to seeing you next week.

Thank you.

Stay safe.

Stephen Wallace   

Layered Learning


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Many of us read two or three, or possibly four, different books at one time.  We move between reading different genres.


I have met people who only read one book at a time.  But they read it in one week.  I am not that fast.  I wish I were.


Several people told me they enjoy the switch between nonfiction and fiction.  It stops them from getting bored with reading one book at a time.  I think the number of books we read at one time depends on us.


I started reading several books at once about fifteen years ago.  I would read a suspense and thriller book and a history or business book.  I began to read this way for two reasons.


The first reason was for entertainment.  As we know, a good fiction book can be very entertaining.  Often the book is better than the movie that was produced because of it.


The second reason I began to read two books concurrently was to increase my knowledge.  In a short time I started to notice that I was building up additional layers of knowledge with nonfiction.  My thoughts were changing and sometimes evolving.


I must be honest.  There were times when a nonfiction book was full of good information.  But I was more inclined to read a novel.  Even though I wanted to learn new things, I would find myself gravitating to the novel.  But I still read the nonfiction book because it had great information in it.


Rarely does that happen now.  I enjoy both fiction and nonfiction.


If you find yourself reading a nonfiction book that is just too much to get through, try this.  It worked for me.


I would read five pages of the nonfiction book in one sitting.  The nonfiction book usually had about five hundred to five hundred and forty words per page.  After I read those pages, I rewarded myself.  I would read five to ten pages of fiction.


Before long I would be just as excited about reading the nonfiction as I was the fiction.


I hope this bit of information helps you.


Two books that I am presently reading today are “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow.  It refreshes what you learned in school about history.  And I happen to like Ron Chernow’s books.


The fiction book I’m reading is “The Girl Who Takes An Eye For An Eye” by David Lagercrantz.  I think it is entertaining.


I would give you more of my opinion on these books.  But I won’t.  I am not a good book critic.  I like all kinds of books.  So, now you have two more books to add to your list of books to read.  You may like them both.


By the way check out Part 3 of Not So Pretty.  I posted it on Saturday.  I hope you enjoy it. 

Take care of yourself.

See you next time.

Stephen Wallace   



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‘Not So Pretty’ came from an article I read over a decade ago.  It was basically about people ignoring the obvious.  Because it made them feel better about themselves.  And they were willing to allow someone to be sacrificed.  All of it was to keep up their pretense of being ignorant of the facts.


I said earlier that this story would be in 3 parts.  It has taken on a life of its own.  It will now be in 4 parts.  I hope you enjoy Part 3.  There is a question in this part.  It is simple to answer: Everyone has some decency in them.  Don’t they?        




DAVID STARED AT KEVIN Atkins.  He was waiting for Kevin’s daughter to join him.  The police were going to see first hand that he was not a bad person.  He was just like anyone else in this world.  He was trying to get by and make his family’s life better.


Kevin was handcuffed in the back of the police cruiser.  He wanted to get out and beat the hell out of David.  But he also knew he was in the best place he could be for his survival.  David and his men were standing ten feet or more down the driveway.  Then there were the two police officers who stood between him and David.  He felt semi-safe.


“Hey, doc,” David yelled through cupped hands.  “You didn’t have the guts to put your wife in rehab.  Instead you tried to hide your family’s secret.  But it didn’t work.  Why?  Your wife couldn’t stop pedaling her ass.  Anyone who would give her a taste of drugs could have her.”


“Why don’t you shut up!” Kevin yelled out the window.


“You’re a pathetic man, doc,” David said.  “Wait.  You’re not a man.  You thought not giving your wife money would make her stop using.  Turn off the money spigot.  And she’d stop.”  He laughed.  “Wake up.  She’s a drugged-out whore.  She’s not worth putting on the street.  You’d lose money with her.  You’d have to give her away.  You…”


“You no-good piece of shit,” Kevin yelled from the back seat of the police cruiser.  “You know nothing about my family.  So you can go to hell.  Worry about your own screwed up life.  You’re nothing but lowlife scum.”


Officer Newman and Officer Pellgram let David and Kevin trade insults.  They were certain that Callie’s whereabouts were wrapped up in the insults.  Either David or Kevin knew the truth about where Callie was.


David told them he was having the girl brought to him. That was five minutes ago.  They were not sure if David was lying.  He could have been gaming them.  Maybe he was looking for a favor in the future from the police department.  His motive did not matter.  They had to follow his lead.  Like it or not, he was the only one giving them a lead on Callie.


David and Kevin kept yelling at each other.


Officer Newman and Pellgram knew the risks they were taking by letting the insults escalate.  There was a real danger to it.  Insults could quickly rise to violence.  That was why they kept a gauge on the level of verbal hostility between David and Kevin.  Talk was talk until it was not.


“Your wife gave her ass to so many people until it was too loose for anyone to want it any more,” David said.  His men laughed.


“You’re a filthy rodent!” Kevin yelled out the cruiser’s window.


“I’d rather be a rodent than my wife’s pimp,” David said.  “You knew she was selling her ass.  What was your cut?”


“Go to hell!” Kevin yelled.


“You sorry bastard,” David said.  “You knew everything that was going on.  Yet you let your wife pedal your eight-year-old daughter.  You better be thankful she gave the girl to us.  Because my guys told her we didn’t want your daughter.  Sandra, however, your gem of a wife, said she was going to take her to Elk Street then.”


Kevin exhaled in anger.


Officer Newman and Pellgram glanced at one another.


“Ask the officers about good old Elk Street,” David said.


The officers knew about Elk Street.  It was home for junkies and sexual deviants.  Layers and layers of crime existed on that street.  Every day and night saw crime.  A kid could go missing on that street within minutes.  And never be heard from again. They could be sold or simply taken by someone.  Many people had gone missing on that street.


One of David’s men tapped him on the shoulder.


David turned around and knelt.  “How are you, Callie?” David asked.  “My sweet, sweet girl.”


Eight-year-old, brown-haired Callie rubbed her blue eyes.  “I’m tired,” she said.  “I’m sleepy.  Can I go back home with you?”


“You’re home,” David said.  “Unfortunately, you’re home, sweet girl.”


Officer Newman and Officer Pellgram looked at one another.  They could not believe it.  It was Callie.


If you liked PART 3, sign up with your email address on the left.  I’ll send you updates when my books come out.  And I’ll send you a free complete short story.  And, you’ll be notified when there is a new blog post.

I look forward to seeing you next week.

Have a great weekend.  Stay safe.

Stephen Wallace    



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There is a question in Part 2 of Not So Pretty.  If we are a person of bad character, is everything we do tainted with bad?






“Damn it, Mr. Atkins!” Officer Newman yelled at the man.  He felt lucky that he and Pellgram had taken the man’s gun away and fast.  “You want to get us all killed.  We told you to stay in the house.  Now you’re under arrest.”  The officers put Mr. Atkins in the back seat of the police cruiser in handcuffs.


“Hold on,” David said.  “That’s not necessary.  Don’t arrest him.  No one saw anything here.”  David looked at his men.  “Anybody see this man with a gun?”  Some of the men shook their heads.  “Anyone?”  The rest of the men shook their heads.  “See officers.  No one saw anything.  We’ll testify in court to that.”


The officers glanced at David and back at Kevin Atkins.  “You’re still wearing handcuffs,” Officer Newman said.  “You’re staying in the back seat.  We can’t have another incident like that.  People could’ve been killed.  All of us could’ve been killed.”


“Look, come on,” David said.  “Give the man a break.  I’d feel the same way if my kid was missing.”


Both officers and Kevin Atkins cut their eyes at David.


“How do you know about that, Mr. Jason, David?” Officer Pellgram asked.


“Ask him,” David said and pointed to Kevin Atkins.  “Ask him where his wife.”  Kevin looked confused.  “You’re not confused.  You’re the father, right?”  Kevin did not answer.  “Tell them about your wife.  That’ll help them find your child.  Won’t it?”


“I told you my wife is sick,” Kevin said to the officers through the cruiser’s open window.  The officers asked Kevin if he was telling them everything.  “I’ve told you everything.  I don’t know what he’s talking about.  I don’t know this man.”


Kevin did not know David Jason.  But the police department did.  They believed David Jason was the biggest drug dealer in the Northeast.  Some information suggested he was one of the biggest in the country.  He had ties with everyone in organized crime.  His fingerprints were never found on anything illegal.  But his traits were all over everything illegal.


No one understood how David Jason could go for so long without a single arrest for anything.  One explanation was that David was a hybrid drug dealer.  All of his drug money went into legitimate businesses.  Separating his legitimate ventures from the illegal ones was almost impossible.  And, there was little information that was found concerning David.  It was not enough to charge him with anything.  But what David was not involved in was kidnapping.


“Are you willing to hear me out?” David asked.  “Or should we leave?  Let you boys handle things your way.”


“We’d like to hear you out,” Officer Pellgram said.


“I’ll get to it,” David said.  “By the way, I’m recording this.”  Officer Pellgram told him okay.  “Your wife is Sandra Atkins, correct?”  David was looking at Kevin.


“So what,” Kevin said.


“Now that we’ve got that established,” David said.  “Mrs. Sandra Atkins came to my house tonight around…”


One of the men whispered in David’s ear.  David nodded.


“Eleven o’clock,” David said.  “She dropped Callie off in exchange for meth and cocaine.  Why she thought I did drugs or sold drugs, I don’t know.”


The police officers watched David.  They seemed to be interested in his story.  Kevin started yelling that David was lying.


“Then again, maybe she’s watched all those news stories where police lie about me,” David said.  “Whatever her warped reason was, she told my guys to do what we liked with little Callie for a few hours.  She would then come by and pick her up.  No one would need to know about her arrangement with us.  Those were her words.  Not mine.”


“You’re lying!” Kevin yelled and tried to get out of the cruiser’s window.  “You filthy bastard!  I’ll kill you!  I swear.  I’ll kill you!”


Officer Newman pushed Kevin’s head back inside the cruiser.  “That’s it,” Officer Newman said.  He opened the door and cuffed the already handcuffed Kevin to a metal loop on the back seat.  “You’re going to get yourself and us killed.  Don’t be stupid.  These aren’t the people you go after unless you mean it.  Now you sit here and shut up.  Or I’ll gag you for your own safety and ours.”


“Ouch, my wrists,” Kevin whined.


“You’ll keep those on for now,” Officer Newman said.  “You’re a risk.”  He closed the cruiser’s back door.


“I’ll testify against you in court, Mr. Atkins,” David said.  “You came after me through that window.  Officer Newman had to restrain you.  You already tried to shoot me.  He did what he had to do.  He did his job.  So, if you hurt yourself and can’t perform surgery, that’ll be your fault.  You don’t want to end your Cardiothoracic Surgeon career.”  The police officers looked at one another.  “That’s a great career.  What do you make, over a half million, a million?  You’re impressive.  But you haven’t paid attention to your wife.  She’s not so impressive.  She needs help.”


“Where’s my daughter?” Kevin yelled.  “We’re not going to listen to your lies.  You’re lying!  You’re a damn liar!”


“I’m not lying,” David said.   “And you know it.  Your wife leased your daughter to us.”  He laughed.  “She’s nuts.  She’s a druggie.  She’s a whore.  She’s below a prostitute.”


The police allowed David’s and Kevin’s conversation to continue.  One of them was lying.  Or telling a half-truth.  They needed reliable information to get Kevin’s daughter back.  And they believed what they needed was somewhere between what Kevin was yelling and what David was saying.


“You’re a liar,” Kevin said.  “You’re a pedophile.  A child rapist.”


David sarcastically told Kevin he knew what a pedophile was.  “And you know I’m not one,” David said.  “Don’t you.”


“I don’t know anything about you!” Kevin yelled.  “You damn degenerate.  Give me back my daughter!”  Kevin twisted his body to free himself.  “Why aren’t you arresting him?  He has my daughter!  If you’ve done anything to her.  If you’ve touched her, I’ll kill you.  I’ll…”


“Mr. Jason, where’s his daughter?” Officer Pellgram asked.  “Are you telling us the truth?  If so, where is she?  You may just be telling a story.”


“Okay,” David said.  “I’ll prove it.  I’ll need to put my hand in my pocket to take out my cell phone.  I don’t want you to accidentally shoot me.  Or, shoot me period.  I know how you boys operate.  May I?”


“Go ahead,” Officer Pellgram said.  “No tricks.”


“You don’t have to worry about that,” David said.  “My name isn’t Sandra Atkins.  I’m not going to give anyone a blow job or hand job for a quick taste to get high.  Nor am I going to let young boys lose their virginity to me to make a few bucks to score with.”


“Go to hell!” Kevin yelled out the window.  “You go to hell!”  He kicked at the cruiser’s back door.


“Mr. Atkins, calm down, sir,” Officer Pellgarm said.  “Mr. Jason, do what you said you were going to do.  Prove your story.”


“I will,” David said.  He had his cell phone in his hand.  He pushed an icon on the screen and put the phone to his ear.  “Bring her up here, please.”  He looked at the two officers and then to Kevin with a smirk on his face.


“You damn liar!” Kevin yelled.


“You know who’s the worst in all of this?” David asked.  Then he leaned to the side to clearly see Kevin and stared at him.  “You are.  No balls.  You’re a ball-less husband and father.  You’re lucky.  If I were a bad guy…let’s just say, it wouldn’t be long for you.”


I hope you enjoyed PART 2.

I look forward to seeing you next week.

Stay safe.

Stephen Wallace    

Not So Pretty


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‘Not So Pretty’ came from an article I read over a decade ago.  It was basically about people ignoring the obvious.  Because it made them feel better about themselves.  And they were willing to allow someone to be sacrificed.  All of it was to keep up their pretense of being ignorant of the facts.


The story will be in 3 parts.  One part will be posted every week.  I hope you enjoy the story.     


Not So Pretty


A LEXUS LX PARKED along the curb.  A Range Rover parked behind it.  Their engines continued to run.  A minute later a Lincoln Navigator parked behind the Range Rover.  All three were black with dark windows.


Ten feet in front and to the right of the Lexus was a stone-paved driveway.


The SUVs’ engines shut off.  The doors of the Lexus and Navigator opened.  Four or five men exited each vehicle.  A few of them were quite large.  All of them wore blue suits and had serious expressions.


They looked up and down the street.  No cars were on the road.  Most of the houses were dark.  Many residents went to bed before midnight on this street.  It had to be one of the quietest neighborhoods in the city.


It helped that the address was Three Nineteen Avondale Street.  A low-end house went for four million.  A top-end home was eight million.  The average vehicle cost was over sixty thousand.


The sidewalks and yards were immaculate.  The lawns were healthy shades of green.  Trees were in front of every yard.  They were the same types of trees.  They were the same distance from the sidewalk.  Each looked as if it was brought in just to improve the aesthetics of the neighborhood.


One of the larger men tapped his knuckles on the driver’s side window of the Range Rover.  He then opened the door and held on to it.


A cowboy boot stepped out.  Another one followed.  A six feet one-inch man exited the Range Rover.  He wore a blue suit with a gray shirt and blue tie.


He straightened his jacket and tie and looked around at the houses.  He shook his head.  “All to keep up with the Jones’s,” he said.


The other men laughed.


“Well,” the man in the cowboy boots said.  “Is everyone coming with me?  Or do I have to go by myself?”


The men laughed.


They surrounded the man wearing cowboy boots.  Their coats were unbuttoned.  Each man had a pistol in a shoulder holster.  The holsters were strapped across their chests.  Whether they intentionally wanted their guns to show was unclear.  But they were visible.


The man in the cowboy boots nodded for the men to follow him.  He walked to the driveway and began to walk up it.  “This is rather steep in boots,” the man said.  The other men laughed.  “Don’t laugh at me.”  The men smiled and snickered.


The men were halfway up the driveway and stopped.


A police cruiser was parked in the driveway.  It was in front of a large house.  The house was approximately five thousand square feet.  It was tan in color.  It had a California look to it.


The man in the cowboy boots glanced to his left and right at the other men.  He smiled and shook his head, then nodded forward for them to keep walking.


They were twenty steps from the police cruiser when the front door of the house opened.  Two police officers walked out.


The man in the cowboy boots stopped.  The other men stopped too.


The police officers stood frozen, looking at the men.


The men stared back at the officers.


The man in the cowboy boots grinned at the police officers.


“What’s going on here?” one of the police officers asked the men.  Both officers had a hand on the butt of their Glocks.  Their eyes scanned across the group of men.  The officers’ faces indicated they were afraid, cautious.


Both sides were tense.


The group of men had put their hands close to their pistols.  The man in the cowboy boots looked at the men.  He waved his hands downward.  The men moved their hands away from their guns.


“How can we help you?” one of the police officers asked.


“One thing you can do is to not put your hands on your guns,” the man in the cowboy boots said.  “We’re coming up here peacefully.  Let’s start with that.”


The officers did not move their hands from their pistols for a second or two.


The group of men gave the officers stares that made them uneasy.


“Are you going to do that, or what?” the man in the cowboy boots asked.  “We’re not here for trouble.  But it seems you are.  We can simply turn around and go back home.  We’re doing you a favor.  You’re not doing us one.”


One of the officers glanced at the other one.  They slowly moved their hands away from their pistols.  They did not want to.  They did it for self-preservation.


They were outnumbered and outgunned.  They would not survive a shootout.  And they were fairly confident the men were not there for trouble.  Not these guys.  Especially not the man in the cowboy boots.


“We know who you are, Mr. Jason,” Officer Pellgram said.  “The question is why are you here at this family’s residence when there’s a crisis going on?”


“It’s funny you ask that question Officer…Pellgram,” the man in the cowboy boots said.  “And call me David.  All my friends do.”  The officers did not respond.  “Try to be friendly, you guys.”  He shook his head.  “You’re always suspicious of everyone.  Try to be a little trusting sometimes.  It would be a better world.”


“How can we help you, David?” Officer Pellgram asked.


“See, that’s better,” David said.  “Like I said.  You’re not going to help me.  I’m going to help you.  I have a story for you.  One I know will interest you…”


Just then, a man in his late fifties stepped out the front door of the house.  He was behind the two officers.  In his hand was a Glock nine-millimeter.  He raised it and aimed it between the two officers at David.


“Do you have my child?” the man aiming the gun yelled.


The officers had glanced over their shoulders when they heard a noise behind them.  They headed toward the man with the gun as he was aiming.


David’s men had pulled their guns from their holsters.  David had turned to them.  “No.  No.  No,” he said.  Both his hands were on some of his men’s guns, pushing them down.  “No.  He’s distraught.  He’s just distraught.  Let the police have him.  They have him under control.  We would all feel the same way.  Put them down.”


David’s men looked at him.  But they kept an eye on the police officers and the man who had the gun.


The officers grabbed the man’s wrist and unarmed him.  They slammed and pinned him against the police cruiser’s trunk.


“See, they have it under control,” David said to his men.  “The boys in blue have handled it.”  Some of his men still had hold of their guns.  “Put them away.”  David stared at his men.  “I mean it.  Now.  Put them up.”


The men holstered their pistols.


I’ll see you next week with Part 2.

Take care of yourself in the face of this ongoing medical crisis.

Stephen Wallace 



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We all make mistakes.  Forgiving ourselves is the first step to healing.  Not allowing ourselves to think about our mistakes is denial.  Please enjoy Part 3 of My Day.    




JANIE WATCHED HER HUSBAND, Paul, from their upstairs window.   It had taken him forever to leave the house.  She told him she had a busy day.  He should have left a few minutes after their kids got on the bus.  Not twenty minutes later.


Paul backed his eleven-year-old Volvo sedan out of their driveway into the street.  She wondered why he stopped in the middle of the street.  He had better not be fidgeting with his cell phone.  Signs with a picture of a cellphone with an X through the cellphone were on poles throughout the neighborhood.  Not to mention that it was illegal for him to hold a cellphone while driving.  Get caught and the ticket was five hundred dollars.  Paying out more money was exactly what they needed.  She crossed her arms.


Move your butt out of the street, she thought.  A blind curve in the street was behind him.  If a car came around that curve, it would rear-end him.  He would be at fault.  “Don’t be an idiot, Paul!” she yelled as if he could hear her.  “Get out of the damn street!”  As if he heard her, Paul’s Volvo drove off.  “Unbelievable.”  She watched the Volvo until it was out of sight.


Janie rushed downstairs and cleaned up.  Dishes were put in the dishwasher.  Food was wiped off the counters.  Trash was put in the trash can.  Chairs were pushed in under the table.  She did a quick sweep of the kitchen floor.  Clorox wipes were used on the floor where there were drink and food stains.


Janie stood in the kitchen doorway and looked it over.  Everything was where it should be.  Less for her to do later.  She rushed upstairs.


She removed her robe while walking and tossed it on the bed.  Her night shorts and tank top that she had slept in were dropped in the hamper.  She did one thing after the other.  Never slowing down.  It was all systematic.


In the bathroom, she reached into the shower and turned on the water.  She loved her new bathroom.  It was only two years old.  It was much bigger than the old one.  New glass shower, white floor tiles, white sinks, marble countertop.  The contractor took a small part of their master bedroom and made it part of the bathroom.  Janie and Paul had doubted he could do what he told them he could do with the extra space.  They were surprised and pleased when he did it.


Janie stepped into the shower.  The water spraying on her was as hot as she could stand.  She scrubbed her body with a coarse body sponge.  The sponge was to exfoliate and deep clean.  Her skin was always red and raw when she finished.  But the redness lasted twenty minutes.  It was worth it.  Her skin felt really clean.  She turned off the shower and opened the door.  Steam poured out of the shower.


She quickly dried off with a giant fluffy towel.  With her back to the mirror, she looked over her shoulder at her butt.  She grabbed her butt cheeks and squeezed them.  Too much, she thought.  Her body was twenty pounds heavier than she liked.  But she could live with it.  It did not seem to affect how she lived.  Yet it still bothered her.  More than it should.  Today, however, not so much.


She went into her closet and knelt down in front of one of her dressers.  She pulled out the drawer above the last drawer.  She put both hands under the bottom of the drawer and felt two small handles.  With her fingertips on the handles, she slid a hidden drawer out from under the bottom of the drawer.


The secret drawer was three inches deep.  Inside was a black dress and a diamond necklace with matching earrings and bracelet.  The jewelry was a bit over one-hundred thousand dollars.


Janie checked her watch and dressed quickly.  Her family had put her ten minutes behind.  She put on a pair of black velvet heels to finish off the outfit.  She looked in the full-length mirror.  She studied herself from different angles.  Satisfied, or settling on good enough, she grabbed her full-length overcoat and headed downstairs.


She went down the hall through the door that led to the garage.  Her ten-year-old Honda minivan was the only car inside it.  She got in and started the engine and looked into the rearview mirror.  She paused and questioned who the woman was who was looking back at her.  It looked like her.  An earlier version of her anyway.  But she had changed more than anyone knew.


When the garage door was high enough, she drove out into the street.  Her speedometer was above forty miles per hour before she knew it.  Twenty-five miles was the max.  Police officers enjoyed giving tickets in her neighborhood.  Not that it was bad.  She just did not need one.


The worst that could happen was if a neighbor saw her pulled over and dressed like she was.  Good luck with explaining that.  Who wears one hundred thousand dollars of jewelry to work?  The questions Paul would ask?  The rumors that would come?  She exhaled at the thought.


She slowed down and watched her speedometer.


I hope you enjoyed PART 2 of the story.  Drop me a line and let me know what you think.  See you next time.


Thank you,

Stephen Wallace



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Janie feels the stress of life.  It may take her to places she doesn’t want to go.  Please enjoy Part 2 of MY DAY.




JANIE STOOD AT THE STOVE.  She kept looking over her shoulder for the kids.  Where were they?  Why were they not downstairs already?  She expected the three of them to come down at once.  They were late.


Leslie, their fourteen-year-old daughter, came down first.  She poured a bowl of Cheerios.  Despite Janie telling her to eat some egg whites and eggs.  Leslie told her she was watching her weight.  Janie argued had she not heard about the benefits of protein?


“That’s how I lost twenty pounds last year,” Janie said.  She looked over her shoulder at her butt.  “And your father said my rear has never looked better.”  She shook her rear.


“Gross, Mom,” Leslie said.  “I’m eating.”


“When you’re finished, go up and tell your brother and sister to hurry,” Janie said.  “Tell them if they don’t hurry up, I’m going to start picking out what they’re going to wear to school on casual days.  I’m not kidding.  They better not miss that bus.  That goes for you too.  I have several showings today.  One’s early.”


“Okay, already,” Leslie said.  She turned the bowl up to her mouth and slurped the remaining milk from it.  Janie told her she had great manners.  “I’m rushing like you told me.”


Paul came downstairs.  He was showered and wearing just pants.  He gave Janie a sneaky smile.  Janie looked at the clock on the wall and squinted at Paul.  “You told me to hurry,” he said.  “It’s my turn to help with the kids.  That’s why I showered first.”


She looked at him sideways and peered up the stairs.  She made sure Leslie was gone.  “I’m not giving you a blowjob,” she said with her mouth half-closed.  “Not this morning.”


“I’m doing what you asked,” he said.  She told him he was only on time because he wanted her to do it.  “That was great three weeks ago.”  She told him it did not mean he was getting one every week for doing his small part.  “That’s not fair.  You owe…”


Daniel, twelve, and Karrie, ten, came bounding downstairs.


“The threat of me picking out clothes worked, huh?” Janie asked.


“You don’t know how to pick out our clothes,” Daniel and Karrie complained.


“I know that,” Janie said.  “That’s why I won’t be wearing them.  You will.”  She kissed them both on the cheek as they closed their eyes and winced.  ”Keep your eyes open the next time.  If not, I’m going to take you to school and kiss you in front of your friends.  And they’ll be sloppy wet kisses all over your faces.”


“Ill,” Daniel and Karrie said.


“You’re the sheriff,” Janie said to Paul.  “Make sure they’re on the bus.”  He saluted her.  “We pay for those buses.  Private school with their own private buses.  How much easier can life get for them and expensive for us?  So, they better be on that bus.”


“I have it under control,” Paul said in a pleading tone.


She walked upstairs and yelled down the hallway.  “Leslie!  You better be on that bus!” she yelled.


“I will, mom!” Leslie yelled from inside her bedroom.


“We pay for those buses, you know,” Janie said.  She heard her phone ring from inside her bedroom.  “Get out of your room, Leslie, and downstairs.  “I mean it.”  She rushed to her bedroom and looked at the number on her phone’s screen.  She questioned whose number it was.  But answered it anyway.  It could be important.  “Hello?”


“We’re still on?” a female’s voice asked on the other end.  Janie went over to the bedroom door and closed it.  She then paused and looked out the window.  “Are you there?”  Janie looked at the wall and closed her eyes.  “Janie.”


“Yes,” Janie whispered, annoyed.  “Never call me this early.  You know this.  My family is here.”  The woman apologized.  “Bye.”  Janie hung up.


Janie was angry.  She had enough on her plate without this woman adding to it.


Thank you for stopping by.  I hope you enjoyed Part 2 of the story.

Have a great weekend.


Stephen Wallace    

My Day


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For many of us, the holidays mean more spending.  Too much spending.  We have our present bills, and new bills are about to be added.  But we want that joy of spending.  Sometimes we have to get creative to produce the joy we want.  Check out the short story My Day PART 1.  I hope you enjoy it.






Her eyes sprung open.  Her hands moved furiously through the air.  She screamed.  But nothing came from her mouth.  She panted, trying to catch her breath.  Her head jerked from one corner of the room to the other.  Where was she?  It was too dark for her to see.  Then she realized where she was.


She was in bed in her bedroom.  The curtains over the windows were partly opened.  The moonlight that shone in confirmed it.  It was a dream.  She exhaled.  She was not being strangled to death by a stranger.  It was a dream.  It was all a dream.


She breathed through her nose with her mouth closed, trying to be quiet.  She pushed her fingers through her hair as she looked at the clock on her nightstand.  It was two a.m.  She laid back down and told herself she had to go to sleep.  She had a big day ahead.  Being exhausted would make it even harder.


After a few minutes of laying there and looking up at the ceiling, Janie was snoring.


Loud music woke Janie.  Stevie Ray Vaughan was singing The Sky Is Crying.  She reached over to the nightstand.  Her fingers patted the top of the nightstand in search of the alarm clock radio button.  She pressed the button down.  The music stopped.


Janie lifted her head.  Her half-closed eyes saw the clock.  The red numbers read sixty-thirty a.m.  Four and a half hours had gone by that fast?  Too early to get out of bed.  She put her head back down and dozed off to sleep.  Less than a minute, she was snoring.


Her head shot up when she heard the radio again.  The time was six fifty-five a.m.  She pushed her husband, Paul, on the leg with her feet.  He had not woken up on the first or second alarm.  He could sleep through anything.  Not her.  A mild stir from anyone in the house and she was awake.


Paul turned his back to her and slept.  She put both feet against his butt and pushed him again.  He grunted and reached back to push her feet away.  She slid her body down the bed until her feet were on his upper back.


“Wake up,” she whispered.  Paul did not move.  The radio playing and pushing him did not make him move.  “Get up.  You have to help the kids get dressed this morning.  Remember.  I have an early showing today.”


“Okay,” Paul said in a raspy voice.  “I just need to open my eyes and adjust to the light.”  She told him there was no light.  That he needed to get going.  “Why don’t you start without me?  I’ll join in later.”


She got out of bed and went across the room and flipped the two light switches.  All the ceiling and floor lights came on.  Paul pulled the blanket up over his head.  She walked over and yanked it off his head.  He covered his face with his hands.  She left the bedroom and went into the bathroom.  She returned holding a spray bottle.  She stood next to him.  His hands covered his face.


“Didn’t want to do this,” she said.  “But you left me with no choice.”  She aimed the nozzle of the bottle at his face and squeezed the trigger.  A stream of water hit his hands.  He jumped up.


“Why?” he asked, wiping his hands on his plaid boxers.  She laughed and told him he asked for it.  He had asked for it.


Paul was late for a meeting two weeks earlier.  He was never late for meetings.  The night before, he had stayed up and watched his favorite football team play.  The game went on longer than he thought it would.  But he did not go to bed.  He watched until the end.  The next morning he woke up thirty minutes late.  He was upset with himself that he had to rush through his morning.  Stuffing down a bagel, he told Janie to spray him with water if he did not get up on time again.


“Forget I said that,” Paul said.  “That was a stupid thing to say.  I wasn’t thinking that day.”


She laughed and wrapped her arms around him and kissed him.  “You’re cute when you’re mad,” she said.  He told her he was cute and stupid.  “You married me.  You must not be too stupid.”  He told her she had a point.  “See, that was a great answer.”  He squeezed her and kissed her on the cheek.  “Do you still find me sexy and beautiful?” she whispered in his ear.


“All day and every day,” he said.  He wondered where her question came from.  Janie had never asked that kind of question.  She did not lack confidence in herself.  Many forty-five-year-old women complained about their bodies and looks.  Not her.  Not that he had ever heard.  “I’m sorry I haven’t jumped your bones more lately.  I’ll do better.”


“You better,” she said and kissed him.  He sensed something was off with her.  But what?  They kissed again.  “I know you told me not to worry.”  She sighed.  “But I am.”  That was it.  He knew what it was.


She was referring to their finances.  Their three kids were in private schools.  That came to forty-five thousand a year.  The renovation of their house was far more than the estimate.  They had not planned for that much.  That bill was close to two hundred thousand.  And the house could use an additional one hundred to two hundred thousand dollars more in renovations.  If they had known the real renovation cost, they would have sold the house “as-is.”  To add to their financial stress, Paul’s sales manager’s position could be eliminated.  His company was about to merge.  No one knew—even senior management—who would stay or who would go.


“We’re fine,” he said.  “We’re doing okay.  Stop worrying.  We’ve always come through.  And, several recruiters have contacted me already.  Other companies are showing interest in me too.”  He kissed her.  “So stop worrying.”  He hugged her tightly.  With two fingers she wiped tears from her eye.


She sniffed and smacked him on the butt.  “Okay,” she said.  “You’re right.  I panic too much.”  She kissed him.  “Your turn to wake the rugrats.”


He stumbled out the bedroom door and yelled to their kids to wake up.


Janie felt guilty watching him leave their bedroom.  Tears filled her eyes.  She went into the bathroom and washed her face.  Her stomach hurt.  She quickly knelt down and stuck her head over the toilet bowl and vomited.


On her knees, Janie straightened up and flushed the toilet.  Her hands were on the toilet to steady herself.  Her head was spinning.  She stuck her head back over the toilet bowl and vomited.  She waited beside the toilet for the queasy feeling to subside.


She spat into the toilet bowl and got to her feet and looked in the mirror.  “You’re an awful person,” she whispered at herself.  Everything had gotten away from her.


She rinsed her mouth, washed her face, and headed downstairs to make breakfast.


I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this story.  I will post Part 2 this week.  Eventually, I will post on consistent days.  I just need to figure out which days.  Have a great week ahead.  Thanks for coming by.


Thank you,

Stephen Wallace