Humans are Not Born Hating – Humans Learn to Hate

My introduction to the hatred of racism was stark and unforgettably poignant. I was nine years old.

With my family, I had just moved from my birthplace in East Providence, Rhode Island to Pensacola, Florida. Before the move, I had no idea white people hated black people. I wasn’t aware of color.

Raised a Catholic, our new neighborhood was located in St. John’s Parrish. However, since we moved in the middle of the school year, for my older brother, Danny, and myself, St. John’s School was at capacity. We had to go to school in downtown Pensacola. We were enrolled at St. Michael’s which required a city bus ride.

My dad was a U.S. Naval officer. He arranged for Danny and myself to ride our bicycles from home to a fellow officer’s home. So, on a Monday morning, we set off on our thirty-minute ride. Once there, we met the woman of the house who showed us where to park our bikes and the location of the bus stop. The lady was kind enough to wait with us on the sidewalk in front of her house.

The bus arrived about ten minutes later. Danny and I boarded the bus. Danny paid our fare, and he sat down on the seat directly behind the white haired, bespeckled bus driver. I didn’t want to sit up front.

While growing up in Rhode Island, my grandmother would take me to downtown Providence on a city bus which stopped a half block to the right of our street and on the main street, Pawtucket Avenue. We always sat in the very back of the bus. With memories of my then lucid grandmother, the rear seat became my favorite seat.
Without noticing anything different or strange regarding who was sitting up front versus who was sitting toward the back of the bus, I walked the long isle to the back and sat down in the middle. I was the only person sitting in the long, brown leather seat. The middle allowed me to look out both windows, right and left, as well as out the back window.

Once I was seated, the bus doors closed and the bus began to move. I was enjoying my ride as I dangled my feet which didn’t yet touch the floor. I recall a few people sitting toward the back watched me. I smiled at them, and they smiled back.

Several minutes later, the bus stopped to pick up other passengers. Before the bus driver shut the doors, I looked up to see Danny walking toward me. At first, I thought he had decided to sit in the back seat as well. I was wrong.

He stood in front of me and said, “The bus driver said you couldn’t sit back here. He told me to tell you to come up front to sit.”

I recall asking why to which Danny answered, “I don’t know, but he said you couldn’t sit back here.” I

I wasn’t convinced as I barked back, “Well, you aren’t my father, so I don’t have to do what you tell me to do. I like it back here! This is my favorite seat.”

Danny looked disappointed as he turned around and walked back to the front of the bus.

I was looking out the side windows and waiting for the bus to begin moving again. Suddenly, however, the doors, which the driver had shut, burst open with such fury that its thunder ripped through the silence of the bus. I was frightened as I looked up to see the bus driver now standing looking back down the isle.

We all waited as the tall, skinny, white haired driver pointed a long arm and a long, skinny, crooked finger at the back of the bus. Now other passengers were turned around looking at me when the driver yelled, “You, little girl. You better march yourself up here to the front, or I am going to put both you and your brother off the bus right here. Now, march!”

Scared to death, I got up and walked to the front and sat next to Danny in the seat directly behind the driver. I recall one old lady smiled at me as I walked toward the front.

Later that evening, I told my mom what had happened and asked her why I had to sit up front. She explained that we now lived in the south which was a very different place than where we used to live. Rhode Island, she explained, was a northern State. She continued to assert that, in the south, black people were not allowed to interact with white people. She tried her best to explain the meaning of segregation, telling me segregation applied to every interaction, even on bus rides. White people were allowed to sit up in the front portion of the bus, while black people had to sit in the back. White people and black people weren’t allowed to sit with each other or in the same vicinity. Through observation, I would learn that if all the rear seats were occupied, black people who boarded the bus had to stand in the aisle, holding on to the metal poles above their heads until one of the “blacks only” seats became vacant. Even if there were vacant seats in the “whites only” portion of the bus, black people were not allowed to sit in those vacant seats.

The next day, my second day of school, my bus ride to and from school was an entirely different experience. I watched as white people got on the bus and sat on the forward side of the middle door, while black people walked to the seats behind the middle door. No blacks sat up front, and no whites sat in the back. Soon I was noticing other differences. During that school year, I watched little old black ladies with their grocery carts filled with grocery bags board the bus. There were always more black people riding the bus than there were white people. Too, most of the blacks were women of all ages. I recall one little old lady boarded the bus with her loaded grocery cart. There were no vacant seats, so she had to stand. Her face expressed exhaustion. Plus, she was very short in stature, causing her to have a difficult time reaching up to the overhead rail to hold on. Several times, when the bus would stop, she stumbled nearly falling to the floor. I was seated in one of the long seats which faced the center of the bus. I watched this lady struggle. I felt sad that I had to keep my mouth shut because I wanted to get up and give her my seat.
My mother was right. Segregation was everywhere.

All Department stores had four bathrooms. Two were marked as White Men and White Women while two other doors read Colored Men and Colored Women. Also, there were two separate water fountains in every store. One had a sign above that read White Only and the other read Colored Only. I also began to notice that black people rarely looked directly at white people, while white people always looked suspiciously at black people. It was a difficult, confusing three years living in Pensacola.

I never adjusted to living in the south. I couldn’t wait to move back to Rhode Island. Although my parents never talked at length about the separation, intuitively, I knew it was wrong. Sometimes, when no one was looking, I smiled at a black woman if she looked at me. Some smiled back while most did not, but immediately looked away from me.

As it causes pain for all decent people, I am sad that our country is once again experiencing the angst of hatred by one race against others including blacks, Mexicans, Latinos, and distrust of those whose religion is the topic of scorn. The most depressing piece of this new hatred and distrust is fostered and encouraged by the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. When I was that young girl living in Pensacola, Florida, I couldn’t understand how or why white people could hate another group of people because of the color of their skin. I am no longer that little girl, yet, I still have difficulty grasping the hatred the has reared its ugly head recently.

During my years working as a regional manager for McCormick, I recall traveling to the Miami area. I loved Miami because, like New York City, it was a great example of our country’s proud heritage called the melting pot. So many different ethnicities live in the Miami area. I loved traveling to Miami for its wealth of diversity.

I don’t know what the future holds for our country. There’s so much hatred and fear that seems to permeate our country. Even some liberal minded people seem to fear and resent the undocumented people who live and work hard in the U.S. What on earth do people have to fear?



Filed under Maribeth Shanley, writing

The Woods – 8 The House: Inspecting the Bedrooms (2015) by LV Gaudet

1The Woods:

1 – The Woods – The Dare (1985)

2 – Thirty Years Later – The Old Bennet House is for Sale (2015)

3 – The Woods – Jesse Hears a Noise (1985)

4 – The House – First Entry in 30 Years (2015)

5 – The Woods – Return to the House (1985)

6 – The Woods – Inspecting The House (2015)

7 – The Woods – Return to the House (1985)






Like the kitchen and living room, the bedrooms are an eerie shrine to the past residents of the house.

They enter the first room.  It is small, a twin bed is pushed against one wall, and a narrow three-drawer dresser is in the corner next to the closet door. The bed is made too neatly to have been done by the child resident, no doubt done by the boy’s mother. The scratched and dented dresser is marred further by childish stickers in various stages of having been picked at and pealed partially off. A shelf holds various boyhood treasures. There is a Spiderman poster on the wall. Various toys and action figures that would be unknown to the kids today are scattered haphazardly.

While the realtor rambles on about the usefulness of this small room, the buyer walks over to the window, looking out at the view. The curtains hang moulding, stained yellow, and brittle with age. They look like they may fall apart if touched. The grime on the window makes the view hazy.

He can see the backyard from the window, and the backdrop of the woods bordering the yard.


Huh?” He turns to the realtor.

“Ha-ha, you seemed kind of off in Lala land there.” The realtor smiles awkwardly. “I was asking; are you married? Do you have kids? With three bedrooms this could be a great starter,” he pauses, realizing he fell into his automatic sales pitch. “Yeah, sorry.”

The buyer nods. He looks down, pressing against the floor with his foot, the board bending beneath the pressure, spongy. He’d noticed the odd floorboard like that as they walked through the house.

“I’m not entirely confident these floors can hold up.”

“Let’s move on to the other rooms.” The realtor rushes to the next room, leaving him to follow.

The other boy’s room is much the same, minus the stickers on the dresser. The room is a bit larger and it is also the classic older brother room, probably the favored son.  Trophies sit on the shelf for baseball and soccer, and the room is filled with paraphernalia of a boy older than the occupant of the other bedroom.

The realtor watches him inspect the room, wishing he would hurry up.  He’s wasting a lot of time on this and probably won’t make much off the sale, if this guy even buys it.

“This would be Kevin’s room, the older boy,” the realtor says.

“Who?” The buyer looks past some clothes hanging in the closet, checking out the inside walls of the closet. They have that unpleasant odor clothes get after sitting too long, reminiscent of rot and mildew. He makes no move to touch them.

“The boys, Kevin and Jesse. This would be Kevin’s room, the older boy.”

The buyer moves to the window.  Like the other rooms, these curtains are stained yellow with age and brittle, stinking of mildew. The grimy window gives a view of the house next door.

He sees the round moon of a pale face vanish into the darkness of the house next door and the flutter of the curtain falling back into place. It happens so quick he almost doubts he saw it.

Satisfied the buyer has seen enough, the realtor moves on, trying to pick up the pace.

“This is the master bedroom.” He’s already in the hallway, heading for the last bedroom.

With a last quick glance out the window to the house next door, the buyer turns and follows.

The master bedroom is possibly the worst of the shrine bedrooms.

He looks around, taking it all in. He half expects the boys’ mother to walk in at any moment and ask them why they are there.

“She lived here for years after her husband walked out on her, you said?”

“Yes, I’m not sure how many though.”  The realtor stops to pick at items on the dresser, turning away from them without interest. “Years, months, could be either. She never cleaned out his stuff. You know, the big goodbye, when they clear out all the ex’s stuff. She never said goodbye.”

“I guess she never said goodbye to any of them.”

“I guess not.”

The bedroom is not just a shrine to the lost boys. It is a shrine to all the woman lost. Her boys, her family, her marriage. All of her husband’s things are there too, the items laid out as if he never left. He can almost hear them in the house. Her husband’s voice coming from the living room, the mother in the kitchen baking that cake, the boys in the yard.



Follow The Woods installments


L.V. Gaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are and The McAllister Farm
where the bodies are


What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions? Find out in Where the Bodies Are.


The McAllister Farm-cover 1

Take a step back in time to learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are:  The McAllister Farm reveals the secrets behind the man who created the killer.


Link to purchase these books by L.V. Gaudet



Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

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LV Gaudet, author

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Pseudo Allergies by Sherrie Hansen

Golden Rod - lighthouse

… Just one reason why late summer is the perfect time to read Golden Rod, my latest Wildflowers of Scotland novel.

Golden Rod

When I first chose to name my new book Golden Rod, I had a flurry of people tell me that they were allergic to goldenrod, and associated  the flower with sneezing and feeling like their head was going to explode.

Golden Rod bird

My research shows that allergies to goldenrod are very rare, since it is not airborne, and that people who suffer allergy symptoms this time of year are more likely affected by ragweed, which blooms at the same time.

Golden Rod - JD

Although I can truly promise you nothing by pleasant sensations if you read Golden Rod, this brings me to a related topic – why some of you think you are allergic to reading romance novels. Here are some of the reasons I hear from romance reading skeptics:

Golden Rod 2016 a

Fallacy #1:  Romance novels are for women. I’m a guy.

My Response:  Don’t let my flowery titles fool you. My novels all have two perspectives, two point of view voices – one male and one female. My books are not about women living in a fantasy world – they’re about men and women struggling along in a very real world. Their differing attitudes, perspectives, feelings, needs and approaches to problem-solving provide my books with stimulating conflict, movement within the plotlines, and differences of opinion. I’ve had many men tell me how much they enjoyed my books, and one couple who even argued over who got to read it first.

Golden Rod 2017

Fallacy #2:  Romance novels are shallow, dumbed down versions of the literary novels I enjoy.

My Response: A reviewer who’s a very intelligent mathematician called my novels “the thinking women’s romance.” Doctors, lawyers, and professors have written telling me they enjoyed my books. My characters are complex and my novels include complicated situations and scenarios worthy of readers who like books that stimulate their intellect and emotions.

Golden Rod Cattails

Fallacy #3:  I like action and adventure novels, thrillers and mysteries.

My Response: Today’s romance novels can and do include all of the above. My books have included murders, sex-crimes, scams, thefts, kidnappings, and all kinds of deceitful goings on. They also include romance, but love definitely isn’t the only thing between the covers (no pun intended).

Golden Rod Flood Bay 2016

Fallacy #4:  Romance novels are full of graphic sex scenes.

My Response: I’ve written on this topic previously. Some of my books have love scenes and some don’t. When love scenes are included, they’re not gratuitous, they’re there for a reason. They’re a necessary part of the plot. They’re also sweet, tender and satisfying. Sometimes, they’re even humorous. And just like real life, lovemaking is rife with consequences.

Golden Rod Ely

Fallacy #5:  Romance novels are filled with overly dramatic, shirtless bodybuilders and low-bodiced, big-busted heroines who I can’t relate to.

My Response:  My books are set in modern times and my characters are as real as you are. Some are good-looking, others not. They have flaws and frustrations and quirks just like all of us do. That’s what makes them so lovable and most importantly, believable.

GoldenRod 2016

So let me recommend this trusted cure for allergies. Expose yourself to just a little bit, then, gradually a little more, until your discomfort disappears. I’d be delighted if you’d try just one of my Wildflowers of Scotland novels, and Golden Rod is a great place to start. If you like it, you can read more.  Hopefully, you will find that you enjoy my romantic suspense novels.

Golden Rod Flood Bay 2017

What have you got to lose? Enjoy the goldtones of late summer, and don’t be afraid to read a new book or a new author.

Golden Rod shore

You’ll find beauty in all kind of unexpected locations.



Filed under fiction, photographs, Sherrie Hansen

Honey-Do’s Part 2 by John E. Stack

Summer is coming to a close way too fast and I will soon return to school. After nineteen years of teaching math, this year I have the opportunity to teach 7th grade Social Studies, but that is a story for a different time. This is a continuation of my last post about my adventures in the remodeling of our master bedroom and adjoining bath.
First off, let me say that even if you pay fifty dollars a gallon for paint (with primer), there is no such thing as one coat paint. I guess if you prime the walls with a flat paint the same color, but that defeats the concept of one coat. Anyway, the job that should have taken about three days took about a week.  The eleven foot ceilings didn’t help much either.
We used a real cool paint called “Sandstone”. Feels like sandpaper. We used a light gray on three walls and an aqua blue on the fourth. I trimmed it out with white. I thought it was looking pretty good, and I was almost done when my wife suggested that we should also paint the ceiling. Did it need it? Probably. Did I want to spend another day cutting in the edges and then staring at the ceiling for a few hours? No. Did I do it? Yes, and it looks good.
I used an aqua semi-gloss in the bathroom, trimmed in white. I didn’t do the ceiling yet, but probably will before all is said and done. By this time, I was used to doing two coats, so no big deal.
About three years ago, my oldest daughter won a shower door. She could not use it, so gave it to me. She asked if I could take pics of the installation in order to show how easy the install was. Since we were re-doing the bath, I figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to install the door. Well, I took everything out of the box and started looking at the instructions, only to find out that the maximum width of the door was one-half inch less than the opening we had. So, I placed it back in the box and ordered a new door. Maybe that one will be installed within the next month or so.
Before the paint was even dry, it was time to go look at flooring. We needed new flooring for the bedroom and for the bath. It started out with bathroom flooring, but I guess the bedroom floor was jealous, so we caved and purchased flooring for the bedroom first. We found an engineered hardwood that looks like weathered planks. It’s nice, and was very easy to install. It took about two and a half days. Since we had no place to store the bedroom furniture, it was move furniture – remove carpet – lay floor, move furniture – remove carpet – lay floor, etc. I got my work-out for those three days, but it looks pretty good with the paint scheme.
The next day, we went to pick-out/pick-up the flooring for the bathroom. We found a gray vinyl plank system that was waterproof. It looks similar to marble. It took about three hours to remove the existing vinyl floor. It consisted of adhesive tiles on top of sheet vinyl. It was nasty. It took another couple of days to place and cut into all the nooks and crannies, and then replace the toilet.
Over the next couple of days, I have to install quarter-round trim in both rooms.  After that, I get to build my barn door. This was the small project that started the renovation. I previously purchased the rail and yesterday I bought the wood. I really wanted to have all this completed before school started, but that might not happen since I only have a few days before I have to go back.
Once I hang the door, I will have spent a little over a month working on this. My wife keeps reminding me that a lot of people have volunteered to help, but you know, there is just something about saying “look what I did.” (Anyway, most sane people wouldn’t want to work with me, because I’m very particular about how things are done.) Maybe next time I’ll include pictures.


By the way, I know that some of you readers are used to me writing about foster care, and often about our last little boy, Bill.  We had Bill for almost three years.  I won’t place blame, but the transition to the adoptive home was absolutely horrible for us, for Bill and for his adoptive parents.  It took a while, but Bill seems to be adapting and bonding to his new mom and dad.  So, my wife and I decided to take a few months off from being foster parents, and are now trying to decide if it something we should continue doing.  I am still very passionate about foster care and adoption, and maybe one day I will include a few excerpts from the book I have been working on about real kids in foster care.


*** John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Olivia’s Sweet Adventure, and Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo.


Filed under blogging, John Stack, life, musings, writing

What have you lost? by Sheila Deeth

Andrew Callaghan would rather not think about the past. Too many losses. Too many betrayals. It’s simpler just to live in the present until that betrays him as well. And then, maybe it’s safest to assume the worst.

Stella DeMaris would like to be a part of Andrew’s present. If that means learning about his past and helping him find his future, well, she’s ready for the task.

And both of them care very much about the future of a special-needs child who vanishes from school.

Subtraction, released this month by Indigo Sea Press, is the story of Andrew and Stella and the missing child. It’s a dance between the past and present, between threats of betrayal and promises of hope, and between the illusions and disillusionment of a lonely math teacher. Enjoy it on its own, or read the companion novels, Divide by Zero and Infinite Sum, as well – they each stand alone and they’re all set, at least in part, in the quiet subdivisions of Paradise.

Yes, there are snakes in Paradise. But there are cats as well.

As for me, I’m just the author. In January I lost my basement to a flood. It’s nothing compared to the losses suffered by others or by Andrew, but it’s dominated my year. Then, just this last two weeks, I finally moved back in. I carried book boxes from garage to newly refloored and repainted basement rooms. I emptied books onto that clean new floor. If their pages lured me like long-lost friends, the books went onto the surviving bookshelves (also lugged down to the basement from the garage). But many shelves were subtracted in that flood (likewise books which dissolved on bottom shelves); not everything would fit. So books whose pages didn’t call out to me went back upstairs in boxes to be donated to the library.

Now a new and beautiful library/reading room has been added to my life. It used to be our sons’ bedroom, but sons are grown and gone. This room is mine, and January’s subtraction has turned into August’s addition. I love the addition.

I also love the addition of Subtraction to my list of published works. Thank you Indigo Sea!


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Stop Me If You’ve Seen This Before by Chuck Thurston

I have a friend who has done a lot of writing in various media. And I’m talking Hollywood and TV network prime time script writing stuff, etc. This background will tend to lower the objectivity bar for many of you, and so, to establish his credentials as honest and grounded in reality, I have to point out that he left the glamor of this life and now does considerable technical and business writing.

Now that he’s earning an honest living, he can look back on his earlier efforts with a critical eye. He told me some time ago that TV programming was suffering because of a lack of good writing these days. I am not sure if this is coincident with his leaving that business, but he went on to say this accounts for the rise of the – now ubiquitous – TV Reality Shows. It is far easier for TV producers to get some interesting folks, put them in unusual situations, give them a few instructions on what is wanted – and record the results.

The characters are chosen because of their good looks, nice bodies, quirkiness, wiseassery, likelihood of drawing sympathy, etc.  In other words, most of the traits that would get them selected for traditional TV acting roles – if there were good writers producing these shows now! The resultant work can’t be entirely without direction, however. The producers are smart enough to know what sells and what doesn’t, and if don’t know what the big draw is, you haven’t watched much TV. Dancing with the stars is as much about dancing as bull fighting is about animal control.

The advertisements for these shows are designed to entice the viewer in much the same way that ads for traditional shows did – emphasizing the excitement, adventure and titillating possibilities to be expected. And you can bag the excitement and adventure if it dampens the titillating.

My wife showed me an ad for The Bachelor in Paradise show that read, ‘Ashley takes Jared to a hotel!’ “What could possibly be her motive for that?” she asked. I sensed a tongue-in-cheek behind that remark.

“Don’t read too much into it,” I said. “That hotel has the best breakfast buffet in town!”

She snorted. “Oh sure!

“Look,” I said. “Before I watch that show – if I thought for a minute there was some hanky panky going on – I’d ask my doctor if my heart was healthy enough for viewing!”


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Masks from Travels

I guess most of us collect souvenirs when we travel and I’m guilty of that, as well. Along with photographs and pamphlets or coffee table books and gifts for friends, I also like to try to find a mask or face from each place I visit. I’ve been lucky over the years to be able to find the faces I’ve gathered together for a wall in my music room, especially since the places have been so diversified.

Mask Wall









For instance, one mask came from Branson, Missouri, here in the U.S. and next to it is a mask from the Isle of Malta and below it is one from Tulum, Mexico. Then there is a rendition of the death mask of Agamemnon, the King of Mycenae from 1550-1500 B.C.E. that I bought in Greece and below that a shell mask from Tarpon Springs, Florida, or a face of Vlad the Impaler from Transylvania, Romania near a classic Greek face from Athens. There’s a hand carved wooden mask from Bavaria and not far from it is a clay face from a craft fair in Montgomery, Alabama.

Malta Mask

Branson Face


All the faces have memories associated with them either of the place in which I purchased them or of the people I met along the way, so as I look around my home, I can relive those fond memories of my travels and of the wonderful friendships I’ve made throughout the years.

Tulum Mask



Classic Greek


Shell Florida



I’d love to hear if you are a collector and if so, what do you like to collect? Do you have a regular place for your items? If so, are they where you see them and remember your experiences associated with them?



Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.


Filed under blogging, Coco Ihle, musings, Travel

A Rambling Man (Part four) from Chapter Eight- “Not My Time to Go” by Thornton Cline

They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way: they found no city to dwell in. Psalm 107:4  KJV

Thornton Cline, author
I am still standing today after 11 near death experiences

It was about 11 p.m., but the night was just getting started. She was in the mood for love, and I had captured her heart and mind, swiftly and magically. Sherry reached over and tightly embraced me. We kissed passionately.

It was now about 1 a.m. It dawned on Sherry that she would have to get up at 5:30 a.m. to get her kids to school and make it work at Iowa Bell. She invited me back to her house to stay for the night. I obliged willingly. When we got there, it was quiet. Everyone was asleep.

As we fell in bed together, the phone rang. It was Sherry’s old boyfriend. He wanted to come over and spend the night with her. She reminded him that they were no longer together, and then begged him not to come over because she was too tired and needed to get up early in the morning for work. Despite Sherry’s pleading, the old boyfriend told her that he was coming over anyway. He hung up on her.

Sherry worried that there would be big trouble if I were there when her old boyfriend showed up. She did not want to see a bad fight between the two of us, so she urgently rushed me out of the door and sent me home. She bolted her door and went to bed. Sherry told me later that the old boyfriend showed up minutes later and tried to beat her front door down. Sherry didn’t answer the door, and pretended to be fast asleep. After a while, he gave up and left.

Sherry couldn’t sleep a wink, she said. She felt guilty for rushing me off and sending me home. She lay awake thinking of what a great time she had with me until her old boyfriend had to call and ruin the whole thing. She would call me in the morning and try to get back on my good side.

The next morning, when Sherry arrived at work, she called me at my house. She apologized repeatedly for the awkward moment between her old boyfriend and her. I accepted her apology. We set up another dinner date.

Our relationship seemed to spiral out of control from that point. We grew closer and closer each day. We spent hours together talking, laughing, kissing and touching—everything lovers do. We held each other close in bed at night.

A few weeks later, Sherry invited me to vacation with her in Chicago. It would be a romantic getaway, just the two of us without her kids or a babysitter. I spent the entire weekend with Sherry traveling and touring Chicago. We stayed in a lavish hotel and dined at some of the finest restaurants. This weekend vacation brought us even closer together.

About a month later, Sherry had a big proposition for me. She asked me to a special fancy restaurant in the heart of downtown Cedar Rapids. Over candlelight and an expensive dinner, she asked me if would consider moving in with her. I immediately accepted the offer. It had been years since I had indulged in so much lavish female attention as I had received from Sherry. I was tired of being lonely and feeling depressed. Sherry brightened my life and was adventurous.

I couldn’t wait to tell some of my male friends about Sherry’s proposition. They sharply rebuked me for being so foolish. They warned me of how a man’s life is never the same after he moves in with a woman and lives with her.  #Notmytimetogo; #IndigoSeaPress; #ThorntonCline; #MikeSimpson; #Angels

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The Story of a Cover

Despite my hesitation about writing a murder mystery starring my dance class (killing friends is a good way to lose friends) I wanted a cover for the as yet unwritten book to help ease me into the project. Grace, the woman who’d volunteered to be the victim, agreed to be the cover girl.

On Tuesdays, ballet comes first, then Arabic. One Tuesday, we were just finished practicing our final combination of ballet steps—glissade, arabesque, pas de bourrrée, assemblé—when Grace arrived, already dressed in her green and beige silk belly dance skirt.

I waved at the older woman. “I brought my camera. I need a photo of your corpse. Will you play dead for me?”

Grace laughed. “Sure. Where do you want me? Over there by the barre?”

I glanced at the corner of the studio she indicated, and shrugged. “Sure. Anywhere is fine.”

I’d expected to have to take several shots to get the pose I wanted, but Grace sank to the wooden floor as gracefully as she did everything else, and lay in the ideal pose.

Right then I knew I could kill Grace. She was just too damn perfect.

And now, Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, my sometimes amusing, always riveting novel about fun and murder at an adult dance class is available on Amazon.

Click here to buy: Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare


Pat Bertram is the author of four other suspense novels: Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.


Filed under books, fiction, Pat Bertram, writing

Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare

I didn’t want to kill Grace—it was her idea. I’ve literarily massacred hundreds of thousands of people, so it shouldn’t have been difficult to do away with one petite older woman, but the truth is I couldn’t think of a single reason why I—or anyone—would want Grace Worthington dead. Though most of us humans frown on murder, we do grudgingly admit some folks are so villainous they need to be eliminated, but no one would consider Grace a villain. She is charming, kind, with a smile for everyone, and the ghost of her youthful beauty is still apparent on her lovely face.

Besides, killing a friend is a good way to lose that friend, and dance class would not be the same without Grace.

I was still trying to make up my mind about killing Grace when several of us dancing classmates met for lunch. After nibbling on salads and sandwiches, we rose and gathered our belongings. I’d hung my dance bag on the back of my chair, and I yanked the bag with more force than I intended. The bag swung out and narrowly missed hitting Buffy Cooper, a tanned, elegant blonde a couple of years older and a couple of inches shorter than me.

Buffy deadpanned, “I’m not the one who volunteered to be the murder victim.”

That cracked me up, and right then I decided I had to follow through with the project. I mean, really—how could I not use such a perfect line?

I turned to Grace. “How do you want me to do the deed?” Since she’d initiated this lethal game, I thought it only right that she got to choose the means of her demise. So much fairer than the way life works, wouldn’t you say? I mean, few among us get to choose our own end. Life, the greatest murderer of all time, chooses how we expire, whether we will it or not.

Grace laughed at my question and said she didn’t care how she died.

But I cared.

Death is often messy—and smelly—with blood and body wastes polluting the scene, and I did not feel like dealing with such realities, especially not at Madame ZeeZee’s Dance Academy.

So begins the story of Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, my sometimes amusing, always suspenseful novel about fun and murder at an adult dance class.

Now available on Amazon.

Click here to buy: Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare


Pat Bertram is the author of four other suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”  Like Pat on Facebook.

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Filed under books, fiction, Pat Bertram, writing