Tag Archives: short story

Is It Spring Yet? by L.V. Gaudet

Spring isn’t officially here until March 20th, but it feels like spring already.  Even the Canada Geese have started coming back.  For their sake, let’s hope we don’t return to our normal January through March temperatures of -25 to -35 Celsius, which really converts to -30 to -43 with the winds.

 

Snow is melting, and I haven’t been freezing huddled under blankets for the drive to and from work, while my feet are frozen blocks inside my boots, and my fingers burn with the cold inside gloves that are so thick I have to take them off to pick up my coffee cup or work a key.  (Montana vans apparently don’t do “H”’s well:  heat and headlights).

 

This has been a winter of some firsts, most of them packed into February.  I went to Vegas for the first time in January.  It was also the first vacation since the start of “family” vacations that was not a “kid” vacation.  The only kids belonged to other people.

 

2003-nov-11-sidney-5mos-3

This month, we signed up this kid for high school (it starts early with grade 9).  Another first, we made her first resume to apply for a volunteer position.

 

She is also already a pretty good writer.

 

 

I got my Indigo Sea Press books listed in a very local newspaper, the first time I managed to get some public publicity for them.

 

blood-cover

 

I had my first public reading event too.  I submitted my short story Blood for the My Bloody Valentine short story contest at the second annual St. Valentines Horror Con on Valentine’s weekend, fully expecting to not make the cut.  To my shock it was accepted and I had to read it on stage at the Horror Con.  I spent the entire time with my head almost buried under the table, eyes glued to the pages, reading in a terrified monotone.  Unfortunately, I did not win.  Maybe next time.

 

I had my first school guest reading event for I Love to Read Month (Feb).  I read for the grade 7 and 8 classes at a local school, the grades that no one comes to read for.  I found an age-appropriate book and drew names to give one away in each class.  Maybe I’ll make that an annual thing.

 

This is a trend I’m hoping to continue.  With the newfound freedom of kids hitting their teens, maybe I can get more involved in the local writing community and local events.

 

sears-deskAnd with the help of my new toy that’s on its way, (the desk) and finally having an actual tiny spot that is mine, with luck I’ll also find more time for writing and blogging in between being these people:

  •  Cubicle dweller
  • Parent
  • Chauffer
  • Dog parent
  • Laundry service
  • Taekwondo student
  • Cleaning service
  • Cook
  • Life coach
  • Counselor
  • Life partner
  • Friend

Although, I have no idea where I’m actually going to put the desk, and it will still be central to all the commotion of a full house.


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

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

 

Where the Bodies Are:  book 1 in the McAllister series.  What secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm:  book 2 in the McAllister series.  The secret behind the bodies is revealed.

 

 

Links to purchase these L.V. Gaudet’s books

 

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

https://angiesdiary.com/bookoftheweek-web/081-botwoct262014.html

 

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

Facebook author page

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Pinterest

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WordPress:  LV Gaudet, author

 

 

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The Woods 4 – The House by L.V. Gaudet

the-woods-4-the-houseThe key jams in the lock, not wanting to go in.

The realtor looks at him nervously and smiles.

“It’ll go in.  The key works.”  His grimace gives face to the lie.  He isn’t so sure it will work.

He fiddles and struggles with the key for too long before the rusting lock mechanism finally unwillingly gives and allows them access.

His smile is almost sickly with relief.

He turns to the prospective buyer, hoping yet again that this is not a big waste of his time.  His commission is going to depend on how much the house actually sells for.  It’s not the usual commission deal.  He is getting more than the average commission percentage, an unusual agreement made with the municipal office that wants only to unload the property and get it off their books, doubtful anyone will bother to bid on it.

This guy is the only person who has shown an interest.  He could bid a dollar, the lowest bid allowed, and walk away with the property for nothing, less than the price of a cup of coffee.

He tries the door, hoping it opens easily.  A warped door can turn off a buyer before they see anything else.

The door sticks in the frame and, after he puts some weight into it, gives with the dull sound of two pieces of swollen wood pressed against each other giving up the fight to hold together.

They enter the house and step back thirty years in time.

.

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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Google+

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LV Gaudet, author

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The Woods – Part 3 (The Woods)

The Woods-3“What is that?” Jesse looks around, alarmed.

Kevin is busy inspecting the object in his hand.  It is rounded with the mud and rotting leaves stuck to it.  He can’t tell what it is.

“Probably a squirrel.”

“I don’t think so.”  Jesse can’t stop looking around.  He feels off.  Something is wrong.

“Kevin,” he hesitates.

“What?”

“It doesn’t look right.”

“What doesn’t look right?”

“Everything.  It’s… off.  The color is off.”

Kevin looks at him.  “You are a goof.”

Jesse’s wide frightened eyes make him pause.  He looks around them.  Jesse is right.  His heart beats faster and his chest feels tight.  Everything looks a little off.  The color.  The light.  But it’s more than that.  Something he doesn’t know how to describe.  It’s just … off.

Slowly, he bends down and puts the unknown object back down, wanting to free his hands.

He stands up and looks around again.

“Now he’s got my mind playing tricks,” he thinks.  There is nothing strange at all about anything.  Everything looks exactly like it should.  Exactly like before.

“It’s nothing,” Kevin says. “You really are a goof.  I don’t know what you’re talking about.  Everything’s normal to me.”

Jesse looks like he’s ready to bolt.

“Go run home scaredie-pants,” Kevin sneers.  He turns his attention back to the strange item at the base of the stump.

Jesse backs away, moving back towards their yard.

Kevin bends over and picks it up.  He stands up and looks around.  He feels off.

Jesse is moving away and Kevin doesn’t want to admit he’s afraid to be alone in the woods.  He pockets his treasure and chases after Jesse.

They reach the yard and stop.  They both look around.

It all looks a bit … odd.

The color is off just a bit.  It all feels a bit odd.  Out of sync maybe.

The house is not large, a lower middle-income home, all but the windowsills and doors was repainted last year.  The paint of the windowsills is cracking and starting to peel.  A job their father has not yet gotten to.

The lawn, mowed only three days prior, is only just starting to show the sprout of faster growing grass blades reaching over the others, although the dandelions have already popped their heads up, flashing their yellow flowers to the sky like round smiles.  A bicycle lays discarded on the lawn and a swing set stands on one side of the yard waiting to be used.

It all seems a bit dulled, muted, a bit off color.  Like a television set that someone has buggered with the color settings on.

Jesse broke first, running for the house.

He falters, not watching and almost tripping on the bike laying discarded on the grass. Recovering, he keeps going.

 

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:

Facebook author page

Google+

Instagram

Pinterest

Twitter

WordPress

LV Gaudet, author

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The Woods 2 – Thirty Years Later by L.V. Gaudet

The Woods-2Two men are standing in the backyard of a small rundown house in an older middle-class neighborhood. One, wearing a cheap suit and shoes not suited to traipsing through grass, is looking at the house with a mix of uncertainty and mild remorse.  He had hoped the house would be in better shape.  The other, in jeans, shirt, and runners, is studying the trees and bushes bordering the back property line.

“I heard a couple of boys vanished in these woods years ago.” He doesn’t turn around to look at the man in the suit, his attention fixed on the trees.

“It’s a local legend.  Brothers, Kevin and Jesse. They were playing in their yard and vanished.”  The man in the suit turns around to look at the trees too.

“This yard?  They lived in this house?”  The man in jeans looks around at the leafy jumble of trees bordering the yard and stretching out past the neighboring yards.  You can’t see through them or tell how far they go.

“Yes.  To be honest, I was going to leave that bit of background out.  It’s not exactly a selling point.”

“How does anyone know they went in the woods?”

“They found one of the boys’ shoes next to an old tree stump.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.  No other sign of the boys was ever found.”

“And the house?”

“Abandoned.  Left to rot.”

“The family just left it?”

“The boys’ mother went crazy, I heard.  The husband wanted to sell the house and move, get away from the memories I guess.  She refused to sell.  She kept insisting the boys were still here. From what I heard she was obsessed with keeping the house exactly the way it was the day they vanished too.”

“Crazy.”

“Yeah, crazy.”

“So, the house is selling pretty cheap.  It wasn’t looked after?”

“The husband left both her and the house.  Walked away and never looked back.  She stayed in the house for a while, until she was committed.  As far as I know, no one has set foot in the house since.  It’s going to be in pretty rough shape.”

“You make one hell of a real estate agent, you know that, right?”

“Ha-ha, yeah, I guess I do.”

“Can I take a look inside?”

“Sure, let’s go.  I have to warn you, this will be the first time anyone has set foot inside that house in thirty years.  I don’t know what we’ll find.”

The house is an average lower middle-class family home.  Smallish, but not quite as small as the low-income homes across the way.  The windows are hazy with the grime of thirty years of neglect and the paint long ago cracked and much of it worn away by the weather.  The windowsills sag with rot, half eaten by time. The shingles are cracking and peeling up and back on themselves like over-cooked sliced potatoes, browned rather than charred and entirely inedible.  The long grass of the yard had recently been clumsily hacked down, hastily driven over by a municipal riding mower, the charge tacked onto the growing bill of unpaid municipal fees owed, including property taxes and the other inevitable costs of home ownership.  It is one of the unasked for services visited on negligent homeowners.

It is these unpaid fees which are the reason the home is for sale now.  The bank had tried to foreclose on the unpaid mortgage almost thirty years ago, only to find themselves tied up in legal purgatory pitted against the municipality trying to seize the home for unpaid taxes.

Lacking much interest on both sides, the issue dragged out and dragged on, court proceedings repeatedly pushed back, and finally slipped through the cracks of forgotten paperwork.  Until, close to thirty years later, when a bored clerk cleaning out the desk of a deceased co-worker took pause to read a page of paper among the stacks being shoved into the shredding bin, and accidentally stumbled on the outstanding unfinished business of this house.

The long forgotten house by the woods.

The bank had long ago written it off, a small piece of millions in bad debts, and the municipal office was granted free title without being aware of it.

Now the house is up for auction to collect the unpaid property taxes and municipal fees owed.

With most of the records from thirty years ago gone, and no one keeping track of this forgotten property, the best anyone could piece together and confirm owed on the property is the cost of the most recent grass cuttings.  The whopping price of fifty-six dollars.  Less than the price of a song and a dance. They don’t know when the taxes stopped being paid. Any taxes owed are moot. Nearly thirty years of taxes adds up to more than the run down property is likely worth, and ownership by the owners was given up long ago.

The place is a steal.

And in this condition, its value is in the land it sits on.  Any buyer would tear the house down and rebuild.

They reach the door and the realtor fumbles with the key safe looped around the doorknob, trying to remember the combination to open it.  It’s a rectangular box-shaped device locked over the skinny part of the knob like a padlock, housing the key to the door.

Finally, he opens it and releases its treasure, a worn looking house key with the color rubbing off and marred with bits of rust in the teeth.

*** Watch for the continuing story ***

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The Woods is an ongoing work in progress that I am sharing with my readers and fans of the darker fiction.

You can follow me and installments of The Woods here.

If you are enjoying this little story, you might want to read something with a little more meat to it.  The first two books of the McAllister series are now available from Indigo Sea Press on their website and on Amazon.

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elephantOn the lighter side, a funny thing happened on the way to the blog. (Yes, this really is a random pic of a elephant with its butt in the air.)

I have two daughters.  One a raging bookaholic (we have not yet found a help resource for that), but since she’s excelling at school we willingly suffer the darker side of this, which is a nonstop demand for more and more books.  I’m seriously debating starting a GoFundMe to beg for help supporting her addiction.

The other daughter is quite the opposite.  Instead of lots of friends, she has trouble making friends.  She is a more serious soul, more sensitive about things that don’t faze the other kids. 

bullied

I have heard so many times that a kid’s reading level is a good indicator of their success both in school, and in life. 

Despite starting out school at a higher level than her older sister, she floundered at reading.  She had no interest in reading. Her reading level was grades below what it should be. All of her grades were suffering. School was a chore both for her and us.


magical bookThen something magical happened.  It might not seem magical to some, but for anyone who is an avid book lover like me, you can’t help but want that same devotion for your own kids.

We tried so many kinds of books, trying to match them to her unique personality.  Trying to pull her out of where she was, to get her reading, and so much more.  Her sister found that magic key, the right book.

For the first time, my youngest was enthralled.  She turned to something.  She yearned for it.   She complained when she had to stop reading.  For the first time she enjoyed reading.

Today I heard an echo.  It was that frightful echo that haunts a parent of a kid with a book addiction. “I can’t stand it!  I need the rest of the series!”

fear

As an author, it’s like the angels singing.  As a parent, you feel your meagre bank account shrivel in fear.  As a book-loving parent, you give a silent cheer and swell with pride and joy.

But it was more… it was a turning point.  Since she learned to love reading her reading level at school leapt by grade points in a short time.  It’s not the only improvement at school, both with schoolwork and friends.

It’s a start.

Yes, having the book-hater suddenly turn into a book-lover is a funny thing.  It’s a wondrous thing as a parent, author, and mostly as a book lover.

It terrifies me too.  I might need two GoFundMe pages to support both their voracious appetites for books.

Better yet, make my books go viral so I can make enough off them to support these two bookaholics and, I have to add proudly, burgeoning authors.  Yes, they both like writing too.  The younger, the book-disliker, even wrote a story that scared herself.  I’m so proud.

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The Woods by L.V. Gaudet

The Woods

The Woods

It is an ordinary forest, as far as spooky looking woods go, filled mostly with craggy twisted oak trees, their gnarled branches reaching like skeletal fingers and deeply wrinkled cracked-bark covered trunks. The trees cluster together, their branches twisted and tangled together, daring any to enter their midst.

The land here lies low and wet in the spring, leaving the stand of trees a small island of cragged haunted-looking trees bordered by stick-like saplings and sparse tall yellow grass invaded by wild roses with their sharp thorns standing in a shallow bath of melt water throughout the springtime months.

They are far from a silent woods. A small stretch of thick growth surrounded by fields of crops interspersed with some areas abandoned to grass, weeds, and stray crop seeds. Against one side of this stretch of trees, amidst the farm fields, is also nestled a small happy community. The woods team with life, red and grey squirrels, rabbits, mice and voles, and a range of birds. With the damp ground, the woods are a haven for frogs and toads, and of course, the ever-present blood-sucking mosquitoes.

It is a typical small town community lying nestled against the miniature forest. It grew from centuries old land of grasslands mixed with forests. The old forests and grasslands were slowly chopped down, turned over, and settled as the world slowly populated with mankind; the landscape of humanity changing from hunter-gatherers to farms, towns, and villages.

Eventually towns and communities grew together to become cities, family homesteads populated into small farming communities, and untouched land became rare pockets of unsullied old growth forests scattered about in tiny fragments bordering farm fields and stretches of small community homes.

Some of these tiny pockets of untouched woods still hold secrets. Some of these secrets are perhaps best left that way.

 

The woods sit silent and brooding, an ugly tangle of dead looking leafless skeletal branches that look like they belong in a darker and more sinister world, the world of the dead. The clouds hang heavy, dark, and grey on this day; a suffocating thick blanket hanging low in the sky to cast a pall over this small piece of the world.

The snow still lies heavy and wet here where it takes longer to melt away, crystalline flakes shrinking and melding into a dirty slush as the temperatures slowly warm. In time, the snow will vanish and be replaced once again by the murky stagnant melt waters that will take a few months to dry up.

Most of the rodents, birds, and other small woodland creatures are conspicuously absent on this day, having chosen to hunker down and wait out this gloomy day. Nevertheless, a few squirrels and birds still flit about the skeletal trees.  A small rabbit nervously twitches its nose as it sits motionlessly waiting to find out if that sound was a predator.

Two children playing in their back yard off the woods dare each other to go exploring into the spooky trees.

“I bet you can’t go to the fallen tree,” Kevin smirks, the older and taller of the two boys.

The younger boy blanched, his stomach turning sickly, but stares stone-faced at the fallen rotting tree laying nestled within the narrow strip of woods beyond their yard. You can see the tree only because there are no leaves on any of the branches.

“I am not going to let you know how scared I am,” he thinks. He can already smell the mossy rot of the long dead tree, although he has never been near enough to it to catch its odor. It smells in his vivid young imagination like death and decay and something even darker. He watches a small red squirrel flit around the trees, untouched by the dark brooding sullenness and the spooks, ghosts, and monsters his mind screams must surely lurk hidden inside these scary woods. He swallows.

“Can too,” he said, his voice cracking with fear. “I bet you can’t go stand on that old stump,” he countered.

The old stump is a rotting remnant of an even older fallen tree that has long ago vanished into the mud and scraggly growth of the woods. The stump remains, standing defiant and threatening beyond the fallen tree now laying discarded and tangled in the woods, sharp splinters and points of shattered wood sticking up as though waiting to impale any foolish boy who tries to climb it and falls. Its wood is soft and crumbly now with rot, the sharp jagged edges unlikely to be capable of impaling anything for years.

Kevin humphed at his younger brother. He is just as scared, but is not going to let his little brother know that. He nervously hikes up his pants, which did not need it, and steps forward on a mission. He marches purposely into the woods, careful to keep his back to the younger boy so he will not see the paleness of his waxy fear-filled face.

With a scuff and a shrug, Jesse reluctantly follows his older brother.

A little red squirrel scampers up to the high branches as they pass, pausing to chitter down angrily at the boys.

They reach the first point, the fallen tree Kevin dared his younger brother to venture to. It’s no victory for either boy.

On a forced march of pride, determined not to reveal his fear of some silly trees, Kevin continues on. He crawls over the fallen tree, its rotting length sagging with a soggy cracking beneath his weight. His forward march slows more the closer he comes to the wicked looking ancient broken stump.

He stops; staring at the stump like it is some otherworldly thing. He dares not touch it, yet also dares not refuse to touch it, lest Jesse think him weak or afraid.

Unable to let his older brother face the woods alone, Jesse follows. As he draws near the old stump where his brother has stopped to stare motionlessly at it, he notices something unusual looking at the base of the stump.

“What’s that?” Jesse asks nervously.

Kevin pries his eyes from the stump to look lower.  He kneels down, reaching for what lies there.

“Don’t touch it.” Jesse’s voice is a little too shrill.

“It’s nothing.”  Kevin picks it up, turning it over in his hand.

Jesse turns at the sound of a cracking branch.

The boys are never seen again.

 

Follow The Woods installments

 

L.V. Gaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are
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?

 

The McAllister Farm-cover 1

 

 

Watch for book 2 of the McAllister series coming soon at Indigo Sea Press:  The McAllister Farm.  The secret behind the bodies is revealed.

 

 

Book 3 is in progress, title to be determined.  The third book will bring the characters of Where the Bodies Are and The McAllister Farm together for an intense climax.  You are pulled deeper into the mind of the killer as he spirals further into madness, and will find yourself rooting for him as he faces a bigger challenge; he has competition.  A new killer comes on scene, bringing a new level of evil and cruelty.  You will learn the fates of the McAllister Family, and maybe the secret pasts of Detective Jim McNelly and everyone’s favorite unscrupulous reporter, Lawrence Hawkworth, will be revealed.

 

Links to purchase this and other upcoming L.V. Gaudet’s books

 

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

https://angiesdiary.com/bookoftheweek-web/081-botwoct262014.html

 

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

Facebook author page

Google+

Instagram

Pinterest

Twitter

WordPress

LV Gaudet, author

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Little Cup (Short Story) by L.V. Gaudet

The day was as any other, that day on which a very ordinary little cup was made along with a bunch of other very ordinary little cups.  And today, again, was a day the same as any other day.  The cups sat in a line on the shelf, rows behind rows of identical plain little tin cups.  They were not made to be pretty like the fancy little painted tea cups sitting on a similar shelf with their fatin cupncy little saucers.  The little tin cups were made to be simple, plain, and durable.  They will dent, but not shatter or crack like the fancy little fragile china cups.

The bell above the door tinkled when the door opened.  It might have been a merry sound, but these days there were very few with reason to feel merry.

The shopkeeper watched the mother enter the store with a boy trailing at her heel like a trained puppy.  She leaned her bulk on the counter, trying to ease the ache in her sore feet as she watched them.  The shopkeeper was a little overweight, but her clothes and face sagged with fatigue and the weight she had recently lost.  The weight loss was not the result of prudent diet and exercise.  Everyone was losing weight these days, including those who hadn’t the weight to lose.

The mother looked tired and worn out beyond her years; her eyes avoided making contact as she entered the store with a slight unsure pause as she did so, head lowered in deference to the world around her.  Her jacket did not look warm enough for the weather.  It was as worn and threadbare as the woman herself.  Her cheekbones seemed a little sunken and her eyes held the furtive haunted look of a rabbit trapped within a circle of hungry wolves.  She wobbled a little as she wandered along the shelves of the store, examining the goods, pausing and coming back again to the mostly empty shelves holding meager rations of food.

The boy looked too small, his age impossible to define.  His jacket was much too big, making the boy seem even smaller within its confines.  He looked too thin, scrawny sticks for legs sticking out beneath the jacket and ending in worn shoes that looked too small for his feet; the toes sticking out through holes worn through the tips of the shoes giving testament to that.  The boy never looked up, just followed his mother silently, a miniature shadow, seeming almost as intangible as a shadow.

In another time, an eternity ago although really little time had passed, this woman would have entered with her head held high, looking the clerk in the eye with a smile and nod.  The boy would have eagerly rushed forward, seeking out the candy shelves, begging his mother to buy some.  Today the candy lay sullenly overlooked as kids instead eyed loaves of bread, dented cans they normally would insolently turn their noses at, and bruised partially rotted fruit with insatiable hunger.

The clerk caught the mother’s gaze, and turned her eyes away in shame, as though she’d just witnessed something very private.  Her cheeks colored with what might have been embarrassment.  What she saw in those eyes frightened her.

Those eyes held the dark bruised look of the desperate, a mother starving herself so that her children can eat what little scraps of food she can get.

The mother leaned down and whispered into the boy’s ear.  What she said would soon become obvious.

The boy shuffled over towards the candy shelf, eyeing the brightly colored wares with a dull disinterested look.  The woman behind the counter watched the boy.  Gingerly, as though handling delicate crystal, the boy picked up two candy bars and showed them to the clerk.  Digging into his jacket pocket, he retrieved a small handful of coins and showed them to the lady.  She shook her head, indicating the sparse coins were not enough for the candy.  They went through this little dance of charades, the boy showing her his pittance of money and different candies while she solemnly mimed “no”.

At last the mother approached the counter.  She set on the counter a single dented can and motioned the boy to put the candy back.  He gently laid the candy in its place and pocketed his change.

The mother at last looked the clerk in the eyes, a shadow of the pride she once had still lingered in those haunted hollow eyes.  Carefully digging money from her worn little purse as though those coins were valuable and ancient relics requiring great care, she laid out the money to pay for the can of food.

As the mother turned to leave with her single can of food, the clerk leaned across the counter and deftly grabbed the boy’s jacket behind his mothers back.  She slipped the coins into his hand and pointed at a candy bar with a wink, the bar filled with nuts, indicating that he should take it.  She couldn’t sell the candy anyway.  She had seen the mother furtively sneak a few apples into a pocket, while hungrily eyeing a loaf of bread that was too big to hide.  She wiped away an unshed tear as the bell over the door tinkled behind the closing door.  They would repeat this little dance in exactly one week, and again exactly one week later, as they had in the weeks before.

#

Back in their little shelter where two smaller children, a girl and a boy, huddled against the chill and waited, the mother carefully opened the dented little can.  They would eat it as is, cold, shared between them.  The mother would pretend to eat too, instead saving her small ration for her children.

Nervously, the boy that accompanied her to the store approached his mother.  He looked embarrassed, shy.  Not sure if he would be in trouble or if his mother would be proud.  She looked up at him expectantly.  He scuffed his toe, shrugged, and finally dug deep in his pocket.  The boy pulled out the candy bar, presenting it solemnly.

The mother frowned at the candy bar.  Candy was useless.  It would not feed their starving bodies.  But the nuts blanketed in that rich velvety chocolate were precious life giving little jewels.  Protein.  She smiled at the boy, hugged him tight.  They would save this treat for later, when the children cried in the night from the hunger pains gnawing greedily at their stomachs.

The boy shuffled again, looking down at his toes.

The mother looked at him, a question in her eyes.

At last he dug again in his pocket.

Mother’s head tilted, curious, and a little worried.

The boy pulled out his prize and held it out before Mother’s eyes, his eyes tearing.  It was a very ordinary little tin cup.  Plain and kind of ugly, but it would not shatter or crack like the pretty little fancy painted teacups.

“H-happy birthday Mother,” the boy’s voice cracked out.

Tears welled at Mother’s eyes and she hugged him tight.  Words were not necessary; they would have only diminished the moment.

#

Mother carefully sliced a small bruised apple, putting pieces in the little tin cup, on a large piece of what used to be a larger ceramic dinner plate, and on the table beside where she cut.  She ate two small slices, giving the rest to the children.  When she was done, she carefully licked the juice from the knife and the surface of the table.  They could not afford to waste even those few precious drops of juice from the apple.

She stepped outside to see the oldest boy carefully pulling a thin slice of apple from the little tin cup and sharing it with a starving scruffy looking little dog.  It was food they desperately could not afford to lose, but she wasn’t angry.  The little dog would provide them with meat, either by catching the quick little rodents that scurried about in the dark, or by eating the dog itself.  Her children had to eat.

#

Mother lay on the cold ground in an icy puddle of dirty water, her coat stained dark like blood by the dirty water.  Her eyes were closed as if in sleep, her hair tousled and spread out across the dirty road.  A patch of blood lay streaked and already drying across her face.  The muddy tracks of the wagon’s wheels lay across Mother’s coat like the sash of a pageant winner.

The children wailed and sobbed.

The little dog yelped and cried as the man ran away with the squirming little creature.  The little dog would feed his starving family today.

The wagon that ran over Mother when the man pushed her to the ground in front of it as she fought to keep him from stealing the little dog just kept rolling on, unconcerned.

The very ordinary little tin cup lay forgotten in the mud, spattered and dirty, but not shattered or cracked.

A man passing by, unconcerned by the children’s plight, noticed the little cup.  He stopped and looked at it, stooped and picked it up.  It was a rather plain looking little tin cup, dirty and kind of ugly, but it would not shatter or crack like the pretty little fancy painted teacups.  With a shrug he shoved the little tin cup in his pocket and walked on.

#

The wagon wheels growled ceaselessly against the rocks and dirt of the road.  It was not a smooth road by any means and the wagon creaked and groaned tiredly as it was pulled along by a pair of tired horses.

The driver rocked in his seat with the swaying of the wagon.  On the seat beside him a rather plain looking little tin cup sat.  It was empty now, but its contents had warmed the man as he sipped it while waiting for the load on the wagon to be strapped down securely.  He had picked up the discarded cup from the muck of the street, wiped it off, and kept it.  A durable little cup like that came in handy.

The thundering of hooves began to descend on the wagon, echoing off the distance like the rumble of weak thunder.

The horses ticked their heads up and pricked their ears nervously, picking up on the driver’s nervousness through the long reigns.  The driver looked side to side and behind, trying to spot the advancing riders and how far they were.  He snapped the reins, calling the horses to greater speed.  The wagon wheels wobbled dangerously on the uneven road as the wagon picked up speed.

A distant shout.

He urged the beasts faster.  The wheels wobbled harder.

With whoops and yells, the thudding hooves growing closer, the riders chased down the wagon, catching up to it on their faster stolen horses.  The ruts and pits of the road slowed down the wagon too much to outrun horses bearing riders only.  They surrounded the wagon.

One rider leaned over, trying to catch the long rein and pull back on it to slow one of the horses pulling the wagon.  If you slow one, you slow them both.  He reached and missed, reached again, caught it, and pulled.

A sudden lurch of the wagon as its wheel caught a rut pulled him off balance, making him fall from his galloping horse.  He tumbled, rolled, and the wagon wheels rolled right over him.  The horse continued to pace the horses pulling the wagon in an urgent race.

The other men continued to chase the wagon, the driver urging his beasts to greater speed, the wagon wheels wobbling dangerously, and the wagon jostling on the rough road, leaving the injured man laying groaning in the mud of the road behind.  They could not lose the wagon.  If they did not rob it their families would not eat.

The little tin cup wobbled and rolled about the seat, finally rolling off and bouncing against the edge of the wagon side.  It fell to the ground, bouncing and rolling, at last coming to rest in the dirt.  It lay there in the mud, spattered and dirty, sporting a little dent but not shattered or cracked.

#

Dusk was beginning to close in, drawing a pall of dimness across the world.  An old man hobbled down the road, using a cane for support.  His stomach had stopped hurting some time ago and now just had the empty hollowness of the starving.

Something in the road caught his eye.  He stopped and looked at it, stooped with difficulty and picked it up.  It was a rather plain looking little tin cup, dirty and kind of ugly, but it would not shatter or crack like the pretty little fancy painted teacups.  With a shrug he shoved the little tin cup in his pocket and walked on.

The door to the little shack creaked open.  The old woman warming herself by a tiny starving fire looked up hopeful, yet a little afraid.

The old man shuffled in, closed the door behind him, and slowly peeled his coat off with arthritis stricken fingers.  He walked over to the old woman, who looked up at him warmly from her chair.

“Happy birthday, Mother,” his voice cracked as he leaned over to give his wife a kiss on the forehead.  Carefully, he pulled out the little tin cup and presented it to her as though it were something very valuable and fine.

The old woman stared at the little tin cup.  It was a rather plain looking little tin cup, dirty and sporting a little dent and kind of ugly, but it would not shatter or crack like the pretty little fancy painted teacups.  She smiled warmly up at the old man, hugging his arm tight.  He helped her struggle out of the chair.  She shuffled over to the sink, picked up a worn little tea towel, wetted it, and cleaned the little cup with careful love.  When she was done, she gently set the cup upon the shelf beside some pretty little fancy painted cracked and chipped teacups.

#

“Hurry,” the boy urged his older brother as he kept watch.  The old couple would return soon.  He had seen them searching the edge of the woods not far to anything edible they could find.

“I’m hurrying, I’m hurrying,” the other brother spat back as he urgently ransacked the little shack, desperate to find something to eat.  Searching the shelf of mismatched cups in case something lay hidden there, he accidentally knocked a pretty little fancy painted teacup off the shelf.  It tumbled as if in slow motion as the two boys eyes watched the delicate little cup’s fall in horror.  It shattered when it hit the floor.  They stared at it mesmerized.

Finally the older boy snapped out of it.

“There’s no food here,” he whispered loudly to the younger boy.  The younger boy looked stricken, his hand reflexively reaching for his empty belly.

“Let’s get out of here,” the older boy said, looking nervously at the door.

The younger boy paused, eyes glued to the little tin cup.  His hand snaked out, snatched the little cup off the shelf, and shoved it into his pocket.

The boys ran from the house, the old couple yelling at their retreating backs in the distance, having seen the robbers flee from their little shack.

The boys ran faster, not knowing that the kind old couple had found food and wanted to share it with the two boys they knew regularly burglarized their home in a desperate search for something to eat.

#

Two boys sat cowering against the cold stone wall, huddled in their ragged clothes for warmth they wouldn’t find.  Their limbs seemed strangely long, so stick-like were their thin arms and legs.  Between them sat a rather plain looking little tin cup sporting a little dent and kind of ugly.  They picked this spot because this was where the people with money came to eat and drink.  Their eyes locked on every passerby, following them, pleading, hollow and sunken with hunger and desperation.  Later, they would move to the back of the building to fight with other children over the meager scraps from the garbage.  The workers in the restaurant mostly picked out anything reasonably edible to bring home to their families before the trash made it to the back ally.

A mean spirited woman passed by, not deigning to give them so much as a glance from the corner of her eye, and making it obviously so.  Next came a swaggering man, waddling from his obesity and pomposity.

After this shuffled a wraith of a woman, scrawny and dirty; eyes withdrawn and empty.  She paused before them, not looking at them, and just stood there.  At last she turned to stare down at the boys with those empty lifeless eyes.  Her eyes scared them.  They shrunk into themselves, wishing she would just go away.

The scary woman reached into her dirty coat.  She knelt down and gently laid a single coin in the little tin cup.  With a satisfied nod, she got up with a slight wobble, weak from hunger.  The boys would eat today instead of her.  She shuffled off down the street and vanished around a corner.

The boys stared after her, eyes wide in wonder at the starving homeless woman who gave when even the wealthiest just ignored them.

Later, at the garbage behind the building, the younger boy cowered against the wall, the precious coin hidden within his rags of clothes.  The older boy rolled and scuffled on the ground with another boy, kicking, punching, and biting.  Other children stood around, jeering and cheering.  The little tin cup rolled out of the older boy’s pocket, bouncing on the ground with a dull little clang.

With a rude smirk one of the spectators, an older boy with a dirty freckled face, kicked the little cup hard, sending it skittering and bouncing and rolling out into the street.  It bounced off the wheel of a slow moving car.  Cars were relatively new still and very few of even the rich had one.  The cup was kicked by a plodding horse’s hoof as the animal pulled a wagon past.  It skittered and bounced and rolled, finally coming to rest someplace out of sight.

Satisfied, the older boy joined the fight, beating up the boy who lost the little tin cup.

#

A little girl picked up something from the mud.  It was so dirty and caked with mud that she had to wipe some of the thick mud off to see what it was.  It was a little tin cup.  It was a rather plain looking little tin cup, dirty and dented and kind of ugly, but it would not shatter or crack like the pretty little fancy painted teacups.  She smiled and wiped more mud off.

The little girl used the little tin cup to give water to a very thirsty little cat.  The little cat purred and rubbed against her legs appreciatively before scampering off.  The little girl frowned, sad, and stared at the little cup in her hands.

The grateful little cat returned with a prize, dropping a freshly caught fat rat at the little girl’s feet.  She set the cup down on a window ledge beside her and stared at the ugly hairy creature lying at her feet.  The little cat stared up at her expectantly.  The girl’s eyes lit up and she smiled at the little cat.  Scooping up the dead rat she ran for home, the little cat following at her heels.  Her family would eat meat today.  The little tin cup sat alone and forgotten on the ledge.

#

A man walked along, carrying a worn black doctor’s bag.  He had urgent business.  As he walked he pondered, hoping the family he was visiting still had some meager belongings, still had a shelter and warmth, and still had some kind of little cup or bowl to mix the medicine in a broth to feed the ill father.

As he walked, something caught his eye.  He paused and looked at a little tin cup sitting forgotten on a window ledge as the world shuffled on by.  It was a rather plain looking little tin cup, dirty and dented and kind of ugly, but it would not shatter or crack like the pretty little fancy painted teacups.  He smiled, picked up the cup, and shoved it in his pocket.  He continued on his way, whistling a sad little song.

#

“The doctor is here, the doctor is here,” a little boy came rushing in eagerly.  He was little and skinny, his eyes bruised and hollow with hunger.

The mother rushed to the door, closing it behind her, confronting the doctor before he could enter.  She blocked the door, holding the handle so curious little hands could not open it to see what is going on.  She looked frail and frightened, her eyes holding that furtive haunted look of a rabbit trapped within a circle of hungry wolves.  Her eyes stared into the eyes of the doctor.  What he saw in those eyes frightened him.

“We can’t pay you,” she said in a quiet matter of fact voice.

He nodded and stepped forward, saying not a word.  Words were not needed and would only have diminished the moment.

She stepped away from the door, allowing the doctor to enter.

#

An icy rain pelted down, cutting sharply against exposed flesh.  It was very dark.  Some things simply did not wait for daylight these days.

A frail looking mother stood silently in the rain, a little boy standing beside her, his tears lost in the streaming pellets of rain.  They watched the men dig, opening a dark hole in the ground, a paupers grave.  Silently, the mother wished she could step forward, close her eyes, and fall into that black void with the body of her husband.  She looked down at the boy by her side, her hands fidgeting in her pockets, trying to warm them.  Her hand closed around an object she’d forgotten shoving into her pocket.  She pulled it out and stared at it as though she’d never seen it before.  It was a little tin cup, plain and dented and kind of ugly.  Her eyes burned with anger and unshed tears.  She hated that little cup.  The mother turned, wound up her arm like a baseball pitcher, and threw the little cup as hard and as far as she could.  She watched it sail through the air, tumbling, and vanishing in the darkness.

The little boy’s eyes followed the rolling flight of the little tin cup solemnly, as though this simply were part of the rite of burial.

The little tin cup called back its goodbye’s, a tinny echo as it clanged and rolled somewhere in the dark until it came to rest.

#

A figure lurked in the darkness, quiet, treading carefully so as to be utterly silent.

A woman waited anxiously, unaware of the man creeping up on her in the darkness.

The man’s eyes fixed on the woman, watching her in anticipation as she slowly drew nearer with every cautious step he took.

She did not see him, did not hear him, and did not feel his presence in that uncanny way some women have of sensing someone staring at them.

The man reached out his arms, eyes glinting, teeth glinting against the distant light as he bared them in a nasty grimace.  The knife in his hand gleamed sharply off that distant light.  Just one more step…

The tinny little clang of the little tin cup echoed like a deafening thunderclap to the man’s ears.  He froze, eyes scared.

Startled the woman looked up, turned around, and screamed.  It was a frightened scream.

The man’s feet slapped against the ground as he fled into the dark of night.

Trembling, the woman looked down and her eyes caught sight of the little tin cup.  She stooped down and picked it up, turning it in her hand to look at it.  It was a rather plain looking little tin cup, dirty and dented and kind of ugly, but it would not shatter or crack like the pretty little fancy painted teacups.  With a shrug, she put the cup in her coat pocket.  It would come in useful.  She continued to wait, a little more wary now.

#

A worn little wooden crate sat in a corner.  It didn’t hold much.  A few scraps of worn clothing, some fruit well on the way to rotten, a loaf of hard and molding bread, and one little tin cup.  It was a rather plain looking little tin cup, dirty and dented and kind of ugly, but it would not shatter or crack like the pretty little fancy painted teacups.

Stuck to the crate was a simple little note.

“Orphanage,” the note read in an uneven scrawl.

Tonight, the children would eat.

L. V. Gaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are and the soon to come second book in the series The McAllister Farm.

Follow L.V. Gaudet:

Review of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

https://angiesdiary.com/bookoftheweek-web/081-botwoct262014.html

WordPress

http://lvgwriting.wordpress.com

Facebook – author page

http://www.facebook.com/LVGaudet.Author

Twitter @lvgaudet

http://twitter.com/lvgaudet

Google+ – author page

https://plus.google.com/b/105997630536794217325/105997630536794217325/posts

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00015]

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00015]

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00015]

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THE INHERITANCE

Today I am offering a very short story for your enjoyment. It started as a challenge to write a succinct story in very few words. The original story was 500 words, including the title. I have added a few more words for the posting today.

THE INHERITANCE

All my life I heard about some entailed, but incredible wealth in a family estate with an odd secret that had been passed down for generations form some eccentric ancestor with a biting sense of ironic humor. No one knew where it was until they received the letter with the key delivered by messenger.

I’d fallen on hard times. My mouth watered at the idea of the estate and its wealth.

One day, my deadbeat uncle got the letter. Enclosed in it was an old, ornate key and directions to his inheritance.

Later, I was informed, by post, that I was next in line. I needed the inheritance more than my uncle did. I made sure he did not live much longer.

What can I say, he had an accident.

Eagerly I waited for the missive to arrive by messenger about my inheritance. Finally the envelope arrived. Greedily I signed for it, and ripped open the packet. The instructions demanded that I live in the house for one year.

“Piece of cake,” I said smiling as I programmed the coordinates into my GPS and drove off to claim my inheritance. The house was a run down shack that had seen better days. It was not habitable.

I returned, disgruntled.

My cousin greeted me with a bullet. He was next in line.

No one knew there was the entrance to a gold mine under the floor. We all saw a shack, and no one, for generations, stopped to give it a second look.

I hope you have enjoyed this little story, and will contemplate where there is buried treasure in your life that you may not be seeing because of outward appearances.

By S. M. Senden, author of Clara’s Wish and Lethal Boundaries available from Second Wind Publishers.

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~~Excerpt From “Second Helpings”~~ ~A Taste of Louisiana by Jan Linton~

Second Helpings
An Anthology of Holiday Recipes and
Short Stories
From Authors of
Second Wind Publishing

Second Helpings

A perfect gift for short story lovers and food connoisseurs!

From sweet childhood remembrances to fanciful solutions of family dramas to romantic relationships that begin–or end–during the holidays, Second Helpings is an anthology of stories and memories, but most especially of recipes. Our end-of-year celebrations are occasions that bring reunions with unforgettable feasts and that one special, treasured dish. At the end of each story, vignette, reminiscence, you’ll find a recipe or collection of recipes that will make your next holiday memorable as well.

EXCERPT AND SAMPLE RECIPE:

A Taste of Louisiana
By
Jan Linton

Louisiana. We aren’t like the rest of the world. My home state stands out in ways that make it a unique place to live. We have parishes instead of counties. We love our incorrigible politicians—Edwin Edwards, four-term former governor, current ex-con, is still one of the most beloved citizens in Louisiana. And, we adore our food.

We love to celebrate anything. Mudbugs, alligators, even those pesky mosquitoes give us a reason to “make groceries” and put on a feast-like spread. There is always a place for one (or a dozen) more at the table in Southern homes. If you’re hungry, I’ll feed you. If you’re not hungry, I’ll still feed you. If you won’t let me force-feed you, you’re not stepping out of my house without a sack full of leftovers. It’s just our way.

Some call it “Southern hospitality,” but it’s really just part of our heritage. Our mommas would slap us hard, in person or in spirit, if we didn’t make our visitors (friends, family and strangers) eat until they waddled out the door. No one leaves a true Southern home with an empty belly.

Holidays are celebrated in style. We not only have turkey and ham, we cook every possible meat we can lay our hands on. Venison and beef will be competing for space on the banquet table. We have our traditional fare, but no Louisiana holiday is complete without our seafood and beer. Crawfish, fish, crabs, shrimp; you name anything we can catch in the Gulf, we’ll have it on the holiday table.

Deserts? Oh, sweet Pierre, do we have deserts. At any holiday or family gathering, it’s normal to have at least half a dozen different cakes, cookies, pies and candy. And that doesn’t count what our guests bring.

In Louisiana, we celebrate life through our food. Holidays give us the perfect opportunity to put our culinary skills and social heritage to work. The highest compliment to a Southern cook is to see our friends and family nap after a full meal. We make our mommas proud.

Shrimp and Corn Bisque

1 tablespoon margarine or butter
¼ cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 cans cream of potato soup (10.75 oz)
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
4 ounces cream cheese
6 ounces Velveeta cheese
1 can creamed corn
1 can whole kernel corn
1 large baked potato, peeled and chopped
1 ½ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

Melt margarine or butter in large pot (Dutch oven works best). Add onions, garlic and pepper; sauté until tender. Stir in potato soup, evaporated milk, cream cheese, Velveeta cheese and both cans of corn. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. After cheese has melted, stir in baked potato chunks. Add shrimp and cook on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes until shrimp are done.

***

Second Helpings is available in print and all ebook formats from Second Wind Publishing.

 

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Story Excerpt From “Second Helpings” ~~~ Cookies Without by JJ Dare ~~~

Second Helpings
An Anthology of Holiday Recipes and
Short Stories
From Authors of
Second Wind Publishing

Second Helpings

A perfect gift for short story lovers and food connoisseurs!

From sweet childhood remembrances to fanciful solutions of family dramas to romantic relationships that begin–or end–during the holidays, Second Helpings is an anthology of stories and memories, but most especially of recipes. Our end-of-year celebrations are occasions that bring reunions with unforgettable feasts and that one special, treasured dish. At the end of each story, vignette, reminiscence, you’ll find a recipe or collection of recipes that will make your next holiday memorable as well.

EXCERPT FROM:

Cookies Without
By
JJ Dare

This would be the third Christmas without Marie’s husband. It was the second Christmas without her brother and the first without her mother. This holiday had all the markings of a celebration with ghosts as the main guests.

Three loved ones gone in three years. Marie dreaded the next year. Who would leave next?

No Paul, no Eddie, no Mom. The days were always heavy with their absence, but holidays were worse. The emptiness pressed against her soul. She was barely making it through the normal days let alone the times when her family gathered to celebrate life.
. . .

Marie pulled out cans of sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, and, from the very back of the cabinet, an expired can of very young peas. She held the can in her hands as fresh tears fell. No holiday meal had been complete without very young peas, Paul had said. There were a few holidays when he went to the store the day of the meal because Marie had forgotten to pick up a can of his favorite vegetable.

Gathering her wits, Marie set the cans on the counter and looked around. What else, what else? Something important was escaping her. What was missing?

The cookies! How could she forget the desert the family had expected the past two Christmases but Marie had been too heartbroken to make. The bon-bon cookies had been a joint effort between Marie and Paul. She would roll the cookies into balls and he would stuff them with chocolate chip pieces. It was the one of their few collaborations in cooking.

Roll and stuff. Marie could not remember when they had started the tradition, but the kids had early on nicknamed the cookies “Mom-Pop cookies.” Maybe she and Paul had started doing it to speed up the holiday dinner long ago when restless children wanted to hurry and eat so they could play with their new toys.

It did not matter now. There was no hurry anymore. There was only time stretching out ahead of her and no end in sight. She washed her hands, sat back down at the table and drifted off in thoughts of bygone holidays.

A bell dinging broke her from her reverie. As she pushed against to table to rise from her chair, she felt something strange on her hands. Buttery dough was sticking to her fingertips. Her heart raced as she looked at the metal cooking tray in front of her.

Neatly laid out were the traditional cookies she had purposely not made for the past two seasons. She picked one up with a shaking hand. Breaking the dough open, three chocolate chips nestled inside. The perfect number.

No more, no less. Paul had been adamant to the point of silliness about the number of chocolate pieces he stuffed inside each cookie. So adamant that one Christmas when they were short of money, he had meticulously removed the chips from the half he had finished and delicately sliced the pieces in half.

The hair on Marie’s neck stood on end.

***

Second Helpings is available in print and all ebook formats from Second Wind Publishing.

 

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~~ Excerpt From “Second Helpings ~~ A Taste of the World by Dellani Oakes

Second Helpings
An Anthology of Holiday Recipes and
Short Stories
From Authors of
Second Wind Publishing

Second Helpings

A perfect gift for short story lovers and food connoisseurs!

From sweet childhood remembrances to fanciful solutions of family dramas to romantic relationships that begin–or end–during the holidays, Second Helpings is an anthology of stories and memories, but most especially of recipes. Our end-of-year celebrations are occasions that bring reunions with unforgettable feasts and that one special, treasured dish. At the end of each story, vignette, reminiscence, you’ll find a recipe or collection of recipes that will make your next holiday memorable as well.

EXCERPT:

A Taste of the World
By
Dellani Oakes

When I was a child, my family lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts while my father attended Harvard. Living in the married student housing had its drawbacks, but it also gave me a first hand exposure to different cultures. Across the street, there was a family from Israel. On the corner, another from Australia. On our side, we had Scottish, German, Chinese, Indian and Japanese families. Not only were there many foreign students, there were people from all over the country. A rich blend of dialects greeted our ears whenever we went outside.

From time to time, we’d all get together for dinner. Someone brought out barbeque grills and did hot dogs and hamburgers. Every imaginable side dish you can think of would sit on long tables in the dead end street between the row houses. There was something there for everyone to enjoy, even if you were a picky eater like me.

I didn’t like a lot of foods as a child. I was persnickety and stubborn about what I would and wouldn’t eat. However, when we went to dinner at our friends’ homes, my parents encouraged me to try different things. I learned that there was a whole world of food out there I’d never encountered before. The flavors, the aromas, the vibrant colors – there was a veritable playground of food to be had. I might not learn to enjoy it all, but I certainly broadened my culinary horizons.

When I got old enough to cook, I tried my hand at many things. I loved to cook and took over that duty from my mother, who hated it. I made up my own recipes and served them for dinner. Sadly, I can’t find where I wrote them down and I can’t remember any of them well enough to share.

My father was an enthusiastic and ambitious cook. When I was in college and living at home, he prepared gourmet meals, which my mother & I enjoyed. When he died, I got his recipe cards and books and have found a lot of joy sharing those meals with my own family.

The recipes in this section reflect my love of food from all nations. They are simple, but delicious. Although only one is an authentic Italian recipe, the rest are representative of different cultures. They have a Taste of the World.

Egg Rolls

1 pound ground beef
1 package egg roll wraps
1 can green beans, drained
2 carrots, shredded
1 onion, diced
garlic power to taste
pepper
ginger
soy sauce
1T corn starch
1 tsp water
water chestnuts or bean sprouts optional

Brown beef with onion, garlic and spices. Drain. Shred carrots and chop green beans. Set aside. When beef has drained, mix with vegetables. Fill each wrapper with 2 or 3 Tablespoons of filling. Wrap by package directions and seal with the corn starch & water mixture. Egg rolls can be deep fried or brush with oil and bake 350 20 minutes. Turn once about halfway through. Serve with sweet and sour sauce or ketchup.

***

Second Helpings is available in print and all ebook formats from Second Wind Publishing.

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