Saturday, August 27, 2011

#samplesunday Food To Die Smiling For

America has a new reality show. Can unknown Chef Carrie Thompson prepare 'Food To Die Smiling Food'

Short Story, flash fiction and some great recipes.


Ian McGregor had chosen me.

The letter shook within my tightly clutched fingers. It didn't make sense. I wasn't some great chef with a million followers. I couldn't even get on Hell's Kitchen. My small International Cuisine restaurant was so far off the map that Google didn't even recognize me. So why would the notorious serial killer pick me to prepare his last meals?

Rolling my eyes toward heaven I grimaced and muttered. "You hate me don't you? You really, really hate me."

"Who hates you?" Sammi asked, shoving a cinnamon roll into her mouth.

"God hates me. And Ian McGregor is going to destroy me."

Sammi swallowed the roll, eyes growing huge. "Ian McGregor chose you?"

I nodded, holding out the damning letter.

"Woot!" Sammi screamed, doing her little happy dance. "We're in the money. We're in the money."

"Only if he dies smiling." I scowled, taking back the letter. "And in the last five years no one has died smiling."

Sammi stopped in mid hip roll, the seriousness of the situation sinking into the brain beneath all that blonde hair. "Ooh, crap."

"Yeah, ooh crap is right. All our work, money, everything will be lost. All he has to do is frown, burp or God forbid fart, and we're destroyed. And he's made it plain his intention is to kill me."

Sammi took the letter frowning as she read it again. "I don't get it."

"He killed his first two women in Ireland, and he wants an Irish breakfast. The second two in Italy, and he wants an Italian lunch, and the last two in Louisiana, so he's chosen a Cajun dinner. What's that say to you?"

Sammi grinned, breaking into song. "Memories, like the corners of my mind. . . ."

Flopping down on the sofa, a remembrance of our first and only month's profit, I sighed. "Better enjoy them. In three days or less, memories are all we'll have left."

A lot of people believed that just because Sammi was your typical California blonde, gorgeous beyond what any woman had a right to be, and with those honey gold locks, that she would be your typical 'dumb blonde'. In truth, she was brilliant, and her next words reinforced that beyond my wildest dreams.

"You're looking at this all wrong. They called him the 'Killer Food Date' because he always chose a restaurant employee, preferably a chef, and he always took them out to eat before he killed them. He's a sadistic, mentally unstable connoisseur serial killer. And what does every serial killer want?"

I shrugged, sinking into my misery, reading the letter again. "Dessert and he doesn't even tell me what country he wants it from."
Sammi started her little happy dance, again. "Memories. They want to remember and enjoy their killings. That's his dessert."

"Sammi, that's sick."

Sammi laughed and punched me on arm. "Carrie, you're so you. Get with the program. Of course it's sick. But all we have to do is find out what he ate on the majority of his "killer dates" and I guarantee you he'll die with a smile on his face."
Taking the letter, she scanned it again. "Tomorrow is breakfast. Let's see what we can find."

Pulling out the laptop she clicked away. "Easy as pie."

"Pie for breakfast?"

Sammi rolled her eyes. "Of course not silly, although that's not a bad idea. The restaurant owner said he had bread with some kind of cream spread and tea."

"What kind of bread?"

Sammi shrugged. "Doesn't say, but it was Irish bread. Can't be that many Irish breads, can there?"

"Dozens. What kind of spread?"

Sammi glanced at the article. "Doesn't say."

Great. Just great. All I had to do was pick the right bread, the right spread and pray. Of course, God hated me so prayer wasn't going to do much good. I was dead. My career over before anyone besides Ian McGregor even knew I existed.

"Wasn't your grandfather Irish?" Sammi cooed excitedly, still counting that imaginary money she saw falling from heaven.

My grandfather was Irish and I had some of grandma's recipes. "This could work," I mumbled, Sammi's excitement becoming contagious. "I need to grab grandma's recipes and start cooking."

Sammi nodded still rolling her hips in a happy dance and singing under her breath, "We're in the money. We're in the money."

I didn't have a clue who made up this silly death watch game, but after a long, sleepless night I had a real good feel for being on death row and waiting for the clock to count down. Glancing at my watch I loaded up the breakfast basket. Where the heck was Sammi? Shouldn't your best friend and business partner be here when they led you to the gallows? Three days. I had three days of this nightmarish hell. If I made it through today.

"Look what I bought you!" Sammi flounced into the room, long hair swaying. "You're going to be lovely."

"I am not wearing that hat." I shivered, glancing at the chef's outfit from hell.

"Oh, yes, you are!" Sammi pulled at my arms, shoving them into the jacket before pushing the hat down on my head and turning me towards the mirror. "See, lovely."

"I look like a buffoon," I stated, trying to pull off the hat as Sammi pushed and pulled, arranging it over my strawberry curls.

"You have to dress the part," Sammi stated, pushing a few stray curls under the hat.
I glanced at her hot pink mini. "So what about you?"

Sammi grinned mischievously. "I'm eye-candy. If the food doesn't make him smile, maybe the thoughts of slitting my throat will."

"Jesus, Sammi." I buttoned the coat, taking one last glance in the mirror.

Grabbing the basket, she examined the contents pulling out the jar of ice cold water. "Where's the tea?"

"We'll have to make it at the prison. You can't reheat Irish tea. Makes it taste bitter."

"No problem." Sammi took me by the arm, pulling and pushing me toward the door. "We have to make our way through the media, so let me do the talking."

"Media?" I squirmed under her intense gaze. "No one said anything about media."

Sammi didn't bother answering. Instead she pasted a radiant smile on her face and led me out into the glare of camera flashes and microphones shoved my way.

"Ms. Thompson, were you surprised when Mr. McGregor chose you?"

"Carrie, is it true you had an affair with Ian McGregor before he started killing women?"

"Is it true that Hell's Kitchen turned down your restaurant because it was beyond repair?"

The questions were fired at me from left and right. Sammi never lost her smile as she opened the limo door and pushed me inside, and with a swivel of her hips and show of long luscious legs climbed in beside me. "Ms. Thompson has no comments."

Pulling off the hat I tossed it on the seat beside me as the driver weaved his way through the media. "You should have let me answer them. Where do they get that stuff?"

Sammi shook her head. "They'll change their tune when this is all over. And they don't get it anywhere. They make it up."

The limo pulled through the prison gates and Sammi rearranged the hat on my head. "Now, show those pearly whites, and let's go make a killer smile."

"What you got for me for, sweetie?" McGregor posed the question to me, but his eyes were traveling up and down Sammi's body, a slow smile spreading across his handsome features.

I swallowed hard, trying to find my voice. "We have a delicious Soda Bread with cream spread and tea." I placed the plate in front of him and poured the cup of tea. "I hope you enjoy it."

He raised an eyebrow, finally allowing his gaze to drift to my face. "Take off the hat."

Pulling the hat off, I pushed the curls back from my face.

"Aye. That's what I wanted to see. Those strawberry curls. My first date had strawberry curls, you know." He picked up a slice of bread covered in cream spread, bit off a huge chunk and washed it down with tea. "I like women with strawberry curls."

"Thank you," I whispered, glancing at Sammi who simply smiled and shrugged. What difference did it make what he liked as long as he smiled. The single film crew Warden Temperman had allowed inside the cafeteria was hanging on to every word, cameras honed in on McGregor's face.

"I'd like to see you in strawberry curls." McGregor turned his attention back to Sammi. "Think you could do that for me? We could do lunch tomorrow."
I felt Sammi stiffen by my side. This wasn't what we had expected. McGregor was up to something. The implication was clear. Sammi wore strawberry curls and he'd smile. If she didn't. . .

Sammi started to speak, but I cut her off. "I'm sorry, Mr. McGregor. Strawberry's not a good color on Sammi. I guess you'll be eating alone tomorrow."

Taking Sammi's arm I pulled her back toward the entrance. My career might be over, but I wasn't playing this lunatic's game.

We'd taken only a few steps when the camera crew went wild. "There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, Chef Carrie Thompson has pulled off day one of our death watch contest by preparing Food to Die Smiling For."

I glanced back to find McGregor smiling from ear to ear holding a second piece of bread. Sammi was humming "we're in the money," and I could hear the prisoners in the background screaming and clapping. I met McGregor's gaze, noting the gleam in his eyes, slight nod of the head as he took a bite. He'd let me win day one, but tomorrow was a new challenge. He didn't think I was up to it. I smiled back, nodding just slightly. "I'll see you tomorrow."

McGregor laughed, shaking the chains that held him to the table. "I'll look forward to it."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

#samplesunday Lessons From The Sparrow - A short story

Pulling the faded green sweater closer around my thin shoulders I shivered slightly. The office was cold. Perhaps Dr. Burgess had turned down the thermostat, hoping the cold would somehow distract me from the words he was saying. He was still talking, but my mind wandered away from him. Away from the cold office to another time. Another place.

"Did I ever tell you the story about the Sparrow, Dr. Burgess?"

"Ms. Caroll. . .no. No, you didn't."

I smiled at him across the desk top as my thoughts continued to wander back seventy two years.

# # #

"Mary Elizabeth!"

Mother's voice was shrill and the use of both names told me I was in deep trouble.

"What'd you do, Mary?" Jimmy Lee whispered, his eyes growing huge as only a six year old's can. Like me, he knew both names meant mom was really mad. Not just stand you in the corner mad, but really mad.

Standing outside my bedroom door I listened to mom mumbling to herself. "This child is going to be the death of me."

"Oh, no." I whispered glancing sideways at Jimmy Lee. "Bobber."

Opening the door I stepped inside, my gaze going to the shoe box in the middle of my bed. Mom stood on the opposite side of the room, hands on her hips, eyes glaring as her nostrils flared. Her flaming red hair, much like my own, seemed to stand on edge. Another indication her Irish temper was flaring out of control. Picking up the box I glanced at the tiny brown bird inside. His head was still bobbing up and down. He was still alive.

"He flew into the window." I stated, my own temper starting to flare. "We named him Bobber, because his head keeps bobbing up and down. See?"

I held the box out so she could look inside, believing that the sight of Bobber's little head going up and down would melt her heart, like it had melted mine.

"You know birds have lice and they carry disease. Now you take that bird outside right this minute and you bury it."

"Mom, he isn't dead yet!"

She sighed, jerking the bedspread from my rumpled bed. "Well, he's almost dead. Or at the very least he's dying. It'd be a kind thing for you to do, Mary Carroll."

"Would you bury me if I wasn't dead, mommy?" Jimmy Lee stared at her, eyes huge, face pale.

"Of course not, honey, but you're not a bird."

"God made the birds too, mom." I whispered, horrified that my own mother would contemplate such a thing. I watched as emotions flittered across her face. Anger, frustration, and finally acceptance. I knew I had her. She couldn't argue with God.

"Okay, but get it out of your room."

Grabbing Jimmy by the hand I took the box outside and placed drops of water along Bobber's tiny beak. He managed to swallow a few drops.

"Can we take him to the vet, Mary?"

"I don't think so, Jimmy. I don't have enough money."

"How much does it cost?"

"More than two dollars, and that's all I've got."

Jimmy glanced into the box, a huge tear clinging to the edge of his eyelashes. "Gosh, that's a lot."

The tiny head continued to bob up and down as if he had pounding headache. I could tell he was suffering.

"Mom's right, you know. I should probably go ahead and kill him." My voice quivered as hot tears ran down my face.

"If I were a man I'd do it for you."

Jimmy wiped at his own tears and I hugged him. "I know you would."

Forgetting about the lice and diseases I picked Bobber up in my hand and his head stopped bobbing. My closeness seemed to comfort him.

"You know the sparrow was the bird that stayed around Jesus when he was on the cross." I smiled at Jimmy as I sat down crossed legged on the grass.

"Really?" Jimmy asked, joining me in the grass.

"Yep. This is a very special bird."

Jimmy scooted closer and placed an arm around my shoulder. "He likes it when you hold him."

"Yeah, it seems to make him feel better. He knows he's not alone. " Sighing I stroked the small head. "Well, little bird it's up to you and God now. You have to choose. No one has the right to make that choice for you."

I held him until he stopped breathing. Jimmy and I buried him under the old oak tree in the front yard. We both felt good. Bobber didn't die alone, and he made the decision, not us. That moment set the pace for the next 72 years of my life. I'd learned a lot from that little sparrow.

# # #

"Ms. Carroll?"

Coming back to the present I reached across the desk and squeezed Dr. Burgess' hand gently. He was such a nice young man. Seemed like as I got older the doctors kept getting younger. And he seemed to be taking this so personally. Almost as if somehow my illness was his fault.

"Ms. Carroll, did you hear what I said?"

"Yes. Yes, I did."

Dr. Burgess sighed, standing up and coming around the desk. "Is there someone with you?"

"Why, yes. My granddaughter is in the waiting room."

"Would you mind waiting here just a minute? I'd like to talk with her."

I listened as they whispered outside the door. He was afraid I hadn't understood. I understood just fine. I was old, not senile. My cancer was growing at a rapid rate. Maybe six months, no longer.

"Grandma, are you ready to go home now?" Mary Carol, my namesake, looked at me through teary eyes.

"Yes, I'd like that." Grabbing my walker I stood up and started the slow process of making it from the office out the front door to the car.

Mary Carol was quiet all the way to the car and the short ride home. I knew she was hurting. Thinking about my death. My funeral. Well, I wasn't dead yet.

"How's art school?" I asked to break the silence.

"Oh, I don't know, Grandma. I was thinking of dropping out and coming home. Maybe it was all just a dream. I mean, there are too many great artists out there already."

"Did I ever tell you the story about the sparrow?"

Mary Carol grinned. "Yes, Grandma, you did. About a hundred times."

"Well, Mary Carol, you remember it. Don't you go burying things before they're dead. Not dreams and not people. Life is everlasting. People die and babies are born every day. Dreams never die. Unless you let them."

She looked at me thoughtfully. I knew for the first time the true meaning of the story had come out for her. Pulling into the driveway she parked the car and hugged me. "I won't forget, Grandma."

The old house looked comfortable. In my eighty years I'd lived many dreams there. The sparrow had taught me never to bury anything before it died. Not dreams, not people, not things. I snorted remembering the doctor's words. Six months, no longer. Made up my mind right then and there I'd live at least eight just to show him I could.

My gaze drifted to the ancient oak in the front yard. "Look, Mary Carol, the sparrows are nesting. We'll have babies soon."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Excerpt- The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery

Sheriff Sarah Burns pulled off the road and parked near the site of Saturday night’s tragic accident. Unnatural deaths were rare in Glade Springs, and she couldn’t shake the feeling that she’d missed something.

An image of Morgana Nelson clutching the body of her daughter, her heartbroken cry echoing through the morgue, flashed through Sarah’s mind.

Maybe it was only wishful thinking. The Nelsons were good people, and Johanna had been their only child. The accident made no sense. Johanna wasn’t the typical eighteen year old. She didn’t run off to Edgewood or Richmond after graduation, looking for a larger city and more excitement. She didn’t stay out late. She didn’t drive fast. She didn’t drink. So why had she been here, driving so fast she missed the curve? The toxicology reports weren’t in yet, but the body had reeked with the smell of alcohol. The Nelsons had questions, needed answers.

Climbing out of the Explorer, Sarah walked toward the curve as she closed out the noises around her, traveling the path Johanna had driven. Emotions were strong here. She could feel the sadness—and the anger. Johanna was upset.

Sarah moved into the curve slowly, feeling the shift in the emotions surrounding her. Panic took over, quickly turning to fear. She retraced the path the car had taken as it skidded off the road into the huge oak tree.

Crouching near the point of impact, she placed her hand on the earth and closed her eyes. For a brief moment she felt physical pain and then all emotions ceased.

Sighing, Sarah stood up. She wasn’t sure what she had expected to find. Let it go, Sarah, she chided herself. Some questions have no answers.

Heaving another sigh, Sarah started toward her vehicle. She was tired, looking forward to a quiet evening at home. Last night’s dream had upset her. All day she’d been haunted by the image of the dark brown eyes filled with pain, the heart-wrenching cry that had jerked her from an uneasy sleep. The whispered message that had kept her lying awake, trembling as she listened to the sounds of the night.

She hated the dreams. Hated the feeling of helplessness they created inside her as the dying reached out, sending messages to loved ones, or crying out for vengeance against their attacker. Only this time the dream had been different. This time the message was for Sarah.

Sarah shook herself mentally, pushing away the memories, the fear. It was just a dream. And this was just a horrible accident. Accidents happened—especially when teenagers drank. Her foot touched the passenger tire track imprinted in the soft earth near the tree. A feeling of panic clutched at her, growing stronger, making it hard to breathe.

“Jesus,” she muttered as she stepped away from the track, breathing deeply.

Kneeling, she touched the earth, holding her breath, as emotions flowed through her fingertips. Unlike the driver’s side, the panic here continued to escalate. There was no physical pain, no ceasing of emotion. This was what had been bugging her. The something missing. Johanna Nelson had died almost instantly, but she hadn’t died alone. Someone else had been in the car with her when she crashed into that tree.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

#samplesunday Colors of Love-Introduction

I started writing this a couple of years ago. My first attempt at non-fiction on a subject I love. Colors of Love is a "help yourself book" designed to lead you through the exercises necessary to write your own book on healing with colors. In the next few weeks I'll be revamping my website and uploading many of the programs talked about here related to relaxation, visualization and healing with colors.


Life is much like the water in a small stream. It flows gently around curves in smooth puddles until it hits an embankment of rock, tree limbs and debris. Here the water struggles, tumultuously pushing against the barrier, frothing, struggling valiantly until it makes its way to the smooth pool beyond the dam. If you think about it--each drop of water is an individual, but no single drop could make this difficult journey alone. And no individual drop will ever pass the same way twice.

In summary, life is chock full of smooth pools and difficult dams. We are individuals and yet at the same time, parts of a whole. And it is much easier to push past the embankments with a little help.

I have never truly been a proponent of self-help books. I have read many, and the information contained therein was informative, however as the title implied it was a self-help book. I was slightly depressed to find that simply reading it did not help me. There are many great books on many subjects that are titled self-help, and the information contained therein can be helpful, but it is not truly a self-help book unless you understand that YOU MUST HELP YOURSELF.

My purpose in writing this book was to share my own story, along with bits and pieces of knowledge gleamed along my journey in hopes that together the obstacles placed in your path may be more easily crossed. To help you learn the tools to help your self, and to guide you through writing your own self-help book.

The DVD’s **(programs will be uploaded to website) attached hereto contain step-by-step instructions and guided meditations to teach you relaxation techniques, imaging techniques, sensing techniques, and how to use your colors for enhancing your physical, mental and emotional well being. I hope you enjoy your journey, as much I enjoyed mine.


“Give a man a fish and you feed
him for a day. Teach a man to fish
and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Chinese Proverb

Have you ever driven through the country in fall, mesmerized by the beauty of the changing colors? Uplifted by the glorious, awesome beauty that God created all around you. Can you truly take this drive without for just a moment forgetting the outside world and just allowing yourself to soak in the picture of love painted all around you?

I ask this question because I awoke one day, looked outside and saw the trees beginning to bud. I was in my late thirties, and it struck me that I had never before really seen the trees bud. I felt so lonely inside. As if I had lived my life without ever opening eyes. This is where my journey began.

You are about to embark upon a journey that will hopefully enhance your life physically, mentally and emotionally. In this chapter I will share a little of my own story, as well as ask you to make a commitment--not to me--but to yourself. I will ask you to commit to take this journey one step at a time, at your own pace and for your own benefit.

There are many things that you won’t find in this book. For instance, you won’t find the history of colors in the following chapters. I’m not going to talk about molecular structure and pigmentation. Those subjects can be found in a thousand places on line, and will be available once you finish your journey should you care to study and become more knowledgeable in that field.

You’re not going to find a description of the twelve pathways to enlightenment, or the seven paths to the garden. Nor do I intend to explore herein religious backgrounds and the use of colors. I will mention religion and God only in this chapter wherein I relate a portion of my own story.

It is my intention in writing this book and taking this journey with you, to hopefully “teach you to fish”, thereby giving you the tools you need to create your own self-help book and make positive changes that enhance your physical, mental and emotional enjoyment of life.


As we journey through life we are unique individuals. Outer appearances make us unique, but even identical twins have subtle differences, and they too are unique. Our thoughts, mannerisms and emotions make us the unique individuals we are. We have categorized ourselves into good and bad, happy or sad, wealthy or poor. If we are honest with ourselves we all have our good and bad moments. They don’t make us good or bad, they are simply a part of our individuality. We all have our happy and sad moments. We cannot always choose which one, but we can choose how long we stay within that emotion. We all have our wealthy and poor moments. Times are good, and then for some reason beyond our control, times are bad. Once again, we may not be able to control the outside forces on our lives, but we can take charge of our lives and control how these moments affect us.


Often when people meet me for the first time their reaction is that I have it all together. I know who I am and what I want. I love people, love speaking in public, and just truly enjoy life. All of this is true on a minor scale. But I have not always been like that. In fact, there was a time when I considered suicide. A time when I hurt so badly inside that even the thoughts of my children were not enough to make me leave my bed. Many would say that the following was just my imagination, or perhaps an overload of stress. It really doesn’t matter. To me it was the miracle I needed to turn my life around and realize who I am.


I lay in bed in the early morning hours realizing I was broke, smoking my last cigarette, drinking my last cup of coffee. A voice whispered in the darkness, “Who are you?” I thought about this. And for the first time in my life realized that I was nobody. I had been my parents’ daughter, but they were gone now. I had been my husband’s wife, but the divorce was final. I had been my children's mother, but they were growing up and no longer needed me. I had been all these things for so long that I had no clue who I truly was. Who was this woman who smiled at the right time, laughed at the right time, and made her way through life as a walking talking Barbie doll? She had no emotions. She had no needs. She had nothing left to live for.

The pain hit then in riveting waves of raw emotion. Sobs shook my body, as I suddenly realized that it was all my fault. I couldn’t blame my parents, my husband or my children. I couldn’t even blame God. The decision to be where I was had been mine, and mine alone. I had decided to live my life for others. I had decided to exist in a world in which I played only the parts that were given to me. I had given up my identity, my individualism. I had given up God.

I cried until there were no more tears inside me. I cried until my body ached as if I had been brutally beaten.

The voice whispered in the darkness, “Who are you?”

My throat was raw, and though I wanted to scream out in frustration, I could manage no more than a whispered reply. “I don’t know.”

This was a turning point in my life. I had always believed in God, but until this moment I was unaware of His power. A warmth enveloped me, as if arms of love had suddenly been placed around me. The voice whispered, “You are my daughter, and you are loved.”

It was at this moment I took charge of my life. There will always be smooth pools and obstacles. I will always be good and bad, happy and sad, wealthy and poor. I no longer allow those things to control me. Instead I began a wonderful journey of internal exploration. I wanted to get to know the most important person in my life--ME. And I wanted to learn to love that person as God loved me.

It was at this point I started studying metaphysics. You may wonder why I chose this path instead of a traditional religious path, and the truth is I don’t know. I only know it seemed the path I was supposed to be on at this point in my life.

For many years I felt somewhat like a child, seeing the world through fresh new eyes. The beautiful garden of colors He had created for us. Eventually I learned who I was. I am a daughter of God. I am a co-creator of the world around me. I learned to love myself, which enabled me to love others. I sometimes imagine a world where only love exists. That world is glorious with the colors of spring, summer, fall and winter. That’s my idea of what Heaven must be like.

Through my studies in healing, meditation and hypnosis I learned that the colors of our garden have deeper meanings and many healing properties. I learned to use colors to alter my emotions, relieve stress and physical pain, and create a more healthy, loving environment around me.


If you decide to take this journey, you must do it as an individual. Colors have been categorized with universal meanings, but their application must be taken from an individual baseline. Many self-help ideas and books fail simply because in their universal approach they mistakenly forget that WE ARE UNIQUE INDIVIDUALS.

You are an individual and the meanings and benefits of colors will be unique only to you. I say this to you because I want you to experience your own Colors of Love. To do this, you must take your own beautiful journey. If you feel compelled to skip ahead instead of following the book, please stop for a moment and ask yourself “Whom am I doing this for?” The answer should be simple--you are doing this for you. So take the time to get to know yourself, the unique, beautiful, wonderfully multi-faceted you. Find your healing colors and use them with the meditations to create your own world with COLORS OF LOVE.

So before we begin, fill out the commitment form below, sign it, date it and read it daily, cherishing the unique wonderful individual you are.

I, _____________________________, do hereby promise that I will be faithful and true to myself, and that I will take this journey one step at a time, at my own pace and for my own benefit.

This ___ day of _________________, 2______.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Good Intentions

Started this one as fun, but not sure where I'm going with it. Short story? Novel? All comments welcome.

The Road to Hell is paved with - GOOD INTENTIONS


You grow up poor you've got to wonder if God's got a sense of humor. All the crap life throws at you. And He gives you mothers. It's kind of like that guy Brandon Lee said in the movie The Crow--"Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children."
He got that right. My momma wasn't just a good woman. She was a Saint. Somehow she managed to raise four kids on a waitress' salary. And three of them turned out pretty good. Or would have. But that's another story.
Sometimes when I'm thinking about momma I have to wonder if she knew about God's sense of humor. She read us the good book every night, but she never said nothing about no sense of humor. Still, she had to know something. I mean, after three girls she got me. She had to figure God was up to something.
I’m Jake Savior, and yeah you might as well go ahead and laugh. Everybody else does. My clients are always telling me God's got a sense of humor. The people looking for me weren't looking for a savior. They were mostly searching the want ads for killer for hire. That's me. For the right price I put a lot of people out of other people's misery. Heck, I even done some for free. Some people deserve to die, and being the nice guy I am, I gladly obliged them.
But I'm digressing. Let's get back to God's sense of humor.
I'd had a pretty good day. Won a few bucks on the horse races. Did a little charity work by ridding the world of one more piece of garbage. The courts seen fit to let a pedophile go--I didn't. So I was feeling pretty good about myself, except I was out of cigarettes.
Now anyone that knows me knows I love a good smoke. Last count I was up to five packs a day. Momma always said those thing were going to kill me. Turns out she was right.
Only a die-hard smoker goes out at 2:00 a.m. for smokes. Especially since all the safe places close down early, leaving only a few gas stations and convenience stores open at that hour. Still, I was willing to take my chances. It was too damn cold for thieves to be out and I really, really wanted that last cigarette before I turned the lights out and called it a day.
You've probably already concluded that I'm a smart ass bastard that beats my own drum. Some people will smoke anything. Not me. I'm a strict Kentucky Red's Best smoker. Which means whether I liked it or not I was gonna have to hoof it over to Winchester Road at this time of night. Not everybody carried Red's Best.
Being the cautious person I am, I scouted the parking lot and looked inside for milling customers. No cars and only one customer at the counter. I quickly ascertained he was one of the good guys like me, needing that last deep drag to calm his nerves before he called it a night. Boy was I wrong. Wrong place, wrong time and wrong guy. Five minutes after I entered the door of the Shaky Seven Gas to Go bullets started flying.
I've always heard that your life passes before your eyes when you're dying. Trust me, that's all bull. My last vision was that pack of Red's Best I held in my hand, and my last thought was how good that cigarette was gonna taste as soon as I got outside. Of course, that wouldn't have surprised anyone who really knew me. It wasn't any big surprise to me. I was surprised though. Having listened to momma all those years and growing up with three sisters extolling virtues that I never needed or wanted, I was expecting either that bright light to take me to Heaven, or most likely in my case, a little fire and brimstone trail leading to Hell. That didn't happen either.
# # #
"God, I'd kill for a cigarette."
"You're kidding right?"
I glanced over at the convenience store clerk floating next to me as we both looked down at our bullet ridden bodies. I had to chuckle a little. That pack of Red's Best was still clutched tightly in my outstretched hand.
"Yeah, mom always said those things were gonna kill me. Guess she can say 'I told you so' now."
"So, what do we do now?"
"Beats the hell out of me," I stated turning to really look at the clerk. He was young, probably in his early twenties and looked like he was gonna cry any minute.
"Jake Savior," I stuck out a hand. I sure as hell didn't need someone blubbering all over me.
"Ronnie Smith," he stated, gaze still riveted to his body. "Mom's gonna be really pissed. I don't know how she's gonna pay the rent this month."
"Maybe she'll get lucky. Sue the store and get a million dollars."
Ronnie finally looked at me, took the hand I still had stuck out and shook it heartily. "Really? You think she can do that?"
Truth was I didn't know shit about civil lawsuits. Criminal law, yeah, I could advise you all day long on criminal law, but civil suits were a different animal with a whole new breed of greedy demons. Still, we were dead and what was he gonna do, sue me if I was wrong?
"Sure kid, happens every day."
"That would be nice."
"Hey, look, another late night smoker coming in." We watched as the guy entered the store, took one look at the blood and immediately jerked out a cell phone. A good Samaritan all the way. So what if he loaded up on a few cartons of cigarettes, a couple of gallons of milk, some bread and snacks and three cases of beer while he waited.
Sirens blared away and we watched as the local cops pulled up, followed by paramedics. The good Samaritan stayed just long enough to give a statement before hopping in his now loaded Toyota and hitting the road. He'd be celebrating tonight and nobody the wiser.
I watched as the paramedic leaned over my body, checked for a pulse and shook his head. "This one's dead."
"No, shit, Sherlock. I mean, really, there's a hole right between my eyes."
"Hey, Jake. . ."
"Where the heck are you going?" I yelled. Ronnie was slowly drifting backwards as if drawn by some unseen force. I headed in his direction only to find myself up against an invisible brick wall.
"Well, that sucks," I muttered, kicking the wall only to find another long held belief wasn't true. You could feel pain after death.
Being the naturally curious person I was, and since death so far had held a hell of a lot more surprises than life, I drifted back inside the store.
"We got a pulse."
The kid was still alive. Hallelujah. Hope he doesn't tell his mother about that million dollars. She might really be pissed then.
"Marty, you bag and tag that one when the coroners done."
I'd always had a lot of respect for guys like Marty. The things they had to deal with every day. Bet his friends called him the bag and tag guy. I really wanted to pat him on the back until the fat bastard leaned over and picked up my pack of Red's Best, stowing them in his front pocket. "Don't guess he'll be needing these anymore."
They all laughed. Laughed.
I hope you get lung cancer you son-of-a-bitch and die a long, slow, painful death.
I watched as they loaded the kid into the ambulance, lights flashing, sirens blasting. Might have been happy about that if the fat bastard hadn't chosen that moment to light up one of my Best's. Smoke drifted my way. A tantalizing aroma of pure Heaven.
"Hey, Marty, you got that body bag?"
I watched the red tip as it arced through the air, landing a few feet away. There was still half a cigarette left. Dumb bastard. You don't throw away half of one of Kentucky's best brands. You smoke it slowly, savoring the aroma and taste.
I spent the next five minutes trying to wrap my newly dead fingers around that cigarette. I could see it. Smell it. And if I closed my eyes, I could even taste it. But try as I might I couldn't pick the damn thing up.
Frustrated I sat back down on the curb, listening as the cops made jokes as they loaded my body into the wagon. It wasn't funny. Wasn't funny at all.
So the next time you're sitting around feeling sorry for yourself and you think life ain't fair, try dying at a late-night convenience store for a pack of cigarettes and then find out you've got to sit and watch some other lucky bastard enjoy them.
That's when it hit me. Yep, God's got a real sense of humor. At least if Ronnie was here I'd have somebody to share my misery with.
So this is hell. Stuck here in what I can only describe as grey matter to watch life pass me by, totally unable to intervene or enjoy even the simplest of things. That's what I was beginning to think. But that was before the kid. The kid changed everything and hell started looking pretty good to me.