Sunday, January 19, 2020

Telltale Signs


Last week I got a message from my friend Jerry. He was at a doctor’s appointment and his lovely wife, Jane, had accompanied him. While they were sitting in the waiting room, Jane pulled a book from her bag.  Curious, he leaned over to see what she was reading.  It was “Your Turn to Die”, the second book in the Jefferson Chene series. 




Jerry had a moment of concern that she was looking for ideas that might be used on him. I suggested he show that book to the doctor, just in case anything strange ever happened to him.

It was just another example of a sign. There are days where they pop up with frequency, if we’re paying attention.  As a writer, it’s part of my nature to notice things that could find their way into a story.  Sometimes it can lead to be a significant part of the book, having an impact on the character’s interactions. Since I don’t work with an outline, anything is possible.





It’s the middle of January and I’ve spent the weekend digging out from a heavy snowfall.  It’s a perfect time to share an excerpt from “Vanishing Act” which takes place in the same time period.
In this scene, Jamie and Linda find a way to address the winter blues.




“Grab your wallet and your workout gear,” Linda’s voice was way too excited for my serenity. “It’s time to hit the gym. We can sign up for classes tonight and start getting back in shape.”

It was the third day of January and I had been writing most of the day. Now I looked up and realized it was almost dark outside. Malone had cooked French toast for brunch with crispy bacon on the side. Before he left for work, he’d put together a big garden salad for dinner. There was also half of a roasted chicken from last night’s meal in the fridge. “What’s wrong with the shape I’m in?” I asked, standing up and checking my reflection in the window.

Linda laughed warmly in my ear. “Nothing’s wrong with you. But we could both use a little muscle toning. And if you want to keep Malone’s attention, you need to get some physical activity outside of the bedroom.”

“Does wrestling on the sofa with Malone count?”

“Only if you can sustain your heart rate for sixty minutes,” Linda said.

“But it’s so nice and warm and cozy here. I don’t want to go out in the cold.”

“Stop being a wimp. I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

It was pointless to argue with her. I’d be the first one to admit how stubborn I was. But Linda can take stubbornness to a whole new level. When she made up her mind, there was nothing that could talk her out of it. And deep down, I knew she was right. I had gotten lazy and the workout would probably do me some good.

After switching off the computer, I dashed into the bedroom for my gear. All I needed was a quick change into yoga pants, an exercise tank top, sweat socks, and gym shoes. Then I pulled my hair into a ponytail and dug out a hoodie. I grabbed my down jacket, wallet, and keys just as Linda pulled up in the driveway. It took only a minute to lock the doors and run out to her car. She was bundled up against the chill as well, her curls pulled back with a wide headband. In the rack on the dash were two water bottles.

“Check out the schedule on the seat,” she said as she focused on driving. I dug the listing out from under my leg and looked at the classes she had highlighted.

“So you’ve narrowed it down to these three,” I said, “Yoga, kickboxing, and Latin dance. I don’t know what the last two are. Which one are we going to take?”

A devilish smile crossed her face. “We’re taking all three.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“I am definitely serious. The new gym offers a variety of classes and they have a lot of equipment available that we can use as well. There’s also a pool, in case you want to swim.”

“But three classes are too much. Are you planning on working out daily?”

She rolled her eyes at me. “Get real. Each class only meets once a week. But in order to really get the most out of the season, we can go more often. The best schedule for me is Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday morning. There’s no way I want to work out Friday night and we’ll consider Sunday to be off limits. So this makes perfect sense.”

I had no response to that. Despite my protests, I knew she was right. It would be easier to get into the habit of working out now, to keep the figures we had, rather than waking up one day and discovering my clothes were too tight. I also had an ulterior motive. I wanted to maintain Malone’s interest. He seemed to like my body the way it was, so I had every intention of keeping it that way.


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Music this week comes from a favorite rock and roll tune by The Faces.


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