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In Memory of our  loving pet and companion, Rain

1/2003 – 9/23/2011

Where do you begin? How do you tell the story of such a special friend, an integral part of your life? What words can be used to express a deep grief that is felt due to such a sudden lose? I suppose simply to say that my loving pet, my dear companion, my number one friend who spent the last eight and a half years at my side giving me so much love, loyalty, happiness, and total contentment, has passed on. My beautiful Rain has left my side, but never my heart. Her memories, her grin and wagging tail, her bark that sometimes would infuriate you, her excitement at playing with a toy of which she had many due to being so spoiled rotten (our fault, but exactly what we wanted to do), her sheer happiness and joy over living with me and my husband, Richard, giving us endless hours of amusement, love, and companionship. Due to becoming suddenly ill, though as it turns out I think was an illness which took awhile to suddenly manifest itself, but when it did earlier this week took all of us down with a vengeance. I sit here typing this on Saturday afternoon after shedding more tears than I have in many years and have her memories now to remind me how fantastic a dog Rain was. Within our house, behind and beside my recliner in the living room, out on the porch beside the chair I always sit on, out in the yard which was her special domain – where she was just a week ago and such a huge presence in our lives, there is now only phantom shadows, ghostlike sounds, lingering smells and scents, fur on the carpet that I may have a very difficult time vacuuming up.

To go back in time, we had lost our previous dog Sheena (the same wonderful mixed breeding of shepherd/chow) to a stroke and old age, really what any pet owner knows will happen in time. We were equally devastated because she was our first dog together though we have always been long-time dog lovers. I made Richard into a cat lover as well **smile** as I would eventually introduce four loving cats (now all in feline heaven), Loki, Ming, Genny, and Burt, into our lives. When Sheena died we said no more dogs, she absolutely could not be replaced and we stuck to that for over five years. I said the same for my last cat, Burt, who was an incredibly loving companion and we have not replaced him.

Until one day when a co-worker Fran asked me to look at a picture on petfinders.com. She was always looking for a dog to replace Sheena so I went and glanced at a picture of four tiny brown, fur balls in a cardboard box. They were at a shelter all the way down in Ridgley, Maryland which I had no idea where it was. However, one of those four puppies was standing up precariously with its paws barely hanging over the edge and this little puppy stole my heart right then I think. I called the shelter the next day after discussing with my husband and found out the puppies were not adopted yet so I asked if I could possibly select the one standing in the box. After a few days and one application later, they said yes and we began making arrangements to pick her up.

The day we drove down to get her at the shelter it was appropriately raining ‘cats and dogs’. It was only natural to name her Rain. After we got there, we were taken into a room where the four puppies were and the one who ran straight to us was the little puppy standing in the box, our precious Rain. She stayed inside my husband’s shirt buttoned up the whole trip back to Philadelphia. Upon entering our house, Rain immediately claimed ownership of everything, including our hearts which she had already won over. Well, the 2 cats I had at the time weren’t too thrilled since Rain took immense glee in chasing them all over the house. They were safe until Rain realized she could climb the steps to the second floor and then it was Katy-bar-the-door for awhile. However, as cats will do, after a few well placed paw smacks and heinous hisses, Rain became a little more mannerly and cautious. Cats can do that to a dog, put them in their place.

But the die was then cast, the heart print made on both our hearts, and Rain had become ruler of our abode. Her luxuriant fur was a beautiful reddish-brown color with a spotted tongue, soft brown eyes, a full and fluffy tail that would eventually curl exquisitely across her back, and she came to possess a statuesque stance that would make any Best of Show jealous. Not only had she become Queen of our manse, but had also become the dog of Shawmont Avenue because she was so visible to everybody. Over these past eight years I received so many wonderful and engaging comments in reference to what a beautiful and loving dog she was, though I must admit there have been people that she obviously scared due to her loud barking. But she was then and always was a gentle and loving creature, just very possessive of her territory so to speak. You could ride by on a bike, jog along the street as long as you were on the other side of the curb, and be somewhat safe. But….if you wanted to walk on HER sidewalk then you needed to know it was her turf. No need to ever really be scared though because if you put down your hand to pet her, then she was all googily eyes and waggily tail.

Ever since a puppy she loved doing certain things. One was to immediately attack my feet as I walked. While a young and precocious pup she could not dent my sneakers or shoes, but as she got older I found her teeth to be somewhat hurtful. She never stopped doing that even up to a few weeks ago. Another little thing she started doing early on when I attempted to start getting her used to a leash was grab it in her mouth, shake it like she was shaking the life out of a mouse, and then trot majestically along (because she always possessed a regal air about her), happy as she could be tugging me along. As she got older and stronger, that little tug became a pull where I might be running behind her. At this point today, I would so gladly have the feel of her teeth upon my ankles and toes, plus be yanked and pulled up the street on one of our walks.

I know absolutely, positively that everybody who has ever felt the overpowering joy of having a dog or cat as wonderful as Rain will most definitely say that dog or cat was the best in the world. And so it should be, because for your world, that friend was the best without a doubt. Looking back on the dogs I’ve had throughout my life starting with a little brown toy fox terrier named Midgy because she was so tiny who was my first fur-ball friend I think at the age of six, they were all the best. Each one possessed qualities that made them unique and special, especially at that time, as each one of yours was also number one.

So when I say quite loud and distinct, Rain was the absolute best dog in the world, you can all nod and say yes she was because you’ve experienced that very special feeling. She had this very unique way of grinning, had these brown eyes that sparkled with happiness, and a joy for life that was second to none. We lavished her with toys and treats, with playtime and hugs, kisses on her nose and then getting slobbered back with her tongue, with a loving home and as much loyalty to her as she gave to us. It was a two-way street though I would have to say she gave more than 100% for at times, no matter how much we might yell or get mad at her when she was bad, she never held that against us which was quite admirable compared to most people, yours included **smile**. We can ALL learn how to be better human beings just by employing those wonderful traits of a loving and loyal pet.

Ah, but could Rain be bad at times, and could she be stubborn? Ooooh, I should capitalize those two words. At times I thought she must’ve had some donkey breeding in her lineage because she could put the capital S in stubborn. When Rain was good (which was more often than not) I called her Rainbow, but when she was bad (not often really) I referred to her as Rainstorm. But always, always, always, she was RAIN….simply the best dog in the world.

So when she started experiencing problems early this week I immediately began to worry because after all, who knows a dog better than the one who loves it the most? She stopped eating and began drinking water like the well was going to run dry. Thursday afternoon I took her to the vet clinic after obtaining a urine and stool sample before leaving the yard. Obtain a urine sample from a dog? Yep, just follow them around closely and when they squat, from behind slide a saucer underneath. Of course, you’ll need to wash up afterwards. But sadly the eyes and gums showed evident jaundice and the urine had quite evident liver enzymes. Not good signs at all and Dr. Lowenstein said that it was very serious. God, it was like getting kicked in my stomach, I had no air in me and I felt like immediately dropping to the ground and hugging her which of course I did when we got home, for a long time actually. I had a difficult time letting go of her.

The next morning I dropped Rain off early to have an ultrasound done, praying for the best, but deep inside expecting the worst. Needless to say at work I was a basket case, tearing up constantly and dreading the news which came when Dr. Jacobs called me. The pictures showed apparent nodules on both the liver and pancreas. Without a biopsy it would be difficult to say for sure about malignancy, etc., but we could try giving her fluids and antiobiotics over the weekend to see if she might hopefully respond somewhat. I was willing to try anything at that point, but still dreading the worse, and knowing that financially I was not prepared for any staggering surgical bill. This news came when he called me a little after six to tell me that she was not responding to any medication, that she had been getting progressively worse, and that the situation was quite dire. I no longer had just been kicked in the stomach, but rather I had been severely bludgeoned with a sledgehammer.

My husband and I held each other, crying uncontrollably for ten minutes and then I made that long drive to the vet clinic which is only five minutes from our house. I stood outside fearing to go inside, but knowing that I had to. Dr. Jacobs showed me the pictures, we talked, and it was apparent I had to make that dreaded decision which so many pet owners have had to make. At least, as hard and terrible a decision as it is, we have the precious ability to say that we ABSOLUTELY do not want our special friend to suffer any longer. Let me suffer, let me grieve terribly, but please don’t let Rain feel anymore pain or sickness. As much as I was sobbing up to that point, it became worse when I went to the backroom to say good-bye. When I saw her she was having terrible convulsions and I knew it was all over, a real smack in the face. I knelt down and held her shaking paw and said good-bye to THE BEST DOG in the world. I don’t know if at that point she knew I was there, I can only pray and hope that she did, that she knew I was there in the last few precious seconds of her life.

After paying the bill which always hurts at such a difficult time, I appropriately staggered out into the rain. We picked up this beautiful puppy in a rainstorm and this wonderful, sweet, loving, loyal, intelligent, and fantastic dog passed away on a night when it was raining quite heavily. But through it all, overcoming all storm clouds, she was nothing but exquisite rays of warm sunshine in my entire life. My only regret was that I’ve lost her so soon because at eight and a half years old, she was still in the prime of her life.

I know that as human beings, we lose friends and family members suddenly. It’s just the terrible part of life. And I also realize that in many cases we lose loved ones much too early. Not to become too philosophical, but obviously death is the curtain call of our lives and the memories we retain in our hearts and minds the film screen which replays those memories like re-runs. Thankfully we have those to hold onto, besides pictures and precious possessions. For me thankfully I had her collar which she was wearing and when I fell asleep last night it was lying on my chest over my heard. I have held that collar to my nose, to my lips, rubbed it against my cheek because it was Rain with her scent, her feel, a precious little piece of her essence. I have numerous pictures of her and I will eventually put together a scrapbook like I did for Sheena, but it will be unique to my precious Rain.

Rain was and always will be my very special friend and companion, impossible to replace, but never leaving my mind or heart. She was beautiful, smart, happy, and loved life. She loved me, she loved us, and she was loved beyond imagination. She is, in fact, a major character in my Raven Series so she will continue to live on fighting rogue werewolves and vampires. It was just those damn little monstrous tumors that she could not defeat.

Good-bye sweet Rain, you will always be the raindrops that forever fall down upon us and the memories that will always light our way.

Mommy and Daddy

Surgery on the ‘morrow

Well, the clock is ticking and the nerves are thickening.  Right knee surgery scheduled for 12:30 tomorrow – Wednesday (11/17).  Since I won’t get a chance tomorrow, Happy Anniversary Denise and John.  As for my surgery, the very capable surgeon Dr. Anne Colton will be doing the honors.  She repaired my totally screwed up right shoulder and now will perform her magic on the right knee.  The medial meniscus is torn pretty good and how I’ve managed to keep walking on it now for these many past months I’ll never know.  Not looking forward to the surgery itself since I’m not really fond of hospitals, especially needles, nor am I looking for the post-op pain and rehab.  BUT…no pain, no gain they say so hopefully in a month or so the knee will be feeling so much better (hopefully). 

I guess I’ll be looking at a few weeks off from work so I definitely plan on doing some writing on the next novel.  This year has been such a bust for me in the writing department what with my husband Richard going through major health issues.  But hopefully this disability period will provide the writing time I need to get back on the horse. 

I can’t honestly say that I’ll post tomorrow since I probably won’t return home from the hospital until close to six p.m. and not sure how I’ll be feeling, especially since the first thing I’ll most likely be reaching for is the bottle of pain medicine.  But I will definitely post something on Thursday as to the great event, as well as much more often.  Have a great night and until the ‘morrow, may your dreams be pleasant ones, filled with wolf howls.  Check out the web site:  www.kerrymarzock.com

K*

It’s been awhile

Whew, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted anything.  No wonder, considering the year I’ve had so far.  Started out okay since I think my last post was in February.  However, March definitely brought in the ‘lions’ and they were snarling.  My husband got sick, ended up in the hospital, came home after nearly two weeks, got quickly sick again and ended up back in the hospital for congestive heart failure as well as near total kidney shutdown.  Oh my, bring on the Excedrin, this was going to be a major headache.  It started a horrifying four month ride with constant trips between the hospital and nursing home.  But the tough old bird that he is he survived near death and finally came home in July.  There has been a few smaller trips to the hospital for infections which happens often with dialysis patients.  So now our lives are wrapped around dialysis three times a week, but he seems to be holding his own now.  It was tough early on, getting used to the treatments and how much they took out of him.  However, I guess he just wanted to keep pestering me **smile**, so he decided to stick around a little longer.  Thanks Rich!!!

Then, work begins to become extremely busy and the last month or so has been constant overtime due to a number of factors all exploding at the same time.  But our team at work is THE BEST and we met all goals for month end, year end, and R2 (rollout two for our new computer system) which begins 10/1.  Heck, finally got a weekend off, it’s like an early Christmas gift.  But next weekend starts it all over again for a little bit.  Great for the paycheck, but exhausting. 

Oh, yeah, forgot about me.  Leg problems, no fun.  On the left shin I had been struggling through for a number of months on my own trying to handle a very sore area.  Finally I gave up and went to the emergency room at the hospital one very emotional Sunday morning.  Seems I have a veinous statis ulcer which is a result of not great blood flow to the legs.  Crap, go figure.  But I’ve been making frequent visits to the wound center at the hospital and it’s been healing slowly.  This particular situation is a very long-term, difficult to cure wound and professional help is the only way to get it under control.  And now it’s suppression hose for the rest of my life….oh goody, goody. 

Oh, I almost forgot.  Coming out of the nursing home one night back in June (thanks Rich) I twisted my right knee….snap, crackle, and pop….and seems there is definite ligament damage.  So my wonderful surgeon who repaired my right shoulder will now repair my damaged knee area on November 17th.  HOLY CRAP, can there be anything else happen?  I’m afraid to even think about it though it’s hard not to.

So maybe I can finally begin salvaging something of a normal life this year, but I doubt it.  Sometimes you just have these years that you want to forget.  At least later this year, hopefully by November, my fourth book will be released, “Along a Burning Highway”.  It will be made up of poetry and short stories.  For sure I know what it’s like to travel along that ‘burning’ highway.  More on the book release as it becomes more clear when it will be.

And, finally, I’ve found a great guy, Paul Sherman, in CA to help design a new web site for me.  All is going well and I’m going to definitely put up another post when it’s completely up and running.  It will be a constantly evolving, very kewl place to just enter and hopefully lose yourself in some interesting writing.  I’m so psyched about it.

Today, what the heck, I’m finally going to pamper myself and get my hair colored.  No damn wonder all this gray has been sprouting out.  I also hope to start writing more and finishing up my next novel, “The Reptilian Factor”.  It’s over half done and I think can be finished definitely before the end of the year and then released early in 2011. 

That’s it!!!  Is that enough??? Do you feel sorry for me?  Nah, don’t, it’s the problems in life that make us tough and my life has definitely toughened me, like old shoe leather (and not my skin, at least not yet).

Thanks for visiting, please come back often.

K*rry

I met tonight here at my house with Matt Godfrey, photographer/journalist for Philly News/Star newspaper.  We talked for over an hour on my writing and the Raven novels.  Matt is a very warm, engaging young man which made me feel relaxed in the interview process.  He made the comment to me during the interview it was really nice that I was giving him so many quotes, but when I start to talk about writing I generally can’t stop.   I love writing, talking about the craft, listening to others as well, especially if I’m talking about the Raven series which is so dear to my heart.  We also covered my manuscript in the works, “The Reptilian Factor” which I hope to have completed by the end of spring, early summer.  Soooo looking forward to seeing it completed, think it’ll be awesome and make a great alien/monster movie. 

After taking a few pictures Matt left and I really am looking forward to the article which should appear in the Star (local newspaper in Manayunk/Roxborough area) and being able to view it on-line on www.philly.com   As soon as the article is available I’ll post it here for all to see with links to reading on-line as well.

So, will piles of snow all around still be here in the spring?  My yard looks like a disaster area, there are so many broken limbs on the ground from several large trees.  Hate to think what I’ll be doing when the weather breaks.  The last time this happened with in 1996 when we got the blizzard then, along with some severe ice storms.  More snow coming this weekend though I don’t believe it’ll be much to speak of, hopefully.  We’ve had enough large snow storms this year.

Working again this weekend, I’m not sure if this is 3 or 4 straight weekends now.  So busy at work.  Great for the paycheck, but exhausting nonetheless.  Sure doesn’t leave much time for any quality writing either.  Hopefully I can write some this weekend at some point. 

K*

Just saying hi

Darn, been awhile since I’ve posted anything.  With the holidays I guess just didn’t have much time.  We had a fire where I work so that kind of put things up in the air as well.  At least nobody got hurt due to the fire and we’ve been able to work at another facility so that was good.  It’ll be many months before we can move back in, just thankfully the company had enough forethought to set up a disaster recovery plan.  Every company should certainly have something like this if they can, what a savior not only for the employees but the company’s survival. 

I’ve been writing some, working on “The Reptilian Factor” and really like how it’s progressing.  I didn’t want to just pidgeon hole myself in the Raven series though I love those books and will continue them.  But it’s good to spread the wings (or claws) and do other projects.  I’m hoping also to have a book of poetry/short stories released this year titled, “Along A Burning Highway”.  It’s basically put together, just need to make sure everything is in it that I want.  Hope to also have “The Reptilian Factor” completed by late spring and possibly publishable well before the end of the year.  I think you’ll love that, it’s very kewl.  And WOW, what a movie it would make.  Step aside Alien (mmmm, where’s Ripley?). 

Look forward to posting something very soon on a wonderful musican and writer friend of mine, Freddy Will.  Wow, what an awesome talent.  I’ll be talking about his book and cd, so stay tuned. 

Tonight I’m listening to the “Hour for your Soul” radio show on www.whistleradio.com , great two hours, ya’ll should listen in each Tuesday night from 9-11:00 EST, great independent authors and musicians.  It’s a great show, hosted by my awesome friend Ken Cowle and publisher. 

Night all, talk again soon, K*

Nanowrimo challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days which began 11/1 and goes thru 11/30.  Currently as of today, 3 weeks into the challenge, I have exceeded the 50,000 word count, thus winning the challenge along with everybody else who will meet or exceed that word count.  I will, of course, continue to write at my current, hectic pace until 11/30 and see what the final word count is for a full 30 days.  I will go beyond that into December at such a crazy, dedicated and  monstrous pace to finish this novel that I have titled, “The Reptilian Factor”.   Below is chapter one and if anybody would like to read more, please leave a comment and I would be happy to post a continuation.

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THE REPTILIAN FACTOR

Chapter 1

               Have I mentioned before that I hate snakes?  Absolutely, positively despise the creepy-crawly critters.  Damn cold-blooded, scaly, slithering, fork tongued, venom injecting, limbless creatures.  Anything without legs and has to squirm upon the ground is taboo for me.  Squamata my butta’, Squamata being the zoological order these squirmy reptiles belong to, along with lizards.  Hey, I don’t like lizards either, but at least they have legs.  I suppose reptiles in general give me the creepy crawlies, and oh yeah, I’m not too damn fond of spiders as well.  Okay, sue me, it’s not my problem that I hate anything that slithers, has more than four legs, buzzes around and bites, or has a stinger. 

            So then you would think that one of the last places I might decide to live would be within good old Tucson, Arizona.  Surrounded by dirt, sand, cactus, sagebrush, scorpions, tarantulas, and snakes galore, especially rattlers, one would think I’d run away screaming ‘no way Jose’.  Well, guess again,  that’s exactly where I ended up because of a brand new job.  I’ve always been a Pennsylvania girl, born in Greensburg, PA near Pittsburgh, through Lancaster (Amish country), and ending up in Philly, City of Brotherly Love.  However, after being a police officer for ten years in various departments and finally completing my Masters in Criminal Justice, I felt it would take too long to get into the detective division on the Philadelphia PD so I started searching around for other opportunities.  Presto, Tucson was looking for someone on their Night Detective Detail, recent grads welcome.  Figuring I had nothing to lose, I submitted an application.

            A month later I got an e-mail to contact a Sergeant Meredith Hayes which I promptly did.  She set up a phone interview the next day with Detective Michael Robertson.  Two weeks after that I took a much needed week of vacation, flew to Tucson and had what I thought was a pretty decent interview with three different people.  I stuck around for three days to scour the area and found that I really liked it even though it was hotter than Hades on one of the days.  Then I headed up to Scottsdale outside of Phoenix to visit Aunt Mary and Uncle Ken.  But the interview must’ve gone well because three weeks after that they called and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  That night I decided to happily drink myself to sleep with Tequila Sunrises.  Actually, only two large ones put me flat on my butt.

            So Amelia, (I prefer to be called Amy), Stephenson strolled into the precinct the next morning (yes, I had a headache) and gave her two week notice.  They weren’t thrilled that I was leaving, saying how much they valued my work and service, that I had a future there if I could hold on.  But what the hell, I’m 38 and not getting any younger.  It was tough leaving Mark Jacobs, my partner of two plus years and a number of other cops I had gotten friendly with.  Yet it was time to move on since I had been in the proverbial Philly rut (and I’m not talking about the numerous pot holes either), for the last year or so.

            I didn’t have to report to work in Tucson for one whole month so it gave me plenty of time to pack, get a mover (praying that they wouldn’t screw up my delivery), and depart with enough leeway to take my time since I was driving there.  Five years previously I had driven straight through to Scottsdale with my sister Jen when our uncle got pretty sick with a heart attack.  We made it in just over 48 hours, taking turns sleeping, driving, eating, and stopping for potty breaks.  But there was no way I was going to kill myself doing that again.  Since I drove my Toyota Rav 4, the one thing that really struck me as I entered Arizona through the glorious State of Texas was all the damn emptiness, cactus, and sagebrush.  It was everywhere!  When I visited previously for the interview I mainly stayed in town with a side trip up to the ski lodge on Mt. Lemon.  The terrain of Tucson compared to Phoenix/Scottsdale in the north is starkly different.  So I wondered if I had made a mistake, being a Philly girl and always surrounded by trees and changes of seasons. 

            Not to worry though for within a month I was actually thrilled with my new home, as well as the night shift to which I was now a full time team member of.  After all, I was Detective Amy Stephenson and I had taken the next step up the ladder of success.  Sometimes I still had to pinch myself.  The night shift crew welcomed me warmly for the most part.  The captain and lieutenant seemed like forward thinking, give-a-girl-a-break guys, so I was anxious to prove they had not made a mistake in selecting me out of probably hundreds of potential candidates.  There were, however, a few assholes that still existed in the dark ages.  You know the type, those miserable jerk-offs who feel that women should never be detectives, or even be part of the police force other than desk duty, handling pencils instead of guns and running for coffee. 

             Thankfully my new partner was not one of those creeps.  Detective Manuel Corroda, Manny for short, was of Mexican decent, dark skinned, about 5’10” in heels (he wore cowboy boots all the time), and handsome as a runway model.  The first time I saw him my blood pressure soared at least ten points and I had to fan myself with a folder clutched in my hand, mumbling to myself, ‘down girl, hold it together’.

            So when Lieutenant Collins called me into his office only to find Manuel leaning casually against a bookcase and then being introduced as my new partner, well I was flustered and excited at the same time.  I quickly found out he was happily married though with four children so that made it all easier for me to digest.  But still, I’m a single woman and just like the guys, it sure as hell doesn’t hurt anything to just take a little look-see and admire the flesh. 

            That was exactly one year ago almost to the day and by this time I was completely absorbed into the department as just one of the guys now.  I had won over two of the three dinosaurs to my side.  The only one left was an old codger ready for the retirement heap, Carl Most, and he sure as hell wasn’t the most likeable guy anyway.  Manny told me not to worry about it, that Carl really didn’t like anybody, especially wetbacks.  Don’t worry, Manny didn’t mind be called that, he had thick skin and we bounced sharp barbs off each other all the time so having a thick skin was part of the job.

            Acquiring a taste for Mexican food, the real stuff that is, was another matter entirely.  Back in Philly my primary Mexican cuisine was at Taco Bell and chili from Wendy’s.  I didn’t realize that you needed a fire hose when you ate a real, honest to goodness taco, burrito, tamale, or anything else from south of the border.  Manny got a charge out of taking me to only the ‘original’ places, where the food was genuine and the ingredients put hair on your chest.  That aspect I informed him I could totally do without since it would look a little strange when I wore something low cut, which rarely happened anyway.  But I stuck to it, finally creating a toughened palate so that the full taste of the food could be savored.  Sadly, I could not figure out how to toughen the other end because what goes in as fire generally has to come out the same way.  I know, that’s disgusting, but I can get that way sometimes.

            Upon arriving in Tucson one year ago I rented a small apartment.  I figured there was no reason to go hog wild in the beginning.  All I needed was a place to hang my clothes, eat, sleep, and take a crap.  But over this past year I was feeling itchy to have more so I started looking with the help of Barbara Mays, a very cool realtor, to locate a decent size house.  After all, I did like it here, felt it was now my home, and moving into a house of my own would make things pretty much complete.  I didn’t need a white picket fence because quite frankly in Tucson, there was no grass to speak of, only colored rocks so the small fence would’ve looked out of place.  Yes, the house would mean some security, but I did still look forward to sharing it with somebody, especially a dog and/or cat rather than lizards, scorpions, and black widows.  Okay, so if a nice guy happened to come along I wouldn’t mind sharing that part of my life either, as long as he wasn’t a low-life, scum-sucking leech.  I had enough of those guys back in Philly.

            So we found a cute little ranch style right near the edge of town heading towards Mt. Lemon so I was still within the city limits and had the Catalina mountain range outside my back door.  How cool is that?  The price was right falling nicely into my budget so I took my first week vacation and moved in two weeks ago.  The dog would come soon I figured, but I had to really consider my work schedule and how much the poor pooch would be alone.  Since I work nights, and often had to toil longer depending on whatever case I was lucky enough to catch hold of, I needed to find somebody good and trustworthy in my new neighborhood to check on doggie or kitty during daylight hours.  A cat was no problem and I was considering that route first.  After all, put down fresh litter, water and food, you could go away for days even though they might be angry when you got back.  I have always loved the Siamese breed after spending an earlier part of my life with two wonderful little guys, Loki and Ming, who are now in feline heaven. 

            But for the present I decided to just get used to my new abode, have the house as spider and lizard proof as was humanly possible considering where I now hung my bra and carefully placed my shoes, those being great havens for tarantulas and scorpions (not the bras).  I also looked forward to making friends within the neighborhood, several who had already welcomed me with small house warming gifts.  My work shift made it hard to meet people.  Possibly I would be lucky enough to meet my eventual pet sitter and if he happened to be cute, then I would suffer through the pain.

            Lying awake I glanced over at the alarm clock which glowed 1:00 pm in big green letters.  Rolling over and stretching, I hit the switch for the beeper to not go off.  One of the things I’ve had to try and get used to in working the night detail was sleeping during the day.  I’m somewhat better at it now at least.  I was lucky enough to have a friend who hooked up a timer for me so that my two air conditioning units would pop on at exactly midnight so when I got home from a long night of pursuing hardened criminals at least the house would be cool.  My shift ended at 3:00 a.m. and with no traffic at that time of day (or morning depending on how you looked at it) I could arrive home in less than fifteen minutes.  When I had the apartment, I hated running the A/C all the time but then found the place to be too darn hot for sleeping.  When I do finally get a dog or cat, then I will most probably have central air installed.  I had been saving up for just that contingency, but I wasn’t at that point yet. 

            Moaning like a stirring wolf who had just awoke from a dream of running with the pack, I stretched one last time and jumped (okay, slid) out of bed and stumbled half naked to the bathroom.  I definitely had to pee so I sat down and reached for the half-read paper from yesterday.  The big headline screamed out at me:

ONE MORE STRANGE DEATH OCCURS IN CITY OF TUCSON 

            The article droned on about another victim being totally mauled and half-devoured behind a country and western bar out along Benson Highway.  Apparently his pick-up truck (I found that most cowboys drove pick-up trucks) was parked around back and nobody noticed it there until the bartender left around 2:15 a.m. after cleaning up.  Grabbing a flashlight from the trunk of his car he poked around a little and noticed a brownish looking stain on the ground that led about twenty yards to a line of sagebrush (what else).  Even before getting there he started holding his nose and swatting at nasty insects buzzing around.  After vomiting up his breakfast he called the police who quickly responded and began documenting the fourth mangled victim discovered within a two week time span.  The brownish color had been blood, quite a bit of blood actually, leading from the driver’s side door to the surrounding desert.  No foot prints to speak of, at least not that of the shoed variety.  The prints seemed to be from something living for sure, but not wearing footwear, and not completely human looking either.

            So take a guess which lucky detective team caught the first case two weeks ago, and only one hour from shift’s end?  You win the prize, Detectives Manuel Corroda and Amy Stephenson.  Over the next two weeks there had been three other deaths including the recent cowboy, the others being a nurse getting off her shift, a teacher out walking her dog (which also was missing), and a newspaper delivery guy who was dropping off his last bundles at a convenience store which had not yet opened for business. 

            Tossing the paper into the trash can I lowered my head in my hands and wondered how soon I would be getting a phone call from Manny.  As if I possessed telepathic powers, thirty seconds later my cell phone began singing.  Quickly wiping myself clean, I stumbled into the bedroom, jumped on the bed, and reached for the jangling phone. 

            “Yeah Manny, I was waiting for your call.  Where are you?”

            “About three minutes from your house.  Figured you probably just woke up so I have coffee.  Are you decent enough for me to venture inside?”

            “Hey, you know I’m never decent and maybe I don’t want to be either with you approaching my doorstep,” smiling broadly since I knew how embarrassed he got when I talked sex with him.

            “You’re such a slut, you know that?  I’m a very devoted father, happily married, and a devout Catholic.  Why do you want to corrupt me?”

            “That’s not what your wife told me the other night,” I shot back, knowing this playful jabbing back and forth was about to end.

            He laughed.  “Okay, down girl.  I’ll be there in two minutes so get dressed.  We have things to do, people to interview, evidence to accumulate.”

            “Damn, you’re no fun partner.  Okay, I’ll be in the shower when you get here, just come in.  You have a key,” I said, sliding off the bed and heading for the bathroom.  “And if you want to scrub my back just let me know before you barge in.  I’m not about to act out ‘Pyscho’ (for those of you who had seen that movie) in real life.”

            There was no answer so I knew that I had reached the end of what kidding he would take.  Flipping the phone closed I tossed it on the bed, grabbed a towel from the closet, and turned on the faucets.  I was in no mood for a hot shower so I tested the water until it was just barely warm and then stepped under the spray.  It felt good and woke me up fairly quickly.  I could feel a slight breeze stir the curtain so I knew that Manuel had come inside. 

            I yelled out, “Hey baby, I missed you.  I’m in here and the water’s warm.”

            After washing and drying my hair, I pulled on a pair of black slacks and a short sleeved white blouse.  It was just see through enough that I could definitely hold the attention of any male I had to interview, sometimes female as well depending on her sexual persuasion.  Slipping on a pair of black canvass shoes which were extremely comfortable, especially since I had been on my feet quite a bit lately, I headed out the bedroom door and down the hallway towards the kitchen.  Manny stood nonchalantly against the sink sipping his large, black coffee.  Christ he was handsome.

            “Why do you do that?” I inquired.

            “Do what?  I’m standing here drinking coffee waiting for you.”

            “Are you aware of how much you always look like you’re posing for the cover of GQ?”

            He shook his head and stepped towards the table, swinging out a chair, turning it around and then straddling the seat.  “Amy, you’re just too damn intense sometimes.  Let’s get off the sex theme, okay?”

            I walked past his right shoulder, turned and punched him in the arm. 

            “Ouch, what the hell was that for?” he whined, just like a little baby.

            Grabbing the other coffee, I opened the fridge and grabbed the carton of milk, poured enough in to make the coffee look almost white, then dumped in about three teaspoons of sugar.  My granny had taught me how to drink coffee all doctored up and as a result I could never in a lifetime get used to it bitter and black.

            “You know I’m only kidding so don’t get your panties in an uproar and quit being a sissy ‘cause you could kick my ass anytime you wanted to Mr. Macho Guy.”

            He figured not answering me would put an end to the conversation.  Grabbing the newspaper he jabbed angrily at the headlines with his right index finger. 

            “We need to come up with answers quickly Amy, I mean like today.  This is the fourth person slaughtered by something monstrous, or someone extremely evil.  Quite frankly, the ‘something’ is becoming a viable option,” he said, finishing up his coffee and tossing it in the trash can.

             I squeezed his shoulder and moved to the chair opposite him.  He was five years older than I am and it was easy to see that these killings had been taking their toll on him.

             Hell, there was a few times during the last few weeks that I was beginning to judge whether I was really cut out for this detective bullshit.

            “We will partner, I can feel something’s going to open up pretty soon.  Let’s take a run out to the bar where this latest victim go killed, look around closer now that the techies are gone.  Maybe we can come up with something they missed.  I’ve been trying to find a common thread between the other three victims and can’t really come up with anything.  Apparently these are all just random killings, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  So it appears that there’s just something really bad out there killing when the opportunity arises.”

            “Well, we’re a couple bad asses ourselves, so let’s find this monster and either arrest it, or make sure the bastard’s dead.  We have to end this soon or we’ll both be unemployed.”

            I let him drive so I could finish off my coffee and think.  In fact, we both were quiet, lost in our own thoughts about the case.  After working together now for a year, we had gotten to know each other quite well, discovering that we both really needed to chew on things ourselves and then we’d merge our thoughts together.  There happened to be two troublesome clues which had continued to bother me over the last few days.  One was the amount of scales on the ground around the scene of the crimes.  I’m talking scales like from a snake, but they were bigger than normal so the killer had to have just spread them about in order to confuse us.  The other point was that at each of the first three murders, around the crime scene and then going off to eventually disappear was what seemed to be these wide tracks in the ground, like somebody was sliding something heavy.  The tracks were not straight, but sort of curving back and forth.  Gave me the willies to think what that might be.

            As we pulled onto Benson Highway, Manny’s cell phone rang and brought me out of my trance-like state.  I get that way when chewing on some facts or clues, trying to make something out of possibly nothing. 

            “Right…right…uh huh…you’re shitting me!  Sweet Jesus, okay we’ll turn around and head straight over there.”

            Turning my head, I stared at him waiting for a response.  None came.

            “What’s up partner?” I inquired, not really wanting to know the answer considering how quiet he had suddenly gotten.

            Putting the phone in his pocket, he shook his head.  “That was Fredericks.  Another body was just discovered in a gully behind the high school.  They’re not certain, but it may be a young female student reported by her parents that she had not come home last night.  I gather that the body is not in too gooda’ shape.”

            “Damn, what’s happening around here?” I asked to nobody in particular, staring out the window at apparently many possible future victims.  “What the hell are we dealing with?”

            “I don’t know Amy, but I’m not sure this is being done by one person, or even if the killer is a person.  Hell, this is freaking Arizona.  A lot of weird shit happens around here, especially out in the desert, but this takes the cake.”

            Turning my head to look straight ahead, my eyes got huge and I screamed.

            “Watch out Manny, there’s something on the road.”

            The squealing of brakes filled the air as did the burning rubber of tires, not only from Manny’s car, but the two vehicles in front of him, as well as at least one in the rear.  It was a miracle that nobody crashed, but sure as hell there were some nerves shattered.  Sliding off onto the gravelly shoulder, I opened the door before the car stopped, jumping out and reaching for my gun.

            Looking back at the road, whatever had been rushing across the pavement had completely vanished, but what had it been?  I saw that it was large, that’s for damn sure, and absolutely some kind of animal.  I hate to say it looked like a huge lizard of some kind, but that’s the closest I could come to anything.  Hell, I know there were plenty of lizards and snakes around Tucson, but something that large? 

            No way, absolutely no way.  Maybe it was some type of large armadillo, really big, in fact.  I shook my head, couldn’t have been.  Maybe it was a dog, a coyote, a wolf?  Nah, it definitely looked like some kind of reptile.  I felt Manny move up beside me.

            “See anything partner?  What the hell was that anyway?  It scared the shit out of me,” he half whispered, showing more fright than I had witnessed since being his partner.

            I shook my head and laughed, more to ease my own taut nerves.  “You’re not alone, that’s for sure.  It looked like a big lizard, or some scuttling creature, right?  There’s nothing that large around here though, but then you’ve lived around these parts much longer than I have.  Ever see anything like that before?”

            “No way, nothing of that size, or that ugly.  Where do you think it went?”

            I walked off the pavement, venturing about five feet into the desert staring down at the ground until I found what I was looking for…prints.  Kneeling down I tried to gauge the size and didn’t feel it was possible.  They were much too large for any lizard that I was knowledgeable about.

            “Find something?” Manny asked, still looking out over the long expanse of sagebrush and cactus. 

            “Prints, that’s about it.  Oh well, it’s gone,” I said, standing up and holstering my firearm.  “We’d better get going, there are no accidents to report, just a bunch of fractured nerves.  Whatever it was, I don’t really want to meet up with it again.”

            We climbed back into the car and Manny sped off towards another murder scene.  Something told me that I didn’t want to see this one because  apparently it could be the youngest victim yet.

Ravens-Rage-cover pic from Ken

 

I had a really great time on Sunday getting together at Barnes and Noble in Willow Grove, PA for 3 hours with a group of writers in the area.  The gathering was led by Jon McGoran (aka D. H. Dublin) who is quite the author himself with at least 3 novels to his credit, probably more.  Some of the writers in attendance were already published like myself, but all had manuscripts completed, or in the works.  We discussed writing in general, the publishing industry (always confusing), searching for an agent (even more confusing and frustrating), marketing not only ourselves but our books, what each of us was doing at the moment.  It was just a great time and I look forward to attending these gatherings each month now, the last sunday at the Barnes and Noble on Park Avenue in Willow Grove.  Anybody reading this, if you’re in the area, you certainly don’t have to be published to attend, it’s open for anybody who loves writing.  In addition, Jon is a member of the Liar’s Club here in Philly and they are always doing different events at local independent bookstores.  I’ll post those on here as I hope to attend these events when I can.

 

As for me, I am very impatiently awaiting the arrival of copies of my newest novel, “Raven’s Rage – Order of the Claw”.  I’m like a giddy school girl, so anxious to hold that in my hand and then read it cover-to-cover.   Remembering back, I was so thrilled to receive and hold a copy of “Raven’s Way” back in 2006, and this will not be any less thrilling.  It was an achievement to be sure, actually being able to write this second novel with all that has happened in my life, mostly the continuingly failing health of my husband.  So much of my time has been spent on caring for him, especially in these months since the end of June, plus working full time.  I know that it’s imperative I have time for myself, especially in finding the time to write constructively.  Easier said than done.  One of the guys attending the writing get together on Sunday said it was a matter of ‘time management’ when trying to find the period to write.  Yep, I agree, however nobody lives with my husband.  I do plan on seriously looking into getting a laptop over the next month or so, hopefully prices will be down for the holidays and I can land a good deal.  This will allow me the freedom to write over lunch (I could definitely afford to lose a few meals), stop someplace on the way home like a coffee shop, etc., go upstairs in the bedroom to write in order to get some peace and quiet, take the laptop with me when I go to visit the family on those special weekends, just sit in my recliner and write, or on the front porch. 

 

So for those of you reading this who have not be able yet to read “Raven’s Way” (the first book in the Raven series), you can follow the link to Soul Asylum Publishing (copy and paste the link), or go directly to www.soulasylumpoetry.com and proceed to the bookstore, there you will find a package deal for both books.  I’ve already got signed copies promised out so my first load of books that I keep at the house on a continuing basis will be going very quickly initially.  You can always contact me directly at kmarzock@aol.com to make arrangements to obtain a signed copy(s) of “Raven’s Rage – Order of the Claw”.  This book will be exciting, especially since the final battle is set at Eastern State Penitentiary here in Philadelphia, a fabulously eerie locale.  This is why I’m so anxious to find quality writing time so I can continue with the third Raven novel which is tentatively titled, “Raven Unleashed”, and/or finishing up my first fantasy novel titled, “Scrolls of Sorrow”. 

http://www.soulasylumpoetry.com/cgi-bin/ccp51/cp-app.cgi?&act=&aff=&pg=prod&ref=RavensRage&cat=&catstr=
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Hope you have a fantastic day, all your dreams are fulfilled, you and your loved ones are happy and in great health, and know that tomorrow can always be better and that there is always somebody less fortunate that can use your help and caring.

 

K*

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