Christmas Gifts

Posted: December 5, 2017 in Experiences, Thoughts
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It’s been a while since my visit to the grocery store on that fateful day in April. That’s when the bank inside the store was robbed and I got shot, leaving me with the ability to read minds. If you want to know the truth, it’s been a mixed blessing. Sure, I’m mostly glad to have this ‘extra’ sense, but there are times when it’s gotten me in a lot of trouble. Like working for a mob-boss.

Of course, I’ve been able to help the police and solve a lot of cases, as well as start my own consulting agency. So I can’t complain. But as much as I like knowing things I probably shouldn’t, there are times I’m not real happy about it.

One of those times is Christmas. Even though I do my best to block my mind from hearing thoughts, I’m not always successful. As you can imagine, it takes a little of the enjoyment out of opening Christmas presents, since I usually know what I’m getting ahead of time.

Like this year. I accidentally heard my husband, Chris, thinking about this great present he was getting me. Mostly he was thinking how much money it would cost, but that I would love it. That got me real excited, and I tried not to listen to anything else he was thinking.

Since he knows I can hear his thoughts, he does his best to guard them as well, so that helps. Still, I feel bad about that, because it’s a lot of work for him, and he’s not always successful. It also leaves me in the position of sometimes lying so I won’t hurt his feelings. It’s a fine line.

But today, all my good intentions went out right the window because I heard him thinking about the toilet seat he was getting me for Christmas. I tried really hard not to react, but seriously? A toilet seat? For Christmas? And it cost a lot of money? Was it made out of gold or something?

“You’re joking, right?” I blurted.

“What?” Then it hit him that I’d heard all about the toilet seat. He took a deep breath and swore in his mind. Which I also heard. So this time, he said it out loud. “Dammit.”

“Sorry, but… are you serious?”

Chris shook his head, thinking that having a mind-reading wife was going to drive him… “Uh…yes, but it’s not what you think. They’ve got these great toilet seats that do all kinds of things. And it’s heated!”

“Oh, right. I didn’t think about that.” Then I glanced at him and smiled. “Okay. Maybe that is something I’d like.”

Chris groaned a little and closed his eyes, but managed to block his thoughts so I wouldn’t hear that he thought I was driving him crazy, but it didn’t take a mind-reader to figure that out.

I also felt bad that I’d ruined his surprise, so I quickly pulled him into a hug. “I’m sure I’ll love it.”

“I don’t have to get it for you. I can figure out something else.”

“No. Now that I know more about it, I think it’s great.”

He pulled away and narrowed his eyes, clearly not buying it.

“I do. Really. I mean…now that I know, I’d be disappointed if we didn’t get it. A warm toilet seat! That’s pretty sweet.”

“Shelby…” He shook his head, exasperated. Was I mocking him? He wasn’t sure if I was just saying that, or if I really wanted it. “You won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t want it.”

I smiled. Poor Chris. “I do want it. It sounds lovely.” Oops, maybe that did sound a little patronizing.

He smiled back, thinking that at least I hadn’t picked up the other thing he was getting me…he caught my gaze and widened his eyes.

“I didn’t hear a thing about that.”

“Good.”

He left right after that for work. Kind of like he was eager to get away from his mind-reading wife. It would have hurt my feelings, but I couldn’t blame him, since I’d ruined his surprise.

Now I’ve been wondering all day if he’s really getting me something else, or if he just said that to throw me off. Oh well. Whatever happens, I’m really looking forward to my new toilet seat, but I’ve decided that, if I pick up the other thing he hinted at giving me, I’m going to pretend that I didn’t hear about it. Even if I have to lie.

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Last Monday around four-thirty in the afternoon, I got a phone call from Ramos. That wasn’t unusual, but what surprised me was the desperation in his voice. If you know Ramos at all, you know how crazy that sounds. He is the King of Cool.

Then he explained the situation, and I couldn’t help blurting out my surprise. “What? You’re babysitting? Are you kidding me?”

That might not have been the best thing to say to someone who’s sounding desperate, especially when that someone is a renowned hit-man for a mob-boss.

“No. I’m not kidding.” His voice sounded a little menacing, so I quickly changed my tone.

“Oh, okay. What do you need?”

He explained that his neighbor had taken his wife to the hospital because she was in labor, and the guy’s mother-in-law couldn’t get there for a while. For some reason, they asked Ramos to watch their five and two-year-old kids until she got there.

“Wow. How did you get roped into that?”

“I was in the yard raking leaves, and I guess they were desperate. What could I say? I mean, she was moaning and crying with pain, and I thought that baby might just be born right there in the driveway.”

As he spoke I heard a child yelling in the background. Then came a high-pitched scream and something clattered to the floor. “Can you come over?” he asked.

“Sure.” He gave me his address, and I jumped in my car. As I drove to the house, it hit me that now I’d finally get to see where he lived. That was something I’d wondered about for a long time.

He spent a lot of time at the apartment at Thrasher Development, but I’d always known he had a house somewhere. Now I’d see it and maybe uncover a little more about the hit-man that I didn’t know.

The neighborhood in which he lived wasn’t exactly what I’d expected. He didn’t live in a ritzy part of town, and the houses were nice, but not huge. Still, they were well-kept and the neighborhood had a feeling of community about it.

I recognized his black car in the driveway of an older, red-brick home. Large maple trees lined the street with golden color, and piles of leaves rested in many of the front yards. The leaves in Ramos’s yard were heaped in a pile, with a rake lying haphazardly across the top of them.

I parked my car in the driveway behind his, and got out. Ramos must have been watching for me, because he opened the door in the house on the right and called my name.

I started toward him and paused in mid-stride with my jaw dropping open. He stood there holding a two-year-old girl on his hip like a regular person. It was a picture of Ramos that I never thought I’d see in a million years. It was so jarring that I really wanted to take out my camera to record the moment, but his frown was enough to dissuade me from doing anything of the sort.

Putting a happy smile on my face, I continued to the house. The five-year-old boy was adorable and talked a mile-a-minute, but he was a little upset that his parents had left him in the care of a virtual stranger.

My presence calmed him down, and once he was settled, his little sister wanted to get down to play. He showed us his favorite toys and explained what they did and how they worked.

Soon, we were all sitting on the floor, playing with a hot wheels play set where the little cars could race down a spiraling track. He got Ramos to pick a car and have a race with him, and it was something he wanted to do over and over again. It reminded me of how Josh was at that age, and I got a little nostalgic.

I tried to coax the little girl over to sit by me, but instead, she walked right over to Ramos and sat down in his lap. Ramos’s eyes widened and I knew it made him uncomfortable, but then he glanced at me and shrugged. He was thinking that all the girls liked sitting in his lap, so he shouldn’t be too surprised.

I laughed, glad that he was relaxed enough to joke about the situation.

Half an hour later, their grandmother showed up. She thanked us profusely and we got up to leave. The little boy told Ramos that he needed to come back and play some more. Ramos’s brows rose, but he smiled and told him that he’d see him around.

Then we left. The outside air cooled my face, and I glanced at Ramos, noting the relief in the deep breaths he took.

“That wasn’t so bad,” I said. “Right?”

He shook his head. “I had no idea what to do with those kids. Thanks for coming.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I just have one request,” he said, catching my gaze.

Of course I picked it up from his mind. He didn’t want me to tell anyone, because it would ruin his reputation. “Not even Uncle Joey?”

His lips thinned, so I relented. “Okay. I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

“Good. Thanks.” He walked back over to the pile of leaves and picked up his rake. “You want to help with this, too?”

I chuckled. “I think you can handle that just fine. I’ve got to go, but I’ll see you later.”

He gave me that chin lift thing, and I got in my car, grateful that I could come to his rescue for a change. As I waved, I noticed the little boy watching Ramos from the window of his living room. I backed out of the driveway, and started down the street.

Glancing back at Ramos, I had to chuckle. The boy had escaped his house and stood at Ramos’s side, talking up a storm. Then he jumped into the leaves and scattered them all over the place.

Whether he liked it or not, it looked like Ramos had a new friend. Ramos might not like it much, but it sure warmed my heart. Plus, I knew I’d have fun giving him a hard time about it. What could be better than that?

 

What is Normal?

Posted: October 3, 2017 in Experiences, Thoughts
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Sometimes I’m not sure what “normal” is anymore. Just the other night, I was sitting down to dinner with my family. Eating dinner together is important to me, because it’s a way to connect and keep informed of what’s going on in our busy lives. Dinner together doesn’t always happen, so I looked forward to chatting with my husband and two teenage kids.

Chris, my husband, asked Josh and Savannah how their day went. They weren’t too forthcoming, but with my mind-reading ability, I picked up lots of things that mattered to them. I don’t usually like to invade their privacy, but when they don’t want to talk much, I just can’t seem to help it.

At least what I picked up wasn’t earth-shattering, or out of the ordinary. But at thirteen and fifteen, and with their hormones kicking in, there were times it was just better not to know… mostly because it was hard not to roll my eyes because of all that teen angst. Still, it made me glad I could draw them out with a comment or two, and help them deal with whatever it was that bothered them.

I asked Chris about his day, and he said it went really well. He’d even made a breakthrough in one of his cases that would help his client, so he was pretty happy about that.

Then it was my turn, and everyone glanced my way. Suddenly, things weren’t so clear, and I didn’t know what to say. I mean… do I tell them about my meeting with Uncle Joey, where he had me listen to an investor who was trying to swindle him out of a huge sum of money?

What about the motorcycle ride I went on with Ramos so I could let him know what the person receiving a package was really going to do with it?

Or how about the murder suspect I listened to for Dimples, whom it turned out was hiding behind a wall of grief to mask his joy of poisoning his mother-in-law?

Right then, none of that was anything I wanted to share. But I had to say something, so I glossed over the stuff with Uncle Joey and Ramos by saying that I ran a few errands in the morning, specifically leaving out the motorcycle part. Not that it was bad, but you know… it’s Ramos, and I may have enjoyed that part the most.

That little flush of guilt made me emphasize the part about helping the police catch a killer, so no one would ask me about my errands. That did the trick, and it was fun to tell them a little about the case, and how many poisonous plants people had in their own homes that could kill someone.

I may have gone on too long about the poisonous-plant-part, because everyone went quiet with widened eyes, and stared at me like I was a crazy person.

Then Josh smiled and thought that was pretty cool, even though he didn’t say it. Savannah’s thoughts filled with admiration that I could help the police like I did. But Chris was thinking that I shouldn’t be talking about an ongoing investigation. As a lawyer, he was probably right, so I quickly told them not to tell anyone.

I shouldn’t have worried. My kids had learned not to share much about me because what I did just wasn’t normal. Of course, they didn’t know the truth that I could read minds, but thought I had ‘premonitions,’ which was how I wanted to keep it. At least they thought it was cool, so it didn’t hurt my feelings too much.

It also made me realize that my normal wasn’t really normal at all. Around everyone else, I have to keep most things to myself, which isn’t always easy to do. But most of the time I manage just fine.

Still, it hit me all at once how crazy my life had become. But it also gave me a little thrill to be different. Of course, that thrill didn’t include the times I’d nearly been killed. Looking at my family, I knew that part wasn’t so good.

See what I mean about being normal? Maybe it’s not so bad, but thinking about my normal life before I could read minds, and my abnormal life after I could read minds… for the most part, I’m glad to be abnormal, even if there’s a lot of stuff I have to keep to myself.

 

 

 

Shelby’s Total Eclipse

Posted: August 25, 2017 in Experiences, Thoughts
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Like many of you, I traveled a few hours with my family to see the total eclipse, and WOWZA, was that an experience!

We all had our special eclipse glasses so we could watch the moon overtake the sun. I marveled that without the glasses, I never would have known the moon was even in the sky because the sun was so bright.

As the moon closed in, the sky naturally darkened, and the temperature dropped. Still, even with a sliver of the sun showing, it was too bright to look at without the glasses. Then the moment came and, all at once, the moon completely covered the sun.

Jumping up, we took off our glasses, and stared up at the dark side of the moon. Rays of light shot up all around the orb, but everything went dark, with a three-sixty degree sunset of colors all around the horizon. The temperature dropped, and we could even see stars in the sky.

All of those amazing events happened between one second and the next, sending a shot of pure astonishment through me. I even got a little shaky. Then it happened. All at once, I heard everyone’s thoughts shouting like a chorus of wonder into the sky. Not only that, but there was an edge of harmony, almost like tinkling bells that reverberated through the atmosphere.

The hairs on my arms and on the back of my neck, stood on end, and I could barely catch my breath. Mesmerized by the sounds in my head, I could hardly pull my gaze away from the beautiful phenomenon in the sky.

Then it was over, and I had to hurry and put my glasses back on with everyone else. Even the tiniest ray of sun was too bright to look at. I began to breathe again, and all the sounds and thoughts I’d heard retreated to a memory in my mind.

I hugged my husband and my kids close, grateful to have shared this experience with them. Then my legs gave out, and I sat down in my chair. We watched and marveled at how bright everything started to get, and how the temperature rose so we weren’t so cold.

We stayed outside until the whole thing was over, and I picked up that none of us wanted the experience to end.

“When’s the next eclipse?” Savannah asked.

“Yeah,” Josh chimed in. “I want to do this again.”

“Me too!” I glanced at them and we all laughed.

After that, we decided to go out to lunch for a burger and bottomless fries to celebrate the amazing event. We spoke about the shared experience while the wonder of it still lingered in our memories. Then it was time to go home.

Even though it didn’t last long enough, the experience was something we would share forever, and brought us closer together. It also took me a little longer to recover. I never would have thought that reading minds would make an experience like the eclipse any different, but boy, was I wrong.

Who would have thought I’d hear everyone’s thoughts like a chorus? And what about the tinkling bells? Come to think of it, they were like wind chimes. Then it hit me that maybe what I’d heard had been a neighbor’s wind chimes, only magnified by all the wonder going on.

I guess I’ll never know… unless I go to another eclipse. I heard there’s one in the U.S.A. in twenty-twenty-four. I think I need to be there for it, just so I’ll know for sure about the wind chimes.

Now all I have to do, is find a place to stay. Will any of you be in the path of the next eclipse? Do you take reservations? Let me know!!

Pickleball Anyone?

Posted: July 7, 2017 in Experiences
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One of the perks of working for a mob-boss is being invited to his country club. This usually entails playing a round of golf. I’m not much of a golfer, and the last time I went, I had a golf cart accident that sent a judge to the emergency room for stitches. Since then, Uncle Joey hadn’t invited me back.

So it came as a surprise when he asked me if my husband and I would like to join him and his wife, Jackie, at the country club for a game of pickleball.

“Uh… pickleball? What’s that?” I asked, hoping it didn’t involve pickles.

He explained that the game was a lot like tennis, only on a smaller-sized court, and using a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. He said it combined the elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong.

Since I’ve played tennis since I was a kid, and I’m a pretty good at ping-pong, I thought it might be fun. Plus, it’s never a good idea to say no to a mob-boss, no matter what he wants. So, all in all, this sounded like an easy request compared to some of the other things he’d asked me to do.

My husband, Chris, had never played the game before, but at least he’d heard of it, so that was a plus. We set up a time, and I looked forward to learning something new, though I did have one concern. Chris and I were a lot younger than Uncle Joey by at least twenty or more years, and I hoped that once we learned the game, we didn’t beat them too badly.

We arrived at the club, wearing the appropriate attire, and met Uncle Joey and Jackie at the tennis courts. Uncle Joey was eager to teach us how to play, and hoped we picked it up pretty fast, since he liked a competitive game. I thought that was kind of presumptive of him to think he’d beat us so handily. It brought out the competitive side of my nature, so I was eager to prove him wrong.

It took longer than I liked to get used to the ball and paddle. I kept hitting the ball way too hard, so it went long. When I wasn’t doing that, I missed the ball entirely because I wasn’t used to a smaller paddle. But after about half an hour, I got the hang of hitting it, and looked forward to playing a game.

I’d like to say that our first game was a success, but that would be a lie. We didn’t even score one point. Uncle Joey played with a lot of aggression… kind of like a shark playing with its food. For an old guy, he was really good.

After the first round, he took pity on us, and sent Chris over to play with Jackie while I partnered with him. I wasn’t so sure that was a good idea, since playing with Uncle Joey intimidated me… a lot. Needless to say, every time the ball came my way I totally messed up. In fact, every point we lost was because of me.

At least I caught that he didn’t mind too much, mostly since Chris wasn’t doing much better on Jackie’s team. She was really good, too.

Uncle Joey gave me some tips and even encouraged me when I did something right. After a while, I started doing better. After losing the first game, we won the next two, mostly because of Uncle Joey’s mad skills, and I started to enjoy myself.

Then we switched partners again. This time I played with Jackie, which wasn’t quite so intimidating. Even though I did better, we still lost every game to the guys. It bothered me more than I liked, mostly because I picked up that Uncle Joey went easy on us and didn’t play as hard as he could have.

That lit a fire under me, and the next game, I played a lot better. We still lost, but not by so much.

After that, several other players filled the open courts, and asked if we’d like to switch it up and rotate games with them. I picked up that Uncle Joey was all for it, since he’d get to play against some better players.

It would have hurt my feelings, except that he also thought it would be good for us to play against some other teams where we might have a chance to win. So he was actually looking out for us, right?

Most of the other players were about Uncle Joey’s age, and some of them weren’t in the best of shape, so I thought he had a point, and I tried not to be offended. Plus, there were a few people that seemed really old, at least in their late seventies and one or two in their eighties. We could win against them, right?

In the end, it didn’t seem to matter how old anyone was, we still lost every game. At least there were a few that were close, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Still… playing pickleball is fun, but I learned not to underestimate the old guys.

Now, I’m hoping to get my own paddle… and one for Chris. Hey… we could get some for our kids, Josh and Savannah. It could be a lot of fun, and a great way to spend time together as a family.

Then the next time we played against Uncle Joey and Jackie, we could beat them. Hmm… on the other hand, maybe it was okay if we didn’t beat them, but it would be awfully nice to come close once in a while.

 

 

Because of the tricky situations I always seem to get into, I began training in Aikido. Aikido is a martial art that includes techniques from Jujitsu and Kenjutsu and is based in self-defense, where one uses an opponent’s energy to gain control of them, or throw them, or even escape a hold.

I began these classes only a few months ago, and just passed my fifth kyu test, which is cool, but not anywhere close to a black belt or anything. Getting a black belt would probably take me three or four years, but hey, you gotta start somewhere, right?

Anyway, my barely teenage daughter and I (yikes is she really a teenager now?) went to the Saturday class. It was a lot of fun, mostly because it’s totally satisfying to throw a few big guys around.

Sensei, our teacher, decided to show us how to do atemi, which is a technique used to disrupt an opponent’s attack of a grab or a strike. It throws them off and helps you gain the upper hand. Atemi is done by kicking, or throwing a punch at just the right time. It can’t be too early, or they’ll see it coming, and if it’s late, it won’t do you any good.

After demonstrating the technique a few times, we partnered up and went through the technique in slow-motion before picking up the pace. By the time we changed partners, I was starting to get pretty good at the timing part which was a good thing since my next partner was a big dude.

That meant my kick would have to be pretty hard, and maybe a little higher than I’d practiced, but I could aim my punch for the stomach, so that would work. We slowed our moves down to start with, and then traded attacks. Sensei told us not to use atemi all the time, so that when we did, it wouldn’t be expected.

Sticking to his advise, I waited until after several attacks to throw in a high kick. The only problem was my attacker was a little slow… and… YUP… you guessed it… I kicked him real good right where it counts. The poor guy fell to the ground on his hands and knees, and groaned, barely able to breathe.

My face turned red and guilt burned a hole in my stomach. This was terrible. Everyone stopped what they were doing and glanced at me thinking I’d gone too far. Poor Daniel, I’d really gotten him good. He’d probably never partner with me again. Why was I kicking so hard?

Savannah gasped and covered her mouth. She glanced at me in wide-eyed horror, embarrassed at what I’d done. But underneath her hands, her mouth twitched with laughter, which she wisely held back.

By now, Daniel was showing signs of recovering, so maybe it wasn’t so bad. After my horrified apologies, he grunted a few times, and waved me off. I glanced at Sensei and he just shook his head, but he was thinking that it wasn’t all my fault. Daniel was a little slow with his reaction time, or I wouldn’t have been able to get him so good. It was also a given in the dojo that if you got hurt, it was most likely your own fault.

That helped me feel a little better, but not until Daniel was able to stand up. Guilt keep me immobile until he finally walked over to the drinking fountain and took a few swallows of water.

Everyone else went back to practice, leaving me the odd person out until Daniel came back. I was hoping that Sensei would make everyone change partners, but he was thinking that Daniel and I needed to work together again, so there wouldn’t be any hard feelings.

After a few minutes we got back into the routine and took turns between being the attacker and the attacked. When it was his turn to attack, I waited for the right moment to do a ‘fake’ kick again, making sure I didn’t go overboard this time.

As Daniel lunged at me, I timed my kick at the perfect moment to thwart him, hoping he’d see it in time to avoid it. Just in case he didn’t, I didn’t kick quite as hard. Still, somehow I managed to connect… again!

He fell to the floor, hardly believing that it had happened again. At least it wasn’t as bad this time, but still… what the hell? Did I have it in for him or something? Was his timing really that off?

Everyone felt bad for Daniel, but most of us were trying not to laugh out loud. I mean… sometimes when something untoward happens, your first impulse is to laugh, right? I had a hard time keeping the chuckle inside, especially as I asked him if he was okay.

This time Sensei clapped his hands for everyone to stop, deciding that for Daniel’s sake, and maybe mine, it was time to move on to something else. I wasn’t sure who was more relieved, me or Daniel. But still, twice in one day? Sheesh!

After that, Sensei decided to have us practice with the jo so we wouldn’t need partners. The jo is a wooden staff that’s about four feet long. He had us hold it close to the center and practice doing circle eights so we could get a feel for it. Then he told us to try going a little faster.

I concentrated hard and sped things up a bit, thinking it was just like twirling a baton like they do in the marching bands. All at once, a big thwack sounded, and Daniel’s jo fell to the mat. He held his hand to his jaw where he’d hit himself with the jo!

I burst out laughing. I knew it wasn’t nice of me, but I couldn’t help it. I tried to hold it in and turned my face away so Daniel wouldn’t see, but my shoulders shook so bad I could hardly breathe, which just made me laugh even harder.

It was one of those times I had the giggles so bad nothing was going to keep me from laughing. Then I noticed everyone else was laughing a little too. Even Daniel. With a shrug, he said something about it not being his day, and the tension left the room.

Still, it wasn’t until Savannah and I were driving home that we could finally let loose and have a good laugh. We both agreed that Aikido was a blast, and even if embarrassing things happened, we wouldn’t want to stop going.

I thought that would be the end of it, but at dinner Savannah spilled the beans. “Dad… guess what Mom did to a poor guy in Aikido…”

 

I just got back from New York a few weeks ago, and it was a blast. We stayed in a hotel close to Times Square, so naturally, that was the first place we went once we got there. It’s kind of a crazy place, with so many people and all of those bright lights.

There’s also people there who dress up as different super heroes and other things like the Statue of Liberty. Naturally, I wanted to get my picture taken with one of them. Then I noticed that people who stopped and got photos always slipped them some cash after. Not sure I wanted to pay for a photo opp, I glanced at some of the other things going on, content to watch without participating in anything that might cost me money.

A large crowd had gathered around four shirtless, muscle-bound men, so naturally that caught my attention and I hurried over to join them with Miguel, who was with me, trailing behind.

They asked for a volunteer, and a boy around nine-years-old raised his hand. They told him to stand real still while one of the shirtless guys did a jumping flip right over his head. Everyone cheered and clapped at his feat. After taking a bow, one of the men pulled the tallest guy from the crowd and had him stand behind the kid.

That’s when they turned to the crowd and asked, “How much do you want to see our brother jump over both of them?” A few people handed them some dollar bills, and they collected a nice little stack. Then they pulled another guy from the crowd and had him stand between the other two. This time they got a few tens and fives and began their little chant of how we’re all part of the human family, no matter what our differences may be.

I stood there beside Miguel and figured we could stay and watch without giving them any money, especially since we were at the back of the crowd. Next thing I know, they are grabbing Miguel to stand in the row of people, making it four tall guys.

I picked up his embarrassment, but of course he went along with it, because what else could he do? They used his addition to get more money from the crowd, especially zeroing in on the girls who thought Miguel was hot-stuff.

Then they asked him if he was there with someone, like a wife or a girlfriend. He pointed in my direction and the nearest guy came to my side. “Is this your wife?” he asked, dragging me into the center of the crowd, and thinking I looked a little old for him, but in a good way. Of course Miguel said, “No, she’s my cousin.”

The guy dramatically wiped his brow and said. “So it’s all right if I kiss her?” He stood beside me and leaned in to kiss my lips. I stood frozen, and probably would have let him kiss me, but he stopped at the last moment and sent me a wink. Then he asked me, “How much is your cousin worth? If you want us to jump all-the-way-over-him, we might need some motivation.”

Dang! With everyone watching, I scrounged through my purse and found that my smallest chunk of change happened to be a twenty-dollar-bill. I handed it over, and he got the crowd to cheer for me while I smiled politely and gave Miguel a thumbs-up.

After that, they added another man to the line, which now made five people in a row to jump over. Then they did their little thing and asked for more donations. I didn’t see how they planned to jump over all these tall guys and the kid, but what did I know?

Flush with cash, they added a woman to stand between the boy and the next man, taking the number up to six and making the row of people go from shortest to tallest.

They did their little spiel and gathered several more bills. At this point it looked like they had close to three-hundred dollars. Not bad for half an hour.

Finally, they said it was time to do the jump. It was a good thing, since most people were ready to move on by then. Anyway, they made the girl and boy stand off to the side. Then they asked the four guys to face sideways and touch their toes. Not all of them could do that, but a few got pretty close.

With the line of men all hunched over and standing close together, the jump seemed a lot more reasonable. Still, that was quite a formidable distance. Starting a countdown, the jumper took his place, then took off running and did a big flip over them, going to his knees on the other side before standing up.

From where I stood, the jump looked a little off to me… like he’d jumped a little crookedly and not exactly right over them, but I wasn’t about to point that out. After he landed, everyone clapped and cheered, and they thanked the crowd as it dispersed. Miguel came to my side, relieved to have that over with, and we started back to our hotel.

Anyway… I didn’t feel too bad about losing twenty dollars since it was part of my whole New York experience. Plus, I nearly got kissed by a hot guy… how could I complain about that? But next time, I think I’ll just get my picture taken with Captain America, like I wanted to in the first place!

All of you know how much I love going on motorcycle rides. But after yesterday, I’ve decided that it’s mostly because of the person taking me on the ride.

Yesterday, I got a call from my friend, Holly. She told me that her husband got her a scooter for her birthday. I think it’s a Vespa. Anyway… I hurried over to see it and maybe take a ride. It was so cute … kind of a lime green color. And the thing I liked most, was that it didn’t have any gears you had to shift, and it was small enough for me to handle.

As you know, on a motorcycle, you have to do that whole gear shift thing on the handlebar and with your foot, which can be a little intimidating… at least for me. Plus, the motorcycle that I usually ride is pretty big. If I tried to take that out by myself, I’m not sure I’d be strong enough to hold it upright. Still, I’m sure they have smaller motorcycles that I could try, right? Plus it might be a good thing to learn how to ride one just in case… you know… something happened.

With that in mind, I totally jumped at the chance to try out Holly’s Vespa, just to get a feel for it in a non-threatening way. If I liked it… who knew? Maybe I’d want to get one, or try out a smaller-size motorcycle?

She drove it around first and showed me how it worked, driving it up and down the street a few times. Then it was my turn. The handlebars have a brake lever and the one on the right side is the one you pull toward you to make it go.

It seemed simple enough, and it kind of reminded me of the wave-runner I took out at the lake a few years ago. I had my two kids on it behind me, and we started out pretty slow. Then the need for speed hit me, and I twisted the handle. We took off and it was great fun, until the kids lost their grip and flew off behind me. Luckily they both had on life jackets, but I didn’t realize they were slowly losing their grip because of the speed, or I would have slowed down…

Anyway, I tested the brakes and then twisted the handle and started off. I was going pretty slow, but I veered to the left where there’s a two-foot drop-off from Holly’s driveway to the neighbor’s driveway. I was holding onto the handlebar so tight, that I forgot that I needed to let go in order to stop.

I managed to turn the wheel in time to avoid going off the edge, but it was close, and I heard some yelling going on behind me. By then, I had come to the end of the driveway. Luckily, I shifted my hand on the handle. With a deep breath of relief, I slowed in time to look both ways before pulling out and turning up the street.

I made it to the top of the street and decided to go around the block, since I wasn’t sure I could turn it around. By the time I’d made it back around the street, I was starting to get the hang of it. I’d even managed not to tip over or anything. But my legs were a little shaky from all the excitement.

With relief, I turned into the driveway and pulled to a stop in front of everyone almost like a pro. I even remembered to put my feet on the ground so the scooter wouldn’t tip over.

Holly smiled, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. She reached for the handlebar, thinking how grateful she was that I’d make it back alive, and that I’d almost killed her brand-new scooter. She also wasn’t sure she’d ever let me ride it again.

It kind of hurt my feelings. Sure I’d sort of messed up at the beginning, but I’d made it all the way around the block just fine. Still, I knew it would take a lot more practice for me to feel totally comfortable riding around on it.

That’s when I realized that maybe having a motorcycle of my own wouldn’t be such a good idea after all. I really liked riding on the back much better than driving it myself anyway. Especially when I could wrap my arms around the one person who liked to take me on those rides… yeah… I think it’s safer for everyone if I stick to that plan from now on.

 

 

As most of you know, I’m a paid consultant for the police. I help out when they have a difficult case and not much to go on. They don’t know the truth that I can read minds, and I try to keep it that way by telling them I have psychic abilities – like premonitions and such.

This works great when they are questioning suspects, mostly because I can pick it up pretty quick if the suspect is guilty. After that, it’s usually easy for me to ask the suspect leading questions that either trick them into admitting their guilt, or trick them into giving away important information that only they would know. This usually freaks them out so bad that they confess to the whole thing. In the process, it makes me look pretty awesome.

Only today didn’t go quite so well.

I was at the precinct waiting for Dimples to arrive, when the chief got the call about a double homicide. Dimples is the only detective who knows the truth about me, and we’ve become partners. But since he wasn’t there yet, the chief asked me to go with Detective Bates.

Normally, Bates would have refused to take me with him, since he doesn’t like me much. But things have changed in the last couple of months, and he’s more accepting of my psychic abilities. He’s now a believer, since he’s seen first hand how good I am at finding the guilty party.

But right then, I wished he still hated me, because I wasn’t sure how I could help at a crime scene. I couldn’t read dead people’s minds, and the killer was probably long gone. But what could I do? As I stood there with indecision, Bates smiled encouragingly, thinking I hesitated because he hadn’t been very nice to me, but he was willing to let bygones be bygones.

Great! How could I tell him to go without me after that? “Uh… I’m not too good with blood. Maybe I’d better stay here?”

At this point the chief noticed my hesitation and frowned at me, thinking that with my ability, I might pick up something his detectives would miss and they’d get a jump start on the killer. So why was I hesitating? Isn’t this what they paid me for?

“But if you really need me,” I continued. “I’ll go.”

“Good,” the chief said. “Detective Harris has been held up on another case, but I’ll send him to the house as soon as he’s available.”

I let out a relieved breath since Detective Harris is my partner, Dimples. I hoped he didn’t take took long since he could run interference for me if things got tricky. Plus, I didn’t like going out on a case without him. I knew Dimples had my back if something went wrong, and I couldn’t say that about Bates.

Before I knew it, we arrived at the house with the dead bodies, and a wave of dread washed over me. Even worse, there were a lot of police officers there, but Dimples wasn’t one of them.

Bates noticed my white face and thought I was a big wimp. He shook his head thinking it was a mistake to bring me. Sure, I’d been right a few times, but I didn’t seem to have the mojo to be a real detective.

The grudging respect he’d held for me slipped a few notches. So I offered him a quick nod, and jumped out of the car. I even led the way to the door, but a police officer stopped me from entering, and Bates had to tell her it was okay to let me in. As obnoxious as that was, it restored Bates’ good mood, so I couldn’t be too upset.

With misgiving, I took a deep breath and followed him in. The first thing I noticed were the rusty red blood spatters all over the living room wall. Then came the coppery smell of death and the sight of two women’s bodies sprawled out on the floor. I stopped in my tracks, then managed to cover my nose and avert my gaze until I found an out-of-the-way spot near the doorway to the kitchen.

I swallowed a few times to keep from throwing up. I hadn’t expected the dead people to be women. Somehow, that made this whole thing worse. I glanced into the kitchen and noticed food on the table along with three place settings. So where was the other person? Was that person still there? Was that person the killer?

My neck tingled and a sudden chill ran down my spine, as if someone’s icy breath had brushed against my skin. I hunched my shoulders and glanced behind me, catching sight of blond hair and wide eyes before it registered that my reflection looked back at me from a tall mirror at the end of the hall.

Letting out a breath of relief, my shoulders slumped and I closed my eyes. Then I heard a sound, like a woman singing. What the freak? It came from the end of the hall where two doors stood open.

I wasn’t about to go that way, but an icy tingle crept against my neck and across my shoulders, pushing me in that direction. The singing got a little louder and I followed the sound to the room on the right.

I held my breath and peeked inside, letting it out to find the room empty. As I took a step inside the singing stopped, and I caught the scent of roses. Then a picture frame on the dresser toppled over. I inhaled sharply, then squealed with alarm as a hand clamped down on my shoulder.

“Whoa! It’s just me,” Bates said, catching my arms before I hit him. “Didn’t you hear me? I called your name twice.”

“You did?” My breath came hard and fast. At his nod, I shook my head. “I didn’t hear a thing. But I think you’d better take a look at whoever’s in that picture frame on the dresser.”

“Why?”

“Because it just fell over for no reason!”

His eyes narrowed. He was thinking that maybe my imagination was working overtime. He’d seen that happen at homicides before, because of the shock of dead bodies and all that blood. But what if there was something to it? Was it part of my powers at work?

“Sure. I’ll get it.” He moved to the dresser and pulled on some rubber gloves before picking up the frame.

I glanced over his shoulder into the photo of a smiling man wearing a suit and tie. “I don’t know who that is,” I said. “But I think he might be the killer.”

Bates glanced at me, thinking that maybe it wasn’t a waste to bring me after all. “Sure. I’ll look into it.”

I closed my eyes and let out a relieved breath. “Is it okay if I go sit in the car now?”

“Yeah, go ahead. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

I held my breath and hurried out of the house, keeping one eye closed so I wouldn’t see the dead bodies again. After pushing through the door, I stumbled down the porch steps in my haste to get out of there.

I managed to keep my balance and continued toward the car, where I stopped to plant my hands on my knees and lean over to settle my stomach. Sheesh! That was horrible!

As I opened the car door and sat down, I decided then and there, that I was never going to a crime scene again. I’d much rather sit in on a suspect’s questioning than get scared half to death by a departed spirit.

On the other hand, at least it was Bates and not Dimples who’d been there. Bates wouldn’t question my ability, but Dimples would have had questions that I didn’t want to answer. How could I tell him that sometimes I heard dead people… Of course, since he knew I could read minds, did it really matter?

Probably not. But maybe working for Uncle Joey and not helping the police so much would be better for me… even if it wasn’t exactly the right thing to do.

Christmas Errands

Posted: December 16, 2016 in Advice

In December I don’t usually do a lot of work for Uncle Joey, so I was surprised when he asked me to run an errand for him. I’m always a little bit nervous about running errands for Uncle Joey, mostly because it seems like I always get into trouble, even when he says I won’t.

But this errand didn’t seem so bad. He wanted me to pick up the gift he’d ordered for Jackie at the diamond jewelry store. Since I was curious to see the expensive gift he’d bought her, I was happy to do it.

I was also supposed to stop at the Nut Warehouse and pick up his order of Christmas gifts for his friend and associates. He’d figured that since the stores were close to each other, it made sense to take care of them both at the same time.

He gave me his credit card to pay for everything and sent me on my way. I stopped at the Nut place first and went inside, telling them I was there to pick up the Manetto order. The person at the front desk said she had several orders waiting in the back, and told me it would take a minute to sort through them.

Just then, two more people came in wanting their orders, followed by a third. She took all of their names down, and left to find our orders at the same time. A few minutes later she came back with a heavy box. After setting it down, she went back again, repeating the process several times.

Once she had all the boxes in front of her, she then had to check the orders against the papers with the orders on the boxes. I was hoping that since I was the first one there, she’d help me first, but of course, that’s not what happened.

Needless to say, everyone else got their orders before I did, and it made me a little cranky. In fact, the first box that she’d carried out was on the bottom of the stack, and it was the one with the Manetto name on it.

After everyone else had left, she finally brought up my order and held out her hand for my credit card. I reached for the card in my purse, and came up empty. I checked my coat pockets, but it wasn’t there. My jeans pockets were also empty. Next, I unzipped every little nook and cranny in my purse to check there, but still couldn’t find the damn thing.

As panic began to set in, I tried to remember what I’d done with the card. I knew I’d had it in my hand when I first entered the shop, so where had it gone? Maybe I’d dropped it? I glanced at the floor, then got down on my hands and knees to see if it was underneath something.

“What’s wrong?” the clerk asked.

“I’ve lost my credit card. I know I had it when I came in here, but now I can’t find it.”

“Oh, that’s not good.” She glanced at all the paperwork in front of her and lifted papers up to see if it had ended up on her desk. Then her eyes widened as she remembered that I’d handed her my card, but she couldn’t remember what she’d done with it. “I’ll be right back,” she said, making a bee-line for the back room.

I stood, heaving a sigh that at least I hadn’t lost it, and waited for her to come back. After several minutes with no sign of her, I hurried around the partition to her desk to search for it myself.

It wasn’t on the desk, or on the floor, or anywhere else that I could see. So she must have taken it into the back room with her. Just as I started back there, she came out with her eyes round as saucers. “Did you find it?” she asked.

“No.”

“I can’t find it either.” She was thinking that she’d never told me that I’d given it to her, so maybe she’d stick with that and hope I thought I was the one who’d lost it.

I wasn’t about to go along with that. “Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I gave it to you. So what did you do with it?”

Her shoulders sank. “I don’t know.”

“Let’s go over everything that happened from when I first came in.” I took her through it, and we retraced her steps, still coming up empty-handed.

Then I noticed that she had front pockets in her plaid shirt. “Did you look in your shirt pockets?”

With a startled gasp, she reached in and pulled the card out. “Oh my gosh! Here it is!” After apologizing several times, she ran the card and handed me my box, making sure I had the receipt and the card. “Just a minute.” She ran to the back room, then came out with a small box of nuts. “This is for all the hassle.”

I thanked her and left, grateful that it had turned out all right in the end, but seriously? Why does this always happen to me?

I made it to the jewelry store, holding the credit card tight in my fist where I wouldn’t lose it. The jeweler recognized me from the last time I’d been there with Billie when we’d picked out Dimples’ wedding band. It took him by surprise that I was the one Uncle Joey had called him about. “You’re Shelby?” he asked.

“Yup.”

He thought that I sure got around, but maybe that’s why I worked for Uncle Joey. He took out the velvet box containing the necklace and earrings set that Uncle Joey had bought for Jackie and caught my gaze. “Do you want to see it?”

“Sure.” My eyes widened as he opened the box. The set was stunning with a combination of sapphires and diamonds in beautiful white gold. Then he pulled out a couple of smaller boxes.

“Which one of these do you like best?” he asked, opening the boxes to reveal a different set of earrings inside each one. One style was more formal with a single diamond on a swirl of white gold, while the other was more whimsical with three strands of white gold chain laced with smaller diamonds.

I caught his gaze. “For me, or Jackie?”

He smiled, thinking nothing got past me. “Would it matter?”

I shrugged. “No. They’re both beautiful, but I like one with the strands the best.”

“That’s the one I would have picked for you,” he said, thinking that my husband would be pleased, and he hoped he hadn’t given too much away. Covering his tracks, he went on to explain, “A friend asked me to pick something out for his wife, and she is a lot like you. That’s why I asked.”

“Oh, I see. Well, your friend’s wife is lucky. She’ll love them.”

He smiled, pleased with how sneaky he’d been, and got the jewelry for Uncle Joey all packaged up. After the transaction, he handed the box to me, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

I made it back to Thrasher Development in one piece and everything turned out all right in the end. Yes, I know about the earrings, but there’s not too many presents I don’t know about, if you know what I mean.

So, I can’t complain too much about running those errands for Uncle Joey. Even if one was a pain in the butt, the other more than made up for it.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas! (With lots of surprises under the tree!)

XOXO,

Shelby