photo by Sheri Dixon

Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Year, New Story...

Third in the six part series is now available for your enjoyment. Happy New Year to you and yours...

Wyrd Justice- Weekends in Dystopia: Book Three- Undead Hunger, Zombies for Brunch


Almost gagging from the overpowering aroma of tea tree oil that permeated the rag tied over her nose, Serratia scurried quickly through the back alleys.

She hated being in here, hated the oppressive atmosphere and the overgrown tangle of neglect that the once-pristine city had become. She especially hated the mounds of maggot-infested clothing lying all around where they had fallen…the people.

Enough time had passed that everything civil and tame was going feral, but not enough for Mother Nature’s clean-up crew to tidy up the fleshy leftovers.

As the virus spread and the people sickened and died, most were buried, but there were still others- mostly the poor without family or friends- who just dropped where they fell, and lay till they died.

So she averted her eyes as though they were aware of their embarrassing and compromised predicament, and thanked Gaia that as pungent as the tea tree oil was, it blocked out more than just the bacteria, but also the smell of its aftermath.

Ducking around a corner, Serratia stopped and removed a wrinkled piece of paper from her pocket. She frowned at it a minute, then stuffed it back into her worn and dirty jacket.

Being the local Healer usually meant positive perks, but every once in a while it meant she was first in line for the really shitty stuff. So now here she was, probably on a Fool’s Errand right into the center of the Freak Show.

All she knew was…he’d damn well better be there.

Peering over the top of the faded red bandana tied bandito-style over her lower face, she found the building number she was looking for, glanced furtively from side to side, and disappeared into the open maw of the front door hanging askew on its hinges.

The air barely stirred and the sun beat down relentlessly. The piles of clothing moved imperceptibly as the white larvae pushed their way silently through the decaying corpses.

On the far side of the building Serratia had just been swallowed by, there was a scraping and a scratching sort of noise as a window was opened just enough to allow a body access…


In the gutter in front of the building, a pile of leaves rustled and shifted, revealing two tiny bright and intelligent black eyes. Quick as a sneeze, the rat darted out of the gutter and into the nearest pile of clothing.

There was a brief interlude of tugging and nibbling, then the sound of Jell-O sliding reluctantly off of a spoon and the rodent popped out the other side with a ‘thwack!’- slick with bodily fluids and running head high…most of a chocolate chip cookie clutched in his mouth triumphantly.

Available on Kindle here

or from my website for a signed copy here

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ho Ho Holy CRAP My Head Hurts

'Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Everyone tiptoed and whispered with care
Because mom had a migraine that hurt even her hair.

The day had broke sunny, the cat had been fed
And then BAM just like that, mom was back in the bed.

She downed 2 Tylenol ES, cold washrag applied
And burrowed under the covers, keeping light from her eyes.

A half-hour later she lurched from the room
Looking haggard and deadly- the house filled with doom.

"On Meloxicam! On Diphenatrop! Quick, where's the caffeine?"
And she cursed stupid laws against home IV's with morpheine.

And Gomez and Sparky were filled with concern
If Christmas dinner's on them, how bad would it burn?

For several long hours, time seemed frozen in place
Even the dogs knew to stay out of mom's face.

Then what to their wondering ears did they hear
But the soft clicking of keys on her laptop so near.

And they knew then she'd live and re-enter the fray!
Happy Christmas to's a wonderful day!

The story above is true- names have not been changed to protect the innocent.
I'm off to work and one. Last. Freaking. Errand.
Tylenol, Meloxicam, Diphenatrop and caffeine on board- my head is only throbbing at about a 5, instead of the 14 it was this morning on a "From zero to ten, how bad is the pain?" scale.

Sunny, calm and 50 degrees out...a perfect winter day. The garlic is up, the peas are up, the herbs are still hanging in there- oregano, basil, parsley, cilantro...all reseeded themselves for the umpteenth time.

The boys are wrapping gifts "Don't look, mom!!!" and tonight and tomorrow will be quiet affairs- I'll cook a big dinner tomorrow after doing some baking, and if everyone's feeling up to it, we'll have Joe and Edna over to eat.

I was thinking on Christmases past and how weird it is after several decades of being a kid on Christmas followed by several more decades of having kids on Christmas, that my very last baby (almost 14) announcing this year, "Mom? Just take me clothes shopping- I don't need anything to unwrap" filled me with several emotions.

Sadness of a deep and abiding sort- the sadness that comes when you know something is over. Really over, and won't be back. Ever.

Irritation because I'm not ready for that phase of life to be over yet. I still love the whole gifty wrappy Christmas morningy thing.

Relief that I'm done with letters to Santa, and trying to budget to fulfill the top 5 requests on that list, and the wonderment that my children were always careful to put the really expensive shit on Santa's list...because they knew we couldn't afford them.

Christmas and how we relate to it changes with age and circumstance, like everything else in life and that's not only OK, but it would be creepy if it didn't. It's a very tangible yardstick of how we're growing as humans, where we've been and where we are now.

It's one day of the year that is caught over and over again through the photographs of us as kids, then teens, then adults...the people in the photos changing from one bad hairdo to the next, one ugly holiday sweater to the next, one awkward human phase to the next. Grandparents grow older with each passing year of snapshots and then are simply not in them anymore. Babies suddenly appear and are linked in with the rest of the family chain.

And there you have it. The real reason for the season.

Because whatever mid-winter event brings your family together, THAT. That right there is the reason for the season.

Stop. Look at the people around you- even the ones who make you insane. This is your chain.

If you're alone, remember holidays past and how they were all different from each other if only microscopically- not to make you even more miserable, but to remind yourself that nothing lasts forever- there will be new chains to link into even if your old one is gone for good. I promise you that.

I spent one Christmas Eve alone in a crappy motel outside Lubbock Texas. My alcoholic abusive husband had knocked me around a little, screamed at me a lot, took the car keys, the car and all our money and disappeared into the night. This was before cell phones and I didn't even have a dime for a pay phone to call the nearest people I knew...400 miles away. I can safely say that was my worst Christmas ever.

I will never tell anyone to 'just' cheer up, get a grip, get out there and meet people, stop being depressed, stop being used or abused because no one else is in your head besides you, and no one else knows what living your life has been like or what your exact thought processes are.

Anyone who judges someone else for apparent lack of character or bad decision making is an asshole.

This is also the time of year for the highest rate of suicide.

I have no magic wand, no quick fixes for a heart so broken that it feels like it cannot beat one second longer.

All I can offer is this-

This, the darkest time of the year, the shortest day of the year comes every single year.

And every single year it's not only the darkest day of the year but it's the beginning of the light.

Light always comes after darkness, and we are every one of us stronger than we think we are.

I promise you that.

Just give it another day.

Merry Holiday to my entire human family. I love you all.

Even the ones who make me insane.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

You're Really NOT the Boss of Them

We home school. Alec has been home schooled his whole life and is doing just fine, thanks.

Is it time-consuming? Yes.

Is it expensive? Fairly.

Is it worth it? Absolutely.

We started for many reasons- we wanted to keep the freedom we were accustomed to to travel when we wanted to and not be hemmed in by the school year calendar, our local school district has a student/teacher ratio of 25/1 in KINDERGARTEN, and frankly the big "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND" banner in the lobby totally freaked me the hell out- I know it was supposed to be comforting but it hit me as really threatening, but the final decision came when we had to spend a lot of time at MD Anderson and I would've had to choose between leaving Alec here with friends to go to school or Ward in Houston in the hospital and neither one of those options was acceptable to me.

The one reason we are NOT home schooling is to 'ensure our child has a Godly upbringing'.

Which is very very rare in this area of the country. This is the shiny buckle of the bible belt and 99.9% of the home schoolers here are doing so to 'keep their children away from the evils of the secular world'.

That would be MY family.

We also live in Texas, one of the most lax states in the country as far as home school regulations.

When we decided to home school Alec before he entered kindergarten, I contacted the school and asked what I needed to do. They said, "Easy- just don't sign him up for school."

And it's as easy as that. Don't sign them up. There doesn't have to be a record anywhere of where children are being taught, or even, after they are issued a birth certificate, that they even exist at all.

Well, surely there is some standard that must be tested against to be sure they are learning...fucking anything.


Wanna teach art class because it's fun but avoid math because it's...math? Knock yourself out.
Wanna teach that Jesus rode dinosaurs back when the earth was first created...less than 5,000 years ago? God bless you.

Honestly, we drive 3 hours one-way every week to be in a home school co-op that believes in freaking evolution. Oh, there's a home school co-op here. A honking huge one that has its own sports league (not just teams), orchestra, everything. But you must sign a statement of Faith to get in. Fuck that shit.

There are Christian home schoolers who are doing a very good job teaching their kids and preparing them for the real future in a real world. They take their self-imposed job as 'teacher' very seriously and work tirelessly to provide their students with the very best educational experiences.

And there are secular home schoolers who are doing so just because they don't wanna get up early enough to take their kids to school and let 'em play video games all day. So this is not merely a rant on the Christians.

This is about possession.

Because it chills me to the very core to read fellow home schoolers' frothing at the mouth at the thought of having to show even the most basic and simple proof of learning on the part of their students.

The argument goes something like this-

"There is NO WAY anyone is going to tell me what to teach MY CHILDREN! Forcing me to adhere to some government-mandated agenda of learning sketchy science and obscene secular literature is a violation of my Rights as a FREE citizen! These are MY CHILDREN and I will raise them and teach them they way *I* want to!"

...and variations of the above.

Except here's the thing.

Your kids are not your property.

Sure you created 'em and grew 'em and you're feeding and housing them and all, but they are NOT your possessions. As anyone who is adamantly 'pro-life' will be quick to tell you, those children are actually 'people'; autonomous beings that have their own little souls and thoughts and rights all their own.

Why the Sam Hell is it wrong for a woman who is carrying 12 cells of tissue to make an informed and usually difficult decision to abort it because "That's a PERSON and not a THING!" but once born into THEIR OWN families, children are possessions to do with whatever floats their holy boat? Deny them access to a full range of education, indoctrinate them into your own belief system, even get out the belt if they (being autonomous beings and all) dare to question your authority?

How can you even deign to limit their options by choosing what YOU think is 'all they'll need to know' about life, or anything? To 'train' boys to grow up to be the 'kings of their homes' and to teach girls only enough to keep a house and family because 'that's what women are made for'- those are both heinously dauntingly passively aggressively abusive.


Our children are not ours.

Our children belong to themselves.

Not some God, not the government, and for damn sure not to you.

It's our JOB as parents, whether or not we home school, to do our level best to insure that our children are exposed to the best the world has to offer, and that's more than a bible as 'the only text book you'll ever need' (on one end of the Bad Parent spectrum) and a stack of video games (on the other end).

Because they will have to live in the world. And the world is a big, scary, dangerous, sinful,glorious place filled with all different kinds of evil-doers and terrorists artists, musicians, thinkers, belief systems, foods, literature, science, nature, history, good gravy...EVERYTHING!

The biggest bonus of home schooling, for our family and the families we know and call friends- is the opportunity to show our children MORE of the world, meet MORE varieties of people- and not just 'more people who are basically just like we are because that's safe and correct' but MORE true diversity.

To learn and figure out for themselves how to be comfortable in their own skins and around people they don't know and in situations that are different from Home, to be eager and willing to learn from and accept without judgment others who are not duplicates of their own families will ensure that our children will be able to travel through life with grace and wonder, respect and compassion.

And to do that with any competence, they MUST have a working knowledge of basic human education- how to speak and write fluently and correctly in their native language, how basic math concepts work and how to use them in every day life as well as abstractly, a foundation of honest history of their own country and the world in general, and SCIENCE. Real science, not 'science as seen through the bible'. Because that's not science, and to teach your children that it is, is willfully setting them up for a life of disadvantage in the real world.

Love those precious angels your god blessed you with? Of course you do.

But they're not yours to keep forever, they're not your possessions.

You're the one who's been tasked to minister to THEM. It's your job to equip them for a life that's better, fuller, MORE than yours.

Put down the damn belt and the bible, and pick up the science book. Go out into the world.

It's pretty awesome out here.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Little Between-Holiday-Shopping Reading

Well, the first one was so much fun, I've already finished the 2nd one...and will start #3 tomorrow. Don't worry- they won't go on forever, just for six installments.

Please enjoy the beginning of "Unhealthy Obsession"- Book Two of the series "Wyrd Justice- Weekends in Dystopia".

Their laughter wafted through the smoke-filled room, causing her to involuntarily shudder. Anytime these guys laughed it meant that they were talking about the suffering of someone or something innocent.

They made her skin crawl, but she put on her hardened-barmaid face and approached the table in the corner. “You boys need another round?” she asked with a tired smile, putting her hand on JR’s shoulder with familiarity- hoping her revulsion didn’t show.

“Yeah, yeah- in a second, babe- first you gotta hear this! This is the funniest shit I’ve ever heard- tell her, Dickie! Tell her just like you told us!”

Sighing silently and mentally rolling her eyeballs, Fate turned just a bit to face Dickie and give the appearance of giving a damn.

Dickie puffed all up to his full 5’6” at being the center of attention for once and he squinted as he tried mightily to remember exactly how he had told it so it would come out just as perfectly this time as well. Sweat beaded on his forehead under his unkempt hair hidden under an ancient feed store cap that matched his overalls and torn dirty work shirt.

He smelt rather strongly of perspiration and beef jerky, cheap cigarettes and gallons of beer.

Finally, he opened his eyes and tried to focus roughly in the area of her straight perfect nose. Or maybe her lips; full and soft, yet free of lipstick. Possibly her cheekbones, high and elegant.

But definitely not her breasts. The one man who had stared too boldy and overlong there had encountered first her backhand across his face and then an unfortunate and sudden injury to his manly bits, dropping to the floor as though kicked by a bull, even though she hadn’t moved anything but her hand.

Fate had immediately helped him up and mumbled, “Sorry- didn’t mean to hit you that hard”, but after that all the guys were very careful to stare anywhere but…there.

There were plenty of other nice parts to stare at. Her hair always managed to stay not quite contained up in the admittedly haphazard bun she wore in a hat-tip to the laughable “health code” not even enforced in a corner tavern that served food. Frothy tendrils in hues of precious metals softened her normally guarded expression.

She wore a single coat of mascara on her long lashes; a protective jet black barricade for her brown eyes flecked with green to nestle behind, but that was her only makeup. Her hands were strong and her nails short and clean; neither buffed nor polished.
Her stereotypical ‘barmaid’ outfit seemed designed for her body alone- the low-cut white cotton peasant blouse perfectly displaying cleavage that boys’ fantasies start with, short and tight leather skirt accentuating her muscular and totally feminine buttocks, and the hated ridiculous fishnet stockings ensnared her impossibly long legs; impossible since she was barely over 5 feet tall all told.

She had needed the money badly, so she’d taken the job and the uniform, but had drawn the line firmly at footwear. There was no way she was going to wear 4 inch “knock me down/fuck me” heels on a job where she’d be on her feet for ten hours at a stretch. No way.

Eddie had glared at her. Most women backed down at ‘the glare’, but Fate had returned it unwaveringly, and he’d acquiesced. Her first day at work he had to acknowledge that far from detracting from the desired look, for some reason the sensible soft leather ballerina flats she had chosen to wear only made her look even more sexy.

And that, of course, was what he was looking for. Because he expected his girls to be ‘full service with a smile’.

“DICKIE! Jesus! We don’t have all night!” JR’s caustic voice jolted Dickie back from his ‘looking everywhere but Miss Fate’s boobies’ trance.

He cleared his throat, made a muffled gargling noise and spit onto the floor; a pre-show warm-up.

“Well, Miss Fate- I was just tellin’ the boys here about the damnedest thing. I went out to do chores this morning for my momma and found her two ducks stone cold dead in the water trough. In the water!”

There was renewed chuckling as his audience imagined the scene.

“Yes, ma’am- those ducks had flat drowned! Now how the Sam Hell does a duck drown?”

Dickie looked puzzled and not at all amused- he actually seemed more disturbed by the incident than humored by it, but his comrades were unanimously cackling and hooting thinking about such a ridiculous thing- drowning ducks.

Fate closed her eyes and the images came to her.

Two half-grown ducks in a smallish water trough- not much bigger than a bucket, really. The water was not deep- they could’ve stood up in it easily. One tried to hop out and slipped, briefly going head-under upside-down.

The hapless duckling panicked, causing the other one to instantly be filled with fear as well.

Her mind’s eye watched in hopeless horror as the ducklings pushed each other under the surface over and over again as they tried to clamor out of the water…and then they were still.

“That is weird, Dickie, but you know fear is a powerful force- I hope your mom isn’t too upset losing her ducklings”.

Dickie looked at Fate gratefully and said, “Well, she’s pretty broke up about it, but I’m fixin’ to get her some new ones next time I get a chance”.

And Fate knew she’d be taking Dickie home with her at the end of her shift.

The others were still laughing and JR snorted and sneered, “What the hell? What do you expect of stupid ducks? Fucking bird-brains, right? Nothing to get all ‘quacked up’ about!” and everyone but Dickie and Fate grinned appreciatively at his masterful humor.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Jack Frost, Bless His Heart

Every year we get a bit o' the winter down here and every year those still up north give us a ton of shit about it.

"You call that snow?"

"You call that cold?"

"I can't believe they closed the schools for that!"

"What a bunch of idiots!"

Well, even though I'm a Texan by citizenship, I was born and lived in Wisconsin for my first 34 years. Yes- December 1st I crossed the 20 year mark as a Texan, but I still remember. Oh, hell yes- I still remember.

I remember cold that hurts the minute you open the door- freezes your nose hairs together and makes your eyeballs throb.

I remember snotcicles.

I remember snow so high it's a solid wall of white when you open your door to leave the house and you just calmly close the door and go out the other side of the house.

I remember hauling hay on a sled and never going out to the barn without a sledgehammer to break gates loose and ice off the water tanks...even though there are tank heaters...and they're working just fine.

I remember bringing the hose inside after every use.

I remember having a spare set of car keys and leaving the car running while I was at work, just to be sure it wouldn't be dead from the cold when I was ready to drive home.

I remember driving home at midnight and staying on the road by driving right in the middle of the telephone poles on either side.

I remember being snow blind in a blizzard.

Here's what those still up north don't understand.

Down here there are no snow plows- the snowy streets become packed snow rinks and the icy streets stay icy...until it melts on its own.

Down here the houses, animals, people are not built to withstand intense prolonged cold. Everything is built to withstand intense prolonged heat. Remember when we laugh at ya'll when your thermometer inches towards the century mark in the summer and ya'll are wilting and melting? Pussies.

Down here the road surfaces are actually different than up yonder. The first winter I was here, the first icy day I got in my big ol' Caddy (front wheel drive and totally kickass up north in the winter) and headed for work. The first stop light I gently applied the brakes well in advance of the intersection and...slid straight on through it. Damnedest thing ever.

Here's what I love about winter cold snaps that may or may not include ice, snow and other trappings of actual winter-

It lasts a few days and then goes away.

I can live with that.

And call us idiots all day long- Ya'll are the ones still living where this shit sticks around for months on end.