Stir Until Petrified-Chapter 1

My skirt inched its way up for the hundredth time. The spandex seemed to have a mind of its own. For every inch I pulled down, it sprang up exposing another two inches of my thigh. I sullenly twirled the straw in the drink I had been nursing for several hours. The ice cubes had melted long ago, diluting the alcohol beyond recognition. I might as well trade it in for a glass of water. My inability to even finish one drink had left me the de facto designated driver. Fine by me. The last thing I wanted to do was spend the night slobbering drunk, grinding on the dance floor like a cat in heat.

The club lights flickered, throbbing to the beat of a dance song. I recognized it as soon as the thundering beat had hit in, my sister had been playing it on repeat for the last few weeks. Speaking of my sister, Nerina was writhing on the dance floor in a crush of bodies. She didn’t have issues grinding on random strangers. She was a free spirit. The kind of person who had no problem letting go of everything to enjoy the moment. I, on the other hand, had severe control issues. My poor long suffering sister despaired constantly about my inability to let go and live.

I watched Nerina grind away on a tall dark stranger. Every few minutes she waved her hands in my direction. Either she was in serious need of the Heimlich or she wanted me to come and join in on the fun. I was not going to jump into that mess of sweaty drunken tomfoolery. I can’t dance. Sure, I could move a little but the girls out there were shaking it in ways I had no idea how to begin to mimic. Besides, if I left the table to dance who would sit here forlornly staring off into the crowd, protecting our purses.

The song ended and Nerina stumbled towards the table, breathless and grinning. “Did you see me? I had the moves like Jagger out there!”

“You could say that. You could also say it looked more like drunken seizures.”

“Shut up! Admit you’re glad I made you come. Admit you love it right now or I’m stealing your drink.” Nerina snatched my watered down mojito off the table and took a long gulp.

“You can have it since you’re already guzzling it down. I’m admitting nothing. I have sat at this table by myself all night, trying to stay on this bar stool without exposing my crotch to the world. At the very least you could have let me wear my own clothes.” I had wanted to wear jeans and a very conservative black sweater. Instead, my loving sister had forced me into a purple spandex mini skirt. The black sweater had been replaced with a skin-tight sequin tank top that was cut so low I was terrified my nipples were exposed every time I moved.

“All your clothes are ugly. There is no way I would bring you to the club in what you had picked out. No guy would ever hit on you if I let you dress yourself.” Nerina downed the rest of my drink and looked at me expecting a thank you.

“No guys have hit on me tonight, and I’m wearing what you picked out for me.” Logic had never been her friend.

“That’s because you don’t put yourself out there, Etta. You sat here all night with a look that said fuck off I bite. Would it kill you to smile? You are so hot! Seriously, you should have men lined up outside our door just for a chance to talk to you. You don’t see me sitting home on a Friday night, do ya?”

As drunk as Nerina was, she had point. At 26 I was in my prime. I should be having a blast test driving as many men as possible. I wasn’t hideous. I had always been a pretty girl. I was a little taller than most women at 5’10, but that gave me legs to die for. My long black hair hung in waves past my shoulders. I didn’t have a models’ body but, hey, if a fella liked a little bit of junk in the trunk I had plenty to serve. By far the best thing I had going for me was a trait that I shared with my sister. We had eyes that were green like the Caribbean ocean. Our eye color was so startling that people stopped us on the street to ask if we were wearing contacts. Inevitably it would lead to a geography lesson as most people like to stereotype Italians as having olive skin, dark hair and brown eyes. However, no one ever thinks about how close Italy actually is to all of the other European countries. In Northern Italy, where my grandmother was born you find a lot of blonde hair, blue or green eyed Italians. My Nona has blond hair and green eyes. You would never want to dare insinuate that she was anything but Italian.

I had quite a package to offer, but that package came with a lot of baggage. It had been six years since my husband left. That’s right, pretty little good girl Etta is a jilted bride. I married the first boy that said hello to me and he promptly said goodbye. When he left, I had no idea how to exist. Dating was not an option. Casual sex didn’t appeal to me. I have no issue with it; it just seemed like something that would make me feel lonelier than I already felt. So here I sat in the club with no clue of how to even begin to put myself out there.

“You haven’t had sex in like six years. It’s like a horse. You just need to get back on and ride it.” For Nerina, everything always led back to sex.

“Please, say that a little louder. I don’t think the people over by the DJ booth heard you. And it’s a bike, not a horse.” I managed to force out through my gritted teeth.

“Whatever. Same difference. The issue is you just need to jump in and go for it. Come on. We still have a few hours before the last call. Let’s find you, someone, to go home with.” Nerina started scanning the club to find a poor unsuspecting fool to thrust me upon. “What about that guy over there?”

“If you could hold your arm straight I might be able to figure out what direction you’re pointing in.”

“Over by the bar Etta; like third stool from the end closest to us. He looks hot and available.”

“That’s Carl. You slept with him two months ago.”

“See?! Hot and available. Oh, snap! I remember him. He was actually really, really good in bed. He did this thing with his tongue that you will die for. Come on I’ll introduce you.”

“No. I am not sleeping with Carl the guy you dumped two months ago because he kept texting his ex when he was out on dates with you. Besides, I feel like it’s creepy to sleep with someone you slept with.”

“You don’t have to date him. How is it creepy? It’s not like it’s at the same time. Besides, he‘ll be like training wheels for you! He does like 80% of the work.”

My withering glare was all the answer she was going to get. I didn’t care how desperate I got. I was not taking my baby sister’s sloppy seconds. Maybe it was an ego thing but, whatever it was, it was a no go.

“Fine, what about that guy over there by the DJ booth. He is tall, dark and handsome, your favorite.”

“Nerina, he looks like a freaking werewolf. I can see the hair coming out of the top of his Hawaiian shirt. Do you know why I can see all of his chest hair? It’s because the top four buttons of his shirt are undone. Who leaves that many buttons undone on a Hawaiian shirt? Seriously, ewwww.” Werewolf-man noticed us scoping him out from across the room. He winked and started to make his way over.

“You know, he could be totally hot under the sheets. You’re judgemental. Maybe looks aren’t everything Etta. Maybe you should talk to him. He could have a heart of gold.”

“Well, it’s your lucky day. All your pointing made the werewolf think we were interested. Can we go? I’m tired and we promised Nona we would go to church in the morning even if we came in really late. I don’t want to stick around trying to fend this guy off for a few hours.”

“Just be a bitch. You’re good at that, remember?” She smiled at me, rolling her eyes when she finally realized I had meant what I said. “Fine, let me finish this drink. Then we can go.”

I don’t know whose drink she was finishing now, but I needed to go with a quickness. I did not want to talk to Hawaii 5-0. I tapped my fingers on the table impatiently. I squeezed my thighs together tight in preparation for removing myself as gracefully as possible from the barstool. I did not want to give the werewolf any more encouragement.

“I have to pee.” Nerina slurred at me. She had gone from drunk party girl to sloppy drunk in the course of finishing off the leftovers she had found on the table. “Let me pee, then I need to tell the people goodnight. Then we can go. Ok, miss prissy pants?”

“I’ll come with you. I don’t want to be at this table alone if that guy makes it over here.” Not only was she now a sloppy drunk she was also a traitor. She was going to feed me to the werewolf.

“If you leave, no one is here to watch the purses. Five minutes. You can last five more minutes.” Without giving me further chance to protest she stumbled off towards the bathroom.

Five minutes my ass. Anyone who has ever been to a crowded club knows the girls’ restroom always has a line. It was going to be closer to thirty minutes. Thirty minutes of terror waiting to see if the wolfman would make his way over and sleaze all over me. I scanned the crowd desperately for my cousin Giana. Maybe I could get her attention. She could come watch the table and I could go wait in the car for Nerina. I needed to get back to the safety and comfort of home. This night had been a bad idea. I had tried to tell Nerina that I was just not ready.

“Excuse me. I am sorry to just come over like this but I was wondering if I could buy you a drink.” a husky masculine voice asked from behind. I froze, unable to move. That cow that I called my sister was going to pay dearly for leaving me alone with a wolf on the prowl. I turned around slowly steeling myself to fend off his unwanted advances. Standing behind me was not the sleaze ball I had expected. Instead, a sculpture of male perfection, an Adonis come to life, towered over me. He was tall; so deliciously tall, maybe 6’5 or a little more. He wore a black T-shirt that strained against the contours of what had to be a perfect chest underneath. I was jumping to conclusions but, really, a t-shirt did not fit that well unless things were sculpted with precision. Tan arms folded across his chest, highlighting biceps he had probably spent hours to achieve. Golden hair swept down, resting artfully above his brow. Before this moment I don’t think I ever really knew what someone meant by chiseled features. His face was strong and masculine. A jaw line to write home about and lips you could get lost in.

My chin hit the floor. Where had he been hiding all night? I sat; mouth gaping, unable to respond to his simple request. I took a few deep breaths trying to compose myself enough to answer him. Just as I was about to speak he turned on his megawatt smile, revealing the most freaking adorable dimples. Are you kidding? Dimples. Really? How was that even fair?

“Sorry, maybe I should have introduced myself first? My name’s Lucio. You can call me Luc though.” he extended his magnificent hand out for me to shake.

I swallowed the mouth full of saliva he had induced before trying to form a sentence. It would probably be a real big turn off if I opened my mouth and drool fell out. I reached out and limply grasped his hand. “Violetta. You can call me Etta though.”

”I saw you over here. I don’t usually do this, but can I buy you a drink?”

Was that an accent? It was hard to tell for certain over the booming bass of the dance music. If it was an accent I was done for. Nothing melted my panties off quicker than a man with a lovely foreign lilt to his voice.

“I’m driving.” Glad to see my social skills had decided to leave me. This may be short lived if all I could do was stammer out one and two-word answers.

“We can have a glass of water together if you like.”

“Umm yeah, ok, that would be fine.” His eyes were amazing. They were the color of honey near the pupil with a ring of olive green surrounding it. Damn was there anything about this guy that was not hot? He grabbed a waitress that happened to be wandering by. Leaning towards her, he placed our order and turned his attention back to me.

“I am sorry if this is awkward or weird. I was across the room and well, I really wanted to meet you. I don’t think I have ever actually come up to a woman in a bar before. My friends tell me that I need to just go for it. It’s not really my style though you know.” His hand raked through his perfectly styled hand as if he was actually as nervous as I was.

“Well, that makes two of us. I don’t usually go to clubs. It’s not really my thing, so going up to men in clubs is really outside my comfort zone.”

“So Etta. What is your thing?” Gazing at me he cocked an eyebrow waiting for my reply.

“I wanted to stay home in my pj’s, watching Hoarders and eating Ben and Jerry’s.” I had just sabotaged my chance of anything further happening with one horrific sentence.

Instead of fleeing from the crazy lady I had just admitted I was, he laughed. He smiled at me like I was a comedic genius. “Ok, now that sounds like my kind of Friday night! Except I would be watching that show where people are addicted to crazy things. Have you seen that one?”

“Oh my God; yes. I saw this lady who ate tires every day. Her husband had to bring home like tons of tires or she would lose it.”

“Exactly! What kills me about that show is in every episode these people eat all this crazy stuff, then they go to the doctor, and there is never anything wrong with them. Is that even possible? Can you really eat stuff like tires for years have no consequence?” The waitress cut between us with our drinks. He had ordered some dark and ominous looking beer. I took my water, wishing I had ordered a shot of something strong. Maybe if I got some liquid courage in me I could channel Nerina and let him take me home for the night. It would be a one night stand that would actually be worth it. He was that freaking perfect.

“So what else do you do for fun? I just moved here a few weeks ago, I’m still trying to figure out what is worth seeing around here.” He sipped his beer and seemed more relaxed than when he had first come over.

“I work a lot, so I don’t really get out too much. When I do go out it’s usually just to the beach, nothing too exciting.”

“Where do you work that could possibly be more exciting than getting out and exploring things?” he teased gently.

“I work at my grandmother’s bakery in Little Italy. It’s called Fabbrica Dolce; over on 3rd. We serve mostly Italian pastries and bread. My sister works with me. It’s just the three of us, so it’s a lot of long hours.” I tried not to sound as pathetic as I was. I worked because I had no social life. Kneading bread for hours was my idea of a good time.

“So, not only are you stunningly beautiful but you can cook. I think it may be fate that made me walk over here tonight.”A blush rushed across my cheeks. It had been a very long time since anyone had called me beautiful. It was probably just a pickup line but my heart beat a little faster anyway. My brain was desperately trying to be the logical guide I needed to stay out of trouble but something about this guy was making my hormones override my brain. I wanted to believe that he thought I was beautiful. Who wouldn’t want a perfect specimen of mankind drooling over them?

“So, did you read 101 ways to make a girl swoon before you came tonight? Or are just really that bad at small talk?” Defense mechanism 101. When in doubt, always come back with sarcasm.

Luc bursts out laughing. He had a loud, deep, masculine laugh that I felt all the way down to my toes. He kept laughing until he was literally holding his side. “I’m sorry. I was not aware that it was not acceptable to appreciate a woman’s beauty in America. I told you I never do this. What is an acceptable compliment?”

Nerina staggered up to the table before I could answer him. She had the worst timing ever. No. She actually had the best timing ever. The last thing I needed in my life was to get involved with some sexy foreign man. Keep it solo. That’s the motto that I needed to keep front and center in my mind.

“Looks like you guys are having fun over here. Hi. I’m Nerina. This is my beautiful, amazing, ultra sexy sister you are talking to right here.” She slapped my back for emphasis. “She didn’t want to come.”

“That’s true. You know, maybe we should get you home. Sounds like you have had enough fun for one night. I always say when standing is an issue it’s time to call it a night.” I reached over the table and grabbed my purse. The best thing I could do was make a hasty retreat. How could anyone fault me for having to drive my drunk ass sister home?

“Don’t go yet. I haven’t finished my beer and you agreed to a drink.” He actually looked like he meant it.

“Sorry, we have to get up early tomorrow.” I gave him a half-assed smile while contemplating how to un-perch myself from the bar stool.

“I don’t want to go. Gia wants to dance more. You want to dance with my sister right? We can all dance for a little bit. Please. Plus you promised me pancakes before we went home. Remember when we were in the bathroom; you were looking for hair on your chin, and I said please can we have pancakes this time. I love pancakes after the club. You said fine but we had to go to the place close to home. I am not so drunk that I forgot. Besides, this guy is really hot. Did you know you were really hot?” Nerina ran her fingers down Luc’s face to make sure he understood she was talking about him.

“Ok fine. Go dance. I will finish my water and then we’ll go.” Anything to get her to shut the hell up; really, she had to bring up my chin hair? It’s a well-known fact that hair grows in really bad places as you age. It is not something that needed to be announced to the hottest guy I had ever met.

“Woohoo, dancing time!” Nerina tried to wink at me but ended up looking like she had something in her eye. I watched her stagger away, hoping she didn’t face plant on the dance floor.

“So does that mean you want to dance with me?” he asked hopefully.

“I don’t really dance. It’s not my thing.” I was not getting out on the dance floor with him. It was bad enough I had no idea how to hold a witty conversation. If he saw the travesty that I called dancing he would run away screaming.

“You know, I’m noticing a pattern here; there seems to be a lot of things that you don’t do. I really think it’s because you have never done them with the right person. Come on, how about we give it a try for one song? If you hate it, I promise we can come right back to the table.” His perfect teeth captivated my attention. How could someone have such a perfect smile? I felt like I was in a toothpaste commercial every time he flashed that grin at me. I wanted to say no. Dancing with him was a recipe for disaster.

Yet when he stood up and held his hand out for me I went I couldn’t say no. My body had a mind of its own. Everything in me wanted to follow him out onto that dance floor. The steady, never take a chance, broken Etta didnt want to exist tonight. Something clicked in my brain that had been missing for a very long time. I wanted to touch him. I wanted to dance with him. I wanted to stare into his eyes and lose myself for a few hours. Instead of retreating into my shell, I willing took his hand. I followed as he led me out to what was most likely going to be one of the most embarrassing events of my life. I started at my hand in his, watching as his much larger hand engulfed mine completely. My fingers looked tiny against his. I had always been bigger than all the other girls growing up. I even towered over some of the guys. Feeling like an Amazon for most of your life makes you appreciate silly things like a man’s hand being big enough to swallow your own.
Weaving our way in and out of the crowd we found our spot on the dance floor. It was on the fringe of the writhing crowd but had a layer of people between the tables so we wouldn’t become a spectacle. I had to admire his precise positioning. At least only a few people would have to witness the worst dance moves ever.

Positioned slightly apart we both began to sway, moving to the music. Thankfully he didn’t seem in a rush to move into anything elaborate just yet. We swayed to the beat through the end of one song. It was awkward, but not as terrible as I had thought it would be. If I wanted to leave back to the safety of the table now was the moment. He had promised one dance would be all he asked for. Looking up I realized there was no place on earth I would rather be right this moment then dancing here with this sexy man I had just met. I was going to go for broke. Live in the moment for this once. Tomorrow I could be shy, friendless Etta whose husband abandoned her. Tonight I wanted to be the sexy funny woman Luc thought I was.

The next song started. Wouldn’t you know it was a song I loved? The club around us echoed as people sang along with the catchy hook, I added my voice to the din. Luc grinned ear to ear. The music hit in hard. The beat took over every fiber of my being. My hips were rolling. The butt was grinding. I am sure my breasts were bumping. Everything on me was free to move however it needed to. Touching Luc became a part of my dance moves. A hand on his chest; a slow stroke down his arm; hips to hip; all the body parts needing to have their moment to connect with the golden boy.

Freedom is a heady thing; once unleashed it was not going back in the bottle so easily. One song became two, then three and then I lost count. Luc kept pace, not seeming to mind that I had lost my mind on the dance floor. We were in a bubble. It didn’t matter who was around. All we could do was move with each other. I knew it was probably in my imagination, but it felt like our bodies were straining to connect; yearning for the brief moments of contact. If the energy between us had been visible, I could only imagine it would have been a laser light show like no other.

I was startled when the DJ announced it was the last call. We had been dancing for two hours straight. We were both glistening with sweat. Our breaths were coming in short gasps. Too bad it was time for Cinderella to leave the ball. I had my fun. It would last me for a few more years until a time when I was ready to actually try with someone again. He grabbed the crook of my elbow helping steer me over towards the table I had carelessly left, behind. Hopefully, everyone’s purses were still there.

Back at the table, the spell dissipated completely. Nerina had her head in her arms lying across the top of the table; her ass cheeks barely contained by her black mini dress. Gia was drunkenly sloshing water all over her head, trying to get her to drink it in an attempt to help. The drive home was going to suck.

“You know if dancing is not your thing I would love to see you do anything else you lump into that category.”

I blushed again. Two times in one night he had made this olive skinned girl red. Sigh. I wish I could take him home. Living with your traditional Italian grandmother did have its downfalls. “Yea, well this was a once in a lifetime phenomenon. Like Halley’s comet; you’re really lucky if you see it twice in your lifetime.”

“Do you know how to take a compliment? I think maybe I need to give you lessons because you kind of suck at it.”

“Maybe I need lessons. Maybe I just like to be a smartass. The world will never know.”

Nerina moaned something into her arms from the table. I had a feeling it had something to do with still wanting pancakes. If I didn’t take her I would never hear the end of it. If I did take her I was going to have to deal with a sloppy at best, puking at worst drunk. Damn it. Time to get back to reality.

“Looks like I had better go. My sister is losing her battle with gravity as we speak. I had fun dancing with you. Thanks for the water.” With that, he was dismissed. I hope he got the message. I moved over to help Nerina stand up so we could make our way to the car.

“Etta?” I felt his hand on my elbow. Heat radiated up my arm down through my entire body. My thighs wanted to spring open from a hand on my elbow. It was apparent that my sex drive had sprung into overdrive tonight. “You know when I mentioned earlier that I just moved here. I don’t really know too many people, but I think I would like to get to know you. Can I get your number? Maybe we can go out later this week or meet for coffee or something? You could show me the beach maybe.”

“I don’t give my number out. It’s just, you know, safety first. You could be a serial killer or something. Sorry.” What I really wanted to do was scrawl my phone number across his bare chest.

“Well can I give you mine? Maybe you can call me if you feel like going out? You can bring your sister. Safety in numbers.”

“Sure. That would be good.” He neatly printed his number on a napkin and handed it over to me.

“I had a really fun time tonight. Do you need help getting your sister to the car? She looks like she might not make it on her own.”

“No, I got it covered. Thanks though.” Grabbing my purse off the table I shoved the napkin inside. I needed to put as much distance between us as possible. If I stared at his perfect face for another minute I was going to do something a lot dumber than dance like no one was watching.

“Come on Nerina. Up you go. You want pancakes, don’t you? Drunk sisters who can’t help get themselves to the car don’t get pancakes.” Nerina let me pull her up to a standing position. “Do you think you can walk?”

Her hand flew up into a salute. I was going to take that as a yes. “Where’s Gia? Is she getting pancakes too?”

“Yep, she’s coming too. Come on. One foot in front of the other. Let’s go make you sick by shoveling pancakes on top all that alcohol.” I steadied her on her feet. Gia tried to muster up enough coordination to help by taking her arm. It was a drunk daisy chain as we made our way towards the front of the club. Every cell in body screamed for me to look back. To drink in the memory of Luc one more time. I knew better though. If I turned around, I would be sending my sister and cousin home in a cab and spending the night with my legs wrapped around that golden man. As much as my body seemed primed and ready for that, I knew the rest of me wasn’t. So I kept pace with the drunken mess of my family. Refusing to even let it look like it was a struggle for me to walk away.

We made our way out of the club with minimal issues. Nerina was walking in a serpentine pattern but she was walking. Gia seemed to be able to walk a straight line as long as she kept her head down. Her bleary eyes trying to focus on her feet connecting with the ground. The parking lot had emptied out quite a bit in the few minutes it had taken us to get out the door. My 1964 VW Bug was parked towards the back of the lot. A poorly lit area that already looked like a ghost town. The obnoxious yellow paint job of my beat up car served as a beacon, guiding us back to reality.

“Can I take my shoes off? My feet hurt now.” Nerina whined. It’s not like we just walked twenty blocks in our heels. It was across a parking lot for Pete’s sake.

“You know, I am going to recommend you keep them on. The ground is probably a cesspool of disease. You will thank me for it tomorrow.”

“Do I have shoes on?” Gia blinked at her feet trying to decide whether she was indeed still wearing shoes. She was.

We made it to the car with no one falling. That in itself was a small miracle. As I moved to open the doors she held on to the roof for stability. She could barely reach. Even in her platform stilettos, she stood a little shy of 5’5. Sometimes I wondered if we both had the same parents. How did I come out so damn giant next to her?

Gia took her sweet time crawling into the backseat. As much as I loved my little junker car, it was not the best vehicle for group outings in barely there spandex getups. I stood blocking the view as she lurched into the back seat, as un-lady like as possible. My cousin had a penchant for never wearing underwear. She said panty lines ruined a perfectly good outfit. Hopefully, she appreciated my effort to block whoever was left in the parking lot from seeing her commando glory.

Next, I turned my attention to getting Nerina into the front seat. She was able to slide in on her own but the seatbelt proved to be a demon puzzle from hell for her at that moment. Reaching around her, I buckled her in like a toddler. She was so going to owe me tomorrow. Of course, I had danced the night away with one of the most gorgeous men I had ever seen. Maybe she wouldn’t owe me. I did end up having fun for once.

I turned around cursing to the heavens that I was going to have to repeat this once we got to the diner and then again to go home. Maybe a few cups of coffee would sober them both up enough to make it a little easier in the end. I pulled the keys out my purse, lifting my head up in panic as my vision became blinded by Hawaiian print. I moved back startled. I had not heard him come up.

“Hi. I saw you and your friend checking me out earlier. I was gonna come buy you a drink but some big guy got in my way. So can I buy you something else? We could go get breakfast? My treat; I got a good job.” Hawaii 5-Oh-so-harry reeked of alcohol. He had imbibed enough to have it ooze out of his pores like an alcoholic cologne.

“As tempting as that sounds, I really need to get my friends home; some other time.” I put my hands up in the small amount of space he had left in between our bodies. He was not as tall as me so was able to see over his head into the empty parking lot. So very empty.

“What’s your name? My name is Cancer. Wait that’s my sign. My name is Bob. Bob the Cancer. I bet you’re an Aquarius. Your eyes are pretty like water.” He leaned in closer breaching my bubble of personal space.

“Bob the Cancer, you need to step back. I need to go and you’re in my way.” He just stood there. A hairy disgusting wall of impenetrable mass. “Please move so I can go.”

I was disgusted by the fear in my voice. This was nothing. Just an overzealous, drunken asshole in the parking lot. However, it was one of the many reasons I hated going to straight clubs. Men felt like they had a right to force their company on you not matter how clear you were that they were not welcome. Nerina finally noticed I had not made it into the car yet. She rolled her window down causing my butt to slip into her window. If worse came to worse maybe I could try to climb ass first in through the window and over Nerina.

“What the hell are you doing? Why are you cleaning the window with your butt? I’m starving. Are we at the pancake place?”

“Pancakes, pancakes, pancakes.” Gia started chanting for pancakes from the back of the car. Clearly, neither of them were cognizant of the fact that I was being blocked from leaving by this asshole.

“I’ll take you for pancakes. Come on, my cars over there. I’m a nice guy I swear.” He grabbed my hand pulling me out of the window towards him. His grip was hard. Digging into the soft flesh of my wrist. I looked into his eyes and knew this was not just a drunken sleazeball. There was anger and entitlement glaring from his eyes. For some reason, Bob thought I owed him the time of day.

“Alright Bob, enough. I’m leaving. You need to let go of my hand and get the hell out of my way. I don’t want to go anywhere with you. If you don’t let go my girls are going to call the cops. Got it?” I was proud of how strong I sounded.

Bob did not like my answer. He grabbed my hair yanking my head back. His face was contorted with rage. “Look you little slut, you don’t come to a club dressed like that to go home alone. We are going to have a little fun together before you leave tonight, understood?”

A cacophony of screams echoed through the parking lot as Nerina and Gia finally realized what was going on. From the twisted angle of my head, I could see Nerina desperately trying to figure out the door, drunken coordination slowing her every movement. My brain tried to take everything and decide on a course of action. He held my hair in a grip that seemed to disable my entire body. If I moved too hard in either direction my scalp felt like it would dislodge. Adrenaline started coursing through me. I had to figure out how to end this before that adrenaline peaked.

As if he had read my mind and decided he had a death wish, Bob pressed his lips into my neck. His tongue snaking out of his mouth tracing a trail from my jaw line moving down further. Waves of revulsion coursed through me. There was nothing I could do at this point but give myself over to the chemical reaction that was racing through my cells. I closed my eyes allowing the fear to take over. I needed to feed on it. Breathing deeply I let my rage at this man layer on top of my fear. The rage that he dare insinuate I wanted to be used because of my outfit. Rage that he would think he could touch me against my will. Fear and rage competed for space inside my body. My blood began to tingle. I felt the zaps of electricity under my skin. Goosebumps scattered across my body as the cool night air met the boiling heat of my body.

I let the electricity release. All my emotions seemed to come to life as if by my sheer will they had become a living breathing entity. The force of it hit him square in the chest, flinging Bob the Cancer into the air. He hovered above me for a few moments. A satisfying look of terror was frozen on his face. I don’t know if he realized I had just done this to him or if he thought some bizarre act of mother-nature had assaulted him alone. Freed from his grip I stepped back waiting for him to fall back to earth. He was a big man so he picked up a lot of momentum on the way back down. His face smashed first into the pavement followed by the rest of his body. For a few moments he didn’t move. I held my breath praying he wasn’t dead. He was an asshole but I didnt want to be a murderer.

With the tip of my toe I nudged his limp body. No movement. I knelt down next to him, pushing on his body to roll him onto his back. My heart started beating again when I saw the steady rise of his chest. He was alive but he did not look pretty. His nose was probably broken. At least in my non professional opinion it didn’t look right. Blood was streaming down his face from multiple sources. His right arm had settled in a horrific off-kilter manner. That was not normal for sure.

“Holy shit Etta. What did you do?” The girls had finally made it out of the car. “SHIT, SHIT, SHIT! Is he dead?”

“Like it’s my fault! He attacked me. Should I have just let him do what he wanted to do?” Tears had started to stream down my face. With just a few seconds of brutality this man had managed to ruin everything.

Gia grabbed me in a fierce hug. The reality of what had just happened sobering both her and my sister quickly. “It’s ok. You did what you had to. Come on, we need to go.”

“Are we going to just leave him here?” Nerina gulped for air in between sobs. “Etta, he could be hurt really bad. We can’t just leave him here.”

“What do you want to do Nerina? Call the police. Tell them we found him like this? If he wakes up, he is going to tell them it was me. When they start questioning me, what am I supposed to say? How do I explain how I did this? There is an indent in the pavement. Leaving is the only option at this point. Please let’s get in the car.”

Bob opened his eyes as my voice escalated, echoing through the parking lot. “You did this. I know you. I know what you are. Get away from me devil.”

Gladly. I grabbed Nerina by the arm, steering her back towards the car. She didn’t protest. Gia grabbed my purse up off the ground.

“Check around, make sure nothing fell out my purse.” We couldn’t leave anything behind that could be traced back to us. I should be sorry. I was committing a crime. It had been in self-defense but with what I had done, I was afraid to take the chance that the police would believe me.

Gia cleared the area. She scrambled into the back of the car. Nerina got in, able to buckle her own seatbelt this time. As I rounded the back of the car, heading for the driver’s seat I could hear Bob’s labored breathing as he struggled to sit up.

“Devil! Bitch! Strega!” Bob screamed at me as I closed the car door. Strega; Witch. At least he had finally gotten something right. I wasn’t a devil, but I most certainly was a witch.

 

©2017 Theda Vallee All rights reserved

I’m A Witch, Burn Me!

A few years ago when I decided to write my first novel about a family of Italian witches, I had considered myself somewhat knowledgeable about the topic. I had learned about the Salem witch trails in school. During college, I had taken a course on women’s studies and delved even further into the topic, showcasing all the ways that women were stigmatized and tortured as witches. However, I wanted to really truly understand the history of the women who came before the sisters and grandmother who were living their lives as witches in the modern world in my book. So, I read tomes! Everything I could get my hands on. The more I read, the more I became convinced I would have totally been burned at the stake. I do not just meet one or even two of the categories that would have put me under suspicion for witchery, I would have been the poster child for witchcraft.

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What would have made me suspect #1 in a witch hunt? First things first, I have a vagina. I realize this is not a shocking revelation, but unfortunately, it was one of the top marks against you in the witching hunting days.  Obviously, women were unable to resist the siren song of evil. The vagina was most likely a portal to hell. If a woman was not careful, she could activate that portal thus opening herself wholly to falling into the dark arts. With this being the case, women had to take a hands-off approach to their sexuality. Literally. No touching girls. You have no idea where the hell trigger is. (I have a strong suspicion it was the clitoris but no evidence backing this theory). Not only should they refrain from touching it themselves, they should only allow it to be touched in the confines of marriage. Even then, there should be no enjoyment in the process. Laying flat on their backs, women were expected to grin and bear so as to ensure the devil never had reason to try to explode forth from their nether regions. Wow! All I can say is if this was, in fact, true, I would have multiple inceptions of hell spouting from my pants. It would be the first portal, within a portal, within a portal, within a portal and just too many portals to keep going. Sex is one of the top 10 best things about life and it surely would have been my downfall in old tyme Salem.

That alone would have been enough to condemn me, but I am not the kind of girl to leave well enough alone. Did you know that most of the witches burned were between 40-50 years of age? Guess who’s turning 40 in a few weeks!! This witch! I can understand why that would be the targeted age group. I put up with a lot of stupid things in my 20’s and 30’s. Frankly, I was a simpering fool compared to the woman I am now. Over the years I have felt a change come over me.  Slowly but surely my capacity for bullshit has decreased. A quote I read recently said something to the effect that women were odd in that they became radicalized by age, I get it. There just comes a point where your “hell no” meter kicks into maximum overdrive and you start telling people exactly what you think. You start doing exactly what you want.  The meek and mild girl of 20 who was afraid of her own shadow, the girl who wanted so desperately to find love, the girl who had to look good when she walked out the door because God forbid someone see she had flaws, yeah that girl is gone. She is replaced by a resplendent self-assured wise sage of a woman. That would have been terrifying to those limp dicked Puritan men. So what do you do with a woman when she finally stops putting up with your bullshit? Burn that witch!

While being a feisty woman was a one-way ticket to a bonfire, the good judges presiding over trials were all about making their cases water tight. They did not want a witch getting off on a technicality. So they had a few more tricks up their sleeve to make sure a conviction stuck. Since science was not really a thing, they could point to all kinds of functuons a woman’s body did or did not do as a reason to believe her soul had gone to the dark side. Have too many children? Witch. Have too few children? Witch. Moles? Super witch. A third nipple? Omega witch! I myself personally have so many moles its like someone was trying to make a connect the dot puzzle while drinking shots of tequila. I believe my body is a camp for wayward moles. A little mole for every time I made a deal with the devil I suppose.

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Basically, if you were not a perfect young nubile woman with skin like cream, you were looking over your shoulder wondering when someone was going to point the finger at you. Many people would go into survivalist mode. They would shut their mouths, live in terror, and pray day and night that their vagina’s never activated. I know myself all too well. I would have broken all the rules. I would have been rutting day and night with whatever hot village stud was around. (I feel like this would have been a very small pool given the hygiene and disease of the time, but I am sure there had to be a few hot guys). My mouth does not have the capacity to save itself. It never has. As I have aged my voice has become louder, angrier and uncompromising. They would have ended up dragging me to the stake one day, but I would’ve take ten of those smug asshats with me on the way out.

Ireland Here I Come!

  • Are you a crazy cat person and loves cats?
  • Does cattitude come naturally to you?
  • Have you counted kittens before you go asleep?
  • Do you feed the stray cats in your locality?
  • Does petting cats make you feel warm and fuzzy?

Yes! Yes!! Yes!!! Yes!!!! Yes!!!!! A cat’s only veterinary hospital in Dublin posted my dream job today. My heart beat rapidly in my chest while I read the viral job post that had popped up in my news feed. Finally, a job that I was highly qualified for. I could take the crazy that was inside and parlay it into a lucrative career snuggling the one true joy of my life, cats!

There may already be 1000’s of applicants. I am not alone in my love of felines. However, I excel in every job I take on. I will crush this job! Those cats will not even know what hugged them. I am the cat whisperer extraordinaire. My day and night dreams all revolve around me rolling in piles of kittens whilst living happily ever after. It is time to stop letting those dreams be dreams! Seize the day! Snuggle the shit out of those cats! Ireland here I come!

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The Stuff of Nightmares

Once upon a time, you had to wait until you could access a library to find answers to all your burning questions. Growing up in the 80’s it was a wasteland of never knowing. As an adult living in a world where my every question can be answered within seconds I am constantly awed by the amount of knowledge at my fingertips. If I want to know the population of Peru? Bam! 31.38 million. How do penguins have sex? Boom! On my screen now. (Not nearly as weird as I thought it would be) My sons, growing up with this amazing advancement in human evolution, love to use it to find random and bizarre things on the internet. They are not searching for wisdom or depth of understanding. No, they find things on the internet solely to feed their desire to laugh like hyenas.  I can’t blame them. What good is this amazing leap in human technology if it can’t be used to amuse yourself endlessly. Knowledge can wait. Cat memes are forever. So, day after day I am sent messages with whatever gem the boys deem worthy of attention that day.  I am glad to be included in the message even on days when I can’t fathom why it’s funny. Those are the day I realize I have finally reached an age where I am too old to get it. Then there are other days when the profound horror of what I am seeing makes me wish the internet had never been invented. Days where I see pictures that will haunt me in nightmares for eternity.

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It’s called a sheepshead fish. I hate it. I want to rewind time, to a place where I was innocent and had never heard of a fish with human-like teeth protruding from its mouth. I didn’t need to know the depths of bizarre genetic freakshow shit mother nature held in her watery depths.  I would rather face twenty great white sharks, then come face to face with this thing. That sounds extreme, but it really isn’t. I get sharks. They are apex predators. It makes sense that they have a mouth full of razor sharp teeth. Every single aspect of their mouth is designed to destroy, rip, tear and aid their need for consumption. While that can be slightly frightening, it is a design that makes sense.

What kind of Frankenstein horror show design could the human teeth on this fish possibly serve? For one it clearly needs braces. How can that be anything more than an impediment? I can imagine more than one of those fish getting caught in a net as it swims by.  Trapped by its errant snaggled teeth. Already these teeth are causing more hassle than they are worth. If the teeth a tool for feeding, what the hell is it eating? Is there an underwater steak house that we have no idea exists? According to my research, its teeth are evolved for crunching on shells of other sea life like crabs and oysters. That makes no sense! Have you ever accidentally bitten into crab shell? It’s like your mouth becomes a human rock tumbler. It’s not meant to do that. I broke a tooth on a crouton one time. Can you imagine how many teeth these fish must go through trying to crack through oyster shells? I call bullshit on this theory. I think the scientists are as freaked out about these  fish as I am and created the theory to make themselves feel better. Guess what science dudes, not working.

This anthropomorphic monstrosity doesn’t just provide fuel for my nightmares. It has spilled over into my life ruining cherished childhood memories. When my husband saw the hideous sheepshead fish for the first time, the first words out of his mouth were “It’s a limpet.” Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!! When I was little The Incredible Mr. Limpet was one of my all time favorite movies. Countless hours were spent watching Don Knotts turn into a fish and live out his underwater fantasy. He fought the Nazi’s for Christ’s sake. Das Limpet was an American hero, and he would now forever be associated with the thing that should not be.

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So should you happen to be swimming on the East Coast anywhere between Maine to Florida, and spot what appears to be someone’s dentures floating in a dead heat towards you, run. Swim like your life depends on it.  You are not seeing things. It’s the stuff of nightmares, but it is very very very real.

Building An Army

I am obsessed with an app called Offer Up. If you have not had the pleasure of exploring this app, I recommend you download it right now. You will not be sorry. It’s an app where people sell things they do not want. For me, it’s a train wreck reality show I can not stop watching. The things that people post, the descriptions and the money they ask for lend to a fascinating case study in humanity. Yesterday I saw someone selling a half used roll of “some type of cable, I have no idea what it’s for”. For $25 the mystery cable could be yours. Used makeup, an Elvis portrait someone painted in 8th grade and cat poop are some of the more interesting things I have found. At least once a day I open the app and let myself sink into the Jerry Springer of yard sale.

 

Usually, I enjoy the human saga, without finding anything to actually purchase. Until today.  The most amazing thing in the history of ever was for sell. A small army of headless mannequins for $50 bucks.

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Do you see what I see? I count at least 12 headless mannequins for the bargain basement price of $50!!!!! My head about exploded with excitement when I saw this. I could build my own mannequin army!! Being prone to flights of fancy, my mind began to soar with the endless amazing things I could do with my mannequin minions. This needed to happen. I waited as patiently as possible for my husband to arrive home from work. I was going to need help loading up all those plastic bodies. As soon as he set foot in the door, I jumped into action ready to go claim what the universe obviously wanted me to have.

“We need to go for a drive. You can’t ask questions.” I smiled my most charming smile.

“Not asking questions, when you say don’t ask questions, is the last thing I should actually do. So how about I sit down for five minutes and you can explain what I should not ask questions about.”

Curse this man! Having been married for a small eternity he had caught on to most of my tricks. I was going to have to try a new approach if this was going to work.

“You’re not going to understand my vision. I just need you to support me on this.”

“Is it a kitten, puppy, pig, goat or sugar glider? If so, we can not afford any more pets.”

“Well see, that’s the good news. It’s not a pet. It’s nothing we have to feed. But it’s super awesome and super amazing and I super need it.” Now was my time to pounce. He was going to be relieved that I was not begging to bring another four legged furry beast into the house. After Fernando, our fat adorable Maine Coon I had promised my pet tubes were tied.

I whipped out my phone and brought up the picture. Handing it over to him I stood waiting in delirious expectation. Surely he would see the genius in buying 12 mannequins. My smile started to fade as he remained silent for a very long time.

“What are you going to do with a bunch of headless mannequins?” clearly he was not seeing the same future that had so vividly painted itself for me the moment I had run across the ad.

“What you do you mean, what am I going to do with them? Everything. What can I not do with them? I’m gonna put one in every room. Decorate the backyard with them like lawn flamingos. Take one in the car with me everywhere I go so I can always use the diamond lane. Halloween, I mean come on that is a no brainer. I can have dance parties and tea parties. Maybe I can make some art like lamps or something. Those would sell for good money, just one and it pays for its self.  It’s never-ending, the amount of awesome shit I can come up with. They can all fit in the van if we put the seats down.”

I picked up my purse ready to go claim my bounty. Mannequins here we come! Instead my darling, long-suffering husband looked at me with that look. That one that I knew all too well. The look that said “woman, you have lost your mind but damn you are cute when you do”. It was also a look that meant he was going to say something logical that would deflate my mannequin dreams.

“I will never tell you no, you know that. I just think that’s a lot of mannequin for one person. Your birthday’s coming. Maybe you should wait and see if you get any mannequins for your birthday?”

We both knew I was not going to get anything that approached that level of awesome for my birthday. No one was going to think to buy me a small army of plastic amazingness. It was his subtle way of telling me, we do not need a house full of mannequins. Being married to a whimsical, half-crazy woman who is prone to flights of fancy, he has learned the art of defusing my runaway imagination without being a total douche bag in the process. It is a fine line that he walks well. I glanced back down at the app, only to see it had popped up as SOLD. Damnit. Someone else was going to be living my dreams tonight. Oh well. At least I was going to get to spend the night with this bearded fool who loves his wife even when she tries to fill his house with naked, headless bodies.

 

Frank’s Red Hot Vagina

Since I already let the entire internet know the exact shade of my nipples, I paused for a moment tonight and thought is it possible to overshare at this point? By the end of this post, many of you will probably fall firmly on the “yes, girl it is possible”, side of the fence. However, in the interest of not letting anyone suffer alone, I thought I would share my experience so we could bond and commiserate. I can not imagine I am the only woman in history to have had this happen.

We had fried chicken for dinner. Cheap grocery store fried chicken because I worked too late again and did not have the energy to stand in the kitchen making anything that could be considered edible. In our house, one of two condiments is liberally doused on 90% of our meals. Frank’s Red Hot sauce or Sriracha. We keep jumbo containers of both in the fridge ready for action. Heaping plates of fried chicken smothered in hot sauce were served to the starving teens.

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It was a perfectly normal suburban family evening. We sat in the living room munching our chicken, watching an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, enjoying each others company. Until my son decided to alter the course of our destiny by making a choice he had never made before. For the first time ever, he decided that using his clothing as a napkin was not acceptable. For years I had tried to break both of them of this habit, but I had given up long ago. As far as they were concerned shirts were just really expensive napkins that you wear. It was a thing I had come to accept. I had learned to live with it by reaffirming my child rearing mantra whenever I saw it happening, “Pick your battles darling. Pick your battles.”  So, you can imagine my surprise when one of my spawn chose this night to break himself of this habit. He grabbed a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom and used it wipe seven pounds of grease and hot sauce off of his hands. Who was I to stand in the way of progress? It wasn’t a napkin or a paper towel but by Jove, we were moving in the right direction! With a small bit of smug satisfaction that my sons were finally becoming human, I finished my dinner without a second thought.

Two hours later the innocent scene came back to haunt me with a vengeance.  After two cups of after dinner coffee, my bladder had decided it did not want to be patient while I worked on spreadsheets. Allowing my bladder the tyrant to rule my life, I hustled into the bathroom and hurriedly sat down to heed nature’s call. I did not notice until mid-stream that there was no damn toilet paper. Grrrrr!! A quick inspection under the sink I found myself needing to call in reinforcements. My darling husband came to my rescue bringing me a roll from the package on the table, that had not been put under the sink even though we bought it 3 days ago. (Teenagers, if you have some you will understand why it was still on my table). That is the exact moment everything went to hell.

You see, my husband did not bring me a fresh roll of toilet paper. No, instead he brought me the roll from the living room. Yes. That roll. I grabbed it, not thinking I should examine it first. I mean who would. It is a reasonable expectation that when asking for a roll of toilet paper off the table, that is exactly what one would get. I dove into finalizing my bathroom routine unaware that anything was wrong. Until the pain started. It was subtle at first. A slight tingle that was not normal. Nothing unmanageable, just not right. As I sat there, wondering what exactly that sensation was, my eyes focused on some odd looking red blobs smeared across the toilet paper. As I pulled the roll closer to my face for inspection, dread settled in over my entire body.  How the hell had I not noticed that? Hot sauce. I had just used the same roll that my son had been manhandling with his hot sauce laden hands just a few hours before. As the horror of what had just happened sunk in, the tingle turned into an inferno. My ladybits were on fire like nothing I had ever experienced in my life. My husband stood outside the bathroom helplessly while I screamed and cursed to the heavens about my newly minted Frank’s Red Hot vagina. Fuck! Shit! Holy mother of all things holy! Help me Tom Cruise!

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My first instinct was to get up and run. As if somehow I could outrun the fires of hell that were now engulfing my nether regions. Thankfully, I did not act on this. No one wants to see a half-naked middle-aged woman running through the streets screaming about her burning loins. I would have ended my night in a holding cell trying to explain to the officer’s that the hot sauce made me do it. Instead, I decided to douse myself with water. That did nothing to alleviate the torture. No. It just left me soaking wet, and still on fire. With more strength than I thought I had in me, I decided to put my pants back on and see what Google had to say about this. Thankfully the internet is full of over-sharing people just like me. I found pages of information on how to neutralize the burn. Unfortunately, the advice was to ply myself with dairy products. Milk, yogurt or heavy whipping cream would do. I had none of these things. I also did not have the want to spread anything else on my ladybits. The last thing I needed was to set-up a breeding ground for all sorts of other unwanted lady maladies. I resigned myself to ride it out.

I have no idea how long this will last. It’s been a few hours. I feel like I have entered Dante’s first level of hell and I am paying for all my past sins. All I can do at this point is pray. Lord help me I will never commit the sin of smugness again. My children can use every shirt they own as napkins for all I care. Tomorrow I will buy stock in Bounty. This house will be packed from top to bottom, with the quicker picker upper. By all things holy I swear I will always examine the toilet paper roll before using it. Please just never, never, never let this happen again.

Beware! Cat Shaver on the Loose.

I ran across this article today and have been laughing since. If you don’t feel like reading the article, I will gladly summarize it for you. Someone in Waynesboro, Virginia is stealing people’s cats, shaving their belly and nether regions and then sending them home otherwise unharmed.

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WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? I have been sitting here for the last two hours trying to come up with a logical or illogical reason that this could have become a thing. Is there an amateur pet groomer out there that has decided to forge their skills on the bellies of innocent cats? Maybe it’s a secret cat gang. The cats are voluntarily having their stomachs shaved in a secret initiation ritual. What happens in cat club stays in cat club.

Or what if there is some dude collecting cat hair to create a giant cat suit made out of real cat fur. He suffers from clinical lycanthropy ( it’s a thing I swear) and is off his meds. When the creepy as hell suit is finished he will don his catsuit and slink around the neighborhood on all fours, caterwauling at the top of his lungs until the police show up and arrest his batshit crazy self.

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My imagination will probably chew on this for days as I wait to see how the story unfolds. I feel like I have some pretty solid theories going on. If only the police officers working the case were as vested in the outcome as me. The beleaguered officer had an amazingly world-weary reply when asked what the solution was to this dastardly crime, “Probably the best solution is for whoever is doing this to just stop.” Obviously, they have no leads and no solution in sight.

Perhaps I can be of some help.

Hey, cat shaver! If you are looking for a way to stop and don’t know how I having a win-win solution for you. Come and steal my dogs. Shave them top to bottom. I will let you do this every 6 to 12 weeks. I will never contact the police. I will never complain. I know it’s not a cat, but it’s better than being arrested and having “cat shaver” pop on a background check. Hit me up if you want to work something out.