As my followers can tell, I haven’t been very active on here lately. That’s because I’m working on my NaNoNovel, tentatively titled The Ghosts of Home. Since I haven’t been on here, I thought I’d give my readers an update on my writing. Currently, I’m at about 22,000 words, which makes me 3,000 words behind. I was sick this week, so I didn’t write as much as I should have, but I can make that up by midnight tonight. I’ve also written 4.5 chapters, am in the process of getting my protagonists together, and by tonight I’ll have introduced a new family member, who won’t know what she’s gotten herself into by declaring herself family.
As for reading, I’m currently re-reading a book I’ve loved in the past only to find just how dated it is (published either late 2000 or early 2001). I’ve never reviewed it before, so I will do that this time around (plus, complain about the absolutely awful e-book that looks as if it was pirated, but was legitimately bought from Amazon in 2009).
To make up for not reviewing anything in the last 2 weeks, here is a glimpse of my manuscript (from the prologue). Please remember the purpose of NaNo is to write without editing, so there are probably scores of typos and possibly unfinished sentences.
November 14, 2015
The snow fell lightly as Allie made her way off of the train. According to the weather app on her phone, it wasn’t supposed to start snowing for another few hours, but from what she’d been able to see after the train came aboveground, it looked to have been coming down pretty heavily for at least two hours. There was no way in hell she could walk to the house in this weather with all of her luggage trailing behind her. She’d be lucky if she made it out of the train station without wiping out on some patch of ice the MTA missed the last time they salted the platform.
She wondered if the cabstand was still across the street. After Hurricane Sandy took a bite out of Bella Lago three years ago, she wasn’t sure if anyone would be willing to re-open this close to the Bay. Even if they were still there, it didn’t mean there’d be a cab available to pick her up. When it was like this outside, most of the cabbies either called in sick or were busy chauffeuring all the old biddies to their Bingo games or doctor’s appointments.
Pushing her way out the Emergency Exit, not that it had served that function in the last several decades, she eyed the storefronts across the street. Many of them hadn’t been there the last time she was in town, which was over ten years ago, but the cab stand was still there. And it looked exactly the same. How was that even possible? She knew for a fact that this section of Bella Lago was under at least fifteen feet of water and judging from the few other shops that she recognized, most of the owners took the opportunity to revamp their look. Not Towne Cabs. It still looked more like a crack den than a functioning business. But, then who said crack dens weren’t functioning businesses?
Allie attempted to cross the street, but had to jump back as some asshole sped down the block as if there wasn’t at least a foot of snow on the ground. If there was one thing that every city on the East Coast had in common, it was that when it snowed, people chose to ignore it and drive like complete fucking lunatics. Even knowing this, it never failed to surprise her when she saw it in action. It was one of the reasons she chose not to get a drivers’ license. It annoyed the hell out of her friends, but when the T ran most of the time and Uber was available all day long every day of the year, she didn’t think she really needed to drive. If her grandfather was able to live his entire, albeit too short life without a license, then so could she. As long as the PSU didn’t transfer her to some bumfuck town without a public transportation system. But, if they tried, she’d just quit and find another way to use her abilities. They weren’t the only game in town, after all. She heard that local PD’s were starting to use psychics with a surprising regularity, so if anything she could always work in one of them.
She finally made it across the street, and taking a deep breathe, she opened the door and told the guy behind the old, scarred, glass partition the address—or to be more specific, the cross streets, for the house. No one ever told these guys their actual address. The guys that worked in this place reminded Allie of some moldy meth-head Walking Dead rejects. If ever there were people that could survive a nuclear holocaust, it would be the people from Towne Cabs. They were the human equivalent of cock roaches—always able to survive.
“Ah, man. Were you at Old Towne Pizza?” Asked the guy behind the glass.
“Oh. When you came in, I could have sworn I smelled garlic.” She heard him take a deep breath. “Gone now. Those people next door don’t understand the fact that pizzas don’t need to be drowned in garlic.”
Allie laughed. That wasn’t pizza or anything they were cooking up at Old Towne Pizza. There was a ghost somewhere in the vicinity of the cab stand. She wasn’t in the mood to deal with some random ghost right then. All she wanted to do was get back on the subway and head all the way back to Boston. She was back in Bella Lago for less than five minutes and she was itching to leave already. That did not fill her with confidence. No matter how much time it had been since she was in this place, just a few minutes in town and already she felt like the outcast teenager she’d been when she left. Lovely.
The garlic smell was getting stronger and she could just make out the scent of mothballs, so Allie shored up the shield that she’d taught herself to place around her mind, so that the ghosts couldn’t get to her all the time. Despite working on it for the last five years, she still didn’t have a handle on it and maybe it was because she was bone deep exhausted, she just didn’t have the strength the bring the shield all the way up. Of course, the ghost got through.
He was a little old man, wearing clothes straight out of the 1980’s. If she wasn’t mistaken, he was wearing a Members’ Only Jacket. She’d only ever seen one of those on an old Vh1 special about the 80’s. Most of the time, ghosts took a form that was familiar to them, usually appearing either the way they looked before they died or sometime in their past. Unless this ghost was a very hip octogenarian, this ghost was doing something completely different. Honestly, she didn’t care and she hoped that he hadn’t noticed the fact that she could see him because if he hadn’t made the connection, then she wasn’t going to make it for him. There was absolutely no reason for him to know she could see him. She was in town to find out about Laura. That was it.
“Quit staring, young lady. It is rude.”
That wasn’t the ghost. That was the person sitting behind the ghost. The person that Allie couldn’t see because this ghost was fully opaque. That was the danger of seeing ghosts like this one.
“Sorry. I didn’t even realize I was doing it,” she responded. “I was lost in thought.”
The woman hmphed. Obviously, she didn’t believe her. Why should she? Allie knew what she looked like in her old Northeastern hoodie, faded after so many washings, a pair of black leggings, and the purple streaks in her hair. Sure she was nearly 30, but most people thought she was much younger, and dressed like this she looked like a college student, which is exactly what she wanted people to think. Her cover was a college student. To her family and everyone in Bella Lago she was still enrolled in a Ph.D program at Northeastern. It was the excuse she gave whenever someone wanted her to come in for a visit. Obviously, she’d have to come up with something else within the next year or so because no one was likely to believe that she was still allowed to go to school after so many years in the program. From what she remembered of her days there as an Undergrad and a Grad Student, NEU kicked out anyone in the program for over seven years and if she was actually enrolled that day would be coming up rather quickly.
“Your car is here, ladies,” said the man, who after all this time was still as unseen as the man behind the curtain before Toto pulled it open.
“Wait, we’re supposed to share?” Asked Allie, indignant. She had three rather large suitcases with her and there was no way they’d all fit in the cab with the old woman and the bags of groceries she had stacked up next to her.
“54’s the only car I got. Either you share or you walk. I get paid either way.”
“Well, I’m not walking,” responded the little old lady, eying her suspiciously as if to say that Allie was going to run out and steal her cab.
“Looks like we’re sharing.”
Trying to make up for seeming like the lazy millennial this woman took her for, Allie helped her load her groceries into the backseat before putting her own suitcases in the trunk. Slamming the trunk shut, the car took off like a rocket, leaving Allie standing there in disbelief. That fucking bitch stole her cab AND her clothes. Placing her hands on her hips, she remembered that her gun, which she usually wore in its holster on her right hip was still in her bag. The bag that right now was in the trunk of car 54. Perfect. She really fucking hated this town.
A loud horn jolted her into action and Allie took off for the cabstand to demand the dispatcher to call the car back. She may be tiny, but she be fierce. Even without the glock she normally carried.
“Your idiot driver took off with my stuff.”
“You heard me, asshole. Call your driver back here. That old bitch stole my cab and everything I had with me.”
“You want to think again about who you’re calling a bitch.”
“If the word fits.” Allie stared icicles at the partition, wishing she could punch the glass into that man’s face. She knew her reaction was disproportionate to the situation, but she was well aware of what happened when an agent’s gun got into the wrong hands. Just a few months back, some poor woman in San Francisco was killed when some guy with a weapon he stole from a federal agent shot her. She wasn’t about to let that happen again.
“That ‘bitch’ is my mother.”
“Listen, I don’t care if she’s the Pope’s mother. I helped her out and she let your driver take off with all of my stuff. So, you better call him back.”
“Or what?” He asked, standing up from behind the glass. Goliath had nothing on this guy. He had to be at least seven foot. If she showed any fear in that moment, she could say goodbye to her stuff. She raised her right eyebrow and looked in right in the eye. “I went to Catholic School. I know ways to fight that you’d never know existed. You want to take me on?”
Maybe she hadn’t learned her fighting skills on the schoolyard at St. Anne’s, but whatever he saw in her eyes had him backing down and reaching for his radio.
“54, back to base. You left without your package.”
“Negative. I dropped your Ma like you said. Now, I go home.”
“Aldo, you get your lazy ass back to base. You had two passengers and you left one here.”
“Heading in now.”
Allie sat down on the narrow wooden bench that surrounded the wall behind which the dispatcher sat. If she thought she was tired before, now she was well on her way to falling asleep standing up. All she needed now was for the elderly ghost that was still standing in the middle of the room to notice her. Of course he noticed her at that very moment.
“You can see me?” He asked, surprised.
Allie nodded her head, hoping he understood that she didn’t want to talk.
“You have to help me.”
Allie took her phone from her purse and put it up to her ear.
“Can we do this later? I just don’t want to look like an idiot in public.”
The ghost nodded just as the cab pulled up to the door. Allie was up and out the door before he could leave again. The ghost on her heels.
“We’re not in public now.”
Allie rolled her eyes, but didn’t answer him. Instead, she gave the driver the cross streets and made sure he knew that her bags were in the trunk. She would not let him get away again.
“Some snow, huh?” The cabbie asked.
“I’ve lived in Boston for the last decade. This is nothing.”
“As if. I moved to Boston. Didn’t have a lobotomy.”
The driver chuckled. “Went to Fenway with the wife once. Didn’t see the appeal. It was tiny and smack dab in the middle of the city. What’s up with that?”
Allie knew he wouldn’t appreciate it if she reminded him that Yankee Stadium was in the middle of the Bronx and the road to Citi Field smelled like rotten eggs, so she kept her mouth shut. She’d been to enough games at both stadiums to know that neither of them were anything to write home about. Plus, the Mets just choked in the World Series and the Yankees didn’t make it past the Wild Card this year. The Sox might not have even made it to the playoffs, but at least they didn’t embarrass themselves the way the Yanks did. Or the Mets. They had a way of blowing every single chance they got.
She stared out the window as the cabbie sped down Main Street, nearly mowing down a family of four as they attempted to cross the street to P.S. 217. On her right, she could just see the Post Office and the Chinese restaurant, the place Laura opened a few years back as a way to get back to her roots. There were a few other stores, but she didn’t recognize any of them. One was called Timey-Wimey Antiques, owned by a Doctor Who fan, obviously. Next to that was The Danger Room. That sounded vaguely pop culture-y, but she couldn’t place it.
They were only about a block from the house and she could feel the tension pouring back into her body. She was Sisyphus pushing his boulder up a never ending hill. No matter what she did, she’d always end up right back here, in this place where she was never happy. The blackness was edging in and she couldn’t let it.
“Over there. Right behind that old Ford pick-up.” How the hell was that thing still here? It was on its last legs ten years ago.
The driver pulled over and she reminded him about her bags once again. He nodded and reached out for the $5 she owed him. Allie shook her head and opened the door before he could lock her in there with him. He’d get his money after she got her bags and only then.
Finally, he got out of the car to open the trunk. In less than a minute, her three suitcases were sitting in the slush and she was handing over the money, which the cabbie counted, and looking back at her seemed to be confused over his lack of a tip. Did this guy think she was going to tip him for stranding her in town without any of her bags? Honestly. She shook her head again.
He walked back to the driver’s door and she could see him flipping her off as he took off like some demon racing out of Hell. Maybe that’s what he was doing because just feet from her was her very own Hell. Except, she called it home.