Wednesday, 24 October 2012

#OBTreat Orangeberry Trick or Treat - Day 10


 

15th October to 15th November 2012

Updated on 14th October 2012
51 books from 47 authors
What is the Orangeberry Trick or Treat?
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On The Road To Death’s Door
by M. J. Williams
On The Road To Death’s Door Copyright 2011
Mary Joy Johnson & Margaret M. Williams
CHAPTER 1
The campground smelled vaguely of wood smoke and pine. Maple and birch leaves rustled softly, if unseen, against the mottled, star-spotted sky.
Emily Remington carried an armload of cut fire wood and dumped it next to a brick-lined pit in the ground. She looked up in time to see Stan and Malcolm clamber to the top of the ladder attached to the back of the RV. They looked like wraiths in the swaying light of the Coleman lantern Stan was carrying in one hand.
“Be careful up there, Hon!” Audrey shouted.
Malcolm waved her off. Stan grunted, more from the exertion of climbing over the lip of the ladder than from any kind of editorial statement.
The Winnebago was tucked into a copse of maple trees, and the two men had to duck to avoid being backhanded by a low-hanging branch. Malcolm pulled a handkerchief from his back pocket and swiped at his forehead. When he had tucked it back away again, he pulled a small bottle out of a front pocket. He offered it to Stan first. Stan grinned and accepted the drink. Standing on top of the huge vehicle, legs askance, he threw his head back and took a long slurp.
“Ahh!” He handed the bottle back to his friend, then surveyed the campsite from his new vantage point. Emily was busy arranging the dried logs into a teepee shape in the middle of the fire pit. Audrey bustled up behind her.
“This is so rustic!” Audrey exclaimed as she busied herself about the campsite, martini glass in hand. She picked up a lawn chair and swiped at it with a tissue while Emily, on her knees, blew at the growing licks of flame.
“One used carpet, ready to be delivered!” Stan announced.
The two women turned and watched as their men positioned themselves on either side of a six-foot long carpet roll. Emily grabbed her can of beer from the picnic table, enjoying the scene as if from a theatrical show.
“I still cannot believe you bought that thing at a garage sale,” Audrey chattered. She took another drink from her stemmed glass. “That is just sooo…quaint.”
“Man, this thing is heavy,” Stan complained. “What did you do, Em? Hide a body in it?”
The two men grunted and heaved but couldn’t get the carpet roll to move into a controlled position.
“How about we just shove it off?” Malcolm suggested.
“Sounds like a plan to me,” Stan said, breathing heavily. “Hey, ladies! Heads up! It’s raining carpeting. On three,” he directed.
Malcolm nodded, putting his weight behind the carpet.
“One, two, three!”
They shoved at the bundle and rolled it off the top of the RV…
“Oh, shit!”
…onto the awning…
“Damn!”
…which bent and ripped under its weight…
“Crap!”
…and fell to the ground with a THUD.
“Stan!” Emily shouted. “What are you doing?” She stared in dismay at the ripped awning with its bent support struts.
“I don’t know, Em,” Stan said, standing on the top of the Winnebago, hands on his hips, looking for all the world like king of the mountain. “If we gotta do this much work to get it down, what are we gonna do when it’s time to get it back up?”
“I think you need to work those arm muscles a bit more. The guys at the garage sale didn’t have any trouble getting it up there.”
Stan signaled Malcolm to climb down the ladder ahead of him. He rubbed his hands against the sudden chill of the evening, then clambered down himself, eager to stand in front of Emily’s already blazing fire.
“Okay, let’s roll this baby out and see what we’ve got.” He pulled out his pocket knife and cut the twine which bound the rug. He positioned a foot against one end of the roll and signaled Malcolm to do the same at the other end. “On my count again. One, two…”
With a dual grunt they pushed, hopped, pushed, hopped, unrolling the carpet one lump at a time. Finally Stan gave it one last mighty heave with his foot.
“What the—?”
They watched in horror as first an arm, and then a leg, and finally an entire body flopped out of the bundle. Stan, Emily, and Malcolm stared in stunned silence.
Audrey screamed.
CHAPTER 2
Earlier that same day…
“Come on, baby. I know you can do it.” Emily caressed the steering wheel and tapped the gas ever so lightly. The RV lurched forward. “Damn!” She slammed on the brakes.
With a frustrated sigh she leaned her forehead against the wheel. Learning to maneuver this monster was going to take some practice. I’m too old for this, she thought. She glanced at her watch. Quarter to eleven. And I’m not getting any younger sitting here.
She gave it another try, jerking the big vehicle into a parking spot in front of the row of dilapidated houses that was never meant for anything with a wheel base wider than the family mini-van. She threw the transmission into reverse and eased the vehicle backward a foot.
She was grateful Stan wasn’t in the seat next to her scrutinizing her every move or telling her how to do it. Of course, if he’d been in the RV, he would have been driving. Their unspoken agreement when they’d acquired the thirty-two-foot Winnebago was that Stan would drive, Emily would keep it running.
Not that Emily didn’t enjoy driving. After all, she used to drive all the time on the job. But that was a considerably smaller vehicle: a Ford Crown Vic, outfitted with the usual emergency warning lights, radio, and other equipment found in your typical small town patrol car. But this thing. Yikes! Turning corners was challenging enough. Parking it was beyond reasonable.
She nudged the gear shift back into drive and moved forward an inch, regretting the decision to fit the Winnebago into this particular spot. She shifted yet again into reverse and touched the gas pedal ever so lightly.
The rear wheel of the Winnebago jumped the curb, and Emily lost sight of the blue Honda behind her in the rear view mirror. She hit the brakes. She’d have to pull ahead again.
She made a mental note to get one of those rear view cameras to mount on the back of the oversized bus. She shifted into drive again and crept forward another inch, straightening the wheel. She estimated the space between her and the bumper of the cranberry Explorer in front of her. Not enough to slip a shoehorn.
Again she thanked the spirits of the road that Stan was at the golf course and not here to witness her ineptitude. At the same time, even though handling this big baby was proving to be a challenge far greater than she’d anticipated, she knew without a doubt that she’d eventually master it. She was simply frustrated at this moment because she could see other people hopping out of their cars, hurrying past her on the road, and up into the driveways of houses hosting the garage sales. Emily glanced longingly at the tables piled high with treasures and grasped the gear shift with renewed determination. She edged the Winnebago back away from the cranberry SUV.
Satisfied, she reached for the key to shut off the engine. She was curious to see how far she was from the curb. She looked up to see a young woman in a too-tight t-shirt, jeans, and spangled flip-flops walk up to the Explorer carrying a large plastic laundry basket. A curly-haired toddler followed at her heels. The young mother aimed her electronic key and unlocked the doors of the SUV, swung open the tail gate and tossed the basket on top of other earlier purchases—a pair of ice skates, a small white painted end-table lying on its side, a milk crate filled with a mismatch of plates, bowls, and cups.
She scowled at Emily as she slammed the back end, then made a point of checking the sides and rear of her vehicle for dings and scratches, evidence of Emily’s inability to handle the big rig.
The little girl—or was it a boy, it was hard to tell—stared up at Emily through the windshield. Emily waved her fingers at the child, who scrunched its face and grabbed its mother’s leg. The mother yanked open the front passenger door and lifted and buckled the now wailing toddler into a car seat.
She seemed more concerned about whether her car had a few scratches and dents on it than about the safety of her child who should have been in the back seat. Emily grimaced remembering the time she’d lifted a limp child from the front seat of an accident, killed by the very airbag meant to save lives.
The young mother quickly climbed into the driver’s seat and, without bothering to buckle her own seatbelt, pulled the big SUV out into the street, leaving a car-length space directly in front of the RV.
“Thank you,” Emily said to the disappearing taillights. “But your timing stinks.”
Emily glanced at the clock on the dashboard: 10:53. Already? She had only made four stops this morning, none of which had been very productive. All she had found so far were a copy of “RVing For Dummies” and an old book for Stan on the history of shipwrecks in the straits of Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula—known to sailors as Death’s Door. Most of the items for sale had been children’s games, bicycles, old dishes and clothing that was too good to throw away, but nobody wanted to wear anymore. At least this stop, billed in the ad as a “10 family neighborhood sale,” had lots of possibilities with only one need to park.
She’d been pleasantly surprised to discover that this small Door County community was as enamored of garage sales as her own small town on the Michigan side of Green Bay. Bailey’s Harbor was, by all appearances, more of a working class community than the upscale tourist towns on the other side of the Door Peninsula, a favorite vacation spot for Wisconsinites and their Illinois neighbors. She noticed that the town’s small harbor off Lake Michigan housed more fishing boats than tourist craft. And the few restaurants and shops in town seemed less trafficked than the ones she’d visited the day before in Fish Creek on the bay side.
Emily stashed her sunglasses in the visor pocket, then grabbed her wallet from her shoulder bag and stuffed it into the pocket of her jeans. Clambering down the steps of the RV, she checked her distance from the curb. Not bad. Only a foot or so away. She’d master this old crate yet. A cool breeze reminded her this was early October, despite the bright sunshine. She sighed. Reaching back into the Winnebago, she grabbed her hooded sweatshirt from the front passenger seat.
“Nice wheels!” a young man said as he lurched past her wrestling with a coffee table.
“Thanks. Gets me where I want to go.”
Emily had not been thrilled the day the lawyer had called her and told her she’d inherited her aunt’s well-worn Winnebago.
“I suppose we could try selling it,” she had told Stan. “We might get a few bucks for it.”
But Stan’s eyes were already aglow. He was picturing himself behind the wheel, the two of them traversing the country like Charles Kuralt or John Steinbeck.
“John Steinbeck traveled with a dog,” Emily had pointed out.
“We can get a dog.” Stan smiled, knowing that’s not what she meant. “And anyway, Charles Kuralt traveled with a camera crew. We have a camera.”
Emily chose not to comment. He had an answer for everything, and it drove her nuts.
“Just think of all the nooks and crannies we can explore.” He didn’t know when to stop. “We’re retiring, right?”
“Yeah?”
“Well, this way we can see the country. Tour the desert. Climb the mountains.” Stan wrapped a loving arm around her. “Take Megan and the kids to the seashore.”
Emily laughed. Her husband of twenty-nine years knew her only too well. “Admit it,” she challenged him. “You’re just looking for an excuse to take those grandkids to Bull Run and Tom Sawyer’s cave.”
“Just think of it, Emily, we’ll follow Lewis and Clark’s trail with Wynter, Allyn, and Annabell.”
“Lewis and Clarke’s trail?”
“Or wherever your little heart desires. Like…to see the grandkids?”
And so, Emily found herself the “proud” owner of a ten-year-old, thirty-two-foot Winnebago motor home with 58,000 miles on it. And that meant somebody had to maintain the thing. Stan was as clumsy with an Allen wrench as he was nimble with a search engine on his laptop. Maintenance would be her job. Stan was too much of a dreamer, a scholar, a gentleman to ever get his hands dirty keeping the old thing running. But he’d drive it wherever they wanted to go. Because that’s what he loved doing. Driving. Driving and thinking.
“Hi ya,” said a sixtyish woman with red hair too bright to be natural, sitting in a lawn chair.
Emily smiled. “Howdy to you. Great day for a garage sale.”
“Nice Indian summer we’re having.” The woman turned her attention to an elderly gentleman handing her a dollar bill for a jigsaw puzzle.
Emily poked around the items on a long folding table. An old turn-table for LPs that no one used anymore. A stainless steel toaster missing its cord. A set of mismatched travel bags. Emily moved on to the next driveway.
It was a luxury for her to be able to spend an entire morning browsing other people’s junk. Before her earlier-than-expected retirement from the police department in the small town of Escanaba, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she’d had to disguise her interest in garage sales by snatching quick five-minute expeditions during her long days on patrol. Unfortunately, the neighbors often got nosy, thinking perhaps she was investigating somebody doing something illegal.
The morning sun was beginning to feel warmer now that she was out of the wind. Emily unzipped her sweatshirt and tied it around her waist. As she entered the garage, her nose wrinkled. A waft of pine mist and gardenia, mingled with the odor of fresh oil and stale fish guts, washed over her. Breathing through her mouth, she scanned the shoppers and the offerings in the garage.
A table of glassware gleamed in the sunlight, but Emily barely gave it a glance. What she was looking for were bottles. Colored Avon perfume bottles to be specific, the older the better. She edged her way past an elderly couple studying the mark stamped on the back of a ceramic dinner plate.
Suddenly two boys around nine or ten years old, in jeans and Green Bay Packers sweatshirts, whizzed by her. Their movements weren’t registering the way they should. They seemed to be gliding by as if they were on skateboards. But they weren’t. They had on plain old sneakers (if one could call kids’ footwear these day plain or old or even sneakers).
She watched them skim around a table and head off down the driveway. The taller of the boys was gliding on his heels. There must be wheels in those shoes, Emily deduced. This was something else for store owners to complain about.
Emily focused her attention back to the sales tables. She picked up a bottle. It was Avon. Blue. The tall stoppered, vase-like perfume decanter was one she didn’t already have. And definitely old. Stan would have an excuse to tease her about her “tacky” decorating taste. She decided that was a good enough excuse to buy the bottle. At fifty cents, it wasn’t like she was out a lot of money.
Several boxes of books along the outer wall of the garage caught her eye. Her occasional purchases of old, used historical books was the only thing Stan didn’t complain about her buying on her rounds. An ample woman in red stretch-pants four sizes too small waved two saucepans in front of the teenage girl guarding the cash box.
“I’ll give you a nickel apiece.”
“Sorry, lady. They’re my Aunt Carmen’s. If they’re marked a quarter, that’s what you’ll have to pay.  Unless you want to come back later when she’s here to dicker.” The girl worked a wad of gum in her mouth.
“It’s a crime, charging that much,” the woman complained. She turned toward the table where Emily was poking through bedraggled Christmas baubles, half-burnt candles, and old vinyl LPs. “It’s a shame what some people wanna charge to get rid of their junk,” she said to Emily as she pawed a table-top centerpiece of dusty plastic holly and red berries and a chipped, chrome picture frame.
A man in a blue plaid shirt, fishing vest, and jeans walked up to the cash box guard. “Your ad said you have some living room furniture. Is it already gone?”
“In the house. Mikey! Mikey! Come watch the money a minute, will ya?” The girl rose and beckoned as one of the boys wheeled to the table and plopped down in the chair she’d just vacated.
“May I see, too?” Emily joined them at the door to the house. The girl nodded, and Emily followed her and the fisherman into the kitchen. A smell of burnt coffee struck her nose.
“Shit. Forgot to turn off the pot again. Ma’s gonna kill me.” The girl flipped the button on the coffee-maker. “The living room’s back this way.” She gestured vaguely to her right, chewed on her gum. “Everything in there is for sale. Prices as marked.”
They walked through a small, crowded living room. A blue and pink plaid sofa sat along the long wall of the room. It appeared to be in fairly good condition, even if the colors were god-awful. Tables and lamps were strewn about.
Emily wondered why she bothered to look—the Winnebago was fully furnished—when the rug she was standing on caught her eye. It was a beautiful dark red Persian design with navy and green paisley surrounding a central medallion of birds and flowers. It looked to be about six by eight feet, was a bit worn in spots, and had a coffee-colored stain that would have to be scrubbed out.
But Emily saw it as perfect for under the awning just outside the Winnebago. She’d noticed that other RVers often laid a swatch of that ugly green indoor-outdoor carpeting under their folding camp chairs. She imagined how nice it would be, sitting out in the morning, drinking their coffee, reading the paper, their own lawn chairs and collapsible breakfast table nestled on the colorful oriental rug.
“What are you asking for this carpet?”
“Thirty bucks.” The girl blew a bubble with her gum.
“Would you take twenty?”
“Prices as marked,” the girl repeated her earlier statement. Emily started to turn away. The girl shrugged, shifted her gum from the right side of her mouth to the left. “Aw, hell. Why not.” She extended her hand.
As Emily handed her a twenty from her wallet, the girl said, “I’ll get my dad and my uncle to roll it up for you. If you can wait a minute. Last I saw of them, they were heading down to the Murphy’s to help them load a sofa or something.”
Emily pointed out the Winnebago, instructed the girl to have the men tie the rug to the top, and headed off to the sale next door. There she found an ornate German beer stein for Stan, but that was about all. When she got back to the Winnebago, the men were just finishing tying the Persian rug into a lumpy bundle. They shoved it up and onto the top of her motor coach.
“Looks like you’ve been travelin’ a bit,” said the taller of the two men.
“Actually, this is our maiden voyage. First leg of a cross-country trip.”
“No kiddin’. Where ya headin’?”
“Wherever the wind blows.” Emily grinned. “I’ve always wanted to say that. Actually we’ll be catching I-90 out to Boston.”
“You stayin’ at one of the campgrounds ‘round here?”
“Moose’s Leap. Over by Fish Creek.”
“Up on the bluff there? I hear it’s pretty popular. You know how it got its name, don’tcha?”
Emily shook her head.
“It’s a known fact that back in the thirties, there was a herd of moose used to roam these parts. People say one winter night, when the ground was froze so hard you could chill your beer right outside the back door, something came flying outta the sky, something round and shiny with lights all around.” He moved his hands dramatically into the shape of an orb.
“What? Like a UFO?” Emily asked.
“There’s some folks say that’s exactly what it was. Didn’t make a sound. Just sat over them trees, spinnin’ and shinin’ its lights, in a pattern-like. Well, that UFO, or whatever it was, scared that herd of moose. Chased them right on up to the edge of the bluff. But they was runnin’ so hard they couldn’t stop. So over they went. Leaped right out over the bluff and into the bay. Except the bay was froze solid. And them moose splattered like bugs on a windshield.”
Emily gave the man a skeptical look. He was grinning, and his brother was grinning even more.
“I didn’t think moose ran in herds,” Emily ventured.
“They don’t anymore!” the man said, laughing. And his brother laughed even harder, slapping the storyteller on the back.
“I love the way you tell that story,” he chortled.
Emily laughed, too. “I’ll have to remember that one.”
“Well, you have yourself a good trip. And enjoy that rug.”
“I will.”
Emily checked her watch and sighed. She’d be late picking up Stan at the golf course. Oh, well. He wouldn’t grumble. He’d be ensconced at the bar, contentedly nursing a brandy manhattan with his friend Malcolm until she arrived.
As she climbed into the Winnebago, Emily waved amiably at the silver-haired man in the fishing vest who was trying to fit a battered ice chest into the trunk of his 1995 Cadillac. A Fleetwood, of all things, Emily chuckled to herself. He could swim in that thing. To Emily’s great relief, he’d parked it with plenty of room between him and the RV.
Moose’s Leap. She laughed out loud. She’d have to remember to tell Stan that one.
An obnoxiously tinny version of Für Elise floated from her sweatshirt pocket. Emily smiled as she pushed the “talk” button.
“Hi, honey,” she said into the phone.
“Hello to you, too, babe,” said a deep, sexy voice that was definitely not her husband’s.
“Malcolm!”
“Looks like your husband’s squawk box ran out of juice. Just checking in to let you know I beat the pants off him and you can pick us up anytime you like,” Malcolm said.
Emily checked the caller I.D. on her phone’s tiny screen and sighed. “If I could have a dollar for every time he’s forgotten to charge that thing…”
“We’d go dancing all night long at the Starlight Ballroom. Your treat, babe, ‘cause you’d be rich and sassy,” Malcolm rumbled.
Emily grinned. She remembered now why she enjoyed Malcolm’s company so much. He had a way of making a woman—even one who spent her mornings garage saling—feel sexy and appreciated.
“I’ll be there in twenty. Tell that husband of mine I expect him to buy me lunch.”
[-END EXCERPT-]
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Books Sold - 6 Nov 2011 to 31 May 2012

Some of you have asked me for my total number of books sold to evaluate KDP Select so here it is. Bear in mind, that results will vary based on genre and author. Good luck and remember, Keep Moving Forward.

Total - 120,836

1. Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Amazon Kindle - 42,559
Paperback -
Smashwords -

2. Frequent Traveller
Amazon Kindle - 35277
Paperback -
Smashwords -

3. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 1
Amazon Kindle - 462
Smashwords -

4. Mirror Me Martha (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 281
Smashwords -

5. Drive On Hope (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 190
Smashwords -

6. Blog-A-Licious Directory 2012
Amazon Kindle - 1
Smashwords -

7. Pandora's Reading Room 1
Amazon Kindle -
Paperback - N/A

8. The Cat That Barked (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle -

9. Dora's Essentials - Examining Anxiety
Amazon Kindle -

10. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 2
Amazon Kindle -

11. Elevenses from Around the World
Amazon Kindle -

12. Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Amazon Kindle -

Blog-A-Licius - Sherbet Blossom

SherbetBlossom

Blog-A-Licious

Dealightfully Frugal

Blog-A-Licious - The Few, The Proud, The Wife

Blog-A-Licious

My Soul Slippers

Blog-A-Licous - Textbook Mommy

Blog-A-Licious - Blue Frogs Legs

Blog-A-Licious - Pretty All True

Pretty All True

Blog-A-Licious - tbaoo

tbaoo

Blog-A-Licious

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Blog-A-Licious - The Invisible Art

Blog-A-Licious - Rediscovering Domesticity

Rediscovering Domesticity

Blog-A-Licious - Quiver Full

Blog-A-Licious - Cori's Big Mouth

Blog-A-Licious - Great Fun

Greatfun4kids

Blog-A-Licious - Busy Wife

Blog-A-Licious - Steps To Happiness

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Blog-A-Licious - Toby & Max


Blog-A-Licious - Amelie

Raising Amelie

Blog-A-Licious - Peas In A Pod

Blog-A-Licious - Riley

Blognostics - Poetry

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My Awards - September 2010

My Awards - September 2010
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My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
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My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
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My Awards - April 2011
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My Awards - June 2011

My Awards - June 2011
Awarded By Sulekha Rawat

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