FD's Page


He packed everything, giving one last glance at the reason he was leaving.
Memories hid in every corner of the empty room. He could still see Mimi tending her herb garden in the window box every morning, her soft, whispery voice woeing them as tenderly as she'd woed him the night before. Across the room he could see Tamara skipping about her Fisher Price table with Zoey, her favorite doll, singing happily.
He smiled at the memories until they faded quietly into the past.
He stood at the door and took a final look at the empty house.  That last morning he'd stood there kissing Mimi good-bye, while Tamara stood between them, squeezing at his knees. 
He felt a hand on his shoulder. "Taj, it's time to go," Vince said quietly.
He nodded, shut the door and followed Vince back to his jeep where Boscoe, the mut Mimi had found, waited. He'd never liked dogs but couldn't say no to her, Tamara or the puppy.
Now Boscoe was all he had.  He'd survived the accident.
"You all right, buddy," Vince asked, watching Taj from the corner of his eye.  He nodded, staring out the window as he rubbed Boscoe's  shaggy head. "You're gonna like it at Prestonwood, I promise you."
Taj smiled but said nothing until he turned the key in the door of  his new condo.
"Boscoe, we're home," he called, as the dog bounded inside, sniffing about curiously.
"Check this out," Vince said, ripping open the draperies, "you're on the eighteenth hole, man!"
Taj laughed. "You know I'm not into golfing like the rest of you guys in the office."
"Come on, we're playing with golden boy and Mr. Whitman Saturday morning!"
Taj closed the draperies. " You wake me up Saturday morning and the only thing I'm going to be swinging at is you."
Vince laughed good naturedly as they got busy unpacking for the rest of the afternoon.
Afterwards, they sat on the floor, each nursing a beer. Vince had made plans to meet the guys down at the sports bar to watch the fight. Taj agreed reluctantly but said nothing. 
Later, he was glad for the time alone as he placed sentimental pieces like pictures in the bedroom and Tamara's favorite drawings on the refrigerator.  They made the place cozy.
"It's just you and me, boy," he said, rubbing Boscoe's head as the dog laid faithfully at his feet. He'd come close to a mental breakdown - thinking he saw Mimi in the kitchen or hearing Tamara's giggles from her bedroom. Boscoe was the only thing he was sure was real.
Vince had finally convinced him to move out of the home he'd shared with Mimi, for sanity's sake. So here he was in a strange place, alone.
The weeks ahead, he hung out with Vince and the guys at  ball games, playing cards  or golfing with Mr. Whitman.  But he soon grew tired of going out and found his own routine of getting dinner then taking Boscoe on long evening walks.
One evening he followed along as Boscoe aimlessly led the way, sniffing and relieving himself at every bush.  Then suddelnly he was on the trail of an unsuspecting cat until his owner, a hauntingly beautiful woman, scooped him up in her arms. Boscoe barked fiercely.
"I see the two of you walking all the time," the woman said, standing, as the evening sun struck her familiar face. It was too familiar.
Taj  backed away slowly, not sure who or what she was.  Boscoe whimpered uncertainly. Taj tighted the leash, pulling the dog away as they left in a hurry.
  "No, it can't be," he whispered, as they reached the front door. Was he loosing his mind after all. He searched for his keys - where were  his keys.
"Looking for these?" the woman called up to him.
Taj felt the breath siphon right out of him for a moment as she stood dangling his keys.
She came up the stairs. "You dropped them  at the park. You look as though you've seen a ghost,"  she quipped, dropping the keys in his hands. "Are you all right?"
He gathered his wits about him and nodded, "Yea, I'm sorry about that. You just reminded me of someone."
"Oh, sorry I scared you off," she said, offended.
"No, I didn't mean it that way," Taj apologized, then sighed. "Let me explain, if you have a moment," he said, opening the door and inviting her in.
She hesitated, stroking her cat gently, then followed him inside. Boscoe was barking loudly and Taj told her he'd be right back after putting his water bowl down.
He left her gazing about the room  then returned to find her holding a picture of Mimi, disbelief on her face.
"Who is this? My god, it's like looking in a mirror."
Taj nodded. "My wife.  She and my daughter died in a car accident a year ago."
She looked at him, still shocked at the resemblence, then offered her condolences.  She studied the picture as they fired questions at one another, wondering if  she and Mimi could possibly be related.  It seemed doubtful.
"I suppose I understand your running off  now," she said, gazing up at him.
Taj smiled and petted the cat. "Who's your friend?"
"Oh, this is Miss Kitty.  I was watching that old western, with the red headed lady named Miss Kitty, and since she's an orange Tabby, I named her that."
Taj laughed, noticing the spark in her brown eyes. "And what does Miss Kitty call you?"
She gazed at him, smiling. "Lynda, Lynda Houston."
"I'm Taj McMillan," he said, offering his hand. Boscoe made his way into the room again and barked sharply. "And this is Boscoe."
She laughed. "I'm afraid he wants a piece of Miss Kitty."
Taj laughed and held the dog back.  "No, his water bowl's empty. I'll be right back."
She tagged along after him, admiring the house.  In the kitchen, she noticed the drawings on the refrigerator.
"This must be your daughter's?"  He nodded. "How old was she?"
She studied the drawings, then Taj. "They're beautiful."
He filled Boscoe's water bowl again and watched him lap it up.   
"That plant could sure use some of that," Lynda quipped, getting a cup to water it.
"Thanks, I was never good with plants. Mimi always---"
He stopped abruptly. She smiled,  understanding it pained him to think of  her.
The doorbell rang, reminding him of  the poker game. How could he explain Lynda, looking like Mimi, to the guys.  It was too weird.
"You've got company," Lynda noted, sensing his uneasiness. "You won't mind if we just slip out the back door?"
"Ah, sure," he said, relieved, as he followed them to the door. He watched her disappear down the stairs into the dark. "Hey, thanks for bringing my keys."
She nodded and hurried off with Miss Kitty.

Poker had been the last thing on his mind and he'd lost pitifully last evening. He'd taken a ribbing from the guys at work.  But Vince had said very little until on the way home.
"Who is she?"
Taj ignored him while they waited for the light to change.
"Come on, Taj, your place reeked of  some sexy perfume last night. So, who is she?"
Taj laughed. Curiosity was eating Vince. "Okay, I met her when  I took Boscoe for a walk."
"That's it," he shrugged, feeling Vince's probing eyes.
He laughed secretively, giving Taj a high five. "All right, my man's back!"
Taj  just shook his head, deciding to skip the details of how she resembled Mimi.
But a week later, he and Boscoe hadn't seen Lynda since the evening  they'd met.  He was beginning to wonder if  she was real or was his mind playing tricks on him again.
"She was real, wasn't she boy,"  he said quietly to Boscoe, as he turned out the lights that night. But even Vince had  gotten a whiff  of  that intoxicating  perfume she'd worn.  She was real all right - real enough  to make him feel achy inside at thought of her.  There was something about her, something more than the fact that she looked like Mimi.  He certainly wasn't fool enough to confuse the two.  No, it was her eyes, that sparkle  he'd noticed every time he looked at her.
"I miss you," he whispered to the picture on the nightstand. "But it gets so lonely, and I..."
He couldn't go on.  He curled up and prayed for sleep, to ease the pain.

The pillow was empty next to him.  He'd awakened from a dream so real, he was sure Mimi would be lying next to him.  She wasn't.
He slid from bed, glad it was Saturday.  Boscoe stood and stretched too, then followed Taj to the bathroom.  He sat at the door watching his every mood.
"Can I have a little privacy," Taj groaned, closing the door to relieve himself.  Afterwards, Boscoe still waited.  "Okay, your turn," he said, dressing quickly as Boscoe dashed out ahead of him.  He waited by the door with his leash in his mouth.
Taj laughed. Mimi and Tamara had taught him that.
He knelt,  putting on the leash. "Yea, you remember too, don't you?"  The dog whimpered then tugged eagerly at his leash. "All right, let's go."
The morning chill was like jumping into a cold pool, shocking his warm, dark skin.  Boscoe bounded down the stairs, making Taj skip two just to keep up.
"Slow down, boy, the park's that way!"
Boscoe ran in the opposite direction until they'd run headlong into Lynda.
Taj stopped short, panting as the cold air stripped his lungs.
Lynda stood laughing,  the sun striking her brown eyes brightly.  "Morning!"
Taj couldn't speak, the wind temporarily siphoned out of  him from the mad chase Boscoe had taken him on. Or was it Lynda's brown eyes and warm smile that left him breathless?
"Oh," Lynda said, her smile fading, "it's the looking-like-your-wife thing, isn't it?"
"No, it's not that," Taj spoke up. "It's just nice seeing you again." She smiled but he felt guilty admitting it. Then it was as though Mimi was standing right beside him and he heard her soft voice. "It's all right. I sent her to you."
All this time she'd been talking to him. The voices in his heart was Mimi. 
"Taj," Lynda was calling.
"I almost gave up looking for you, but Boscoe found you."
Lynda knelt, rubbing his head. "Good boy." She giggled at his sloppy kisses.
"I think he misses Miss Kitty."
She gazed up at Taj. "Me too. She's gone."  She paused, her brown eyes misty. "You know how she could get away. Well she ran into the sreet and...."
"I'm sorry," Taj cut in,  offering his hand as she stood.
"I know she's just a stupid cat."
He squeezed her hand tenderly.  "You loved her is all that matters." She squeezed back, making him ache inside. "Look, ahm, I know I'm no replacement for Miss Kitty, but if you'd like some company..."
"I'd love some,"  she said smiling, then admitted hesitantly, "I wanted to see you again,Taj, I just didn't think you were ready."
He gazed off for a moment,  afraid of opening up to her. "Go on," urged Mimi's voice from his heart.  "I hadn't been until I met you."
Her hand slid from his as she turned away.  "And I'm not just some replacement for your," she hesitated, "for your wife?"
"No, Lynda, you're  not," he said, turning her toward him again. "Maybe it was your resemblence of her that got us talking, something I hadn't been able to do with any woman until you."  He paused, looking into her eyes. "But talking with you that eveing, looking at the pictures of Mimi together, and Tamara's drawings on the refrigerator---"
"And that pitiful plant I watered."
Taj laughed and looked tenderly at her. "Yea, that too. I knew you were someone special, someone I wanted to see again."
She nodded, satisfied at his honesty. "Have breakfast with me?" He nodded. " How about it Boscoe?"  He barked loudly as she patted his head. "I could use another little friend like you."
Then she gazed at Taj. "I just hope Miss Kitty's happy."
Suddenly, Taj could hear Tamara's giggles clear as a bell ringing in his heart.  Miss Kitty had found a new friend of  her own.
"She is," Taj said quietly, tucking Lynda's hand into his, just as he tucked the voices deep in his heart where they would always be to comfort him.

About Morning

by FD...

Dad always was an early riser. I guess it was just his nature to get up every morning at the crack of dawn and have his morning coffee just as the sun peeped above the cornfields that surrounded our house in the country. As long as I can remember that was his morning routine.

It was about morning when he left this world. Just before dawn, Mom said. On that June morning when his soul was required of him, it seemed only befitting that it, too, would get up early and rise into glory.

News of his passing was hardly unexpected, but came as a blessed relief. For I'd seen the shell of a man left after years of suffering with influenza. The man I knew, my dad, was hiding somewhere deep within that shell.

About mourning ....

I mourned the man who'd slipped away long before that June morning. It was an autumn evening that came to mind when me and my husband took the children to visit.

Dad was a great storyteller. As a child, I'd sat through many a tale and by now I'd heard most a hundred times. Now my kids listened, eagerly hanging on to every word. His raspy old voice soon grew breathless and weak as the influenza took its toll. Then, out of breath, he waved a frail hand to me as though, "you know the rest''. For the first time, he'd given up on telling one of his stories. It was at that moment that I sensed something deep inside of him died.

I mourned for him that evening as we drove home down I40 which seemed as though it was the highway of life. For it was my own life that flashed before my eyes, recalling fond memories of dad.

I had always been a 'daddy's girl,' or better yet, a 'tomboy'. I would follow him in the dusty fields, matching my small footprints in the middle of his huge size twelve ones. I'd follow him through the woods, sometimes hunting for small game, sometimes just for a sprig of rabbit tobacco tea to soothe a winter cold. Sunday afternoons I'd follow him to the fish pond behind the house where we'd sit by the bank and toss bread crumbs to the fish. By days end, I'd sit by him out in the cool night air under the pecan trees and listen to his great old stories.

After that trip home, I knew I'd never hear another one of his stories again. I cried for him - and for me.

About mourning - some thought I never did.

I mourned as I sat through midnight hours fanning him to keep him comfortable. Bedridden, he craved the cool breezes from the pecan trees.

I mourned as I took a cool sponge to his dry, parched lips that longed for a cold glass of water like I used to bring him in the hot tobacco fields. Now his withering, frail body rejected the cool, life sustaining fluid.

I mourned the day he came home from the hospital for the last time. He wanted to pass on at home, without any heroic measures from medical personnel. I grieved at each tiny step he took into the house, knowing I helped with his last steps just as he'd once helped me with my first.

Yes, I mourned, but now I rejoice - that he's free!

Dad lives on in my heart, in my memories and in my dreams.

Not long ago I dreamt of him. I was running through this falling house and as I reached the porch, the roof caved in. Then I saw him standing there, bigger than life, holding up that roof as I passed safely through.

That dream was a shinning testimony of his life. He was always a pillar of strength to us all, especially in his last days. Since that dream, I have such peace in my soul, knowing he's still with me, still watching over his little girl.

When I awoke, it was just about morning - his favorite time of day.




by FD

What on earth had possessed her to honor a dying man's last request?

Liza Taborne slipped quietly into "LeShay's", the restaurant where'd they'd

agreed to meet. At least he had good taste, she thought, as her brown eyes

scanned the crowd. What could she possibly say to him? They'd never even

been friends, for heaven's sake!

Maybe her friends were right. She was on an ego trip. But what woman

wouldn't be flattered to be the last wish of a dying man. Deon Paxton, a

high school classmate, wanted to spend just one evening alone with her.

So maybe she was self-centered and egotistical. She'd always liked the finer

things of life - a fine house, a fine car, and a fine man. Lord knows Deon

Paxton had never interested her. She'd had no idea who he was until she dug

out her high school year book. He was that tall, willowy boy who'd worn

trousers two sizes too small and two inches too short. A real nerd - always

had his head in a book, which accounted for those hideous bifocals he wore.

She stood with folded arms, waiting. She panicked. He wasn't coming. This

was all some twisted joke of her friends, or maybe Deon himself. She

suddenly remembered the practical joke she and her friends had pulled on

him and she'd stood him up for the Harvest dance. This was payback.

"I'm outta here,", she told herself, hurrying out the door.


She glanced at the hand that grabbed her arm, then at the tall, handsome man

that watched her. The glasses were gone and deep brown eyes stared back.


He nodded, apologizing, "I know I'm late, but please, don't leave."

"No, I was afraid I was at the wrong place," she lied, noticing the svelte

black Armani that showed off his well-built physique.

He took her hands gently in his, admiring the sleek, silver dress that

hugged her petite frame at every curve. The hair was different, in a short,

sophisticated curly cut, framing her soft brown cheeks. She'd gotten even

prettier since high school, blossoming into her full womanhood.

"It's great seeing you again. Thanks for coming."

"My pleasure," she lied again, then added thoughtfully, "Deon, I'm so


"Please," he stopped her. "Let's just catch up on old times."

Liza nodded, accepting the arm he offered as they were escorted to their

table by the window overlooking Siler's Bay.

"I have to admit I've wanted to do this since the first time I saw you."

She glanced away, watching the evening light dance on the water. "Deon, it

took you twelve years to ask me out."

He gave a huge boyish grin. "What can I say? I'm a late bloomer."

She laughed as they relaxed over drinks and got reacquainted. Deon was a

personal trainer. He and a friend owned a chain of gyms about town. He'd

done well for himself. And that accounted for his impeccable physique, she


"What about you," he asked, staring into his drink. "You were the prettiest

and best dressed girl at Brasswell. I'd guess you're in the fashion


Liza smiled, thinking he read her well. "Yes, I'm a buyer for a major

clothing line. I buy from the finest shops in Italy, France and the runways

of Paris."

He arched his brows, impressed, then laughed softly, "Woman, you were born

to shop!"

They lingered over dinner, reminiscing, and laughing about their childish

pranks. Only Deon and his friends had often been the butt of her friend's

unkind pranks.

"I'm really sorry about back then."

"We were all kids," he reminded, letting her off the hook.

Later, as they left LeShay's, Liza admitted, "I don't know when I've had so

much fun."

"Me either," Deon admitted, taking a deep draw of evening air. "There's not

been much to laugh about lately."

"I'm sorry," she consoled, squeezing his hand gently. "What's going on with


He hesitated, his jaw grimacing as he glanced across the bay. "There's this

thing - in my head, that's growing so quickly, I probably won't ---" He

stopped, his words caught in this throat. Liza just nodded, understanding

perfectly. His hand brushed her cheek. "Why'd you come tonight, Liza?"

"As a friend ---"

"Come on, Liza. We were never friends, and you know it. I'm just glad you

didn't stand me up again."

Scorned, she glanced away, her cheeks burning. "Then why'd you want me to

come, Deon? Is that what this is really about? To get back at me?"

He sighed and looked deeply at her, his face full of pain and anger. "Of

course not, but I've wondered all these years Liza, if you could ever like

me. I knew I was never good enough."

"Don't say that," she pleaded quietly, with remorse. And yet she'd come

tonight because of her over-sized ego. "No, it's me who's not good enough

for you."

He leaned against the light post, shoving his hands deep in his pockets.

"Look, I never intended to hurt you."

"No, it's good we cleared the air," she assured timidly. I hope we can enjoy

the rest of the evening, that is, if you still want my company."

"Of course I do," he said, his deep brown eyes sparkling again, "unless I'm

keeping you from something, or someone."

Liza nodded. "No, you're not. Tonight's your night."

He pushed himself off the post again and offered his hand. She slipped hers

in his tenderly as they resumed walking along the waterfront, browsing the

quaint little shops. They talked and laughed easily together again. She

was touched when Deon stopped in one of the shops and bought her a beautiful

crystal angel. He said it was her guardian angel.

"Oh, I love angels," she crooned softly.

"I remember," he said, "like the poem you wrote, 'On The Wings of an Angel'.

"Oh my god," Liza cried, her heart racing, "you remember that!"

He nodded. "English Lit. You were so nervous the day you read it."

She gazed into his kind eyes. No one had ever made her feel so special.

They heard the bellow of the river boat coming to port.

On an impulse, Deon took her by the hand, shouting, "Let's go dancing!" Liza

laughed and followed along.

The evening was magical out on the water as soft breezes fluttered by under

a moonlit, starry sky. The band was lively and they danced endlessly. Then

the tempo slowed and Deon held her close, humming softly in her ear.

"Paris doesn't hold a candle to this," she whispered contentedly.

She could see he was pleased as he looked down into her eyes. A finger

stroked her cheek. His dark eyes probed hers, searching for approval. Her

soft lips parted ever so slightly, inviting him closer until she felt his

mouth sweet and tender against hers.

She wanted time to stand still, loosing them in this moment forever.

It was over, as was their evening and they left the boat shortly. The

walked arm in arm back to her car.

"When can I see you again?"

He hesitated, then faced her. "There's not much time, Liza."

"It's never too late to be a friend," she said kindly.

He smiled, unable to deny himself her friendship, and nuzzled her close.

"You know something, I think you're my guardian angel, since the day I heard

your poem. I'd like to hear it again."

She thought for a moment, then closed her eyes softly.

On the Wings of an Angel

Soaring toward the Kingdom

Feet dancing

Lips singing

Of New Found Freedom

Hearts Mending

Souls Shouting

Our Sins Redeemed

I'm headed for the Kingdom

On the Wings of an Angel

Liza opened her eyes knowing they'd be friends all eternity.



Back in Time by "FD"

Beatlemania took America by storm in the early sixities when I was only five and a bright- eyed, chubby-cheeked little "colored" girl from down south. Sunday nights I'd sit close to our black and white TV set with its aluminum foiled rabbit ears and watch the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show.

That was about as risque' as life got back then on a Sunday night.

My forty-fifth birthday prompted these rambling reflections of my childhood that came to mind like broken fragments of time. It also prompted bouts of depression as I wondered where had the time gone.

Looking back, I remember the rambling old house we lived in with its wrap around porch and red tin roof. Out back were storage barns, pig pens, chicken coops and tobacco barns with plenty of chores for eight, restless kids. I often plucked the weeds from the vegetable garden as well as an occasional plump, juicy tomato fresh off the vine. And there was mother's flower gardens to tend that surrounded the house in an array of colorful blooms fit for the cover of Better Homes and Gardens.

Long, hot summer days were spent playing hide-and-go-seek as we ran barefeet over sun-baked rocks. Then us girls would make ruby red lipstick from blackberries and matching fingernails from colorful flower petals. Needless to say, mother took a switch to our legs for ruining her flower beds.

We'd play late into the evening, stopping only for supper, then back out to catch fireflies and string them up as glow-in-the-dark necklaces. When the dark set in, we'd take smooth, white rocks and strike them together to make sparks in the night.

Even rainy days were fun listening to the patter of rain on a tin roof. We'd drag out old wooden chairs, turn them upside down and drape sheets over them to make tents on the porch. Then we'd play house with our big, blue-eyed, smudge-faced baby dolls with matted blond hair. Black baby dolls were rare back then. But after the rain, we'd sculpt our own earth brown babies from the mud and lay them out to bake in the sun.

While these were all fond memories, my fondest memories are those of my parents who instilled a love of the written word in me. From my father, I took his love of storytelling and from mother, her love of reading. Neither of them made it pass the sixth grade, but both were avid readers.

I remember kneeling by mother's side at night, my head in her lap, and listening to her sometimes stumbling voice as she read to me. And my first book was a little prayer book that taught the simple child's prayer "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep..." ending with a list of God bless mommy, God bless daddy ---

"And, oh God, bless John, Paul, George and Ringo, too."

Morgan's Soul by "FD"

Morgan wiggled his big toe peeking out of the hole in
his shoe. The sole had worn through - like his
own tired soul. Blood-red eyes grew heavy as he
settled under a huge oak on Chalmers Street,
hidden from passers by who dropped their heads at
sight of him. Some looked through him like he
was transparent. Others stared like he was some mangey stray.

He laughed, remembering how he'd once belonged to the
rat-race with its dog-eat-dog mentality. He'd climbed
the corporate ladder, made good money, and all
for his wife, Jasmine.

Both had sucked the life right out of him 'til he had
nothing left to give.

But he'd found peace on Chalmers Street. He only
needed a place to rest his head and one square meal a
day. He amused himself watching others caught up in this
tangled web of life.

Take the Swansons across the street who struggled with
alcoholism or the Richardson boys who slowly drove
their mother to an early grave, and Bobby, the tall,
blond pretty boy searching for his sexual identity.

Morgan sighed, glad he'd stripped himself of
society's bondage. There was only one thing that made
him miss his old life.

Miss Sasha Loran in the house on the corner. He longed
for the warmth of a woman again. He'd stolen midnight
glances through her bedroom window, like
watching some strip tease show. She was easy on
the eyes, all right, but there was something else
about her. Something tender and good - the way she
sometimes left a hot TV dinner neatly wrapped on top
of the garbage he scavenged. She was a good woman,
a sharing woman. But she shared with everyone - gentlemen,
who came calling in their chauffeured
limousines. They used her. He wondered how
long before she'd be all used up.

Morgan's eyes closed at thought of Sasha, wishing he
could take her away from that life.

Once again his eye lids grew heavy with sleep. While
he'd thought of Sasha, it was Jasmine who invaded his
dreams. He could see her wickedly beautiful face,
with its pouting lips, and a claw-like finger
pointing at him, scolding as always. She hurled insult
after insult, belittling his manhood, while he stood
helpless like some cartoon figure,
getting smaller and smaller and smaller,
until poof - and he was gone! She would storm out of
the house, threatening to leave him for a man
who could give her the lifestyle she deserved.

Even in his dreams he could still hear the tires
screaming as Jasmine's car tore out of the driveway.

Tires screaming - so loud that Morgan bolted upright
in a cold sweat. Down the street he could see a car
speeding away. It had left Sasha lying
on the sidewalk. He cleared the fog from his head
and hurried down the street until he stood over her
bruised face and busted lip.

"Miss Sasha," he called, as she groaned. He found her
keys, scooped her up and took her inside quickly
before someone saw him. He laid her on the sofa.

Her apartment was spotless. He searched for a towel
and antiseptic as she came through, frightened at
sight of him.

"It's okay," he calmed. "I won't hurt you."
She nodded awkwardly, recognizing him. "You're that
homeless man, aren't you?"

"I'm Morgan," he answered, mopping the corner of her
mouth with the towel.

"I guess you're wondering---"

"No more than you're wondering about me," he said
easily. "Besides, I owe you one for all those TV dinners."
Lord knows it was more than Jasmine had ever done.

Her swollen lip smiled then trembled as a fine mist
clouded big brown eyes. "Thanks for taking care of me."
She sighed with resignation, her soul tired and worn - all used up.
"Morgan, stay 'til sunlight, please?" she asked, fear in her eyes.

He looked at his soiled, torn clothes and she looked
at her soiled, torn dress. Then they looked at one
another. In a glance, they'd found the trust they'd lost.

Sasha offered a trembling hand. Morgan accepted,
closing up the hole in his soul.

If you ever get a hankering for the open seas, taking a cruise will
certainly whet your sailing appetite. I've had the pleasure of cruising to
the sandy beaches and endless blue seas of the Caribbean where balmy breezes
blow the sweet nectar of tropical foliage.

I find cruising most appealing because it's like two vacations rolled into
one. Being on a cruiseliner is a vacation in itself, only to reach a much
anticipated destination is another vacation all together!

My most recent excursion to the islands was aboard Royal Caribbean's
"Majesty of the Sea". The ship was majestic, to say the least, with its
lofty ballrooms and huge dining salons. Just as those slick TV ads claim,
there is something for everyone. "In the morning, in the evening, have we
got fun..." or however the jingle goes. Anyway, you can participate as often
as you like in ship activities or you can spend a quiet day relaxing by the
pool, in the sauna or better yet, indulging in a wonderful Swedish massage.
And there's always food - in the morning, in the evening, even at midnight!
Then there are shows to catch, movie theaters, casinos, shops to browse,
workout rooms, basketball courts, and the list goes on.

But that's only the beginning of your adventure. Once you reach the islands,
you're in a whole new world just waiting to be discovered. Again those slick
ads come to mind of the typical tourist. You pull out your trusted camera to
capture the sights, pose with the natives, sample strange, exotic foods, and
party in the streets to the beat of steel drum bands, while sipping a
tropical delight reeking of rum. And if you're a shopper, you're really in
paradise! There are lots of open markets and shops where natives will barter
for your dollars. Later, I tend to veer from the beaten path and discover
the true flavor of the islands and the people.

Perhaps the most memorable moment of my vacation is simply standing alone on
deck at night as the moonlight kiss the dark sea. I listen to the purr of
the engine as the ship slices effortlessly through the water, peeling back
sheets of frothy sea, leaving a cool mist on my face. And as I watch the
vastness of sea and sky melt into one, for that moment, I too, become one
with the universe. It's an awesome feeling that lingers in the soul.

Now that I've conjured up all these memories, I've got that hankering again.
Visions of some sexy island boy emerging from the cool, blue Caribbean sea,
summoning ... "Come to Jamaica."

I think that's my cue to book another cruise!

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