Tag Archives: New York

An Excerpt from Neighborhood Witch

Neighborhood Witch is still available for free download through Thursday!  If you haven’t downloaded a copy yet, here’s a taste of what you’re missing:

“Dios mio, nena,” Celia gasped as she surveyed the wreckage of her daughter’s living room. “What happened here?”

“I was hoping you could tell me,” Aracelli answered as she righted an overturned bookshelf.  Celia didn’t envy her the task of picking up and re-organizing that big stack of books.

“Me?” Celia asked. “How would I know?”

“When I got home, Brian was lying in the middle of the floor,” Aracelli said as she picked up a few books and put them on the shelves. “He was burning up with fever and shaking like a leaf with the chills.”

Celia made a sympathetic noise, but otherwise said nothing.  Aracelli liked to build her case and present all the evidence before she said something that was hard to believe.  It was part of what made her a good cop.

“He was delirious, too.  Talking about how he’d been seeing things, hearing things…even smelling things.” She paused and took a very deep breath.  Her face looked calm, but Celia could see that she was gripping the book in her hands so hard that her knuckles were turning white.  It was one of Brian’s books, something about darkness and monsters.  Strange that such a gentle soul enjoyed reading about violence so much.

“Do you know what he said to me, mami?”

Celia shook her head.

“He said ‘God, love, I’m so scared.  I’m so scared.  How bad is it if I’m hallucinating?’  That’s what he said.”

Then she took another deep breath, relaxed her grip on the book, and put it on the shelf.

“After that, he went all delirious again, and he started raving.  Talking about seeing faces in the mirror and shadows moving in the corners.  About things flying around the room and sticking in the walls and food rotting in the fridge.”

That caught Celia’s attention.

“The food?” She asked.

“We got some nice steaks last night for our anniversary,” Aracelli answered. “They’re maggot meat now.  The vegetables look like they’ve been in the fridge for a month, and the milk is green.”

“You would’ve just ruined it anyway,” Celia said as she started to look around the room. “The things stuck in the walls?”

Aracelli put a hand on her shoulder and, when she looked back, pointed up.

Celia followed the finger.

Then she blinked.

Stuck in the ceiling were a butcher knife, a screwdriver, a variety of tableware, and a nail file.

“Connnnyo,” Celia breathed.

“When I got home, Brian was too weak to stand,” Aracelli said. “He was much too sick to, I don’t know, take the stepladder and pound those things into the ceiling with a hammer or something.”

Celia nodded in agreement.  That was not what had happened here.

“Can you think of anything you mighta done to make the spirits mad at you?” she asked.

Aracelli shook her head.  It might have been strange to some of her fellow cops to see her talking so matter-of-factly about spirits – that’s why she didn’t talk about it with them – but she’d seen her mother at work often enough that it wasn’t a question of belief or doubt for her: magic and spirits were as real as handcuffs and perps.  She just didn’t want to carry on the family business, which was something else they fought about.

“I thought that might be it,” she said. “I was trying to think of what we could’ve done…but then I saw the mail.”

Okay, this “building the case” business was starting to get annoying. “The mail?” Celia demanded. “What about the mail?”

“Here,” Aracelli said, picking up a package from a nearby table. “Take a look at this.”

Celia looked at her doubtfully as she took the package, then turned her eyes to the package itself.

Then her eyes went very wide.

She started to shout “conyo”, then corrected herself to “Ay, Dios mio!” It wouldn’t do to swear with this thing in her hands, and calling upon God might help.

She threw the package to the floor (something inside screeched in outrage), snatched a vial out of her purse and poured the contents all over it.  Billows of blood-colored steam rose from the package, and the thing inside it squealed and died.

Grimly, she turned to Aracelli, who was staring wide-eyed.

“Imp,” she said. “This was like a magical letter bomb.”

Aracelli went pale. “I could tell something bad was in there, but…wait.  What was that you poured on it?”

Celia held up the small, square glass bottle, which had crosses carved on all four faces.  “Holy water,” she answered.

“You carry holy water in your purse?”

“And this is why.”

“Good point.” Aracelli sighed and turned her attention back to the sodden package. “So how do I get some?  Do you have to buy it, or can you just take some out of the font, or – “

“Don’t worry, I got a bulk supplier.”

Aracelli looked at her quizzically.  “There are bulk suppliers for holy water?”

“I have coffee with Padre Sandoval every Wednesday, and he’s always glad to – “ She noticed that one of Aracelli’s eyebrows had gone up. “…what?”

“Coffee?” Aracelli teased. “Is that what they’re calling it these days?”

Coffee,” Celia snapped.  Aracelli immediately raised her hands in surrender, her face a picture of “if-you-say-so” innocence.

“I’m not sayin’ I wouldn’t do it,” Celia continued, mollified. “When he was young, he was a real Father What-A-Waste.  But he likes to follow the letter of the law, tu sabes?  Probably just as well.  Might mess up the holy water if he broke his vows.  Besides…” she gave a lecherous grin. “I like ‘em younger.  Nice young stallion, to ride all night.”

Aracelli made a face. “Ew, mother!”

“You started it.  Now…” Celia turned her attention back to the package. “Who did you piss off, that they would send you something like this?”

Aracelli just looked at the package and shook her head. “I’m a cop, mami.  I piss off people every day, most of them from this neighborhood.”

“And any one of them could have hired a bruja,” Celia finished. “Conyo.”

“Well yeah, but how many brujas even are there?  Real ones, I mean.  There can’t be that many.”

“Es verdad.” Celia rubbed one of her medallions as she thought. “Hmm.  It has to be someone en el barrio.  Someone who could get Brian’s hair or something – that’s the only way this could be hitting him so hard.  And it has to be someone who’s either smart enough to know that you’re too strong and too protected…or just plain mean enough to want to come at you through him in the first place.  Maybe both.  Hmm.”

It must’ve been in the way she “hmm”-ed.  Her daughter knew her too well.

“You know who it is, don’t you?” Aracelli accused.

“I got some ideas.”

“Good,” she said, turning toward the bedroom she shared with Brian. “Let me just get my – “


Aracelli looked back. “No?”

“No gun,” Celia said. “You shoot somebody, you maybe go to jail.  That’s not winning.” Her face split in a broad and wicked grin. “The whole point of magic, when a gun is so much easier, is that there’s no way to test for it.  Now: did the attack ruin everything in your kitchen?”

Hurry on over and pick up a free copy before it’s too late!  And as always, while you’re there, check out the rest of the library!


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Bad News…and Good News!

Hey, all.

Sorry I had to take down the chapters of Dreams of the Boardwalk that I had posted.  It seems that Amazon doesn’t appreciate it when you try to sell something that’s available online for free, even if what’s online for free is a first draft that went on to be significantly revised.

But that brings us to the good news: Dreams of the Boardwalk is completed and going up this week!  Stay tuned – just a couple days until everything is ready, and then Dreams of the Boardwalk will be available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats!



Filed under Fantasy, Fiction

Johnny T’s Tips For Riding The New York Subway

Some of you may remember Johnny T.  A few months ago, he gave us some very useful advice for tourists visiting New York City.

Well now, Johnny has some equally useful advice on how to ride the New York subway without being a jerk.

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Red Molly’s Pictures of New York #3

Just a few this week.

On July 26, Red Molly and I went to Central Park, where one of our friends was stage managing a small theatre company’s performance of Love’s Labours Lost.  I’d actually give you the name of the company and the remaining performance dates (and locations; they were performing “on the green” in several parks throughout the City), but the run is finished.  Sorry.  It was a good show.

Anyway, we arrived just a few minutes before the show, and went to dinner right after, but in the time we were there, we got a few interesting pictures.

First, to quote Red Molly:

Oh, hai Balto!

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While some of you maybe familiar with Balto from the (OMG twenty years old) children’s move, how many of you knew that it was a true story?  Balto deserves his bronze statue and all the dog treats.

Then, during a quick trip to the restrooms near Bethesda Fountain, Red Molly caught a view of the Mall that she just needed to capture:

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More to come soon!


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AIDS Walk 2014

AIDS Walk 2014

So today, I took part in the AIDS Walk New York, 2014.

I’m pretty tired.  Normally, six miles wouldn’t wear me out this much, but there was a lot of standing around ahead of time while we listened to a seemingly endless list of speakers.  Some of them had powerful and moving things to say, of course, but most just seemed to want to pat us, and themselves, on the back.  Standing always tires my legs more than walking.  Also, Red Molly and I did a lot of walking yesterday (as in ten miles, give or take), which probably wasn’t wise.  And of course, six miles is just the course itself, not…anyway!

It was a perfect day for a walk.  Bright and sunny, seventy degrees.  So much better than the misery of pouring rain that we had to slog through last year.

I was glad to do a little good.  It was easy enough to do.

(And so can you!  Just click on the banner and follow the link.  It’s not too late.)

But…I don’t feel proud.  All the cheering and whooping and back-patting from the stage felt wrong.

I wasn’t there when this march was something that took courage.  I’m not one of the people who has dedicated myself to a cause, or good works.  There are people who do that, who deserve the cheers.  I’m not one of them.  For me, it was just a pleasant walk in the sunshine.

I am an unworthy servant.  All I have done is my duty.

Not even, really.

It was just a little bit of good that was easy to do.  Sometimes I wish they’d just cool it with the shouting and the cheerleaders and the bands and the DJ’s and leave it at that.

Know what?  I’m going to tell myself that all that stuff was there for the guy who did the walk in a wheelchair.  That’s what I’m going to do.  He deserves it.

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Filed under Inspirations, My Life, New York Life

Horizon Review: Newsies


As I mentioned in a recent post, my parents came to visit last weekend, and as part of their visit, we stopped by TKTS and picked up some half-price tickets to see Newsies.  For those who don’t follow Broadway, Newsies is a Disney musical that opened in 2012 as a limited engagement, but which recouped its production costs more quickly than any other Disney musical, and has since become an open-ended production.  In its first year, it was nominated for seven Tony awards and won two (Best Choreography and Best Original Score).  The show is based on the 1992 Disney movie of the same name, and both are based on the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899.

That’s right.  Under all of the musical numbers and a thick layer of artistic license, there is an essentially true piece of New York City history here…which is actually something that makes me uncomfortable about it.  But I’ll get to that.
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Tips for Visiting NYC From A Native New Yorker

What?  Did you think I meant me?  I’ve only lived here since 2003.  I don’t know if I can even properly call myself a New Yorker yet, or if I have to wait until 2023.  Can any native New Yorkers help me wit’ that?

Anyway, as a relative noob, far be it from me to dispute a native like Johnny.  Still, I think I can soften some bits of his advice for you tourist jerks out there. Continue reading

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