Bits and pieces from my novels and short stories.
Sample: excerpt of novella Scrapper from
Gardens in the Cracks & Other Stories
Available on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and other eBook stores.
“You looking for a spot for that boy?” asked a stubble-faced man just stepping out from behind the thick refrigeration doors at the rear of his sand rig. He was rather squat, broad shouldered, ugly except for the smile he wore on his face. Bushy brows road low over his eyes which were laced with crow’s feet and sun spots, the bane of a busy teamster.
Marga wished she could say no and held her son Moekaff tight against her side. The slender three year old squirmed against her. She knew if she turned him loose, he would crawl under the rig to look at the sand thrusters. Though she knew it was safe to do that in the cool underground parking station of Riparia, Marga thought only of the desert sands overhead which, if a person were careless, could prove fatal. She nodded and watched the smile broaden on the face of the teamster.
He dusted off his hands and walked closer. She noticed a limp on his right side, and he caught her look. “Proves I’m a survivor. I’m careful, Ma’am. I don’t take the desert for granted, and I’m not careless with my scrappers none either.” He looked at the child, held out his hand and shook the small hand Moekaff extended out to him. “His father not come in this census?” Marga nodded again. The man tipped his head and said, “Happens too frequently. Perhaps he is just delayed. Occurs about as often as the real thing.” He squatted down, tugging at his thick tan pants, and looked at the boy. “My name’s Uzzon. What’s yours?”
“Moekaff Graber,” said the boy. “I like your rig.”
“Thank you. Do you want to drive one someday?”
The boy’s eyes announced his dreams clearly. “I’m finding rills and ravines for Mommy. She’s a farmer.”
“A damn good one, I bet.”
Uzzon patted the boy’s arm and stood. “Ma’am, I leave in three hours. If you want to leave him with me, I’ll take him now, or you can bring him by in two hours. But I leave on time.”
“Two hours,” Marga said. “I’ll bring him by then.” She winced then resigned herself. “How much can he take with him?”
Uzzon looked at the boy. “Pick out your two favorite toys. Together they can’t be bigger than this.” He held out his hands a foot, then turned them and shortened the distance by half. He looked again to Marga. “Don’t worry too much about a lot of clothes. It’s hot out there. Think in twos and heavy duty, plus what he’s got on. Just one extra pair of shoes though. I’ll keep him shod. The usual solar covers.” He turned away then looked back. “I keep them fed, too, but I wouldn’t say no to a couple of thick sib rolls, some bunta slices and a bag of dried currents for the road.”
“Two hours,” she repeated. “Come, Moekaff, let’s look for your sister.” Marga turned away from the rig and walked resolutely back to the main settlement area of Riparia. Only two days had passed since the census was read, yet all the ribbons and festoons of flowers were already gone along with the majority of the food stands and other stalls dependent on the yearly Census for their livelihood. It wouldn’t have mattered if the decorations and crowds continued to fill the underground river city. Marga would still have only noticed the many mothers towing their three-year-old boys toward the teamsters’ rally site, few walking away with a child unless it was a girl.”
“Mama,” said the boy, “I’m a teamster.”
“You’re a baby, my baby.”
“I’m a teamster!”
A woman’s voice came from behind Marga’s shoulder. “It's too late to retrain him now.”
Marga knew immediately who it was and turned around to face the farmer. “Tildy, if I want your advice, I’ll ask for it.”
“Marga, no one has ever had to ask me for advice. Your mind is sloppy over this census.” She shook her head in sympathy. “I’m just telling you that you can’t send that boy out now with ‘baby’ hanging over him. He is not going to be doing anything baby out there. Prepare him right or undue his birth.”
Marga’s voice showed her aggravation and weariness with her own fears. “What are you talking about?”
The large woman nodded gently though her voice remained instructive. “Exactly. So prepare him for what a scrapper does.”
The boy stepped between them, “I know scrappers do. They help, and I’m a good helper.”
Marga pulled the boy against her. She looked at the children surrounding her friend and was momentarily jealous. Seven girls stood close to the stout woman, each one nearly a carbon copy down to their pudding noses and mismatched colored eyes: each one a blonde, each one strong as nonexistent oxen, but more to the point, each one a girl. The smallest one clung to her mother’s side but freed up a hand to punch Moekaff with it. The boy tightened the skin around his dark eyes but said nothing.
Sample: Excerpt from Book 1 of Students of Jump, In Times Passed.
Bob said, "Brent, I know just what you should do: ask for your own spread, a big place, all the goodies and party. One law applies to you: ask and you shall receive." Brent leaned his head on the couch back and closed his eyes. Bob had entered the repetition phase of his recital. If Vivian didn't step in soon, Brent was sure he would be wishing he could ask for a reversal of his own birth. "Your mother thinks you're going to come up with some amazing invention that will add to the progress of Complex. But I think you're even smarter than that. So smart that you are just going to sit back and enjoy the gifts you get."
Done pulling, Vivian leaned over and swatted Bob hard on the arm with her needles. "He is going to invent something great. He gets everything he asks for because he deserves it. He learns by doing, so he guides his own endeavors and adds constantly to his knowledge. When the time is right, he will make something, something great."
"Love, he's already doing it." Bob laughed. "Greatness is knowing when to do something and when not to. He knows he can sit and twiddle, so twiddle he will."
Brent watched his mother leap out of the chair, yarn flying about in her sudden outrage. He sat up hoping something interesting was about to happen, but she disappointed him. She said, "He is not twiddling!"
Brent set his elbows on his knees. He had never seen his mother agitated to this degree since she had last argued with his father some years earlier, but she was never angry with Bob until now. She could silence him with a wave of a hand, but this time his prattle about Brent's easy life had gotten to her. He glanced at Bob to see if he had noticed, but the fellow just sipped at his glass and patted the side of his armchair rhythmically.
Vivian held herself still a moment then carefully began winding the yarn about the skein. Once it was a finished bundle she stabbed the needles into it pinning the six inches of still present knitting. She set it down on her chair with deliberate slowness and pushed at her hair as though her temporary rage had displaced the artistically disheveled mass of brown curls. Though her dark eyes still flashed her annoyance, her voice was moderated when she spoke, and she minced forward to where Brent was seated. "I've been saving something for you, dear. Come with me." Even with her slight frame, her grasp of Brent's arm was strong, and she would have dragged him out of his seat if he hadn't gotten up at her first tug. "I found it a few days ago and knew immediately it was for you. It's in the storage closet."
Brent turned a pensive look toward Bob, who had in the short silence taken it upon himself to fall asleep. No help forthcoming from that corner, he followed after his mother to the room she referred to as the storage closet. It was really a room of curiosities she was always collecting and never quite sure of what she would do with. It was even possible the thing she meant to give him had been there for years. He hoped it was towards the front of the room and not so far back that he would have to go through a long involved search for it while she bedeviled him with all the possible uses he would make of the things he would be moving aside or clambering over to get to the designated gem of the room.