Sunday, April 26, 2015

Don't Forget About Mom. She Likes a Good Book Too!

Check out this video for a really nice special on five of my favorite titles just for Mother's Day!


Monday, April 20, 2015

Because The Rains Are Here...

"April Rain Song" by Langston Hughes

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain



An outstanding collection by my friend Cathy Jo for any season or reason.

The Rainwalkers by Denise Levertov
An old man whose black face
shines golden-brown as wet pebbles
under the streetlamp, is walking two mongrel dogs of dis-
proportionate size, in the rain,
in the relaxed early-evening avenue.

The small sleek one wants to stop,
docile to the imploring soul of the trashbasket,
but the young tall curly one
wants to walk on; the glistening sidewalkentices him to arcane happenings.

Increasing rain. The old bareheaded man
smiles and grumbles to himself.
The lights change: the avenue's
endless nave echoes notes of
liturgical red. He drifts

between his dogs' desires.
The three of them are enveloped -
turning now to go crosstown - in their
sense of each other, of pleasure,
of weather, of corners,
of leisurely tensions between them
and private silence.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Friday, January 23, 2015

Now In Paperback

I said if this novella sold well, I'd put it in paperback, so here it is. I changed the cover for the print version. I like this one better I think. Here's the link to the Createspace store.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Wasted Time~ A Free Shorty

                               Copyright© September 2014 by Sandra Hall

Eight years and eight days.  A long ass time to be locked up with a woman named Masselina Gage.  Tina didn't know what was worse, the loud snoring or the constant gas the giant of a woman emitted nightly.  At least, Tina hoped it was gas, considering she could count the times she actually had seen Masselina enter the shower room. Yesterday was one of those rare days so the funk level was down to tolerable.  
Every bone in her back seemed to pop as she groaned and raised up from her bunk. God, she was tired, bone weary.  She let her legs dangle over the side as she contemplated starting her day.  Today she was sixty, and her knees hurt like hell.   Fourteen years and she had become old.  She remembered her own mother who at sixty had remained healthy and strong.  Never seemed tired until six years ago, and then she was dying of breast cancer at seventy-nine.  Regardless of her aches and pains, she had to get down from the top bunk and let her feet touch the cold hard floor again.
"Need some help?" Masselina offered, wiping her round face with a towel.  She always got to the sink first.
"No thanks.  I can manage."
"Jones, you-"
"I'm not an invalid."
"Nobody said you were.  And I don't see why you don't demand a step stool or something."
"I don't beg nobody for nothing."  Tina let herself slip quickly from the bed trying to let her better knee take the impact.  She winced as fire shot through her knee caps.  "God," she moaned and grabbed hold of her inflamed knees.
"You are a grade A ding-a-ling."  Masselina went to her locker with a frown, chose a prescription bottle and shook out a few pills.  "Here," she said, offering the pills to Tina, who frowned at her and started stretching out her back.  "They're just painkillers.  I take 'em all the time."
"Yeah, I know."
"Your meds ain't worth a damn and I can't see-"
"Gage," Tina broke in.  "Mind your own business.  Just this once, okay?"  She straightened up, and tested her legs.
"You are my business.  You think I need everybody knowing my partner is getting infirm?"
"I'm not your partner.  We're cell mates, and that is all."
"Right.  I'll remember that the next time Selma comes a calling."  Masselina crossed her plump arms gazing down at Tina.  Tina was in direct opposite to her six feet plus frame.  Her mostly gray hair was always curled from a night of foam rollers, while Masselina sported her long mane in thick braids that hung down to her hips.  "What's eatin' you lately, anyway?"
"I'm tired and disgusted."
"Aw, you're just in a mood because it's your birthday.  Tomorrow you'll wake up your old self."
"My old self?" Tina scoffed.  "I was forty-six when they put me in here! I had a mother, a husband and six children."
"Exceptin' for your mama, you still do.  And next year you're gettin' sprung."
"Yeah," Tina voiced sourly.  She grabbed a towel and a washcloth then briskly went back to the sink to spread Noxema over her dark chocolate skin.   Sixty! She wished she could erase the harsh lines on her face as easily as the cream.  Tyrone had not seemed to have aged as much.  Of course, he hadn't served the better part of a fifteen year sentence either.  The bastard.  It was just as much his fault that Julia was dead.
"Reckon he'll come today since it's your birthday?"
"Who?"  Tina patted her face dry then squirted a glob of toothpaste on her toothbrush.  Brushing vigorously, she thought of the few and far between visits and the lame excuses she accepted over the years.
"And the kids?"
"What about 'em?"
"You mean those brats don't care it's your birthday?"
"Why should they?"  Tina spat out a mouthful of foam.  "I sure don't."
"I ruined their lives.  Took 'em years to get over it," she defended her children wiping her mouth.
"And you're paying for it.  What more do they want?  They ain't the first kids whose mama went to the pen."  Masselina pushed some stuff back into her locker causing a box to fall.  She caught it before the contents spilled to the floor.
"Hey, Gage."  Tina moved in a little closer.  "How about granting me a birthday wish?"
Masselina turned from her locker and shut it not bothering to lock it.  "Say what?"
"A birthday wish."
Masselina frowned a little.  "It ain't nothin' sexual, is it?"
"You wish."
"Not really, old lady.  You ain't exactly my type," Masselina boasted, pulling her gown over her head revealing the flabbiest set of tits Tina had ever seen.  Not owning a brassiere, she pulled on a white tee shirt then a denim jumper over a pair of cotton briefs, then she stepped into a pair of blue Keds.  "What you want though?"  She smiled a little pleased at the change in Tina's pissy attitude.
"I need a referral," Tina voiced clearly and deliberately.
The smile faded from Masselina's stunned face.  "What the hell you know about referrals?"
"Plenty.  You think I turn deaf when you talk business?"
"Nope, but I always assumed you was just a little bit square.  Girl, just do your time and stop talking crazy."  Masselina watched her silent cell mate get dressed then take the rollers from her hair.  "Who is it?" she asked after Tina set down her brush.
Tina met her eyes.  "All I want is a name and number.  It has nothing to do with you.  Besides, I've never crossed you or anything.  You can give me this favor."
Masselina considered her pitch.   "Nope, not this."
"What!  You can't refuse!"
"Sure I can, Toots."
"You big lousy-" Tina stifled herself appreciating that her cell mate was more than twice her size and eighteen years younger.  Turning her back, she began to make up the upper bunk.
"Don't you want to know why I'm refusing your wish, babe?"
"Don't call me that," Tina snapped. 
"You get your crazy self implicated in somethin', they'll tack on another ten years.  Why you want to risk that when you just got another year to see through?"
"Because I have things to take care of!"  Tina swung around showing the wrath within herself that had been building for nearly fifteen years.  "Because I hate him!  He took my life so I owe the son of a bitch!  I hate him!"
Silence built for a moment as Tina took controlling breaths and Masselina merely studied her.
"You finally admitting he set you up?  I told you that eight years ago."
"Didn't need you pointing things out.  Anyhow, what does that have to do with anything?" Unexpected tears of frustration spilled from her eyes.
Leaning against the bunk beds, Masselina replied, "You know, Jones I always wanted to ask you somethin’."
Tina wiped her eyes hating that her plans were falling apart, that she was falling apart.  "Ask me what?" she asked.
"About killin' that woman. Was it because she was in your house again, or was it just that she was fuckin' Tyrone?"
Tina sniffed and dabbed at the corners of her eyes. She shook the hair out of her face, and looked Masselina in the eye.  "Does it matter?"     
"Guess not. But you know what burns me up about women like you? Or should I say, righteous wives like you?"  Masselina uncrossed her arms and gave Tina a contemptuous snort before continuing.  "You were so ready to kill another woman, but you didn't punish him. Why not? He was more guilty if you ask me. Now, he's all but forgotten about you and he's havin' the time of his life, thanks to you."
"You should've shot his sorry ass too.  Maybe the jury would have seen it as a crime of passion."
"I got the one I wanted."
"And that, Mrs. Jones, is exactly why you ain't gettin' no referral from me."
"Because I killed the bitch that had the nerve to cross me in my own home after I warned her?" Tina asked for clarification.
"No, you idiot! Because even now you can't see the crime you committed against womankind! Tyrone took you both out so he could seek out new victims.  You gave him that power."
"I know that," Tina said through clenched teeth.
"But you don't sympathize for that other woman, do you?  You still believe you were justified in taking her life for that pig you call a husband."
"You weren't there, Gage.  You have no idea how everything went down, or what kind of person Julia was."
"All I need to know is that a woman you hated did your man in your own bed, and that he invited her, knowin' you weren't the type to make idle threats.  You were married to him and you knew he wasn't worth another woman's life.  Now here you are feeling like the chump of the millennium, angry and--"
"Oh, can it, damn you!" Tina exploded.
"Naw, you can it, baby!" Masselina fired back.  "In my book you deserve a life sentence for what you did.  Instead, you're gettin' out next year which means you are gettin' a second chance.  Somethin' a lot of us would kill again for.  But not you, Mrs. Jones! You still want Tyrone."
"Come again?" Tina knew she could not have heard right. Tyrone was the bane of her existence.  Looking back, she realized he had never been a good mate or father. He had taken all that was good in her life and turned it into crap.  Because of him she wasn't there to help her poor mother while she was dying, probably in great pain.  "I hate the man!"
"You are choosin' revenge over freedom, and that is plain stupid."
"Why do you care? Isn't revenge your business?"
Masselina sighed heavily.  "Tina, I don't know why, but I've always had a soft spot for you.  I know you don't think much of me and that's cool because we come from different places, different perspectives.  I was a career criminal, but I never killed nobody that wasn't in the same game as me."
"What about that cop?"
"I wasn't even aiming at him.  It was just an accident."
"Okay, Jones, turn this around and don't listen."
"You think you got me all figured out."  Tina turned her back to Masselina balancing her elbow on the bunk to hold her head. She was growing weary from the exchange.
"I bet you felt empowered when Tyrone promised to stand by you, and even though you were in prison, you felt you had won because you still had your man.  That was the important thing, right?"
"Why won't you shut up?" Tina asked and turned around.  "I got it, you won't give me a referral."
"There's one more thing."
"Dear Lord!"  Tina rolled her eyes toward the ceiling.  "I don't know what's worse.  Your body odor or the crap spewing from your mouth."
"Whatever," Masssalina replied evenly.  "I made mistakes. Committed crimes against mankind and some would say nature. But I was always clear on what I was doin' and why.  As a result, I sleep fine."
"Good for you," Tina practically sneered.  "But you ain't been in here as long as me."
"Be older than you when I get out. But what I was tryin' to say was that I've learned from my mistakes."
"How to be a better criminal by not hurting women?"
"That's one way," Masselina agreed.  "Another is being honest-- to yourself.  Girl, I hate to see sisters act a fool."
A loud buzzer went off as the cell doors unlocked then slid open. The cell mates stared each other down a few more seconds then Masselina smiled before she strolled out for morning chow. 
Tina fought back bitter angry tears, damning Masselina for her condemning words.  She screamed and tore her bunk apart then did the same to the lower.  Who needed her damned referral anyway?  She did, she conceded, if she wanted it done neatly.  If she were implicated she would spend the rest of her life locked up, or possibly executed.  Was it worth it?  Her home, her mother, or her children's love? She had neither, thanks to Tyrone.  She had a right to the revenge she had craved for so many years.  Some lesbo who had no idea of what went on between a man and a woman had no right to preach to her. Damn her anyhow. 
And damn these knees, she thought. She limped to Masselina's unlocked locker.  She poured out three of the pain pills she'd been offered earlier then chased them down her throat with a dixie cup full of water.
"Jones, what the hell? You get this cell squared away! You got four and a half minutes!"  Tina didn't bother to acknowledge the petite redhead.  "You hear me?" she screamed touching her club.
Tina sat on the lower bunk and massaged her knees.  After a few seconds, she looked over in the guard's general direction.
"Did you hear what I said?"
"Chow is in five minutes."
"As if I don't know that!"
"Jones, you better get that bug out your butt," the guard suggested.
"If anybody needs to be worrying about her butt, it's you."
"Girl, you tryin' to threaten me?"
"You going through the change or what?"
          Tina said nothing and waited for her to leave.  While fixing the bunks, she calmed herself as she realized what her freedom really meant.  She'd have power to choose, really choose the course her life. She could mend broken fences, even. There was still time and there was hope. Gage was right. She was about to act a fool again because of Tyrone.

"You didn't talk to Van Owen, did you?"  Masselina asked from across the table.
"No."  Tina dug into her grapefruit savoring the sweet tartness.  They got fresh fruit once in a blue moon.
"You know kiddo, there is revenge and then there's revenge." Masselina took a slow sip of her coffee.  "You said Tyrone has been livin' it up since you got locked up? He's been makin’ investments, and buyin’ up property?"
"Yeah. He's accumulated a fortune by now." He was never that ambitious or savvy when they were living together. Hell, he barely worked and they lived off her money.
"You didn't give that man power of attorney?"
"No, I'm not entirely stupid." Now where was she going with the questions?
"What you need is a divorce specialist."  Masselina cut her sausage with her fork. "Someone that can assure you of a comfortable life when you get back on the outside. I know such a person."
"A lawyer? What can a lawyer do for me now?"
"Ain't nobody said nothin' about a lawyer. I said a divorce specialist.  He'll start protectin' your interests immediately. If Tyrone is smart he'll go with the flow, if not, he'll go down hard."
"You mean, I should hit Tyrone in the bank accounts? Take his money?" He'd rather die than lose his money! Or be told what he better do. "Why did you change your mind, Gage? This is a referral?"
"I didn't change my mind.  You changed yours."
Not really, she wanted to say.  She still wanted Tyrone to suffer and die alone, but ruining him was good too.
"Thank you," she managed to choke out instead.
"What the hell, it's your birthday." 
"Don't remind me."