Category Archives: Literary Fiction

Dogged Ma; chapter twelve, part one

  Chapter Twelve; Part One

“Liz!  What are you doing here?”  It was Friday night, and my sister had shown up unexpectedly.  Again, she got into the building without me buzzing her up.  This was happening more frequently than I liked; I reluctantly decided to call the landlord first thing Monday morning during my prep hour at school to take care of it.

“Are you going to let me in?”  Liz asked waspishly, taking me by surprise.  She was the easygoing one in the family, the sister quick to jump in when others were fighting.  I’d never heard an edge to her voice.  Until tonight.  “I took the bus to see you, so the least you could is let me into your apartment.”

“Come in.”  I stood aside, watching Liz as she entered.  She had cut her waist-length hair so that it fell just slightly past her shoulders in a shag cut.  It looked cute with her pixie face and pointed chin, but my mother must have had a fit when she saw it.  She thought girls under thirty should have long hair.  Liz was taking her time removing her shoes, so I was able to study her more carefully.  Always the thinnest of the sisters, she was almost gaunt now.  She was wearing jeans which hung on her slight hips and a fitted top that was loose as well.  She’d never had big boobs to begin with, but now they were nonexistent.  There were dark circles under her eyes, and she looked exhausted.  I vowed not to get into it with her, even though I knew why she was there.  She dumped her bag by the door, waiting for me to make my overtures.

“Would you like some tea, Liz?  How about some chocolate chip cookies?  They’re your favorite—triple chocolate chunk cookies.  I made them a few nights ago.”  I observed her closely as I made my offer as I was beginning to form a suspicious thought.

“Ew, no,” Liz said, wrinkling her nose.  “Do you know how many calories are in one of your special cookies?  A zillion.”  She straightened up and flashed me a wan grin before hugging me.  It was like hugging a skeleton, and it creeped me out.

“Are you dieting?”  I asked sharply, pulling away from Liz and holding her at an arm’s length.  Her cheeks had hollowed out, and there was a pinched look about her face that hadn’t been there before.

“Just a little,” Liz admitted, not meeting my eyes.  “After Scott dumped me, I felt I needed to get into shape.  You know how it is.”

“You were already in shape,” I pointed out, steering my sister to the living room.  I waited for her to sit before continuing my interrogation.  “What did Scott say to make you feel you needed to lose weight?”  Inside, I was seething.  Scott Jorgenson was a football player with a raging ego.  He was known to blow through the girls like they were nothing.  I had met him once and had been less than impressed.  He and Liz had dated two months before he dumped her.  Since I hadn’t heard her complain, I’d assumed she’d been fine with it.  Big mistake.  Liz didn’t talk about her problems to anyone, which was why she’d struggled with an eating disorder for the last ten years.

“He just said, you know, that I didn’t look as good as I had when we started dating.”  Liz tried to say it casually, but her tone was brittle.  I wanted to hunt down Jorgenson and slice his nuts off.  He was also known to be extremely nasty when he broke up with a girl, probably because of his guilty conscience.  I would bet the fact that Liz wanted to remain a virgin until marriage had more to do with his dumping her than her looks.  “He’s right, you know.  I gained a pound while I was dating him.”  Scott was six-four and almost two-fifty—not all of it muscle.  He was not one to talk about gaining weight, let me tell you.

“Liz, that’s nuts, and you know it.”  I was blunt because nothing else worked with my sister.  Our family had learned through long, hard, painful experience that the only way to even hope to get through her obsession was to be honest to the point of rudeness.  It jolted her out of her trance.  “You look like you should be in a concentration camp.  I bet you’re blacking out again, aren’t you?”  Liz hung her head but didn’t answer.  “Wait right here.”

I left the room before she could respond.  I went into the kitchen and rummaged through my fridge.  Fortunately, I had some leftover noodles and soup from Bona.  Pho, with beef.  My favorite, and one of hers as well.  I heated it in the microwave while pouring a glass of skim milk.  I knew it would be better if Liz had whole, but all I had was skim.  She wouldn’t put up as big a fight if it was skim, anyway.  I grabbed a banana, too.  I put everything on a tray, including utensils.  I grabbed two cookies and placed them on the tray as well.  I’d be lucky if she ate one, but I’d eat the leftover cookie if she didn’t.  Now, I just had to wait for the soup to heat up.  When it was ready, I poured it in a bowl and carried everything back into the living room.  Liz was slumped over on the couch, her eyes closed.  I set the tray on the coffee table and sat next to Liz.

“Liz, wake up.”  I nudged her gently in the ribs, not wanting to bruise her.

“Huh, what?”  Liz opened her eyes, blinking in confusion.  “Where am I?  What happened?”

“You must have blacked out for a minute,” I said, concealing my sadness from her.  I’d been doing this song and dance with her for the last ten years, on and off.  I couldn’t understand how such a beautiful, intelligent girl could be so stupid.  “Here.  Eat this soup.”  I placed the spoon in her hand and closed her fingers over it.  “Now.”  My tone let her know there was no choice but to obey.  She knew I’d force-feed her if I had to, though that was definitely the last resort.  Reluctantly, she spooned a tiny amount of the broth into her mouth and swished it around five times before swallowing.  I knew every bite would take as long if not longer, but I didn’t care.  I’d take all night if I had to.

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Dogged Ma; chapter eleven

Chapter Eleven

“Delivery for Margaret Wang.”  This was getting to be a regular occurrence.  I had just gotten home from work Monday night and had been about to check my messages when my buzzer rang.

“I’ll be right down.”  I hurried downstairs and peeked at a delivery guy who was holding yet another bouquet of flowers.  “Hold on a minute,” I said as he thrust the flowers at me.  “Will you please read the card to me?”  The delivery man gave me a strange look, but obliged my odd request.

“It says, ‘Margaret, I had a good time Friday night.  Here’s a token of my appreciation for the best night I’ve had in a some time.  Cheers, Ted.’  Look, do you want them or not?  It makes no difference to me.”

“I’ll take them,” I said, smiling at the man.  He thrust them into my outstretched hands before beating a hasty retreat.  I took the fragrant bluebells up to my apartment where I found a nice vase for them.  Not the Lucifer one, of course, as that was in the dumpster across the way.  I set the bluebells on the coffee table in my living room next to Alan’s orchids, and I felt so pampered.  I’d never had one guy send me flowers, let alone three.  Well, OK, two guys and the devil.  But still!  Three bouquets in two days.  Not bad.

Taking a deep breath, I checked my messages.  As I feared, my mother had called numerous times leaving me increasingly acerbic messages.  She couldn’t get over my deceit as she called it in not telling her that Ned was gay.  Considering how she reacted, I didn’t think it was so astonishing that I hadn’t wanted to tell her a thing.  Besides, she was the one who’d hung up on me, not the other way around.  I was tempted to erase her messages and pretend I’d never received them.  I knew, however, that the longer I ignored her, the worse it would get.  After three successive messages from her, there was one from Wind who didn’t sound at all like her usual self.  She wanted to know what happened after she left my apartment, if Lucifer had returned.  I vowed not to talk about the Morningstar with Wind until she got over her unseemly crush.  I knew she would be embarrassed by it once she came to her senses.  In the middle of my rumination, my cell phone rang.

“Hello?”  I answered absentmindedly, still thinking about Wind.

“Girl, we so have to talk!”  It was Ned, of course.  I hadn’t talked to him since he did the town with Ted.  “I have so much to tell you about my evening with your paramour.  Can you come over here to dish?”

“Why don’t you come here?”  I asked, pacing back and forth.  I preferred Ned and Wind coming to my place so I didn’t have to come home late at night.  Neither of them minded as they both liked to drive, and as I mentioned, neither had to get up before the crack of dawn.  Usually.

“I’ll be over in two shakes.  Oooh, I’ll bring some sushi.  That should be right up your alley.”  Before I could verbally smack him, he was off and running.  I took the plunge and called my mother.  At least Ned and sushi would console me after she put me through the wringer.

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Dogged Ma; chapter ten, part one

Chapter Ten; Part One

“We must first fill the room with incense.”  Wind had been gracious enough to come over that night in answer to my urgent plea.  I knew that I had to seal that damn portal, no matter how much I wanted to remain connected to Lucifer.  “We need to chase the bad spirits out.”  She lit some incense—jasmine, by the smell of it—and handed several sticks to me, keeping several for herself.  She started waving them in the air, indicating that I should follow suit.  I did, but I felt ridiculous doing so.  I didn’t buy into that New-Agey shit, no matter how couched it was in Eastern lingo.  Still, Wind was the expert; I would listen to her until it became too ludicrous for me to do so.

“Close your eyes while I say a quick prayer to the goddess.”  I obeyed, my rational mind thinking it’d be better to pray to God in this case.  I sent Him a brief word as well, figuring it best to hedge my bets.

“Mighty Goddess, listen to my pleas.  Help this woman be strong against the influence of the Dark Prince.  She needs your strength—do not fail her now.”  Wind started humming a tune I didn’t recognize, and I kept my eyes closed.  I was starting to feel stupid when Wind instructed me to bow deeply before opening my eyes.  I had a hunch God was roaring with laughter at our feeble antics, but I kept that opinion to myself.

“Now, sit on the floor cross-legged while I set a few things in place.”  Wind’s tone was bossy as she rummaged through her bag.  As she was doing me a favor, I tried not to take offense.  I watched as she took out a heap of sage and placed a bundle in each corner of the living room.  She seemed to think my living room contained the actual portal though I first saw the Morningstar in my bathroom.  She said she’d fortify each room later, but the living room was the focus of her attention.

After she lit the sage on fire, she popped a CD in my player and pressed play.  Some flute music wafted out of my speakers, grating on my nerves.  How could I take this seriously when everything about it screamed hokey?  I tried to clear my mind of negative thoughts, but it was difficult.  I watched in disbelief as Wind started hopping and jumping around the room.  I assumed she was trying to mimic an Indian dance, but the jerkiness of her movements made it hard to discern.  She hummed under her breath to the tune on the CD player, totally involved in what she was doing.  She lifted her hands upwards, beseeching the Goddess to hear our cries.  As she was the only one crying out, I thought she was stretching the truth a bit.

“God,” I muttered softly.  What the fuck had I gotten myself into?  Was I just making things worse with this idiotic behavior on the part of Wind?  Who the fuck knew?

“Margaret, come here.”  Wind’s voice snapped me out of my funk.  I rose and crossed over to her.  She made a new bundle of sage and lit it before waving it over my head.  I sneezed several times, but Wind kept waving.  Just when I was going to grab the shit out of her hand and throw it as far as possible, she stopped.  “Hold this.”  She gave me the bundle before rummaging through her bag again.  This time, she pulled out a box of white chalk and drew out a stick.

“Hey, what the fuck are you doing with that?”  I asked in alarm as she started for one of my maroon-colored walls.

“I have to mark your walls,” Wind explained, drawing a symbol on one of my walls.

“You can’t do that!”  I exclaimed, grabbing her drawing arm.  “Stop!”

“I have to,” Wind retorted, jerking away from me.  I stood back helplessly as she continued to mark my walls with esoteric symbols.  Thank God it was only chalk which could be easily wiped off.  Or so I hoped.

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Dogged Ma; chapter nine, part three

Chapter Nine; Part Three

“Delivery for Margaret Wang.”

“I’ll be right there.”  Another one?  Who could it be this time?  I went downstairs and peeked outside, seeing a delivery guy with a bouquet of fiery orange and red roses.  The colors of the roses were so pure, they almost hurt my eyes.

“Here you go,” the delivery guy said, thrusting the enormous bouquet into my waiting arms.  I rushed upstairs, eager to find out who’d sent me such a beautiful arrangement.  I hunted for the card before finally finding it.  In beautiful penmanship, someone had inscribed, ‘Margaret Marilyn, you are mine.  Morningstar.’  They were from Lucifer!  I should throw them away.  They were, without a doubt, the most breathtaking roses I’d ever seen, and I didn’t even care for roses.  I walked slowly into the kitchen trying to decide what to do.  In the end, I rationalized that it couldn’t hurt to keep them.  They would die in a few days, anyway, wouldn’t they?  Suddenly, I wasn’t sure they were real flowers.  I mean, Lucifer could have had them specially made if he wanted.  I arranged them, anyway, and brought them into the living room where I set the vase besides the orchids from Alan.  The two bouquets looked great side-by-side; I could get used to being treated like a queen.  Too bad neither bunch was from the guy I was actually trying to date.

I needed to do something about Lucifer.  He was stepping up his campaign, and I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to hold out against him.  I called Wind who answered on the third ring.  Seems I had disturbed her during her meditation time for which I profusely apologized.  When I explained what I wanted, however, she agreed to come over and see what she could do.  She didn’t sound as confident as I would have liked given that Li Ling had practically promised that Wind could take care of the problem, but I let it go.  I thought about calling my mother again, but I resisted.  She had to make the first overture.  I flicked on the television to watch something until Wind came.  It was a welcome respite from thinking.  I was so engrossed in the Iron Chefs that the buzzer startled me when it sounded forty-five minutes later.

“Wind?”  I asked before buzzing her up.  I hugged her gratefully after she breezed into my apartment.  She was in a simple gauzy skirt and t-shirt, no accessories or makeup.

“Time for the big guns, I guess,” Wind said briskly, lugging her over-sized bag inside.  She stopped as she noticed the flowers on my coffee table.  “Please tell me those are from Ted because you had a really great date.”

“We did have a great date,” I said, motioning her in.  “However, the orchids are from Alan and the roses are from….”  I hesitated because I knew how she felt about me consorting with the devil.  “Lucifer.”

“The devil?  He sent you flowers?”  Wind shrieked, causing me to wince.  I had sensitive ears, and she had a booming voice when she so chose.  “You have to get rid of them.”  Before I could stop her, she grabbed the flowers, strode over to the window and flung them out.

“Hey!  What did you do that for?”  I protested, rushing over to the window.  There were my beautiful roses, lying on the ground.  Before anybody could step on them, however, they slowly started rising in the air until they were right outside my window.  The funny thing was that nobody paid the slightest attention to the floating flowers.

“Don’t touch those,” Wind shouted, struggling to get me away from the window.  “What good will it do for me to seal the portal if you allow those roses in your apartment?”  I must have looked confused because she expanded.  “As long as you keep something of the devil’s in your apartment, he will always be afforded access.  You must cleanse your apartment from his presence, down to the last flower.”  She was so engrossed in her lecturing, she didn’t notice the roses tossing themselves through my window and back into their vase.  When she saw them sitting as pretty as you please on the coffee table, she made a sound of disgust in the back of her throat.  “It appears that you have to throw them out if we want to be rid of them for good.”  But did I?

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Dogged Ma; chapter nine, part two

Chapter Nine; Part Two

I settled back to watch the movie, enjoying being with ‘my people’.  Oh, I knew that was more fantasy than reality, but it was nice to be surrounded by Asians.  Even better, people had no compunctions about yelling things at the screen, so it was more of an interactive experience than if we’d gone to an American cinema.  I booed lustily every time a bad guy came on screen, and I whistled with enthusiasm for my girl, Michelle Yeoh.  When Donnie Yen tried to put the moves on her after realizing who she was, well, I almost lost it then and there.  The two of them were favorites of mine, and so damned good-looking.  The only thing that would make it even better would be if Tony Leung Chiu Wai were in the movie as well.  Maggie Cheung, too.  Oh, and Jet Li, of course.  That would be a dream come true.

“Wow, she’s really good,” Ted commented, whistling through his fingers as Michelle executed yet another complicated maneuver.  We enjoyed the rest of the movie in a very vocal manner.

“What’s the second movie?”  I asked, stretching at the end of the first.  I was fading slightly, but I knew I’d perk up for something good.

Irma Vep,” Ted said, glancing at the paper in his hand.  It was a poster for the evening, but I didn’t know where he had gotten it.  “Maggie Cheung is hot in black leather.”

“Yeah, but I don’t like the flashing lights.”  I shrugged.  “It’s up to you.  We have to at least go to the concessions so Tamara can make her move.”  Ted laughed and playfully socked me in the arm.  We grabbed our jackets from our seats so they wouldn’t be stolen.  Ted grabbed my hand and marched me into the lobby.  I saw the two girls who’d been dissing me in the bathroom standing in line for popcorn.  I nudged Ted in the side and nodded at the girls.  He hesitated before taking me over to the line and standing a few people behind them.  He radiated so much personality, I was surprised the people in front of him didn’t get singed.  He pulled me closer to him as the two girls turned; I was meanly glad to see the expression on their faces when he draped his arm around my shoulders.  I snuggled against his chest, tilting my head up so I could look seductively at him.  That was enough to spur Tamara to walk over to us.

“Teddy!  It’s so good to see you!”  Tamara squealed, nudging me out of the way.  Even though she was ninety-five pounds soaking wet, she packed a mean elbow.  I moved to the side so I could enjoy the show.  The other girl was watching, too, as well as a half dozen other people.  Tamara raised on her tiptoes so she could plant a wet one on Ted’s lips.  He pulled back quickly, smiling down as he did.  I stifled a laugh at the sight of red lipstick smeared across his lips.  “Oops, I marked you.”  Tamara used her finger to rub sensuously against Ted’s lips.  By the looks of the erection building in his pants, he wasn’t totally adverse to her charms.  Like a snake honed in on its prey, Tamara noticed Ted’s reaction as well.

“Tamara.  It’s been a while.”  Ted held his arms slightly in front of his body to protect himself from Tamara’s advances.  I suppose if I were a good person, I would extricate him from the situation.  However, I was enjoying myself much too much to do that, so I watched Ted suffer without doing a damn thing.  “This is my date, Margaret Wang.  Margaret, this is Tamara Huang.  Her friend is Natalie Wu.”  Two more big-shot families in the Taiwanese community.  Big fucking deal.

“Wang?  Are you related to Andrew Wang?”  Tamara asked sweetly, knowing full well I wasn’t.  Andrew Wang was perhaps the most well-known business man in the Taiwanese community, and I was sure Tamara knew his family history by heart.

“Nope,” I said cheerfully.  “I am related to Peter Wang, however.  Does that count?”  Tamara’s mouth dropped open at the name of a notorious criminal in Taiwan.  He was on their top ten most wanted list and had been for fifteen years.  He was well on his way to becoming an urban legend over there.  “He’s a second cousin once removed or something like that.”

“Oh, how interesting.”  Tamara looked as if she wanted to say something far less banal, but good breeding stopped her.  Of course, she hadn’t display the same taste in the restroom, but she hadn’t realized I was there, either.  She turned back to Ted, subtly blocking me from Ted’s view.  To her shock and my amusement, Ted reached around her and pulled me to him.  I didn’t mind, and it gave me the opportunity to show Tamara my pearly whites.

“Have you seen Lucinda lately?”  Natalie blurted out, earning a dirty look from Tamara.  I understood Tamara’s frustration as it was hard to work somebody over if he were distracted by the name of his former fiancée.

“Nope, not for a while,” Ted said easily, placing his hand on the small of my back.  He began caressing the skin there, much to the discomfort of Tamara and Natalie.  I, however, was becoming turned on.  “Except when I go to my parents’ church, obviously.”

“She misses you a lot,” Natalie continued, seemingly oblivious to the growing ire of the alpha female named Tamara.  I might have to reassess my conclusion that Natalie was the follower because she was sure stomping on Tamara’s toes.  Maybe she was a loyal toady of Lucinda’s and was only hanging out with Tamara because Lucinda wasn’t available.  This was better than any Chinese soap opera, and I didn’t even have to pay to watch it.  I waited to hear what Natalie would say next.  “She cries about you all the time, you know.  She’s even seeing a therapist to understand why she messed up so badly when she was with you.  She’s really trying, Teddy.”

“I’m glad for her,” Ted said politely.  He turned to me and said, “Margaret, do you mind if we skip the second movie?  I have the sudden urge to blow this joint.”

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Dogged Ma; chapter nine, part one

Chapter Nine

“Girl, what are you wearing to dinner with Ted?”  It was Ned on the horn, of course, as I drove home from work.  “It better be something fierce.  He’s a great catch, and I just wished he swung my way.”

“I’m glad he doesn’t,” I retorted, executing a quick lane change to avoid a yahoo who didn’t seem to know you’re supposed to signal, look, then change lanes in that order.  I was using my Bluetooth so I didn’t feel guilty about talking while driving.  I just wished other idiots would catch a clue and do the same.  Most people were horrible drivers when they had both hands on the wheel.  Divide their attention by making them hold onto a phone with one hand, and it was a disaster waiting to happen.  “I was thinking of wearing jeans and a t-shirt.”  I wasn’t, of course, but I wanted to tweak Ned for having so little faith in me.  Just because he was a fashionista didn’t mean that I was some slouch when it came to dressing myself.  I knew what colors and lines looked good on me, and I wasn’t afraid to flaunt what I had.

“You wouldn’t!  You couldn’t!  He’ll take one look at you and run,” Ned moaned, proving once again that he was the drama queen in our relationship.

“Shouldn’t he like me for who I am?”  I asked innocently, wanting to see how far I could push Ned.

“Only after he gets to know you,” Ned shrieked, causing me to flinch.  Luckily, I wasn’t in the middle of a tricky maneuver, or I’d be in trouble.  “Until then, you have to put your best foot forward.”

“Relax,” I said mildly, approaching my apartment building.  As usual, I had to look for a place to park as both sides of the street were filled with cars.  “I clean up good when I want, and I definitely want.”

“Call me when you get home.”  It was an order, not a request, and I decided I better fulfill it this time.  I clicked off the phone as I swung into a spot right in front of my apartment.  Talk about your karma.  God must be looking out for me.

“That was a joke,” I said out loud, not wanting another visit from the Almighty.  “In fact, can you not show up tonight at all?”  I didn’t think He would as He rarely showed Himself in front of others, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

“No problem!”  A voice boomed as I unlocked my door.  “I wouldn’t want to impede things with Ted.”  I ignored Him as I hopped out of my car, fairly confident He wouldn’t talk to me out in the open with the chance of someone coming along.  No such luck.  “I think you should wear a skirt,” God continued as I walked into my apartment and checked my mail.  He didn’t manifest, however, so I was pretty certain I was the only one who could hear His voice.  “I gave you a nice pair of legs, and it wouldn’t hurt you to show them once in a while.”

“TMI,” I muttered under my breath.  A passing woman gave me a strange glance but looked away when she saw I had caught her.  I didn’t need to know what God thought of my legs or any other part of my anatomy, thank you very much.  I flipped through my mail, saw it was mostly junk, then went up to my apartment.  God was silent, so I assumed He had gone.  I couldn’t feel Him all the time these days which really put me on edge.  He was easier to take when I knew for sure He was around.

“I’m still here,” God said, materializing as soon as I entered my apartment.  In copper this time, which made Him look like a giant penny.  “Now, remember, you have a tendency to get overly talkative when you meet someone you really like.  Give Ted a chance to talk about himself before filling him in on your life story.  Guys like a bit of mystery in their women, so don’t give everything away at once.”

“What, You’re my relationship coach now?”  I asked sharply, tossing my purse on the living room couch.  “Do You mind?  I want to take a shower before I go out tonight.”

“Good idea,” God said, disappearing in an instance.  “You go, girl,” I heard from above.  The distinct strains of Eminem filled my living room for an instant before falling silent.  “Sorry about that.”

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Dogged Ma; chapter eight

Chapter Eight

“Margaret!  Let us in!”  It was Thursday night, and someone was banging at my door.  Shit.  It was Wind and Ned.  Again, somebody had let them in.  I had half a mind to talk to the landlord about the lax security, but it didn’t seem worth the effort.

“Wind, Ned, how nice of you to drop by.”  I pasted a smile on my face as I opened my door.  “Ever hear of phoning first?”

“I’m here to cleanse your apartment,” Wind announced, pushing me aside.  She was wearing a flowing skirt decorated with tarot card figures and a red peasant blouse.  She had a scarf wound around her head, and she was at her most fey.  Ned was trailing her, rolling his eyes at her back.  I would have laughed if I weren’t completely befuddled as to what Wind was saying.  “Ned and I talked it over and decided that it was the devil who’s been talking to you—not God.  That’s why I need to do a cleansing ceremony.”  She opened her bag and dumped the contents of it onto the coffee table in my living room.

“Wind, it wasn’t the devil,” I interposed, eyeing the items with curiosity.  She had sage, tarot cards, a bottle of a clear liquid, and a few other things I couldn’t identify.  “I’ve met Lucifer, so I know it wasn’t him.”  The minute I said that, I wished I hadn’t.  For some reason, I wanted to keep Lucifer to myself.  Me and my big mouth.

“You met the devil?  What’s he like?”  Ned asked, his eyes wide.  “Is he just too gruesome for words?”

“Actually, he’s the best-looking man I’ve ever met,” I said, keeping my voice casual.  I couldn’t fool my two best friends, however, and they exchanged looks of horror.  “After Alan, of course.”  I tried to switch tacks, but they were having none of that.

“You have a crush on the devil?”  Wind asked, clutching her sage to her bosom.

“I didn’t say that,” I protested, feeling a twinge of conscience.  If I were to be absolutely honest, I did have a little crush on the Morningstar.  “I was talking strictly about his physical pulchritude, which is magnificent.”

“What did he want?”  Ned asked, eyeing me with curiosity.  “I mean, Lucifer just doesn’t show up to say hi, does he?”

We all sat down in the living room as I unfolded my tale about meeting Lucifer.  They couldn’t believe I hadn’t told them right away, but they forgave me when I said that I needed time to digest meeting the devil.  What I didn’t tell them was how Lucifer had almost seduced me into revealing what God wanted with me.  I also didn’t divulge God’s warning about what might happen if I took Lucifer up on his offer.  I knew I should have told them everything, but I wanted to keep something to myself.  My entire life had been ripped apart the last few weeks, and I wanted to maintain a vestige of privacy.  At least, that’s what I told myself.

“God, the devil, the Angel of Death, and a protection angel,” Ned mused, looking shell-shocked.  “You’ve had quite the experience, haven’t you?”  He looked as if he was wondering whom I’d meet next.  I did, too, what with the way celestial beings were using my apartment as Grand Central Station.

“I have a date with Ted tomorrow night as well,” I said brightly, trying to change the tenor of the conversation.

“That’s right,” Ned said, brightening as well.  “Wouldn’t it be funny if he turned out to be an alien or something as well?”  The look I shot him said it most definitely would not be funny, thank you very much.

“Who’s Ted?”  Wind asked, looking from Ned to me and back.  That reminded us that we hadn’t told her about the drama on Saturday, so we were off and running.  We told her everything in excruciating detail, and I had Ned howling with my recitation of misdeeds I had committed at said party.  When we reached the part of Ned grappling with his father, well, we all lost it.  It had been terrifying at the time, but it was hysterical in retrospect.  How white trash can you get, wrestling with your father in his living room?  While you’re both wearing tuxes?  It tickled our funny bone to no end.

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Dogged Ma; chapter seven, part two

“Is this Margaret?”  It was definitely Alan.  “It’s Alan.  Look, love, I just got out of the meeting, and I’m on the way to the hotel to change.  My driver tells me I should be there by six, six-fifteen at the latest.  I’m looking forward to seeing you.”

“Me, too,” I echoed, clutching the phone to my ear.  I held it there long after he hung up.  Alan Rickman.  Dinner.  My landline rang again, but I ignored it.  I was not going to let my mother ruin my mood, which she would do in a heartbeat.  I went into the living room and flipped on the television to take my mind off my nerves.  It seemed like forever until my buzzer rang.  I glanced at my watch and saw it was six-fifteen on the dot.  I turned off the television, jumped to my feet and raced to answer it.

“Hello?”

“It’s Alan.  I just made it.”

“I’ll be right down.”  I was touched he actually got out of his car to buzz me when he could have just called me on his cell from the car.  I grabbed my purse and a wrap and flew out the door.  I almost dropped both wrap and purse when I saw Alan looking natty in a black sports coat and slacks with a brilliant blue shirt.

“You look lovely,” Alan said, offering me his arm.

“You look very handsome as well,” I replied sedately.  What I wanted to do was drag him upstairs and have my way with him.  I didn’t, however, and contented myself with stealing sideline glances at Alan who looked so damn hot.  The car, which was a black Cadillac, looked great, too.  I was glad it wasn’t a limo; I found them to be too pretentious.  Alan ignored the driver who was standing by the back door and ushered me into the car.  He went around to the other side and settled in besides me.  A feeling of unreality crept over me as I sat next to my favorite actor.  I gathered my thoughts so I could add something to the conversation.

“So, what play would you be doing for the Guthrie next season, or shouldn’t I ask?  Wait, don’t tell me, all I really want to know is if you get the girl in the end.”  I cringed at my flippant tone, but it was how I dealt with uncomfortable situations.

“Yes, I would get the girl in the end,” Alan said, a slight smile on his face.  “Why is that so important to you?”

Thus emboldened, I plunged into a narrative of how I felt it a shame that British actors were used primarily as villains unless they were stereotypically hot such as Jude Law or Kate Winslet.  I went on to say how much I preferred foreign films because the actors were usually people who looked like normal people, albeit good-looking normal people.  They were people I could meet at a pub, perhaps taking home for the night.  When I watched American actors, I could only see them for who they really were.  Actors.  Grossly overpaid actors.  Some who couldn’t even act and were liked more for their looks than their abilities.  In addition, American actors were so overexposed, it was difficult to get past their images.

“But I ramble,” I said, screeching to a halt.  Alan had been scrutinizing me as I talked, making me feel as if what I had to say was of the utmost importance.  “I tend to do that when I get heated.”  I wished I could take back that last word as it gave the sentence a double meaning, but Alan chose to respond to my surface statement.

“It’s a good thing, I think, the ability to care deeply.  It’s also rather refreshing to talk to someone who cares more about substance than the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.”

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Dogged Ma; chapter seven, part one

Dogged Ma: Chapter Seven, Part One

“Mom, I’m telling you the truth.  I was never engaged to Ned.”  It was Wednesday afternoon, and I had just arrived home from work.  My mother must have a sixth sense about these sort of things because she always managed to call me the minute I walked in the door.  Of course, she refused to call me on my cell phone because she didn’t want to distract me from driving.  Besides, she didn’t trust that my cell wouldn’t give me brain cancer.  As a result, I had to rush to get the phone the minute I entered my place.  As usual, I ended up wishing I had let the machine get it as my mother was venting her spleen about my supposed broken engagement.

“Mom, would I lie to you?  I mean, out and out lie?”  I infused my voice with as much indignation as I could muster, but it didn’t slow down that train.  She berated me at the top of her lungs for making her the shame of the entire Taiwanese community.  She told me she couldn’t even go to church on Sunday without everybody talking about her.  She knew they were talking about her because they would suddenly hush up whenever she was around.  And poor Pastor Wu!  Did I even think about what I’d put him through?  I had no idea what my supposed engagement had to do with her pastor, but I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.  It turned out that the ‘close friends’ of Mr. and Mrs. Chang couldn’t wait to spread the word about how abominably I’d acted Saturday night.  When they found out I broke off the engagement, well, they had a field day with that bit of information.

“Mom, I never was engaged to Ned,” I interrupted, feeling more frustrated by the minute.  If I told her the truth, I’d have to suffer through a diatribe about ‘homosexuals’, but I didn’t know if it’d be any worse than the tongue-lashing which I was currently receiving.  “It was a misunderstanding from the very start.  Believe you me, you’d be the very first person I’d tell if I ever did something as stupid as get engaged again.”  That made her switch tracks to how I would never keep myself a man with my negative attitude.  I was tempted to tell her about Ted, but I knew that’d be the kiss of death as far as any hopes of having a normal relationship with Ted was concerned.  Maybe I could mention that plenty of otherworldly beings seemed to want me.  No, that might give her a heart attack.  Just as I was about to make another snarky comment, my buzzer rang.

“Mom, someone’s at the door.  I have to buzz them up.”  It didn’t matter that I had no idea who was downstairs; I would rather face a burglar than my mother when she went into full wrath mode.  God could take a few lessons from her.  More squawking from the phone, and my buzzer rang again.  “I gotta go.  I’ll call you back.”  I hung up the phone and pressed my intercom lever.  “Hello?”  I wasn’t totally stupid.  I’d ascertain who it was before doing anything as rash as letting him/her up.  Now that I was off the phone, it didn’t really matter who was on the other side.

“Hello?  Sorry to bother, but I’m afraid I’ve been given a wrong address.”  The voice was definitely masculine, but it was diffident in tone.  British in pronunciation, and there was something very familiar about the voice.  Something about the way he pronounced ‘address’.  Suddenly, it hit me.

“You’re Alan Rickman.”  Instantly, my stomach went aflutter.  Alan Rickman was downstairs, talking to me.  I was glad I hadn’t changed out of my black skirt and blouse.  I scolded myself for thinking of such trivial thoughts when I had Alan Rickman on the other end of the intercom.

“Yes, I am.  If you could just give me directions to the Guthrie, I’d be ever so grateful.”

“Hold on.  I’ll be right down.”  I let go of the lever and grabbed my purse before flying out the door.  I could hear the phone ringing as I locked my door, but I ignored it.  I knew it would be my mother, and I had much more important things with which to deal.  When I reached the ground floor of my apartment, I saw Alan Rickman waiting patiently outside the door.  He was wearing black slacks and a white button-down, looking damn good.

“Hi, I’m Margaret Wang.”  I stuck out my hand, and he shook it with alacrity.  “You’re Alan Rickman.”  I was aware that I sounded like an idiot, but it wasn’t every day that I got to meet Alan Rickman in the flesh.  Speaking of the flesh, he looked much better in person than on camera, if that were even possible.

“Yes, I am,” Alan said, smiling affably.  “Look, I hate to be a bother, but I’ve got an appointment with the director of the Guthrie in—”  He checked his watch.  “Twenty minutes.  I would hate to be late.  The worst thing is that my driver took off before I could figure out where I was.  It must be a conspiracy to make me late for my meeting.”

“I can take you there if you’d like,” I said, holding my breath.  “It’s not very far.”

“That would be fantastic,” Alan said, looking relieved.  “I can’t figure out for the life of me how my agent screwed things up so badly.  Wait until I get a hold of her.”  He was smiling as he spoke, his demeanor belying his words.

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Dogged Ma; chapter six, part two

Chapter Six, Part Two

“You know, that stuff is bad for you,” God said, leaning against my refrigerator.  I sighed as I turned to face Him.  He was in chartreuse this time, which was hard on the eyes.  Immediately, He muted it to a dusty rose.  I surmised He had chosen the chartreuse simply for effect.  How like Him.

“I hope You’re not planning on doing this after Gwen is born,” I said sharply, realizing the stupidity of my statement as soon as it escaped my mouth.  Of course, He wouldn’t stop visiting once His child was born.  If anything, He’d probably increase the frequency of His unplanned visits in order to meddle in Gwen’s affairs.  It pissed me off to no end that I no longer had a modicum of control over my life, and I voiced my displeasure to God.  “You know, You’re working my last nerve.  Couldn’t You at least have the decency to stick to a schedule so I don’t have to worry about You showing up unannounced?”  God didn’t answer, which ratcheted my irritation tenfold.

“This shit has got to stop,” I shouted, my hands on my hips.  I didn’t know if it was my hormones going in overdrive, but I’d had enough of the Almighty and His highhanded ways.  “Get the fuck out of my kitchen.  Now!”  God still didn’t speak, nor did He move.  Without thinking, I picked up a pan and hurled it at Him.  It hit Him in the pecs and bounced off harmlessly.  It fell to the floor with a loud thud, causing me to jump.  God slowly turned translucent as I hauled another pot His way.  This time, the pot went through Him, hit the fridge and slid to the floor.  Past caring, I hurled pot after pan after plate at Him, some smashing in bits when they hit the floor.  Some minutes later, I finally ran out of gas and sagged against the counter.  Eyeing the carnage with distaste, I grabbed the broom and the dustpan from the closet.

“You done with your little snit?”  God asked, having the audacity to sound amused.  He remained transparent, which greatly bothered me.  I didn’t like being able to see through God, but He didn’t give a damn about my feelings, or so it seemed.  “Or is there more you’d like to get off your chest?”

“I’m through,” I sulked, tossing the debris into the garbage can.  “What the fuck do You want?”  I knew my mouth was going to get me into trouble with God one of these days, but I couldn’t help myself.  Something about Him brought out the worst in me.

“I just wanted to tell you that you’ll be receiving a visit from My son shortly.  Ignore everything he says.”  God smiled suddenly, nearly knocking me over with the dazzle.  It was spooky looking at a pair of gleaming teeth set in—nothingness.  Just like that, He was gone.

“Shit,” I muttered, cradling my head in my hands.  When I had recovered from His visit, I picked up my cell phone to speed-dial Pie-A-Plenty, the nearest pizza shop.  As I was about to punch the button, a portal appeared in my kitchen.  Great.  It was Lucifer.  At least I was still in my work clothes, which meant a slim red skirt and a black blouse.  I chided myself for giving a damn and punched the button on the dial.  Lucifer was going to have to wait until I ordered my pizza before telling me whatever it was he wanted to say.  I was too damn disgruntled to deal with him on a partially-empty stomach.

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