Category Archives: Literary Fiction

Dogged Ma; chapter fifteen

Chapter Fifteen

I felt horrible about kicking out Ted last night, then not returning his calls.  He’d left three of them, each increasingly desperate.  I knew that my temper got the best of me sometimes, and he had a right to question the origins of my pregnancy.  I hadn’t explained it very well, and it was a strange-sounding story if you’d never met God face-to-face as I had.  I decided to dress up, go over and make amends for my highhanded behavior.  I found a dress that was quite sexy though it showed off my slightly-bulging stomach.  It was a moss green color and dipped to show my increased bust-line.  I pinned my hair up in a ‘sloppy’ bun—which was artfully crafted, of course—before putting on the finishing touches.  I left off the makeup because I hated smearing when I had sex.  As I drove over, I felt happier than I had in a while.  Ted was a reasonable man, and I knew that we could work things out.

“Margaret!”  Ted said, looking shocked as he opened the door a few inches.  I didn’t notice, however, as I was eager to say my piece which I’d rehearsed on the way over.

“Ted, I’m really sorry for springing the news on you that way.  I know it’s a lot to deal with and—”

“You should have called.  Now is not a good time, Margaret,” Ted said, trying to smile.  He wouldn’t open the door any further, however, and his odd behavior reminded me of the night his ex had come barging in on us about to have sex.  I looked closely at Ted and noticed that his hair was mussed, he had traces of lipstick on his lips, and he was sporting an erection.

“Oh, I get it,” I said, my tone frosty.  I could feel my cheeks burning despite my attempt to stay calm.  Motherfucker was playing me for a fool, and I didn’t like it one bit.

“It’s not what it looks like—”

“Teddy?  Who’s at the door?  I’m getting lonely all by myself.”  It was the not-so-dulcet tones of his ex, and she sounded nicely lubricated.  “Come back to Lucinda.”

“Margaret, listen,” Ted said, grabbing my arm.  “We haven’t, we weren’t, that is, it was just kissing.”  He shifted his eyes away, knowing that he sounded like a jerk.

“I see,” I said coldly, stepping out of his grasp.  “Well, I’ll let you return to Lucinda, then.  Wouldn’t want to keep her waiting.”  I turned on my heel and marched to my car, tears blurring my sight.

“Margaret, please!  Come back,” Ted called at the top of his lungs.  I ignored him, however, as I didn’t do sloppy seconds.  It sure hadn’t taken him long to go back to the bitch, had it?  I jumped in my car and fumbled with my keys, finally inserting the right one into the ignition.  As soon as I got the car started, I peeled out of his driveway, not caring if I got stopped by the cops.  My cell phone started ringing immediately as I drove away, but I didn’t bother answering.  I knew it’d be Ted, and the last thing I wanted to do was talk to him right now.  Besides, I had to concentrate on getting home in one piece.  Not that I had much to worry about concerning myself, but I didn’t want to cause any accidents on the way.

As soon as I was safely in my home, I ran into my bedroom and threw myself on my bed.  I hated acting like a typical girl, but I couldn’t stop weeping.  I hadn’t known Ted long, but I thought we’d been so simpatico.  I thought he would be man enough to deal with my strange situation; I was obviously wrong.  I could feel a migraine coming which occurred sometimes when I cried too much.  I didn’t care, however, as I welcomed anything that would make me feel more miserable.  My heart wrenched in my chest, causing me to gasp for air.  I pounded the bed best I could and wished it was Ted’s face.  Speaking of the devil, I could hear him talking to my answering machine.

“Margaret, I am so, so sorry.  It’s just that your news shocked the hell out of me, then you kicked me out and wouldn’t answer my calls.  I just—no.  I fucked up.  That’s all.  Lucinda is gone.  Please call me.”  When Hell fro—never.  I would never call him again.  The one thing I couldn’t tolerate was infidelity, which he should have known.  I closed my eyes and cried even harder until I felt someone’s arms around me.  Without looking up, I knew it was Lucifer.

“Margaret Marilyn,” he murmured into my hair.  “Let me comfort you.”  I turned around, facing my nemesis.  He glowed, even in the dark, and there was something almost angelic about his smile.  I reminded myself that he was an angel, albeit one who had fallen to the dark side.  It didn’t dim his allure, however.  There was no trace of the whipping Li Ling had put on him last night, and he was beautiful.  He was erect, but he didn’t press himself against me as he carefully enveloped me in his arms.  His wings folded themselves around us, and I felt so safe—cocooned.  “Cry, Margaret Marilyn.  Get him out of your system.”  I opened my mouth to protest that I wouldn’t get over Ted so easily, but Lucifer captured my mouth with his.  Any thoughts, any words in my head were instantly forgotten as the white-hot pain/pleasure shot through my body when his tongue touched mine.

“Morningstar,” I breathed once we’d broken off the kiss.

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Dogged Ma; chapter fourteen, part one

Chapter Fourteen; Part One

“Hello?  Is this Margaret Wang?”  A British voice filtered through my cell phone, causing me to perk up.  It was Wednesday night, and I’d just been ready to turn on the television to watch a little sports when the phone rang.

“Yes, it is.  Is this Alan Rickman?”  My heart beat a bit faster.  What other Brit did I know?  None.

“Yes, it is, love.  How are you?”  Alan Rickman, talking to me like we were friends.  I had to breathe deeply a few times before answering.

“I’m just fine.  You?”

“Smashing.  I just wanted you to be the first in Minnesota to know that I’ve agreed to perform at the Guthrie.  This fall.  I shall be moving there, temporarily, of course, in a month or two.  What do you think of that?”

“That’s fantastic,” I blurted out, not caring that I sounded like a star-struck teenager.  I thought about it a second and realized that while it was, indeed, fantastic, it was also going to complicate my life somewhat.  There was no denying I was powerfully attracted to Alan.  Would I be able to keep my hands to myself?  “What’s the play?  No, wait, don’t tell me.  I want to be surprised.  It’s enough to know that you get the girl.”  I was rewarded by Alan’s wonderful laugh.  “Thank you for the orchids, by the way.  They were beautiful.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed them,” Alan said warmly.  “You know, you could ring me every now and then.  I did give you my number for a reason.”  My heart stopped at those words.  He actually thought I’d dare to call him?

“I’ll try,” I said inanely.  “I just know how busy you are, and well, I don’t want to bother you.”

“Listen, Margaret,” Alan said in his inimical voice.  “I wouldn’t have given you my number if I didn’t mean for you to use it, all right?”

We chatted for several more minutes until he had to go.  He promised he’d be in touch the minute he got to Minnesota which nearly gave me a heart attack.  I hadn’t thought he was serious when he said he wanted to be friends, but apparently he was.  I said goodbye in a dreamy voice, not caring that I was giving something away.  I knew I’d have to be damn careful when he came into town, but I could dream, couldn’t I?  There was no harm in that.  I knew I was playing with fire, but I just didn’t give a damn.

“So, the Brit is coming back into your life, is he?”  It was Lucifer, of course, and he was glaring at me.  I was glad I had changed into sweats as soon as I got home so I wouldn’t be as appealing.  Then again, it was easier access, something I did not need to think about.

“He has a name, you know,” I said dispiritedly.  I wasn’t in the mood to fence with Lucifer as I wanted to savor my phone call with Alan.

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Dogged Ma; chapter thirteen, part two

Chapter Thirteen; Part Two

“Ned, what am I going to do?”  I asked softly.  I didn’t mind being vulnerable with Ned because I knew he’d never take advantage of what I perceived as my weakness.  “I have to keep Morningstar away from me.  I can’t resist him forever.”  There.  It was out.  My dastardly attraction to the Prince of Darkness—what the fuck did that say about my soul?  I knew I’d always been drawn towards the dark side, but this was beyond the pale.  How the hell could I justify wanting to fuck the devil?  There was no rhyme nor reason to it, but I couldn’t stop the attraction.  That was the problem more than the open portal—I desired the devil.

“What about a crucifix?”  Ned asked.  I began to laugh, but he was serious.  “Maybe it only works for Catholics, though.”

“That’s for vampires,” I said in exasperation.  “Morningstar is not a vampire.”  I didn’t mention that he had vampiric qualities because I wanted to avoid that particular discussion.  “I doubt something as fragile as a cross would do much to ward him off.”

“What about this charm around your neck?”  Ned asked, fingering the thread.  “Isn’t that supposed to call up a protector?”

“Yes, but I never remember to use it,” I admitted, shameful of another flaw.  “When I see Morningstar, the lust is overpowering.  It’s almost as if some dark force is pulling us together.”

“There’s no way for you to block him out,” Ned mumbled.  “Shit, Margaret.  I don’t know what to tell you.  They don’t cover this sort of thing on Doctor Phil.”  Ned’s idea of a lame joke as he didn’t watch that asshole any more than did I.  Doctor Phil, my ass!  The only thing his doctorate was good for was fooling the audience into believing he actually knew something.

“Damn,” I said, closing my eyes.  “I need to take a bath.”  Even though I’d taken a shower earlier, I felt the need to cleanse once again.  “Do me a favor?”  I knew it was going to sound odd, but I didn’t care.  “Sit on the toilet while I bathe?  I’m afraid God or the Morningstar will show up otherwise.”  Ned being there didn’t guarantee they wouldn’t drop by, but at least I would have a witness to whatever they said or did.

“Hey, if you want me to see you naked, all you have to do is ask,” Ned said playfully, patting me on the thigh.  I swatted his hand away as I got up.

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Dogged Ma; chapter thirteen, part one

Chapter Thirteen; Part One

“Where are you?  Are you still with Ted?  Call me.”

“OK, now I know you’re not still with your boy.  Call me!”

I laughed as I erased Ned’s messages, each increasingly agitated.  I had no idea why he took such an interest in my love life when his was infinitely more complicated and fascinating, but I knew I better call him before he busted a gut.  It was ten in the morning Sunday morning, and I had just gotten home.  Ted had skipped church this morning, but he wanted me to go with him at some later date.  I promised I would, and to my surprise, I was looking forward to it.  It would be a change from the Taiwanese church, that was for sure.  Speaking of, Ned should be there right now, but he didn’t go every week; I had a hunch he’d be home this morning just waiting for me to call.  I called him, tapping my foot as I waited for him to answer.

“Girl, what took you so long?  Did you just get home?”  Ned was at full decibel, which meant I had to hold my cell phone away from my ear.  “Oh, no, you didn’t!”  I could practically see him waggling his neck, even across the wires.

“Yes, I did just get home,” I admitted, a smile playing on my lips.  “You wouldn’t believe the drama.”

I wandered into the living room, sinking onto my couch as I did.  I was wearing a t-shirt and sweats borrowed from Ted.  Of course, the latter kept falling off me until Ted had fixed it with a quick basting.  I was impressed Ted had a sewing kit until he reminded me that he was a bachelor.  I liked wearing his clothes, however, and I wasn’t sure I was going to give them back.  I spilled the beans about Ted’s ex, and Ned was appropriately appalled.  He knew Lucinda, of course, and he couldn’t believe she would cause a scene like that.  When I mentioned that she’d been drunk, Ned hadn’t been surprised.  Seemed it ran in her family.  What a shame.

“Now it’s time to dish the dirt,” Ned announced once we were through analyzing Lucinda’s behavior.  “How was he in the sack?”

“I don’t kiss and tell,” I said indignantly.  “Especially not when it’s someone you know.”  I couldn’t resist adding, “I was completely satisfied, though, I’ll tell you that much.  We used a three-pack of condoms, if that tells you anything.”

“You go, girl,” Ned cheered.  He knew how difficult it was for me to find someone who complemented my libido.  That was the most crushing thing about Gary’s betrayal—he had been making excuses not to have sex with me the last six or so months we’d been together, leaving me frustrated more often than not.  While I was wondering what was wrong with him during that time, he was getting it on with one co-ed or another.  “I want details!”  He knew I rarely talked about my sexcapades unless they were one-night stands, so he wasn’t offended when I declined.  “I’m happy for you,” Ned said, his voice subdued for once.  “You deserve someone who treats you right.”

“As do you,” I replied.  Ned had known his fair share of heartache, so I was glad there was someone who put a smile on his face.  “How’s Alonzo?”  I had to listen to exactly how Alonzo was for the next ten minutes because unlike me, Ned did kiss and tell.  By the time he was done, I knew far more about Alonzo than I’d ever wanted to know.

“Oh, I have a great idea!”  Ned said after his recitation.  “I’m inviting you and Ted to my place for dinner very soon.  I’ll invite Alonzo as well, and it’ll be like a double-date!  What do you think?”

“That’ll be fun,” I said enthusiastically.  “Alonzo doesn’t hate women, does he?”  More than once, Ned had introduced me to one of his paramours only to discover that I was most emphatically not welcomed.

“Nope.  Some of his best friends are women.  He told me so himself.”  With that settled, I got off the phone.  I wanted to clean the apartment—something I did once in a blue moon.  Alas, it was not to be.

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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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