The fly

My new friend . . . or IS he??

I’m trying to get some real, soul searching, satisfying writing done but somewhere, someone unleashed a huge fly jacked up on caffeine. It is circling my head like it was in the Indie 500. Literally. Circling MY head over and over and over and over . . . ahhhhhhhh! I feel like I’m in a cartoon where the main character is either dead or has not bathed in a really long time. Well, I’m not dead.

Hmmmmmm.

Okay. Now it is resting on the corner of my laptop, its shiny green butt pointing right at me. I’d try to kill it but then knowing that I’m not the karate kid with lightening fast reflexes I’d merely get it flying around me in another frenzy.

Oops. It was merely resting for the next twenty-five laps.

The engines have stopped.

Where IS it?? I don’t know which sound is more frightening, the propellers of a huge Kafka-esk fly that could carry away my cat or the icy, Hitchcock-like stillness and quiet, waiting, wondering where it is, what it is thinking, the plots that are hatching behind those 5 billion eyes.

I’m. Going. To. Hold. Really. Really. Still.

No one. Move. Or. Breathe.

Call 911 if you don’t hear from me . . .

Fast and really, really angry . . .

We recently watched Fast and Furious 6. I’m not a F&F fan. Number 6 was the first one I’ve watched all the way through. Needless to say I didn’t know who the characters were, what the storyline was, or the back history. Because it was F&F  I didn’t need to know who the characters were, what the storyline was, or the back history.

The chick who died in some other movie but in #6 we all found out she was alive? What is with the chronic constipated look?

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She looks like she’s trying to decide between Mirilax or ExLax.

“I don’t remember my life before the hospital . . . did I need this much fiber before?”

“That’s MY Metamucil Fiber Bar!”

I can see why the movie (and series of movies) they might be popular among people who are either not accustomed to thinking very hard or have day jobs that require excruciating thinking, logic, and reasoning skills and just really , really need a break from all of that. Besides, what other movie do you get to see people live out your fantasy of being a flying squirrel?

Acting: C

okay, maybe a c+

“It’s about family.” Riveting dialogue.

Perhaps The Rock can spend a bit more time taking acting lessons and less time working on his bra size.

Five Fab Friday – (5 things I’m grateful for)

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  1. That nobody really cares that its not Friday
  2. Elmer’s glue. This puddle of white goo gave me endless hours as a child. Although I never stepped out of my comfort zone to actually eat it as some of my contemporaries were fond of doing at the time I did love lathering it on the palm of my hand, waiting for it to dry, and then peeling it off like an extra layer of skin. We use to collect these pre-body-snatcher creations in our pencil boxes. And yes, as an adult in retrospect I do find this gross. But at the time . . . J
  3. Silly putty and Sunday comics. Pressing down that pink creation and pulling up a mirror image of Garfield. Good times. Good times.
  4. Red toenail polish. This was an acquired taste I must admit. I’ve always grossed out by toes in general (in my opinion they are hideous add-ons). To date I’m slightly queasy but I can walk beside a friend or neighbor in sandals and resist the urge to find a fireman’s axe to remedy the creation.
  5. Bling-bling. I love my bling-bling and living in Houston Texas allows me to fit right in. We love our bling from rhinestones on flip-flops to shiny dresses at a Jeans and Jewels gala event.
  6. I love being able to do whatever I want as an adult, including ignoring the “five” rule in my own title.

Blue Flames

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Before you read any further you need to understand a few things about me.

1) I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy.

2) I was raised with 4 brothers and despite their belief that they had nothing to do with the way I turned out they had substantial influence over me — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

3) I love Clint Eastwood and grew up on his westerns. He was Mr. blue-eyed-craggly-face long before Daniel Craig.

4) Number three has nothing to do with this post except that writing the phrase “the good the bad and the ugly” reminded me of watching Clint on our little rabbit-eared TV growing up.

5) I can neither confirm nor deny if I have ADD

6) Rats. I think I already spilled that mess of beans on earlier posts

I’m sitting here in the grocery store parking lot staring at a sign for Blue Rhino, the propane tank exchange company. I asked myself, where did they come up with the logo or name of blue rhino for a propane gas tank company? And then that little 12-year-old boy in me started to giggle.

Please re-read the disclaimers above. Producing blue flamers is a process of lighting flatulent gases on fire – or the gas of someone you are very comfortable with. This game is not for the timid as several factors have to be in play for a successful blue flame:

* Range: an extensive gas range is needed in the carrier. Without the proper propulsion, expulsion, volume and force the risk is only a disappointing flame but the probability of catching he carrier’s pants on fire increases exponentially (not to be confused with the sentencing of a liar . . . you know  . . . liar liar pants on fire . . .)

* Health risks: for the lighting assistant there is a high risk of noxious fumes, and while being so close to the source — while not necessarily toxic or fatal — can create feelings of disorientation and false impending death. This is not a risk for the carrier as it is a well-known fact that a carrier cannot sense the rancid, putrefying stench of his/her own gas. A carrier has — what is known in most blue faming circles as — immunity.

* Expectations: there can be a risk of disappointment, not only in the size of explosion but in the color, for although the “product” is labeled as a blue flamer the lit flatulent gas does not actually appear as the color blue. Historical records indicate that the name is derived from the natural gas that a carrier produces.

* Supply depletion: no gas from a chosen carrier. I believe producing the correct amount of gas as well as the speed necessary for a successful launch is as much an art form as it is a skill. While most human bodies will produce (and expel) a reasonable amount of gas in a given lifetime not all gas and gas carriers are created equal. Some must intake specific types of fuel in order for effective processing. Others are simply gifted with a faulty processing system that allows for a natural greenhouse effect to take place.

*Pyroflatulance, otherwise known as “blue darts” or “blue angels” are possible because of the methane, hydrogen sulfide and hydrogen present when one breaks wind. Caution must be exercised or sensitive tissues can be singed, seared, or over cooked.

While I have never personally experienced nor witnessed the ignition of a blue flame I can thus neither confirm nor deny the existence of such activities. I can only attest to the attempt by my older brothers. (Lighting flatulent gases has been a novelty practice among the male species of our culture for decades and with the statistical current rate of human evolvement this practice will continue for many, many more.) Disclaimer: no squirrels, chipmunks or creepy clowns were harmed during the creation of this blog post

Kickstarters unite!

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I freely admit it. I contributed to the making of the new Veronica Mars movie. I’m an official backer! Love love my Veronica Mars!!

Wednesday Whining: Things that drive me crazy

(Author’s note: be sure to click on links as they provide additional flavor and nuance to the blog posts . . .)

Fat kneecaps

To be specific — MY fat kneecaps. I’ve been fairly slim most of my life, tried to eat a well-balanced diet, exercised, etc. Imagine my surprise when one random morning after my shower I flip my head over to wrap a towel around my hair. Can you hear the intake of air? The gasp? My kneecaps have gained weight! Okay, surprise is a mild word. Dismay. Chagrin. Horror. Shock. Disgust. Terror. R e v u l s i o n. Kneecaps? Really? How do you gain weight just on your kneecaps?? Is this a practical joke?

*Update: I do so wish the weight gain had remained only on my kneecaps . . . sigh.

Gorilla BO

Have you ever stepped inside of a gorilla exhibit? At our zoo the highly-charged testeronic beasts are separated from the rest of the crew with their own special house. This zoo frat house has a long walkway in and not a short enough walkway out. The only other time I gagged that much was when I allowed a Belgian city worker to use my bathroom who must have been digesting some horribly decomposed animal. <Insert shudder>

The demise of Better Off Ted

This quirky show was the highlight of my week. The writing was brilliant and the episodes were so off the wall I found myself laughing so hard I was spitting on the TV screen. Leave it to TV executives to execute any show with originality. But yes, we need more Reality TV because our lethargic brains just can’t get enough of strangers choosing “soul mates,”  watching the upteenth DUI trying to walk a straight line for the cops, or truckers driving on yet another highway of snow and ice while carrying a load of . . . oh who cares . . .

Riveting.

(Disclosure: I do like Doomsday Preppers. I now know how to test road kill for freshness. You know – based on the theory that the nuclear bombs don’t finish off the squirrels with the humans, or the premise that squirrels will be immune from zombification. Which reminds me — I need to stock up on Season All.)

My enormous clown feet

I hate buying new tennis shoes. With each and every pair I am convinced my feet grow bigger and longer in a race to beat my kneecaps. I look like a delirious clown flopping around the store. Oh to have petite, feminine feet (without, of course, the ancient Chinese method of feet binding. I do draw the line at that.) Which leads me to . . .

Creepy Clowns

This last Halloween Hubby and I realized we hadn’t effectively scarred any of our children lately. (Yes, you read it right – scarred NOT scared.) Our 19-year-old daughter absolutely, unequivocally hates clowns – in all shapes, sizes, and forms. In her eyes there are no happy clowns, they are all machete-carrying, glazed-eyed, blood-splattered demons. So we skipped over to Walmart, found a morose rubber clown, replaced our daughter’s closet light with a red light bulb, and hung the doll in her closet.

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There was some freakadge, but not enough to warrant the paybacks I received over the next month. No matter how hard I tried to throw that clown away, it would invariably end up in places I did not want it to be; my office chair, under my bed covers . . . you get the idea. Below is a picture of it (finally) in the trash for good. Maybe taking the picture captured the clown’s demented soul, preventing it from crawling out of the dumpster one last time. Anyone a Chuckie expert?

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Tiny pinky toenails

What is the point?  It’s like they were an afterthought.

 People who don’t respond to emails, texts, Facebook messages, etc.

This really, really drives me crazy. Ever write a nice little note and the only response are crickets? Slightly less infuriating is when there is a response but it ends up as an entirely unrelated topic as a piggyback on your email or message stream. It sometimes feels like calling suicide hotline and they put you on hold.

{Tapping microphone} Hello?? Hello?? Is this thing on?

Ending a blog post without tying everything together . . . 

Wednesday Whining: One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest

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I’m starting to feel it, the telltale signs of my last little bird flapping his wings, ready to fly and leave the nest. Is it too cliché to admit I’d never really thought this would happen to me? This is going to sound crazy . . .

You mean unlike your other posts, thoughts, and ramblings?? Good luck.

But in the very back, dark, cobwebbed (and slightly frightening) corners of my mind I thought that, just maybe, if I didn’t take my children for granted, or if I continually felt and expressed gratitude for being a mother, that they wouldn’t really grow up and leave me. Somewhere I had convinced myself that if I recognized that raising children was a privilege, that it WAS a great time in my life, if I didn’t wish away the time wanting them to quickly grow up that . . . somehow . . . magically . . . they wouldn’t. They wouldn’t grow up, that they wouldn’t leave. I could escape that!

Okay crazy lady. Where did you get an idea like that?

I would have older women – empty nesters – tell me that raising children would be the happiest time in my life. My mother said it to me. My grandmother said it to her. They would lament the sound of the ticking clock in an empty house, that echo they would hear in their hearts when all was quiet and there wasn’t blaring guitar music melting their teeth or any more dirty towels to scrape off of the floor or finding random sticky bowls and spoons or ill begotten candy wrappers hidden in the linen closet . . .

Hmmmm . . .

As I think about it, I am enjoying the days to myself, the quiet time I can sit and write and shoo the cat off of my computer after returning from a snack break. I enjoy being able to meet up with a friend at Starbucks or catching a spur-of-the-moment early afternoon movie with my husband and not rushing to get home in time for little ones stepping off of the bus or worrying about timing the car pool line just right, a daily basis of trying to monitor that delicate balance between getting there too early forcing me to idle amongst the noxious gas fumes or waiting just a bit too long to drive over to the school only to have to listen to your tires squeal in at the last second but because you are late you can’t find your kid because he has wandered off or decided to take matters into his own hands and walk home anyway and you just missed him because he took a different route home so you drive around the frickin’ neighborhood with your heart pounding just knowing that some pervert has offered him candy and like that dumb kid in Narnia that thought it would be okay to stuff his face with Turkish Delight from the White Witch your kid is stuffing his face with some corn-syruped, teeth-rotting, ADHD nightmare confection because despite the bajillion times you’ve warned him not to take candy from strangers he is probably thinking in his mind that this dude is not strange looking at all and besides the candy will remind him of the squirrel droppings he saw earlier and tried stuffing into his back pocket and when you finally catch up with him he’s at home on the front yard with his boy-part already whipped out urinating on an ant pile . . .

[Silence]

Never mind . . . I don’t feel so sad anymore . . .

The Best Little Cabin in Texas

I can never look at a chicken in quite the same way.

Now, as I’ve told this story to others who live around here as soon as I mention the name of the cabin and its location I immediately see eyeballs pop and tiny little smiles form on the edge of lips. I was not so fortunate. There was no advance warning for me . . .

I saw this cute little cabin last year while doing research online and I thought if we ever had a free weekend it would be a fun place to try out. It’s nestled just outside of Smithville Texas and not a far drive from where we live. So I come up with this brilliant plan that this would be the perfect getaway for an anniversary weekend.

“No worries!” I assure my husband. “Let me take care of the details! I have a great little place all lined up!”

I call the number listed to reserve the cabin and the sweetest little old lady answers the phone. This is how the conversation went:

ME: So . . . where do we stop by to pick up the keys?

LITTLE OLD LADY (hereforafter to be referred to as LOL): Oh no, dear. We don’t ever lock the cabin. Just drive on up and come right in.

ME: Oh—okay.

Oh crap. An unlocked cabin, alone on 300+ acres. What could possibly go wrong?

LOL: And while you are there we have the best little asses in Texas too if you’d like to drive over to see.

ME: E-excuse me?

Talk about confidence. You go girl.

LOL: Oh yes, dear. We raise donkeys.

ME: Oh! Yes! Awesome! We would definitely want to see that.

Whew.

LOL: Yes, dear. Just drive on up the hill and you will see two signs: one points to The Best Little Cabin and the other to The Best Little [BLEEP].

I think you get the idea.

I’m a little worried as we drive. You see, I’ve arranged this little getaway and if everything isn’t amazing I will feel personally responsible FOR IT ALL. No sweat. Just the entire weekend is riding on how interesting and cool and amazing and NOT AWKWARD this weekend is going to be.

As we drive I shoot my husband a worried look. “Is this okay?”

“Of course, love. It’s a nice area.”

Five minutes later I shoot him another worried look. “This is a pretty cool town, right?”

He laughs. “I’m going to love it.”

“’Cuz you’d tell me if you don’t like it, right?”

“Lets at least see how things are when we get out of our own neighborhood . . .”

We drive onto a gated area of woods with 300 acres of beautiful Texas shrubrush. I shoot hubby a look. “This is nice . . .” I suggest hopefully. We follow the signs and soon are pulling up to a quaint little cabin.

Waling into the master bedroom we finally came face to face with the bed of the infamous Miss Edna. Huh, I thought. I wonder who this Miss Edna was?Image

The website alluded to this woman and the fact that the owners now were in possession of her bed.

We look around and we realize that the master bedroom is decorated in the style of . . . wait for it . . . a bordello! Framed frilly pantaloons adorn one wall with a large Vegas showgirl-type feather headdress. The bathroom holds a framed license to practice prostitution from the 1800’s. Regular and coffee table books, posters, etc. on the same general theme of “bad girls and pinups.” Hmmmmmm . . .

And the chickens. Scattered around the cabin are various decorations of chickens and roosters. Okay, I thought, that can be a theme. So they like chickens.

Oh dear reader. It is not that simple, or innocent.

Then we found the binder. Do you recall Romney’s “binder full of women”? We found the binder. Inside was a complete explanation—and education—about not only Miss Edna’s bed but about the infamous La Grange Chicken Ranch that had been located not but twenty miles away. Encased in clean, shiny sheet protectors were articles and a fairly complete history about this well-known “business.”

Does it ring a bell? How about the movie/musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas? Miss Edna was the last Madam of this small Texas town’s brothel that had been thriving since the latter 1800’s. During the depression when money was tight Miss Edna allowed customers to pay with chickens. Soon the place was teeming with poultry. The girls began selling the eggs and chickens to supplement their income. It was known as The Chicken Ranch from then on out.

What is even more astounding is that the place was not shut down until 1973.

1973?

After a reporter’s expose, the governor decided he could no longer turn a blind eye and ordered the Sheriff to shut the place down. A shock, I know. Not even after the Sheriff presented 3,000 signatures to the Governor to keep the place open. 3,000 signatures. I think there were more chickens than people populating that town so I have no idea where they came up with that many warm bodies.

So they shut the place down and the furniture was sold. The 4 poster bed of the famed Madam ended up in a quaint little cabin not too far from its original resting place where two (now much wiser) Mormons spent an uneventful weekend.

When I told my brother and his wife about our discovery they couldn’t believe we had lived as long as we did in Texas and never heard of the Chicken Ranch.

Really?

The study of brothels and the Sheriffs who loved them has never been on my bucket list. But I can honestly say I know more about Miss Edna and the history of LaGrange than I ever thought I would in my lifetime. That and how to successfully run a house of ill repute.

Quiz me and I’ll tell you that the girls were required to be fingerprinted by the local Sheriff with a background check before beginning employment.

Quiz me and I might share that the biggest supporters were the local university and a military base nearby, complete with a free helicopter ride for our troops. Extra-curricular activities indeed.

And if you get me in just the right mood we can discuss how on a return visit this reporter had “words” with the Sheriff who ended up knocking him flat on his back. Shuttin’ down my fave-oh-rite place? Thems is fightin’ words . . .

So, along with the good advice of never starting a land war in Asia, be sure to do your homework, especially if vacationing in some of the smaller towns of Texas. Sometimes a chicken is not always just a chicken.

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A tooth! A tooth! My kingdom for a tooth!

I recently went in for a full dental x-ray. As usual I was asked to fill out a questionnaire with all sorts of personal questions while wondering how in the world they could possibly apply to what I was in for. You know the ones. The ones you’d like to write NOYDB: none of your business. But at this imaging place was a question I’d never before come across. The question was, “would you be upset if you lost all of your teeth?”

Hmmmmmm. Was that a trick question? I mean . . . really? Who wouldn’t? Was this one of those passive-aggressive tactics our mothers used to use when trying to manipulate us into changing our behavior? “Do you want me to march into your class and tell every one that you wet your bed last night?”

It really had me stumped and I had to sit and think for a few minutes. If I answered no I would be lying but would it show that I’m tough and can handle depressing situations? If I answered yes does that mean they need to watch me carefully, hiding blunt instruments, putting me on suicide watch, making sure I don’t follow other patients that have a full set of teeth out the door while carefully concealing a pair of pliers?

I literally got up out of my chair, walked up to the receptionist, pointed at the question and asked her, “Has anyone ever answered this as a ‘no’?”

What would a person like that say? What would a person like that look like??

Which comes to the reason for this particular visit. My periodontist (yes, I have several specialists in regards to my dental health. You could feed a third world country on what I’ve spent on my teeth) announced that there was nothing he could do for one of my teeth and that it would have to be extracted.

As in pulled.

As in yanked.

As in a hole and space between two perfectly healthy teeth.

“But the good thing,” he hastened to add, “is that you are a great candidate for an implant.”

Okay, now when a gal hears the word “implant” she’s not going to get that excited unless it involves bigger boobs.

For those who are not toothing impaired, a dental implant involves putting a metal post in the hole where your tooth was and then a fake tooth–much like a crown–is screwed on top. Voila. This new tooth won’t be distinguishable from the others. The only difference you will notice is that sucking noise coming from your wallet.

I was a bit worried the night before my surgery. What if I wasn’t the prime candidate my dentist had hoped I would be? I was having nightmares of Jack Nickolson holding a spinning dental drill and screaming, “You can’t HANDLE the tooth!”

I’ve recently realized I’m fast approaching the age where more and more things are being yanked out and bionic parts are being shoved in—but the only special powers to show for it are crankiness and a full-blown snarky attitude. When I die my kids will be able to strip me like an old car and sell my parts for scrap metal. Which is only fitting as they are partially responsible for the current state my body is in.

To go back to a time when knee caps actually looked like knees, when socks could be pulled up to said knee without fear of gangrene settling in from the elastic cutting off my circulation, when I could wear a swimsuit that didn’t have a skirt attached to cover thighs, and more money was invested in the stock market rather than in my mouth.

I suppose getting older isn’t all that bad. Social filters are slipping enough to allow me to not really give a hoot when I express an unpopular opinion. And enough fatigue is settling in that I don’t feel like I always HAVE to express an opinion. Someone thinks it’s abhorrent to have kids sleep with parents? I don’t really care anymore. MY kids are happy in their own beds–and in their own houses–while I blissfully slumber with earplugs and an eye-shield.

So, I have to admit I’m grateful to live in a time of dental miracles, bypassing those of George Washington’s wooden teeth days. It might not always be glamorous growing old but at least now I have a greater chance of not losing all of my teeth.

But just in case, I think I’ll keep a pair of pliers in my purse . . .

The Marriott, a dead body, and me . . .

Author’s note: Be sure to check out my related zombie article here.

Like all ghost stories, this one begins with a curse. But not just any ordinary curse. This one involves nasal congestion, insomnia, and the love of Jane Austen-like mini series. Oh . . . and a dead body.

Sleep had eluded me for many weeks. When I wasn’t awake at wee hours of the morning glued to the TV set in poorly acted Austen-era dramas, I was propped up on my memory foam pillow, struggling for air like some Darth Vader drag queen. Allergies had hit me hard in this Houston suburb and invited hideous guests to the party, turning my head into a swimming mess of sinus infections and enough postnasal drip to sink the Titanic.

Hence, no sleep. Each night that I carefully planned a blissful slumber with drugs and BreathEasy strips strapped to the bridge of my nose the curse was revisited. I awoke from nightmares of being eternally stuck at girl’s camp or hearing my dog barking at some nocturnal cat sauntering across our lawn at 4 in the morning.

To celebrate the Memorial Day weekend my husband whisked me away to San Antonio where we were given a free upgrade to a suite on the 19th floor, complete with flushing toilets and a huge balcony overlooking the Riverwalk.

As we settled down to sleep I warned my husband that I was cursed.

“What?” he asked.

“It’s true! Every night for the past few weeks something has woken me up. I have not been able to get a single night’s rest.”

“Oh, don’t worry honey,” came the proverbial pat on the head. “We have blackout curtains and I’ve put out the Do Not Disturb Sign on the door. Tonight we’re going to sleep like babies!”“Ohhhkay . . .” I was dubious. But I decided to trust my husband and fell immediately into a peaceful slumber.

That was until the wee hours of the blessed a.m. (That’s the magic hour when the ringer on the telephone is the most shrill.)

“Uh, Mr. Siddoway . . . is everything okay?”

“What?” My husband is incredulous. “Of course. Yes.”

“No disturbances?”

“Not other than the phone ringing at 2:30 in the morning.”

“Okay, sir. Just wanted to check on you.”

Zealous front desk clerk maybe?

No more than 10 minutes later there is a flashlight shining through the glass doors on our balcony. You know the one. On the NINETEENTH floor.

This time its my husband calling the front desk.

“Ummmm . . . yeah, now there’s a disturbance. On our balcony.”

“Oh, not to worry Mr. Siddoway. That’s just the police.”

Oh. Okay. Normal, everyday occurance at the Marriott.

“Sweetie,” my husband croaks to me. “There’s a helicopter outside our balcony.”

You know, even after that I still was NOT going to get out of bed.

“Helicopter? Why?”

Then comes the loud, urgent knocking on our door. By now its 3 a.m. and we are letting in two policeman and a detective.

“What are your names? Is there anyone else in the room? Any disturbances on the balcony?”

FINALLY my husband asks the question . . . “What is going on??!!”

I am now out of the bed.

“Well, sir. There is a dead body in the hotel and we’d like to know where it came from.”

Even in my half comatose state I still wanted to turn to my husband and in a smart aleck tone say, “Ohhhh! So THAT’S where it is. You know, we have been looking for that thing ALL night.” So, yeah. It was a bit of the attitude that it somehow this corpse belonged to us.

“Dead body?” my husband said. “What was it? A jumper?”

The detective was hesitant to give out too many details say but one of the policemen standing behind him was silently but firmly nodding his head up and down.

Well it became apparent that we were not the owners—or producers–of a lifeless, unclaimed body.

As soon as he saw the police to the door and had closed it behind them my husband turned to me and simply said,

“You ARE cursed.”

I just shrugged my shoulders. “Like I told you. I never get a good night’s rest.”

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