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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Who, What, and When of Prophets Tango

Prophets Tango—S1: Out of Step


    What happens when a drug-dealing psychic with a side gig as an angel of Death takes a mysterious woman for a whirl around the dance floor?

    Fate holds its breath and lets Romance take a chance.

    Jackson Jude Bell is a rock’n’ roll rake, peddling weed and charming his way through bedrooms and backseats all over the city. Jack also has a higher calling—dishing out street justice to those in need—but he doesn’t let it get in the way of his fun. That psychic thing? He knows what you’re thinking, what you’ll do next, and if you deserve to die, he handles it.

    Cursed with her own flavor of psychic ability, Anna Catalano reads Tarot and jurors for a living. She feels what you’re feeling—your history and heartaches, passions and perversions—unless she’s stoned. Anna stays just high enough to avoid thinking about her own life until her gangster-wannabe husband blackmails her into a corner and she starts looking for a way out.

    With the help of a pair of hapless Spirits on a half-baked mission, Jack and Anna meet, and with one dance, their lives are upended. Cosmic lust comes before trust, but they have to work together if they hope to thwart her husband’s plans to sell her secret to settle a deadly debt.

        (Continued in Prophets Tango—S2: Dancing in the Dark)





Prophets Tango—S2: Dancing in the Dark

    Even after a missed connection, Anna and Jack are still on a collision course with that cosmic lust. Idle infatuation becomes a firestorm of passion that Anna is determined to keep under control until Jack convinces her she can have it both ways. What began as a clandestine flesh frolic shifts gears as they affirm a tentative yet growing telepathic connection.

    At a courthouse assignment, Anna and Jack become material witnesses to a murder-suicide. During a meeting with potential allies, they discover that they are not alone in the world as Readers, but as a couple, they are in a class by themselves. Of course, passions can’t burn this hot without someone getting burned, getting mad, and getting even. Inevitably, violence brings destruction and heartbreak.

        (Continued in Prophets Tango—S3: The Light Fantastic)



Prophets Tango—S3: The Light Fantastic


    Jack pulls Anna back from oblivion and they commit to facing the future together, but the circumstances are dire as they pick up the pieces of their lives. A calculated measure of revenge exposes them to new threats as old enemies resurface and a police detective from Anna's past starts looking into the rising body count of her life.

    Evil spreads like oil on water but together they discover a fiery new facet of their combined power. Hot becomes incendiary as the duo retreat to prepare for their wedding unaware that they are being stalked.

    They give up trying to hide from the destiny of their alliance as the power of their love and the magic they conjure together combine to drive the saga of Prophets Tango to a spectacular conclusion.




     Disco was the least of the 70s. It was the lipstick on the pig of an out-of-control wedge of years caught between the wishful thinking of the 60s and the heart-wrenching chaos of the 80s. A truncated decade limping on platform soles between the wild abandon of Woodstock and the Death Card whispering "AIDS" from every dark corner. The sex cost too dearly, drugs took more than they gave, and rock 'n roll waited patiently in the wings.

  But not everyone was standing behind velvet ropes desperate for approval. Not everyone spent their last dime on the latest polyester guaranteed to get them In. That was in the movies. 

The economy was in free fall, the oil crisis strangling the working class the hardest. People dropped their credit card bills in the trash, unopened. Goals were sketchy, mutable. For a few, survival on their own terms was slipping through their fingers. 




Wednesday, March 17, 2021

late lift offs

 


There is ecstasy in paying attention. There is also salvation. She hadn’t expected the drug to come on so strong, so quickly. Past the point of remarking on it, past the point of asking someone else to drive, but honestly, she couldn’t have let any of these mongrels take the wheel. She knew her friends hadn’t really turned into dogs but Baker was a much better looking Collie than he was a human, sitting at alert in the passenger seat, his pink tongue hanging out of his mouth. 

Thank god for standstill traffic. Her plan was to drift along, focusing intently on the triple rubies of the taillights of the vehicle ahead of them until the road widened enough for her to slide over onto the shoulder and wait it out. Climb over the guardrail and puke. Sit in the tall grass and trash until she felt better. For now, focusing on the mechanics of staying upright in the seat and keeping the car in the lane was all she could manage. 

Air, she needed air, and she hit the button that rolled down all the windows simultaneously. There was no grumbling from the pack. In fact, they all crowded to their open windows as hungrily as she did. Was the radio on? No. The brothers were humming in almost harmony. Some Loggins and Messina number she didn’t know the name of. Robert had perfect pitch but his twin staggered along, not quite hitting the right notes, but never embarrassed about it. She wanted to look in the rearview or turn around to see what kind of dogs the twins were, but the lights in front of her were stuttering on and off. Something was happening, and she took her foot off the brake but didn’t touch the gas just yet. Too soon. The slow roll of only a few yards gave her a wave of nausea. Those fucking green grapes they’d tossed at each other in the parking lot while they wandered looking for the car in a sea of others. 

A white car slowly oozed into her shattered left peripheral vision. Big, boxy. Late 70s.The exhaust loud, but clean. She couldn’t see inside the windows were tinted so dark. Her foot back on the brake, the white car slid by her in inches revealing the telltale slant of shackles lifting the rear of the car almost a foot higher than the front. Dude fancied himself a drag racer. As it pulled abreast of her car, the jewels in front of her jittered to life. Move now, another car length, then stop. 

She looked over, leaning for clean air and finding only raw, over-fed exhaust fumes. Baker started barking and jumped up to lean further out his window. While she groped for the collar that wasn’t there, the cars in front of her slid under the light as yellow blinked red. The dogs all rushed to growl at the white car as it strolled to a stop alongside her, and the driver issued the challenge with one short, arrogant roar. While he was waiting for the red light to go green, she was perfectly willing to hit the gas when it turned blue. Now!

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Frittering

 Nothing like little early publicity to get me up and dressed before it was absolutely necessary. (a lie. I'm still in jammies).

Thank you, Grace




Friday, February 19, 2021

A Book Launch!

 



Launch!  ~(bodywide horripilation)~

The word gives me equal parts of terror and delight. 

Book launch adds the wicked need to pee!

The process is complex and time-consuming, especially when I've only just enrolled in Marketing 101 for Dummies.

And the actual launch of Prophets Tango is still weeks away

If you want to be kept in the loop, see that glowing blue box top right? You know what to do, and I promise not to be a pest or peddle your information. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

S2:E53

 

Starting at dawn to beat the heat got them to lunch by ten-thirty. They lounged on the crude temporary front steps, ate sandwiches from paper sacks, drank Gatorade or beer, and smoked. Gabe tipped his head back, looked up the front of the still-skeletal structure, and asked, “How are you with heights?”

Jack shrugged. “Spent half my life on rooftops. Why?”

Gabe looked skyward again. “Good, ‘cause way up there on the third level, this layout has a row of clerestory windows. If Ray had his way, we’d be working off ladders, but I’m gonna break his balls to rent some scaffolding.”

 He pronounced it ‘clear story’ and Jack was thrown. He knew what they were, but just last night he heard it pronounced clair-RES-tory by a guy he’d stabbed and thrown off a moving train.

“What did you call them?”

Gabe repeated, “clerestories. Big, fixed-pane fuckers. Heavy as shit. Expensive.”

Jack dragged his tongue along the new sharp edge on his lateral incisor. “Just another day at the office. Clear stories.” And fuck you, Ray.


He’d gone into the city to pick up a few things he’d left with Go and Chi. The trip was mostly a distraction to keep from thinking about Anna, about being seconds, inches, from burying himself inside her—and, he had to admit—blowing his load like he was twelve. Jesus. The interruption had left him gutted and angry with no place for the emotions to go. A deserving stranger paid the price.

The man had slammed into him on the subway when the car had taken an unexpected lurch. Rather than the usual muttered apologies riders gave one another when unintentional contact got rugby rough, the guy acted like Jack was the only oaf. He huffed off toward the next car, but not before leaking to Jack the details of how he’d savagely beaten a working girl to death the night before.

Already the man couldn’t remember her face. He hadn’t worried that she would remember him—another nameless, faceless dick to suck. He’d hit her because she’d made the mistake of mocking the noises he made while she worked on him, whimper for whimper. Killing her was more satisfying than the sex. He couldn’t stop thinking about doing it again.

The guy was an architect. He was running a list of specs through his head like some kind of furious prayer. “Clair-restory windows,” the client wanted, and he hated them. “Clair-restory windows,” she’d said, and he was too afraid to correct her. Now the word rattled around in his skull while he envisioned the tortures he wanted to visit on her, his one and only lucrative client. Any other female would do, and they were everywhere. Jack got all this from the fumbling body slam and he couldn’t let it slide.

He followed the man too closely through the grimy sliding door into the wind-whipped, ear-splitting space between the cars. The man turned aggressively, arm raised, his heavy wristwatch catching Jack in the mouth just as his momentum impaled him on the knife Jack held, braced for what he knew was coming. The man had a moment to take in Jack’s smiling face and hearty “You’re welcome!” before Jack boosted him over the feeble metal gate into the stinking, rushing blackness.

He wiped the blade on the sole of his boot, folded the knife into his jacket, and made his way into the next car. No one looked up from their papers. He rubbed his mouth, checked himself in the greasy glass of the door, and confirmed the broken tooth. The cocksucker.


It was almost midnight by the time he got back to Angel’s Rest. Even this late, it was hot and muggy out. Heat lightning flickered through the clouds, too far off for thunder. Their daybreak starts made staying there practical and being back on her couch was preferable to his flop in town. All the windows were dark and the door to her apartment locked.

Rather than impose on Gabe or sleep in his car, Jack made himself comfortable on a ratty sofa that had been abandoned in a dark corner of the lobby. In the space of a dream, he was awakened by the sound of a car crunching along the potholes and gravel of the steep driveway. The driver pulled right up to the open front door and cut the engine. The passenger door swung wide and the yellowed interior light came on. It was Ray and Anna.

Jack slipped into the deep shadows just inside the door, so close that if he lunged, he could grab her. A light set low in the car door spotlighted Anna, or rather, her leg. Ray was left in the gloom. She turned to step out, leg extended, the toe of her high-heeled shoe on the gravel. The blood-red dress was cut clear up to her hip. Her hair was falling down from an updo, her eyes and lips dark with heavy makeup. A strand of pearls glowed at her neck. Jack couldn’t look away from her.

From the dimness of the driver’s seat, Ray, high on something, fizzled like a cheap bottle rocket, erratic and spitting. His black hair hung over his forehead, the formal tie undone, shirt collar unbuttoned. Jack couldn’t make out what he was saying, the menace of his tone building and receding. For all the impression Ray was making on Anna, he might as well have been alone.

Jack took another stab at catching her thoughts. What he got was the cold, dark side of the moon. There was no “up” and the absence of gravity, time or place, made him brace himself against the wall through a rush of vertigo. A malevolence crouched there, waiting for some cue.

Oblivious to Ray, she stared out into the night. At Jack’s intrusion, she lifted her chin and cocked her head in his direction just a degree or two. The thin, satin spaghetti strap drifted off her shoulder as she raised her other arm to fend off Ray’s ranting. The only thing holding the dress up was her breasts. Jack watched her flex the fingers of her right hand and curl them into a street fighter’s fist.

Jesus! Where’d she learn that? Here comes the pain.

Ray grabbed her left wrist, anchoring her, and she came across her body with her right and punched him in the face. Punched him—not a girly slap—a solid shot. Ray reeled back, then made a feeble grab for her, but she’d already slipped from his grasp and was out the door. She staggered briefly, the stilettos unstable in the gravel.

 Jack shrank deeper into the shadows as she flashed through the doorway. She hit the stairs at a run but paused at the top in the darkness. A bouncing waterfall of pearls cascaded down the steps, some making it all the way into the spill of light still coming from the open car door. Little glowing eyes watching her back. He heard her key the lock, slam, and re-lock the door. That’s when he decided that Ray was not going up those stairs.

 Ray was still sitting in the driver’s seat rubbing his face. After a minute, he got out and came around into Jack’s line of sight and shut the passenger door, cutting off the light. He leaned back against the car and lit a cigarette. The smoke drifted through the darkness and gave Jack a pang. Suddenly, Ray flicked the half-smoked butt to the ground in a ball of sparks and climbed the granite step up into the lobby. Jack tensed, ready.

Ray took two tentative steps into the hollow room. Something snapped under his dress shoe. He stopped, fumbled a lighter out of his pocket, and knelt to examine the source of the sound. He lifted the lighter higher and saw a few more pearls scattered across the floor and the steps. Jack held his knife at his side. Ray cut off the lighter, muttered, “Fucking witch,” and stepped back outside. He got in the car, pulled it around the circle and down the driveway.

 Jack watched the taillights disappear, closed the knife, and slipped it back in his pocket. He dragged the couch across the floor to block the stairs, crushing several more pearls in the process. He lit a cigarette and pinched up one of the crushed orbs and rolled the precious dust between his thumb and forefinger. Lying back on the couch, he drew a cross in the sweat on his forehead with the glittering powder and then licked his fingers. There has to be some kind of magic in this shit.



Sam sat at the top of the stairs, his hands gripping his knees, eyes closed.

Stretched out halfway down the stairs, Hope lounged, watching Jack sleep. She looked up at Sam.“What are you sulking about, boy?”

“I’m not sulking, I’m...I don’t know. Unsettled.”

“Unsettled, my fine ass. You’re jealous. My boy here was ready to do for her. Do serious. And where were you?”

“I was with her,” Sam protested. “When she went inside. I was ready.” 

“So why are you out here?”

“She...” Sam bit his lip.

“Well?” Hope sat up.

“She took up a big knife from the kitchen.”

Hope started up. “Fool, she could hurt herself, she might...”

“No,” Sam shook his head. “She was waiting for him. The husband.” Sam glowed pinkish in the dark. “She tore off her clothes. Everything! She was crouched down just inside the door holding that knife, bare as the Lord made her.”

Hope giggled, “I’ll bet that’ll keep you warm on a cold night. Your idea, her getting nekkid?”

“No!” He shouted, then dropped his voice. “She doesn’t need me.”

Hope smiled up at him.“Don’t be fooled, Sam, she may have the fire when she’s poked, but you’re her strength. Be steady. This one here,”—she toed a pearl down the stairs, watched it bounce onto Jack’s chest and roll into his navel—“still thinks he knows what’s coming.”

                                                    ~o~



excerpt from "Prophets Tango" by Deborah Lacativa c.2020

Monday, August 3, 2020

extras: the dance

"So you want to learn how to dance, really dance, not that disconnected, spazzy gyrating that you could do alone at a bar and no one would notice.  I'm talking about BALLROOM dancing." She waved her hand in the direction of the street-front windows where the lurid purple neon sign burned night and day.

"We have a man and a woman, moving together to music." She walked inside the circle as she talked, looking each couple over, seeing who was going to be the most work. "There's the beat, and the melody, of course. Then muscles, bones, and skin...touching! And the desire to make it all work smoothly. If it sounds a little like sex, well, there's no denying it, which is why we keep our clothes on." 

Everyone chuckles or blushes to one extent or another and they relax a little. Jack and Paco study their feet to keep straight faces. If they giggled, Connie would ream them out for it later. Giggling was for girls. They were supposed to be men. Jack was fourteen and Paco sixteen. 

"The agreement between partners begins in the first few seconds, the moment you make contact and send and receive the signals - who will lead, and who will follow. Oh, it's not always the man, even if he thinks he's leading, am I right, ladies?" The women smile and the men look bewildered. "Once you and your partner reach a certain level of familiarity and then skill, neither will be able to tell who is in charge and that is how it should be. The give and take, so subtle, so smooth, the dance could go on forever. That's what we are reaching for here, past the mechanics to the pleasure of moving together, to the music." 

    Connie paused and finally took a breath. "Enough blah, blah. Jack, cue the tape. Paco, front and center." She snapped her fingers and her men sprang into action.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The shitty bits

Now comes the part I have to stop saying I hate, because what will that get me? Hives, boils, constipation - the writer's plague loosely called marketing.

I've decided (the calendar decided for me) that I'm going to self-publish Prophets Tango as a serial. Yes, something a little different.
I don't have time to query an editor/agent and wait six to eight months to get an email saying thanks, no thanks or whatever. Too old for that kind of waiting. Besides, there's another book waiting in the wings.

Feedbacking friends and beta readers have been worth their weight in gold, but the best I'll be able to do is spell their names right in the acknowledgments and signed copies. And let them ride in the limo with me.

Dear Ed. has given me a to-do list and I'm scratching things off one at a time, with varying degrees of success. One of the things I'm NOT supposed to be doing is imagining that I can do my own cover art. See?

There are two distinctly different brain countries involved in becoming a published author. The writing happens in the enchanted place all writers want to stay in, where stories are laid, lovingly brooded over, and hatched.

Editing and other pesky tasks like proofreading seem to be a bridge to (dum da dum) Production and Marketing Hell. A place I hold no passport for. Hardly speak the language.  Untamed and strange lands lie ahead. I will step in shit and hopefully figure out how to convince folks that smell is roses. Or at least patchouli.

I went through the steps of relocating my domain away from Register.com to Google.com. A deal dollarwise. Um...lack of understanding and expertise on my part has temporarily knocked lacativa.com into Limbo. I stumbled through a few Fill In The Blanks forms and will see what comes of it. WOW! I did it! 
Now back to making it look like a bookseller's website. That's right, I do the HTML boogie too.

The internet and diddling it has gotten very complex since I put that IBM PC-XT together from a box of parts and booted it up with a series of 5" floppies in '92. Technology feels like a runaway horse and me with no carrots or rope. I'm willing to climb back onto that horse...if I can find it.

And wtf has any of this to do with getting a book into your hands?

Everything!