Flash: C is for Cheerwine Christmas Courtship Choices

Image from icecreaminspiration.com (https://icecreaminspiration.com/ten-party-ice-cream-punch-recipes/)

“So how about him?” I point at Randall from Sales where he ladled out the punch bowl concoction where someone had dumped Cheerwine, Reed’s ginger ale, a couple cans of adulterated pineapple juice, and some vanilla ice cream in a bowl. “Swipe left or right.”

“Oh, left all the way. I don’t date white boys.” Wanda responded.

“Well, that is racist,” I joke. Wanda and I worked the front desk at the company, covering twenty incoming lines plus all visitor badge check-ins. We judge everyone coming in that door. Not out loud, mind you, at least not when they are at the desk and we make very sure the mics on our headsets are on mute before comments start flowing. The politically correct boat sailed the first hour of me joining her at the desk, and had disappeared over the horizon by the end of that day never to be seen again. I recently got happily hooked up, the boyfriend promising me a ring at Christmas when we are visiting his family, so now I am working on matching her up for similar domestic bliss.

“Yeah, well, they always try and call the cops on me the first time I attempt to stab them.”

I choked on the punch, which actually is quite good, Cheerwine for the caffeine kick, Reed’s for the ginger kick, ice cream for the smooth, and the pineapple because fermentation. Someone in maintenance worked magic. “You stab your boyfriends often?”

“Only twice, but white guys just get so angsty when you threaten them with a knife or cast-iron frying pan.”

“So, you know how I said I was finally starting to understand black Southern culture after growing up as North White?” I rubbed shoulders with her. “Consider that statement retracted.”

“Bless your heart.” A sly smile crossed her face as she sipped the Pepsi-zero. Her diabetes limited her sugar intake.

“Hey now!”

We made eye contact and both fell into giggles.

“Well, if it isn’t the twins.”

Tyrone from accounting towered over us. CPA and thought he was god’s gift to numbers and the company ledger. Problem was, he was god’s gift to numbers, the company ledger, and sexy as hell.

“Left or right?” I ask out of the corner of my mouth. I may have been on my second cup of the punch. Maybe third. Who counts at the company mandatory holiday parties? Especially when you were the one who spent the day, being “only receptionists”, decorating the meeting room and entry way for the party, while still covering the desk and the phones. Yes, we are that good, but it was hot thirsty work and I was trying to rehydrate with the punch. Maybe not my wisest choice. My boyfriend will be picking me up after he gets off work, so not my worst choice either.

“Right.” Wanda said without hesitation. “In fact, right now. Hey Tyrone.” She stepped closer and pressed her arms against her sides, causing her cleavage to jump in her deep cut red blouse. Wanda both got it and flaunted it. Not normally, dress codes for a welcoming professional appearance being written by the HR sticklers, but today is for exceptions of all sorts of things.

I think Tyrone swallowed his tongue and I double-checked the floor as I took a step back, because his eyeballs had popped out of his head. Pity, they had been the perfect brown soulful set to drown in, when not hardened by the end-of-quarter recordkeeping. Oh wait, looks like he got them back because they managed to track up to Wanda’s face.

Good luck girl, I thought as I move away.

We, as the receptionists, had an unfair advantage for picking out dating material internally that Tyrone likely also had being in accounting. We know exactly what everyone makes.

Payroll drops off the paystubs with the envelopes at the front desk, claiming they didn’t have time to deal with stuffing them or handing them out and since everyone went through us anyway, and we were “only receptionists” it would be a perfect way to fill in all our free time. The results is we knew exactly who was being garnished for child support, who was putting money into their retirement accounts, who didn’t get regular raises, and who did.

Tyrone did not have any garnishments, put aside the max into his 401K, and got raises like clockwork. A good hard worker if obnoxious during the end-of-quarter accounting crunches. But at six foot, a regular at the company gym, especially for the inside running track, and no one regularly calling through the front desk asking to be put through to their “pudding” on his behalf, he had been always high on both our fishing lists.

If he didn’t mind being stabbed on the regular, Wanda just might be giggling beside me as we plan our weddings. I hoped he liked cast-iron frying pans.

(words 820; first published 4/3/2024 – text flash inspired by the FB meme of “I can’t date white guys. They’re going to try and call the cops on me the first time I try to stab them.”)

Other Cool Blogs: ACLU – The Interstates

Photo by kaleb tapp on Unsplash

The interstate system brought America together and sealed our dependence on cars. It provided says to traverse the continental-sized country, bringing easy transportation of good, reducing costs, providing prosperity, and spreading manufacturing across the nation.

Putting in the system required land, lots of it, near population centers. The obvious choice leveraging eminent domain in acquiring the needed land was to use it to remove the less desirable areas, the run-down, the poorer sections whose voices could be ignored.

Those struggling on the edge were pushed off. Solid working communities were divided by a road system connecting the prosperous. Black, indigenous, and immigrant populations were disportionally impacted.

Was it really necessary to build America the infrastructure to help businesses and their owners on the ill-fortune of the working class and blacks yet again?

Check out the opinion blog on ACLU for more details. It is eye-opening.

Racism by Design: The Building of Interstate 81 by Jay A. Fernadez (August 10, 2023): https://www.aclu.org/news/racial-justice/racism-by-design-the-building-of-interstate-81

Flash: Clockwork Dragon

Image by Laith Abushaar on Unsplash

“I did it!” The white-coated mad-man screamed. “Do you see that Meriday? It lives!”

Cowering into the corner, hoping his dark skin would hide him from his master’s creation, Meriday felt the sting of pride. It wasn’t Mr. Floyd who had figure out he needed four crocodile bones down the neck to hold the soul of the steam automaton, but Merry. His momma had taught him some of the secrets of the wild women before he got sold down river. It wasn’t Mr. Floyd who had fetched the ash from a burned church to make the black fluid for the hydraulic pumps. Sneaking through Virginia during the unrest looking for the right riot, the right town, to get the ash had taken months. The border North so close, but Mr. Floyd talking to one politician after another even closer, demanding to see him every Sunday during his quest.

It certainly wasn’t Mr. Floyd standing in the middle of the hurricane flying a kite like he was some thrice-damned descendent of Mr. Franklin. But white man will claim credit and there is nothing old Merry can do to stop him. Not that Merry wanted credit for mechanical mayhem his owner had raised. The door of the barn near, he wondered if he could slip out before master noticed.

Before the dragon noticed.

Master didn’t see the light in the dragon’s eyes. The orange light of zombie. The light of clockwork consciousness.

Something had responded.

Master didn’t lie in that the dragon lived.

(words 251; first published 11/23/2023 – flash written for Facebook Group prompt with a goal of 50 words)

Book Review (SERIES): The Great Cities

If you haven’t read something by N.K. Jemisin, you need to. She is one of the best fantasy writers of now, and you will be hearing her name for years to come.

The Great Cities Series by N.K. Jemisin

  1. The City We Became
  2. The World We Made

Amazon Cover


In Manhattan, a young grad student gets off the train and realizes he doesn’t remember who he is, where he’s from, or even his own name. But he can sense the beating heart of the city, see its history, and feel its power.

In the Bronx, a Lenape gallery director discovers strange graffiti scattered throughout the city, so beautiful and powerful it’s as if the paint is literally calling to her.

In Brooklyn, a politician and mother finds she can hear the songs of her city, pulsing to the beat of her Louboutin heels.

And they’re not the only ones.

Every great city has a soul. Some are ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York? She’s got six.


It’s books like this which make me glad I am part of a book club. I would have never stumbled across this incredible book otherwise. A mix of multi-dimensional physics; a love/hate/extreme emotion relationship with New York; differences in personalities based on age, upbringing, culture; with a solid narrative which will keep you turning pages.

Amazing characters, powers, and physics.


Amazon Cover


All is not well in the city that never sleeps. Even though the avatars of New York City have temporarily managed to stop the Woman in White from invading—and destroying the entire universe in the process—the mysterious capital “E” Enemy has more subtle powers at her disposal. A new candidate for mayor wielding the populist rhetoric of gentrification, xenophobia, and “law and order” may have what it takes to change the very nature of New York itself and take it down from the inside.

In order to defeat him, and the Enemy who holds his purse strings, the avatars will have to join together with the other Great Cities of the world in order to bring her down for good and protect their world from complete destruction.


In “The World We Make”, readers return to the Great Cities universe where a Sword of Damocles, in the form of the Woman in White hovers over New York.

But the world has changed, not the written world of the Great Cities, but our world with COVID – which drastically changed the book and series. The author originally planned a trilogy, but *hand waving at the world* things changed making it a duology. Entire sections of the multiverse died stillborn as real world overtook planned plot.

Reading the first book, and having it be so relevant to life, one forgets what a March 2020 publication date means. The book likely was in the editing phases in June 2019, and the original concept came from “The City Born Great” way back in 2016. But March 2020 … that is when America acknowledged Covid was really, really a thing.

Jemisin wrote and edited the second book of the series as the world stumbled.

As a result two books got trimmed into one – excess story plot lines, deviations, and character development got slashed. The rambling 481 page first book is followed by a trim, fast read in a 369 page second book. I found the first book a slow read – pushing through it in a week, but finished the second book in less that 24 hours.

Is there more I want to know about this universe? Heck yes. Would I have liked a longer second book as much as the one this universe of the multiverse got? I don’t know.

A much faster, more traditional read than the first book, but still true to the universe.

Flash: The Dream of You and I

Photo by Boshoku on Unsplash

“Who is more powerful, the dreamer or the dream?”

I look over. “What kind of question is that?”’

“Just asking,” you reply.

“Nope, start making connections, I want to follow how ordering calamari led to this my ADHD friend.”

“You sure?”

I shake my head in exasperation, “Of course I’m sure.” Seeing the server walking over, I do say, “But hold that thought until we get the food order in.”

Placing the order took almost no time, both of us being well familiar with the menu, though the calamari appetizer was an experiment. One new dish a visit to help me break out of my autistic bubble. I once ate nothing but mac and cheese or tuna salad for a year according to my mother, and I wouldn’t eat both of them the same day, let alone the same meal. Drove her nuts. Added to the fact I couldn’t swallow pills until my early twenties meant she had to ground up vitamins and hide it in the food to keep me healthy. I have since learned to go further afield, though I still ordered the lobster mac and cheese tonight.

What can I say, it was a rough week at work.

Once the server left, I nodded to you, “So…”

“What?” You reply fidgeting with the napkin and fork, folding the cloth through the tines.

I sigh, used to this as much as you are used to extracting me from my house for our weekly Friday dinner, even though I like it enough once we have left my comfort place. “Calamari to dreamer or the dream.”

“Oh, oh yeah.” Your face lights up and my heart skips. We aren’t like that, you are too ace, but I love it when I can make you happy. “So calamari is tentacles right?”


“And I am working my way through Lovecraft at the moment.”

“Why are you doing that again?”

“Trying to figure out racism in writing and how it changed over time,” you inhale deeply, “But anyway, so Lovecraft has Cthulhu. Tentacles.”

“Okay, calamari to tentacles to Cthulhu to Lovecraft?”

“Nah, Lovecraft isn’t in the chain, other than present hyper focus.” The fork in your hand bounces against the table making a nice chime, and I am once again glad my stims are related to doodling, much less noticeable and socially acceptable. I have enough other issues in social situations. “Anyway, in some of the stories, so I guess Lovecraft, anyway, in some of the stories, the Outer Ones—”

“Never heard of Outer Ones, I thought they were all the Old Ones.”

“Yeah, you don’t like horror so you never studied this shit, anyway, the Outer Ones cannot be part of this existence, but in some of the stories it can be interpreted as though the Outer Ones are dreaming of the Old Ones, and I was thinking of which is more powerful, the crazy half-realized Outer Ones who can’t be here, here-here,” you wave at the restaurant using your fork like a wand, “or the Old Ones which can exist in our world, but only as dreams.”

“Ah, hence the question, who is more powerful, the dreamer or the dream.”

“Exactly.” You reach across the table and squeeze my hand with the hand not holding the fork.

I freeze a moment, until you say “sorry” and stop touching me. “No, it is okay. Just give a person some warning please.”

“Yeah, sorry.”

“Forgiven. It’s okay.” I twist up one side of my lips while pressing them together in a semi-smile. “Back to the question asked – strictly rhetorical, or can we talk about it, because it is interesting.”

We stop for a moment as the server drops off our sodas and the bread basket with bread straight from the oven. They always run a little behind on the bread on Friday nights, which is one of the reasons why we like to come here on Fridays. We both adore hot, hot bread, so instead of cool bread in a basket being ready the minute we sit down, on Fridays we have to wait for it to come out of the ovens. Sometimes that means we don’t get any until our food is ready, but most Fridays, the bread hits the table about the same time as the salads. Speaking of which, a second server comes up behind our primary server with a portable table and a tray filled with greenery, mine with no dressing and yours smothered in raspberry vinaigrette.

When the servers retreat, I reach for the bread. I always eat one of the buns before anything else. It’s too good to pass up and I slather it in salted butter. You use the fork you have been playing with to move around the salad until every inch of the leaves glisten with lightly pink oil.

“I’m thinking the dreamer is more important, until the dream takes on a life of its own.” I take a deep inhale of the yeasty bread, then take a bite. Life with yeasty bread is good, especially compared to the store-bought loaf sanitated to an inch of its life so it can stay in the fridge for three weeks without mold while I make my sandwiches to take into work. “Like Martin Luther King Jr.”

You point with your fork, agreeing with me. “Exactly, yeah, I see that. ‘I have a dream.’ He was a dreamer sharing a dream.”

“A dream which lived beyond him but couldn’t have lived without him. An infectious dream.”

“A COVID of dreams.”

I snort. “I know some political people who sure think the dream of ‘when all of God’s children, Black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.’ is worse than COVID.”

“I can tell you which one I rather catch,” you reply.

Having dropped off food for a week at your doorstep during your round with the disease before the vaccine came out, I know which one you rather catch too. I had been worried sick about you even though I barely knew you at the time, just a coworker who was badly sick, even though you weren’t sick enough to go to the overflowing hospitals, thank god.

May the goddess keep Morgan wrapped up in hugs until we can all met again on the other side. I miss you, you big craziness.

“Hey, come back to me,” you say.

I look down at the salad, now carefully sorted into lettuce, carrot strips, cucumber, and olives. I would have eaten the tomatoes automatically. They drip on the other food and need to be removed quickly. “Sorry … Morgan.”


You never met my high school best friend, and I hate that. You and I, we had only met at the office Christmas party in 2019 and only got to know each other in the year the world ended. During that time, everyone needed to help the ones near them and Morgan lived on the coast. City lights of New York had drawn Morgan in and so many COVID arrivals from around the world.

I inhale deeply and breathe out. Your eyes grow soft.

Breaking the melancholy, I pull out one of our standard Friday questions, “How was your week?”

Morgan is a topic for sofa, blankets, and ice cream at home and you understand this.

“Funny you ask…”

(words 1,255; first published 2/4/2024)