The Scary, Scary World Inside the Female

 

 

No wait, why don’t I just pull a pin on a grenade and wait 5 seconds…it will be the same as trying to survive this blog or any discussion that dares to invade the inner sanctum or reasoning process of half the human raceby the male half.


I am in the finishing phase of my 5th novel, Give Us This Day, and for some unknown reason, I risked my life and limb to stubbornly, not only write a book with a female leading character and hero (heroine!) but to have the audacity to go inside her, to delve into her psyche and foolishly think I could come out with my cognitive skills and self-image intact!


Note to all male authors: When delving into the working of the female mind, always, always, always assume that you are wrong. Then just ask any female and you’ll quickly confirm just how wrong you are.  But then ask another female and see how wrong the first woman was! — No, no, no, not that Female #2 agrees with you, noooo, you are not even on the same page as her, the terrifying reality is that she doesn’t agree with Female #1!

Okay, so back to me. I recently was enlightened to the fact that having a male character ask a female character for permission to call her by her first name, i.e. “May I call you, Brooke?” Is actually worse than chauvinisticThis critique hit me like I was T-Boned in my new Corvette just as I was pulling out of the dealer’s lot. I quote from the response of a woman whom I sought out not only for her brilliance but also because she is, like my protagonist, Brooke Burrell-Morton, a powerful person of achievement and position, who was kind enough to read and comment my manuscript, …


It’s huge power play and condescending for a man to address a woman who is an equal or better by her first name.   It’s like him asking her to get coffee for him.  She’s [Brooke is] a sharp cookie and should be offended or at least think he’s a sexist a**hole by his asking. 


I had two simultaneous thoughts when I read that… First, thank God for her and her sharing that critical piece of social decorum of which I was totally unaware, ill-informed and insensitiveAs, apparently, were a few other female early readers who missed it. (See Female#2) 


My second thought was…I am never going to talk to a woman ever again, God knows how many faux pas I commit per minute in just even the most innocent and casual chat with someone of the opposite sexYikes, I don’t want to ever be a sexist a**hole, EVER! Much less announce and confirm that fact in unretractable, New Times Roman set 12 on 12 in 435 pages that will live-on somewhere or on some shelf or digital file till the sun flickers out. 


Now, on second thought, where’s that hand grenade?

 

When what you write creeps you out!

Photo Credit: NY Post

I don’t know if this is really in the “It’s Only Fiction `til It Happens” pocket, but I wrote a scene set in Paris where bad guys cover some money laundering tracks by blowing up an art gallery and killing the people who work there. The French authorities never suspect any foul play because the perpetrators made it look like a gas leak explosion.  A few weeks ago, a real building exploded here in Manhattan’s East Village. Two people died. God rest their souls.

It made me feel creepy.  It also made me think.

Last year a whole apartment building, up in Harlem, was destroyed in a gas explosion. When you consider the fact that gas is in 99.9 percent of every home, apartment house and business in the developed world, it’s amazing that it doesn’t happen with more frequency. I guess the fact that when it does happen, it makes the news, bodes well for how relatively safe it is worldwide.

In The God Particle, I used a gas emergency to ferret out some bad guys in a European neighborhood.  And in a Bourne movie, he breaks the gas line and puts a magazine in the toaster. When it pop the whole house pops along with it. Steven Segal turned on the gas jets in the galley of a battleship and threw something in the microwave and set it for “Boom.” So using gas as a deadly device in fiction is not new. It’s how you trigger it that is the area for “fresh air”, i.e. toasters, ringing phones, electrical contacts attached to doorways that spark, etc.  By the way, none of those igniters are what I used in my novel, but you’ll have to wait till October 20th when, “Give Us This Day” premieres at a bookstore near you.

But still, having a real deadly explosion, so close to my fictionalized deadly explosion is a little unnerving.

Tomorrow, I will write of an author who wins Powerball! Let’s see if this “mojo” maintains.

 

When you write BIG keep it small.

Lesson learned this week: 

Epic, Sweeping, and Grand, don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that…

Interpersonal, character-revealing, reflective expositive reveal of the character of your CHARACTERS.

Now, how’s that for a mouthful? 

130,000 words of Epic, Sweeping, and Grand manuscript hit my publisher’s desk with a thump. (Metaphorically, because I sent it as a word file) He lauded it as “terrific”, the plot fresh and ingenious, the new lead character totally carrying the novel, and the last two acts are overflowing with action (and he meant that in a good way).  He went on to say that he loved the scale of the story.

unnamedPretty good, right? Considering that my dear publisher slotted in Give Us This Day, my fifth book, “sight unseen” last year into his prestigious slate of releases for 2015 and the submission of the manuscript was his first hint as to what it was about. His trust in my work and me was unwavering and complete.

But…

After all that, praise, all that positive feedback, he made ONE, little teeny-weeny note. He said he’d have liked to have seen a little more “sense of fellowship” meaning that sense of companionship between the characters.  He was right. Due to the “fish-out-of–water” nature of the beginning of the story, I purposely wrote the characters as all business. What he felt he missed in this BIG story of mine was the little asides about life or quirks that he felt I did so well in my previous four novels, which he published.

SO NOW, PANIC!

Couldn’t sleep for a week. How to…, What to…, How will…, How does…, started and stopped a hundred mental debates in my head between me and the story.  I’d suggest a scenario in a specific place where a little personal jib-jab could occur and then the story side of me said, “Appears, forced!” “Doesn’t flow.” “Useless appendage here.” “Slows the story, as it’s building.”

Let me tell you, the story side of me is tough!

So, finally a week later, with my pen between my legs (Bad turn of the phrase, I realize, now that I wrote it) …tail between my legs, I asked my publisher “LIKE WHAT?”

At this point, I need to tell you that my publisher is a genius. Not because of what he says, but because of what he doesn’t needlessly say. In one succinct line, he ended my turmoil by name dropping one of my minor characters: Nigel. 

Cue the angelic music: Ahhhh Ahhhhhh. 

That was at 5:45 a.m. last Tuesday.  I was really late to the office that day because at 5:46 the whole missing human connection of my story laid out before me like a GPS map. The ‘tilty’ kind in 3D that looks like you’re up in a plane seeing all the way to Grandma’s house. I immediately saw all the good and further story interconnections that paid for the ink, this new facet of the novel consumed. This one drop of gold that he strategically placed in my brain energized and elevated the entire book – in at least four places in the story!  I eventually left for the office mid-morning! The book was 2200 words heavier, but a million times more wonderful.

I entered the office with a smile that most people would assume is due to having gotten lucky, the night before.  In fact, I had gotten lucky at 5:45 a.m. Actually, upon reflection, I got lucky years ago when I met, Lou Aronica of The Story Plant and he published my first book.

Now if I could just fix that other little nagging thing about the scandalous affair in the second act. 

Uh oh, panic rising…

The only “Big Bang” that is left is in Porno!

4f949c8252674.imageIn my novel, The God Particle, the forces of Science and Religion are pitted against one another in a battle as old as Copernicus and the Catholic Church.

The conflict between Science and Religion has been raging throughout history and reflected in the art and literature of every culture. Even in movies, i.e., Inherit the Wind.  The two sides are dug in, each convinced that their understanding of the way things came about, the way things are and what will happen next, is the correct version of the “Truth.”

Embarking on a book that had as its subtitle, “The Super-Collision of Science, Religion and Terror,” I quickly realized I’d better know that of which I write.  The overwhelming conclusion from my research for The God Particle is that religion is dismissed by intellectuals as a myth, a fairy tale, and the opiate of the masses. Implicit in that designation was that the “masses” were “Asses.” That perception is based on the statement, “Science is fact…period!” All other explanations are inventions of fantasy for those of lesser intelligence to wrap themselves in.  Truth be told, that’s the kind of proposition you’d expect from Science, where proof, logic and empirical data rule the roost.

On the other side, although not as prevalent, are many of those in the Faith/Religion camp who are of the opinion that it is, in fact, Science that is mentally incapable of fathoming the inescapable conclusion that there is intelligent design. That there was a divine hand in all of this, mixing the primordial soup that was the nascent universe. These “believers in God” find comfort and solace in their religious belief that all of this is not an accident of a cosmic chemistry set being driven by Newtonian forces to cool and congeal into “Everything.”

But last week, Science took a bad hit.  The scientific fact that the universe was created in a Big Bang event 13 billion years ago has been rocked to its molten core. So indelible, so entrenched was this “Truth,” that Nobel Prizes were awarded for two engineers from AT&T who discovered the echoes of the Big Bang in the far outer reaches of the universe. That’s how cocksure Science was of its facts. And Yet…

So where does that leave the debate? Well, to me it means that Scientists, Intellectuals and adopters of the scientific method and it’s rock solid conclusions, turn out to be just as prone to myth as the “religious believers” except the science-based people believe in a different myth. A scientifically provable myth! But their scientific proof is only as good as the method they use. Being human scientists, the only insight they gain is built upon assumptions in science made earlier. In other words, science-minded folks derive comfort in their myth because it is proven by their own math, logic and evolving science (whose metamorphosis’s is built upon the very same expanding science doctrine, so it has the incestuous ability to compound any error made in the first steps, i.e.: The Big Bang) Another ironic way to look at this is that the blind devotion to scientific logic is fallible because an earlier error or misdiagnosis, leads to revised theories and are then used as “Gospel” in proving the next logical step or advancement of scientific doctrine.

So in the end, The Big Bang has lead to the Big Mess. Science has been proven by its own methods to be just as mythically based as Religion. Therefore, can the claim now be made that scientists are the priests and shaman of a belief system that is just as fanciful a faith-based doctrine, as those who they accuse of being religious? The only difference being that their religion of science is one that excludes God.  Nonetheless, what we learned last week was that science’s “facts” are just as suspect as those tenets of their religious counterparts.

14_largeNow, not that I am a genius, but I saw this coming. Way back in my research I realized that there is no way to win, prove or even be ahead in this debate between religion and science. No matter what side you are on, it’s circular. But, I did do one thing that was genius; I quoted one. In the very first pages of The God Particle you’ll find this quote, the smartest thing anybody ever said about the issue, from a member of the Scientific Hall of Fame no less:

All Religion, Arts and Sciences are branches of the same tree. – Albert Einstein.

Works for me…

Tantalus or Daedalus?

artificial-intelligence-job-killer-or-your-next-boss1

In the last blog post, “We are at day Four of the Eighth Day,” I wrote of the threat that could be posed to the human race by the new race of Artificially Intelligent machines that we are building.  Just like in my book, The Eighth Day, the Artificial Intelligence entity, in a last ditch attempt to save its sentient life because we have figured out it wants to eradicate humankind, offered up a host of technological miracles to temporarily seduce us.

Imagine for a minute that you are one hundred years in the future.  As one of the few survivors of the global uprising of the machines, you are looking back to see how this whole enslavement and eradication of the human race happened. You find an old iMac. On it is the last Goggle page searched by some blogger, (me), as he was writing an article. This is what you would see in the search results for Artificial Intelligence.

  • Search Results: 14 found.
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Ordered by descending date.
  • Clicking on ^ opens the link in a new window.

Pages: 1    ALL

Race to embrace Artificial Intelligence… ^

January 04, 2015 22:12:36 GMT

Century-Long Study Will Examine Effects of Artificial Intelligence… ^

From the December 15, 2014 22:52:46 GMT

Stephen Hawking: ‘Artificial intelligence could spell end of human race’… ^

From the December 02, 2014 18:19:51 GMT

Artificial Intelligence Outperforms Average High School Senior… ^

From the November 04, 2014 12:49:24 GMT

IBM artificial intelligence to get broad access to TWITTER data… ^

From the October 29, 2014 20:57:48 GMT

Elon Musk: ‘With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon’… ^

From the October 24, 2014 19:16:52 GMT

ELON MUSK: Artificial Intelligence Could Wipe Out Humanity… ^

From the October 10, 2014 01:09:00 GMT

ELON MUSK: Artificial Intelligence Could Wipe Out Humanty… ^

From the October 09, 2014 15:58:02 GMT

IBM plans artificial intelligence push… ^

From the October 07, 2014 22:44:14 GMT

Hawking: Artificial intelligence could be ‘real danger’ in near future… ^

From the June 16, 2014 17:44:26 GMT

Computer becomes first to pass Turing Test in artificial intelligence milestone… Academics warn of dangerous future… ^

From the June 08, 2014 16:12:40 GMT

FACEBOOK Joins NYU in Artificial Intelligence Lab… ^

From the December 09, 2013 21:48:50 GMT

Disease database will use artificial intelligence to find new cancer treatments… ^

From the November 13, 2013 00:14:49 GMT

‘Artificial intelligence to transform web’… ^

From the December 29, 2010 14:39:00 GMT

If you actually took the time to read the above what you saw was the Tantalus propositions mixed in with the dire warnings.  This is always the way humans fall prey to something. Seeing only the benefit without weighing the potential risks. After all, who cares if a few smart guys cry wolf over A.I.? How can we possibly let their “chicken little rantings” stand in the way of Artificial Intelligence finding new cancer treatments!

Just like in my book, The Eighth Day, the Artificial Intelligence entity in a last ditch attempt to save its sentient life offered up a host of technological miracles. Quantum leap advancements that only it’s artificially intelligent born brain, unfettered, by human limitations, emotions and compassion could achieve.  Tantalizing gifts like curing cancer, unending food supplies, eternal life and interplanetary travel.

Moral: The devil always comes to you with candy!

 

The Accidental Author – Episode Three

Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s our normally Thursday posting, today. Click above for the latest installment of The Accidental Author. In this episode: How to start and get through a first draft. A great quote from one of the biggest author’s around and how to see your writing as an art form. Did you miss an episode? Click here for episode 2 and here for episode 1.

Getting Buzz

I was recently on The Business Buzz with host Jeff Sherman and Marty Keena to discuss aspects of writing a novel including character and plot.

 

Remembering What Didn’t Happen…

Here’s What Didn’t Happen This Morning:

image

We didn’t wake up to another long daily speech by “Four” instilling in us the national purpose. There was no weekly push to identify and register undesirables.  There was no report of skirmishes with the Empire on its eastern borders overnight.  Especially in the Yamoto mountain range, just past the Mississippi River. We did not hear that, as of today, the national Youth Orientation requires all 14 – 17 year olds to now wear the new brown shirts that have been ordered by “Four”

There was no news report that the council had raised the taxes on Jews, Free-Blacks, Gypsies, and Homosexuals to a seasonally adjusted high. Also the little town of Twin Oaks, Ohio wasn’t machined gunned by the Goring Division’s elite Shock Troop unit, killing every last man, women and child in a 20 block “ghetto” area, an ordered response by “Four” to the “Undesirable’s “ uprising that killed five Policemen of the State.

And best of all, we weren’t forced to listen to the exploits of Four’s two sons as they partied and ate their way through Himmler University, formerly Oxford over in the old London area of the New Deutschland.  The smaller of the two offspring, Enrich Hitler, who, as we are constantly reminded, shot his girlfriend’s dad when he found out he was one quarter Jew, (Enough already we’ve heard that a thousand times…) had recieved, as usual, all A’s in his grades like a good little wunderkind.

That would have been today in The New Reichland, or as it used to be known The United States of America, before we lost World War Two. The German Third Reich (…may it reign for a thousand years) winning the east part of the new fatherland, and by treaty, the Japanese new kingdom of Shōwa existing in the most western states.

The great cleansing occurred from 1948 thru 1960 with Former American citizens, who rejected their new authoritarian overlords, and refused to speak only German, the new national language, were systematically and efficiently eliminated by the Fuehrer’s Purification branch. (The over 38 million bodies evaporated using the glorious Nazi uranium reactors, first created towards the end of 1944 during the Great Victory of the Third Reich (…may it reign for a thousand years).

The one party, National Socialist Government assures all it’s loyal citizens that the unrest fomented in the troubled west, the Japanese held nation of Shōwa, named posthumously after the great axis ally Hirohito, will be crushed by a new weapon, the Stuka V26 Drones. Chancellor for life, his right and correct self; Adolf Hitler the Fourth, cited his beloved great-grandfather, Hitler the first, (…may his memory live for a thousand years) by stressing the that the New Aryan blood lines, the fruit of the great victory shall not perish under the boot of those Japanese Imperialist who are not satisfied with the award of the western part of the continent.  There was no comment from the emperor’s palace in New Edo (formerly Los Angeles.) Also, the state office for news and propaganda reported normal relations with our Italian neighbor to the south, Messico d’ Il Duce. The former Mexican nation granted to, and named after, our ally in the Great Victory, Benito Mussolini.

Oh, and their was three other things that didn’t happen today, “Four” (more properly, Adolf the Fourth) didn’t announce the new “Schwarz” tax regulations in which New Reichlanders will be taxed 500 Marks more for each of their Black servants and the new death sentences announced for those who mix blood with this or any non-Aryan species (including of course, Jews.) The Ministry of Purification held firm however, that unrepentant homosexuality after 10 years of State mandated re-education, still remains punishable by death.

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NONE OF THIS HAPPENED…

because brave men and women fought and died to defeat this atrocity of human endeavor called the Third Reich and their allies the Japanese Empire.  That’s why Memorial Day is more than a day off, an un-official start to summer or a great sale day at the malls… Memorial Day honors those who gave up the rest of their lives so we wouldn’t live the rest of ours in The New Third Reich.

No one under the age of 50 today seriously thinks that this, or some dystopian version of it, would be life, as we know it in America today if we had lost the war. Let me assure you, World War II was not made for the movies. This wasn’t a small disagreement between two philosophies academically opposed. This was real hell. 70 millions of people died, at least 6 million men, woman and children exterminated by the “state” because of to whom and how they prayed (Jews), or whom they loved (Gays) or their low social status (Gypsies). Ten times more humans were uprooted, made homeless and lost everything.

Why? How? The forces of totalitarianism, enslavement and racism, (a small minority of the German people – but the ones with the guns,) started out in their quest to dominate the world using “blitzkrieg” or lightning-fast attacks with massive overkill and total destruction. In the end, these, “supermen” were fighting for their very existence. Their goal of domination and purification of the world halted when it ran up against the only place on Earth in the 1940’s that could stop them after Europe fell, The Untied States of America. Make no mistake, the NAZI dreamed of marching into Times Square like they marched under the Arc’ triumph in Paris. (Check it out on Google or Wikipedia, dude. They actually killed tons of innocent people and took over France!) Burning down the U.S. capitol and enslaving the liberty loving Americans was the goal of the entire Germany-Italy-Japan “Axis” war machine.

The only thing that stopped them, and saved Europe, and the World was the American and Allied Soldiers, PERIOD! They were men and women of every race, ethnicity and creed who fought the good fight. May their memories; the memories of the fallen who so nobly gave of themselves for our freedom… may their memory never wane for a thousand, thousand years.

God Bless their souls and God Bless America and you. Have a safe and reflective Memorial Day.

Modesty, Chastity, Young Love and the taliban

Tom Avitabile | SetaraRight smack dab in the middle of editing my fourth book The Devil’s Quota – which is set in New York City, upper New York State, Canada and Afghanistan – I felt I had constructed a beautiful love story between an American G.I. and a local Afghan girl. It was all very lovely and very soft around the edges. I was positive that I had captured the true euphoria of that first spark of love, infusing into the relationship the electric sensation two soul mates tingle with every time they meet. I topped off that exchange of energy with its titillating aftermath and breathless anticipation of their next encounter. I even threw in a dash of the fanciful ‘what if’ and the ‘what when’ dreams that occupy their every idle moment.

From a plot perspective, I had set their encounter at the community well, literally at the most nurturing and central location of a war-ravaged, dirt poor Afghan farm village. I had Sgt. Eric Ronson, the perfect male hero for a love interest; a strong, strapping young warrior buck.  As for my femme extraordinaire I had an incredibly radiant, simple farm girl, Setara.  I even had over-arching symbolism in their meeting across not only the walls of the well but the one million walls between their cultures.

So I had it, the forbidden love, fighting to survive against the prejudices, mores and  traditions of the times in which they live.  And then….

The burqa happened.

Or more correctly my editor, Sue Rasmussen happened …  to come across in her research that, according to the taliban, which is known to shoot you if you do not comply, women have to wear a burqa in public. That means fully covered, without the tiniest slit for the eyes! However, the inherent slapstick comedy of women walking into walls and bumping into things is avoided with a dark mesh over the eyes. (See, the Taliban isn’t totally unreasonable.)

But I, however, walked right into a wall. The whole “their eyes met” gone, the descriptives like “the radiance on her face” gone, the insightful “he could see her attempt to suppress her elation over seeing him,” gone!

Conclusion: There is absolutely nothing on the romantic attractor side of a story if the taliban were to write it. One of many good reasons never write a Taliban-based love story, because in a world lousy with taliban, all marriages are arranged. The young-ins have absolutely no say with whom they shall grow old. In short, romance, as we would artfully construct it, becomes a charge listed on an order of execution, read aloud before the stoning to death of the young girl.  

So you can see that the Western-accepted, innocent, G-rated acts like two kids smiling at one another, God forbid holding hands, a scandalous peck on the cheek or the public humiliation and spectacle caused by him merely gazing upon her naked face, in the taliban world, puts a crimp in my romantic story. It is also a fatal AK47 bullet wound through my entire book because I need that relationship in Afghanistan as the emblematic inciting incident for the rest of the story. Those characters also become major players as the story unfolds.

At this point, I’ve got a lot riding on Afghanistan and it’s being spoiled by a thin veil of mesh fabric. That means my two love interests will pass in the night or at least the darkness of the taliban-imposed morality police.

So I took my case to the Google World Court and I looked up images of Afghan women and right there in vivid, living color, in stills taken recently, are images of many women in burqas, but then my heart stopped, almost like my male character’s, when I saw the one woman among them in the hijab. Then, I found many photographs of hijab-clad women among the populace.

The hijab saved my life.

The hijab, more like a loosely worn scarf around the head, allowing full facial features rescued my love story. Now I actually have photographic proof that hijabs and burqas can co-exist with men in the same public space.

Saved! Book back on course. Everything’s good with me. Not so much with the women living under oppression though. Hmmmm, maybe that’s another book?

Guest Author James LePore talks: The Myth of Place

The Myth of Place: Why I Chose Southern Mexico as the Venue for a Large Swath of Blood of My Brother

Mexico, at once magical and diabolical.

—Anonymous

    In 1997, I spent four weeks in southern Mexico, in the city of Oaxaca and on the Pacific Coast between Puerto Escondido and Puerto Angel. I had just read Under The Volcano by Malcolm Lowry, and wanted to see, and photograph, imagesthe country where Lowry (in real life) and the American Consul Firm in (in the novel) had tried so hard, but failed, to commit suicide by mezcal.

    The coast road from Puerto Escondido deteriorated with a jolting suddenness as I approached Zippolite. Earlier, I had picked up a hitchhiker, a middle-aged Brit with bad teeth and a scruffy beard, wearing a bandana like a sixties hippie, who told me, as I was dropping him off at a godforsaken roadside cantina, that he had heard that a busload of American tourists had been hijacked earlier in the day north of Puerto Angel and all were killed. I immediately regretted leaving Puerto Escondido so late—night had fallen as suddenly as the road had turned to rutted hard-pan—but I pushed on. There were two or three large bonfires on Zippolite’s beach, their light reflecting wildly off of the huge waves crashing behind them, the waves that had for years, according to my guide book, attracted the world’s most insane surfers.

    Ten minutes later, I was in Puerto Angel and twenty minutes after that ordering dinner on the veranda of a small but clean and not un-charming inn on a hillside overlooking Puerto Angel Bay, lit to perfection by the moon and stars shining down through a clear night sky. The inn’s owner, a graying ex-hippie herself from San Francisco, had heard nothing of any massacre of Americans. Rumors, she said, it’s what the ex-pats and the paranoid surf bums live on along this coast. The time to worry will be when the rumors stop. She had been running her inn for twenty years, so, relieved, I was happy to take her at her word. So happy that after dinner I had three or four shots of the strong—very strong—and smoky local mezcal.

    There was a couple that I took to be American—in their late twenties, both blond, both good looking—at a table not too far away. The place was otherwise empty. I thought to ask them to join me but there was something about the way they were talking, looking at each other and then not looking at each other, that decided me against it.

    I was asleep within seconds of getting into bed.

    At three AM I was wide awake. My room was among a half dozen or so situated along a wide terrace facing the bay. I took my cigarettes out to this terrace, found a comfortable chair next to a thick potted palm tree of some kind, and sat, to smoke and look down at the bay and the dark Pacific beyond until I felt I could fall back to sleep. Before I could light up, I heard the crash of glass on tile floor quite nearby, followed immediately by the voices, at first constrained and then getting louder, of a man and a woman arguing. A moment later, the young blonde woman from the restaurant came out of the room two doors down, stepped quickly to the terrace’s sturdy wooden railing and began vomiting over it. Her husband, or boyfriend, or whatever he was, came out and put his hand on her shoulder, but she shook it off violently. She was wearing a thin cotton robe or wrap, knee length, which she had been holding closed while she retched. It came loose when she shook off the man’s hand, and I could see a breast exposed, and a portion of soft, beautifully rounded abdomen, before she pulled it tight again.

    Leave me alone, she said. I’m leaving tomorrow.

    What about your share? the man asked. He was wearing jeans and no shirt, his hairless, sculpted arms and chest bathed in moonlight.

    The woman did not answer. She pulled her wrap even closer, then she turned and looked my way. I was in deep shadow and had not lit my cigarette, so I was pretty sure she couldn’t see me. I could see her face full on now. She was very beautiful. I stared at her. Your share of what, I said to myself?

    Fuck you, she said, then turned and stepped past the man and into their room. He followed and pulled the door shut behind him.

    I waited a moment or two, then lit up. And listened. But all was quiet. Like the scene I had just witnessed had never happened.

    Mexico, I thought, Mexico.

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James LePore is author of ‘A World I Never Made’, ‘Blood of My Brother,’ ‘Sons and Princes,’ ‘Gods and Fathers,’ and ‘The Fifth Man.  He currently lives in Salem, NY and is collaborating with screenwriter Carlos Davis on  his sixth novel. Click here to visit his website.