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It All Adds Up

And now for something completely different:

Typically, I tend to bury the business side of things near the bottom of the newsletter. My lovely wife, Kathi, often comments on this, subtly suggesting better luck might be had by exercising a different approach. I’ve decided to try it.

I have what I believe to be some great news. Twisted Perception, the 1st Elliot novel in the now (I wish) infamous series, is now available in Audiobook format. Yea!!! I can practically hear the squeals of delight, coming from my adoring fans as the momentousness of this epic event dawns on them. And now, here is the link:

http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/Twisted-Perception-Audiobook/B00XWQFALI

Please follow the link and check it out. Once you’re at the site, there’s a button you can click to hear a free sample. Charles Bice, the reader we chose, did an excellent job of portraying the characters as he tells the story. I believe you can even get the audiobook of Twisted Perception for free, if you join Audible.com. And who wouldn’t want to do that?

And now for the rest of the story:

And there I was, (I’m using a lot of Ands in this newsletter) strolling the isles of some mega-mart when I drop to my knees to explore the bargain-brand (Hyphens too) section in an area of the store dedicated to the killing of bugs.

A collection of dust, and spider web covered cans occupies that particular spot on the bottom shelving.

I begin to reach for one of the cans, though further reflection upon the condition of the product causes me to pause. (Hmm… something poetic about that) Should there be spider webs on a can of bug spray? I realize the ultimate purpose of the metallic packaging is to maintain the contents within the confines, but there’s something about spiders congregating upon that which should repel them that just isn’t right.

As I remain there in the crouching-tiger position, still undecided upon the potential possession of non-lethal bug paraphernalia, I overhear someone in the next isle excitedly exclaiming: “Did I tell you we found grandma?”

Grandma, I wonder? Is she okay? How long has she been missing? Could I be one isle away from a tearful, family reunion, years in the making?

Seconds later, a man, propelling his wheelchair precariously balanced on two wheels, speeds around the corner. A crazed look covers his face. “Did I tell you we found grandma?” He asks.

I smile. “I’m so happy for you.”

I rise to me feet then, while projecting the best nonchalant attitude I could muster, I continue to pretend I’m shopping, while in reality I’m beating the hastiest retreat that doesn’t look like one in the history of mankind.

I’ve now lost all interest in bug spray. All I want is to get out of the store. However, my fall through the wormhole, or rabbit hole, or whatever isn’t exactly over.

I mount an evasive maneuver down another isle, but as I approach a man in Bermuda shorts – who has the audacity to wear with the atrocity, dress shoes with white socks rolled down over his ankles – reaching for a jar of olives, he suddenly turns and grabs my arm. He’s also smoking a pipe. Gripping the stem with his teeth, he grins around it, a bizarre Hugh Hefner from… Well you get the point.

Wait a minute, I think. You can’t smoke in stores anymore.

“You just never know about people,” bizarre Hugh says. He points to a lady perusing the pickles. “She’s soccer mom nine to five, but jams as a base player for some punk, rock band, making the nightclub scene by night.”

“How do you know this?”

“It’s my job,” he says. “Did you happen to notice the slender, black man in the cereal, isle?”

“Not that I recall?”

Hugh shakes his head. “You’re going to have to pay better attention. Later in the week, Mr. Cereal will put his all into gambling, energetically high-fiving plastic and steel, while he prays to the electronic circuitry of a slot machine, harbored in a dark corner of a small casino outside the limits of some dusty, Oklahoma, town.”

I roll over in bed and remind myself not to eat pizza so late at night.

I want to thank everyone who has signed up for my newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it. If you know of someone who might enjoy it, too, please email it to them.

I also give programs for writing groups, reading groups, or any group that’s interested. If you belong to a club, which needs program speakers, keep me in mind.

You have permission to reprint, forward, or use the contents of this newsletter in your newsletter or e-zine. The only requirement is the inclusion of the following footer:

This article was written by Bob Avey, author of, Twisted Perception, Beneath a Buried House, and Footprints of a Dancer. http://www.bobavey.com.

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I Get By With a Little Help

Brother Bob’s Newsletter

1st Quarter, 2015

I’ve worked on my share of cars, performing some fairly difficult procedures in the process, mostly out of necessity. When the repair costs exceed your bank balance, you have to do something. However, I do not, even in the farthest reaches of imagination, consider myself a mechanic. With me, it’s take off the old part and put on a new one. If that doesn’t work, I’m lost.

It’s different with the BMW. I’m not sure why. I’ve owned cars produced outside the United States before, and I have worked on them. Not the case with the Bimmer. I’ve had the car for nearly a year now and I’ve only raised the hood a couple of times, even then approaching the intrusion with a mixture of trepidation and respect, a bit like visiting an antique shop where you fall into a state, which closely resembles reverence, speaking softly and keeping your hands to yourself.

My Bavarian fugue has not come without cost. Upon bringing the 328i home, and realizing my lack of knowledge, I immediately began an internet search for an independent BMW automotive specialist. I intentionally avoided the dealerships. It’s what I’ve always done with other cars.

Of course, I quickly found what I thought I was looking for. Answering the phone with, Hello, uh, yeah this is blank and blank auto, the guy convinced me to bring the car to his shop, an out-of-the-way, backstreet building with a garage in the back. Finding the place locked and having to bang on the door to get the guy’s attention should have given me a clue, and to be honest it had, but in my eagerness for things to work out like they should, I pushed the warning aside. I even let the big, grumpy, bearded proprietor’s gruff attitude slide. What kind of BMW mechanic insults his customers for owning the kind of car he repairs? Well, after researching the subject on the internet, apparently a lot of them. Taking it all in stride, I kept the mechanic on board for a few months, going along with his recommended repairs. And then it happened. During my last visit, which was right before the Thanksgiving holiday, the guy changed the oil and in addition ordered some parts for the car, which he charged me for with instructions to bring the car back in a few days for installation.

Well you’ve probably guessed where I’m going with this. After the allotted time had expired, I called the shop but received no answer. I repeated the process for about a week, leaving messages that were never returned. Finally, I drove to the location but found the building locked up. This time no one answered my door banging.

Not all was lost. I disputed the charges for the parts, and the credit card company refunded me. However, it was then that I began to wonder what exactly had been done for the car. If the mechanic had been dishonest about the parts, what else had he done, or not done?

I began to search for another shop. Having jumped the gun on my previous attempt at procuring affordable but effective European auto care, I increased my efforts and widened the scope of the search. I do sometimes learn from my mistakes. I even sought online referrals and perused available comments associated with the shops. A few days later, after narrowing my list of prospective automotive gurus down to three, I sent emails, inquiring about the cost of possible service. Two of the prospects proved to exceed what I considered my price range. However the third shop on the list began to look like a possibly viable option. Their prices seemed appropriate and their website offered further encouragement. In addition, the return email contained language urging me to call a provided phone number.

“I’m glad you called,” the voice coming over the phone said. “My name is blank, and we’re all about long-term relationships. Why don’t you come by the shop and let me show you around?”

I told the mechanic I’d get back with him but I had no intentions of doing that. I hung up the phone and took a hot shower. After that, I gave up and called the dealership.

I don’t wish to leave you with the wrong impression. I love the BMW. It’s an absolute thrill to drive and it has never failed me. The only thing I’ve taken the car to the shop for is oil changes. The minor repairs were for things recommended by the first mechanic. I’m not sure if any of it was necessary, or if any of the work was actually done.

I want to thank everyone who has signed up for my newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it. If you know of someone who might enjoy it, too, please email it to them. Thanks.

 

I also give programs for writing groups, reading groups, or any group that’s interested. If you belong to a club, which needs program speakers, keep me in mind.

 

You have permission to reprint, forward, or use the contents of this newsletter in your newsletter or e-zine. The only requirement is the inclusion of the following footer:

 

This article was written by Bob Avey, author of, Twisted Perception, Beneath a Buried House, and Footprints of a Dancer. http://www.bobavey.com.

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I Get By With a Little Help

Brother Bob’s Newsletter

1st Quarter, 2015

I’ve worked on my share of cars, performing some fairly difficult procedures in the process, mostly out of necessity. When the repair costs exceed your bank balance, you have to do something. However, I do not, even in the farthest reaches of imagination, consider myself a mechanic. With me, it’s take off the old part and put on a new one. If that doesn’t work, I’m lost.

It’s different with the BMW. I’m not sure why. I’ve owned cars produced outside the United States before, and I have worked on them. Not the case with the Bimmer. I’ve had the car for nearly a year now and I’ve only raised the hood a couple of times, even then approaching the intrusion with a mixture of trepidation and respect, a bit like visiting an antique shop where you fall into a state, which closely resembles reverence, speaking softly and keeping your hands to yourself.

My Bavarian fugue has not come without cost. Upon bringing the 328i home, and realizing my lack of knowledge, I immediately began an internet search for an independent BMW automotive specialist. I intentionally avoided the dealerships. It’s what I’ve always done with other cars.

Of course, I quickly found what I thought I was looking for. Answering the phone with, Hello, uh, yeah this is blank and blank auto, the guy convinced me to bring the car to his shop, an out-of-the-way, backstreet building with a garage in the back. Finding the place locked and having to bang on the door to get the guy’s attention should have given me a clue, and to be honest it had, but in my eagerness for things to work out like they should, I pushed the warning aside. I even let the big, grumpy, bearded proprietor’s gruff attitude slide. What kind of BMW mechanic insults his customers for owning the kind of car he repairs? Well, after researching the subject on the internet, apparently a lot of them. Taking it all in stride, I kept the mechanic on board for a few months, going along with his recommended repairs. And then it happened. During my last visit, which was right before the Thanksgiving holiday, the guy changed the oil and in addition ordered some parts for the car, which he charged me for with instructions to bring the car back in a few days for installation.

Well you’ve probably guessed where I’m going with this. After the allotted time had expired, I called the shop but received no answer. I repeated the process for about a week, leaving messages that were never returned. Finally, I drove to the location but found the building locked up. This time no one answered my door banging.

Not all was lost. I disputed the charges for the parts, and the credit card company refunded me. However, it was then that I began to wonder what exactly had been done for the car. If the mechanic had been dishonest about the parts, what else had he done, or not done?

I began to search for another shop. Having jumped the gun on my previous attempt at procuring affordable but effective European auto care, I increased my efforts and widened the scope of the search. I do sometimes learn from my mistakes. I even sought online referrals and perused available comments associated with the shops. A few days later, after narrowing my list of prospective automotive gurus down to three, I sent emails, inquiring about the cost of possible service. Two of the prospects proved to exceed what I considered my price range. However the third shop on the list began to look like a possibly viable option. Their prices seemed appropriate and their website offered further encouragement. In addition, the return email contained language urging me to call a provided phone number.

“I’m glad you called,” the voice coming over the phone said. “My name is blank, and we’re all about long-term relationships. Why don’t you come by the shop and let me show you around?”

I told the mechanic I’d get back with him but I had no intentions of doing that. I hung up the phone and took a hot shower. After that, I gave up and called the dealership.

I don’t wish to leave you with the wrong impression. I love the BMW. It’s an absolute thrill to drive and it has never failed me. The only thing I’ve taken the car to the shop for is oil changes. The minor repairs were for things recommended by the first mechanic. I’m not sure if any of it was necessary, or if any of the work was actually done.

I want to thank everyone who has signed up for my newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it. If you know of someone who might enjoy it, too, please email it to them. Thanks.

 

I also give programs for writing groups, reading groups, or any group that’s interested. If you belong to a club, which needs program speakers, keep me in mind.

 

You have permission to reprint, forward, or use the contents of this newsletter in your newsletter or e-zine. The only requirement is the inclusion of the following footer:

 

This article was written by Bob Avey, author of, Twisted Perception, Beneath a Buried House, and Footprints of a Dancer. http://www.bobavey.com.

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It All Adds Up

There’s a lot of bad stuff going on in the world right now.

Let’s talk about something else.

As I bang away at the keyboard of my computer at home, I think back to a few hours earlier when I was banging away at the keyboard of my computer at work. Consideration of the similar actions jolts me back even further, months earlier actually, to May 2014 when I attended the OWFI (Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc.) annual conference.

While maneuvering the crowded hallways of the Embassy Suites, during the conference, I chanced upon Charlotte Smith, a friend and fellow writer. I can’t remember what I said to her, but her reply had stuck with me. She’d said, “Making a living often gets in the way of living.”

Returning to the present, I rub my chin and stare into open space, wondering about Charlotte’s cryptic phrase. I can’t decide where to go with it, but since OWFI is now in the air I continue to follow that.

Just before OWFI, I’d acquired the BMW that most of you have heard about, and as thoughts of the drive from Tulsa to Oklahoma City run through my head a smile turns the corners of my mouth. The Turner Turnpike is no Autobahn, but reality does little to curb my imagination.  My father had always complained that I lived in my own little world. I thank God that I do.

Drifting off again to OWFI, I remember my room at the Embassy Suites. The bathroom had sported fixtures that were several inches lower than I’m used to. I felt a bit like Gulliver. To put it subtly, using the facilities reminded me, in no pleasant fashion, of the squatting position assumed prior to jumping over some unfortunate kid in a game of leapfrog; taking a shower caused me to engage in a rather clumsy version of the Limbo; and brushing my teeth proved a bit of a challenge as my reflection in the mirror somewhat resembled a giant with the rabies. But it’d been a small price to pay. During the conference, Dan Case, the chief cook and bottle washer of AWOC Books, my publisher, had volunteered to act as shepherd for David Morrell, one of the conference speakers. I took the opportunity to tag along as Dan carried out his shepherd-like duties, which put me in a position to get to know David Morrell, who is best known for his debut novel, First Blood, which introduced the character Rambo. David is a great writer and a wonderful person.

During the final hours of the conference, while I was in the atrium of the hotel talking to a group of writers, Mr. Morrell showed up, dragging a suitcase and looking mildly distressed. He couldn’t locate his shepherd who was to take him to the airport.

I told him not to worry, that I would try to locate Dan, and if I could not, I would get him to the airport myself.

It took me a few minutes, but I finally found Dan in a conference room, taking pitches from potential clients. Even though I seldom wore a watch, I tapped my left wrist and Dan immediately understood what I was telling him. We rushed into the atrium, collected Mr. Morrell, and strolled out of the hotel. I don’t remember the reason, but Dan asked if we could take my car. I agreed of course. However, as fate would have it, another small problem arose: Mr. Morrell couldn’t get the handle of his pull-a-long suitcase to collapse. It wouldn’t be a problem getting the bag into the car, but the situation might entangle the boarding of the aircraft.

It must have been a sight, three grown men kneeling over a suitcase in a parking lot. Several passersby, perhaps thinking we were attending to a fallen comrade, asked if we needed assistance, though the lot of them quickly backed away upon determining our attention being set upon a piece of insubordinate luggage.

How hard could it be, you might ask?

As time became more of an issue, I suggested we employ brute-force and simply rip the insolent handle from the beast. The suggestion was not well received.

Finally Dan whipped out his cell phone. It seems his son lives in Oklahoma City and had some sort of shop nearby. With the connection made, we grab the luggage and scramble into the car.

Minutes later, we turn onto a barely-known backstreet of Oklahoma City where we find an industrial-looking building with several large overhead doors along the side. As we pull into the lot, we notice that one of the garage doors is open.

How much valuable time did getting the motley, crew to this point cost? Probably too much. Seeing a large man in overalls take a reciprocating saw to the defenseless luggage…Priceless.

We gave our thanks and said our goodbyes then gathered the pieces of luggage. Our lack of time had now become critical. Someone was giving me directions to the airport. Someone else asked, “How fast can this thing go?”

Never ask a BMW owner that question.

Let’s just say we made it to the airport on time. I think Dan and I made an impression on Mr. Morrell. Only time will tell.

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Remembering the Past

 

 

Remembering the past

 

It could be said that life is comprised of a string of memories of what had come before interspersed with fantasies, or worries about what might come next.

For whatever reason, living in the present seems to take a backseat. Perhaps this theory is behind the popularity of simple past tense with a third person narrator as a means of telling the story within the world of fiction.

Don’t take me too seriously. I’m making this up as I go.

During the 4th of July weekend of 2014, my mom, who now resides in Kansas, came to spend some time with us. She is such a blessing, and I thank God daily for her. An extended period of coping with her, though, can prove quite adventurous. Kathi, my sweet wife, and I have found that keeping mom occupied acts to lessen the opportunity for unintended mischief. Thankfully, she loves to cook, which keeps her busy for a while. She’s very efficient at it, turning out wonderful meals in what seems a miraculous amount of time. In an effort to maintain our sanity, Kathi and I have become somewhat adept at keeping mom busy In between these Julia-Child-meets-Doctor-Who episodes.

Recently, upon interlude, Kathi suggested we drive to Sand Springs to revisit some of the sites in the small town where mom and I had lived. We drove by the schools I’d attended and the house where I grew up. I’m always amazed at how small and close together everything looks compared to my childhood memories. However, the trip proved rewarding in ways I had not anticipated. Instead of reminiscing about my early childhood, I began to relive the time when my romance with Kathi was in its infancy. On the way back to Tulsa, we took the old route, driving along Charles Page Boulevard. Among the memories we saw along the way, was an old hamburger stand where Kathi and I would meet when we were dating. The building has long since been abandoned but it’s still there. It had been called Whiz Burger. Yeah, I know. We joked about the name back then as well. But the memories are golden. During a brief period, when I was without wheels, we would meet there, with Kathi walking from Tulsa and me from Sand Springs. The hike was probably five to six miles, but I would have done it even if it’d been fifty. I was madly in love with her.

Shortly thereafter, circumstances surrounding my home life caused me to determine it best if I left it behind. I asked Kathi to go with me and together, with nothing more than the clothes we were wearing, a few dollars, and an old Ford Falcon, we made our way to Texas. On August 25, 1969, we were married.

Forty-five years, two children, and four grandchildren later, I’m still madly in love with Kathi. We survived the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin… Well, you get the idea. We’ve been through a lot together. My life with her has been good. I could ask for nothing more, except for another forty-five.

I want to thank everyone who has signed up for my newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it. If you know of someone who might enjoy it, too, please email it to them. Thanks.

I also give programs for writing groups, reading groups, or any group that’s interested. If you belong to a club, which needs program speakers, keep me in mind.

You have permission to reprint, forward, or use the contents of this newsletter in your newsletter or e-zine. The only requirement is the inclusion of the following footer:

This article was written by Bob Avey, author of, Twisted Perception, Beneath a Buried House, and Footprints of a Dancer. http://www.bobavey.com.

 

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