Where Fires Glow (a poem)

WHERE FIRES GLOW

I was swinging to and fro
Hair flying
Laughing out loud
Barbaric is my memory

Devil’s on the playground
Here to erase my afflictions
God turned his back on me a long time ago
Now I live where the fires glow

Back and forth my memory rages
I struggle to keep my eyes shut
I need to stay where the fires glow
Let me rest in peaceful flame

Bottomless and salty
Protection from truths
Is the pit of the damned
Where the fires glow

Some voices, they urge me
Face your slave masters
But the fires beg me
Cover your eyes for sanity

Devil holds me
Gently in his arms
God’s gone, sweet child
So stay here where the fires glow

The fires
Avengers of my ravaged goodness
I know that I’m safe nowhere
But where the fires glow

Copyright 2018 Wanda S. Paryla

Sal and Ness. (A Chicago Down Excerpt)

Greetings everyone,

Here is another excerpt from Chicago Down. This a very rough first draft and is mostly dialogue – for a purpose, of course. I gave this a once over, so I’m sure that you’ll find something goofy in there. LOL. Thanks for reading…And please keep all Tommy Guns under your coats. 😉

************************************************

SAL & NESS October 1931

A car skidded to a halt in front of Eliot Ness’s home. Salbatora Guerrera shoved the door open before the driver could make it around to her side.

“I can do it, David! I’m not helpless you know.”

“I know, Sal, I just…”

Sal stormed across the front lawn, fuming like a challenged rhino, leaves rustling and crackling as she treaded.

“Ness! You come out here!” She screamed. Ness!

“Sal,” David started toward her. “Someone’s going to call the cops.”

“Eliot! Eliot Ness!”

“Sal, please,” David pleaded.

“David,” her arm jutted outward, pointer finger aimed toward the car. “Get…your…ass…in the car!” Her teeth clenched together, and her cheeks were cherry red.

“Yes, ma’am,” David complied. He hurried to the driver’s side of the vehicle, but he kept vigil by the door.

“Eliot!” She screamed.

“Salbatora,” Ness was on the stairs.

“Eliot, what did you do?” Sal’s face was red and wet, her chest heaved from anger and Eliot thought she might hyperventilate. “I knew it would come to this. You!” She pointed an accusing finger. “You betrayed us.”

He came cautiously toward her, arms outstretched in surrender, palms facing her. “Take it easy, Salbatora.”

“What happened? Why did you go to the court?” Sal’s eyes welled with water. “Why did you let them destroy Al like that? Why?”

“You knew I was going, Salbatora. You knew I went. Why are you here, four months later?”

“I’m so disappointed.”

“Now, Salbatora. You know why I went. I need you to understand. Al does,” Eliot put his hands down and approached her. “Besides…he isn’t going down for bootlegging or prohibition violations is he? No. Some tax wise ass got the jump on me… Oh, never mind.”

“They gave him eleven years, Eliot. This is not a time for jokes.” she cried. “Please. If you have one shred of decency you will do something. Help Al.”

“I can’t, Salbatora. I wish I could. My hands are tied. I wish I was that guy…the one who could help you. But I don’t have that kind of power.”

“That’s okay,” Sal straightened herself up, smoothed out her coat. “Uh-huh.”

“Salbatora,” Eliot breathed a sigh. Something so simple, but Sal believed he couldn’t help. He looked so defeated.

“These asses running Chicago,” Sal said. “Running Illinois. They can try to cover it all up. Run it into the ground…what we did. You, me, Al, Bugs, and the Commissioner – God rest him. But, they can’t. And if they think for one minute that putting Al Capone in jail is going to change it, it won’t. He’s Al Capone. He’ll live forever…”

“Salbatora,” Eliot said, “there’s a big chance Al won’t even serve the full eleven years. Maybe half. But things are about to change. Chicago’s going to change. And, you know…”

“Eliot. Chicago will never change. It’ll always be home to barbarians who need tending to. This is Al Capone’s city. He can’t trust too many. But I’ll be here…in Chicago…to make sure it stays Al’s territory,” she trembled again, maybe from grief, or anger, but it was making Eliot Ness question the last couple of years of his own life. Question his own sanity. “They have no right to put Al in prison after all he’s done for them…this no good town! He doesn’t deserve to be in prison, Eliot. He doesn’t. He was good to everyone. Vultures!”

“Yes, Salbatora. He does. He belongs in prison. And he knows it, and you know it too,” Eliot took her gently by the arms, his voice low and soothing. “There’s nothing I can do, or you can do, to change events that were set in motion long before you came to Chicago. We can’t undo…”

“Oh, I’ll make them pay… I’ll kill them, every single one,” Sal said, hell bent on vengeance.

“Who?”

“Those bastard jurors…one by one, I’ll kill them. That’s right. And they’ll be scared, each of them, waiting and wondering which of them will be next. Holding their breaths…scared to death. Hiding…”

Eliot shook Sal a little. “Salbatora, listen to yourself. Those are innocent people…”

“Oh, Chicago needs a leader. They need a boss…and I’ll give them one. Me. I’ll be the father of this town until Al can return and take back what’s his. I’ll do that. I’ll kill them. And that judge. I’ll kill his whole family. I’ll blow that whole courtroom to hell…I’ll kill…”

“Salbatora!” Eliot yelled. “Nonsense. Stop it.

“He’s not bad. He did everything for me and Leandro, and he never asked to be paid back. Never. Nothing.”

“You are not a killer, Salbatora.”

“Oh, no?” Sal stepped back out of Eliot’s reach and opened her arms wide. “I am not?” She opened her coat to reveal her holstered weapon.”

“You have to wear that because you are in the Capone Family mess,” Eliot said. “You have to protect yourself from people that hate Al Capone.”

“Yes. Not just that. They look at me all nasty like I am some damned no good moll,” she raved.

Eliot shook his head. “No, Salbatora, you’re no…m”

“Not a moll?…unless you consider a trouser-wearing-tommy-gun-toting woman a moll. I killed many people, Eliot. You know it.”

“Most of them were already dead. I mean, who else is there? Who? Roger McClennan? He was an idiot with half a brain. So what…and he left your best pal to die,” he ran his fingers through his hair. “Killer told us that the bastard didn’t want to wait.” He laughed, nervously. “So, you killed some people. But you are not THAT kind of killer.” He laughed.

“That kind of killer? What’s that? Funny, huh, Eliot? You’re…a killer too.”

“Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I’m a killer too,” he threw his hands up. He gave up. “Okay, Salbatora. You’re a killer. Is that what you want to hear? That you’re a murderer? Fine, then, be a fucking killer!”

“I will, then!”

“Good. Go ahead. See if I give one damn!”

Sal turned and slowly started toward the waiting car.

“Salbatora,” Eliot followed her to the car. “Please. We can argue all day. The only sense there is, is in you letting this go.”

“I cannot. I have everything because of Al. He gave me work. He taught me business. Made his ruffians treat me like a lady…like they’d treat Mae,” her memories were fine ones. “Mae. She taught me that I can still be strong willed when wearing a skirt,” she laughed, tickled by memories of her and Mae that Eliot didn’t share. “She hates trousers, you know,” she smiled at times past. “She taught me how to bake a turkey.”

Eliot felt her distress and uncertainty. He saw that despite her young age, just 20 years old, her youth had long gone. In fact, it was history before she ever met Al and him. And as for Al Capone, as she saw it, he may as well be dead.

“But you can still have that, Sal,” Eliot said. He was looking for any way to make her see what was right. To make her see that killing innocent people was not the answer. “Mae. She’s not going to jail. She’ll still be here for you. My God, Sal, can you imagine Mae running between prisons trying to keep up with you and Al?…The two idiots that drive her the most nuts? And what about Rudy? Huh? What’s going to happen to good ol’ sweet Rudy if you end up in the clink? Or dead?” He looked around, lost for words to describe the outcome. “That guy…brave as he is…is not too good at caring for himself, Sal. He can’t even boil an egg. Even Al said that himself…Rudy can’t boil water. He was always afraid to let Rudy have weapons,” he laughed. “But, that boy’s handy dandy with explosives and grenades. I’ll tell ya.”

There was silence for a few seconds. Nothing to be heard but the wind rustling the trees.

“I can’t let it go,” Sal said. “This is Al’s town. And I’ll keep it warm for him until he comes home, Eliot. And you can help me, or try hinder me, but it’s going to happen. Chicago needs a babysitter. Just so happens I’m free. And besides that…they already know me. And if those police and the rest of them law-wielding hypocrites don’t like it… I’ll burn this mother fucking town to the ground. Besides, there’s bigger fish to fry in this world.”

Gently, Eliot took Sal’s face in his hands. Just a last-ditch effort to talk sense into her. He couldn’t save Al, or himself, or Roger McClennan, but maybe, just maybe… “Sal, Al Capone is not your father. He’s not your father.”

Shattered. That was the outcome. Sal was crushed. Troubled, she stared at Eliot. He couldn’t move, couldn’t take his hands from her face. No thoughts came to him. His own words stunned him as much as they did Sal.

She stared at Eliot for a few seconds, tears streaming. “You’re right, Eliot,” she choked. “Al is not my father. I killed my father. He’s just another victim of mine.”

“You didn’t kill your father, Salbatora. You know that. He was…already… He was one them,” Eliot stepped back, nodding his head, shoved his hands into his trouser pockets. “And you met Al Capone, and through him you gained another family. Your mother and father. Your sister, Nancy. Big brother, Pedro. You and Leandro…you lost them for good. And Al Capone and his people. His wife and his mother. They gave that back to you. Trust me, Salbatora – Savior, you were worthy of every minute of their time. Every dime you earned. Everything. Not to mention, you earned your short-lived place in history. But. Like me. Like Al. You’ll never be notorious again. Our time is ending, Sal.”

They stared at each other quietly. The sight of Eliot’s wife, Edna, caught her eye. She was standing on the porch. How much had she witnessed? Sal then looked the other way to find the driver, David, staring at her slack jawed, speechless.

“Not yet, Eliot. The book’s not done.”

“Stop,” he started toward her. “Come on now.”

She turned her back to Eliot and as she slid into the backseat, “David. Drive,” She slammed the door shut.

David looked at Eliot Ness and drove off as ordered.

Edna came down the stairs and met Eliot on his way to the house.

“Eliot, you’ve got to do something. I’m afraid Sal’s going to get killed.” She hugged Eliot tight. “What happened to our sweet-n-sour Sal?”

“I know,” he said. “I know what to do.”

Copyright 2018 Wanda S. Paryla

Chicago Down: An Excerpt

*Greetings, All. Here is an excerpt from Chicago Down. It’s a draft, but I’d like to know what you think.  Thanks!

Chicago Down

When Salbatora Guerrera left Al Capone’s bedroom, she felt as if she’d done some horrible deed. A deed so terrible that her own mother would disown her. Maybe she wouldn’t though, if she knew the true circumstances behind Sal’s actions.

Sal felt as if she murdered someone. Her friend; a legend. But that someone was truly already dead. Dead long before his physical death. And now, she’d carry this with her into eternity. Forever, and ever. The confusion this day has wrought.

Sal walked passed the doctor and a body guard or two. She thought she saw the driver of the car that brought her to Florida from Chicago. A long drive, it was. Despite that, she barely remembered the miles as they went by. A train might have been much nicer. And gotten her here a heck of a lot faster. But it’s not what Al wanted. Despite his showy personality, he wanted her arrival to be incognito. For her to be safe from the media and busy bodies. It was his endgame. This whole thing. One that he chose before he lost his mind and his senses. Ironic, for a larger-than-life character such as Al Capone, wouldn’t you say?

He wanted Sal to take care of business in the end. He trusted her and only her to do it. After all, she owed him, and she believed in payment of debts. Yet, he was her friend. And she, his. Despite the world’s perception of Al Capone, he was honestly kind to her and never asked anything in return for all he had done for her over the years. Nothing at all. He never put the moves on her, or asked for any sort of sexual favors, or payment in some other shady way. When she had nothing, he had it all, and he offered some to her, Sal, a lost Texan looking for her family. Sal, who found it, and then lost it all over again for the good of humankind.

Al, he admired her. No doubt that her tenaciousness, crassness, bravery and the way she accepted both success and defeat with grace was just a few of the several reasons why he thought she was worth helping.

Sal wandered passed everyone, barely aware of them. She imagined the blood of her friend being upon her hands and she broke down out there on the veranda. All alone. It took only an instant though, for the brave and strong Salbatora to regain her warrior stature. Not as young as she used to be, and having so many responsibilities these days, she just pushed that grief aside. Now was not the time.

“Salbatora,” Mae Capone was behind her, holding a small box. Only middle aged, Mae was still as pretty as ever, even after all she had been through. “Al left this for you. He boxed up these things a long time ago. I don’t really know what’s in here. And I never tried to look.”

She approached Sal and gestured for her to take the box. Sal started to reach for the box, but hesitated.

“Really, Sal, take it.”

Sal took the box with unease. “I don’t know why Al would leave me anything. I’ve taken way too much already.”

“He left it for you because he knew that you’d come,” Mae took a deep breath and turned away from Sal, almost as if she was ashamed. “He knew you’d come here and do what the rest of us couldn’t. What his family, friends, or employees could not do.” She shook her head and turned around to face Sal.

“I…I don’t know…I…” Sal just stuttered. She was at a loss for words and actions.

“He knew you’d end it for him. Put a stop to it. Do what even his doctor wouldn’t. What I wouldn’t…couldn’t. He never wanted to become like that.” Mae wrung her hands, choosing her words carefully. “Once, he became lucid for a few seconds, Salbatora. It was only a few days ago. He opened his eyes wide, looked at me. Raised his head up off the pillow, and…spoke like he did when he was…oh,” she smiled, “like back when he was twenty-five or so. He said, ‘Mae, get Sal. The time is coming. Like I said. Don’t let me become one of them. It’s in me. I was touched by the darkness. Don’t let it…I can’t.’ Then he put his head back down on the pillow. Breathing hard, staring at the ceiling. I wondered what he was thinking. After about a minute, he closed his eyes.”

Salbatora stayed at a hotel, paid for by Al Capone, for the duration of her stay. Mae offered her a room at the house, but with so many years gone by, Sal felt odd about it. She didn’t want to impose upon a grieving family. Sal left the next day. Driven all the way back to Chicago by the same chauffer that brought her to Florida.

 

Copyright 2018 Wanda Paryla

Chicago Down- Cover Blurb

Greetings all,

I’m working on a draft of Chicago Down’s back cover description.  Here’s a peek at what I’ve compiled from the short synopsis so far. I’m still working on trying to dwindle it a bit more.

*****

Salbatora vows to honor her father’s last request: find Eliot Ness to help free her brother who was wrongly arrested for Prohibition violations. She abandons her Texas home, leaving behind memories, and the living dead.

Ness isn’t the only thing Sal finds. Chicago struggles under Prohibition. While its citizens covertly indulge in spirits, a sinister darkness grows. Born of greed, it’s more disturbing than a lust for alcohol. While gangsters battle over territories, the undead have no preference as they run amok, and the Illinois governor has lost his mind to a madcap plot to corral Chicago’s mounting zombie populace.

An unlikely team, Sal Guerrera, Eliot Ness, and Al Capone form an unusual camaraderie as they fight the Screamin’ Mimis, as Al calls them. They develop a strategy to deter the governor’s plan which will collapse the weakened city. But can they end the evil’s terrorizing hold? When they learn how the dead sprang to life, they must strike at the source to set Chicago free. And they may not survive alive.

Chicago, are you ready for your unsung heroes? (Note: this line is slated for the cover, as opposed to the back blurb.)

Copyright 2017 Wanda Paryla

Chicago Down (a Meme & More)

Chicago Down

Talk about foreshadowing.  Can you see it?

16bk8z

“Never call me Toots again, Al,” Sal said.

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Know what?”

“What? You about to cast a kitten?” Al said.

“Cast a what?” Sal demanded, eyebrows drawn together hard. “What, you ass?”

“Don’t fuck with me, girl, or you’ll end up in worse shape than that Screaming Meemie I just bashed.”

“Oh, stop. You’re not gonna do shit.”

“You’re something. What happened to hard boil a sweet, young thing like you?”

I’ve never been sweet.”

Copyright 2016 Wanda Paryla

Chicago Down (an excerpt)

CHICAGO DOWN (Updated 5/28/17)

“There’s something I know about Al Capone’s life and death that the rest of the world does not. Because history is inaccurate. But, I knew him. I was there the day he died. So, I know. You can believe me or not. Doesn’t matter.

Al was by no means perfect. He could be cruel. Monstrous at times even. But Chicago owes him. It’s a bill that they’ll never pay. It’s a debt they don’t even know they own.” – Salbatora Guerrera

Wanda Paryla Copyright 2016

The Devil Plays Dice – Excerpt (and other work)

Greetings! Thanks for reading.

This is a Chapter One excerpt of The Devil Plays Dice – the sequel to Someday Always Comes. This is totally raw and unedited, so beware of crazy wording, long winded-ness, and odd grammar.  😉

The targeted publication date for this sequel was originally September 2016, however, I am embarking on a mid-life career change and moving from Illinois to Texas this coming summer, 2016. So I’ve had to push back the target date to Spring 2017 simply due to editing and cover graphic processes and expenses. But I want my readers, blog visitors, and friends to know that I am writing and working to bring them the best work that I can.

I have my eye set on 2017 for the self-publication of The Devil Plays Dice as well as a book of original poetry currently titled The Crime of a Life Sentence. There is another project I have in the works but I’m not sure where on the wheel of the year that will fall, if in 2017 at all.

I’ll add  excerpts from other chapters, as well as poetry from The Crime of a Life Sentence, and I’ll add information as I go along over the next months and try to keep everyone up to date on the process.

Happy Reading! And thank you for your patience.

 

THE DEVIL PLAYS DICE

 

Our house was in total bedlam with cops and emergency personnel buzzing all around. Hypnotizing red, white and blue lights swirled around the neighborhood like disco balls possessed, ricocheting off buildings, cars, trees; the driveway. It was Spring Break, 2010, but for me it was more like Independence Day, as the strobe lights pierced the twilight like the rainbow colors of sky rockets on the Fourth of July.

 
It was déjà vu, and despite the iron fencing and the fact that our home was far from the street with a driveway two city blocks long separating the road from us, I knew the neighbors and the press had their faces smashed against the vertical bars of the front gates.

 
I’d experienced such bedazzlement before. But this time it was all slow motion to me and came with a much higher price: the newspapers, magazines, and TV news stations to name a few. For heaven’s sake, what were we going to do? The usually reclusive lifestyle my family and I enjoyed was now busted to pieces.

 
God, how I hoped there would be a lesson for the public in this one. Otherwise, my daughter was just a murderer. Plain and simple.

 
My husband, Seth, tried to talk to me but I couldn’t really understand what he said. I stood leaning up against one of the pillars of our front porch. I slid down it landing on the top stair, head in hands, crying like a fool. Emotionally and physically drained, I just didn’t know what else to do. I thought this wouldn’t happen to me ever again. That it couldn’t happen.

 
And then there was Detective Ron Rosales. Yes, you read right. Rosales. He was there too. He was always there. Remember all those things I’d said about cops in the past? Well, Rosales turned out to be different. He kept up with me over the years for the most part. Always checking in on how I was and keeping up with the births of my kids. He and his wife, Anna, visited us now and then, and we them. Getting together for barbecues and such. Anna came to all my baby showers. They didn’t come to our wedding, of course, since we got married so far away and Rosales had to work. Crime doesn’t stop for a trip to the Virgin Islands.

 
Of course, I called him Ron ever after. When my kids were tots, they’d lovingly call him, Detective Ronny. He rushed to Wilmette from Chicago when he heard through the fast-and-furious police grapevine what had occurred at my house. But, I’m not sure if his being there made me feel any better. It did a bit, legally, but not really emotionally. Nothing made it better, despite that he understood me. I never saw this mess coming.

 
The half hour or so before the Wilmette cops showed up were the worst minutes of my life. Now I know what you’re thinking. You read Someday Always Comes, didn’t you? You’re saying, hell no! Something can be worse than some of the episodes in that story?

 
When I finally looked up, my eyes fell on my twelve-year-old daughter, Audra. She was perched on a stone bench in our front yard, poised like a warrior queen, looking at me pitifully as I cried like an idiot. My aunt, Kathy –formerly known as Kiki, sat by her side holding her hand. My lifelong friend, Brianna, stood nearby with her arms folded biting her lower lip, trying to hold back her tears as she nervously turned this way and that way looking for answers she’d never find.

 
Poor Audra. It should’ve been me by my kid’s side, not Kathy. But, I just couldn’t do it. My Audra was way too proud to take my love and coddling. She seems made of stone, that girl. I swear it. I have no idea where she gets that from.

 

No. I could not take care of her. I felt responsible for the whole thing. Seth and me, both. Then there was Kathy and Brianna. They were there too. Nothing we could have done would have change anything. We couldn’t protect the babies. We tried but there was just no way. There’s no way you can do anything when desperate, criminally insane men have their automatic weapons turned on your kids.

 
All our kids were there. Not just mine, but Brianna’s and Kathy’s too. We had no idea where Audra and Diana were when those terrible men busted into our home to terrorize us. But then, an infinite time later, came Audra out of nowhere from below, like a wizard. Like, Rambo.

 
For the first time in many years, terrible menace visited me once again and this time I had no idea how things would turn out. And now that my kid shot a monster, I had serious reservations about Audra’s future as the authorities carried away the body of a dead man-beast from our formerly peaceful abode, all zipped up in a vinyl bag. Yes, it was worse than ever before.

 
What could we do? Despite there were so many of us adults, we were in no position to tackle two madmen with guns and put the kids’ lives in jeopardy, or risk the children seeing one of us killed. I wanted to shield the children. I would’ve died for any of them. Mine, Brianna’s, Kathy’s; even my son, Bret’s, best friend, Donald. Jesus, there was another woman’s child in my house. And his mom wasn’t there. Don’t you people understand that? Another woman who expected me and Seth to guarantee the safety of her son; a woman we’ve known since Bret started kindergarten ten years earlier.

 
There stood Donald, all wide eyed and breathing heavy. Both scared and shocked, but yet I’d look at him and see the wheels turning. He was trying as hard as the rest of us to figure a way out of the mess.

 
And there we all were. All of us with our hands in the air…Seth and me, Brianna, Kathy; dare I say, even my twenty-year old son, Brandon. And we were helpless as one of the crazy monsters waved a gun at my two year old daughter, Abby, threatening me with her life as she cried and sucked on her fingers.

 
Well, there was only one chance…and once the intruders were distracted, Audra shot one of them and killed him. In an instant, instinctively Seth, Brandon, Bret and Donald jumped on the remaining man and nearly beat him to a pulp, wrestling the gun away, as Brianna and Kathy grabbed and ushered the other children out of harm’s way. We always taught our kids to face trouble head on, and Audra did that, despite she had to shoot the prick in the back.

 
Audra did it. She committed murder to save the rest of us. See, I know deep down it’s not about adults versus children. It’s who’s in the position to do the job right, and are they sharp enough, smart enough, steady enough to do what needs to be done if presented with the opportunity to try to put an end to a frightening, potentially deadly situation. And my Audra was, as any of my intelligent children might have been. God knows, they’re all smarter than their mom.

 
Really though, we never know how things will turn out until after we take a chance. Sometimes we are forced to do things we would not normally do for the people we care about; for those who mean the most to us. Sometimes, a bigger tragedy can be stopped by a smaller one, like taking the life of one man, er…fiend, to save the lives of several innocents. We can’t know how things will turn out when we set out with an idea or goal in mind. No matter how safe or scared you feel, no matter how much you plan or don’t plan, care or don’t care…doesn’t matter…just throw any scenario out there. You never know what’s going to happen during the means to an end.

 
Unfortunately for most of us, knowledge comes after the roll of the dice. And we still keep playing.

 

Copyright 2015 Wanda S. Paryla