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

Back to December – the Synopsis

Hello again, friends and readers.

Below you can read a synopsis of a holiday story I’m working on. I’d like to publish in time for the 2015 holidays. This is a 2nd-draft synopsis. I’ve already begun writing the book, so I’d like to share the synopsis with you. Of course, I’m not much of a synopsis writer – I’m terrible at it, and usually deviate from the plan when I do get into a story anyway.

This is a quick synopsis, more like the long version of a back cover, so the end is not revealed. Only more questions.  😉

Your comments are always welcome.

Here goes nothing. Enjoy!

 

BACK TO DECEMBER
Synopsis:
After graduating college with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, Joy can’t see herself going back to the one-horse town she grew up in. She sees no future in playwriting there, or anywhere else in Texas, whatsoever. She knows she has to go somewhere else to make her dreams a reality. With ideas of grandeur, places like Los Angeles and New York City etch all sorts of pretty lies on her brain.

 
During her last months at college, Joy meets and becomes enamored with her ticket out. One of her plays peaks the interest of handsome Blake Grant, a PhD student and son of a popular playwright. The beautiful, romantic former Homecoming Queen leaves her old high school flame, Sam, behind to run off with her new man; an exciting man who convinces her she is everything to him.

 
Her heart wanders back to Sam sometimes and the awful way she ended their six-year romance during a cold December rain. The guilt haunts her so she cuts most ties with her roots; not just with Sam, but with her lifelong best friend, Cammy , her former teachers, and even her own father. She cannot let those memories interfere with the present.

 
Joy’s play becomes a Broadway hit, as her husband, a talent agent, lights up the grandest stages with his clients. Life is striking and busy until a house fire destroys her life. Blake takes what’s left of her dignity as he dumps her for someone else. To top it all off, the woman who is supposed to be her best friend betrays her in an unforgivable way, breaking Joy’s trust in her forever.

 
Joy is emotionally and physically scarred for eternity. She knows nothing but regret, grief, and betrayal, and after realizing the last few years of her life were a lie, she wonders if she would be better off dead.

 
Broken, frightened, exhausted and alone, Joy is unable to stand life in New York with nothing but ghosts to keep her company. She comes to realize that the last few years of her life had been an illusion and she longs for those old creature comforts and real friends of home.

 
Embarrassed and ashamed – not just of how her life turned out, or of the scars the fire left on her, but of her actions before she left for New York, she returns to her hometown of Greenland. With the exception of a few vacations to the Texas Gulf Coast, and a weekend or two in Austin, the tiny Central Texas town, population 1000, surrounded by family-owned farms and cattle and horse ranches had been all she had known until her move to New York City.

 
As she approaches the old homestead on a rainy Christmas Eve, she is unsure of her future. What she left behind in New York was hell. It was thwarting, heart wrenching and sickening. A thousand questions run through her mind. Can her family overlook her former transgressions? Will she and her father be able to mend their broken fences? And, how much do the good folks of Greenland really know about her time away? Can the people she grew up with forgive a small-town girl’s ideas of greatness and welcome her back into the fold?

 
Even more worrisome, what humiliation will she face after leaving her old flame standing in the rain one night to run off with a big-city guy? Can he forgive? Will he be able to look past her scars as if they’re not there?

 
She wants no one’s pity. She just wants to go home. If only she could go back to that December and make it right.

 

 

 

Copyright 2015 Wanda S. Paryla

Don’t Get Tired of Living

TIRED OF LIVING….Or maybe not.

Things have been on my mind. So I thought I’d post a New Year’s blog a bit early.

Have you ever gotten tired of living? I mean it literally. Have you really been tired for whatever your personal reasons?

I think that most people experience it at least once in their lifetime, others many times. I think it is part of human nature to get this way. I often equate this feeling with the feeling of defeat; like I’ve been beat.

Have you felt as if the goings on in the world, or your personal life, have overwhelmed you to the point that you could just throw up your hands and walk off of a cliff with your eyes closed and just sail?

I have felt this way a few times in my life. But it’s been mostly recently that I’ve had these sad feelings. Some people feel them early in life, some when they are elderly, and unfortunately, if they cannot overcome them tragedy can strike. It becomes a matter of desperation – suicide, homicide; people just disappear from the face of the earth sometimes. Sometimes people go “postal.” The list of what could happen if people do not accept this defeat and face it can be catastrophic.

Woe! Wait a minute. Did I just say ACCEPT defeat? Yes. If we linger on the defeat, then terrible things can happen. We can do terrible things, and people and events can have a negative impact on us if we don’t accept the loss. Recognition and acceptance of defeat is not a bad thing! It should also be human nature to take the lesson and move on, but in these last few years, this part of human nature…the part that makes us forget…is failing for some.

When we refuse to acknowledge defeat, we are only punishing ourselves. I have learned this in my life recently mostly. Of course, I was once defeated as a young teen and I tried to commit suicide. That was dumb. And later, after living through that, I was glad I did not succeed. Life was great for a very long time for me. Then I hit 40 and took a look at where I was. I hated it. I marked myself as a failure.

When I was in my early 20s, it was hard for me to find a decent job. “You have no college education,” was their excuse. But, I worked two jobs, and I was never ahead of my bills, but I was content. Not happy per se, but okay with life. In 1996 at the ripe old age of 26, I pursued that college education. After September 11, 2001, it became null and void as employers used 9/11 to do all sorts of horrible things to their employees. As the years went on, I then heard, “You’re overqualified.” What?

I ended up working at Wal-mart. Right back to where I was before college, except I was not content. Now I have $130K in student loans I cannot pay due to that I spent so many years on minimum wage. So at age 39, I found myself ringing up the purchases of ungrateful, bitchy customers and being talked to like a dog, working for a corporation that cares nothing for its employees, nor does it support its employees. I was doing the backstroke, and it was tearing me down.

However, eventually things turned out okay and this last 14 months haven’t been so bad financially. However, I know to never look a gift horse in the mouth, as they say. Whoever THEY are. And I know that the universe takes as well as it gives.

I am not totally NOT to blame. Does that makes sense? I’d like to blame everyone else for my misfortune, and I won’t lie and say I do not feel I wasn’t dealt a raw deal sometimes. But I made mistakes. Mistakes I made consciously. And I let other people push me into things and moods I didn’t like.

I think sometimes, it hurts us worse when we screw over ourselves. People and events often hurt us. Even the doings of strangers can cause us depression. The people we care for say terrible things to us. Maybe a friend or family member died suddenly and left you reeling in sad feelings. Maybe you studied day and night for that exam, eating fruits and vegetables that you were sure to boost your brain power, but yet, you got a low grade on the test. What went wrong? Did you make a terrible mistake by driving drunk, and ran into Mrs. Smith’s award winning maple tree? – be thankful you didn’t kill anyone. Maybe you were just walking down the street and someone ran by and stole your purse. That all sucks. But does it hurt worse than when you really, truly, and totally fuck up your own life? Sure, driving drunk is a good way to start, and there’s a chance that some outcomes can be worse than others. But, say, you are like me. You do not drink and drive.

When someone wrongs us, we are not always to blame. Very rarely, in fact. But let us wrong ourselves and the world comes crashing down. Sure, sure, sometimes we let people wrong us, or we put ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, or maybe we should not have been there at all. But when we make one decision that seems logical, or profitable, and that shitty decision wrings our asses dry, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Sometimes one wrong move can cause an avalanche of incorrect decisions. Or cause a chain of events that make every other right thing that we’ve ever done or decided upon null and void. These are the things that create the moments in life when we are tired of living. Truly tired.

What are the symptoms of being tired of living? Well, depression, of course. You may find yourself not enjoying the things you should, like playing with the dog, going to birthday celebrations, watching your kid’s dance recital, or writing the great American…or some other…novel. Your sense of pride, both in the things that you do and in the things others accomplish…like that dance recital…is diminished. Foods don’t taste as good, comedies are not as funny, and no one loves us anymore. Why don’t they love us? Well, they still do really. They just don’t always understand what’s going on and they don’t know how to approach us. And if they’ve never had one of those tired-of-living moments, their understanding is even less. We feel abandoned.

I spent a couple of recent years going through this. Whatever THIS is. And I thought of all sorts of horrible things to do to myself or others. For instance, I contemplated suicide on more occasions than I have fingers and toes to count them on, and then I thought about murder. I also thought about just getting on the road and driving until that road ended so that I could start a new life.

The end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 were horrible. I’ve talked about that before. The terrible weather in the Midwest, my mother’s sudden illness and surgery. My beloved feline familiar and soul mate of 14+ years then went to the Rainbow Bridge. And one of her biggest illness episodes took place in the middle of the night, during a blizzard, while my elderly mother was still in the hospital recovering from her emergency surgery. I had to go out in the middle of the night in my pajammas, with a shovel, and dig my way to the shed to get my cat’s carrier to take her to an emergency hospital. I loved my Ganymede and still do. Do not make fun of me. I only hope one day you’ll feel love and devotion like that for someone, or an animal…who I do believe are someones.

It was awful. The last couple of years coming to a head. And even after Ganymede’s and my mother’s issues were resolving, more catastrophe continued – money issues, job issues, serious personal illness. Finally, around mid-2014, things settled down and began to look up a bit. Yet, even now, I get that feeling. In fact, I’ve felt it over the winter holidays.

Statistically, more people commit suicide during Christmas. Why? That’s when they feel the loss, emptiness, and loneliness the most and the worst. I miss many things during the winter holidays. And, it’s when I feel the most regret. I miss my loved ones who have died. I grieve the children I never had. And I miss the lover I never found. I always think he’s out there somewhere. Maybe he’s all alone like me. But I always prayed he went on with his life when I didn’t show up. I hope he’s not full of regret like I am. It is times like the season at hand, that I feel these voids the most.

I also reminisce about those old days at this time as well. The New Year’s Eves I spent with my friends on the dance floor. The Christmas cards I used to get. I remember when it took two books of stamps to mail out my holiday cards, now I’m lucky if it takes a half of a book.

As some of you may recall, I am a polytheistic pagan, and I miss having Yule circles with my friends. I miss these things the most around Halloween and Yule. Witches and pagans have it rough at these times. I like being a solitary practitioner, but I also enjoy celebrating Samhain and Yule, or Beltaine with a group of friends and acquaintances. I get depressed. Of course, there are familiar places and people I can join in with during the winter celebrations here and now, but my depression keeps me from it, which causes me more sadness.

I remember having costume parties when I was a kid, since Halloween is my birthday too. I mean, I was always a nostalgic fool. So I was always one to reminisce. I’m a romantic like that. But these days, the memories are painful, not joyful. I feel sadness when I remember the good times. Not joy and love. I used to be happy and laughing when I remembered those old crazy days when a friend and I got stuck out on the sands of Lake Waco as high tide was coming in and we had to push the car to get it to budge. Or when a childhood friend and I drove around until all hours back in the 80s, listening to Poison and stopping in at 7-Eleven to get those Big Gulps, which we lovingly referred to as “Soaks.” I miss the days of holding the hand of guy who cared for me. Now, that’s been a long time ago! Too long.

Yes, I have been missing the days when I had a life. Missing it for years. Missing it for so long I forgot to live in the present. It was so much easier to dream of the past. Life is sometimes hard to bear.

These thoughts and longings were ruining me. You know, I have always been one for not knowing when to let go. Sometimes I was not sure if I was supposed to let go of something or someone. Or a memory. I have developed the inability to also let go of pains and wrongs done to me.

For the last four or five years I have been just existing. Then I woke up. I spent many years pleased with myself and who I was. Something changed. I went from a flowery goddess-worshiping, meditating, tree-hugging lover of nature to an angry Midwestern bitch. I left my Texas home and came to a place I dislike greatly because I was bamboozled into it, and I let the feeling take over. Take ME. Drown ME. I failed. This warrior woman, who had never been defeated before was now…is now…weeping, down on her knees with her head on the floor.

But while I’ve been lounging on the floor, I had time to think. Yes, I did my good old reminiscing. But this time, it was not about the good old days. I was trying to decipher what led me to this point.

I let some people in my life demean me, use me, and talk to me like I’m an idiot. I am, by far, no idiot and I’m sure in the hell of a higher intelligence level than they are. It’s funny how someone can cause another person’s despair; steal their self worth. There was a time in my life when I would die before I ever allowed anyone to do that to me.

I was told by someone in the know, that I am a victim of jealousy. That someone with very low self esteem, who is a failure in their own life, was hell bent on making me one too. By crushing me. This person caused me to not be proud of my individual accomplishments. They said, “Look at ALL you’ve done. ALL the time you’ve wasted on college, writing fiction and poetry, and you have accomplished NOTHING. It got you nowhere. What a waste of time.” One thing some people are good at is manipulation.

This person made me believe because I did not accomplish the career I set out to start by going to university, I was a failure. They brainwashed me to believe that people should not celebrate tiny achievements. That it was all or nothing.

In other words, this person’s belief is that your big picture (whole life) is a failure, if that one big life goal is not met. If you do not end up a millionaire, working for Donald Trump or winning an Oscar, you’re a complete an utter failure, loser, etc. I was nothing because all that I have achieved did not lead to the big picture. I was slowly broken down into believing one should not celebrate life’s small successes if they don’t lead to the ultimate satisfaction. Even though, I was satisfied – ultimately. I was accomplished. It’s funny how another can turn off the lights on you, and whisper negatives in the dark, causing fear and desolation. Like the boogeyman.

Yes, I was torn down. Someone set out to destroy me, even though I did nothing wrong to them, just because I finished something. I am not even sure, however, if they did it consciously, or not. But the result was the same. For instance, because my novel, that I spent so many years on, Someday Always Comes, did not hit the best seller list of the New York Times, I failed. All the years I spent trying to make it great; the reading over and over and editing and fussing was all for naught. I failed. It doesn’t matter that I wrote 640 pages in MS Word. 640 pages that no one else wrote or could write. Definitely not this person tearing me down.

When this person wants something from me and I am trying to set aside time for writing, this person gets upset that I will not do for them simply because I want to write. They try not to show it, but I can read it in their voice. People do not understand the author or artist. Often non-writers don’t understand how our minds work; what makes us tick. They can’t and won’t understand it.

Some people I know do not appreciate or understand me or my love for writing. They feel, well, Wanda will be no Stephen King. Well, of course not. No one can be Stephen or write like Stephen, but Stephen. And, what’s up with that anyway? I do not even write in the same genre as him. I am trying to write in the horror/thriller genre, and even if I succeed, I shall be no Stephen King, even if I write as many, or more, books.

After a good cry, I became myself again. I will be a victim no more. I’ve had enough of being someone’s victim in this lifetime.

I let others steal my self-worth. And goddamn it. I will take it back! I AM going to take it back.

As I believe I have mentioned in a past New Year’s post, I let go of the idea of New Year’s resolutions years ago. Repeatedly, we do not follow through on many of them. Trying to meet New Year’s resolutions often stresses us out, then we give up on them. We are then stressed out because we gave up. It’s a crazy cycle. The last few years, I’ve set goals, instead of resolutions, for the next year which I try to meet, and even then, do not always get close. But goals seem more manageable than resolutions. Baby steps, my friends, baby steps. You can reach a resolution, if you approach it one goal at a time.

However, this year…for 2015, that is…I will state one resolution. I resolve to not let anyone cut me down and attempt to destroy me out of envy. Even if only during 2015. I have enough problems without that. I will not let anyone make me tired of living; steal my joys of triumph or tell me that what I have achieved – no matter how small- is not worth celebrating. Fuck off.

If I’m going to be tired of living, it’s because I did not succeed due to a mistake I chose to make, not because I let someone talk me into feeling like a failure. I will not be demeaned when I am actually victorious. I will be proud of my successes now matter what. Whether I type 100 or one-million words in 2015, that’s more than I can say of the one who downs me.

Enough. No more letting people discourage me out of jealousy or anger.

I hope that you will not do it either. Do not let someone downplay your achievements, no matter how minute or how huge, to suite themselves and lessen the blow of their own shortcomings.

Thanks for reading.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!