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What the hell…an invitation? The invite is packaged in a golden envelope, and inside there’s something that looks like a carefully folded doily. Do people really send shit like this anymore?
I tear open the envelope, but the heavy paper cuts my finger with a vengeance. I shake my hand with a snap and nearly scream a profanity, but catch myself. I haven’t forgotten the warning from my guide: “Yo’ got to clean up yo’ act, Miss Havana, we don’ talk like that here! If yo’ don’ follow the rules, yo’ be highly disappointed with the outcome.” I can’t imagine what he means—like, would they really send me back to hell where my daughter is in charge? Frankly, I think THEY wouldn’t like that outcome.
I scan the invite as a trickle of blood begins to run raggedly down the doily. “RSVP, regrets only?” What in my home is that about? Sure I have regrets, doesn’t everyone? I regret the two pounds I gained after high school—never lost those bastards. Regret getting pregnant on prom night, too. How much shit would I have to list before I get a pass to the food and liquor? Crap! Parties, who needs them! I toss the invite on the floor next to WWII style bed, plop down, and swing my feet onto the scratchy woolen blanket, still fuming that I must dredge up all that historical nonsense just to get a drink.
Before I can drift off, however, The Brazilian appears—my cheery guide who always seems high on caffeine. “Why, Miss Havana, yo’ needs to deal with yo’ invite. The party just won’t be the same without yo’. I mean, this year, yo’ be the guest of honor!”
I pick lint off the blanket, avoiding a response, but must admit it’s been a long damn time since I’ve been the center of attention. “They WILL have liquor, won’t they?”
The Brazilian seems taken back, but by now I’m absolutely certain he’s just acting—there’s nothing I can do that should surprise him after all his effort to training me. “Oh, Miss Havana, there be much better than liquor. Yo’ just need to come. Yo’ll see. Yo’ don’t need to list all those regrets, either. Everyone there already knows yo’ soul be burdened with them.”
Oh, shit. Just what I need, another full exposure encounter group. Don’t they ever do anything here just for the fun of it? I sign deeply. “Okay, okay, I’ll go, but only if you’ll finally tell me why they call you The Brazilian.”
He cocks his head and shakes his finger slowly. “Oh, that’s been eatin’ at yo’ for some time, ain’t it. Okay, since it’s nearly Christmas, I’ll tell yo’, like a early Christmas gift, but the secret gots to stay just between the two of us.”
He pauses, waiting for my agreement I guess. I sit up on the edge of the bed, look him directly in the eyes, and respond flatly, “Fine.”
“Okay, then. Yo’ knows me to be a fastidious fellow, a true meterosexual, but that name was given to me because I continue to wax my privates, just like I did below.”
I slap my forehead. TMI! I image disgusts me. “Oh, crap, sorry I asked.”
He grins. “Sometimes it’s best to NOT know all the detains, Miss Havana. Like this here party. Yo’ just needs to come, open yo’self up to it, and not fret about the details. Yo’ needs to trust me. I is yo’ guide. I do yo’ no harm.”
And that’s the way she’d probably react, Miss Havana being a singularly evil vixen with exotic tastes for the bizarre. The character is humorous in her total self-absorption, and outrageous in action, but she is also cunning in her approach to everything, even coyly asking St. Peter at one point, “Is there a Mrs. Peter?” The Substitute should be available in e-book and print from Solstice Publishing this coming year.
James enjoys boating, kayaking, skiing, traveling, hiking, tending nine grandchildren (no more than two at a time), and ballroom dancing, but his first love is writing, and all other activities are molded around it. He has completed six novels and one short story, and intends to continue writing in the Sci-Fi and Paranormal Comedy genres. He will soon have five titles with xoxopublishing.com.
Other Titles: Sci-Fi Trilogy consisting of “The Judge,” “Infinity Quest,” and “The Empress of Tridon.” Contemporary Fiction: “The Final Experiment” and “Aftermath Horizon.” These titles are available from xoxopublishing.com in e-book format. “Aftermath Horizon” will be released in print in 2011.