You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may tread me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? 'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops. Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you? Don't you take it awful hard 'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines Diggin' in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I've got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame I rise Up from a past that's rooted in pain I rise I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.
I hop out of the car and walk inside. There’s no need to turn around to know he will follow. The engine goes silent. His boots squish and squeak in the snow, coming closer until I feel him press against my back. “Just open the door. It doesn’t matter anymore,” he grumbles. Inside, I walk to the bedroom to change, not bothering to close the door. The wet winter clothes peel off my body. Putting on sweat pants, I enter the living room. His eyes lock onto my bare flesh and a smile changes to a frown as I pull a t-shirt over my head. “Are you staying for dinner again?” I know what the answer will be, so I grab the pots and pans for pasta and meatballs. Men will eat anything as long as they don’t have to cook. I notice him arranging my books in alphabetical order. Sighing, I turn my attention back to cooking. “You look very pretty.” I turn my head and stick my tongue out at him. “I’m wearing sweatpants, wise guy.” “You’re barefoot and cooking me dinner.” He winks. Men. “Forget that. You still haven’t told me what you think of my novel. You read it, right?” “I read a few pages but couldn’t go on. How can I read a book that doesn’t have a title?” “I don’t need a title yet. It’s a work in progress.” “Make the title reflect the story.” He walks over and leans against the counter, watching me stir the pasta. “In other words, what’s this novel about?” “The rise of women.” Chuckling, he opens a bottle of wine and avoids looking at me. “Nobody wants to read about that. People want to escape reality.” “What should I write about, fucking vampires that sparkle?” I accentuate each word by slamming the spatula on the end of the skillet. “I don’t know. Sex and violence usually do the trick. That’s all I can say. After all, I’m a cop, not a writer.” “That, I know.” Despite my anger, I put an extra helping of meatballs on his plate. We sit and begin to eat, watching each other and drinking wine. He finishes and I get up to make him another plate when he breaks the silence. “I must ask you one more question about that night.” I slam my palm on the table, spilling wine on the tablecloth. Neither of us moves, and for a span of minutes, the ticking of my wall clock serves as the only sound in the room. I’m not going to talk about this with him. No. Not again. “Why can’t you let this go? It’s been six months. You have asked me the same questions a hundred different ways. Why must you obsess over it?” “Because a man died!” “A man that three witnesses testified to seeing assault and rape me…” He cuts me off. “Yes, but…” I cut him off, too. “Roger, there are no ifs or buts. A man assaulted me. I killed him. The end.” “There are…inconsistencies in your statements,” he says, measuring his words. “I spent five years locked in a nut house, and you’re surprised there areinconsistencies in my statement? And they say I’m crazy.” My body trembles and my heart races. He laughs, but his eyes probe me with unsaid questions and commentary. He pours another glass of wine, returning to his plate of pasta. His chewing slows and I feel his eyes on me. I can almost detect the sparks inside his mind—ideas churning in that cop orb that won’t let me out. My hand grips the bread knife, and the powerful urge to ram it into his neck comes over me. “The part I don’t understand…” He stops to finish chewing. I’m freaking out as I wait for doom, but I just listen. “Where did all the money go?” Money? What money is he talking about? He knows I have no money. Gulping the wine, I watch him for any clue. “What?” The word cracks in my throat. “And why do you have men following you?” “You should be able to answer that better than I can,” I murmur, sliding the knife off the table and into my lap. Can I reach him before he can react? “One man seems to be a professional, though not a cop. The other one is…” I try to speak, but my voice fails me. “The FBI.” A wide smile rises on his fat cheeks. “I haven’t noticed anyone following me.” I try to slow my breathing, the pace of my heart clouding my thoughts. “You’d be the last to know.” I wince. This cop logic seems sound, but what does he really know? What does he want me to say? After gathering my courage, I blurt out the only thing on my mind. “Tell me about the money.” He taps his fingers on the table in drum roll imitation as I squirm in my seat, ready to leap at him. My phone vibrates with a new text message from an unknown number. As I grab the phone, Roger puts down his fork. “Millions left to you have gone missing.” He shoots a sharp glance toward me. “What? I don’t have millions of anything, let alone dollars.” I shake my head. When I try to read the message on my phone, Roger’s eyes follow. “All accounts are dated on the day of your eighteenth birthday.” This can’t be true. Am I rich? But Roger has nothing to gain from lying. Why would he make this up? “Tell me what’s in the FBI file.” A wide grin spreads over his face when he opens the file. He appears proud to have this power over me.
“5’ 5”, eyes pale blue, hair blonde, skin like porcelain. Very attractive, could be a model, and uses her sexual attraction as a weapon. Quite intelligent. Prone to lying and manipulation to achieve goals. No moral or societal boundaries apply in her mind. Abused by father for years, guilty of patricide. Molested by the--”
Bolting out of my seat, I grab his arm and put my hand over his mouth. I clench my teeth. “Do. Not. Finish. That. Sentence.” If you do, it will be your last mistake. Although he appears shocked, he remains still. Shaking my head, I take my hand off of his mouth and finally read the text message on my phone.
Get out of the house. Do not tell him anything. Walk to the end of your street. Run through the woods to lose him. There will be a blue ‘74 Firebird waiting in the abandoned parking lot next to the car dealership. Keys are in the ignition. Drive to 555 Holden Avenue in Newtown, Connecticut.
I fall back into my seat and freeze. There are people watching. I feel my face flush, but before I can let the information settle in my head, the phone buzzes with another text.
DO NOT KILL HIM. HE IS WIRED. GET OUT NOW!
I slam the chair back against the refrigerator and bolt up. Walking straight to the entryway, I throw on wool socks, boots, and a winter jacket. His expression switches from shock to curiosity. I suppose this isn’t how he thought I’d react to his secrets. Ignoring the advice of the text, I take the time to pack my writing materials, a computer tablet, and an extra phone charger. Roger continues drinking at the table. Maybe he doesn’t notice or care that I’m getting ready to leave. Pulling a knit cap over my hair, I exit the apartment without a word.
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Mary turned the radio off as she left the highway and turned onto a country boulevard lined with maple trees. She rolled down the window and switched off the air conditioning. The scents of apple blossoms and wild flowers hung in the warm summer air. She slowed the car around a small bend, which gave way to a wide field of green dotted lazily with dandelions. The car stopped, seemingly of its own desire.
“I must get out of the city more often,” she said, stretching her limbs with pleasure. She smiled with satisfaction as she surveyed the field.
She heard a voice, which seemed to come out of the very air. She spun and gasped at the appearance of a man tied to a tree, wearing nothing save a loin cloth.
“Please help me.” The voice asked, this time clearly coming from the man tied to the tree.
She took a first tentative step, a second, putting one high heeled clad foot ahead of the other, the going made more difficult as the pointed heels sunk into the soft grass.
“I should have worn sandals,” she said. With each step his features became clearer, revealing shoulder length brown hair. She saw signs of violent struggle or torture; deep red scratches upon his face, deep bruises on his chest and arms. Stopping a few feet away out of arm’s reach she saw the man was bound to the tree with thick ropes around the arms, torso, and around his feet.
“How did you come to be tied to a tree?” She asked.
“Come closer,” he said.
She moved forward, within a foot, seeing his wounds with more detail. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.
“Your smell pleases me,” he said and attempted to smile, but the effort hurt him visible, pain flashing over his face.
“Who did this to you?”
He attempted to shift his position, but the restraints prevented any movement and again, a looked of pain swept across his features. “I don’t know how to answer. I have been tied to this tree all of my life.”
“You don’t understand me. Why are you tied to this tree?”
“I assure you I understand your meaning. I repeat, I have always been tied to this tree. It is necessary and natural.” His voice was deep and pleasant to her ears, containing little hint of the pain his wounds were causing him.
“Natural?” She asked, more confused. “A man tied to a tree is not the natural state of being for a human. You were born free, not shackled.”
She examined the thick red welts around his wrists, skin grown raw from contact with the ropes. Glancing down at his loin cloth, which not being tied tightly or of much substance, covered almost nothing. She blushed and averted her eyes.
“Your modesty pleases me,” he said. The voice sounded as if it belonged to someone she had known all of her life.
“Do you wish for me to free you?”
He let out a low laugh. “You have a strange notion of things.”
“How do you mean?”
“It is not possible for one responsible for my entrapment to free me.”
“Listen, I didn’t tie you to this tree,” she said, feeling anger at his constant absurdity.
“That is true, but maybe it is for your benefit that I am tied.”
“How difficult it is to understand you!” She said, feeling a trickle of sweat on her forehead. “Listen to reason. I didn’t not tie or wish you to be tied to this tree.”
“Reason? It is precisely since the age of reason that I have been tied to this tree.”
She growled in frustration, balling her hands into fists.
“Do you wish to be free?”
“The question you pose is seen from the wrong side of logical thinking. Do you wish me to be free?”
She stamped her foot and again shook blond curls in exasperation. She turned and started towards the car, half expecting him to call out to her. He remained silent for the time it took to walk to her car, retrieve a pocket knife from the glove box and to return to him.
“I see you made a decision.”
She nodded and moved to his side so as to reach his restraints. As she placed the knife against the rope, he spoke.
“Take heed when changing the nature of things.”
“More cryptic utterances.”
She worked slowly, taking care not to cut his skin. Soon the ropes began to fall away, first from his hands, then his torso, and finally, his feet. He tried to stand, but he stumbled and fell into her, unable to manage on his own.
Once again he inhaled deeply, slowly, which brought a dreamy smile to his face.
“You are quite attractive.”
He gripped her forearm, which caused her to cry out in pain. She attempted to pull away, but his strength surprised her. Her footing gave way as he pushed her, causing an explosion of pain as her head smacked on the ground. She heard, rather than felt, her skirt being ripped from her legs as the smooth skin of his palms parted her thighs.
“Be still,” he said. She knew no more.
She woke some time later, in the dark, but could not see him. Sensing movement to her left, she turned to see him standing over her, a thick branch in his hands.
“I gave you freedom and pleasure,” she cried.
He smiled and lifted the branch high over his head. “I know.”
“Who are you?” She asked.
Instead of receiving an answer, the branch crashed into the side of her head, killing her in an instant.
“My name is Ryan Holden," he said to the trees and the wind and the sky.
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STORIES - Collected Fiction 1992-2018
A short fiction collection by Stephen Moran spanning the years 1992-2018
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The description from #Amazon
Meet Ella Thomas.
A beautiful 20-year-old writer haunted by a traumatic past. Trapped in a small-town where everyone knows her secrets, she flees on a road-trip across America in search of adventure and to find the man that holds the key to understanding the violent days of her childhood.
Two mysterious men stalk Ella on the odyssey from Massachusetts to Las Vegas - an FBI agent named Marcus that suspects her of being a serial killer and an assassin called Mr. Brown with a familiar face she can't quite remember.
At the core of her journey of self-discovery is the search for Ray Holden. Everyone tells her he is dead, but she refuses to believe it and her insistence on finding him sets off a chain of events that culminates in a shocking final turn.
Follow her journey to learn the answers to the burning questions. Who is Ray Holden? And more importantly...
Is the FBI correct? Is Ella Thomas a serial killer?
One reader described Ella as "Dexter meets Lolita". Read this fast-paced thriller to discover the truth about Ella Thomas.
I've received a lot of hate mail from gun zealots, men's rights activists, alt-right supporters, and white supremacists that despise everything this book is about. I dared to write a novel from a woman's perspective. The main character, Ella Thomas, informs readers in the first chapter of the book of the intent - the book is about the rise of women.
Men have controlled power for too long in America (and indeed the world). We need to elect more women, hear more stories about women, and turn the culture away from one dominated by all things white male. Men had their time and ran this earth to the point of extinction by pollution, over-population, and climate change. We need female leadership and guidance to fix what men have broken - the earth's ecosystem we all rely on for life.