June 15, 2012

Today at The Corner Cafe - a dog? Excerpt by Christine Verstraete

** Today, at the CORNER CAFE, I'm sharing an excerpt of my story and talking dogs.

** In my story "Perfect Timing" by Christine Verstraete, a rescued pup helps cafe owner Gina Mason find love and thwart a would-be robber.

THE CORNER CAFE: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories is the local place where 15 authors offer their takes on the guests and visitors who come in. The menu includes stories by Marian Allen, Shonell Bacon, Karen Casey Fitzjerrell, W.S. Gager, Helen Ginger, Dani Greer, S.B. Lerner, Audrey Lintner, Morgan Mandel, Maryann Miller, Bodie Parkhurst, Bob Sanchez, Mary Montague Sikes, Red Tash, and Christine Verstraete. (And it's better than a cup of joe - and only 99 cents!!)

** Continue the blog tour Monday at Morgan Mandel's Double M blog


I've had dogs all my life. The earliest story I know about me and dogs but don't remember it actually happening, was that I apparerently used to leave the backyard of our Chicago two-flat as a very young kid and push my doll buggy around the block, the dog at my side as protector. That is until Dad, I'm sure, put some kind of undoable lock on the gate.

I grew up with dogs and have always had one as the house just seems too empty when one leaves. So I always get another. It's natural then that I also put dogs in most of my stories, and in my miniatures projects, as well.

So, yes, of course my story in THE CORNER CAFE has a dog! Read the excerpt and share about your favorite dog! (**I am also at Kathy Wheeler's blog today, so go say hello!)

Excerpt from "Perfect Timing" by Christine Verstraete in THE CORNER CAFE: A TASTY COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES:

Gina Mason rubbed her tired eyes and stared at the giant mound of paper covering her desk. She’d opened the TO BEAN OR NOT TO BEAN CORNER CAFÉ because she loved coffee. "Not the paperwork that goes with it," she mumbled.

A sound outside made her realize she should've been home an hour ago. With a sigh, she grabbed her mug and grimaced at the black sludge inside. "Ugh, wonder what the customers would think if they saw my cup?"

Grungy cup in the sink and the lights off, she stepped outside only to find more annoyances. A mass of papers and a bundle of rags littered the steps. Picking up the papers with a gripe, "no one picks up after themselves anymore," she almost shoved the rags aside with her foot when a slight movement caught her eye. No, wait. She had to be seeing things. A minute later, the bundle twitched again and a small white leg popped out.

With a gasp, she reached out and unwrapped the cloths, stunned at the sight of a dirty white and black face. The dog trembled in her arms and stared at her, eyes dull. Gina unfolded the dirty coverings and swore under her breath at the dog's thin frame and terrible condition. Blood spots streaked his face, side and legs. She noticed several small gouges. He looked like skin over bone.

"Oh, poor thing. You’re just a baby," she whispered.

After locking up, she nestled the whimpering pup against her chest and hurried to the car. The dog could barely lift his head as she settled him into the jacket on her front seat and cranked the engine after making a quick call.

Her heart pounded almost as fast as the car's engine as she sped around the corner, her mind full of questions. Who would do this? Why? What if she hadn't been there? She reached out and patted the small bundle. "Dr. Milton will fix you right up. You'll be okay."


* "The Catfish Enchantment" by Marian Allen: Cosmo’s father deserted the family and died unforgiven, his mother is sinking into depression, he’s started cutting himself to relieve the pain, and his boss suggests…a tattoo?
* In "I Wanna Get Off Here," by Shonell Bacon, a bus driver with a dream to write must first unchain herself from a relationship and inner thoughts that keep her hopes from coming to pass.
* In "What's Next" By Karen Casey Fitzjerrell, a young woman who sees herself drifting aimlessly through life, hires a crop dusting pilot to fly her over the Gulf of Mexico in the middle of the night and is enlightened by "What's Next" in her life.
* "The Eyes Have It" by W.S. Gager: Crimebeat reporter Mitch Malone hates going to church, but when he gets rooked into speaking to the Bible-toting ladies, he may be facing the devil himself as he investigates the prayer group's missing purses.
* "Gila Monster" by Helen Ginger: Neree parked her beat-up truck, Gila Monster, in the senior parking lot, hoping it'll still be there at the end of school. Instead, she finds an unexpected possibility...
* "One Last Run" by Helen Ginger: When a couple ski a black diamond run in a blizzard, the truth of what happened is in the blood.
* In "Saturday Night Special" by Dani Greer, a jaded old codger learns it's relationships old and new that make the Corner Cafe a treasure, not just the down-home cooking.
* Also by Dani Greer: When Mick decides to apply for "A New Job," he discover one too many damning things about the Corner Cafe manager.
* Also by Dani Greer: Nell Crisp likes the ambiance and Wi-Fi at the Corner Cafe, but little does she know it will be her "Home Away From Home" when the police pay a visit.
* In "Since You Left" by S.B. Lerner, a young lawyer is unsettled by a phone call from an old boyfriend, and forced to make a decision.
* In "The Consequences of Breaking and Entering" by Audrey Lintner, Goldilocks gets an update and her comeuppance."
* In "What Nice Blessings" by Morgan Mandel, tragedy strikes a young adult, testing her courage and teaching her the value of friendship.
* "The Closing of the Corner Cafe" by Morgan Mandel describes the rise and fall of a cherished eating establishment.
* "Over the Threshold" by Maryann Miller mixes a bit of Raymond Chandler noir with "The Twilight Zone."
* "Love Song with Holsteins" by Bodie Parkhurst is about Halloween, magic, Russell the dairy bull, love, and the private memorials we make to it.
* "In A Face in the Window" by Mary Montague Sikes, can Arianna ever forget the tragic loss that changed her life, especially on the 10th anniversary spent in a museum where memories lurk in the art and later among the shadows of the Corner Cafe?
* In "You Can't Be Too Careful" by Bob Sanchez, George prepares for the expected Y2K catastrophe.
* In "Living Well," Red Tash gently pokes fun at the Star Trek fan culture and the ups and downs of long-term love, in the fan-favored setting of This Brilliant Darkness' Corner Cafe.