Mannequin Monday – I’ve never felt any magic before

image of mannequin hand with broken index finger

A tiny yellow flower in a sidewalk crack brings hope to a boy and an old man. The story “City of Silence” comes from Teen Ink to open another week of Mannequin Monday. In the ashes of a devastated city, “one day there will be life and love and laughter again.”

A joy-filled story of hope rising out of the ashes. Today we dress the blank form with a flower, with hope.

And – Cabe Wray walks away from his lucrative sales job to follow his obsessive search for his long-lost twin sister. I offer chapter one of my novel Apart for your reading enjoyment.

This Week’s Story

This story, “City of Silence,” comes from Carrie Madden on a site called Teen Ink. “By teens. For teens.” Madden has crafted a well-written short story. Here are a few excerpts from her story.

Madden’s story opens: “The little boy walked across the desolate wasteland. He passed crumbled walls and bombshell craters. Finally he saw what he was looking for. An old, wrinkled man sat on a crumbling stone staircase, in front of one of the only buildings left standing. He was staring out into nowhere.”

Their city has been destroyed by an enemy force. The boy asks, why? The old man has no answer. The boy persists.

“It wasn’t in anyone’s power to stop them,” the old man says.

The boy and the old man talk of God, of other forces, of magic.

I’ve never felt any magic before.

The boy says, “I’ve never felt any magic before. Are you sure?”

“How do you think you grow or breathe or dream? How do you think we are capable of even living?”

After a few moments, the boy wonders, “Will everything go back to normal ever?”

image of yellow flower in sidewalk crack
Credit: The Spruce

The old man, “One day, there will be life and love and laughter again.”

The boy points in amazement at a tiny yellow flower sprouting from a weed in a sidewalk crack. The two see a butterfly land on the flower. A message of hope from this scant burst of color.

Although this story was published in 2008, its message of hope carries weight in today’s crisis-ridden environment. The young author shares her vision of the light of hope in a dark world. Read the entire story here

My Current Writing

Cabe Wray walks away from his lucrative sales job to follow his obsessive search for his long-lost twin sister. His stubborn, analog-based search methods have produced no results. Is it time to create a video for posting to social media?

Here’s an excerpt from my novel Apart

Chapter One

How long has she been gone?

Almost ninety days had passed since Jackson McCabe Wray walked out on his sales job and his career. Now sixty-one, and no longer solving technology problems for retail businesses, he retreated to his condo tucked into the shadow of the Simi Mountains in Southern California.  

Only one thing sustained him now—the search for his missing twin sister.

“Call me Cabe.”

Cabe extended his hand to a young man who looked late twenties. An inch or so taller than Cabe’s five ten, black hair pulled back in a long, tight ponytail, dark stubble, cargo shorts and a black sweatshirt. A canvas messenger bag hung over the young man’s shoulder. 

He met Cabe’s handshake. “My name is Turo Fonseca.” 

Cabe and Turo stood outside an always-busy coffee shop in Cabe’s neighborhood. A gray morning, too early for the sun to break through the typical “June gloom.” At a patio table six young moms clustered in conversation, their infants’ power strollers tucked in around them.

Inside, more moms who had just dropped off their kids at school. Local lawyers and accountants in slacks and ties on their way to work. Independent sales reps with rolling briefcases meeting clients. 

“Can you find us a table?” Cabe said. “I’ll get coffees.”

“Iced tea would be fine for me, man. Nothing tropical or sweetened.”

Cabe got in line for the drinks. Looking around, he saw Turo cutting off a guy balancing a coffee and a laptop to score a corner table. Good hustle. Barely audible over the din of coffee machines and clanking utensils, a familiar tenor sax jazz track played in the background. Sonny Rollins was Cabe’s guess. He felt the tension in his shoulders ease. Maybe this will work.

The young barista handed the drinks to Cabe. “Have a good day.”

“Thank you, sir.” Cabe said.

The barista looked at Cabe. “They call my father sir.”

Cabe turned away. They must call you asshole.

Sitting down, Cabe said, “I appreciate your meeting me here. You found the place okay?”

Credit: depositphotos

“Yeah, man. Your directions were good.” Turo leaned back in the chair. He pulled the paper off his straw.

“My friend Mark Field suggested I talk to you. He’s a film director and knows your work, apparently.”

“Yeah, I met Mark eight years ago when he spoke to one of my film classes. I kept in touch with him and sent him my work for his comments.”

“Where did you do film school?”

“At NYU. The Tisch program. Do you know it?”

Cabe shook his head. “No, I don’t. A good one?”

Turo nodded. “One of the best.”

Cabe passed his business card across the table to Turo.

Turo fingered the card. “Your card says Jackson Wray. Where does Cabe come from?”

“Old story. My middle name is McCabe. Everyone has called me Cabe since I was a little kid. No idea why.”

“Cool. I like it.” Turo flashed a thumbs up.

“Mark said you make documentaries.”

Turo swirled the straw around in his cup. “I do, right.”

“What are you working on now?”

Turo grinned. “Between films, looking for a new project.”

Cabe squinted. “Do I detect a slight New York accent?”

“Born and bred.”

This tastes like panther piss.

“What brings you out here to LA?”

Turo paused to sip his iced tea. His face scrunched up. “This tastes like panther piss.”

How bad could iced tea be?

He went on. “I came out for a project on street artists. The funding dried up, but I decided to stay for a while. See if I can find a challenging documentary subject.”

“Isn’t New York thriving as a film and television center?”

“It is… but I would like to clear my head and see something new.”

Cabe sipped his black decaf. “What’s new about LA?”

“Nothing, if you look in the same old places. You have to have a fresh set of eyes.”

A bit unfocused?

“Why your interest in documentaries?”

“For their truth, man. I see them as portals into souls… portraits of real people, gritty situations. I want to broaden our collective horizons by making a difference.”

Sounds like bullshit?

Turo must have read Cabe’s face. “I made several documentaries back in New York. I like exploring what makes people tick.”

Cabe took another sip of his coffee. He hoisted the cup in Turo’s direction.

“Tell me something, from your experience in film and TV. Why don’t they put liquid in these paper coffee cups all the actors carry around in their scenes? It drives me crazy; it’s so obvious the cups are empty.”

“I never noticed.”

“Sure. Take an office scene, for example. One character walks in holding four cups in one hand with one of those cardboard carriers. He sets it down like it weighs an ounce or two. Not like it’s actually loaded with four heavy, hot drinks.”

Turo stared at him. 

He wasn’t getting it. “Okay, just a pet peeve.” 

“So,” Turo said, pointing at Cabe, “tell me what you need.”

Cabe paused. From the serving counter came the sound of someone singing. He turned. The serving line was momentarily empty. A tall barista with short blond hair, half hidden behind the dessert case, was singing Christine’s song from The Phantom of the Opera. The other baristas stopped their work to listen.

“See,” Turo said, “everybody’s in the business.”

Cabe turned back to Turo. “I want to talk to you about making a video for the Internet. A video about my missing sister.”

“Let’s talk about that,” Turo said. “Mark told me your sister went missing. He said you’d fill in the details.”

Cabe shifted in his chair. Okay, here goes. He looked Turo in the eye. “I have a sister, a twin sister. She’s been missing for a long time. Mark suggested a short video about her would help my search. Someone who knows her might see it.”

“How long has she been gone?”

This is where Cabe loses him. “Forty years.”


You can read the entire novel here.

And here is my current title/cover, left, next to the proposed title change and new cover. Thoughts welcome.

image for proposed book cover
book cover for novel Apart