Still Writing (But Here’s a Little More)

“How could you not have told me that Sarah is gay?” I pounce on Adam as soon as he crosses the threshold. “She comes out at the first Roth family holiday party that I ever miss and nobody mentions it to me afterwards? Three people remembered to report that Aunt Trudy had her gallstones out. ”

“I thought you knew like everybody else!” he answers, defensively.

“What do you mean?”

“Did you ever see Sarah date a guy in high school?”

“Well, no. But she was really busy. She was on both the girl’s tennis and golf teams.”

“Think about that statement for a moment.”

“That’s a stereotype! Besides, she actually lived with a guy in college.”

“You mean her roommate, Christopher, who was studying fashion design?”

“That’s a ster…”

“And had the huge rainbow flag hanging over his bed?”

“Okay, I’ll give you that one. So, he was just her friend?”

“Yeah, she was dating that chick, Heidi, who she used to bring home all the time.”

“She just brought Heidi home all the time because Heidi was her best friend. They were both Women’s Studies majors and they liked the same writers and stuff.”

“Such as …”

“I don’t know, Getrude Stein and Patricia Highsmith. And that poet … Sappho. Okay, I see what you’re saying, but how do you know they were sleeping together?”

“I caught them in a liplock once. And trust me, seeing two chicks making out and having one of them be your sister is a very confusing moment for a thirteen-year-old boy.”

“Oh. Well she must have dated guys too. What about Jack from grad school? Her bedroom was right next to mine and I know he wasn’t just a friend.”

“You mean Jacqueline Reardon?”

“Jack is girl?”

“Well, not now maybe, but then … Jack was. Technically.”

“Oh … kay. Well, still if Jack was becoming a guy …”

“I don’t know! Our sister, Sarah’s a lesbian, end of story.”

Excerpt from Power of Attorney: The Novel

“Okay, nobody panic!” Mindy said, sounding panicky. “I’ll handle this. You just go along with whatever I say.” She walked over to the door and swung it open with a smile. “Mindy Margolis, FOX News. What can I do for you, officer?”

“I’m Patrolman Douglas. We’ve received some reports of strange activity in your building. Can I come in for a moment to ask you some questions?”

“Of course,” Mindy said standing aside as the cop walked into the room. “But I can’t believe that there would be any strange activity in this building.”

“Right,” Douglas said eyes resting first on Trog’s bloody nostril plugs and then moving on to my plastic-encased head.

“We’re having a costume party,” Mindy explained.

“And what are you dressed as?” the cop asked looking at her.

“A reporter,” she said as if it were obvious.

“Right.” He removed a small notepad from his pocket. “A few of the neighbors reported some strangers in the building; maybe it was your … guests but they said they were visiting someone named Vivian.”

“That’s my middle name,” Mindy explained.

“Your name is Mindy Vivian Smith-Jones Margolis?” he asked.

“Yes. That’s right. It’s a family name.”

“And they’re here for a party?”

“Yes, it’s my birthday.”

“I thought you said it’s a costume party.”

“It is. It’s a costume birthday party.”

“Your neighbor, Mr. Fleischman in 3C says that he found them in his apartment.”

“They got the wrong address.”

“Hiding in his bedroom.”

“It’s a surprise costume birthday party.”

“You threw yourself a surprise party?”

“Yeah, well, I’ve never had one before.”

“Mr. Fleischman also said that someone kicked him.”

“Well, they thought he was a burglar.”

“He was dressed in his underwear at the time.”

“And a flasher.”

“Okay then,” Patrolman Douglas said resignedly. He had obviously decided that whatever was going on, he didn’t really want to know. “Can’t wait to write this one up,” he added under his breath as he turned and walked back out the door.

New Teaser Tuesday Excerpt from Power of Attorney: The Novel

I followed him into an empty conference room and we took seats across from each other. I laid my file down the table in front of me and silently ordered myself to focus. He sat back in his chair and studied me for a moment. The tension in the room was thick.

“So, you want me to make you an offer, huh,” he said finally.

“Only if it’s a good one. She’s an elderly woman and a sympathetic defendant.”

“Not too elderly to lie in wait in the bushes.”

“Don’t you mean the shrubbery?” I asked and his eyes narrowed.

“You do realize that you lost your Motion, right?”

“I can always appeal,” I said calmly.

“Well, then I feel it’s my duty to the federal court system to resolve this,” he said and turned to look out the window. “Besides, you fought hard; I guess you earned it.”

“Thanks. You’re not so bad yourself. Keep working on it and you might have a future at this,” I replied and he turned back to me with look in his eyes that said he wasn’t sure whether he was annoyed, amused or turned on. It might have been all three.

“Just out of curiosity, are there more of you Roths out there or is it just you two?”

“We have two older sisters, but they aren’t attorneys.”

“What a shame.”

“And there’s my sister-in-law of course. I believe you know her intimately.”

“Briefly. Like six years ago,” he said. “I have no lingering desire for your brother’s wife, I assure you.”

“Duly noted. Getting back to Agnes …”

“Okay, you want a deal, I’ll give you a deal. If you can convince Ms. Fishbein to give up her life of crime, I’ll withdraw the charge.”

“You’ll actually withdraw it all-together?”

“That’s what I said, isn’t it?”

“Okay, I’ll agree.”

“That’s very generous of you.”

“I figure I’ll go easy on you. This time.”

Excerpt from Power of Attorney: The Novel, Coming Feb. 14, 2017

Just then the phone rang and Rosalie picked it up. “Jacob Sachs on line one!” she shrieked even though she was only ten feet away.

“What does he want now?” Dana asked, furrowing her brow.

“Not for you, for Abby!”

All of them looked at me expectantly. I stood there for a moment feeling a little stunned, but I don’t know if it was more that Sachs wanted to talk to me or that Rosalie knew that the phone had more than one line.

“I’ll take it in my office,” I said, trying to sound casual. I succeeded if you think that speaking in tones that only dogs can hear sounds casual. I vaulted to my office and closed the door, diving into my chair and waiting ten seconds to get myself together before picking up the phone. “Abby Roth.”

“Ah, Ms. Roth.” That familiar deep rich voice filled my ear. “It seems that we will be facing each other in court again soon.”

“We will?” I asked, mentally going through my cases and trying to figure out which one Sachs might be handling. Since he typically prosecuted organized crime figures, I was honestly at a loss.

“I had such an interesting time with Borelli matter, that I thought I might like to take on United States v. Agnes Fishbein.” My head hit my desk.

Pulling myself together, I sat up and took a deep breath. “Mr. Sachs, I was under the impression that a case involving an elderly woman charged with disorderly conduct would be beneath someone like you.”

“Someone like me?” he asked and I heard curiosity in his voice. I figured that buttering him up a little couldn’t hurt. This time, Agnes had mooned Councilman Jackson at the Liberty Bell, which made it a federal offense.

“You prosecuted one of the biggest mafia cases Philly has seen in a decade. You are toted as an up-and-coming legal superstar. They say that you’ll be the U.S. Attorney yourself someday.” I didn’t enjoy stroking his ego, but I would do what I had to do for my client.

“Do they now?” he asked. The curiosity was gone, replaced by a note of boredom.

The sudden change surprised me. It reminded me of the press conference when I blushed and he immediately lost interest. A light bulb went on in my head. He may be super confidant, but he’s not actually an egomaniac. It bores him when people fawn over him. He might give Agnes a decent deal if I kiss his ass, but he would likely give her a better one if I stood up and challenged him. That’s what he respects.

A smile crept across my lips and a little surge of warmth coursed from my tummy to parts south. The fact was that I liked challenging him. And if that was the way to best help my client, I was more than happy to oblige.


The Killer Whale Is My Spirit Animal

I used to think that if I had a spirit animal it would be the Giant Sloth but I read an article the other day that changed my mind. According to Smithsonian magazine, after menopause, female killer whales become leaders. I knew they were smart! I sobbed during Blackfish and I was already totally boycotting Sea World, but this seals it. No pun intended.

According to the article, “The researchers saw that post-reproductive females would swim at the heads of hunting groups with young male whales in close pursuit. They were almost always the matriarch’s sons.” Did you hear that? They get to be the boss and their sons stay close to them. That’s a Jewish mother’s dream come true! Give me moment; I’m getting verklempt.

Okay, I’m back.  So, here’s my question, why is it that if whales can figure that older women have plenty of strength and wisdom to offer, people can’t figure that out too? Whales have their older females leading the whole damned pod. I can’t get someone to take my order at Starbucks. I’m telling you right now, there is no way that a whale would make a big deal out of some lost emails. If Hillary were a whale, she would not have to put up with being called “as bad as” a giant Oompa Loompa who brags about grabbing women’s genitals without asking first.

So, to sum up, whales are intellectually superior creatures who love their mothers and vote Democrat in November.


Estrogen, Special Sauce and Beat Poetry.

I have never had the urge to write poetry. Truth be told, I don’t even like poetry. But lately, I have the urge to write and perform poetic monologues. I’m a humorist, not a Beatnik! I don’t even OWN bongos. Although, I do dress in black a lot … but it’s slimming and I’ve lived in New York. Anyway, I blame estrogen for this. I obviously have gone around the perimenopausal bend. The next thing you know, I’ll be dropping acid and driving cross-country.

Hey, it’s not like I wanted to get to this point. I’ve tried it all. I eat well. I’m so “Paleo”that I might as well hunt and kill my own mastodon. I exercise. I ride my stationary bike the length of the Appalachian Trail. I see a chiropractor and I take every vitamin that GNC sells. I have also mediated, been mindful and done yoga. There are benefits to all of this of course. I’m so healthy my doctor has begun asking me for ID and I don’t hyperventilate at the thought of trying on bathing-suits anymore.

The problem is that all of this healthy living doesn’t regulate my wonky hormones. PMS is bad enough when you get it a few days per month; getting a few days per month without it is like a whole new ring of Hell. No matter what I do, I still have an emotional breakdown whenever yet ANOTHER team decides to make a bar cart on Flea Market Flip. Really? Is there nothing else they could make from that 19th Century hay sorter? I know what you’re thinking. Just for the record, I’ve tried all the traditional things too. Prozac anyone? Let’s just say that while I may not do much with my libido, I do like having one.

So, before I become romantic comedy’s answer to Allen Ginsberg, I have decided to go see  *insert ominous music* the menopause doctor. I know what this means.  It means that 1) I need to finally make the call and cancel my subscription to Seventeen magazine, like NOW 2) I’m contemplating playing around with my hormones which is really scary! Let’s face it, no one has ever said, “You’re in such a fun mood! You must be getting your period!”

What if they give me the wrong mix and I fall in love with a fire hydrant? Or vote for Donald Trump? Or start writing and performing Beat poetry? So many things could go wrong.  If my boobs get any bigger, I’ll tip over!  I could get cravings. What if I get them for things like “special sauce” or wine in a box? No! Not that!

Okay, it’s time to woman up and be brave.  The sad truth is that even being a Big Mac eating bongo player would be better than hot flashes and mood swings. Wish me luck with the menopause doctor. Actually, wish us all luck, honey.

Roughing It

Roughing It will be a novella in the Happy Endings Resort multi-author project. It will be released Aug. 29 and sell for .99.

Chapter One

“Team! You know that Bender Advertising is a place where expression is free and uninhibited … but there have to be some limits. Burning Arnie in effigy is just taking it a little too far,” Stewart Bender, our esteemed leader, said as he paced back and forth slowly at the front of the conference room. At least he was finally showing some concern. He paused and gave us a stern look. “Come on, people. Fire codes?”

Next to Stewart, Arnie sat glaring through his thick glasses. The tension was palpable on the side of the room where those of us in Marketing sat. Arnie was one of us. As the senior member of the department, I felt that I had somehow failed my people but they had assured me that I was not to blame. No, it wasn’t my fault that this company was in a constant state of internal conflict.

I leveled my gaze across the aisle, where rather than appearing chastised, I noted that the members of the Creative Department actually had the nerve to look amused! This was their doing of course. All of it was their doing … the flaky artistic types over there who wanted to do whatever they pleased and didn’t like listening to the voice of reason.

“Now I know that there are bound to be differences in opinion,” Stewart droned on. “It’s expected. You guys come at things from different angles.” He paused and looked from one side of the battle line to the other. “Jack and his team in Creative come up with their little drawings and ditties and Rachel and her Marketing people study their little charts.” Stewart had inherited the company from his father. He had no clear idea what any of us did.

“We do more …,” I began, but Stewart cut me off.

“And I’m sure you are great at it. Whatever it is. But that’s not the point here. The point is that despite our differences, we are on the same team, people. The same team.” He clutched his hands together in front of his heart for emphasis.

I heard the sound of a throat clearing and I tensed up because I knew to whom that throat belonged. It held up the head of Jack Malloy, senior member of the Creative Department. Admittedly, it was an attractive head, with perpetually rumpled sandy-colored hair and blue eyes that were often sparkling with laughter. Unfortunately, it was also a head swollen by an out-sized ego and the laughter was often aimed at me.

“I’m not excusing the Arnie thing, Stew,” Jack said. “But you gotta understand, we focus on finding that Big Idea that will make our clients memorable. We can’t do that with a bunch of number crunchers …”

“Number crunchers?” I sputtered angrily. “For you information, we focus on making our clients money! And when your ‘Big Idea’ looks like a big loser…”

“Loser?” he shot back, indignantly.

“Okay! Okay, kids, break it up,” Stewart took back control. “Here’s a perfect example of what I mean. And that is why I have come up with a plan.” The room was immediately engulfed in silence. After a long moment Jack spoke up.

“Ha! For a second there, I almost thought you said you had a plan.” The room exhaled.

“I do,” Stewart repeated with a smile. The room inhaled again. It was my turn.

“You can’t have a plan, Stewart. You don’t plan things. Well, other than an occasional round of golf anyway.”

“I know! I was more surprised than anyone!” Stewart said looking gleeful. “But I actually came up with one. Rachel and Jack, I’m sending you two to a corporate teambuilding retreat.” I felt my mouth go dry.

“He’s kidding. You’re kidding, right,” Jack said.

“Please be kidding,” I added weakly.

“See! You’re agreeing with each other already!”

I needed an idea – quickly! “Have you run the cost of this by Accounting, Stewart?” I asked desperately, hoping that perhaps they would put the kibosh on this little scheme of his.

“Yes and luckily there was one that fit our budget. It starts Monday at the Happy Endings Resort in beautiful rural North Carolina!”

“Oh my God, no,” Jack said in a strangled voice.

“It’s only a three-hour drive from D.C. It will be fun. They have a pool!”

“Stewart, you need to understand. I’m a lifelong urban dweller. To me roughing it is a hotel with no room service,” I explained.

“I’ve got to admit, Stew, I’ve never really been the outdoorsman type myself,” Jack added. “The closest I ever came was summer camp and other than the hot female counselors, I pretty much hated everything about that.”

“People, please! This isn’t The Hunger Games.” Stewart laughed. “It’s not like you won’t have indoor plumbing!”

“Well, thank God for that,” I mumbled.

“It won’t be in your actual cabins, but there are separate toilet and shower facility for men and women. It is North Carolina after all!” Stewart added with a wink.

“But there are cabins, not tents, right?” Jack asked. He was looking a bit pale.

“Of course,” Stewart assured him. “Except at the end of the week when each company’s representatives will need to spend a night out in the woods.”

I’m told that at that point I lost consciousness.