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License – Chapter 59

By on April 24, 2017




Hot house tomatoes.  Lainey didn’t know why she even bought them.  As red and ripe as they looked on the outside, when you cut into them, they were unappetizingly pale and juiceless, with a dry, mushy texture and a taste that hovered between yuck and nonexistent.  Nothing like the plump, succulent tomatoes she bought by the peck at farmer’s markets and road side stands during the summer.

Yet here she was, slicing the deceptive things into wedges and tossing them on top of the lettuce she had already broken up into the salad bowl.  What would a salad be without tomatoes?

As she stood slicing and tossing, Lainey heard the side door open and close and felt a wisp of cool autumn air blow across the back of her neck.  Someone was home.  Out of the corner of her eye she perceived height and dark hair coming towards her.  It was probably Joe.  Or it could be Gabriel.  It was hard to tell these days.  Gabe had sprouted up as tall as his father and he had always had the same dark curly hair.  It was funny, now that Gabriel was a man/boy, he and Joe looked more alike, more like twins, than Gabe and Owen, the real twins, did!

She had actually mistaken Gabriel for Joe several times now.  There was really no harm done if she called out over her shoulder ‘Hi Joe! How was work today?’  Or ‘Did you remember to stop at the bank on your way home, Joe?’ or ‘Joe, can you get the rest of the cork out of this wine bottle? It broke off in the corkscrew!’ only to hear Gabe snort behind her like she was an idiot or was losing her mind to senility.

But once, as she had stood at the kitchen counter writing out her grocery list, she had been so sure it was Joe coming up behind her that she had turned around with a ‘come hither’ look on her face, her hands reaching towards his crotch area, ready to caress the object that resided there.

Only it had not been Joe!  There stood Gabriel!  Her heart had leapt up into her throat!  Horror, shock and embarrassment flooded over her like hot water.  She pulled back her hand so fast it was a blur.  She erased the sexy look from her face and replaced it with an innocent smile.

Luckily Gabriel, chow hound that he was, was too busy trying to see what it was she was doing at the counter, if it involved food and if there might be some delectable morsel he could stuff in his face, to even notice. Thank the lord above!

That was not a mistake she had any intention of making again!  Be sure of your target.  Never assume anything.  Those were her mottos now.

She was turning around to see exactly which dark haired household member was coming towards her when excited chatter erupted from their mouth.

“Hey Mom!  You know what?  She had them!  Seven of them!”

No question now.  It was definitely Gabe.  But she turned all the way around anyway.  The momentum of the turn was behind her.  Easier to keep going than to try and stop.

“She who?  Had what?”

“Moonlady!  Stace’s dog.  She had seven puppies!”

“Is that right.”  Lainey was cautious in her response.  She thought she knew where Gabe was going with this and she didn’t want to encourage him.  But, to tell the truth, her interest was piqued. After three years of doglessness, she had found herself starting to long for a pooch again.  Life without a dog was almost like a salad without tomatoes!  But still, she wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to make the commitment.

“They’re so tiny and cute.  Five males and two females.  Three of them look like springer spaniels, brown and white, just like Moonlady.  Two are brown and black and two are all black.  Except one of the black ones has three white paws.  The black ones look kind of like labs so it must have been Jack down at the end of the street that is the father.”

Gabe’s face turned redder than the deceptive tomatoes when that statement blundered out of his mouth.  Lainey clamped her mouth shut, doing her best to force the chuckle that was bubbling in her belly and tickling her lips to stay put and pretend that she didn’t notice the slang that had just erupted from her son’s mouth.  Gabe was already embarrassed beyond words that he had made not one but two inappropriate sexual references in front of his mother.  It wouldn’t do to embarrass him even more.

Once she felt certain that the chuckle was stifled, what she wanted to do next was ask Gabe for more doggie details.  Which puppy did he like best?  Was the one with the white paws a boy or a girl?  How long till they would be weaned from their mother? But she kept her eager interest stifled too.

“Oh, really,”  was all she said, keeping her voice flat and unenthused, as if she was barely paying attention to the doggie news.

“So, anyway, I was wondering…..” Gabe plowed ahead to his now unmistakable intended destination, “You know they have to find homes for them and I was thinking….. Mom, can we take one of them?”

Owen came bursting into the kitchen then, out of breath and windblown. Lainey saw him catch his brother’s eye in an unspoken question. She saw Gabe shake his head slightly.  She could imagine the entire conversation that must have just passed between them without a word being spoken.

‘Did you ask her yet, Bro? What did she say? Is there any chance? Did you tell her we’d take care of it?’

‘Told her. Waiting for an answer.  Be cool, dude!  Got it under control.’

Twins.  What amazing things they were.

“When your father gets back from the hardware store we’ll talk about it, okay?” was the practical answer she gave.

She tried to sound leery about the whole prospect but ………



Her valiant little soldier was on the move.  Belly flat on the floor, pushing with her polka dotted knees and purple socked feet, pulling with her elbows, she was just inches from her target – the sewing chest that Pam had left on the floor next to the chair when she’d had to make a mad dash for the bathroom.

Pam swooped in like a hawk, scooping Pamela up into protective arms and smooching her geranium pink cheeks.

“Oh no you don’t my little cupcake!  That’s Mommy’s.  Not for Pamela.”

She blew gurgley air bubbles into Pamela’s soft belly and laughed out loud as Pamela squealed and squirmed and giggled, her entire body a smile.

Seven months old already.  Seventeen pounds!  It was amazing how fast she grew and how much she had changed in so short a time.  Smiling and laughing, sitting up and crawling, babbling confidences and the details of her day in a language that bordered on the understandable.  Pam could swear there were at least some real words in those babblings.  Perhaps in French or Spanish or Dolphin or Bluejay!

“You know what, my little darling? Mommy needs to find Daddy!  Do you know where Daddy is, Pamela?  Maybe he’s in the cellar.  Come on, let’s go look!   Let’s go look for Daddy!” Excitement was sprinkled on her every word.

Pam started eagerly towards the cellar with Pamela’s diaper clad bottom balanced in the crook of her elbow.

Two words halted her cellar destined stride.  Two soft, hesitant words, which were really one word spoken with imperfect perfection.

“Daaah dee.”

That word did not border on the understandable.  It was understandable!  Daddy!  Had Pamela just said ‘Daddy’?

“Who are we going to go find, Pamela?  Daddy?  Are we going to go find Daddy? Where’s Daddy?”

“Daaah dee!” Spoken with confidence now.  Spoken with glee.

“That’s right!  Oh, you little dumpling you!”

Pam bounded to the cellar. “Boyd!  Hey Boyd!  Are you down there?” She shouted with her head stuck through the open door but she was already halfway down the stairs before the question was halfway out of her mouth, Pamela clinging to her neck like a little monkey singing ‘daaah dee, daaah dee, daaah dee’ all the way down.

Boyd was standing over by the work bench sifting through his coffee can stash of screws.  Perturbed concentration clouded his face as he combed his fingers through the varied assortment, pulling out one hopeful possibility after another and tossing them back in – too long, too thick, wrong head.

He glanced up at the commotion of a babbling, excited whirlwind rushing towards him.  Annoyed vexation transformed to sunshine and light.

Pamela loosened her hold on Pam’s neck and stretched out her arms, reaching as far as she could and struggling to get away from her mother and over to her father.  And Pam struggled just as hard in the other direction, to hold her back, to keep baby Pamela in her arms and not let her fall on the floor! Seventeen pounds became twenty-seven, thirty-seven, and forty seven!

Boyd leapt to the rescue, snatching Pamela up, up and away as she squealed with delight, just before Pam thought her aching arms would sag like a rubber band and collapse with the strain.

“Boyd, did you hear that?” she asked, her excitement slightly tempered by discomfort as she shook her arms to ease out the ache. “Pamela was saying Daddy!  Her first word!  Listen.  Pamela, who’s this?  Is this Daddy?  Say Daddy Pamela!”

Pamela was silent.  She just stared with her wide brown eyes.  Not even a babble escaped her bow shaped lips.

Boyd laughed and kissed her chubby cheek.  “Oh, looks like my little girl’s showing her stubborn side.  Did you say Daddy, Pamela? Am I Daddy?”

Nothing but a smile.

“I swear, she really did say it, Boyd. As clear as can be. ‘Dahdee’.  So, what are you doing down here anyway?  Did something break?” Pam inclined her head towards the screw can, sitting temporarily abandoned on the edge of the work table.

“Well, I came down to get a new light bulb for the bathroom.  But then the buzzer went off on the dryer so I took the clothes out and then the washer went into spin cycle but it was unbalanced and shaking all over so I lifted the lid to redistribute the clothes and then a screw popped out of the hinge and I couldn’t find it for the life of me, so now here I am looking for a replacement!  If it isn’t one thing, it’s another!”

Pam picked up the coffee can and peered into its screw filled depths. “Maybe I’ll have better luck.  What kind of screw do you need?”

“I’ll have to tell you that later,” he whispered slyly, a scoundrel’s grin spreading across his face and glinting in his eyes. “When the baby goes down for her nap.”

Pam grinned herself. “What a dirty minded boy you are!  Always trying to get me into trouble.”

Happiness and love swirled through her.  Pam leaned around Pamela, who was sitting quietly content in her father’s arms, and kissed Boyd’s mouth.  She meant it to be a long, slow kiss; tender and warm, revealing all the love for him that beat in her heart.  Instead it was a little peck.  She just remembered!  There was something else! The original reason she had been searching for Boyd.

‘Dahdee’ had sidetracked her, screws had sidetracked her, love had sidetracked her.  But, when it came right down to it, those sidetracks were the reason there was a destination in the first place.

“You know Dixie asked me to be a bridesmaid for her wedding and I told her yes.  But now I think I’m going to have to bow out.”

“Why would you have to do that?”

“She plans on getting married next July and that’s eight months from now.”


“Well, I’m pretty sure I’m going to have a conflict of interest eight months from now.”

“A conflict of interest?  How can you suddenly have something else going on the same day as Dixie’s wedding?  Just change the date on whatever it is!”

“Oh Boyd.  Being a bridesmaid is more than just showing up on the day of the wedding!  Besides, I can’t change the date.  Actually, the date is indeterminate. All I know is…….



There were lots of girls that Owen thought were cute.  Sara and Jess in his homeroom, Megan whose locker was right next to his, and Andrea who sat in front of him in Science class.

Besides being cute, Jess was built. A rack like a couple melons!  He tried not to stare, but it was hard to keep his eyes off her.  She bounced when she walked and jiggled when she laughed.

Megan liked to wear wild colors and streak her hair.  Owen liked it best when she streaked it blue because it matched her eyes.  She was always dropping her books or her pen and Owen liked to watch her when she bent down to pick them up, especially if she was wearing a short skirt.  Her panties were color coordinated.

Andrea had the sunniest smile and she smiled all the time. There had been a few times now, when Andrea had been passing papers back and smiling at him, that her hand had unexpectedly touched his.  He had felt himself rising to the occasion.

He was glad he was sitting down.  Nothing could be worse than having Andrea, or anyone else for that matter, see that he was pitching a tent.

But the girl Owen really liked was Emelda from his karate class!  Just a glimpse of her and his heart started beating like a snare drum, loud and fast.  His hands even got sweaty.

Emelda’s skin was smooth and golden, like toast, even in the winter.  Not white as a sheet of paper like Owen’s.  She usually had her dark hair tied back so it didn’t get in her way, but if she let it loose, it swayed when she moved and draped over her shoulders like a waterfall glinting in the sun.

With her golden toast skin and espresso brown hair, you’d think she’d have brown eyes too.  But she didn’t.  Her eyes were green.  Green, with flecks of gold.

Owen knew there were gold flecks in her green eyes because whenever Master Amos set them up to spar against each other she would only be inches away from him.  And she stared him down with those gold flecked eyes of hers. And she always won.

He liked to tell himself that he let her win, because he didn’t want to be too forceful and chance hurting her.  Or, that she won because he couldn’t concentrate, distracted as he was by her nearness and her beauty.

But the truth of it was, she won because she was kick-ass good.

And Owen really liked that about her.  That she was all up into karate, just like he was; intense and precise in her moves, not wimpy and half assed like most of the other girls in the class.

And he really liked her name too. Emelda. It was exotic and uncommon. She probably got a lot of flak for that name, though.  Just like he got flak for his name sometimes.  What kid these days was named Owen?

But he didn’t let it bother him any.  He just shrugged it off and stole the bullies’ ammunition.  He joked about his name right along with them.  Owen didn’t know what they thought they were trying to prove when they got in his face about his name but the only thing they ended up proving was that they were jerks.

Owen could tell Emelda was the same way.  She wouldn’t let some bully making fun of her name faze her.  She was strong, inside and out.  Strong and beautiful and smart.

And he was in love.   Every minute he got to spend in her presence was ecstasy. He needed more of those minutes!  Maybe he could ask her if she wanted to come over to his house and practice katas, perfect their punches and kicks!

But how would she get there? They were both years away from driving.  One of her parents would have to bring her over.  Like little kids in elementary school getting together for a playdate. Could anything possibly be stupider than that?

But at least he’d be with her!  He could watch the way her lips moved when she talked and hear her laugh. He could smell her sweetness and see her green eyes flash as they bore into him if they sparred – focused, anticipating his next move.

Oh man!  It would be so totally, seriously, awesome!  He should do it!  He should ask her over!

But first he needed to get up the nerve to ………..



Cooking was not Mike’s strong suit.  Sure, he could boil pasta, heat up a jar of sauce and throw together a salad. He could make sandwiches and grill hot dogs and hamburgers.  He could cook eggs – hardboiled, scrambled or fried.  But to actually follow a recipe and make something like Chicken Fricassee or Spinach Soufflé?  That was a different thing entirely.

A different thing that he was trying to do now.  The cookbook was spread open on the counter before him.  And the plan was that when Dixie returned from clothes shopping with the birthday gift card her parents had sent, she would be greeted by the delicious aromas of the wondrous birthday celebration meal Mike had prepared just for her with his own two hands.

Wondrous, but simple.  He didn’t want to screw himself by delving too deeply into the gourmet. His first thought had been to galvanize her senses, make something truly stupendous like he had seen in a magazine at the dentist’s office – Crispy Roast Duck surrounded by fingerling potatoes, Blanched Asparagus with Béarnaise Sauce and Apple Prune Compote.  But he could see it ending with himself drowning in a quagmire of inexperience and unknown cooking terms.  He could imagine Dixie’s squinched up face when she walked through the door into greasy smoke and the smell of burnt.

Instead, he had let common sense take over.  Elementary Asian was the name of the cookbook.  Hot and Sour Soup, Chicken Vegetable Stir Fry, and Jasmine Rice was the name of the game.  Slice, chop, sauté, boil, can opener.  Those were terms he could handle.

And if the dinner didn’t turn out as good as he hoped, he could fall back on the gift bag he had hidden behind the couch.  Inside, the grapevine and field flowers wreath and the bracelet of polished red-banded agate that he had seen catch Dixie’s eye at the Artisan Works Mall a couple weeks ago.

Mike taste tested the soup.  Not too bad!  Maybe a little flat and lacking intensity, but not bad at all.  And if they started with a few glasses of sake first, Dixie probably wouldn’t even notice!


It was amazing how a conversation rolled and spun and traveled. First they were discussing whether sake was best warmed, chilled or room temperature.  Then they were experimenting with chopstick holding techniques and laughing as slithery noodles and straw mushrooms plopped back into their hot and sour soup.  Next they were wondering about all the steps involved in the production of seaweed wrappers.  And then, somehow, they were talking about how many kids they would have and if Keiko was a good name for a girl.

“Keiko Chatelain.  Do you think that goes?  Hey, how about Edelweiss?  That has a ring to it, doesn’t it?”  Dixie face was half lighthearted and half concentration as she tried to firm her chopsticks up on a baby corn nugget from the stir fry Mike had just spooned out onto her plate.

“By ‘ring’ do you mean yodel?  What do you say we defer back to forks? I don’t think we’re quite getting the hang of these chopsticks. I know I’m not.”  Mike paused then, his head tilted, his eyes opening from his own squint of concentration into a wide question mark. “Why are we talking about baby names? Are you trying to tell me something, Dixie?”

“What?  No!  I’m just having fun!  Thinking of our glorious future!  Looking forward to someday!  You and me and little Edelweiss!”

Her laugh was light and carefree like glass chimes tinkling in a breeze. Mike could almost see the dreamy vision of a golden haired toddler capering in her shining eyes.

But what if she had said ‘yes’?  So what if the wedding wasn’t until July.  So what if a baby hadn’t been in their immediate plans.  The gleam dotting the question mark in his eyes would have turned into a grin.

Suddenly Dixie’s eyes misted over and bulged out in a reddening face.  She had just managed to snag the baby corn and some bean sprouts and get them into her mouth.

“Whoa!”  She puffed her cheeks and blew out air.  “Lots of wasabi!”

“Did I make it too hot for you? Try eating some rice!”

Not what he had hoped.  Not wondrous.  Maybe now was the time for the gift bag.  Or maybe he should bring out the cupcakes he had picked up at Dimetri Bakery and decorated with a fortune cookie pressed into the frosting on top of each one.

“It’s okay!  I’m okay. Really!  Whoa!” Dixie grabbed for a tissue, wiped her eyes and blew her nose.  “I’m telling you, if you have a stuffy nose, wasabi would be the thing to eat!  It really clears out your nasal passages!  It’s completely different than the heat you get from hot peppers.  Hot peppers make your mouth feel like it’s on fire but wasabi shoots the fire right up your nose instead!”

“I better add a few notes to the recipe in case I dare to make it again – ‘Watch the Wasabi’, ‘Fire in the Hole!’,  ‘A.k.a Enter the Dragon Stir Fry’!”

Dixie laughed as he quipped, her eyes bright again, her whole face a smile.  And she picked up her chopsticks and went in for another bite.

“Are you sure you want more?  You don’t have to eat it if you don’t like it.  I can handle rejection.  Maybe I can rinse off some of the sauce or something.”

“Mike!”  Dixie set her chopsticks back down, releasing wasabi sauced snow peas and chicken back onto her plate and put her hand on top of Mike’s.  “I didn’t say I didn’t like it.  I said it was a lot of wasabi.  I love it!  I really, really do.  And I love that you cooked it just for me.  Everything’s great!  The soup, the stir fry.  Everything.  Seriously!  I’m not being glib.  I think this is the best stir fry ever.  I like feeling like a dragon!”

Mike shook his head, chuckling and grinning. Warmth spread through him that had nothing to do with his heavy hand on the wasabi powder.  His Dixie.  His bright faced hot smokin’ dragon girl.  God he loved her.

He jumped out of his chair then and came back with more sake.  And two forks.

“Here!  It’ll be easier to keep the dragons stoked with these.”

And the conversation turned to dragons, and wound around to grapevines and grapes, and to pondering if dragons would eat grapes.  It travelled to misspelled fortunes and Chinese translations and somehow arrived at wondering if The Wedding March was available on a calliope roll and if anyone would think it odd that they were getting married in a park by a merry-go-round.

Eventually it wandered into soft sounds and lone syllables that flowed into words only they knew the meaning of.  And that meaning was love.


Dixie was in the shower, singing ‘Cover Me Up’, the next morning when Mike opened the door a crack and stuck his head into the swirling fog of humidity that was the bathroom.

“Whew!  Steamy!  Can you even breathe in here?  I’m leaving now, Dixie.  I’ve got that early breakfast meeting with Howl The Moon Coffee.  See you at the office.  Love You!”

“Bye Mike!  Good luck with the sales pitch.  Love you too!”

And she was on the phone when he walked in after his meeting a couple hours later, her honey swirls bobbing about her head as she nodded in agreement with whoever held the other end of the line.  She waved at him, a sunflower blowing in the breeze, and aimed an air kiss in his direction.

Beaming, Mike strode over, set a cup of her favorite caramel cream latte on her desk, and gave her the thumbs up.  Howl had committed to a month of ad time to start, split between morning and evening time blocks.

Still beaming, he cruised the office passing the word that steaming elixirs to soothe everyone’s caffeine cravings were in the break room. In addition to Dixie’s favorite cuppa, he had brought in two 96 ounce Traveler Boxes so all could share in the glow of success. One box was Howl the Moon’s signature brew, the dark roasted Wolf Pack Aphrodisiac and the other, the lighter bodied Brazilian Moonlight Blend.

And what was coffee without an ‘and’? There was also a giant box of Crescent Moon Blueberry Almond Scones.

When he finally got to his desk, he found it there, resting on his keyboard with a few other pieces of snail mail.  A plain white envelope hand addressed to Channel Twenty and marked ‘PERSONAL – ATTENTION MIKE CHATELAIN’.  The top left hand corner was conspicuously empty, the sender of the envelope a mystery.

What’s up with this?  Curious, he scrabbled around in his drawer until he found the letter opener, slit the envelope open and pulled out the contents – a letter, hand written on a sheet of lined paper with a blotchy pen, messy letters scrawled across the page.

‘Dear Mike Chatelain,

I saw you on a TV morning show one day last July when I was visiting my cousin out a state.  My heart about stopped dead and then it started beating so fast I couldn’t hardly breathe.  I knew you………..’



Summer.  A time for fireflies, barefoot beaches, and juicy watermelon picnics.  A time when love bloomed like wildflowers and basked in the sun.

Dixie had been thinking a lot about love this summer. And the question had popped into her head one day while she was driving, along with a word.  MNT were the letters on the license plate ahead of her.  ‘Moment’ was the word that popped.  And the question – Could anyone say the exact moment when they had fallen in love?

Mike said he could.  He said his love for her started the moment he first saw her; vibrant, smiling, confident – a bright eyed, golden haired vision in a sea green dress and a long beaded necklace that glinted when it caught the light.  And that was it for him.  He was in awe.  Hooked, smitten, gone.  Head over heels in love.

Her mom said the same thing about falling in love with her father.  It was love at first sight.  A thunderclap!  A burst of light!  Cupid’s arrow!

Her father thought it was a dumb question.  Who cared if love came swooping in on blazing wings all at once in one identifiable moment or if it crept in slowly a smidgen at a time?  All he knew was that he did love Lainey and that was all that mattered to him.

The Channel Twenty audience had a lot to say when she posed the question to them.

‘Love.  Did it creep in or dart?  Was it the tortoise or the hare?’

‘Hare – Love always starts like a speeding freight train for me.

  And then it jumps the tracks.’  Still single after all these years

‘Blank – Love is love.’ June D.

‘Tortoise – Love is like the morning sun.  It rises slowly, slowly, 

 and then it bursts into life.’  Clare B.

‘Tortoise – First single notes and then a song.’  Madeline L.

‘Hare – Fireworks, Baby. Fireworks’  Felix G.

‘Neither – Never been in love.  Don’t care.’ SYZMADRS

‘Both – The hare brings infatuation first.  Then the tortoise

brings the love home.’  Becky T.

Dixie herself would have to say ‘tortoise’.  There was no one big defining moment blaring to the heavens that she had fallen in love with Mike.  Just lots of little moments. Bits, flashing in the background and building on each other without her realizing, until love was just there, warming her soul and dancing in her heart.

And she thought about those bits as she stood hidden from view behind the carousel in the shade of a big maple, her flowing white dress with the emerald green sash fluttering in the breeze.

Compassion and protection in gently encircled arms; a playful wink and silliness on a scrap of colored paper; a take-out sandwich, a thin, red line and a gentle admonition; a seed, a sprout, a flowering vine.

And there it was!  Her cue!  The calliope had started!

And there was her father, kissing her cheek and putting his arm in hers.

And there was Mike, waiting for her at the end of the petal strewn runner, more handsome than she had ever seen him.  Her beloved.  Her darling.  Her Mike.

Summer.  A time for merry-go-rounds, hotdogs and toasts with glasses of pink champagne.

A time when love……..

Poetic License


Spring pink leaves

Glow in the spotlight

Of the sun’s last refracting rays

The sky explodes with color

At the end of the day

White starry jasmine

Honeys the emerging night

Scent set free

And drifting

In day’s fading light

A page is turned

Night’s dark curtain falls

Moon and stars


In shades of white and gold

Day will come again

A blank page

Waiting for a pen

And ever changing colors

To fill the hours in

Day to night

Night to day

A blank page and a pen

Lives may fade

Circumstances change

But the story never ends


Book Signing

Saturday, May 13th • 2:00 – 4:00

Lift Bridge Books in Brockport


license-front-coverAll  previous Chapters of License are available on Home Page  – Click on Archives in the links located upper right corner. Search – License – Chapter #

Print editions available at Lift Bridge Book Shop in Brockport & Simply NY on Culver Road. Online at Amazon and Diane’s website. Comments, Questions? Contact Diane Rivoli through her website