Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mysteries Get New Look!
How can an old man in a wheelchair be so frightening? But Rachel is even more terrified by what his assistant does inside the building that once housed the Manhattan Project, the secret government project to build the first atomic bomb. What he does makes the old man young again and may change history forever.
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Excerpt: Atomic Medium
Or, Rachel Takes a Shower
by G G Collins (Copyright 2016)
After a short drive to Chloe’s much more upscale neighborhood, Rachel parked in front of the garage and walked to the back door. At first she knocked tentatively, but panic flooded her body and she began pounding.
“Chloe! Chloe, are you home?”
“Is that you Rachel?” Chloe asked from inside.
“Of course it’s me. Who else would be screaming out here holding a cat?”
“Come in.” Chloe opened the door. “I’d ask if you are alright, but I can see you’re half-crazed. Sit down, let the pretty girl out and I’ll get her some food and water.” Chloe opened the fridge, took out a new bottle of Evian and poured it into Chile Pod’s bowl—which she had bought just for her—followed by some expensive gourmet cat food.
“I told you not to give her that,” Rachel protested knowing it was futile. “I can’t afford to feed it to her regularly.”
“That’s okay,” Chloe said petting Chile’s head as she lapped up the pricey treat. “She deserves to be spoiled when she visits Auntie Chloe.
“Now, the baby is taken care of, what happened to you?”
Rachel related the incident she experienced minutes ago. From Chile’s first alarm, to Kiyiya’s warning howl, to the frightening man who appeared and threatened her; it all spilled it out.
Chloe was thoughtful for a moment.
“Rachel, there’s one thing I didn’t understand. What was on the pin or cuff link he was wearing? You said it reminded you of something. What was it?”
She went back to the confrontation and searched her mind for what she wanted. When she found it, she wanted to forget it.
“Chloe, it was a swastika!”
“What’s going on?” she asked. “Wait a minute. Remember you said when the two men went through the fluid curtain the room looked older; the big black phone, the vintage clothing?”
“Yes, but what are you getting at?”
“Don’t you see Rachel, it sounds like you’re saying he’s from that era you saw through the stargate.”
“I didn’t say that at all.”
“Yes, I’m afraid that’s exactly what you are saying. If this man belongs in the 1940s, then that room must belong there too.”
“But that could make him a, uh, Nazi?” Rachel didn’t want to deal with that. It was too grim to even consider. She ran her hands through her brown hair pushing the natural waves out of her face.
“It would make him a Nazi,” Chloe echoed. “I’m going to make us hot toddies.”
“I don’t think that will solve anything,” Rachel said hoping she could put off accepting this hypothesis.
“No, it won’t, but maybe it will be less frightening through a nice fuzzy haze.”
“But why would a Nazi from the 1940s materialize here and now?”
“That’s what we need to figure out.” Chloe warmed some water, this time a bottled water called Saint-Géron which her parents shipped her from Paris. They told her the mineral mix was better for women. Rachel didn’t know about that, but it was about $35 a bottle. When hot, she poured it into mugs, added some A. H. Hirsch and squeezed in some fresh lemon juice. Rachel blanched. The amount she paid for the bourbon would make a down payment on the new garage.
“Here you go, get comfy and let’s see what we know.” Chloe set a cup in front of Rachel.
Rachel pushed back into the banco that made a “U” around the kitchen table. The structure was stucco with the traditional rounded walls and a high back. Chloe had added long plush flame-stitched cushions in southwest colors on the seat and back. It was comfy and felt tucked away. A flat screen hung overhead and beautiful native pottery added a decorative, earthy touch to the shelves on the wall.
The friends sipped in companionable silence for a few minutes.
“He told you to stay out of their way,” Chloe said thoughtfully. “Who do you suppose they are and how could you possibly get in their way? In the way of what?”
“I don’t know. I’m writing a story on The Manhattan Project, but that’s as close as I get to WWII and Nazis,” Rachel said. “That was 70 years ago for god’s sake. I’ve no idea if that’s the connection or if there is a connection.
“There is something else,” Rachel said. “It could be significant.”
“And that is?”
“The Manhattan Project Santa Fe office was located in that building now occupied by Rainbow Man.”
“Oh my god,” Chloe sputtered. “How could I have forgotten that!”
“As soon as the word Nazi came up I remembered,” Rachel said. “I’ve been trying to consider other possibilities, but not coming up with any.”
“That’s because there aren’t any,” Chloe said definitively.
“But I still don’t know what it means. Okay, let’s say the big, scary guy is a Nazi and he kind of disappeared inside Rainbow Man, the former Manhattan Project office. So what? What does it have to do with the time of day or the price of gasoline?”
“And why is he threatening you and defacing your office?”
“We don’t know with certainty who graffitied the office. So we really don’t have anything?” Rachel said.
“Oh, we have something, we just don’t know what,” Chloe said stifling a yawn.
“Yeah, time for bed,” Rachel caught the yawn. She finished her toddy and rinsed out the cup.
“Night,” Chloe said. “And don’t worry; the alarm is set, the doors are locked.”
Rachel walked down the hall to the guest bedrooms. She and Chile Pod had a dedicated room of their own. When she entered, there was Chile curled up and fast asleep encircled by pillows. She knew there would be more Evian and luxury cat food in the bathroom, along with an automated litter box. There were toys scattered about and she could see that Chile had already picked out a soft, leopard print ball of fabric. It was lying on the bed next to her. Rachel sighed. Auntie Chloe could make almost any bad day better.
On the bedside table Rachel found her favorite chocolate in a Nambe silver dish. There was a small fridge in the dressing room which she knew would hold bottled water, juices, fruit and power bars. Chloe did her best to keep her healthy despite Rachel’s penchant for green chile cheese burritos. And there was a variety of teas on the counter next to the microwave and a small table cupboard that held cups, glasses, plates, napkins and some stevia. Chloe was trying to get her off sugar too. Even she had to admit that staying with Auntie Chloe was like living on Easy Street.
Chloe had thought of everything. There was a computer and printer/copier/fax on the desk should Rachel need them. A TV and stereo in the sitting area completed the suite’s accessories.
The only thing that bothered her was where in the hell to put all those pillows! Rachel took the larger ones and filled the two chairs, and then arranged the medium-sized ones on the desk until the top was covered. She left a couple of small ones around Chile, as if she could fall off, and began flipping the smallest ones across the room. This activity shortly lost its amusement factor.
She trudged into the bathroom where she came face to face with a new shower. Rachel stopped in her tracks, and evaluated the addition.
It had been installed since her last stay over. She had to admit it was beautiful; glass with wood panels covering the floor. Rachel stripped, placed a cushy bath mat on the floor and stepped inside the enclosure. After failing to find the usual knobs and levers that one used to perform a rather simple task like a shower, she saw there was a control panel.
“Oh no,” she grumbled. “I see Chloe is competing with NASA again.”
Staring at the array of options, she could see tiny pictures. Apparently one had to punch one to get water flowing. However there were also 20 of them—she counted—jets in the front and back of the stall. To further confuse the issue, there was a handheld shower head. She thought this to be the most straightforward way to get clean.
The panel also touted a radio, steam, aromatherapy and something called chromatherapy lighting. “Geez,” Rachel looked at the waterless shower head in her hand. “I just want some fucking water to come out of this thing.” She shook the nozzle. Nothing. She was getting cold.
Consulting the controls again she saw an image that might be water spraying and pushed it. Nothing at first. After a few seconds, steam began filling the stall.
“No, no, no!” She touched it again and tried another. Instantly, she was engulfed in loud music. Electric guitars screeched; drums pounded so hard she could feel the shock waves against her chest. She turned it off. “Dammit! The guy who installed this must have been a sadist!
“Something must turn on the water.” She puzzled over the panel again and chose another icon. Nothing happened. She sniffed. Fragrance was being released from some secret source. She took another whiff. Yes, that was definitely sandalwood. “Ugh, that’s the most suffocating odor.”“One more time for the team.” She poked another symbol. Suddenly she was deluged with water from overhead. “Oh crap, I didn’t want to get my hair wet,” she moaned. Too late to worry about that now. The tropical rain feature was a real drencher.
Now that she had water it was time to soap up. Luckily, she found a low-tech bar of soap on the built-in shelf. Once the paper covering was off she noticed the strobing effect. Somewhere lights were flashing. All she needed to make this experience complete was disco music.
Rachel looked up and saw the water falling from above was constantly changing color. “Well how do I stop that?”
Please select a color. She was prompted by a voice coming from the entrails of the control panel. Her fingers pressed more buttons. The jets came on full force hitting her body front and back.
Please select a color.
“Holy shit, I don’t want any color.”
Rachel began banging on the panel. If it had been a person, they would have called 9-1-1 to press charges.
Please select a color.
By now, she had soaped most of her body if you didn’t include her back or feet, but if you counted the pulverizing her back had taken, it had probably blasted off even the smallest microorganisms. In her frustration, she had managed to bash her elbows while thrashing around. There would be bruises.
Please select a color.
Was there no “Off” button? Apparently not.
Rachel tried to ignore the infuriating voice and rinsed off. Certainly she had enough water gushing at her from all directions to accomplish that.
Please select a color.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake!” She finally found the right button to turn off the water and the annoying voice stopped. Oddly, no water had ever come from the shower head she originally wanted to use, the one lying on the floor where she dropped it in frustration.
“Well, that was relaxing.” She opened the door and there sat Chile Pod, eyes big as saucers, ears cocked forward looking at Rachel as though she had completely lost her mind. Could a cat look flabbergasted? Yes, this one definitely did.
“Okay, so I didn’t do such a hot job of working the damn thing. So what? I’m mostly clean.” Chile Pod decided her person must be okay and headed back to her warm spot on the bed.
Rachel pulled a towel off the warmer and dried with Egyptian cotton so thick the water beads didn’t penetrate to the other side.
With the stink of sandalwood following her into the dressing room, she thought a tea, having finished her evening ablutions, would be just the thing to relax her. Once ensconced cross-legged on the bed, she opened her notebook with Emma Perkins’ interview. The envelope with the photos fell onto the bedding. She picked them up and absently thumbed through them. And then her heart nearly lodged in her throat.
There was the man; Mister Tall, Blonde and Scary!
Keep Santa Fe Weird
by G G Collins (Copyright 2014)
Every city has its quirks. These are some of my favorites in Santa Fe.
This strange looking guy wearing the dress is Zozobra. This petite version can be found at the Convention and Visitors Bureau on Marcy Street. Every autumn Santa Feans burn him–along with their worries. The next year, he is constructed and once again set on fire to screams of “Burn him, burn him!” For more on Zozobra see https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/?s=Zozobra here on Reluctant Medium at Large in Santa Fe.
Fish might be the last thing you’d expect to see in downtown Santa Fe and yet, here they are. The monumental sculpture is “Santa Fe Current” by artist Colette Hosmer. It features Rio Grande Cutthroat trout. Each granite fish is 2′ x 3 1/2′ in size. Right outside the Convention and Visitors Bureau on Marcy.
You might find a sign in New Orleans that includes a skull, but this one uses the Spanish word “ojo” which means “eye.” But “optique” is French, meaning vision, so go figure. Find it near the Plaza on Lincoln Ave.
In Santa Fe even the crows eat chiles. This guy, who lives in a sculpture garden along Canyon Road, appears to have a notoriously hot chile called a scotch bonnet (100,000 – 350,000 Scoville Units). Turn onto Canyon Road and make a quick left. There is parking, shops and art everywhere.
In a region where prairie dogs are sometimes cursed, this lucky family of the little “dogs” lives at Jackalope. Find it at 2820 Cerrillos Rd. Pottery, rugs and furniture doesn’t begin to describe everything that you’ll find here.
To learn about the history of Jackalope, click https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/reluctant-medium-virtual-treasure-hunt-tour-july-8-2012/
The Shed restaurant is famous for its excellent New Mexican cuisine. But did you know that The Shed serves French bread with every meal? It also offers a decadent Italian dessert called a zabaglione, a rich custard made with Cointreau and white port. Find the shed on East Palace just steps from the Plaza.
My characters Rachel Blackstone and Chloe Valdez meet at The Shed often to solve paranormal mysteries.
Learn about the humble beginnings of The Shed at https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/on-location-with-the-reluctant-medium-week-two/
Santa Fe is one of those places with lots nooks and crannies. Don’t be afraid to explore. You’ll miss the most beautiful places and its quirky surprises.
How is your city “weird?”
Bohemian, X Person, Cultural Creative, Creative Class?
By G G Collins (Copyright 2014)
Test Yourself: Are you fond of the color black and wear it often? Do you cut your hair with full bangs? Do you share your life with a cat, ferret or duck? Has the dust on your furniture achieved new heights? Is noon an early call for you? Have you written across lines, rather than between them? Can you find lavender oil on your shelves? Do you pursue creative work?
If you answered affirmatively to several of these questions, you are quite possibly a Bohemian.
In Laren Stover’s Bohemian Manifesto: A field Guide to Living on the Edge, she suggests that there are five distinct Bohemians: Nouveau (they are the only Bohemians with money), Gypsy, Beat, Zen and the Dandy. This is a fun book to read even if you’re not the slightest bit “X.” If you recognize yourself, you can’t wait to turn the page. The illustrations by IZAK are a delight.
An archetypal book on the American class system is Paul Fussell’s Class: A Guide Through the American Status System. Go straight to Chapter IX, “The X Way Out,” and then read the rest. Fussell pokes fun at everyone and you can’t help but enjoy it—although the occasional stab can hurt a little. Learn how to tell what class a person is by how he pronounces words, what she drinks or wears, even the knickknacks found in their house (never home). Although a little dated, this book is a hoot!
Richard Florida’s book The Rise of the Creative Class, is a thought-provoking read about the revolution in the workplace and the importance of place (first, second & third). Often considered a business book, it nevertheless belongs on the shelf. For a more collegiate read try The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World by Paul H. Ray, Ph.D. and Sherry Ruth Anderson, Ph.D. It defines the cultural creative and takes an in-depth look at the serious side of this renaissance, from ecology to corporate greed. See if you agree with them from the luxury of hindsight.
Throughout contemporary history there have been people who challenge the norm: the Impressionist artists, the Flappers, Beatniks, Hippies. Today’s young adults are invigorating downtowns in cities left empty by the White Flight of the 1960s. Once again our American downtowns are becoming vibrant and yes, creative.
Going against the tide takes courage. Stover had this to say: “Bohemians have the courage to reject mainstream society; to follow an ideal and forsake praise and security; to alienate family; to be, as Jack Kerouac put it, ‘yourself at whatever cost.’” Does that describe you? If so, you just might be a Bohemian.
Bohemian Manifesto: A Field Guide to Living on the Edge by Laren Stover, Bulfinch Press, 2004.
Class: A Guide Through the American Status System by Paul Fussell, A Touchstone Book by Simon & Schuster, 1983.
The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida, Basic Books, A Member of the Perseus Books Group, 2002.
The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World by Paul H. Ray, Ph.D. and Sherry Ruth Anderson, Ph.D., Harmony Books, 2000.
Meet Rachel Blackstone, the “Reluctant Medium.”
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Thank you for your interest.
— G G Collins