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L J Hippler

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Member Since: Feb, 2007

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All Hands on the Deck
By L J Hippler
Monday, December 31, 2007

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A short scene from Canton -- a novel under construction.

“Doesn’t that smell good?” Michelle smiled at her two-year-old as she fitted his ever growing body into the car seat. The boxes of food from China East were steaming even in the warm May air. The smells of egg roll, moo goo gai pan and shrimp egg foo yung mingled and made the inside of the little convertible an exquisite bubble of security and cheer. But Little Carlos seemed more engrossed in the feel of the nylon straps across his chest and the mystifying click of the plastic snaps that held him snug and safe. As his mother came around to get into the driver’s seat she saw him staring up at her with what seemed to be a mixture of awe and appreciation of the fun of it all. She savored the food smell as they drove down Boston Street, and her son giggling when they went over the cobblestone part. She drank it in, the smell, like a drug that induced a picture in her head of the previous May.
They’d eaten on the deck then, on the day they’d moved into the house. She’d wanted and loved that house for a year. Carlos had gone to get the food that time. And she remembered how pumped she felt, like a kid on Christmas, just deciding which box of dishes to unpack first. Her toddler and her kitten both explored the kitchen floor around her feet, Little Carlos still experimenting with the novelty of moving around on his own and Nefferkitty, desperate to find something familiar in the awful mess the humans had made of her happy existence.
Michelle hummed to herself remembering how it had seemed like only moments before her husband was back. He’d called them from outside. “All hands on the deck,” he’d called. He had the Chinese food already spread out on the table when she’d gotten there. She remembered how good his jet black hair had looked, how tanned his strong neck, the way the muscles on his bare arms seemed to constantly curve and remold themselves. Carlos just held her hand then, and looked deep into her eyes while their son rested in her lap.
They saw their first big boat come by that day. The tour boat, City of Tolchester, was heading back to the inner harbor. They whooped and waved at the boat, the three of them. Some people on the deck waved back.

Now Carlos came through the kitchen door wearing what she’d begun to think of as the puzzled look, where his dark eyebrows nearly touched, where his eyes darted around at everything as if he’d misplaced his keys and his life depended on finding them. He went to the hall and tossed his blue suit coat on the back of the couch, not folding it with the lining out as he usually did. “See what we brought home?” Michelle gestured like a game show model with her right hand at the still hot boxes of Chinese food on the counter. She put her left arm around her husband’s neck. “And, by the way, do I get a kiss or what?”
“Sure,” Carlos said, not looking directly at her, and brushed his lips quickly over her waiting ones. “Was Little Carlos okay in the car?” he asked, stepping away from Michelle and toward the counter where he began to inspect the white boxes. “He acts like a pouty little brat when I take him out.”
“Um, no, he was great.” She walked around to the other side of the island counter, putting it between them. “Everything alright at work?”
Carlos nodded with his eyes down and shrugged. “Maybe if you were home more he wouldn’t act that way.”
“What way? He’s a two-year-old.” She wiped imaginary crumbs from the counter top with the side of her hand. “And, come on, honey. We talked about my career, even back in college. You know how much time it takes.”
Carlos opened the box of egg foo yung and began to dig at it with a fork. “I thought we’d eat out on the deck,” Michelle said, pulling her son away from the knife drawer that he was trying to open. “Remember when we moved in? That was one year ago today.” Her husband readopted the puzzled look and kept eating. “We had Chinese food then too, on the deck.” She got no response. “It looks nice out there,” she added lamely. The boy jerked his arm away from her and flung himself on the floor with a waa of frustration.
“Too windy.” Carlos dropped the fork with a clink on the marble counter top and turned away from her. “And I can see he’s in one of his moods.” The boy put his tiny fists to his face and sobbed for attention. “I’m gonna’ change clothes. We’ll eat in the kitchen.”
Michelle watched her husband disappear into the hall, walking a little more quickly than he should have. Then she picked up Little Carlos and bounced him in her arms because she knew that’s what would stop the crying. She stared out the window at the deck. The wooden table seemed forlorn and empty in the middle of it. It was nearly six o’clock; and a shadow from the house covered half the pier. There were no passing boats.

       Web Site: Cathedral Street

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Reviewed by Regis Auffray 1/11/2008
This seems very real and has a poignant and "raw" quality to it that engages the reader very effectively. Thank you. Love and peace to you,

Regis
Reviewed by Rosemarie Skaine 1/1/2008
A sad reality for this couple - leaves the reader wondering the whys. Excellently done. R
Reviewed by Kimmy Van Kooten 1/1/2008
much enjoyed!
This one hits you right between the eyes, as you see love dwindle before them
I too love the ending, for when the magic seems to fade, it too fades...
all that magic, true love and happiness use to bring
sad...
Love and Peace~
Kimmy~
Reviewed by Dawn Anderson 1/1/2008
Larry...this was so real...I could feel it...see it. It even had me misty eyed near the end.
Reviewed by Jean Pike 12/31/2007
Larry, this was a real treat for me. I'm guessing the Michelle in this story is the Michelle from Cathedral Street. If so, it's a nice surprise to have another glimpse into her life so soon. I thought I was going to have to wait until the new book came out! The writing here is your usual flawless storytelling. Love your last line: There were no passing boats. That really said a lot more than it might seem to on the surface. I must say the tone of this story is making me nervous for our girl though. I really want her to have a super life, and it's feeling like a little trouble in paradise? Anyway, I loved this excerpt and I'm really, REALLY looking forward to this next book!
Your biggest fan :)
Jean


Books by
L J Hippler



Cathedral Street

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The New Road

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