Why I Don’t Step Out of Cars Like Audrey Hepburn Did

For years, I’ve beaten myself up because I don’t step into a car like Audrey Hepburn. You know what I mean–Sabrina getting into Linus’ little sports car–sitting down, swinging to her left, bringing torso and legs, knee touching knee,  and stiletto-heeled feet, around, until she faces the windshield and her whole body relaxes on leather upholstery, and all in one continuous motion. And she steps of the car by reversing the process, turning, placing her feet lightly but firmly on the ground, and rising, perfectly balanced, a model of grace, like Aphrodite rising from the sea. And you can tell by her expression that she doesn’t even have to concentrate to get it right.

English: Studio publicity portrait for film Sa...
English: Studio publicity portrait for film Sabrina with William Holden and Audrey Hepburn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) By Studio publicity still (Dr. Macro) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I don’t do cars like Audrey. I know I should, but no matter how I try–and I’ve tried forever–grace and I just don’t fit into the same sentence. So I’ve gone through years of self-battery.

But the dream, although postponed, never died. In January, I set a target date and place: August 20, 2017, at the La Quinta in Blue Springs, Missouri. About 5:30 p.m.

I practiced.

The best laid plans, however.

Sunday, August 20, 2017, we left for the Austin airport about 8:30 a.m. for a 2:00 p.m. flight. We arrived at La Quinta in Blue Springs after 10:00 that night.

Well, things happened.

When the plane you’re supposed to take out of Dallas develops medical problems and doesn’t respond to treatment, you don’t complain. You’re just grateful they found the problem before you boarded instead of when you were hanging in the air with the Red River 35,000 feet below.

But when you finally get to Blue Springs and roll up in front of La Quinta, and all your muscles are cramped, and all your joints feel like they’re welded in place, you tell Audrey to go fly a kite.

We parked. I tumbled out of the car, staggered into the lobby, fell onto the nearest couch, and, while David checked us in, watched a movie on the SyFy channel. A lobsterish-crabbish-scorpionish thing was throwing something that looked like a cross between Batman and Conan the Barbarian all over the screen while both yelled and moaned and grunted.

I knew exactly how they felt.

And that was that.

That is that for this post, too. Because we left the Blue Springs La Quinta this morning about 8:30 for a 12:30 p.m. flight and got home at exactly 3:29 p.m., and although the trip was uneventful, I nonetheless tumbled out of the car, etc.

So. That’s what happened Sunday and Tuesday. For an account of Monday’s goings-on, check back tomorrow. Or maybe Thursday.

Because it’s after midnight, and I’m tired of sitting around waiting, and of flying all scrunched up in those little bitty seats, and of writing this post, and of Audrey Hepburn. And I’m going to bed.

‘Night.

 

“La nascita de Venere.” Sandro Botticelli [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. {{PD-Art|PD-old-100}}

Day of the Dark Coming–Twice

The total solar eclipse–the first across the entire continental United States in ninety-nine years–will take place on August 21. David and I will view it from Kansas City, where the full eclipse will be visible. We have our eclipse glasses and hotel reservations and look forward to a jaw-dropping experience.*

Not to take anything away from the eclipse, but I’m more excited about an event scheduled for later this month–Wildside Press’ release of Kaye George’s crime fiction anthology DAY OF THE DARK: Stories of the Eclipse. The book has twenty-four stories, each centered around a solar eclipse.

The projected release date is July 21, but the book is available for pre-order now. An ad in Kings River Life also has a pre-order link.

Individual authors are donating royalties from DAY OF THE DARK to various organizations. Mine will go to the Texas Museum of Science and Technology in Cedar Park.

As a sneak peek, I’ll say that my story, “I’ll Be a Sunbeam,” concerns Marva Lu Urquhart, Kilburn County librarian, who set out to “put Mama out of her misery” in her debut story, “Hell on Wheels,” which appears in Austin Mystery Writers’ MURDER ON WHEELS: 11 Tales of Crime on the Move. If you’ve read that story, you know that when planning a murder, Marva Lu takes into account every eventuality–she thinks.

A number of online events are scheduled to celebrate the release. An interview with Kaye George, editor and contributor, will soon appear on Criminal Elements. Interviews with all the authors will appear on Writers Who Kill. Austin Mystery Writers will carry an interview with Laura Oles and me. For a complete list of events, as well as other information, see Travels with Kaye.

And, of course, watch this space.

***

Read an excerpt from “I’ll Be a Sunbeam” here.

***

 

Total Solar Eclipse
Total Solar Eclipse (Photo credit: Wikipedia) By E. Weiß (E. Weiß: “Bilderatlas der Sternenwelt”) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
To see paths of future eclipses, click here. It looks like the one scheduled for 2024 won’t require travel. David and I will just step outside, pull up a couple of lawn chairs, and look up. Which is kind of a shame, because part of the excitement resides in getting out of town. But maybe Kaye will put together another anthology. That’s exciting. I’ll ask.

***

*”Your jaw will drop when you first see the corona and witness totality.” I don’t doubt it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming July 21: DAY OF THE DARK & More of the Murderous Marva Lu

“The good old days.” Joe turned his eyes up to the ceiling and sighed.

“Oh, I remember it all. Fried chicken, sunbathing, you grabbing me and holding me under the water till I almost drowned before you let me go. . . . What I don’t remember is anybody actually swimming.”

“We had too much fun doing other things. I wasn’t a strong swimmer anyway. But I loved playing in the water. And just being with y’all.”

I personally believed what he loved most was Bonita and her bikini. My sister Bonita was the youngest in the crowd, but she developed early. Mama absolutely forbade her to wear anything but her blue gingham one-piece, and as long as Mama was taking us out to Paradise Bluff, that’s what she wore. But when I turned fifteen and got my driver’s license, I started driving us out there. And every day, as soon as we got to the Mobil station on Main Street, Bonita would set up a howl, and nothing would do but we had to stop so she could slip into the restroom and change.

Joe goofed around with me, but when Bonita was wearing that bikini—there wasn’t enough cotton in it to stop up an aspirin bottle—he only had eyes for her.

Joe leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. He had a faraway look in his eye. “I haven’t been out there in years. It’s kind of sad, you grow up and get responsibilities, seems like you to forget the simple pleasures of youth.”

“Um-hmm, sad.” Watching him leave with that silly smile on his face, I knew he was thinking about Bonita’s little red bikini.

~ M. K. Waller, “I’ll Be a Sunbeam”

 

Marva Lu Urquhart is on the move again. This time, she’s celebrating the 2017 eclipse with a picnic at Paradise Bluff.

If you remember Marva Lu from “Hell on Wheels,” in Austin Mystery Writers’ anthology MURDER ON WHEELS, you’ve probably already guessed the picnic has less to do with the eclipse than with–well, it has more to do with knocking the memory of Bonita’s little red bikini out of Joe’s head and replacing it with–let’s put it this way: Marva Lu hasn’t been taking belly dance lessons all these years for nothing.

“I’ll Be a Sunbeam” will be published in DAY OF THE DARK, a crime fiction anthology edited by Kaye George and due out from Wildside Press on July 21st–a month before the August 21st eclipse.

All twenty-four stories in DOTD focus on those crucial minutes at midday when the moon devours the sun and anything can–and does–happen

Especially if you’re Marva Lu Urquhart.

Austin will see only a partial eclipse, so David and I will watch from Kansas City. Our eclipse glasses arrived through the mail this week.

 

Now there’s nothing to do but pack, grab my copy of DAY OF THE DARK–a little escape reading for the drive–drop William and Ernest off at their hotel, and head north. Where we trust our experience will be much less eventful than the one Marva Lu has planned for her friends.