Our First Short Audio Story Is Live…

And so it begins, dear friends. Here is my first full-scale attempt at doing an audio recording of one of the short stories from our anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time”.

*NOTE: Do not click on this image, link to audio is just below it*

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Mxg1nIibXI&t=32s

The purpose of doing this short story is of course to start preparing for turning the entire anthology, as well as it’s predecessor “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” into full-length audiobooks. Helen and I will also be turning her new solo novel “Forever’s Too Long” (another vampire tale, set in 1947 NYC) into an audiobook as well.

For some time many readers and friends have been urging me to try my hand at doing audiobooks saying I have a good voice for reading aloud. Helen readily agreed as I have spent many evenings reading aloud to her from books we both wanted to read at the same time, and this seemed to be the simplest solution.

However, I was completely unsure how one even began to make an audiobook. I do not consider myself all that well versed in technology. Furthermore, until the last couple of years, our finances were very tight so trying to rent time at a professional recording studio. Plus, I would then have to pay someone to do all the technical cleanup of the recordings to make them presentable for Audible, over on Amazon.

But after having helped create the trailer for Helen’s book “Forever’s Too Long” (which I have shared here before but in case you missed it here’s the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNoPA_ytUvc

I found my confidence increasing in my vocal skills. The responses to the trailer and the praise I received at her release party where I did some live reading in the voice of her main character, was the final nudge I needed. From there I downloaded Audacity (the program Audible uses for audiobook submissions) and did some serious reading up on audio recording. I also watched a number of YouTube videos which taught me how to get the best sound quality while recording inside our own home, instead of renting space at a studio. I also invested in some equipment…

I won’t go into all the technical details of how I made the recording here, because I’m covering that topic in a series of entries over on our blog about writing at:

https://www.musingsoftwocreativeminds.com/

There will be more audios coming to this site in the near future for your enjoyment, leading up to the release of the complete anthology on Audible. When that date will be, I do not know as I still have a lot of recording to do. However, we will keep you all apprised of our progress. In the meantime, please enjoy the audio provided above and know that this blog will still be sharing brand new tales about Nathan and his friends as usual.

I also want to let you know that progress is being made on “The Vampyre Blogs – Family Ties”. My main regret is that it’s taken so long, but there have been health and family issues over the past year that slowed things down on that front. But the book is still under way and will see the light of day. Hopefully, late next year.

In the meantime, besides the audios, I am working on a new cover for “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” as it will be getting a new home under the Young Adult section over on Amazon. It will also be getting released to Kobo, Barnes and Noble (Nook form), PDF and other formats later this year. So, as you can see, we got a lot happening with Nathan and company, and there are many more adventures and stories to tell, so please stay tuned.

Until next time, happy reading (and listening) dear friends…

Penny’s E-Diary August 11, 2016 “She’s Back” – Part V

     Meanwhile, Nadine stared into her now empty cup, apparently without realizing it. Something was still weighing on her mind. Glancing down I saw my cup was empty as well. “I could use a refill, how about you?” I asked.

     Nadine blinked. “Huh… oh, more hot chocolate? That sounds good.”

     I started to get up, but she got to her feet first saying, “I’ll get it. You take it easy. I’m keeping you up, I can at least play hostess.”

     For a moment I was going to remind her that my little guy was really the one who’d kept me up already, but I held my tongue. I was starting to feel a bit tired, but I wanted to know what she hadn’t told me yet. Whatever it was, it had troubled her up something fierce, and that bothered me.

     I guess it must’ve shown in my face because I saw the look of worry in my friend’s eyes as she served up the hot chocolate.

 

     “Are you getting tired?” she asked gently. “I know I’ve been keeping you up even later than your son.”

    “I’m all right,” I smiled, “But I am worried about you. When you came in tonight, you looked ‘troubled’ more so than if you’d simply had to put up with wolf-whistles and catcalls.”

      She nodded and sat down again. “I guess I’m still trying to wrap my head around what I saw… and what I almost did.”

     The tone in her voice as she spoke those last few words, sent a chill down my spine.

     “The evening started out as usual. I went out to dinner by myself and got the usual questions about why someone so beautiful was on her own. Was I waiting for someone? Would I like some company? Mind you I almost said yes once, but thought better of it.”

     That piqued my curiosity. “Oh? Was he that good looking?”

     “Oh, yeah,” she nodded with a wistful look, “She was.”

     “Ooo… attracting girls now are we? You should have taken her up on it, you might’ve had a good time,” I smiled.

     “I kind of wish I had,” Nadine sighed and fell silent.

     At that point I knew I was getting to the heart of whatever happened that upset her so much. A part of me didn’t want to push things any farther, but something told me she needed to get it out of her system. So I reached across and took one of her hands saying, “Hey, I’m here for you, tell me what happened. Please? I can’t stand sitting here watching as it eats at you.”

     That earned me a small but uneasy smile. “Are you sure you want to hear about it? It wasn’t one of my better moments.”

     “How so?” I asked.

     “I think… I know, I came pretty close to breaking every bone in some asshole’s fucking body.”

     I almost asked if she was serious, but I already knew she meant every word of it. Finally, I said, “Tell me what happened.”

          She nodded. “After dinner I decided to go catch the new all-female Ghostbusters movie, which was great, by the way. I loved it. Totally hilarious, and Chris Hemsworth was a riot. The man is great at comedy, let me tell you. Anyway, I was just coming out of the theater when I spotted Lisa and Marisa standing in line to get tickets and quickly did a U-turn. Unfortunately, they’d already spotted me and started calling out to me.”

     “Busted!” I teased, fearing she was going off on a tangent. As it turned out, she wasn’t.

     Meanwhile she sighed, “Yeah, I was and I knew it. Turning around, I smiled and started coming towards them when I spotted a girl I knew Marisa wasn’t too thrilled about standing just a few people behind them. She was rolling her eyes in their direction, not that they could see, and I quickened my pace in the hopes of preventing any trouble. But as I did so, some guy a couple of years older than her stopped and said something to her, which she totally ignored. Next thing I know…” here she paused and shook her head.

     “He what? Did he grab her or something?”

   “He punched her in the face,” Nadine snapped, while balling her own hands into fists. “No warning,  no raised voice, he just went ahead and belted her in front of everyone.”

      Even I had not been prepared for that. I was expecting an argument or the guy grabbing her by the arm. But not this.

     Nadine was starting to shake with anger as she continued, “And that wasn’t the worst part. I heard him saying she deserved it. You see he’d complimented her looks and she didn’t even so much as smile or say thank you.”

     I barely kept myself from yelling “Say what?” out loud and waking up my little guy. But I managed it somehow, and just hissed the words instead.

    “Yeah,” Nadine nodded taking a deep breath before continuing. “He’d punched her for ‘disrespecting’ him. At that point I didn’t care if anyone saw or not, I used my speed and got between them. My first instinct was to grab his hand as he started to try and take another swing at her. But I knew if I did, not only would I catch it, but I would start squeezing.”

     “Squeezing?” I repeated. That didn’t sound all that bad.

     “As in I wasn’t going to stop until every bone in that hand was broken, along with the rest of his arm,” she replied quietly.

     “What stopped you?” I asked, feeling a little sick at what I was hearing.

     Nadine looked at me and said, “The expression on your face, it’s the same one I saw on both Marisa and Lisa’s. If they hadn’t been there…” she shook herself. “Anyway, I caught his next punch and went all Bruce Lee on his ass instead. But even as I did, a part of me still wanted to hurt him a whole lot worse than I did. The resentment I felt from all the crude catcalling, ass slaps, and gropings was screaming for me to not only beat his ass, but rip his throat out. Literally.”

     “But you didn’t,” I pointed out. “I know you. You didn’t let it get that far.”

     “Barely,” she sighed.

     “Then what happened?” I asked.

     “I looked up and saw Marisa and Lisa were helping the girl who’d been hit. It turned out to be Diane, the one who was pissed at Marisa for not choosing her to be the new head cheerleader. She was looking awfully grateful for their help as well as mine. As for the asshat, a couple of his buddies had apparently started to try and pull me off him. Only the rest of the crowd, most of them women had blocked them. And then the police showed up. Of course, the jerk’s friends started giving them a bullshit story.”

     “Naturally,” I nodded.

     “So I released some mist and got them singing like canaries about how their friend started all the trouble by assaulting Diane. Of course, I got the creep to confess as well and that was all the police needed to take his ass away.”

     “He’s not going to forget,” I told her.

     Nadine smiled, “I made sure of that. You see I gave him and his buddies a special suggestion. One that will keep all of them from disrespecting any woman ever again.”

     “Good for you,” I smiled, but her face was still troubled. “What?”

     “I really wanted to hurt that guy,” she murmured.

     “But you didn’t,” I assured her. “You’re better than that and them.”
“I know, but I came so close…”

    “Welcome to the human race,” I cut in. “With all the powers you have, you’re still a person. A good one at that. Don’t ever change.”

    That made her smile. “Thanks. But, I have to know. Everything I’ve experienced lately as a woman, is it always like that?”

     “Not always, but more often than it should be,” I told her honestly. Then I eyed her curiously and asked, “Are you thinking about going back to just being a guy?”

     She shook her head. “No. Isabella’s growing. She’ll need someone to help her navigate this world. It’s very different than the one she remembers.”

     “She’ll have me, Lisa and Penny,” I pointed out.

     “Thanks,” she smiled, “But I think ‘Nadine’ will be hanging out with you all from time to time as well. Someone needs to watch all your backs as well sometimes. Girls have to stick together.”

     “Indeed we do,” I smiled. As if on cue, I heard my little guy begin fussing again. “And there goes the rest of my night,” I said standing up.

     But once again my friend beat me to the door saying, “No, you and Richard get some sleep. I’ll take care of him. He’ll need to get used to seeing Aunt Nadine hanging around every so often. And I’m more of a night owl than the rest of you.”

     I was too tired to argue and headed back to bed. It’s morning now and sure enough both my guys got a good night sleep after all. Nathan was back and thanked me for the hot chocolate and the talk. I thanked him for being willing to walk a mile (and them some) in high-heeled shoes.

Penny’s E-Diary August 11, 2016 “She’s Back” – Part IV

“Needless to say I learned all to quickly that my experience back that the bar was not uncommon,” Nadine sighed.

“Sad but true,” I commiserated. “Let me guess, it started with the whistles and the ‘Hey, Baby, you lookin’ good’ routines.”

Bender

“Pretty much,” Nadine nodded, “At first I was tempted to steal from Bender in Futurama by saying something like ‘Shut up Baby, I know it!’.”

I tried not to laugh, but she did the voice of the robot so perfectly I couldn’t stop myself. Still I quickly pointed out that I hoped she hadn’t said that. Sometimes talk like that could lead to confrontations. Some guys did not like being talked back to and could get pretty aggressive.

badge

“Or it could get a badge flashed in your face,” she replied shaking her head.

“Oh dear, Lord,” I muttered aloud while leaning back in my chair. Having actually been a prostitute I knew that routine all too well. Depending on the officer, you’d have to talk your way out, get arrested, or ‘come to an arrangement’. The few who preferred that last option, were always more than eager to pull out their ID whether or not you’d been soliciting. If they already knew you were in the ‘biz’ that was all the excuse they needed to harass you.

Now it was my turn to shake my head again. “So, one of the cops around here actually thought you were soliciting?”

“No, that happened on one of my first outings over in Charleston,” she told me. “I’d decided to hit the mall over there in order to expand my wardrobe since I was starting to go around like this again.”

“Didn’t want to be seen in the same outfit more than once?” I teased. As much as I hate to say it, I was starting to really like having girl talk with someone closer to my age, so to speak. I love Marisa and Lisa to pieces, don’t get me wrong. But they have a lot to learn about life still, whereas Nadine had experienced way more than even me. But I felt more comfortable talking this way with her, even if she was still learning what it meant to be a woman in this world.

While all that was going through my mind she answered, “Something like that. I knew I could borrow clothes from you, Lisa or Marisa, but… I didn’t want anyone to know what I was doing just yet. I knew the girls would insist on going everywhere with me but I felt that might defeat the purpose.”

I knew exactly what she was saying. “They’d try and shield you by going places they felt more comfortable going,” I nodded.

“Exactly!” she smiled.

“And you didn’t tell me because…?” I prompted.

“I would’ve asked you to show me all the bad stuff and I didn’t want to drag you back down that path,” she replied.

I knew what she meant. The two of us had had many talks over the last two years. As Nathan, he probably knew more about my life than even Richard did. Not that I was keeping anything from my man on purpose. He didn’t like prying into areas of my past I wanted to forget. But with Nathan, it was like having a big brother or favorite uncle you could tell anything to and know you’d never be judged.

“Well,” I said after a while, “If you decide to keep going around like that, I wouldn’t mind heading out with you once in a while. I like a bit of a girls night out once in a while, you know. Not that I don’t like going out with Lisa and Marisa, mind you…”

“But they’re still on the youngish side,” Nadine finished with a nod. “There are certain places they’re still not old enough to go to.”

Dirty_Habit_DC_bar.0.0

“Plus, they’re young enough to attract even more attention to us,” I added.

That got me a raised eyebrow from my friend. “Considering what I’ve seen these last two months, you’d attract just as much attention as those two put together.”

That made me laugh because I knew it was true. Not that I’m being too full of myself. It’s just, a lot of what we’d been discussing was still happening to me. In some ways it was flattering, in others… it was disconcerting. Having been in ‘the game’ as long as I had been, I’d noticed a certain trend growing among some of our clientele. A certain ‘aggressiveness’ had been emerging, more so than what I’d seen in the past. Oh there’d always been certain men who liked to play rough, but this kind was different. It wasn’t just play, there was a darker edge to them and I was seeing it more and more in younger as well as older men and that was worrying.

I began to wonder if Nadine had noticed such a trend or was it just me?

TO BE CONTINUED…

So Much Going On…

Allan here with some big announcements and an apology to make. First the apology. Sorry it’s taken so long to get back to the current story, which I feel may be one of the most important ones we’ve ever undertaken because of the subject involved. Please rest assured that the story will be continuing shortly, it’s just been a crazy two months over here.

First of all, Fibromyalgia reared its ugly head and flattened both of us badly for several weeks. At the same time, we were also getting ready to launch Helen’s first solo novel “Forever’s Too Long” which is the first of an all new series she’s calling ‘The Forever Detective Series’. It revolves around a 1940’s private investigator in NYC, who’s first two cases runs him smack into the middle of a nest of vampires led by a certain historical figure from Russian history. If you’ve been enjoying Nathan and company, then I highly recommend checking out Rafael Jones and his friends in this all new truly  supernatural series at the links below.

Nook:

Amazon: 

AmazonUK:

AmazonCA:

AmazonAU:

Smashwords:

I spent a great deal of time helping Helen prepare and promote her novel going as far as to creating my very 1st book trailer for her novel.  Anyone wanting to see the results can click on this youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNoPA_ytUvc.  While not 100% perfect, I was quite happy with the results, especially the voice-over you hear in the trailer. The response to the video was so good, it got me thinking about going back and making trailers for both “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” and “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time”.

However, before that could happen, we had to prepare a book launch party for “Forever’s Too Long”, wherein I did something I’ve been thinking about for some time but never tried, namely loud readings using the voices of character’s appear in the scene. Once again the reactions were much more positive than I’d expected. Now I’ve done theater in the past, and I’ve done loud readings in person for family and friends who have all urged me to get to start recording the books. But after hearing people’s reactions at the launch party, my reaction was to buy these puppies…

This is the Blue Yeti USB Microphone and the Samson SR350 Closed back stereo headphones. I’m already working on what I’m calling my “Voice Library” so I can have a set of distinctive voices I know I can recreate at any time and start making some of your favorite characters come to life.

My goal is to start sharing some audio samples here on the blog within the next 2-3 months. Possibly sooner. I hope to have a full audiobook of “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” in the not-to-distant future (yes, I am an MST3K fan and proud of it).

In the meantime I am still slowly working on the 2nd full-length novel “The Vampyre Blogs – Family Ties” which takes up two-three weeks after the events of “TVB – Coming Home”. I’m not predicting a release date for that one at this time I’m sorry to say. But we will be bringing you all more short stories here on the blog in the meantime, as well as updates.

Now for my final piece of news, there was one other thing that happened at the launch party that had me doing some serious re-thinking about Nathan and company. One of our guests at the part has been a beta-reader for all the Para-Earth novels, including “TVB – Coming Home”. She is also a professional librarian and seriously urged me to re-market Nathan’s adventures as Teen/Young Adult to reach a wider audience. I gave it some serious thought, but didn’t do anything right away. Instead I checked with a couple of other people I knew had read the book and agreed with the librarian. So I am currently in the process of getting both of those books shifted over to the Young Adult sections of Amazon and other outlets. Needless to say “TVB – One Day At a Time” will join it shortly.

Currently, both books are part of KDP’s Select program which means that the e-book versions are sold exclusively at Amazon. But at the end of August this will end and I will make the books available to Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, the works. At that time I will also do a re-release with the book being promoted for Young Adults and older. I hope to have trailers for both ready by then, as well news about another anthology and an update on “The Vampyre Blogs – Family Ties”.

So that brings you all up to speed. There’s a lot coming on the horizon so please stay with us here, and I expect to have the next installment of  “Nadine’s” adventures up within a week. I thank you all for your patience and hope to keep you all entertained and fascinated with new stories and adventures featuring Nathan and his friends.

Also I’ll be updating you all on “The Door” which is well under way and focuses on our other cast of Para-Earth characters (Alex Hill, Police Sgt. Veronica Ross, heiress Cassandra Elliott, and her girlfriend/shamaness Julie Cloudfoot).  For within the pages of that story Nathan will be making more than one appearance along with some familiar faces from “TVB – One Day At a Time”. The events of “The Door” will lead to the first major crossover between the two casts and leading all to face one of their strangest encounters from a Para-Earth yet in the form of a haunted mansion known as Harlequin House.

Until next time, take care and happy reading everyone.

A Brief Interruption…

At least I hope it will be a brief one. This is Allan and I wanted to let you all know there will be a very “Hopefully” pause in the story.  Health issues on the home front have slowed down our writing, specifically a very painful Flare-Up in my Fibromyalgia. This can last from a couple of days to even a couple of weeks. I’m doing what I can to make sure it doesn’t last that long.

    Your patience would be greatly appreciated for the delay in the next installment of the current story. I’ll do my best not to keep you all waiting too long.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding.

Sincerely,

Allan

Penny’s E-Diary August 11, 2016 “She’s Back” – Part I

       If anyone had told me two years ago I would one day be married, have a child, and be living in a big old mansion, I’d have told them to quit snorting the white powder. Of course, there’s no way they would’ve have known a man who’d fought in the Civil War, and was for all intent and purposes a vampire, would be partly responsible for all of this. It still seems like some weird dream, or like I stepped into the Twilight Zone, but it’s all real. And I’m truly happy about it.

     Not that things don’t get kind of bizarre on a semi-regular basis. Take tonight for example, my baby boy had been fussing and feeling poorly lately. So I took him to Dr. Jack a couple of days ago, who said it was an ear infection and gave me instructions and a prescription for it. Of course, this means I’ve been keeping odd hours at night to administer the medicines. Needless to say my he wasn’t happy when I woke him up to administer more medicine and it took me a good hour to get him back to sleep. Richard offered to take over for me, but I insisted. He even offered to keep me company  while I walked our boy back to sleep. He’s really turning into a great dad. And as much as I appreciated his offer, I sent him back to bed. He’d had a really long day already, plus sometimes a girl wants to deal with things on her own. My home life had been pretty messed up and I didn’t want to make the same mistakes as my so-called parents. The moment I knew I was pregnant I swore to do a lot better than them, and I like to think I’ve been succeeding.

      Anyway, I’d just put my little boy down again and realized I was a bit hungry. Looking over at the clock on the night table I saw it was only 1:30 in the morning. Not too late for a snack, I thought and headed downstairs.

      I’d gotten halfway down the  staircase when I saw the front doors open and a young woman entered. In the dim lighting I couldn’t make out the features and thought it must be either Marisa or Lisa my two, much younger, best friends. Both of them are barely twenty but in spite of a decade difference between us we’re tight. They love hanging out with me and both of them are great with the baby. The two of them also have the hots for Nathan, the Civil War veteran/vampyre I mentioned earlier, who owns this big old mansion. He’s also one of the best friends/guardian angel any of us could ever ask for.

      I know Nathan gave both girls their own key, so naturally I thought it must be one of them. Upon seeing that our late night visitor had blonde hair, I figured it must be Marisa (Lisa’s a brunette). Then realizing what time it was I immediately started hurrying down the rest of the stairs thinking something bad must have happened.

     “Marisa?” I called out only to have our guest look up.  It wasn’t Marisa, instead it was someone I hadn’t expected to see again anytime soon. “Nathan… I mean Nadine?” I stammered for a second.

      Okay, now I’m going to take a step back for a moment and explain a few things. Like everyone else who knows about Nathan being a vampyre and keeps an e-journal, blog, or an e-diary, these entries I make are set to private. Only someone knows, or will one day know, about Nathan gets to read them. We do this because we want to keep our memories and experiences with him alive even when (God forbid) we can’t remember, or are no longer part of this world. Although in the former case I don’t think we’ll ever fall to dementia or Alzheimer’s because Nathan wouldn’t let that happen. He’s got abilities like you’ve never seen and although he can’t hold off death (except for maybe himself), he’s learned to use them in so many ways to help people. And  want these memories to be available for my son and his children so they know what a difference this man has made, not only my life but other peoples’ as well.

    One of Nathan’s more fascinating abilities is of course shape-shifting. But unlike what you see in the movies where a vampire simply turns into mist, or a bat, or some other animal, he’s taken this ability to a whole other level. He’ll alter parts of his body, like turning just his legs into individual puppy dogs to play with Lisa’s little brother, or alter his facial features to look like another person. However, even more impressive is his skill at changing his entire body  into that of a very attractive woman. Mind you, Lisa, Marisa and I had a hand in his learning how to do it convincingly. The three of us gave him some serious coaching just two months ago when he was helping hunt down a cannibalistic serial killer.

     The result was the creation of ‘Nadine’ the female persona he was wearing tonight. Upon seeing ‘she’ was back my first thought was, ‘Oh dear God, don’t tell me was there another maniac on the loose?’ It must’ve shown on my face, because he/she… dammit, I’m going to call Nadine a she for this entry, mainly because she didn’t change back to normal all the time I was with her.

      Anyway, Nadine smiled as if she’d read my thoughts and said, “It’s okay, Penny. I’m not on a case or anything like that. I’ve just been doing some… research of my own.”

     “Thank God,” I sighed and looked at her again. I have to admit, the girls and I had done a damn good job on teaching Nadine how not only how to look but act like a woman. Even as we were talking, the mannerisms and way she held herself was just right. Which puzzled me even more.

     Had ‘Nathan’ taken a liking to being a woman sometimes or was there something more going on here? She had just mentioned something about research, so I asked, “Trying to find out how the other half lives?”

       “In more ways than one,” Nadine sighed raising a tired hand to her head.

      I knew that tone and the gesture. I’d seen and done it myself more times than I’d like to count. Putting an arm around her shoulders I said, “Let’s go to the kitchen and I’ll make us something and you can tell me all about it.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Private Journal of Doctor Jack Tyler December 29th, 2012 “The Haircut” – Part III

     I frowned at my grandfather saying, “Hey, my hair isn’t that long.”

     “No, but it looks like the last time it was cut someone took a weed-whacker to it,” he grunted and gestured at the seat. “So which of you mop-tops is going to be first?”

     “Mop-Top?” Darlene repeated, scrunching up her face in such a way it was clear she didn’t know whether to be amused or confused.

     Luckily Cheryl came to her rescue, “That was a popular way of describing men with long hair back in the 60’s. I think it started when the Beatles came here to the United States for the first time.” Here she paused and studied me for a moment and then added, “You just need to look at your father to get a good idea of how long their hair was back then.”

mop tops

     My offspring gave me an appraising stare and then shook her head. “They considered that long? Looks more he’s losing some…”

     “That’ll do,” I cut in giving her a look that once upon a time would strike terror into her heart. Now all it did was earn me a mischievous grin. Sigh… they grow up fast and much harder to intimidate these days.

     Meanwhile, Nathan had hopped into the barber’s chair, much to my grandfather’s satisfaction. Especially when Nathan started asking him about the NY Mets.

     “That bunch of bums!” granddad snarled, while tying the styling cape around Nathan’s neck, “Don’t get me started. And why are you bringing them up? This isn’t baseball season.”

     “My point exactly,” Nathan replied cheerfully, “If they play during the off season they might actually find someone they can beat. Maybe a girl’s softball team for instance.”

     Darlene immediately jumped in saying, “You’ve got to be kidding. We’d mop the floor with those losers, any day of the year.”

     “You tell ‘im,” granddad smiled and turned back to Nathan, “She gets that from my side of the family.”

     “And mine!” added my grandmother pointedly. Then she turned to Cheryl and said in a stage-whisper, “He’ll never admit it, but he always loved the fact that I wouldn’t put up with his nonsense.”

     “Like hell,” granddad shot back, “I married you because no one else was willing to try to straighten you out so you’d behave more like a lady.”

     “And how did that work out for you?” Nathan asked innocently.

     Granddad glared at him for a second then murmured something about, “Gimme time. I’m still working on it.”

     I was about to comment how he’d already been working on her for almost 70 years, when I noticed my son Joe picking up an old photo album off the table. “Be careful with that,” I told him, “That contains some priceless pictures in it.”

     Naturally he gave me a skeptical look. “Dad, you say that about all the albums at home and it’s just filled with pictures of us when we growing up.”

     Looking up into the mirror, granddad saw which book Joe was holding and said, “Memories of family will be more precious than you’ll ever know one day. But that’s not what’s in that book. Those are photos, most of them signed, by some of my favorite customers from over the years. Go ahead and take a peek, you might recognize one or two faces.”

     Obligingly, my son did as he was told and immediately his eyes widened at the first image he came across. “Cary Grant!” he cried.

Cary-Grant

      “You’re kidding?” his sister gasped and went over to see for herself.

     Meanwhile, Granddad got to work on Nathan and was saying, “Really nice fella. Great head of hair. Loved working on it and passing the time with him. How old was he when you first brought him to my shop?”

      Nathan had to think for a moment. “Let’s see, he was still pretty new in the vaudeville circuit when I met him. I’d say he was just eighteen at the time.”

     “That’s what I thought,” Granddad nodded, “Always stopped in for a shave or a haircut whenever he came to town too.”

     Meanwhile Darlene had turned the next page in the album and started frowning. “Who’s the funny-looking guy with the big nose? Was he famous too?”

      “Let me see,” Nana told her and went to take a peek. After a moment she smiled, “Oh, that’s Jimmy.”

     “Which one, Stewart or the other one?” asked Granddad looking up from his work.

      Nana shook her head at him, “Did Jimmy Stewart ever have a big nose?”

Jimmy_Durante2

    Suddenly, Nathan leapt out of the chair and swung around. His nose had grown considerably as he started talking fast in a raspy, jolly voice. “Who’s got a big nose? Madam I’ll have you know this schnozzola has given me the world’s most memorable profile. It even got me into Guiness just last year.”

     I quickly jumped in. “You’re in the Guiness Book of World Records?”
“Nah,” Nathan replied in the same voice, “Any chump can into that old waste of paper. Nah, it got me into the Guinness brewery and straight into one of their vats. And lemme tell ya, it weren’t full when I fell in, but it was plenty empty when I got out. Ha-cha-cha-cha.”

     My son Joe, who had been frowning as if in deep thought, suddenly spoke up. “I know that voice. That’s the guy who was the narrator from the ‘Frosty the Snowman’ cartoon.”

     “Hey, that’s right,” his sister agreed. “And the cartoon version of him did have a big nose just like that.”

    “Dat’s right kids, and lemme tell ya. They still didn’t do it justice,” Nathan continued in Mr. Durante’s voice. “Why just the other day I…”

     At that point, Granddad grabbed Nathan by the arm and made him sit back in the chair. Of course this didn’t stop the rush of jokes coming out of his client. In fact it wasn’t until he pulled out the hot towel and placed it over the comedian’s face that the dialogue became more muffled, but not completely silent.

    From then on, the rest of us continued going through the album marveling at the number of famous folks who Granddad had had the pleasure of working on over the years. Nathan helped supply some visuals to the proceedings, much to everyone’s amusement and delight.

    When Granddad finished with Nathan, Joe was more than willing to sit in the chair next and get his hair cut. Not that he really needed it, but by this time he was eager to hear more of namesake’s stories. In the meantime I sat back and waited my turn in the chair. It was great seeing my kids really connecting with their great-grandparents. Like Granddad said earlier, memories about family were priceless and at that moment, I was wishing I had my phone out taking pictures. But I didn’t, because Nathan had already grabbed it and was shooting away.

   I later found out, both he and Cheryl had videotaped some of the exchanges and nonsense that followed. It was a great visit, but what made me the happiest was on the way home both Darlene and Joe asked when we were going to visit again.

     We made a lot of memories tonight and all because of a simple haircut.

    – The End

*Stay tuned for an all new story next time. Until then… Happy Reading everybody!