If you want to preview the Cassie Zukav stories, I'm making the three-part "Cayo Hueso" story in Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet available electronically! Part 1: "A Farewell to Cats" -- in which Cassie has an emotionally fraught reunion with her parents and also encounters the very cranky ghost of Ernest Hemingway -- is now available for the Kindle for only $.99!
An excerpt from the story:
An excerpt from the story:
Sandy was still talking. "The house was originally built back in 1851 by a marine architect and wrecker named Asa Tift. Hemingway made it his home here in Key West in 1931."
Mom asked, "Why the brick wall? Security?"
"Very good question!" Sandy provided another yellow-toothed smile. "When Hemingway first moved in, there was just a regular chain-link, but he wanted some privacy."
Dad asked, "Where are the cats?"
I blinked, Dad having placed my finger for me. There were usually a whole bunch of felines wandering around the steps in front of the house and meandering around the fountain.
Sandy stammered. "Er—well—you see, uh—"
"Is something wrong?" That was Mom's Jewish Mother Voice. Any second now, she was gonna try to conjure up chicken soup to shove down Sandy's throat.
He raised a hand to his high forehead to wipe away the sweat that had formed there. "No, no, no, no, no, I'm fine. Is there, ah, anything else about Hemingway you wanna know? Like the fountain! Did you know this fountain was built from a urinal that used to be in Sloppy Joe's, the bar where Hemingway used to go drinking?"
My mother made the exact same "ew, ick!" expression I made when I learned that particular fact.
Dad asked, "Are the cats really descendents of the polydactyl—" He grinned and glanced at me. "Sorry, the six-toed cat he had?"
Mom rolled her eyes, as if embarrassed to be with such non-Hemingway-adoring plebians. "My husband and my daughter are more cat people than aficionados of fine literature, I'm afraid."
I glared at her. "Right, Mom, me and my Master's Degree in English Lit don't have any kind of appreciation of good literature, you bet."
Sandy, though, looked like he was gonna throw up right there. He was muttering something to himself.
Suddenly, a voice cried, "Get out! I won't have such vermin in my house!"
Turning around, I saw—er, something. Dark hair, muscular figure, thick mustache, but all indistinct, the same way Captain Bottroff's ghost was.
Dad stumbled backward. "What is that?"
That was a surprise. I thought us Norse gods were the only ones who could see and hear ghosts. "You can see him?"
"Sort of, yeah."
I hadn't yet told my parents that I was one of the Dísir, as I was still trying and failing to find a way to bring it up naturally in conversation. I still hadn't even figured out how to explain that I had no plans to leave Key West anytime soon.
But that was for later. Sandy stared right at the ghost. "Please, Mr. Hemingway, they're the first paying customers we've had all day!" Based on the pleading tone, I suspected that Sandy had had this conversation before.
The ghost of Hemingway bellowed, "If they are only here for the damned cats, they are not welcome in my house!" Hemingway then started floating toward my father. I moved to stand between them, but he got to Dad before I could, and grabbed his shoulders.
For a second, I gawked. Ghosts were insubstantial. Captain Bottroff had never been able to affect anything physical in his entire afterlife. He just kind of wafted around the grounds of the B&B.
Yet here was the ghost of an overrated writer physically tossing my father toward the entrance.