Thursday, December 11, 2014

SFR Brigade Showcase: Excerpt from Evan's Ladies

The Science Fiction Romance Brigade is a fabulous group of authors who work to promote this science fiction subgenre's potential as the best niche in the galaxy!  The SFR Brigade Showcase consists of excerpts by up to 20 authors to give you an idea of our work.  Please visit the SFR Brigade Showcase for this month's excerpts.  And here is mine.... which Prince Evan Sinclair decides to marry Lady Nicole Knightley....

SFR Brigade Showcase:  Excerpt from Evan's Ladies, Book 6.5 of the To Be Sinclair series by Eva Caye
“Well, whatever you need, just let me know.” He kissed the crown of her head and cuddled her tight, holding one of her hands.
After a moment, Nicole stirred. “Evan?” He could hear the hesitancy in her voice. “There is something I need, but I… I fear to voice it to you.” She was motionless under his arm, barely breathing.
“What is that, my love?” As she remained silent, Evan’s mind ratcheted down several lines of thought. She had never asked him for anything important before. Something she feared to voice? It sounded serious, like a political favor.
Get her name jumped to the head of a queue for the position she wanted? Easy enough to do, but she would suffer nine kinds of resentment from coworkers if he did so. Get her thesis professor changed, or interfere with University procedure in some other way? The same would apply. “Why would you fear to say anything to me?”
Nicole bit her lip. “Because I fear you would think less of me. Your good opinion of me matters above all else.”
Oh God, this did sound severe. It had to be a major political favor, then. Something he would have to petition Father about, or given that she was the Imperial Science Liaison, Mother. Could it even be something illegal? This was no good; he was tense, and he could feel her tension increasing from that alone.
He gathered her up into his lap. She clung to him, clutching his clothes, then trying to relax, then clutching them again. Her head was tilted down, but he could see she was biting her lower lip once more.
“Is this about something illegal?” At her explosive bark of laughter, he explained, “I would really get upset about something like that, but otherwise, I would hope I have an open enough mind to hear your concerns and your explanations.” He stroked her hair and kissed her head again. When she finally looked into his face, he could tell she was near tears. “What is it, dearest heart?”
She gazed wide-eyed at him between heavy blinks. “Are you sure you won’t think badly of me if I say something… unexpected?”
“Well, I’m pretty alarmed right now that you feel so terrible about something you are afraid to even confide in me. I promise you I will try my very best to keep an open mind.” He cupped her face.
“Okay. I know this is going to sound bad. But I’m so strung-out right now, and frustrated, and you are holding me so very gently, and you have been gone for three days. But what I need right now is… a good, hard f***."
Evan’s eyes flew wide in surprise before his heart restarted and he managed to regain his breath again. “Ah. Ah. I see.” Seeing the apprehension in her face, he feigned objectivity as he tried not to smile too broadly. “As in, how hard of a f***?”
As all her energetic tension of a moment before flared into a dramatic, anticipatory intent at his clear acceptance, she growled, “Hard. A demonically hot f***.” She put her hand to the top button of his shirt, open at the collar, and yanked down so fast that three buttons popped off. She stared at his exposed chest before reaching into his shirt to run her hand over his torso, then she crushed her mouth against his....
A good hour later, Evan began to laugh and rolled over to face her once more. “Okay, now you have to marry me.”
“Yeah? Why’s that?” She looped a few lazy caresses around his shoulder.
“Because I can’t let you get away. I would rather have you than food, water, or air. 
"And every time we have sex, it’s always different. It’s like I can love you and still get to sleep with a different woman every night.  We’ve been lovers over a year, and you’ve completely spoiled me for any other woman. I haven’t even looked at another lady with desire since I visited you and met your parents.
“Plus, our children will be gorgeous, wealthy geniuses. The ones who don’t become stargate scientists can be caretakers of the planet. Hell, I’ll build a stargate to a new star system, and we can have our own planet, hey, what do you think?”
Nicole laughed and laughed, eventually settling down and growing thoughtful. “I’d love to marry you, but I really miss the wilderness. Being tied to the capital has been pretty stressful for me. But your mother doesn’t let the stargate work out of the labs, so it’s not like we can live in some far-flung duchy.”
“You’re right, but there are four of us. I only seem to be so busy with it because Anne is living in Encino Duchy to be with her children for their first, most important years, and otherwise we had a hell of a mess to clean up after the Atticans bombed the Palace. Now that the South Wing is almost finished, Anne and AndrĂ©s will move in again, and she can take on her share of the work.
“We had three stargate contracts last year and three this year between me, Stefan, and Josef, but one or two is the more usual number. I can time the majority of my production work during your excursions, which would only be perhaps three or four weeks of analysis and construction and another five or six weeks to actually travel and fire up a stargate. Eight to ten weeks a year, say, with a few days on occasion to go to the experiment station. This can be our home base, but we can live and travel wherever we want.”
Her half-closed eyes popped open, curiosity evident as she peered at his face. “Are you saying you want to learn to do field work with me?”
Evan moved to lean over her once more, running his hand up her side before massaging her breast. “I would love it.”

Evan's Ladies on Amazon

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

SFR Brigade Presents: Excerpt from MAJESTY

The Science Fiction Romance Brigade is a lovely group of authors who work to promote this science fiction subgenre's potential as the best niche in the galaxy!  The SFR Brigade Showcase consists of excerpts by up to 20 authors to give you an idea of our work.  Please visit SFR Brigade Presents! for this month's excerpts.  And here is mine.... which Emperor Victor Sinclair learns to trust himself, as well as his Empress, bone-deep....

SFR Brigade Presents:  Excerpt from MAJESTY, Book Two of the To Be Sinclair series by Eva Caye

When Victor described the meeting, Felice instantly said, “Mikhail.”
 Confused, Victor asked, “Mikhail what?”
 Felice turned from brushing her hair before the vanity. “Have him mentor the new Duke Vincent. It will give him some pride, some reason to live, an ally in the Assembly, and a sense of honor in the fact that you both believe he can wipe out the shame of his House. He needs it.”
 Victor moved to hug her and breathe in her essence. “What would I ever do without you?” He nuzzled her neck as Felice leaned into him.
 She finally asked quietly, “Do you trust yourself yet?”
 Victor nodded. “If what she said was factual, she never repeated her commands, nor had me repeat them, and they were vague enough that I am sure I am no true harm to you.” He caressed her breast. “Will you come to bed with me tonight?”
 Felice looked him over. “Are you willing to undergo my ritual?”
 He considered this for all of three seconds. “Yes. But I hope you explain it to me. I don’t want to have to guess what it means.”
 “I’ll explain every step.” She led him to the bed. “Please remove your clothes.”
 He began to do so. “Aren’t you going to help me?”
 “No. You must do it of your own free will. That is the essence of the ritual; you must be convinced of your own free will. Now, lie down on the bed, relax, and try to think of our love. I’ll be right back.”
 She left the room. When she returned, she had two long silk scarves in her hands. Victor stared at her in alarm. She sat on the bed, still fully clothed. “What do you need those for?”
 “I am going to tie you up. You were restrained by the drug, so I am going to restrain you now. But only of your own free will. At this point, we’ve gone way beyond manipulation issues and have to delve into trust issues. You either trust me, or you don’t.” Felice waited patiently.
 Victor had to struggle with the notion for a few minutes before he gave his assent. The thought of being completely at anyone’s mercy right now, even hers, was painful, but he suddenly recalled their first time in bed. Teaching Felice to trust him as he opened her had deepened their commitment in ways he had never imagined, an incredible satisfaction that still soared well above the pleasures of the bedroom.
When he finally nodded, she tied his legs at the ankles and his hands over his head, reminding him, “Are you thinking of our love for each other? Try to think of the times you felt the most love for me when we were not actually touching.” He shivered a bit; the way her simple statement paralleled his previous thoughts was uncanny. She tied both scarves with bows so they would unravel with one tug.
 “Now I’m going to love you. Remember, at all times I am touching you because I love you. I am not going to have sex with you. Just love and care for you. I have no intentions beyond showing you that you matter more to me than anyone else in the universe.”
 She began by kissing him and hugging him, then caressing his face and torso. She had him roll over and gave him a back rub. Rolling him back over, she rubbed his feet for a while. After releasing the knot around his ankles, she moved back up to hug him. He was totally relaxed and slightly aroused.
 “Are you comfortable?”
 “Very.” He felt like the stresses of that hideous day, and a thousand merciless ones before it, had been erased by the tenderness and relentless love of his magnificent lady wife, she of the keenest intellect and strongest will he had ever known.
 “Do you trust me?”
 “Yes. Completely.”
 “Do you trust yourself with me?”
 He smiled very broadly. “I trust myself to show you the time of your life. Does that count?” At her giggle, he continued. “I understand the nature of the ritual. I think you were right to do it. I’m not entirely sure I want it to end yet, though.”
 “Sorry.” Felice untied the bow at his hands. ”To finish the ritual, you must have complete freedom of movement and complete free will. And you must have complete trust in yourself and in me.” She touched him amorously. “So, what are you going to do about it?”
He laughed, growled, and pounced. She giggled madly for quite some time thereafter.

Explore the future of love and the galaxy!  Visit the Science Fiction Romance Brigade for excerpts by many authors!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

It's NOT Writer's Block, I Swear!

I know what writer's block is like, and I've rarely had it.  I usually have so many ideas jostling for attention that my biggest difficulty is phrasing things efficiently.

Still, there are many times I've been frustrated when writing a scene.  I'm on the last chapter of Enter The Goddess, the first prequel to my To Be Sinclair series, and working through some old traumas while writing (and re-writing, and re-writing) a few scenes.  I told my editor it's like unpacking a wound and stuffing bleach-soaked gauze in it again (if your doctor prescribes Dakins solution, be prepared to either bite something or yell at the top of your lungs!), painful as hell though you know it will, someday, eventually not make you writhe and scream with the pain.

Whenever the pressure gets too much, I try to find an alternate activity that will soothe me and make me feel productive.  As a result, I revamped my book covers and put them together in twos, since they are companion novels.  I uploaded them to KDP, though they probably won't go 'live' until tomorrow.  Enjoy!

 DIGNITY on Amazon

 MAJESTY on Amazon

FEALTY on Amazon

ROYALTY on Amazon

DYNASTY on Amazon

LOYALTY on Amazon

NOBILITY on Amazon

MORALITY on Amazon

Oh, and the book of four novellas, Book 6.5 in the series!

My editor's favorite!  Evan's Ladies on Amazon

I'd have a hard time picking my favorite, although I really think I nailed the men's personalities in Dynasty, though not very many people like that book as much as the others.

Oh, and for funsies, the two prequels, hopefully to be finished by 2015:


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Passion! Or, Why I Write What I Write

My To Be Sinclair series is rather hard to describe, especially since it covers 54 years, 12 main characters, dozens of secondary characters, and hundreds of topics I've researched.  It is undoubtedly science fiction romance, yet I have even marketed it as 'futuristic Imperial romance' to make it palatable to romance readers.  Since mixed genre novels tend to be difficult to sell, especially in two genres often considered 'opposites' like science fiction and romance, the potential reader has to decide whether being subjected to the other genre is worth enjoying his or her preferred genre. Perhaps this blog post will help your decision-making process!

Depression is Apathy, Squared and Cubed
Although my first nervous breakdown was in 2003, I had been diagnosed with depression a few years before that. If the meds helped at all, it was because they doped me up so badly I couldn't think how to kill myself.

That's okay; a nervous breakdown is like dying, anyway.  For about a week, I literally did not understand a word anyone was saying -- I remember staring at one lady I worked with as hubby took me to clear out my desk, chatting merrily (to see me, I suppose), and I burst into tears because I couldn't remember language, or even my own name. What else is like death if not loss of ego?

You can't do anything without shaking or needing help -- I recall crying over dropping a steak dinner, which the hubby promptly cleaned up only to split his steak with me.  I couldn't watch TV for about six months because the images moved too fast for me to process, so I would get nauseated.  Riding in a car, I closed my eyes because I couldn't tolerate all the decisions my husband was making about traffic, or even process the businesses passing by in a flurry, lest I get carsick. I pretty much have tunnel vision to this day.

I would say the worst part of a nervous breakdown are the false sensations you get from your damaged nerves. Dropping things is the least of it. I had a 'snake-in-the-brain', curled up in the back of my head, and occasionally it would uncurl itself to settle into a new position.  I could swear I 'heard' the cerebro-spinal fluid sloshing around at those times; I certainly felt it, wondering whether it would slosh out of my ears or down my spine.  I also had these flushes, starting about heart level, quickly going up my neck and down my arms, occasionally reaching my face.  Although women have suggested I was undergoing The Change, hormonal data said otherwise. In addition, I don't think hot flashes happen several times a minute for hours on end.

I have dragged you through this disgusting tale for one reason: to show you how easy it is to lie in bed all day and ignore everything happening to you.  Depression is utmost apathy, not sadness; you cry when you realize you don't care about anything anymore, not even being alive.  You want to care, you know it's the 'human' thing to do, but you simply can't. You are in the darkness (light is too stimulating, and you can't process information over a few feet away anyway), and your mind has slowed to a snail's pace (if you retain words at all), and nothing your senses tell you makes sense, so you try to ignore it all.  To ignore is to not care, deep down in your soul where you intellectually know you are supposed to care, but you can't.

The opposite of the deep soul-apathy of depression is PASSION. I knew that, intellectually, so I had to find something I was passionate about.  I have described in many interviews how, after going back to work and having a second breakdown in '08, I decided I had to drastically change my lifestyle and find something I could get passionate about.

One day, I decided to have conversations between the 'old me', alpha-teacher desperately disgusted with a system that forced me to judge kids constantly and over whom I had authority I didn't want, with the person I wanted to be, studying science at the university level until I had the expertise to invent cool things I had only read about in science fiction.  Those dialogues took off so fast that I began writing them down, then developing characters around them, and the To Be Sinclair series was born.

Passion!  I had it, at least for writing down these dialogues in my head. But, what else could I say I was passionate about?

Science Fiction, Life Simulator
I had read a few fantasy books in high school, but when a political science professor required Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy to demonstrate the principles of balance of power, I was hooked.  I consumed the sci-fi classics and pondered the utility of science fiction-as-simulation, answering the question, "What if...?"

Great science fiction is not simply an exposition of projected scientific inventions and their benefits, disadvantages, and limitations, which is what non-sci-fi people fear, as if science is just too hard to understand. Its value as literature is in the way people might act and react to the science involved. Writers write for people, therefore science fiction is basically a social thought-experiment.  "If this is a given, then how do people...?" is more accurately the question of great science fiction.

As an author of science fiction romance, I am attentive to the needs of my romance readers. I do have a few sciences I've 'created' for my series, though I only develop the big one, stargate or stelluric science, completely over the span of four separate books.  I mention just enough to 'go on' at each stage in the story, and go more in-depth in later books as necessary.

So although you get several descriptions of the Empress' thought processes as she develops stelluric science, you only get a two-paragraph description of quantum transmitters in book two, Majesty, whereas in book seven, Nobility, the main character needs to know how to disable them, thus a lengthier description.  I barely mention one princess studying sociology, who 'matrixed' social trends, and show a character in a later book learning how to matrix with his family. Important from book one, Dignity, the logic of how jump point beacon station crews do their tasks after jumping through a wormhole only gets described in book six, Loyalty, when a character is suffering frustration because a jump point crew is late.

To be sure, I include many sciences all throughout my series! But I only go into enough personal detail from the character's point-of-view to forward the plot.  So I describe the pain, but not the oozingly gory details, that Princess Anne's severe burns in the ship attack cause her -- only while describing how the medics get her to their tiny sick bay, why they can do some things for treatment but not others, and her physical therapy in the following weeks enough to get her home.  And each scene beyond the first ones is specifically to develop intimacy beyond lovemaking in her relationship with her future husband.

The Many Manifestations of Love
Ah, love!  We all want it; I daresay we all need it.  I recognize that the most important decision you will ever make is over whom you want to spend your life with.  Since that is an exciting prospect, I knew my books had to be romances at heart.  It is also the most enormous genre of them all, and ultimately the entire purpose for why we are having human experiences in the first place.

But frankly, as a loving, spiritual person, I thought long and hard about how I could show my love to my readers, and made some very specific decisions along the way.  I looked around and could not name anyone I had ever met who was inexcusably, outright, 'I-choose-to-be' evil, so I rejected writing Good vs. Evil dichotomies.  I also have great hopes for the human race, so I rejected dystopian futures.  I thought about what people really wished they could do in life, and I kept coming up with, 'invent a such-and-so that makes people want to do this-and-that', so I concentrated on inventions I would love to see happen.

In addition, since my premise focused on the greatest ruling family in the history of the galaxy, I knew it had to be a family filled with love.  Love for each other, love for their chosen fields, love for their people -- such a family had to have measures in place to perpetuate that love.  So Family Night was born, the Empress actively rejects unpleasant people who offend the Imperial Family, and the parents give their complete support to their children, who give their complete support to their siblings, etc.

The few squabbles I show between characters do not touch the fundamentals of their family lives, the loyalty that makes a family out of mere blood relatives.  The final book, Morality, specifically deals with how 'blood relatives' can become family, as well as a dozen moral issues about love and sexuality, such as gossip and slander, bisexuality, categorical rejection, and even defense and self-defense.  If you are a political figure and you love your people, to what lengths would you go to punish an enemy who destroyed your loved ones?

I even strove to find a balance between the fervor for erotic descriptions of my romance readers, and the intellectual disgust of those science fiction readers who know the mechanics of sex and would prefer those descriptions be 'behind closed doors'.  Each book has at least one description of a sexual encounter, and although it always advances the plot, I do not use 'purple prose' to make it sound more romantic.  The most vulgar word I use is 'cock'; I prefer scientific terms such as 'vulva' or 'labia'. To make my romance readers happy, I added 'Easter Egg' short stories to most of the books, and they tend to be more erotic and descriptive, so they even have a warning page for those sci-fi readers determined not to sully their minds!

Above all, I try to show the entire spectrum of love throughout my series.  Straight, gay, bisexual; people with disabilities, people who had been abused.  We are all worthy of love, and a Happily Ever After does not occur when two people finally bed each other, but rather when they have suffered together and still choose each other. And through it all, I try to show my love for humanity, for the reader who has spent good money for my literary experience, for the points-of-view of secondary characters whose lives weave themselves into the story, for the respect and love the main characters hold for each other.

The Results of My Passion
At nine books, the To Be Sinclair series is complete, although people have expressed interest in more books, since I do leave the finale wide-open.  However, if I do write other books, it will be a new series, and only after my two prequels are finished.

The prequels are about the trials of colonization, and I consider them to be more science fiction than sci fi romance.  Enter the Goddess takes place some 150 years in the future, 500 years before the series.  Although it does have a lot of implied sex, it is about a young woman's rise to social power, how it affects political power, and it is principally about how to love properly.

Undying Dawn is roughly 170 years in the future, where the billionaire inventor Kyan Sinclair and his partner plan the colonization of their new planet.  It, too, has romance and sexuality, but it is a scientific and political novel, first and foremost, as I delve into Kyan the scientist's perspective on how to build a new society distinct from the struggles of the old rulers of Earth.

I have a third book in progress, titled The Redemption of Asael, set perhaps 60 years in the future, though on a parallel dimension to ours and not necessarily in the Sinclair universe. Although many of the trials stem from the future I project, in which environmental stability is regularly threatened and humanity must be educated on what we all must do to survive, I explore a tiny yet highly elite class of telepaths who do what they must in order to survive the political structures of their world.

My advice to one and all: FIND YOUR PASSION, and everything will flow from there.  Writing is the toughest, most rewarding work I have ever done, but I am glad I finally dedicated myself to it.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to entertain you!

For things such as back covers and psychological profiles, please visit the To Be Sinclair series on Facebook, or my website!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mindfulness and Depression

Poking at the causes of my depression, I think I have figured out one small part: the vast emptiness reflects how little ego I have left. Instead of crying in confusion at that gaping maw, the echoes of the shouts, "What's wrong with me?!" are now so faint that I can't tell that anything is wrong, nor that anything is me.
Strangely, now that I accept that, I can look around and see the life-light popping out of places and things in amazing ways. I stand in mindful appreciation, delighted and awed by the universe, laughing gently at the way the Divine Spirit cavorts and teases me, encouraging me to join in. So if you ever find me doing any silly thing, don't ask me what I am doing or why. I'm not in your dimension anymore.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Treat the Heat!

Annual Public Service Announcement: Yes, that's right, it's summer again, so KNOW what to do for heat stroke and heat exhaustion! If you've been sweating all day and suddenly stop, get confused or find it hard to think, you need help instantly! Drink lots of water or Gatorade right away! And, if you find someone in that state but unconscious, lower their body temperature with any ice or liquid available, even if you have to dump your slushee on them!
The carotid arteries in the neck, the armpits near the heart, and the femoral arteries in the groin are huge and make the best targets, since blood cools the body by radiating excess heat off those areas.  Pack on the ice (with a light towel cover) and watch the ice melt. As soon as the person is conscious, get them to drink, and ask them questions to determine their state of mind, especially if you don't know the person (they could have fainted due to medication or some other condition). And, when in doubt, haul their ass to a hospital!
Think about this: if the average blood temperature is 98.6 degrees, and it's 100 out, that's fever temperature; anything over 105 degrees is brain-cell-killing, deadly temps! So save your brain cells and be prepared to treat heat stroke!
And for heaven's sake, please share this information with everyone on all your social media.  We all need to know and understand this basic first aid, especially if we are going to see global warming the rest of our lives!


Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Curandero

Cathy checked her earbud and its corresponding data server, pinned between the white cotton layers of her jungle jacket.  "Are we ready?"

"I've been ready for weeks.  I still can't believe it took us so long to find a contact," Greg bitched.  "If I have to face chemo one more time, I think I'll die just to get it over with."  He pried himself out of the dingy hotel chair.

"Hey, hey, don't badmouth my science," Dr. Allman said jauntily as he helped Greg straighten up.  "I have all the bottled water we could drink in a day, Cathy has the bribes, so we should be good to go."  He pounded his earbud deeper with the end of his finger.  "I can't wait to hear the translations.  Are you sure you have the right dialect?"

"Yes, the Center dialect of Nahuatl, straight from the Universidad de Guerrero.  We should both be able to receive the simultaneous interpretations."  She kissed Greg and helped hold him up, as Dr. Allman's arm went around them both.

They met their contact, Miguelito, at the outskirts of the village.  Grateful that he spoke Spanish when so many villagers didn't, Cathy asked in her limited Spanish, "How far will the car take us to the curandero?"

"It's almost all paved," Miguelito assured her, bright black eyes shining with interest as he tried to see the 'gifts' in two large bags.  Cathy wondered how old he was; despite his small stature, he seemed wise in an odd melange of ancient and Western ways. When he offered to drive, she figured he was at least sixteen.  She pointed to Dr. Allman, and he wilted, so perhaps not much older than sixteen.

She got in the back as Miguelito bounced into the passenger's seat and cheerfully tried his broken English out on Greg's best friend.  Snuggling up to Greg as if to cuddle and whisper in his ear, she checked the position of the tiny transmitter, sewn unobtrusively into his collar button, as Miguelito gave directions for half an hour.

Sure enough, by 'paved' Miguelito meant 'accessible by car', because she would surely never call a dry dirt road paved, especially not one with such heavy ruts.  Dr. Allman saw that their rental handled it, though, for he had traveled to many foreign countries during college.

The road ended not much further on, and Miguelito helped Dr. Allman carry the cooler of water and gifts about 200 feet to the curandero's shanty.  Approaching from the side, Cathy could see a sloped roof covered an airy, open porch hung with herbs and snake skins, and a bench and two chairs framing a single door.  She pointed out a rain barrel in back to Greg, as well as a work table under the back awning.

The curandero didn't come out of his house, but he stood in the doorway as Miguelito introduced them all in Spanish.  The young man told them he couldn't give the curandero's name so he could 'keep his power'.  Greying black hair tied back neatly, the expressionless man seemed ancient yet barely wrinkled, wearing a typical drab peasant's garb and sandals.  He nodded at the introductions and said something briefly.

The phrase, Examine the gifts, came through Cathy's earbud perfectly. She looked at Dr. Allman, who ducked his head as if hiding a smile.  Miguelito took the sacks to a small table and lined up the goods: four different bottles of liquor, two cartons of cigarettes, a basket of fresh fruit, and a case of canned meats they had been told would please him.

Face still neutral, the curandero murmured, and the language program interpreted, "I'll take the booze.  Give the cigarettes to Nochtli and have him trim back the yard again and put more mulch on the path. You can have the fruit, and give the dog food to your mother.  I suppose she's the one who keeps telling visitors it would make the perfect gift."

Stunned, Cathy was glad she didn't gape at that revelation, or it would have given away her audio set-up.  Miguelito gave the man his bottles of booze, and he entered the hut to put them aside.  Cathy, Greg, and Dr. Allman made to enter, but the curandero was right in their path once more, pointing at Greg.

Miguelito said, "He only wants the sick man."

"But I'm his wife!"  Cathy held out her hand and wedding ring as proof.

The curandero shook his head.  "Naked," he grunted in English.

"I'm his wife.  I've seen him naked," she growled with determination.

"She is my power right now," Greg added, holding his fist clenched to his heart.

After a pause, the curandero shrugged and turned to his inner sanctum.  "I guess I'll stay out here, then," Dr. Allman said with good humor, dragging the cooler to a chair and making himself comfortable.

Cathy looked into Greg's eyes again.  "Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Anything for more time with you."  He kissed her wedding ring in emphasis, and they crossed the threshold.  The curandero closed the door behind them.

Although it was difficult to see with only two end windows for lighting, Cathy could tell the planks of the porch ran the length of the house, unfinished and about two feet off the ground.  The walls had rows of bottles, jugs, jars, trinkets, masses of herbs in baskets, and more herbs hanging from a few roof beams in the back.  There was a second room, but this room held a bed in the center, freshly made with a stiff, white sheet.  The curandero was examining the alcohol and pulled out the vodka with an approving nod.

Cathy got Greg settled on the bed and began removing his shirt, determined not to let the microphone get occluded for this next, most important part.  Not only did she desperately want to know why these 'healers' always spoke mumbo-jumbo, just getting the data alone would be a major coup for the Anthropology Department and her best friend Denise.  She folded the shirt over her arm, microphone-out, when the curandero touched her and gave her a 'stop' gesture.  Glancing around, she found a stool beside a work bench, crowded with mysterious tools and gadgets, and seated herself cautiously.  If only they could have managed video...!

Greg sat with both hands propping himself up in exhaustion.  The curandero put his own hands to Greg's head, turned it left and right, moved his hands to his neck, shoulders, and arms, then took his hands, staring at both palms and backs for quite a while.  He moved to the side and gently ran his hands over Greg's back and grossly swollen abdomen before nodding.

Taking some long herbs out of a sack, he began shaking them over Greg's head, swishing them down the sides as if he were combing invisible hairs, and began his monologue.  "Always hypnotize the subject first. You may not see the fungus spores on the chia leaves, but they are there, not quite an anesthetic and yet not quite a sedative.  I'm sorry your wife is going to get a dose, but she insisted on being here.  I've been working with it for fifty years, so I can pretty much work through anything."

As the numbness crept up on Cathy, she was glad she could sit there looking like a zombie, because she would probably be rolling on the floor with laughter right now.  The curandero helped Greg lie down, and took up an odd yellow stick from a side table.  "The healers all say that disease is caused by two things: your thoughts and your diet.  This is magnesium chloride, straight from the sea...."  He drew two lines along Greg's carotids down to his Adam's apple.  "...mixed with coconut oil and beeswax so it doesn't sting, and hopefully it will be absorbed into your bloodstream and thyroid within an hour."

He lightly massaged the mixture to each side until it disappeared.  "I need to get down to the cove to make some more, soon.  I go through a lot of it, since magnesium is the single most important element needed by the body besides water, and you Americans suffer the most grotesque deficiencies, probably because of your terrible food."

He reached for a jar of salve and began rubbing it over Greg's torso.  "You're pretty bad off, but this tlamatini paste is just the thing for burns.  I have no idea how your people manage to burn a person's insides without burning their outsides, but it's a horrific thing.  Tlamatini root is good for burns, fevers, inflammation, spider and snake bites; observe the patient for five hours to determine if a second dose is needed."

Cathy realized curanderismo truly was an oral tradition, for he had subtly dropped into a sing-song kind of chant.  He next picked up a long, narrow log, quite like a rolling pin, and began to roll it lightly over the salve.  "Your pupils showed good responsiveness, but your hands showed signs of deadly anemia.  I would say stomach cancer, though it could have seeded from your liver or pancreas. I'll mix some kapok sap into some of that vodka and have you take a sip; if you can hold it down, you can take it home.  If not, I don't think you will recover.  Sometimes I think you Americans eat poison every day, like it is honey."

He next stood and ran his hands about a foot above Greg's body.  "There, I feel a change.  Now if I can keep you from protesting while I examine your prostate, I'll be able to tell if this is the only problem or just the most severe problem."  He glanced at Cathy before turning back to his leaves. "I should hypnotize you both again, though, because if your wife is going to watch, she will likely scream."

Shaking the leaves over Greg's body, he wafted the fungal spores in Cathy's direction, while Dr. Allman could be heard giggling on the front porch.  "Crazy Americans.  Who knows how they do anything right?  Poison food, now they have a system of poisoning the water called fracking so they have to drag their safe water around.  What will they think up next?  A way to poison the air?

"I just hope they don't bring the police down on me.  I hate men of authority; all they think of is dominating you to get your money.  If they only knew what wielding real power was like!  Maybe I should have kept the dog food for them."

Grateful she could not respond, Cathy could only think Denise would end up Chairman of the Anthropology Department. And if this curandero did cure Greg, she would have Miguelito tell her the very best gifts she could buy for the man.  Minus the dog food.

©2014 Eva Caye