REPOSTED WITH CORRECTION – SIPS OF WINE FROM THE GRAPEVINE – AUTHOR’S CORNER – THE TRUTHS THAT MATTER BY EMERGING AUTHOR SUE ELLEN MELO #SublimeSundayReading

REPOSTED WITH CORRECTION – SIPS OF WINE FROM THE GRAPEVINE – AUTHOR’S CORNER – THE TRUTHS THAT MATTER BY EMERGING AUTHOR SUE ELLEN MELO #SublimeSundayReading

A soft green circle with a light blue border and handwritten diagonal text reading The Writer’s Grapevine. The text is also light blue with a teal outline around each letter. Gray vines with leaves and grapes wind around the border of the circle.

SIPS OF WINE FROM THE GRAPEVINE – AUTHOR’S CORNER

A PUBLICATION OF TTW MARKETING SERVICES

BY PATTY L. FLETCHER

THE TRUTHS THAT MATTER

BY EMERGING AUTHOR SUE ELLEN MELO

JANUARY 7, 2023

 

*Reposting with corrected title.

Please forgive my error.

 

Good evening, and welcome to the Author’s Corner.

I met Sue Ellen Melo in the ACB (American Council Of The Blind) community. Over these past couple of years, we’ve gotten to know one another and I’m proud to call her friend.

In fall of 2023, Sue Ellen approached me with the request to read a short story she’d written. I must admit, I read the request with a bit of trepidation. I tend to be rather forthright with my opinions. When working with someone I like to separate friendship from business, and I feel I’m doing no one any good unless I’m honest.

I explained these things to Sue Ellen, yet she persisted.

Soon, I was certain my friend was also a fellow author with much talent, and I agreed to help her if she wanted.

Her short story A Private Duet was posted here at the last part of 2023 and I’m proud to have her back today with a new story for us to enjoy.

But wait! There’s more!

Sue Ellen is also leaping out into the ACB Community with a call all her own. Continue reading after her story is done to learn more.

For now, here’s Sue Ellen Melo with ‘The Truths That Matter.’

The Truths That Matter

By Sue Ellen Melo

Lori was sitting at her desk, the police scanner app on her computer giving it’s clipped, coded reports of late night criminal activity in Albuquerque, while she finished writing the article on the closing of the Chavez Community center, and what it meant for the youth in the city’s Southeastern neighborhoods. She opened the bottom drawer of her desk and withdrew the Mounds bar she had purchased hours ago for dinner before she got pulled into covering the town Hall meeting where the vote to extend the closing of the center had failed. It was decided that tomorrow, the place would not open again. The meeting had run long with heated words exchanged on both sides of the issue before the final vote was called. Then the story had to be written and the editor, afraid of offending anyone had to be argued with. At last, at eleven thirty at night, Lori Killian had time for food.

“The dinner of champions,” Lori said as she carefully unwrapped the candy bar.

There was a tap on her cubical wall, Lori looked up to see Raven, the darkly handsome photographer who had joined the Journal Staff two weeks after her. Raven was tall, ruggedly handsome, with olive skin and hair so black Lori sometimes wondered if Raven was actually his real name or a nick name. His hair was wavy and hit just above his shoulders. His eyes were a vivid green and missed nothing. Half the women in the office were in love with him, even matronly Judyth Perry, the editor’s assistant had been heard to say that her husband had better watch his step. Lorie was not one of the love struck legions, a fact that amused Raven.

“And what is the flame haired scribe seeking to call attention to tonight by burning the eleven o’clock oil?” Raven said, he flashed a dazzling smile that would have had most of the ladies around the office tittering.

“I could ask you the same thing.” Lori said.

“I’m on my way out of here. I just had to make sure they approved the picture they should have from the shooting at the Chavez Center last week.” Raven answered, “I decided to check out this Club Midnight they were talking about where the girl was supposed to be selling extasy and find out how good the cop’s intel really was.”

Raven certainly looked like he was club ready, dressed in black jeans, a midnight blue button down and a brown leather bomber jacket. Lori was surprised he was going there though. The club wasn’t the sort of place where middle class, white faces were welcome. Then again, he wasn’t as pale as she was. Which led her to another question.

“You’re a picture guy, shouldn’t you leave investigating to you know, the reporters?”

“That’s why I’m standing on your doorstep.” Raven took a step into the cubical, “I require a scribe to put words with my images. I need it to be someone who will keep her eyes on the prize and not allow herself to be distracted. Someone who will not let our esteemed editor water the piece down in the name of protecting the delicate sensibilities of the good people in Reo Rancho, or enflaming the impoverished citizens in the Southeast Valley.”

Translation, someone who wasn’t crushing on you or kissing up to the boss, Lori thought. Still, the idea of getting to the heart of a story that had smelled more than a little rotten since Maria Lopez had been gunned down outside the embattled community center last week, supposedly because she was drawing a weapon which had turned out not to be the case, intrigued Lori enough she tossed the rest of the candy bar into the trash can, turned off the scanner, grabbed her messenger bag and left the building with Raven. Lori was glad it was after hours as this meant she didn’t have to deal with the envious glances of female co-workers and the rumors that would start almost at once about what they might be doing.

Raven’s dark blue beat up Mustang was the only car in the lot when they stepped out.

“You used to work in LA right?” Lori asked as she buckled in.

“So why am I driving this relic and not a Ferrari or a Maserati?” Raven turned the key and took off well above the speed limit. “I could ask you why you don’t drive anything.

Most people that can, avoid the buss like the plague.”

“I asked you first.” Lori said. She didn’t like to talk about the reason she didn’t drive any more.

“I do not choose to feed the fantasies of our female colleagues, their fawning admiration may be entertaining but it’s starting to wear thin, especially as it’s just that. Besides, I do not believe in stereotypes.”

“You are certainly not a California photographer stereotype, or you would have bedded at least a few of those willing ladies, and you would drive a flashier car.”

“For tonight’s purposes, it’s especially important that I not play to stereotypes. A display of wealth like that would not open the doors we want to walk through.”

Lori couldn’t fault his logic. Club Midnight was just off of Central Avenue, in the heart of the city’s Red Light district, a place where displays of prosperity were not appreciated and likely to be stolen or destroyed. Lori glanced self-consciously at her Betsy Johnson Messenger bag, it was well worn as she had owned it since her mother gave it to her as a graduation present, but it was still not the kind of thing that the women who frequented Club Midnight would choose to carry their daily essentials. Lori began opening compartments and removing what she would need and what she couldn’t afford to lose: keys, credit card, iPhone. She hesitated over the two photographs, one of her family, and one of her and her younger sister Rachel. Part of her thought, if anything happened to the pictures, maybe it would be a symbol of moving past her family’s tragedy, but there was another, less rational side of her that wasn’t ready to let go any more than her parents were. She slid the pictures in the pocket with her phone. Placing the keys and credit cards in a smaller cloth clutch she kept inside the messenger bag for emergencies.

“Good call.” Raven said as he turned onto Central Ave. “We’ll put the bag in the trunk, it should be safe enough there but carrying it into the club, that’s probably not the best idea.”

Club Midnight looked as menacing and dangerous as advertised. The establishment was housed in a run down, graffiti covered warehouse. The lot was filled with low riders and junkers. A couple women dressed scantily and clearly under the influence of something lounged outside, blowing smoke rings. A heavy set, Black man with biceps like slabs of beef and covered in tattoos stood at the door, arms crossed over a wife beater, a riot baton rested in easy reach and a gun was secured in a leather holster Gangster meets the wild west, Lori thought. She couldn’t suppress a shudder. Raven rested a hand on her arm.

“Stay close, you’re with me, you won’t have any problems. Just follow my lead.”

Lori nodded.

The pair exited the car. Raven exchanged a few words with the man at the door and they entered the dimly lit establishment. Lori hadn’t liked the lascivious smirk the bouncer had given her as Raven put a possessive arm around her waist. She played along, looking up at him through her lashes in what she hoped was an adoring manner. Once inside, the pair slipped into their professional mode. Raven snapped pictures while Lori dropped into the street lingo, interspersed with Spanish or Navajo depending on who she was speaking to. Raven found himself amazed at the transition. He had sensed there was something different about the spunky red haired Lori Killian. It wasn’t just that she didn’t throw herself at him the way other women on the Journal or in general did. She wasn’t above a little casual flirting or teasing but he didn’t feel like a piece of meat with her. He had noticed in her a keen intellect and an ability to make people feel comfortable. That was why he had chosen her, that and because she was the only one, he knew that would stay at the paper until past midnight.

The pair learned a great deal from the people in the club. Much of it they had suspected, Maria had nothing to do with gangs or drugs. She was a strait laced, honor roll student who sang in the choir and read to the blind. Her identical twin sister Maggie was another matter entirely, she was a party girl with a mile long rap sheet.

“What the cops knew was about Maggie, not Maria. That girl wouldn’t give me the time of day much less sold dope to me or my crew.” One young man dressed all in black and wearing several gold chains said.

They also learned that the police officer who had shot Maria was a known racist and when told he had hit the wrong girl had actually been stupid enough to say, “What’s the difference, they’re all the same, hoars and dopers.” In front of several people according to a heavily made up woman in her late teens. The girl looked down at her phone, her face changed, the muscles hardening and her dark eyes going cold.

“What’s up?” Lori said, But the girl just scowled at her before turning and hurrying away. Lori looked around and noticed more people checking their phones and heading toward the exit. Raven dropped his camera back down on its lanyard and grabbed her arm.

“We need to vacate the premises now!” He spoke.

“What’s going on?” Lori’s voice became tense.

“Nothing good.” Raven said, hurrying her to the door, pushing through the crowd. Just as they reached the street, the boom of an explosion cut through the night. A man stood on the roof of a car, his large frame a menacing silhouette under the dim streetlight.

“This is our territory, our neighborhood. Those racist pigs are not going to get away with spilling the innocent blood of our children!” the man railed. A chorus of voices shouted in agreement with him.

“We are going to follow the example of our brothers and sisters in Louisville, ST. Lewis, Baltimore and all the other cities where the black and the brown skinned people have stood up against the privileged white conquerors and their goon squads.”

There was another explosion as they reached Raven’s car. Someone threw a beer bottle at them, Raven opened the driver’s side door and pushed her into the vehicle. She had barely scrambled into the passenger seat when in a fluid movement, Raven eased into the car, slamming the door with one hand and jamming the key in the ignition with the other before throwing the car into reverse. Gunshots rang out, a couple of them hitting the car and one passing through a rear window. Raven floored the gas pedal and tour out of the lot, tires squealing. Lori realized they were caught in the middle of a riot.

“Damit!” Raven pounded his fist on the dashboard after the first couple blocks, the road had been barricaded with several vehicles, four hard looking men sitting on their hoods and several others milling about. Raven made a U-turn but as they drove forward, they spotted a crowd of drunken individuals heading their way, they pushed a woman in a pink mini-skirt and short cropped light blue top into the street, directly into their path. Raven slammed on the brakes.

“Run!” he told her, “I’m right behind you.”

Lori didn’t have to be told twice. She sprang from the vehicle. She had only taken a few steps when she was grabbed.

For the first time, Lori was grateful to her mother for making her and her sister attend a self-defense training program when they were teenagers.

Lori kicked, punched and scratched at her attackers with everything she had. Her head was spinning from the blows they rained down on her and her ribs and stomach howled where their kicks had landed. She heard the distant whale of sirens and the 3 men who had been focused on her moved on to another target, Lori began struggling to crawl away from the melee. Each movement brought fresh stabs of pain to her. Where was Raven, she wondered.

Raven was met with a blow to the face that broke his nose as he was pulled from the car. He fought back, calling on years of street fighting learned in one of the tougher high schools in East Los Angeles. He had to get to Lori, who knew what this mob would do to a pretty white girl when fired up by angry rhetoric and mixed with drugs and liquor. He thought he caught a glimpse of her as he finally made his way around the car, blood oozing from a gash just above his eye where a broken bottle had connected. Lori was also fighting, her auburn hair having come loose from the ponytail she had been wearing her shirt ripped, as she kicked and scratched at her adversaries like a glorious Valkyrie. He saw her go down and picked up his pace, barely missing being struck by a rock. The sound of police sirens set the mob moving. Lori was belly crawling toward the shadows, occasionally being kicked by those rushing to engage the cops. Reaching her side, Raven acted quickly, sweeping her up in his arms as he looked about for a hiding place.

“ST. Ann’s.” Lori gasped, “It’s near here, they wouldn’t go after a church, would they?”

Raven wasn’t sure but he remembered ST. Ann’s, the squat, stone building would be a good place to hide and with luck, the land line in the church office would still be working and he could get someone to come get them. Raven turned down a side street, keeping to the shadows where he could. Lori had shifted her position until she was mostly concealed by his jacket, a smart move as it would hide her light skin and hair. People seemed to barely glance at him, mistaking him in the dark for just another rioter carrying off spoils from his plundering.

At last, they stumbled into the church. Raven Lay Lori on one of the pews and went back to bar the church doors just in case. He suspected the priest had left them open to supply sanctuary to any who needed it, priests always seem to know when trouble was coming Raven reflected.

Lori lay still and shivering on the hard, wooden pew. She smiled as she noted the heart carved into the wood, the initials JR+MM carved in the center. Sweethearts, Lori guessed. Feebly, she moved her arm to her pants pocket, surprised to discover her phone was still there. But her hands were shaking too badly to remove it.

“” I tried to call the news desk” Raven said,” “I had just got Robbi on the line and told him we got caught in a riot when the line went dead. They must have cut a phone line.” Raven dabbed at cuts on her Face Lori hadn’t been aware of, she had been so focused on not getting killed or raped. The Lukewarm water stung.

“Wait, I didn’t hear any water running.” Lori said.

“I didn’t want to be too far away from where you were, so I borrowed holy water.” Raven said, “I’ll mention it to Father Gregorio at Reconciliation Saturday. He’s pretty lenient. At worst I’ll have to say a few Hale Marys.”

Lori smiled.

“I never figured you for a church going guy.”

“I make it a few times a year. I’m more diligent about reconciliation. I guess I’m more concerned about settling up with God for my mistakes than spending an hour with people I don’t know who mostly don’t want to know me just to check off a task on a list of required behavior.”’

“That’s kind of Jaded,” Lori observed, were you always like that?”

Raven didn’t answer for a long while.

“Growing up, my family went to church every Sunday. My Mom sang in the choir, she had an amazing voice. My father was a literary professor and my mother taught violin in our home. Then Dad was passed over for tenure at UCLA and he cut his throat. All those people who would gather around Mom after hearing her sing and called her an angel on earth suddenly couldn’t be bothered with us. So yeah, I don’t have a lot of use for church attendance. But I believe strongly we need to give an accounting of ourselves to God. I’m certain he’s out there, though at times like this, I’m sure he’s pretty unhappy with us.”

Lori thought about his words. She remembered what it had been like after the accident, how abandon she felt after a while. How it felt like people, even her own parents, had blamed her for what happened to Rachel. Wasn’t she supposed to look out for her as the older sister?

“People never remember there but for the grace go I, do they?” Lori said after a while. Raven raised an eyebrow. “My younger sister and I were at a party. She was really too young to be there, but she begged Mom and Dad to let her go. I was supposed to be keeping an eye on her. I lost track of her. She ended up in a car accident. The boy driving had 3 times the legal limit of alcohol in him.”

“You got distracted by your friends, boyfriend, just being out on the dance floor?” Raven said.

Lori nodded weakly, she took the damp fabric from raven and went to work on his cut.

“I’ll have to chat with God directly, for this,” Lori said, “We methodists don’t have an intercessor.”

Now it was Raven who laughed. Lori found the sound comforting; it helped her not think about the sounds of destruction outside. “You Methodists have the right idea I think sometimes, maybe if we all believed we could talk directly to God it might change how we treat each other.”

Raven said. Somehow it seemed right, having this kind of conversation as outside it sounded as though the world were ending. His head throbbed and he hoped that Robby would have gotten enough of a sense of their predicament to send help. He hadn’t had time to say exactly where they were, but the church’s number should have come up on the caller ID at the journal.

“Trust me, even with the direct line to God, there are plenty of us who blithely go about gossiping, lying, judging others and not exactly acting in much of a Christ like manner. There are a lot of so called Christians who might be surprised at where they find themselves if God were to come down now. I think there are a lot of people who most would consider bad people who will find themselves unexpectedly in paradise if judgement were today.”

Raven considered Lori’s words. He recalled the landlord of the apartment he and his mother had been forced to move into after his father’s death. The man was drunk most of the time, and took forever to make repairs but when a couple of thugs tried to molest his mother on her way home from work, he had chased them off with a baseball bat, and more than once, he let it slide that the rent was a week or two late. Then there was that Christmas. Raven would never forget waking up that morning to find a pile of brightly wrapped packages under their pathetic excuse for a Christmas Tree and a basket of food sitting on their breakfast nook. That was the year he got his first camera. The presents hadn’t just been from MR. Jacobs the landlord but from Shorty, the seven foot homeless x-carny, Crystal and Barbie, the hookers who worked a block over and the camera had come from Fynn who ran the pawn shop across the street and was suspected of being a fence.

“What was that movie where the guy explained that angels had to earn their wings?” Raven asked after a while.

“It’s a Wonderful Life.” Lori said drowsily. Her eye lids started to flutter.

“Yeah, I think it’s like that, but I think we earn our wings by how we act down here now. I got my first camera from a fence on a Christmas morning when I had been told to be prepared that Santa might not be able to make it to our house. The Angels that acted as Santa were sure not church going souls. Lori, you can’t go to sleep, that bruise on your head could be a concussion. You need to stay awake.”

Lori forced her eyes open., “I’m so sleepy, you look exhausted too.”

“I’ve been better.” Raven said. He thought for a minute, they both needed to keep their brains active in order not to succumb until help arrived.

“We’ve got an even bigger story than what we went out in search of,” Raven began, “I can see if there’s any writing material in the church office. I lost my camera but I have it set for everything to back up to the cloud immediately and I did get off some shots before we started running and after I set it on video so we should be able to capture some moments from that on the paper’s blog.” He started to struggle to his feet. Lori grasped his arm.

“Raven wait, I have my phone, it has a word processing program on it. I just can’t make my hands stop shaking to write though.”

“I’ll be right back.” Raven said. He moved out of the pew but instead of heading for the office, he made for the sacristy in search of a bottle of communion wine. God would understand this as well he decided, “Didn’t you say that you help those who help themselves and that you supply all things for our use. This is for us to do some Good, God, someone’s got to speak up and make people listen and understand exactly what tonight was.”

He returned with the wine and a chalice. Pouring the wine into the chalice, he offered it to Lori, “Just a little, it could make you sleepier, but it will steady your hands.”

“I think the Good Father may want you to do a little more than say a few Hale Marys for this one, isn’t this communion wine?” Lori said, but she took a sip.

“I decided to be a Methodist tonight and I already explained to the Man upstairs that this was kind of a special situation.” Lori could hear the tension that underlined the lightness of her companion’s words. The riot still raged outside, more sirens were sounding, fire trucks now as well as police. Unfortunately, there were more explosions and shattering glass. Raven too drank. Then he helped Lori to sit and to retrieve her phone. Following her instructions, Raven got her word program opened. He held the phone for her while she typed out the story, documenting what the night club patrons had said about who the police were supposed to be looking for and adding the ironic comment that the girl who had been helped so much and had done so much for others getting shot in front of the center had been what prompted city leaders to close the facility, They had decided keeping the doors open would act as a reminder of the tragic event, instead of seeing it as a place where healing could begin. She went on to document how the people of this area had been stripped of something they valued and felt mistreated as a result of the closure combined with the clearly racist police officer escaping any punishment. She told how she and Raven had gone from being treated with respect as truth tellers by those at Club Midnight to being lumped in as symbols of a people who viewed them as irrelevant.

“Their violence is an expression of years of pent up frustration at being seen as less than just because of the color of their skin and the size of their bank accounts. This is not the act of thugs and savages, this is a cry for a listening ear and a helping hand. This is a demand to be seen and to be shown justice.” Lori felt spent as she typed in the last sentence. She looked up at Raven who was watching her with admiration. His dark eyes alight with a righteous fire that matched her own spirit. She noticed the missing tooth and the way his nose was bent as well as the gash in his face.

“No more pretty boy photographer,” Lori quipped.” Your legions may at last dessert you.”

“As long as the flame haired Lori Killian is by my side, they can all depart.” Raven said.

Lori blinked, surprised and strangely pleased. In this evening she had seen the real Raven, not the man of mystery, the drop dead sexy photographer who held himself aloof. What she had discovered was a man of principle, a loyal friend who had looked out for her, and kept her safe. More than that, she saw a good and honorable man. A man she wanted to know better she thought.

“Can you tell me one thing?” Lori asked. Raven nodded, He had thought she would rebuff him, he knew he had been too bold with his words. It hadn’t been lost on him that she was the one woman he actually wanted, even though she hadn’t thrown herself at him. Lori had a mind and more than that, she cared, she hadn’t flinched from the danger they had faced. She had asked the hard questions and that last line in her story, it was going to bring down a storm of emotion their boss might even try to cut it but he had seen the steel in those, it was staying and damn the consequences, it was truth.

“Ask me anything, I’m tired of being an enigma. I’d like at least one person in my life I can be honest with.”

Lori thought how ironic it was that now, locked away in a church, a riot moving steadily close to their sanctuary, she had finally found someone she could open up to, someone she wanted to let in.

“Is your name really Raven?”

Now it was his turn to be surprised, no one had ever asked him that. It had been a long time since he had even thought about his real name, he had nearly forgotten it. “I was so busy remaking myself into an untouchable bad ass I nearly forgot the person I was.” Raven thought. Though that had been all he wanted at the time, he realized now that he didn’t want to forget who he was or who he came from. There were bigger tragedies than losing his father or being abandoned by everyone he thought was a family friend.

“No,” He said at last, taking her hand in his, “I was named for my father, Professor Jameson Blake His suicide was something of a newsworthy scandal. For Mom’s sake, when I started selling my pictures, I adopted Raven as a professional name. Dad always loved Edgar Allen Poe and the Raven was his favorite piece. It was my way of honoring his life.”

“That is a lovely sentiment, but didn’t your father have a hand in giving you that name, isn’t keeping it alive another way to honor him?”

Raven shrugged, “He used to call me Jaimy. I kind of miss that.”

“Jaimy, that suits you.” Loris said. She smiled weakly.

The pair sat together in silence, listening to the increasing chaos moving steadily toward them.

“Is this how we die?” Lori asked after a long while. The sound of breaking glass and shouting coming far too close to them for her liking. Lori felt her heart rate accelerate. Her breathing came in short, sharp breaths as she imagined the worst. No way were they in any shape to fend off such a mob.

“I don’t know,” Raven admitted. “It’s definitely not the ending I would have chosen.”

“I don’t want to die. There’s still so much I want to do. So many things I need to say to people, to my parents….”

Raven placed a finger to her lips, “Don’t think, it will only make it worse.” He ran his fingers gently through her long, auburn hair, breathing in the scent of Jasmine perfume.

Lori moved closer, resting her head on his shoulder and fighting to hold back frightened tears.

“I’m glad we’re not alone.” Lori said when she could trust her voice. “No one should die alone.”

“If this is the end, I’m glad I’m facing it with a friend.” Raven said, “And if it isn’t, I’m glad I found one.”

Lori raised her head. Their eyes met, communicating more eloquently than any words.

“Am I losing my mind or is there music playing out there?” Lori asked after another long silence.

Raven was about to tell her she was hearing things, then he heard it too. It sounded base heavy, like it was coming from someone’s car stereo. Pulling Lori to her feet, they began moving toward the sanctuary exit.

“We might be able to see what’s going on from the windows in the church office,” Raven said.

Lori swayed, her legs threatening to go out from under her. Raven caught her in his arms. There was more breaking glass outside, this time closer. A chorus of car alarms joined the cacophony outside. Then there was a bang as something struck the side of the building. Lori flung her arms around Raven and they both staggered, disoriented by the noise.

They were found 7 hours later, lying on the floor of the church, both unconscious, entwined in each other’s arms, the bloody rag, chalice, and an open bottle of communion wine nearby. Lori’s story was run, unedited, over the protests of the publisher who was concerned that the city council and the police would come off looking like monsters. The pictures of the early stages of the riot as well as the video that Raven had captured before his phone was stolen were also printed in the Journal Tribune as well as being posted on their web page. Stories about Lori and Raven themselves and just what had transpired between them in the old stone church as well as what they were doing in that part of town when neither was supposed to be working on anything there in the first place, spread through the office like wildfire.

2 months later both Raven and Lori returned to the newspaper. Everyone noticed a change in both of them. The normally flippant Lori Killian was quiet and when she did speak to her colleagues her words were often a rebuke for stories too harsh or behavior she saw as cruel or wasteful. Raven no longer looked the part of the mysterious, hot photographer all the women wanted to get their hands on. Gone was his enigmatic smile and caustic comments with double meanings. A jagged scar marred his handsome face and his nose had been bent. One of his teeth was missing as well. He was impatient and difficult for other reporters to work with. He often butted heads with the photo editor. The only time either of them seemed not to be on edge was when they were in each other’s company, further fueling the salacious gossip about what happened to them that night.

3 weeks after their return, on a rainy October night, Raven appeared at the door of Lori’s cubicle.

“I can’t do this anymore.” Lori said, looking up from her computer. Everyone saw, we stood at the edge of total chaos, but all they want to talk about was if we were sleeping together, if we did it in the church. No one is even thinking about what started that riot, or how a little more investigating and a lot less stereotyping could have prevented it to say nothing of the city’s closing the community center.”

“The riot, the violence of it, and the guilt for what the cops and the city fathers did made everyone uncomfortable. We shocked them by daring to speak truth and they don’t want to look at it.”

“They’d rather think about something easy like what our relationship is?” Lori ventured.

“Our colleagues in this office would definitely rather look at that because then they can write us off and anything else we might want to right or photograph that reminds them the embers of those flames of rage are still smoldering and it won’t take much to set them ablaze. The city just wants to think the happy thoughts of State fair and Balloon Fiesta and all those lovely tourist dollars. Heaven forbids those millions of visitors decide it’s too dangerous for people to head to Old Town and to the fairgrounds.”

“So that’s it?” Lori let out a sigh, “How do we just move on like it never happened. I can’t play this game anymore.”

“Neither can I,” Ravin took another step into the cubical. He perched on the edge of Lori’s desk, “The boss just told me he expects me to take pictures of the Luminaria festival and all I could think of was what a conflagration all those paper lanterns holding candles would cause if something like what happened in the valley went down at that event or if some terrorist group decided that was a perfect place to make a statement. There’s too much want, hatred and disparity which is causing anger and divisiveness.”

“I agree, but every story I’ve pitched to call attention to the fact that the issues that caused the Valley riots has been shot down.”

“Maybe it’s time for Flame haired Lori Killian and Raven Jaimy Blake to join the ranks of citizen journalists. No editors to tell us what we can or can’t say or what pictures we can or can’t show the world. We are one hell of a team.” Raven held out his hand to Lori.

“You think we can pull this off?” Lori’s hands hovered over her keyboard.

“If we could come that close to dying, I think there’s nothing we can’t do.” Raven continued to keep his hand extended. This time Lori reached out to clasp it. They locked eyes for a long moment. Then Lori logged out of her computer and rummaged in her desk. She came out with a pen and paper. Lori scribbled a quick note and handed it to Raven who grinned as he read it. He gestured for her pen and scribbled something below it. He handed the note back to Lori. She smiled as she read his addition. At the top was written.

This is my resignation. I am no longer content to only write the stories that will appease those in power and not offend anyone else’s delicate sense of superiority. I will speak my Truth.

Lori Killian

Below that in a bolder hand was scrawled.

I’m with her, The Raven will be heard from never more, but Jaimy Blake will show the world what you won’t.

Jameson Blake JR.

Raven helped Lori with her coat. Arm in arm, the couple left the Albuquerque Journal for the last time. They climbed into Raven’s car which had miraculously survived the destruction of the riot with only a few more dents besides the bullet impacts and the shattered window. Raven pointed the car toward the Valley, and the beginning of the stories they knew in their hearts needed to be told.

 

NEWS NUGGETS…

*** SAVE THE DATE! ***

TUESDAY JANUARY 9, 2023

Talking stage and theater: 8pm ET, 5pm PT, 3pm HT

Join Sue Ellen to kick off this new call as we talk about what first got us interested in live theater and or performing.

This call will occur each second and fourth Tuesday of the month.

If you’d like to join this and all of the other community calls the ACB Community has to offer, please send an email with your request to receive the daily schedule, your name and the email to which you’d like it sent to: community@acb.org

More about Sue Ellen…

Sue Ellen Melo: Writer and performer.

 

I have always been something of a wanderer. I was born in Massachusetts and spent most of my life there before getting the itch to see more of the country. I currently reside in Louisville Kentucky.

The two constants in my life have been performing and writing. Sometimes, these two passions have intertwined. I co-founded an audio writing group called STAR Trek Audio Role-players with one of my dearest friends. I have also co-written two songs used during my time in the acting troop Imagine Blind Players, a company consisting entirely of blind individuals. I acted and sang in their production of California Suite. In addition, I appeared in two of the companies’ productions for Shakespeare in the Park and served as their social media coordinator, writing a blog Seeing My dream facebook.com/imagineblindplayers.

I have also been a part of American Printing house For the Blind’s Braille Readers theater. Currently I am working as a greeter at Actor’s Theater in Louisville KY and performing regularly in American Council of the Blind’s Community Karaoke.

Hear Sue Ellen in Community Karaoke and more here.

Trouble Clicking? Paste into your browser to listen here: https://www.acbmedia.org/

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