Allow me to present to you the cover of the next book that will appear:
I probably won’t surprise you with the title: “Francis and Frankie”. (Although for a while it might be “Frankie and Francis”.) I’m going a different road with this book and I’ll see if I like it. (Do you notice I don’t take your feelings about this into account? Good.) Today is the showing of not only the cover but also the first chapter! And the book should see the light of the e-book stores next weekend. I’ve decided not to wait for the paper version to be done this time. That is a lot to process I guess, even for me, but somehow, together, we’ll get through this. So, if you are ready for more, do click the following link to catch the first chapter!
“You know it’s not going to happen, don’t you?” asked Frankie the cat as he stretched out a paw. The claws came out as they were up for an inspection.
“Of course it will,” Francis replied. “I just have to get all this other stuff written, edited, proofed and published, and then I’m going to do it.”
“Nu-huh,” Frankie continued after licking his paw a few times. “By the time you’re done with that I’ll be through most of my nine lives.”
“Don’t count on that. I can write fast and furious.”
“And torment people on Twitter,” Frankie taunted her. “And you need to write another blog post. Will it be about me?”
“Shut up. You’re a cat. You know nothing. You shouldn’t even be talking to me,” Francis said as she pretended to slap Frankie, something she wouldn’t do as she knew his claws from various close encounters.
“Who are you talking to?” The voice of Marcus, Francis’s husband, entered the room before he did. “Oh god, no. Not the cat again.”
“Of course not,” Francis said as her face flushed. He didn’t like it when she talked to Frankie because he never heard him talk back.
Marcus stood behind her and put his hands on her shoulders. “You’re on the computer too long,” he warned her, as usual. “Your shoulders are tensed up.” He started his well-meant squeezing that was closest he got to a massage. “Come on, switch the thing off. Let’s go out for dinner.”
Francis moaned as his hands in their own clumsy but adequate way straightened out her shoulders. Marcus was right; she did spend too much time on the machine but she was a writer and she had to get this story done. It was screaming at her inside her head. “You know I have to finish Flowerface,” she said. ‘Flowerface’ was the name of the story she was working on. A mad story, deep and dark and guaranteed to make people gasp and cry and beg her for more. That was her intent with it anyway. The list of stories in her head was crazy and seemed to grow every day.
“Told you that you wouldn’t get that story done,” Frankie commented as he flicked his tail. Then he lazily got up, jumped from the writing table and walked to the door. “I hope someone remembered to put some food down for me,” was the last that Francis heard from him as he left the room.
“Did you remember to put food down for Frankie?” she asked Marcus as she enjoyed his massage. After that she could kick herself for asking.
“Oh. Good that you remind me; I didn’t.” Marcus kissed her on the cheek and walked off to the kitchen. Not much later she heard him open a can of cat food while Frankie was making a lot of noise. Francis sighed, decided that a grin was the best way to attack the situation and turned her attention back to Flowerface as long as Marcus was busy in the kitchen. The prospect of eating out however made concentrating on people-eating tulips very difficult.
“Get some sleep. You’re keeping me awake.” Marcus didn’t sound too happy and Francis understood why. He had to go out and on the road for his job again early in the morning.
“Sorry. I’m thinking of Flowerface.”
“You’re thinking out loud. Think out silently.”
Francis nodded in the dark that she’d been staring into for a while already. There was something wrong with the plot of the story and she couldn’t put a finger on it. She decided not only to think out silently but get out of bed (also silently) as well and do her thinking in a location where she wouldn’t be a bother to anyone. Wrapped in her once purple house robe and with her bunny slippers on her feet she left the bedroom. Despite being half asleep she remembered that the twelfth step creaked so she had to avoid that.
Bloody damn it, when would she remember it was the twelfth step coming up and the fifth from the top. This always happened. What also always happened was that Frankie sat at the bottom of the stairs and looked up as she was making her way down. “Don’t give me that look,” Francis warned the cat in a whisper.
“Why not? You’re not supposed to be up. I am.” Frankie never lacked a response. For a cat he was very unlike a cat.
“I’m a writer and this is my house,” Francis argued while she walked through the dark corridor, reaching for the door to her writing sanctuary. “I can be up any time I want.” Frankie jumped onto the table and silently watched her go through the motions of starting the computer. “And be quiet now. I have to think.”
“You really should write a book about me,” Frankie reminded her without being asked, nor feeling compelled to be silent. “Flowerface isn’t a good book anyway.”
“How do you know,” Francis said, “you haven’t read it and it’s not even halfway done. And why the hell am I arguing about this with my cat?”
“Because the cat knows best. Cats have fascinating lives and think fascinating thoughts. That’s why us cats can sit still for so long. We’re pondering. Deeply.” Frankie lay down, making the computer despair as his tail was thumping on the keyboard. “We do that, you know.”
“Can you be quiet, please? I’m trying to think my way out of a cat. I mean a flowerbed.” Francis was not in the mood for this type of sermon and certainly not from her cat. And not at this time of night. She grabbed her headphones and started the music player after which she started to read the – what she called – ‘piece of drivel’ she’d written that afternoon.
“This is going nowhere,” Francis decided as she reached the end of the page. “I’m heading down a dead end full speed and I don’t see the wall come up.” She pulled the headphones from her head and looked accusingly at Frankie who by now lay curled around the keyboard and snored as if he didn’t have a care in the world. Which probably was true, and she envied him for it. Frankie raised his head for a moment and looked at her. In silence he lowered it again, sighed and let his eyes fall shut again. “How would life as a cat be?” she wondered as she saved a copy of her work with a new name and then deleted the rubbish she’d added to it. Experience had made her smart: never throw something away, not even the bad stuff. Sometimes you need it and then you have to come up with it again, which will never be as bad as what you didn’t save. Of course the need for something bad hadn’t arisen yet.
Francis opened her web browser and typed in ‘flowerface’. She knew what was going to come up. A singer calling herself Flowerface and the (by now) familiar information about Blodeuwedd, a Celtic mythological woman who’d been created by the gods to be the wife to a Welsh hero named Lleu Llaw Gyffes. “I wonder how someone from Wales would actually pronounce those names,” she mumbled to the screen. Even though this Blodeuwedd had nothing to do with her people-mutilating tulips it was a story that always caught her attention. Gyffes’ mother had been Arianrhod, another mythical person, and she had forbidden her son to marry a human woman. Of course there had been magic involved to bind the man to that curse. A nice portion of magic would be welcome now. Francis looked at the words on her screen. “I think I need more than magic to make this something worthwhile.”
“Of course. You need a cat. And a new story.”
“I thought you were sleeping,” Francis told Frankie.
“People make that mistake quite often,” Frankie remarked as he stretched himself and got up. “I’m going outside.”
“Why do you tell me? You never told me before.”
“Maybe you want to come with me.” Frankie jumped from the table and slowly walked to the door. From there he looked back at Francis as if he expected a response.
“I’m in my pyjamas. I can’t go outside like this,” she stated. Frankie walked off. To Francis it felt as if it was beneath his dignity to remind her of garments like coats. She got up, went into the hall and grabbed a coat as it occurred to her that it was dark outside and hardly anyone would be there to see her in her night wear. “Now where did he go?” she wondered. She heard the cat flap in the kitchen.
Francis noticed that she could have left her coat inside as it wasn’t cold outside. “I’m certifiably nuts,” she muttered to herself, “going outside in my jammies in the middle of the night to follow my cat.” But Frankie was a talking cat so that was something special. And of course he was black. “Frankie, where are you?” The familiar bump against her leg told her enough.
“Come,” the animal said.
“That’s easy for you to say; I can’t see where you’re going. Wait, I’ll be right back.” Francis went inside to fetch the small flash light she kept in her purse for nightly power failures. Frankie’s paws had cute white socks and by pointing the beam of light on them she’d be able to follow him. The cat walked off into the darkness of the garden behind the house. Francis followed over the path of grey stones that Marcus had laid there a few years ago but Frankie didn’t stop there. He disappeared between the ferns in the back of the garden where the wooden fence was. “Jesus, Frankie, wait up. I’m in my slippers!”
“Just walk, there’s nothing to it,” came the reply from the dark. That was good, it meant he was still in the garden. Francis walked on as she tried to locate the cat. Ferns rushed against her coat as she moved forward. “You’re almost there,” she heard the cat say, “just a few steps more.”
“And you want me to run into the fence, right?” Francis reached out to find the fence as the light didn’t show it, but she kept going forward without encountering the wooden barrier.
Francis took a big step, ready for a surprise. There was more than one waiting for her.