“Watch RWISA Write Showcase Tour” — Day 12

DENTON’S DEBBY DOLLS

by Laura Libricz

The lunch bell rings and I set my brush aside, returning the unpainted porcelain Debby Doll head to the tray. A kettle whistles. Sarah runs to make the lunchtime tea.

“Thirty minutes and that’s all!” Mr. Denton barks at her as he hurries towards his production office, whacking his elbow on the filing cabinet as he slams the glass door shut.

The shocked moment of quiet is replaced by the delicate clinking of brushes against glass jars, chairs scraping on the concrete floor, and the idle chatter of the doll painters on their way to the break room.

Laura Libricz

Laura Libricz

Do you remember Denton’s Debby Dolls? The ones from the 1947 film “Ten Days Till my Birthday,” where Tammy James plays a little girl who got one for her birthday? Denton’s Debby Dolls Inc. make the dolls the same ever since. Tammy is well into her 80’s but is still loved and remembered for that tearful scene where she unwrapped the Debby Doll on her tenth birthday and said, “Well, gee, Mother, all I ever wanted was a Debby Doll!”

All I ever wanted was a Debby Doll but I didn’t get one on my tenth birthday. That year I moved from the city to Krumville, to Aunt Fay’s, and she said I was too old for dolls. She was a recovering heroin addict who hung photos of herself dressed as a vampire on all the walls. I was not allowed in the kitchen and had to eat my meals in my bedroom decorated with Aunt Fay photos. She said if I wanted a Debby Doll, I should petition the goddess Diana. I thought she was being funny.

Aunt Fay’s house was in the oak forest. She made oak dolls with hair from deer. The deer hair was arranged to look like human hair. She said these were petitions to Diana. Under an oak tree, Aunt Fay had an altar where she buried the dolls. Sometimes she burned them.

There were always gunshots in the oak forest. I never went outside that fall. In the city, there was shooting every Saturday night in our neighborhood and I was never allowed out. I don’t remember my city house much. One day Aunt Fay went outside and never came back in. Child Services came and took me away. I was now a ward of the State of New York.

What luck, I ended up in the same city as Denton’s Debby Dolls. When I turned eighteen, I went to work in the factory and I still do.

“Aren’t you coming to lunch?” Sarah asks.

“I’m working on my doll,” I whisper.

“Don’t let Mr. Denton see you doing that,” Sarah says. “He’s in a bad way today. I heard we’re 500K down this year. We have orders but there’s no stock. We can’t work fast enough.”

“I can tell Mr. Denton that I’m experimenting with new colors on my lunch break, which I am doing.” I stroke my Debby’s porcelain cheek with my pinky. “Look at her complexion. It’s lavender oil and China Pink pigment.”

“She’s not real, you know,” Sarah says. “I’ll bring you some tea.”

“Tea. Thank you.”

A year has passed since I’d first started working on my own Debby. I’d modeled what was to be the hollow shell of her head. Each hand painted layer and each firing was personally carried out by me. Today, I am ready to add the final details and fill her empty eyes. It’s ten days before Christmas. She’ll be my daughter, mine all mine. Mommy loves you, Debby.

There had been a man once, just once. He left a few hairs on my gingham pillowcase. And a legacy. My body changed in ways it had never before; swellings in places that had been unripe. Rosy cheeks, like a Debby Doll. I so wanted the child. Although I could not yet feel the child, I could. The growing presence of another life made me feel otherworldly.

But I was unmarried, alone, and I would lose my job when the baby came. Panic set in. It must have been eight weeks into the pregnancy when the fever came, followed by some mild cramping. During the night the cramping pulsed and intensified until I finally passed out. The next morning, the otherworldly feeling was gone. My unformed child had been born, its life over before it even began.

I forced myself up and out of the house, not wanting to be alone. I was working in the molding department that week and I would bear my child. From Denton’s secret mixture of minerals, bone ash, and alabaster, I poured the liquid clay. Before the first firing, I’d made a small imperfection on her cheek, like a chickenpox scar, so the other workers would reject her. I would always recognize my child. During lunch breaks, I stole moments to paint her face and sneak her head back to the kiln.

You’re here with me now, Debby, forever.

The lavender oil calms me as I blend your complexion to a natural sheen. I can almost feel your heartbeat. Light brown eye brows are added one hair at a time, your sense of humor. Would you like brown eyes like mine? Each brush stroke to your iris gives you another fleck of depth. Two dots of white on the left side of the iris ascertain your personality. I cover your eyes with high-gloss tears and now you have emotions. The creation process is almost finished.

See? I’ve made you a soft pellet body, into which I stitched your preserved mortal remains, hair from your Daddy, and oak bark—my petition to Diana. Your body lies hidden inside the top drawer of my workbench, along with your new gingham dress made from the pillowcase Daddy rested his head on. I forged a certificate from a midwife confirming your birthday, today, and your name, Debby.

Mommy’s here, Debby, don’t worry…

“What are you working on?” barks Mr. Denton. “Ten days before Christmas and you’re messing around with that B-stock? Those get smashed.”

I never saw him come up to my workbench. Debby, don’t cry, I’ll sort Mr. Denton out.

“You have a whole tray with these new dolls that have to be painted!” Mr. Denton’s face ran red. “You’ve been messing with that one since I came in!”

“Sorry, sir, it’s lunch,” I whispered.

Now Debby, be a good girl and get in my top drawer.

“You want to hide the thing as well! Is that a pellet body in there? Are you the one out selling B-stock on the weekends?”

“No, sir, I…experiment.” We may have to make a run for it, Debby.

“So, it is you! I’ve been told there’s a woman on the flea market every weekend with B-Stock Debby Dolls for real cheap. Give me that!”

“No, sir, don’t, you don’t understand…”

“Tea!” Sarah plunks my unicorn mug onto my workbench, brushes my Debby’s head into my top drawer, and slides it shut with her hip.  She grabs my hand and pulls me up. “Come on, we got pizza and it’s getting cold.”


Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH RWISAWRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.  WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Laura Libricz’s RWISA Author Page

5-Stars for “Rarity from the Hollow”by Robert Eggleton

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At first I didn’t know how or where to begin to categorize this story. Two sitcoms, “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Third Rock from the Sun”, come to mind.  It’s clearly in the Sci-Fa genre, a mixture of science fiction and fantasy, always effective for establishing an environment ripe for just about anything to happen. I must say that once I got past the first third of the book, which could be a bit troubling due to the horrific living conditions and home environment of the young heroine, Lacy Dawn, that I laughed–a lot.

The author’s style is unconventional, which I consistently admire, at least when it works, which it did. Written in an omniscient viewpoint, it took a little while to get used to the inner dialog of all the characters. Each individual’s spoken statements were typically followed by an italicized blurb of what they were really thinking. While at first it was confusing, it was nonetheless effective in getting to know the characters.

The story itself is definitely unique as well. It centers around a young girl named Lacy Dawn who lives in poverty in a dysfunctional and abusive rural environment. This is not ever expressed in a horribly graphic manner and does a great job of setting the tone and setting, though there were times I was worried about whether it would get worse. Much to my relief, it didn’t. Her father, Dwayne, is a Gulf War vet with a severe case of PTSD. Her mother, Jenny, continually reminds her daughter (as well as herself) that Dwayne “used to be a good man.” Their neighbor, Tom, is a good friend of the family with a “secret garden” that he pays Lacy Dawn to tend.  The produce involved is not so much mystical as illegal, given that its marijuana.  Needless to say, numerous joints are rolled in the course of the story.

Lacy Dawn believes that it’s a child’s responsibility to fix one’s parents. This is certainly different than the usual practice to blame one’s parents. She’s not only highly intelligent, but has been chosen to save the Universe, a task for which she is being groomed by DotCom, an android who has arrived from elsewhere in the cosmos and lives in his spaceship on a nearby hill. At first it was difficult for me to figure out whether DotCom as well as Lacy Dawn’s conversations with the trees and her deceased friend, Faith, plus her ability to float “Roundabout” to visit her spacey friend, were simply part of a child’s vivid imagination. Either way, it was believable and contributed to the mood of the story.

I don’t want to get into spoiler territory so won’t say anything further about the basic story, other than to say that the remainder is entertaining. It’s loaded with plenty of raw humor along with interstellar jaunts to strange new worlds populated with numerous aliens. The characters were definitely well fleshed-out by their hilarious inner dialogs, reaction to various situations, and crude honesty.

Underlying all this, however, at a deeper level, is a rather sad, even tragic, commentary on our society. The fact that such situations exist is no secret. Otherwise, the story would not have been so believable. Neither is there any magical or interstellar entity out there to rescue those caught in the trap of poverty, need and abuse. So often the thought patterns of those living in such conditions revolve around sexual satisfaction, a good cannabis harvest, and whether the food stamps will last until the end of the month.

My only criticism of the story itself, at least at the superficial level, is that toward the middle it felt a bit disjointed. The plot broke down somewhat with too many “shopping trips” to “The Mall” where momentum was lost. The ending, while satisfying, was slightly less than I’d hoped for.

Thus, you may wonder why I awarded this story five stars. That’s because it made me think. Very few stories I’ve read recently manage to do that. There’s sufficient symbolism to place this story soundly in the literature category. What better disguise for difficult topics than humor?

There’s Lacy Dawn, the child who’s been exposed to and seen things no ten year old should, who has genius potential and wise beyond her years. Fixing her parents versus blaming them, what a concept. Then there’s DotCom, the android from another world, who’s there to help Lacy Dawn achieve her destiny, yet he begins to evolve and become a bit too human under the influence of people who would best be described, albeit rudely, as white trash.

The materialism of The Mall, principles of capitalism, what constitutes a celebrity or inspires human motivation to excel or achieve can all be found lurking beneath a raw and sometimes vulgar look at the human condition. Even the ending holds a powerful message when looked upon more deeply. Who’s really in charge and is it a higher or lower lifeform? The answer to that is definitely politically incorrect, a term invented to cover up that which will ultimately destroy civilization if we continue to yield to its misguided allure.

If you want a cleverly orchestrated story saturated with sci-fi and fantasy and packaged with plenty of crude, bathroom humor, you’ll enjoy this book tremendously. If you can’t deal with coarse language, don’t even bother. If you enjoy reading stories at a deeper level and analyzing what they’re really trying to say, you’ll likewise enjoy it, probably even more. Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ecopy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

Robert Kimbrell Blog Hop!

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Robert Kimbrell recently sat down for a brief interview and was asked four questions.

1. Tell me a bit about your childhood in Ohio.

If one knew me growing up, I was a boring only child. But I’d like to say it was very interesting to be inside my head.

My father was abusive to my mom and me, so as you can imagine the atmosphere was always tense. I had to learn to use my imagination so I had a place to escape to. I was nervous and anxious all the time, even into young adulthood. I mean, to grow up always afraid of making your father angry or seeing him become violent towards your mother really does something to your psyche. Those who have grown up in an abusive atmosphere know what I’m talking about. I’ve never used what happened then as an excuse, but looking back I recognize how far I’ve come, and how far I still have to go.

2. I’m sure what happened to you framed, so to speak, your writing and creative process. Your book is called Vigilante Annie Scarlotte, and it is about a woman who becomes a vampire. Tell me about Annie.

You’re right. Now, when I hear of kids being abused or neglected- I cringe. Or when I catch a news story about a woman whose cowardly husband abused her, I boil, as I’m sure others do. I want to take action. That spark is what is behind Vigilante Annie. She has been blessed by a unique ability, so she decides to use it to take action. For reasons that will be explained in the next book, Annie must have fresh human blood every so often, or she’ll become ill again and die. So the premise of the story is simple: to justify killing others for their blood, Annie chooses the truly evil among us as her victims. As you can imagine, Annie battles with the morality of doing what she has chosen to do.

She questions her fate, her purpose, and begins to be taken over by this vampire within her. She has a sexy Italian boyfriend who is hiding things, an old friend Elisa who has been silent for some time, and a father-figure named Larry whom she decides to tell her secret to. Like I said, the premise is simple, but the plot and chaotic start to Annie’s bloodsucking life isn’t simple at all.

3. Do you have anything new you’re currently in the midst of writing?

Actually, I have several in the works. The next Vigilante Annie book is the biggest, it will be available in ebook and print, just like the anthology. There is not yet a release date set. I actually have a couple erotica titles and a couple shorts that will actually give some backstory or sidestory in the world of Vigilante Annie.

4. So what is the next Vigilante Annie book going to be about?

The next Annie story is going full fantasy. In the middle of recovering from her injuries, Annie is being taken to the underworld. There she will meet others like herself and other diverse types of beings. The plot I cannot reveal just yet, but Annie is being brought there for a specific reason. For anyone who has read up to now, you’ll know Annie will meet her brother and have to face her mother for abandoning her as a child. Anyone wanting more info can visit the website www.VigilanteAnnie.com.

Thank you.

Thank you!

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Book Blurb:

Because Annie has no recollection of her birth parents, her life is full of unknowns. Still, she seems relatively content with her simple existence in Washington, DC. Marcus, her new Italian boyfriend, adds much desired spice to her life despite secrecy about his position at SecureVest. But when Annie becomes mysteriously ill, it is the catalyst for a life far from simple.

Seemingly by luck, Annie discovers that she is maturing into a dhampir (a vampire/human hybrid), and to survive she must feed on fresh human blood. With Marcus fully aware of Annie’s predicament, they concoct a scheme: find the evil living among us and act where justice does not.

Vigilante Annie is born.

Pick up your copy on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2dGCki4

Author Bio:

An only child, (in the seventies, mind you), little Robert could be seen running in the backyard playing superhero, with a bed sheet serving as his cape. He also spent many hours drawing or writing in his mid-sized Ohio town. Having also battled depression earlier in life, Robert now sees how his low points have brought him to a more creative, stronger sense of being. Now he is where he wants to be, and is telling the stories he is meant to tell. His other interests include reading, motorcycle touring, fitness and classic movies.

Connect with Robert Kimbrell:

Twitter:  @VAAuthor

Website:  www.VigilanteAnnie.com

Could These Five Words Change Your Life?

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I’ve always been a fan of quotations. What’s not to admire about expressing something profound using the fewest possible words? For a long time my favorite was No life is ever wasted. You can always serve as a bad example. To me, that represented the ultimate in positive thinking, though the lesson was often missed as evidenced by the ever-increasing prison population.

Along similar lines is a short one that came to me while I was writing A Dark of Endless Days, second volume in the Star Trails Tetralogy. It’s another expression of optimism, perhaps even a follow-up to the wasted life. To wit: No mistakes, only detours. In other words, fix it and move on.

Now I have a new favorite which, if nothing else, is incredibly universal in its application. I would bet dollars to donuts that every single person on Earth could apply it to some facet of their life. And it goes even further than that. Every group, organization, government, corporation, etc. could apply it as well, or conversely, have it applied to them. Of course, there are negative manifestations, too, but first give some positive thought energy to these five little words:

What you allow will continue.

Read it again. Has it sunk in? Anyone who has ever been in a relationship with someone who didn’t understand the concept of boundaries should understand. If you’ve ever been taken advantage of, it’s time to consider whether it was (or is) simply because you allowed it.

What you allow will continue.

Whether it’s your nosy neighbor, lazy spouse, obnoxious teenager, critical mother-in-law, or some unscrupulous political figure, the same five words apply. People will try to get away with as much as they can until something stops them. Of course there are situations, such as those involving abuse, particularly of a child, where the victim doesn’t have the power to stop it. In this case, it’s the duty of others, possibly relatives, possibly society, to step in and assure that it stops. That shouldn’t be rocket science. Some things are simply wrong and need to be stopped. Period. In some cases, by whatever means necessary.

I particularly thought of this quote when I saw a headline the other day that stated France is shutting down 160 mosques. A shocking number of weapons and ammunition have since been found as well as various other evidences of terrorist activity. France, clearly, understands the concept.

What you allow will continue.

In the perverted name of political correctness the USA has clearly lost touch with this concept. The key, I suppose, is when a situation becomes sufficiently intolerable that someone demands that something be done.

Are we there yet?