Sunday, November 20, 2011

Least Favorite Son at Untreed Reads

My short story Least Favorite Son has now been published by Untreed Reads.  It previously appeared at Darkest Before the Dawn in May 2009. 

Support Bo Fexler!  ;-)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Second Fall

This Bo Fexler story was previously published at Muzzle Flash way back in February of 2007.  It's now been reprinted at A Twist of Noir.  Being able to tell what people want gives Bo an advantage; however, being willing to say anything to exploit that makes her dangerous. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Town Monday: Small Towns

The towns in Livingston County have tried to retain that small town feel, particularly around holiday or festival-type events.  There are parades on holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July (so don’t try to make your way down Main Street.)  And each town has a handful or more of special celebrations intended to draw people into town. 

Though, I would argue that there’s one big thing missing in today’s small town-style celebrations.  It’s the sense of community.  We don’t know everyone in town any more.  And these days, most people will enjoy an entire parade or downtown block party without ever talking to someone  they don’t already know.  They’ll wave their little American flags at the passing parade, trying not to make eye contact with the Strangers on either side, before shuffling the kids back into the car to drive the few blocks home.  And this is in an exceptionally safe community. 

With any luck, though, people will continue to attend these events and maybe, just maybe, use them as a way to build community and make new friends.  I’m looking forward to being able to walk or bike into town in coming years with my son—not just for the event, but the chance to mingle.  If people will mingle in return… so far, my outings to the park have only resulted in discussions with grandparents, who apparently are more willing to chat with an “outsider.”  

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Town Monday: Wagner Falls (Pictured Rocks Nat’l Lakeshore)

Yes, there are STILL more waterfalls in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  Which was a nice consolation prize when we visited in the not-quite-spring before tourist season and found that we were seriously limited in what we could do while in the area. 

DSCN7659Anyway, Wagner Falls gest a bit more love than Scott and Alger Falls.  It gets a nice little scenic viewing area.

DSCN7662Wagner Falls consists of several small falls and rapids. 



 Visit the My Town Monday site for other places!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Town Monday: More Pictured Rocks Area Water Falls

We’ve looked at Miner’s Falls and Munising Falls.  There are a handful of other waterfalls in the Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore Area.

One of them is Alger Falls.  This little waterfall sits beside M-28 (the only major road in the area).  There’s not even a parking area.  I think Alger Falls deserves better than this.DSCN7623

Another disrespected little waterfall is Scott Falls.  No parking area, so we parked on the edge of the road, again. 

DSCN7667This little sign is the only indication that there’s even a waterfall here.

DSCN7668Like the other falls, Scott Falls was icy.  


DSCN7670It make a neat shield of ice back into the cavern behind the falls.


Visit the My Town Monday site for other places!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Town Monday: Munising Falls (Field Trip)

DSCN7544The little town in Michigan’s UP near the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is Munising.  It lends its name to one of the nearby waterfalls.
DSCN7546This was the first waterfall we visited, and the first sign that our trip was going to include some unforseen snow hazzards!
DSCN7551There was a cone of ice around the base of the falls, formed from the droplets of water splashing upon impact.  In fact, though it’s hard to see in these pictures, the cone extends almost up to top of the falls, but behind the water. 
Visit the My Town Monday site for other places!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Flash Fiction Friday: Cycle 26

Unfair Fight

A Bo Fexler story

By Clair Dickson

Word List: Fist, Jab, Knuckle, Spirit, Fighter, Rhythm

Contains explicit language.

“All right you skinny ass bitch, you asked for it. Imma make you regret saying that shit.” She advanced on me, hands beckoning me closer. I may be blonde, but I'm not stupid. I try not to risk assault charges - or my PI license - on misunderstandings or overreactions. And this was both.

“I'm not here to start trouble.”

“Oh, you got trouble, skank!” She advanced towards me, weaving like a fighter should, but without any rhythm. She was nearly as tall as me, but heavier with broad shoulders and big hands. Hands with half a dozen rings on them. Her friend was similar in size and jewelry choice.

“This isn't a fair fight,” I noted.

She laughed, looking over her shoulder at her friend. “Guess you shoulda thought of that before, huh?”

“Perhaps. So, would it matter if I apologized?” I asked, stepping back, but turning my own hands into fists.

As expected, she responded with, “Imma make sure you learn not to say shit you can't back up.”

“Oh, I can back it up.”

She didn’t let me explain. She swung at me.

I easily knocked the jab aside. “Tonya, look, you don't want to do this,” I said sternly, stepping back again.

“Oh the hell I don't! I'm gonna enjoy given you a beat down.”

“Perhaps. Perhaps not.” I stopped backing away, brought my fists to hip level, spread my feet and bent my knees.

She hesitated, uncertainty written plain across her face. The fiery spirit flickered, like a flame in the gust from a hastily closed door. She was wise to be cautious about my unusual response. But she put her angry face back on and declared, “Oh, bitch, you really asking for it now!” And she took another step closer.

I watched as she rotated her fists in front of her like a boxer in a movie. Then, I shot my fist through an opening and punched her in the face. I'd missed her nose and instead landed on her eye. The impact of my knuckles against her orbital socket fucking hurt. I brought up the other fist and, while she was still reeling, I landed a solid punch to her ample gut, knocking the wind out of her. She took a half step back before dropping to her ass. I finished with a solid kick to her thick skull.

She uttered one last strangled, “Bitch!”

“Correct.” I nodded at her friend, who, wisely, wanted nothing more to do with me. I took a photo from my pocket and tossed it into Tonya’s lap.

She took it up. Her face fell.

“So, you were wrong about me making shit up—your boyfriend is cheating on you. Well, since he was seeing her first, I guess he’s cheating on her with you. Anyway. You were also wrong about me being an easy opponent.”

She handed the photo to her friend.

There was nothing more to say. I left her with her mistakes.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Town Monday: Miner’s Falls (Field Trip)

Last week, I wrote about the Pictured Rocks.  But the rocks on the lakeshore are not the only great natural attraction.  There are a number of waterfalls in and around the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. 
DSCN7622One of those is Miner’s Falls.  When we visited the area (about this time last year) there was still snow on the ground… and ice on the water, including the waterfalls!
DSCN7618It was an incredible sight and I’m actually quite glad we got to see this lesser-viewed condition of the falls. 
DSCN7617Pretty sure that thing across the top of the water is actually ice… it doesn’t appear in warm-weather pictures I found on the internet.  I plan to go back someday again, during warmer months to compare views. 

(I'm playing with Windows Live Writer for blog post and still figuring things out-- which is why the picture quality suffered.  Sorry!)

Visit the My Town Monday blogs to visit other places!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Flash Fiction Friday: Cycle 25


A Bo Fexler story


“Imagine my dismay," she said wringing perfectly manicured hands, "when I learned my potential son in law was on the sex offender list. I have to protect my daughter. I need to know what Tony did to get on the sex offender list."

She handed me the color print off. It was not the state-run website, but another popular sex-offender site. His picture and address were the main information on the page. “Do you mind if I take this?”

“No. Not at all.”

"How old is your daughter?"

"Twenty-one. She's just a baby! She shouldn’t even been talking about marriage, but as soon as he did, I made sure to look into this guy. I never guessed I would find this!”

"Did you talk with her about Tony being on the sex offender list?"

"No. I don’t want to alarm her.”

“Right. That makes perfect sense.” Before she fully processed my response, I asked, "Am I allowed to speak with Tony or Louise during the investigation?"

"To him, but not her. I don't want to trouble her with such things. She’s too young for this sort of thing.”

“I see. So, curiosity compels me to ask what you’re going to do the findings of my investigation?”

“I’m not sure, yet. I’m still working on a plan for how to fix this little relationship problem. If you have any ideas, I’m willing to consider them.”

I could barely keep from laughing out loud. I long ago found that it was best to keep my ethics loose and easy. My job is about finding information—like the maker of a hammer, after I’ve done my job, I’m not responsible for what people do with it. I certainly don’t improve the reputation of private eyes. Maybe being a hot blonde woman makes up for it. I cleared my throat and launched into my spiel about hourly rate, retainer, billing process and minimum charge. Next, I produced a contract.

After she handed over the retainer, in cash, which I counted in front of her, I got as much personal information about Tony as I could, including employer and high school.

That was enough for me to get started, so I left. The dealership where Tony worked was on my way home, so I stopped there first. Perhaps I could get the story from the source. Given the circumstances, I was more likely to get a whole lot of sandbagging.

The man standing at the parts counter with a clipboard and a pen over his ear was dark haired with a slight stubble that could have either been a missed morning shaving or an early evening shadow. He carried the stubble look well, though, which may have had to do with his broad shoulders and stocky frame. He was shorter than me by about an inch, putting him around five-foot-eight or nine.

“What can I do for you?” he asked pleasantly.

“Tony Newman?”


I smiled, “Is your girl friend perhaps Louise Miller?”

His brow furrowed. “Yeah… why?”

“Ah, good, you’re the man I’m looking for. Do you also live in the Glen Wood Apartments?”

“No. I haven’t lived their for a couple of months. Got a new place.”

“Nicer than those apartments?”

“Yeah. It’s on a lake, well, a pond really.”

“Thinking of settling down with Louise?”

“Maybe. What’s with all the questions?”

“Just curious.”

“Sure. Did Louise send you to see how serious I am about her or something?”

“That’s a pretty stiff accusation. Is she the type of girl who would do that?”

He thought about it. “No… but her mom might be. That woman don’t like me at all. And she’s scary protective of Louise. Louise can’t do anything without Mom’s approval. You working for her mom?” His lip twisted in an ugly sneer.

“Hey, we all have to pay the bills somehow.” I handed him my business card.

“Private investigator. Never heard of it. So, are you supposed to see if I’m gonna flirt with you or something?”

“No. I’m supposed to get some background on you. Including your spot on the sex offender list.”

His face darkened. “You can tell that bitch to fuck off. And if you don’t leave, I’ll get your ass thrown out.” He stomped a few feet to the left, out of the window, but not far from it. His response was not a surprise. I leaned into the parts counter window.

“You aren’t interested in clearing your name?”

He muttered something at me with the word ‘fuck’ used several times, and grabbed a phone receiver from where it had hung out of my line of sight.

“What if I offered you fifty bucks?” was my last attempt.

That, too, warranted a couple fucks.

I headed back home, not surprised by the outcome, but mildly disappointed. I had Tony’s date of birth from the sex offender list, which was a big bonus. I put it into a credit header search just to see what would come up. If I’m going to pay for the database, I might as well use it.

The sex offender website page that my client had used didn’t show Tony’s offense so I went online to find the missing information.

Tony’s offense was listed as second degree criminal sexual conduct. After some hunting in the online government statutes, I found that it meant touching, no penetration, with someone under the age of 16, with a couple other possible situations and stipulations, such as for a coach or teacher.

The best lead I got was from the credit header, which includes past and current employers. One of his employers was a local school district. So I gave them a call. I confirmed that he worked there as a coach for girls basketball by pretending to be checking on his employment history for a new employer. People don’t question plausible lies.

The sort of information I wanted wasn’t really supposed to be given out during employee background checks. But maybe I could get the athletic director to talk anyway. Lots of men like talking to pretty blond women. And many people like talking in general—gives them a fleeting sense of importance.
The athletic director was an older man, balding with the beginning of a pot belly. He was doing something on the computer when I tapped on his half-open door and walked in.

“Hi—can I help you?”

“I hope so. I’m doing a background check on a former coach of yours.”

His brow furrowed and he gestured to the two chairs in front of his desk. One had a stack of folders and papers, so I took the other one. “You are?”

I gave him a flirty smile. “Bo Fexler. And I’m really hoping you can help me.” I leaned forward just a tad to see if he would take a peek down my cleavage. He didn’t. “Tony Newman is on the sex offender list. The offense coincides with his time working as a coach. Did he get a little too friendly with one of the basketball players?”

He leaned back in his chair and folded his hands atop his extended belly. “I don’t really think that’s any of your business.”

“No?” I took out one of my business cards and handed it to him. “It’s my job.”

“You do your work dressed like that? Not very professional.”

“Most people don’t mind. I’m told I make for nice viewing.” I lowered my eyes.

He took a deep breath and his eyes flicked over me quickly. Perhaps he was too used to avoiding long gazes at young women in his office—it was an occupational hazard in his position. “I really shouldn’t talk about what happened.”

“Not even to clear his name?” I asked, changing tactics. I’m not all blond hair and long legs.

His eyebrows lifted. “What do you know about the situation?”

“Enough. You don’t think he’s innocent?” I countered.

“Oh, I do. I was surprised when the verdict came back guilty, but it came down to he said-she said.”

“What did she accuse him of?”

“Asking her into the office after practice. She claims that he closed the door and touched her inappropriately.” Even using that polite phrase made him uncomfortable enough for his extra large forehead to turn red. “Another student testified that she went into the office shortly after the first girl and Mr. Newman had his pants undone.”

“So, it’s not just her word against his.”

“Still could be. The two girls knew each other pretty well. They said they weren’t friends, but you know how friendships shift amongst high school girls. And there may have been a motive on her part. She got pulled out of a game a couple weeks earlier because she wasn’t playing her best. Rumor has it she was pretty upset, but you can’t prove that.”

I thanked him and went home to write up my report. I would have continued the investigation, but I suspected that my client would have no interested in digging deeper in the story, even with the possibility that the maligned man could be innocent.

Her answer was expected. “Oh, no, this is all I need, dear. Thank you. I knew he wasn’t good enough for Louise.”

“I’m sure there are few men who would be,” I said with a smile that contrasted how I felt.

She flashed a broad smile in return. “She’s my baby. I only want the best for her.”

Tony called the next day as apparently he’d kept my business card, and launched into a lengthy, expletive tirade on how I’d ruined his life and his relationship with Louise.

“Yeah, but would you really want to have to deal with her mother?” was all I said.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Town Monday: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

If you head up to the top of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, you’ll find, amongst the many national and state parks, the Pictured Rocks  National Lakeshore.


DSCN7596The rock is in multi-colored layers and is exposed along the water’s edge.  The water here is Lake Superior, the largest and coldest of the great lakes.  Over time, the lake has eroded away the land, exposing the many colors of the rock.






DSCN7600You can see the layers all the way up the rock face (as I leaned out as far as I could to get pictures.)


The best way to see the Pictured Rocks is by boat… or so I understand.  When we visited, it was late March last year and the tourist season hadn’t begun.  So the boats were not running yet.




Here’s a view of some of the layers as seen on land. 




This particular point is called Miner’s Castle, named for the miners who were looking for minerals and other valuable things in the area. 









At the time we visited, while warmer weather had moved in across the Lower Peninsula (where I reside), it was still cold up north.  And there was still snow and ice in spots, particularly shaded areas.  This was a bit of a surprise to us, since we didn’t think about the difference in climate an 8 hour drive can make!  But it turned out to be a wonderful surprise… 

This shot shows the ice that formed on the cliff face where the waves splashed up. 


The next couple weeks, I’m going to show you the waterfalls around the Picture Rocks National Lakeshore (as seen in early spring.) 

And don’t forget to visit the My Town Monday blog for other posts.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


It seems to me, that male characters are more readily allowed to have superhuman traits.  They take (or give) a punch and rarely suffer any ill effects, for example.  But female characters are expected to be mere mortals.  Not only that, but even “strong” female characters are expected to be rendered helpless by relationship drama in their lives.  The female characters don’t get the privilege of being superhuman—they aren’t allowed to shake off personal problems they way male characters do.  (Not to mention the fact that most male characters can actually stay focused on their job/ task/ plot and not be derailed by personal issues.) 

This is where Bo is an outlier… she is more like a male character.  But with all those fun female traits.  She gets to be sexy and smart and more capable than the average woman.  This too me sounds like a lot more fun than another average woman who gets her friends/ family in danger because she can’t think straight for more than two chapters in a row.

Perhaps this is the type of female character that is preferred?  Except, over in Urban Fantasy, women like Bo are more the norm. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Town Monday: the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Michigan is one of those unique states.  We're a peninsula. TWO peninsulas, even.  And our peninsulas have more peninsulas on them-- not just puny ones, but big ol' peninsulas.  And if that doesn't sound suggestive to you... your mind is much cleaner than mine.

I reside in the Lower Peninsula, not too far from civilization.  But because the Upper Peninsula holds several neat land marks, there are times when a Michigander should venture up there.  Many Michiganders have cabins, "cabins" and vacation homes in the northern parts of Michigan, for hunting or just escaping (or "escaping") from city life.  The Upper Peninsula is largely unsettled, though.

It consists mainly of forests and coastlines along the Great Lakes.  Plus some tiny towns.  US-2 meanders along the bottom edge of the Upper Peninsula, heading West into Wisconsin.  This road, while being  US road, is not a highway (or freeway or limited access highways)-- the speed limit is 55mph.  There is no limited access highway across the UP from east to west.  I-75 goes from the tip of the Lower Peninsula up to Canada, but that's it for highways in the UP.

After all, moose, bear and snow mobiles don't use expressways.

In the UP, it's colder than the rest of the state.  Winter comes earlier and the snow is heavier and around longer.  This situation is in someways exacerbated by the proximity of the icy water of Lake Superior.  More lake effect snow (where extra snow is created by the moisture of the lake).  But the lake, allegedly, has a moderating affect on the temperature-- which also causes more snow since snow can't fall if it's too cold.

Ice does form on Lake Superior and in massive chunks.  It takes awful cold weather to cause ice to form on a body of water that cold.  This shot was from April.  In the part where I'm from, the ice was gone, but on the shore of Lake Superior, it was large, cold reminder that the Upper Peninsula is a different world.

Traveling through the UP is interesting.  There are few towns.  And those that do exist are very small.  Some are so small that they don't have gas stations (a little disconcerting when you're miles from nowhere!)  Others have quaint combination bar/ restaurant/ grocery store/ post office/ barber shops like existed once upon a time.  You can drive for hours without seeing other cars on the roads of the UP.  It's tranquil... until it gets really boring.

This is a main road heading into Munising in the UP.  It was pretty busy that morning...
I like making visit to the UP.  Sometimes I imagine living in one of the small cities up there.  But only if I could work from home and never have to drive in the thick snow or go out in the cold.  You know, hibernate.  With high speed internet.  But it sure is pretty up there.

Join us for My Town Monday

Monday, February 28, 2011

My Town Monday: How to Complain About Michigan Weather

Michiganders love to complain about the weather.  There are some guidelines for these complaints, though, so everyone is on the same page.

If it's in the thirtys and snowy in January or February, complain about it being too snowy.
If it's below zero in January, complain about it being too cold (and ask where's global warming?!?)
If it snows in January or February, complain about how you're done with winter already.

If it's still below freezing any time in March, complain that it's supposed to be spring (and ask where's global warming.)
If it's warm in early spring, complain that everything is muddy from the melting snow.
If there's snow in late March, complain about how you're sooooo tired of winter!
If it's warm during the day, but cold at night in March, complain about how cold it is at night, as if it's some anomaly.

If it's in the 70s before June, complain about how long winter was.
If it rains a lot in March, April, or May, complain about the dreary weather and you're ready for summer.
If it's below freezing at any time in the spring, complain about how winter is supposed to be over!  (Don't forget to ask where global warming is.)

If it's over 80 in early summer, complain about the humidity or complain about how it's too early in the summer for heat like that.
If it's below 40 any time in early summer, complain about how it's still cold and how summer's NEVER going to start.
If it's hot and dry during the summer, complain about how brown and burnt all the plants are.  If you live on a lake, complain about low lake levels.
If it's hot and humid during the late summer, start complaining about how you're ready for fall.
If the temperature is in the 70s, complain about how cold the store air conditioning is or about how it's not hot enough.

If the temperature drops below 50 in September, complain about how you're not ready for summer to end.
If the temperature shoots up to 80s in September, complain about how you're done with summer.
If it's cold and wet on Halloween, complain about how it's always cold and wet on Halloween.

If it's below 40 in November, complain about how you're not ready for winter.

If it snows more than once in December, each subsequent time requires complaining about how you're done with snow already, even though it's barely started. 

That about covers it.  Happy complaining!

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Town Monday: Ice Harvesting Exhibit at the CoBACH Center

The old town hall in Brighton was recently repurposed for use by the the Brighton Area Historical Society.  They've been doing some different exhibits.  For the month of February, it's ice harvesting, which was a huge industry in the early 1900s, not just in Livingston County but in many colder climates.  During the winter, local residents and migrant workers would score the ice and break it into large blocks. It would be stored in ice houses along the shore.  During the summer months, the ice houses would be slowly emptied of their ice. 

The CoBACH center (City of Brighton Art, Culture, and History Center) borrowed some items from the Port Huron Ice Harvesting Museum and set up a rather nice display.  There were local photos of the ice houses and information about the tools of the trade.  They also made a mock up of a small ice house. 

I went there with Hubby and my Baby Son and we happened to go at the right time, I think.  One of the leaders of the Brighton Area Historical Society was there giving a well-informed tour.  My son was fixated on the sound of the tour guides voice, which was amusing.  (The kid's only 8 months old, so I'm sure he wasn't that interested in ice harvesting.) 

 This is an image of the Mill Pond in Brighton.  You can see the ice house on the shore past the boaters.
Here's some more recent images of the Mill Pond.  The ice house sat where the brick building (barely visible over the bridge in the second photo) is today
There's one more week of the Ice Harvesting Exhibit.  I wonder what slice of local history will be displayed next? 

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Town Monday: 6 More Weeks of Winter

Puxatawny Phil predicted an early spring.  Livingston County's own woodchuck (aka groundhog) Woody predicted 6 more weeks of winter.  Now, Woody's record is 9/12 correct so far, so my money is on her.

That said, in Michigan, 6 more weeks of winter WOULD be an early spring.  Sure, the vernal equinox falls March 21st (ish), which is about 6 weeks after February 2nd, but that's hardly the start of spring in the Mitten shaped state.  Not weather wise at any rate.  There is often still snow on the ground and one last snowfall in late March. 

Spring doesn't really start here until mid or late April.  That's when the weather starts to stay above freezing during the day.  And the sun comes out from behind never ending piles of gray clouds.  It feels so good to Michiganders, that winter coats are often prematurely shed in the "warm" weather.  By the end of April, it feels like spring is finally starting.

That's also the start of road construction season...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Town Monday: Snow Storm

Snow is part of Michigan winters.  And that includes the occasional snow storm.  The Big One last Wednesday was a bit overhyped in my area, and, as with all things overbyped, it did not live up to the predictions.  In my area, we got about 6 inches of snow. 

This is about the amount needed to shut the area down for a day or so.  Livingston County is part rural, part suburb-- but not a very dense suburb.  It is largely a bedroom community to places like Ann Arbor and Detroit.


So, the snow fell.  It piled up on top of the previous inches-- I think there was about 6 inches from prior snowfalls currently on the ground.

My driveway was complete obscured by the falling and blowing snow.  I'm standing next to my garage.  The road is past the fence.  This driveway is only marginally longer than average.

Yes, we have a snowblower.  

One of the most interesting thing about the last snow storm was how quite the world got.  Few cars ventured out most of the next day. I rather liked it myself. 

Also absent from the roads were snow plows.  I live on a main road heading into one of the two larger towns in the county.  Well, it's called a city, but it's not very big.  (I know, it's a term that defines local government size and function more so than population size and density.)  Anyway, usually this road is one of the first and best plowed, being that about a mile away it turns into Main Street.  But even at 1 in the afternoon, the road is still snow covered. 

Not bad though.  One could easily get around in this sort of snow fall.  I don't care much for driving in snow-- but that's just because other drives don't have the sense to slow down and exercise caution. 

I happen to like when the snow comes down and the world is quiet.  It's peaceful.  There's nothing quite like the barely perceptible sound of snow falling-- yes, it has a sound.