Free Ebook: ‘Other Lives of the Boothbys’

Cover of Other Lives of the Boothbys. The background is light blue. The title is embedded in other lines of text that are softened by being gray, while the title is in black

Another of my ebooks is available for free: Other Lives of the Boothbys. The promotion starts today and will last through Wednesday (July 14). Download the ebook from here on Amazon.

What is this book about?

Bradley Boothby has no idea why he feels déjà vu when walking by the office building for Rayburn-Turley Publishing. 

Is he included in one of the publishing company’s books? If so, why? Did an author spy on Bradley to steal his life story, which isn’t all that dramatic? The thoughts are far-fetched, so he dismisses them.

But the strange sensation persists, and Bradley finally acts, needing to find if the déjà vu has a foundation. His search touches off consequences for an editor and writer, as they have an impact on each other’s lives. 

Still undecided whether to get a free ebook? Read an excerpt here.

Free Ebook: ‘Jumble’

Front cover of Jumble book. The background is orange, and little drawings are in the JUMBLE title. Drawings such as an elephant, pipe, sock, and bagpipes

Starting today and lasting through Sunday (July 11), you can get the ebook version FREE of Jumble: Stories and Drawings! If you’re interested, head over to Amazon to pick it up.

More of my ebooks will be given away during July, on a staggered schedule.

I hope to get more readers checking out my stories. And if you’d like to add to your summer reading, here’s a way to do it without spending a dime. (Of course, you can also borrow books from the library, but these books are indie grown.) So keep watching this space for upcoming posts of more ebooks enjoying free days.

What is Jumble about?

In this quirky collection, you’ll find 18 short stories and 68 drawings, which are independent of the stories, although a few drawings echo something in the stories, a fine example being an elephant.

Examples of the stories include a man finding joy in a pancake house, a girl interrogated because she picked up the king’s rolling crown, elderly Claude Monet visiting his long-time friend Renoir, a science fiction writer donning a cap of electrodes hooked up to a computer so his dreams could be transcribed, and a group of private detectives hired to research the possibility of reincarnation.

The drawings lean toward the cartoonish and simply illustrated, which could be criticized if you’re of the mindset that drawings need to be highly detailed for them to even begin to be considered of decent quality. Actually, one “drawing” is a kind of flowchart and another is a kind of list, so their categorization as drawings is debatable. Yet the nonexistent marketing team for this book argued that saying it contains 66 drawings, 1 flowchart, and 1 list is too clunky to include in the book’s description.

Want a sample before you make the leap to grab the book? An excerpt from the story “Pancake House” is here.

The 18 short stories are:

  • Pancake House
  • Elephant Curve Road
  • Sock and Glove
  • Bagpipes on the Wind
  • Claude
  • Hidden Spaceship
  • What Dreams May Be Written
  • Uneasy Lies the Head
  • Arrivals, Departures
  • You to the Nth Power
  • Up and Down Stairs
  • Away from the Orchard
  • Auto-reply
  • Farthingstone Manor
  • Streets of the New City
  • That Time You Were a Princess
  • Time Stood Still
  • The Loving Type

Nobody Will Like This Book

Front cover of Nobody Will Like This Book. It has only gray text on a white background.

My latest book is in the world, like a little bird flying from the nest and exploring the world on its own. This is my first time putting together a children’s book, and its called Nobody Will Like This Book.

(Yeah, it’s a sad title. Kind of like B.B. King singing, “Nobody Loves Me But My Mother.”)

But please don’t throw the book a dismissive wave because of the sad title. There’s hope shining on the horizon, after we get through a metaphorical mucky marsh.

Indeed, this book thinks nobody will like it. The reasons: This book has seen other books with beautiful pictures and colors on their covers. And some other books have pictures and colors on their inside pages.

In contrast, this book has only grays. And some pages don’t have a logical sense why they’re next to each other. The book has many drawings on the inside pages. Some of the drawings are silly, such as a ladybug playing a xylophone.

The book’s outlook changes when a friendly book comes by and explains that being different isn’t bad. Instead, it makes books special.

This book is available at Amazon as an ebook for Kindle and as a paperback (it’s sized 8.5″ x 8.5″ and has 56 pages and is printed just with black ink).

Some of the page spreads…

text on a page: This book thinks nobody will like it.
text on one page: Why? Because this book's words have scratches on them. Text on next page: But that is not the only reason.
A page will silly words on it. For example: Sagurp, Goopfernicken, Quazil, and Lobump
A page spread of an illustration of trees. Three birds and a squirrel are on the trees. Two butterflies and a bee fly around.

2 Days of Free Ebooks

covers of five ebooks

I’m launching a new giveaway today, this time without a contest. Today and tomorrow, all five of my ebooks are FREE on Amazon!

Get one, get all! There are 3 novellas, 1 novelette, and 1 collection of short stories and illustrations. A description of each:

Jumble: Stories and Drawings

In this quirky collection, you’ll find 18 short stories and 68 drawings, which are independent of the stories, although a few drawings echo something in the stories, a fine example being an elephant.

Examples of the stories include a man finding joy in a pancake house, a girl interrogated because she picked up the king’s rolling crown, elderly Claude Monet visiting his long-time friend Renoir, a science fiction writer donning a cap of electrodes hooked up to a computer so his dreams could be transcribed, and a group of private detectives hired to research the possibility of reincarnation.

*****

The Minotaur at the Door

Is that an actual minotaur knocking at the front door, or is it somebody pranking Pablo, Miles, and Harry? The three men renting rooms in the house have their doubts about the reality of the creature, but only Pablo seeks to learn more. He wants to meet the minotaur. And find out why he is visiting their neighborhood. Pablo’s journey alternates chapters with the events of Daedalus and his son Icarus, centuries before Pablo. These chapters breathe life and detail into the myth of Asterion, the first minotaur, and Daedalus and Icarus’s imprisonment in the labyrinth. How father and son deal with being stuck in the maze and how they craft a plan to escape.

*****

Other Lives of the Boothbys

Bradley Boothby has no idea why he feels déjà vu when walking by the office building for Rayburn-Turley Publishing. Is he included in one of the publishing company’s books? If so, why? Did an author spy on Bradley to steal his life story, which isn’t all that dramatic? The thoughts are far-fetched, so he dismisses them. But the strange sensation persists, and Bradley finally acts, needing to find if the déjà vu has a foundation. His search touches off consequences for an editor and writer, as they have an impact on each other’s lives.

*****

Don’t Lose Your Head

When you leave for a trip, who knows you’re gone from your house? Family and friends, sure. Neighbors, perhaps. So does the chauffeur who drove you to the airport. Alan Burris takes advantage of working for a car service to know when clients will be away from their houses for several nights. Some houses are easier, since they don’t have a security system — and these houses are on his list for a night visit to steal valuables.

The Resnick house has been on Alan’s list for a while, and now it will be empty for a few nights, since Mr. and Mrs. Resnick are spending a long weekend in Chicago.

But is the house really empty? Alan’s about to find out what it’s like to not be alone in the house, his car, his apartment, and his head. And with another person hanging around, to what length will Alan go to get rid of them?

*****

The Red Tree

While rain falls for weeks, the Engler family invites friends over for an evening of dealing with cabin fever together. And when the spring sun arrives, the Englers celebrate by walking in a wooded park, where they encounter a red tree away from the trail. Guesses abound as to why the tree is red when none of the other trees are.

Life returns to normal for most of the Englers. The father, Calvin, decides the red tree was a sign for him to make changes in his life and property. Changes the family and neighbors don’t quite understand. But some family members can be eccentric, and others learn to roll with it.

A novelette about family, experiencing the mysterious, and letting your imagination loose.

Contest Results

The contest I ran to give away 6 signed copies of my poetry book, The Dancing Fish, was underwhelming. To enter, folks drew an underwater creature and posted it on Twitter or Instagram. Only 2 entries were submitted. So they automatically won! I’ll mail the book to these brave artists 🙂

The remaining 4 books will be placed in Little Libraries around my neighborhood. I was going to do that with some books anyway, as I love the idea of people walking by and gazing into a Little Library and hopefully discovering the book.

I’m glad I tried the contest as an experiment to encourage people to draw. Just a little something different while we’re being very cautious about spending time in public because of Covid-19.

Stay tuned, as I’m going to announce a new giveaway on Monday. This time, you won’t have to draw anything. I’m simplifying the process by giving away ebooks. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Contest Reminder

stack of Dancing Fish books

This is a reminder of the contest I’m running, where I’m giving away 6 signed paperback copies of my poetry book, The Dancing Fish. The contest ends this Friday, January 29.

Entering is easy! Just draw an underwater creature, then post an image of it on Twitter or Instagram. You can draw a swordfish or shark, an octopus or jellyfish. The medium is up to you: pencil, paint, or digital artwork. And the style is up to you: silly or serious, realistic or abstract.

Then tag your post with #DancingFishContest and include me, @dwilliamswriter, to be sure that I see your post. You don’t have to follow my Twitter or Instagram account to enter the contest, but jump on board if you like!

Some questions you might have:

How are the winners chosen?
At random. Here’s how it’s going to play out: As the entries come in, I will write your name on a note and put it in a bowl. On Saturday, January 30, each of my two daughters will cover their eyes and pick out three names. I’ll announce the winning entries on my Twitter and Instagram pages.

Can I enter multiple times?
Yes. So the more drawings you post, the more notes with your name will be placed in the bowl.

Is there an age restriction to enter?
Nope. If you’re 1 year old and finger-paint a fish on paper, then a parent or guardian can upload an image of the artwork. (By the way, if you’re 1 year old, congrats on being able to read this!)

I don’t live in the United States. Can I still enter?
You bet! It would be neat to see foreign entries. I will ship books to international winners.

How will entrants know if they’ve won?
I will contact the winners through direct message on Twitter or Instagram, wherever they posted their image. I will ask for your name and address, so I can sign and send the book to you. The books will be shipped by USPS media mail. If you don’t hear from me on January 30, you can figure that you haven’t won.

I’m looking forward to seeing your artwork of underwater creatures!

Dancing Fish Contest

Announcing The Dancing Fish Contest!

If you like reading playful poems with illustrations, this is your chance to win a book of them! I’m celebrating the publication of my latest poetry book, The Dancing Fish, with a FUN CONTEST where I’ll be giving away 6 signed paperback copies.

Entering is EASY! Put on your creative hat and draw an underwater creature, then post an image of it on Twitter or Instagram. Draw a swordfish or shark, an octopus or jellyfish. The medium is up to you: pencil, paint, or digital artwork. And the style is up to you: silly or serious, realistic or abstract.

Tag your post with #DancingFishContest and include me, @dwilliamswriter, to be sure that I see your post. You don’t have to follow my Twitter or Instagram account to enter the contest, but jump on board if you like!

Some questions you might have buzzing in your brain:

When will this groovy contest start and end?
The contest starts today (Friday, January 15, 2021) and ends on midnight (U.S. eastern time zone) Friday, January 29th.

How are the winners chosen?
At random. Here’s how it’s going to play out: As the entries come in, I will write your name on a note and put it in a bowl. On Saturday, January 30, each of my two daughters will cover their eyes and pick out three names. I’ll announce the winning entries on my Twitter and Instagram pages.

Can I enter multiple times?
Yes. So the more drawings you post, the more notes with your name will be placed in the bowl.

Is there an age restriction to enter?
Nope. If you’re 1 year old and finger-paint a fish on paper, then a parent or guardian can upload an image of the artwork. (By the way, if you’re 1 year old, congrats on being able to read this!)

I don’t live in the United States. Can I still enter?
You bet! It would be neat to see foreign entries. I will ship books to international winners.

How will entrants know if they’ve won?
I will contact the winners through direct message on Twitter or Instagram, wherever they posted their image. I will ask for your name and address, so I can sign and send the book to you. The books will be shipped by USPS media mail. If you don’t hear from me on January 30, you can figure that you haven’t won.

I’m looking forward to seeing your artwork of underwater creatures!

Cover for The Dancing Fish

My posts have been book reviews of late, and I’ve been enjoying many books by self-published authors. But that’s not the only thing I’ve been doing. I’ve also worked on a book of playful poems and illustrations. And I’m ready to reveal the cover (drum roll, please):

It feels wonderful to reach this stage in the development of The Dancing Fish. I wrote most of the poems 8 to 10 years ago, published them on my old blog (Zooky World), then moved to other projects.

This past summer, I had the idea to collect the poems into a book and create drawings to accompany them. Along the lines of Shel Silverstein’s books, which have entertained and inspired me. I aimed to not follow directly in his footsteps and draw in my own style, with lots of cross-hatching and using gray (Silverstein’s drawings in the poetry books that I’ve read had full black with no gray).

The book has 100 poems, most of them with an illustration. It’s been fun to come up with drawings that include characters from the poems, and I really hope it will also be fun for readers to make their way through the book.

I plan on publishing the book in early January 2021. And when that happens, I’ll post about it here, as well as on Twitter. (My account is @dwilliamswriter.) Until then, I will up my posting game, to put up drawings and poems. Some from the book, some that aren’t a part of any project.

Books On Kindle Unlimited

My books are now available on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. I thought doing this might give readers the chance to try an author who is unknown to them, without having to purchase an ebook or print book. So if you subscribe to KU, please check out my stories.

There are 3 novellas, 1 novelette, and a collection of short stories and drawings.

The novellas:

The Minotaur at the Door

Minotaur at the Door coverIs that an actual minotaur knocking at the front door, or is it somebody pranking Pablo, Miles, and Harry? The three men renting rooms in the house have their doubts about the reality of the creature, but only Pablo seeks to learn more. He wants to meet the minotaur. And find out why he is visiting their neighborhood. Pablo’s journey alternates chapters with the events of Daedalus and his son Icarus, centuries before Pablo. These chapters breathe life and detail into the myth of Asterion, the first minotaur, and Daedalus and Icarus’s imprisonment in the labyrinth. How father and son deal with being stuck in the maze and how they craft a plan to escape.

*****

Other Lives of the Boothbys

Other Lives of the Boothbys coverBradley Boothby has no idea why he feels déjà vu when walking by the office building for Rayburn-Turley Publishing. Is he included in one of the publishing company’s books? If so, why? Did an author spy on Bradley to steal his life story, which isn’t all that dramatic? The thoughts are far-fetched, so he dismisses them. But the strange sensation persists, and Bradley finally acts, needing to find if the déjà vu has a foundation. His search touches off consequences for an editor and writer, as they have an impact on each other’s lives.

*****

Don’t Lose Your Head

Don't Lose Your Head coverWhen you leave for a trip, who knows you’re gone from your house? Family and friends, sure. Neighbors, perhaps.

So does the chauffeur who drove you to the airport. Alan Burris takes advantage of working for a car service to know when clients will be away from their houses for several nights. Some houses are easier, since they don’t have a security system — and these houses are on his list for a night visit to steal valuables.

The Resnick house has been on Alan’s list for a while, and now it will be empty for a few nights, since Mr. and Mrs. Resnick are spending a long weekend in Chicago.

But is the house really empty? Alan’s about to find out what it’s like to not be alone in the house, his car, his apartment, and his head. And with another person hanging around, to what length will Alan go to get rid of them?

*****

The collection of short stories and drawings:

Jumble

cover of Jumble bookIn this quirky collection, you’ll find 18 short stories and 68 drawings, which are independent of the stories, although a few drawings echo something in the stories, a fine example being an elephant.

Examples of the stories include a man finding joy in a pancake house, a girl interrogated because she picked up the king’s rolling crown, elderly Claude Monet visiting his long-time friend Renoir, a science fiction writer donning a cap of electrodes hooked up to a computer so his dreams could be transcribed, and a group of private detectives hired to research the possibility of reincarnation.

The drawings lean toward the cartoonish and simply illustrated, which could be criticized if you’re of the mindset that drawings need to be highly detailed for them to even begin to be considered of decent quality. Actually, one “drawing” is a kind of flowchart and another is a kind of list, so their categorization as drawings is debatable. Yet the nonexistent marketing team for this book argued that saying it contains 66 drawings, 1 flowchart, and 1 list is too clunky to include in the book’s description.

*****

The novellette:

The Red Tree

Red Tree coverWhile rain falls for weeks, the Engler family invites friends over for an evening of dealing with cabin fever together. And when the spring sun arrives, the Englers celebrate by walking in a wooded park, where they encounter a red tree away from the trail. Guesses abound as to why the tree is red when none of the other trees are.

Life returns to normal for most of the Englers. The father, Calvin, decides the red tree was a sign for him to make changes in his life and property. Changes the family and neighbors don’t quite understand. But some family members can be eccentric, and others learn to roll with it.

A story about family, experiencing the mysterious, and letting your imagination loose.

Minotaur at the Door

Minotaur at the Door cover

Today’s excerpt comes from The Minotaur at the Door, a novella about what could be a minotaur knocking on the door of the house where Pablo, Miles, and Harry are renting.

Pablo’s journey alternates chapters with the events of Daedalus and his son Icarus, centuries before Pablo. These chapters breathe life and detail into the myth of Asterion, the first minotaur, and Daedalus and Icarus’s imprisonment in the labyrinth. How father and son deal with being stuck in the maze and how they craft a plan to escape.

So here’s part of the first chapter. The book is available at Amazon as an ebook and paperback.

*****

The house’s three occupants were busy watching television shows in separate bedrooms, and none of the men was excited to answer the knocking at the front door.

Harry pressed the pause button on the remote control, since his show was in the slow scene of a tea ceremony. Sometimes the friends of one occupant came over to hang out, but Harry wasn’t expecting anyone tonight. He opened his bedroom door, called out down the hallway, “You guys expecting friends?”

“No,” Miles said from behind his closed door, amid the dramatic music from his TV.

“No,” Pablo said from behind his closed door, amid the sounds of dialogue from his TV. “Can you see who it is?”

“Fine,” Harry groaned. “But it’s someone else’s turn next time.”

Going downstairs, Harry thought about how the yakuza thumped on the doors of people who owed them money or favors. Harry was quite taken with the action-packed television show, now in its third season. Most of the people visited by the yakuza paid the owed money, or they stutteringly promised to return a favor required by the Japanese crime syndicate guys.

When a debtor tried to escape, the plan didn’t end well for them. A chase ensued through night-time Tokyo (it was always night-time in the chase scenes), then the yakuza used harsh methods to persuade the debtors to pay up. Only one character had been able to elude the yakuza: Kaito Takagi, who could disappear, ghost-like, into the crowded city. Harry would’ve liked to have that ability.

Perhaps because of the show’s suspense, Harry peeped through the peephole instead of opening the door. What he saw standing on the front step shocked him and made him glad for checking. The thing standing on the front step couldn’t be there. A second look into the peephole confirmed the truth.

Harry bounded back up the stairs and shouted, “There’s a minotaur at the door!”

Dramatic music and dialogue stopped as pause buttons were pushed. Two bedroom doors swung open, and the roommates stepped into the hall that lacked decoration on the walls—merely a corridor to more important places.

“Is this some kind of joke?” Pablo said.

“If it’s a joke, it’s a weird one,” Miles said.

“It’s not a joke. It’s serious.” Harry’s eyes and voice communicated sincerity.

“But the minotaur wasn’t real,” Pablo said. “It’s just a myth.”

“Myth or not, there’s a minotaur out there,” Harry said.

As a fresh round of knocking came from the front door, the three men remained in the hallway.

“Is it Halloween?” Miles asked.

“That’s not till next month,” Pablo said.

“Oh, right,” Miles said. “The days tend to run together for me. Maybe this is somebody’s idea of a prank. I need to see for myself.”

He led the trio down the steps, to the foyer, and he leaned forward to peer through the peephole. The other two stood a few steps to the side, in the living room, and watched.

Astonishment was on Miles’s face as he went to join his comrades. “Holy crap, you weren’t kidding about that thing!”

“But is it really real?” Pablo said. “Or is it just a costume, and you were right about somebody pranking us?”

“Looked kinda real to me,” Miles replied.

“I’ll see about this.”

Pablo became the third to check through the door’s tiny, circular window—and he was the third to be baffled by the sight. Even while the creature wore a hoodie, it had a bull’s face. The image defied the reality of this suburb of Columbus. A creature couldn’t have the head of a bull and the body of a person. Pablo retreated to the group.

“What’re we gonna do?” asked Harry.

“How should I know?” Miles asked back. “I’ve never met a minotaur before.”

“Let’s pretend we’re not here,” said Harry. “It’ll think nobody’s home and it’ll go away.”

“But the lights are on.” Pablo pointed to the lamp next to the couch.

“And the TVs are on.” Miles looked at the ceiling, as if his eyes had X-ray power to see into the bedrooms and the television sets, each with a stilled image. He said, “The beast could’ve seen the flickering lights of our TVs through the upstairs windows when it was walking toward our house.”

“Yeah, it could’ve,” Harry said. “You guys think it can hear us talking?” He didn’t bother to lower his voice.

Presumably in answer, a grunt came from the other side of the door. Followed by louder, insistent knocking. The house seemed to shake, although that might’ve been in the three occupants’ imagination. They gaped at each other, a triangle of worry.

“Let’s go to the kitchen!” Miles stage-whispered.

Their rushed voices turned into rushed legs; they skittered through the living room and dining room, into the kitchen. It was the farthest the occupants could’ve stood from the front door without opening the back door and transforming into non-occupants.

“What if the beast is hungry?” Harry said. “What if it’s banging on our door because its belly is rumbling, and once we open the door—if we open the door, that is—it will eat us up? That’ll be all she wrote. No more us. Gone in a frantic crunch of flesh and bone, because we won’t be able to get away.”

Pablo had listened thoughtfully to his roommate and tried to keep as level a head as possible. “I don’t know what minotaurs eat. It would be easier if a centaur was outside. That way, there’d be a man on the top half, so it’d be obvious what they eat. They like to eat what all other men eat.”

“But don’t you think centaurs might have horse-eating tendencies?” Miles asked. “At least some of the time?”

Lifting an instructive forefinger, Pablo said, “Maybe for Sunday brunch, they add a bit of hay.”

“Brunch is such a great idea,” Miles said. “Wonderful how it combines breakfast and lunch. And you could be right about centaurs. Maybe they have some hay, and an apple for dessert.”

Pablo’s finger remained raised. “Or a tasty carrot.”

“Would you two stop?” Harry demanded. “That kind of talk isn’t helping our predicament. Not one bit! A centaur isn’t out there. What do we know about minotaurs?”

“I only know they live in Spain,” Pablo said.

“Those are regular bulls,” Miles said. “In Spain, they fight bulls, and they do that running-with-the-bulls thing. Which is pretty nutty, if you ask me.”

None of the men had a desire to run with the bulls in Pamplona, although the subject had come up when, at various times, they had discussed life bucket lists with other friends, and a handful of those other friends had expressed interest in bull running. Seeing the Grand Canyon and the Great Wall of China were on the three men’s lists, which had a much lower risk of horns piercing their back sides.

“Isn’t the minotaur the god of war?” Harry asked.

“That’s Mars,” Miles said.

“That’s a planet,” Pablo said. “The red, angry one.”

“It was named after the Greek god of war,” Miles said.

“Mars is the Roman equivalent,” Pablo said. “Ares is the Greek god of war. They’re different, but somehow they’re the same.”

Harry threw up his hands. “It’s all so confusing!”

Nothing was confusing about the new bout of hammering on the door. The glasses in the cupboard jittered and clinked together. The occupants also jittered as they gazed, wide-eyed, toward the front of the house.

“We have to learn more about this creature,” Miles said. “Do we appeal to his bullish side or his mannish side? Quick! Get Bulfinch’s Mythology from the bookshelf!”

“What?” Pablo snapped. “You don’t know the Roman god of war, but you remember that Bulfinch wrote a book about myths?”

“If you think about it, it makes sense,” Miles said. “Gray had anatomy, Jane had fighting ships and assorted weaponry, and Bulfinch had mythology.”

“Keenly said,” replied Harry. “Was Bulfinch a minotaur?”

“Of course not,” snorted Miles. “Bulfinch is spelled with only one ‘l.’”

Harry looked a little wounded and sounded a little defensive. “It sounds like an odd combination of a bull and bird. Specifically, a finch. They’re yellow, right?”

“I think they can be,” Miles said. “But I don’t think all finches are yellow. It’s not a prerequisite.”

“That’s got nothing to do with our situation,” said Pablo. “I agree that we need to learn more about the creature. Go get the book, since you know so much about it.”

Miles scratched his stubbled chin. “I only know it’s under ‘b’ on the shelf. Since fiction and non-fiction are mixed together, and they’re alphabetical by title.”

“But if the categories were separated, the book would be in the fiction section,” Harry said. “Myths are just made-up stories.”

“That beast isn’t a made-up story!” Miles exclaimed.

Pablo groaned in exasperation. “Are we sure it’s a minotaur? It’s awfully dark out there.” True, it was night-time. He turned to Harry and said, “Maybe it’s your Uncle Frank, thinking it’s Thanksgiving. Frank’s a big guy.”

Harry frowned at his roommate. “We already proved that it’s not Halloween, so it can’t be Thanksgiving. Even if it was, our family always goes to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving. Uncle Frank knows that fully well.”

“But he makes mistakes,” Miles said.

“Everyone does,” Harry said.

“We’re getting nowhere!” Pablo cried. “I’ll get the book.”

As he hurried back to the living room, more house-trembling knocks came, like from the epicenter of an earthquake. The two occupants in the kitchen were silent until their friend returned with Bulfinch’s Mythology.

Pablo searched the book’s index, thumbed through the pages until finding the appropriate page. He said, “Says here the minotaur was in a maze in Crete. Everybody knows that. But here’s something I forgot. And it’s bad news. Very bad news. He ate people. Seven men and seven women were sacrificed to him every nine years.”

The other two men made grossed-out faces.

Miles said, “So he has a taste for human flesh. Great, just fucking great.”

“But there’s also good news,” Pablo said. “Theseus killed the minotaur.”

“Did he write the thesaurus?” Harry asked.

This time, Pablo snorted. “Who cares? He killed the monster!”

“But the monster on our front step is very much alive!” Miles said.

“Maybe he’s a relative of the one in the maze,” Harry said. “Like Uncle Frank is my relative.”

Pablo thumped the book shut, like jaws clamping down, but the book’s jaws snatched only air. “Enough with this bullshit. I’m going to see what he wants.”

“Don’t you dare open the door,” Miles said. “It’s our only protection against the beast!”

“I’ll talk to him through the door,” Pablo said. “And don’t forget, the walls are also protection.”

“Thank goodness we have brick walls,” Miles said. “They’re not made of straw, like in the story about the big, bad wolf.”

Pablo hefted a sigh and looked tired from the weight. “But it’s not a wolf, so you don’t have to worry about it blowing the house down.”

Harry perked up, excited to make an insightful remark. “If a centaur was out there, maybe it would eat our house. If our house was made of straw.”

Pablo stomped off, followed on his heels by his two roommates, and Pablo stopped just behind the front door. The stranger’s loud huffing could be heard, reminiscent of a wolf.

###