You’re smarter than you think…. by Casey Carlisle

Image When I moved to Melbourne for work, meeting a plethora of new friends, I had to endure that ‘getting-to-know-all-about-you’ stage again. I’d been cloistered away within the same safe group of friends for nearly ten years, so doing the ‘sell yourself’ thing to prospective employers and new connections was a little daunting. But one comment from my new friends stuck out at me – ‘You’ve done all that?’ It got me critiquing my CV wondering if it was all that unusual.

What I found, (although I may be a little ADD) realistically, I’d included all of my extracurricular activities. How many of us multi-task a number of careers or hobbies? You have interests outside of work, or sport, right? These are your forgotten secret skills! It is like checking through all the jacket pockets in your wardrobe and discovering some overlooked cash.

I’ve invested as much passion, if not more in each of these activities, and once achieving some sort of benchmark, I’d move on to another challenge.

Many of us switch career paths completely, or have more than one thing going on in our lives, create multiple streams of income, satisfy our creative urges, continuing at a mundane job to pay the bills. Everything is relative, everything is a feather to stick in your cap.

Forget about that shoulder-padded blazer you wear to work, what about the sloppy-joe you wear coaching, or the overalls you don when renovating the elusive ‘junk room?’ Are you the go-to person for any IT issues in the family? Do you like to read up on topics you may have overheard to satiate your curiosity or review the latest flick on a blog? It may be time to amalgamate your wardrobe and give all your skills equal standing, you’ll soon discover that you are far more interesting than you think!

So my answer to their wide-eyed wonder at the stories of my past is… ‘Yes! And I’m sure if you really think about it you have accomplished just as much too.’

Turn your passions into inspiration.

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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A thief in your midst. by Casey Carlisle

ImageImage            Do undergarments go missing about your house without explanation? I was worried there was a fairy with an underwear and sock fetish in my house for quite some time. Over the period of six weeks, my housemates would complain that they couldn’t find their grundies, or the washing machine must be eating one of each of their sweat socks. Even I had fallen victim, having misplaced my most comfortable bra, digging wildly through drawers in a futile quest on weekends.

It was one amusing evening, during a dinner party in our humble abode, when the mystery unravelled – the culprit was much closer to home.

Just before heading into the dining room to enjoy a three course meal I had lovingly prepared for a party of ten of our closest friends, in streaks our oldest pooch and protector, Bobby, with a lovely present… the missing bog-catchers! To my flatmates horror, (because they were his Y-fronts: not that he would admit) Bobby was thrashing and parading about with a proud find of the brightly coloured garment… complete with a hole already chewed through in a most inappropriate spot!

The little blighter had been stealing and stashing away items for weeks, and now with a captive audience, began to drag out and put his wares (well ours) on show! It was like having our own private viewing of a warped burlesque show. Thankfully all missing items were swiftly collected and securely binned, and the boys learnt a valuable lesson never to leave their clothes lying on the floor… pity I can’t apply the same logic to the toilet seat.

Needless to say my dinner parties always rank in the most popular. Although I still haven’t found the dog’s hidey-hole for all his collected treasures, and I am always keeping an eye out when we have guests praying that he won’t totter in with some lingerie hanging from his mouth.  I’ve yet to decide if our dog is a pervert or an attention seeker – or possibly a mix of both.

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Grab Life by the Short and Curlies! by Casey Carlisle

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Voyager 01            “You have cancer” are terrifying words nobody wants to hear from a doctor.
I’ve had that dreadful sentence repeated to me twice in this lifetime. And as you can

            Everything I’ve ever dreamed about doing, wanted to accomplish, taste, experience, share, be it large and expensive, or as simple as a smile, went onto the list.guess, this gal has licked it both times! But once getting over the shock, depression and angst, you accept that life is short… and what is important to you in life gets a major re-shuffle! In addition to embracing the all-too-common mantras: ‘no regrets’ and ‘live every day like it’s your last,’ I remained positive and constructed myself a Bucket List.

            It doesn’t end there: I add items as often, if not more, than I cross them off. One of the big ticket items I managed to strike through this year in January with my family… Go on a Cruise!

I’ve only been overseas once – for the briefest of times attending a relatives funeral in New Zealand – nothing that you call a holiday. So, Sydney – New Noumea, New Caledonia – Lautoka, Fiji – Auckland, Taurunga, Wellington, N.Z. and back to Sydney for fifteen days on the high seas! I was beyond excited.

Fully packed with my two outfits for each day (one daytime & one glamorous for dinner) I set off the airport. The flight was extremely quick, although turbulent. I was tempted to pull a “Bridesmaids” and yell out ‘There’s a colonial woman out on the wing churning butter’… pity only I thought that was amusing.

When I finally got on the cruise ship, let me tell you it is far more impressive than I expected. You really feel like a movie star anyplace on the ship. The service is beyond impeccable and the décor is fantastically surprising. I don’t think two weeks is long enough. Oh, and make sure you bring some elasticised pants – The food is delicious!

If I wasn’t writing by the pool, shopping at every port (or in the ships mall), or taking tropical kayak tours, the family would wind down by congregating in a bar for cocktails and swap stories on our various adventures on the island of the day while belting out at music trivia. It was only then I noticed that my skin had slowly been getting pinker and pinker… yes I had gotten sunburn despite my numerous applications of Teflon strength sunscreen many times throughout the day!

 

VOTS Casey 02Boasting an ice skating rink, theatre, cinema and nightclub there isn’t a moment for you to stop and think ‘I’m bored!’  I feel as though I’m boasting about the great time had – but in all honesty – go! Have a blast! Just make sure you can swim and don’t get sea sick.

You don’t need a life threatening illness to prompt you to create your own Bucket List; so get itemising those adventures and must-haves today. Who knows you may be screaming “I’m on top of the world” from the bow of a cruise liner too?

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Teaser from “Beecham’s Nightfall” by Casey Carlisle

Just toying around with a new idea – Horror!

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The crack and snap of breaking bones, followed by a pathetic whimper and moan was far more difficult to listen to than the blood-chilling screams of desperation from when the wailing began. My face was wet with tears as I cried silently in my dark hidey-hole. I prayed it wouldn’t find me. The dirt and mud I’d caked all over, a futile attempt to mask my scent, was now a slimy layer of clay mixing with sweat. I cursed my curious nature, my unyielding desire to discover the truth behind any mystery to cross my path. There wasn’t much to riddle out in Beecham Flats, especially in my neighbourhood. Sure I’d sleuthed down a lost dog, nabbed a housebreaker (who turned out to be the owners ten year old son), and researched the back story to not only my family tree, but also the house I lived in. Needless to say I will never sleep in the spare room ever again and put extra locks on the doors and windows. That is what led me to my predicament right now… in a roundabout way.

See, fifty-six years ago, the young family who first lived in my house were the Beecham’s… yes the name behind our illustrious suburb. Well, it was a small farm back then for corn, barley, and goats milk and cheese. The Beecham’s: Eleanor, Jock and their daughter, Nanette, had moved from Adelaide to the rich earth of the Northern Victoria Farming region. It was to be their legacy, starting small, before building up to cattle or sheep. However they never got to realise their dreams. Nanette, a golden-haired sixteen year old beauty had many of the neighbouring boys competing for her affection. And as the story went, jealousy and rage started up between a couple of the young lads, having both been tossed into jail a number of times for scuffling in public streets. Why Nannette continued to consort with either of these ruffians was beyond me – maybe she liked the bad boys? Inevitably, one cold, misty night, the craziest of her suitors, insane with desire, and resentfulness, broke into her home, slitting her throat and then raped her cadaver.

At first, I couldn’t find the name of the perpetrator, or many details surrounding the crime. The whole ugly event much too sour and distasteful for the community, a black spot on their collective soul, and was not mentioned in public. Even the newspaper articles were sparse with facts. But the story had excited my inner detective, how such a gruesome mystery had gone unsolved right under my nose. I poured through local Council’s Enrolment Records for that time, discovering three families had moved away the following year. The Beecham’s, the Royce’s and the Johnstack’s. It was easy to deduce that the two other families belonged to the feuding boys for Nannette’s attention.

My hunch proved correct, Malcolm Royce had been committed to serve life in prison for his gruesome crime. The Johnstack’s re-located to Perth in shame, where their son, William died in a fall from a horse five years later. I found no record of the Beecham’s or where they had moved to. Grief over the loss of their only beloved daughter may have driven them from the country and back to England where so many starry-eyed hopefuls had immigrated from.

So a murder in my own house, and I’d uncovered the story behind it all, peeled back the layers of time to reveal the ugly past. I’d tasted the delicious nectar of victory and wanted more. It wasn’t until I’d happened across the newspaper article of some mutilated pets in the area that my interest was piqued. Granted it wasn’t a murder as such, and I couldn’t dig about in musty old file rooms or stacks of microfiche, this time I’d need to use my feet. I should have stopped then. Alarm bells telling me that I was hunting a wild, ferocious animal preying on weak fluffy domestic pets should have halted me in my tracks. Should have! Taking a sick day from my job at ‘Dawson and Associates,’ where I checked and compiled financial reports all day seemed harmless enough to chase down a lead. I had spoken to, or rather flirted with, an Officer at the Wildlife, Parks and Recreation Headquarters to find out they thought the culprit of the attacks may be a large cat. Like a jaguar or mountain lion – which was ridiculous because there were no such species native to Australia. Maybe someone had imported an exotic feline and it had gotten loose? Maybe the specialists at Wildlife and Parks were pulling my leg?

Working on the assumption that I was not been led up the garden path, I constructed a map and marked out all of the incidents. Large wild cats were territorial, so it would still be in the area around its kills, and would want somewhere to hide, well covered, maybe up high to watch for intruders. I triangulated a point to the centre of the attacks, and made a two kilometre circle and five kilometre concentric circle from that point, using the smaller area as my first choice for locating its sanctum. Beecham Flats, as the name suggested, is flat. Not too many places that aren’t populated at a higher elevation to hide in. I deduced three places: An old church, a burnt out two-story house on a large property and the water tower. The last two were closer and upon investigating turned up no results. The old church became my undoing.

Why I had decided to hunt down a large, unpredictable wild animal by myself, with no protection is beyond idiotic. But that was because I did not believe a lion, cheetah, or whatever species of cat could possibly be the guilty party.

It had started to get dark as I parked my reliable gold coloured Ford Laser on the side of the road and hiked across the overgrown grounds of the dilapidated Church. Doors and windows had been pulled out or smashed, graffiti covered every surface, and the distinct odour of piss wafted in the warm evening breeze. Strike three, I thought, until inside, where I found a door from the small antechamber behind the pulpit that the priest used to change and get ready for the sermons long gone. It was padlocked and the solid looking door was not of the original architecture. Interesting. But not related to my investigation.

It was then I heard a noise. Someone was coming! I quickly scanned the area for somewhere to hide, after all I was trespassing. Or more than likely I was about to stumble upon a drug dealer or user – a person I definitely did not wan to tangle with! Adjacent to the chained door was an open stairway to the basement, a service tunnel I suspected… and my only way out besides the way I had entered… and the same way footsteps crunched over the detritus covered floor becoming incrementally louder. There might be a way out down there, or I could be trapped with whom ever trudged in this direction?

With no time to deliberate on the pros and cons of my situation, I reacted on instinct and shot headfirst down the dark stairs, wishing I wasn’t about to stumble in the blackness and break an arm or leg, or snag my flesh on something sharp and insanitary that required a Tetanus shot. It was a small room, a little shorter than me, so I had to hunch, a few disused piles of wood and an old furnace that was used to heat the building. I turned to face the light coming from the entrance as the footsteps stopped near the opening. My heart thudded in my ears and I felt a dribble of sweat run down the length of my spine. Rattling of the chain. They were unlocking the door and heading down a similar set of stairs next door. More metal scraping and clinking. And then silence. I waited a few more minutes in the pitch black. Still no sound.

It would have to be completely dark outside, which made the visibility inside the Church down to nil. I fished my mobile phone from a back pocket and used it to illuminate a safe path back to the antechamber. Who ever had gone through the padlocked door had chained and locked it behind. Definitely a drug dealer, and that had to be their growing room or something. Time to get the hell out of here!

Two steps towards the exit and the main hall of the church and a God-awful scream echoed from behind the thick wooden, and thankfully, secured, door. It was followed by the noise of chains. Chains being dragged across a concrete floor. What had I stumbled across? Without a second waisted to think, I bolted, no – fled out of the church. I tripped twice across the overrun yard, but was moving too fast to fall, righting myself and staggering towards the car. I could have yanked the door off its hinges, and once safely inside, took far too long to get the key into the ignition hampered by the uncontrollable shaking. And then finally I was off, speeding through the moonlit streets, mounting a curb until arriving at an intersection where I could see people walking, busy stores and cars coasting by. Did all that really just happen?

Taking a deep breath to calm myself, I decided to drive through a fast food joint, and ordered a large chicken meal before heading home. With all the doors and windows bolted I stooped over the kitchen table in my ‘historical kill shack’ and inhaled a burger until the tremors ceased. My mind had gone blank. No thought to call the cops. Nothing.

Eventually, snapping out of it, I ran a hot bath to warm my frozen skeleton and ease the fear. I was letting my imagination run away with me. There was no evidence to point to what it was I had heard. As the circulation returned to my extremities, steam rising from the water, I pushed all the nightmare scenarios from my head. All this gum-shoeing was sending me batty! From this moment on, that hobby was officially over. No more nutting out the secrets of the past.

After tossing and turning for an hour in bed, I took two sleeping tablets and passed out into a drooling sleep.

My job was coma-inducing at the best of times, but with the left over affects from indulgent use of sedatives last night, I looked, and felt like a zombie. Thankfully, my fabrication of being sick yesterday played in my favour.

“Oh, Ida! You look terrible. Are you sure you should be at work?” Mr Dawson fluttered over my desk.

“I’m feeling much better thank you. Just a little tired. I’m okay for work. I’d much rather be productive, idle hands and all that.” And I didn’t want to be sitting in my empty house driving myself crazy rehashing over last nights events.

“Well, only if you are sure. And go home if it starts to get too much. You need to look after yourself.” Mr Dawson shot me a pitying look, waiting at the corner of my desk momentarily, judging my resolve and then disappeared into his office.

He was a great boss. Granted, punching in numbers and staring at spreadsheets all day was mundane, but Mr Dawson made coming to work that much easier to stomach. I’d been working here nearly three years now. He’d hired me straight after completing my course in Accounting and Finance, and I couldn’t turn down his Grandfatherly affection. The small firm consisted of three partners, two assistants, a receptionist, and me. Mr Dawson employed me as his assistant, which consisted of turning shoeboxes or envelopes full of receipts into glossy, neat spreadsheets. Occasionally I’d get to do a few reports, but that was pretty much it. I knew his Christian name to be Errol, but I only ever called him ‘Mr Dawson,’ as did everyone else.

Occasionally he’d bring in containers of Tupperware filled casseroles, pies, lasagne and the like, he claimed his wife had over-cooked and asked he pass on to me. I suspected it a rouse, as after forty-five plus years of marriage and even longer cooking, Mrs Dawson would have surely worked out the correct portions for meals by now. It was their way of making sure I was eating properly.

So I pushed through a day of thought-blurring data entry until I made it home and sat staring at my corkboard of clippings, pictures, research and the marked map. Should I dare visit the Church again, this time armed with camera, torch, tyre-iron and a lock pick? Gather the truth before I make an unfounded and hysterical call to the police? I glowered at the collection as I ate my microwaved frozen dinner, refusing to admit defeat. Finally at 7pm, I caved, and fuelled with false bravado, packed a bag and headed back to the decrepit Chantry.

There was no sign of movement while I watched the building for ten minutes before braving an approach. The inside was just as vacant. Placing the torch on the ground, I put my hand to picking the lock with a piece of bent wire, then a bobbypin, and then attempted my own set of keys. It was steadfast in its resolve to remain secured to the chunky steel chain. I’d never make a good locksmith.

I returned to the spot I’d hidden next to the furnace the night before, pulling out a blanket and settled in for an hour or so in hopes the chain-rattler would return.    After waiting half an hour I began to realise how stupid this was. For all I knew someone could still be in the room next door, or worse yet, a dead body, chained up and rotting away. Just as I lost my nerve and began packing away the blanket, I heard familiar approaching foot falls. I fastened the bag and doused the light. This idea had not only been stupid, but negligent and foolhardy! What if I ended up dead? Would anyone find my corpse? Who would Mrs Dawson give all her extra portions of food to then?

Again the metal bindings were untethered and re-secured from the inside. Similar sounds of shackles clinked away for a short period before all noise desisted. And once more I was left in the dark with my over-active imagination. Determined for it not to get the best of me, I crept back up to the locked door, and tried to peep through the small opening where the large knuckle-like steel chain threaded through. Nothing but darkness. I dared not shine the torch through. Inspiration struck when I realised my camera had a night vision setting on it! I slowly pulled open the zipper of my bag, careful not to make too much noise and withdrew my camera. My heart nearly stopped when the digital beep sounded so loud from turning it on. I was sure I’d given away my position… but no metallic rattle or shuffling, no approaching footsteps or call followed.

Poking the lens through the small opening, the screen showed four steps and open middle, a mirrored reflection of the room I’d hidden in. Except, instead of a furnace was an empty space, half recessed into the wall. There was only an old rag on the floor. Where did the person go? Where was the drug stash? How disappointing. Slight movement caught my attention as the rag twitched ever so slightly. Only it wasn’t discarded fabric at all, it was a human foot! Two seconds later it abruptly retreated away from sight followed by an ear splitting shriek.

I fell back, dropping my camera, the light from the digital display cracked and blinked out. The screams increased in both pitch and intensity as I scrambled for my bag. It should be right next to me! Desperately fumbling about in the darkness, my hand connected with the recognisable canvas of the back pack. Feeling for the zip I yanked it down, groping for the torch. When I connected with the glorious object, an instant before turning it on, my blood ran cold. A deep guttural growl echoed from the inside of the Cathedral. The cat story wasn’t a fake after all. It was here!

Trapped between the huntress and her prey. I retreated to the only other space I could, and yanked open the heavy iron door to the furnace. It hesitated and most probably screeched as rusty hinges flaked, but I could not hear it over the continual howling from next door. It would be a tight squeeze, but I would fit! Throwing my bag to the other corner of the room, keeping the torch and mobile phone, I wriggled into the cramped space. I could feel skin graze off from several places on my elbows, knees and shins, but ignored the pain. Something crawled across my hand – a spider or cockroach, but at this point I had bigger things to worry about. The door took much more effort to close from the inside, and I had to use the blunt end of the torch to hammer the inside latch to a locked position.

Here I hid, entombed in an iron prison as a giant cat paced just outside, and an unidentified person was living through inexplicable torture. Had my curiosity led me to be killed by a cat?  Quickly I rolled about in the grime coating the inside of the boiler in a lame attempt to dampen down the strong scent of fear I’d no doubt be giving off. If the door could be clawed off, I may as well be a tin of Whiskers under a neon sign, begging to be made into a meal.

The cries next door broke, becoming more pathetic and drawn out, I gagged on the dust stirred up in attempt to cover myself in charcoal and grime. I could hear the chink of metal links, wether it was from next door or something trying to get through the door at the entrance, I was not sure. Wedging my torch under the latch to the grate, it would open by either turning the handle up or down, but I could at least take away the easiest option.

A new noise harmonised with the tired pleas, a snap, like breaking a twig or branch, then another. Screaming stared anew in desperation. Whoever it was, they were in the most unimaginable pain. Over and over the crack-snap and yelling went, until I realised; that noise was of bones breaking. I held back the bile rising in my throat. Had the cat gotten inside the room next door and was eating someone alive?

The screaming abruptly cut off, the silence pressed in from all sides and I wondered if I should make a run for it? The distinct sound of something being dragged across the floor, very close, alerted me to something just on the other side of the furnace’s door. It was rummaging through my bag. How did it get in here so quick?

Chains clanged loudly again from next door, and a deep throaty growl-purr-hiss followed. Whatever was in the room with me growled a response. The hairs on my arms and neck prickled. Another fleeting second of utter calm before an orchestra of metal banging erupted from the neighbouring room. At first I thought someone was bound next door, but maybe I had been mistaken, and an animal was tied up? Was some idiot keeping the animal I’d been tracking down shackled up here? Could there be two? There was too much noise to hear if the beast from my bag had gone or was still there, but the one next door suddenly broke free of it’s binds and was taking a run at the door. Each impact sounded like a cannon going off. Would anyone be able to hear this cacophony from outside and come to investigate? It would only be to meet their doom, like the wailing person from the darkness in the Church basement. I had descended into Hell.

Given this was a House of God, maybe he would hear my prayers clearer? Muttering under my breath, with every ounce of my being. Please be safe, please be safe. Don’t let what ever that thing is get out! God? Please help me! But I don’t think he heard me. My anguish turned to hopelessness as the unmistakeable sound of the door busting off the hinges and crashing to the ground echoed through the room. I covered my ears as the blast amplified in my iron cave.

At first I imagined the furnace door being ripped of and I’d been discovered by the tortured, twisting, metallic shrieks; however, it emanated from directly outside the burner. An animalistic battle was taking place, the inhuman sounds, threatening and painful utterances of its combatants. I buried my head beneath hands, curling up into a tight ball and wished myself away.

The barrage ended quickly with a doggy-like whimper. Panting filled the room and although I could not hear any paws pad across the floor, the light breeze of sniffing at the grate had me cringing away in terror.

It huffed, like clearing its nose. And then quiet.

I remained still, painfully curled up in my secret spot for what seemed like hours, unwilling to breathe, unwilling to move. If I could have stopped my heart from beating lest it alert what was lurking outside, I would have. An eternity of agonising, crushing, waiting in the darkness. My bladder insisted for emptying. I could not risk relieving myself here. The smell would only make matters worse.

Unsure if I had passed out for hours, of simply remained frozen the entire time, but the telltale glow of sunrise brought a rectangle of light through the doorway. It was enough to witness the carnage through the holes in the grate. Chunks of fur and flesh scattered across the dirt… and blood everywhere. This time I was unable to hold back the rising vomit. I retched over myself, my hair and the miniscule space I’d found refuge in. The resulting sound reverberated out like a bull horn. If there was anything outside, it would be coming for me now, honing on the acrid fumes of regurgitation. But ten, twenty minutes later, nothing!

Finally having enough courage to attempt the door and crawl free of the cast iron coffin, I dislodged my torch and bashed at the latch. The door heaved aside loudly, and as soon as I stuck out my head, the sickly-coppery odour of aging blood slaughtered my olfactory senses, resulting in yet further stomach heaving. My limbs barely worked, circulation being restricted for most of the night. It was if someone had poured acid all over me. So instead of a calculated emergence out of the dark hole in which I hid, I slid, slipped, and grazed onto the floor where the revolting, congealing blood coated every part of me. Pop on a tiara and call me Carrie!

Progress to the car was painstakingly slow. Recovering the blanket, which was relatively clean, I wrapped myself up in it. Taking photos of the room with my phone, since my digital camera was kaput, and parts of what had turned out to be a German Sheppard before I braved the second room. Expecting to see a body, possibly in pieces, but thankfully, it was empty. Broken weighty thick chain littered the floor, as did four massive bolts, still coated in concrete. Holes in the recessed wall where they had been embedded gaped silently at me. I snapped pics of everything. Discovering some hair caught in the links, I pocketed it.

The door-that-was, reduced kindling and strewn across the Rectory, showed parts looking like it had been clawed. More evidence! I grabbed a chunk of timber and wincing at the searing pain of limbs forced to work again. Making it to the outer door without incident, I surveyed the scruffy Lot to my car. It looked clear. I moved like an ANZAC Veteran, hobbling through the scrub, flinching every step until I manoeuvred into the driver’s seat and locked the door. It felt ineffective given whatever was out there had barraged through a three inch thick chained door and ripped apart a rather large canine like it was crepe paper.

I drove directly home. Surprisingly calm, keeping below the speed limit and obeying all the traffic regulations, and was pulling into my driveway less than ten minutes later. Dropping everything on the kitchen table, I bee-lined for the toilet. Much like aching muscles, my bladder took some coaxing before relief wafted up my body. After that, the longest shower I’d ever had, together with half a bottle of shower gel and plenty of scrubbing. My hair was matted into dreadlocks of soot, soil, vomit and dried blood. I wouldn’t have been surprised if a few insects washed down the drain with the rust coloured water. Skin scoured pink, and hair detangled I wrapped myself up in a floral smelling terry-towelling bathrobe and sat back in front of my pin board with a steaming hot cup of tea and packet of ginger nut biscuits. So what had actually happened last night?

The sound of my morning alarm snapped me from the daze, I turned it off and phoned Mr Dawson. There is no way I could go into work today. It was Friday, and if he was keeping to his regular schedule, both Mr and Mrs Dawson would be at the golf club. He didn’t answer, so I left a voicemail.

What rational explanations supported the facts I had gathered? There was an animal, or something that wanted us to think it was an animal, prowling the neighbourhood and tearing apart family pets. It would have to be big, and strong! I say ‘something’, because after last night, I had theories of some mentally deranged person, armed with a small knife – or similar – entering into a wild frenzy and slaughtering innocent creatures. There was no humanity in that.

I created a list, point by point of what I had witnessed, keeping it factual and removed of any emotion and wild conjecture. Then I called the police. I told them how I thought I heard someone call for help as I drove past the old church and went inside. There I found the locked room, and the screaming, the chains. I heard another noise and hid… and the rest, pretty much as it had unfolded. Although the Constable who listened to my story on the phone remained detached and professional, there was still that impression that he was dealing with another irresponsible, irrational, female. I was assured by the end of the phone call that a patrol would be sent out to investigate the site, and an Officer would pay me a visit in the next day or so.

Infuriated with the lack of understanding of what I witnessed, I pulled a face at the phone, missing the old rotary handsets that I could have slammed down in his ear. Let them walk into the room full of vomit and blood and dog parts and see how they feel then!

I was beginning to get a headache from the frustrations in dealing with a monotone, unforgiving Cop. I’d polished off my entire packet of biscuits and drained the tea from the mug. Dry swallowing a Panadol I moved to the lounge and lay down with a pillow over my eyes to block out the light. Within seconds I was asleep.

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

That woman sings like a goat! By Casey Carlisle

ImageImageTo be in show business you need to embrace an amount of humor and narcissism. Being able to embody the sexiness of a Las Vegas Showgirl when your three-foot high feather headdress is caught in the lighting rig is a talent in itself. Never mind needing to smile, kick-ball-change and stay in formation on top of that. But, even though the work was sporadic and intense, I do miss the comradery and the adrenaline rush from performing.

The best parts were the laughs and antics we would get up to on the final night of a production run. A cabaret that I had a hand in producing, on the last evening of it’s six week term, and showing to a packed house – we were well known for doing something special in the closing performance – and this time there was a little something that no-one expected, not even the cast members.

Previously, we’d added in new comedy sketches;  saucy dance routines; guest performances; randomly switched characters; swapped costumes, so the guys were in skimpy leotards, fishnets and wigs, and the girls in tails and mustaches;  or played with the speed of backing tracks, belting out tracks sounding like we were drunk. The crowd would roar with laughter louder than the music.

Struck with a Machiavellian streak, and deciding to get payback on one of our performers who was a massive (but adorable) prankster backstage… we rearranged her numbers through the show out of sequence. The result: she’d be racing on stage half in her costume, (modestly of course) to begin her number thinking it to be the extent of our goof for the night. Surprise! On cue, every time she was due to sing, we’d cut in a goat bleating, a fart noise, or a squeak! People were rolling in the aisles! A massive hook would then drag her off stage before the song could proceed. It was the running joke of the production. She never got to sing one note, and was cued randomly throughout the night. The expression on her face the first time she opened her mouth to hear a warbling blat was beyond priceless!

My hat off to her though – she is an incredibly great sport and was owning it by the time the red curtain dropped for the finale. Nobody escaped falling victim to the closing performance capers, not even me (but their stories for later blog). What a wonderful collection of talented and colourful people, able to pull through any situation with grace, poise and an incontrovertible sense of humor. Cheers to the woman with the voice of a goat!

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Here’s an excerpt from ‘Smoulder’ by Casey Carlisle

… a little teaser just for you! Post a comment (or ‘like’) below to let me know what you think.

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“Don’t you trust me?”

“I guess.”

Teddy punched the air and flames burst around each fist. I stared at his face in shock… it was one thing to have a theory, but entirely another to see it happen before your eyes. He smirked at me.

“It doesn’t hurt?” I asked.

“Not even a tickle.”

“I know you said it takes some concentration, but it looks like it takes no effort at all.”

“I’ve had years of practice.”

Transfixed with Teddy’s hands as he turned them over, opening his palms. Curiously the flames were orange and rippled as if stirred by a soft breeze. Less yellow than the flicker of a candle, without a blue centre. The flame, comparatively shorter, clinging to his exposed skin. I could feel warmth radiating towards me. It was so incomprehensible, and so beautiful.

Teddy took two steps towards me.

“What are you doing?” I stammered, suddenly aware of the danger of being turned into a cinder.

“You can trust me.” He closed the distance even more.

“Teddy?” I managed one small pace backward before I inhaled sharply.

“It’s okay.” His voice calmed me.

I fought every impulse to turn and flee. Watching in mute horror as his flaming hand reached for mine…

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Here Love, have a chicken …..by Casey Carlisle

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Temping can be a joy and a burden… or both in one day! While working at a health clinic I relished the no stress attitudes of my boss, no deadlines to panic over, and no matter how rushed you were getting ready in the morning – you would always look glamorous in comparison to red-eyed, runny nosed and green-looking patients. I only say that because living in a tropical climate at the time, it was a constant up-hill battle against frizzy hair and unattractive sweat patches – being a ginger I’m built for colder climates and the indoors!

I loved hearing about the elderly patient’s lives, garnering tidbits of wisdom and stories of their travels about the globe, it’s just a pity nearly every one I got to speak to was feeling poorly. I really hoped my smile helped brighten their day (it’s hard to miss – my teeth take up half the area of my face).  However, it was extremely hard to keep a straight face when the old dears began to recount their sexual exploits… in detail. It is definitely an over-share to hear someone your Grandma’s age contorting like a gymnast… and then asking your opinion. Needless to say I had suddenly remembered I needed to attend a matter in the back room many times! And if you think that is bad, just wait til you get the patient who talks about nothing about their entire medical history – with visual aids. It’s geriatric show and tell. I don’t really need to see the mole next to your left nipple, or the weird rash on your buttocks in reception!

And these lovely biddies would visit often, always with samples of vegetables and fruit grown in their gardens, or homemade jams, biscuits and cakes – I never had to bring lunch.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if one day a silver-haired dear walked in and handed me a chicken!

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But the best benefit of all – free consultations and medication, not to mention all the cute boys that come in for their appointments daily! The whole experience at the clinic reminds me of the famous quote by Voltaire – ‘The art of medicine is in amusing a patient while nature affects the cure.’

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.