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Saturday, August 13, 2022

Terror Dome: A Short Story (Part 4)

    Jake had been going over some notes for a deposition that he had scheduled at 9:30 am Monday morning, but he had fallen asleep on the living room couch with notepad still in hand late that afternoon. He awakened to use the bathroom and realized that nightfall had set in, and he subsequently relieved his bladder and washed his hands before he went to the kitchen to fix himself something to eat. The clock on his microwave read 11:44 pm as he placed a plate of leftover lasagna inside of it. Once he finished warming his food, he sat back on the living room sofa and turned on the television before he began to eat. The movie that was showing didn’t pique his interest, so he just focused on satisfying his hunger because he had only drunk a beer the entire day.

    He then finished eating and pondered about calling Rachel. Her words about calling her anytime of the day echoed in his brain, so he grabbed his cell phone and dialed her number.

    “Hello?” she asked.

    He hesitated for a second and answered, “Hi, it’s Jake. I didn’t catch you at a bad time, did I?”

    “No, it’s fine. How are you doing?”

    “Okay, I guess.”

    “What’s on your mind?”

    He sighed and answered, “I know that we don’t know each other, but I still feel some sort of connection to you that I can’t wrap my mind around.”

    “I know…I feel the same strange connection. It’s as if we knew each other in another life or something. I felt so comfortable talking to you earlier today.”

    “Me, too.”

    “So, do you want to talk about your ex?”

    “Yeah, but it’s not just about her. I realized this afternoon that once my mother died of COVID four years ago, I was truly on my own. I don’t have any siblings, and I never really knew my father. My ex and my best friend of twenty years flipped the switch on me this weekend, and I’m still trying to process everything.”

    “I’m so sorry, Jake. You seem like a good person who didn’t deserve what happened to you.”

    “Thank you for the kind words, Rachel. It’s comforting to know that I can talk to you about this.”

    “You’re welcome, and I meant what I said…you can call me whenever you need to vent about something.”

    “Enough about me because I refuse to feel sorry for myself. Tell me something about you.”

    “What do you want to know?”

    “Well, for starters, are you in a relationship?”

    “No, I’m not. Like you, I was supposed to get married a year ago, but my ex left me for another woman. I didn’t find out about it until he came clean about getting her pregnant a month before the wedding.”

    “Wow, that’s terrible. I’m sorry he put you through that.”

    “Thanks, but I’m over it. He wanted to keep his newfound family together as if the five years that we spent together didn’t mean shit.”

    “Damn, I’m sorry to hear that, Rachel.”

West Loop Chicago

    “It was for the best, you know…it’s good that it happened before we got married.”

    “I agree…my ex did me a favor by breaking up with me before I proposed to her. It would’ve been a total disaster if I had found out about her cheating on me after the fact.”

    “Yeah, I suppose we both dodged a bullet.”

    She then sighed and asked, “What do you do for a living, Jake?”

    “I’m an attorney at a law firm in Chicago's West Loop.”

    “Wow, that’s great. Do you like it?”

    “It pays the bills, you know. I figure it’s too late to do something else…I’ll be thirty at the end of the year.”

    “Yeah, I know. I’ll be thirty this year, too, and I still haven’t figured out what I want to do with my life.”

    “Yeah, and the way things are going in this world, it may be too late for the both of us to do something else with our lives.”

    “What makes you say that?” she asked curiously.

    “I mean, look around you. The powers that be subtly have stripped everybody of their basic human rights…they’re trying to force people to be juiced with an unproven vaccine and tracked with the RFID chip. And if you don’t comply, you’ll be ostracized from society.”

    “I’ve told my friends the same thing countless times, but they don’t want to listen to me. I just got into a heated debate with one of them tonight at the bar, and needless to say, I don’t think that we’re going to be friends anymore.”

    “Damn, the same thing happened to me right before I met you…I got into an argument with my best friend over a debate about getting chipped. He came at me like I think I’m better than everybody just because I don’t follow the herd.”

    “I know exactly how you feel, Jake.”

    “So, what are we supposed to do, Rachel?”

    “We stick to our guns no matter what. I lost my job as an accounts payable clerk three years ago because I refused the shot, so I’ve been running my own business doing taxes ever since.”

    “Wow, that’s dope.”

    “Yeah, I do what I have to do to survive in this rat race.”

    He paused and said, “I need someone to do my taxes before the deadline. Can you squeeze me in somewhere?”

    “Of course, Jake. When do you want to come by?”

    “I don’t know…may be Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. Tomorrow is too busy for me, and I don’t know when my day will be finished.”

    “No worries. I can pencil you in for Tuesday at seven o’clock. Does that work for you?”

    “Sure, seven o’clock is fine.”

    “Great. I live in Oak Forest, and I’ll text you the address.”

    “Okay, that sounds good. See you on Tuesday.”

    “Yep, see you Tuesday. Goodnight, Jake.”

    “Goodnight, Rachel.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Should Authors Incorporate Google AdSense to Their Blogs?

    I read somewhere that authors shouldn’t add Google AdSense to their blogs because readers will click on these ads and never return. That’s simply not true. In fact, the majority of the visitors that a blog receives don’t even click on AdSense ads, and a blogger would be lucky if one out of every hundred visitors did so. That leaves the remaining ninety-nine visitors on a blog to merely read posts.

    The key to creating and maintaining a popular blog is to produce great content so that visitors will subscribe and return to the site to read additional articles and adding AdSense to the mix won’t hurt the author if readers are well informed and/or entertained by what they’ve read. A blogger will qualify for AdSense once he or she has posted twenty to twenty-five high quality, original articles. However, a site won’t receive significant traffic for six months to a year, and the benchmark for a successful blog is one hundred posts.

    In conclusion, it’s okay to get the jump on placing Google AdSense ads on a blog so that earnings are instant and consistent once it becomes popular. Integrating AdSense to a blog is also an excellent stream of revenue that can be coupled with the Amazon royalties that an author receives each month. An author should produce valuable evergreen content as well so that readers can benefit from it for many years to come.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Terror Dome: A Short Story (Part 3)

    Jake had reached 87th and Stony Island and had the notion of making a right at the light in the direction of home but decided to keep heading south toward I-94 en route to the River Oaks Mall in Calumet City. He didn’t want to waste any time taking Leah’s ring back to the jeweler and felt he’d wasted too much time already searching the aisles for items that he needed at Jewels. The expressway was jammed-packed with motorists, and he cruised in the right-hand lane to avoid reckless drivers who frequented the Interstate. He decided to crank up his radio, and the vibration of the bass rattled the entire frame of his sports car. The melodic sound of the new rap joint by Ice Cube and the newly unreleased bars by Tupac had temporarily entranced him to the point that he nearly rear ended the driver in front of him. He quickly slammed on the brakes and turned the music down before he belted out a sigh of relief.

    “Shit, that was close,” he said to himself.

    He safely reached the mall ten minutes later and parked nearby the entrance to JCPenney. There was a moderate crowd as he strolled out of the store into the indoor mall area. He observed a group of teenagers standing by the walkway leading to the side exit as he walked by Auntie Anne’s pretzel store. A sexy young woman walking in the opposite direction smiled at him, and he turned around to get a quick glimpse after he walked past her, and she simultaneously stopped and turned around to look at him. He then smiled and walked toward her.

    “I’m Jake,” he said, extending his hand to her.

    “Rachel,” she said, shaking his hand.

    “Pleasure to meet you,” he said.

    “Likewise.”

    “I don’t usually do this because I’m somewhat shy when it comes to women, but you’re breathtaking, Rachel.”

    “I doubt that you’re shy, Jake, but thank you for the compliment.”

    “You’re very welcome.”

    He sighed and asked, “Can we sit down on the open bench over there and talk for a minute?”

    “Okay, sure.”

    They sat on the bench opposite of the teens who were idly standing by, and Rachel asked, “Why did you stop?”

    “What do you mean?”

    “You said that you’re shy when it comes to women and don’t usually do something like this.”

    “Oh,” he stammered. “It was your smile…your smile is so beautiful.”

Rachel Williams

    “Thank you.”

    “What about you?”

    What about me?”

    “Why did you stop?”

    “Because you’re cute.”

    “Thank you.”

    “You’re very welcome.”

    He paused and observed her bag from Macy’s before he asked, “Are you on your way out?”

    “Yes, I got what I came here for.”

    “What did you buy?”

    “Just a couple of outfits for tonight…I’m hanging out for drinks with the girls on the North Wells strip.”

    “Sounds like fun.”

    “So, what did you come to the mall to buy?”

    “I’m not buying anything…I’m actually returning something.”

    “What are you returning, if you don’t mind me asking?”

    “An engagement ring.”

    “Oh…you got the wrong size?”

    “No, I had the right size…I just picked the wrong girl.”

    “I’m sorry, Jake…”

    “It’s okay.”

    “Do you want to go somewhere private and talk about it?”

    “Nah, I’m good. Thanks though.”

    “Lemme give you my number,” she said, extending her hand for his phone.

    He reached in his pocket and unlocked his phone before he handed it to her, and she quickly programmed her number in his contact list.

    “Call me when you're free, Jake,” she said earnestly. “It doesn’t matter what time you call me.”

    “Thank you, Rachel, I most certainly will.”

    “Talk to you later.”

    “Bye.”

    They embraced for a brief moment before he sat back down on the bench and watched her sexy gait until she disappeared inside of JCPenney. He sighed and slowly rose up before he sauntered in the direction of the jewelry store in the middle of the mall.

Terror Dome: A Short Story (Part 1)

     Jake West had awakened from a peculiar dream he had mid-morning on Sunday. In this dream, he was walking alone in what appeared to be t...