Dangles and Danglers -igniting your imagination- Dr. Judy

To inspire and fire your juicy imagination I write short stories that tend to leave the protagonist dangling in a sticky situation. Today I am sharing a few series excerpts with you!


Dragonflies enliven the grasses and reeds at the edge of the pond. His body is sluggish, bloated. Perhaps another nap? Behind two puffs with slits indicating the presence of eyes, a whisper. “Notice!”

“How many more days remain?” he thinks in response.


The last of the women continue to walk deep into the cave.Their eyes adjust to the darkness, their hair bristles like wolves on the hunt; senses sharpen. The men would not find them here. Half of the women stay behind to seal the opening, and the rest of them wait to be rejoined by their sisters below the level of First Water in the mountain. A soft hum fills their resting cave. It smells of damp stone, soil, ceremonial paint and their freshly-bathed bodies. Save their blended voices it is quiet here, the air close. Anyone would feel lost, desperate in their same circumstance, but The Knowing within them leads ever inward to the gates of the temple and The Heart of Their Mother.


September 14, 2018- She knew walking the deck in this storm may be unwise, but it was all just too exciting. Lewis steps through the bulkhead to call her back inside, and the ship lurches. A rogue wave scoops Lila over the railing like a rag doll. In one lightning-fast motion, her fiancé launches a rubber dingy over the side to save her. Within a matter of moments, the lashing storm separates the lovers beneath steep banks of fog and swirling waves. Cold and wet, bobbing on the ocean in a leaking lifeboat, Lila huddles in the dark.

September 20, 2018

Dear Lila,

So sorry to leave you hanging last week. It was not my intent to abandon you in a leaking life-raft, at the start of your journey. I suggest you glance at each horizon once every 20 minutes. That will be sufficient to alert you should salvation be encroaching from any direction.

At night, look into the stars. Memorize the patterns. Call them anything you like. That’s what the shepherds did in Biblical times anyway.

A note about hydration, which you must be concerned with now, I’ve read that you can dilute pee and seawater with the fresh water you have on hand and it will be safe, although not delicious to drink. You may not wish to drink that bitter swill at first, but trust me dehydration is deadly. Eventually, you will want to work out a way to snare and eat raw fish. Break them open, rinse in seawater. Add seaweed, enjoy.

Keep an eye out for birds in the sky and anything useful floating by in the water. There is bound to be still a lot of shipboard garbage bobbing around out there. Fruit and veggie peels float!

I wish I could you give you some idea as to how long you will languish in that pitiful raft in the middle of the Indian ocean. Suffice it to say, it sucks to be you right now, and there is just no getting around that. Better you than me. At least there is some chance I might be able to write you out of there!

Best of Luck

The Writer


A shadow passed into the pantry through the interior doorway from the garage. It fluttered along the sheen of the parquet floor, jumped to the wall and hopped in and out of the bookshelf and cabinets. It placed a shopping bag on the kitchen counter. It stepped into a pool of light, and that’s where it left her. Beyond the dining table in the family room, she could see her husband’s signature pose; feet clad in white socks hanging over the arm of the burgundy leather sofa. His socks sent no warning that something was amiss. Picking up a red envelope she squinted. Her forehead wrinkled.

Someone had scrawled her maiden name across the envelope in bold blue ink. He must already have seen this. To avoid the inevitable third-degree regarding this mysterious envelope, she brought it with her as she headed for those two white feet. Versace stilettos clicked on the terrazzo floor then deadened as she stepped onto the carpet. She slid two fingers beneath the skirt of the document flap and moved the paper with a sideways jerk to force the glue and paper to part.

There was no greeting from her husband, but she imagined his eyes drilling into her skull. She looked down at him, but his dark eyes were glazed, staring into space. Her neck prickled. He was as still as a statue. She dropped the envelope…


Dr. Landis is returning home after an all-nighter in freezing temps. She’d spent the night blood-testing, peering into her field microscope, and tending to a neighbors’ dairy-herd. They were continuing to die of an unknown disease, one by one.

Through the open farmhouse door, she trod upon a crazy parade of muddy raccoon footprints. ”Hey, guys. Guys?” They probably can’t hear me, she thinks. Fox News is on the TV screen at full volume. My kids watching the news? The back of her neck prickles. Alarm registers in all of her body response systems as she realizes it’s a school day, early morning, her family should be here, but they are not.

The phone rings…


As is my habit of a Sunday evening I am sitting in the law library reading. No one knows me over here. My flirtation with The Law was brief but eyeopening.

I always drag my chair deep into the stacks to read. The musty smell of yellowing paper and disintegrating leather is quite comforting. Minutes slide by before two muffled voices penetrate my pleasure-centered brain. On this day I was engrossed in Edward Albee’s “Finding the Sun,” about Cordelia and Abigail who run into each other at the beach and do all they can to hide their dislike for one another. Their animosity is likely because their husbands, Daniel and Benjamin, aren’t doing so well at hiding the fact that they were once in love with one another before deciding to marry Cordelia and Abigail instead.

Snapped back to reality by conspiratorial tones, I strain to hear every word from two stacks over. From what I can gather, two University professor’s wives are holed-up in the stacks of the UNM Law Library plotting to leave their husbands. I don’t know what is more annoying, that I can’t quite hear every word; that they are disparaging two fellows to whom this will come out of the blue or the disruption of my reading time.

I lean into the shelf beside me trying to squeeze close enough to hear more juicy details. Five volumes of The Sacred Law tumble to the floor with a great kerfuffle. My embarrassment and plenty of dust arises. Of course, the wives have hushed themselves instantly. I hear their high heeled shoes beating a speedy retreat along the terrazzo floor. With some trouble, I transport myself back into Albee’s play, which seems not as racy as it did before The Lesbians entered the library.


Grabbing both of her wings, he gently guided her inside his hogan, (six or eight-sided wooden house, typical of the Rez.) It felt safe and dry as an ancient tomb. She nestled into a pile of cushions on the smooth dirt floor. He did not ask her to stand for the blessing as would be the custom, but he fanned pinion smoke on all sides of her shaking body. Her eyes rolled back into her skull. She lost consciousness and fell into darkness.

After some time passed, she awakened, staring up at the male and female-forked logs that held up the roof. Grandfather, she said, “How did I come here to you? And what am I to take from this vision?” Grandfather simply nodded for her to continue the story. ” I was walking out beyond the mesas. I could see the silver trail of a winding river. A high pitched screech grabbed my attention, and I felt myself take flight. Downward I swooped. I received a vision of a rabbit whistling with the pain of a broken back, and as I came to rest, I could see that the rabbit was me. I was back in human form. My hands were bloodied. The knees of my jeans were shredded, soaked, stained crimson. I cried out,  ‘Falcon please do not kill me.’ 

I turned my head from side to side, curious. I seemed to be in two places at once, in two bodies at once. Curiosity calmed my human self long enough to look Falcon in the eye.” 

‘Let us be off home,’ he said, and then I woke up here.”


A man hunkers on a darkened street corner, smoking. He first feels, then notices that a woman is looking down on him from the roof of a bombed-out apartment building on Battersea Lane. He drops his cheroot and steps upon it, never taking his eyes from the woman.

(What happens next? Make this Dangle into a Dangler of your own!)


Still on his knees, the boy looks steadily away from the priest who is hurriedly dressing in the darkest corner of the room. Fair-haired Cory, the apple of his father’s eye, imagines his face and rehearses what he will say was the best thing about today’s lesson when he gets home.

“Let me bless you, my son.” Cory is startled back to reality by the sickening lilt of The Father’s voice. The parish clock begins to chime in the entryway signaling an end to catechism. He submits to the blessing, dons his coat, hat, and mittens, zips himself up against the chill of the world outside and slips out the door, down the steps and into the darkness of make-believe. The priest leaves for vespers.


Inky, Mrs. Larsdatter’s beloved little Scotty, sits patiently beside the Gateway Newsstand beneath the high-rises on the Downtown Chicago Loop. His woolen sweater is obsessive-owner overkill in this late March thaw. Inky wags his tail and barks at some movement out of the corner of his eye. At the moment a priest walking to vespers bends to pet the dog, an 8-foot long icicle surrenders to gravity, plummets toward the sidewalk below and plunges into the heart of the priest.


(That’s my version of justice for the priest in the Dangler, “HIS FATHER’S FACE”. What’s yours?)


He scuffles through the dry leaves on the grey sidewalk.  His mother has forgotten to pick him up from school. “She’s really not coming this time.” Anger churned in his gut. “But what if something happened?” He worried over top of the anger. A thick layer of congealed cheese over the hot sauce.

The more the light faded, the queasier his stomach. He considered walking the 6-plus miles home. What were those short-cuts, again? Down the alley behind the school to Cumberland Trace, through the park, then which way? He dissed himself for not listening to her “just in case” directions. The hope that she would still come ached in his chest.

He looked around. “Maybe some other grown-up will help me.” Wondering whether his teacher had left school yet, he squinted at the classroom window across the playground. All the lights were on! His spirits lifted. He pictured arriving home, making something to eat, switching on the telly. But by the time he was within a few short steps of the classroom door his hopeful vision ceased. It was just Mr. Luka, the janitor. He hoisted grey metal trashcans, two at a time to empty the contents into his big black-wheeled barrel. The boy kicked up a foot-full of playground dirt.

It was properly dark out now. Bats were squeaking and dive-bombing bugs. He desperately did not want to be huddling alone and hungry here all night. Nor did he relish the humiliation of still being in the same clothes the next morning, no homework done, the other kids laughing at him.

Across town, the cicadas struck up singing, leaves crunched beneath a pair of women’s boots as she rushed from the Courthouse Deposition Room. Her door clicked open and slammed. The engine of her Jeep Cherokee roared to life. The woman glanced at her watch, hoping for a different story.


Stepping off the curb into the street, she raises the phone to read an alarming text. A truck rounds the corner with no attempt to slow its momentum or stop for the red light and…

(You have more writing to do here, this one is just a Dangle!)


He listened to the soft whoosh as the machine breathed for her. Big dreaming.

Her forte since toddlerhood lay in manifesting all her little heart desired. Her father recalled her fourth birthday. She’d been telling everyone who would listen, even the mailman, that she would get a pony on her birthday. On her day, lo and behold the doorbell rang, and it was the postman with a huge box. He even stayed a bit to see her tear through the packing to reveal a beautifully hand-painted horse, “wif’ saddle and ev’ry think…”