Do What I Gotta Do by Cortney Joseph

Cassidy danced around her living room, bopping and picking up the latest dances as she watched the new episode of Soul Train.

A fan of the ever popular New Jack Swing, she was jammin’ to Stone Cold Gentleman as those performing in the Soul Train line showcased their skills. She picked up a few of the moves she’d never seen before, doing them a little until she got them down perfectly. She was certain that by the time she hit up the next big party, she’d have it down.

Her best friend smiled and laughed, shaking her head as she sang along and danced in her seat. “You’re determined to be named the best dancer in the class of ‘91?”

Baby I’m nooooooot no Casanova…. Damn right, Paige. I’ve had my nose buried deep in the books since freshman year, and there is no way I am leaving Grambling without having done something great, that doesn’t have to do with school work.”

“Or Brandon.”

“Shush. Don’t even bring my baby up. Hell, as over protective as my pops was, he had to know I was going to break out and find me a man as soon as I stepped on this damn campus.”

Paige laughed, nodding her head as she turned the TV down and Cassidy finally sat back in her seat. “Yeah, parents are a trip. And speaking Brandon, have you two decided what you’re going to do once graduation and all of the celebrating is over with? Come on, I know that you two have talked about marriage and all that, what’s the 411?”

“The 411, is that things seem so different lately. I mean, he’s the one who brought up marriage first. It wasn’t even on my mind, but of course, we’ve been together for the last three and a half years, and I love him. Of course, I see myself spending my life with him. If he were to ask me, the answer would be yes.”

“But?”

Cassidy sighed, her happy mood fading. “I don’t think we’re heading in that direction anymore. He’s so distant, cold. We barely see one another because of work and classes. When we do see one another, he’s either sleeping, or we’re having little petty arguments.” She pulled her knees to her chest, clearing her throat. “I think we’ve finally hit that rough patch, and I’m only hoping that we get it together.”

Just as Paige was about to say something to make her best friend feel better, Cassidy’s pager went off. “Speaking of him, that’s his code to let me know he’s on his way up.”

“That boy loves paging from his car phone.”

Cassidy chuckled. “He calls it the perks of being a rich kid.”

Paige began gathering her things, saying goodbye and hugging Cassidy. As she was walking out, Brandon was walking in. Instead of the smile Cassidy was used to, he had a weary look on his face. Almost as if he’d done something and now he was regretting it.

“Hey Baby, I’m so happy to see you!”

He smiled when she jumped into his arms, hugging Cassidy tightly as he planted kisses on her lips and cheek. Setting her down, he took a deep breath, quickly announcing the nature of his visit. “I know this is unexpected, and we had no plans to see one another, but there is something that I really need to talk to you about, Cass.”

“Oh, okay.”

She stepped aside, letting him walk in before she closed and locked her door. Walking back into the living room, she pushed her things aside and made room for him to sit. The entire time, Brandon stood silently, fighting with himself.

He was certain that Cassidy had the surprise visit pegged as something good. It was quite the opposite, and he was wrestling with himself, trying to decide if it was truly the right time.

Graduation night wouldn’t be the right time either though, he thought to himself as he finally took a seat. Taking her hand in his, he gave one small smile before getting straight to the point. “You know that you and I have been together for a while now. Three and a half years, and it’s been amazing.”

“Yes, it has.”

“And Baby, you know that I’ve loved you from the very moment that I laid eyes on you.” He took a deep breath. “And because I love you, there’s something that I need to do. Something that I need to tell you so that there’s no confusion and that things aren’t taken the wrong way.”

Cassidy cleared her throat, sensing that this was not the proposal that she and Paige were just about to speak in detail on. Something was troubling Brandon, and as much as she wanted to dive right in with the questions, she allowed him time to get his thoughts together.

“It’s like this Cass; my pops always told me that there is no way that I could make the woman I love happy, if I’m not happy about myself or something in my life. There is so much that I want to do for you, so much that I want to give you, but I can’t. Lately I’ve been going through so much, struggling with trying to cope with losing family and money and all of that. I’ve been struggling with who I am as a person, figuring out what truly defines me.”

“Brandon, are you concerned that I’m only with you because your family had money? I promise, that’s not it at all. I would be here with you, right by your side if you had absolutely nothing. I love you, and I would help to make a way for us, you know that.”

He nodded. “I know Cass, and no, that’s not at all. I’ve just been thinking lately, feeling like I need to go off somewhere and be by myself, find myself.”

Cassidy took one deep breath, nodding her head. “Oh. You’re breaking up with me?”

“I just feel like, with us graduating in two months, we’ve both got different plans for the summer. I don’t know if I’m coming back after the summer. I just feel like it’ll be better if we take some time apart, it’d be best for us to be apart.”

“Okay.”

A single tear fell and he wiped it away, pulling her into a gentle embrace. “I swear, I don’t want to hurt you baby. I don’t wanna make you cry, I don’t want to break your heart, but I feel like I’ve got to do this now, so that there aren’t any problems later on.”

“Doing what you’ve gotta do.” She chuckled as the song played in her head, realizing, finally, why he said he identified so much with the song the first time they’d heard it.

“Cass, if it’s meant to be, we will find our way back to one another. I just don’t want it to get to be years down the line and we’re both faking like we’re still in love with one another, living our lives as if it’s perfect when it wouldn’t be.”

She nodded, giving a small smile. “It’ll all work out for the better, whatever is meant to happen.”

Instead of showing him out, like she normally would, Cassidy excused herself and went to her bedroom. Whether he left right away or not, she didn’t want him to see the rest of her tears fall.

Brandon put his head down, taking a deep breath. The moment he’d wrestled so much with had gone better than he expected, but he just knew nothing between them would be the same. Even if they did reconnect after the summer was over, it would all be different. “I had to do it. I had to be real and honest about the situation. And it’s going to work out, eventually.” That’s what he told himself over and over as he walked out, locking her bottom lock and closing the door behind him.

Hoping he’d made the right decision.

#Halloween Repost : Dracula’s Fear by Cortney Joseph

He hang from the rafters, encased in his black cloak as he hid away in the solitude of a darkened room, a figure willed the end of his life to come. The privacy of his ghoulish manor had been invaded by droves of sully characters, ghastly family members that turned out in droves to witness the Dark Prince’s turn of fortunes.

Dracula sighed heavily, wondering how he’d gotten himself caught up in what now seemed like such foolishness. What was he thinking!?

 

Hearing footsteps, his body became ridged, his eyes popping open to dart back and forth as a creak sounded off, the opening of the door. Footsteps grew louder, and then a voice rang out.

“Drac, I’ve checked every room in this manor, and I know this is the only other place that you could possibly be. Come out.”

His low breathing resumed, his heartbeat creeping back to it’s slowed rate once he realized it were only his uncle. The grand Count Balthazar. “You can’t make me go out there.”

Balthazar chuckled at the scoundrel, pulling at the tips of his gloves before pulling them off and sliding them into the pocket of his suit jacket. “What are you, a hundred and two? You’re acting like a youngling. My boy, it is quite natural to have flies running a muck in your stomach, but you must get over it, shake off the despair you attach to letting go of your bachelorhood.”

“I’m a wreck.”

Balthazar spun around in a circle, trying to pinpoint where Dracula’s voice was coming from. The deep rasp of it echoed off the walls, confusing the old man. “As are most men who have spent their whole lives biting at the necks of any woman they choose, only to be defanged by The One.”

“I’ve not been defanged.”

The man shrugged his shoulders, growing a bit annoyed by all the shenanigans displayed by his nephew as of late. “Defanged, tamed… same difference. Now come; Princess Aveena awaits.”

“Aveena terrifies me.”

“My boy, would you rather call the whole thing off?”

“N-n-ye-noo. NO. I just, I need time to adjust.”

Balthazar exhaled. “Time to adjust? Drac, you’ve spent the last two thousand years parlaying and enjoying the rotten fruits of your life. You’ve seen all of your siblings marry, and you’ve been a witness to the wonderment and the downfalls of them all. You know what to expect, and you know how to make the institution work in your favor. If you want it to work, that is.”

 

In one swift movement, Dracula unhinged his shoes from the ceiling, dropping to the floor without bothering to land upright. Balthazar jumped, turning to find the Dark Prince lying with a more deadened expression than usual on his face.

The sight saddened the old man a bit. His own voice, like that of a French Horn, rang out in great disappointment. “Oh Drac, Dear Boy, you’re a mess. Skin like that of warmed honey gone ashen in such a short amount of time. The glow of after-life draining by the second. My boy, you’re going cold.”

“My outer shell finally matches my icy heart.” Dracula covered his face, whimpering and weeping into his cloak.

“Know what I think?”

“No, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me, Uncle Balthazar.”

He nodded, clearing his throat. “You’ve only ever had to be responsible for yourself and your own misery. I’d say happiness, but you were never a happy child or man. And then a spark of fire and light comes along, and she makes you feel things only known to the living. She gives you love, energy, a zest to go out and conquer the world, fulfill all of your dreams. She makes you feel good, she makes you happy. Has melted that icy heart, brought on emotions you haven’t felt a day in your after-life.”

“What of it?”

“It frightens you, and that is okay. But I don’t think you should run from it. A love like that is pure, whether given in light or darkness. A love like that, it never falters or fades. A love like that makes a man better than he was before it came along. Don’t you notice the change in yourself?”

Dracula rose, looking at his uncle sideways. “Of course I do. I live in shadows by night, haunting and feeding without care or fear. I cast spells to scare millions around the world, have left the universe shaken for centuries at the thought of my dastardly ways. Then this tiny woman comes along and all of that power drains within an instant, the very second I lay eyes on her. I lift a finger to cause trouble on a whim, and she bats a lash my away, my fingers go limp. I am weakened, left to feel human to feelings and actions I can’t control. I want to be bad, but she makes me want to be good and kind and nice.” He gagged at the thought. “But sometimes I love it, and I love her. And though I hate to lose control, sometimes losing my control to her doesn’t seem or feel so bad.” Dracula sighed, unsure of his own actions now.

 

Perhaps it were a last attempt at rebellion, his last attempt at being ‘bad’, at hurting those close to him. It used to come with such ease. Everything in his after-life came with ease before Princess Aveena of Ethiopia stormed into his life like fog and mist on All Hallows’ Eve. “I love her. And I want this, I do.”

“So why are you hiding in here and not in that living room waiting at the altar?”

“I don’t know.”

Balthazar took slow steps, pulling his nephew into an embrace. “Ismalia awaits it’s future King and Queen. All will be fine, I’m certain.”

At the door, they heard a voice. It flowed and wrapped itself around Dracula like earthly warmness, heating his gaunt face. Just as swiftly as she seemed to drain him, Aveena had the power to restrengthen him in ways he couldn’t explain. The ashen color shook from his body, his honey hued tone returning as a smile replaced his fearful frown.

“Drac, My Love; I’ve been afraid too. But I’m waiting, and I will keep waiting if you want me to.”

Dracula pulled away from and looked at Balthazar, gaining the confidence that had evaded him the entire week that led to his wedding day. “What you gonna do, My Boy?”

Dracula pulled himself together, straightening out his suit and cloak. “Today, I wed.” He raised his voice, finally allowing delight to overtake his usual grim undertone. “I’ve been consumed within a lifetime of bleakness. A lifetime of her sunshine doesn’t seem so bad after all.”

 

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Just a note : Cheesy, I know, but this is my first attempt at writing anything Halloween related. I hope that it was at least enjoyable, lol. (Let’s hope next year I can get a little darker/more gruesome.)

If you’re trick-or-treating with your kiddies, or going out to celebrate with your friends, please remember to remain safe.

Happy Halloween!

 

#Halloween Repost : So The Myth Goes [“Prayer Lake” Intro] by Cortney Joseph

Lettsworth, La. : 1921

As a mob stood before him with pitchforks and lit torches, screaming and yelling his name, Jean-Paul Rideau eyed them one by one with laughter in his dark eyes. Upon the porch on which he stood, they all looked like tiny specs, much smaller than his six foot five, slender frame. His toffee tinted skin glistened in flickers of the flames as they grew closer and closer. Obscenities went in one ear and right out the other, followed by all of the ‘wrong-doing’ and problems he’d caused.

He pitied them. All fools to think they held any power within or around his sanctuary. To think they scared him in any way.

They’d converged on his home, seeking to oust him from their Creole village once and for all. The love and admiration they once had for the Great Prince of Magic, turned to fear and hate for all they failed to understand or chose to ignore.

Too many times, he supposed, he’d played with their lives. Flipped the cards of their fortunes in his favor when they failed to pay their debts. But they’d all been warned, time and time again about the dangers of breaking deals and time and time again they returned for more. Karma stacking against them slowly.

And, what was so wrong with a man wanting to collect on unpaid debts if he were rightfully owed, he often wondered as threats made their way around the small village day after day as more individuals saw that consequences came with the desire they made wishes and trades for. He had had enough. And so had the villagers.

Jean-Paul Rideau and his powers had to go.

“We gave you until sundown! Leave voluntarily, or we’ll remove you ourselves.”

“Remove me? How grand.” Jean-Paul laughed, heartily, doubling over until it seemed he were unable to stop himself. The villagers all stared in confusion until he stood tall and a cloud of dust formed around him at the wave of his arms. When it cleared, he was gone. “My, my, my how we seem to forget who holds the advantages here. I mean sure, you could beat me.” He popped up behind an older woman, smiling in delight at the way she shrieked when he touched her shoulder. “Oh, but you’ve done that already and how’s that worked in your favor.”

As a single shot rang out, he vanished again. The bullet barely missed the head of the woman Jean-Paul had scared. They saw nothing, only heard the rich baritone of his voice as he cackled and cooed gently. “Oh, foolish people. There’s a price one must pay when they obtain riches and luxury by ways unnatural. All would have worked out fine had you listened to and done all that I said. How’s it all the fault of one little man that all in your life go astray?” He reappeared on the front porch, startling the villagers. The women screamed, whimpering and cowering behind men that were mere cowards themselves. “I only do what you say. I only give what you ask for. The rest comes your way because you hold evil intentions when asking, not because my intentions are evil when I give. But I tell you what, I’m really a nice man. Much more than the scary witch doctor you tell the people in Opelousas , and Palmetto, and other cities. I shake this curse you believe you’re under, if you leave me be from here on out.”

Many of the villagers began considering his offer. One, however, wanted to make no deals. Wanted to hear no excuses. “You’re a dead man, Rideau!”

“Oh?”

The first torch was thrown, followed by a second, and more. Jean-Paul stood still, watching and feeling heat swell around him as the flames of the fire burned and spread, destroying his lavish home. Now was the moment he could have disappeared, done mass harm in one sweep and had the final laugh. But he’d seen it coming.

If little old Lettsworth thought they’d suffered before, they’d truly known no fury like that of his.

“Die you evil bastard!”

Jean-Paul smiled, tipping the hat he wore as he nodded, giving a small glimpse of his curly red hair. “As you wish. But just know; for the price of murder, you’ll pay. You, your children, your children’s children, and any who should continue to inhabit this village. Mark my words, you’ll live to regret this night. And you’ll die wishing you’d done differently.”

Another shot rang out, the bullet hitting him in the chest, followed by two more. As Jean-Paul Rideau hit the porch, the life draining from his body; he made one last motion. Turning his head to his audience, he stared into their eyes as he died. “See you all, in a Hell made on Earth.”

The villagers watched on with a mixture of relief and fear flowing around them. Before long, the fire had engulfed the large, plantation style home that had been owned by the great Rideau family. One of the last of their descendants, burned with it. When all had settled, they began the task of covering their tracks. The strongest men wrapped the charred body in cellophane and large plastic tarp. Loading it into the back of a truck, they drove a few miles to an area that hadn’t been used in over a decade. A camp, abandoned when dark practices became the preferred religion over Christianity.

With no ease, they unloaded the body of Jean-Paul Rideau and dumped him into the pond located at the edge of the camp area. Solemnly, the men said a prayer for themselves and for the village of Lettsworth. They asked God for forgiveness, believing they had finally done right by ridding the state of Louisiana, and the world, of a great evil.

Turning away, with one final look, they agreed to never speak of their deeds to anyone that wasn’t in attendance with the original mob.

An explanation for the burning of the Rideau home? Jean-Paul’s disappearance? The story given to his wife and young child as they returned from a trip he’d advised in advance? The crazy witch doctor simply did the village a favor and made himself scarce after accidentally burning his own home, taking his wicked ways elsewhere to bother some other unfortunate souls. They drove his wife away with stories of where he could have gone, sending her on a decades long search for the love of her life, the father of her child.

That’s what was told. That’s what was believed. Until, one by one, year after year, strange things began to happen around the time of his ‘disappearance’. The original mob dissipated, in a rash of unexplained deaths. Their children, haunted. Their grandchildren, instilled with a fear of living and growing up in the small village until someone finally decided it was best to leave Lettsworth altogether.

Still unincorporated, and hardly acknowledged within the state of Louisiana, Lettsworth was abandoned after forty years of suffering. All at the hands of, most felt, the tortured soul of Jean-Paul Rideau.

A song was often sung on the rare instances his name was brought up in conversation of the great Voodoo and Hoodoo Priests and Priestesses of the south. A song children of the seventies remixed to fit their call and response games of hopscotch and double dutch, sung just for fun with no belief in a real person behind the words.

He came from New Orleans. He was a Voodoo King. Rideau was his name. Black Magic was his claim to fame.

So the myth goes.

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Songs To Write To #3

Lately I’ve been in a bit of a loving mood, and typically that doesn’t sit well with me but the stories that come from the mood are always great.

So for this playlist, I decided to go with a few songs that have put me in the perfect mood for romance novels, flashfiction and shorts.

Hope they inspire you as well.

Happy writing!

xoxo, Cortney.

“Somewhere (The Intro)” by Cortney Joseph

I needed somewhere

to capture these thoughts,

to hold these feelings,

to house these memories,

these dreams and nightmares that won’t free me.

I needed somewhere

to be me without judgement,

to speak my mind,

clear my heart

of all the emotions silently tearing me apart.

Here’s where I bare it all

as the the world around me crumbles and falls.

Invisible, Me. by Cortney Joseph

Falling, alone, constantly.

Not a hand in sight to grab hold of,

To pull me back, to pull me close.

Unseen, unheard,

unwanted, unloved.

Alone in a world of people moving in slow-mo.

Trapped in the abyss of loneliness,

Invisible, barely here.

Barely me.

Back On Wattpad

So as I get back into writing, I’m going to be tackling numerous things at once. In case my mind gets stuck on one thing, I’ll have others to turn to. I’ve found that works best for me when I’m not dealing with a bad case of writer’s block.

Anyway, one of the projects I’ve decided to work on is my old 70s inspired story/novel, “Sparrow”.

It can be found on Wattpad (link below), with the first two chapters updated and posted, and many more to follow. Updates will be slow, but totally worth it if you find that you enjoy the story.

Happy reading!

https://www.wattpad.com/story/222800475-sparrow

Songs To Write To #2

I’ve been in a bit of a mood lately, sometimes sad… sometimes feeling nothing at all. And in those moments, these are the songs I tend to listen to.

Sometimes it’s to help bring forth a good and much needed cry. Other times it’s to gather feelings for a story, emotions I can’t gather and put into words when I am in a good or happy mood.

Hope these beautiful songs evoke different emotions and story ideas for you all as well.

Happy writing!

xoxo, Cortney.

Songs To Write To #1

Hey, how’s it going? Have you been enjoying the few posts from this week?

I hope so.

While trying to refocus on my writing, and push myself out of my latest round of fear (of failure), I’ve been thinking that I need to get back to what helps and most often inspires me the most. Music.

I always find myself lost in words and melodies and coming up with so many stories and ideas (usually without having the time to write them).

So, while forcing myself to make the time, I’ve decided to go back to curating playlists to set moods and provide inspiration and vibes for those, who like me, enjoy a good tune or two. If this interests you, then be sure to look out for these weekly or bi-weekly Spotify playlists I’ll share here on MyPenWritesNice.

Hope you enjoy, and happy writing!

xoxo, Cortney.