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4 Engaging Short Stories

Events, Lifestyle Tips, Givers and More…

JULY 2013 $3.95 U.S.

Real Estate Market Trends


THE PLACE TO PURSUE LIFE’S PASSIONS Originally from Florida’s East Coast, Lyn and Joe Deglman found the upkeep on their house in Longboat Key kept them from the many activities they enjoyed. They decided to trade lawn care and home maintenance for the freedom of condo living at Plymouth Harbor. Their new home, built to their specifications, even includes a custom doorway to accommodate an ornate rounded door and a faux fireplace and mantel that they brought with them from three previous homes. Both continue to work, as well as volunteer, while enjoying the friendships they have cultivated in the vibrant community at Plymouth Harbor. An expert

in clock care and repair, Joe keeps regular office hours at his clock shop in Sarasota, while Lyn, a retired school psychologist, works part-time at a CPA firm. Keeping their hand in daily business and engagement with the community is their passion. Plymouth Harbor is their home and they delight in the lifestyle they have discovered in this lively community. When quality of life, smart planning and the freedom to pursue passions and new interests are top priorities, Plymouth Harbor is the wise choice. Call us today for a tour of our award-winning campus, luxury accommodations and amenities.

Sarasota’s First Choice in Continuing Care Retirement Communities

700 John Ringling Blvd. Sarasota, FL 34236 • (941) 365-2600 • A Not-For-Profit Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). OIR #88039




to life!

COMING SOON! ExECutIvE & EStatE HOMES frOM tHE $300s -$600s Up to 5 Bedrooms • Nearly 4,000 sq. ft.

this extraordinary, picturesque setting is the perfect backdrop for two of lennar’s newest and most exciting collections of grand, estate-inspired homes. Punctuated by an enviable location just minutes from the sarasota shore, Bridgewater is dedicated to those who understand sophisticated living and casual elegance. Where people come to play! lakewood ranch is a master plan of resortstyle living with world-class amenities for virtually every hour of the day!

• Championship golf • resort pools with kids’ area • tennis and fitness centers • spa with sauna, steam and massage • trails and sports campus • Shopping and dining • planned events, tournaments and more

Directions: I-75 to exit 213 (University Parkway) towards Sarasota, east to community on right.

• 888-214-1674 Stated square footages are approximate and should not be used as representation of the home’s precise or actual size. Prices subject to change. Copyright © 2013 Lennar Corporation. Lennar, the Lennar logo and Everything’s Included Home are registered service marks of Lennar Corporation and/or its subsidiaries. CGC 1507191. 5/13


is Life.

Enjoy it to the Fullest.

Laurel Oak


Member-owned since 1999, at Laurel Oak you will find very warm, welcoming, and friendly members. With abundant natural beauty teeming with wildlife, the Club’s many amenities include 36 holes of championship golf, 12 Har Tru tennis courts, a junior Olympic-size pool and a 45,000 sq ft clubhouse. Whether you play golf or tennis, or like to socialize, dine and party with friends in a warm and inviting environment, we have a membership plan for your lifestyle. In addition to our retired members, there are many young families at Laurel Oak, giving the Club a very energetic, highly participatory membership with many family-oriented events throughout the year. We invite you for a Club tour anytime or take advantage of our try-us-out membership, designed to allow you to experience Laurel Oak Country Club, with virtually all the privileges of a full member, before making the commitment to full membership. Call today for your personal tour. Enjoy family and life to the fullest at Laurel Oak.

Secure your spot in one of Sarasota’s finest family country clubs.

Call Today for a Try-Us-Out Membership. 941-378-3399 2700 Gary Player Blvd. Sarasota, FL 34240 A Private Club

Inviting. Inspired. Incomparable.


Whether you need Skilled Nursing care or you need to “Bounce Back” after a major illness or trauma, the unique, not-for-profit facility that is Hawthorne Village of Sarasota has high quality healthcare and a full range of rehabilitative therapies.



• With its 120-bed Skilled Nursing facility, the amenities and services are exceptional • Personal Physician • 24-Hour Nurses • Highly-Trained Physical, Occupational & Speech Therapists • Registered Dietician and Nutritional Management • Social Services • Full-Time Activities Director

• Through the innovative “Bounce Back” program, you can Rehab, Recover, Return Home® • Interdisciplinary Team of Experienced Professionals • State-of-the-Art Therapy Equipment • Evidence-based care & Individualized Treatment • Physical, Occupational & Speech Rehabilitative Therapies • Case Management to Maximize Benefits • AJ’s Fitness Center at Hawthorne Village helps you focus on Flexibility, Strength Training, Balance & Endurance


CALL FOR YOUR PERSONAL TOUR 5381 Desoto Road | Sarasota, FL 34235 | 941.355.6111 | License # SNF130471051


Real Estate/Beach Reads July 2013 Volume 56 No. 7



By The Bellwether Group at Morgan Stanley

34 BEYOND THE CLOSING TABLE For all transactions, legal advice is a must By Sue Cullen


36 Michelle Crabtree Michael Saunders & Company 40 Cheryl Loeffler Premier Sotheby’s International Realty 44 Denise Mei Michael Saunders & Company


BEACH READS 54 The Swirling By Darlin’ Neal

60 Hildebrand By Peter Meinke

68 The Ballad of the Skunk Ape By Jarret Keene

76 Falling Debris By Muriel Redifer



ABOUT THE COVER Cover photo of Realtors Michelle Crabtree, Cheryl Loeffler, and Denise Mei by Herb Booth




July 2013

Doctors Hospital Do is My Hospital for Emergency Care

The way EMS andser the Personal service, short wait times Personal and Doctors Hospitalreco ER national recognition. We are dedicated to providing national

together was TA OUTSTANDING QUALITY AND O Uworked TS wonderful. When we reached the hospital, everyone was ready and waiting for me.


FOR YOU. FO – Ruth Golder, Doctors Hospital Emergency Room Patient

To learn more about Ruth Golder’s healthcare To learn m journey, visit us at journey, vis 5731 Bee Ridge Road Sarasota, Florida 34233 1-888-685-1596 (toll-free)

5731 Bee Ridge Sarasota, Florid 1-888-685-159




18 Woman’s Exchange Annual Arts Awards Celebration 22 8th Annual Dick Vitale Gala 23 JFCS Tribute to Veterans Awards Luncheon

26 PERFORMING ARTS CALENDAR 30 YARA’S WAY Lifestyle tips and recipes By Yara Shoemaker


48 A New Leash on Life – Keith G. Hirst Southeastern Guide Dogs 50 Building Hope – Ken Pendery Habitat for Humanity Sarasota


By Steven J. Smith

84 BEHIND THE SCENE Society Maven Debbi Benedict Gives the Latest Scoop By Debbi Benedict


89 Abnormal Uterine Bleeding By Dr. Edgardo J Aponte, MD, FACOG

90 Time To Rejuvenate! By Kaitlyn Kramer






July 2013

Stuart J. Roth Founder and President

Salt & Light Productions is nationally acclaimed for its outstanding multi-media presentations and is the recipient of 2 Emmy and 34 Telly Awards.

Salt & Light Radio WITH

Stuart J. Roth

Saturdays at Noon


1220 AM/106.9 FM

Our production team provides high-definition photography of interviews and supporting video, topic research, script writing, editing, voice actors and graphics. For further information on how we can help your organization unleash its full potential, please contact Patty Dodson at 941.487.4061.

7357 Merchant Court • Sarasota, FL 34240 • Phone 941.487.4061 • Fax 941.487.4062



am slightly embarrassed to divulge that two of my top ten favorite films of all-time

were both made in 1939 – Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. Both films stir many emotions in me and both point to the importance of home. One of my favorite lines from GWTW was when Gerald O’Hara said to Scarlett, “It’s the land,

Katie Scarlett…land is the only thing in the world worth workin’ for, worth fightin’ for, worth dyin’ for, because it’s the only thing that lasts.” This “red earth of Tara” theme is echoed by other GWTW characters who constantly affirm to Scarlett that home – Tara – is where she gains her strength. My absolute favorite line from The Wizard of Oz is when Dorothy clicks her heels three times in the land of Oz and repeats, “There’s no place like home” and miraculously wakes up in her Kansas bedroom surrounded by her loving family. Wow, the power of good witches is amazing, I thought as a five-year-old. I’m not alone getting tears in my

Currently Inbar Architect is designing an 84 Unit Condominum in Naples, FL. For more information please visit

eyes over this famous line. It seems it is ranked #23 in the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema. For many of us, this attachment for our home is in our core. It is where we feel safe, take comfort and refuge, and conduct our family life; its look and feel reflecting who we are as individuals and how we interface with those closest to us. Let’s face it – there is no place like home. Purchasing your home is probably going to be the biggest

“ To me, architecture is the

anticipation of life in space. My designs embrace the essence of life – capturing its natural spirit and evoking a feeling of oneness.” – Yehuda Inbar

investment of your life, not only monetarily but emotionally. With this, our real estate issue, meet three local Realtors whose passion for helping people find their perfect home ranks them as some of the best in the field. They know how important it is to find the best home for their clients and their expertise and devoted service make this happen. Be sure to read about the generosity and compassion of Ken Pendery, CEO of First Watch, as he helps Habitat for Humanity Sarasota County build homes for those who could not otherwise realize owning their own home. Ditto for Ken Hirst, whose incredible philanthropy to Southeastern Guide Dogs has enhanced its services to the visually impaired and the disabled so they may better navigate through their homes and through life. Perhaps you’ll want to join them in helping these two outstanding organizations. And while you’re recharging your batteries this summer, we’ve collected four short stories for your beach reading pleasure. The stories are by local and/or Florida connected fiction writers with story

Inbar A rchitect AIA, NCARB

2831 Ringling Boulevard, E#117, Sarasota

illustrations by Ringling College of Art + Design students. You may also want to check out Debbi Benedict’s column to find out what others are reading this summer as well. Enjoy your summer, recharge, invigorate, and SCENE will be back in September!

941.951.2816 | FL License AA 0002701




July 2013


This masterpiece community features superb amenities, including an expertly sculpted 18-hole championship golf course and clubhouse, River Club with dining, fitness and tennis, a picturesque nature park and, of course, exquisite homes. Some may consider it a stroke of genius.

Venetian Golf & River Club LAUREL RD. EAST

Exit 195

Gulf of Mexico

Membership Opportunities Available!

New homes from the low $200s. 102 Pesaro Drive | North Venice, FL 34275 941-485-5063 | 800-WCI-4486

Choose the right COURSE with WCI Communities. Whether you enjoy a day teeing it up on the golf course or charting a course in your boat, WCI has a community to suit your needs. On the shores of the Manatee River in Bradenton, Tidewater Preserve is a private boating community with exceptional amenities including the Port & Court Club tennis complex, marina and boat lift, canoe park, even a riverfront nature walk. Tidewater’s newest addition, The Lodge rounds out the amenities offering a fitness center, resort style pool, and plenty of space for socializing. Enjoy Living on the River’s Edge at Tidewater Preserve.


Tampa St. Petersburg

LOGO B/W - includes reversed out logo in all white

Tampa Bay




Gulf of Mexico 64



The Experience Is Everything.

Exit 220 75



Void where prohibited. Prices and availability are subject to change without notice. All references to clubs, golf clubs and membership opportunities and other amenities are subject to fees, dues and availability. Venetian Golf & River Club is not affiliated with The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino or Las Vegas Sands, Inc. In any WCI community with a community development district or special taxing district, certain amenities may be funded by district financing. ©2013 WCI Communities, Inc. All rights reserved. CGC031523

Homes from the low $200s to the $700s. 4700 Tidewater Preserve Blvd. | Bradenton FL 34208 941-465-4001 | 800-WCI-3343

LIST YOUR PROPERTY WITH ME AND YOUR FORECLOSURE DEFENSE IS FREE!* At Solutions Realty, we work in conjunction with a Board Certified Real Estate Attorney to defend your foreclosure and negotiate your short sale approval.

Our Company has a proven track record of success in listing and selling underwater property. We have helped many homeowners solve their real estate problems through a short sale. Call today to see if we can help you too.


Ronald Milton

Executive Editor:

Julie A. Milton

V.P. Sales & Business Development Art Director: Editorial Assistant:

259 South Links Avenue Sarasota, Florida 34236 Michael B. Edwards, Broker Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource Certified by National Association of Realtors




July 2013

Michelle Cross Cheryl Galbraith

Special Issue Director: Debbi Benedict Distribution: Contributing Writers:

Dick Jackson Debbi Benedict Sue Cullen Gus Mollasis Yara Shoemaker Steven J. Smith Ryan G. Van Cleave Joy Weston

Photographers: Herb Booth Cliff Roles Address Phone

7269 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, FL 34241 941-365-1119

Fax 941-954-5067 Website

*Call today to learn more about our programs

(941) 302-4812

Dan Downey

SCENE Magazine publishes 12 issues a year by RJM Ventures, LLC. Address editorial, advertising and circulation correspondence to the above address. Sufficient return postage and self-addressed, stamped envelope must accompany all manuscripts, art work and photographs submitted if they are to be returned or acknowledged. Publisher assumes no responsibility for care of return of unsolicited materials. Subscription price: $12.95 per year, $19.95 for two years. All contents copyrighted. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. ISSN 1535-8895.

Special Publications: Arts & Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County's Arts & Culture Guide, Doctors On The Scene, The Giving Book, Leading the Scene, Men On The Scene & Women On The Scene.



COAST INFINITI 2124 Bee Ridge Road • Sarasota, FL 34239 941.924.1211 •


Woman’s Exchange Annual Arts Community Awards Celebration The Woman’s Exchange recently awarded more than a half million dollars in grants and scholarships at the organization’s 51st annual awards celebration. More than 200 people were on hand to see 19 of Sarasota and Manatee counties largest local arts and cultural organizations and 32 students receive a grant or scholarship. The event was held at the Exchange and was catered by Café L ’Europe with music provided by Debbie Keeton. All of the money awarded during the celebration was derived from the Woman’s Exchange’s 12,000 sq. ft. consignment operation located at 539 S. Orange Ave. The Woman’s Exchange has given in excess of $7 million dollars since its inception in 1962.  Photos by Cliff Roles

Karen Koblenz & Stephen Lahood Reed Tucker & Rachel Querreneld

Maureen William, Laurel Roberts, Elizabeth Power & Margaret Ann Behrends

Kate Alexander, Jules Rose & Barbara Simon

Bruce Rodgers, Barbara Johnson, Michelle Bianchi Pingel & Jim Shirley


Summer Colors MK Designs and The Golden Image Jewelry Store Stunning, Unique and One of a Kind 30 South Palm Ave., Downtown Sarasota 941.364.8439 |




July 2013

Impeccable Style, Outstanding Performance

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For more information, contact Jupiter Marine at 941.729.5000 or visit

TOGETHER WE OFFER COMPREHENSIVE SOLUTIONS • Residential and Commercial Real Estate Closings • Foreclosure Defense and Short Sale Negotiations/Closings

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Sheryl A. Edwards Board Certified Real Estate Attorney

The Edwards Law Firm, PL 1901 Morrill Street Sarasota, Florida 34236 941.363.0110


• Residential and Commercial Real Estate Sales • Short Sale and Foreclosure Certified by National Association of Realtors

“I have more than 25 years of experience in managing and selling real estate. Our company has a proven track record of success in listing and selling distressed and nondistressed real estate. List your short sale with me and your foreclosure defense is free.*” – Michael B. Edwards *call for more information on our programs

Michael B. Edwards Broker

Solutions Realty 259 South Links Avenue Sarasota, Florida 34236 941.302.4812


8th Annual Dick Vitale Gala As he does every year, renowned college basketball broadcaster and local resident Dick Vitale brought tears in the eyes of more than 800 people, including celebrities from around the world as he made his passionate plea to raise money for pediatric cancer through the V Foundation. The event honored three college coaches – Florida State’s football coach Bobby Bowden, University of Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun, and Bill Self, basketball coach at the University of Kansas. VIP guests enjoyed a post-gala show with music by The Temptations. The event, which raised well over $1 million, benefits research initiatives at All Children’s Hospital (St. Petersburg), Moffitt Cancer Center (Tampa) and Shands Cancer (Gainesville). In its eight years, the Dick Vitale Gala has raised more than $10 million for cancer research.

Photos by Cliff Roles

Jim Calhoun, Dick Vitale, Bill Self & Bobby Bowden

Mary Kenealy-Barbetta, Billy & Christine Donovan

Terri Vitale Sforzo, Chris Sforzo, BettyAnn, Courtney & Christopher Alberta




July 2013

Beth Cannata & John Saputo

Thomas Krug & Sherri Vitale Krug with Jake, Ava & Connor

Bob Kanuth & Lesley Visser

Judy Landers & Tom Niedenfuhr

Susan & Jack Hannah

Tim Westervelt, Nick Bollettieri & Calvin Cole


JFCS Tribute to Veterans Awards Luncheon The Tribute to Veterans Service to Community Awards Luncheon was sponsored by JFCS at Michael’s On East with 175 guests attending in support of the programs and services provided to local veterans through the JFCS Operation Military Assistance Program and All Faiths Food Bank Veteran’s Appreciation Program. The event recognized six individuals who inspire patriotism, provide services to others and offer hope to veterans.  Award recipients were Earl E. Jacobson, LT COL, USMC (Retired), Veteran’s Appreciation Food Distribution Volunteer at All Faiths Food Bank; Daniel Kennedy, Founder/Headmaster/CEO of Sarasota Military Academy; Rick Rogala, Former USS Pueblo Prisoner of War, Sarasota County Veterans Commission; John W. Saputo, COL, USMCR (Retired), Gold Coast Eagle Distributing – Anheuser-Busch, LLC; Troy C. Scott, COL, USAR (Retired), Military Officers Association of Sarasota; Steve Wilberding, Former Captain, Infantry, US Army, OMAP Mentor and JFCS Board Member.  Representing The Patterson Foundation, Linda Gould, Legacy of Valor Coordinator, presented $10,000 gifts to Rose Chapman, President/CEO of JFCS and Sandra Frank, Executive Director of All Faiths Food Bank in recognition of the impact these two agencies have made through programs and services assisting local veterans in our community.  Photos by Cliff Roles

Troy Scott, Dan Kennedy, Rick Rogala, John Saputo, Steve Wilberding & Earl Jacobson

Chris Reynolds, Denise Saputo & Rudi Kleer

Steve Wilberding, Teri Hansen & Rich Segall John Osterweil, Lauren Fineman, Randy & Susan Mallitz & Marie Monsky  

Providing conservative investment strategies for 20 years

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Wood Asset Management A T I TA N I U M A S S E T M A N A G E M E N T C O M PA N Y



July 2013





Summer Calendar For a complete listing of community events please visit

RMOA Witness to War: WWII Photographs From the Collections of Veterans Through October 27 Ringling Museum of Art - Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing. An exhibit honoring the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families. The exhibition is part of Legacy of Valor, a community campaign that informs and engages the community about veterans and their families.

Conservation Foundation: Environmental Art Exhibit by Pamela Callender Through August. Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, Bay Preserve, 400 Palmetto Ave., Osprey 8:30 am. The “Environmental ReFlux” exhibit reflects the artist’s fascination with unintentional visual evidence of human existence in the environment. Free admission | Visit for details on the opening reception.

The Ringling Art After 5 Every Thursday 5:00 pm. Explore the art in the Museum of Art and Circus Museum or catch a romantic sunset on Sarasota Bay as Ca’ d’Zan. Enjoy music and insights into the collection through gallery discussions. Tickets: $5 - $10 | 941.359.5700 |

“Gloria Musicae Celebrates America” July 4 First United Methodist Church 4:00 pm. Enjoy a tribute to American composers with a July 4th concert featuring the Florida premiere of Alan Gershwin’s “Gettysburg Anthem.” Tickets: $35 | 941.360.7399

Selby Gardens Tropical 4th of July July 4 Selby Gardens 6:00 pm. Enjoy the laid back island sounds of Impulse, pre-bayfront show. Activities and entertainment for kids of all ages. Tickets: $17 - $20 |

Music on Main July 5 Lakewood Ranch Main Street 6:00 pm. Free concerts the first Friday every month. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, a local non-profit organization.




July 2013

Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix Festival Through July 7. This week-long celebration is filled with fun, excitement and a variety of events up to and around the powerboat race. Benefits the Suncoast Charities for Children. 941.371.8820 x1800 |

Sarasota Opera Guild’s Summer Salons with Cheryl Losey July 11 Sarasota Yacht Club 11:30 am. Luncheon featuring Cheryl Losey, Principal Harpist of the Sarasota Orchestra, and performer for the Sarasota Opera. Tickets: $35 | 941.925.1220 |

Florida Studio Theatre’s Sarasota Improv Festival 2013 July 12 – 13 Goldstein Cabaret. Enjoy some of the hottest groups on the Improv scene nationwide. Acts from all over the country will perform on the Cabaret stage in the festival. Tickets: $10 |

A Midsummer Night’s Wish July 13 Ritz Beach Club 7:00 pm. Delicious food, drinks and great music poolside; event benefits the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Tickets: $100 | 941.952.9474 |

Seminole Hard Rock Heatwave Summer Series: The Beach Boys July 18 Tampa’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino 8:30 pm. Enjoy the Beach Boys’ beloved sounds of surf, sun and fun. Tickets: $69 | 1.800.745.3000|

Snooty’s 65th Birthday Bash & Wildlife Festival July 20 South Florida Museum 10:00 am. Celebrate with games, activities and fun for the whole family. Sing Happy Birthday to Snooty at noon and enjoy interactive wildlife stations with such local friends as Mote Marine Laboratory and Jungle Gardens.

Art Center’s 1st Annual Florida Flavor July 25 – September 6 Art Center Sarasota 10:00 am. State-wide juried exhibition across all four of the Art Center’s galleries, which showcases the exceptional artists who live and work in Florida. 941.365.2032 |

Art Uptown’s 5th Annual Dog Days Juried Show July 27 – August 23, 1367 Main Street. The gallery will exhibit the works of Art Uptown’s 28 member-artists. An opening reception will be held August 2 at 6:00 pm. 941.955.5409 |

AJC Summer Lunch & Learn Series July 31 Michael’s On East 11:00 am. Third of AJC’s summer speaker series, featuring Steven Bayme, Ph.D., AJC’s Director of Contemporary Jewish Life. Tickets: $25, reservations required | 941.365.4955 |

Upcoming Events Boys & Girls Club Women’s Leadership Council August 20 Sarasota Yacht Club 11:30 am. Speaker Series continues with host Sally Schule, Marketing Director of Saks Fifth Avenue. Tickets: $35 | 941-366-3911 x121|

Sarasota Opera Guild’s Summer Salons August 20 Michael’s On East 11:30 am. Luncheon featuring Andrew Galuska who is known worldwide for his mastery of the organ and piano performances and improvisations. Tickets: $35 | 941.925.1220 |

July 2013





Play Reading Festival

941.351.8000 /

August 12 -17

My Brilliant Divorce Through – July 14

Witness the birth of a brand new play as regional playwrights compete each night to have their play produced on The Players main stage next season.

A middle-aged American is blind-sided by her husband’s sudden decision to leave her. Adrift in a sea of bizarre dates, shifty lawyers, phone-in help lines and a cute dog named


Dexter, will she find the strength to live anew?

For a complete listing of performances, visit


Kettle of Fish

941.366.9000 /

July 19

The Underpants


Through July 28

August 16

This play spins the farcical tale of five lives reborn from one accidental act of indecency. South Beach Babylon

VENICE THEATRE 941.488.1115 /

July 24 – August 18

Summer Cabaret Festival

Commercialism and artistic integrity battle it out as a group of

July 19 - August 25

South Beach artists prepares for the celebrated Art Basel event.

Enjoy the art of cabaret in its purest form at “Pinky’s Cabaret!” Throughout the summer our area’s hottest talent will keep you en-

MANATEE PLAYERS 941.748.5875 /

tertained with a variety of music and comedy in a nightclub setting. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Les Miserables

July 24 - August 4

August 8 - 25

The Biblical saga of Joseph and his coat of many colors comes

After 19 years of unjust imprisonment, Jean Valjean finds noth-

to vibrant life in this delightful musical parable.

ing in store for him but mistrust and mistreatment. He breaks his parole in hopes of starting a new life, initiating a life-long


struggle for redemption.

941.366.1505 /

THE PLAYERS THEATRE 941.365.2494 /

Best of Stevie Wonder July 17 -28 Join a celebration of Stevie Wonder, featuring popular tunes

More Than A Feeling

spanning over 40 years, such as: “You Are the Sunshine of

Through – July 20

My Life,” “Living for the City,” “Ribbon in the Sky,” “Higher

Enjoy a musical tribute to the 70’s which include “Let It Be”,

Ground” and many more.

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Close to you”. Boys Next Door

“Sammy” Tonight! August 21 – September 1

July 11 – July 28 This humorous, yet touching play focuses on the lives of four mentally disabled men who live in a communal residence. Filled with laughter, the play is also marked by compassion and understanding for the world of its handicap-able inhabitants. Thousand Oaks August 8 - 11 A family who are the last residents of a failed subdivision in Florida, struggle whether to walk away or stay in their home. Will the consumer culture that got them into their predica-

This musical revue features all the hits Sammy made famous, in-

ment ultimately be their way out?

cluding “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” “Mr. Bojangles” and “Candy Man.”




July 2013


So good, you’ll look for reasons to celebrate. 941.388.4415 | 431 St. Armands Circle |

Celebrate our 40th Anniversary with the Passport Series – a Culinary Tour of Europe!

ndy Nisley has built luxury properties in Sarasota for more than 40 years. His reputation and professionalism are second to none. For the past decade, Andy has brought his expertise to Smoky Mountain Retreat in Maggie Valley, North Carolina where he has built premium log homes of all sizes and for all budgets.

had the right answers and “theYoubestalways suggestions during the building process. The quality of the log home was unlike anything we were shown by other contractors in the area. When any problems crept up, which they always due during construction, you were always right there to work out the issue to

everyone’s satisfaction.

Nestled in Smoky Mountain Retreat at 4,000+ feet is The Village, a 60-acre enclave of home sites in a heavily wooded mountain setting. Several log cottage floor plans starting from $299,000 are available, or plans may be custom designed. Plans vary from 1500 square feet to 2700 square feet, plus porches, garages and decks. Luxury features include items seen in surrounding masterpiece log homes. In Eagles Nest, the 1,000-acre gated community in Smoky Mountain Retreat, where Andy built many of the masterpiece custom log homes, home sites are available and Andy is ready to build your dream mountain home. Only 5 minutes from the mountain top of Smoky Mountain Retreat sits Laurel Ridge Country Club. Combining the pristine mountain wilderness setting with a fantastic private Country Club including golf, tennis, swimming and fine dining creates an unparalleled lifestyle.

- Gary & Laura Gassel

The 1,000 acre pristine mountain community of Smoky Mountain Retreat was named one of “America’s Ten Best Log Home Communities” by Log Home Living Magazine.



$ 37, 9 0 0 ! All pricing is subject to change without notice. Owner financing available for home sites in The Village. Email or call for details.


and I feel very blessed. First “forEricfinding the perfect North Carolina community, Smoky Mountain Retreat, and then for selecting you as our builder. Building a log home in North Carolina while living in Florida was seemless. And we actually finished our home ahead of schedule! We can’t thank you enough and love living in our new cabin. Nothing can beat sitting on our deck and enjoying the mountain breeze!


• 25,000 Sq. Ft. Rustic Mountain Clubhouse & Pavilion • Fine & Casual Dining • Small-town Friendly with a Big-town Feel • 18-Hole, 5 Tee Championship Golf Course Designed by Robert Cupp • Perfect Choice for Golfers of All Skill Levels

– Margaret Harrison

exceeded our expectations in “allYouwayshaverelating to the professionalism, quality, and scheduling of our recently completed home. As a practicing civil engineer, the nature of my business requires extreme attention to detail and quality of work. If you can satisfy my expectations, then I am sure that your other clients, both now and in the future, will be equally satisfied and impressed.

– James G. Jack

• Tennis & Swimming (4 Har-Tru Green Clay Courts) Visit for more info.

experience with Mr. Nisley “asOurour builder and Mrs. Nisley as a consultant in our decorating needs has, indeed, been a pleasure. Everything has gone as promised and we are extremely pleased with the excellent quality of the workmanship on the entire project.

– Duane & Marilyn Adams, Sarasota, FL

Eagle’s Nest Mountain Construction, Inc. | 828.926.0688 | |


“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones - the ones at home.”

- Mother Teresa

Yara’s Way


By Yara Shoemaker

Devious Drinks We hear a lot about eating right, but do you ever think about drinking right? Your meal might be a symphony of health, but serve it with something loaded with sugar and you’re striking the wrong chord! Orange Juice: One glass contains as much sugar as four whole oranges, spiking your glucose and sending you on a moody roller coaster! Satisfy your citrus craving with the whole fruit – you’ll get all the nutrients without the super dose of sugar! Sports Drinks: Clever marketing says they’re the key to a bikini body, but they’re full of empty calories and preservatives. Unless you’re working out for eight hours a day, stick to water to stay hydrated. Smoothies: Packing so much fruit into one glass overloads smoothies with sugar, and many contain high-fat dairy. Snack on raw veggies and fruits – get calcium from dark leafy greens! Protein Shakes: Running to your blender after working up the slightest sweat? Commercial protein powders can be full of MSG and dangerous amounts of lead and cadmium! Most Americans already get more than their daily requirement of protein in their diets. Check my next column when I’ll tell you about the dangers of too much protein!

Yara’s Table Classic Syrian Hummus You may think hummus is having its fifteen minutes of fame, but this delicious and powerful snack has been savored for thousands of years! The secret behind this protein explosion is chickpeas and the calcium and amino acids come from tahini, a paste of ground sesame seeds. But commercial brands have tainted its healthy reputation with artificial preservatives. Take my traditional recipe and make it your own by adding sundried tomatoes or toasted nuts! • Dissolve ½ teaspoon baking soda in water and soak 2 cups dry chickpeas overnight. • Boil until tender and drain, saving some of the water. Add chickpeas to your mixer. • Add 2-3 garlic cloves, the juice of 1 lemon, cumin, and 4 tablespoons tahini. • Blend together. The mixture will be difficult to stir. Add the water you saved, a tablespoon at a time as needed, until your hummus is smooth and creamy. Invite your friends – this makes enough to share! Serve with carrots, grape tomatoes or pita chips. It will keep in the fridge for about five days – but it’s so good you might not have any leftovers!

Kitchen Talk

Do you know the anatomy of your fridge? Your food will stay fresher longer if you store it in the right spots. The lowest drawers stay the coldest, so consider using one drawer for produce and another for raw meat. Dairy and eggs go on the bottom shelf – never in the door, it’s the warmest part of your fridge!




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Natural Allure Dreamy Tahini Mask Erase dark spots and fine lines with this creamy lifting mask. Lemon juice makes your skin sensitive, so use this mask at night and don’t forget your sunscreen! • Mix 1 tablespoon tahini with 1 tablespoon rose water. • Add 5 drops sweet almond oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon corn starch, and mix together. • SLOWLY add Greek yogurt, between 1 and 3 tablespoons depending on yogurt thickness. • When the mixture reaches a creamy consistency, spread it on your face and let rest for ten minutes, until dry. • Rinse well with warm water, then cold. Dab your skin with a cotton ball dipped in rose water to close your pores. Rose water and sweet almond oil are both available online and in most natural or Middle Eastern groceries.

No Men Allowed

Women are five to eight times more likely to develop thyroid issues than men, but their symptoms can seem like just the side effects of a busy life. This little gland in your neck can cause big problems! One way to check for a possible thyroid issue is to measure your basal body temperature every morning immediately after waking up (go to for complete details). If you also notice any of these potential symptoms, or if you have a family history of thyroid problems, it’s time to talk with your doctor. Weight: Since the thyroid controls your metabolism, a common symptom is unintentional weight gain or loss. If you’re exercising and dieting but can’t lose weight, or if you’re losing weight and can’t gain it back, it may signal a problem. Energy and Mood: Thyroid problems can cause insomnia and fatigue. You might also feel more depressed, irritable, or anxious. Hair and Skin: Your skin may feel dry and your hair might become brittle and fall out easily. Muscle & Joint Pain: Unusual weakness in your arms, joint or muscle aches, or any unusual pain or discomfort anywhere means it’s time to call your doctor!

On the Move

Now’s the time to see beautiful people littering the chaise longues on the beaches of Saint Tropez. With temperatures peaking around 80 degrees, July is the best time to join them in the striking scenery of the French Riviera. Get comfortable at Hotel Byblos, a colorful sanctuary blending exquisite French taste with warm Mediterranean hospitality. Enjoy breakfast by the pool, complete with a show from the resident peacock. Work on that Riviera tan during a lavish lunch with onshore service at Club 55, a favorite of international celebrities. Then dress to impress and stay out late with the jetsetters at Villa Romana. Bon voyage!

For more amazing recipes look inside my new cookbook, Health On Your Plate, now available on Amazon!

Question of the Month

What’s the biggest scandal in the sweetener aisle? Brown sugar may look sweet and innocent, but if you think it’s the healthier option, discover the bitter truth in my book, Health On Your Plate!

Yara’s Way is a complete online lifestyle guide with unique approaches to healthy cooking, natural beauty, personal style, luxury travel and more. Yara Shoemaker is passionate about sharing her experience and advice to improve the lives of others and help everyone be beautiful from the inside out.

Find more great tips and recipes at July 2013




The Housing Recovery: Will It Last? Christopher Cogan, CCIM®, Richard T. Williams, III, CFA®, Aimee Cogan, CFP®, CIMA® & Scott Rockwell

Housing appears to be on the verge of a significant recovery. Home price indicators suggest new potential for impending price appreciation; polls show growing confidence in the housing market; and business prospects for the industry show early signs of strengthening ­— all suggesting that the long-awaited housing recovery may finally be here. he housing market looks to be getting stronger, which could be taken as an omen of more generally good economic news to come. After all, home values are an important barometer of consumer wealth. Home construction is a significant fraction of the U.S. economy. Both of those elements had taken significant hits in recent years. The Rebound in Home Prices The average home value (as measured by the S&P/Case-Shiller 10-City Composite Home Price Index) shrank 33% from 2006 to 2009. 1 But since those difficult days, home prices have begun to recover. As of the latest data (at the end of 2013’s first quarter), the S&P 10-City Composite had gained 5.4% from its recession low, and most of that gain took place during the past year.1 Overall, S&P/Case-Shiller home price indexes cover 20 metropolitan real estate markets around the United States. All 20 of those markets showed solid gains from their year-ago levels in the March 2013 report. Phoenix, which saw some of the steepest price declines of the past decade, led the way with a 23.2% recovery. Of the remaining 19, Detroit was the only city whose rate of growth did not increase.2 Homebuilding Follows Apace With home prices rising, construction activity should recover as well. Housing starts are now up 23.6%, year over year, supporting a solid growth trajectory in 2013. More importantly, new housing permits, a leading indicator for future construction, have been rebounding even more strongly, to a 925,000-unit pace in January, the highest rate since June 2008.3 Builders are building because demand has picked up, as evidenced by the shrinking inventory of unsold homes. New home sales surged nearly 16% to an annual rate of 437,000 units in January — the strongest gain since July 2008. Existing home sales came in a little weaker, but in both cases, the data have maintained an upward trend since last June, keeping the housing recovery in place.3 Other measures of market strength come from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). As of January, NAR’s measure of buyer traffic is up a whopping 40% from year-earlier levels, but the companion measure of seller




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traffic has held steady. That’s resulted in a near-record low of inventory for sale — it would take just 4.1 months to eliminate the supply of unsold new homes. The inventory of existing homes, at 4.2 months, is the lowest since April 2005, when the housing boom was near its peak. 3 A third measure of market prospects is the monthly expectations survey by the mortgage bank Fannie Mae. They report that nearly half of the people they polled (48%) believe home prices will go up in the next 12 months. The number who fear home prices will decline was just 10%, the lowest level ever recorded in the survey. Similar numbers believe that rental prices will also go up in the year ahead.4 Capitalizing on the Recovery There are significant implications in this turnaround for investors as well as homeowners. Certain industries stand to benefit from a housing recovery. Homebuilders themselves are not the only business actors who stand to gain from a turnaround. Home furnishing and consumer electronics retailers tend to benefit from increased real estate activity. Further down the road, so do certain manufacturers.

Plan Right. The Bellwether Group at Morgan Stanley can be reached at 941.363.8515 Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC. The S&P/Case Shiller 10-City Composite Home Price Index is an unmanaged index that is calculated monthly to reflect the average prices recorded for single family home sales in 10 major U.S. cities — Boston, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Data are as of January 2013 and reported on March 26, 2013. The S&P/Case Shiller 10-City Composite Home Price Index has been calculated monthly from then-current market reports since May 2006; index values prior to that date were calculated from historical real estate transaction records using the same methodology. You cannot invest directly in any index. Past performance does not assure future results. 1

Source: Home Prices Accelerate in January 2013 According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, S&P Dow Jones Indices press release, March 26, 2013. 2


Source: Trends & Projections, Standard & Poor’s, March 2013.

Source: Consumers’ Positive Housing Attitudes Withstand Fiscal Concerns, Fannie Mae press release, April 8, 2013. 4

If you’d like to learn more, please contact Aimee Cogan, CIMA, CFP. Because of their narrow focus, sector investments tend to be more volatile than investments that diversify across many sectors and companies. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual

circumstances and objectives. Article by McGraw Hill and provided courtesy of Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor. The author(s) are not employees of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”). The opinions expressed by the authors are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Morgan Stanley. The information and data in the article or publication has been obtained from sources outside of Morgan Stanley and Morgan Stanley makes no representations or guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of information or data from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. Neither the information provided nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation by Morgan Stanley with respect to the purchase or sale of any security, investment, strategy or product that may be mentioned. Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor(s) engaged Scene Magazine to feature this article. Aimee Cogan may only transact business in states where she is registered or excluded or exempted from registration Transacting business, followup and individualized responses involving either effecting or attempting to effect transactions in securities, or the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation, will not be made to persons in states where Aimee Cogan is not registered or excluded or exempt from registration. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC. CRC 665737 (05/13)

July 2013




Sam D. Norton & Peter Z. Skokos of Norton, Hammersley, Lopez & Skokos, P.A.

Beyond the Closing

Table By Sue Cullen

For all real estate, business, and financial transactions, legal advice is a must.




July 2013

A real estate transaction, whether it involves the pur-

expect us to solve problems not just point them out,”

chase of that dreamed-of residence, making financing

says Peter Skokos, who also is a shareholder of the firm

arrangements for a well-situated tract of land or signing

and a member of the firm’s Real Estate Practice Group.

a lease agreement, represents a significant investment

“Some people see attorneys as deal killers, but when

whose repercussions can have lasting impact. Careful

we see issues, we also provide options so our clients

analysis is required to enter such important contracts

understand the risks and ways to resolve them. Most

with eyes wide open. Particularly in a rising real estate

often we wind up getting the deals done.”

market, it can be easy to get caught up in the pursuit

While Norton Hammersley routinely handles resi-

of a prized property or tenant and overlook issues that

dential and commercial real estate transactions, in-

affect how that property may be used and its value.

cluding for foreign buyers, Norton and Skokos have

Avoiding stressful and costly pitfalls often means

the depth of experience to team with land developers,

partnering with an experienced attorney long before

draft and negotiate lease agreements for either land-

it’s time to start heading for the closing table, said Sam

lords or tenants, and develop complex ground lease

Norton, who is shareholder of Norton, Hammersley,

agreements for developers working with national

Lopez & Skokos. Norton is a board certified real es-

banks or retailers. They also handle the details of even

tate attorney and a member of his firm’s Real Estate

the more elaborate financing arrangements, such as

Practice Group, which works throughout Florida with

conduit loans, and address corporate matters, includ-

individual homeowners, developers, landlords and

ing buying and selling businesses.

tenants as well as with loan transactions and corporate

Navigating the complexities involved with buying

issues. “This is our 25th year serving clients, and our

and selling waterfront properties illustrates how the

approach is like that of a counselor or advisor. Clients

early involvement of an attorney can avoid

ant surprises. Coastal land is governed by a host of

team to take the project from start to finish, beginning

state and federal agencies that determine what, where

with the due diligence on zoning and permitting during

and how much may be done to that property. Buyers

the acquisition of the property and ultimately to selling

who purchase a Gulf front property with renovations

or leasing it when complete,” Skokos says. “Develop-

or boat docking in mind, or who need to rebuild after

ers work with a sizeable team of consultants, and we

storm damage, may run up against requirements from

can act as quarterback to ensure everything stays on

environmental agencies, Coastal Construction Control

track,” Norton says. The condominium development

Lines, the 30 year erosion projection line, and restric-

at 1350 Main Street is an example. “We represented

tive state and local building codes. “When we deal with

the developer throughout the project, including nego-

waterfront issues that are highly regulated like docks

tiating for the land and construction contracts, assisting

and seawalls, we work with a team of consultants with

with zoning and permitting, advising on the loan for

expertise in areas like dredging and permitting,” says

construction, and closing on the unit sales to buyers,”

Norton. “The average person, and even the average

Norton said. Norton and Skokos, who began his career

closing agent, may not understand all that is involved.”

as a Certified Public Accountant, both sit or have sat on

Then, there is the whole issue of private versus pub-

bank boards, bringing added proficiency when working

lic access to beaches under Florida law. “Water and

with either lenders or borrowers on loan arrangements,

beach rights prompt lawsuits on a fairly regular basis,”

including many secured financing transactions and

Norton said. “Property owners want to prohibit people

conduit loans backed by Wall Street securities.

from walking in front of their house, and they may or

The two attorneys also assist commercial landlords

may not have that right,” said Skokos. Likewise, those

and tenants by drafting leases for retail and office

who buy bay front property on Longboat Key, for ex-

space or negotiating modifications to existing leases.

ample, may not know that beach access must be deed-

“We like to say that with a sale, you move on and are

ed. They think they can easily walk across the street

done,” Skokos says, “but with a lease, you’re with them

to the beach when they actually don’t have that right.

for 20 years. If there’s a problem, you have to go back

Newcomers also often do not realize how much the

to the lease document. That’s why it is so important.

local media focuses on real estate, and since the area at-

You have to live with it for years.” That includes ground

tracts its share of high profile people from rock stars and

leases, which are becoming more common with the

best-selling novelists to Powerball lottery winners and

influx of national tenants, like banks, retailers, and big

CEOs of publicly traded companies, some are dismayed

box stores that want to build to suit their needs, but

to find their home purchase in the news. “We often help

prefer leasing rather than taking ownership.

people preserve their privacy,” Norton said. “They can

Clients who come to the firm for property trans-

put their property in a trust to maintain anonymity and

actions or estate and tax planning often are business

rely on us to be trustee, which requires a deep relation-

owners. Norton and Skokos counsel business clients

ship for them to put ownership in our names.” Foreign

on what corporate entity is best for their particular

buyers may be unfamiliar with U.S. laws and not realize

circumstances, and assist with selling or buying busi-

that having the advice of an attorney regarding advance

nesses to ensure liabilities and tax considerations are

tax planning and how they take ownership of property

addressed, Norton said. Protecting personal assets is a

may avoid IRS withholding of 10 percent of the pro-

priority, and a competent attorney can determine the

ceeds when they sell the property, Norton says.

best way to do that whether it is through setting up an

That’s one reason their goal is to develop more in-

entity like a corporation or Limited Liability Company

depth relationships with clients he adds. In addition

or even determining whether liability insurance will

to having the resources within Norton Hammersley

provide adequate protection.

to handle estate planning and tax considerations, the

Whatever brings a client through the door, it all

firm also has experienced litigators if clients need help

comes back to creating a lasting relationship. “When

with dispute resolution. “These areas all work together.

people ask what we do, we usually say we’re real es-

We have real estate and business clients who have tax

tate attorneys, but it really goes far beyond that,” Nor-

needs or who may have corporate or construction dis-

ton says. Skokos concurs. “We’ve never been just a

putes,” Skokos said. “We have the depth to cover it all.”

closing shop,” he says. “We meet a lot of people that

Depth of experience comes into play for developers

way, but it is getting to know them and helping them

especially. “Our experience allows us to put together a

with what they need that builds a level of trust.”

Connect: Norton, Hammersley, Lopez & Skokos | 1819 Main Street, Sarasota, FL 34236 | 941-954-4691

July 2013




Michelle Crabtree By Sue Cullen

With an understanding and appreciation of the Sarasota area that has been nurtured over a lifetime, Michelle Crabtree loves sharing her expertise in local real estate and enthusiasm for the area’s many attractions with those who are looking for their own bit of paradise. As a third generation Sarasotan, Crabtree grew up with her toes in some of the world’s most highly acclaimed, pristine white sand and has seen the area’s evolution from a sleepy beach community to a thriving region bursting with amenities.

eflecting her enthusiasm for all the area has to offer, Crabtree, who is a Broker-Associate with Michael Saunders & Company’s Lakewood Ranch office, has immersed herself in the community and loves to share its joys with others on her Facebook page, “Sarasota Insider — A Guide to Living in Paradise,” which has a following of about 3,500 people. Every morning, she posts about local happenings and weather as well as what is on tap for the next day. “I love promoting the community. We have grand beaches, arts, sports and world class dining, of course,” she says. “We have a small town community feel with big city amenities. Sarasota sells itself in many ways. When clients come here, I give them the grand tour and share with them all we have. They seem to appreciate my local knowledge.” Crabtree’s father encouraged her to obtain a real estate license in 1982 and prompted her to get a broker’s license the following year placing her among the most experienced realtors in the area. “I was in my early 20s and not totally sure what I wanted to do, and he said I should go for my licenses. I did, and I found I love selling our area,” she said. While she works with a wide range of residential properties from south of the Manatee River to Venice, Crabtree has a particular expertise in the luxury market and recently listed a property near the Field Club for $2.25 million with boatable water and closed on




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a $2.3 million property on Oyster Bay waterfront that was close to her heart having been part of her mother’s estate. Crabtree grew up in the Oyster Bay neighborhood, biking to Siesta Key where her grandparents owned, and lived above, a sundries store in what is now The Hub restaurant in the Village. “I have bicycled every street from Oyster Bay to Siesta Key and back. I remember when Ocean Boulevard was lined with little shacks and you could see the water,” she says. “I also remember when the south bridge was one lane and had to be hand-cranked open. We used to go horseback riding in the Landings.” However, it was the six years she spent in Washington, D.C., that gave her a greater perspective of the area. “That helped open my eyes to the larger world and, with an hour and a half commute to work, made me really appreciate what we have here,” she says. “I love to travel and see other places, but I love coming back and saying this is home.” Avid about continuing education, Crabtree has numerous designations including, most recently, as a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist. She is a Certified Sales Professional, Certified International Property Specialist, GRI-Graduate Realtor, Accredited Buyer Representative, Performance Management Network graduate, and a Second Home Property Specialist. She also has Transnational Referral, Short Sale and Foreclosure and At Home with Diversity and GREEN certifications. “I believe in education,” Crabtree says. “The more knowledge I have, the more I can be of service.” Her active professional participation on the local, state and national levels recently earned Crabtree the Florida Realtors Honor Society’s Fifth Year Pin. She has been director of the




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Among Crabtree’s current listings is this fabulous Oyster Bay Estates waterfront home near the Field Club on Lake Shore Dr. situated on a 3/4 acre lot on a protected boat basin with 153’ of lagoon front, dock, lift and no bridges to the bay. It has six bedrooms, six baths and is almost 6,000 sq. ft. Welcoming front porch and double front doors with etched glass inlay open to a 2-story foyer. Lovely hardwood floors grace the formal living & dining areas. Triple French doors open to the patio with large pool and view of the water. Spacious bonus room makes a perfect game room. Kitchen features granite counters & large center island. Large family dining room with windows to water view & doors to patio. First floor grand master opens to pool area, has two walk-in closets & an additional bonus room for fitness room or office. An additional master suite upstairs has bonus room that opens to balcony. Three guest bedrooms are “en suite.” This lush property is surrounded by an abundance of fruit trees, bananas, avocado, lychee, the unique jackfruit tree & more than 23 varieties of mangos. Perfect location near Siesta Key beach, shopping, and downtown Sarasota.

Sarasota Board of Realtors and earned its Meritorious Service Award in 2007. Crabtree also was the Sarasota Women’s Council Board of Realtors Businesswoman of the Year and was chapter president in 2007. She has been named a Five Star Real Estate Agent — Best in Client Satisfaction from 2007 through 2012. Now she has migrated “north of the line” into Manatee County, living with her husband, Larry Davenport, on the Braden River where she delights in watching an ever changing array of wildlife including otters, birds, deer and bobcats. Although Sarasota has been home, she is no stranger to Manatee properties having worked with the developer as manager of the Lakewood Ranch Visitor Information Center for more than four years. She sees that community as one of the area’s hottest. “People come in from outside the area and want to be close to the beach, and if they want to be under $500,000 in a new home, then they have to go east,” Crabtree says. Other hot areas include University Park and established neighborhoods like Oyster Bay, Bent Tree, and the Meadows, which are holding value, she says. One of Crabtree’s trademarks is her active support of local nonprofits from attendance at many fundraisers to co-chairing events with the Junior League, Salvation Army and the American Cancer Society. She also has been a mentor with Take Stock in Children. Crabtree is known for her annual New Year’s Day party for clients and family replete with deep fried turkey, hoppin’ John and collard greens. “So many of my clients become good friends,” Crabtree says. “I love my clients, and I really love what I do.”

Connect: Cell: 941.724.HOME (4663) | |

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With career sales topping $1 billion and as her office’s top-selling agent, it’s only natural that Cheryl Loeffler’s name is so often linked to the sale of some of the area’s finest homes. That includes the record-breaking $6.75 million sale earlier this year of an exquisite L’Ambiance penthouse condo on Longboat Key that was under contract in just 19 days.

oeffler brings a synergistic combination of MBA-level business savvy and 25 years of experience in area real estate to the sales team she has created within Premier Sotheby’s International Realty’s Downtown Sarasota office. She credits her success to cutting edge technology, astute marketing, Sotheby’s globe-spanning resources, and her team’s personal approach. That combination led to $35 million in sales last year and ranked her as the firm’s top producing agent in Sarasota and Manatee counties. “Sotheby’s is an invaluable alliance. It gives me the platform for systems and services that work into my own philosophy,” Loeffler says. “Real estate sales also are based on relationships and need a personal touch. Every property is different and every client is unique. Our value added on the listing side is to assist in positioning properties so they are properly placed in the market, and then marketing them effectively.” While Loeffler works with a wide range of properties, she greatly enjoys representing those that are considered best in class. “That may be a custom built home with wonderful design or a condo in a community with great amenities and value,” she said. “One house was beautifully optimized with modern decor from the 1960s. As long as it is considered best in its class, it is a fascinating journey to find the right buyer.”

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Known for her marketing prowess, Loeffler takes a three-tiered approach that draws on all the resources she can wield on behalf of clients. Through Sotheby’s International Realty, she gains global exposure for properties through e-galleries that display them to international buyers who compose 10 to 12 percent of the market. The resources of Sotheby’s regional office also are crucial, she says, since 45 percent of buyers are changing residences from within the Tampa Bay area. The company markets directly to high net worth individuals within a contiguous nine state area. “Premier Sotheby’s was ranked 46th among the 500 largest U.S. real estate brokerages, and that gives us a lot of networking capabilities,” she says. “I believe clients really appreciate my overall approach and perspective because over 75 percent of my business is referral based,” she says. The formula has led to other market leading sales in addition to the L’Ambiance penthouse, including the $4.75 million sale in May of a 5,000 square foot waterfront estate on Harbor Point Road on Longboat Key. Other recent listings include an extraordinary $8.995 million Florida Colonial Island-style estate situated on a 1.14 acre property accessible by a land bridge driveway and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The property is at 1510 Hyde Park Street. On Bird Key, Loeffler has listed a 7,500 square foot custom home with a 300-foot seawall along the bay front and dock space for the largest yachts that can navigate local waters. Having a local perspective and expertise is just as important for buyers. “People may use the Internet to find properties, but knowledge of the area, our unique environment and the neighborhoods also is crucial and that comes from long experience in the community,” Loeffler says. Purchasing waterfront property is one example. Given the number of those properties she has sold over the past 25 years, Loeffler is considered a waterfront specialist. Many buyers do not realize the complexity of these purchases and the impact




July 2013

Some of Loeffler’s current property listings include: LEFT: “Isle of View”, 232 Seagull Lane, features panoramic views of the Bay, Ringling Bridge and downtown skyline with five bedrooms, 7873 square feet, an elevator, culinary kitchen, home theater, extensive game room, 14-foot elevation, and 300-foot seawall. TOP LEFT: Accessible by land bridge or by boat, this secluded mainland hideaway located at 1510 Hyde Park Street, is one of Sarasota’s most unique and beautiful properties. Boasting stunning views from every vantage point, this historic home has been meticulously recreated, renovated and expanded. TOP RIGHT: Custom built in 2011, 1570 Harbor Cay Lane is located in the gated Harbor section of Bay Isles. This magnificent 5,953-squarefoot home is a boater’s dream with deep and protected water channel, dockage to accommodate large yacht and deeded beach access.

the myriad laws and regulations governing waterfront property can have on their ability to make a sound investment and use the property as they envision. Loeffler’s MBA and background as a management information systems specialist with experience in systems analysis and strategic planning also works to buyers’ benefit. “Most clients, no matter what price range, are interested in a feeling of future profitability,” she says. “Part of our job as professionals is to make sense of the market and match their search criteria as closely as possible. Although I don’t have a crystal ball, I use my analytical ability to produce a financial profile for them that they find comforting.” When it comes to finding the right home, location, as the old adage goes, still remains king. Today’s buyers, Loeffler said are not necessarily looking for huge homes, but for artisanship, quality, taste and design. The kind of success Loeffler enjoys doesn’t happen without the support of a great team. “Surrounding yourself with the right people is the key to building any successful enterprise,” she says. “I’m fortunate to have a dedicated group of associates who contribute to my growing success.” With that success comes responsibility to the community. “I believe if you live and work in a community, it is important to find ways to be involved,” she adds. For Loeffler that has meant participating on a number of local civic committees and being very involved with the Ringling College of Art + Design where she serves on the Foundation board. She also has formed a charitable foundation through the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. “I like to find ways to combine my passion for work with my passion for arts, culture and women’s issues,” Loeffler says. “It has a multiplier effect because when we invest our resources back into the community, it just keeps getting better and better.”

Connect: 941.308.6554 | |

July 2013




Denise Mei By Sue Cullen

Deftly engaging a finely tuned sense of customer service, entrepreneurial flair, and her solid connections to the community, Denise Mei is making quite a splash. As the local real estate scene has roared back to life over the past 18 months, Mei has closed on more than 35 properties and has a range of listings in some of the area’s most desirable neighborhoods.

usiness has been so good, in fact, that in January she teamed up with her daughter-in-law Nicole Mei, who has a background in vacation rentals. Together they work from Michael Saunders & Company’s Main Street office to deliver on Mei’s motto of ultimate customer service, which she honed as a flight attendant during the airlines’ heyday from the 1970s into the ‘90s. “We were trained for ultimate customer service,” Mei says. “I was a flight attendant for 22 years with American Airlines, and I’ve gotten a lot of business because of that background. People tell me they know I have great customer service skills because of that, and my goal is never to let them down.” Many people also know Mei as co-owner of Café Baci, the Italian restaurant she came to Sarasota 23 years ago to found with her husband, Roberto, who is a fifth generation restaurateur. In a town where restaurants can evaporate faster than puddles after an August rain, Café Baci’s longevity is impressive and results from the Meis’ focus on creating the consummate customer experience. That includes their insistence on fresh preparations for everything from stocks to sauces and pasta. “Everything is freshly made with no preservatives or additives, and it’s authentic Italian,” she says. “My favorite is the gnocchi, which we make by hand. Even in Italy, not many restaurants still do that.”




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Mei also owned and managed Classic Toys for nearly 15 years, honing her entrepreneurial instincts, which she now employs when negotiating for clients and in finding creative solutions to the challenges that can arise when bringing transactions to a close. “I am a very good negotiator, and I find challenges equally motivating. I understand what it means to be accountable and how to be someone who solves problems. I try to see problems before they become an issue and resolve them before closing,” she said. “My ultimate goal is for the seller and the buyer to walk away from the table happy, and they do.” Navigating a situation where low inventory and higher demand turned a long-time buyer’s market to a seller’s advantage, sometimes with multiple offers for properties, requires a skillful hand. Offering good advice ensures sellers’ pricing reflects the market and that buyers find the right property at the right price. “The market is really moving at an appropriate pace. It is a little fizzy now because we’re coming out of rock bottom and people are afraid they are going to miss the boat,” Mei says. “Clients are relying on my advice to help them achieve their goals. I listen to what they want, and they are comfortable opening up to me. Many times we become friends. I enjoy matching a buyer’s criteria with the perfect home, and that’s where I have a lot of success.” Recently, Mei closed on a waterfront property for $2.375 million in partnership with Sarasota real estate icon Linda Page, a Cherokee Park home for $820,000 and a Surf & Racquet Club unit for $595,000. Among the properties on her sale board were large four-bedroom homes in Siesta Court on Siesta Key and in Lakes




July 2013

FAR LEFT: Denise Mei and fellow Michael Saunders & Co. Realtor Linda Page brought the buyers for this magnificent Water Club Longboat Key condo, which recently sold for $2.375M and was listed by Shellie Young of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. Photo courtesy of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. ABOVE: Denise also brought the buyer for this West of Trail gem, listed by Stacy Liljeberg also of Michael Saunders & Co. The home is located in Cherokee Park, a highly sought after community for its boulevard streets and close proximity to the best shopping, healthcare, restaurants, schools and of course, Siesta Key Beach. LEFT: Among Denise’s current listings is this beautiful 3600 square foot 4 bedroom/4 bath home in prestigious Siesta Cove listed at $899,000, just a short walk to Siesta Key Beach, with lots of extra outdoor living space.

Estates. “I really love introducing people to the area,” she says. “It is so beautiful and we have so much to offer, how can you be in a bad mood? It is an oasis in Florida to me.” With the much higher pace in the market, Mei says she is happy to have her daughter-in-law Nicole on board with her. “Nicole is super at technology. She’s poised and articulate,” Mei says, “and she is such an asset. We work really well together, and can get a lot more accomplished for our clients.” Working together is a Mei family trademark. Her son, Michael, works with her husband, Roberto, at Café Baci. As a member of United Cerebral Palsy of Sarasota’s advisory board, Mei now can be of help to her daughter Lea, who is UCP’s director of development and communications. “What UCP does is so important. Before they came along, many of these adults were institutionalized,” Mei said. “Because of the UCP programs, these individuals are able to live in supervised group homes and have a quality life.” The Meis have long been known for their generosity in supporting the community through the restaurant. Mei has been particularly active with the YMCA Foundation, serving on its board of trustees and with the Y Angels who help homeless students in our community. She also is on the advisory board for Make A Wish Foundation and has been a supporter of Children’s First and Girl’s Inc. “My children have had such a good life growing up here, and when I see other children who are less fortunate, I want to help,” she says. “I know I can’t save the world, but if I can make a difference in just one life, I will feel truly blessed.”

Connect: 941.685.3198 | |

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July 2013


A New Leash on Life Keith G. Hirst

By Steven J. Smith | Photo by Cliff Roles

Sarasota resident Keith G. Hirst loves dogs almost as much as he loves finding ways to help people, so when he learned Southeastern Guide Dogs needed a new $1 million Canine Assessment Center, he knew he was barking up the right tree. “I'm committed to providing half of that amount as a challenge grant,” he said. “And I’ll match donations dollar for dollar, up to $500,000, until December 31, 2013.” Keith’s generosity is already producing impressive results. As of this writing, $850,000 has been raised to replace a 26-year-old kennel on the organization’s 35acre Palmetto campus, where guide dogs have trained to help people with visual impairments since 1982. The new 5,000 square foot Keith G. Hirst Canine Assessment Center will increase capacity and dramatically improve the quality of care provided to the dogs through improved sanitation, lighting and air quality, and enhanced moisture, odor, and noise control. Individual runs will help separate males and females, with common areas for socialization. The center will feature dedicated space for dogs with medical needs, a temperament assessment area, a canine enrichment area, and space for basic lab testing. With laundry and sterilization stations, supply storage, and working space for trainers and veterinary staff, the Keith G. Hirst Canine Assessment Center will serve the growing dog population of Southeastern Guide Dogs for years to come. “Their mission is to assist the visually impaired and the disabled, and team them up with a trained dog,”

Keith said. “I thought this was a mission that fit mine. I mean, if you’re having a down day, just look at a dog and pet it.” A nonprofit organization, Southeastern Guide Dogs currently boasts over 400 active guide dog partnerships — more than 2,800 since its inception — and offers several programs to assist the visually impaired. The Paws For Independence program matches highly trained guide dogs to those who need them, providing an independent lifestyle. The Paws For Patriots program serves active duty soldiers and retired servicemen and women in three ways: as guide dogs, as service dogs benefiting veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and as therapy dogs placed in military hospitals to spread cheer and encouragement. Originally from southwestern Michigan, Keith moved to Sarasota County in 1985 after a rewarding career in journalism and advertising to explore new opportunities as an investor — an area in which he enjoyed much success. Fulfilling his financial goals, he decided to devote some of his fortune to helping others. “I've always loved dogs, and I believe they're here for a special reason,” he said. “This is one of my biggest projects and dearest to my heart. I think it’s a wonderful organization, and it completely fits my goals.” For more information on Southeastern Guide Dogs and how you might help them reach their $1 million goal for the Keith G. Hirst Canine Assessment Center, visit July 2013







July 2013


Building Hope Ken Pendery

By Steven J. Smith | Photo by Cliff Roles

Ken Pendery knows a little something about building success, whether it’s a restaurant chain or a home for a needy family through Habitat for Humanity.

of a great brand with an outstanding reputation — from President Carter to others — and you can perform that duty on a local level, it’s very satisfying.”

As CEO of First Watch Restaurants, Ken has seen his company grow tremendously over the past few years. The 30-year-old breakfast/brunch/lunch chain just opened its 100th restaurant last October, with franchised eateries in Florida, Kentucky, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wisconsin, and licensed restaurants in Arizona. More are on the horizon in Tennessee and North Carolina.

Habitat for Humanity Sarasota Inc. was founded in 1985. Since that time the organization has built 200 homes in Sarasota County with the support of churches, community organizations, corporations, individuals, foundations, and its many volunteers, according to its website. The largest development is Jordan’s Crossing, across from Tuttle Elementary School, with 79 single-family homes. Habitat also manages two very successful “ReStores,” which sell donated furniture, household items, used appliances and building materials.

“It’s a great brand and the segment of breakfast, lunch and brunch has been growing for the last several years,” he said. “Over the last 5-10 years it’s really been a growth area for restaurants. We’ve grown steadily and methodically, and that focus on our food, our service, and our patience has paid off. It’s a really good brand.”

Ken wants to see Habitat for Humanity Sarasota build seven to ten homes per year.

Born and raised in Ohio and Kentucky, Ken has lived in Sarasota for 25 of his 58 years. He is as devoted to community service as he is to his business pursuits, so it felt like a natural fit to him when a friend suggested six years ago that he get involved with Habitat for Humanity Sarasota as a member of its board of directors.

“As the economy improves, we’re able to find the land and we’re able to build the homes,” he said. “And we have just a tremendous group of volunteers in the Sarasota area. Maybe in five years or so we’ll be able to move that number to 12 or 15. That all depends on our fundraising and our ability to acquire property and develop the homes.”

“The biggest thing that I — and our other directors — have wanted to contribute is strengthening our governance and strengthening our organization so that we can execute our mission,” he said, “which is to put families into affordable housing. And when you’re an affiliate

Habitat for Humanity Sarasota is always on the lookout for supporters. Your contact is Renee Snyder, Executive Director at 941-365-0700. You may also want to check out the ReStore at 2095 17th St. or 4408 Bee Ridge Rd., both in Sarasota.

July 2013




Fresh Ingredients from Pan to Plate Join Us for Our Social Events*... *All Events Feature Drinks & Appetizers. Reservations Required. Subject To Change.

Chardonnay Dinner Tasting

July 14th

Cocktails 101

July 21st

Side by side comparison of French, US and Italian Chardonnay.

A basic bar skills class on mixing classic and modern drinks.

Tango Hour

August 18th Learn the basics of Tango with Tommaso.

5104 Ocean Blvd. | Siesta Key | 941-349-1423 | Open Daily 4pm-10pm. Four course wine pairing menu Sunday - Thursday.




July 2013



By Darlin’ Neal Illustration by Monique Steele

Emily and Foster have been on the road to New Mexico for hours. No one cries. The cab smells of yellow roses. Through the window the landscape becomes desert, tremendous sky, almost home. The air swirling through holds that tin can scent of rain that must be falling somewhere in the distance, somewhere they can’t see, over that next mountain. Fixtures of cacti, yucca, and mesquite bushes blur into images of lassoing cowboys shaking bangs from their eyes. She watches for real movement, for coyotes, rabbits, or higher, hawks circling in the sky where the clouds could be anything. In Mississippi where they have been, she could not smell that scent of coming rain. There are long drizzling days, thunderstorms, so often that people take the rain for granted. When she lived there, when she grew up there they would make up stories to go with every sound. She especially loved the lazy days of being locked inside with her sister, Vivian, the devil out there beating his wife while the trees creaked and scratched against the house. Even fear, then, delighted them. They would spin and spin in circles listening to the drumming of rain and the banging of the wind. They would fall down and close their eyes imagining that the dizziness meant they were being carried away on some easy tornado. In Mississippi there has been Vivian, older now but still too young for this cancer to be taking her away, saying from her hospital bed, “I don’t want to sleep forever.” Emily knows, for a little while, the morphine will awaken her sister to every vibration in the room.

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“Tell me something,” Vivian says, “I love hearing your voice.”

called a pancreas be so crucial, so impossible to save. There is a hint of rosiness to her cheeks.

Emily fills with dreams. She sits in that sterile room and

“You’re such a pretty woman,” Foster says. There is so

imagines a couch, framed photos and books, a poster from

much of this. It makes Emily tired. All these same thoughts in

London. Vivian’s living room filled with souvenirs from both

everyone’s head at once. Everyone else but Vivian, everyone

their lives, the trip to London taken by Emily, alone.

else, saying the wrong things.

“Talk about Albuquerque?” Vivian asks. Emily wants

Vivian shakes her head. She even smiles. Sunlight pours

Vivian to look in her eyes but Vivian is watching Foster at

in through the window and Emily thinks of how they never

the window. He cannot sit still and they cannot do anything

stopped talking in terms of messages from birds, rain that

about it. They cannot help him.

shone through sunlight. Messages from the earth that were so

Emily thinks now she could tell them she guessed about

important growing up on that Mississippi farm. Messages that

their long ago affair. She has believed that one day she would

Vivian kept with her in Jackson, in her scrubbed house, that

confess what she knows, what she guessed in careless clues,

house she finally had built, with all the scents from the gar-

wine glasses and candles left beside the bed, a forgotten

den wafting in from the great backdoors. Those crazy storms

bracelet in the wrong bathroom, an earring caught on a pil-

coming round and round again.

lowcase. Once it mattered so much. She knew one day they

“It’s not regret that matters,” says Emily. She realizes she

would all have to face it. Emily could have left her husband

is wincing, rubbing her aching shoulder. She realizes Vivian

but not her sister. There never would have been a choice. It

is watching her.

mattered for a while and now it’s tumbled down to nothing. Emily says, “Albuquerque was beautiful but you always wanted your Mississippi.’”

“I found so much on the Web,” says Vivian. “If I could get to a computer now, I’d research your condition.” Emily’s shoulder aches. Her chest aches. Her absent

Vivian does not look at Emily. She keeps watching Foster

breast. Her mastectomy was fourteen years ago. She’s nev-

who peers down into the parking lot below. She nods, under-

er stopped counting the time and now even seconds mean

standing. She says, “Albuquerque was yours. I always wanted

nothing and everything.

just to visit.”

“I wish you could research your own,” Emily says. “That

“I was so scared in the city. I couldn’t drive. You were never afraid of anything.”

you could prescribe the miracle treatment.” “I tried,” Vivian says, peering into Emily’s eyes, then to-

Vivian sighs. “Of course I was.”

ward the open door behind her. There are footsteps. Emily

“I know it. I just don’t remember a time.” Emily adjusts

turns expecting to find Vivian’s husband, Jonathon, or the

Vivian’s sock and pulls the sheet back over it. The flowers on

preacher who keeps coming by, but the hallway is empty,

the rolling tables, through the doorway, on the counter on

the floors shiny and scuffed. A janitor pushes a buffer, the

the bathroom sink, she can smell so many of them. She has

circling brushes waxing the floor beneath. When Emily turns

this feeling inside, a fight deep in her shoulder bone, coursing

Foster is back guarding the window. Vivian sleeps.

through her blood.

Emily, Foster, and Jonathon alternate the bedside watch.

Foster steps from the window to the bedside. Emily can

Sometimes they are all there at once. The days bleed one

smell his sweat. He always smells like soap, but not now, not

into the other. The hours. The light seeps behind the building

in this humid place, not with all this standing and watching

outside. The fluorescent lights are off. Emily waits for Vivi-

and pacing. He asks, “Are the pillows fixed all right? Do you

an’s eyes to open. She follows where they look, at the little

want to move?” Emily watches his hands. He touches the

lamp on the bedside table, paintings on the wall, flowers on

sheets beside his sister-in-law’s elbow.

the counters. When she is awake she notices everything until

“It’s all right,” Emily imagines saying. “Just touch her.”

it makes her tired. She even twists to look behind, at fluids

“No.” Vivian purses her face. “Not yet. Talk to me. I

circling in a tube. She frowns and Emily begins to say, “No,

don’t want to sleep.” He looks so helpless, his hands open at his sides. Emily stares at the calluses, at his tender, scared fingers, all those years of working. She watches Vivian smile. There are secrets in that smile. The cancer has drawn her skin taut. How can something




July 2013

don’t do that.” “Jonathon?” Vivian calls. “Everything is streaming right out of me.” “It’s all right,” he says. Jonathon’s crisp clothes are pressed. What will he do

when the closet empties and he has to wash? Has he washed?

Vivian does.

Does he know how to iron? He is wearing sneakers as if he

They wait for some feeling to come. Something tumbling

forgot to finish without Vivian being there to inspect him be-

from the wide opening in that glass above their heads, down

fore he went out.

to the little space that contains them, something like stillness

Emily thinks of the way he’d raise a newspaper and ig-

in the air.

nore Vivian complaining about something he had or had not

Vivian closes her eyes. The heart monitor sounds softly,

done. Then drop it down and say, “Okay, Vivian. Okay.” His

turned down low. Vivian whispers, “Emily? Is that you making

smile used to be charming to Emily. She had admired his skill

that noise?” Emily listens but she forgets to watch. She wants

in handling the family temper. He seems muted now.

to hear some fragments of a beautiful dream, hear names be-

“What did you let them do?” Vivian asks.

ing called out of people waiting with open arms. Vivian says

“Go on,” Emily whispers because she sees how he might

more loudly, “Emily? Is that you making that noise?”

crumble and Vivian is not paying attention to him any longer


but watching those precious fluids circling in the tube. “Go

“Are you supposed to be telling me something?”

on and get some rest.”

Emily studies the painting where Vivian’s gaze wanders,

When he opens the door there are all those women

mud flung on a blue background.

again, those old crones from church, waiting, offering empty

“Say something. Let me hear your voice,” Vivian says.

messages for Vivian which he has finally learned not to pass

“I’m trying,” says Emily.

on. “I don’t know those silly women,” Vivian has said. “I

“What is that light from the door?” Emily turns toward

don’t want them coming in here and staring at me.” The preacher arrives. Emily has noticed he always arrives with the women. She finds this insulting to her sister. She does not respect him but her sister does, so she is silent. He sits there and rubs Vivian’s leg. Emily wants to grab his

the hallway where Vivian looks. No light comes through. The door is closed. There is no one there. She faces all the flowers, her sister’s closed eyes, breathing deepening into sleep. She listens to all the monitors, the fluids like alarms going off so long past exhaustion.

hand, say stop touching my sister, stop telling her that things

Everything keeps darkening and fading, shrinking. Vivi-

will be fine no matter what. In the hallway the women cir-

an’s face. Her body. Emily hates that ridiculous painting and

cle Jonathon. All their clothes seem too tight or too short to

even that feeling shrinks down into something like comfort.

Emily, the heels ridiculously high. She tries to remember if

It becomes familiar. She fears she will never forget it. Vivi-

this is the way in Mississippi, to dress up for hospital visits.

an talks to ghosts. Emily will not pretend to see them. The

She’s grown accustomed to the casual dress of New Mexico.

lie would make Vivian angry. Vivian’s eyes, Vivian’s smart

Foster is wearing jeans. She thinks of something she saw this

beautiful eyes, start to look mean and then she is not asking

morning, two things, cars speeding up when an ambulance

anything. Emily’s body fills with pain but it feels outside the

tried to pass, rushing even to beat red lights. Then in just a

way her mind is working. She cannot lift her arm. She sends

moment, on a different street, a funeral procession and all

Foster away to make sure Jonathon is eating, make sure he

the cars pulling over. A black man got out of his gold Cadillac

sleeps for at least three hours in the hotel at night.

and took off his hat. He held it to his chest and bowed his naked head.

She keeps thinking of that time when she knew her sister and husband had been lovers, how Vivian came over and sat

When the preacher leaves, Emily closes the door. Vivian

in a rocking chair and cried in silence. How she said she just

says in a voice that makes Emily feel they are enclosed in

needed to be there. She just needed to cry. Emily never told

thin glass, “I know things will be fine one way or another

her what she guessed. She gave her Kleenex. She hugged her

but I asked that one thing. I asked Jonathon to not let them

and rocked her a little at the door and said goodbye. “You

operate again.”

will be all right.”

Emily takes her hand. All the veins look bruised as

She feels almost cruel thinking of it now in that hospital.

does the skin beneath her eyes. In Vivian’s palm is the

She does not know why. She and Foster keep watch. Jona-

morphine pump. She says, “Emily, is the ceiling spiraling

thon keeps watch. One evening they leave him alone with

away from us?”

her sister and when they come back Vivian is gone. Jona-

The words make Emily’s heart race with all they might mean but she does not look up. She says, “Squeeze,” and

thon’s arms and face are raked with deep claw marks. “She was so strong,” he says, crumpling even as he July 2013




stands. “She fought for hours.” They are all, Emily and Foster and Jonathon, all in each other’s arms. They are all so glad to leave. Outside in the parking lot the rain tugs at their clothes. Just up from the grave horses prance in circles in a field. It’s the spot Vivian picked, as if she might look up and watch the pretty horses with those swishing tails. She picked even the dress she is wearing hidden in that casket, the same dress she wore to waltz in her son’s wedding forty years ago. Emily cannot imagine picking her own gravesite or clothes to be buried in, being that brave or wasting something someone else might need or even preserving a dress for so long. She will be cremated. She will tell her children, “Scatter me wherever you want, or keep my ashes. It doesn’t matter. Maybe do a little of both. Whatever makes you feel better.” On the road, the sky grows darker and darker, the heavy clouds covering the sun, so weighted gray and black they look as though they’ll fall and break the world below that cracks from need of water.

... starbursts of ferocity and heartache ... —Ron Currie ... grace is splashed all over the commonplace. —Laura Kasischke

Then they do, in fat drops, then rivers and rivers that butt against the vehicle. Lightning jags across the sky. The clouds thicken and coil down onto the highway. The gray drops right down in front of the truck and what else can Foster do but drive into them? Emily feels the road slip from beneath as their truck lifts higher. She smells the tin-can rain, the dust. The highway disappears from view and it is as if they float on a Lazy Susan. A surrounding wall of water holds the vehicle in place. A semi rises up like some fragile toy, comes toward their windshield, spinning around and around. It misses them and disappears. Foster shouts, “Hang on.” He shouts, “I’m going to drive through.” He guns the engine. She can hear it roar as they fly through the sky. They remain inside that swirling wall of water. “There’s traction,” he hollers. Just like that they come out the other side, turned in the wrong direction, with the evening sun at their backs, but square down on the highway. “Where did the semi go?” Emily asks. Foster drives one direction and then the other, searching to see if they might help the truck driver. Finally, he shakes his head. Rain beats the dusty ground for seconds and is gone. They U-turn. When she starts Foster catches her laughter. A yellow Do Not Pass sign bends at an odd angle. Heading home feels like the wrong direction, like a dead end even though they keep going. “Oh,” Emily says, clapping her hands.

Elegant Punk by Darlin’ Neal

“Let’s do it again!” All the way through New Mexico she searches for funnel clouds.

Available wherever fine books are sold

Darlin’ Neal authored the short story collections, Rattlesnakes & The Moon (Press 53, 2010) and Elegant Punk (Press 53, 2012). A recipient of the DH Lawrence, Frank Waters, and Mississippi Arts Commission Fiction Fellowships, she teaches in the MFA and undergraduate Creative Writing Programs at the University of Central Florida.

53 Press



All the way she keeps hoping.

Love Poetry? Love Short Stories? So Do We!


July 2013

Peter & Susan Migliaccio invite you to experience the warmth, comfort and world-class food & wine at their new, downtown Italian Restaurant. A Real Italian Experience from Start to Finish! 1213 N. Palm Ave. | Sarasota, Florida 34236 | 941-366-1840 | |

Hildebrand By Peter Meinke Illustration by Monique Steele

St. Agnes’ Eve — Ah, bitter chill it was! The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold; The hare limped trembling through the frozen grass, And silent was the flock in wooly fold. – John Keats

Hildebrand didn’t believe in all this mystical mishmash

man and other religious advisors, had relented and lopped off

about St. Agnes’ Eve, though he was clever enough to keep it to

Sir George’s hand instead of his head, Sir George had thanked

himself. They were all Christers here, and Maurice was the only

him by burning all of the Baron’s farms along the coast, and

one he could talk to, but what was the point? Secretiveness was

cutting the feet off every male his warriors could catch.

power: Hildebrand knew the pressure points of everyone in

“Good evening, Hildebrand,” said Angela, passing him on

the castle, even Maurice’s — the old cutthroat was terrified of

the narrow curving stone steps that led to the large chamber.

dying and going to hell, so he’d been stealing the Baron’s silver-

She’d drunk some wine already, and one hand steadied herself

ware and giving it to the chapel at Our Lady Star of the Sea. As

on the thick oak balustrade bolted into the wall; the other held

if that would do any good. Hildebrand figured that when you

a trembling candle. “Have you lit the tapers yet?” As the stout

had stuck swords into as many helpless people as Lord Maurice

woman squeezed by, he thrust his hips forward, pinning her

had, there was nothing left for you to do but throw yourself on

against the wall.

the mercy of the Court. Mea culpa, don’t light the fire!

“Light my taper, sweet bawd,” he said, leaning his head

Mercy, however, was another concept Hildebrand didn’t

into her overflowing bosom. Although Hildebrand”s hands and

believe in. His shrewd eyes, small and dark beneath his over-

arms were large and powerful, his spine had been curved from

large forehead, had observed little of it in operation, and none

birth, and he was barely five feet tall.

that was successful. When the Baron, persuaded by the Beads-




July 2013

“Let me by!” She was used to this; she tipped the wavering

July 2013




candle near Hildebrand”s unruly black hair. “I’m a gray-haired

ter’s pouting chin — “there’s no one else around nearly good

old lady, go chase those young sluts in the kitchen.”

enough for you!” Hildebrand smiled, remembering last winter,

“I like fat old ladies,” he said into the folds of her dress, but

before the falling out with Sir George over the land around the

he backed off and let her get to the step above him. “I’ll come

river, how Madeline had danced with Porphyro, George’s favor-

to your room later, see if you’re dreaming about me. All sweet

ite nephew. Porphyro made Roland look like an ox.

virgins dream about their true loves tonight.”

“I don’t want Roland,” she said, backing away. “He’s so

“My dreams are over,” Angela said “It’s young Madeline

big, and he smells bad, too.” Hildebrand thought everyone

who’ll be dreaming this evening. And you stay away from her,”

smelled bad except for Madeline: Roland smelled like a stable,

she added, seeing Hildebrand’s shaggy eyebrows rise up. “She’s

Angela smelled like a fish, the Baron smelled like an old dog,

not for the likes of you.”

and Maurice . . . well, Maurice smelled like he died yesterday.

Hildebrand laughed and whacked her on the bottom.

Only Madeline smelled like fresh warm milk; she didn’t have to

Angela was right, he wanted to see Madeline; and as always,

splash perfume all over her body. You could actually smell her

the simple mention of her name made his breath go shallow.

skin. With everyone else you smelled a mixture: sweat, per-

He knew she wasn’t for him, she’d never be for him — the

fume, wet fur, sex, perfume, dirt, food, perfume, layered on like

misshapen bastard son of the Baron — but her presence dis-

the fortifications of a castle.

turbed him so much that her image would stay in his mind,

“Don’t cross me, Madeline,” said the Baron. “Roland wants

like a waking dream, long after she passed from sight. Her

you, your mother and I want this to happen, and it will happen.”

full lower lip, slightly crooked when she smiled, her long

His voice softened. “Look, I’m your father. I know about these

dark lashes beneath blonde hair, became icons to him: let

things, trust me. Roland’s a fine, strong man.”

the others worship their cold and heavy crosses. Once she

“He doesn’t know me! He can hardly talk!” Before the

had bent down to whisper something, letting him look deep-

Baron could reply, she turned and ran up the stairs toward

ly between her perfect young breasts, soft as baby mice, and

her chambers. The thought occurred to Hildebrand that St.

he wanted to go down on his knees, he wanted to kill some-

Agnes, martyred because she wouldn’t spread her pretty

one for her, he wanted to yell and run through the forbidden

legs for a pagan, would approve. But Madeline, he was sure,

swampland that surrounded the castle. He knew of course

wouldn’t go to such extremes — she was too full of life — nor

that this was ridiculous, and kept his feelings hidden almost

was Roland a pagan. He was dumb as a horse, but a good

from himself, like his smallpox scars: Madeline was as sweet

Christian. It amazed Hildebrand that the whole world had

and silly a teen-ager as could be found in the entire district,

swallowed that story. When the ancient Beadsman shuffled

while Hildebrand was renowned for his lechery, pumping

around the courtyard, barefoot in the January cold, telling

away on the servant girls with a contempt that made some

his rosary over and over, his breath rising like a ghost in the

cry and some laugh.

winter air, everyone stepped aside and bowed their heads,

Now he turned away from Angela and headed toward

crossing themselves. Hildebrand, watching from the shadows

the brassy strains of trumpets coming from the great hall.

of the huge buttresses, merely shook his oversized skull in

Tonight the castle was an echo chamber, a giant music box,

profound disgust and disbelief.

and he knew Madeline would be dancing there, fulfilling her

He often stood in shadows, and did so now after pick-

St. Agnes’ Eve contract with the strictness of the innocent.

ing up a goblet of red wine from a table in the great hall.

She would look no young man in the eye, go to bed without

Slightly below him, in front of a massive fire that roared in

supper, and then — she truly believed — the one she was

the hearth, the dancers turned in their formal steps. One

destined to marry would appear in her dreams. There was a

could easily spot Roland, a head taller than everyone else,

problem here that would be resolved very soon: the Baron

stumbling through the paces with Glenda, but keeping his

had already chosen their neighbor’s son, Roland, for her; and

eye always on Madeline, who danced with downcast eyes, as

Madeline was resisting, as far as she ever resisted her father.

if in a trance: she was waiting for her dreams this St. Agnes’

Hildebrand had overheard their conversation.

Eve. Hildebrand tried not to imagine dancing with Madeline,

“He’s a good man, Madeline,” the Baron lectured. “You’ll

her white arm around his humped back. It was too painful;

have two rich households to take care of, and no worries. That

even with the kitchen wenches he entered them from be-

murdering George could never touch us then. It’ll be one of

hind, so they wouldn’t have to put their arms around him:

the strongest matches in the land and everything you want will

he wanted no damned pity. But he couldn’t stop the fantasy

be yours. Besides” — he reached out and chucked his daugh-

that, with her slender fingers touching him, his back would




July 2013

magically straighten and he would whirl her around the slate

watched her bathe; he had seen her grow from a girl into a

floor, making her laugh the way young Porphyro had the year

young woman.

before. Now all the great houses within a three-day journey,

Hildebrand turned, padding in his soft slippers past the

save Sir George’s, were at the ball, and the young men were

servants’ quarters and up into the section inhabited by the Bar-

sniffing around Madeline like rats around fresh cheese. But

on’s large and extended family. He unbuckled the dagger in his

she looked at no one, turning in circles with a half smile and

sheath, just in case the old man was right; not that he would

an abstracted grace that made her all the more desirable.

attack anyone without provocation, but he had found once or

“You like that, don’t you, little lecher?” Maurice’s voice at his back made Hildebrand jump. A lifetime of sneaking up on

twice in his life that waving his dagger around like a madman had a good effect on people threatening you.

people had made the old man’s footsteps silent as bat’s breath.

In this way, sliding soundlessly through the passageways,

All of a sudden he would be there, breathing behind you. “All

with the music growing fainter at his back, he was able to

the pretty young girls, dripping honey for the bees.”

hear the fat witch whispering before he reached the turn in

“Hello Maurice,” said Hildebrand. “Why don’t you lie down with the dogs, where you belong?” “Because we have work to do,” Maurice said. “Didn’t you hear them howling a while ago?” “Your stupid dogs are always howling. They howl at the Beadsman, they howl at the owls, they howl when they pee.” “Listen,” said Lord Maurice. “I understand my dogs, and

the corridor leading toward Madeline’s chamber. Angela was obviously terrified. “Go away,” she was saying. “You’ll be killed! Are you out of your mind?” The answering voice was familiar, but it was a while before Hildebrand could place it. He moved closer, flattened against the wall, as Angela and her companion neared the steps to Madeline’s room.

they saw something that doesn’t belong here. They never lie,

“I wouldn’t touch her, I swear,” said the voice. “Never! I

not like people.” He sniffed his sharp nose in the direction of

just want to see her. I promised her I’d come back, and I’ve

the crowded room. “You and I will find out what it is.”

done it. If you won’t let me see her, I’ll go after the Baron him-

“A beggar maybe, looking for warmth. Who’d be crazy enough to be out on a night like this?” Even inside the cas-

self, I don’t care how many of his bloodsucking henchmen are around him.”

tle, the wind bent the flames and the shadows of the dancers

“Porphyro!” said Angela, just after Hildebrand rec-

leaped frantically against the high walls. The aching cold en-

ognized his voice, “you can’t do that! Roland’s here, and

couraged the guests to keep moving.

that crazy Hildebrand would tear you apart, and old Lord

“There are no strange beggars around the fire, are there?

Maurice would cut your heart out and feed it to his dogs.”

I’ll search the west side, you search the east.” Maurice disap-

Hildebrand remembered Porphyro’s slight figure and his soft

peared into the darkness, heading toward the guest chambers,

eyes: he didn’t look like a fighter. Still, it must have taken

room after room opening off the twisting corridors, like so

great courage, or stupidity, to come across the moors on a

many cold and latticed tombs.

winter night and sneak into a place where recognition meant

It was all right with Hildebrand, who tended to wander around during these parties, anyway, delighting in catching various dignified lords and ladies in secluded corners

death, if he were lucky. “Take me there, Angela,” whispered Porphyro. “Hide me. I only want to see her. I know she loves me.”

with limbs wrapped around each other like spiders in mortal

“Then she’ll be dreaming of you tonight,” said Angela, after

combat. Besides, it was noisy in the hall, the loud music

a pause. “You’ll be the death of me as well as yourself. Follow

and laughing voices mixing unpleasantly in his ear: he was

me, quickly, but you must promise . . .” Their voices were lost

one who liked to be invisible and silent. And he wanted to

to Hildebrand as they mounted the steps and entered the pri-

check if Angela had hidden the food in one of the closets in

vate rooms.

Madeline’s chamber: Hildebrand had the idea that Madeline

Hildebrand took out his dagger, pressing it against his

would be hungry from her fast, and wake up in the middle

chest, as if to stop its beating. If he went in now, and brought

of the night; he asked Angela to smuggle the sweetest del-

Porphyro’s head to the Baron, his future in the Court was as-

icacies from the party, and then set a table after Madeline

sured. He waited on the steps around a corner past Made-

was asleep. When she woke up, the food would be there,

line’s room until the light from Angela’s candle emerged and

like magic, as if she were still dreaming. What he didn’t tell

faded, as she hobbled hurriedly away. But he didn’t go in; he

Angela was that he would be watching this: he had been spy-

crouched by the entrance, listening. In his mind he was seeing

ing on Madeline’s bedchamber for over three years. He had

Madeline and Porphyro dance last year, swinging in circles

July 2013




with their heads back, giggling like five-year-olds. There were

pearls and as she undid them it showered like gold around

no sounds from the room.

her white shoulders, tinted rose and amethyst by the moon

After a while, he sheathed the dagger and darted mole-like

shining through the stained windows. She undressed as if in

through the darkness up to his own Spartan room on the floor

a dream, visibly entranced by her St. Agnes’ Eve rituals. Her

above Madeline’s. He threw on his heavy black cloak, mak-

laced bodice, her full dress and petticoats, slid to the floor and

ing him look like one of the Baron’s executioners, and stepped

lay about her like wrappings from the most expensive gift in

through his casement window onto a narrow balcony overlook-

the world. Her small breasts with their pale pink nipples, erect

ing the moat and drawbridge, which was still down in honor of

from the cold, pointed slightly upward and trembled as she

St. Agnes and this evening’s festive occasion. The winds had

stepped across her discarded clothes and slipped into bed,

abated slightly, and the pallid moon shone full and white on the

parting the curtains to let in the multicolored moonbeams.

castle. The wood-tangled swamp looked impassable, except by

Almost immediately she was asleep.

the narrow road leading in one direction to the sea, and in the other inland toward the great cities.

Hildebrand could hear the strains of trumpet and kettle-drum pouring out of different windows in the castle, but

Her balcony was directly below his — no one suspected

no sound came from Madeline’s room. After a while, a curtain

why he had chosen this room; in fact, scarcely anyone knew,

parted and Porphyro, his boots and leggings stained with mud,

or cared, where he slept, except nosy old Maurice — and the

stepped from the closet. At first he stood by the bed, like an

jutting design of the castle walls made it a simple task to get

itinerant minstrel in a strange land; and Hildebrand once again

from one level to the other. He had done it many times, though

put his hand on his dagger: he didn’t believe for a second that

not in such cold weather. Without hesitating, he swung himself

Porphyro wouldn’t “touch her,” as the young man had told An-

out over the stone rail, holding the feet of what seemed to be a

gela. No one would make a trip such as Porphyro had just to

fat bishop carved into the balcony, and dropped like a black cat

look at someone. But even as Hildebrand thought this, Porphy-

outside Madeline’s triple-arched windows.

ro turned and, using Madeline’s candle, lit the five white tapers

Her windows were the most beautiful and intricate in the castle, diamond-paned, set with deep-colored glass, the Bar-

in the silver candelabrum. Colors danced around the room, and Madeline slept on.

on’s family arms floating in the middle, strange animals and ex-

With great care, in no haste though he was surrounded

otic flora twisting around them. Some of the lower panes were

by mortal enemies, Porphyro set the table that Hildebrand

clear, and it was through these that Hildebrand had watched

had planned. Candied apples, marmalade, plums, fresh

Madeline in her bath and bedclothes. While there was little

melons, loaves of bread and silver baskets of sweets from

chance of anyone seeing him, Hildebrand knew he risked his

distant countries came from the closet until the polished

life every time he climbed to her balcony. Well, he thought, the

table was heaped with a feast for a goddess or a queen. And

others ride into battle and risk their lives for flimsier reasons.

still Madeline slept.

We all have our perils and skills: he couldn’t ride a horse; maybe they were afraid of heights.

Porphyro watched over her for a while, once walking to the window and looking out at the endless moors, pale and

Hildebrand looked into the room. A thick red carpet cov-

barren in the moonlight. The leaves of the trees glittered like

ered the stone floor; and heavy Arras tapestry, rich with scenes

chain mail. Hildebrand flattened himself against the castle wall,

of hounds and hawks and huntsmen, hid Madeline’s closets

and when he ventured to look in the room again, Porphyro had

and hung around her bed piled high with bright pillows. A

taken off his boots and lay in the bed next to Madeline, his eyes

slight movement behind one of the curtains showed Hildeb-

closed, still not touching her, as if accepting what dangers the

rand where Porphyro was standing. It would be easy to open

morning would bring, and resting up for the confrontation. The

the window, step quietly into the room, and stick his dagger

two youngsters lay side by side like children under the spell of

through the tapestry into the young intruder. Hildebrand was

a magic potion — and Hildebrand knew, for the first time, they

wondering why he didn’t do it, when a faint light flickered

were safe at least from him.

across the walls, and Madeline entered.

Hildebrand’s hands were going numb when Porphyro

She had never looked more beautiful; at the sight, Hildeb-

woke up, took Madeline’s hollow lute from the closet where the

rand bit his lips till they bled. When, in complete simplicity,

food had been, sat back down on the bed, and began to pluck

she knelt on the carpet to pray, the silver cross around her

the strings. Hildebrand wasn’t musical, but he could tell the

neck pulsed with reflected light and the candle lit her pale

boy was good, damn his eyes: Hildebrand looked with distaste

face like a saint’s portrait. Her long hair was held up with

at his own huge and clumsy fingers, freezing against the stone.




July 2013

Peter Meinke,



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The soft notes of an old Provençal tune, or perhaps one Porphy-

“Of course I’m sure. The Beadsman saw him, too; he sees

ro had composed himself, were slipping through the window

everything, but never understands what he’s seeing. It’s Por-

when Madeline opened her eyes.

phyro, all right. Sniffing around that doxy Madeline. But I don’t

Rather, she half-opened them. It was clear that she didn’t

care about that. He’ll be trying to sneak out here, and then

know if she were still dreaming or not. She began to cry, per-

we’ll have him. The Baron will give us a pretty reward.” Even

haps at the contrast between Porphyro’s mud-stained figure

as Maurice spoke, they could hear whispering voices on the

and the perfection of a dream. She was saying something that

stairs above them. “Quick,” he said, “duck in here. I’ll go on the

Hildebrand couldn’t hear; Porphyro sat still as a statue, look-

other side and we’ll squeeze him between us like a little rab-

ing down at her. When at last she reached out her arms to

bit.” The old man turned, but Hildebrand turned with him, one

him, and he moved to her, what had seemed both inevita-

step behind, and plunged his dagger with all his great strength

ble and impossible began to happen, and Hildebrand looked

into Lord Maurice’s back, who grunted and fell forward across

away. In his life, he had seen everything: women with men,

the bottom steps. With surprising energy, the desiccated wretch

men with men, women with women, and both with animals —

immediately pushed himself up with his thin arms; Hildebrand

but now, full of inexplicable turmoil, he couldn’t look. Turning

and his dagger fell immediately on top of him, and this time

around, he saw that clouds were obscuring the moon, and a

Lord Maurice stayed down.

storm was building. Already, cold bursts of sleet were rattling the windows.

Fearful that someone had overheard the clatter, Hildebrand grabbed him around the ankles and pulled him — the old man

The climb back was a lot more dangerous than the climb

weighed nothing at all — unceremoniously into the shadows as

down, and he closed his eyes in concentration as he inched

Porphyro and Madeline crept down into the entranceway. They

upward until he felt the bishop’s cold feet, and swung himself

were not dressed very wisely, Hildebrand saw; he hoped they

over the rail onto his own balcony. He knew if the lovers were

remembered the jewels. The door groaned on its heavy hinges

going to escape they hadn’t much time, and their choices were

as Porphyro leaned his thin shoulder into it. It opened slightly,

slim in any case — Sir George would be no more fond of Made-

a blast of bitter wind and sleet rattling the hall; and, with only

line than the Baron was of Porphyro — but if dawn came while

a moment’s hesitation, the lovers slipped out. They were gone.

they were still in the castle, Porphyro was dead. If he were

Their chances weren’t good, thought Hildebrand — the dogs

they, he’d head for the sea. If they remembered to take some

were already howling — but they had a chance. He’d try to buy

of Madeline’s jewels, they could buy passage to somewhere

them a little time.

far away . . . if they could avoid getting their throats slit by a greedy captain.

Picking up Maurice more gently than before, he carried the old assassin like a child in his arms. It occurred to Hil-

Now the castle was dark and dead as a tomb, only the

debrand that he had killed his only friend in the castle. Even

snores of drunken revelers breaking the mousebreath of gutter-

though he didn’t believe in her, Hildebrand blamed it on St.

ing candles. Hildebrand hurried down the steps, through the

Agnes. He blamed it all on St. Agnes. He brought the gray-

corridors toward the main door, the only way out. If a guard

haired lord up the steps to a seldom-used alcove and placed

were there, and not passed out with the rest of the soldiers,

the body on the floor as if Maurice were only sleeping, and

Hildebrand would offer to take his place. At the bottom of the

didn’t want anyone to wake him up. He heard the Beadsman’s

stairs, he was relieved to see the porter sleeping on the stone

shuffling footsteps in the corridor, and waited — forever, it

floor, a flagon of wine spilled beside him.

seemed — until they passed, before leaving for his own room.

“You won’t need your cloak,” said a dark figure appearing

Hildebrand threw one last glance at Maurice, looking serene

beside him, his thin face cool as Satan’s at the gate of Hell.

as a napping choirmaster. It would be some time before they

“He’s still inside.”

found him, if the cold weather held.

“Maurice!” “Did I scare you, little man?” said Lord Maurice. He smiled. This was what he was born to do. “It’s that fairy bastard Porphyro — I persuaded Angela to tell me.” He almost laughed, showing frightening teeth. The heavy door shook as a wintry blast of air bombarded it. “Cat got your tongue, or are you drunk like the rest of the pigs?”

Peter Meinke is St. Petersburg’s Poet Laureate. His fiction and poetry have appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The New Republic, Poetry, and many other magazines and anthologies. Among his 20+ books are The Piano Tuner, which received the Flannery O’Connor Award for short fiction, and his newest collection of poems, “Lucky Bones,” to be published early next year by the U. of Pittsburgh Press, his 8th book in the prestigious Pitt Poetry Series.

“Are you sure?” was all Hildebrand could manage.




July 2013



                   


     


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July 2013

Ballad of the Skunk Ape


By Jarret Keene Illustration by Erin L. Pickering

For Margo and Ed... Rawlings cursed the buttonbush growing along the bank.

her dead mother’s pruning shears with the other hand, trying to

Using shears, she had easily trimmed back the young palms and

make herself look big and imposing. Deepening her voice, she

wax myrtles, but to get the shot she wanted would require extra

bellowed: “Piss off!”

effort. She removed her sneakers, completely inadequate for the terrain, and stepped into the warm Myakka River.

The horrible face turned away. The creature lunged underwater, its form replaced by foam and spray. She could see

The lopped-off sprouts tinkled as they landed in the water.

a massive shadow gliding through the murk. Eventually the ga-

The sound a deer would make as it entered the vegetation for a

tor’s head floated serenely twenty yards off, like a piece of drift-

drink or something to eat. Rawlings felt a breeze pass through

wood. Calm after a near-fatal storm.

a shady grove of twisted oaks behind her — a ribbon of air that

Rawlings dabbed sweat from her brow with a bandana and

bristled the hairs on her neck. Then she experienced the sensa-

struggled to process. Silently sneaking up on prey is what alligators

tion of being watched.

do, how they feed. This beast was no doubt just as surprised. Tall

She quickly jumped back to the shoreline, scanning both

grass and plants ensured he couldn’t see her until he ended up

directions. Nothing. Dumb broad, she thought. Take your pre-

between her legs. He reacted to what he’d heard: buttonbush hit-

cious nature photo and move on.

ting the water. It was natural behavior, not an evil desire to kill her.

She grabbed each shrub after cutting it, throwing it on

Maybe she’d have been better off eaten by a gator. Here

shore instead of letting it fall in the water. She was leaning for-

she was, in the middle of Myakka River State Park, hoping for

ward to cut the farthest shrub when her heart iced over. The

artistic inspiration. Looking to find motivation and direction at

snout of a fifteen-foot reptile appeared between her feet.

a time in her life when she had nothing — no man, no job, not

Only his massive, bony head was visible in the shallow wa-

even family in Florida. Just the minimum credentials to con-

ter. He was a monster, eyes like two jaundiced marbles. She re-

vince herself that she enjoyed a career in fine-art photography.

called advice a crusty poacher had offered back when she free-

She hadn’t done a new show in more than three years.

lanced for newspapers. “Roar at ’em, but not in a high voice.

As she rehydrated with a bad-tasting vitamin water product,

Scared animals in distress make that noise. Scared animals are

she noticed a figure walking behind the shrubs on the river’s

what gators love to eat.”

other side. Her perspective sharpened. Whatever was moving

So she bit her fist hard, nearly drawing blood, and raised

was eight feet tall. It took long strides that had little resemblance July 2013




to human gait. She tried to register it as a bear until she realized a bear walks on four legs, not upright. It was bigger and hairier than her friend Bob Dye, whom she’d been expecting. “Skunk ape,” she said under her breath, fumbling for her Canon 5D MKII. As she clicked the shutter, she knew she was capturing dense marshland. Maybe a break in the foliage would allow for a brief line of sight.

“Bite you?” She shook her head. “Scared him off with my death-metal voice.” “Good thing it ain’t mating season. He’d have ripped you in half.” “You know, I didn’t even think of that.” Sometimes she wondered if Bob was a douche. He took an unusual


amount of pleasure in finding women in the marsh and

She exhaled, stood stock-still for a moment, and strained

giving them advice.

to hear. Nothing but a moorhen’s distant honk. She rifled

“Nice shears,” he said. “The park’s?”

through the camera viewer. One image revealed a small, black

“No, my mom’s. Need them to take photos.”

blur smeared across the top of aquatic plants. She didn’t give

“I can see why. You’re right up against the wilderness pre-

chase for fear of stepping on a gator. Besides, if she cornered a

serve. That’s Deep Hole over there. How’d the photos come out?”

skunk ape, what then? She had no weapon or net. Just pruning

“Godzilla interrupted,” she said, indicating the gator. “Then

shears. She rechecked the images, disappointed. Rawlings recalled how for years the skunk ape had been

I saw what I’m pretty sure was a skunk ape.” Bob snorted.

said to inhabit the South, Florida in particular. In 2000, sup-

“I have something.” She picked up the camera and moved

posed photos of a Myakka skunk ape were sent anonymously

close to Bob so he could see the viewer. He smelled good,

to the Sarasota Sheriff’s Department. She recalled seeing them

coconut sunblock with a hint of dude sweat. He grabbed the

online. Grainy images of an escaped orangutan. Now she was

Canon to study the blur.

less skeptical. Whatever she’d spotted walked like a hairy beast

He handed back the camera. “Don’t call CNN.”

— like Bigfoot. She hadn’t smelled anything skunky or foul,


though. Christ, what the hell was it? She looked to the wading birds around her for solace. A

“Hey, I got something to ask you.” He kicked at the dirt like a bashful child. “A favor.”

green heron sat hunched on the branch of a silver-gray oak skel-

“OK.” She felt her lust for Bob overtaking her adrenaline.

eton. He splayed his gorgeous feathers and squawked before tak-

Or was it her stomach growling? She hadn’t eaten anything to-

ing flight. She could still feel the blood pounding in her temples.

day. “Talk about it over lunch? Starving.”

Here came someone beautiful enough to help her for-

Bob glanced at the watch on his thick, manly wrist. A wrist

get what had transpired: Park Ranger Bob Dye. Body of a

Rawlings dreamed would hold her down as he screwed her

Chippendale dancer. Brain of a Chip ’n’ Dale cartoon char-

brains out. “Sure,” he said. “Let’s throw your canoe in the back

acter. He looked amazing in his beige state-issued shirt,

of my truck.”

shorts, wading boots. For some reason, he carried a bag of hot dog buns.


She tried to be glib, even though her hands trembled. “Firing up the grill, Bob?” She pushed her blond hair behind her

They lunched at Snook Haven, a fish camp and restaurant en-

ears, hoping he’d notice her eyes. People found them haunting.

gulfed by oaks and palms at the east end of Venice Avenue.

Or so they told her.

They sat on the patio in the shade of an umbrella and sipped

He stopped and brought the bag to his handsomely chis-

sweetened iced tea and ate chicken Caesar salads and watched

eled face as if inspecting the contents for the first time. “Con-

as orange-vested canoeists deposited themselves from the boat

fiscated these from a family. They were about to throw ’em to

ramp into the Lower Myakka. A giant green fly buzzed Rawl-

a gator downstream.”

ings’s face until she swatted it dead with a rolled-up copy of

Bob took violations of campground policy seriously. A

Aperture. She scraped the magazine clean with the side of their

fed alligator would grow bold and approach people at every

wooden picnic table and finished her salad.

opportunity. Then the animal would have to be killed. To feed

“Ever hear of repellent?” said Bob.

a gator was to condemn it to death. “Wish they wouldn’t do

“Why do you think I let you hang around?”

that,” she commiserated.


Bob continued to approach her, but now his attention was

She toothpicked her teeth and squinted at him, recalling a

focused on the massive head floating several yards off. “That

time, much like this one, when they had lunched casually and

there’s a big one,” he noted. “Five hundred pounds, at least.

she had articulated carnal feelings for him. He didn’t go for it

Thought it was Old Bill for a second. But he don’t have no scar.”

and it had damaged her self-esteem. Perhaps he only required

“He came between my legs,” she said, instantly regretting it. Bob didn’t hear her and asked, genuinely concerned,




July 2013

more encouragement. “So what do you need?” “Park brochure. Photos in it are from before the first

Bush was in office. Needs an update. They put me in charge of the project.”

She borrowed Bob’s truck to put in at the park bridge and paddled her way to the expansive marsh bordering Lower

“Doesn’t the park have a PR team?”

Myakka. It was her favorite spot, full of gnarly oaks and grace-

He shrugged. “Cutbacks.”

ful palms that leaned over the river. Turtles basked in the sun.

“I don’t shoot for free,” she said. “I appreciate the access

Herons posed like feathered runway models. She watched a

you give me, Bob, but I’ve also done a lot to bring attention to

kingfisher crisscross the river. A grackle skated across the wa-

Myakka. That show I did — ”

ter’s surface. A sleepy limpkin emerged near the bow of the

“I know, I know.” He held up his hands. “I was at the opening. The press you got us was awesome. Look, we can’t afford to hire you to shoot a whole catalog or anything like that. But we’d like to get a shot of the new outpost.”

canoe as if jumping on for a ride. Rawlings laughed out loud amid so much natural beauty. She skidded her canoe ashore near the steel radio tower at the lake’s south end, where a peninsula of land supported

“Saw it this morning. Nothing new about it.”

a couple of palm trees jutting out into the water. A small gator

“Not the gift shop. We’re opening a concession in

sunned itself at the tower’s base. She ignored it and pushed on.

Clay Gully.”

She had a career to reignite.

“Why? The north gate isn’t open during the week.”

She entered the remote, dilapidated birdwalk, built in

“On weekends we have people on bicycles accessing

the 1940s along the shore between the lower river and Deep

through there. We had three hundred on Saturday. Not all of

Hole. The latter was a giant sinkhole that a robotic camera

them can live on energy bars.”

had recently shown extended a half-mile to the bottom. A

“Says who?”

tranquil, blood-red sunset ebbed in the sky. As soon as her

“Grumpy moms. Their fat, lazy kids need juice boxes to

bare feet touched the wooden walkway she felt a sense of

pedal harder. Look, I only have a measly grand to play with, but

peace amid the cacophony around her. She adjusted her ears

I really just need a few photos.”

to make sense of each noise — hyena-like laugh of a coot,


rustling wings of a vulture overhead.

“Next month?”

She popped two quarters into the lone, rusted spot-

Rawlings thought about it while Bob carried away their

ting scope and directed it toward a shallow lake a hundred

plastic trays and dumped their plastic plates into a plastic bear-

yards away. She trained her view on the length of veldt that

proof trashcan. She lit a cigarette and French inhaled and stared

stretched from the walkway to the waterline. The green was

at his ass. Then she thought about what she’d seen in the marsh

scarred with patches of rooted-up black mud where feral

and how it might figure into her next book.

hogs had gone digging for mushrooms and water lilies and

It had seemed so easy to stumble across the skunk ape. Who

moccasin eggs.

was to say it couldn’t happen as easily again? It sounded ridicu-

Suddenly what looked like someone dressed as a dark-

lous, but what better way to jump-start her going-nowhere-fast

brown, hairy caveman creature stood up from the grass, his

career than by delving into cryptozoology with real-life photos

giant brow and red eyes staring straight at Rawlings, piercing

of a mysterious Florida monster? God, she was losing it. She was

her. She felt her left leg quiver once and turn gelatinous.

horny, in a professional slump, in dire need of an agent. The last

“The hell’s going on here,” she said, pulling away from the

one had ripped her off to the tune of $100,000, and she was hes-

scope and looking around. “No one else see this?” She moved

itant to commit to what might be further abuse. Still, a photog-

her head to the side to see around the faulty scope and ob-

rapher friend had done well in New York with a show devoted

served the now-distant caveman standing a second longer be-

to tracking what may or may not have been a chupacabra in San

fore ducking back into the grass. She returned to the scope to

Antonio. If you asked Rawlings, it was a hairless jackal.

see if the monster might still be there. It wasn’t. She felt adrenal-

When Bob returned, she said, “I’ll meditate on it.”

ized, fearful that whatever it was would hide in the grass until

He opened his eyes wide. “Hope I didn’t offend. Just

reaching the walkway.

ain’t no budget.”

She scanned for a sharp stick, an exit, a park employee.

“Know what helps me meditate, Bob? Beer.”

Nothing and nobody was around. The ranger station was a mile

He chuckled. “Where can I treat you?”

east. Was the skunk ape stalking her around the park? What


were the chances of her catching sight of — twice in the same

“My shift ends in four hours,” he said. “Meet you there at nine.”

day — a mythical creature that law enforcement, journalists, and cryptozoologists had spent time and money unsuccessfully


tracking? For a second she thought it might be Bob messing with her, but there was no chance. This prank required brains.

She didn’t leave the park. Instead she headed back into the 7,600-acre wilderness preserve and toward Deep Hole.

Besides what could be the motivation? She forced herself to be bold. She unslung her Canon July 2013




and softly padded to the very edge of the birdwalk, closest to the green expanse. She grabbed a fallen oak branch in her non-shooting hand, waiting for the monster to raise his head

Besides, you’re too tough for any babysitter.” “It’s not that. Look, I saw the skunk ape again — stop shaking your head at me!”

so she could Whac-A-Mole his Neanderthal skull. If that hap-

“OK,” he chuckled.

pened, she would take a photo of him unconscious, bleeding,

“I know what I saw, Bob.”

before the scientists took him away for autopsy, or for taxider-

“Sorry. Where did you see it the second time?”

my in preparation for a high-profile museum unveiling. Or maybe the photo would be of her final moments, the creature tearing her to shreds in the seconds that followed, destroying her beyond dental recognition.

“At the edge of the old birdwalk. It’s huge. It’s not somebody in a gorilla costume. If that were the case, the idiot would’ve suffocated.” “How long were you looking at it?”

To her dismay, nothing happened. The birds continued

“Minute tops. But I saw him in the middle of the grass

their crazed babbling, having never stopped even when the

between the walkway and the lake. He popped in and out.

creature had walked in their midst. This was no guy in a

There’s no way anyone could last out there at dusk. It’s remote.

rubber suit. He would have startled the fauna, causing them

The bugs are lethal.”

to go mute. Whatever the monster was, he belonged to the

“Look, don’t worry. I’ll take you, Rawlings. It’s not that I

swamp, was part of it. Or was it a she? The only way to

don’t believe you. Plenty of folks have seen — hey. This guy

get close would be to immerse herself in Myakka’s mucky

singing? He saw a skunk ape. Wrote a song about it. They play

embrace. She was hooked. She felt compelled to track the

it on the community radio station.”

monster, snap its image, and make millions. It was the only

“Whatever,” she said, flicking ash into her empty mug.

way to succeed in a sensationalized media landscape that

“Hold on,” said Bob. He got up from the table and ap-

had far outstripped the headlines of the old National En-

proached the stage as the Hawaiian-shirted singer was wrap-

quirer. That’s where she was headed: into the heart of tab-

ping up “Mandolin Rain.” Bob dropped a twenty into the tip jar,

loid darkness. Bring it, she thought, as the sun died on the

said something to the guy to make him raise his eyebrows and

horizon’s line and mosquitoes bit her legs. I want to get up

nod his head. Bob returned, told her to prepare for “The Ballad

close to this crazy action.

of the Skunk Ape.”

But getting close to a skunk ape required assistance. Time to return the truck. She had a long canoe trip back in darkness.

“Who wrote it?” she asked. “This guy. Loren’s his name. Claims to have run into a skunk ape in Deep Hole ten years ago. Thing nearly killed him.


It was in the paper.” “Do you believe him?”

Rawlings was embarrassed for having insisted on Horsefeathers. It was her favorite Sarasota watering hole, but look-

Bob sighed. “Not really. But it’s a great tune. The lyrics are weird.”

ing at it through the eyes of a late-twenties man like Bob, she

The man known as Loren cleared his throat and said

recognized it as a cougar concentration camp, where MILFs

into the microphone: “Some of you may remember this

and single older ladies prowled for young bucks. Bob had

song,” he announced. “It’s one I’ll keep with me to my

once said he loved this place. His reasons were obvious. Per-

grave.” Then he began to strum a few chords, a plodding

haps she could work this to her advantage. Beer would make

country groove.

it easy to accomplish. They grabbed a table in the lounge. Onstage, a guy with

Deep in the Myakka

an acoustic guitar propped himself on a stool and sang what

Where Tarzan gators roam

sounded like Jimmy Buffett covers. She and Bob drank from a

There’s a bidpedal mammal

pitcher of Coors. It wasn’t long before she had her bare foot,

Who calls the swamp home

toenails freshly painted do-me-hard red, on his crotch. “What’s up?” he said, wary.

At least 500 pounds

She pouted. “Trying to get you up.”

Stands seven feet tall

So as not to create a scene, he subtly pushed himself away

Hate to think if someone

from the table and her pretty toes. “You want something. I don’t

Set him loose in a mall

think it’s me. Not entirely.” She downed the last of her beer and lit a cigarette. “I want

A smelly end to your life

you to take me into Deep Hole in Lower Myakka. I’m looking

A death worse than fate

for photos for a new show.”

Listen now as I sing

“I already work there, and I don’t have time to babysit.




July 2013

The Ballad of the Skunk Ape

“Christ,” said Rawlings, rubbing the bridge of her nose. She stubbed out her cigarette in her fries. “You’re right, Bob. This song is incredible. Is there a music video?” “On YouTube,” confirmed Bob. “Here’s my favorite part.”

ing on the clock, promised he would return after being radioed to deal with a coral snake sighting in a cabin restroom. She had brought her own firewood. After wadding up a newspaper, she covered it with dry palm fronds. She stacked small twigs in the shape of a teepee around the fronds, then built a larger

U.S. Army scientists

teepee around the twigs with dry, thumb-size branches. She lit the

Had kept him alive

middle with a drip torch. As the fire blazed she added dry wood,

Till he broke concrete walls

enlarging the teepee’s exterior. The flames were orange and fierce.

Escaped into the wild

She was about to skewer a marshmallow when she heard what sounded like a child screaming.


She grabbed the flashlight and her cell and sprinted in the


direction of the cries. Slicing her shin on a sabal palmetto, she

“Get me out of here. Like, now.”

gritted her teeth and pushed on, hoping it wouldn’t leave a scar.

“You bet. I’ll drive.”

She had nice legs for a forty-year-old and didn’t want to damage

“I need supplies from Walmart.”

them, even if a lost tyke in the marsh required rescuing. It wasn’t a kid. Drawing closer to the sound, she recognized it


as a bird. Her pulse slowed by the time she reached the trailhead where she imagined the scream had emanated. She almost expe-

She spent the next day in Deep Hole, chasing her tail, pur-

rienced cardiac arrest as she shone the light on a figure towering

suing shadows of shadows, while Bob managed a nearby con-

silently before her, dead heron hanging from its shoulder like a

trolled burn on a small island in the river. She caught the end of

white shirt.

the burn. It was disturbing. She had always thought gators dumb.

The beast’s red eyes glared, large yellow teeth exposed. She

Now, from her canoe, she watched three of them congregating at

inhaled the thing — she actually smelled the skunk ape. Odor of

the island’s edge. She wondered why. Fire burned slowly across

rot. A monstrous presence filling her with dread, nausea, despair.

a strip of parched land. Finally it reached the corner where the

It emitted a guttural noise, but didn’t move, momentarily hypno-

gators loitered. Several rabbits suddenly leaped into the water, try-

tized by the light. Its facial expression suggested it could discern

ing to escape the flames. Each reptile snatched dinner, dragging

Rawlings behind the brightness.

it underwater for a minute or two before coming up again and gradually moving away from the smoking island.

She took off, running for her life. Branches of saplings and plants slapped and cut her face. Out of breath, she speed-dialed

She shot scores of photos, capturing the visual essence of the

Bob and made it back to the campfire in less than a minute, sorting

skunk ape’s environs. She even shot the new Clay Gully conces-

through her mind the options for a weapon. Bob picked up as she

sion. Gators, birds, turtles, lichens — basic stuff. She had plenty

reached into her backpack for the drip torch.

of these images already, but she found herself shooting them dif-

“It’s here at the campsite! Move your ass and save me!”

ferently, using light in a new way that accentuated innate danger.

“What?! OK, wait right there!”

Often she let the sun silhouette and throw a pall over a subject:

Shoving the phone into her cargo pocket, she raised the torch

limb-dangling snake, hanging clump of Spanish moss evoking a

and quickly Bic-ed the igniter, fire pouring from the nozzle in an

Southern lynching. The close encounter with the gator and her

orange flood. She loosened the fuel tank so that it came out hot

skunk ape sighting had changed the way she looked at Myakka.

and heavy. Too late.

She was exploring a more ominous perspective. Why not? If her

She had never heard a foot-crunch, but it already stood in

skunk ape show were to be a project of calculated sensationalism,

front of her. She screamed. It backhanded the torch from her

everything else would need to fall in line. Still, she felt frustrated.

hands, spilling scorching flames and gas everywhere. It was to her

She wanted to discover the monster now. She didn’t want to wait.

advantage. The creature’s arm caught fire, and it staggered back-

Darkness came, a bounty of stars illuminating the sky. Glow-

ward. Stench of burning hair. She almost stepped backward into

ing spiders and luminescent mushrooms peppered the ground,

the campfire, but recovered her balance and reached for a snub-

evoking a Halloween ambience. The night air came alive with an-

nosed flare pistol in the bedroll.

imal sounds. Nocturnal creatures stirred from their slumber, shuf-

She exploded it in the monster’s general vicinity, but the cas-

fling about in search of water, food, each other. Rawlings grew

cading 12-gauge bore ricocheted harmlessly off a palm tree and

tired, having not slept much the night before due to worry over

sizzled stupidly in the dirt. It was enough to alarm the creature. It

getting a yeast infection after a couple days spent trekking a humid

stumbled in retreat, holding its charred arm.

swamp in search of a mythical swamp yeti. Back at the campsite

Headlights swung across the campsite. Leaving the motor run-

now, she popped a Tylenol, cracked open a Red Bull, and began

ning and lights on, Bob opened the driver’s-side door and leaned out,

working on a fire to set the mood with Bob, who, despite not be-

incredulous. “Um, Rawlings?” His voice cracked. “Get in, please.”

July 2013




She was snapping away with her Canon. Hellish fires and

pired bottle rockets. The heat was intense, boiling at his back. In

harsh truck lights created a vivid action sequence that she knew

the orange light he could see Rawlings, blank-eyed, hair missing

would turn out wonderful, especially after Photoshop tweaking.

from her pale scalp, standing over a giant form crumpled against

She moved forward, shutter clicking, this time with the flash. The

a clump of cypress.

monster, terrified or angered or just plain freaked out, charged at

Her mother’s pruning shears were plunged deep into its neck.

Rawlings, knocking her over into a tangle of tiger lilies. Then it

Black blood continued to spurt like a cartoon geyser from the side

grabbed her violently by the hair and dragged her into the dark-

of its ear.

ness, leaving a trail of broken camera pieces. Legs flailing, hands scratching the beast’s mitt, she managed a hoarse cry.

She laughed for a few seconds, then squatted in front of the now dead being. She put her hand to its old-looking face. A tooth

Jumping behind the wheel, Bob revved the engine and removed the parking brake, catapulting the truck beyond the site’s

protruded up from its bottom lip. Rawling’s eyes were wet. Tears of relief, Bob thought. Or pity.

perimeter. The truck glanced off a massive oak trunk, cracking the

The sheriff and paramedics arrived a half hour later. As Rawl-

radiator. Bob saw them for split second in the flash of a headlight

ings was being loaded into the ambulance on a gurney, Bob swore

beam before it broke.

he heard her singing.

He smelled gasoline — had the tank ruptured? — and abandoned the truck in pursuit of a deadly monster and a woman with

Deep in the Myakka

whom he was half in love. To his horror, he could see nothing in

Where Tarzan gators roam

the murk. There were screams. Sound of blows. Deep cries. He heard someone gurgling, blood filling throat and mouth. It punished Bob’s ears. He knew she was being killed just yards away. Goddamn it, where? “Rawlings!” he shrieked insanely. Suddenly the truck detonated behind him, not wildly like in a Hollywood movie, but sadly, like a metal dumpster full of ex-

Born in Tampa, Florida, Jarret Keene traded the Hillsborough River for the Las Vegas Strip. He teaches creative writing at College of Southern Nevada and covers underground rock music for Vegas Seven magazine. He has written and edited several books including the crime-story anthology Las Vegas Noir.

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July 2013


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July 2013


Debris By Muriel Redifer Illustration by Erin L. Pickering

Stella Rigel grew wary of the sky on a Friday night in June.

folks keep an eye out for something that looks like a blazing star

She was alone in her apartment, as usual, sleep-watching the

with a long glowing tail diving to earth. Astrophysicist Gerome

late news program; her head flopped over the back of the

Bishop indicated that the odds of someone being struck by the

couch. Her favorite Dallas newscaster, Herb Wood, always

satellite are one in twenty-one trillion.” The camera then showed

had a reassuring way of presenting the news. Listening to Herb

a clip of Bishop, who stated, “Frankly, you are much more likely

was like hearing someone’s trustworthy father. He’d go over

to be hit by lightning.”

the day’s events in such a droll and intimate manner that no

The bit about “hit by lightning” was what got to her. She’d

matter how bombed up and drought ravaged the world had

heard that one before, as in “Women over thirty-five are more

been that day, she knew she’d be able to handle it. But on

likely to be hit by lightning than to ever find a man.” Or maybe it

this Friday night, his words were so astounding that she jerked

was to ever get married. It didn’t matter. On Thursday she would

awake and replayed several minutes of the broadcast to be

be thirty-six. She might as well be slunked by space debris. She

sure she had heard him correctly.

wished her friend Irene was around to talk to. Here she was, an

Herb patiently repeated, “A six-ton satellite the size of a

educated woman, not only a semi-successful agent for her insur-

school bus is expected to plunge to earth tomorrow, according

ance company, but also capable of waxing eloquent on the Sem-

to NASA scientists.”

inole Indian Wars and cook a perfect gravy. How could she have

“What the heck?” Stella shouted at him, wiping drool from her cheek. The perfect part in his oak-brown hair remained immobile. “Or it could be Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. Even as late as Wednesday.”

spent four years of Friday nights alone? Stella went straight to bed without bothering to recycle the two empty wine cooler bottles on her coffee table or changing out of her dress and earrings. Stella spent the entire next day sneaking glances at the sky. In the morning she squinted out of her bedroom window at the

“Where?!” she gasped as she slid her feet down to the floor.

paint chip sized patch of blue above the branches of her neigh-

As if Mr. Wood were responding to her personally, he an-

bor’s silver maple, and out the window over the sink while she

swered, “Every continent except for the Antarctic could poten-

filled the coffee maker. She looked again as she eased her car

tially be hit by debris. There may be over one hundred pieces,

out of the parking space of her apartment building on the way

some exceeding three hundred pounds. The re-entry path cannot

to work. It wasn’t that she expected to see anything unusual;

be predicted early enough to notify people, according to local

it was just that tragedy did strike. She knew this from personal

satellite tracking enthusiast Rush Hunter. He recommends that

experience. Otherwise, how could she sell so much insurance?

July 2013




By Tuesday the space debris took up more airwaves than sky. Stella was beside herself at work, her mind a nebulae of

“Fine,” she said, slapping down the menu. “So how is Brad, anyway?”

sound bites: “scientists are scrambling,” “conflicting predic-

“He said he’d go with me to the National Cat Association

tions abound regarding when and where the freefalling sat-

convention in El Paso this Fourth of July.” He leaned back in his

ellite will land,” “will there be a splashdown?” “the stage was

chair and grinned. “He wants me to move in with him.”

set long ago for an uncontrolled return.” There were warnings

“Oh.” Tony’s place was just two blocks away, but Brad

by NASA not to touch any satellite parts “people might chance

lived clear across town, much too far for her to casually “drop

upon.” Stella tried to imagine what a satellite part might look

in” for a cup of coffee.

like after crashing to earth. Would it be more like a derelict

“Is that all I get? You should be happy for me.” He looked

muffler or an aluminum lasagna pan that had been in the oven

at her with his big dark you can’t hide anything from me dar-

too long? Would it hiss and steam like an angry snake once it

ling eyes. “Stella, I hate to say it honey, but you look miserable.

landed, or coolly settle into someone’s backyard more like a

What’s wrong? I did ask you to come on the El Paso trip first,

tossed horseshoe? More importantly, if you saw one coming,

after all. There’s going to be a huge party and fireworks the last

would you have time to fling yourself out of the way?

night. Want to come with?”

On Tuesday nights Stella normally went to the Dallas Cat Association meeting with Tony from accounting. She didn’t much care for cats of course, being allergic, but Tony was

Stella pressed the tines of her fork on the table and watched it rock back and forth. “You and Brad? No.” “But why not?”

that kind of friend that could make her forget about the empty

She squeezed her napkin tight in her fist, forcing out the

spaces in her life, forget about the empty second bedroom in

memories of one terrible night. “I’m not big on fireworks.” It

her apartment. Tony always picked wonderful cheap places to

made her head want to explode just thinking of them, and one

eat afterwards. Sometimes, if he were dating someone in the

day she would have to tell him why.

restaurant business like the sous chef he’d been seeing for the

“You could invite someone.”

last two months, they’d get freebies uptown at one of the trendy


new spots with slick waiters and subdued lighting. For Tony, a

“Ask that guy you keep seeing in the elevator, the blonde

clever gourmand always won out over a handsome face. This particular Tuesday, Tony had to practically drag Stella from her computer screen, where she had been looking at a matchbox-sized image of the news all day as she worked. “What if I miss it?” she asked. Tony shook his head. “What’s a history major doing worrying about a little bit of space junk?” “Don’t humor me. It’s not a little bit. Besides, anyone who knows their history would realize that things can change with a mere ding of a microwave.” Tony tugged at her fingers. “We’ll skip my meeting tonight, go straight to the Purple Peacock.” “You can’t see anything from in there,” she said. “It’s as dark as a cavern. Remember that auction we went to for the animal shelter?”

with the mustache.” “I don’t even know him.” “But he’s been living right upstairs from you for months. Don’t you talk to any of your neighbors?” Stella shrugged, thinking more about superheated metals than how she slipped in and out of her apartment like a shadow. She glanced up at the night sky when Tony read his menu, but nothing looked out of the ordinary. He stabbed a cherry tomato from her salad and said, “You’re pathetic!” before popping it into his mouth. “See, I repulse men.” “That’s ridiculous. You’re stylish, trim, and you’re a good eater,” he said, passing the breadbasket. “What guy could resist?” “Thanks. See, the thing is, I get hung up when we start talking.” “Well, you’re in luck, bella Stella; I’m going to the opera

Tony groaned. “Fine. We’ll go to the Fourth Street Café. You can stare up at the sky while I steal your croutons.”

tomorrow night with a friend. Jorge’s single, nice looking and straight. I’ll see if I can get you a ticket.” Stella groaned. “I hate getting fixed up with guys. What


will I talk about with a stranger?” “Easy, music. Wear the blue dress.”

Tony asked for a table close to the sidewalk and ordered them cocktails.


Stella scanned the menu for the richest meal. A third of the country might be obese, but she kept losing in all the wrong

Stella shrugged into her sky blue dress and headed to the

places. “Tony, if you stayed with one of your crafty cooks long

concert hall. Music always made her feel wonderful, at least

enough, I might put on a smidgeon of weight.”

jazz did. She’d never been to the opera before and new expe-

“Sous chef, please, not ‘cook,’ and stop looking so concerned. Just order the duck.”




July 2013

riences were supposed to make life happier. If she couldn’t talk to Jorge, she could always talk to Tony, and if not Tony, at least

there was the music. That’s what her friend Irene would have

when she and Irene were first looking for a place, her friend

said. Irene would have also said not to drone on too long. She

thought that the big island and extra counter space would be

tended to do that when she was anxious or drank pricy wine,

great for parties, but Irene had always been the instigator.

blabbing personal things to strangers that she might be afraid to

Now Irene’s door at the end of the bedroom hallway remained

share with friends.

closed tight. If Stella were to open it, she’d be greeted by noth-

When approaching the Winspear Opera House she noted that while overhead stars were just beginning to awaken, all of

ing but dust and a cello. Without Tony, Stella would be boiling tomato soup alone.

them appeared stationary. This was surely a good sign. But once

At seven pm she stood in the lobby of her apartment build-

again, as soon as she met Tony’s friend she had been unable to

ing waiting to buzz him in. She had taken the effort to mess

avoid her nervous babbling. The evening became a comedic trag-

gel into her hair so it would look what Tony called “swish.”

edy. She left her disgruntled date before the end of the second act,

She also wore the t-shirt he’d made for her the year before for

sneaking away as Gastone the tenor belted away onstage with the

the same occasion, black with the word “BELLA” blazoned in

matadors. Stella didn’t know if she should laugh or cry.

rhinestone studs across the chest. He appeared, waving a huge bottle of wine and an even


huger wok, squinching the crazy faces that always made her laugh; only behind him was his friend Brad. Brad was lugging

On the way back up to her apartment after the opera, even

two shopping bags with strange sproutings from Chinese vege-

her small evening bag felt as heavy as a boat anchor. As she

tables poking out the top. Stella’s shoulders slumped like wilt-

waited for the elevator she slipped off the pump that had given

ing bok choy. When you only had one friend, sharing was not

her a bad blister. When she bent down to take off the second

much fun.

shoe, the door opened. She hobbled into the elevator dangling

“This is gonna be to die for,” Tony said as she let them

the first shoe on her index finger, bumping into her neighbor

in, “but nothing you don’t deserve after that bouillabaisse you

with the mustache. He steadied her and they stood at opposite

whipped up for my birthday.”

sides of the car.

They jostled onto the elevator with all of their foodstuffs

“Which floor?” he asked, smiling. She noticed that his eyes had faint laugh lines pointing at them, one with a small scar. They were the blue she’d imagine seeing if she were looking out from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, right before she died from lack of oxygen. She didn’t trust herself to speak, and instead held up two fingers. “Two?” he asked.

as she peeked into Brad’s bags. Inside the car a man’s voice said, “Looks like a party!” It was mustache guy. Could things get any worse? She would not make a fool of herself again, not on her birthday. Tony pointed towards him with the wine bottle. “This isn’t just any party, it’s a party for our bella Stella. Have you met Stella yet?”

“Like K-2,” she blurted. “The Man Eater.”

“K-2? I have.”

He laughed and shook his head. “No way.”

“I’m Tony and this is Brad. You are?”

It felt like she’d turned up the burners on her cheeks. “That


didn’t sound right. I’m not a man eater.” “I’m relieved to know you’re not a cannibal,” he said, his mustache fanning out over his smile. “No, I know about K-2.

As they clamored out of the elevator at the second floor, Tony said, “We have bushels of food. Why don’t you join us? Number 219.”

It’s just that Nanga Parbat is called ‘The Man Eater.’ Its south

Steven raised his eyebrows. “Really?” He paused, consid-

side is supposed to be the largest mountain face on earth. You

ering the offer while Tony smiled in encouragement. “Twenty


minutes, OK?”

“Not yet, some day. You?”

“Perfect,” Tony said, winking at Stella.

“Not anymore,” he said, tapping his right leg, which she

Stella could feel the air seep out of her lungs as if she were

now saw was turned at an odd angle. She got out at the second floor, wishing she could sew her lips shut.

a mile above sea level. If she couldn’t keep up a conversation in an elevator, how on earth would she be able to talk to him over the course of an entire dinner?



On Stella’s birthday the satellite was still flopping around

Brad and Tony had banished Stella, Steven and the wine

the earth like a wounded pterodactyl on its final migration.

bottle to the living room, but she could hear them chopping,

Tony, the man who never cooked, insisted on making a birth-

grating and sizzling hot foods in the wok. Insistent aromas

day dinner at her place, since she had the better kitchen. Back

were filling her apartment. Tony had lit all seven of her “only

July 2013




for decoration” candles on the coffee table in front of them

of my car with them. His wife was ready to wring our necks.

and they flickered nervously in front of her.

She was sure their boy would hurt himself trying to help his

Steven stretched his arm along the back of the couch.

dad.” He popped a dumpling into his mouth.

“So, what brought you to Dallas? Are you from here original-

Tony looked at them and made a “tsking” noise. “Looks like

ly?” He had changed into a midnight-blue shirt that looked

I need to get our bella her own bottle of vino. You always did

soft enough to pet.

like the good stuff,” Tony said, topping off her glass again. “See,

“No, I’m from Colorado.” Stella gulped down several ounces of Pinot Grigio. Two glasses was her usual limit, but on her birthday there was no counting. “I followed a friend out here.” “Is that right? I came out after my brother moved here with his family.”

Stella, every blue-blooded American likes fireworks.” The skin prickled down her arms as if she’d been showered with hot sparks. She shook her head. “Oh, no they don’t.” Tony frowned. “But Stella…” “Steven doesn’t want to hear this,” she said. The walls felt

Stella flipped through the files in her brain for a non-controversial question. “When?” “A year and a half ago. You?” Stella finished her wine. “Four years.” She stared outside at the gray light of dusk covering everything in its shroud.

much too close. Stella pressed the cool wine glass against her forehead. She would have to talk about that night to someone, but this was not the time. “You must have a reason,” Tony insisted. Steven looked at her and nodded.

“Thought I could patch up a broken heart by moving out here.”

Stella took a slow breath, but the room seemed to lack air,

He nodded. “It takes time. After high school I wanted

as though the memories would suffocate her. “Fourth of July

to marry a girl back in Albuquerque. I thought I’d never get

four years ago we wanted to go out on Cedar Creek Lake to see

over her.” He gave a wistful smile. “Turned out she was right,

the fireworks, just Irene and I.”

though. We were too young.”

“I didn’t know you liked the lake,” Tony said.

Perhaps it was the effect of the wine, or the birthday,

“The lakeshore was crowded, hot as melting butter, but a

or even the high-altitude blue of Steven’s eyes, but a hidden

beautiful night. We shouldn’t have with all the boat traffic, but

switch flipped in her brain and she began to speak as if she had

after a sunset picnic we decided to float on rafts to watch the

known him for ages. “I was engaged once, years ago. He end-

fireworks. My clever idea, I thought we’d be cooler that way.”

ed things very suddenly. One Sunday he came and knocked on

She laughed softly, shaking her head at her stupidity.

my door, didn’t even come in. He said, ‘We need to call it off.’

“We kick way out under a blanket of stars to where we’d

So I said, ‘Why?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he said, ‘it’s just that you’re

have a good view, me with a pink raft and Irene with a green

awkward.’ That was his reason, ‘awkward.’”

one. It was beautiful out there as we wait for the fireworks

“Ouch.” Steven shook his head, as though he couldn’t imagine why anyone might say such a cruel thing. “No kidding. For five weeks I couldn’t sleep or eat or walk

display, even with boats zooming around. Then a trawler lit up like a small city anchors about fifty feet from us. It’s full of rednecks ‘shotgunning’ beers.

by a single place we’d been before without sobbing. Finally I

“Obnoxious,” Steven said.

moved to Dallas to split this apartment with my best friend,

“Yeah, well it turns out they have their own fireworks.

Irene.” She liked the way he leaned towards her to listen with

They’re too drunk to be trusted with a dead flashlight, but

his whole body.

these idiots start shooting off rockets. At first, we think they’re

“Sometimes starting fresh in a new place helps.”

only trying to scare us, but a rocket splashes into the water a

“Particularly when you have such a good friend. She was

few yards away. Irene gets nervous and wants to head back

wonderful, found me a good job, started introducing me to

to shore, but I tell her no, we can’t let them ruin our night. I

people. You know Cedar Creek Lake? Her buddy would take

scream at them to cut it out.” Stella squeezed a cushion to her

us out on his ski boat. That first summer I got really good too,

chest. “That really gets ‘em worked up. They start hooting and

could slalom, you name it. I wasn’t awkward on water, right?”

aiming rocket after rocket right for us.”

“I know what you mean,” Steven said. “I never feel awkward when I’m swimming.”

Steven looked alarmed. “You’re kidding me!” At this point Stella started to choke on her words. “It was

Tony walked in with a tray. “Hot pupu platter! We have Can-

unbelievable. How could they not have realized how crazy

tonese dumplings, jianbing, and crab rangoon,” he said, spinning

it was? We hear the sound of them firing off stuff, and more

the tray on the tips of his fingers. He passed out gold cocktail

whistling over us. They’re laughing their butts off. The water

napkins imprinted with livid looking dragons. “Steven, did she

splashes me where a rocket goes in, and I roll off my raft so I

tell you she won’t come with me and Brad to El Paso for the

don’t get hit. I’m hollering for them to stop, but they can’t hear.

Fourth? Said she doesn’t like fireworks. Sounds suspicious to

There are more splashes, and then I turn to Irene, and she’s off

me.” He winked at Stella as he refilled her glass.

her raft too. I think she’s just messing around when she doesn’t

Steven grinned. “Last year my brother and I filled the trunk




July 2013

come right up. I scan the water for her, but it’s so dark. Finally

she splashes to the surface, then sinks again. I start to wonder

one of those stray cats Tony was always trying to fend off on her.

if she really is hurt. I swim over, try to lift her onto her raft, but

Allergy shots would help. The creature might be good company.

I’m treading water and can only get her partway up. She lets out this sickening moan and starts slipping back.” At this point Tony’s eyes look huge, as though he could see the horror of it.

Just as she began to picture herself curled up with a wise dog-eared tabby, and could almost feel the rhythm of its steady purr, a sudden gust swept through. An object careened onto Stella’s head from above and smacked her so hard she hollered

Steven frowned. “It’s very hard to get someone out of the water without any leverage. Was she OK?” “No! The thing is, I can’t see what’s wrong, not until the real fireworks show starts. A rocket shoots up, bursting gold over our

several words she didn’t know were in her vocabulary. Holding her head, she glared upwards. A shadowy form was hanging over the roof four floors above. “K-2, I am so sorry! I didn’t think it would blow over.”

heads. Irene’s red with blood! It looks like she got a direct hit

The man could appear out of nowhere. “Steven, what are

to her shoulder, deep. Somehow I finally hoist her all the way

you doing on the roof?” She looked up at him and then down

up and try to hold one hand over the wound. The sky bursts in

at her feet at a fallen tripod.

green, then blue, and an enormous chrysanthemum of red, each

“I’m trying to see the satellite and wind flipped the tripod

explosion lighting up her face. More and more of the damned

somehow when I was reaching for my binoculars,” he said.

fireworks start exploding, and I’m yelling to the drunks for help.

“Are you OK?”

I can feel the warmth of her blood covering my hand, and I can’t stop it. You cannot possibly imagine; she nearly died.” Stella wiped her eyes. “See, she played the cello, but after that…” Stel-

She choked out a laugh. “Yeah, just surprised me into reason, that’s all. Nearly got myself a cat.” “I don’t think I heard you right,” he called. “Can you come up?”

la let her words fade, her face streamed with tears that weren’t likely to stop for a long time.


She looked up. Steven shifted on the couch. Tony was standing in the middle of the room cradling the tray of food, stiff as a column. “Stella, you never told me.”

With the maple canopy filtering out light from the streetlamps, the stars were even more brilliant on the roof. This

Relating the trauma of that night had taken a hard toll. Even

time Steven set up the tripod securely against the parapet and

her breathing felt constricted. It seemed as though it had only

braced it with his backpack. He focused the lenses and mo-

just happened, the pain too raw to bear. Seeing it reflected in

tioned for her to look. She could see a hundred stars quivering

their eyes made it worse. Stella rose from her chair and walked

right in front of her, so close it seemed she might pass her fin-

into her bedroom, pulling the door closed behind her.

gers through them like sparks from a bonfire.

Tony walked over to whisper through the door, “You want us to go?”

The darkness gave Stella bravery, not much but enough. “I’m sorry about my party. I didn’t mean to rant on, and how

Stella managed to say, “You’d better.” She curled up on

horrible, those details. I’ve spent the last years trying not to

her bed in a “C” and buried her ear under a pillow, unable to

think about that night. Nobody should have had to listen to any

keep the sounds of those long-ago explosions out.

of it. I’m such a wreck.” He put his hand on her shoulder, and it felt safe. “Before


you say any more,” he said, “I never got a chance to tell you, but I’m a paramedic.”

Several hours later she came out of her memories. Her apartment was silent. She scrubbed her face and shuffled into

“OK,” she said, wondering what this had to do with anything she’d just told him.

the kitchen. Tony had left a message stuck to her refrigerator.

“Listen,” he continued, “I was based out of Kandahar until

He wrote that he’d used up all of her Tupperware to box up

two years ago, flying with a medevac unit. We’d try to stabilize

the dinner and had filled the fridge. “Call me, call me,” it read.

our boys coming off the front line so they could be moved to

She smiled despite her misery. There were large messy hearts

a trauma unit. I know exactly what it’s like, to try like the devil

drawn all over it.

to do everything you can while you watch someone bleed into

It had been the worst birthday in history, but with friends like Tony, she’d muddle on. She took the elevator downstairs to fill her lungs with fresh air. Out the front door she looked up

foreign sand.” She couldn’t imagine what horrors he’d witnessed. “It must have been so difficult for you.”

at the star-speckled sky. Down her street she could see that the

“By my third tour the stress started to beat me up. I couldn’t

wind had picked up and the silver maples were dancing, their

sleep at night, but I didn’t want to come back to the states and

leaves and limbs intertwining in a foxtrot. It was good to feel it

leave them. Wouldn’t have till I stepped in the wrong damned

tossing her hair and pressing against her clothes.

spot. Lost half my leg and hearing in one ear,” he said, pat-

There could be changes made, she thought. Maybe she’d adopt

ting the left side of his face. “Even now sometimes I have to July 2013




walk outside to calm my nerves. I’m the wreck, not you.” She looked up at his face, indistinct in the darkness. “But what happened to Irene was my fault,” she said. “Shhh.” When she shifted her feet the gravel on the roof felt loose under them. “If I’d tried harder, I could have saved the use of her arm. If I could have gotten her to the trawler faster…” He gently squeezed her hand. “The things that might’ve happened are torturing you, but you did everything you could, because you loved your friend. I hear it in your voice.” He paused. In that moment she could hardly breathe, unsure what he might say next. She’d shared something that she’d never wanted to tell anyone, ever. She needed to steady herself, but couldn’t. The sky seemed to be spinning around her in a wobbly revolution. “I’ve seen that look before,” he said. Then she could no longer feel the brunt of the wind. Instead she felt his arm slide over her shoulder, sensed the warmth of him pressed tight to her side, his good leg firm against her own. “It will get better.”

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“Will it?” “I hope so,” he said, and his words swaddled around her, then were carried away, over the roof and the silver maple trees and on past the city and over the Gulf of Mexico, where a crippled satellite, or the remains of one, met the atmosphere, and in a last burst of life shimmered with brightness then blazed down and down and down to the welcoming dark of the sea.

Muriel Redifer is a fiction writer and poet who is currently working on her first novel. An architect and Florida native, she lives in Sarasota. Her work has appeared previously in SCENE Magazine.

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July 2013

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Behind the Scene

Society Maven Debbi Benedict Gives the Latest Scoop




July 2013

Fellow readers, the time is upon us

as played in the movie version? I know

to ease into the languid days of summer,

I would! Margie tells me she is waiting,

reaching for those delicious tomes that we

oh-so-patiently, for Phillippa Gregory’s

just didn’t have the time to get to between

newest book, White Princess, coming out

committee meetings and “maintenance”

in July and absolutely loves anything by

appointments. Of course, Poodle, now

Susan Howatch.

is also the time to pick up those naughty

Devilishly handsome Scott George

beach reads that we must read on our

is spending most of his summer

Kindle so as not to draw raised eyebrows

renovating his new house, but in between

amongst the more literary types. Which

trips to London and Stockholm, he’ll

oh which to read? Let’s throw caution to

be consuming his usual biographies

the wind and indulge in both! Many of our

including Wendy Wasserstein and the

friends have made lovely and provocative

Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy

suggestions below. Let’s see what they are

Wasserstein; The Red Prince, about one

reading this summer…

of the last Hapsburg princes, who was

Our favorite retired social darling

a scamp at best; Shopping, Seduction,

Marjorie North loves to read anything by

& Mr. Selfridge by Lindy Woodhead and

Lee Child. Do you think she envisions the

titled after the BBC mini-series, piqued his

Jack Reacher character as Tom Cruise,

interest with the interesting Bertha Palmer

connections; and, The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt, which is a complete and hilarious romp – definitely a must read. Gorgeous, by Paul Rudnick, is fiction that the Boston Globe says is, “a satire sharp as a stiletto heel that takes on celebrity culture, the fashion industry, consumerism, and princess stories. Oh, and it’s wickedly hilarious.” Because of his job at CAN, he is re-reading the seminal book on the AIDS epidemic, And The Bank Played On by Randy Shilts. Philanthropist Dawn Epstein just finished reading two of Cheryl Strayed’s books - Tiny Beautiful Things and Wild. She doesn’t usually like to read two books in a row by the same author but after reading TBT, she wanted more. TBT is a compilation of an advice column that Cheryl wrote online. The questions and answers are often lengthy and while Cheryl answers the writer in the most thoughtful, compassionate, complete and helpful way, she shares her own experiences and life lessons with readers. Dawn is currently reading Life after Life by Kate Atkinson. It’s unusual in that the main character has many lives — she dies and is reborn over and over. Sounds like a few people in Sarasota we know! Legal mastermind Cliff Walters keeps several books going at one time depending on his mood and how quickly he wants to get to sleep. Those currently on his nightstand

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Chairing the South Florida Museum’s Snooty Gala this

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on her Kindle. After seeing the movie, she felt compelled

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July 2013




imagine in preparation for her upcoming nuptials to Matt Buchanan. I can always depend on Realtor and uberreader, Melba Jimenez, to give me a big list of fabulous books and this year is no exception. One of her top picks is Green City in the Sun, by Barbara Wood, which is a multi-generational, multi-racial saga between the rich Treverton family with their desire to establish a profitable coffee plantation in Africa, and the conflicts developed with the local tribal Kikuyus who resent the invasion of their lands by the British. The story takes place in Kenya in the early 1900s combining action and romance in an historical fiction page-turner. Another is The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan, which is the untold story of the women who helped win World War II. The book

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grew out of the interviews of nine adventurous ladies who were lured into the secret city of Oak Ridge, TN. Sworn to secrecy, no one among the different departments had all the pieces of which they were an integral part of. Little did they know that they were helping build the atomic bomb! Behind the Beautiful Forever by Katherine Boo is a real story of poverty, corruption and hope. If you liked the movie “Slumdog Millionaire”, you will like this book. After reading The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton’s second novel, she intends to read her first one, The House of Riverton. The story is interwoven with love, mystery, secret gardens and fairy tales while going back and forth between 2005, 1975 and 1900, and between Australia, London and Cornwall. And last but not least, Defending Jacob by William Landay, which combines intrigue, murder and courtroom drama with family secrets, deception and even dysfunction. This book poses the question between inheritance or genetics and learned behavior or environment.BThe ending was unexpected and climatic! Historic Spanish Point board president and Realtor Mary Evelyn Guyton is reading that old favorite tale of unrequited love, Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Garcia Marquez’s writing is humorous, elegant, descriptive and sucks you in. The Gift of Rain

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by Tan Twan Eng is on her list to read next. It’s set in Penang at the outset of WWII. A young boy is befriended by a foreign diplomat who ends up being the enemy. Top Realtor and arts supporter Cheryl Loeffler is reading Paris, The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd, as it is a pick of the month by her book club. This one is an




July 2013

epic portrait of the City of Light — a saga of love, war, art, intrigue and history. Cheryl is also reading The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. She is revisiting Indian Summer: The Secret History of The End of an Empire by Alex von Tunzelmann,, a favorite historical novel of romance, history, religion, and political intrigue involving the defining moments of

Nancie Kalin


I Listen. I Care. I Deliver.

“My unmatched knowledge of the local market is a valuable asset for you.”

partition of India and Pakistan with drama from the Mountbattens, Nehru and Gandhi. La Musica’s Sally Faron is looking forward to reading Joseph Ellis’s Revolutionary Summer: Roots of the American Revolution. Not only will she be re-visiting a period of history

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which she taught for many years, but it brings back memories of a particularly engaging eighth grade class that enjoyed making history come alive. One day when she finished talking about  the Battle of Lexington and Concord, one of her more quiet students raised a hand and asked, “Were you there, Mrs. Stevenson?”.  She knew then that she had succeeded.


Conservation Foundation President Christine Johnson just read Beatrice


and Virgil by Yann Martel about the Holocaust. She can’t wait to read Little Green Men by Christopher Buckley because she loves his sarcasm, political satire, and taken-to-extreme comedy. He makes her laugh out loud. For work,

We Protect What’s Important To You Because You’re What’s Important To Us!

she is reading Nonprofit Lifecycles by Susan Kenny Stevens, Ph.D. Sarasota Bunny




Full-Service Agency:



• Auto • Life


powerful books – The Tennis Player by Abraham Verghese (author of

941-921-6630 |

Cutting for Stone, one of Bunny’s favorite books) and My Beloved

• Home • Retirement

George & Mary Dakkak

“Protecting you is our family business.” July 2013




World by Sonia Sotomayer – a very inspirational bio


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about one of our newest Supreme Court Justices. Another Orchestra supporter and one of Sarasota’s leading interior designers, Anne Folsom Smith, admitted to me that she is addicted to murder mysteries with one caveat — there has to be a silly twist on finding the killer on the last few pages. That wouldn’t work for me, because as I told my


book club, my little bugaboo is that I have to read the last page or so at the start of the book because I can’t stand to read the whole thing not knowing how it will turn out!


Major library supporter Alice Rau has discovered Canadian mystery writer Louise Penny and her protagonist,

DIAMOND SPONSORS Gerry Daniel ~ In Memory of Ruth Daniel FCCI Insurance Group


Gerri Aaron & Marvin Albert Margie & Chuck Barancik Jean DeLynn Dawn & Mitchell Epstein ~ In Memory of Eric Wishnie Nola & Larry Hietbrink Stephanie & Allen Hochfelder Julie & Brock Leach Spotlight Graphics SILVER SPONSORS

Apisdorf Charitable Foundation DOCs - Dermatology & Oculoplastic Consultants Gulf Coast Community Foundation Jones Potato Farm Alexandra Jupin & John Bean MBA Insurors Elenor & John Maxheim The Misantone Family Oak Tree Procurement, LLC Publix Super Markets Charities The Rotary Club of Sarasota, Southside Jo & Stan Rutstein SCENE Magazine Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni & Walsh Maggie & Mark Sharff Sprint SunTrust Sutter Roofing Co. of Florida Verizon Wireless BRONZE SPONSORS Artefact Design PDR Certified Public Accountants Freeman Orthodontics Veronica Porter & John Gwynn Alice & Don Goldsmith Camilla & Erik Popham Hautamaki & Horiuchi - Gail & Skip Sack Personal Physicians of Sarasota Betty Schoenbaum India Benton Lesser Foundation Clare & Richard Segall Northern Trust Bank Mary Ann & Ted Simon The Oaks Women’s Club Wallace, Welch & Willingham The Observer

Chief Inspector Armond Gamache. She advises to read her books in the order they are written. Her newest one, How the Light Gets In, comes out in August. She’s also reading Dan Brown’s Inferno, as is Dottie Baer Garner. Alice tells me, “It’s convoluted, but a page turner!”  Suncoast Communities Blood Bank’s Jayne Giroux told me her book group (the Book Babes!) is reading One of Ours by Willa Cather and The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje.  I always think book clubs are tremendous resources for interesting books.  Inferno is also on Jayne’s list, in anticipation of a trip to Italy this fall. Legal rights champion Charlie Ann Syprett just finished reading Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Terese Anne Fowler. She viewed it as the partner of The Paris Wife. It truly captures the decadence and glory of that era. She and good friend Pam Ramhofer have decided to take on the classics this summer, re-reading all those great books we read in school.  She just finished re-reading all of Fitzgerald’s books and has a renewed appreciation for his gift and is in the midst of Anna Karenina. Williams Parker attorney Dan Bailey recently finished J. Maarten Troost’s Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man’s Attempt to Understand the World’s Most Mystifying Nation, or How He Became Comfortable Eating Live Squid, an amusing but insightful account of his experiences living in modern China. Lots of terrific reads to while the summer away! Happy reading! Until next time….TaTa!

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July 2013

Debbi Benedict is SCENE’s society maven and Special Issues Director. Contact Debbi at 941-483-4460 or


Abnormal Uterine Bleeding By Dr. Edgardo J Aponte, MD, FACOG Many women experience abnormal vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods sometime in their lives. Abnormal uterine bleeding is any bleeding from the uterus other than your normal monthly period. The inside of the uterus has two layers, a thin inner endometrium and a thick outer muscular myometrium. In women who menstruate, the endometrium thickens every month in preparation for pregnancy. If the woman does not become pregnant, the endometrial lining is shed during the menstrual period. After menopause, the lining normally stops growing and shedding. Under normal circumstances, a woman’s uterus sheds a limited amount of blood during each menstrual period (less than 5 tablespoons or 80 mL). Bleeding that occurs between menstrual periods or excessive menstrual bleeding is considered to be abnormal uterine bleeding. Once a woman who is not taking hormone therapy enters menopause and the menstrual cycles have ended, any uterine Dr. Edgardo J Aponte, MD, FACOG practices at OB/GYN Women’s Centre, 8340 Lakewood Ranch Blvd, Suite 240, Bradenton, Fl 34202.

bleeding is considered abnormal. Many different conditions can cause abnormal bleeding in women between adolescence and menopause. Abrupt changes in hormone levels at the time of ovulation can cause vaginal spotting, or small amounts of bleeding. Some women do not ovulate regularly and may experience intermittent light or heavy vaginal bleeding. Anovulation can occur at any time during the reproductive years. Some women who ovulate normally experience excessive blood loss during their periods or bleed between periods. The most common causes are uterine fibroids or polyps. These irregular growths and benign tumors are composed of uterine tissue that distort the structure of the uterus and lead to abnormal uterine bleeding. Fibroids and polyps can also occur in anovulatory women. Other causes of abnormal uterine bleeding include pregnancy, cancer or precancer of the cervix or the endometrium, infection or inflammation of the cervix or endometrium, clotting disorders, and medical illnesses such as hypothyroidism, liver disease, or chronic renal disease. While taking a woman’s medical history, a clinician will review the duration and amount of bleeding and will perform a physical examination to evaluate the woman’s overall health, and a pelvic examination to confirm that the bleeding is from the uterus and not from another site. Because hormonal irregularities can contribute to abnormal uterine bleeding, testing may be recommended to determine if the woman ovulates during each monthly cycle. Tests that assess the endometrium may be performed, including: Endometrial biopsy — a thin instrument is inserted through the vagina into the uterus to obtain a small sample of endometrial tissue. The biopsy can be performed in a healthcare provider’s office without anesthesia. Transvaginal ultrasound  — a small ultrasound probe is inserted into the vagina so that it is closer to the uterus and can provide a clear image of the uterus. The lining of the uterus is evaluated and measured. Hysteroscopy — a small scope is inserted through the cervix and into the uterus and fluid is injected to expand the uterus and to allow the physician to see the inside of the uterus. Tissue samples may be taken. Dilation and curettage (D&C) — the cervix or opening of the uterus is dilated and instruments are inserted and used to remove endometrial or uterine tissue. A D&C usually requires anesthesia. The treatment of abnormal bleeding is based upon the underlying cause, including: Birth control pills — are often used to treat uterine bleeding that is due to hormonal change. Progesterone — is a hormone made by the ovary that is effective in preventing excessive bleeding in women who do not ovulate regularly. Intrauterine device — a device (IUD) that secretes progestin may be recommended for women who do not ovulate regularly. IUDs are inserted by a healthcare provider through the vagina and cervix into the uterus. Progestin-releasing IUDs decrease menstrual blood loss by 40 to 50 percent. Surgery — may be necessary to remove abnormal uterine structures (fibroids, polyps). Women who have completed childbearing and have heavy menstrual bleeding can consider a surgical procedure such as endometrial ablation. Your healthcare provider is the best source of information for questions and concerns related to your medical problem.

July 2013





Time To Rejuvenate! By Kaitlyn Kramer While many Floridians dread the impending sweltering heat that comes with Sarasota summers, it’s a great time to rejuvenate your daily routine by incorporating healthier diet modifications and setting goals for a new exercise plan. Summer doesn’t mean having to stay indoors to avoid high temperatures, but rather an opportunity to build healthy habits to last a lifetime. Slow summer Saturdays are a great opportunity to take a stroll down North Lemon Avenue and Main Street to browse the Downtown Sarasota Farmer’s Market, which is open every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The market offers locally grown and organic produce in a quaint atmosphere, a great way to spend a summer day while discovering new ways to incorporate A special thanks to Dr. Frederick Romano, D.O. (above) Medical Director of Emergency Services at Doctor’s Hospital in Sarasota for participating in this article.

healthier produce in meals and recipes. Look for in-season fruits and vegetables like grapes, berries, peaches, cucumbers, eggplants and bell peppers. When bringing lunch to the office try incorporating some colorful summer fruits and vegetables to daily meals. “Eat a lot of fruits like melon, honeydew and pineapple that already have water in them and have antioxidants,” says Dr. Frederick Romano, D.O. Medical Director of Emergency Services at Doctor’s Hospital in Sarasota. Summer heat means that it’s more important than ever to stay hydrated, and that doesn’t mean reach for another can of soda or a sugary fruit drink. Even when spending time sitting at a desk indoors, proper hydration is necessary. According to Dr. Romano that hydration is critical to good kidney function, digestion and overall health especially in our warm climate. Keep a reusable water bottle, such as a Nalgene or Tervis Tumbler nearby to remind you to drink up. When plain water isn’t enough to kick a soda habit, try adding fruits, flowers or herbs for a distinctive summer taste like lemon, peppermint, kiwifruit, even hibiscus or red clove flower if you’re feeling daring and want a unique taste. Keeping the fluid flowing will keep you energized throughout the day and give you the stamina needed to try that new fitness class or fit in that run over the Ringling Bridge. Dr. Romano also stresses focusing on small meals throughout the day along with a lot of fluids, rather than large meals to help proper digestion. When we eat large meals, blood is diverted to aid digestion and can exasperate heart conditions and in extreme cases lead to heart attacks. In addition, Dr. Romano encourages daily exercise, especially for those over the age of 65, for heart and overall health. While many do not want to exercise in the heat, he says the best times are early mornings or evenings since the sun is hottest from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. “Exercise is tough, because it’s about pushing yourself, but look out for anything that’s not normal such as lightheadedness, nausea or difficulty breathing,” he says. “Always stay hydrated and know your limitations.” Opt for a picturesque walk or jog on Siesta Key Beach, a summer staple. Go for a run on Ringling Bridge with a beautiful bayside view. Create memories and healthy habits for the entire family with a bike ride down the Legacy Trail. If you’re looking for a slower pace, check the Sarasota community calendar for events like free yoga on the beach – instant stress relief in the perfect setting.




July 2013


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July 2013 issue of Scene Magazine