The scent of her Arpège reached my office before she did. The snappy click-click-click of what could only be stiletto heels making contact with the marble floor echoed throughout the hall. I pictured a shapely calf in fishnets.

The door to my office opened and snapped closed and I realized beads of sweat had formed under the brim of my fedora. My curiosity was not the only thing to be aroused. I played nonchalant and didn’t immediately look up while my index fingers did a slow foxtrot across my trusty Underwood.

“One minute. Just gotta finish this up” I said while staring at the paper in my typewriter. She did not respond and I sensed her walking to the other side of the room to look out the window. This gave me the opportunity to size up my unannounced visitor. I kept pecking away at the keys, pretending to be typing, while taking in the view.

Just as I thought, this dame was some looker; she could have been Lana Turner’s twin! My eyes traveled down to her shoes. Small feet nestled in black open-toed heels. A trim ankle leading up to a gorgeous pair of gams in black fishnets. A pencil-straight skirt of grey wool hugged a shapely rear, heightening my currently aroused state. A wide belt around her black jacket was cinched tightly, accentuating her tiny waist. She wore black leather gloves giving her an edgy, almost dangerous look in contrast to the graceful form of her long porcelain neck. Her profile was elegant: a regal chin, a delicate nose, high cheekbones. Her hair was her crowning glory – light blonde with a few pins holding the top in place while the bottom fell loosely around her shoulders.

I imagined what it would be like to remove the pins from her hair and run my fingers through those golden locks. I wanted to hold her face in my hands and kiss her mouth, her chin, her neck. I sat back in my chair and pushed my hat high on my forehead. I was a million miles away.

When she turned to face me, it was only then that I realized I had stopped typing. I wondered how long she knew I had been staring at her. She struck me as the type of dame accustomed to having men stare at her. Slowly she walked to my desk, her eyes never leaving mine. I removed my hat and gingerly placed it over my crotch. She glanced at my hat, gave a small throaty chuckle, then looked at me with hooded eyes, her burgundy-colored lips slightly parted.

She ran her finger seductively around the top of the crystal whiskey decanter on my desk. “You don’t mind, do you?” she asked with a voice like blue velvet. I motioned for her to help herself and she poured a drink. She took a sip and slowly began to open her purse. I instinctively pressed my arm against my Colt .45; it was secure in the shoulder holster under my left arm. To my relief, she withdrew a silver cigarette case; it would have been a shame if I had to end the night abruptly. She selected a Pall Mall and held it to her lips.

“Light me” was all she said. I reached up, lit her cigarette, then lit one for myself. We smoked in silence for a minute, then she spoke again.

“We need to have a talk, Mr. Logan, a very discreet discussion about my husband and his secretary. Are you interested?”

“Oh, yes. I’m very interested. Let’s talk over a couple of thick steaks and a bottle of bourbon.”

She took a long drag on her cigarette. “I know the perfect place, Mr. Logan. Follow me.” She turned and headed for the door, her body swaying like an unhurried wave lapping the shore.

Baby, I’d follow you into the jaws of hell” I thought to myself as I grabbed my hat and switched off the light.

NAR © 2023

Meet me today
At The Movies.


Remove everything from the waist up and put on a robe, opening in the front. Place your belongings in a locker and make sure to take the key with you.” 

Securing my faded grey robe, I walked out into the pleasantly decorated waiting room. There were comfortable chairs, tables with magazines, and a coffee maker with a variety of coffee, tea and a tin of cookies. Four other women were waiting their turn, flipping through magazines or simply resting, arms folded protectively across their breasts. One woman wore a distraught look, hear eyes terrified and pleading “Please, not again!”

I made myself a cup of decaf, choosing a delicate butter cookie as well. I sat and reflected on the number of times I’ve waited in this room. Once a year for the past 17 years I’ve made this dreaded trek, making outlandish promises and bargains with God which always proved to be superfluous … so far. 

After about ten minutes, a perky brunette in carnation pink scrubs and matching Crocs came in the room and called out “Mrs. Thompson?” I rose from my seat and the brunette continued, “Hi. I’m Kelly, your radiology technician. I’ll be doing your mammogram today. Just follow me and we’ll be done in no time.”  

We entered the brightly-lit exam room, coming face to face with Darth Vader … my nickname for the massive mammogram machine … a sleek black, chrome and glass monolith standing like a sentinel in the middle of the room. Now here’s where two women who are complete strangers instantly become bosom buddies, so to speak. 

Kelly instructs me to slip my right arm out of my robe and reach up to grab the handle on Darth Vader’s side. “Now step in as close as you can,” Kelly says while lifting my right boob onto the flat glass plate emerging from Darth’s chest. Pulling and kneading my breast into the perfect position, she then pushes a button which slowly lowers another flat glass plate on top of my breast. I watch in morbid fascination as my once round and ample breast slowly flattens, spreading out and taking on the appearance of a water balloon about to burst. Satisfied with the positioning, Kelly ducks into a tiny protective glass booth on the other side of the room. 

“Take a deep breath and don’t move, Mrs. Thompson. Hold it, hold it, keep holding … now breath.” Kelly emerges from her protective booth and we repeat the process on the left side. 

“Ok, we’re all done. Just have a seat while the doctor looks over your images. Hopefully the wait won’t be too long.” 

Finally Kelly returns and says the doctor will see me now. More girl-on-girl time as the doctor manually examines my breasts with impossibly cold hands. 

“Everything looks perfect, Mrs. Thompson. Keep doing your self-exams.” I thank her, refraining from saying my husband enjoys examining me regularly. 

Dressing, I frown at the red bruises on my chest, then quickly smile and say a little prayer of thanks knowing the “girls” are ok.

I pass the front desk with a cheerful “Ta-ta, ladies. See you next year!”  

NAR © 2023


The poem below is the second one I wrote for the book “Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women”. There were many submissions for the book, which became a #1 bestseller on Amazon in just one day; I consider myself very fortunate to have been among those selected to appear in this important and timely anthology of the challenges and adversities women face and how they overcome them. I hope you enjoy my poem “The Shells”.

Shells scattered along the shore

Some glittering in the golden sunlight

Lapis lazuli kisses of blue and green upon the water

So wondrous in their radiant beauty

Delicate as the blossoms of a dewy lilac tree

Day and night the waves wash over the shells

Yet they retain their brilliant resilience 

Trodden upon by eyes bewitched by shooting stars

In the blackness of the night

Some are picked up and tossed into the sea

Only to return upon the next wave

Those trampled into the sand do not sink

They are not swallowed up by the sea 

Nor do they disappear

For as fragile and tenuous as they may appear

They stand the eternal test of time

Ever rising as an Easter Morn

For they are the She Shells

They are women

NAR © 2022


According to today’s standards and statistics, my mother had what is now referred to as a “borderline geriatric pregnancy”; she was 34 years old when I was born. Thirty-four! That’s not even half my current age! Oh, to be 34 again.

I wish I knew my mom when she was still young, sexy, vivacious and carefree with a glowing tan and a radiant smile – just as she was in that photo.

Yes, how I wish I knew her then. That woman is not the mother I remember. Life changed her.

By the time I came along mom had been through hell, caring for her own sick mother, losing her precious golden-haired two-year-old baby boy to nephritis and watching her husband march off to fight a war. As bad as that was, it was just the beginning of my mother’s difficult life. To say she suffered many hardships would be an understatement.

Yet, through it all, she never stopped doing, caring, giving. Only when she became old and tired, her thoughts wandering and her memory failing, did she rest.

That’s what women do. That’s what mothers do. They give until the well runs dry.

There are many things in my heart I long to say to my mother. Later tonight when all is quiet I’ll share my thoughts with her but for now all I want to do is wish her Happy Mother’s Day.

My mother. Concetta DiStefano Schembre, 1917-2009. Rest peacefully, Mom.

NAR © 2022


Originally I was considering letting nature take its course and stop dying my hair. After all, being in isolation all this time because of the Coronavirus has kept me from going to the salon and now my grey roots are prevalent.

I asked my husband for his opinion. Regardless of the situation his answer is “You always look beautiful!” Liar! I adore him but he tells me what he thinks I want to hear. Give it to me straight! Contrary to what Jack Nicholson declared in “A Few Good Men”, I CAN handle the truth!

Time to weigh my options. First, I look young for a woman in her sixties; will going grey age me or will I look chic? My husband’s hair has yet to turn grey; I much prefer looking like his youthful wife as opposed to his older sister! Second, I’ll save beaucoup bucks at the salon if I go au naturel; just need to pop in for the occasional trim. And last but not least I’ll leave myself wide open for a good-natured lampoon offered up by my oh-so-witty friends.

Since my hair is professionally dyed brown with golden highlights, I was reluctant to pick up a box of Clairol and give it a go at home. I recalled the one and only time I tried to dye my hair. The color was called “Iced Mochaccino”’ which sounded like a delicious shade and the model on the box look dazzling. What could go wrong? My hair came out an unattractive shade of dull cocoa so ixnay the home dye job.

Let’s try this: I consulted Google and found a site where I could see what I’d look like with grey hair. I had no idea there were so many shades of grey – everything from silky white to smokey charcoal, even some with hints of purple or green. I was starting to get very confused. Then I downloaded a copy of “Custom Hair Color at Home” – a literary masterpiece guaranteed to “help you find the perfect hair color”. It did not.

Suddenly I had a brainstorm. Click on good old reliable Amazon for a hair product specifically designed to cover roots, something easy? You can get anything on Amazon from an air fryer to zinc ointment. I typed in “root” and abracadabra, there it was – L’Oréal Magic Grey Root Concealer – the answer to my prayers (unless in turns out to be like the infamous “Hair in a Can”)!

Just as I was about to place an order for the root cover up I got an email from my hair salon:

“In accordance with the guidelines of Phase 2, we are delighted to announce the reopening of “We’re Hair For You” on Monday, June 15.”

The email went on to welcome their clients back and describe changes in the salon. I immediately grabbed my cell phone to call my stylist (she’s on speed dial!) and make an appointment for the following week. Goodbye drab grey roots! Hello luscious brown hair with golden highlights! I was thrilled.

The next day I received a sobering email from the salon:

“Your appointment is confirmed. Please call the salon from the parking lot upon your arrival. You will either be told to come in or asked to wait until we call you back. Clients are required to wear a mask at all times and will have their temperature taken before entering the salon. Please come to your appointment alone as we have eliminated our waiting area. We apologize for any inconvenience. The safety of everyone concerned is of utmost importance. Thank you.”

Shades of future past.

NAR © 2020