Several months ago, I would have considered myself a reasonable and sane woman, at least
I thought so. I was capable of dealing with the unexpected. I lived in New York City. I had a
demanding job as project head at Eastman/Kendrick Ad Agency and a two year relationship
with a man who loved me and his Armani suits equally.  I was a modern, urban woman with an
eye on the prize, a seven figure salary, a corner office with a view. It was a selfish, envious life
and I loved it. But like everything else in the city, things can change in an instant.   

In the span of one week, my job at Eastland/Kendrick vanished and relationship with the
perfect guy imploded. On that same day I was being dumped by Prince Charming, I was
trapped in a subway fire that lasted over five hours. The entire experience left me with severe
anxiety attacks when things got a little stressful. On a good day, the most that I could manage
was working with my sister, Candace, at our family restaurant, the Blue Moon, as the dessert
chef and part-time book keeper.

Six months ago, I would have taken most misfortune in stride and simply moved on. But it was
as if the God of Divine Crap needed someone to mess with and he picked me. Somewhere,
an insatiable, gluttonous deity was sitting on his fat butt laughing his head off. I knew he was
still laughing when I saw trouble headed my way in the form of Maggie Swift.

Maggie was my best friend. She came stomping through the afternoon lunch crowd as if I was
the only one in the place. Candace had positioned me at a small table in the back near the
kitchen. I was going over the restaurant’s monthly bills and receipts when I looked up and saw
Maggie heading my way. A stampede of wildebeests had less determination. A woman who
prided herself on neatness came storming towards me like she’d been attacked by her
laundry hamper and her iron went missing.

Maggie and I were physically polar opposites. She was a pretty red-headed, alabaster
skinned, five foot four diminutive housewife of Scotch-Polish descent. She lived in a two
bedroom ranch-style house in Hicksville, New York with her husband, child and a dog. She
shopped for clothes at Wal-Mart and her idea of eating out was Burger King and she smiled
a lot.

     I, on the other hand, was a lapsed African-American Princess, with a master’s degree in
business. Tall, lanky and the color of cinnamon, I loved designer clothes, and eating out at the
next trendy eatery. My idea of a good day was catching a sale at Bergdorf Goodman. Before
my employment situation went dramatically south, I was an up and coming advertising
executive at one of the city’s top rated advertising firms. I kept my smiling to a minimum. A
mentor of mine, the enigmatic Burke Peterson, once said, smiling was for politicians, super
models and sharks.

     When I looked up from the table and saw Maggie, she was neither smiling nor looked like
she was in the mood to bake cookies. Her normally pale translucent skin was flushed. Her
long red hair, usually every strand in place was contained haphazardly in a quickly made
ponytail. She cut through an obstacle course of small tables where the luncheon crowd tried to
be oblivious of her. Which was hard, because she looked a little unhinged? I sat there thinking
that whatever it was, it had to be bad and somewhere a fat god was laughing.

     I knew this because it was Wednesday and the middle of the day, and Rocket was with
her. He should have been at the Hicksville’s Elementary School learning whatever eight year
olds learn. Yet, there he was staring up at his mother with the same uneasy bewilderment
most of the restaurant patrons had upon catching sight of her. Her lightweight blue all-weather
coat was opened to reveal a pale yellow tee shirt decorated in the front with a large
suspicious brown stain. She was wearing loose fitting grey sweat pants and sneakers. Under
her arm, she clutched a large shoulder bag, whose contents threatened to overflow. Mommy
was having a bad day.
Chapter 1
Pennywise
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