Dan A. Cardoza ~ Where My Heart Was Touched

Being raised by a parent who is technically a serial killer is hardly unique. Being raised in California by someone who killed your mother, father, and brother offends logic, dilatory odds. 

I’m on the shortlist for a play-date with the devil. To know the wrath of God, one must conspire. So I have nothin’ to lose in telling you my story about lost souls. 

I’m Taylor. My roots are deep in the cracks of the sidewalk at the West End of Cincinnati. I busted tires for a livin’. My close friend Cayleene came from money, but you never knew it. We’d christened her “Sweet Cayleene” in high school because she was the deliciousness everyone craved, boys and gurls. Ms. Sweetness was invited to all the cool kids’ parties, even the West End. That gurls freak flag was always flyin’, high. 

She’d tell me, “Ooh, ooh baby, take me out on the dance floor, I’m sizzling, going to burn the hell up.” All of us boys would comply. Take a turn or two for the night. We all respected her. She was so intelligent, sexy, and so wrong.

The gurl loved her some ‘Pink-Lady,’ our urban concoction. Hell, it was nothin’ but a mixture of Ripple and Strawberry Kool-aid. Way back then, it was the closest thing to wings. 

“Cayleene is here,” just about everyone would say. Now whatever it was, could begin. She was what everyone wanted, wanted to be. She was combustible with everything goin’ on, confident, clever, a gorgeous half-sister full moon, with all those celestial cycles, neither could comprehend.

She had one flaw. Her belly was null. A void even coolness couldn’t fill. Somethin’ was wrong. As an adult, there would be needs no one could fill. 

Cayleene graduated Stanford, Summa Cum Laude, whatever the hell that means. She then landed a great job in Silicon Valley. She then moved to Marin, where everyone goes, just to let others know how far you’ve come, how far you’ve left others behind. Cayleene and her TED Talks husband, William (Berkeley, 82′), became the bomb of the Peninsula. They threw marvelous parties, with an abundance of drink, food, and abandonment, but not a drop of Pink-Lady. 

Isn’t all this somethin’? We expected this from Sugar. But, somethin’ was terribly wrong, missin’.

Sweet Cayleene’s thought her womb was as fertile as the soil she left behind in the Ohio Valley. All the conditions were perfect for TED Talks seed. But nothin’, even though they fucked like rabbits. Sugar blamed TED Talks for everythin’. In time, not one green tip sprouted. Her soil was barren. 

Dr. Keller, in San Francisco, the fertility guy, said, “Well Cayleene, some women are just not designed to conceive.” If Cayleene had her way that day, Dr. Keller would have walked the plank on one of those black pirate ships docked in Frisco Bay. 

Shortly after the disappointment, Cayleene introduced herself to Prozac. She was not impressed. So she cheated, proffered herself a more intimate relationship with a gentleman she’d found in the Tenderloin District. His street name was Oxy. 


It wasn’t long; Cayleene grew fat, like one of those overripe Sonoma Valley pears. Her tummy was a combination of expensive sized pillows and Circaid foot wrap, each month, a larger pillow. She schemed Ted Talks out of the master bedroom, fearful of discovery. He was abandoned, for the gestation period, to any number of couches. This would all change with the Immaculate Conception. 

In her twenties, daughter Julia moved out to the Midwest in Des Moines, near her mom’s old stompin’ ground. Before graduation, she romanced a wealthy farmer’s son while attendin’ the University of Iowa. 

After they were married, Julia worked from home, doing plant research. She’d even researched her DNA. Like the TV add said, “To find where your ancestors are from.” The results made no sense, so on a visit, she pilfered her mother’s genetic code from a gin and tonic cocktail glass. There wasn’t a match. Cayleene and TED Talks were not her biological parents. Our lovely grew curious. 


Deep in the loops of Microfiche, in the Des Moines, Iowa public library lives a rather infamous small town in West Virginia, near Cincinnati, and Cayleens’ childhood. Ravenswood is where the horrific Crawford family homicides occurred years back. It’s the epicenter of an infamous slaughter and the kidnapping of a live fetus by butcher knife cesarean. Lord, I hate messy.


Time was much kinder to Julia’s womb. She and her Midwest husband, Levi, raised their children on a green farm in Des Moines. They still live there. 

A green farm is where plants worry placenta and seed, a place where cumuli and nimbostratus trawl deep into the solstice belly of March, where pregnant clouds meet scythe, bleed rain. A Green Farm is where you conspire, till secrets into dormant soil. It’s an ideal settin’. Julia and Levi have learned not to flinch with each caterwaul, or holler, even as they butcher their autumn hogs. After all, it’s all about the season. Green farms are the place you go to live and properly die.

Julia and her husband are proud of their soil. It’s almost black with pheromones. They live a simple life and grow some of the best Corn in Iowa. 

Grandmother Cayleene and TED Talks visited often. Her grandchildren were so important to her. 

Flyin’ back to Des Moines was a celebration of life. Levi and Julia carried Cayleene’s ashes in a Cherry-wood box. They intend to talc them over the windy plains, as to bless their families’ fecundity. She and Julia could not have been closer.

Julia’s asleep at Levi’s shoulder, dreamin’ of all her tomorrows. Before she drifted off into the warm meadow of sleep, she shared a death bed quote with Levi, from her mother. The quote was from Edgar Allen Poe’s A Letter to Maria Clemm. Cayleene whispered, “I was never really insane, except on occasions where my heart was touched.”


Dan A. Cardoza’s poetry, nonfiction, and fiction have met international acceptance. He has an M.S. degree in education from C.S.U.S. Most recently his work has been featured in Black Petals, Brave Voices, Cabinet of Heed, Cleaver, Coffin Bell/2019 Anthology, Dime Show Review, Dissections, Entropy, Gravel, New Flash Fiction Review, Poached Hare, Spelk, Thrice and Vamp Cat.

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