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“This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”–Douglas Adams

It won’t surprise anyone who has even stood behind me in a grocery line that I’ve screwed up my dates and don’t have anyone booked for this week. So today’s guest is… me.

Last week I went to Des Moines, Iowa. Yes, I did it on purpose and I’d do it again. After living in England for several years, it was a bit disorienting to hear American voices in Des Moines, where they speak a version of English. But it is the home of the absolute friendliest people on earth and almost everything in Des Moines is practically free.

On the (free) hotel shuttle, the driver told me that West Des Moines had everything that you could find anywhere else in the United States. And it was cheaper. And if they didn’t have it, you probably didn’t need it. Over the (free) hotel breakfast, the waitress told me that we should visit the (free) art museum because they had a terrific Matisse collection on display. And in the (free) hotel laundry room, another lady confided that her business trip had ended four days earlier, but the hotel was so nice and so cheap, she just told her husband there were more meetings and stayed on to give herself a little holiday. She had, she told me, three teenaged children home for the summer and not one of them had gotten a job. I asked her how soon they would be leaving for college, and reminded her that the hotel had (free) wifi and a very nice gym. With a jacuzzi and a sauna. She looked thoughtful.

After less than a week at the hotel, the desk clerks were asking how we liked the dinner at the restaurant we’d gone to the night before. They knew about this because their cousin’s neighbor’s brother had spotted us there. Of course he did! We were the huge group in the corner whooping it up on pitchers of margaritas and platters of Mexican food which came to a grand total of less than $100 for fourteen people. Counting the tip.

My sisters and I believe in quiet, dignified margarita consumption. At least, that’s how I remember it…

My sisters and I believe in quiet, dignified margarita consumption. At least, that’s how I remember it…

When we got back to the hotel, I spotted my brother in the lobby. He was listening to a woman sitting in the bar, and looking like he’d won the lottery. So of course I headed right over. He told me that his new friend was in the insurance business. She nodded. “We sell hell insurance.”

Tina needs this insurance.

Tina needs this insurance.

I didn’t think I’d had that many margaritas. “Excuse me. Did you say hell insurance?”

She nodded proudly (narrowly missing falling from the high bar stool). “We’re the oldest hell insurance company in the country.”

My jaw dropped, skittered over to the corner, and leaned itself up against the wall. “Hell. You insure people against hell? I always thought you just had to take your chances with that.”

“Oh, honey, we invented hell insurance.” She nodded so hard she did come off the barstool this time. I waited while she climbed carefully back on. “Been selling it for over a hundred twenty-five years.”

In Des Moines, they insure against hell.

In Des Moines, they insure against hell.

“Um… have you ever had to pay out on a policy? Because, it seems like it would be pretty hard to prove someone’s claim.” I thought about it. “Of course, I suppose there are a lot of churches who take up collections every week, so technically they’ve probably been in the business for longer than you.”

My brother was laughing so hard, I thought he’d hurt himself. But the insurance lady didn’t seem to notice. “Oh, sure we get claims all the time. There’s a LOT of hell in Iowa. Especially these last couple of winters.” She stopped and gave me a worried look. “But I never heard that churches were in the business. That could be bad because I don’t think they have the same reggae we do.”

“I don’t think most of them are into reggae,” I agreed.

“That’s going to take some… “She looked surprised at her empty glass. “Another drink.”

On the way up in the elevator, my brother broke the news to me that the insurance was probably against the kind of hell that comes down from the sky in frozen chunks, and the churches likely aren’t into reggae OR regulations. So I’m now back home in Glasgow, where they say normal, familiar things like, “Happenin? You wint tae cum to ma bit cos I’ve goat an empty ra morra ‘n a fancy a swally?“** but there’s no insurance policy if you gang tae hell.

[**Translation for those who don’t speak fluent Glaswegian (Weegie): “How are you doing? Would you like to come to my home and join me for an alcoholic beverage?”]



For my contribution to Lie-dar, those who correctly guess the lie among the statements below will be entered in a drawing for a $20 gift certificate. Plus everyone who comments will get an unlock code for my latest, hot-off-the-presses, (ie not fully-edited yet) Null City novella, We’re All Human, Even When We’re NotShe’s a young witch whose goddess is a house cat of unusual size. He’s a Warden policing a delicate truce between those who are human and those who… aren’t. They fight monsters!  (Novella, 15K words)

New (almost) Null City novella. Get your pre-release copy!

New (almost) Null City novella. Get your pre-release copy!

Excerpt: Claire Danielsen didn’t know he was tracking her until the trees noticed him. Despite Academy training, her fieldwork was never more than adequate. But her workout run today was through the home wood, where her family had been casting for the past hundred years. And after a century of Danielsen witches standing under these branches to invoke the bitchy feline goddess powering their spells, the small woods on the north edge of Seattle weren’t exactly… trees anymore. Behind you, rustled the leaves. He watches.

Good luck in finding the lie below. Please put your answer in the comments section of the blog. One winner will be selected at random.
  1. My family has a genetic defect which compels us to accidentally memorize recipes that involve chocolate chips.
  2. As head of Human Resources, I’ve had to lay myself off. On more than one occasion. (Sadly, I never got to control the number of zeros on my severance check…) 
  3. My younger sister is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, which means either that she is a witch, or that she will never have to pay for her own beer in Ireland.
  4. I once lived in the Luxembourg Airport for two weeks.
  5. After four kids, I will still be able to recite Good Night Moon on my deathbed.
  6. I won’t take vacations where they don’t have free wifi. Or where you have to put on shoes to get to the bathroom.
  7. I used to say if you get the chance to try something you’ve always wanted to do and you don’t do it, it will be the sign that you’re getting old. That explains a lot of things in my past like skydiving and early encounters with law enforcement. What I now realize is that getting old beats the hell out of the alternative.

Please add your guess to your comment below. Good luck!


Last week, as prize for correctly guessing which was her true statement, Kassandra Lamb generously offered a free e-book copy of any of her books (other than Multiple Motives “…cause, heck, it’s already just 99¢!) OR if the winner prefers (and lives in the U.S.), she’ll send a signed copy of Multiple Motives in trade paperback format.

Congratulations to Danielle Lenee Davis, who correctly guessed that the answer was the smart pony.

Kassandra says, “I did twirl a baton in 2nd grade but I was pretty bad with it. Never won any contests. If I got a tattoo (not in this lifetime!) it would very likely be a fleur de lis. But I did have a pony who was smarter than me. I was thirteen, and he was nine (which is about 65 in horse years.) He was very aptly named Fiddlesticks by his previous owner. He loved to run across fields and then stop abruptly, so I would keep going without him, right over his head. He could also escape from just about any fence. He broke into a neighbor’s feed room one night and gorged himself on sweet feed. It’s a wonder he didn’t make himself sick. It was my mother who so graciously pointed out that he was smarter than me. :-)”


***Would you like to be a guest on Thursday Lie-dar? I’d love to feature you and your work here! (interview, contest, book review, guest post) For information, send email to barbtaub@gmail.com***