In The Dark of Winter Don’t “Kiss It All Goodbye”

The bustle of Christmas shopping is over only to be a memory on your credit cards. That bloated feeling from overindulging over New Year’s has happily subsided. ‘After the holidays’ feels like, ‘after the holidays,’ whether your sipping a parasol’d drink on some sandy beach or watching your feet bound in galoshes shuffle and slide over slick sidewalks.

OK, you’ve finished off that container of Haagan Dazs and vow to carefully weigh and count those limited calories, at least until Valentine’s Day when once again you can say ‘oh hell,’ what’s a few strawberries on vanilla ice cream snuggling up against Godiva truffles. After all it’s still dark outside and your only fun is assembling tax records or anticipating another Maggie Smith Downton Abbey zinger, signaling change regardless of the conspiring lady’s maids and impish footmen. Aesthetic creativity helps push past itchy dry skin and the doldrums of winter.

Artists love to exchange their wares with fellow craftsmen. I still have chimes my older daughter, Jenn, made in kindergarten. Almost forty years later, rough squares of clay still dangle in my studio on slightly dusty yarn, off splintered drift wood. In high school she honed her skills as a ceramicist and I have many of those pots around my house. My other daughter Maddy who just graduated from Tisch in Manhattan sent home a cardboard clock, scenery from a play she designed. My third floor bathroom is adorned with her period wigs—one resembles a Hattie-esque turban a la Gone with the Wind, another Marie Antoinette’s fateful curls. All rest atop styrofoam heads overlooking the shower stall, more recycled creativity from four years of her college productions that keep on giving pleasure.

In the eighties when I was trying to keep my art career afloat around giving birth and assisting with my husband Dave’s legal career, we took one of our first family vacations to Snowmass, Colorado. Dave sat by a pool splashing the children while I sawed wood with Sam Maloof and watched Laurie Anderson make monoprints. One evening we babysat the daughter of visiting Texan artist Jack Boynton. He gave us a work that continues to bring back creative good times.


So when my friend Lawrence Vescera mailed me his sci-fi tome, Kiss It All Goodbye, I was thrilled to turn off reruns of The Borgias, pour some tea and begin the enchantment while forgetting icy roads outside my cozy nook.

Vescera is an energetic entrepreneur who imparts the same enthusiasm found in all aspects of his life into this fiction thriller which addresses domestic environmental conundrums and global issues concerning nuclear disarmament.

When the Iranian Council of Guardians run by supreme leader Hussein Al Khaleri hatches a plot to, “envelope the entire planet with enough radiation to kill all vertebrate animal life, naturally it disturbs key players in Washington, calling attention to, “the President and the National Security staff [who] waste no time in making a final decision.” Fear not, because the US has a secret weapon called ‘Brilliant Dust,’ when sprinkled can transmit data. There’s stereotypical military personnel who adore their families and also their testosterone levels while posturing, “this could be a tough mission, so I want a real hero’s welcome when I get back. I want them all here to wave flags and congratulate me.”

Enter Carolyn Hanover, the chair of the National Nuclear Security Administration Nuclear Crisis Management Team. She seems to have it all and still finds time for domesticity with Dr. Chris Haley. Together with their two babies they survive a meteor shower brought on by some governmental screw-ups while somewhere mercurial aliens lurk. Hunkered down in their DC apartment, Caroline and Chris “had pulled the mattresses off of their beds and surrounded themselves with the mattresses, creating a construction that looked like a child’s fort.”

By now you may be thinking, how did aliens mix with Iranians? Oh there’s more weirdness. A seductive female alien lands at the United Nations and wants to converse through Mrs. Pearl Parker, a fifty-six year old African American residing in the Bronx and Mrs. Mercedes Gutierrez, a sixty-three year old Guatemalan. Both are UN kitchen staffers who offer the Gza Gza alien hometown flair, “a cup of coffee and a large slice of coffee cake.”

Larry Vescera is at his finest when describing the various US military operations he conjures up that commence to try saving the world. On Johnston Island in the South Pacific, “the captain then ordered the ship’s safe to be opened. The four arming keys were distributed. Each officer then inserted the key into the appropriate lock and on the Captain’s order turned the keys simultaneously thereby arming the warhead and missile.”

Vescera’s book not only appeals to adults who imagine venturing into outer space, but would also be a good read for teens who tire of Jane Eyre and desperately need to write another overdue book report. Vescera even gets in some bathroom humor; Al Khaleri needs a potty break and a military moon mission lands in a row of gleaming white porcelain urinals.

Larry Vescera, a longtime resident of California, is descriptive when using his beloved state to illustrate how these aliens changed the landscape by herding everyone into planned communities, thus reclaiming the wilderness for mass enjoyment and ecological improvement. His character, Carolyn, goes airborne with the Cal governor and observes, “to the west of downtown in what had been the Beverly Hills area stood what looked like a grove of gigantic trees…and more massive than Giant Sequoias…[while] all the industrial and manufacturing is buried inside the mountains.”

Are these aliens benevolent, problematic or mysterious? The Secretary General of the United Nations believes, “these extraterrestrials do not wish us harm.” It sounds absurd that the US seeks out African Pygmies for alien information? And why do these aliens, “kill all the people and leave all the animals alive?” You may conclude our government might be slightly inept or perhaps wimpy.

So steep that teabag a little longer, grab a fleecy throw and find that quiet nook while you contemplate your country with all its foibles or relocating to outer space. Kiss It All Goodbye by Lawrence Vescera is available on Amazon.

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Jean Bundy is a writer/painter living in Anchorage. She holds degrees from The University of Alaska, The University of Chicago and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a member of AICA/USA. Jean is a PhD candidate with IDSVA. Her whaling abstracts and portraits have been shown from Barrow to New York City.


She can be reached at: 38144 [at] alaska [dot] net