Monday, September 11, 2023

Welcome To Wonderland


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Bobbie Candas will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

A recently fired biologist with mommy issues, a successful entrepreneur with a dead wife, and an immigrant hiding from gang violence…These three have only one thing in common.

They’re all screwed up

Biology researcher, Violet Hill, was just let go and is devastated. She found the solitary lab and long hours the ideal respite for her anxiety issues--doing meaningful work while avoiding people and conversation. Now unemployed, with diminishing finances, Violet is forced to face the enemy, her mother.

For years, Turner Cooper was consumed with building his company’s client roster, until the sudden death of his wife throws him totally off kilter. Now, instead of work, Turner’s guilt and alcohol issues consume him.

Living a reclusive life in Dallas, Rosario Guzman is hiding from a Mexican cartel while working in the shadows at three part-time jobs. Finally, the item she covets the most, a Green Card, arrives in her mailbox. But Rosario quickly realizes the paper card doesn’t solve all her problems.

While navigating social issues, private demons, and nightmare memories, these three lives collide as they find each other at a place none of them ever imagined they’d be working at. As their mutual relationship evolves, Violet, Turner and Rosario lean into each other and unexpectedly find their lives unfurling in remarkable and magical ways.

Read an Excerpt

The Winning Ticket
Rosario Guzman

The alarm went off with news blaring through the radio, jolting me awake from a deep sleep. It was ten PM. I’d showered before bed and rarely bothered with makeup anymore. When your job was washing and folding laundry at a twenty-four-hour lavanderia, what was the point? I put on my favorite fitted jeans, a clean white tee shirt, and pulled my shoulder length brown hair into a tidy bun. I forced a smile in the bathroom mirror before brushing my teeth and then repeated my mantra, “It’s going to be a great day!” I tried to keep the sound of my voice upbeat, but lately, maintaining positivity was becoming more challenging each day.

My second cousin, Miguel, owned Bright White Laundry, where I’d worked the eleven PM to six AM shift for a year. I was grateful for the work but knew I was capable of so much more. It was boring, repetitious, and surprisingly busy. At eleven PM, Diaz Avenue in East Dallas was dark, but Bright White Laundry sat on the corner of the sketchy business block like a shiny fluorescent-lit beacon for the unwashed.

I walked in waving to co-worker, Enrique, another distant cousin. I hated following Enrique’s shift. He was lazy and usually left a string of unfinished tasks in his wake after clocking out.

“¿Qué pasa, Enrique? How 's business tonight?”

Seeing me, he’d already grabbed his backpack and was walking to the office to clock out. He stopped and nodded towards the bathroom. “Welcome to Wonderland, Rosario. I just locked the bathroom. Man…you do not wanna go in there. That place is nasty. Tonight, if I was you, I’d keep the street people outta there.”

I shook my head, once again surprised at his lack of work ethic. “Enrique, you know the person on each shift has to clean the bathroom. That’s your job. You expect me to work ‘till six tomorrow morning and not use it?”

“Well, I’m not doing it. It’s up to you, chica. Gotta fly. Things to do tonight.”

“OK, but I’m telling Miguel.”

“Do what you have to do, man,” he said with a little laugh. “Do you think I give a flying fuck about this job?”

Apparently not. I watched him walk out, while shaking my head. What a jerk! Sad to think I was loosely related to him. Very loosely.

I checked out the place. One lady and two guys were doing laundry after carving out their own personal space amongst the machines. Pretty slow for a Thursday night. I gingerly unlocked the bathroom, needing to see what I was dealing with. Yeah, it was bad. I took a picture to show our boss, pulled up my mask. put on rubber gloves, and got to work.

At six AM, I clocked out and went next door to Daylight Donuts, also owned by Miguel. As usual, I grabbed a chair in the back, craving my morning cup of hot fresh coffee with lots of milk, and then bit into a soft and sweet pineapple empanada. Heaven! The front doorbell began to jingle as I tied on my white apron, ready to face the early risers and day laborers needing their morning sugar rush. I put on my smile and joined the team of two others already manning the front counter.

By eleven AM there were a few late donut-seeking stragglers, but two could easily run the front while I finished clean-up in the back. After clocking out, I walked down the street and boarded DART, eating my lunch from a paper bag as the yellow city bus carried me to the outskirts of Dallas. From there, I walked the remaining few blocks to Construction Connection. From noon until four, I worked the final leg of my day in a warehouse cleaning porta orinales, or what everyone here calls Port-A-Potties. A place filled with tall, nasty smelling blue boxes that needed a thorough scrubbing and sanitizing before they were sent out for another day of duty at construction sites.

A co-worker, Yolanda, and I punched in at the same time. From our assigned lockers we donned knee-high black, lug-soled rubber boots, elbow length rubber gloves, and tied on long black canvas aprons.

Trudging out to the warehouse, we crossed a road where two guys driving forklifts were moving sanitized port-a-potties onto trucks. As I walked by, they both hooted, whistled, and called out, “Looking good today, Rosario! Your ass, in those jeans… so hot.”

I blushed and tried to ignore them, amazed anybody would think me sexy in my rubber encased work clothes.

Yolanda tapped my shoulder. “Hey, don’t mind them; they’re harmless. Enjoy it while you can. Trust me, nobody’s whistled at me in ages.”

“How long you worked here, Yolanda?”

“Ten years, girl. Can you believe it?”


“That’s right. Ten years of shit.”

I pulled the mask up over my mouth and nose, grabbed a power hose and yelled, “If we’re both working here ten years from now, just shoot me. Promise, OK?”

Yolanda laughed and nodded, “Sure, but then who’s gonna shoot me?”

At four my shift ended and once home, I had five hours before the whole crazy cycle started again. I knew the schedule was extreme but it was the only way I could maintain an apartment and manage to send a bit of money to my mother in Mexico.

Standing outside my apartment, I pulled a white envelope out of the dented tin mailbox. A thrill momentarily pulsed through me. Carefully opening the white envelope from the U.S. government, I pulled out an unimpressive looking, but oh-so-important, printed paper card qualifying me for legal work in the United States. The coveted Green Card. My ticket out of the shadows, away from working lousy jobs that nobody else wanted to do for less than minimum wage.

I’d applied a year ago--scrimping and saving, paying all the filing fees, going to interviews, paying an immigration attorney. And now, here it was; but suddenly my excitement fizzled. Receiving it felt so bittersweet because I had no one here to share my news or happiness with.

I’d purposely tried not to befriend people since coming to Dallas. And I didn’t want the people I worked with to know I’d be looking for other work. I wasn’t sure who I could trust. Most of my family, the few I cared about, were in Ciudad Juarez in Mexico or dead. That evening, I felt so alone.

I placed the card in a hidden compartment in my wallet, set my alarm for ten PM, removed my clothes, took a shower, and then smiled to myself in the mirror.

About the Author:
Bobbie Candas lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, Mehmet Candas, a stray gray cat, and a jealous tabby who does not enjoy sharing affection with the interloper. Bobbie attended The University of Texas in Austin, earning her degree in journalism. She took a detour with a career in retail management, and found her happy place when she returned to writing fiction about nine years ago.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Kathy, Thanks for hosting Welcome to Wonderland on your blog. If any of your readers have questions or comments, I'll check back later with answers. Have a great day!


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