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Cobwebs in the Broiler

The Adventures of a Very Wicked Step-mother

Cobwebs in the Broiler by Beth Szillagyi
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Val Szabo thought being the first woman sheet metal worker in her local was a tough job. As it turns out, being the "wicked" stepmother to two kids is the hardest thing she's tackled yet.
SynergEbooks; March 2005
240 pages; ISBN 9780744308846
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Title: Cobwebs in the Broiler
Author: Beth Szillagyi; Steven Fisher
PART ONE As Valerie Szabo was leaving the power plant Friday evening after work, she was looking forward to Friday Night Bowling with the Girls. She always put it in capital letters in her mind because it was like the title of a book, or an ongoing TV miniseries, one she hated to miss. How she loved these evenings of good, clean fun with the best buds a girl could ever have! It had been a long month of ten-hour days, and her friends, a few beers, and bowling was just what the doctor ordered. The team had been bowling together for five years, but had known and loved each other a lot longer than that. A couple of them had gone to high school together. That was part of what made the bowling so much fun, since none of them was out for any awards for knocking pins down. They often communicated without even saying anything and could even finish each other’s sentences at times. They could – and did – deal with each other with sometimes brutal honesty, because they knew that whatever was said or done, they would still and always be friends. They saw each other through all of life’s valleys and summits, and could even be relied on to assist during the ceremony of Worshiping the Porcelain Gods, if necessary. Stacy was the one to whom Val was closest, if she had to pick a best friend. Even when Stacy had told Val that it wasn’t very dainty and petite to carry one’s wallet in one’s back pocket and Val had jovially told her to fuck off, they had still remained the best of friends. It was really nice to have someone like that to rely on. This week’s Joke of the Week was why Val hadn’t come to the purse party Stacy had given earlier in the week. Val told her rather tartly that when Stacy decided to have another sex toy party, then she’d be there with bells on or possibly a black negligee! She was particularly interested in that gargantuan dildo that crawled across the floor by itself that they had all laughed at so hard the last time! Really, who on earth would buy such a thing? Too bad I didn’t listen to her when she said she didn’t care too much for Asshole, Val thought for the hundredth time. That would have saved a lot of misery and money, not to mention bruises. She shook her head vigorously, trying to remove her ex from her mind. He was still a frequent uninvited visitor there, even after almost a year, and Val wondered if he would ever leave for good. She also constantly wondered how she had ended up in that horrible situation to begin with. Where had her head been, for God’s sake? What had she been thinking? It was all blurred now, thankfully, and seemed like a bad dream most of the time. Beer, of course, helped get rid of him for a time, the total fluid ounces varying with the circumstances and her mood. Sometimes, it even took a shot or two of the harder stuff. That was another area where her friends helped, for she had developed the typical post-divorce "devil may care" attitude. Her buddies kept her anchored to earth with the silken tethers of their friendship. If not for those tethers, she may have launched herself out into space somewhere and never come back. At times, even "devil may care" did not describe her frame of mind. She was still so damn angry, and it still scared the hell out of her. She was also incredibly hurt, but would never tell a soul about that – except for Stacy, of course. As she walked to her truck, her thoughts drifted to the subject of males, as her mind was wont to do. The guys at work were great. The ones after work, however, could be relied on to back away as if they’d just smelled a nasty fart when they asked her what she did for a living. Why the hell was that? She was just a harmless construction worker, and pretty green at that, having just become the infamous "journeyperson" a few months ago. Where were the fellas who appreciated a woman with a little dirt under her nails, a woman with a good, strong body who could carry shingles up on a roof; someone who could and did change her own oil, someone who loved and knew how to use tools? She’d like to meet the guy who would borrow HER shirts and hammer, for crying out loud! Perhaps this was just another version of Prince Charming, not based in any kind of reality?
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