Thursday, September 1, 2011

Just wanted to post this somewhere so I wouldn't lose it...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Out To Lunch

Unfortunately it may be awhile before I post again. It's time to protect vital interests. Kinda hard to do that while I write--since what I do I only do obsessively. I hope to be back soon--time will tell. C

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sample Saturday (from Chapter 3--A Father Erased)

Sitting back from the road in the old part of town among some birch and oak sat a small ugly yellow cape cod with a sign stuck in the front yard which read: James J. Digby, Attorney-at-Law. With sweaty hands and a sudden urge to urinate, Howard stepped onto the sidewalk and walked to the front door. He knocked, then realizing this was a place of business, let himself in.

He was immediately greeted with the sound of jingling bells on the doorknob and the pungence of something that smelled like old wet dirty laundry. Once inside, and without a front desk or window to greet him, he continued down the hall until a voice yelled out.

“On back here.”

Howard looked to his right inside a small room and saw a large man with his back turned standing on an office chair in the corner. He was holding what looked to be a paint roller and he seemed to be pulling at the white ceiling tile. On the floor pieces of tile large and small lay scattered about.
The man turned, looked at Howard, and said, “How do you do? Jim Digby. You here for the roof?”

“No. I’m here about my son.”

“Oh, in that case sorry about the mess.” Digby carefully stepped off his chair and sat, his bulk overtaking the armrests. “Storm last week took a toll on my roof and...well what can I do for you?” He motioned Howard to the faux leather chair across from his desk.

“I'm Howard Moreland.”

“Sounds familiar.” Digby squinted a bit. Tiny white specks of ceiling glistened in the sweaty creases of the man’s flabby folds of his face. “Do I know you?”

“You have a--pardon me--had a friend. Myra Stevens. Just passed away.”

“Howard? Howard. Okay., interesting. Well now, aren’t you a day late and a dollar short.” This wasn’t a question.

Howard blinked.

“Well what can I do for you Mr., what was it?”


“Mr. Moreland, how may I help you?”

“I would like to know if you have any information on where my son is?”

“No, I don’t, though we could probably find out where he is easily enough. Child Protection Services probably has him right now if they haven’t yet farmed him out. Coupla phone calls to the right people and we could get you connected, though you’d first need more stability than what I’m guessing you currently have. But may I ask you a question? Why did you change your mind?”

Howard dropped his head down then lifted it back up. He looked up into the dark hole in the corner of the ceiling where the tile had been removed. Blushing, he kept his eyes fixed on the hole and said, “Have you ever wanted something more than life itself? And then you suddenly get it and you just freeze, not knowing what to do with it? Then confusion sets in and the only rational thing to do seems to be to find that familiar ground you’ve been walking on and run back to it as quickly as you can. You run until you're safe and back into that hole you just came from so you can curl up and die. And you do this because you’re not willing to face the truth--the truth that maybe you just can’t handle what you had so badly wanted.”

Digby cut in. “I don’t care why you left. What I wanna know is why you’re back.”

“I’ve quit too damn much. When a person quits, that’s it. He’s done. I’m tired of that fashion. It no longer fits me.”

“Okay. So you’re a changed man, huh? That it?”

Howard stood up and turned but stopped short of leaving. “I’ll get help from you or someone else. It doesn’t matter. But one thing’s for sure--I’m gonna find my son.”

“Ease up there partner,” said Digby. “Just one more question.”


“When can you pay?”

“Soon as I get a job.”

“Not that there’s a whole lot that can be done about your son anyway til you’ve had steady work and a place to live. How’s your prospects?”

“Seeing you is the first thing I’ve done.”

“Well today just might be your lucky day. Gimme a sec.” Just as Digby reached for the handset, it began to ring. He picked it up. “James Digby, Attorney.”

He listened a few seconds, then said, “No thanks,” placed the phone back in its cradle, then immediately lifting it again, dialed a number and placed the phone to his ear.

“Hey Jimmy, you son of a bitch!” A pause. “What do you mean who? It’s Digby....What? You’re kidding me right? Digby...No I’m not gonna to spell it for you...Your best man, remember? Yes, me. I’m great. So tell me is it the bottle or your wife’s cooking?...Nevermind, nevermind.” Digby looked at Howard and rolled his eyes. He leaned back in his chair and put a meaty shoeless foot on his desk. “So hey, I’m a man in need, right? You’ve got openings?” He waited. “Great...Uh-huh...Right...No problems there...Wonderful...Muchos gracias, senor. No, it’s Spanish, my friend, Spanish. Yep, by three. Hug your wife for me. Alright, many paybacks.”

Digby hung up the phone. To Howard, he said, “as of tomorrow, my friend, you will be the newest night stocker at Crider’s Grocery. Know where they are?”

Howard nodded.

After a brief explanation of the logistics and a question or two about Howard’s ability to comply with what Digby knew were Crider’s basic requirements, Digby said, “Just so you know, I’m not doing anything here to be nice. Not that I’m not a nice fellow or anything. I can be. But this, this is for Myra. If I felt she’d be against me helping you out, then I’d respect that, too. But you seem okay. You seem decent. Just a body with a need for a hand up, know what I’m saying? And I think Myra would still want me to try to help you. Which leads to the next big issue: finding you a place to stay. That may prove a sight more challenging as I’ve not greased many wheels in that sector, but in a day or two rest assured I’ll have something figured out.”

Howard was amused by the overall confidence and joviality of this man whom he did not know til today and who for no apparent reason had decided to help him. Howard didn’t know what to chalk this up to but was nevertheless grateful that the Gods of Fortune had decided to smile down upon him. Then he heard James J. Digby III, Esquire say--

“There is a condition I almost forgot to mention. I want you to see a shrink. A psychiatrist. And a therapist, too. I’ll have the names by the next time you come. I just think you never know. It might help. No offence intended. And one other thing, too,” said the lawyer. “I’m just curious. How did you wind up on the street?”

“How much time do you have?”

Digby flicked his hands out to his sides. “How long could it take?”

Howard thought a moment. “You’re right. Basically, in this order: my ex-wife--”

The front door opened and a voice yelled hello.

“Come on back,” yelled Digby.

A slim, tall man appeared outside the room. He wore rugged boots, the leather ripped, showing off steeltoes. His Wranglers had just as many holes it seemed as threads, and his wife beater clung to his torso. The man’s dark brown curly hair hung down out of the grasp of his sweat-stained ball cap. “Your roof?”

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rainy Days, Mondays, And Thoughts of My Children (Sometimes) Get Me Down

In about two weeks I will be heading back home to spend some time with my two oldest children. I have three children total. My youngest, who is four, lives with me and my wife. My oldest two (my 14-yr-old boy & 11-yr-old girl) live with my ex-wife full-time. Because I live so far from them (more than a continent away) I see them about once a year. Since I am moving back to the States I hope to see them more. The last time I saw them was thirteen months ago.

My children are blessed to have a stepfather. He seems to be a good man. I am glad for their sakes that they live in a "nuclear family unit" even if it's not the one they were born in. Yesterday, while scanning the web for info on my kids, my wife found a photo of my son (her stepson) in his local newspaper which referred to him as his mother's and stepfather's son. Only a small slight to me. However, added up, the slights do tend to hurt.

For a long time after the dissolution of my first family, I mourned the loss of my kids especially because their 3 and 5-yr-old hearts had to endure not only a once secure world suddenly turned insecure without explanation, but also because they began to see their daddy negatively. The pain and suffering they have had to endure has been the hardest for me to bear. What parent likes it when his or her child suffers innocently?

But for today--just today--I am allowing myself to be sad for MY loss. I, too, have lost much. I, too, have suffered the loss of my children's affection through no fault of theirs or mine (I'm not dismissing my responsible part in the break-up of my first marriage. I'm blaming parental alienation). I miss not being able to have a normal conversation with them because I may say something which is misconstrued and passed along and brings about harm. I miss hearing my kids tell me they love me. They used to tell me. They don't anymore. It's one thing to have suffered through a divorce. It's another thing altogether to then lose the affections of innocent children who know no better. For the loss of these two once loving relationships I mourn. I am sad.

Don't get me wrong; I know how lucky I am compared to many other targeted moms and dads. At least I get to talk to my kids once a week. At least I get to visit them on rare occasions. I am very very blessed because I have so very much. But still I am sad for the loss. I am sad for the hollow carved out of my soul which renders me hypersensitive as I pass the toy section in a department store. I am sad for the homework I've never had the opportunity to help with--even when I shared almost weekly visitation with my kids. I am sad for my wife--who had so much to gain as stepmom, but never has. There are many blessings I have in my life. I do not deny them. Nor where they come from. For right now though, I am simply sad at the loss of what were two of my greatest blessings.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fiction Friday...the saga continues

“Good morning,” spoke the sandy-haired young woman fresh out of high school. “Lovely day outside isn’t it? What can I do for you?”

“Yes it is. I’m wondering if I can use your phone?”

“Of course. But it’ll cost you,” said the young woman with mock seriousness.

Sheepishly, Howard smiled. “Okay.”

“Don’t you want to know what it’s going to cost?

Howard continued to merely smile, not knowing what to say.

“Hey, Margaret,” came another voice from the back, “stop picking on Mr. Moreland and let him use the dang phone.”

“Oh, I was just talking with--”

“--Yeah, yeah, blah, blah. You was just talking.” A short heavyset woman walked out to the front desk carrying a full plastic grocery bag. “Kids these days, huh? They just don’t respect their elders. These are for you, Howard. I’m glad you dropped in.”

Howard reached down, lifted the sack, smiled, and nodded his thanks. The bag held some fresh fruit.
The woman’s name was Joy and for all the years she’d worked at Lester County Library, Howard was her favorite patron. Though he rarely, if in fact ever, to her recollection, borrowed any books, he would usually just come inside to read or to take a break from the extreme weather.

Joy led Howard to the office where a simple rotary phone sat on the edge of a desk. “Just pick it up and dial away, the old-fashioned way. Ha! I’m a poet don’tcha know it!”

Howard dialed.

“Greenwich Realty, Susan speaking.”

“Yes ma’am, I’m inquiring about a property?”

“Okay, what property sir?”

“It’s on Marigold.”

“Uh, lemme see here. Oh yes, 3223 Marigold. Just became available yesterday. Let me get George. He can tell you all about--.”

“--Um, actually. I already know about it. Can you tell me what happened with the owner? I’m aware she had a terminal illness.”

“Well sir,” said Susan slowly, “she did in fact pass away. I’m not sure what this has to do with--”

Howard could not help himself. He blurted out, “There was a child--lived with her. Do you know anything, what happened to him?”

“I’m very sorry. No, that’s not something we would know.”

“You wouldn’t know who would know, I suppose?”

“Umm, the family I’d think?”

“Of course. Thanks.”

Howard peeled a banana as he descended the library steps. He said a silent prayer of gratitude for the food.

Six blocks later Howard walked up the long ramp into the Lester Medical Center. For the first time, Howard laid his eyes on the same hard cracked concrete floor as had Michael. The walls were bare, except for a single cheap bulletin board with announcements and upcoming health events haphazardly pinned to it. A couple of royal-blue worn fabric benches clung to either side of the wall and straight ahead in the center of the floor stood a sign which linked floors and office numbers with names of doctors. It was at this point Howard realized he had no idea what doctor or specialist Michael had been seeing. And as there were some 15 or so medical offices, he would be looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, assuming Michael’s doctor would even know, much less be willing to impart any information helpful to locating him.

Howard stood before the sign and studied the names of the offices.

A couple minutes passed before a security guard approached.

“Sir, can I help you?”

“No,” Howard mused aloud. “Just looking for my son. He used to come here for some kind of treatment. Don’t even know which doctor he saw.” Howard’s voice was resigned. When he realized he was actually speaking aloud, he looked up at the guard and apologized.

“Now you wouldn’t be talkin’ about a young boy in a wheelchair, Mister, would you be? Came every day about?” came the reply.

“Yes. Light brown hair. Came alone the last few days, but with an old woman before that.”

“Yes, yessir. I know that child. I seen him all the time. But lately sir he don’t come in here. He’s your son?”

“It’s a long story. You say you’ve seen him?”

“Now like I said, lately he don’t come in here no more, but when he did he’d go straight down the hall that way, see.” He leaned toward Howard and pointed his arm to Howard’s right. “Now there’s only two offices down there and one of ‘em’s a ladies' doctor, so he musta been goin’ to the other place. Straight down that hall there. Don’t know if that helps. Mebbe they knows somethin'.”

“Thanks. Thank you very much,” replied Howard, already off the bench and turning down the corridor.

Moments later Howard entered the Blue Ridge Rehabilitation Center and stepped to the front desk.

An attractive young woman with straight long blonde hair and green eyes dressed in a nurse smock met him with a smile and said, “Hi, can I help you?”

“I’m looking for my son. I believe he was a client here recently. He’s a young boy who I think just recently stopped coming. He was in a wheelchair."

The blonde held her eyes with rapt attention. When Howard ceased speaking, she stammered, “Uh, yes, yes. That would’ve been--” cutting herself off, the woman said, “Can you stay right there? Don’t go away. I’ll be right back,” she said.

Not a minute later a young Asian man in dress shirt and tie stepped out into the waiting room and offered his hand to Howard, “Dr. Yamamoto. Pleased to meet you. So you’re the father to this young man--what was his name?”


“Yes, Michael. We’ve been concerned about Michael. He hasn’t been here all week and his is a treatment that requires strict adherence to his regimen.”

“Have you any ideas where he may be?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Do you--”

“--No no. I heard you. You don’t know where he is?”

“I’ve not seen my son for years and was hoping you might be able to shed some light on where he is.”

“Oh. Oh, I see.” Light seemed to be dawning now and the doctor made a brief glance back toward the office where the blonde was sitting, trying to look busy. “Just a minute,” he said, as he strode back into his office.

After failing to make out the whispers behind the closed door, Howard saw the blonde reappear behind the front desk window and motion to him.

Trying to appear sincere, the woman said, “I hope you’re able to find your son. If you do, please bring him back here so we can continue with his treatment. Okay?”

“Can you tell me what he was being treated for? Perhaps it would somehow help me to locate him.”

“I’m very sorry sir. We really can’t divulge that information.”

“To his father? I’m his father.”

The woman gave a sympathetic look and slowly shook her head. “Sorry.”

Down to his last idea, Howard walked out the door.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Imaginary Friends

Absence indeed makes the heart grow fonder. For the first time in almost two weeks I reunited with the people in my WIP. I have truly missed them and enjoyed tonight giving them life and breath. To have been inside the minds and hearts of characters, to know them intimately--how they feel and think and why, etc--then to leave them for an extended time is to truly miss them. Strange how one develops true feelings and empathy for that which does not exist in the physical world. But what kind of world would we live in if there were no stories nor storytellers. I am glad to be called a storyteller and someday others will call me a storyteller. Like the water and air I need to live, I need to create people and stories to more than merely survive.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fiction Friday

From his nook within the oak grove Howard continued to watch for Michael. He searched his sack and lifted out his cheap watch. Three thirty-five. Michael was 45 minutes late. If he didn’t show, this would be the third day in a row. A week had passed since he’d walked away from his son. Again. The second time. Howard grimaced. Then he put his Casio back into his backpack, hefted the pack, and began walking back to the old woman’s house.

Fifty feet from the yard things didn’t look good. A ‘House For Sale’ sign was stuck in the yard next to the driveway near the street.

Howard knocked on the door. A second time. Peeking through the windows revealed nothing but the same dingy blinds he had seen seven days before. He circled the house, peering in all the windows, stopping at the last one. This window he could see through. The house was not empty. To the contrary it was disheveled, as though someone had gone through all the drawers in a frantic search of some great artifact or missing treasure. It looked to Howard as though it had been ransacked.

After receiving no answer at the back door, Howard retrieved a small yellow pencil from his sack and on a scrap of paper took down the house’s street address and name and number of the realtor.


Lester County Library was a plain but stately three story red brick building. Built in the late 19th Century, it’s tall columns gave wide berth to an entryway in which erstwhile concrete lionheads shepherded in and out patrons intent on whiling away some of their modern time on the internet, borrowing a video, or actually perusing books from the voluminous grey shelves.

Inside the building, the first thing one notices is the expansiveness of the place. The high, vaulted ceiling makes up what are essentially the first two floors. Hanging below the rafters, long-stemmed industrial fans turned just fast enough for one to count the blade rotations without feeling any of their manufactured breeze. The third floor, accessible via the stairwell to the right, housed storage rooms filled with old musty volumes and a long empty room wherein occurred the library’s annual spring book sale.

Immediately inside the front door entrance to the left stood a lamplit curio cabinet displaying the Lesterfield Artist of the Month, Civil War Sketches in Charcoal.

Straight ahead stood the long front desk with just one volunteer working this slow Wednesday morning shift.

Howard stepped up to the desk.

(I promise not to harm any commenter unless you have only good things to say. After all, my aim is to improve my writing, not to be flattered. Thanks.)