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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The next teaser from my latest book, "Into Each Life ..."

   The overnight clouds which had dropped a dusting of snow on the ground had cleared out and given way to clear skies on Jamie's second Saturday morning at the Home. Temperatures rising toward a forecasted high of forty five, the lack of a breeze, and the warming rays of the sun were the perfect recipe for a rousing day of touch football.
   After breakfast and chores were completed, Richard instructed everyone to put on a sweater and meet on the front lawn. They combined with the two cottages next to them and had enough for a game of seven-on-seven.
   Everyone was a little chilly to start, blowing on their hands and holding them in their underarms, but after a few plays they all were warm and sweating. Jamie couldn't stop grinning. He'd never had such fun in all his life.
   When the motorcycle rumbled up the street, everyone stopped playing. Jamie's smile turned to a stoic stare at the rider who stopped in front of the lawn and parked his bike. Michael ran up to the man on the motorcycle. The rider removed his helmet. He looked to be about fifty years old. He had a full beard and salt-and-pepper hair. He wore leathers from his neck to his boots.
   “Hi, Sonny,” Michael said, grinning from ear to ear, eagerly waiting for Sonny to acknowledge him and give him the attention he craved.
   “Hey, Michael. How are you today?” Sonny said.
   “Fine.” Michael happily sprinted back to the field of play.
   Richard approached Jamie. “Jamie, come with me. I need to introduce you to our Program Manager.”
   Jamie followed him reluctantly.
   “Sonny, this is Jamie Myles. He moved in last week,” Richard said.
   “Jamie, nice to meet you, young man,” Sonny said as he held out his hand.
   Jamie looked at the ground as he shook Sonny's hand.
   “Jamie, you need to look an adult in the eye and return a greeting when you're addressed,” Sonny said sternly. “Since you're new, I'm going to let it slide this time. Just don't mistake my kindness for weakness.”
   “Yes, sir,” Jamie said. “Nice to meet you.” He looked at him briefly and then looked down again.
   “Don't let it happen again.” Sonny turned to Richard with a scowl on his face. “You need to work with him.”
   “I will, Sonny,” Richard said.
   Sonny put his helmet back on, fired up his motorcycle, and drove off.

[Sonny – Program Manager at Nachala Home for Boys]

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The next teaser from my latest book, "Into Each Life ..."

   After obtaining his doctorate and counseling license, Doc had spent five years working with inner city runaways in Minneapolis. At the same time, he held a counseling position at a juvenile detention center. From there he moved on to a suburban family counseling practice with an emphasis on teenagers. When he landed at Nachala he had a well-rounded resume dealing with youth from every imaginable background.
   Most psychiatrists decorate their office according to their tastes or their expectations of what adults might expect. Doc understood that the business he was involved in was making his clients, which were young people, as comfortable as possible. His office looked like an amalgam of a teenager's home bedroom, a college dorm, and the first bachelor pad of young adult male. Posters of the latest hip bands and singers adorned the walls. A few pieces of simple furniture with pine framing and bland-colored fabric dotted the space. A coffee table and a couple of end tables made of black metal and glass rounded out the look. The finishing touches were a used college dorm desk he'd picked up at a yard sale and a mini college-boy fridge.
   In violation of the Home's strict policy, but keeping with the college theme, he kept a few beers in the fridge at all times. A padlock kept his secret safe, especially from the boys. He kept a hoodie in his desk drawer that he threw on the floor in a heap before the start of each counseling session.

[Doctor Ben Droessler - “Doc.” The on-campus psychiatrist of Nachala Home for Boys]

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The next teaser from my latest book, "Into Each Life ..."

   “You need to be aware that this could manifest itself in strange behaviors.”
   “What are you saying? That we shouldn't use the system on him this weekend?” Christine said.
   “No I'm not saying that. You should still use the system. He needs to learn that he's accountable for his actions, even if he's homesick. Just use a little wisdom and be prepared to de-escalate situations.”      Doc made a note to himself on his little pad of paper.
   “What are you writing?” Christine said.
   “Um, honey, don't you think that's a little nosy. Not everything is about you,” Richard said.
   “It's okay,” Doc said. “It is about her, about how difficult she's being.”
   Christine's eyes grew wide with anxiety.
   Doc smiled mischievously. “Christine, you're so easy.”
   She slapped him on the arm and laughed in relief.
   “Seriously, I made a note to myself. I'm going to put Jamie on an antidepressant.”
   “Is that necessary?” Richard said.
   “Hey, who's the doctor here?” Doc said, smiling.

[Christine, the female houseparent in the cottage where Jamie is placed, and a surrogate mother-figure]

Friday, April 10, 2015

The next teaser from my new book, "Into Each Life ..."

   Thus far I've introduced the main characters from the first half of the book, and I've shared a snippet of the wordless communication which Jamie and his mother Crystal share to express those things which are too terrible or painful to voice aloud.
   At this point, I will introduce the main characters in the second part of the book, when Jamie goes away to a group home for troubled teenagers.

   The houses were similar in design, but each was unique in its own way. Some were painted white, some yellow, and some were light blue. All had two stories and a covered porch. Some porches had rocking chairs, some had porch swings, and some had wrought iron furniture. All of the yards were beautifully landscaped.
   In the front yard of each of the houses an engraved wooden sign hung from a post, with a bed of mulch at the base which was bordered by small white rocks. Each sign had a different name on it. One said Ahlbrecht Cottage. Another said Chamberlain Cottage. The blue house with the porch swing was named Fitzgerald Cottage. On the front lawn, a man threw a football to a boy who looked to be about the same age as Jamie. The man was tall and strong. His physical presence was intimidating, but he had a pleasant demeanor. He waved at the car as they drove by. Jamie hesitantly waved back.
   Jamie's heart swelled with the anticipation of an idyllic life in that enchanted place. He dreamed of days filled with adventure, evenings around the dinner table where everyone was polite and smart like in the old movies his mom liked to watch, and hope for the future, for his future. There was a palpable peace and tranquility about Nachala, but it all seemed too good to be true. No place could be that perfect, and besides, if there were such a place, Jamie couldn't believe he deserved such a life. If he did, why had his life been such hell up to that point? His inner battle was one that would not easily be won.

[Richard, the male houseparent in the cottage where Jamie is placed, and a surrogate father-figure]

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The next teaser from my new book, "Into Each Life ..."

One more significant excerpt from the first part of the book, and then in the next blog post I will begin revealing the characters from the middle portion of the book, (where Jamie is placed in a group home).

   The bitter November wind had turned Jamie's face red, and left it chapped. His fingertips were numb from the cold. He fumbled with the pull tab as he zipped his jacket up tight around his neck. A dusting of snow covered the road and the cars and the dead lawns and the roofs of the houses. A week after his day in court, he still couldn't get used to spending his afternoons alone.
   He rounded the corner and ambled down his street. He took the stick he had picked up and dragged it on the chain link fence that bordered the Johnson's yard. The vibrations caused the snow that had accumulated on the metal netting of the fence to break free and fall softly to the ground. The rattling noise interrupted the oppressive silence he couldn't escape. In times past, he could count on Shane's endless ramblings to chase away the quiet, but his friend had gotten sent to Juvenile Detention where he would be for the next six months. Since the car theft was his first offense, Jamie got off with probation. Shane wasn't so lucky. The fact that he was the mastermind of their little caper, as well as the fact that he already had a record ensured that he would see the inside of a youth prison.
   Jamie had no tangible reason to be anxious and yet he couldn't settle his mind. He just wanted to get in out of the cold and turn the TV on. The empty noise of the electronic box had always served to distract him from the troubles in his mind and heart. Just a few more houses and I'll be home. His face no longer stung from the chilly air; it was now numb. He focused intently on the street underneath him and the chain link fence that lined the yard he was passing.
   Out of nowhere the Johnson's pit bull lunged onto the fence and barked ferociously. Jamie jumped backwards and put his hand on his heart. “Diablo, you scared the crap out of me, boy!” Jamie reached his hand over the fence and scratched Diablo's head. “You're lucky. You have all that hair to keep you warm.” Diablo wagged his tail and smiled with his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth as he stood with his front paws on the top rail of the fence. “See you later, boy.”
   Jamie kicked a small rock down the edge of the street. It rolled through the snow and came to a stop a few feet away. He approached the rock and shuffled his feet to kick it again with his right foot. He missed the rock and stumbled as his foot slid over the top of the stone. Something had distracted him. Something in the corner of his eye. Something in his driveway, which was the next one down the street. It was a motorcycle, parked crookedly at the end of the driveway near the path to the front porch. A beautiful, lean machine of shiny chrome and cobalt blue paint.
   Randy was back.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The next teaser from my new book, "Into Each Life..."

   Okay, the main characters from the first half of the book have been introduced (scroll down through the recent blog posts to catch up, or for a refresher). Here is a significant excerpt from the opening chapters of the story:


   She opened the blinds to let in the soft, early morning light. The warm rays of the sun fell across Jamie's face - the same face that she remembered staring up at her when she first held him in her arms fifteen years ago. His hair was thick and black, with long bangs that hung down, partially covering his eyes. She brushed his bangs to the side so she could see his entire face. His features had filled out, and he had a little peach fuzz on his chin and upper lip, but it was the same little face to her. His lower lip, slightly swollen, sported a fresh, new cut partially covered with dried blood. His cheeks and chin were bruised. His eyelids flickered as the sunlight warmed them. He opened his eyes and saw his mother sitting at the edge of his bed, her own eyes moist with tears.
   Her lips quivered. “Randy took off. You'll stay home from school today. I'll tell them you have fever.”
   Jamie looked into her eyes. She looked back. They wanted to talk about what happened, but they never did. It was too awful to verbalize. They wanted to talk about the possibility that maybe Randy wouldn't come back this time, but they didn't. They knew he would return – he always did.
Without speaking, they communicated.
   I’m sorry about what happened to you. I wanted to try to stop him, but I was afraid.
   It’s okay, Mom. It’s not your fault.

   Things will change. I’ll get a job. We’ll move. I’ll find a nice man.
   I know, Mom. I believe you. He turned his head and hid from her eyes the fact that he knew those things would never happen. Things would never change. Randy would come back and torment him again.
   The beatings he didn't mind so much. They were painful and the bruises took time to heal, but they were only exterior wounds. If he'd only had to endure beatings, he could have handled that. It's what followed that was destroying his soul. They say time heals all wounds, but Jamie was sure he would never recover from the horrors he had experienced.
   Once he'd flushed the skepticism from his mind, he turned back toward her and looked again into her eyes.
   I love you, too, Baby. You mean the world to me. No matter how bad things get, we’ll always have each other. Crystal looked away. She wanted to go to the police, but Randy had told her that if she ever did he would kill them both. She didn't know if he was bluffing, but the threat, always floating around in the back of her mind, popped up like a neon sign whenever she considered calling the authorities.