And then I wrote some romance

Every so often I like to share what I’m currently working on.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m working on the manuscript for a story tentatively titled, ‘Clarice’.   I’ve got around 42,000 words so far.  While story development is slow, because I’m pulled in so many different directions, the story itself is coming along very nicely.

The characters are speaking to me during the day and whispering to me at night.  The width and breadth of action is increasingly expansive, the themes deep and meaningful, and the science—the physics—works to ground the story in realm of believability.

So here is a short extract from what I’ve most recently written.  I look forward to your comments and criticisms.

56

To say that Danny awoke would be a misnomer.  More correctly, Danny was awake.  Fully awake.  More awake than he had been in a very long time—however that might be determined—and that was good.  He wanted to be awake.  The smell of the leaves and the cool, crisp autumn air invigorated him.  For this moment, life was an enviable state to be in, and he wished he could make it last forever.  He was young and healthy and in love, with the entire universe waiting for him to achieve his destiny.

He was standing at the corner of Fifth and Main, with traffic humming by without a break.  And that was just so normal—people bustling down the sidewalks, cars honking, children laughing.  He was waiting for her, for Clarice.  This is where they met every evening after work.  She worked uptown, he worked downtown, and they met in the middle, just a few blocks from their apartment.

Danny paced at the corner.  He watched for her, straining to get his first glimpse of her.  That first glimpse would almost bring him to his knees, it made him so weak with love and wanting her.  He waited, afraid to look away—even at his watch—for fear that he might miss her, and that by missing her he might be lost to her forever.

Like a good soldier he stood his ground and kept his watch.  Then, from the crowd, as one might appear from a mist, there she was.  Tall, thin, and radiant, her long hair tucked under a knit cap.  She not so much walked as gracefully floated over the pavement.  At least to his eyes, there was no fault in her stride, there was only perfection in her walk.

As she approached, and his anticipation grew, he tried to remember when he first loved her, but he found it impossible.  It was like trying to remember his first breath or his first tear.  It just always was.  It was part of his being, and without it there was nothing.

When she arrived at the curb, traffic stopped.  He was sure it was for her that the traffic had stopped, that her stride be unimpaired, that her life be uninterrupted.

© Copyright 2017 by Kevin Fraleigh

Death without death

“The priests would have you believe have you believe that life is linear, with no deviations or side trips.  Just birth to death to after-life, that’s it, with an eternity of waiting for whatever comes next.  Personally I don’t think it’s that simple.  I think it’s more like a stone infinitely skipping over an endless lake, birth to death to birth to death, an endless cycle of lives. Some of the stones are jagged and they drag in the water, while some of the stones are smooth and they glide effortlessly.  Sometimes the lake is rough and the skip is short, sometimes the lake is placid and the skip seems to last forever.  Sometimes, if we are very fortunate, two stones align and skip together.  Mass and energy and time are neither created nor destroyed, they remain constant.  We are composed of mass and energy and time, why shouldn’t it be the same for us?”  From the diary of Ray Travis
© Copyright 2017 by Kevin Fraleigh.

Anniversary Poem

I wrote this for my wife, Malette, on our thirty-seventh wedding anniversary yesterday.

A lasting relationship,
as imperfect as it may be,
transcends mere love,
to form a bond that is stronger,
and is linked inevitably
to our mutual destiny.
© Copyright 2016 by Kevin Fraleigh.

A Concept And A Cover

Seldom is the concept for a story accompanied by a concept for a cover.  Let me know what you think…  With luck the full story will be finished sometime this summer.

The Tangled Man

Damien Cole is an ex-cop turned private investigator. He is a traditionalist―honest, but pragmatic. He owns two suits, both gray with black leather shoes and a navy blue tie. He wears a brown fedora―not because it matches his suit, but because it was his partner’s, the one who took the bullet that was meant for him.

He likes his whiskey neat and his women slightly tarnished. He stays away from commitment and keeps his emotions to himself. He lives alone in a small apartment within walking distance of his office, but he isn’t completely alone. A cat named Ethel lives with him sporadically and doesn’t object to his odd hours or his drinking and smoking.

He smokes cheap off-brand unfiltered cigarettes and refuses to quit. He started smoking because, as a cop, he figured his life would be short so he might as well enjoy it. Now that he’s older he figures that the damage is done, so why give it up. A little shortness of breath and a cough now and then doesn’t slow him down that much. It doesn’t happen all the time and it’s not like he has the “big C”.

His face is clean shaven and his hair is respectably short, a last hold over from his military service. His face is angular―not handsome, but storied, filled with character. It is the kind of face that shows leathery toughness on the verge of vulnerability. His brown eyes are dark and probing, the kind that see through your mask to your soul to reveal your inner truth.

He carries two pistols. He carries a Harry Callahan in a quick release shoulder holster and a 9mm on his ankle. He treats both weapons like they are his children, caring for them better than he does himself. Since he doesn’t ever want his children to go hungry he carries four extra clips. And he needs them because the world he inhabits is dark, angry, and lost.

His world is the city. Beyond it is nothing―or it might as well be. Within it are tall, gray, ugly buildings constricting narrow crowded streets jammed with old, ill-maintained vehicles piloted by dubious men and women intent on survival in world that places little value on property and less on life. Why the city is the way it is doesn’t matter. That it is the way it is does matter. This is Damien Cole’s world. It is depressing and dangerous. It is cold and unforgiving. It is the end and the beginning.

The Tangled Man
© Copyright 2013 by Kevin Fraleigh.

Take A Shot, Then Take A Shot. Just That Easy.

An excerpt from Any Tomorrow: The Curse.

He buried her that afternoon in the spot she so long ago had chosen for herself.  He fashioned a wooden cross and marked her place.  If the world ever regains its sanity, he vowed, he would replace the cross with a granite headstone.  Katie’s death, especially in the light of everything else that was happening, fell on Roberto with terrible weight.  He felt physically and psychologically crushed beneath it.  The grief that he felt was beyond his reckoning.  He couldn’t force his way or fight his way or shoot his way out of this one.  It pushed him into a dark and terrible place he was not sure he could escape from.  She had saved his life with her love.  He had been nothing before her and she had delivered him into life with her.  Now she was gone.

He sat for a long time in the kitchen and remembered her.  He tried to remember how many times her gentle curves had welcomed him into her world after a long day working the ranch.  He breathed deep and smelled her scent.  He imagined her with him, sharing supper, sharing love.  Then like a door suddenly closing between them, she was gone.  She was gone from him forever and he would never see here again.  He was filled with anger and confusion.  He wanted to scream at God for taking her from him, but he sat in silence.  He slammed his clenched fists against the tabletop and stamped his feet on the linoleum floor.  Exhausted, he laid his head in his hands and slowly began to feel the warm wetness of tears.

After he buried her, he sat for a long while thinking about joining her in death.  At some point he pulled out the old bottle of Whiskey River and had even poured a tall glass.  Whiskey was his old nemesis, the one from which Katie had saved him.  Weakened by grief, it called to him.  Its amber fire beckoned him.  Sometime during that afternoon, he also pulled out his pistol, although he couldn’t remember doing so.  But it was there and it called to him also.  Take a shot, then take a shot.  Just that easy.  The gun and the whiskey had a voice and the voice promised no more pain.  It was all too easy.  The voice was sweetly disarming and calmly reasonable, but the voice was not Katie’s and Roberto would listen to no other.

Instead of taking the shots, he found himself on the front porch staring at the sun easing down to the horizon.  The rays of sunlight were broken by the denuded branches of the big oak below which Katie was buried.  He thought about her and he thought about the promise he had made to find Jacob and Emily.  It was only that and the fear that the sin of suicide might prevent him from sharing her eternity.  If not for these considerations he might have ended it right there and then.  Instead, he began to consider the journey to Phoenix and what might lie beyond.  If he could just make it through the night, then there would be a tomorrow.

You can find out more about the Any Tomorrow Trilogy at http://amazon.com/author/kevinfraleigh

Leave me a comment here, on google+, facebook, gather, linkedin, or goodreads.
© Copyright 2012 by Kevin Fraleigh.

The Changes Never End

Okay, so I’m planning to publish Any Tomorrow: The Culling, the final novel of the Any Tomorrow Trilogy, in January.  Everything is ready to go.  The problem is that a few weeks ago I started working on what I thought would be a new novel tentatively called The Last Pope of Antioch.

The Last Pope of Antioch was intended to build on the trilogy, but as I started working on it, I realized that this new story answered some questions I’d had about the timeline for Any Tomorrow: The Culling.  So I need to decide whether to keep my self-imposed publication schedule or postpone publication and work this new story into the existing novel.

It’s a tough decision because I think the story has great potential either way.  Here’s how it starts:

The red convertible flew down the dusty, empty road like flame seeking something to ignite.  The driver concentrated on his task.  Seeing far beyond his horizon, far past his destination, he stared out through the waves of heat reflected from the road surface, sunglasses that wrapped around his face, seeming to form themselves to the contour of it.  His face was angular, giving the impression of sharpness.  Although it had been days since he had shaved, his pockmarked skin, possibly an artifact of the ravages of youth, showed no sign of stubble.  The truth of it was that he had never developed a beard, so common in other men, and he counted himself lucky to be spared the razor, that dragging of sharp steel across unprotected flesh.

It may have been a reflection of light off the red convertible, complete with a red interior, but his skin had also taken on an unnatural redness.  It was redness more than just exposure or windburn.  The redness stayed with him and was part of him.  Contrasting with the redness was a gold ring that complimented his left ear and a dark, flat, wide-brim hat turned low in the front to shade his eyes. 

He drove on through the wasted land, never turning, never stopping, never caring for what or who might either be by or in the road.  Had there been a what or who, he would have simply gone around or through, never slowing, never losing his fix on that which his sight, not his eyes, showed him.  His eyes sometimes failed him, but his sight was perfect.  With his sight he saw the city, but before the city was…

This is only a draft, but I’d really appreciate your honest thoughts and comments.

Shameless promotion:  My novels, Any Tomorrow: The Calling and Any Tomorrow: The Curse, are available from leading eBook distributors such as Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.  You can find my short stories in eFiction Magazine.

If you would like to share your ideas about what I’ve written, feel free to contact me either on my blog or using other social media.  Thanks.
© Copyright 2011 by Kevin Fraleigh.

Sock Monkey, Crucified

It’s Halloween and I couldn’t let my favorite holiday go by without a post. Nothing eerie, nothing scary, just a little odd.

Think about this.

Chester Hendricks was not a superstitious man by any standard definition of the word.  He wasn’t scared of black cats and he cared nothing about breaking a mirror or walking under a ladder.  He considered himself firmly rooted in reality, assured that whatever happened could be explained with science.  He brought that understanding to every part of his life and all his relationships.  But it wasn’t easy; his surety of the preeminence of reason often put him at odds with his daughter and her husband, both evangelical Christians.  Worse, it threatened his relationship with his granddaughter whom he loved as much as life itself.

It was his granddaughter he was thinking of that cold Halloween evening when he pulled into the driveway in Stammerfield.  As he stepped out of his car his left hand pulled his coat tight around him in a vain attempt to escape the bone chilling wind that carried waves of sleet from an early nor’easter.  His right hand clutched a black leather valise. He carefully made his way to the front door and knocked twice.  It opened quickly, as if to do so might admit only him and not the terrible storm.

“My God, Dad, why are you out on a night like this?” asked his daughter.

“You know damned well.”  His voice was rough, strained, forced, betraying obligation rather than desire.

“Bill is at church.  The Fall Celebration is tonight.”

“Good, the less he knows the better.”

He pushed his way past her and towards the stairs that led to Trisha’s room.  She tried to stop him, tried to keep him from doing what he had to do, what he had no choice but to do.  His steps resounded in the stairwell, quickening as he approached the topmost landing.  He thrust his right hand into the valise and without trying the door, forced his way through it.  Trisha screamed a heart-wrenching little girl scream to ward off her attacker, but with a single fluid practiced motion he removed his hand from the valise, grabbed his terrified granddaughter and…

And what? 

What was in the valise? 

Why did Hendricks come on Halloween?  

Why did he force his way into Trisha’s room?  

And what about that title ― “Sock Monkey, Crucified”?

How would you explain it?  Where would you take this story?  Should I tell you what happens next?

Let me know.

And have a wonderful Halloween!
© Copyright 2011 by Kevin Fraleigh.