First draft…chap 1…Anywhere but here


 

I know I posted some of this before. I am working on it… But as much as anything, I am putting it here to back it up after my computer problems from last week. Eventually (very soon) I will get some sort of official backup plan figured out. But this is as good as anything for now…LOL! 

As I drove down the road shaded by towering trees, I couldn’t help but smile. Early

fall was the best time of year in New Mexico. Warm days, cool nights, the smell of roasting chile on the air. I chose a good time to come back this way, even though the season had never crossed my mind.

I turned onto a dirt road that wound around past a huge old cottonwood and an adobe house with no glass in the windows. Someone had been keeping this road up, it was smoother than the pavement I just left. A mile down the road, I came to the turn in to my destination: an dilapidated mobile home park. Just inside the entrance sat several rusted out cars. I took a right turn and drove past several 70s vintage mobile homes. I pulled up beside a faded red and white house surrounded by chain link and dirt bikes.

He came out to the porch before I had even shut down the engine. He just stood there and watched as I shut down, climbed out of my dusty old RV and walked to the gate.

“Hey Bobby.” I opened the gate and walked toward him.

“Hey Shel. How you been?” He smiled and it was like the sun had come out from behind the clouds. He walked down the steps and wrapped his arms around me. “I’m surprised to see you here. You said you were never coming back.”

“Carrie called last month. She sounded scared, said she needed my help. I was in the middle of something up in Montana but got here as quick as I could. But she isn’t answering my calls and noone’s home.” I looked up in time to see his face go dark. He looked down at me with sorrow in his eyes and I knew my worst fears had come true. He stepped back and turned toward the door. “C’mon in, You can stay in my spare room tonight if you want or I can run an extension cord out to you.”

I followed him up the stairs and into the house. The force of memories as I crossed the threshold nearly pushed me back outside. “I don’t know if I can do this, Bobby.”

He turned back to me and took my hand. “Just try for tonight Shelly. I’m here. I won’t let anything happen.”

I knew he was thinking back to the night I left. Carrie and I had gone out partying with some friends. It was way late when we got back to my house. Usually I would have called and made some excuse and then crashed at Carrie’s or called Bobby and he would have come and gotten me. That night, I was drunk and just wanted to go home. My dad was still up and my uncle and his friends were playing poker. Carrie drove off as soon as I got inside. By the time I got back out, I could hardly stand. I stumbled my way down to the corner and called Bobby from the pay phone. I swore I would never come back to New Mexico and in the ten years since, I had never been back.

I looked around when I got inside. The inside of the trailer was completely different than I remembered. Where it had once been dark paneled, shag carpeted, packed with all Grandma Caldwell’s things, It was now painted white with spare furnishings and wood flooring.

“You’ve been busy in here.”

He laughed. “Not really. You’ve been gone a long time. After Grandma passed, I just started changing things a little at a time. Most of the family came by and took her things. I kept a couple of pieces but you can walk around in here now.”

I turned to him. “Bobby, what happened to Carrie?”

“I don’t know. She disappeared. I don’t think she ran. She would have called you or me if she had. She found something bad going on at work. Probably when she called you.” He opened his fridge and pulled out a pitcher of iced tea and poured two glasses. “C’mon over and sit down. We need to game this out. I have a few leads and I suspect she gave you something to work with too.”

“Are the police looking?” I walked over and sat at his little table.

“They looked a little at first. But after a few days, they concluded that she probably took off. They couldn’t find any signs of a struggle or any signs that things were odd at work. In fact, her boss said she was on a vacation.”

“She isn’t one who would run. She’s more like you. Guess that makes sense since you’re family. But you all don’t just up and run. She would have told someone.”

“Exactly. She didn’t say a word to her folks or me. I went by her apartment and the cats were there and not fed. Her suitcase is in the closet and her purse was on the counter. Carrie wouldn’t leave like that. Anyway, we pointed that out to the police but they just had nothing to work with. I doubt they have closed the case but they also don’t seem to be looking very hard.”

I took a long drink of the tea. “Do you know what was going on? All she told me was that she had found something strange. She said she needed help figuring out what to do and that there weren’t many people she could trust.”

“That’s all she said to me too. I am pretty sure there was some drug smuggling going on out of the warehouse where she worked. You know what a bulldog Carrie is about numbers. If there was something strange in the books she would have caught it. Are you hungry?”

I looked up at him. “Not really. But go ahead and eat if you are. What are you thinking?”

He smiled. “I’m thinking we team up like we used to and figure out what happened to her. No one else is going to. You know your dad died?”

“I don’t really care. That bastard died the night he decided to let his friends have me.”

“They’re all dead.”

“How do you know that?” I knew the answer already but I wondered how much he would tell me.

“I was told by the person who took care of them.”

“Well. I’m not really sure what I am sposed to say to that.”

He laughed then and grinned at me. “I didn’t do it and I don’t know exactly how it was done. They didn’t want me to jeopardize college or anything. But I do know who and when. We got em all, honey. No one is gonna hurt my girl and not pay for it.”

I looked at him thinking. It had been a long time since anyone had thought of me as their girl. Actually, Bobby might be the only one who could say that. “Do you remember the first time we met? That camping trip up at Fenton.”

He sat down with a couple of peanut butter and honey sandwiches on a plate and offered me one. I took it absently while watching the emotions play on his face. “Yeah, you and Carrie about drove me crazy. I had my friends camping with me and you little brats wanted to tag along.”

I laughed. “I was so mad at you guys. Acting like big shots patrolling the river with BB guns. I just wanted to help.” He laughed and took a big bite out of his sandwich. “I wanted to be part of your family so bad back then and that was before mine fell apart.”

“Shel, do you ever wonder…”

I stopped him. “Bobby, I wonder every day of my life what could’ve been. It don’t do no good.” I stood up and pushed the chair in. “Okay, I gotta get some sleep.”

“Shel…” He started then stopped and started again. “Shel, do you need a power cord? Or do you wanna sleep in the spare room?”

“No, Bobby. I need some space. I’m pretty set up out there. Don’t need the power for now. Ask me again tomorrow if I’m still here.”

“K. Honey, if you need anything…”

“I know. I’ll be expecting Frontier in the morning.”

He laughed. “No problem. Burritos and cinnamon rolls in the morning. We need to go by and see my folks. Then we will go by Carrie’s and see what we can find.”

We walked to the door and I turned to say good night. He reached up and touched my cheek. And then turned and walked back to the back of his house.

I walked out to the rv, stopping briefly to turn on the propane tank. I opened the door and turned on the battery operated lamp long enough to light the candles. When I turned off the lamp, the inside of my motor home was as cozy as any small room in a house. I had replaced the thin cushions with a pillowtop mattress and splurged on linens for my bed, draped luxurious fabric on the ceiling and purchased several fluffy pillows, which all worked together to make a very comfortable sleeping area. The candles flickered and I turned on the small stove to heat water for a cup of tea, knowing that I was never going to be able to sleep tonight.

Lost Horizons


This is a little story I wrote a couple of years ago. Not quite sure if there was ever any intent beyond the little short story

Lost Horizons

Bill looked around his world; the cramped little room that he called home. He couldn’t remember the last time he had gone anywhere other than down to the corner for booze and smokes. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. He was gonna light the world on fire with his brilliance. He was gonna be someone. But instead he was caught in a web of his own making, brought down by addiction and its ever-increasing spiral of poverty and depression.
Slowly, he stood and made his way across the tiny room to the kitchenette in the corner. Opening the fridge, he moved to get another beer but stopped. He looked at the meager contents in the refrigerator: couple of cheap beers, a half-eaten candy bar and a mostly empty jar of mayonnaise. Not anything of substance or really anything for sustenance. His wallet lay open on the counter and he picked it up. There were a couple of ones and the twenty his daughter had given him the night before.
Damn, he felt guilty about that. Nikki worked hard, a damn sight harder than he or her mother ever had. She had put herself through college and was living the life that Bill had wanted for himself. She was always checking up on him, willing to loan him a little cash when she could. Sometimes she would come in and clean his drab little room or stock his cabinets with food. Mostly though, he knew, she was just checking to make sure he hadn’t checked out on her like her mother had done.
He leaned back against the counter and surveyed the room around him. Dirty laundry had piled up and over the hamper. Newspapers and books were strewn everywhere. The TV dominated the small room, covered with dust and prattling on about nothing of any interest to anyone. Piles of wrappers from a variety of fast food joints and beer bottles covered every surface and most of the floor. The ashtrays were overflowing and the room smelled of mildew and smoke.
Sadly, he shook his head and opened the beer. As he drank, he thought of all the dreams he had denied. When he graduated from high school he had dreamed of a career as an engineer, designing high-tech toys for the rich and famous. He planned to invent the next latest greatest. But the party began in college and by the time he graduated he had a drunk, suicidal wife, a baby and a GPA that wasn’t good enough to garner any offers. So he took a job he didn’t want and drank away his pain. Margie finally succeeded in killing herself when Nikki was ten. And the drinking increased. Nik moved in with his mom on her fourteenth birthday, leaving him alone. Now, ten years later, he no longer tried. He scrounged change, begging for it if he needed. Once a month he got a little bit of disability money, just enough to pay the rent.
He shuffled into the bathroom, no bigger than a closet. When he looked into the mirror, a scruffy, gray man looked back at him. When had he gotten so old and rundown? He looked like a worn-out version of his grandfather. How pathetic.
Bill looked down at the beer in his hand and slowly poured it down the bathroom drain. Maybe it was time he started looking for those lost horizons instead of hiding. Maybe, just maybe he could try, if not for himself then for Nikki. With a new sense of purpose, he strode into the room and began to clean up. that is here.

Thoughts on the new novel…and the old one.


I am going to leave Shadows as is… I just can’t bring myself to change it at all. I tried but just can’t do it. Anyway, I found a contest in one of my writers mags that is looking for shorter novels so I am going to enter it. We will see what happens.

The new novel, tentatively titled “Anywhere But Here” is starting to take shape. I am approaching it in a much different way than I did Shadows. With Shadows, the story just came out…mostly fully formed. This one is taking shape in fits and starts.

The story as I see it right now: My main character, Shelly. is a drifter traveling the country in an RV. She has dropped out of mainstream life due to being beat-up/possibly raped by her father and some of his friends. She hasn’t been home in over ten years, but gets a call from her best friend from childhood who needs help. She goes back to New Mexico to find her friend is missing/ possibly killed. She gets together with another childhood friend to solve the mystery of what has happened to her friend and to make peace with her past.

This is still in very rough outline form. I have a few paragraphs written down and a lot more working itself out in my head. Mixed all up in the story is a lot of research I have done on rving, bluegrass and rodeo. LOL! Not sure exactly how its all fitting together but I am excited to finally be working on the writing again.

Let me know what you think!

A little bit more … “Anywhere But Here”


As I drove down the road shaded by towering trees, I couldn’t help but smile. Early
fall was the best time of year in New Mexico. Warm days, cool nights, the smell of roasting chile on the air. I chose the best time to come back this way, even though the season had never crossed my mind.

I turned onto a dirt road that wound around past a huge old cottonwood and an adobe house with no glass in the windows. Someone had been keeping this road up, it was smoother than the pavement I just left. A mile down the road, I came to the turn in to my destination: an antique mobile home park. Just inside the entrance sat several rusted out cars. I took a right turn and drove past several 70s vintage mobile homes. I pulled up beside a faded red and white house surrounded by chain link and dirt bikes.

He came out to the porch before I had even shut down the engine. He just stood there and watched as I shut down and climbed out of my dusty old RV and walked to the gate.

“Hey Bobby.” I opened the gate and walked toward him.

“Hey Shel. How you been?” He smiled and it was like the sun had come out from behind the clouds. He walked down the steps and wrapped his arms around me. “I’m surprised to see you here. You said you were never coming back.”

“Carrie called last month. She sounded scared, said she needed my help. I was in the middle of something up in Maine but got here as quick as I could. But she isn’t answering my calls and no one is home.” I looked up in time to see his face go dark. He looked down at me with sorrow in his eyes and I knew my worst fears had come true.

“Carrie’s dead, baby. She was shot in her own kitchen. The funeral was last week.” He tightened his arms around me as I buried my head in his shoulders and cried. Tears for my best friend and sister in crime, Carrie and for all of us and our turbulent past. Tears for Bobby, standing watch over the legacy we left him. Tears for my destroyed youth and wasted life.

“Bobby.” I looked up at him. “Do you know what happened?”

“It was related to work. She had stumbled on something strange, probably what she called you about. She told me she had gotten a couple of weird threatening phone calls and her boss had tried to pay her off. But I hadn’t seen her for a while before she died. I thought maybe it had blown over. The police don’t have a clue and they don’t seem to be looking very hard.” He stepped back and turned toward the door. “C’mon in, You can stay in my spare room tonight if you want or I can run an extension cord out to you.”

I followed him up the stairs and into the house.

The force of memories as I crossed the threshold nearly pushed me back outside. “I don’t know if I can do this, Bobby.”

He turned back to me and took my hand. “Just try for tonight Shelly. I’m here. I won’t let anything happen.”

I knew he was thinking back to the night I left. Carrie and I had gone out partying with some friends. It was way late when we got back to my house. Usually we would have called and made some excuse and I would have crashed at Carrie’s or called Bobby and he would have come and gotten me. That night, I was drunk and just wanted to go home. My dad was still up and my uncle and his friends were playing poker. Carrie drove off as soon as I got inside. By the time I got back out, I could hardly stand. I stumbled my way down to the corner and called Bobby from the pay phone. I swore I would never come back to New Mexico and in the ten years since, I had never been back.