Sunday, February 23, 2014
Draft episode from "Elrod's Awakening," my novel in progress -- Elrod and Cher, a turning point ...
"Probably way overgrown. Look for a little log cabin"
"There!" Elrod said.
"Drive right up to it through the brush."
The van lurched as Elrod pulled off the road and rocked back and forth as he neared the cabin, the van leaving a trail of pressed down brush.
"Surprised? I hope it isn't too messed up inside."
"Sure out of the way," Elrod answered. "How am I going to get along here when you leave?"
"I'll get the electric turned on. Let's go inside. I'll use the walker but please bring my wheelchair inside. We'll need to get bedding and groceries and whatever else later."
Inside, dampness and darkness greeted them along with a musty scent. Elrod pulled back dusty curtains to let in light while
wheeled over to a woodstove. The one-room cabin had a medium sized futon, four
wooden chairs, a table, a bathroom closet that contained a compost toilet, the
woodstove, a low broad shelf and cabinets that contained dishes, utensils, a
small refrigerator and a propane camp stove..
Cher said. "This is an
amazing little place. I'll tell you the story about it later. Look out the
back, there's a standpipe. When the electric's on, we'll have cool, clear
water, I hope. The well's real deep."
Elrod laughed. "Far, far better than many places I've slept."
Elrod gathered up sticks and logs that broke off fallen trees, placed them in and alongside the woodstove, removed a butane lighter from his backpack, and with the trash from their meals on the road, lit the woodstove. No clog in the stove pipe.
Cher said, laughing. I really like her laugh, Elrod thought.
"Tell you what," she said. "Let's just get groceries after the electricity is turned on."
"I'm beat from the drive," she said. "We'll use your sleeping bag tonight, get bedding tomorrow. We could have gotten it before we arrived, but I wasn't sure about how things here would be. We'll rest and cook up a little dinner." She laughed again.
Elrod's eyebrows raised. "Okay," he said, not sure how to respond.
I wonder what's going to become of my adopted identity as detective Elrod Mathews, he thought, and how this is going to turn out.
Cher, in her wheelchair, asked Elrod to
listen as she unfolded her story. "I'm a misfit," she said,
"like you. But in a different way. I'll tell you a little about it. Then,
if you want, you tell me a bit about you."
"Not much to tell, really, than you seem to know already."
Elrod removed a pan of steaming water from the woodstove and poured the water into two cups, each with a teabag of chai. Into each he added a half a teaspoon of stevia and some soy creamer. He handed one cup, on a saucer, with a spoon, to
Cher. He sat back on the futon with his cup. Switching
arms, Cher moved the wheelchair closer to the
woodstove and faced Elrod. They both sipped in silence, the slight scent of
wood burning and the sound of the low fire undertones in the cabin. A single
lamp lit the room with an amber glow.
"You know about the motorcycle accident," she said.
(C) Copyright 2014 Wes Rehberg
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Draft episode -- "Elrod's Awakening" -- novel in progress
In his motel room, Elrod tried to write a blog entry but the memory of the rush of recent experiences transfixed him. He looked out his window at the garden nursery next door then sat back on his bed. I want to regress, he thought, go back to my homeless way of talking about myself in the third person, keep me at a distance. No. That's not possible. I'm unstuck. I laid aside the pretense. Deep down inside I knew it was a pretense.
“What do I do now?” Elrod wrote in his little laptop. “I feel suspended in time and space. When I look out the window, I wonder if I’ll see the large, black SUV or the Venus Appliances van, the Russian speaking men. If I move about in the ways I've become accustomed, I could be spotted and might endanger people here in the motel, including Jenny Clareville.”
Elrod wrote hesitantly about his role in unearthing the whereabouts of the kidnapped street-courier boy and the convenience store robber, his brief association with Detective Bo Carter, much different from that of his former relationship with Raphool Walker, and the suspicion that there might be a bounty on him. When finished, he posted it to his private blog. I need to keep the details in mind, in case my mind clogs up again, he thought. It might be that the days of the once-homeless investigator Elrod Mathews are over, if that’s what one could call me. He added that thought to his blog.
Clareville Motel sat about two miles from the main district of a small town adjacent to the larger city where the crime episodes that Elrod encountered occurred. No buses ran between these two municipalities, though a bus could be taken from the nearby shopping center in another adjacent town, the bus Elrod rode on his last trip downtown with his bicycle.
From the motel, Elrod could see Southern Cookin’ restaurant. He decided to walk there for lunch. Two other small motels that housed long-term residents stood within walking distance as did an old service station, a business that sold boats, and a used furniture store that boasted of antiques that actually were old pieces that had been worked on for resale.
The rush of aromas and warmth made him smile as he entered the restaurant's small crowded dining area. In a booth in the rear he noticed Jim Sylvester and thought about doing an about face, but instead took a seat at the counter. He felt a tap on his shoulder and turned. Jenny smiled.
“Sit with me. I’m in the overspill room. I saw you walking by the window.”
Elrod avoided looking in Sylvester’s direction as the two moved to her table, in a line of sight with the cash register where customers paid the lone waitress. When Sylvester rose to pay and leave, Elrod asked Jenny if she knew him. They both watched him stroll by a window to his car. He waved and pointed his finger at Elrod as if it were the barrel of a pistol.
“No,” Jenny said. “I’ve seen him around. He knows you, obviously, though. How?”
“He showed up at the community kitchen homeless shelter and spoke with me. He knew what I’d been up to.”
The waitress appeared for Elrod’s order and Jenny asked whether she knew the man who just paid.
“Jim Sylvester,” the waitress replied. “He’s a private detective.”
Jenny laughed. Elrod looked puzzled.
"He lives in town, used to be married to Sally, the cook,” the waitress said. “Must still like the way she prepares lunch.”
“Maybe he wants to take you on,” Jenny said to Elrod.
“Me?” Elrod said, shaking his head. “He’s got something up his sleeve. And now he knows where I'm located.”
“If he didn’t already,” the waitress said. “He’s got a decent reputation. Ethical. But lazy. Drove Sally nuts.”
(c) Copyright Wes Rehberg, 2014
Saturday, February 08, 2014
Passage from “Uprooted” - the Morocco reunion and aftermath
"So, you can see through my family here, an answer to your question, father," Gasson Hasheem said to Stephens as they walked along the Tangier shoreline the next morning. "How I think, where it might lead. You represent that, too."
"I have," Stephens said. "Less so in recent years."
"Yes, but the exposés you were engaged in with Alicia, principally, and Helen, they count for something that way."
"Plus, now you have that buccaneer charisma, with the eye patch. You should continue to wear it."
"We must return. I think you and the others should have an early start. You have decisions to make once you get to Madrid."
"Make reservations to take the high-speed train. I suspect the buses may be crowded with our migrants returning to Spain. Some Moroccan migrant workers along the Spanish coast take a holiday to rejoin their families on the weekends."
Lys and Stephens looked at each other as they walked with the group toward the Tangier ferry slip. I know what's coming, she thought. So does Gil.
Awaad Hasheem and his sister Leila led the way. Family standard bearers, Stephens thought. Gasson walked with Sandra Mills, his arm on Stephens shoulder. On Mills other side walked Rice; on Stephens, Lys. At the customs entry, visitors and hosts embraced. They'd meet again, that seemed certain. There'd likely be a marriage sometime soon, maybe within the year.
As the travelers sat at a table in the ferry's lounge, Rice said to Stephens that she wanted to call SUNY-Oquaga, she had a sabbatical coming, paid, and she'd like to spend some of that time in Rotterdam to work with Mills, offer the workshop that was interrupted by the interstate accident that wounded Stephens and Lys, and to explore directions Europeans are involved in. It felt wrenching, but at her age, it was an opportunity she shouldn't pass up. This was a very serious thing, she knew, given all that happened in the last year. It's a time to explore transformations, directions. For all of them.
Stephens frowned. He walked out onto the ferry's deck, felt the sea spray, and took in the aroma of the Mediterranean. Sandra Mills stood up, left the table, passed through the cabin's doors and joined him, unprompted. She leaned on the rail alongside him, both now dampened by the sea.
"Gil, you've been like a father to me," she said. She put her arm in his. "Less crazy than Helen, for sure, but in your way, as present as she, someone I knew I could rely on all these years. I love you for that and for who you are."
Stephens turned around to face the ferry cabin and viewed their reflection in the windows.
"I'm happy my son and you found each other," he said. "It's not a trite thought. I can't explain it. What finding him, his family, and their acceptance, and you two together mean. And I understand how important Helen will be at this time. It's an odd uncertain moment."
"Maybe it's not as uncertain as it seems."
He smiled. She did too.
"You're too wise," he said.
"I'm getting wet," she said. "Let's go inside."
Thursday, February 06, 2014
-- Helen Rice and Anna Pietersen in Amsterdam:
"So much sadness to overcome," Pietersen said. "In this, there is not only who we are, but also our memories. I have never felt love like this, Helen. Can this house really feel like home to you after where you have lived and worked for so long? I am afraid you might abandon me."
"That doesn't seem possible," Rice said. "I love you so deeply. It mystifies me."
"We will find out who we are, then," Pietersen said.
Rice smiled and nodded. "The creative crones."
"Yes, I like that better than the sexy crones," Pietersen said. "Tea and brandy?"
Rice watched Pietersen prepare their tea and sit across from her at the kitchen table. Her face can appear so sad at times, she thought. We are physically similar, but our dispositions are different. She is more reserved, I'm more outgoing. I'm not sure, but she seems to be more sensitively attuned to nuance while I might overlook that in moments of flamboyance.
Pietersen laughed lightly. "You are analyzing me," she said. "It makes me self-conscious."
"Sensibilidad," Rice said. "A Spanish word that I understand to mean both sensitivity and sensibility. You embody that, Anna."
"I appreciate that and like the thought," Pietersen said. "But I think you must have the same in order to perceive it."
"I'm a little short on sensibility at times."
With their tea and brandy, they moved quickly through the cold afternoon to the studio behind the house, entered it, turned up the heat, and stood side-by-side. Pietersen said she felt reluctant about returning to her potting wheel, that like Rice, she wanted to try a different approach.
"We talked about collaboration," Rice said. "Would you like to try that with a light sculpture? I'm anxious to start. Maybe something that will amuse us instead of the heavy works the memorials represent. Perhaps with the notion of 'tilt' and pinball machine parts."
Pietersen placed her arm in Rice's and smiled. That would work, she said. She conceived of "tilt" as a graceful gesture more than as a shove that ended a pinball game, or perhaps both notions could be incorporated. Yes, said, Rice, one to mark the end of one "game" transmuted to a gesture that suggests a new direction, in a way telling their story. Pietersen said she could familiarize herself with the electronics necessary, in a sense, be the "technician" for the electrical network they'd need. They laughed.
"Creative crones," Pietersen said.
"The work will take a while to do," Rice said."Good. There is no rush. It is for us," Pietersen said.
“UPROOTED” - the novel - is now published and available from its web site in paperback and ebook formats. It’s offered via Amazon.com in Kindle and paperback books, from the publisher, and from us in compact disk in three popular ebook formats that can be shared with others as well.
Web site is: http://www.wildclearing.com/uprooted.html
Also on the site is a synopsis of the novel.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
PASSAGE FROM MY NOVEL 'UPROOTED' -- AFTER THE ACCIDENT ...
Gil Stephens saw tiny blinking light flashes, then felt pulsations in his head. A rush of sound followed and stirred him, then it quieted down. He opened his eyes to a blurry field of view. No. He was looking out of just one eye. Sounds clicked behind him and fogged faces appeared, then torsos and arms. He felt himself lifted and placed on something soft. Voices murmured. I'm sliding, he thought. He tensed.
"Mr. Stephens," he heard echo somewhere. The voice repeated his name. He tried to grasp its meaning. Mr. Stephens, he thought. He tried to shake his head to clear it but the pain jolted him. Oh. This is a hospital. The accident, the highway, the snow. Alicia. What happened to Alicia?
He tried to speak, frightened, and attempted to raise himself. Another jolt of pain, now up his left side. He couldn't move his arm.
"Mr. Stephens," the voice repeated again. "Can you hear me?" It was a female voice. Someone lifted his right arm and connected a tube. He felt attached and detached at the same time. The image of the crash consumed him. He tried to speak.
"Is she alright?" he heard his voice, slurred, say. "Is Alicia alright?"
"Your passenger is fine. She was injured, a couple of cracked ribs, but went home yesterday."
"Oh," he said. "Oh." He shuddered at the torrent of emotions that swept through him. "Where am I?"
"You're in the ICU at Oquaga General. You've just had an MRI. It looks like you'll recover. You've been pretty banged up."
"Helen," he said. "Does my wife know? She's in The Netherlands." A sense of clarity returned. I need to think straight, he thought.
"She was here earlier today, came right from the airport. She went home to change. She said she'd be right back. I'll call and let her know you're conscious. How do you feel?"
"Overwhelmed. Totally overwhelmed."
Stephens tried to see who he was talking with. Her image was still blurred.
"I'm Jeanine, a nurse," she said. "You have a broken upper arm and collarbone. We've got you bound up. Your left eye and the left side of your head is bandaged. We put you on a morphine drip."
"How bad? How bad are my injuries?"
"We need to monitor you to check for any swelling inside your head. So far, so good. Your vital signs are positive. We're not sure about your eye yet?"
"My eye," he said. He felt his awareness slipping away. "I'm having trouble."
"Go ahead back to sleep. It's okay."
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
I’ve been invited as Social Justice Forum guest speaker this Sunday 1/19 at the Chattanooga TN Unitarian Universalist Church at 9:30 a.m. I’m going to tell stories about human-rights journeys Eileen and I undertook. Such as:
1) Meeting with Nicaraguan survivors of a Contra attacks supported by the USA - particularly those is one community near the Honduras border.
2) Our accompaniment of Mayan survivors living in a refugee camp on their return to a massacre site to commemorate the dead from a paramilitary attack in southern Mexico.
3) Stories of the “disappeared,” tortured and oppressed, as well as murders of street children, picked up from a journey to Honduras.
4) What harassment we witnessed children encounter from the Israeli military on the first day of school in Beit Ommar, Palestine, as well as other episodes, including the ramming of a Lutheran orphanage by a tank.
5) Observations from our role as international observers in the El Salvador 2004 presidential elections.
6) An invitation by a Mexican Catholic bishop to consecrate the Eucharist with him at a celebration of a 25-year-effort to uplift lives of indigenous poor, me a Protestant clergyperson.
Probably won’t be time for all -- memories …
Taking note of a story I wrote about a Nicaraguan Contra attack that was recently published in the Black Earth Institute’s About Place Journal:
Monday, January 13, 2014
Another draft passage from 2nd Elrod story:
Elrod negotiated his new, used mountain bike through shopping center traffic to a circular shaped city branch library, checked it out, it felt accommodating, then, at the nearby bus stop, he loaded the bike onto the front rack of the waiting bus and headed downtown.
Aboard, a feeling emerged as he looked out the window: he felt homesick, but from where? Though he spent a few years on the streets of this southeastern USA city, he felt exiled. At this moment, though, he also felt compelled to try his hand again at “investigation.” He wanted to find out about kids used as drug couriers on city streets, about the connection between the Russian mafia and drug traffic in the city, and about the man who shot at him at the convenience store. But looking into his feeling of homesickness -- yes, this is important, too, he thought.
He oriented himself as the bus approached his stop.
“I’ll just ride around. I might not be so recognizable in a bike helmet and sunglasses,” he said to himself. Off the bus, he slipped his knapsack on, put on the helmet, and rode into the periphery of the troubled Oakdale district. Two blocks in he noticed a disturbance and watched from behind a tree. A small group of young men shouted at a faded black sedan parked in the middle of the road. Rival gangs, he thought.
A gunshot. The car raced off in a direction away from Elrod. One of the young men on the street fell. Another fired a shot at the car. Elrod took out his smartphone and reported what he witnessed to 911, watched the young men crowd around the man shot, the people come out the old duplex homes to take in a familiar scene, and eventually a patrol car and an ambulance arrive.
How many like that this week? Elrod wondered. He’d check the local news reports.
The wounded young man stood up as Elrod rode slowly through the scene along a sidewalk. He recognized one of the others, the convenience store robber, who faded into the background to Elrod’s right as two patrolmen and two EMTs approached, then walked behind one of the duplexes. Elrod continued riding, passing another approaching police car, turned right at the corner, then right again, and caught sight of the young man entering a duplex. Elrod quickly wheeled a U-turn, took note of the street and duplex, and rode away.
Minutes later, he traveled along 23rd Street past Motel 23, and noticed the Venus Appliance van and large black SUV parked in its lot. From alongside the convenience store hit by the robbery he snapped a smartphone photo of the vehicles then continued to the community kitchen through the virtually abandoned industrial section that was the scene of the murder of the homeless woman.
Inside, he picked up a sandwich and coffee available in the dining area, sat in an easy chair, pulled his small laptop out of his knapsack, emailed his smartphone photos to himself, downloaded them into the laptop, and began to jot down his observations. I’ll compose all this for the blog later, he thought. Yes, my head is definitely clearing.
He looked up from his laptop. Patrolman Bo Carter pulled up a folding chair and sat in front of him.
“We tracked your 911 call. They figured you’d be here and sent me to get a statement about what you observed in Oakdale.”
Should I tell him about the duplex and the suspected convenience store robber? Elrod wondered. He decided he should.
(c) 2014 Wes Rehberg