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 Cher 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..
"No leaks," 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."
Cher looked at her smartphone, two to three bars, and phoned the electric company. A truck could be there in the afternoon. "There's a shed in the back with some useful things in it too, if they're not rusted," she said. "Might be some usable firewood on the ground too. I hope the chimney pipe isn't clogged up with a critter nest."
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.
"Warmth!" 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."
Cher wheeled over to the bed, removed the clear plastic covering and felt the mattress. It seemed cool and slightly damp, but it could dry with the woodstove heat, she thought.
"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.

That night, 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."
"We'll see."
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

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."
They laughed.
"We must return. I think you and the others should have an early start. You have decisions to make once you get to Madrid."
"Or before."
"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

PASSAGE FROM "UPROOTED" -- Helen and Anna in Amsterdam

-- 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 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.
Also on the site is a synopsis of the novel.