Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Triangle Excerpt #9

Excerpt #8 Copyright 2013
by Stephen Reid Andrews
All rights reserved in the author

Insteadnof my seizure dream materializing into the peaceful image where my wife hands me the wrapped gift or the image of the graveyard. I’m in a convenience store. I have only been in a convenience store once since I woke up from my coma. However, despite my efforts to avoid going out in public, I feel like I have been to this convenience store before.

My sister is with me, and she is wearing the same outfit that she has on to drive me to Chicago today. My brother Trevor is in the store as well. He is wearing his regular ensemble of a green polo shirt, cargo shorts and flip-flops. The store attendant is behind a counter, with donuts to her side. A Marlboro cigarette sign is posted neatly over her head, where the sign looks awkwardly out of place. The attendant is short, with short dark hair and has a crevassed face from an uncontrolled onslaught of adult acne, and she looks like she smokes more cigarettes than she sells.

“Let’s play a game,” Trevor says from behind me.

I turn from admiring the store clerk to see where his voice came from. Trevor is standing by a pool table placed in the center of two aisles in the convenience store. The table is surreal, appears out of place, and is obviously not something that is supposed to be in a convenience store.

Trevor and I played a lot of pool together when I was in high school and when we were younger, but I haven’t played with him since I woke up from my ten-month sleep although he has asked me to play with him on several occasions – his requests are most likely at my mother’s prodding.

Trevor is holding a pool stick. “I’ll go first,” he says as he bends over and aims at the white cue-ball.

I don’t respond because I’m sure nothing I say will change Trevor’s announcement of the playing order. Trevor proceeds to hit the cue-ball into other balls. The balls have unusual numbers – not the usual one through fifteen like a normal set of billiard balls. The numbers on these balls are all over the place. Trevor hits the cue ball knocking the thirty-six ball in the corner pocket. He methodically continues knocking the next five balls into various pockets on the table – first the zero-eight, then the twenty-one, then the thirteen, then the zero-seven, and, last, the forty-eight.

For an unknown reason, after knocking in the forty-eight ball, he looks up at me. “Your turn,” he says.

I am astonished at his announcement. Although I am dreaming, or having a vision (whatever this surreal event should be called), I know this is not how to play pool. However, realizing that Trevor just sunk six balls in a row, my competitive spirit kicks in, and I think better of letting him have another turn and take the pool stick that Trevor is offering. Apparently this vision only comes with one pool stick.

Surveying the table, I move around its side where I have a shot perfectly lined up to knock the seventeen ball in the corner pocket. I hit the seventeen ball in without a problem, and then, almost as if I am mimicking my brother’s previous behavior, I move around the table hitting the next five balls in various pockets – the forty-seven, the twenty-three, the zero-nine, the fifty-two, and then, finally, the forty-two. For my entire turn, my expression has been vacant.

The only ball now left on the table is the eight ball. The eight ball is lined up on the edge of one of the holes, making the shot an easy one. I make quick work of the final shot as I tap the cue-ball into the side of the eight ball.

“Dave! You won!” my sister squeals as if she is cheering at the homecoming game for the Freeport Pretzels, and I just scored the winning touchdown.

I am a little shocked with her tone. “Doesn’t matter,” I say with my usual gloom.

“Yes it does, you’re a millionaire!”

My sister’s comment is childish, and I look at her with parental reprimand for her behavior. While glaring at her, I steal a glance at the shopkeeper who is beckoning me to come over to the check-out counter. I walk towards the attendant as she reaches in her cash register, but I never make it to her because I am awakened.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Free Fridays

Each Friday (or sometimes every other Friday depending on the time of year), I like to have Amazon Kindle offer one of my first novels for free. This week Kindle is offering an electronic version of "Raising the Barn" for free. One day only. Don't miss this great opportunity to get your copy!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Triangle Excerpt #8

Excerpt #8 Copyright 2013
by Stephen Reid Andrews
All rights reserved in the author

For the entire one hundred and fifteen mile trip to Chicago, I want to keep my eyes closed so there’s no chance to have a seizure. At first, I was upset with the doctors for telling me that I couldn’t drive, but I soon learned to accept the advice because I discovered cars and epileptic tendencies don’t mix. If I look out the window for a prolonged period, the passing scenery together with the movements of the car will trigger a seizure. If I were driving, I’m sure we’d be in a ditch somewhere in no time.

As much as I would like to keep my eyes open to make sure that Liz is not going to kill us with her adolescent driving skills, I hold my eyelids shut. Unfortunately, for the time being, I am a captive to her iPod playlist blaring through the speakers and her whining about teenage drama. For the most part, I have been able to tune both my sister and the music out while occasionally offering a grunt of acknowledgment.

Like many teenagers who are unable to focus on one subject for an extended period, after several minutes of Liz talking about how much she dislikes her math teacher, Liz abruptly changes the subject with words that pierce my ears. “Dave, you can’t be depressed forever.”

I groan and open my eyes to look briefly at her. “Believe me Liz. Life is not as simple as you think,” I say with a cynical smirk.

“Well, life may not be simple, but at least I’m living it,” she says like she is repeating song lyrics from a teenage band.

“I tried living life Liz, it didn’t work. Anything worth living for just ends,” I shoot back.

“You’re so depressing!” Liz responds with a slightly whiney voice.

“Life is depressing Liz.”

“Whatever.” She rolls her eyes. “You can at least help pass the time here. Tell me about your dream again.”

Believing that teenage girls love mystery, drama, and romance, on one of the many occasions that my parents assigned Liz to keep me company – also known as suicide watch – I told Liz about the dream with Jennifer where she gives me the gift.

“There’s nothing more to tell. It’s the same every time,” I say under my breath.

“And you still only have the one dream during your episodes?” She asks the question like she is my shrink.

Not wanting to get into a discussion about how I had a different dream last night, I appease her. “Yup.” I put my hand to my forehead pushing up my dark brown hair as if I have a headache, but I don’t have a headache.

Unlike some sister-in-law relationships, Jennifer and Liz were good friends when Jennifer was alive.

“Maybe Jenny is trying to tell you something,” she says.

My sister’s analysis and suggestion upsets me a little. All of a sudden my sister thinks she can interpret dreams. But, simply glad that Liz is entertaining herself without much effort from me, I urge her to continue. “I never thought of that,” I lie.

Of course the thought had crossed my mind before, but I was sincere when I said my life is not as simple as Liz’s life. Her life consists of reading novels and watching romantic comedies where everything has an explanation and ends happy.

“Really. Maybe she has a message for you,” Liz emphasizes, sensing my disbelief.

Liz actually is a smart girl. She is first in her class in just about every subject, but she is not nerdy either. In fact, her long sand-colored hair, her button nose, and her pale soft skin have ensured her a place on the cheerleading squad for the duration of her high school experience.

For an average middle-class family without any privileges, the Palmers are pretty smart except for Jacob; he seems to be the runt of the family academically speaking. Trevor is majoring in physics, and, before the shooting, I was working towards my mechanical engineering degree. In fact, I was one and a half years ahead of schedule to receive my degree, so I’m no idiot either.

“Okay Liz, why don’t you tell me what the message is then,” I mockingly respond to Liz’s revelation.

Liz ignores my derisiveness – after four months of me moping around the house giving out sarcasm like it is candy – she is used to it. “Okay. You say your back is turned to her, she calls you, you turn, she gives you a wrapped present, and you can’t touch her, right?”

The dream does not sound very spectacular when my sister sums it up so thoughtlessly.

“Keep your eyes on the road,” I remind her as she briefly glances over at me.

Her smile tells me that she is thoroughly enjoying the analysis of my subconscious.

“Do you ever say anything?” she asks.

“I told you. I can’t.”

“Does anything different happen – you know, does anything change from dream to dream?”

“Nothing changes,” I answer in a robotic voice.

“Maybe she is giving you a gift.”

 “Did you think of that all yourself?” I am unable to help but smile as I respond sardonically. My sister is smart, but it doesn’t take an I.Q. of one hundred and forty to figure out that Jennifer is giving me gift in my dream.

Briefly looking at me with her penetrating hazel eyes and then turning back to the road, I can tell that Liz is encouraged that, sarcastic or sincere, I have actually smiled for once.

“No. I mean, maybe she is giving you a gift.” She stresses the word gift as if I don’t know the definition.

“Okay Liz, what’s she giving me then?” I say as I look out the window to show I am disinterested although I am actually curious as to what she might say. The passing asphalt starts to put me in a trance.

“I mean, you can’t touch her right?” Liz asks rhetorically. She picks her next words hesitantly, trying not to offend me. “Well, now that she’s…you know…”

“Dead,” I interrupt.

After a short pause, Liz continues aware that she is venturing into a sensitive subject. “Yeah, that. Well, maybe she is giving you a gift in exchange for you not being able to touch her anymore. Like something to help you because she can’t be with you.”

What could that possibly be? I say to myself with thoughts of my wife’s death now making me angry. Just as I thought, Liz has made the explanation of my life into a romantic fairy tale. Frustrated, I want to snap at my sister for bringing up Jennifer, but I stop myself. None of this is her fault.
As an alternative, I look out the window at the passing freeway and, as I do, the scenery blurs and the motion makes my heart spin. I can sense that I am about to have another episode. My eyes lock on the road ahead in an uncontrolled stare and my muscles contract as I zone out of consciousness. Although I don’t want to have the dream about my wife right now, I do nothing to stop myself from giving into the seizure.