Norman

06/15/2014

28 Comments

 
June 14, 2014…the second Father’s Day since my dad died. On the day after his 81st birthday.

In the film, Elizabethtown, Drew (Orlando Bloom) and Jessie (Paul Schneider) are talking. Drew’s dad has recently died and Jessie asks, (and I’m paraphrasing, here), “So you and your dad were close?”

Drew answers, “Oh, yes. Very close. I knew him well. Very, very well.”

With deep understanding Jessie says, “Yeah, I don’t know my dad very well, either.”

So how well did I know my own dad? Not sure, but I do remember a lot of little things. And maybe little things are the most important.

On December 21, 2012, I offered the eulogy at my dad’s funeral. I offer it again, here, as evidence of one of those little things.

                                                                                                          ***

Baseball has never held a position of prominence in my life. I haven’t played much baseball over the years. Didn’t play in junior high. Didn’t play in high school. I think I was in Little League for a single season. I don’t follow the teams. Don’t watch on TV. Toma and I have only been to one professional baseball game in our lives.

And yet, baseball does hold a position of prominence in my memory.

There is a house on 16th Avenue in Rockford with a grassy side yard. Years ago that side yard seemed huge but drive past it today and you’ll see it is just a narrow strip of grass maybe fifteen feet wide.

Long ago, sometimes, on sunny Saturday afternoons, a young father living at that house would take his young son out to that side yard with a couple baseball gloves and a regulation hardball.

One of those baseball gloves was left-handed. The son was growing up as a southpaw but that didn’t seem to bother the young dad. He would simply move the boy to an imaginary pitcher’s mound, pace off several feet of lawn, turn, and take his place behind an imaginary home plate. Strategically positioning his own right handed glove, the young dad would coach his boy to throw fastball strikes, “As hard as you can.”

You see, that young father played professional baseball for the Chicago White Sox. At least that’s what he always told his son, all the while hiding a sly smile.

Sometime later the boy would figure out that the games he attended, with Mom, watching dad play center field was not the Chicago White Sox. It was the Rockford Firefighters Softball League.

The dad did not play professional baseball in Chicago with Luis Aparicio. He played family friendly softball with his Rockford firefighter pals.

Playing professional baseball was make-believe, but that’s okay. All of us live bits and pieces of our lives vicariously. Most times that’s a good thing.

In case you haven’t figured out the characters in this story, yet…well, I still own a left-handed baseball glove. And I’m sure there are a couple of baseballs hiding in the corners of our home.

Still, as I said, baseball does not hold a position of prominence in my life.

Baseball just hangs around, locked in my memory of throwing strikes, “As hard as you can.”

And baseball will remain forever in my memory because I am father’s son.

                                                                                                               ***

My dad was a veteran of the United States Air Force.
Me, too.

My dad spent too much time at work and not enough time at home.
Me, too.

My dad worried about too many things that really didn’t matter in the long run.
Me, too.

My dad liked tossing baseballs around in the side yard on 16th Avenue.
Me, too.

So, yeah, I guess I did know him well enough.

  -   Chester

 
 
Fire Dust, my latest novel, is now available on Amazon as a Kindle eBook. Okay, it’s June 3rd and a long time ago I said Fire Dust would be out by the first part of April.

But really, after all this time what difference does it make? Oops. Sorry, I suddenly slipped into some sort of other-worldly, snarky politician, mode. Excuse me while I snap my head back on straight.

There, that’s better.

So why the big delay? Because I am flat out of time. My life is consumed by my day job and I’m struggling to find the time to devote to my own company. (That would be 1008 Productions for the uninitiated.) I will say that Toma and I were able to spend all of last Saturday, Sunday, and Monday working on Fire Dust. We finished the revision, added all the front and back matter, built the table of contents, formatted everything, designed the cover, and got it uploaded to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing by Monday around 2:30 PM.

We previewed it before clicking publish and found a couple formatting errors. Add another twenty minutes to correct the errors in the source file and re-upload.

Yeah, yeah, I hear everyone saying, “Yeah, yeah, what about the story?”

Fire Dust is my first YA thriller although that doesn’t mean it’s just for young adults. The story revolves around five teenagers heading up to Wisconsin for an April camping trip before the end of the school year.

Through their own youthful foolishness they end up spending an uncomfortable first night at the camp ground. Things gets worse and they end up trapped in the forest preserve meadow for a second night. Without realizing it, they unleash some (maybe) super-natural dangers that put all their lives at risk during the terrifying second evening.

The story was originally titled Masked Moon, but I changed it to Fire Dust to better represent the plot twist that puts the teenagers at greater risk after the first attack by chupacabras. Talking with my brother-in-law, Greg, we thought a story about chupacabras would be unusual enough to support a novella.

The first draft was okay, but I added the super-natural twist for a bigger biting fear among the teenagers. And hopefully a bigger bite of fear for the readers, too.

As usual, the book is available from Amazon as a Kindle eBook. And, as usual, Amazon offers the ability to download the book to several platforms. (Don’t ya just love Amazon? I do.) If you didn’t already know, you don’t have to have a Kindle to read a Kindle eBook. You can download Amazon’s FREE Kindle app to your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, or any Android based device. Did I mention the Kindle app is FREE? (Yes, I did.)

Check out Fire Dust and let me know if you think Rand and his Winchester should… Ah, I guess I won’t finish that question. Might be a spoiler. You’ll understand when you read the story.

-          Chester