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What Are We Really Talking About When We Talk About Gun Control?

It’s hard to even think about what happened in Sandy Hook, especially if like me, you have school aged children. I have three – a son in first grade, a daughter in third grade, and my oldest son in fourth grade. I don’t have room in my head to imagine my youngest son in that situation, and I can’t even begin to think about what those parents are enduring. I can understand the backlash against guns and gun owners after this tragedy – I understand the heart-felt desire to “do something”.   It’s human to want to protect and make things better.

The problem is that the argument for the regulation and removal of weapons from private ownership is more than sticking a bumper sticker on a Subaru; it’s walking the cobblestone and brick streets of Boston’s Independence Trail in a very real way and revisiting the very issues that were soberly considered and passionately argued at the formation of our republic.  Now, as it was then, only the weakest of arguments need the flying buttresses of anger and hysteria – “you can have my guns when you pry them from my cold, dead hands is no more helpful than “there is no reason for any citizen that loves children to have a gun.”

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Fingerprints on the Edge Now Available!

Zeke belongs to an older New York, a time when a man could find his way with his wits, his hands, and guts.  Addiction, heartbreak and the darkness that finds them on the Lower East Side and in an old-school go-go bar stalks their every move.

“Very few people get to walk down the street knowing that they’re truly alone. I think it made me stronger. The perspective helped.”

- Dennis the Bouncer

It’s up on SmashWords now, and will be up on Barnes and Noble, Amazon and other outlets next week. It’ll be in Nook Store for $4.99. and the Kindle Store for $2.99.

This weekend only!  I have it up for .99 cents to get it out there, but the catch is that you have to “Share” the Facebook post and comment, good bad or ugly.  I really need the exposure, and the sales. Christmas cheer!

Please, please Share, and if you feel like you got more than a buck’s worth, please hit the “Donate” button.  Hope you enjoy the read, and look forward to hearing from you all.

Heads up – the themes are adult, and there is some salty language – it’s inevitable in this installment. Caution if you blush easily.

Check your e-mail for the link once you check out.  Thanks!

 

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Chapter 3 Lex Luthor

“Hey, Luthor, hurry up with the iced latte, would you? It’s not rocket science, it’s a coffee drink.”

 Luthor pushed the glasses back up on his nose, and glared as hard as he could at the kid who’d just snapped at him.  The thickness of the lenses in his glasses were cleverly hidden by the plastic Euro tortoiseshell frames, but there was no disguising the fact that they were heavy enough to keep sliding down his nose. “My name’s not Luthor. It’s Kevin.”

“Dude, nothing wrong with being an evil genius.”

“I don’t know why you all call me that,” he said, but he knew.  It was a cinematic release of the Superman series that had just achieved cult-film status. Kevin was spot-on a version of the film’s version of Lex Luthor, Superman’s nemesis.  That he shared the first name of the actor who played Lex Luthor in the film was of course even more delicious to the confident young turks who frequented the coffee shop. 

 For those that didn’t know him, Kevin wasn’t a bad looking guy, and more than a fair number of young women flirted with him; some brought him small expensive gifts like a nice pen they saw or fancy coffee beans that they found in some pretty out of the way places. Inevitably, their enthusiasm waned as he simply seemed to take their affections for granted and gave them the cold shoulder. Some worked frantically to be obvious that they were making advances, some grew angry at the rejection and vented their anger at him in ways that left him hurt and bewildered. 

 A blonde with a long blond curls walked into the shop and strode up to the counter. Kevin smiled at her and started up to the counter.

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Chapter 2 The Canyons of Manhattan Part 2

Martin and Frankie talked about other things for a while, then came around to talk about the beating again.  Frankie explained how he had laid there for a while that night after he took his beating,  laid there with his face on the pavement.  He could see those little bits of glass shining like diamonds in the pavement, and he could hear the people inside the club laughing and the music playing, and everybody having a good time.  He could hear the radios and televisions playing in the apartments above him. 

“So I’m lying there in an alley bleeding,” he says to Martin, “and after a while Marilyn comes back out with a wet bar towel and a glass of ice water.  Nice girl. She cleans me up a bit, and she apologizes, and she’s crying like crazy.  Then a couple of bouncers come outside, and they help me up and carry me through the bar, real nice, not like a couple of assholes.  They put me in a cab and paid the driver to drive me home.  They must have tipped the hell out of the cabby – he actually helped me up to my apartment, too.”

Both of them sat quiet for a while again, and Martin finally rubbed his cigarette out in the ashtray on the table.  “Let me go see what’s keeping Louise,” he said, got up and walked to the kitchen, wiping his hands on his apron.  Martin always walked haltingly, as if he might change his mind any moment as to his direction, but his demeanor was as set as stone.  He was a smallish man, about five foot five with the slim build and wide nose of the bantam weight Irish prize fighter that  he had been in his youth.  It wasn’t until about ten years before that he had inherited the bar from his father, after the senior Lucas Westfield finally passed on from tuberculosis.  Martin was the oldest of five sons, and the only one who was unmarried and still living in Manhattan, so it seemed natural to everybody that he took over the pub and management of the four or five small apartment buildings spread out over the island of Manhattan.                    

Frankie saw Martin come out of the kitchen, but he couldn’t hear what he was saying to Lou.  He carried a plate of eggs and hash browns to one of the old men sitting at the counter and came back to the booth.  “Here,” Martin said, and handed him two huge orange tablets.  They looked like little footballs, and Frankie recognized them instantly.  “They’re Motrin eight hundreds,” Martin said, “my doctor gave them to me for this fucking back of mine.  There not as good as some of the shit I used to get from my old doctor, but they work.” 

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Chapter 2 – The Canyons of Manhattan Part 1

The first thing Frankie saw when he woke up were the shadows of dead bugs in the thin, yellowing frosted glass light fixture directly above him.  The light bulb was still burning, and he was still wearing his jeans.  He knew that it was morning, because there was still a lingering biting chill swirling in the air in his barren apartment that hadn’t been swallowed up by the slow gradually warming of the lazy winter sun.   He could hear kids shouting and playing on Clinton Street and beyond the kids he heard the horns, groans, snarls and growls of traffic moving on Houston Street toward the Williamsburg Bridge.  He started to turn his head a little to left,  but the whole left side of his face was swollen and it stung to put any pressure on that side.   He raised his right hand to try and push the hair up off his forehead, but his ribs hurt like hell, and he had to move very slowly.  By bringing his left hand up, he could push the right hand up to clear the hair back, and gently run his hands through his hair.  He kept his eyes closed as he pulled out small pebbles and cleared small clumps of blood, dirt, rocks and the little pieces of glass that sparkle like diamonds on sidewalks all over Manhattan’s Lower East Side.   He got tired quickly, let his arms fall to his sides, and flinched as every single muscle and bone in his entire body screamed in response to the bounce of the cheap mattress.  He lay still for a while, feeling a miserable hangover brewing; sand behind his eyes and the hot stale beer vapor coming from somewhere deep in his chest. 

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Chapter 1 – Reunions Part 2

Timothy looked at the clock, it was well past three a.m., and he could feel morning starting on its way; it was getting late and the hours were zipping by him.  He sat up on the side of his bed and grabbed the smokes off the nightstand, shook one of cab driver’s cigarettes out of the pack and watched as the match head flared into a tiny little supernova and then burned steadily. He lit the cigarette and sucked in the warm smoke and watched the smoke coil away lazily as he exhaled.  His parents would be horrified if they knew he smoked; he was the good son. The idea made him laugh a little, “if only they knew,” he thought to himself. He made his way back to the futon; someplace he’d read that to keep your sleeping rhythms steady, you had to get out of bed if you weren’t sleepy. He sunk back into the futon and closed his eyes, remembering one of the last times one of the broken people let him know how bad things had gotten for Frankie.

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Chapter 1 – Reunions Part 1:

The silence was a little awkward the first couple of blocks as they walked out into the crisp fall Manhattan evening, out of the warmth and the rich aromas of fresh baked biscotti and espresso, and away from the last real honest-to-goodness family-owned Italian cafe on Bleeker Street.  Frank and Timothy started talking about how sad it was that little coffee shops like that were disappearing from the Village, but the topic of conversation was pretty much irrelevant; they were filling gaps as they walked east toward the Sixth Avenue line.  It hadn’t been long since Frankie was back in the city, and Timothy’s heart was rising up in his throat as they got close to the subway.  He hadn’t told Frankie any of the things he wanted to say – how hard it had been to not give him money when he had so desperately needed it, and how proud he was of him now that he was back from the treatment in Minnesota.  Frankie walked a little different now, a little stiffer and more mechanical, like they’d broken both his legs in rehab or he’d aged some forty years.  His hair was slicked back and he was wearing a flannel shirt, but the hair was slicked back less like a fashion statement and more like an old man,  with the aromatic Three Flowers hair dressing the old Italian men liked,  and the shirt tucked in and buttoned up all the way.  They stopped by the basketball courts and he lit a cigarette.

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Chapter One – “Reunions” Commentary

You can download the original draft of Chapter One here:    {filelink=4}  or on the download page.

There was a period of time when I lived in NYC during the mid-1980′s and early 1990′s that a lot of people I knew were going to rehab at a resident rehab center in Minnesota called Hazelden; one of the finest rehabs in the country.  I like the idea of Frankie going to rehab; he’s taken a beating and is now getting a fresh start.  True to life, though, he’s not spry and animated – he just took a beating and is slow getting back on his feet.  He moves slower and is definitely a changed man, but the change is not immediate and dynamic.  As I head into my fifth decade, I’m finally beginning to understand that things work like that in one regard; once things go bad, they don’t get better in a hurry.

The relationship between the brothers for me is not only a study in contrasts, it’s also about different cultures and paths that the brothers have chosen in their lives.  I guess it’s the optimist in me, but I also love stories about redemption, and I always want to believe that there are second chances, but life has a way of intervening.

Fingerprints on the Edge

I’ve been struggling with the idea of writing a novel for quite some time – literally struggling, not toying with the idea. I had several pieces sitting in a folder on my hard drive that I’ve gathered though the years; ideas that have started, run a bit and smoldered out, leaving a few charred remains and a few usable planks in the rubble.  Now is a horrible time to start this adventure, but it’s the only time I have.  With a beautiful wife, three kids, and MBA in progress and a dog, the idea of running with this project is pure insanity, therefore I must.

I like the idea of the novel in serial, bite sized bits of fiction that harken back to a different time – I’m not following the pulp-fiction formula, but the idea is basically the same.   I’ll post updates every Sunday and Thursday.  If you enjoy what I’m doing and it entertains you, please consider hitting the tip jar.

Thanks to my friend Ramona for suggesting that I write the novel. Came about during a  conversation we had about my cousin Daniel and his plans to write a novel – Daniel passed away in the early 1980s at about 20 years old. I still miss him today.

 


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