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Dorothy Thompson is CEO/Founder of Pump Up Your Book, a full service public relations agency specializing in online book promotion agency.

The Inspiration Behind Ghost Hampton by Ken McGorry

The Inspiration Behind Ghost Hampton by Ken McGorry

My wife and I were driving down a shady residential lane in Westhampton Beach, Long Island, one summer day a few years ago when she gestured at a nicely restored old colonial house. As we passed, she said, “I know the man who bought that house. He says it’s haunted.” Oh, really? “Yes. And they told him it was once a brothel.”

ghost-hamptonThis was a few years ago. I was shopping my first novel, Smashed, and also looking for a new project. By the time we got out of the car, I had my title: Ghost Hampton.

A college professor of mine once told us English majors that you only title your work after you’ve written it — so you know what it’s about. But now it was too late. I was in love with my title and would have to work backwards! Soon enough, I had a climax in mind: a troubled man trapped in an old house with some vicious, deadly supernatural being.

How trapped? Well his wheelchair battery had given out.

What’s he doing in a wheelchair? …Have to get back to you on that.

Where are his friends? He has none.

Family? Just an estranged daughter who wants nothing to do with him.

How did he get in this house? Uhmm…

Why does he have no friends? Err…

I had plenty of work ahead of me. For one thing, I had to move my setting away from the village where my wife and I have a little summer place. Bridgehampton looked good – situated in the middle of the posh Hamptons, but a place with lots of history and a surprisingly small off-season population of 3,000 locals. I’d need to fictionalize the place while creating a memorable cast of year-round characters. And I needed an “inciting incident.”

For my protagonist Lyle Hall and me, that incident coalesced around perhaps Bridgehampton’s most noteworthy landmark: its century-old memorial to those who lost their lives in America’s wars. The big old block of granite, which is real, stands in the middle of the village’s main intersection. That’s what Lyle Hall plows into, driving his Hummer too fast and trying to avoid a sweet old lady who’s blundered into his path. She does not survive. Lyle does, just barely, and when he emerges from coma we see he’s become a pariah in the eyes of an unsympathetic local population. And there’s something more: He can now hear and see disturbing things no one else can. Like the strange whispers that emanate from an abandoned old mansion known to all as “Old Vic.” The whisperers want Lyle Hall.

About the Author

ken-mcgorryKen McGorry has been writing since third grade. (He learned in first grade, but waited two years.) He started a school newspaper with friends in seventh grade, but he’s better known for his 23 years as an editor of Post Magazine, a monthly covering television and film production. This century, he took up novel-writing and Ghost Hampton and Smashed are examples. More are in the works, like the promised Ghost Hampton sequel, but he’s kinda slow.

Ken lives on Long Island with his wife and they have two strapping sons. There are dogs. Ken is also a chef (grilled cheese, and only for his sons) and he enjoys boating (if it’s someone else’s boat). He has a band, The Achievements, that plays his songs (try https://soundcloud.com/ken-mcgorry). Back at Manhattan College (English major!), he was a founding member of the venerable Meade Bros. Band. Ken really was an employee of Dan’s Papers in the Hamptons one college summer, and really did mow Dan’s lawn.

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First Chapter Reveal – Wanna-be’s by Mark Connelly

Wanna-be'sTitle: WANNA-BE’S
Author: Mark Connelly
Publisher: Mark Connelly Productions
Pages: 188
Genre: Literary Fiction/Humor/Satire

With his new girlfriend – a soccer mom with a taste for bondage – urging him to “go condo,” failed screenwriter Winfield Payton needs cash. Accepting a job offer from a college friend, he becomes the lone white employee of a black S&L. As the firm’s token white, he poses as a Mafioso to intimidate skittish investors and woos a wealthy cougar to keep the firm afloat. Figure-skating between the worlds of white and black, gay and straight, male and female, Jew and Gentile, Yuppie and militant, Payton flies higher and higher until the inevitable crash. . .

For More Information

  • Wanna-be’s is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

First Chapter

INSIGNIFICANT OTHERS

Winfield Payton awoke to a mother’s voice. Not his mother—but someone’s mother. It was the commanding yet compassionate voice mothers develop, stern but apprehensive. It was a voice rarely heard in Downer Estates, a brick apartment complex housing the usual collection of upscale “singles” who live within Frisbee range of urban universities, attend jazz concerts in the park, practice safe sex, drive alphabet cars (BMWs, SUVs, VWs), cybersex on company laptops, faithfully recycle Perrier bottles, and sip low-cal cappuccino in Starbucks while checking the fates of their mutual funds.

It was a suburban voice, a beach voice, a picnic voice. The voice of a concerned mother directing her brood. “Now, look, Brandy, I told you before. Mommy will be home in just a little while. You can have cereal. Where is Heather? OK, tell Heather to give you some raisin bran. Take your vitamin. And don’t go near the pool until I get back. Do you understand? Don’t go swimming until Mommy comes home.”

As yet Win had not opened his eyes; he was too exhausted. Confronting daylight would be painful. Feeling the sun warm his naked back, he buried his face in the pillows. For a moment he imagined he was at Bradford Beach, snoozing while mommies and kiddies trooped over him, sprinkling his blanket with sand and popsicle drippings.

But no, he was in bed. His bed. His fingers felt the familiar smooth lacquered headboard. The pillow bore the scent of Old Spice, his cologne—mundane but reliable.

Home. He turned his aching neck. This simple movement triggered intracranial alarms. Now everything hurt. His head throbbed. His neck tightened. His back ached. Streaks of raw flesh burned across his chest and thighs.

Oh! His body bore the imprint of what his clouded mind failed to recall. Opening an eye to the sun, he saw a gleaming bottle of Absolut on the bedside table. The bottle was nearly empty. Oh! A ceramic ashtray held the twisted remains of weedy joints. Oh! Two broken poppers lay on the carpet. Oh! Leaning over, he saw—amid the tangled debris of his clothes—three lipstick-stained balls of Kleenex, each containing a spent condom. Oh!

Rolling over, Win groaned, feeling like a crash victim. The female voice in the other room called out to him. No longer the mommy voice, it was the supportive, deferential, eager-to-please voice of a Sixties sitcom wife. Mary Tyler Moore exuding “Oh, Rob!” compassion. “Do you want Motrin?” she asked, “I’m making coffee.” He heard the sounds of housewife bustling in his bachelor kitchen.

“Motrin,” he croaked, like a wounded GI begging for morphine. Motrin, hell. He needed intensive care. IV’s. Oxygen. And Band-Aids. Sitting up, blinking in the sun-light, Win noted the thin, blood-lined scratches and nicks across his chest and thighs. Steve McQueen tangled by barbed wire in The Great Escape.

“Here, baby.”

The woman standing in the doorway bore no relation to the voice flowing with flight attendant charm. Despite the black eye makeup, false eyelashes, and hooker-red lipstick, she was clearly pretty. Her sensibly short blonde hair was cutely, boyishly cut. It complemented the husband-bought Mother’s Day earrings. No doubt she had been trying to look like Debra Harry since fifth grade.

Below the chin she was decidedly dissimilar. Her neck was gripped by a two-inch leather choker studded with steel points. Metal chains led to a leather corset which maximized her cleavage and girdled her waist with tight belts and more chains. Handcuffs dangled over a thigh encased in torn fishnet. Her wrists and ankles sported matching leather cuffs.

Instinctively, Win drew back. Only her soft voice re-minded him that he was not in mortal danger.

“Oh, baby, look at those scratches. I’m so sorry! I for-get about these nails.” She wiggled the fingers of her right hand, their dagger-like points flashing blood-red in the sun-light. Her left palm cupped three red caplets.

He took the pills, then, reaching for a water glass accidentally gulped three and half ounces of Absolut. God!

“Oh, honey!”

Sitting up, Win rubbed his eyes and brushed his unruly hair. The woman sat on the edge of the bed and began un-buckling her cuffs, dropping them into a black leather shoulder bag.

“Mind if I take a quick shower? I have to get home to the kids.”

“Go ahead, Barbie.” Barbie. Gratefully her name came back to him. She disappeared into the guest bath. The architects of Downer Estates had thoughtfully equipped each two-bedroom apartment with two full baths. Single tenants and their partners of choice could shower at the same time, going through their customary after-sex hygienic rituals in private. Alone in the main bath, Win gargled with Scope, doused his sore member with hydrogen peroxide, then drew a bath.

Sitting in the steaming water, he felt his muscles un-wind. Since his thirty-seventh birthday, a loosening morn-ing bath had become a necessity before he could take a shower and actually wash. Rubbing his neck, Win heard water running in the next room. The grip of alcohol fading, the night’s events played over in his mind.

Win had naively assumed that one had to call an escort service, troll BDSM dating sites, or stalk FetLife profiles to locate someone like Barbie Monreal. It seemed highly un-likely to run into a woman with her tastes at a real estate seminar.

Normally, Win avoided attractive professional women with wedding rings—unless he met them in a singles bar. A real estate seminar held in the student union of his own college was an improbable place to get lucky. Money rather than lust was on his mind that afternoon. He accepted Barbie’s Century 21 card gracefully enough and was pre-pared to move onto the next booth when she suggested a rendezvous at Henri’s for drinks.

Barbie Monreal reminded him of Doris Day in Please Don’t Eat the Daisies. Attractive. Cute. But too domesticated to arouse any libidinous interests—until her third white wine spritzer, when, suitably lubricated, she calmly announced her motives.

“Now that the kids are older, and I have some time, I’d like to get back into psychodrama.”

“Acting?” Win asked naively.

“In a way,” she smiled, giving him a patronizing nod. “Role play. Fantasy. I like the tension, the intimacy. I like power. Both asserting and receiving. Strength and sub-mission. It’s like sexual I Ching. Give. Take. Dominate. Submit. But nothing violent, you understand. I play it safe, sane, and consensual,” she said as if repeating radio jingle. “Nothing too perverse.”

“Nothing too perverse?”

“Consider it a hard massage. I like it both ways, but nothing painful.”

“Nothing painful,” Win repeated, recalling his dentist’s reassuring lie about the ease of root canal.

“Not at all. I mostly like the costumes. It’s like adult Halloween.”

“Halloween?”

“Sure. Like playing dress up. Gives you a chance to let your mind go, explore the dark side. It’s the ultimate safe sex. You can’t even consider it cheating. Not really. I never do straight. Well, maybe oral,” she added quietly, sounding like a dieter surrendering to a Weight Watcher sundae.

“I have the rest of the afternoon off,” she said, fixing her eyes on him with Nancy Reagan admiration.

Thus began the first of many encounters, most of which Win could only perform or endure under the influence of alcohol.

 

Lying in the tub, Win rubbed his temples, then forced himself out of the warm embryonic water to shower and, more tentatively, shave.

Clad in a bathrobe, Barbie was making his bed when he returned. She fluffed the pillows, smoothed the comforter, then collected the accouterments of modern romance—body oil, vibrator, adult DVDs, and five-inch spike heels.

“Honey, you really shouldn’t drink so much.” She smiled, offering him coffee.

He nodded, taking burning gulps of Eight O’Clock French Roast.

As Winfield dressed, he watched Barbie slip into white pantyhose, cream skirt, white blouse, sensible heels, and gold Century 21 blazer.

“I’ve got to buzz home to check on the kids,” she said, consulting her smart phone. “I’ve got appointments the rest of the day. Do you want to get together Thursday? Around two?”

“Sure,” Win agreed, feeling like a casual user sliding in-to addiction.

 

The July morning was cool. He walked Barbie to her car. “You know, I lived in New York right after college,” she said. “West Seventy-Second. I love that town. Went to Hellfire once. Didn’t like it.” She wrinkled her nose as if recalling a disappointing dessert at Le Cirque.

Still the neophyte, Win volunteered an apology, “I hope I didn’t hurt your wrist.”

“Oh, this?” She pulled back her sleeve, revealing a circle of darkened flesh. “My bruises fade. I tell Jerry they come from aerobics.”

They reached her car, a dark blue Volvo bearing a “Have You Hugged Your Kids Today?” bumper sticker. She opened the trunk and dropped in the black shoulder bag with a heavy thud.

Donning sunglasses, she smiled at Win. “Until Thursday. If something comes up, text me.”

Win nodded, the fresh air reviving his headache.

“Look, Win, I’ve just gotten to know you. I realize I shouldn’t make any judgments or tell you how to live your life, but I am beginning to care about you. As a special friend.” She paused, grating the steel tip of her heel against the curb. “Win, I think you should seriously consider going condo.”

About the Author

Mark Connelly

Mark Connelly was born in Philadelphia and grew up in New Jersey. He received a BA in English from Carroll College in Wisconsin and an MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His books include The Diminished Self: Orwell and the Loss of Freedom, Orwell and Gissing, Deadly Closets: The Fiction of Charles Jackson, and The IRA on Film and Television. His fiction has appeared in The Ledge, Indiana Review, Cream City Review, Milwaukee Magazine, and Home Planet News. In 2014 he received an Editor’s Choice Award in The Carve’s Raymond Carver Short Story Contest; in 2015 he received Third Place in Red Savina Review’s Albert Camus Prize for Short Fiction. His novella Fifteen Minutes received the Clay Reynolds Novella Prize and was published by Texas Review Press in 2005.

Mark’s latest book is the literary fiction/humor/satire, Wanna-be’s.

Connect with Mark on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First Chapter Reveal: Save the Last Dance by Eva Ungar Grudin & Eric Johson

Save The Last DanceTitle: Save The Last Dance
Author: Eric Johnson & Eva Ungar Grudin
Publisher: Hargrove Press
Pages: 360
Genre: Literary Fiction
A tale of the power and peril of first love rediscovered.

Adam Wolf and Sarah Ross were teenage sweethearts who grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio in the late 50’s and early 60’s. They set a wedding date when they turned fifteen. The day came and went. For most of their lives the two were out of contact.

With their 50th high school reunion approaching, Adam and Sarah reconnect. Email exchanges – after the first tentative “hi”, then a deluge- five, ten- by the end of the week twenty emails a day. Soon Sarah admits, “All my life I’ve been looking for someone who loves me as much as you did”.

Written entirely in email and texts, Save the Last Dance allows the reader to eavesdrop on Sarah and Adam’s correspondence as their love reignites. It also permits the reader to witness the reactions of significant others, whose hum-drum lives are abruptly jolted by the sudden intrusion of long-dormant passion. Can Sarah and Adam’s rekindled love withstand the pummeling they’re in for?

For More Information
• Save The Last Dance is available at Amazon.
• Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
• Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

First Chapter:

From: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Paul Bishop <Paul.R.Bishop@dewey.com> March 11, 2014 9:40 pm
Subject: The timeline

Paul,

I know a little about classical music, a little about film, a little about baseball, hockey and I can recite the presidents, in order, in 15 seconds. But I admit there are things I still don’t understand. Death, for instance.

I would like to get your advice on it. Not Death so much as the State of Being Dead. I’m not afraid of death, you know. I’m afraid of being dead. Incidentally, Paul, I don’t happen to believe in transubstantiation.

God forbid my parents are waiting for me on that Golden Shore:

“So I told you, son, you should have gone to med school. But a disc jockey at a 12-watt station? I don’t know. Why did I ever bother sending you to college? Now, go get your rest and get cleaned up, son. We’re going to dinner with the Karl Marxes. I’m teaching them to speak English. The only trouble around here – the goddamn Trotskyites.

I ask: “Leon Trotsky made it here? How the hell did that happen?”

Paul, I don’t feel old. I don’t think I look old. I’m not sick. But lately I picture my marker on the far right of the timeline.

One day, when I was 28, alone on a Greyhound, late at night, I couldn’t stop thinking about what it really meant to be dead. I couldn’t shake the idea of being insensate, of not existing. I had a full-fledged panic attack, Paul – heart racing, sweating. And for whatever reason, my mind reached out to Rick Marsulek, the resident juvenile delinquent from my high school days. My pal. Black leather jacket, complete with the wrench he always carried, in case anyone tried to mess with him. Duck’s ass haircut. Angelic face that could darken instantly. In my panic I called out to him, “Rick, help me.” He materialized and responded with little prompting.
“Fuck it, Adam, by the time you die, say when you’re 70, you’ll be okay with the idea. So stop sweating it.” It calmed me. The panic dissipated. The advice has followed me all these years, and I learned to push the thoughts of death away. Until now.

Today the announcement for my 50th High School Reunion arrived. And dark thoughts seem to be gathering on the horizon again. But they’re not just about being dead. They’re about the sensation of being carried along on a conveyor belt. To Waldheim Cemetery. Feels as if life has become all predetermined ritual: the ten pills in the morning, the commute to the station, the commute back home, the same forced pleasantries in between, the six pills before bed. Lights out by 9:00.

I looked at the list of people on that reunion roster and one name jumped off the page. It conjured a time when death and ritual were far away. When we were free and invincible. When my pulse raced at even the mention of her name.

Here’s my question, Paul – Do you think there’s a way off of the conveyor belt or do you think I should just stay on it and go along en route to Waldheim?

– Adam
________________________________________________________________
From: Greg Dillon < g.k.dillon30@comcast.com>
To: Sarah Ross < sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 22, 2014 1:17 pm
Subject: 50th REUNION – JUNE 22nd

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah – what’s the matter with you that you won’t let us see you in Cleveland? We have a blast planned. Party Friday, complete with Genelli’s pizza. Dinner dance at the Beachwood Country Club on Sat. night. A tour of Heights High that morning. Pastrami or corned beef lunch, your choice, at Corky and Lenny’s. If only the Indians were playing on Sunday, we’d do that too. Everyone is asking for you. Sherrie, Madeline, Frank, Doug (who still looks good). And, above all, Adam.
(Spoke to him last night. He wondered if he could have your email address. Here’s his – adamwolf1402@gmail.com)

Everyone’s coming. You’re the only one letting us down.

xoxo
Greg
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross < sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Gabriella Fratelli <gabriella.fratelli@orange.it>
May 22, 2014 7:29 pm
Subject: darling, I am growing older

Cara Gabriella –

I think of you always, my bastion of sanity, and I always wish you were near again.

Gordon pursues me. After these years alone, flattering. Attention, companionship not to be minimized, I suppose. And I count myself lucky for it. But it’s not like the days with you when my heart leapt with anticipation of our togetherness.

It’s so odd. A lot of folks I see around me, my age, even younger, are ready to close up shop, or already have. I’m working hard to stay in life – my painting, the boutique, and a good time now and again. With nice people like Gordon, who don’t need to be wound up in the morning– still fun. It’s such a chore, though, to adjust to age. We become invisible – a shock when you lose your looks. You wouldn’t know. You’re forever young. But one day it happens. You look down and suddenly your dance card is empty. Guys look past you, eyes locked on some chick behind. Just as I was about to open a vein over this fate, the other day a not-bad-looking fellow, younger than I, lured me into one of those lingering eye-to-eye flirtations. Did me good. Remember when I could simply bat the baby blues and charm my way out of a speeding ticket? Now? Even tears don’t work.

Tried botox, only once. Maybe I told you already. Bruised my right eye, made the left one droop for weeks. When I first walked into the shop with it, Nicole screamed, thought I had had a stroke.

My 50th reunion is coming up. I suppose, if botox had agreed with me, I might be going.

My love, my love to you,
Sarah
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross < sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 23, 2014 10:13 am
Subject:

hi

________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 23, 2014 11:21 am
Subject:

Hi yourself – I’m sorry to hear that you won’t be there in June.
I was looking forward to seeing you. How are you?
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 23, 2014 12:46 am
Subject: why I’m not attending reunion

It’s been a while hasn’t it? Decades. When was it? 1966? I don’t think I would have had the courage to write to you, after all this time, if Greg hadn’t written me saying you’d like to get in touch. He’s knocking himself out, isn’t he, organizing all those get-togethers. Lucy and Mira too.

I’m nudging Greg to arrange a meeting next year for just a few of us: you, Greg, Chris, Gail Krasner, and who else? Ah, me. New York City., Cleveland, Fargo – where doesn’t matter.

Forgive me for not attending the reunion. I wasn’t aware you’d be there. But I decided that I couldn’t stand just a glimpse of the people I long to know again. That’s the fear that keeps me away. (That and the spectacle of Phyllis Mendelson using the occasion to hawk her latest book. What’s this one called? “Beauty Tips for the Ugly Duckling”? Or something like that.)

Can I tentatively begin to ask about you?

Your parents? I remember them. Wolf’s Drug, Saturday afternoons, chocolate phosphates, sitting on those ratty red naugahyde stools with rough tears. And your father – formal, wearing his drug-store face – good-natured, though. I remember you used to rail about how fake it was. We always giggled that the smiles were really intended for Ruby in her pink apron. And don’t you miss jukeboxes? I remember the song we played over and over on the one jukebox at the drug store. Do you?

And of course your mother and her propensity to complain about your father. I found it poignant.

Are you okay? Your present family?

Me? Lots happened/happening. I’ve been living here in La Jolla for the last twelve years. My friend Nicole and I opened Naughty Niceties in 2010, a French lingerie shop in town. More amusing than lucrative. I’m a widow now. My husband Harold died 4 years ago. No kids. You know, I’m glad I didn’t change my name. It felt wrong to disappear from the face of the earth, from people like you who knew me as Sarah Ross.

Adam, if I knew where the cockles of my heart resided, I would say they’re warmed by your being on my radar screen again.
________________________________________________________________
From: Lola Wolf <lola.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 23, 2014 4:14 PM
Subject: Please answer

Adam – I’ve tried to call you 10 times already and you, for some reason, decided not to pick up. Please don’t insult me by not answering. If Her Highness still has you tending court, just wrench yourself away for five minutes so you can get back to me. What if I had an emergency? Adam, could I count on you to answer? I suppose not.

Remember the party at the Dorman’s. 8:00. I’ll try to call later cause I know you’re going to forget. Pick up this time.

Do you have anything decent to wear? Don’t forget, no late stuff tonight at the station.

The way you just left this morning, without a look or a goodbye, or a sign of human recognition, made me sad and angry. Always the same story – that goddamn station. Your needs are first and the only thing that seems to matter to you. I know you’re in your “turmoil” right now about the reunion. So anxious, insufferable. “Will I look ok? What will they think?? Blah blah.” How about giving your wife the same consideration as those people you haven’t talked to in 50 years?

Adam, I’m still an attractive woman at age 64, even if you don’t think so. I got compliments at the grocery store this morning. “Mrs. Wolf, we think you’re the most elegant woman who comes into the store.” That’s the woman at the check- out! I wore my old coat and hardly any makeup and she still thought I was elegant.
________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 23, 2014 5:57 pm
Subject: and back to you

I don’t know why, but I feel strangely nervous writing to you.

Sarah, I knew a little about an opening of a watercolor show and of landscape courses you were giving, I’ve followed you on the internet, so you were in some way already on my “radar screen”. Do you ever get back to Cleveland Heights?

My brother David retired from his real estate business, lives in the western suburbs. My mother died back in ’97. My father, the World’s Foremost Druggist, died in 2003 – managed to screw up his meds and had a stroke. I’m sorry, I don’t know whether your parents are alive or not. What I vividly remember was your father’s string quartet sessions on Sunday afternoons at your house – among a million other things. How’s your sister? Is she still in Cleveland Heights? And you? It must have been difficult when your husband died.

I’m fine – live in Evanston, remarried since the last time we talked in 1979. I have a son 28, Michael, in IT, now in Houston. When he visits we still go to the batting cages. We swing and miss for half an hour and then pizza and sports talk.

I’m now Program Director at WCMQ – 95.2 on your dial – boasting dozens of loyal classical music fans throughout Chicagoland. I still host “Your Classical Coffee Mate” (title’s not mine). We’d have more listeners if only our signal could be picked up beyond the parking lot. The “on the air” gig is the only part of the job I still enjoy. For an hour every day I get to ad lib. I’m considering basing an entire show on composers whose last names begin with “X”?

I’ve been here eons. No reason to stay, no reason to leave.

The song you challenged me to remember? Save the Last Dance for Me, of course.

Can we stay in touch and talk?
________________________________________________________________

From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 23, 2014 6:35 pm
Subject: catching up

Let’s see – what else? Not that long ago I entered into a relationship with a special man, a retired marine biologist. I think he may be a “keeper”.

Esther and Herman still live in Cleveland. I don’t think she’s ever stepped a foot out of Cuyahoga County. She doesn’t think she needs to. I love my sister, but I still can’t stand to be near her. All that yakking about the bargains at Beachwood Place, the envelope licking for the Sisterhood.

I’m touched you remember the Hausmusik – so old world. Glad you witnessed it. My father and all his immigrant friends lived for those Sundays. He became remarkably civilized when he played his violin. Perhaps that’s one reason I was attracted to you, Adam. I loved the way you devoted yourself to the piano. Do you still play?

My father died in 1987. My mother is 95, in a nursing home near Esther and not doing so well. I try to be back in Cleveland at least once a month to see her, but I’m no longer convinced she can distinguish me from her phlebotomist.

I’m touched you’ve been stalking me on the internet. And yes, I’d love to keep on writing, if that’s what you mean by “talking”. I need to fill in the gaps slowly. But no phoning. Okay? Can we just stay emailing for now? It’s a miraculous way to communicate, isn’t it? Easier than letters – instant gratification, not days between. And somehow I’m less shy, less inhibited just writing. Disembodied I feel emboldened, find it more intimate than the phone, for example.
________________________________________________________________
From: adam.wolf1402@gmail.com
To: sarahross64@gmail.com
May 23, 2014 7:03 pm
Subject: Re:catching up

Yes, let’s write for now. You know, I’ve never really carried on a personal email correspondence. My friend Paul, we exchange chapter-length emails once in a while – fantasy film scripts, the escape from the everyday. But this “intimacy” is new. Like you, I’m already discovering the freedom to be myself. So forgive me if I’m awkward. I think I already messed up. My phrasing about following you on the internet was a little inartful, I admit. “Stalking” is too strong a word I think – more like “curiosity”, then quiet admiration and interest.

You know, about 10 years ago I was in La Jolla several times. I went there with the station owner. We used to go to the West Coast on business. Unfortunately, or fortunately, we don’t take those trips anymore. If I had known you were there, I would have tried to see you.

Tell me more about how you’re doing now. Piano? I dropped Schubert, picked up Cole Porter, some Gershwin. it’s my palliative, but I guess not so much other people’s. So I keep it to myself.

Actually I have a thousand more things I want to tell you — if that’s OK. I’ll write again tomorrow if I can–
________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________
From:Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: S.Gordon Wilson <S.Gordon.Wilson@csulb.edu>
May 24, 2014 8:22 am
Subject: this weekend

Sorry I couldn’t get back to you yesterday. Nicole and I didn’t sit down all day. The new line of “amethyst” lace boy shorts and “anthracite” demi-bras brought in a flock of floosies. Do you believe these marketing people? I’d like the job – to invent the irresistible colors du jour. Almost as clever as “Häagen-Daz”.

Yes, an afternoon on the new boat would be grand. Sounds relaxing. Believe me, I need that badly right now. How about I pack us a lunch? We can christen (or should I say baptize?) the boat with some Sauvignon Blanc.
________________________________________________________________
From: S.Gordon.Wilson < S.Gordon.Wilson@csulb.edu>
To: Jerome Mahoney <Jerry.Mahoney2028@verizon.net>
May 24, 2014 10:05 am
Subject: THIS AND THATS

Hi there, Jerry –

Got the new boat! Going to christen her this weekend. Thinking Sarah Ross might like to come along. I invited her and wish you and Mae could come down here and help us celebrate. You and I would have a lot of yucks. Anyway, there’ll be a chance to get together this fall. There’s a conference up your way.

Heard a good one I think you’ll appreciate:

Why don’t blondes wear miniskirts in San Francisco?
Their balls show.

Here’s another one I can tell you, but wouldn’t tell Sarah:

What does a Jew with an erection get when he walks into a wall?
A broken nose.

Your chum,
Gordon

S. Gordon Wilson, PhD.
Founder and Editor of The Ichthysaurus
Fellow, American Academy of Underwater Sciences
Professor of Biology, Emeritus
California State University, Long Beach
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com
May 24, 2014 9:16 am
Subject:

Oh, the trouble with email is that it has no tone of voice. The “stalking” was a jest. Hyperbole R Us. “I’m touched by your curiosity” is a sappier way of saying it, I suppose. And a thousand and one things, by all means – a thing at a time, and back to you. I look forward to it.

After college? Your life trajectory?
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 24, 2014 9:34 am
Subject: hmmm, my life

Trajectory? Mine is sort of like the Challenger spacecraft. Graduated from U of Chicago ’68 and the Cleveland Heights Selective Service Board thrust me into a deferment as a VISTA volunteer. The remains of my Command Module came down in Bluefield, West Virginia. What did I do there? Same as anyone in any community action program – sat around contemplating how to connect with the poor. I sold the idea of a radio show to the public station there. Conducted interviews, sang some folk songs – short-lived – I guess too radical and too Jewish for W. Virginia. Careened back to Chicago in ’69, stringing together occupational deferments – mainly working in psych hospitals. Auditioned unsuccessfully for radio jobs. First classical try-out I screwed up the German. Tripped on the Einführung aus dem Serail. Then ’83, had success auditioning for this small classical station as the overnight announcer. The owner’s wife, Amanda Schreiber, supervised the audition. Gave me the job and whispered afterward that I was too cute for radio. So here I am, parked in stationary orbit for the past 30 years.

Trajectory? Two marriages. One brief, fling-like. The current one, almost three decades. In neither case am I sure what prompted me to get married. Pretty boring, huh?
______________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 24, 2014 1:29 pm
Subject: don’t be hard on yourself

Boring? Never to me. Need to know who you are now. Sounds like an adventure – West Virginia, psych hospitals – can’t wait for the stories. Radio celebrity to boot. Send an autograph. Make it personal and I can get more for it.

Do you think there are patterns to mistakes we make in relationships? I’m somehow attracted to men, and they to me, unfortunately, who dislike their mothers. That’s one of the patterns that repeats. There are others.
________________________________________________________________

From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 24, 2014 1:40 pm
Subject: Re: don’t be hard on yourself

That’s no pattern. Doesn’t every man tell his girlfriend that he doesn’t like his mother? What other patterns would you mean? Are they patterns that began with us? Was Sandy Chapman part of your pattern?
________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 24, 2014 1:43 pm
Subject: patterns

My other patterns? People who are hypersensitive. Like you were. Smart and funny. Like you were. Prone to jealousy. Like you were. Maybe so, maybe our relationship has always been my template. Yep.

Now your turn. I ask again – your patterns?
_______________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 24, 2014 1:46 pm
Subject: Re: patterns

My patterns? I can’t think of any. Let me see. Maybe short skirts.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 24, 2014 1:56 pm
Subject: Re:Re: patterns

Really? Glad you’re so forthcoming. Come on, Wolfie, fess up. Any patterns that have to do with us?
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 24, 2014 2:03 pm
Subject: who I’ve become

A pattern? Okay. I confess. Passivity maybe. But, Sarah, that’s not a pattern that started with us, not what I remember. But me? For many years since us, it’s been different. Pattern: letting myself be pulled into someone’s orbit – then staying put – fearful to disrupt the daily sameness – afraid of being cast off into the cold if I opened my mouth. Could it really be that my last successful relationship was at 15?

Incidentally if I really was the template for all your relationships, how the hell did you wind up with Sandy Chapman after we broke up? (Hey, why did we break up anyway?)
________________________________________________________________

From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 24, 2014 2:19 pm
Subject: breaking up

You mean, how could you ever have broken up with me? Let’s see . . .

1) Your raging hormones

2) Darlene Cutler’s short skirt

and

3) My desperate need to be with you every waking hour, which, I’m sure, would have gotten on anyone’s nerves. I never again in my life have been that way. I’ve learned to keep a distance in my relationships. I’ve learned not to be dependent. Have suppressed the desire to be fused to anyone. But I recall I felt amputated without you by my side. Perhaps I became too independent after us. I hope it to be different with Gordon. I would like to be less autonomous, less mistrustful and submit to someone who I think would take care of me. Wish me luck.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 25, 2014 12:04 pm
Subject: Gordon

You used the word the word “keeper“ describing your relationship with Gordon. Sounds like partnership with a future.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 25, 2014 12:34 pm
Subject: Re: Gordon

I met Gordon a year ago when we co-chaired the fundraiser for the La Jolla Center for the Arts. He’s a strong, comforting presence. An old-fashioned gentleman. And he’s taken me sailing a couple of times. Best of all, he can whip up some of the best bouillabaisse on this planet. So I made him one of my new best friends. People have begun to think of us as a couple. We’re invited out together. I don’t know how else to summarize my relationship with Gordon except to say we’re comfortable with each other.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 25, 2014 12:48 pm
Subject: Fish Aversion

Bouillabaisse on the high seas. I’ve got to confess that’s lost on me. My appetite for seafood is, as always, nil. He could have seasoned the bouillabaisse with Drano, for all I knew, and I would have been none the wiser. The only time in recent memory I had a taste for seafood was on Yom Kippur, late afternoon, when I started eyeing Lola’s fish tank. Last week, you’ll be thrilled to know, I ordered the tuna panini at Arby’s. So, looks like you and Gordon are a good match. I’m happy for you. Incidentally, I would be jealous about the boat, except I get seasick just driving past Red Lobster.
________________________________________________________________

From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 25, 2014 1:00 pm
Subject: Re:Fish Aversion

You inlanders, poor things, don’t know what good fish looks like. Or for that matter, what it smells like. After those obligatory cruises in elementary school on the Cuyahoga River, with the dead fish floating on the scum, and the stench of rotten eggs wafting through the air, it took years before I’d go near anything fishy.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 25, 2014 1:11 pm
Subject: Re:Re: Fish Aversion

I’m glad you’re so ichthyologically sophisticated now that you’re with Gordon. Makes sense with a marine biologist. It’s not everyone so lucky that they can eat their work at the end of the day. I’m happy for you. Gordon sounds perfect. Any flaws?
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 25, 2014 1:34 pm
Subject: flaws

Any flaws? I wouldn’t call them flaws exactly. Just annoyances. Okay, just between us, Adam, he doesn’t make me laugh. If he has humor in his repertoire, I haven’t discovered it yet. Odd, but when he tells jokes, I don’t hear anyone laugh. I guess that’s my most serious criticism. We don’t laugh at the same things. In fact, he has an annoying habit of not laughing and, if there’s something real funny, he’ll just say, “That was very funny”, and never laugh. You know what I mean. It’s hard for him to open up. I don’t want to complain, because for his age, you know, 73, he’s remarkably active and engaged. I think it’s the medication, and not the years, that sometimes make him distant and dispassionate. But he’s a great human being. He says that he’s so lucky to have found me and I tell him the same.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 25, 2014 1:55 pm
Subject: Re: flaws

It’s difficult to imagine Sarah Ross with someone humorless. But then no one could make you laugh the way I could. That’s one of the reasons I was crazy about you. Anyway, is there no Sandy Chapman in the wings if you decide to break up with Gordon?
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 25, 2014 2:45 pm
Subject: Sandy Chapman?

Adam, I never even knew you noticed me with Sandy after the break up. Just happens that last time I was in Cleveland, just this winter, we ran into each other pumping gas at the Shell station on Fairmont. He recognized me. I didn’t him, not at first – grey hair, not much of it. But for 70 doesn’t look bad. He was telling me about his career in engineering (fluid engineer, whatever that is). Anyway I didn’t really understand – something with hydro this or that.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 25, 2014 3:03 pm
Subject: Re: Sandy Chapman?

Sandy Chapman? Hydro? Probably something involving hydrocephalics. Sorry, just flashing those days I spotted you with him. In that gaudy red T-bird. Well, anyway, you seemed real happy. I heard you spent weekends with him in Columbus. The older guy. I wondered who’s teaching her how.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 25, 2014 3:31 pm
Subject: Jealousy

Adam, cut it out or I’ll invoke memories of that Cutler slut.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 25, 2014 4:16 pm
Subject: My son Michael

Just heard from Michael that he’s coming in for the weekend – new girlfriend in tow. He had a bit of a wild time at Wisconsin as an undergrad – stayed on in Madison for a Masters in Environmental Science. Came back to Chicago and spent a season hunting down microbes in the Des Plaines River. Chased a girl to Houston. He stayed. Girl didn’t. Now with Exxon. An I.T. job I never quite understood. Needless to say, his nascent crusade to Rescue the Environment from Capitalism is officially on hold.
_______________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 25, 2014 4:25 pm
Subject: Re: My son Michael

If he rails against capitalism, I know he’s your son and Manny Wolf’s grandson. I looked for Michael on the internet. Think I found his Facebook picture – looks so much like you as a young man – beautiful, the curly blonde hair, the angular face, even the Adam’s apple. Ah, to see you again in him! Makes me think of your broad shoulders and narrow hips. Sigh!
______________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 25, 2014 4:40 pm
Subject: Re:Re: My son Michael

People do say he looks like me. I can’t see it. Happy you can. I think the shape of his face is more like Lola’s. Not much of a resemblance to me when it comes to classical music. Michael never showed much interest. Lola insisted for years my playing opera for the kid was a hazard to his auditory nerves. Maybe that’s why. But you might like to know he’s good at art. I should send you the link to drawings from his sketchbook. He posts that on Flickr. Just felt pen on scratchpads, the passing scene – likes to capture the world rushing by – some evocative images of workmen at the refineries – filthy, sweating in the sun.

Incidentally, what are you doing these days with your art? Or would you rather we talk more about your liaison dangereuse with Chapman?
_______________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 25, 2014 5:28 pm
Subject: flash of memory

Adam, enough Sandy crap!

I love it that Michael and I have art in common. I’m eager to see what he’s doing. As for me, I’m teaching a bit, painting when I can. But you don’t make a real living as an artist (or very few people do).

The shop keeps me busy. I’m in there 3x a week. Hate the accounting part, but rather like the income. Meager but it pays my Medicare supplement. Most of all, I love to go to Fashion Week in New York and discover the latest styles, colors. Long leggy models. Lovely to watch them glide unselfconsciously down the runway. Their thongs hugging the groove of their butts so compact that even I could grasp both cheeks with one hand.

One of them, when I saw her last fall, had hair so wavy and so wild, someone described it as “storm-tossed”. And I have to admit, I thought of you. The 14 year-old you, your tossled hair and runway thin hips. And not just that image came through – but a passage from Homer, a day in 8th grade English class. I quote this one, when I tell people one of the reasons I fell in love with my first boyfriend. Remember, Adam, we all had to memorize the same damn lines from the beginning of some translation of the Odyssey.

Then Tubaugh had us stand at our desks and one by one recite it. Boring. The same damn lines. (All that memorization back then sticks with us, doesn’t it? That’s the fun part.) “Tell of the storm-tossed man, oh Muse, who wandered long after he sacked the sacred citadel of Troy.” Over and over.

And then it was your turn: “Tell of the storm-tossed man, oh Muse, who wandered long after he sacked the sacred citadel of Troy, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper . . . ” and we were all on the floor.
_______________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 25, 2014 10:21pm
Subject: Goodnight, my Sarah

Pardon me, but I’m a bit preoccupied here – your hand on the model’s rear?
Yes, our days together have always been an anchor, a reference point for me too. Inevitably a phrase, a look, pulls me back to us. Programming Mozart’s early operas, I think of how we inspired ourselves to finish homework by saying Mozart had written 13 symphonies by the time he was our age.

Or something as simple someone saying, “Meet my girlfriend”, and I have always thought of you. “Girlfriend” has always meant only one thing to me. It meant Sarah. Isn’t it strange?

Do you remember we could carry on entire conversations across a room? I knew what you meant – every wink, twitch and flutter. And I think I still would.

I’ve tried it with other people. Amanda (the station owner) and I might have had some moments of primitive non-verbal communication. During a meeting, say, but ultimately it didn’t work. Usually ended up with her shrugging her shoulders, “I don’t know what you meant”. I doubt we’ll ever master it. ________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 26, 2014 9:12 am
Subject: Good morning to you

Yes, I only wish other people were as sensitive to me as you were. Then I wouldn’t have to be so blunt. “Blunt” is a good word to describe me, a flaw I’m not proud of. Some people are better than I at being circuitous. Criticism comes easily to me. I struggle, though, with how to couch it nicely. It doesn’t come naturally. The students in my watercolor classes learn a lot, for instance, and I’m enormously patient with those who try. But the grousers, no matter how talented, set my teeth on edge, and I come close to growling at them. Klaus the Stubborn, in particular – retired, red-faced – probably a storm-trooper in his past life. Last week, down by the marina, at the little studio where I hold classes, I thought to mix things up and have the group work with the paper oriented vertically and not in the usual landscape format. Klaus resisted and resisted until I exploded and told him just to shut up and do it. Turned out to be his best work ever. A composition of lines and arcs – compelling – a sliver of the pier and its masts, as if glimpsed from the edge of a window. Praise for real talent does come easily to me, though. And it made Klaus feel good, I think, to hear me applaud him. The exercise inspired me too. I’ve gone out every day since to capture a slice of life in longitudinal section.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 26, 2014 11:45 am
Subject: Speaking out

Stealing a moment on break to be avec toi.

I always adored your bluntness and independence back in our day. I never learned to speak out. I remember that I secretly relied on you to speak my feelings when I was angry. In my house it was my role, wasn’t it, to mediate conflicts all the time. Between my parents: “Tell him his supper is ready.” “Tell her I’ll get the window fixed on Saturday.” (My parents once went a full year without talking to each other.)

Constant tensions between my father and brother also rode high. Once at the table when David got his first and only B+ on a report card, the usual belittlement got out of hand and before long my brother had my father in a strangle hold. (My mother ran out of the room, of course.) And it was my role to make peace. I stepped in between them, pushed them to their respective chairs. They sat seething. And I interjected myself into the silence by imitating the voice of the Gillette Friday Night Fight’s ringside announcer: “No real damage inflicted in the first round. They’ll be coming back out soon for the second. The Champ seems a bit shaken. The Challenger has put together some brilliant combinations.” Then they would eventually smile and laugh.

That was me then and me forever – conciliator, appeaser, mediator. It’s who I am today. I turn away from conflict and equivocate whenever necessary to spare people pain. I needed you. You were the other part of me. Spoke out. Spoke up for me. Spoke my feelings because I couldn’t and because you understood them. I have not had my “other half” since those days.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 26, 2014 12:09 pm
Subject: what you were for me

Don’t underestimate the gift for making people laugh. It carried me through some rough times at home, in America. I was mistrustful of people ever since my parents lied to 5-year-old me about leaving Vienna. They told me we were just “going on vacation in the mountains via a big ship this time”. In fact, I landed in an alien country, lost in translation. Eventually you were my verbal, educated, loving and oh so funny protector. AND a real American. I totally trusted you. Needed you.

I suspect masking your feelings creates problems. Leads to misunderstandings? I’m sorry about that, if it’s true.
________________________________________________________________From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 26, 2014 3:28 pm
Subject: My troubles

I’m in trouble all the time. Right now I’m not ready to give you all the details of the trouble I’ve created for myself in my old age. Suffice it to say I feel like an outsider in my own life.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 26, 2014 3:50 pm
Subject: let’s hear it for cyberspace

Details can wait. But I feel like I should be there to rescue you. Forgive me for staying away so long. You know, Adam, it’s amazing to me how quickly we can confide in each other again. This magical forum – email. I doubt talking or phoning would have brought us together in such an intimate way. I keep marveling at that.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 26, 2014 5:28 pm
Subject: The Cleveland Indians

Do you remember how exciting it was to go down to Municipal Stadium together on a summer afternoon? Rocky Colavito? So cute. Tito Francona? You taught me how to fill out a scorecard, how to shout insults at the ump: “His seeing-eye dog could have called that one.”

Hey, Adam Wolf, my parents subscribed to the Plain Dealer. But let’s hear it for the old Cleveland Press!! Best reason to have grown up in Cleveland. Get straight A’s, bring down your report card, and we’ll hand you seven sets of tickets to the Tribe’s games. I would have flunked out of school, I’m guessing, if I hadn’t aimed for those tickets. Seven pair!! And two were box seats. Of course you remember. You got them every year. Me? Only in 9th grade – cause I cajoled Mr. Scott to change my B+ in Algebra to an A- because the Indians tickets were on the line.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 26, 2014 5:58 pm
Subject: THE TRIBE

Still at work.

Can you believe in those days we never thought twice about what an affront Chief Wahoo was? Even worse, he’s still around.

But now here’s a question. I’m sure you remember where you were when Kennedy was shot. Or on 9/11. But can you recall exactly where you were the moment you heard that Herb Score had been hit in the eye by a line drive?
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 26, 2014 6:30 pm
Subject: Re: THE TRIBE

Ah, my dear Adam – you know me for the nerd I was – of course I remember. I was in bed. It was a night game. The Yankees. My radio was tuned to the game. Jimmy Dudley announcing. Herb Score pitching to Gil McDougal. And I recall hearing the crack of McDougal’s bat and the screaming from the crowd. Herb Score. Poor Herb Score! Hit in his eye! Rookie of the Year the year before, right? Oh, I remember a lot of that moment. Early in the season. The Plain Dealer photos of him crumpled on the pitcher’s mound. But did the game continue? Did the Yankees win?
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 26, 2014 7:20 pm
Subject: Re:Re: THE TRIBE

Home at last.

May 7, 1957. Herb Score still played after that, but was never the same. Became an announcer for the Indians. Aren’t you glad you we didn’t see it on TV, in “living color”? A most gory sight, they said. McDougal was so distraught, said he’d quit baseball if Score lost his vision. Hey, Sarah, I love that you love baseball.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 26, 2014 9:44 pm
Subject: sleep tight

Just back from dinner. Tuckered out. Off to bed. Goodnight, Adam.

Gee, to be with you again, with our set of common experiences – comforting, extremely comforting.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 26, 2014 10:04 pm
Subject: Re: sleep tight

Goodnight, my Sarah. I’ll write to you in the morning – as soon as I am conscious.
_____________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 7:32 am
Subject: Familiarity

In all the years since us, I must confess, I have never again felt a sense of belonging, the “oneness” we had, Sarah. Strange, huh? As children we experience a kind of love that we then spend 50 years looking for and can never find again. But I shouldn’t speak for you. I should say that “I” looked for and that “I” could never find again.
_____________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 9:15 am
Subject: Re: Familiarity

I’m touched Adam by your memory of us. It’s been mine too, you know. All my life I’ve been looking for someone who loves me as much as you did.
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

From: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Paul Bishop < Paul.R.Bishop@dewey.com>
May 27, 2014 11:36 am
Subject: Reunion Craziness

Paul,

I hope that crappy weather doesn’t ruin the Baroque Festival for you. Playing outdoors in a driving thunderstorm with a priceless cello might get you some welcome notice. The Asheville Times: “From where I sat, I was unable to hear Mr. Bishop’s interpretation of Telemann over the thunder claps and howling wind, but his fingering technique “wet” my appetite for more.”

I need to catch you up on the latest madness with me – not just “50th Reunion Insanity Inc.”, but something else. It involves Sarah, yes, THAT Sarah. I told you about her long ago – the “awakening of love”. We’re in touch again, all brought about by my old high school friend Greg, you know, the chess hustler who used to come to Chicago every summer (hate to remind you). He informed me that Sarah Ross wasn’t coming to the reunion, and wanted to know how I was doing. So that started an email correspondence that’s been clipping along for days and days. Paul, I’m nervous. At first it’s pleasantries, then some innuendoes – although, Jesus Christ on a cracker! she owns a shop in San Diego that specializes in upscale panties. Not married – her husband died – so far, so good.

Each word to her I weigh a hundred times – so strange – so exciting. To keep Lola from knowing, I stay at the station til late, writing, waiting for replies. Every night now my heart pounding every second – reading into her language, so tentative. Paul, it’s like on the ice, skating to the corner – you never see the hit coming – you don’t feel it at first – you’re flying, falling, submitting to the force.

I’ll admit I’m insane. Incidentally, I’m going to call my urologist and suggest he return to medical school. He told me I was unlikely to achieve verticality without a pharmaceutical assist. All I have to do now is think of Sarah to prove him wrong.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Esther Lehman <estherlehman88@yahoo.com>
May 27, 2014 11:36 am
Subject: Guess who’s back?

Esther, do you believe it? I actually had a real talk with Mom today. She seemed to know who I was. Encouraging. Perhaps the exercise regime really does help.

Now for my news – at lunch today Nicole asked me why I looked so, how did she put it, radiant. And I smiled and shrugged and I didn’t answer. But if you really want to know, it’s because I’ve been in touch with Adam Wolf again. Yep, after all these years. He’s remarried, so don’t worry, it’s all on the up and up. He seems to be interested in staying in touch, and that, I guess, is why the glow is there. Okay, okay, call me mushy. Why not “sappy” or “schmaltzy” while you’re at it? Throw it at me. Tell me to concentrate on Gordon. I will, I will, but for right now I’m buzzing over this back-in-touchness with Adam. I’ve had so many pretend conversations with him over the years that real ones are heady. And when Harold betrayed me, my impulse was to find Adam again and have him reassure me that I was still loveable.

But I won’t let him see me because I’m not 21 anymore. I wouldn’t want him to run away in horror. What he’ll get is the disembodied Sarah. We’ll leave it at that, only email, no Skype, certainly no meeting, ever. Let him picture me as I looked then. Much better than the reality of 68. Maybe I can send him a picture of me at 36 and pretend that’s the way I look now.

Anyway, hug Mom for me. And hugs to you and Herman too, of course.
_______________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 3:29 pm
Subject: Our ESP?

Sarah, this may sound loony, but in our day weren’t we able to communicate, to talk to each other telepathically? I remember lying in bed at night hearing your voice and speaking to you. Did it really happen?
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 4:00 pm
Subject: Re: Our ESP?

Gee, now I do recall attempts at telepathy. But don’t remember its working, though. What do you remember my saying?

Will write again in a while. Off to teach a class.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 6:15 pm
Subject:

And I’m off to a charity auction. More later.
______________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 9:21 pm
Subject: Telepathy

Scored a Wheaties box at the auction – with Sammy Sosa on it. I’ll resell it and retire.

Hope your class went well and that Klaus suppressed his Hermann Goering imitation.

Up in my room. Can’t bear another second of “Dancing with the Stars” blasting, rattling the mirrors.

You asked me before what you said to me telepathically. Oh, just something soothing, comforting, your soft voice, something like, “It’s okay. I’m here.” Or just, “Adam. It’s me.”
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 9:41 pm
Subject: Re: Telepathy

Class fine. We worked on still-life drawings. No Klaus.

Adam, should we try this telepathy business again? I must confess, some years ago I did have an extraordinarily close friend who moved away to Italy and we seemed to be able to signal each other telepathically. I knew when she needed me. I haven’t seen her in years, but we still correspond – a confidante.
_______________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 9:44 pm
Subject: Telepathy Tonight?

Sarah, how about 1:15 am your time? I’ll send a message. See if you get it. I’ll ask you tomorrow what it was.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 9:48 pm
Subject: Re:Telepathy Tonight?

Okay, let’s try. I’ll be asleep, deep asleep, but primed to receive you. _____________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 9:55 pm
Subject: Re:Re:Telepathy Tonight?

How about a dry run right now? You think of something – a word, a place.
And I’ll tell you what I received.
__________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 9:59 pm
Subject:

Okay. Sent.
_____________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 10:03 pm
Subject:

Wait. Wait. I think I got it. A hit. Is it something in Cleveland?
_____________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 10:07 pm
Subject:

Gosh, amazing. It is.
_________________________________________________________

From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 10:16 pm
Subject:

Don’t tell me, don’t tell me. Ummm. It’s about water. Dirty water. Cuyahoga River!
_______________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 10:20 pm
Subject:

Close. I sent “Corky and Lenny’s Delicatessen”. Their water wasn’t dirty, though, was it?
_______________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 10:28 pm
Subject:

See. See! The place started with a “C”. A little more concentration and we’ll have it perfected. Tonight send some romantic thought. I bet that works.
___________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 27, 2014 10:49 pm
Subject: sweet dreams

Goodnight, dear Adam. I’ll do my best.
______________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 28, 2014 5:47 am
Subject:

I didn’t set the alarm, but somehow woke up at exactly 1:30. Did you receive my romantic thoughts?
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 28, 2014 6:47 am
Subject:

That one’s easy. The same as we used to sign our notes to each other, right?
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 28, 2014 7:45 am
Subject: exercise

Right!

I’m getting ready to go to my NIA class. It’s a non-impact aerobic dance/martial arts exercise. Jane, a great teacher. About a 45-min. drive, but worth it.

I also take a yoga class 3x a week. What do you do to keep your heart from attacking you?
________________________________________________________________

From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 28, 11:33 am
Subject: Re:exercise

What I do for “exercise”? It’s ice hockey. Taught myself to skate about 20 years ago when Michael played youth hockey. Now, about once a month, I play with some younger guys in their 50’s. (Ah, to be 50 again!). Only one injury that needed stitches, only knocked unconscious once. Not as therapeutic as your NIA – only 2 hours of a grueling workout after 60 hours of butt shifting on the way to and from work. I’m likely to end my life stroking out on the ice.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 28, 2014 12:14 pm
Subject: hockey!

What a way to go! Dying when wearing sexy tuchis pads, no matter how sweaty? I’d take it. Fun to think of you moving quickly cross the ice – remembering how fast you moved around the track. But hockey? You mean you can stop on a dime and send ice chips flying? Be still my heart!
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 28, 1:19 pm
Subject: Re:hockey!

Hockey, more humbling than romantic, certainly not sexy. I play with guys who started skating at the age of one and have played hockey every night of their lives since. They tolerate me, the lone Jew among the Catholic rink rats. Actually, by the time I get all my gear on, I’m too tired to play. Some nights I can’t even make it to the first puck drop without begging for a substitute.

Even if I’m alone at the net with a wide-open shot, I miss most of the time. I hang around the net a lot, get to know the goalie very well. There ought to be rule that old Jewish players are awarded a point for amusing the opposing goalie. Let’s call it a schtick shot.

But I’m a pretty good skater, can skate backwards as quickly as forwards.
_______________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 28, 2014 2:21 pm
Subject: Re:Re:hockey!

Now you’ve done it! Next I’ll have to ask you what you’re wearing.
_______________________________________________________________

From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 28, 2:45 pm
Subject: What I’m wearing

You can ask me what I’m wearing any time you like. Right now I have on my day uniform. It consists of a pale blue broadcloth dress shirt, with yellow stripes, a thin-whaled tan corduroy jacket with leather patches at the elbow, a faded pair of straight-legged Levi’s blue jeans, over pink satin thongs – floral pattern of tulips and peonies appliqued at the crotch, and naturally, a matching bra.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 28, 2014 3:02 pm
Subject: Re:What I’m wearing

Adam, don’t you know? These days they don’t have to match.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 28, 3:16 pm
Subject: Back to work

I’m on the air – covering for someone – playing the Bruckner Fifth – long enough for a quick hi. And bye.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 28, 2014 4:00 pm
Subject: classical music

You know, Adam, I can’t imagine a person better at classical programming than you. Even when you were 15 you loved telling me about Vivaldi and Mozart. I trust you would be proud of me now that I’ve embraced Bruckner and Wagner. Gordon, who often indulges me, and does like classical music, declined my invitation to Tristan and Isolde when the San Francisco Opera came to town. He dismissed it as “noise”. We had a fight. I said only people who’ve never bothered to listen to Wagner write him off that way.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 28, 5:01 pm
Subject: Re:classical music

Yes, I’m always taken aback by people’s dumb-ass response to Wagner. You’re right, Sarah, they’ve never listened. I’m excited you like it. Incidentally, lots of people could do a better job programming classical music than I – like a nine-year-old throwing a dart at the Grove Encyclopedia of Music.
________________________________________________________________

From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 28, 8:33 pm
Subject: The seats for the blind

Long day. Demanding meeting. I was musing on the commute home, thinking about our times. About Cleveland. Do you remember when we went to see Don Giovanni at the Auditorium? My grandmother’s Society for the Blind free tickets when the Met came to town. God forbid anyone should actually pay for tickets. God forbid anyone should ever have taken my grandmother herself. Even for the blind they were bad seats. We sat in that section upstairs against the wall where, when we were lucky, we spotted Leparello smoking a cigarette in the wings waiting for his cue. We never got to see Don Giovanni himself, no matter how much we strained. To this day, despite that, the end of Don Giovanni is still my favorite ending to an opera.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 28, 2014 8:51 pm
Subject: Re:The seats for the blind

You bet I remember that excursion. I went again with my mother to see Tosca when the Metropolitan Opera was in town (tickets, yet) from her cousin, the choral director at the Met, Kurt Adler. He must have seen us as his pitiful mishpoche. Wrangled complimentary tickets for us. ALSO IN THE BLIND SECTION! Almost got to see Renata Tebaldi. Actually did see her backstage. She looked exhausted after hurling herself off the parapet. An icepack on her ankle. She was furious. Apparently some stagehand fell asleep on the mattress that was supposed to catch her.

Hey, Chicago has a great opera house. Do you ever get there?
_______________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 28, 9:07 pm
Subject: The Lyric Opera

Actually, the station gets tickets, but I rarely go anymore.

For years, back in the 70s, I had a subscription to the Lyric. Went with a man I knew from the old Lincoln Park neighborhood. Let me describe the guy. Good-looking is too bland a word for it. Strikingly handsome. Think Jude Law with a Chicago accent. Wore Armani suits. Tall. Slender. When we walked into the lobby, everyone would turn to look. Of course both of us were completely heterosexual, but I liked being thought of as his date.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 28, 2014 9:10 pm
Subject: Re:The Lyric Opera

Completely heterosexual? Pity.
________________________________________________________________

From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 28, 9:19 pm
Subject: Re:Re:The Lyric Opera

I guess you caught me there. If I were so completely heterosexual, I wouldn’t have had to mention it.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 28, 2014 9:50 pm
Subject: nightie night

Off to bed. Early morning meeting.

Goodnight Adam. I’ll compose more emails to you in my sleep.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 28, 2014 10:04 pm
Subject: Re:nightie night

Goodnight, my Sarah. I’ll be with you again in my sleep.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 29, 9:10 am
Subject: My novel

Thought a lot about opera last night.

A few years ago, I wrote a short novel – 25,000 words – and one scene involves a group of opera singers, including Renata Tebaldi, lost in space.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 29,2014 9:25 am
Subject: Re:My novel

What became of your novel?
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 29, 2014 11:23 am
Subject: Re:Re:My novel

Nothing came of it. I’ll never show it to anyone, so don’t ask. I now think it’s dumb.
________________________________________________________________

From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 29, 2014 11:56 am
Subject: Please send the book

Adam, I’m sure it’s not dumb, and I really do wish to read it. Please. I remember a great novel you wrote when you were only 16. Thought you so brilliant. Trust you still are.

A memory flash – your backyard, a Scrabble game, you laid down a word on the triple-score squares – “queue” – a gazillion points in one simple move. I’ll never get over learning the word right then and wondering how it ever got to be pronounced the way it was pronounced. And recall thinking back then how brilliant Adam Wolf was.

Just about a month ago, I was back in Cleveland going through the box of my mother’s stuff – the one with my fading report cards and potato-print wrapping paper. And I came across a stash of letters written in study hall from you to me. Most went something like this: “Dear Sarah, I love you, I love you, I love you. The proof to Theorem #6 is . . . ILU, Adam”. And again I remembered thinking how brilliant Adam Wolf was and how lucky I was. (Though now I know, why I didn’t do so well in 10th grade geometry. You did all my homework for me.)
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
May 29, 2014 1:37 pm
Subject: The ILU notes

Oh — the notes in study hall, notes after class, before class, during class. When I try thinking about those days it’s like a dream — as though we were lost in the stars.

I saved your notes and photos too. I remember putting them in a box and hiding them in the crawlspace behind the rafters in the attic at the Silsby house. I wonder if they’re still there where I left them. I never retrieved them, I’m sorry to say. The house was sold while I was away at college.

In the deluge of memories, a constant one for me through all time is a moment somewhere back in a classroom – don’t know where or what day – when I looked at you and you looked back with your sweet quiet smile, touched your finger to your eye, made an “L” with your finger and pointed back at me – ILU – I think other people saw – but I remember that I didn’t care. That was the start of our special sign.

I think they did see. At the reunion before the last one in 1994, I only went to the Fri. evening get-together. Early in the evening, someone (I don’t remember who), a woman who I almost recognized (from English class, I think), very animated said to me, “We’ll always be grateful to Sarah and you. You taught us about love. I just wanted you to know that.”

I don’t remember if I responded. All I could think of at the moment was our signal: ILU – ILU2.

Sarah, talking to you could go on forever and I wouldn’t miss sleep.
________________________________________________________________

From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
May 29, 2014 4:51 pm
Subject: Re:The ILU notes

This time we will never stop. I won’t take for granted that you’re near again.

Yes, I remember the moment, the first ILU. It’s why I looked forward to English class. I think about what we radiated. It was as if everyone else in the room was a pale shadow and only we were in living color.

I’m off to teach my evening class. Then another night out. So I’ll write tomorrow and the next day and the days after that.
________________________________________________________________
From: S.Gordon Wilson <S.Gordon.Wilson@csulb.edu>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 2, 2014 2:22 pm
Subject: get well soon

Dear Sarah,

I hope you’re feeling better. These summer colds can lay the best of us low.

I’m sure you’ll be back in tip-top shape by Saturday. Would you give me the honor of dining with me at the Ocean Terrace that evening? Please call when you feel up to it.

Get better speedily!

Yours,
Gordon

S. Gordon Wilson, PhD.
Founder and Editor of The Ichthysaurus
Fellow, American Academy of Underwater Sciences
Professor of Biology, Emeritus
California State University, Long Beach
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 3, 2014 4:51 pm
Subject: remarkable talent

Bravo!!!! A most wonderful novel. I’m so flattered that you entrusted me with it. I was drawn in from the start – absorbed by those characters, especially that piece-of-work Katya. The thought of being trapped in a small spacecraft with her for a year? Makes me want to open a vein.

You’re still an astronomy buff, I see. Reading the book, I recalled how you were always oriented to the sky. How you tried to teach me about outer space. But the stars were too grand for my pea-brain to comprehend. Still are. We were standing by Boulevard School’s playground. It was night. And you pointed to a star and told me how many millions of years it took for the light from it to reach us. You said the star we were looking at probably didn’t even exist anymore. Long gone. Yikes! I didn’t want you to go on. It felt as if I’d been socked in the stomach.

I wonder, though, if we got out in space far enough and had a telescope powerful enough, could we see Adam Wolf and Sarah Ross right there, in Cleveland Heights, July 28, 1960, standing by the playground, looking up? Time-travel. Would you want to go back there?

Anyway, a great accomplishment, this novel. I think you might wish to show it to an agent, no?

I’m delighted to know you’re still so talented and clever.
_______________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 3, 2014 7:12 pm
Subject: Re:remarkable talent

Thanks for such a sweet response. I’m so glad you liked the book. But no, no agent. Let this be a secret between us.

Time-travel – back to you, to us, Sarah? I’d do it in a flash, but not if parents and curfews and homework came with the territory. Then even the lure of you wouldn’t be enough to draw me there.

Well, and thanks for the compliment. I’m glad somebody still thinks I’m smart. But, in truth, I found out I’m not as brilliant as people once thought. Univ. of Chicago was a humbling time and since then I’ve had enough experiences that I’ve learned to accept my limitations. Anyway, I’ve had people around to remind me of them.

Just about daily Lola tells me I’m stupid: “What kind of idiot are you? You went to U of C and you can’t separate recyclable from regular garbage?”
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 3, 2014 7:23 pm
Subject: I’m sorry

In the name of domestic tranquility, I won’t comment on Lola’s remarks. But just to say, I hope she doesn’t have a penchant for belittlement.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 3, 2014 7:35 pm
Subject: Re:I’m sorry

In the name of full disclosure, Lola actually goes beyond belittlement. More like mortification when she publically wants to put me in my place. She posted a video of the massive snowstorm we had last winter. The video featured me clearing the driveway, then falling flat on my face, and lying there in exhaustion. You could hear her laughing as the camera zoomed in.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 3, 2014 7:41 pm
Subject: Re:Re:I’m sorry

Geez!
______________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 3, 2014 8:06 pm
Subject: Mo Spiegel

And then there’s Maureen Spiegel. Remember her? She and her husband moved to Chicago and we saw each other a couple of times and then not at all. She had landed some big shot position as a vice president at Quaker Oats. The last time I saw them was five years ago at a barbeque at their McMansion in Glencoe. And that’s also the last time I spoke to her. She let me know how limited I was. At the party she took me aside when the others were jabbering – wondered what had happened to me – that I’d been such a “golden boy” in high school – that everyone had great expectations of me. She looked at me pityingly. I saw it coming. “How is it”, she wondered, “that you didn’t amount to more”.

When I tried to point out my few accomplishments at the radio station, she shrugged and walked away.
_______________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 3, 2014 8:27 pm
Subject: Mo the Ho

That sniveling little bitch Mo Spiegel. Lemme me at ‘er! Your work makes people’s lives fuller, gives them a way to transcend the tedium of the everyday. Is that not tremendously valuable? The arts are the oxygen of my life, many people’s lives. What? Quaker’s breakfast mush trumps Beethoven? I don’t think so.

Your commie upbringing, I’m guessing, would lead you to avoid corporate America. Anyway, where were you supposed to get the money for grad school? Even if your father ever had a cent, he wouldn’t have sent it your way.

Who the hell does little weasly Maureen Spiegel think she is? Feh! Sounds like she’s still part of the Wiley-snob clique, the girls who took greater pleasure flaunting their cashmere sweaters than wearing them. In history class she always enjoyed knocking my books off my desk as she passed. Liked to see me scramble for them. A bully then. A bully now. Just ignore her. Leave it to me to be the one to tear her limb from limb. For old time’s sake. Do you think you’ll have to run into her at the reunion?
________________________________________________________________

From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 3, 2014 9:23 pm
Subject: Re: Mo the Ho

The more I think about the last reunion, the more hesitant I am about the upcoming one. I debate with myself about it – I’m still a little undecided whether to go. I went to the one 10 years ago and I did enjoy the repartee with Greg and Steve et al. Mostly though I recall people lodging grievances they had harbored for 40 yrs – slights I didn’t intend or remember. It seemed like every 5 mins. someone who I barely remembered would challenge me. Mike Newman asked me if it was true that my father was a Communist and did he raise us as Commies too? Greenblatt remembered how he caught me in the school parking lot, letting air out of the tires on his father’s Caddie. And, oh, whether it was a political statement or something. I told him I didn’t recall it. (I did and it was.)

And the strangest thing of all, Ellen Thomas, I think that’s her name, asked me why, when she flirted with me in Chemistry, I never asked her out, etc., etc. When it was over I had a portrait of myself as an arrogant, insensitive asshole – and I guess people wanted me to know that. So I dutifully apologized and they seemed satisfied that I wasn’t the same person they knew.

More tomorrow. Goodnight, my Sarah.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 3, 2014 10:43 pm
Subject: spare me reunions

These tales of reunion are rather chilling. I can imagine the horror of a list of grievances. It makes me giddy to be not going. I still carry a satchel of grievances myself and would have the impulse to dump them on Janice Price. She always managed to make me feel unwanted in any group.
____________________________________________________________
From: Harold Weinstein <Harold.W.Weinstein9933@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 4 2014 10:55 am
Subject: relocating

FYI. Leaving Ashland. Took 1 yr visiting post at St. Olaf’s in Minnesota, beginning Sept.1. New email address to follow. H
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 4, 2014 11:32 am
Subject:Our last telephone call

Sarah, this morning I thought about the last time you and I spoke – in 1979. I don’t know if you remember – you called to tell me that Susan Cantor had died – and as we were speaking my wife (at the time) interrupted me, purposely, on some ruse – and we never finished the conversation. When we do talk to each other again, I promise no interruptions, at least not for the first 4 hours.
________________________________________________________________

From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 4, 2014 1:51 pm
Subject: Re:Our last telephone call

Yes, I remember the call. Your mother gave me the number – groused about your father, maybe about you, and added that she always thought you and I should have gotten married. Mothers. . .
I didn’t just call you then to socialize. I was back in Cleveland that week and low – about getting older, about my parents deteriorating. Things were falling apart in my family. Esther was overwhelmed and screaming a lot. I needed comfort and I really needed to talk to someone, actually to you. My mother who, as you know, never recovered from what happened to her family in the War, had just been institutionalized. Went off the rails – listening to the radio, waiting for her name to be called, to be herded “to points East”. She got better, eventually, somewhat, but that day I longed for a connection to someone who had known me as her child. And no one had known me as well as you.
And Susan Cantor dying on the operating table, so young, so unnecessarily. Too much. But I felt certain that your voice alone could comfort me. It did. But I do recall the painful and abrupt end to the conversation. I took it as a clear message, to stay away. Anyway, from that talk you knew I had dropped out of grad school, that I was married to a literature guy, that I was trying to get pregnant, but couldn’t, that I was working with the Art dept. at San Diego, monotonous work, ordering supplies, making sure enough conté crayon was in stock, that sort of thing. Didn’t last long. Anyway, you would have heard more if it hadn’t been for that startling interruptus to the conversation.

There were things that I might have talked to you about had you stayed on the phone longer

1) That I had been held hostage by enemy aliens of the UFO sort, in their mother ship, for the better part of 1969 (or was that the LSD speaking?).

2) That after college I had tried going on with painting, on my own, but ripped up all the canvases deciding that I had no talent. Zero. That the only reason I thought I did was because Morris Nolinski at Bennington praised me to the sky, even named a painting (now in MOMA) after me, Buena Sarah I (there was never a II, cause I stopped the affair. Later, I discovered that Amazing Grace I and II, and Katydid I, II and III all lived in my dorm).

3) During grad school earned some chump change talking dirty on the dial-a-slut circuit.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 4, 2014 6:35 pm
Subject: Re:Re:Our last telephone call

Nothing so arousing here.

Thanks for jogging my memory about that call. Maybe I’ve repressed it. As a matter of fact, I do recall the scene, if not the talk – tethered to a wall phone, the cord one foot long. Brenda, who had answered the phone, so knew it was you, was literally in my face the whole time – challenging me to do anything – mocking every word I said. Needless to say Brenda was insecure. She knew how important you had been to me. All the intensity we felt. You may want to know that our aborted conversation back in ’79 was a kind of turning point for Brenda and me. I was humiliated, enraged – and I snapped – for the first time in our marriage I wasn’t Adam the Conciliator. Things changed after that and I guess I stopped being intimidated by Brenda. We split up six months later.

Tell me about Harold if you want. Sorry that you lost him.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 4, 2014 8:13 pm
Subject: Harold?

Adam, I had no idea about Brenda. Sorry I got you in trouble, or perhaps I’m not sorry, if it helped extricate you from such a one. Is rescuing Adam Wolf my life’s actual calling?
Let’s see, what can I tell you about life with Harold? The 70’s, first his bucking for tenure, us needing to be pleasant to some boors in the senior ranks of the department. In particular, one who always greeted me by running his hand down my back and snapping my bra. Geezers. But I pretended to like that frat-boy vulgarity. Full Professors, whiskey-breathed by 9:00 am. For Harold’s sake I had to giggle at their toilet jokes. I hated those years.
The only one of the senior faculty I could stand was Timothy Fielding, an evil sense of humor – once said if Harold got tenure he couldn’t be let go, “even if he buggered a goat on the steps of the post office at high noon”. Harold did get tenure. I don’t believe he ever fucked a goat, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
Well, you see, guess I’m not saying all that much about Sarah Ross in those years. (I still have a hard time talking about myself.) I didn’t feel all that present in those days. It was all about Professor Harold Weinstein, PhD, the smiling, the entertaining. Once he got tenure I needed to get away from that. Quit my job in the Art dept., took fencing lessons, learned to deal blackjack at the Diamond Star Casino. Harold was embarrassed by all of it. He insisted I mention it to no one at the university. And I agreed to cease and desist. Me? I was transmogrified from the feisty Sarah you knew and loved, into the dutiful, robotic faculty wife.
Luckily some consciousness-raising group I joined jolted me back into myself. Began painting again and gave a fuck about dinner parties. Spent some time adventuring in Europe with my best pal. She stayed on in her family’s home in Terni. And I almost did too. So you see, you’re not the only one who’s gotten themselves in trouble. Are you ready to talk more about your troubles?
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 4, 2014 9:00 pm
Subject:

Wow! Forever the feisty Sarah, the adventurer. I want to hear more, much more, but can’t right now. Duty calls. Lola’s car broke down. I need to go see what’s up. More tomorrow.
Promise.
________________________________________________________________

From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 5, 2014 9:55 am
Subject:

Happy June 5th, Adam. It hasn’t even been two weeks, but it feels to me as if we’ve never been apart. Odd, don’t you think?
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 5, 2014 11:33 am
Subject:

Happy June 5th to you too, my Sarah Ross. And it feels as if we’ve never been apart because we haven’t been.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 5, 2014 4:51 pm
Subject:

I won’t be able to write at any length until later in the evening. Command performance. Her Royal Highness, A. Schreiber, insists I redo next month’s program schedule by tomorrow. Forgive me.
______________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 5, 2014 9:41 pm
Subject: Possessed

Now, to get back to what I’ve really been wishing to do all day, schmooze with you. Anyway, the short version of my troubles, as promised. After Brenda, several years of frenzy, then a thirty year marriage of separate lives, little intimate contact, appeasing and enabling my new wife’s self-destructive impulses. And then the day job – keeping the peace at all, and I mean ALL costs. Accommodating that woman’s professional and personal expectations of me.

Whatever happened to you in those years, the Sarah I knew and loved seems to have reemerged in full force. Sure hope Harold also tried consciousness-raising. Still, it must have been difficult for you when he passed away.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 5, 2014 10:21 pm
Subject: how I fell for you

“Difficult” is too thin a word for what I went through. I’d rather not go there.

You know, Adam, I think my attraction to Harold in the first place had a lot to do with you. Literature. You planted the passion for that in me. Harold picked up where you left off – explaining Milton and Joyce, to me, the way you had Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. You liked Russian literature, didn’t you?

I need to tell you a story. You were a guru of sorts to me, the literate American who could finally teach me what to read. I was 14. Before you, I had no guide. We had no books in the house, at least no books in English. Before you, I would go to the library and close my eyes and run my hand along the shelf and take out any 5 books my hand landed on. Very funny thinking about it. Roosevelt Jr. High. We had a book report due, one we had to deliver, orally, in Tubaugh’s 8th grade Honors English class. I did my usual five book gambit. Three were geography or history books. The other two? One was Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (which I couldn’t make heads or tails of, of course. Still can’t). The other book, a trifle. See Here, Private Hargrove, an amusing book about a bumbling private in WWII. So I ended up giving a report on it. Afterwards kids laughed at me for picking a stupid book. But what did I know? As I was returning to my desk one whispered, “Ever hear of Mark Twain?” Another, “You could have picked Dickens”. When I tell the story of why I’ve been in love with my first boyfriend, I say he never made fun of me, the way the others did. But two days later gave me a copy of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and I was so grateful. I joined a paperback book club, and you helped me select books. It’s there I discovered Nabokov, whose writing still makes me melt. It is you who made me literary.

Goodnight, my Adam. Please, more tomorrow.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 5, 2014 10:25 pm
Subject: Re: how I fell for you

What a story! Of course more tomorrow. Goodnight, my dear Sarah. ILU
_______________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 6, 2014 7:10 am
Subject: Steinbeck

Up early to be with you and talk.

The Steinbeck – that was my father’s. I took it from his shelf. A used book. I was with him when he “bought” it. One Saturday my father spent some rare time with me – not the ball game, no, not my father. We went to the Saint Vincent de Paul thrift shop. He picked the book off the shelf and showed me that the price inside was 10 cents. He winked at me, took out a pencil, carefully erased the 10 cents and neatly wrote 5 cents in its place. And when we got back in the car, he gloated as if he had just pulled off a big Brinks heist.

Your memories are so vivid, funny how memory works. Now I remember when I gave you the book your look made my heart leap up. Your smile – hard to describe what happened to me, but it was a trance. The feeling – a profound warmth that surged through my body. Since we started writing I too have been awash in memories – and intense feelings – actually I’ve been unable to concentrate on anything else – nervously waiting for your replies.
________________________________________________________________________

From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 6, 2014 7:34 am
Subject: Another flash of the past

Sarah, as long as we’re on the topic of memory, can you recall the one time before that 1979 call when we talked?

Maybe because today’s the 6th, I do remember the date – June 7th 1968. I can picture exactly where I was standing in that old dumpy apartment of mine on 55th St., by the railroad tracks, staring out the window. And I know I was surprised that you called – and that you told me it was a predetermined day for us to reconnect. I can still feel the emotions. I was about to head off to West Virginia to become a Vista volunteer – kept me out of the draft – so I must have been anxious. And after the call, I had a sense of longing, maybe remorse, but I can’t remember what we said. Can you?
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 6, 2014 8:34 am
Subject: June 7th

Yes, I do recall phoning you June 7, 1968, missing you terribly. I was about to take off to Europe for the summer. First trip back there since childhood. Exciting!

1966. Do you remember, two years earlier, we spent one golden day together? A date. We hadn’t seen each other since high school and we were about to go into our junior year in college. We were 20. It was the last time we ever saw each other.

So the call that day in ’68? Before the phone call I had no idea we would stop communicating. After the phone call I chose to go into radio silence – at least for a decade.

It’s odd what is coming back to me about that conversation. I now remember telling you I saved your love notes to me, and the childhood pictures you had given me. I felt very close to you that day. And you said you had put my pictures and letters to you in a hiding place in the attic of the Silsby house for safekeeping. (I didn’t believe you, not until now.)

I supposed you didn’t like my calling because when I tried to reminisce, you brought up Darlene Cutler and all that she had meant to you. And when I got off the phone I kept muttering to myself something like “Darlene Cutler? Darlene Cutler? That slut?” In the girls’ locker room, we used to have a nickname for her, you know, “The Human Sperm Bank”. I marvel that the call with me meant anything at all to you. I’m very touched to know now that you remember not just the call, but also the date.
______________________________________________________________

From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 6, 2014 11:18 am
Subject: Re:June 7th

I guess I know now why I felt a sense of loss or remorse after that call. Forgive me if you can. What prompted me to push you away and talk about anyone else, I couldn’t know.

Tell me what was so special, though, about June 7, 1968.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 6, 2014 11:29 am
Subject: Re:Re: June 7th

My diary records that you asked me to marry you on Feb. 15th 1961, when we had just turned 15. And we picked June 7, 1968 as our Wedding Day. ________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 6, 2014 12:25 pm
Subject: Golden day

I certainly remember holding you in the sunroom of your parent’s apartment when I proposed to you and we set a date. I just forgot it was that day. Of course, June 7th was and maybe always will be our anniversary. And now too I thought all day about our last time together – that “golden day” all those years ago. I do recall a sweet time, but not many details. Are there more that will trigger my memory?
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 6, 2014 1:18 pm
Subject: Re:Golden day

I do have other details, but I’ll wait until I figure out how to formulate them, if that’s okay.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 6, 2014 11:18 pm
Subject: Re:Re:Golden day

Okay. I’ll be patient. Long day – business dinner – this time with some potential sponsors. It could have been a nice time, were it not for the talk of politics – Tea Party line – ship immigrants back, they said – perhaps meant to include wetbacks like you, for all I know.

Goodnight. ILU
________________________________________________________________

From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 7, 2014 4:56 am
Subject: Anniversary

Happy Anniversary, my Adam.

A sudden flash of that golden day, that last day we were ever together, an experience that’s so private and internal, it won’t jog your memory at all. We spent the day at the Cleveland Art Museum, their 50th anniversary show, 1966. Then we were in the car, at night – the parking lot of our Roosevelt Junior High School. The street lamp the only illumination. I was next to you, with you, intimately. Looking into the side window, I saw my own reflection, but it wasn’t my face I saw, instead it was an amalgam of both our faces – I couldn’t decipher the parts, couldn’t separate one from the other.

It’s hard to put such a mystical moment into words. It cheapens it too much. But the vision had temperature, a warmth to it – beatific, glowing, with some interior golden light. Most amazing. It felt so right.

I never dreamed I would have a chance to mention it to you.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 7, 2014 8:08 am
Subject: Golden day too

Happy Anniversary, Sweets!
In the silence here – I’ve read that message now a dozen times – that vision of us as one – I don’t have words, only now a sensation (of longing I think) that I can’t really describe. When your earlier note said you didn’t know how to put the details of our “golden day” in words, I thought that something ominous had happened or I did or said something unredeemable. How the image stayed with you, Sarah – that image – is making me want to cry – a release of feeling – not sadness.

And then there are the years and years in between – all the June 7ths – which, if you wish, I could tell you about later.
• _______________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
• June 7, 2014 10:19 am
• Subject: Re:Golden day too

Maybe I just need to hold the stillness a while longer. I’m a bit overwhelmed too by the memory – and for the occasion of being able to share it with you – and by my own reaction of tears – streaming tears – a weight off my heart too – and I know I could never have delivered this vision by phone – certainly not in person – so I’m glad we write – it will always stabilize the feelings now – always re-readable – I’m so glad you know now how deeply inside me you have lived.

More later, promise
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
• June 7, 2014 11:01 am
• Subject:

You should know, Adam Wolf, the joy I feel when seeing your name in my inbox. No matter who else wants to get to me, I leap to you.
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 7, 2014 12:54 pm
Subject:

I’ve spent the whole morning daydreaming of what I was going to say to you today and tomorrow. I think I would be in your inbox all the time, if I could.
____________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 7, 2014 1:29 pm
Subject: Distracted

All along these many years I knew that no one could replace you. The idea of you. The fit. I see now how we fit. I feel the fit and marvel at it. I’m crazy and distracted. Nicole jabbers at me. I pretend to be listening, but I’m itching to get to your emails. I resent having to leave the screen for a customer. Don’t they know I have better things to do with my time? Don’t they know Adam Wolf might be there waiting for me? Fools.
_______________________________________________________________
• From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
June 7, 2014 2:48 pm
Subject:

I’d like to be on the computer for a few hours with you too. But I have to go on the air in a few minutes. Hold that thought. I’ll do a little work and touch your inbox in a while.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 7, 2014 5:17 pm
Subject:

Just wondering, Adam, is your email, our correspondence, secure from prying eyes?

I won’t be able to write much more today. Gordon’s invited me out to dinner and I better get ready.
_______________________________________________________________

From: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross<sarahross64@gmail.com>
• June 8, 2014 8:57 am
Subject: Trustworthy

To answer your question about our privacy. Sure. Absolutely. No one here would snoop around. I trust them.

Does Gordon know we correspond?
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 8, 2014 10:48 am
Subject: Re:Trustworthy

Yep. I mentioned you and I were in contact. How about Lola? Does she know we’re in touch?
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross<sarahross64@gmail.com>
• June 8, 2014 10:53 am
Subject:Re:Re:Trustworthy

No, but she knows who you are.
________________________________________________________________
• From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 8, 2014 11:02 am
Subject: Amanda?

Tell me about Amanda. She scares me. Does she know about us?
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross<sarahross64@gmail.com>
• June 8, 2014 2:14 pm
Subject: Re:Amanda?

No, Amanda doesn’t know about us, but she thinks I’ve been acting strange lately. Asks me a dozen times what’s the matter. Keeps suggesting we meet over drinks to talk this over – that we don’t spend enough time together anymore. Forget about it. Nothing to be scared of, Sarah. We just have a long relationship at the station. We’ve travelled together. We’ve worked on the program guide for years and years.

Lola has me doing hateful jobs around the house today. But most of my time has been spent chasing a chipmunk out. The cat likes to bring them in as souvenirs for us. You should see me with a wastebasket trying to swoop down on the scurrying, frightened thing. This isn’t the first time. But just now the neighbor stopped over and mentioned that I could get it out by laying a trail of peanuts to the open door. And sure enough, it worked.

So I’m back with you, where I really need to be.
________________________________________________________________

From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 8, 2014 4:23 pm
Subject: Re:Re:Amanda?

You do talk about Amanda a lot. “We” this and “we” that. What do you wish me to know about her? Are you trying to tell me something?
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross<sarahross64@gmail.com>
• June 8, 2014 5:28 pm
Subject:Re:Re:Re:Amanda?

Nothing to tell. Promise. I guess she’s conditioned me to call it a “we”.
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 8, 2014 7:08 pm
Subject: Off for a week

Adam, I may have forgotten to tell you. I’m getting ready for a wonderful vacation, beginning tomorrow. I’m going up to Kennebunkport, Maine – an artist’s retreat, with a teacher I had before. I do especially good work with him, learn a lot. Alas, dear friend, I kind of doubt they have internet there. I’m there until the 14th.

I’ll write as soon as I return. Promise.
_______________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross<sarahross64@gmail.com>
• June 8, 2014 8:05 pm
Subject: Re:Off for a week

Oh. How come you didn’t tell me? How nice for you. Not so nice for me. How am I supposed to survive even a few days without you? Write if you can, but perhaps the whole point is to concentrate on your painting, uninterrupted.

I’ll miss you. Hurry back. Are you going alone?

Goodnight dear Sarah. ILU
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 9, 2014 9:17 am
Subject: Re:Re:Off for a week

Bye bye, Adam. It just slipped my mind. I’ll miss you too! Remember me. Remind me there’s good reason I’m leaving on this trip. I’ll contact you if I can.

Yes, alone.
______________________________________________________________

From: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross<sarahross64@gmail.com>
• June 9, 2014 9:28 am
Subject: Have fun!

You’ll have a grand and rejuvenating time. Enjoy yourself. And no worries, I haven’t forgotten you all these years. I’m not about to now. BYE, SARAH. Would you try to get the plane to touch down in Chicago, if only for an hour. I could meet you at O’Hare and we could hoist a few.
______________________________________________________________
• From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 14, 2014 5:44 pm
Subject: Back from Maine

I just walked into the house, Adam, grateful that I can finally be in touch again. Wonderful, productive time. I think it stretched me. I worked with watercolor, pen, pencil on the same page. Maybe I’ll get up the courage to send you some pictures. Pleasant people on the trip. Their critique was gentle, but to the point and constructive. Great fun.

How have you been?
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross<sarahross64@gmail.com>
• June 14, 2014 7:58 pm
Subject: Re:Back from Maine

YOU’RE BACK!!! HURRAH. YOU DIDN’T FORGET ME!

The blackout was impossible.

So glad you had a great time. By all means let me see what you’ve produced!

Me? I’ve been okay this week. Same old drudge. My life is not as varied and exciting as yours. I wish I could change that. I spent most of the week longing for you.

The reunion’s coming up soon. Text and emails come everyday – an on-going pep rally. People trying to convince me it’s going to be transformative. I’m working myself up to it. Only a week til it’s over with.

Welcome home,

Your Adam
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
June 14, 2014 9:52 pm
Subject: Re:Re:Back from Maine

I just unpacked. I’m not one of those people who can put that off.
Wiped out. A long day. First getting to Boston, and then a 5-hour flight from Logan. I think we might have flown over your house. I should have waved.

Good night, dear Adam.

As far as I’m concerned, the reunion is already underway. And it IS transformative. And permanent. You and me.
_______________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf < adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
• June 15, 2014 7:56 pm
• Subject: Back from the future

Sarah, my love, picture this filmic episode:

We’re 14 years old. It’s 1960, a late spring afternoon. A path. Cain Park. I’m there waiting for you.

The dialogue begins:

Sarah: “Adam, where on earth have you been? I’ve been frantic. Your parents have been frantic.”

Adam: “Been away, far away. Actually I’ve travelled to the future. Landed in 2014. Guess what? Everybody has air conditioning. Everyone has a phone you can keep in your pocket. Anybody can order movies and watch instantly on their portable televisions. And, guess what else, my love? Cleveland still hasn’t won a World Series. But most important, you and I are together. What do you say to that?”
_______________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
• June 15, 2014 8:04 pm
• Subject: Re:Back from the future

I would have said, “You mean we’re together six feet under, in adjoining plots?”
________________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross<sarahross64@gmail.com>
• June 15, 2014 8:17 pm
• Subject: Re:Re:Back from the future

I’d tell you to hold on to your hat and not to be upset.

I’d say: “Except for one day and two phone calls, we haven’t been together since high school – for most of our lives. Half a century later, though, we’re back together again! Come to the future with me now, Sarah, and we’ll skip the years in between. They’re not worth it anyway.”

Sarah, would you have come with me then, into the future? What would you have said?
• _______________________________________________________________





• From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
• June 15, 2014 8:31 pm
• Subject: Stop pulling my leg

No, I certainly would not have come with you. And I would have said, “Okay, Mr. Looney Tunes. Adios. Aufwiedersehen. You’re crazier than I ever guessed. I’m not going with you anywhere, not now, not in the future. I’m going home.”

I would have added, “Fess up and tell me the truth now. Where have you really been since Monday afternoon?” That’s what I would have said,

And furthermore, I would have thrown in, “Oh, I get it, you’re breaking up with me. Your voo-doo glimpse into the future, HA! Just a cover so you can wander off into the sunset with Claire Carlsen. Yeah, and when you turn old and your girlfriends don’t want you anymore, then you’ll expect me to push you around in your wheelchair, right? No deal.” I would say, “See you, chum!”
_______________________________________________________________
From: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
To: Sarah Ross<sarahross64@gmail.com>
• June 15, 2014 9:13 pm
• Subject: Not pulling your leg

But I would insist I was telling the truth: “Au contraire, my Sarah. We may be in our late 60s, but not decrepit, not at all. A few ailments, but we avoid doctors, so we don’t dwell on them. Besides you and I have Medicare”. (And you would have asked me what Medicare was.)

“Most amazing, Sarah,” I would continue, “I never would have believed it either, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. Two septuagenarians rolling around the bed all night, a blowjob every morning.”

What would you have said then, if I had promised you that?
________________________________________________________________
From: Sarah Ross <sarahross64@gmail.com>
To: Adam Wolf <adam.wolf1402@gmail.com>
• June 15, 2014 9:27 pm
• Subject: Re:Not pulling your leg

1960? I would have asked, “Adam, what’s a blowjob?”
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Book Trailer Reveal: One-Way Ticket Home by K.C. Hardy

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/kIfyNDcWz2Y?rel=0

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Title: One-Way Ticket Home
Author: K.C. Hardy
Publisher: Casbury Lane Press
Pages: 262
Genre: Christian Inspirational Fiction

Days before boarding the plane to Italy for her daughter’s wedding, Julie Whitaker receives an unexpected phone call from her past. The memory of Mark Jennings, a handsome and charming Top Gun pilot, had haunted her for decades. Their fairy tale wedding was everything she’d ever dreamed of, but it quickly turned into her worst nightmare.

Starting a new a life without Mark proved to be much harder than Julie had imagined. But in her darkest hour, God revealed Himself in a miraculous way, giving her the strength she needed not only to battle depression, but to face a diagnosis of breast cancer that threatened to cut her life short.

Now, amidst the splendor of the Italian Alps, on the eve of her daughter’s wedding, Julie’s thoughts are catapulted back to Mark and the reason for his call.  After thirty years, will Julie have a chance to see him once again? And would she even want to?

Based on true events, One-Way Ticket Home will take you on an unforgettable journey of love, loss, hope and forgiveness. With grace, candor and an indomitable wit, K.C. Hardy reminds us that it is often in our darkest hours, that the strength of the human spirit shines the brightest.

For More Information

One-Way Ticket Home is available at Amazon.

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First Chapter Reveal: On Top of the World by David Lamb

on-top-of-the-worldTitle: ON TOP OF THE WORLD (UNTIL THE BELL CHIMES)
Author: David Lamb
Publisher: Woolly Mammoth Books
Pages: 240
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Contemporary Romance/Multicultural/Humor/Satire

2016 BEST FICTION-Pacific Book Awards. FROM THE FUNNY AND NATURALLY BRILLIANT DAVID LAMB, award-winning playwright of the New York Times celebrated play, Platanos Y Collard Greens, comes a modern spin on Dickens’ classic tale that perfectly combines humor and romance in a story re-imagined for our digital, consumerist age. This version of Scrooge and Belle is familiar, yet unlike any you’ve come across before. Scrooge, or rather Scrooje, is music’s biggest superstar, with one hundred million albums sold, fifteen million devoted YouTube subscribers, two and a half million Facebook likes, and twenty-five million fanatical Twitter followers known as Scroojites. Belle, is a legal shark who gulps down her opposition voraciously and whose beauty and stunning figure causes traffic accidents as she zips through the sidewalks of Manhattan stylishly adorned and taking no prisoners. They never imagined being music’s most powerful couple, but that’s exactly what happened when Belle fell head over heels and gave the Coke-bottle glasses wearing, plaid and stripe attired, scrawny, biggest nerd on her college campus the ultimate makeover, turning him into a fashion impresario whose style sets trends from Milan to NY Fashion Week and who can be seen courtside at the NBA Finals sporting a perfectly-fitted cashmere suit. Then it happens. Belle realizes too late that she’s created a chart-topping monster as Scrooje’s ego explodes and he starts acting a fool. Now, it’s been three years since they ve spoken. But tonight at Hollywood s biggest red carpet event, with the whole world watching, they’ll be given a second chance. Will Scrooje listen to the ghostly-advice of Marley, his best friend since the fourth grade, who at the time of his untimely drowning at his Brazilian poolside birthday bash was as big a star as Scrooje? Will Scrooje finally do right by his number one artist, Cratchit, a genius comedian, who Scrooje invariably rip offs every chance he gets? And with twenty-five million viewers tuned in will Scrooje finally shed his ego, jeopardize his image and declare his love for Belle, the one he betrayed and let slip away? Second chances don’t often come around. Will Belle even give him a chance? Mixing heart, soul, bling and romance in a fresh, original satire about race, class and celebrity worship Lamb establishes himself as one of the most talented and amazing writers today. And leaves no doubt that the Pacific Book Awards chose wisely when they selected On Top Of The World as the year’s Best Fiction.

Purchase Information:

Amazon | iTunes | B&N

First Chapter:

Life’s a Beach; I’m just playing in the sand. I had to thank Lil Wayne for that one. It was my motto. I had it inscribed on the door of my office underneath my crown.

Why did I have a crown?

Because I’m musical royalty. That’s why I’d insisted the government carve my face on Mt. Rushmore. People said I was crazy spending $5 million suing to make it happen. But hey, a king must get his due.

Look, I know the Revolution of 1776 liberated America from the grip of kings. But I was a new kind of king, one who’d created an empire no poor boy had any business ever dreaming of. Yes, Fitty netted $100 million when Coca-Cola gobbled up Vitaminwater, whoop-de-damn-do. And yes, Jigga sold Rocawear to Iconix for $204 million, big damn deal. Peanuts. I had my eyes on the man Forbes proclaimed the richest human being who ever walked the earth—my own handsome ancestor (and one day, DNA tests will prove this), Mansa Musa, the emperor of Mali whose face adorns history’s most famous map, the Catalan Atlas, where he’s pictured seated regally and holding a big-ass gold nugget. The man Forbes estimated to be worth $400 billion.

Now, this wasn’t to say my wealth was in Mansa Musa’s neighborhood (truth be told, I was still trying to reach Diddy’s financial zip code), but no one could deny what I’d achieved. Musical royalty; forty million albums sold; a $100 million concert tour; the hottest-selling clothing lines; and my sneaker sales were on the road to making Air Jordan’s look like chump change.

This was my destiny.

From the moment of my birth, I was enamored with my own distinction. How do you think I was so motivated to beat those millions of others racing for the prize? I guess the blame for what some deride as my massive ego goes to the boisterous celebrations sweeping the country the year I was born. Two hundred and some odd years after the Thirteen Colonies declared independence; I happily broke free from nine months of solitary confinement in my mother’s belly. It was 1984, and once I escaped, I couldn’t wait to get the party started. From the first slap on my bare behind to my first scream that soon followed, I absorbed America’s Olympic celebrations like a sponge. I decided right then and there I wanted my name to live forever.

Okay, so that sounds a little much, but just imagine if you’d grown up a little Black boy named after a Charles Dickens’ character. Your ego might be a little warped, too.

So please, before you judge, hear the whole story. Before I was headlining concerts, people had no idea how to pronounce my name; and even today, most believe it’s my nom de plume, completely unaware that it’s my family’s legacy, the result of an overseer’s bitter attempt at vengeance. How else could I end up with a name like “Scrooʝe?”

Yes, today Dickens is one of the world’s most beloved writers. But that wasn’t always the case. Back in the 1840s, a young Charles Dickens decided to, as the English say, “take a trip across the pond” to see what life was like in America.

When he published his travel memoir, American Notes, nine months later, the excrement hit the fan.

Dickens had unmasked the brutality of what the good folks of the South called “the peculiar institution,” thereby helping spur Britain’s expansion of abolition with the passing of the Indian Slavery Act of 1843, and pissing off slaveholders that Dickens had opened his big fat mouth in the first place.

As fate would have it, in this overheated atmosphere, my great-great-great-grandfather was born on a plantation run by Virginia’s cruelest overseer. Who, according to the family history my grandma passed down to me, was so angry when he learned Dickens had printed one of his runaway slave ads in American Notes, that his face turned red as an apple while he cursed like a sailor. He then promptly ordered “ten Nigras whipped” because Dickens had the gall not to recognize how kind such a fine gentlemen as himself was to the slaves. Not one to take insults lightly, the overseer started a petition to have Dickens’ books banned from the States then tried to sue him for libel. A year and a half later, after having failed on both fronts, he vowed to extract his revenge by naming the next slave born on the plantation after Ebenezer Scrooge. And just to be sure to pour a little extra salt on the wound, he decided to change the order of the names because as he said, “Nigras get everything ass backwards.”

So that was how my great-great-great-grandfather came to be named Scrooge Ebenezer.

Miraculously, despite enduring indescribable brutality on the plantation, Scrooge Ebenezer ultimately triumphed. During Reconstruction, he became one of the first Black congressmen. Since that time, all of his male descendants have been named “Scrooge.” As the decades passed and times changed, my father decided to give the spelling some Ebonics flair.

Now you have to understand, my father (in his youth) had been the embodiment of cool, so much so that he’d once run a marathon at high noon in August in Arizona—without so much as breaking a sweat, all while delivering up-to-the-minute analysis of the race as he ran. Naturally, a man whose magnetism was so strong that college debutantes patiently waited in line to ask to be his high school prom date, wanted to bestow some of his overflowing charisma on his firstborn son. So when Dad came up with his Ebonics-inspired translation, he proudly proclaimed: “Now if that ain’t cool, I don’t know what is.”

Unfortunately for me, it was the first time in my father’s life his cool barometer was off. All of the fallout from Dad’s ill-timed miscalculation fell upon my scrawny shoulders (or more accurately, upon my young ears). On a daily basis, my classmates took unbridled delight in twisting my name into unflattering caricatures.

“Screwed-yuh,” was at the top of the list, but there were plenty of others. “Screw-gee poop” and “Scrooʝenezer” were popular. But “Ebonsneezer” was the hardest to shake because it had a revival every allergy season when I would have sneezing fits so loud and powerful, I felt like I could blow the windows off their hinges. Even my teachers, who weren’t trying to make fun of me, struggled with the pronunciation, mangling my name so many times I lost track. I would cringe every time Mr. Manigold came to my name when he checked attendance. “Scroogie Ebon-eye-zer” was the closest he ever came to getting it right, and that was only after a half-dozen other mess-ups.

As a little boy, I’d lie awake wondering why my father couldn’t have just kept the original spelling. I promised myself that if it were my destiny to be named after a Victorian character then one day the whole world would know my name.

I kept my promise.

Wish my pops were here to see what I’ve done. Sometimes onstage—even with twenty-two thousand people screaming my name—I’d feel all alone and retreat inside the music, letting the rhythmic bass lines invade my soul until I was one with it. Then everything would stop, and I could sense my heart pulsating on the downbeat. I’d close my eyes and imagine I was three years old again, laughing as my father spun me in the air, telling me I could achieve anything.

And it felt beautiful.

 

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One of Windsor Book Blast!

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About the Book:

one-of-windsor

Title: One of Windsor: The Untold Story of America’s First Witch Hanging
Author: Beth M. Caruso
Publisher: Ladyslipper Press
Pages: 358
Genre: Historical Fiction

Alice, a young woman prone to intuitive insights and loyalty to the only family she has ever known, leaves England for the rigid colony of the Massachusetts Bay in 1635 in hopes of reuniting with them again. Finally settling in Windsor, Connecticut, she encounters the rich American wilderness and its inhabitants, her own healing abilities, and the blinding fears of Puritan leaders which collide and set the stage for America’s first witch hanging, her own, on May 26, 1647.

This event and Alice‘s ties to her beloved family are catalysts that influence Connecticut‘s Governor John Winthrop Jr. to halt witchcraft hangings in much later years. Paradoxically, these same ties and the memory of the incidents that led to her accusation become a secret and destructive force behind Cotton Mather’s written commentary on the Salem witch trials of 1692, provoking further witchcraft hysteria in Massachusetts forty-five years after her death.

The author uses extensive historical research combined with literary inventions, to bring forth a shocking and passionate narrative theory explaining this tragic and important episode in American history.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:

NEW WINDSOR, BERKSHIRE,
ENGLAND, 1615

The infant was soon to enter the world. Alsie’s increased labor pains and a sudden wave of panic made a swift announcement of her baby’s imminent arrival. Gwendolyn, the midwife, motioned with a wise smile and nod to Alsie’s cousin. Mrs. Mary Merwin Tinker and her daughters were to make the final preparations for the newborn. The lines embedded under Gwendolyn’s eyes, eyes still bright after many years of life, were a testament to her wisdom and experience.

“Girls. It’s time. Quickly…Sarah, bring the rest of Gwendolyn’s supplies to the bedside table. She’ll need the string and knives shortly. Little Mary, come and support Alsie’s back. You too, Ellen. Assist Mary. Margaret, make sure the linens are warmed and everything else is ready for the babe! We must all give our support to cousin now,” spoke Mrs. Mary Tinker, their mother.

“Yes ma’am,” they replied in unison as some sisters hurried about making sure everything was in place for the birth, and the remaining sisters stayed at Alsie’s side to comfort her.

Despite the excitement inside, a branch softly and hypnotically continued to hit the leaded glass window of the thatched cottage in a steady cadence. Alsie had already been in a trance for the past hour, the trance a woman’s body and soul become held in toward the end of labor.

About the Author

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Beth M. Caruso grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and spent her childhood writing puppet shows and witches’ cookbooks. She became interested in French Literature and Hispanic Studies, receiving a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Cincinnati. She later obtained Masters degrees in Nursing and Public Health.

Working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, she helped to improve the public health of local Karen hill tribes. She also had the privilege to care for hundreds of babies and their mothers as a labor and delivery nurse.

Largely influenced by an apprenticeship with herbalist and wildcrafter, Will Endres, in North Carolina, she surrounds herself with plants through gardening and native species conservation.

Her latest passion is to discover and convey important stories of women in American history. One of Windsor is her debut novel. She lives in New England with her awesome husband, amazing children, loyal puppy, and cuddly cats. .

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK

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First Chapter Reveal: 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. by Robert J. Dornan

23 Minutes

Title: 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M.
Author: Robert J. Dornan
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 550
Genre: Historical Fiction

In the early morning of her sister’s wedding day, Mila Kharmalov stared in stunned silence at the coloured sparks streaming from Reactor Four of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant. At that very moment, her life and the lives of everyone she knew changed forever.

Years later and on another continent, Adam Byrd was writing biographies for everyday people looking to leave their legacy in book form. When the woman he loved phoned from Kiev offering him the chance to write the story of a lifetime, he jumped at the opportunity not realizing that his voyage would be a bumpy ride through a nations dark underbelly. With the help of his friend’s quirky cousin, Adam is nudged into a fascinating adventure of love, greed, power and psychotic revenge, culminating with a shocking finale.

23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. is a work of fiction based on factual events from Chernobyl and villages throughout Ukraine.

For More Information

  • 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. is available at Amazon..
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

First Chapter

 

Byrd Brain

“Oh, for the love of God… shut up!”

Okay, I didn’t actually say that, but I was thinking it. Trust me, if you were in the same situation, you would be thinking the same.

My name is Byrd. It’s a surname that has inherited a great amount of teasing from a young age but if there’s any consolation, it’s spelled with a “Y” like the Renaissance composer and not an “I” like the Boston Celtics basketball player or your common flying rodent. My friends get a kick out of it and have recently begged me to join Twitter because whenever I send a message, my followers can brag they received a tweet from a Byrd. When trends are catching up to you, you gotta know you’re riding the edge of something or worse – falling off the aforementioned edge.

My tiny name insecurity has led to me ask everyone I meet to call me by my first name, which is Aaron. Yet, like everything else in this world, when you think you’ve got it bad, you can rest assured that someone has it worse. I have suffered the à propos amount of name calling but nothing – and I mean nothing – like my cousin, whom I adore simply because of the courage she has to wake up in the morning. Why you ask? Her first name is Robin.

Some parents don’t deserve their children.

A few years ago, I had an epiphany of sorts and decided I would go into business for myself, writing biographies for average, everyday people who wished to leave some sort of legacy for their children and family. Pretty good idea eh? Not really but I guess Lady Luck shone upon me as the business took off fairly quickly. Word of mouth spread and I was soon juggling three clients a month. When I launched an Internet site half a year ago, my clientele shot up to eight a month. Do the math at fifteen hundred bucks a crack and minimum costs. Even I can’t believe how fortunate I am considering any other writing adventure I have finished in the last decade has been a dismal failure.

Auto-biographies is not difficult work as long as my recorder functions properly and since I’ve created a template of questions, I’ve found I can complete a minimum one hundred page life story in five days or less if the customer doesn’t call with new information, which of course was often the case. Hey, I was taking a crap this morning, and I remembered a crazy night that involved magic mushrooms and a fat chick named Glory. Experience has taught me that editing for future generations of grandchildren is a gentle topic.

My workload is divided between the very interesting and those who had nothing much to be proud of other than offspring who I figure will eventually turn out just as boring. Today’s client fit the latter profile to perfection.

Rhonda Greenberg was pretty for a middle-aged housewife. Actually, she was drop-dead gorgeous and defining her as a housewife is a misnomer. Her hair was dyed blond to hide the grey that sprinkled her natural brunette but to be fair, the blond suit her. She jogged every day and bragged that she could do two hundred sit up’s in a row. Based on what I was staring at whenever she looked elsewhere, I had few doubts of her exercise routine. In fact, before I learned more about her, I would have considered dating the woman if she wasn’t married. That’s the beauty of attraction, ain’t it? Once we get to know someone better our hormones take a nose dive. Well, not always but if I was a betting man I would lay down my cash each and every time.

Anyway, Rhonda fit the profile of someone I would have dived into if she never said a word but once that mouth opened and she started to drop the f-bomb every second sentence, I kind of went limp. I felt like asking her where she hid the moonshine and straw hats but in the end, fifteen hundred bucks will never be something I’ll say no to, so here I was sitting in the expansive dining room with the posh motif listening to Rhonda talk about her cheerleader days.

Yah… big surprise there.

Not surprising was that this gorgeous woman had found herself a sugar daddy and lived in a home that could only be illustrated as a mini palace. Chandeliers hung from the front hall, in the kitchen and oddly enough outside the first floor bathroom. Clearly, sugar daddy did not pay much attention to Rhonda’s lack of vocabulary or design skills and hell, I don’t blame him.

My buxomly client was about to detail how she lost her virginity to her second cousin while their families were observing a religious fast when mercifully my cell phone rang. Looking at the call display, I saw a very long phone number, which looked more like Bill Gate’s paycheck than any phone number I was accustomed to reading. I was tempted to push the Ignore button but my curiosity got the best of me and I answered hello while lifting a finger, asking Rhonda to hold on.

“Aaron, it’s Lena,” the sexy voice began.

I nodded my head after figuring out the long string of digits was coming from Ukraine. Realizing a need for quiet and privacy, I excused myself from the mammoth dining room and headed to the equally huge front hall. I rolled my eyes when a brooding Rhonda exhaled an exaggerated long sigh.

My friend Lena mentioned last week that she had to fly to Kiev but did so in a rushed text message, which was something that has always bugged the shit out of me. I have told her a countless number of times that it is so much easier to pick up a phone and call but for some unknown reason she is more comfortable with impersonal typing on tiny buttons. Personally, I think she’s conscious of her accent and preferred this mode of communication but I gotta tell ya that this is just silliness because Lena’s voice is both soothing and alluring with only a hint of inflection. I’ve never struggled to understand what she’s saying, so that being said I have to believe she persists on texting just to irk me.

I met Lena at a lackluster conference about three years ago and we immediately hit it off. I can’t recall exactly how we met but we sort of bumped into each other and have remained friends since then. We tried dating but something didn’t click and agreed to stop before our friendship suffered. In hindsight, I wish I knew why things were so awkward at that specific time but no matter how I try to piece together those few months, I can’t find an answer as to why we couldn’t make it work. One thing for sure, I’ve always found Lena rather guarded and not willing to share more than she has to. There were other obstacles of course and many had to do with my experiences with Eastern European women. Don’t get me wrong, Lena is extremely attractive and at times hilarious but in the back of my mind I always waited or expected for the crazy temper to burst through. A temper I have witnessed all too many times from pampered Russian princesses. Aside from that, there was a weird stigma attached to these girls, like they were all con artists working for the mob or some Russian pimp.

“Hey Lena,” I answered, “Good to hear your voice. Wassup? Where are you?”

“I have arrived in Kiev yesterday but had no manner in which to call you,” she answered.

Okay, I’m flattered to say the least but not quite sure why she found it necessary to contact me while on vacation.

“Aaron, my aunt is very ill. The doctors insist she has only three weeks, maybe less to live.”

“Oh,” I said still dumbfounded and wondering what this had to do with me.

I felt a pang of despair for my friend realizing that these situations are never easy. I peeked around the corner into the dining room and saw Rhonda staring at me with blank eyes wondering when I would be done talking so that she could continue talking.

“I’m sorry to hear this but it’s good that you’re there with her.”

Damn, that was lame. I never have any clue what to say in these circumstances.

“This is the aunt I told you about,” Lena replied, fully realizing that I wasn’t following her. “She lived in Pripyat before the nuclear reactor accident.”

Bells whistled in my head and my attention was now focused entirely on the phone call. Lena had once mentioned that if ever I should write a biography on anyone, it should be her aunt.

“Oh yah, I remember now. Pripyat is close to the Chernobyl nuclear plant.”

“Aaron, she has agreed to speak with you but you must leave immediately. Is your passport up-to-date?”

“Say what?” I replied almost too comically. “You want me to fly to Kiev? Are you kidding me?”

“No, I am not kidding you”, she answered back with a hint of anger. “There is a flight leaving Pearson Airport tonight. I checked for seating and there are still some spots available so if you hurry there will be no problem. Call my friend Anna, she is a travel agent and she will book it for you. I will text you her phone number in five minutes.”

I was uncertain how to reply other than, “Another text Lena?” I knew in my gut that this could be the story I had been waiting for since the day I began writing biographies. More than likely, every other piece of work I had written beforehand would pale in comparison.

“This is gonna max out my credit card,” I blurted sheepishly.

My response did not please Lena and I could hear her grumble thousands of miles away. I coughed hoping she would quickly forget my unintentional rudeness.

“This is going to change your life, stop being so indecisive. Text your flight number and I will meet you at the airport. You will stay with my relatives. If anything Aaron, you will do this for me and our friendship.”

She said goodbye without giving me a chance to defend my position and I was left shaking my head in wonderment as was often the case when dealing with Lena.

I hurried back to the dining room, apologized to an extremely displeased Rhonda, packed my laptop and then sped to my apartment. Lena had already text her friend’s phone number and I called the travel agent the second I walked through my front door. The midnight flight was booked fifteen minutes later. The first thing I did following my phone call was surf the Internet for weather in Kiev and then packed accordingly. I was to expect lots of rain and temperatures between ten and fifteen centigrade, which was normal for mid-April. After throwing whatever clean clothes I could find into a suitcase, my final task was the most difficult, and that was of course, calling my mother and letting her know where I would be. She approved of Lena but not of the culture she came from. No matter how many times I explained that Lena was Ukrainian and not Russian, my mom could not let go of her antiquated beliefs. I took most of this with a grain of salt especially since the day she described Russia as the land that nurtured Stalin and John Lennon.

At six a.m. the next day I was flying over the English Channel, eight hours from Kiev.

As anticipated, Lena met me at Kiev International at 9pm Kiev time. Her blond hair was hanging free of her normal head bands and she wore a short blue skirt that accentuated her near perfect body. When she wrapped her arms around my hips the smell of her hair excited me to no end and I was suddenly wide awake. She didn’t normally dress so revealing so I was surprised, albeit very happy.

“Kiev agrees with you,” I complimented.

Judging from her puzzled facial expression, I could tell she was not certain what I meant but had a general idea and it pleased her. After seventeen years in Canada, Lena had still not caught on to many simple expressions.

“I am worried of gaining ten pounds a day. If the prepared food is not sweet, it is filled with mayonnaise. You’ll need new pants by the time we return home.”

Well, in your case it’s ending up in the perfect spots, I thought to myself. “We’ll have to take long walks after each meal. I’m looking forward to meeting your family.”

Lena smiled at the long walk comment. “And they are excited to meet you; I said some nice things. I should warn you that they may have mistaken my words as you being my boyfriend. My Russian is not as strong as it used to be and not only that, many of my family refuses to speak Russian and will only speak Ukrainian so that makes it even more difficult for me.”

“Don’t worry about it. I liked being your boyfriend when I was actually your boyfriend so you won’t hear me complaining.”

Lena looked me in the eye and half-grinned shyly before turning away. Okay, what I am about to say will sound incredibly vain or perhaps over hopeful but I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t believe it. Truth be told, I believe that Lena is in love with me and has been for at least the last two years. For whatever reason, she prefers to remain friends and as I said earlier, I don’t get it, as it makes no sense. From what I know from our circle of friends, she has never discussed her feelings with anyone even though many suspect that she wishes that she and I were still together. Anyone who ever saw the two of us chatting at parties or over dinner would come to the same conclusion. The comfort level, the laughter and the obvious sexual tension are as evident as the nose on your face.

I didn’t sleep a wink on the flight and never do on an excursion with moving parts. I once stayed awake throughout a two-day train ride to Moncton. My girlfriend at the time said that by the end of the trip I resembled a ninety-year old Robin Williams on Quaaludes. After a quick stop at a washroom – yah, I was feeling the effects of eight coffees – we stepped outside and found a taxi almost instantly. Lena got in the smallish vehicle first and told the driver where we were heading. I found it odd, and to a certain degree annoying, that she kept looking out the back window. I decided to keep this to myself as arguing half an hour after arriving was never a good idea.

“We can’t visit my aunt this evening,” she said, buckling her seatbelt while advising me to do the same. “It is much too late but I have asked permission for tomorrow morning.”

I didn’t understand the permission remark and like the rear window scenario, my Spiderman senses told me it would be better not to inquire.

“How is she doing?”

“Considering her situation, I would like to say as fine as expected.” Lena replied. “She is in good spirits and burst into tears when she realized who I was. It was very touching Aaron, a moment I will never forget.”

This perplexed me a bit, so I had to ask the obvious. “She has no photos of you?”

“Yes she does but face to face is different. She has been living in the Exclusion Zone for the last fifteen years.”

This piece of information confused me even further and Lena caught on swiftly.

“In time Aaron, there is much to learn. For now I will explain the Exclusion Zone as surrounding villages in and around Chernobyl. It was a very lonely life for her and for the few that choose to live there.”

I wanted to ask why she had preferred such and existence but decided to wait. Even if I had asked, Lena could only have answered what she had been told by her relatives. So instead, I asked the most palpable of questions.

“How does she look?”

Lena shrugged. “She looks like someone who has lived with radiation for twenty-five years. Most of her hair is gone…she has yellowish skin and a few open sores on her arms. The nurses have wrapped the wounds with gauze but she scratches nonstop as if she is filing her nails. She looks like a dying woman, a woman who is prepared and welcome to die yet she has summoned the energy to speak with us.” Lena looked out the rear passenger window for a few seconds and then glanced back at me. “What has both intrigued and disappointed me Aaron is that my relatives are not as anxious to visit her as I. It is disturbing to say the very least and when I question my cousin Boris as to why, he refuses to answer. I want to slap him…but he is a grown man and I am sure he has his reasons.”

Strange, I thought. “I did some research last night, which seems like an eternity ago, but I read that the citizens of Pripyat were not very welcome when they were evacuated.”

“Let my Aunt Tania tell her story,” Lena said quietly. “Hearing it first hand is better than an article off the Internet.”

I agreed and held Lena’s hand. Thankfully, she did not push away and instead held my hand tightly.

Within half an hour, we arrived at the home of Lena’s cousin, a heavy set man with one brow that seemed to begin and end at each ear. He was much darker than everyone else in the room and appeared to me as someone with a Gypsy heritage. He was introduced as Boris Kharmalov, a merchant who owned a successful cell phone store. It was obvious the man was doing well as his apartment in central Kiev was very large with every imaginable luxury. I was amazed at the size of the dwelling considering contradictory stories that clearly said most residents of this city lived in one bedroom apartments. This home had three bedrooms, a spacious chrome kitchen and a living room the size of six pool tables. Original paintings hung on most walls and a large television graced the wall in front of a leather lounger. I was graciously welcomed by several of Boris’s friends including a couple of stunning women who hung on every word Boris spoke. Before I had an opportunity to shake hands with every guest, I was handed a shot glass of Vodka.

“Drink,” Boris said with a heavy accent. “Welcome to my home, Aaron.”

It didn’t take me long to notice that Boris was near fluent in English although I didn’t ask where or when he learned a second language. Three hours and several shot glasses later, I was allowed to say goodnight and sleep came very quickly. The only thing I cared to remember this morning was that Lena never left my side the previous evening and more amazingly, was lying next to me when I awoke.

About the Author

Bob Dornan

Robert J Dornan is someone who wishes to leave a better world to his children. He realizes that the odds are slim but he will do whatever he can to increase the probability of success. He is always open to discuss new and innovative ideas and hopes someday to see the building of a functional solar city as well as a fair and community-driven compensation system.

 

Robert’s latest book is the historical fiction, 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M.

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