Happy May 1st everyone. I hope Spring has been treating you well and you are taking time to smell the flowers. As for me, I am still in hibernation working on this novel. Luckily, I haven’t had any major challenges lately to tell you about so I haven’t posted an update in quite some time. Thankfully the writing has been going smoothly except for a hold up here and there, but I didn’t want to leave you hanging any longer with no news. So I thought I’d give you a taste of the story to hold you over until my next major writing crisis.
After reading through and trying to find a part I felt was good enough to let you read, (because I am still editing) and a part that would give you a good feel for the story without telling too much, I finally decided to share with you the prologue. I hope you enjoy the read. Please note that, in the end, when the book is complete, this may or may not be included OR may have changes made because as I mentioned, we are still in the ‘spit shine’ and editing process.
*Special thanks to the brilliant Rebecca T. Dickson for her guidance.
I give this to you with shaking hands and a fluttering heart…
Blue lights flashed in the rearview mirror of Lou Latkowski’s Ford station wagon. ‘Son-of-a-bitch’ he muttered then pulled onto the shoulder of Highway 128. He watched as a New Mexico state trooper approached while covering his bald head with a Smokey the Bear hat. With his chest pushed forward, the trooper tugged on the belt around his butterball waist. Lou gripped the steering wheel tight in his hands as he considered shifting into drive and taking off, knowing what would become of his life if he were forced to return home. And the thought of it sent him into panic mode.
He wiped his sweating palms on the top of his pants, rubbing them against his thighs. The trooper leaned down with one hand resting on his gun holster and the other on the edge of the door, perching himself inside Lou’s open window.
“Where you going, Lou?” he said.
“Away. I’m going away,” Lou said, as he placed his hands back on the wheel and stared out the windshield into the open nothing ahead of him. The road, stretched out beneath a twilight sky and setting sun, welcomed him and he wanted nothing more than to drive straight into it and never look back. But deep down, he knew it had nothing to offer. No matter where he traveled. He would still be the same broken old man.
“Well, Lou. I’m afraid you’re going to have to hold off on your trip. Your sister wants you to come back. She’s worried about you.”
“Yeah, I know what she wants,” Lou said.
His sister, Glenda, came to his trailer an hour before and announced he was moving into a nursing facility in downtown Albuquerque. His trailer park, more than twenty miles away, made it hard for her to care for him every day. And he refused to cooperate with the home health nurses she hired to come to his home, not answering the door and peeking from behind his curtains as they stood knocking. He would not suffer the humiliation of having strange women wipe his chin or his ass. And now the threat of ‘organized community living’ as his sister would call it, was just another thread of respect plucked away.
Lou broke his back while helping to load long drill pipes into metal racks on an oil rig. He was standing in the wrong place at the wrong time when a chain broke. A heavy metal pipe caught him in the back and forced him to the ground where it landed on top of him. He never fully recovered. The injuries left him with poor motor skills in his dominant right hand, which affected his ability to bathe or even hold a fork. And his body would go into spurts of uncontrollable twitching. With the loss of his independence, he became severely depressed.
While his sister was in his bedroom packing his bags, he slipped out. She ran to the door in time to see him spinning dust out of the trailer park, heading down the highway. Her response was to call Clint, an old friend from high school who worked at the dispatch office. She explained Lou was distraught about moving into a nursing home and had a history of self-harm. Mostly threats, but he was capable of anything.
Clint sent out a ‘be-on-the-lookout’ page to the local departments. A New Mexico State Trooper, Allen Fouts, happened to be patrolling that stretch of highway.
When Trooper Fouts attempted to open the door, Lou became combative.
“You’re not taking me back there,” Lou said, flailing back and forth in his seat and swatting at the officer’s chest. Then he quickly reached for the gear shifter behind the steering wheel.
“Okay, okay, Lou. You don’t have to go anywhere you don’t want to, all right?” Fouts said as he slowly stepped back and removed his hand from the door.
Lou began to sob and dropped his hands into his lap. While Lou’s head was down, Fouts slowly reached in and removed the keys from the ignition.
Lou sat still and quiet and for a moment, he thought of going back.
“Lou, I’m going to step back here to my car for just a minute, but I’ll be right back and we’ll talk about this, okay buddy?”
Lou raised his head and nodded in agreement. The trooper retreated to his car, where Lou heard him on his radio.
“Central dispatch, 309. I’m going to need mobile crisis backup at mile marker 51. Subject is combative.”
That was it. They had him. He had nowhere to go and, in a few moments, he’d be taken against his will. Just like last time: Strapped to a bed with people hovering above him saying how everything will be all right. Then they’d dope him up so he’d stay quiet. He told Glenda his plans that time. But not now. He knew better.
Lou dropped his head when the trooper returned to his cruiser. It was easy to reach beneath the seat unnoticed and remove the forty-five caliber revolver. He held it in his lap, tracing the length of the barrel with his finger.
Life inside a cage was not worth living, and freedom was only a squeeze away. As one tear surfaced in the corner of his eye and slowly crawled down his cheek, he raised the gun to his left temple and fired.