Saturday, May 25, 2013

Excerpts from Facets: Requiem

Welcome all again...
I'm enjoying sharing little pieces of my debut novel, Facets and from the page views, I'm guessing that people besides me are liking them as well. Here is another sample called Requiem, a tale about self-hatred, regret, the possibility of redemption and the enduring power of love...

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Piano. Music. Beautiful piano music. But, I didn’t turn on a radio before I went to sleep. Actually, I don’t know that for sure. I was hammered before I went to sleep. It sounded like it was coming from downstairs, so I staggered to the basement door and opened it. The music washed over me and brought a tear to my eyes. The style reminded me of Bill Evans with a harder edge. I carefully negotiated the stairs and saw who was playing. I had to admit, for a dead man he looked pretty good.
“I bet you’re wondering why I’m here,” Terry said as he continued to play.
He stopped and smiled at me. My stomach twisted into fearful knots.
“Don’t worry. I’m not here to hurt you or anything like that,” He said. “Just here to talk.”
“That should be a little hard seeing as how you’re dead.”
“No worries, Dad. You’re asleep. Anything can happen in a dream.”
“Obviously,” I sat down on a crate. “I gotta stop drinkin’ that cheap scotch.”
“Drinkin’ your problems away, huh?” Terry grinned. “Some things never change.”
“Excuse me?”
“Dad, let’s be honest: You always drank a lot and often. It started after Mom died and you hadn’t stopped when you threw me out, right?” Terry said as he gazed into my eyes.
“No, I didn’t.”
“You treated Mom like shit, when all she wanted was to make you happy, and do we have to go into the whole jealousy thing where I’m concerned?”
“Now, hold on a minute,” I snapped as I stood up and stormed over to Terry. “I treated your mother well. I loved her more than my own life and I was never jealous of you!”
“Then explain why Mom ran out of the house and drove herself into an accident and I ended up living with Eric most of my high school years because I broke the no-music-in-the-house rule.”
Okay. I guess he was right.
“You know I’m right. I don’t know why you even acted like I was lying to you.”
“How did you--?”
“It’s a dream, remember?”
“Dad—“, Terry began, “—why were you jealous of me? It’s not like you couldn’t do what I was doing.”
I sank down onto the piano bench next to Terry. “I couldn’t, Terry. My hands didn’t work.”
“They did. They do. Maybe not as well as before, but you can still play.” He stood up and left me on the bench by myself. I looked at the keyboard in front of me and felt my heart turn to ice.
Once upon a time, I could make the music flow out as my hands flew over the keys. People used to dance, used to clap and shout when I played and I missed that. I so desperately wanted to do that again, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to, that my chance had passed me by and that part of my life was over.
“I can’t.”
“Yeah, you can,” Terry responded. “I heard you playing the last time I was here. In fact I asked you if the song was one of yours.”
I grinned. “I remember.”
“You could play then; why not now?”
“I’m scared.”
“Of what?” Terry asked.
“Of failing.”
“The only way you’ll fail—,” A new voice that I instantly recognized said, “—is if you stop trying.”
I turned towards the stairs and I was speechless. I couldn’t say or do anything but stare.
Terry grinned and said, “Hi, Ma.”
She walked up to the piano from the stairway. My mind recalled seeing her for the first time, a vision in bellbottoms, a clingy polyester shirt, a soft, full afro and warm, caramel-colored skin. In the here and now, she wore a simple white cotton sundress that caressed all the curves I remembered, straight black hair and a smile that radiated the light of Heaven. I reacted now, the same way I reacted then: I was struck dumb, spellbound and speechless.
“Hello, Carl,” Belinda said to me.

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