Excerpts from my Novels  and Works in Progress

The Fender

December 1999

“Everything’s gone wrong in my life. It’s piled up on me like dirty laundry and I just can’t take the smell of it any longer.” My eyes fixed on the framed photograph of the smiling husband and wife, each holding a twin in their arms. “What ever happened to my perfect little family; my quintessential life?” I grabbed the bottle of Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky by the neck, emptied it into a glass and gulped it down. “This is It!” I picked up the .38 Colt revolver, cocked the hammer and peered into the darkness of its barrel. As I took one last look around the dimly lit room something caught my eye. It was my old, scuffed and worn Fender Stratocaster, propped up against the adjacent wall. It seemed like it was watching me like a…sentinel. “Maybe one last time,” I whispered under my breath, as I placed the Colt down on the coffee table, staggered across the room and picked up the old Strat. As involuntarily as breathing, I strummed an old Hawaiian tune, the first song I had learned so long ago. The music stopped as my trembling hands wrapped around the neck of the guitar as if holding a lifeline. Tears burst forth and ran down my cheeks at the lifetime of memories that were written on the strings of the old guitar.

 “How did I get here?” I sobbed.


March 1957

I sat on the edge of my bed and strummed an old acoustic guitar. Like most thirteen year olds my bedroom walls were adorned with posters of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and other rock ’n roll performers. My best friend, Joey Roca, stood next to me and grinned with admiration at the way I played the guitar. His long black curls bounced to the beat of the music like a hundred coil springs. I abruptly stopped playing. “Joey, come with me over to Carrie’s house!”

 “What? Why? Whaddya want to go over there for?”

“I’ve had a crush on her since second grade, you know that! Besides, I want to serenade her.”

“Serenade? Oh brother, you got to be kidding, right?” laughed Joey.

Carrie lived just around the corner from me. It was a short walk to the alley that ran along the side of her house, a modest three bedroom, with green stucco and white trim. We walked quickly; I carried the old acoustic guitar by the neck. We positioned ourselves in the alley outside Carrie’s bedroom window. From our vantage point we could see Carrie and her older sister, Patty, sitting on a bed doing their homework. Carrie sat against the window, legs folded under her, while Patty, her 15-year-old sister, sat on the edge of the mattress. A pretty, petite blonde, Carrie’s blossoming figure belied her age, though she was only thirteen. Patty, while not as pretty as Carrie, was known to make up for it with personality plus, so neither sister overwhelmed the other’s appeal.

“Isn’t she pretty, Joey?” I asked, gawking at the sisters’ matching light blue flannel pajamas with little yellow butterflies on them, as the girls laughed about something neither of us boys understood. Girls, I thought and shook my head in bewilderment.

The sun had just gone down, and it was now dark outside. I strummed the guitar and started to sing “Love Me Tender,” one of my favorite Elvis Presley love songs. Joey laughed out loud at the sight of my serenade. Carrie and Patty at first seemed surprised by the music but ran to the window and peered out. They giggled, and then laughed. Patty lightly elbowed her sister, teasing her as they listened to the song. I saw Carrie sink down behind the windowsill, peek out over the edge. She seemed flattered, of course-but mostly embarrassed, her face was a bright red.

“Aww! How sweet! Nobody ever serenaded me,” said Patty. “He’s cute too!” Carrie’s smile grew wider and her face grew redder.

I continued to play and got louder as my bravado increased, but the music abruptly came to an end at the bellowing of Carrie’s rotund father. “What the hell’s going on here!” he yelled angrily. We took off running down the alley and didn’t stop until we got home.



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