Chapter Excerpts 2020: "Orange Sox and Pipe Dreams", draft novel
In November 2019, I committed to a challenge from NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month) a non profit organization that hosts a challenge to writers, new and established, to write a 50,000 word draft of a novel in the thirty days of November. It was quite a challenge, and I wrote the 50,000 words within the deadline. The editing is far more consuming than the writing. I've only just begun. "Orange Sox" is a somewhat fictionalized account of my move to Woodstock several years ago. I will post some parts of "Orange Sox" on these pages in the coming months. As always, I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading.
Orange Sox and Pipe Dreams
Chapter 1 Goodbye Log Cabin 1992
She would probably never tell anyone about the orange sox, or the man wearing them, or how they were somehow an absurd pivotal point in her decision to make this radical move.
Traffic eased up after she passed through exit 16 on the Thruway. Rock cliffs rose up a hundred feet on the side of the highway, a dark, looming portend of the road ahead. At least that’s how it seemed to her. She wasn’t the best judge of heights of rocks. The stretch of road was dark, without many other cars to light the way. It yawned, dark and mysterious, ahead of her. But she wouldn’t think of gloomy, she told herself. She was onto a most exciting chapter in her life.
“Stop it. Just take some deep breaths, think of what’s ahead, not what you left behind, well, not the good parts you left behind anyway. Like your kids and the log cabin. Well, they are grown and ‘emancipated’, whatever the hell that term implies, it’s an awful term, but they seem to be okay. And the log cabin sold to that awful woman with her nose up in the air. She had half a mind to leave some rotten meat in the crawl space just to freak her out. That woman will probably do all sorts of foo-foo renovations on the small cabin, instead of appreciating its charm. And what was its charm anyway? Why had Claire cried in each of the small rooms before she left, and hugged the big oak tree in the yard, without any shame?” Because it had certainly driven her crazy for the seven years she’d lived there. The slugs, the mice, the rotting logs, the leaking roof, the oil freezing in the tank in wintertime, the damn cold winters and never enough money to blast the heat or fix everything that needed fixing. At least not fast enough. Though it was pretty darn comfortable by the time she sold it. And there was the lake, and the geese, and her neighbors, and Danny playing hockey, which he loved, and the tulips she planted, marching in a red line across the back yard, and the good neighbors on her left; forget Vinny, the peeping summer resident on the other side)
“You sure left some bad stuff behind, didn’t you?” She thought to herself, but she wouldn’t think about that now. Late June and the night was hot and sticky, but she didn’t turn the air conditioner on in Goldie Honda. Not that Goldie wasn’t in great shape, and only four years old, but Claire still couldn’t adjust to driving a long trip without the thought of a mechanical mishap somewhere along the way. At forty two, she’d had so many bombs over the years. She had terror about being stuck on the side of the road in pitch black with no one nearby to come and help her, and anyway no way to reach anyone. She left her window open a bit and enjoyed the hot air. She’d take that over winter any day. “Yet here I am” she thought, “moving to the Catskills where the winters are probably worse than what I left behind. Stop it, don’t think about that.”
By the time she got to Woodstock, slowing down on Rt. 375 on her way into town, she felt more than more than saw the barely discernible hump of Overlook mountain, its bulky shape reminding her of the Indian adage she’d heard about on her second visit: if one sleeps in the shadow of the mountain more than three times, they will always return. Claire was singing the famous song to herself and feeling her heart beating out of her chest.
Entering the east end of town at nine o clock on a Tuesday night, she saw the string of storefronts close to the road, dark and quiet. Beyond that, the lights of Cumberland Farms, open all night, had a few teens hanging outside, and a couple of cars gassing up. Across the street at the Grand Union, last minute shoppers hustled in and out with their brown bags. As the road lifted gradually uphill to the center of Woodstock, she smiled at all the wee shops on Tinker Street with their friendly white lights twinkling around windows and trim. They were all closed for the night but alive with their lights. It was a welcoming sight. She continued west and came to her new digs. Turning into the parking lot of the Tinker Street Cinema, she drove to the back of the building where her entrance was, that distinct arched door, heavy dark oak, like an old church door (which it had been, but that’s another story).
Tablecloth Nights is coming soon!
I'm excited to be able to post the news very, very soon!
The poem below, dedicated to my Dad, is included in Chapter 4, Shining Shoes and Hula Hoops.
Comes a time
like a freight train
I seek a newspaper
to polish shoes
like he did
those hurried school mornings
Looking down at my feet
ensconced in scuffed oxfords
navy blue, color of my life
his firm jaw working
above a starched white collar
“Take them off, they need a shine”
At the table he spreads a sheet of the
Journal American, completed puzzle face up
fishes out the small round can of Kiwi polish
from under the kitchen sink,
the shiny, scented rag, the worn brush
stained brown and black and blue
I wait in stocking feet
Meticulously he applies the paste,
rubs and rubs, brushes and buffs
“Here”, handing them to me
his voice softened
My cold feet slip quickly into place
I feel the insides still warm from his hands.