The Reluctant Father: A Serial Novel Where the Reader (You) Determines the Next Chapter

What follows is my first attempt at utilizing WordPress to write a serial novel (a novel printed in installments.)  You, the reader will play a significant roll in the evolution of this story.  Read the current chapter and leave a comment briefly letting me (the author) know where you think the characters and story should go next.

FATHER

THE RELUCTANT FATHER

Chapter One: Tatiana and Irina

Had she shot me point blank in the heart, she could not have done more damage.

I met Tatiana eight years earlier.  She was sitting alone in an Armenian café on the corner of Santa Monica and New Hampshire.  This was the “Little Russia” enclave of Los Angeles. Not the safest place for a 28 year old red-headed Anglo to be perusing at fifteen after midnight.  People disappeared in this neighborhood for a lot less than satisfying a piroshki craving.  Reflexively, I patted my .32 Baikal pistol tucked beneath my sweatshirt. My stomach gurgled with hunger.

She was stunningly gorgeous. And well, she wasn’t exactly alone.  Clutched  close to her ample breasts, wrapped in a coffee stained tattered blanket with “LA Children’s Hospital” emblazoned across the hem, was a baby.  Normally, this is when I tune out and continue on my way, but she was too fucking beautiful.

“привет,” (hello) I whispered, not wanting to wake the child.

“ебать с,”  (fuck off) she whispered back, glaring at me with the softest brown eyes I had ever seen.

“Why?” I replied, in full voice, hoping I would wake the child just to annoy her.  “Is Daddy coming…ever?”  I felt mildly ashamed at offering such a cruel comeback, knowing full well she was probably a single mom struggling just to keep her sanity for one more night.  Now she had to further her misery with flirting from some asshole the likes of me.

As if it were possible, her soft brown eyes turned even softer, as tears started to well.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “you didn’t deserve that.”

“I’m sorry, too.” she replied, in broken English.  “My name is Tatiana.  This is Irina, and no, Daddy isn’t coming…ever.”

“Tony,” I offered. “So, where’s Daddy?”  I looked at the sleeping child.  She was so pink and I swear there was a smile on her cherub face.  A beauty, just like her mother…but without the stain of a hard life that her mother was wrestling with at midnight in an Armenian café.

“In prison, “ she replied.  “He doesn’t even know he’s a Daddy.”

“Well, he couldn’t have been in long.  How old is she?”

“One month.  We broke up when he was arrested.  I was two months pregnant.”

It was a bit of an uncomfortable introduction, but we meet people how we meet them.  It was obvious that Tatiana was starving for some contact other than the baby she held.  Without thinking it through, I offered:

“Do you need help?”

“Help?  How can you help me,” she spit.

“Do… You  …Need … Help? I repeated, softly.

She looked away for a moment, lifting the corner of the baby blanket to dab her eyes.  After about 15 seconds of silence, she replied,

“Yes…we need help.”

———————————— end Chapter One

Advertisements

Heart and Soul

The heart beats strong for what it will
Yet still I seek to master
My thoughts within or outward spilled
Inviting sure disaster
The love I seek, or hope to keep
Isn’t mine to choose
The sweet delights and dreamy nights
Are only mine to lose
Our soul is but an open door
Through which flows passion’s fire
Though oft’ ignored, it stands much more
The beacon of my desire
The heart bestows on those who know
That love is never what it seems
The arrows flung from Cupids bow
Pierce the few and far between
Be still the beating of your heart
And to this verse stay true
The heart and soul both play a part
In bringing love to you

This Is How I Start My Days

This is how I start my days.

At four a.m., I awaken with a start. It isn’t that I wasn’t sleeping well, but this is my witching hour. I reach over and pull the covers up over my wife and take a moment to gaze in absolute awe at this beauty, this incredible effervescent woman sharing my bed.

I quietly swing my feet to the floor and sit for a moment. My muse is impatiently pulling me into awakening, but I do my best to resist. I want to sleep just a little bit more, but my eyes have already made out the flashing light on my hibernating computer and just like that, I want to be writing more than I want to be dreaming.

I quietly close the bedroom door behind me and make my way into the kitchen. I put water in the kettle, light the stove, and grab my pack of cigarettes. I head out the door into the blackness of the night, sit upon the second stoop, and light up. The ritual never changes. And there, beneath the canopy of constellations, I look for my special star. I don’t know what it is called, and I don’t know why it is that star…but I need to start each day in silent commune before it. Once I find it, I stare at it for a few minutes, emptying my mind of creeping thoughts. I slowly close my eyes, inhale another drag, and listen.

Like little mice on padded feet, the words start scampering around my brain. The writing has begun.

I toss the cigarette into the night, watching a spiral of red sparks ascend, then descend, as if to punctuate the purpose of this ritual. From the kitchen, the kettle begins to sing, and I rush in before it hits full crescendo and awakens my wife. I pour the steaming water over a cone of coffee grains and inhale the rising steam. In a seamless arch, I take my cup of coffee to the kitchen table, flip open the lid to my computer, and hit the resume button.

And then I write. And write and write and write. At this point, what I write is irrelevant. That I write is the point. The wee hours of the morning are not the time to self-critique or to spin a plot. It is the time for the bleeding of words.

This is how I start my days.