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Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Inquisitor — A very tense thriller!

Torture does not a good story make.

After my ordeal in the hospital, I feel like I’ve had a taste of torture. I was confined to hospital bed with needles and lines all around me. I was poked, prodded, squeezed, deprived of food and sleep for twenty four hours. I must confess, I would have sold out pretty easily if someone had questioned me.

But, after reading “The Inquisitor” I am glad that Geiger was NOT one of my doctors.

 

“The Inquisitor” has created a lot of buzz on the book review circuit. It even got a good review on fictionaddict.com so I decided to give it a read. It is Mark Allen Smith’s debut novel and I must admit, I had a hard time putting it down after starting the book. I was even reading it while strapped into my hospital bed waiting for my heart catheterization.

First, let me state that this book is NOT a Christian fiction book. It has plenty of questionable language and violence. However, it is a redemptive story with an interesting plot development with multiple characters.

So, here are the characters:

Harry is a once homeless man down on his luck who made a living by being very good at research. One day while being beaten up in Central Park, a strange man comes by and rescues him. He later starts to work with Geiger in the IR (see below). Harry has a schizophrenic, quite insane sister, Lilly.

Dr. Corley is a psychiatrist suffering from extreme loneliness after his wife of many years has left him. He is intrigued by his very strange and enigmatic client, Geiger. Geiger came to him to help with understanding a series of strange dreams. But, Geiger will ONLY talk about his dreams, not his life.

Carmine is a mobster type who needed information one day and Geiger offered to help. Geiger was so effective at IR (Information Retrieval) that he became one of Carmine’s main clients and now gets referrals from Carmine on a regular basis.

Cat is Geiger’s one eyed cat.

Geiger is the central fascinating character of this story. He is known as “the Inquisitor” for his uncanny ability to retrieve information through a modified form of torture. His technique is simple and normally does not involve physical pain. In fact, Geiger is torture. He has the most bizarre personality of any character I have read lately.

He has no memory of his childhood and has become a self made man in the field of IR. He lives in a strange house with no windows and a four by four foot closet in which he routinely assumes the fetal position while recovering from his frequent crippling migraines.

His appreciation of the real world and regular life is limited. He is isolated and very eclectic. The story begins with a session of IR for Geiger and we quickly see and appreciate his unusual form of “torture”. There is only one other alternative for his clients, a man who uses much more extreme forms of physical torture from which the victims do not recover. Geiger has more “finesse”.

The opening section of the book is fascinating as we meet Geiger and see him from the different points of view of those who work with him. And, we see him from the point of view of two “clients”. The story takes its exciting turn when Geiger is asked to retrieve information from a man and the client shows up with a box containing the man’s 12 year old son. For reasons that eventually become apparent are absolutely essential to understanding Geiger’s backstory, Geiger takes the boy and goes on the run. His clients turn against him. He becomes a fugitive as he tries to protect the kid.

There are wonderful scenes with this 12 year old and Geiger in his home. Culture clash is inevitable and the chemistry between the two is well written. The story moves on with quick action and, of course, Geiger ends up the focus of IR and, of course, the torturer is his rival.

The story does move to a satisfying, if not strange conclusion and the reader is left to wonder if Geiger will continue to succeed in IR or has his life changed forever by his encounter with this young boy.

The story is gripping. The action is unrelenting. The characters are very well developed and the chemistry between Geiger and the boy are well written, believable scenes. This is a good debut novel and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in action or thriller type stories. Just remember the language my be offensive to some readers and the torture scenes are very tense, if not overtly gory.

 

The author’s website is: http://markallensmith.com/

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All Hearts Eventually Stop!

Mortality versus morbidity.

Strange words unless you are in the health care field.

Morbidity is the bad things that happen during a disease.

Mortality is death, pure and simple.

Some diseases have high morbidity but low mortality. They have really bad symptoms but you can get over them. Some diseases have low morbidity and high mortality because you die so quickly, you don’t suffer.

A month ago my nephew, Ronald Ennis, M.D. died suddenly at the age of 48. He was a pathologist in Dennison, Texas and was well respected and well loved by his friends and family. Ronald is one of those rare success stories of children who have a difficult childhood but rise above it to excel. Ronald was one of the kindest people I have ever known. Even though he lived hours away in Dennison, Texas every Christmas he would come to see my mother and daddy and bring them a fruit basket. He loved my mother and father.

I’m not sure what happened to Ronald. His father’s family history is rife with early deaths in the fifties of his uncles from heart disease. And, his father has had heart disease. So, it seems he took a shower and was getting ready for work and just dropped dead. His wife and daughter found him. This is never a good thing for any wife or child to remember. But, I will recall and remember Ronald fondly as one of the nicest, most motivated, hardest working people I ever knew.

That is why this past Tuesday while walking in the heat I felt the call of mortality. No morbidity, just mortality. I started having chest pains during my walk and they were not getting any easier. I’ve never had such pains and I stopped to ask a yard man if I could use his cell phone. Within 45 minutes, I was in the ER with a dozen or so health care personnel swarming over me. I knew I had already beaten the odds. Most massive heart attacks never survive the first thirty minutes. My chest pain was getting better on its own before I ever got the first shot of morphine. But, quite a bit of thinking occurred during those hours.

Have I really done for God what I should do? For, I believe with all my heart and mind and soul that only work done for God that has eternal consequences and that touches people is worth your time and effort. All else will fade.

Do my friends and family know I love them? I’ll never forget taking my kids to Sears when they were preteens and having the check out lady ask them if I had told them “I love you” today. I was proud when both of them said yes. For, that is something I say to my kids every time we talk. “I love you” can be the hardest words to utter and yet the most powerful.

What will be my legacy? We all wonder if we will be remembered. I was in the middle of finishing up a major rewrite on my fourth book. I left the manuscript open and unsaved when I went for a walk. What would happen if I did not return to finish it? Would anyone know what I was trying to say in my book? Would anyone care? I realized that the most important legacy I can leave is to know that I responded to God’s invitation to join Him in His work, not MY work. I learned a hard lesson when I went through my depression and my daily prayer is that I do what God wills for me to do today! I hope that is what people will remember about Bruce Hennigan. I know my books will never be “literature” and will never be required reading. But, through my writing, God has used me to touch people’s lives and has used those words to change people.

Am I about to die? As I was placed on the cardiac catheterization table, I was crying. I am a physician. I know all too well every conceivable outcome and consequence. I know the morbidity and the mortality! I prayed a simple prayer. “God give me the courage to face this with the faith and knowledge that Your will is done whether I wake up after the procedure; wake up after surgery; or wake up in heaven.” And, as the nurse was giving me my Versed, I knew that I would remember nothing of the subsequent test and would awaken an hour or two later hopefully in my hospital room with good news.

As the Versed kicked in, nothing happened. Nothing. My memory did not fade. I recalled everything that happened. I remember my cardiologist telling me each step of the procedure and I felt the contrast in my aorta and in my coronaries. I recalled him saying everything was normal. I recall him asking me if I wanted to have pressure applied to my groin puncture or an angioseal (a plug that does not require holding pressure to stop the bleeding) and how painful it was when he put in the angioseal. I recall him squatting down so he could look me in the eye and tell me my test was normal and he was going to go tell my wife. I did not have to wake up. I was awake and, frankly, grateful for it. For, I heard and saw the professionalism and care of the team that took care of me.

That evening, as my wife was taking us home from the hospital, I marveled at how good God is. I had faced my own mortality and found that everything about my heart was stone cold normal. But, why hadn’t that been true for my nephew? Why hadn’t he had the chance I had? I cannot know God’s will and I cannot know God’s plans. But, this one thing I do know. I must make every moment; every opportunity count for God. He has given me more time and that is the one precious gift we can give back to Him. So, I am hoping that I will now finish this book and, hopefully, more books.

Morbidity 1.

Mortality 0.

If you are planning a gift to the American Heart Association, give in memory of Ronald Ennis, M.D. He was a good man!

Book Review — Beckon by Tom Pawlik Day Three

I have been writing the rough draft of next book, “The 10th Demon: Children of the Bloodstone” for five straight days as of yesterday. I decided to take a walk outside for a change instead of on my treadmill. Forty minutes into the walk, i start experiencing chest tightness and a very rapid heart rate. I had never hurt like that before and a yard man allowed me to use his cell phone to call my wife. We ended up rushing to the local hospital where I work at my day job.

Here’s the deal. I was hurting and the pain wasn’t letting up. No matter how hard I prayed; no matter how many times I tried to calm my breathing; no matter how much I tried to ignore the pain, it wasn’t getting any better. In fact, at that moment in time I would have done ANYTHING to stop the pain.

George and Miriam are an elderly couple who come to Beckon for help. I don’t want to give away Miriam’s problem, but let’s just say that Mr. Vale and his strange assortment of “professionals” living in Beckon, Wyoming could help Miriam with her problem and relieve George’s pain. He signs away his life and, literally his soul and soon Miriam is cured. When I first read “Beckon” I wasn’t as impressed with the immediacy of George’s need. After Tuesday evening, I had a new angle on his “pain”.

I don’t want to give away the plot of this book, but once George and Miriam appear in the story Jack and Irina become integral to the uncovering to Vale’s secret; his connection to the people living in the caves; and the need to send “sacrifices” down to the spider creatures. I kept waiting for a frankly Christian message to surface, but the message here is very subtle.

What does it prophet a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul. The story of Beckon and its inhabitants comes to a gruesome, but satisfying conclusion and it is worth the read. Just prepared to be scared witless.

Oh, by the way, I am reclined in my hospital bed right now having had a cardiac catheterization that revealed my heart is absolutely normal. It seems the problem was the heat! Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers.

Day 3 — Please Pray for me

I was supposed to finish my review of “Beckon” but Tuesday afternoon while walking, I started having chest pain and shortness of breath. I am in the hospital and so far all is negative. But, on Wednesday, I’m scheduled for tests. I’ll try and finish the review later but it will be after the blog tour. I covet your prayers.

Beckon by Tom Pawlik, a Book Review Day Two

Welcome to Beckon. You’re not here by chance.

Elina Gutierrez is running for her life. She is being chased by men with guns and manages to actually mortally one of them with her pistol. She’s not a mercenary. She is an FBI agent looking for her lost cousin, an illegal immigrant who was taken by a van to the mysterious town of Beckon.

Beckon’s motto: “Welcome to Beckon. You’re not here by chance.” Soon she is taken captive by the very men she has just tried to kill and one of them, the man who should be dead, seems to have made a miraculous recovery. She is taken to a huge house on a hill overlooking the small mountain town of Beckon, Wyoming. There she is escorted deep into the bowls of the house to a dungeon and thrown into a holding cell. In the pitch black, she hears the voice of her cousin and realizes there are many prisoners here in this dungeon.

She soon learns that the man who rules over Beckon, Mr. Vale is a ruthless businessman determined to keep the outside world out of his small town. Why? Because there are secrets here the world can never learn about.

After we have spent time with Jack in the first part of “Beckon” and found out the horrible secrets beneath the town, we now meet the men and women behind the veil of, well, Vale and his little town. Elina serves to bring power and ruthlessness to those who would oppose Vale. Jack represents the knowledge to appreciate the science and history behind Beckon. Elina represents the gunpower, the raw power to bring justice to this horrific situation.

I can’t say more than that right now. By this point in the book, I was glad to be out of the caves and the underwater tunnels. But, to meet the ruthless Vale was equally disturbing for Pawlik has created a truly horrific villain, a man with an easy, deceptive smile who loves to eat raw meat. And, he has no qualms at the thought of killing an FBI agent to protect his secrets.

Once again, the book moves quickly and decisively into the realm of suspense and keeps the stakes high. Elina soon finds herself in a hopeless situation and you’ll have read part three tomorrow to find out how George and his wife, Miriam come to their rescue.

Strengths of this second part: The chase scene is fast paced and very believable. Elina knows her guns. The mystery of how a man could be mortally wounded yet return in hours seemingly unharmed, hints at some mysterious secret behind Beckon. And, Vale is a particularly delicious villain. I couldn’t wait to find out what was at the bottom of this town, this mystery, this man.

Beckon by Tom Pawlik, Book Review Day One

My ex-brother in law would pick up “Granddaddy Long Legs” and throw them on me as a child. These long legged, spindly spiders are technically not a real spider according to Wikipedia. But, there was no such thing as Wikipedia when I was five. I was scarred for life. To this day, I hate spiders. I hate spiders! I have arachnaphobia! Snakes don’t bother me. But, spiders?

Beckon by Tom Pawlik has the grandaddy long leg of all spiders. And, he manages to combine my fear of spiders with one of my other great fears, drowning! And all of that is in the first few chapters!

Listen, this is no book for the faint of heart. It was dark. It was disturbing. It was deadly. The body count built up very quickly and many of the deaths were unexpected and sudden. I recalled a certain character portrayed by Samuel Jackson getting eaten by a giant shark in the first act of that ill fated shark movie.

So, let me divide my book review into three sections, one for each of the main characters. We’ll start with Jack Kendrick, a college student who lost his father at an early age and is now about to set out on an adventure with his best childhood buddy, Rudy, to Wyoming. There, Jack hopes to track down the markings on a strange artifact left by his father at the time of his disappearance. Along the way, they meet up with Ben Graywolf, a North American Indian familiar with the mysterious waterfalls through which his father evidently disappeared. Ben takes them into the caves in search of the elusive N’Watu people and their “Soul Eater”.

They end up climbing through the waterfall and into all kinds of endless caves until they find a hidden world in which these horrific spider creatures live. These crab like spider things are huge and quite ravenous and are being raised and herded by a hidden race of mysterious entities beneath the mountain. As Jack and his friends watch, they realize that someone, somewhere is bringing human beings into the caves as sacrifices for this hidden race of beings in exchange for some kind of precious commodity. And, the sacrifices are well, fed, to the . . .

Sorry, I don’t want to give away too much of the opening plot. Suffice it to say that Jack is almost attacked by one of these creatures; almost discovered by a fierce warrior of this hidden race; and almost drowns trying to escape from the caves. And, when he does escape, he discovers that returning to civilization is only the beginning of his woes.

The positives about this first section are the fast pace and obvious strong and surprising horrific elements. And, this author is not afraid of killing off major characters for the sake of the story so be prepared for a number of disturbing deaths. Did I say it before? The bodies pile up very quickly. Also, Tom Pawlik definitely excels at creating atmosphere from the creepy moving things in the dark cavern to the claustrophobic passages through underwater tunnels. I found myself holding my breath more than once and frankly, I had a few nightmares the first night.

Of course, this is just the beginning of a very involved story so come back tomorrow for part two.

Book link – http://www.amazon.com/Beckon-Tom-Pawlik/dp/1414338732/
Author’s Web site  – http://www.tompawlik.com/
Author Blog – http://tompawlik.blogspot.com/
Author Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tom-Pawlik/42692434035
Author Twitter account – https://twitter.com/#!/TomPawlik

Participants’ Links:

http://noahsreads.blogspot.com/ Noah Arsenault

http://kinynchronicles.blogspot.com/ Julie Bihn

http://www.oerkenleaves.blogspot.com/ Thomas Clayton Booher

http:/tulipdrivenlife.blogspot.com/ Thomas Fletcher Booher

http://rbclibrary.wordpress.com/ Beckie Burnham
http://kittycrochettwo.blogspot.com Brenda Castro
http://tweezlereads.blogspot.com/ Theresa Dunlap

http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com/ Nikole Hahn
http://realmofhearts.blogspot.com/ Ryan Heart
http://thequietpen.wordpress.com/ Janeen Ippolito
http://jessebecky.wordpress.com/ Becky Jesse
http://www.spoiledfortheordinary.blogspot.com/ Jason Joyner
http://carolkeen.blogspot.com/ Carol Keen
http://www.slygames.net/ Leighton

http://blackanddarknight.wordpress.com/ Rebekah Loper
http://www.shannonmcdermott.com/?page_id=189 Shannon McDermott

http://www.domesticdissident.blogspot.com Karen McSpadden
http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/ Rebecca LuElla Miller
http://linalamont.blogspot.com/ Nissa
http://www.bookwomanjoan.blogspot.com/ Joan Nienhuis
http://labornotinvain.blogspot.com/ Faye Oygard
http://justanotherbookbag.blogspot.com/ Crista Richey
http://reviewsfromtheheart.blogspot.com/ Kathleen Smith
http://jessicathomasink.com/blog/ Jessica Thomas
http://christiansf.blogspot.com/ Steve Trower
http://frederation.wordpress.com Fred Warren
http://www.shanewerlinger.com/ Shane Werlinger

God “doesn’t dress like that”.

I promise this is my last post on the Avengers.They are, after all, representative of my generations “video” games. We called them comic books.

One small note. I saw “The Avengers” Saturday morning at 1025 AM in a packed theater with my daughter, Casey. There are so many small and wonderful moments in the movie but the one stand out to me took place on a jet. Ironman has just jumped out of the back of this jet to go on his own head to head with two “gods”, Thor and his evil brother, Loki. Captain America, wonderfully out of time, out of sync, and “old fashioned” shrugs into a parachute to go after Ironman and the pilot says:

“Sir, you can’t handle two ‘gods’.” (Or something to that effect.)

To which Captain America replies.

“There is only one God and he doesn’t dress like that.”

I cheered. Go Steve Rogers!

So, how did I get involved with comic books? Here is my story. And, it alls starts with a small town, Saline, Louisiana, the watermelon capital of the world.

A small town. Main Street. On one side the Grocer. On the other side the Cafe. Next to the Grocer, the Hardware Store. Next to the Cafe, the Post Office. And, next to the Post Office, the Drug Store. Baber’s Drug Store. Inside, the air was warm and redolent with the odd mixture of vanilla soda and sulfur. The classic granite counter with the huge mirror behind it sat just to the right. In the back, the pharmacy. It wouldn’t be much compared to today’s pharmacy. Small and intimate with only a few over the counter medications and a few drugs used by the town’s 525 residents.

I spent many a hot, summer day on Main Street in Saline, Louisiana. The Calico Cafe had been through so many permutations, no one could remember the name of the cafe just a few months before. In the summer of 1966, it was a red checkered tablecloth cafe with burgers and hot dogs and apple pie. Enloe’s Grocery was stacked floor to ceiling with stale sundries. In the butcher’s refrigerated meat counter, greenish slabs of beef drew the occasional fly.

The hardware store was more of a museum. Upright radios from the forties still carried sales tickets. Phonographs from the fifties shown with a sheen of newness. The most demanded items were farm related as this town was the heart of watermelon production in Louisiana. But, Baber’s Drugs was about to forever alter my future.

I liked Batman and Superman and Green Lantern. I had read some of DC comics since I was ten. I had one dollar in allowance and my father and mother had come back to their home town for the weekend from the big city of Shreveport. We stayed in my grandparent’s huge, hulking, sagging house. It was gray with nondescript peeling pain and sagging steps. The inside was dank and smelled of old sweat and dirt. The Formica floors were worn through to the wooden floors and each room reached twenty feet into the air with a long, dangling bare bulb as the only light. My Granddaddy had enclosed the back porch to make another bedroom and this is where I stayed. My bed was old and lumpy with a moldy, stale set of sheets and a quilt. There was one window and I would open the window and lay across the bed with my face pressed to the screen to catch a cool breeze. My grandparents had no air conditioning and only one fan in the entire three bedroom house.

I would look out through that rusted screen through the dangling Wisteria vines at the street that ran along the side of the house. I was bored. It was a short five block walk to downtown. Yeah, we called it downtown. Saline wasn’t much but it was a town. I would wander around the grocery gagging at the rotting meat in the cooler. Once I had eaten a burger at the Calico Cafe and found a pebble in the meat. The hardware store had nothing to interest a young boy. So, I ended up in Baber’s Drug Store.

The soda fountain had long ago been disconnected from water and drains. It was more show than substance. Mr. Baber and a few of his friend sat around a card table playing 42 with stained white dominoes. I wandered around the shelves filled with soap and shampoo and women’s stuff and combs and aspirin. I was bored some more. Until I spotted the comic book rack. It was about four by four feet and sat at angle. I studied the selections. The only DC Comics were comics I already had. What was left? Archie? No thanks! Marvel Comics? What was Marvel Comics?

I picked up a copy of a comic with the title “Fantastic Four”. The cover was intriguing with three blue clad heroes and one man that looked like he was made out of red, crumbled bricks. I remember opening the comic and reading some of the words. This comic was VERY different from DC Comics. I felt like I was intruding on some story that was far too adult for me. The characters, the dialogue, the drawing was, well, advanced. But, I was fascinated. I studied the rest of the comics. Some guy named Spider-Man. Some character called Iron Man. A green guy called the Hulk. And, a group of heroes called the Avengers. Each comic was 12 cents. That meant I could buy 8 comics and still have enough for tax.

I put the Fantastic Four back and just stood there. What was I going to do? These comics were too mature for me; too dark; too edgy. But, I was eleven now. I had hair growing in my armpits, and, well, elsewhere. I had grown a couple of inches just in the last two months. I was growing up. I was becoming a teenager. Maybe it was time to put Batman and Superman aside and try something more, well, advanced. I took out my dollar and studied it. It was my only money for a whole week. If I spent it now, I would get nothing for another week.

I chose 8 comics and plopped the dollar on the counter. Mr. Baber gave me two cents back. I hurried back down the street toward my grandparents’ house. The sky was dark and dusky and a humid window was blowing the fine sandy soil of Saline down the street. I ran as the first drops of rain hit my face and made it into the house just as the bottom fell out.

I stretched out across my bed, face pressed into the cool rain filled air from the window and I shuffled through the comics. First, I read the Fantastic Four comic. Instantly, I was mesmerized; transported across time and space to a magical realm. My face grew warm and my heart quickened at the story of Ben Grimm, the Thing, allowing his blind girlfriend to enter a shattered laboratory where something had formed in the midst of an experiment gone wrong. I gasped as she found the man at the center of the story, now transformed into a super being of terrible ego and energy. I turned the pages faster as she reached out and touched the man’s face. Anyone else would have been blinded. And, then the story ended. To Be Continued . . .

 Oh my soul! I was hooked. I read through the Spider-Man. The poor teenage boy had such, the only word I can think of now, angst. Hated by the police. Hated by his enemies. Misunderstood by his girlfriend. Was this what I had to look forward to as a teenager? Turns out that comic was eerily prophetic. Only, I never developed Spidey powers. But the rest of Peter Parker’s troubled life was mirrored by own (except for the police). I went through all of the comics. The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Sub-Mariner, Iron Man, Daredevil, X-Men, and finally, the Avengers.

I spent hours on that bed, the rain filled air cool on my face transported to the inner reaches of my imagination. The innocent, fun filled stories of DC Comics disappeared from my memory. This is where I wanted to be from now on. These were my kind of heroes; flawed, imperfect, but striving to always do what was right and what was good. I became a fanatic for Marvel Comics and collected them for the next 7 years. I spent every spare cent on comics and when my allowance was doubled to two dollars, I was able to expand my Marvel universe.

Now, I am seeing my dreams and my imaginations brought to life. When I sat through the first Spiderman, I had tears on my face. I loved Daredevil in spite of the critics’ harsh words and really loved the Fantastic Four. The critics panned it as too campy. But, comics are campy. How many of us talk our way through conflict with corny sarcastic remarks and sounds like “thwipp” or “katanyow”? And, when I heard Ironman was coming to the theaters followed by my all time favorite, Captain America I saw my boyhood dreams come true.

And now, I get to stretch out on that bed again, face pressed into the cool outside world of imagination and watch as the “Avengers Assemble” cry brings all of my heroes together. You can keep your Man of Steel. You can go brood over that depressing Dark Knight. You can throw yellow paint on Green Lantern. My heroes have arrived and I can’t wait to join the ranks of the Avengers and see real super heroes in action.

How I Became Captain America

This is how I became Captain America.

 

It was late on a Tuesday and I was slaving over the latest Mother’s Day gift I had produced in my long life of eleven years. At our Cub Scout meeting, we were making trays for our dear mothers to serve us food and drinks on. Mr. Talbert had cut out round wooden slabs with white Formica on them and our job was to staple rope around the edge and make two rope handles at opposite sides.

My handles were slightly off center and every time my mother would load up the tray and pick it up, one side would tip downward and glasses of lemonade would fall to the floor. Jelly glasses of lemonade. We drank out of glasses from jelly jars.

My mother was the original master of recycling. She would take everyone’s drink left at the end of a meal and pour ice and all into a large glass and then DRINK it!!!! The original Suicide drink!

Back to the tray. I was upset. I was chagrined. I was ashamed. My mother’s gift was useless. In a temper tantrum I jerked all the rope off around the edge and jerked off the handles and then threw the thing across the front yard. Amazingly, it sailed through the air like a giant, fat Frisbee, bounced off of a tree and imbedded itself edge down into the dirt.

I gasped. I raised an eyebrow. I chuckled. I had a shield! Just like my hero, Captain America. I ran into the house and dug through a drawer until I found the black, red, and blue Magic Markers. Now, I was a student of math so I wanted my concentric circles to be perfect and my star to be just right. So, I took out my compass and some string and a ruler and I marked off the rings and drew the star on the slick white surface of the shield. Then, I colored in the red rings and the blue background for the white star. I cut some leather straps from an old belt and made myself a handle on the back.

I stood proudly in front of my mirror in my room and grinned. I was Captain America holding up the shield that would protect me from all the evildoers in the world.

Fast forward to 2005. I was working on the script for my play “The Homecoming Tree”. It is the story of a group of people living in a boarding house in Shreveport, Louisiana at the beginning of World War II. The main character was a thirteen year old boy who was fascinated with beating the Nazis. I had interviewed my parents and my late brother extensively in the preceding few years about life in 1941. When I asked my brother who his heroes were he said, “The Shadow, Captain Midnight, and, of course, Captain America.”

Captain America? In 1942? I did some research. As anyone who has seen the movie is aware, Captain America had his start as a comic book during World War II. It was shocking to realize that my brother and I had shared this connection I was never aware of. He passed away in 2008 but he had the opportunity to see “The Homecoming Tree”. My mother passed away in 2004, but not only did my father get to see the play, he sang “There’s a Star Spangled Banner Hanging Somewhere”, a 1941 song that I recorded and played as part of our radio music playing the background during the play.

I gave my main character a love for Captain America. I got Randle Milliken, the actor playing the young boy to make his own uniform. Guess what he did? He found an old serving tray made out of plastic very similar to my tray and put the star and the stripes on it. Only, he didn’t make the lines perfect as I did. He even found some old red gloves and when he came out onto the stage the first night of performance as “Captain America” I was back in my front yard wrapped in heat and humidity, shield up to ward off the bullets of my enemies, sweat soaking my blue tee shirt as I fought off the evil drones of death and destruction.

So, this weekend, I cannot wait to see “The Avengers”. The original Avengers were my heroes way back in the 1960’s when I discovered comic books and I cannot wait to hear those words: “Avengers Assemble!” and see Captain America once again stand up for what is right! I’ll see you there!

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