The Homecoming Tree
In 2005 Brookwood hosted the play, “The Homecoming Tree”. The story of a 13 year old boy faced with the tragedy of his father not returning from the attack on Pearl Harbor set the stage for a powerful drama. The story centered around the Collinsworth boarding house between Thanksgiving and Christmas 1941. Since that time, I have been working hard to complete a novelization of that story. I finished the final draft of the novel today! I hope it will be available for purchase by mid November. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 2 when the ruthless businessman, Roy Anderson, finds himself catapulted back in time to 1941 and his memory erased. In this scene, Daniel Collinsworth has found his father’s hidden book safe containing the medal his father won and a surprise.:
Frank picked up the wax paper. He studied the dark shreds of tobacco and then lifted them to his nose. He inhaled, and a contented look came over his face. “I wouldn’t mind taking a bite or two myself. But, I promised you, mother, I would quit. That’s why I put it here in my hidden treasure box.”
Daniel’s eyes widened in surprise. “But, if you quit, why didn’t you just throw it away?”
Frank lowered the tobacco and reluctantly closed the wax paper around it. “Let’s just say I was hoping one day she might change her mind.”
“Why did she make you quit?”
Frank put the tobacco back into the book and put the papers on top of it. “Ever kiss someone who’s beenchewing tobacco?”
“Yuck! I don’t kiss girls. You know that. They’re yuck.”
Frank grinned and sighed. He reached over and ruffled the boy’s blonde hair. “One day, you’ll change your mind. And, close that window. That draft can’t be doing our friend any favors.” Daniel closed the window and Frank motioned to a chair by the desk. “Sir, why don’t you come over here and have a seat.”
The man shuffled across the library and collapsed into the chair. “Do you know who I am?”
“No, sir, I don’t. The boys brought you inside an hour or so ago. Said they found you on the sidewalk. Lookedlike you had been beaten up and robbed. I called the police, but they had no report of a missing person.”
The man nodded and touched his forehead. It stung, and he gasped. “I don’t remember a thing.”
“Gosh, Dad, he doesn’t even know his name?” Daniel asked.
The man glanced at the boy in his Captain Freedom costume. “The only name I remember starts with the letter R. Robert? No. Richard? No. Maybe Ray?”
“Then we’ll call you Ray,” Frank said. “Is that okay?”
Ray nodded. “Feels almost right. So, where are we? I mean what city?”
“Shreveport, Louisiana.” Frank leaned toward him. “Does that name ring a bell?”
“No, sure doesn’t.”
“Well, you’re at the Collinsworth boarding house. At least it’s a boarding house while I’m away on missions.”
Daniel held up the medalso thatRay could see it. “My Daddywent on a secret mission and saved a bunch of guys from the Japs.”
Frank reached over and plucked the medal from Daniel’s grasp. “It was pure luck, Daniel.”
Daniel drew a deep breath, andhis bright, blue eyes gleamed with pride. “Daddy, tell Ray how you got the medal again.”
“He needs a lastnameso thatyou can call him by his formal name.” He glanced at Ray. “Any idea what your last name is?”
Ray blinked as he searched his memories. “I’ve got nothing.”
Daniel pointed to his shirt. “Well, you’ve got a castle on your shirt.”
Ray looked down at a green castle monogrammedjust above his shirt pocket. “Yeah, that’s the logo for, uh?”
“Logo?” Frank said.
“A symbol for a company that makes this shirt.” Ray concentrated until his head hurt. “A castle, uh, what is it?”
“How about Mr. Castle?” Daniel said.
Ray sighed in frustration. “I guess that is as good as anything.”
Frank looked at his son. “You need to call him Mr. Castle.”
“Golly, Daddy, Mr. Castle’s never heard the story. And, I want to hear it again.”
Frank glanced at the medal, andsomething foreign moved across his face. “It’s just it seems awful flashy for such a little thing I did.”
“Saving four men isn’t a little thing, Daddy.”
Ray watched the loving, adoring gaze the boy had for his father. Something ached within him. It was a yawning emptiness and a sense that he was missing something. Was he a father? Did he have a young son like this?
“Daniel, you’re just thirteen. You wouldn’t understand. Saving those men was just my job.”
“Your father has every right to be proud.”
Ray glanced over at the door to the library. The woman he had seen in the dining room was standing in the door. She was shorter than Frank, andher bright green eyes glittered with excitement. She wore a simple cotton print dress covered with a frilly apron, andher dark, curly hair was piled up on top of her head.
“I see our visitor finally woke up.” She walked across and reached out and put a cool hand on Ray’s forehead. “At least you don’t have a fever. I might have to give you some castor oil later.”
“Don’t let her do it, Mr. Castle!” Daniel ran around the desk. “That stuff is awful.”
“It cured your cough, young man.”
“Ann Lee, healthy or sick, you don’t dare a coughafter a dose of castor oil,” Frank said.
Ann Lee stood up and put her hands on her hips. “Justignore them, sir. So, what’s your name?”
“I’m not sure.” Ray felt of his forehead. It did feel a little warm. “I don’t remember anything.”
“We’ve decided to call him Ray Castle,” Daniel said. “Sounds like an alter ego. Hey, what if he’s a real superhero?” He said the last words out loud with his hands planted firmly on his hips.
“Daniel, calm down. I’m sure Mr. Castle probably has a headache to go with that wound on his head. So, you don’t remember who attacked you?” Ann Lee frowned.
“No, I don’t. I don’t remember much of anything.”
“Well, give it some time. You can sleep in here on the cot until you get back on your feet.”
Ray glanced at his cot. Sleep on a cot? How dare she tell him he was going to sleep on a cot! He drew a deep breath and pushed the sudden arrogant anger away. Where had that come from? He was lucky to have a roof over his head. He looked back at Ann Lee.
“That will be just fine.”
Ann Lee nodded. “I’ll try and find you some clothes before dinner. In the meantime, why don’t you listen to Frank’s story?I justlove to hear him tell it.”