I received a few emails asking if my snippet of my new novel was its beginning.
I realized perhaps I should give you a taste of the start.
“I held an atlas in my lap,
ran my fingers across the whole world
where does it hurt?
- Warsan Shire
“For Man there is no being good, merely no present opportunity to be bad.”
It is always something of a bother to time date these entries.
You see, I have hopscotched along realities and possibilities for so long that I should have mental whiplash.
In a time yet to be, a strange fellow with the stranger name of Snoop Dog told me: ‘You’ve got to go back in Time if you want to move forward.’
Childhood is pretty far back, isn’t it?
So. let’s start there, shall we? For as long as I can remember, I have heard the Voice. Not voices, mind you. I am crazy. Just not that crazy.
If you are religious, you might be thinking Isaiah 30:21 Whether You Turn Right or Left, Your Ears Will Hear a Voice Behind You, Saying, This is The Way; Walk in It.
No, I never thought the Voice was God’s since it was female. One of the first things God made was Man. If God was female, the first thing She would have made would have been chocolate.
The Voicc was always faint. Sometimes nearly loud enough to understand a word or two … but not quite. It was quite maddening.
In some nightmares, the Voice sounded louder if I took one way or lower if I took another. The nightmares went better if I went along down the loud path. But not always. I guess that fearful uncertainty was what made it a nightmare.
What could a kid have nightmares about, you ask? I was an orphan at St. Marok’s in New Orleans. If you were a native of the “Twilight City,” that last sentence would explain everything. Of course, the radio and newspapers being full of Hitler steamrolling all across Europe did not exactly fill my head with visions of sugar plumbs as dance partners.
Besides, the waking hours in St. Marok’s were nightmare enough. Located in one of the most dangerous parts of the French Quarter, it received no church or city funding. How Headmaster Stearns kept the place running was a mystery to me. Why we were all malnourished and hungry was not.
Only the prettiest of the girls and most handsome of the boys found enough food on their plates. The rest of us were not envious. Those orphans soon disappeared.
The talk was that Stearns sold them to the different “Houses of Pleasure” all around us. Was it true? Who knew? I just knew I was glad I was nothing special.
I kept to the middle of the pack. The scared, dumb orphans hunched in the far back. They may as well have hung a sign around their necks in red paint: ‘Don’t pick on me.’ What bully could resist that, right?
I was smarter than that. Too smart … and stubborn. I refused to do less than my best in all the tests. That particular bit of brilliance on my part shone a spotlight on me for all the dim-witted but burly bullies.
It also brought me to the attention of Sister Ameal and let me know that the Voice could do something that scared me to the bone.
That fateful morning, I heard a low buzzing in my head as I started down the second story stairs to my algebra class. Suddenly, my whole body twisted sharply to my right smack up against the wooden railing without my willing it.
Donny Jenkins flew past me as he missed the shove he had aimed at my back. He tumbled awkwardly down the stairs to land with his head bent all wrong. I did not have to be a doctor to know he was dead.
Down on the first floor, Headmaster Stearns roared, “Mr. Blaine, what did you just do?”
Now, what else was wrong with me? The Voice was bad enough. Now, this?
My head still spinning from having lost control of my body to some outside force, I said the first thing to come to me. “Got out of his way, sir.”
A few of the knuckleheads behind me chuckled at that. Stearns was not amused. I cursed at myself for not thinking before I spoke.
“You think that funny, Mr. Blaine?”
I forced out of a fear-thick throat, “N-No, sir.”
“Indeed not, young man. You have just bought yourself a one-way trip to the reform school with that stunt.”
“No, he has not, Stearns!” a harsh voice snapped from the open front door.
I looked down and saw for the first time the wiry body of Sister Ameal. It was an odd name for a nun, so I looked it up. I spent a lot of time in the library. I mean when you were threatened there at least they whispered.
Ameal was a parish in Coimbra, Portugal. Maybe she was originally from that country, To me, she did not look Portuguese, but I was hardly a world traveler … at least not then.
“Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space. If you can bend space, you can bend time also, and if you knew enough and could move faster than light you could travel backward in time and exist in two places at once.”