Monday, July 5, 2021

Selections from Book Number 20, to be published soon

At 5:45 p.m. on Monday, July 5, I finished my latest book, what will be my 20th in print when it is published in a few months. A thorough edit of this novel awaits, but typing THE END is always rewarding and worth a champagne toast. 

Herewith the beginning of the first chapter, the last sentences of the epilogue, and the cast of characters. Stay tuned for publication details…


Traces of Mary



Copyright 2021 by G. Wayne Miller



Chapter One.
Saturday, May 29, 2021 

Billy McAllister's sister is dead. 

He knows that.

But time cannot steal the young boy’s memories. Time -- four years, one month and 19 days of time -- and still Jess appears in his dreams. 

Sometimes, she is calling to him.

She is someplace dark and cold, someplace distant and unreachable, no place he's ever been or wants to go. He sees nothing but Jess's face, illuminated softly by an unseen light. It's a sad face, not the face he wants to remember -- not the face in that photograph Mommy keeps on her bedroom bureau. Tears cover both cheeks. Her hair is tousled, her lips cracked and dry, her eyes wide and dark and empty, as if not really her eyes, but fake ones constructed of cheap glass.

She is clutching her favorite stuffed animal, Lambie, the Teddy bear that Santa brought. 

Lambie looks sad, too.

``Help us, Billy!'' Jess calls in his dreams. ``Me and Lambie! Let us out of here! We don't want to be dead! We want to be with you and Mommy and Uncle Jack!''

Billy reaches for his sister then -- but always she's too far, and the distance to her is increasing, and Jess is shrinking, is getting smaller and smaller, until finally she is gone.

Other times, much happier times, it is summer -- the summer they took that photograph so dear to Mommy's heart. The summer long before the pandemic, when the world went mad.

He was six that summer, Jess barely five. Her sickness had finally gotten better, and with every day, there was less talk of that ``Pitts-bird'' hospital, where she spent so much time as the doctors tried to fix her. 

Mommy was better, too. Mommy was not so upset all the time, wasn't short-tempered and grouchy and crying and yelling and screaming at him when he hadn't done anything at all. 

Uncle Jack, who usually took Billy's side, said that after all the bad stuff involving Jess’s health, the family deserved a good stretch -- that it was always darkest before dawn, and now the sun was climbing into the sky.

They spent June and July at Grammy's. Her house – larger than any house Jess and Billy had ever been inside -- was in Blue Hill Falls, Maine, that magical seaside place where the mountain really was blue, at least from a distance. It was major fun, those two months, ice cream and corn on the cob and lobster and fried clams and staying up until ten or even eleven o'clock, way past regular bedtime. The ocean, cold as it was, at least until August, when you might be able to handle a few minutes’ swim without shivering, was the best. 

Almost every day, they played on the little beach there at Blue Hills Falls, where Grammy’s house looked out over Mt. Desert Narrows. 

It was go-easy play because they had to be very careful of Jess. They had to keep the saltwater from that great big zig-zaggy scar across her tummy, evidence of where surgeons had transplanted one liver into her, and then a second when the first had failed. They had to keep sunblock all over her, and she had to wear a straw hat and her Elsa sunglasses. 

Jess tired pretty easily, but she had spurts of energy, too, and during them, they climbed rocks and hunted for periwinkles and fiddler crabs and built sandcastles and went sailing with Mom and Uncle Jack on Grammy’s big boat.

“How big is the ocean?” Jess always liked to ask.

“Bigger than the biggest lake in the world,” Grammy would answer.

“Wow, that’s huge!” Billy would say.

“Almost as big as heaven,” said Uncle Jack, a Jesuit priest who liked to shed his Roman collar on his occasional visits to Maine.

“Heaven is where Grampa is,” Grammy would say.

“I want to meet him some day!” Jess would say.

“No you don’t,” her mother said on one occasion.

A dark memory had welled up within her and she said no more. 

Grammy wagged her finger at Mary, and quickly changed the subject, to the fairy-tale story of how her parents had met.

“My mother was a young girl living in Nova Scotia when one summer day, she and a friend drove to Burntcoat Head Park to see the amazing tides at the Bay of Fundy,” Grammy said. “Do you children know about those?”

“No!” Jess and Billy said.

“Highest tides in the world,” Grammy said. “One of the seven or eight or nine or ten Wonders of the World, I’ve lost count. People come from all over to see.”

“Wow,” Jess said. “Can we go there one day, Mom?”

“That would be nice,” Mary said.

“So there was my mother, Miss Alice O’Reilly, when my father, George McKay – your maternal grandmother – of Blue Hill Falls, Maine, happened to be there visiting with friends. They’d taken the old steamer up from Bar Harbor to Halifax for a week-long holiday. And there was Miss Alice, watching the tide roll in with a rumble and a roar. Their eyes met, and both later said it was love at first sight. The rest, as they say, is history. They married, Alice and George moved in here, and along came I, their only child.”

“Cool,” Jess said.

“Neat,” said Billy.

The question of what happened after that did not arise.

Not that summer.


EPILOGUE
Sunday, October 3
Freeport, Nova Scotia

A half hour later, a Honda Civic with Maine license plates pulled into the driveway. Mary was expecting a new guest, so she went out to greet the driver.

“Hannah Rosenthal?” Mary said.

“No, Erica Han,” the driver said, stepping out. “I’m a reporter with the Bangor, Maine, Daily News. You must be Mary McAllister.”

Mary concealed her surprise.

“No, I’m Mary Waletzky,” she said. “Helper-in-chief of the Prana Center.”

Han showed her a copy of the August 3 Daily News. Mary McAllister’s photograph was on the front page, illustrating Han’s story.

“An unspeakable tragedy,” Mary said. “But you are not the first person to mistake me for her. The resemblance is striking. Spooky, really. I hope is there is closure some day for everyone affected by the deaths or her and her son. I can only imagine the pain.”

“Are you sure you’re not Mary McAllister?” Han said.

“As sure as my Nova Scotia license confirms I’m Mary Waletzky,” Mary said. “Wait a minute and I’ll get it for you. Would you like to see my passport, too?”

“That won’t be necessary,” Han said.

Mary went into her office and returned with her license. 

The reporter scrutinized it.

She was satisfied.

“I have to confess that I’ve been mistaken for someone else, too,” Han said. “The actor Constance Wu.”

“She was in Crazy Rich Asians!” Mary said. “Loved that movie. There’s definitely an uncanny resemblance. In fact, when you pulled up, I thought you were Constance Wu!”

The women laughed.

“I’ll be on my way now,” Han said. “I’m sorry to have disturbed you.” 

“No worries,” Mary said. “Before you go, may I ask you something?”

“Sure,” Han said.

“Why did you drive so far to a place with no connection to May McAllister and her son?”

“You’ll think I’m insane when I tell you,” Han said, “but the address came to me in a dream.”

“I don’t think you’re insane,” Mary said.

“May I ask a favor?” Han said.

“Of course.”

“Please don’t tell anyone I was here.”

“My lips are sealed.”

“Again, I’m sorry for the disturbance. This looks like a lovely and peaceful place.”

“It is.”

“Take good care,” the reporter said.

“You, too,” Mary said as Han drove off.

THE END

Cast of characters

 

In order of appearance

 

Tanya Audette, a young girl who lives in Boston.

Sophie Audette, her mother.

Zachary Pearlman, Boston shop proprietor and owner of Fluffy, a French poodle.

Billy McAllister, a young boy who lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Jessica McAllister, his older sister.

Mary Lambert McAllister, their mother.

The Rev. John Lambert S.J., “Uncle Jack,” Mary’s brother.

Alice McKay Lambert, “Grammy,” Mary and Fr. Jack’s mother, of Blue Hill, Maine.

George Linwood Lambert, “Grampa,” Alice’s late husband and father of Mary and Jack.

Mr. Hawthorne, a mortician.

Amanda Leroux, a social worker at the homeless center Fr. Jack runs in Boston.

Stephen McAllister, Mary’s estranged husband and the father of her children.

Geoff Washington, Billy’s best friend.

Paul “Angel” Iannotti, 14, a school dropout and bully.

Ordo, leader of the Priscillas, the good species in a distant galaxy.

Alex Borkowski, Billy's and Geoff’s second-best friend.

Crimson Vanner, a drug addict and dealer.

Z-DA, last of the Lepros, an evil species in a distant galaxy.

Juan Sierra, a property owner in Providence, R.I.

Rudolph Howe Sr. and Jr., lawyers in Providence, R.I.

Mrs. Bartholomew, father of a boy burned in an amusement-park fire.

Lt. Perry Callahan, a Providence the police detective.

Amanda Leroux’s mother, an elderly woman who lives on Massachusetts’ North Shore.

Erica Han, a reporter with the Bangor Daily News.

Charlie Moonlight, a Native American spiritual leader.


Friday, December 11, 2020

My Dad and Airplanes

 Author's Note: I wrote this eight years ago, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of my father's death. Like his memory, it has withstood the test of time. I have slightly updated it for today, December 11, 2020, the 18th anniversary of his death. Read the original here.

  
Roger L. Miller as a boy, early 1920s.
My Dad and Airplanes
by G. Wayne Miller

I live near an airport. Depending on wind direction and other variables, planes sometimes pass directly over my house as they climb into the sky. If I’m outside, I always look up, marveling at the wonder of flight. I’ve witnessed many amazing developments -- the end of the Cold War, the advent of the digital world, for example -- but except perhaps for space travel, which of course is rooted at Kitty Hawk, none can compare.

I also always think of my father, Roger L. Miller, who died 18 years ago today.

Dad was a boy on May 20, 1927, when Charles Lindbergh took off in a single-engine plane from a field near New York City. Thirty-three-and-a-half hours later, he landed in Paris. That boy from a small Massachusetts town who became my father was astounded, like people all over the world. Lindbergh’s pioneering Atlantic crossing inspired him to get into aviation, and he wanted to do big things, maybe captain a plane or even head an airline. But the Great Depression, which forced him from college, diminished that dream. He drove a school bus to pay for trade school, where he became an airplane mechanic, which was his job as a wartime Navy enlisted man and during his entire civilian career. On this modest salary, he and my mother raised a family, sacrificing material things they surely desired.

My father was a smart and gentle man, not prone to harsh judgment, fond of a joke, a lover of newspapers and gardening and birds, chickadees especially. He was robust until a stroke in his 80s sent him to a nursing home, but I never heard him complain during those final, decrepit years. The last time I saw him conscious, he was reading his beloved Boston Globe, his old reading glasses uneven on his nose, from a hospital bed. The morning sun was shining through the window and for a moment, I held the unrealistic hope that he would make it through this latest distress. He died four days later, quietly, I am told. I was not there.

Like others who have lost loved ones, there are conversations I never had with my Dad that I probably should have. But near the end, we did say we loved each other, which was rare (he was, after all, a Yankee). I smoothed his brow and kissed him goodbye.

So on this 18th anniversary, I have no deep regrets. But I do have two impossible wishes.

My first is that Dad could have heard my eulogy, which I began writing that morning by his hospital bed. It spoke of quiet wisdom he imparted to his children, and of the respect and affection family and others held for him. In his modest way, he would have liked to hear it, I bet, for such praise was scarce when he was alive. But that is not how the story goes. We die and leave only memories, a strictly one-way experience. 

My second wish would be to tell Dad how his only son has fared in the last 18 years. I know he would have empathy for some bad times I went through and be proud that I made it. He would be happy that I found a woman I love, Yolanda, my wife now for four years and my best friend for more than a decade: someone, like him, who loves gardening and birds. He would be pleased that my three wonderful children, Rachel, Katy and Cal, are making their way in the world; and that he now has three great-granddaughters, Bella, Livvie and Viv, wonderful girls all. In his humble way, he would be honored to know how frequently I, my sister Mary Lynne and my children remember and miss him. He would be saddened to learn that my other sister, his younger daughter, Lynda, died in 2015. But that is not how the story goes, either. We send thoughts to the dead, but the experience is one-way. We treasure photographs, but they do not speak.

Lately, I have been poring through boxes of black-and-white prints handed down from Dad’s side of my family. I am lucky to have them, more so that they were taken in the pre-digital age -- for I can touch them, as the people captured in them surely themselves did so long ago. I can imagine what they might say, if in fact they could speak.

Some of the scenes are unfamiliar to me: sailboats on a bay, a stream in winter, a couple posing on a hill, the woman dressed in fur-trimmed coat. But I recognize the house, which my grandfather, for whom I am named, built with his farmer’s hands; the coal stove that still heated the kitchen when I visited as a child; the birdhouses and flower gardens, which my sweet grandmother lovingly tended. I recognize my father, my uncle and my aunts, just children then in the 1920s. I peer at Dad in these portraits (he seems always to be smiling!), and the resemblance to photos of me at that age is startling, though I suppose it should not be.

A plane will fly over my house today, I am certain. When it does, I will go outside and think of young Dad, amazed that someone had taken the controls of an airplane in America and stepped out in France. A boy with a smile, his life all ahead of him.

My dad, second from top, with two of his sisters and his brother.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

John Lennon joins Jack Nicholson in a fictionalized appearance in Blue Hill! Read this excerpt.

 

 Along with several fictional characters, starting with the narrator, "Blue Hill" features some real-life people -- Jack Nicholson, for example, albeit in fictionalized form. 

And now, enter John Lennon (and Yoko and Sean). As with much of the novel, this scene is woven into the larger story of narrator/protagonist Mark Gray and first love Sally Martin.

To learn more about the book, which published on October 6 - and to order in audio, Kindle or paper formats - visit http://www.gwaynemiller.com/books.htm



By senior year, I was pretty damn cocky.

I’d directed six films, and one had been favorably reviewed in The Village Voice and another praised in a wrap-up of student artists in The New York Times. I’d been contacted by a couple of New York ad firms regarding employment after graduation, but I’d told them to take a hike. I was an artist—so said The Times—not a corporate suit. Bud was heading to L.A. and I was going with him and Sally was going, too…or so she believed.

I can’t pinpoint when I became derisive of the woman for whom I’d sold the only thing of material value my mother had left me.

I suspect it was after September, when I declined to live with her, using some pathetically lame argument about space and freedom, and I know for certain it was before she got knocked up. My guess is late October. I was running the first annual NYU Jack Nicholson film fest and on this particular night we’d screened Cuckoo’s Nest for a sellout audience of 300, including John Lennon—John Lennon!—who’d arrived, unannounced, with Yoko and Sean.

During the discussion period, which I moderated, Sally raised her hand and said: “If Chief could talk all that time, why’d he wait so long to say something?”

Utter silence in the auditorium.

Bud rolled his eyes and The Voice’s film critic looked pained and if Lennon hadn’t been fussing over his son, I bet he would have had some sharp-tongued barb.

I did not let on that I knew Sally.

“Thank you, Miss,” I said, “now would anyone care to pick up on Professor Pagliano’s observations on Nurse Ratched as a metaphor for neo-capitalist authoritarianism?”

Lennon did, and his remarks were printed in the next edition of The Village Voice, along with a photo of me handing him the mic.

Later that evening, alone with Sally, I said: “If you have to be so stupid, can you at least not do it in public?”

“Why was that stupid?” Sally said.

“Oh my God,” I said, with blustering intellectual indignation, “now you want me to explain your stupidity. It’s like the Bunuel subtitles again.”

`Well, I hate subtitles,” Sally said. “If I want to read, I’ll get a book.”

She had a point, a good one in fact, but I didn’t see it then. There was a lot I didn’t see then.

If I hadn’t gone home that Christmas, I suppose our relationship would have been over, finally, by year’s end. But I did go home, and Sally did too, and Christmas Eve found us together and it was like the calendar had been turned back.

I told Sally I loved her and somehow we’d make things work and we should consider tonight a fresh start—all the sweet talk a twenty-one-year-old guy who hasn’t been laid in a month can muster. We made love that night, and every night for the remainder of the holidays, and we went back to New York together, and several weeks later, when Doris Wong began strongly hinting that my day was soon to come, I told Sally it was over—this time, for good.

She didn’t plead.

She didn’t ask for explanations and she didn’t call or come by, and when two weeks had passed and Doris hadn’t moved past hinting, I called her.

She didn’t want to talk over the phone.

“Meet me at Rockefeller Center,” she said, and hung up.

The funny thing was, the second I saw Sally, I wanted to kiss her.

Go figure—I can’t wait for her to be out of my life and once she is, all I can think is I want to kiss her. Kiss her and take her clothes off and spend a week in bed with her. Like Yoko and John, except no peace-in, but sex non-stop.

I swear, no one had ever looked better: her lips redder than I remembered, her hair so long and silky and brown, her skin so rosy. I mean, she was like Barbara Hershey, another actress I had a thing for then. And I did kiss her—this clumsy thing involving contact with her cheek. We exchanged pleasantries and then we skated and after, as we drank hot chocolates, she told me she was two months pregnant. Given how we’d spent the holiday – together virtually 24/7 – there was no shred of doubt about paternity.


More "Blue Hill: posts:

-- On a return to a hometown, a reunion with a first love.

 On the run from the law and deep into his journey into the past, Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," returns to his home town, where he meets Sally Martin, his high-school girlfriend and first love. A long-buried secret will soon be revealed.

READ THIS EXCERPT:

 https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/we-both-cracked-up-at-that-and-laughter.html

 

-- Reviews for “Blue Hill” are coming in and they are favorable!The reviews for my latest book, "Blue Hill," a novel that is a profound departure from my other (mostly horror, mystery and sci-fi) fiction are looking good! I will post more as they arrived.
READ REVIEWS: 
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/reviews-for-blue-hill-are-coming-in-and.html

-- Fenway Park on August 18, 1967: Tony Conigliaro struck by pitch.
Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," is a young Red Sox fan when slugger Tony Conigliaro is beaned by a pitch during the Sox "Dream Team" of 1967. The pitch changed the real-life Tony C. -- and had a profound impact on the fictional protagonist of my new novel.
READ THIS EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/fenway-park-on-august-18-1967-tony.html

-- The possibility of reconciliation, and an outrageous climb in a Maine Nor'easter.
Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," is the son of a now-retired Episcopal priest and '60s social activist. Their relationship has been difficult since Gray's childhood, but there is always the possibility of reconciliation. Maybe it will occur when Gray, now one of America's Most Wanted criminals, visits his elderly father, who lives in Blue Hill, Gray's hometown, and proposes an outrageous climb of a favorite mountain... in a raging Nor'easter. Read the excerpt here.
READ THIS EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/mark-gray-protagonist-of-blue-hill-is.html

-- Quite a cast of characters.
Along with several fictional characters, starting with the narrator, "Blue Hill" features some real-life people -- Jack Nicholson, for example, albeit in fictionalized form.
READ THIS EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/quite-cast-of-characters-another.html

-- Fenway Park.
Baseball is a central theme of my new novel, "Blue Hill," a departure from my other fiction, which has been solidly in the mystery, horror and sci-fi genres.
READ THE EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/blue-hill-excerpt-from-chapter-four.html

-- Listen to the books!
Listen to a clip from the audio version of “Blue Hill” Blue Hill and also some of my other books, including “Thunder Rise,” King of Hearts,” and “The Work of Human Hands.”
LISTEN: 
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/09/listen-to-books.html

Friday, October 16, 2020

Updated on Nov. 14, 2020: Reviews for Blue Hill keep coming in and they are raves!

The reviews for my latest book, "Blue Hill," a novel that is a profound departure from my other (mostly horror, mystery and sci-fi) fiction are looking good! I will post more as they arrive.

To learn more about the book and to order in audio, Kindle, paper or Apple formats, visit http://www.gwaynemiller.com/books.htm

"Imagine having it all, when suddenly everything changes…. Set in the late 1990s, G. Wayne Miller’s latest page turner, ‘Blue Hill’, is a gripping tale wrapped in nostalgia ultimately revealing what matters most in this life.

-- Brendan Kirby, co-host of WPRI/12/CBS' popular program, The Rhode Show. WATCH the interview. 


                                                                          *****

"Versatile writer G. Wayne Miller returns with his newest book, a captivating thriller, 'Blue Hill.' "

-- John Busbee, The Culture Buzz, KFMG 98.9 FM, Des Moines, Iowa.

                                                                            *****

“A bold and bracing tale that challenges our perspective and sensibility, as it confronts us with the fact that reality is a relative term...

“While the setup is pure Harlan Coben or Joe Finder, the execution is more akin to Tom Wolfe’s farcical approach in ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities.’ At times, that leads to rapid shifts in tone — from potential thriller to a kind of parody — which works, thanks to Miller’s elegant command of his story.”

-- Providence Journal, November 1, 2020. Read the full review online: 



                                                                            *****

"Blue Hill” is a story of seduction by a time and a technology, a painful story of narcissism, compromise, and redemption. G. Wayne Miller helps us to see ourselves as we are, not as who we want to be, and to see a time (1997) and a culture for what it was. In this hard-to-put-down novel, G. Wayne Miller helps us understand who we become – and even better, who we might be if we take the time to think, look at ourselves in the mirror, and remember what matters.

 -- Michael Fine, podcaster and best-selling author of “Abundance,” “Health Care Revolt” and, due in November 2020, “The Bull and Other Stories.”


                                                                              *****


A great read.

-- Bill Reynolds, author of "Fall River Dreams: A Team's Quest for Glory, A Town's Search for Its Soul"


                                                                              *****

The highly creative and motivated forty-two-year-old Mark Gray yearns for something new even though he is a celebrated gamer with a loving wife and child. He feels his life has gotten quite repetitive and mundane, which leads him to a fling gone wrong with a beautiful female fan and an embarrassing fall from grace. Gray, the rich and successful family man, becomes a fugitive on the run from an attempted murder and felony assault charge. Will Gray prove his innocence before everybody, including his beloved wife and child, completely turns on him? G. Wayne Miller brings us Blue Hill, a riveting story set in 1997 about a man's journey through the fondest and most painful memories of his past and the secrets he discovers as he flees from the law.

 

My first thought after reading Blue Hill was: "I love this book!" G. Wayne Miller's story has opened the door to other enticing titles by him that I would definitely love to read. Blue Hill is simply beautiful! The first-person point of view is brilliantly executed, giving readers a close and personal look into the story. I felt the emotions of the protagonist as if I was experiencing these myself. The attention to detail and meticulousness displayed in the portrayal of the characters makes the novel so realistic and captivating. Wayne Miller mixes a laugh-out-loud funny tale with a deep and serious narrative, and the result is a book that will capture your emotions and leave a lasting, distinctive impression.

 

-- Foluso Falaye, Readers' Favorite




                                                                                  *****

In Blue Hill, You Can Go Home Again.

Reviewed in the United States on October 11, 2020

Verified Purchase

Everyone makes mistakes. Some of us make really big mistakes sometimes because we believe our own headlines. In the book Blue Hill by G. Wayne Miller, Mark Gray makes one of those big mistakes and finds that what matters most in our short lives is how we deal with repairing the damage we've caused and reconciling the battle between good and evil that lurks in each of us.

While this novel was largely written in the late 90s, it reads fresh and vital. And who won't like a book that takes us back to floppy discs, AOL, chat rooms, big, bulky cell phones and even the 1967 Boston Red Sox with a special emphasis on the great Tony Conigliaro.

I give Blue Hill a hearty recommendation. It's a great read that I couldn't put down.


-- Dante, Amazon reviewer



                                                                   *****

More Blue Hill: posts:

-- On a return to a hometown, a reunion with a first love.

 On the run from the law and deep into his journey into the past, Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," returns to his home town, where he meets Sally Martin, his high-school girlfriend and first love. A long-buried secret will soon be revealed.

READ THIS EXCERPT:

 https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/we-both-cracked-up-at-that-and-laughter.html

 

-- Fenway Park on August 18, 1967: Tony Conigliaro struck by pitch.

Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," is a young Red Sox fan when slugger Tony Conigliaro is beaned by a pitch during the Sox "Dream Team" of 1967. The pitch changed the real-life Tony C. -- and had a profound impact on the fictional protagonist of my new novel.

READ THIS EXCERPT:

https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/fenway-park-on-august-18-1967-tony.html

 

-- The possibility of reconciliation, and an outrageous climb in a Maine Nor'easter.

Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," is the son of a now-retired Episcopal priest and '60s social activist. Their relationship has been difficult since Gray's childhood, but there is always the possibility of reconciliation. Maybe it will occur when Gray, now one of America's Most Wanted criminals, visits his elderly father, who lives in Blue Hill, Gray's hometown, and proposes an outrageous climb of a favorite mountain... in a raging Nor'easter. Read the excerpt here.

READ THIS EXCERPT:

https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/mark-gray-protagonist-of-blue-hill-is.html

 

-- Quite a cast of characters.

 Along with several fictional characters, starting with the narrator, "Blue Hill" features some real-life people -- Jack Nicholson, for example, albeit in fictionalized form.

READ THIS EXCERPT:

https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/quite-cast-of-characters-another.html

 

-- Fenway Park.

Baseball is a central theme of my new novel, "Blue Hill," a departure from my other fiction, which has been solidly in the mystery, horror and sci-fi genres.

READ THE EXCERPT:

https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/blue-hill-excerpt-from-chapter-four.html

 

-- Listen to the books!

Listen to a clip from the audio version of “Blue Hill” Blue Hill and also some of my other books, including “Thunder Rise,” King of Hearts,” and “The Work of Human Hands.”

LISTEN: 

https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/09/listen-to-books.html

 

 




Thursday, October 15, 2020

On a return to a hometown, a reunion with a first love

 

On the run from the law and deep into his journey into the past, Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," returns to his home town, where he meets Sally Martin, his high-school girlfriend and first love. A long-buried secret will soon be revealed.

To learn more about the book, which published on October 6 - and to order in audio, Kindle or paper formats - visit http://www.gwaynemiller.com/books.htm


We both cracked up at that, and the laughter opened something, because our conversation was suddenly animated. I heard details of Sally’s divorce from a small-town cop who was a decent enough dad but couldn’t keep his hands off other women. I talked about Ruth and Timmy, albeit without details of his paternity, and I took a gratifying shot at old Syd. Sally told of bumping into my dad now and again; of her job in a nursing home, low-paying but rewarding helping others like that, she said; of our first-grade teacher, Miss Biddle, who’d died last winter; of Jane Rogers, who’d married at 19 and was now, could you believe it, a grandmother.

I told Sally of how I’d always hoped to move back here, or at least have a summer place. It was not the complete truth, but somehow it was the right thing to say.

“You’re wearing Old Spice,” Sally said when we reached a lull.

It was almost dark now.

“Is it too strong?”

“No. I’m just surprised you remembered.”

“I remember a lot.”

“So do I.”

I looked seaward, at waves that had turned Blue Hill Bay angry. Further out, the unprotected ocean would be treacherous. On nights like this, my father always offered a prayer for mariners; when she was alive, Mom always joined in. Her grandfather, the guy who’d bought Blue Hill’s blueberry fields from a Native American for a dollar, had been lost at sea on a night like this. His body had never been recovered, which meant no funeral or grave to ever visit.

“Can I ask you something?” Sally said.

“Anything you want.”

“Why’d you call?”

I’d been expecting that question. I still didn’t have the answer.

“I found the ring,” I explained, “going through your letters.”

I dug into my pocket and offered it to Sally, but she wouldn’t take it.

Suddenly, the circumstances of our last encounter were with us—heavy and low, and nasty, like the clouds.

You stupid fuck, I thought. What possessed you to do that?

“I want you to have it,” I said, struggling.

“Why?”

“Because it’s yours.”

Was mine.”

“Please?”

Sally took the ring, but she wouldn’t wear it. Rather, she slipped it into her pocket.

“Things didn’t turn out like we planned, did they?” I said, and that sentence sounds monumentally stupid now, but then—then, it seemed profound.

“They never do,” Sally said. “The older you get, you learn that. And when you do, you reach a place of peace.”

A place of peace.

How I envied her, this girl who’d become this woman.

We left the beach and climbed quite some distance, to the top of a granite ledge bordered by pines. The wind was stronger here and I wished I had gloves and hat, as Sally did.

“Do you remember this ledge?” I said.

“Of course.”

“We used to fish off here when the tide was high. What were we in—fourth grade?”

“Something like that.”

“Mom was always afraid we’d fall.”

“Mothers are like that. I remember the time you told me about sharks that could crawl out of the ocean. I really believed you, for a while.”

“I think that was the beginning of my infantile practical jokes.”

“I wouldn’t call them infantile,” Sally said. “Sophomoric, maybe.”

We laughed.

“I have other memories of here,” I said.

“One stronger than the rest,” Sally said.

“Graduation night.”

“It seems like a million years ago.”

“Maybe it was,” I said. “Maybe everything went into a time warp and here we are, back again.”

I know—that sounds stupider than my last stupid comment. But if Sally took it that way, she didn’t let on.

Moving closer to her, I smelled Shalimar perfume, always her favorite; in one of those inexplicably weird coincidences, it was Ruth’s, too. I thought I also smelled whiskey, but I couldn’t be sure.

I wanted to kiss Sally and feel the swell of her breasts. I wanted it to be summer, and sunrise, over a flat blue sea.

“We better go,” Sally said, “before it’s completely dark.”

She squeezed my hand, fleetingly.

“You’re right,” I said.

“We wouldn’t want to get stranded here. Not with a storm coming on.”

“No,” I said, “not with a storm coming on.”

We walked in silence until we got to our cars.

“Well,” I said, “I guess this is it.”

“Where do you go now?” Sally asked.

“Maybe my father’s,” I said. “Maybe the Blue Hill Inn. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for Dad yet.”

“But you will see him before he goes.”

That seemed important to her.

“Of course,” I said.

“Since you don’t have plans,” Sally said, “would you like to have dinner?”

“I’d love to,” I said, too eagerly.

“I’ll even cook,” Sally said.

It had been an old joke, how she had trouble boiling water.

“You don’t have to go to that bother,” I said.

“I want to. Just don’t expect any of that gourmet stuff you get at home.”

“Are you kidding?” I said. “We live on macaroni and cheese. It’s Timmy’s favorite.

“Then maybe I have a chance.”

“What about your kids?”

“They’re with their father,” Sally said, “until tomorrow night.”

“You’re sure it wouldn’t be a bother?” I said.

“Do you think I would have asked if it was? Take your car. You can follow me.”


 More "Blue Hill: posts:



-- Reviews for “Blue Hill” are coming in and they are favorable!The reviews for my latest book, "Blue Hill," a novel that is a profound departure from my other (mostly horror, mystery and sci-fi) fiction are looking good! I will post more as they arrived.
READ REVIEWS:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/reviews-for-blue-hill-are-coming-in-and.html

-- Fenway Park on August 18, 1967: Tony Conigliaro struck by pitch.
Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," is a young Red Sox fan when slugger Tony Conigliaro is beaned by a pitch during the Sox "Dream Team" of 1967. The pitch changed the real-life Tony C. -- and had a profound impact on the fictional protagonist of my new novel.
READ THIS EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/fenway-park-on-august-18-1967-tony.html

-- The possibility of reconciliation, and an outrageous climb in a Maine Nor'easter.
Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," is the son of a now-retired Episcopal priest and '60s social activist. Their relationship has been difficult since Gray's childhood, but there is always the possibility of reconciliation. Maybe it will occur when Gray, now one of America's Most Wanted criminals, visits his elderly father, who lives in Blue Hill, Gray's hometown, and proposes an outrageous climb of a favorite mountain... in a raging Nor'easter. Read the excerpt here.
READ THIS EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/mark-gray-protagonist-of-blue-hill-is.html

-- Quite a cast of characters.
Along with several fictional characters, starting with the narrator, "Blue Hill" features some real-life people -- Jack Nicholson, for example, albeit in fictionalized form.
READ THIS EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/quite-cast-of-characters-another.html

-- Fenway Park.
Baseball is a central theme of my new novel, "Blue Hill," a departure from my other fiction, which has been solidly in the mystery, horror and sci-fi genres.
READ THE EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/blue-hill-excerpt-from-chapter-four.html

-- Listen to the books!
Listen to a clip from the audio version of “Blue Hill” Blue Hill and also some of my other books, including “Thunder Rise,” King of Hearts,” and “The Work of Human Hands.”
LISTEN:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/09/listen-to-books.html

 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Fenway Park on August 18, 1967: Tony Conigliaro struck by pitch.

Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," is a young Red Sox fan when slugger Tony Conigliaro is beaned by a pitch during the Sox "Dream Team" of 1967. The pitch changed the real-life Tony C. -- and had a profound impact on the fictional protagonist of my new novel.

To learn more about the book, which published on October 6 - and to order in audio, Kindle or paper formats - visit http://www.gwaynemiller.com/books.htm

I close my eyes and I can see the sun setting over Fenway, can feel my hand inside my glove, a Wilson that Mom gave me for my ninth birthday. I hear Dad, happy for the first time since Mom took sick, explaining with uncharacteristic enthusiasm why the bleachers are the statistically proven best place to catch a Tony Conigliaro home run because of how he pulls the ball—nothing, of course, about how the bleachers are all we can afford. I didn’t come to that realization until much later.

“Today’s the day, Mark,” he said, “I feel it.”

I said: “Does He feel it, too?”

And Dad saying impishly: “Who—the Big Guy?”

This was Dad at his wickedest—you knew he’d be good for an extra Coke, a day like this.

“Yeah, the Big Guy,” I said.

“Oh, yes, He feels it, too,” Dad said. “I can tell, because we’ve been doing a lot of talking lately.”

Talk was what Dad called prayer, when explaining it to little kids.

Even if you’re only marginally into baseball, you know where this one goes.

Jack Hamilton was pitching for the California Angels when Tony C. came to bat. I had Dad’s binoculars and I followed Conigliaro as he left the warmup circle. The first ball was a strike. Conigliaro fouled the second off behind first base. The next pitch, a fast ball, caught Conigliaro in the left cheekbone. I heard it—I swear I did, three hundred and seventy-nine feet away—a sound like a hammer on wood.

Tony C. fell.

Fenway Park on August 18, 1967.

The crowd went silent, and Fenway Park suddenly seemed frighteningly huge, and then the woman next to me began to cry.

She was a woman like Lisa: pretty, ponytailed, dressed in cut-offs and a tee shirt with Tony C.’s number. I remember having stared at her breasts when she wasn’t looking—how I saw Dad sneaking a look, too. I remember her telling me how she went every weekend to the club where Tony C. hung out. I remember the smell of the baby oil she rubbed onto her arms and legs, tanned to bronze, like Bridget Bardot, whose picture I’d secretly cut from a Look magazine from the library. I was a boy, discovering, awkwardly like all of us, sexuality.

I remembered all that and could not but wonder, sitting there at Fenway now with my own son more than thirty years later, where she was now and did she still feel good enough about herself to tan or did she heed the emerging warnings about skin cancer, and was she a grandmother—and did she have even the faintest memory of the boy sitting next to her that day.

I didn’t cry, at first.

I knew that any second, Tony C. would get up, brush himself off and take first base, and the next time he faced Hamilton, he would send his darn beanball all the way to Kenmore Square. Yaz would knock one out, too, and maybe George Scott also for good measure, and that would teach the Angels a thing or two about messing with the man.

But Tony C. didn’t get up.

He lay in the dirt, motionless, as men in white rushed out with a stretcher.

I started to cry then. Dad talked soothingly and held my hand, and when I didn’t stop, he led me out to Landsdowne Street. I didn’t know, of course, that he’d already decided I would never play baseball again, or that the tumor inside Mom would kill her before New Year’s Day.


More "Blue Hill: posts:



-- Reviews for “Blue Hill” are coming in and they are favorable!The reviews for my latest book, "Blue Hill," a novel that is a profound departure from my other (mostly horror, mystery and sci-fi) fiction are looking good! I will post more as they arrived.
READ REVIEWS: 
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/reviews-for-blue-hill-are-coming-in-and.html

-- On a return to a hometown, a reunion with a first love. 
On the run from the law and deep into his journey into the past, Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," returns to his home town, where he meets Sally Martin, his high-school girlfriend and first love. A long-buried secret will soon be revealed.
READ THE EXCERPT:
http://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/we-both-cracked-up-at-that-and-laughter.html

-- Fenway Park on August 18, 1967: Tony Conigliaro struck by pitch.
Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," is a young Red Sox fan when slugger Tony Conigliaro is beaned by a pitch during the Sox "Dream Team" of 1967. The pitch changed the real-life Tony C. -- and had a profound impact on the fictional protagonist of my new novel.
READ THIS EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/fenway-park-on-august-18-1967-tony.html


-- The possibility of reconciliation, and an outrageous climb in a Maine Nor'easter.
Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," is the son of a now-retired Episcopal priest and '60s social activist. Their relationship has been difficult since Gray's childhood, but there is always the possibility of reconciliation. Maybe it will occur when Gray, now one of America's Most Wanted criminals, visits his elderly father, who lives in Blue Hill, Gray's hometown, and proposes an outrageous climb of a favorite mountain... in a raging Nor'easter. Read the excerpt here.
READ THIS EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/mark-gray-protagonist-of-blue-hill-is.html


-- Quite a cast of characters.
Along with several fictional characters, starting with the narrator, "Blue Hill" features some real-life people -- Jack Nicholson, for example, albeit in fictionalized form.
READ THIS EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/quite-cast-of-characters-another.html


-- Fenway Park.
Baseball is a central theme of my new novel, "Blue Hill," a departure from my other fiction, which has been solidly in the mystery, horror and sci-fi genres.
READ THE EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/blue-hill-excerpt-from-chapter-four.html



-- Listen to the books!
Listen to a clip from the audio version of “Blue Hill” Blue Hill and also some of my other books, including “Thunder Rise,” King of Hearts,” and “The Work of Human Hands.”
LISTEN: 
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/09/listen-to-books.html

Friday, October 9, 2020

The possibility of reconciliation, and an outrageous climb in a Maine Nor'easter. An excerpt from "Blue Hill."

Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," is the son of a now-retired Episcopal priest and '60s social activist. Their relationship has been difficult since Gray's childhood, but there is always the possibility of reconciliation. Maybe it will occur when Gray, now one of America's Most Wanted criminals, visits his elderly father, who lives in Blue Hill, Gray's hometown, and proposes an outrageous climb of a favorite mountain... in a raging Nor'easter. Read the excerpt here.

To learn more about the book, which published on October 6 - and to order in audio, Kindle or paper formats - visit http://www.gwaynemiller.com/books.htm

The real Mount Blue, near Blue Hill, Maine.

My eye traveled to Mom’s piano: an ancient Kimball upright that had been handed down from her grandmother. Mom always dreamed of owning a baby grand, but she never complained that circumstances did not allow her one. What she did was put a pickle jar on the mantel and squirrel away spare change, pennies and nickels, mostly, for her “Steinway Fund,” as she called it. She died before it was full. Dad used what was there to buy her tombstone.

We sat in silence then, for I don’t know how long. I finished my brandy and Dad his and he poured us another. We’d never shared a drink before, never mind two.

“Go on,” he urged, “it’ll fortify you.”

“For what?”

“For climbing Blue Hill.”

I thought he was kidding, or drunk.

But to my knowledge, Dad had never been drunk, and he wasn’t acting it now. He didn’t sound demented. He sounded resolute, as if he’d pondered this a long time.

And there was no mistaking his eyes. They were as steely as the day IRS agents led him out of Saint Luke’s in handcuffs while a photographer for the Bangor Daily News snapped away.

“You’re kidding,” I said.

“No, I’m not,” he said.’

“It’s a blizzard out there.”

“City living’s spoiling you,” Dad said, smiling. “What this is is a good old Downeaster, no more, no less. Now, I intend to climb Blue Hill. If you won’t accompany me—well, I guess I’ll have no choice but to go it alone.”

We parked at the base of the mountain. Dad struggled leaving the car and I doubted he’d have been able to get out if I hadn’t helped him.

“This is worse than when we left the house,” I said as Dad got his balance.

“Maybe to a city slicker.”

“This is crazy.”

“You’ve more than made your point,” Dad said. “Now let’s go—the day’s getting away from us. Don’t lock your doors, I’m afraid the locks will freeze.”

We made respectable progress the first few hundred yards, a stretch that is gently sloped. Dad walked unassisted and the pines surrounding us broke the wind and the snow hadn’t drifted much, was only a smooth three or four inches deep. We nipped from a flask Dad had filled with his brandy and we were determined in our silence.

It was one-thirty on the kind of wintry afternoon when night is impatient to fall.

A bit further, we hit a deadfall.

Dad tried getting over it by himself, but it was too much—even he conceded that after a clumsy try that left him sputtering. I straddled the trunk and as Dad swung his body over, I bore his weight. He was thinner than I remembered and I thought, although it was probably only my imagination, that I could feel the brittleness of his bones.

“Damn arthritis,” he said, then added: “Don’t take that to mean I want to turn back. This is actually easier than I expected.”

A bit further still, we were on an open stretch of mountain. The wind had blown the snow deeper than two feet in places and knocked down pines. A ranger would have had trouble getting through.

“I don’t know, Dad,” I said.

“It gets easier past here,” he declared.

“How do you know?”

“The Big Guy told me,” Dad said.

I grinned, but he didn’t; he really meant it.

“Let’s take a five-minute breather,” he went on, “then give it all we’ve got. We’ll make the top by three.”

We took shelter behind a boulder. Dad drank from his flask.

I wanted to tell him that alcohol and sub-freezing temperatures were a deadly mix, but he’d had his fill of my observations so I didn’t. His face was flush, whether from effort or wind or both I could not tell, but I didn’t mention that, either. I didn’t tell him how worried I was that his gloves, and mine, were soaked. I listened to the wind and it sounded like the wildcats I always imagined awaited us on our family climbs more than three decades ago.

The snow was so heavy that I did not notice, until Dad was set to push off again, that just beyond this boulder was the path leading to Mom’s grandfather’s blueberry field.

I lost my grip bringing Dad over the last deadfall and he surely would have broken his hip if the drift hadn’t cushioned his fall. I said nothing and neither did Dad, but his face showed pain. He put his arm around my waist, and we hobbled on, under a canopy of pines that was strangely still and unblanketed with snow.

Ten minutes more, we reached the summit.

“After all I’ve given Him,” Dad said, “the Big Guy owed me.”



More "Blue Hill: posts:



-- Reviews for “Blue Hill” are coming in and they are favorable!The reviews for my latest book, "Blue Hill," a novel that is a profound departure from my other (mostly horror, mystery and sci-fi) fiction are looking good! I will post more as they arrived.
READ REVIEWS: 
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/reviews-for-blue-hill-are-coming-in-and.html

-- On a return to a hometown, a reunion with a first love. 
On the run from the law and deep into his journey into the past, Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," returns to his home town, where he meets Sally Martin, his high-school girlfriend and first love. A long-buried secret will soon be revealed.
READ THE EXCERPT:
http://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/we-both-cracked-up-at-that-and-laughter.html

-- Fenway Park on August 18, 1967: Tony Conigliaro struck by pitch.
Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," is a young Red Sox fan when slugger Tony Conigliaro is beaned by a pitch during the Sox "Dream Team" of 1967. The pitch changed the real-life Tony C. -- and had a profound impact on the fictional protagonist of my new novel.
READ THIS EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/fenway-park-on-august-18-1967-tony.html


-- The possibility of reconciliation, and an outrageous climb in a Maine Nor'easter.
Mark Gray, the protagonist of "Blue Hill," is the son of a now-retired Episcopal priest and '60s social activist. Their relationship has been difficult since Gray's childhood, but there is always the possibility of reconciliation. Maybe it will occur when Gray, now one of America's Most Wanted criminals, visits his elderly father, who lives in Blue Hill, Gray's hometown, and proposes an outrageous climb of a favorite mountain... in a raging Nor'easter. Read the excerpt here.
READ THIS EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/mark-gray-protagonist-of-blue-hill-is.html


-- Quite a cast of characters.
Along with several fictional characters, starting with the narrator, "Blue Hill" features some real-life people -- Jack Nicholson, for example, albeit in fictionalized form.
READ THIS EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/quite-cast-of-characters-another.html


-- Fenway Park.
Baseball is a central theme of my new novel, "Blue Hill," a departure from my other fiction, which has been solidly in the mystery, horror and sci-fi genres.
READ THE EXCERPT:
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/10/blue-hill-excerpt-from-chapter-four.html



-- Listen to the books!
Listen to a clip from the audio version of “Blue Hill” Blue Hill and also some of my other books, including “Thunder Rise,” King of Hearts,” and “The Work of Human Hands.”
LISTEN: 
https://gwaynemiller.blogspot.com/2020/09/listen-to-books.html