My new short story, The Bridge, is now available on Amazon. It’s a relatively short read and will be available for free for 5 days starting Monday, December 2.
After that, the price will SKYROCKET to an entire US dollar. This will prompt a highly difficult and lifechanging decision. Which would you rather have, a redemptive, uplifting tale about a estranged father and son, or a McChicken sandwich?
Your protein intake for lunch hangs in the balance! Choose wisely…
Oh, and here’s a short preview of The Bridge:
The reporter nervously fiddles at the plastic badge dangling around his neck. He watches as the attendant at the window shifts in her seat, the old leather unpeeling from beneath her. She clears her throat, taps a pen crisply against the metal of a clipboard. Taking it from her without a word, he fills it out, and waits by the door until it sways open. He steps cautiously across the threshold, feeling uncharacteristically hesitant.
He takes a deep breath, tries to settle his nerves. He’s covered the Olympics. The Super Bowl. Why was he so scared of a rundown nursing home in Podunk, Florida?
Another attendant greets him at the door, smiles warmly and asks, “You that reporter here to see Mr. Grayson, right?”
“Come on. I’ll walk you down there. It’s been a long time since he had any visitors.”
As they walk through the halls, the reporter notices several more stares tracking him as they make their way down the worn corridor. The attendant notices, too. “Ain’t very often we get a news reporter looking to speak to someone here. Mr. Grayson has been quite the celebrity ever since word got around you were coming to speak with him. This a feature piece?”
The reporter raises his eyebrows. “He didn’t tell anyone?”
“Mr. Grayson mostly keeps to himself. Didn’t say a word about why you wanted to speak with him.” There was a rushed, expectant quality to the attendant’s voice, finely skirting the line between suggestion and question.
“Well, he has quite the story to tell,” the reporter admits carefully. “I can tell you that much. The rest, well, you’ll just have to wait, I’m afraid.”
“I feel you, Mr. News Man. No leaks.” The attendant snaps his fingers and winks, as if he’s actually in on the secret he so clearly wants to know. Then, he stops at a doorway leading into a dimly lit room. “Well, here we are. Good luck with your interview. He’s a tough read, that one.”
Wondering if he is in the right place, the reporter enters the room slowly. He notes the starkness. No flowers on the table. No pictures on the wall. The shelves are bare except for a few books gathering dust. On the wall, a television dangles unevenly off a broken hinge. He clears his throat to announce his presence. To his right, he hears a toilet flush, followed by the scrubbing of soap on hands.
“Just a minute,” a voice announces. “I’ll be right there.”
After a moment, the bathroom door clicks open and a man in a wheelchair glides out.
“Hello?” the man asks, his eyes fruitlessly scanning the room. “Is someone here?”
“Yes, Mr. Grayson. I…uh…thought I had the wrong room.”
“Well, you might,” he growls. “Who are you?”
“Ryan Flynn. I’m here to do that feature. I believe my office called you last week, said I was coming in.”
“Oh right, of course! Come in, Ryan Flynn. Come in.”
The old man smiles towards the reporter. He’s a thin man not suited to thinness. His wide shoulders, withered away by arthritis and the long march of time, were clearly not suited for the sedentary life of a nursing home. Cords of lean muscle, the last remaining visages of a blue-collar life, spring up along his arms as he pushes the wheelchair across the room. He thrusts out a hand as he approaches the reporter.
“Take a seat, Ryan. Let’s talk a while.”
The old man plants his palm on the railing along the wall and uses it to guide him to the head of the bed. Hoisting himself gingerly out of the wheelchair, he plants himself on the mattress, and then lifts his legs into a resting position. Panting from the exertion, he dabs his forehead with a towel sitting on the nightstand.
The reporter clicks a pen and presses a button on his phone. “Are you ready to begin, Mr. Grayson?”
The man smirks, the right side of his face crinkling into sharp folds like a paper lantern. He sighs heavily. The smirk fades into a frown as his frail body sags. “Thirty years and I hope…I hope this is not the beginning of anything. I hope this is the end.”
Outside, palm fronds begin to scrape against the cement walls as the wind picks up. The room darkens as tall clouds, bottom heavy with rain, loom overhead. The old man doesn’t notice. He leans back in his bed and glides his hand over the worn wood of the side rail until he finds the end. Then, he slaps his palm softly against the nub. “You know I heard that people said there was no way this really happened. No way it could be true. Can you believe that?”
“I have heard that, too.”
“What do they know?” he snaps bitterly. “What do they know about any of it?”
The reporter taps the end of his pen against the table. “Only what you tell them, Mr. Grayson.”
“I haven’t talked about it in years, you know. Nobody in here knows what I did.”
“I appreciate you sharing, Mr. Grayson. Tell me what you remember.”
His milky eyes grow grey, reflecting the gathering storm clouds outside the window. “Remember? I don’t have to remember any of it. I relive it every day.”