Friday Fiction – Jessica Ch 24 “Striking a Nerve”

Friday Fiction

Jessica

Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 24 of Jessica. Jessica is nineteen-years-old and she’s trying break the pattern of loss and unhappiness that has defined her childhood. What she wants most is to build a life with Jimmy, but Jimmy is trapped in a dangerous family dynamic. When she learns the truth about Jimmy, it’s up to her to save him. To do this, she must turn to the one person who has hurt her the most, her father. A series of events pushes Jessica beyond anything she can imagine and forces her to define happiness and love in a different way, and at a heartbreaking price.

Chapter 24 – “Striking a Nerve”

As I searched my mind for a way out of Jimmy’s mess, my thoughts returned to Dad. It was a betrayal, I knew, to bypass Mom and even consider Dad, but ever since the night with Jimmy at the lake, I had begun to look at the situation differently. I saw now that Jimmy was weak. He was under Stu’s foot and too afraid to do anything about it. Mom would have told me to call the police, but I wanted to protect Jimmy. I decided to find Dad, hoping he could help me get Jimmy out of trouble. Dad had left our world, but he was the one who had always worked deals. Maybe he could think of how to work one with Jimmy. I’d never asked anything from Dad during the seven years he’d been gone. He owed me something.

I called Dad’s Philadelphia office and got his New York address from the receptionist. I rearranged my work schedule so that I was off two days in a row, in the middle of the week. I desperately wanted to tell Jimmy that I thought I had an answer, because he was a crazy jumble of nerves. He was going to work, but he felt paranoid there, afraid of being found out. Although their first job had been easy and they had not been caught, their corporate customer had not called them for additional work. Jimmy was sure they were taking a closer look at him, the guy who’d had access to their office. And the Philadelphia break-in was looming. I had to act.

I told no one where I was going. I left the house in the morning, the way I usually did, but instead of going to the diner, I got on the turnpike and headed to Manhattan. I made a list of what I would say to Dad and I practiced in the car on the way up. I felt strangely powerful as I drove. How ironic, I thought, since I was going to see a father who had left me and had never looked back, a man who had routinely forgotten my birthday and might not even agree to see me. And I was going to tell him about my boyfriend who was a thief, and ask him to somehow fix the problem. But I had thought so much about Jimmy and Stu and their schemes that somehow all the panic and emotion had fallen to the side. Now I was just dealing with a problem, big, but remote from me. I didn’t understand the change in me, but I felt the strength of it and I was sure that if I came up with an answer for Jimmy, we would walk out of it together.

I didn’t think Dad would want to see that his daughter wasn’t a college girl, that she was only a waitress in a diner. I knew I needed to make a good impression. The day before I left, I went into Mom’s closet. I tried on several of her bank skirts and blouses and put together an outfit that worked. I looked the part.

Dad had a secretary sitting at a desk outside his office.

“May I help you?” she asked.

“Yes, I’m here to see Mr. Taylor,” I answered. I felt confident.

“And you are?” She looked me up and down.

I looked straight at her. “You can tell him his daughter is here to see him.”

A minute later, Dad came out of his office. Dad was forty-six years old. I hadn’t thought about his age until then and I realized how young he had been when he left us. He still looked young to me. He was fit, I could tell he spent time working to stay in shape. His hair was only a little gray on the sides.

“Jessy,” he stammered. He was pale. His mouth was slack. “What are you doing here?” It was a gut reaction. My nerve had worked to my advantage. I had completely shocked him. He didn’t know what to say.

“Dad,” I answered. “I need to talk to you.”

“What is it, Jess? What’s happened?” He looked horrified, almost. He had started to sweat and pulled absently on the knot of his tie. His reaction surprised me. I had spent the last few years erasing this man from my memory and it had hardened me. I looked at him and I felt strong, despite my reason for being there.

“I need to talk to you privately, Dad. Can we go inside your office?” I asked.

Dad almost jumped to the side to let me walk past him and through the office door. He closed the door and told me to sit down.

“Jessy, I can’t believe I’m looking at you right now. You have grown up and you caught me completely off-guard. What on earth are you doing here? You should have called me first. I don’t like surprises like this. But tell me why you’re here and I will listen to what you have to say.” I had rattled Dad, but he was recovering his strength. He was in his own element, sitting behind his desk and his composure was returning.

“I have a problem, Dad. A big one and I know I haven’t seen you in a long time, but I wanted to come to you and ask for your help because I thought you could help me see what to do.”

I took a breath, glad for a chance to collect myself. I was afraid to say anything more because I was sure my voice would crack. I knew I had only begun, but the force of my efforts had begun to lessen. I was the one who was sweating now, who was losing composure. I was suddenly desperately thirsty. What a fool I was! I thought I could match Dad’s power, by dressing in Mom’s bank clothes, by acting strong.

“You’d better tell me what this is about,” he said. The tone in Dad’s voice reminded me of the way he had talked to Stevie whenever there was a problem and I felt the power of this dynamic return. As I talked, my voice became shaky, I felt the panic rising. I took a breath and began to talk and in the span of a half-hour I had told Dad the entire story.

Dad didn’t interrupt. He let the whole story spill out of me. When I finished I saw that Dad had transformed into a completely different person from the man who met me outside his office, for his face became blank and then set in determined concentration. At the end, he asked questions, took notes and we sat in silence.

“I don’t know why you expect I can help you, Jess,” he started. “I have no idea why you came all the way up here to present this to me,” he added, “and it sounds to me like your friend Jimmy doesn’t have a choice except to go to the police and accept what happens.”

“Dad,” I started. “You always told me you were a big deal-maker. I have nowhere to go except you. Jimmy’s brother is a real jerk. He’s intimidating and he’s already pushed himself on me and he’s too hard to handle.”

Dad’s mouth drew tight. I had hit the nerve.

Thank you for reading – all comments are welcome.

Click below to check out earlier chapters.

Chapter 1 – “Jimmy”
Chapter 2 – “Stevie”
Chapter 3 – “A Photo and a Letter”
Chapter 4 – “The Life Within”
Chapter 5 – “Jimmy’s Truck”
Chapter 6 – “The Springs Diner”
Chapter 7 – “Dinner and a Game”
Chapter 8 – “He Made Me Nervous”
Chapter 9 – “I Called Dad on My Thirteenth Birthday”
Chapter 10 – “Connections and Time”
Chapter 11 – “The Reverse Apology”
Chapter 12 – “Empty Bedrooms”
Chapter 13 – “Job Description”
Chapter 14 – “The Car I Saw”
Chapter 15 – “It’s Not What You Think”
Chapter 16 – “A Different Route”
Chapter 17 – “Choosing Balance”
Chapter 18 – “A Mother Sees”
Chapter 19 – “Taking More”
Chapter 20 – “Robbing the Future”
Chapter 21 – “I Thought I Didn’t Need Her”
Chapter 22 – “It Was Up to Me”
Chapter 23 – “Separate and Icy”

© All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 

The Martian starring Matt Damon – in theaters Oct 2!

Matt Damon in The Martian foxmovies.com
Matt Damon in The Martian
foxmovies.com

If you like science fiction and action films, you may enjoy watching Matt Damon in The Martian, due in theaters October 2. The movie is based on the book of the same name by Andy Weir. Jessica Chastain and Kristin Wiig join Damon in the film, which is directed by Ridley Scott. The screenplay is by Drew Goddard.

I enjoyed reading The Martian. Andy Weir tells a great story about Mark Watney, an astronaut who is stranded on Mars during a dangerous wind storm. His crewmates think he’s dead and they escape in their Mars Ascent Vehicle. How will Watney survive the huge challenge ahead of him, alone in a NASA habitat, with no communication and only a limited supply of food and water?

The book includes a great deal of science and math, to help explain how Watney manages. I was interested to read this recent article by Sean Cureton of ScreenRant who notes that the film is said to be realistic in the same way.

Following the example set by Weir, the film is determined to use only real science, with zero room for movie cheats, making for a veritable Robinson Crusoe-like adventure in space with plenty of Scott’s established eye for cinematic grandiosity.

The Martian

There is still time to read the book before you see the movie and you can check out my review here.

And to learn more about the film, visit imdb.com.

 

If you’re wondering about the potential success of self-publishing your book, check out Andy Weir’s story!

Andy Weir andyweir.com
Andy Weir
andyweir.com

Andy Weir is a software engineer and has always enjoyed studying relativistic physics, orbital mechanics and manned spaceflight. The Martian is his first novel. He started writing it in 2009 and spent a great deal of time researching. It was originally self-published in 2011. He first offered it for free (in serial format) on his website. Weir’s chapters were popular and he developed an enthusiastic fan base. His readers urged him to offer it in Kindle format on Amazon. This 99¢ Kindle version was hugely popular and became an Amazon best-seller, selling 35,000 copies in three months. That got some publishers’ attentions. Weir sold the audiobook publishing rights to Podium Publishing in 2013 and soon after, Crown Publishing bought the print rights. Twentieth Century Fox bought the film rights the same year and the movie, starring Matt Damon, is due to be released in November 2015.

Now that’s meteoric!

For more information about the author, visit Andy Weir’s author website and Wikipedia.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

 

Book Club Mom’s Top 10 Favorite Books – updated

top ten pic
(shown in alphabetical order)

  1. A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway
  2. All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
  3. Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
  4. Life After Life – Kate Atkinson
  5. Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout
  6. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  7. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
  8. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  10. Youngblood Hawke – Herman Wouk

My all-time favorite? Youngblood Hawke! 

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

They grow to fly

IMG_7995

Like a gull
taking flight,
the child soars.

 

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IMG_7963

Joy in the Morning by P.G. Wodehouse

Just Enough Jeeves

Joy in the Morning
from
Just Enough Jeeves
by
P.G. Wodehouse

Rating:
5 book marks

Imagine a scenario in which ridiculous characters bumble through a series of hilarious coincidences and an equal number of snafus, all in the name of love, marriage and a big business deal. That’s the main idea in Joy in the Morning, the first of three short novels included in Just Enough Jeeves, a great introduction to P.G. Wodehouse’s famous characters, a twenty-something Bertie Wooster and his manservant Jeeves.

In this story, Bertie and Jeeves leave London and head for the quiet hamlet of Steeple Bumpleigh. To anyone wishing to escape a hectic metropolis, Steeple Bumpleigh sounds great. Bertie describes it as located “in the midst of smiling fields and leafy woods, hard by a willow-fringed river.” It’s a place where “you couldn’t have thrown a brick in it without hitting a honeysuckle-covered cottage or beaning an apple-cheeked villager.” Steeple Bumpleigh is also the place, however, where Bertie’s domineering Aunt Agatha and her fearsome second husband, Uncle Percy live. And nothing good can come of meeting up with them.

Uncle Percy, a shipping magnate, seeking wise counsel, enlisted Jeeves to come up with a scheme for Percy to meet in secret and seal a big business deal with a wealthy American shipping tycoon. What better place to meet than the Wee Nooke, temporary country cottage to Bertie Wooster? It takes some convincing to get Bertie to agree, but Bertie is nothing if not a good sport and the promise of a fancy dress ball is an extra bonus.

Add to the mix the ever-changing romantic ties between Bertie, his ex-fiancée Florence Craye, and her current betrothed, Stilton Cheeswright and things get a little complicated. Florence is Uncle Percy’s daughter from his first marriage and Bertie had narrowly escaped her clutches only months earlier. If that wasn’t enough to cause some hilarious disasters, throw in twenty-year-old Zenobia (Nobby) Hopwood, Percy’s ward, who is madly in love with a famous writer, Boko Fittleworth. Nobby needs Percy’s approval to tie the knot, but Percy has vetoed a wedding. In steps Bertie to put in a good word and you can only guess where that will lead.

I loved this clever story! Joy in the Morning is pure entertainment and a great escape into the frivolous upper crust world of a lovable good chap who gets himself into the wildest predicaments. As in all of Wodehouse’s books, everyone counts on the ever-wise Jeeves for a solution and he does not disappoint. It is written in a light and fun-loving mood and I read the whole thing with a big smile on my face. Check it out and you’ll know what I mean!

Click here to learn more about P.G. Wodehouse.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Friday Fiction: Jessica Ch 23 – “Separate and Icy”

Friday Fiction

Jessica

Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 23 of Jessica, a story about a nineteen-year-old woman who is trying break the pattern of loss and unhappiness that has defined her childhood. What Jessica wants most is to build a life with her boyfriend, Jimmy, but Jimmy is trapped in a dangerous family dynamic. When Jessica learns the truth about Jimmy, it’s up to her to save him. To do this, she must turn to the one person who has hurt her the most, her father. A series of events pushes Jessica beyond anything she can imagine and forces her to define happiness and love in a different way, and at a heartbreaking price.

Chapter 23 – “Separate and Icy”

Jimmy lay passed out in the front seat of his truck and I wondered if it was the beer that knocked him out or the plain exhaustion of grasping the trouble he was in. I let him sleep while I gathered the rest of his empty beer cans and threw them in the trash. Then I closed up the back of the pick-up, dragged Jimmy over to the passenger side and drove him home.

I didn’t want to sleep at Jimmy’s that night. I had a vague sense of this change in my thinking and was surprised to feel comfortable with it. I got him inside on the couch, put his keys on the hook in the kitchen and left quickly.

Mom was home when I pulled into the driveway and I could see the light shining from her bedroom window. I wondered if her door would be open and if it would be strange for me to poke my head in and say hi. I climbed the stairs and saw that her door was open slightly as I had guessed, and I could see Mom sitting up in bed. She had a magazine in her lap and she looked up just as I reached her door on the way to my room. Our eyes met and my heart ached for a time when I could have told her things, but hadn’t. “Hey Mom,” I said and Mom called out “Hello” and I kept walking. That was all I could handle at the moment, but a glimmer of possibility ran through me. Maybe it wasn’t too late for Mom and me.

How much my life had changed! How impossible to return to the time when everything was good.

Long after Dad left, when the feeling of rejection had faded, I tried to figure out just why he left. Mom and Dad had argued a lot during that last year. I knew the coolness that was there between them after they fought, the chill that would run through our house and reach me and Stevie. I could feel an iciness that made me tense my muscles, draw my shoulders in and I stared at the wall until it blurred.

Before there were problems, when I was nine and Stevie was eleven, we took a road trip to Maine. We had only been on the road a couple hours and we had just crossed the George Washington Bridge and were headed on the Cross Bronx Expressway. Mom was nervous about the ride. She didn’t like the area. She had wanted Dad to take a different route. “Why didn’t we take the Tappan Zee Bridge, Steve? I hate going this way.”

“The Tappan Zee takes longer, Jen. This way is fine. I go this way all the time when I have to drive to Stamford.”

“But what if we break down? I don’t want to get stuck here.”

“We’re not going to get stuck. We’re passing through. Don’t worry.” He smiled. The radio was playing, Dad was whistling. His hands held the wheel loosely, confidently.

I looked out our car window. Mom was afraid of bad neighborhoods. It didn’t seem so bad to me. I liked driving through cities and it was exciting to feel Dad snake his way through the traffic. I’d felt safe in the back of our car, feeling its movement as we changed lanes. I looked at the buildings, at the people. I didn’t think Mom had a reason to worry.

Mom was not convinced. “We break down anywhere near here, one block over, we’re in trouble, Steve.” Dad was patient with Mom. They were still in love, I guess. He reached across the seat and touched her arm and she looked at him and smiled weakly. And then Dad started talking, joking with Mom, teasing her. He had a way back then of pulling Mom up and out of something, like she was a child at the beach and he was reaching down to pick her up, lifting her off the sand before the wave came, to keep her safe. And that’s what he did in that car. He was driving and weaving through the underpasses, shifting lanes. We were cruising at what seemed like only inches from big trucks and other cars so that you could see right into them, see the people sitting there just like us, flying across the expressway and all the while Dad was doing that and he was laughing and telling jokes so that all four of us were cracking up in our seats. And I thought, if the people in the other cars saw us they would think we were crazy, but so happy because my Dad was making us laugh this way.

We cruised through and made our way through the Bronx and out of the city and when we made it to the Thruway, Dad brushed his arm across his forehead and called out an exaggerated “Whew! Glad that’s over!” and he looked over at Mom who had forgotten that she’d been worried. She was beaming. I felt the joy of the moment as it spread to the back seat over Stevie and me and I felt safe and loved in that car with Dad at the wheel.

I thought of that trip to Maine and I remembered Dad joking and Mom smiling and, even at nineteen, I wanted to go back to that day and all the days like it, to sit in the back seat of our family car and cruise through our days, Dad at the wheel, Mom by his side, and Stevie and me in the back, two kids trusting their parents to steer them through the rough spots.

I don’t know what changed or when it started. I could think of other times like our trip to Maine that were just as charmed, of waiting in long lines at the movies, but laughing even if the show was about to start and even if we knew we would be squeezing into the very back row, bumping past people already sitting with their drinks and snacks, or worse, in the front row so that we knew our necks would be sore from leaning back to see the show. We would laugh then at the silliness of our predicament, and we would remember it with happy details. Stevie would say, “Remember when you made that guy’s soda spill all over the floor Dad?” And Dad would laugh and say, “Oh, that was such a disaster,” and Mom would smile. And we would all quietly, privately, remember how Dad missed the first part of that show because he went out and bought that man a new soda and brought napkins and did his best to help clean up the mess.

The fights began when I was in sixth grade. Dad began working more and traveling and I missed seeing him on the weeknights at dinner. Mom was busier then, keeping our family going with Dad away, but I barely noticed the strain. I was deep into my own middle school life and Stevie, his. It was the beginning of what ultimately became just the three of us, then two, Mom and me, and we were already separating.

But on Friday nights, Dad would burst in and I could feel the tension ease. And our house was fun again. I didn’t know then that Mom and Dad were starting to crack from the strain. I didn’t know what they said to each other, when it was just the two of them sitting in the family room or upstairs at night. I could feel something different in the mood of our house the mornings after they fought. I’d come down in the kitchen and would expect to see Mom and Dad sitting at the table, but instead it would just be Mom.

“Where’s Dad?” I’d ask innocently, not yet sensing the coolness. And at first, those first few months, Mom would cover up, protecting me and Stevie, I guess, but also in self-defense. As if she knew that we would blame Mom for Dad not being there, since Dad always took care of situations.

Mom would answer, “Oh, Dad, he just went out to get the newspaper,” or she’d substitute newspaper for something else, something innocent and believable that I wouldn’t question.

I had no reason to question anything because I had no idea what had started. I had not understood that Dad had met someone and that this woman was forcing our family to break apart, that I had no control over its destruction. I don’t know if even Mom knew at first. How do you know that something is lost if it’s still right there in front of you?

But the change continued and I listened at their door at night to try to understand just what was happening. I strained to hear some kind of reason, something to explain the pit in my stomach, Mom’s jittery hands as she worked in the kitchen. I tried to ask Stevie if he noticed, but Stevie just shut me out. “Get real, Jessy, we’re not little kids anymore. Not everything is nice and sweet.” He’d blow it off and grab something to eat and sit in front of the TV and act like the show he was watching was the greatest show ever and leave me to figure the change.

Dad would come in and smile at me and I could tell he was trying to bring me back to where we had been, but he was trying then and that’s what was different. And if Mom was in the room, they’d be trying, always trying, at first to get back there and I didn’t know it exactly but I knew later that back when everything was good, there was no trying. It was all just easy and good and we didn’t think about how it was happening and what we were. We just were.

I wanted to get back to that feeling. Back to the feeling of just being, cruising through my life, protected by a blanket or a car that I was in, or by someone who could cheer me through.

Dad was gone. Stevie had escaped. Mom had survived but she had done it alone. We hadn’t banded together. We had left each other. And I wondered what I would find in Jimmy, once he escaped from the mess of his life, if there would be love and security of if we would come out of it separate, just like my family. Separate and icy.

Thank you for reading – all comments are welcome.

Click below to check out earlier chapters.

Chapter 1 – “Jimmy”
Chapter 2 – “Stevie”
Chapter 3 – “A Photo and a Letter”
Chapter 4 – “The Life Within”
Chapter 5 – “Jimmy’s Truck”
Chapter 6 – “The Springs Diner”
Chapter 7 – “Dinner and a Game”
Chapter 8 – “He Made Me Nervous”
Chapter 9 – “I Called Dad on My Thirteenth Birthday”
Chapter 10 – “Connections and Time”
Chapter 11 – “The Reverse Apology”
Chapter 12 – “Empty Bedrooms”
Chapter 13 – “Job Description”
Chapter 14 – “The Car I Saw”
Chapter 15 – “It’s Not What You Think”
Chapter 16 – “A Different Route”
Chapter 17 – “Choosing Balance”
Chapter 18 – “A Mother Sees”
Chapter 19 – “Taking More”
Chapter 20 – “Robbing the Future”
Chapter 21 – “I Thought I Didn’t Need Her”
Chapter 22 – “It Was Up to Me”

© All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Nancy Dingman Watson – Author Info

Nancy Dingman Watson
Nancy Dingman Watson

Nancy Dingman Watson (1933-2001) was an American author of more than 25 children’s books, novels and poetry books, including Blueberries Lavender, When Is Tomorrow and Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish, which was illustrated by her son and re-released in 1996.

Ms. Watson was born in Paterson, New Jersey and grew up in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey. She attended Wheaton College and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College. She married Aldren Watson in 1941 and made a home in Putney, Vermont where she spent thirty years raising eight children. In the sixties, Ms. Watson wrote for the column “One Woman’s View.” She was a two-time finalist in the Allen Ginsburg poetry competition, and wrote an award-winning musical, Princess! Later in her life, she sailed across the Atlantic with her second husband, Dutch sailor Fokke Van Bekkum, in their 32-foot sailboat.

I was sorry to discover that Ms. Watson had died in a car accident in Truro, Massachusetts, the setting of this story. This was most certainly a special place for her.

Click here to read my review of Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!