The first galley proof for If You Walk Long Enough is being revised. Like the title says, walk or work long enough and you’re sure to get somewhere.
This novel, set between the Vietnam rice paddies and South Carolina tobacco fields, is a story of emotional violence, moral fatigue, and loss. As I work, I think back on several of my short stories with a Vietnam era backdrop and reflect on my family members and friends that served.
From my first collection of short stories, Washed in the Water, comes a tale of a Vietnam veteran that earns money by picking up discarded betting stubs at a racetrack. “The Stooper” is looking for a good ticket accidently tossed.
Four stories come alive in my second collection, If the Creek Don’t Rise. Each spotlights a different aspect of that decade when men returned home unwelcomed, draft cards were burned, midnight travelers crossed into Canada, and families ruptured. And, then there were the cargo planes filled with black body bags, in soldier’s jargon, tits-up bags. The country roiled divisive and stared into a growing chasm.
The first story from Creek, “The Soldier and the Lady,” views the war from those that went and those that waited, a tale told during breakfast. “Three Friends, Class of 1970” is a flash fiction piece when choices are made and consequences endured.
The Vietnam War was a time of great secrets. “A Letter from Canada” reveals an event that shakes a daughter’s life and validates a father’s love for two women.
The final tale in this quartet, is “Opie’s Fish House: A Love Story.” Two brothers, an illicit affair, and ill-fated paramours coil up in blue smoke while a cigarette smolders.
If You Walk Long Enough will be available 2021. If the Creek Don’t Rise and Washed in the Water are currently out through Pen-L Publishing and Amazon.com. Original drawings by Susan Raymond add a special note to both books.