When I learned that my friend Sean had self-published his novel, not only was I eager to buy it (review to come as I plan on reading this book over the Thanksgiving holiday), I wondered whether I should do the same with my novel that has long since lain dormant.
This weekend, after attending a writers’ conference at my graduate school, I decided to do just that. To whet your appetite for my work, for the first time since I completed my book, I will post the very first chapter on the web as I consider means to both self-publish this touching story and to promote.
Just another way I’m joining something one wise wag called “An Army of Davids.”
Without further ado:
A Boy’s Best Friend
“The Child is father of the Man;”
“My Heart Leaps Up”
“Daddy, do you have a best friend?” my four-year old son Tommy asked after I had finished reading to him and had tucked him in to bed. Generally, when Tommy asked me a question, I would answer as quickly as possible. Sometimes the question would stump me as when he asked how the telephone could transmit Grandma’s voice all the way from Arizona. But, at that moment, that question was easy compared to this one. As I write this, I can answer without hesitation, “No, not now.” But, then, now nearly a year ago, I didn’t know what to say. I hesitated and tried to think up a response. Discovering one that would work, I was about to reply, “Well, I guess, Mommy has always been my best friend,” when he began to tell me about Philip, his best friend, and how they were building a castle together out of Legos. Before I kissed Tommy good night, I had to promise my son that I wouldn’t touch the castle that he and his best friend were building in the basement of our house.
I switched off the light in Tommy’s room, then instead of returning to my room as I would normally do after tucking him in, I walked downstairs, switching on the light in the basement. In the corner of the basement, not far from where I used to build Lego castles as a child, stood a large, multi-colored, awkward-looking Lego structure. I stopped and paused, admiring my son’s handiwork, then approached in order to examine Tommy and Philip’s joint endeavor more closely. On the very edge of the base board, they had built the walls, stacking blocks of all different colors one on top of another, with no visible pattern. I was about to pick up their project, but remembering my promise, stepped back and studied it from a distance. They had used blocks of all different shapes and sizes. There were windows, not placed symmetrically, of course. On the top of one side, they had attached several Lego trees. I smiled and wondered how Tommy would respond when I asked him how the trees happened to grow out of the walls. And then as I imagined Tommy building the castle together with Philip, I remembered the hours I used to spend as a child in that basement, then my grandmother’s house, playing alone with Legos. And I wondered if, when I was his age, I had ever wanted to share that game. With that thought in mind, I switched off the light and walked upstairs.
After I had closed the door to the basement behind me, I paused. The door clicked shut and in my mind, I heard Tommy ask me again if I had a best friend. With the door knob still in my hand, I looked up through the kitchen doorway and at the door leading to the back porch. I walked towards it. I don’t remember opening that door, only know that I did because the next thing I remember is sitting on the back porch, looking out at the tops of the trees swaying in the autumn breeze. I could not see the full splendor of their fall color as I would the following morning, I could only see their black inconstant shapes against the gray of the sky. Occasionally a cloud would skirt by, as if a branch had escaped from a tree and floated on into eternity.