So, one thing COVID-19 has done is give me even more alone time, gobs of it, hours and hours, and, surprisingly I have put it to good use, I think.
Writing, building guitars and building computers. It is keep busy work, and that bugged me. I should do something great, wonderful, amazing. Well, that didn’t work. I really could come up with anything in that vein. Then I thought: Now that I have had over a month to organize my life, writing and projects so that I could easily pick them up and have a balanced schedule once this over with… Why not just make it over with right now, for me? So I did.
I stopped living for the news, the political fencing, worrying about when I can go out, and starting thinking about everything that is now organized and just waiting for me. And, besides, when do I go out? Is going to Walmart really a social thing? Or Home Depot? Lowes? Those are the only places I go besides the doctor. I know more about my Cardiologist’s receptionist than I do about most women in my life. Is that weird? No, maybe, it’s the place that has become everything to me in the last few years, so it isn’t surprising to me.
Heart attack, another heart attack, and then a heart attack as they had me on the table to do an Angioplasty. That led to open-heart surgery. That went wrong, badly wrong, and that led to having a cardiologist that I see very often, so it’s no wonder when I think about it, who I know and why, and where the time goes.
But, does it? I mean, should that eat up my schedule so much that I have no time left? No, it shouldn’t, and during these times I have been forced to evaluate that, and it turns out I spend most of my time either waiting to do something, like go to the doctor, or worrying about what the doctor or the next test or X-ray will have to say. That is not life, it is waiting for life while it slips by, because there is life to be lived, even in these times.
So, everything is organized. I dug out the book Fig Street, a Glennville book, that has been on the back burner since about 1986. How can that be, you ask? Because when you take that attitude of waiting on life, waiting for it to be your life, your time, a lot of water can slip under the bridge.
There was a wife at one time, then another wife, and then another and another. Looking at that I think, what on earth were you thinking? Over time, it led me to wonder what was wrong with me, and there are things wrong with me, and those ex-wives, it is always two-sided, but to make the same mistake over and over again, there had to be something wrong with me on a deeper level.
That sounds right, except I know as a human I want answers to things. I am not satisfied to leave a thing alone, or to take the obvious as the answer, but in my case the obvious was the answer, I just didn’t see it until years later. Arrogance.
When you are young everything comes to you. Sometimes so fast that you don’t even realize that you can slow it all down, take your time with your choices, but youth doesn’t want to do that because, MY GOD! Life is slipping by. Funny, but true.
I am also the sort of person who is driven by my passion, and so music, writing, and other interests, drive me. Being married, being a conformist, toeing the normal line, have never been things that became a passion to me. I hate to say it, but it is true. Most probably a life alone would have been a better choice. Even so, here comes the lockdown and I find myself sheltering in place and waiting for life to begin again, because that is what I am used to. Except, life is going on, it reaches me even here in my cocoon.
So, I dragged out Fig Street, a thinly disguised story about my childhood hometown and all the things I knew about it. When I dug it out I found that sometime back in 2014 I wrote a companion piece entitled Glennville. Did not remember it until I began to read it, but once I did I decided to finish it. It is a murder mystery, not like my usual writing, and I liked the story when I read it, so, it was easy to slip back into it and finish it.
Once I re-read it and finished it, I realized it was more than a companion piece, it was part of Fig Street, the first part, it comes before Fig Street and sets it up. So, the next thing is to jump into Fig Street and finish it so that the entire book is finished: Then I will have to decide if it is still going to be called Fig Street or Glennville. I’ll see when it is done.
The next thing is Hurricane. I wrote Hurricane in 2009, the second story after White Trash, and yes I wrote a third book to complete that trilogy; which is about a young woman named Rebecca Monet who is featured in each book. It is her life that these three unconnected crime stories were written around.
Hurricane is written, but is not in my word processor yet. I have to pull the balance (I have the first few chapters in digital form) out of the old tattered notebook and get it written in digital form.
That is after Fig Street and after that? Well, there are about 10 unpublished Earth’s Survivors books I don’t know what to do with. There is also that third crime story, which would complete the Rebecca books, and a few dozen other books I have written, want to write, should write. The point is, it took this COVID-19 lockdown to make me realize that for the last several years I have gone back to waiting on life to …? I don’t know, finish for me? The heart problems are bad, but they are also controlled with drugs. Time is time, it is going to pass, I may as well do what I like and stop worrying about things that are out of my control, Dell…
Glennville is Copyright © Wendell G Sweet 2020
All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.
Cover Art © Copyright 2020 Wendell Sweet
Some text copyright 1984, 2010, 2014, 2015 W. G. Sweet
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
This novel is Copyright © 2020 Wendell G. Sweet. Dell Sweet, W. G. Sweet and Geo Dell are publishing constructs owned by Wendell G. Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.
Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.
This material is licensed to wendellsweet.com It is not edited for content, and is not intended to be used on any other website without the express written permission of the author.
Glennville 1969 – Part One
In the shadowy darkness of the old Langford house, it was next to impossible to see anything. Millie moved carefully through the living room, skirting the old furnishings; mother had picked them out herself better than… What was it? She asked herself, twenty? Thirty years gone by now?
Thirty, she decided, or close to thirty, maybe in between. Jake would know for sure. It was a real pain in the ass having to walk around in your own damn house in the dark, but at least no one could spy on her, she reasoned. Not that it was any of their frigging business what she did, she told herself, of course they seemed to think it was. And not that the dark mattered anyhow. She hadn’t changed a single thing since mother had placed it where she wanted it. It was familiar. She could, she reasoned, find her way around blindfolded if she had to. And there was some light, only a little, but some.
But if there’s some, Millie, they can see you. It has to be dark… Really dark, her little voice whispered.
That little voice, Jake, had been with her forever. Had protected her forever. It was just the way Jake was. It was, well, it was Jake’s job, sort of, she decided.
“Okay, okay, doin’ it, okay, Jake,” she whispered into the darkness.
She had learned a long time ago to listen when Jake spoke. Jake was really smart. Somehow Jake knew things before she herself knew them. Like magic of some sort, she decided. Just like that, like magic. But you had to be really, really careful with that little voice too.
She had to talk to a special doctor, more than one, she didn’t remember the reasons why, but they had made her leave her home, go for a long ride in the back of the town police car; she had come to a building where she had met the doctors, and talked to them for hours.
They had asked her about the voices, they didn’t say how they had known, they just had, and so she had told them the truth about Jake. How Jake watched out for her. How Jake seemed to know when she was in danger, or might be.
But she had learned a new lesson, because after she had told them they had locked her up, for her own good, although she had seen no good in it at all. The state hospital they called it, but everyone she met there had called it The Burg. A strange name for a very bad place where bad things happened everyday… But those were things she could never talk about… Jake had told her that.
So she had learned not to tell those nosy frigging doctors anything, and most importantly, you couldn’t let them know you heard voices in your head. Christ, no, they’d never let you go if they knew that. But after Jake had told her how it was, and she had told the nosy doctors that there were no voices. That she knew that there never really had been, that she knew she had been maybe just a little sick for a while there, they had let her go. Just exactly like Jake had said they would.
The Burg, was actually a state mental hospital in Ogdensburg New York. After she had healed, they had put her there. In a tiny little room, all alone, except for Jake. It was where they kept all the nut cakes, Millie knew. And they had kept her for almost…
Ten years, six months, seventeen days, and forty seven minutes, Millie, the little voice informed her. And if they think you’re going over the edge again, they’ll send you right back there. Right back, Millie, so be careful…
“But I ain’t crazy, Jake. You said so, I ain’t,” Millie whispered into the darkened room.
I know you’re not crazy. But that don’t change it. They think you are, and they make the rules. And, Millie? Hadn’t you better close those drapes now? Hadn’t you? Before someone peeks in and sees you just standing here in the dark, and gets the idea that maybe you have lost it? Hadn’t you better do it, Millie, huh?
“Okay, I’m going, I’m doin’ it, Jake. Right now I’m doin’ it. Right now,” she moved off muttering under her breath as she went. She knew Jake was right, the people of Glennville watched her every move and talked about her all the time; said she was crazy. She wasn’t crazy, she knew, despite what they said, she was just careful. And Jake was probably right, there probably was someone out there, and if they did peek in…
She moved through the house, pulling all the heavy drapes shut as she did. She knew they were there all right, no doubt about it at all. She could feel them, and she wasn’t about to let any of them peep in at her.
But, Jake whispered, they could just waltz right up, open the front door, and walk right in like they owned the place, couldn’t they?
She thought for a second, then locked up all the doors before she headed for the kitchen to fix her dinner. Better safe than sorry, she told herself. And when Jake took the time out of… Well, out of whatever he normally did with his time to tell her something, then she should listen. She should, and really… Well, he had been right, with everything locked up tight and the drapes all drawn, she felt much better. Safe even, protected.
She felt carefully in the darkness for the overhead cabinets, found the one she wanted, drew a small candle stub from within, and lit it. It shed just enough light in the kitchen for her to see by, not enough light for anyone outside to see in by. She knew that to be a fact. She had tested it herself. She had lit the candle the first time, left it in the kitchen, and went outside. She hadn’t been able to see it inside at all, except through the very bottom of the kitchen window, and that had only been a small amount. She had fixed that the next day though. It had begun to bother her, just a little, a small amount, and so she had asked Jake to fix that for her. He had. The next day the window had been painted on the inside, and she hadn’t been able to see into it at all when she had tried that night. She dripped a small amount of wax onto the counter top, and stuck the candle fast.
Thanks for reading this small excerpt. Glennville is a small city modeled on my real hometown. I never intended to write about my hometown, but the first book I wrote included it (I was sixteen, do the math and that is a long time back). I lost that book entirely and then eventually got it back. Having lost it, I wrote the entire Earth’s Survivors series to replace that lost book, and then when I got it back I found I had lost my enthusiasm for the Earth’s Survivors series.
In any case, I found Grenville working its way into my writing, and really, the entire Earth’s Survivors series kicks of in Glennville as well. Doubly odd, I spent almost all of my life away from my hometown. Texas, Florida, Alabama, I loved the Gulf, even so much as spending some time in Mexico. I thought that would be it. I would settle down south, somewhere on the coast, and I would never come back: Yet, here I am, just a few miles from where I grew up. I could say that’s it. I’m back and I’ll spend the rest of my life here, but who can predict life?
So, my point is, make the best use of this time, because there will be a day when we are talking about how this was, instead of how this is. I am writing. If you write, draw, create music, read, get doing it. Go slow. Be you, Dell…