I'm working on a number of ideas for upcoming novels. Here you will find early preface drafts, character descriptions and chapter excerpts. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts and comments on my blog post for this next book.
The Ageist (working title)
Eighty-nine year old Mark Richards put down the new thriller he was reading, stood up, and stretched his lanky six-foot frame. He was a bit stiff from his round of golf that morning. He leaned over to her wheelchair and checked on his wife Alice who was sleeping soundly, then walked down the driveway to the mailbox. It was a warm fall day in the Sierra Nevada mountains where Mark and Alice had retired almost two decades before.
Mark loved the smell of the cracking pine and the rustling of the wind through the trees. It was quiet here. Peaceful. Exactly what he and Alice had sought after years of frantically pursuing their careers in the Silicon Valley.
Mark and Alice had few regrets about their careers. Each had been successful. After leaving the Air Force, Mark had spent the next twenty-five years working for a large well-known defense contractor. He’d earned a good salary that permitted Alice to take more risk in her pursuits. As agreed, Mark’s retirement plan and their savings would be their safety net if Alice’s plans didn’t work out.
On her side, Alice had founded three startup companies. The first two were moderate successes but the sale of the third made their somewhat early retirement possible. Each had continued to work a few more years as they searched for a little piece of paradise where they could live out the rest of their days together.
But you never know about that ‘rest of our days together’ wish. They’d talked about it. They knew they were getting older and each had stated firmly that they hoped to be the one to go first. Somehow they had thought it would be easy.
And while they prepared everything financially, their active lifestyle of golfing twice a week, hiking, kayaking, and crossing off the places to visit from their bucket list seemed to push it all aside. And then Alice started having problems.
It began with forgetfulness. They joked about getting older and their brains containing too much information to recall it all instantly. But then she started misplacing things. Her moods changed.
Alice was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and now, four years later, she was in what was called the late stage of the disease. Alice was no longer able to care for herself. Mark had hired caregivers to supplement what he could do. They were there mornings and evenings to help get her up and get her to bed and stayed throughout the day twice a week so he could play golf. But Mark most appreciated these late afternoons where it was just the two of them.
Before leaving, one of the caretakers would bring Alice into the living room where large picture windows allowed her to gaze out at the forest. Squirrels scampered up and down trees, star jays squawked at each other and passing animals, and deer and flocks of wild turkeys made their way through the property. Alice could sit transfixed for hours, dozing off occasionally as Mark sat reading beside her wheelchair.
Their active life together may be over, but she was still the love of his life and was gentle and kind and seemed to know who he was most of the time.
Mark collected the mail from the mailbox and sorted through it as he made his way over to the recycling bin. As usual, most of it was junk. There were a couple of bills, and there was a hand-addressed letter.
Back inside and curious about a hand-written letter, Mark sat down next to Alice, put on his reading glasses and opened the letter:
September 22, 20XX
We’ve only seen each other a few times over the last several years, usually at some event with Jimmy, my best friend and your big brother. I’m really sorry about his passing. I miss him every day.
Mark glanced over at Alice who was still dozing peacefully. Looking out at the towering pine trees, he remembered Jimmy’s best friend Joe. Jimmy and Joe had been inseparable and Mark had been the little brother who tried to tag along. Usually they did whatever they could to ditch him. But sometimes when their mother insisted, they let him come along and he had the most fun of his young life. They built forts in the woods, hunted bad guys, and were always the victors.
As they got older, Joe proved himself to be an amazing athlete. It didn’t matter what sport, Joe was the best. Naturally coordinated, inherently strong, Joe would eventually play Major League Baseball until he retired and opened a line of sporting goods stores. He and Jimmy remained best friends over the years and Mark and Alice were often invited to joint family gatherings, marriages, and even divorce parties. Mark had last seen Joe at Jimmy’s funeral. A stroke had taken Jimmy at eighty-five – Mark’s current age. Jimmy had lived a good life. He’d always been there for Mark and Alice. Mark missed his brother too.
I’m writing you because I don’t know where else to turn. I’m in deep trouble and I need help. My son Mike has accused me of abusing his mother and says that I’m suffering from dementia. He hired some experts and the court has relegated me to an assisted living facility. They’ve taken my phone and while I can make calls, they’re all supervised.
I hope you can tell from my writing that I’m not suffering from dementia. And this isn’t just a moment of clarity. I’m completely aware of all my thoughts and actions and I have no memory problems.
Yes. I’m ninety years old, but I still play golf, bike at least ten miles a day, and hike – at least I did until they locked me up.
If he were around, I would have gone to Jimmy. He was a great lawyer and would have found a way to get me out of this.
Calling on his memory and memories of our fun times together as kids, I hope you can help me.
Even if you don’t, please drop me a line. You’re my last link to Jimmy and I’d like to stay in touch.
With fingers crossed,
Mark turned to Alice who was now awake.
“Hi beautiful! It’s a gorgeous afternoon. I just got this letter from Joe. You remember Joe. He was Jimmy’s best friend for years. Here, let me read you the letter.”
Mark read the letter out loud searching Alice’s face for any sign of comprehension. When he was done, she smiled at him and nodded.
“I’m not sure what I should do or if I should get involved. What do you think?”
Alice smiled and turned her gaze to a blue jay on the deck.