Savannah Georgia, September 1895
It was hot, stiflingly hot. Tempers frayed as temperatures in the small room rose, making it harder to breathe. The poker game had been going on for hours now, and the players, though weary, weren’t willing to walk away. One man, afraid of changing his luck, soiled himself rather than take a break. The thick, humid air stank of sweat, urine and cigar smoke as the men searched one another for that fatal tell that would let the others know he might be bluffing.
A few of the men relented, looking at their cards one last time, wishing for something better and knowing the cards they needed weren’t going to magically appear. Earl Buchanan had been one of the men who had folded, throwing his cards on the table in disgust; a last thought passing through his mind, had he done the right thing? Earl Buchanan looked about the room as he got up from his chair and took a place along the wall with the other men who had dropped out of the hand. He wondered who held the kind of cards that could win the engorged pot of money in the center of the table. He cast a glance at his friend, George Hutchinson, who still sat at the table his face showing no emotion. Earl Buchanan had never been able to find his friends tell in all the years they had worked together or played poker.
The stakes were high in this hand with thousands of dollars at risk. Now, only three men remained vying for the ultimate victory. The tension between them crackled in the moist, fetid air like heat lightening. As Orville Devey shifted in his chair he looked over his cards again, secreting them close to his chest so no one could peek and give him away. He looked at George Hutchinson to see if he might reveal anything about his hand. Then his eyes darted to the man named Patrick Lemp who claimed his family brewed beer in the caves of St Louis, Missouri, his grandfather having perfected the krausening process nearly fifty years earlier.
“I fold, gentlemen,” Patrick Lemp threw his cards to the table with a sigh. “This has gotten beyond what I can afford to lose.” He leaned back and mopped the sweat from his brow. He counted the cash he had left, and then eyed the kitty longingly.
Orville Devey darted a quick look at Lemp as Lemp pushed away from the table, getting up for the drink he’d needed for a while now. The dense smoky air had parched his throat. The only sound in the room came from the liquor pouring into a glass, and Lemp drinking greedily before sighing with satisfaction.
Devey shifted his gaze back to Hutchinson. He could feel a trickle of sweat dribble down from his forehead and run down his cheek. He wanted the hand to be over so he could collect the pot. His nerves frazzled by the glut of money tossed on the table. The pile of bills and gold coins glittered in the wavering gas light. He took in a breath, slowly filling his lungs, waiting to see what his opponent, Hutchinson, would do next.
The gas lamps hissed in mockery as Devey hesitated, searching again his opponent’s face.
Tag Archives: Red Oak
Savannah Georgia, September 1895
People have been asking me when my next book will be coming out since they loved the first one so much. There are a couple of reactions that immediately come with that question. First is being so pleased that people love my writing, characters and story. An author never knows how the public will react to a creative offering, and hoping for the best launches it into the world, optimistically expecting the best.
Then comes the obverse side of that coin ~ will they like the next book as much? Since it is not part of a series, will the characters grab them? Will they be propelled through the book because they have become involved in the lives of people they will only know on the page; or device depending on what you read? The committee of negative activities lurking in the back of my mind will whisper that it is a fluke and will never happen again.
All I can do is swat those negative thoughts away and after writing, polishing, rewriting and polishing some more, then release the manuscript to the publisher. So that finally once in print, the reader tell me what they think.
So what is the next book about? It is a story set in a small town in 1939 as Germany is making advances on Poland, and the world watches with horror as they spark another world war. As they watch, people go on living their lives in cities, the country and small towns. This story is set in the county seat of MontgomeryCounty in the city of Red Oak in Iowa. It is a story about the secrets people keep in this small town, the lies people live and live with. How they deal with truth when it is revealed. It is about memories buried deep under the dust of time, of the people who move in and out of our lives, some slipping away almost unnoticed and nearly forgotten.
And that gets me thinking…
In a poem by Dory Previn, she states ~
We never stop to wonder till a person’s gone,
We never yearn to know him until he’s packed and traveled on.
As I worked on this story I thought of the many people who have come and gone in my life. Some are there for a long time, some pass quickly through. Each person I encounter gives me something, recreates something in me, for better or for worse. Every time my being interacts with someone else; I am changed, transformed in some way, even if it is a very small and hardly noticeable change.
Think about the people you have known in your life. Some teach us so much, some give us joy and laughter, others give us pain and hard learned lessons, but each has had an impact on who we are. I think about some of the people who have died, and I wish I’d known them better. I wish that I’d been able to know more about them, their lives growing up, and their experiences. But I thank them for being a part of my life.
From all this pondering, I hope that I will be a positive impact on people, their lives, and that in future people will say ~ she made me laugh, or think or taught me something wonderful. These are the things I think about as I create a story and characters. I want them to touch the reader’s lives, and hope they will not soon be forgotten.