Sandy and Slate arrived at Randy and Derek’s apartment at around 2:00 PM.
Sandy was wearing a black leather jacket and a white tee shirt. Slate had a red checkered lumber jack jacket worn over an open tattered yellow tee shirt.
“It stinks in here,” said Sandy putting a cigarette in his mouth.
“You’re not kidding. It smells like the boys gym locker room at school,” said Slate.
“Sorry. If we had known that such distinguished company was arriving, we’d have called in our maid service,” said Randy.
“Have a seat on the sofa gentlemen. I hope you don’t mind the holes in it,” said Derek.
“Okay, this isn’t a social call. This serious business that we need to discuss,” said Sandy.
“Yeah, those two detectives, Barnes and Holland are all over us. They told us that the medical examiner found methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in Bret’s system when he died,” said Randy.
“And that’s where we don’t want a connection with us,” said Slate.
“Like we said the heat have been watching us for awhile now and would love to put us back in jail,” said Sandy.
“The charge could be a lot more serious than drug dealing. The cops probably all suspect that we had something to do with Bret’s death, “ said Randy.
“ That’s right. Worst case scenario, we could all be charged for murder or manslaughter,” said Slate.
Lisa Harrison started to address her creative writing class.
“The next thing that I want to find out about is your tastes in reading material. The love of reading and books and the love of writing usually go hand in hand. Mr. Stephens, would you mind getting tonight’s discussion started by introducing yourself to the group and telling us about your reading habits?” asked Lisa Harrison.
“No problem. Hi people. My name is Drake Stephens and I’m a rehabilitation worker at The House of Hope. I started reading when I was just a young kid. I still remember walking to the local drugstore to buy those Classic Illustrated comic books. They would have condensed versions of classic literature such as Treasure Island.”
Yeah, I remember those,” said Bill James. Those comics were cool. I loved the art work in them. They smelled good too.”
When Bill said this, several class participants started to laugh and one yelled out. “He’s right. The smell of the books is one of the great pleasures of reading them.”
“Okay, Mr. Stephens, what kinds of books do you read now? Who are your favorite authors?” asked Lisa Harrison attempting to get the discussion back on track.
“Well, I’d have to say, Stephen King, for one,” answered Drake.
“And what do you like about Stephen King’s writing?” asked the facilitator.
“ His books scare the crap out of me!” offered an elderly lady sitting near the back of the room. She was nibbling on a cheese sandwich that she brought from home.
“Surprisingly enough, it’s not the spooky stuff that draws me to Stephen King’s books,” said Drake sitting back in his chair and putting his hands behind his head.
“I know what you mean, Drake. I like the way Stephen King characterizes every day ordinary people,” said Bill James.
“You’re right Bill and I like the way King makes his characters seem so real. After awhile you feel like you know them in real life,” said Drake.
“Well, class, I think that Drake and Bill have made a significant point, the importance of creating believable characters,” said Lisa Harrison.
Lisa Harrison was noticeably unnerved to see both Bill James and Drake Stephens in the creative writing class. Her mind was racing trying to assess whether there was a conflict of interest involved or not. Her emotions were telling her that at the very least it was probably not be a good idea for her to be facilitating this class.
On the other hand this class had nothing to do with her job at The House of Hope. It was not a course for credit and she was not going to be giving out any marks to the class participants so the question of favoritism or anti-favoritism would not arise. Besides, Ron Evans, the director of the Community Center’s Continuing Education Program would be left in a very difficult position. He was a friend of hers and she did not want to disappoint him. She would have a talk with both Drake Stephens and Bill James about anonymity outside of class and the importance of maintaining appropriate boundaries. After all, this class could prove interesting. Previous to this evening Lisa had not known that both Bill James and Drake Stephens were aspiring writers. She just hoped that Bill didn’t have any ideas about presenting any left wing propaganda literature in this class. This was one thing she would definitely emphasize with Bill after this evening’s class was over.
Lisa Harrison began by going over the basic ground rules for the class. She emphasized that they were all there to share their interest in writing and that she insisted that the participants show respect for each other and their classroom contributions.
“I feel very privileged to be facilitating this group. A couple of you I know through my work at The House of Hope and I see a few others that I recognize from the community. I want to make it very clear that I will not be discussing or answering any questions about my work at The House of Hope. That information I consider to be confidential. I would like to ask individual participants why they signed up for this class and what you hope to get out of it. From there I am going to ask some volunteers to tell me who their favorite writers are.”
Lisa then proceeded to have individual students give their reasons for taking this course. She found out that several of the group were beginners who thought they would like to try their hand at writing.
As Drake pulled up a chair in Rick’s office the mental health supervisor just stared at his guest. The man seated in front of him was not what Rick expected. Rick was thinking of what his teachers used to look like and Drake did not fit the picture. Drake was carrying a very large black executive style Day Timer that appeared in sharp contrast to what he was wearing. Drake was wearing an unbuttoned blue denim shirt that covered a Motorhead tee shirt. These went well with Drake’s faded Wrangler blue jeans.
“Nice office you got here,” said Drake removing his mirrored aviator sunglasses.
“You must be the school teacher that I talked to on the phone. Actually our mutual friend, Harvey Stein, called me yesterday to tell me about you and what you might be interested in,” said Rick, still recovering from the impact of Drake’s surprising appearance.
“Yeah, he recommended that we get together for a coffee,” replied Drake.
“So, you are, or were a school teacher I understand. “
“Actually, I don’t know what I am right now. I think I’m going through a mid life identity crisis. Dr. Stein thinks that I probably shouldn’t go back to teaching in a traditional school setting.”
“Why’s that?” asked Rick getting up to talk to a resident who was staring through the window to Rick’s office. “Sorry, I’ll be right back. I need to find out what Charlie wants.”
“Who’s the cool dude in your office, Rick? I like his ponytail,” said Charlie.
“He’s a guest and we’re kind of busy right now. Do you think that you could leave us alone for about twenty minutes?”
“Yeah, sure Boss. I was just wondering if our cheques arrived yet?”
“Not yet Charlie. I’ll let you know when they do?”
“I hope it’s soon. I’m down to my last cigarette.”
“Don’t worry. It shouldn’t be long now Charlie.”
“It’s cheque day today and the residents will be getting their allowance. They come to ask me every ten minutes when they’ll get their allowance,” Rick explained.
This week I have been doing quite a bit of reading. One of life’s greatest pleasures is finding a book that you simply can’t put down. Two novels that I have been reading this week are by Canadian author Steven Benstead. Their titles are The Wooing of a Lady published in 1978 and Driving Blind published in 1998. In both of these novels Mr. Benstead knocks it right out of the park. In The Wooing of a Lady the main character is a young working class man named Jonathon Ryder who is in search of something better for his life. I found that Jonathon is a character that absolutely grabs at your heart. In his early journey through life Jonathon gets into some fascinating situations. I won’t tell you too much about the story as one of the joys of this book is that the reader can’t wait to see what is going to happen next. This novel reminded me a bit of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye a book that I greatly enjoyed reading when I was eighteen years old.
I also read Steven Benstead’s second novel, Driving Blind. This novel is very different from The Wooing of a Lady but is just as riveting. Once the reader gets a few pages into the book they will find it very hard to put down.