FANS Chapter Seven Excerpt

002

FANS
by Barbara Anne Helberg

FANS Chapter Seven Excerpt — Destiny?

He had gone on for awhile, two years, perhaps. What had he gone on with after that? After the truck accident, he had shriveled, turned his back on life and the pursuit of anything worthy. His wife and son had suffered the results of his quitting. He had let the devastation track him. A bit of fate, he had said bitterly. Destiny…a dead sister, sweet little Sarah, a broken marriage after the accident, a distant son, the divorce. His effort in his short-lived marriage had mocked the tried and true forty-year union of his hard-working, loving parents. His failure with a vengeance to pick up the pieces after the accident had fed his bitterness and cost him everything. Pumping gas, drinking, chili and chips loneliness, Lizzie and Mark left in the ashes of his burning non-response. That’s what he’d gone on to. Some destiny, he thought.

Destiny? Rodd queried himself. His life had been more like forced imprisonment in a cycle of sorrow, bitterness, and impotency in every niche of his existence. He hadn’t seen his parents, or even corresponded with them in a decade, since his attachment to the bottle had detached him from his previous living experiences. His dad couldn’t find an excuse for him. His mother expressed her sweet love for him. He turned away. Grief over Sarah’s passing was explainable, they said. They had all suffered that and each of them had reconciled his feelings and put them aside, let go and moved on. After his college drop-out, over which they argued, then his inexcusable recession into continuous drunken bouts and neglect of his family, over which they parted ways, his parents, already in their sixties, had chosen retirement in Florida. Rodd hadn’t seen them again.

He hadn’t tipped a bottle once over the last ten months, and the question of his destiny, recently, had been a daily replay. He wanted to see Mark.

Rodd stared at The Blade page. Destiny, he thought. Herman Archmiller is dead at fifty-six — his destiny? To die in a locker room at West Central High School? Or someone else’s game plan? Why? Tapping his fingers on The Blade, looking straight at the wall, Rodd made up his mind.

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*** Credit:
FANS Excerpt and Artwork from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

FANS Chapter Six Excerpt

002

FANS
by Barbara Anne Helberg

FANS Chapter Six Excerpt — Newsprint

The pouring of a second cup of coffee after the usual supper of chili and chips was routine until Rodd’s browsing brown eyes fell on the news item on page twelve of the quarter folded Toledo Blade. The item that stopped him in mid-pour was a two-inch story datelined “West Central, OH”.

The hot coffee missed Rodd’s cup, splashed onto the countertop, bounced back up in large drops to scald his cheek and lips, for he had bent low toward the paper to read. Nearly dropping the heavy-bottomed glass pot, he managed to control its remaining descent enough to avert wholesale spillage. His left hand, freed from the pot, brushed at his stinging lips, but his eyes re-glued themselves to The Blade neatly folded under a right hand that somehow had not budged from a spread-fingered grip on the newsprint. It was as though protecting the two inches of black-on-white had been paramount even above balancing the burning liquid in its glass cage.

West Central, Ohio, was his hometown. Long lost, Rodd thought. By fourteen years.

But those dateline words were not the ones that had altered the delivery of his liquid refreshment. The next nine had. “A high school boys’ basketball coach was found dead…” was about the juncture at which Rodd’s coffee derailed from its straight line journey from pot to cup.

Rodd grabbed a red-lined pattered kitchen towel, instinctively dabbed his face with it, then swiped the towel across the countertop, leaving brown trails of tiny beads in his haste. He felt his heart swell and gain a tick, or two, as he completed — successfully, this time — the filling of his cup. Scooping up the cup and carrying The Blade, he returned to the diminutive, square, chrome-trimmed kitchen table with its two chrome chairs that claimed most of the usable space in the room.

Lowering himself into a chair, he read: “West Central, OH — A high school boys’ basketball coach was found dead in the lockerroom of the high school gymnasium in this rural farm town yesterday.

“Local police said Herman Archmiller, 56, a 24-year varsity boys’ basketball coach at West Central High School, was discovered shot to death at 8:15 p.m. last evening. Charles Westgate, a school custodian, found the body.”

007

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*** Credit:
FANS Excerpt and Artwork from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

FANS Chapter Four Excerpt

002

FANS
by Barbara Anne Helberg

FANS Chapter Four Excerpt — The Accident

Freezing rain jammed the flimsy windshield wipers on the beaten Hardbakin’ Bakery Chevy truck. Rodd didn’t see the sliding tractor-trailer until it curved through the light-controlled intersection outside Findlay.

Panic-stricken, Rodd tried daringly to avoid the semi-truck, but there was no chance at all for either driver to bring tons of steel and iron under control in time to avert a crash.

The tractor-trailer cab wrenched loose, careened into the opposite lane of traffic, while the trailer sliced away the right half of the Chevy and took most of Rodd’s right leg with it. But Rodd didn’t remember inclusively. While the driver of the semi departed from life, a childless thirty-four-year-old married Kentuckian, Rodd learned later, in an instant of pain, opened veins and blood-curdling screams; while two other cars crashed into the loosened cab and disassembled vehicle in a noisy, glassy metallic storm; while metal and human parts littered the highway; while red flashing lights canvassed the scene and yellow lamps crisscrossed the darkened skies; while sirens screeched their sing-song warnings and policemen and orange-jacketed emergency rescue workers filled the dark, blocked roadway in orderly, trained movements… While all this ensued, Rodd was mercifully rendered nearly unconscious, so that he didn’t remember the horrifying details but only snatches of it and of his personal chaos. For that he was grateful.

Each time just before he woke from the nightmare that caused him to sweat through his clothing, Rodd glanced back at the West Central fan to see the letters on the emblazoned chest change from West Central to “Loser.”

007

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*** Credit:
FANS Excerpt and Artwork from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg