Living The Dream: 16

As part of the ongoing Sunday installments of the novel. You can find the other chapters on here, posted each Sunday morning. Thanks! 

DECEMBER: ONWARDS

Money was flying out faster than I’d hoped or expected what with those nights in motels, a week in Albuquerque, eating out. I worked on my budget while sitting outside on the porch. Angie was at school, one last project that she’s working on in the library. Jonnie was expected to show up later today. Nelson relaxed, fully at home on his blanket, soaking up the sun. I made a decision, a small one, but it was time to move on.

 

“I’m heading south in the morning,” I told them over dinner.

We’d made pizza together, chatting and listening to a local radio station. Their home was toasty and welcoming. I didn’t really want to leave but my restlessness kicked in, and kicked me out. Nothing too comfortable for me, not yet. The ongoing distractions of exploring a new city on foot had revitalized me yet kept me from my purpose: Deciding what was next. What to do about Mark. And the others.

“You’re more than welcome to stay,” Angie offered. “It’s so easy to have you and Nelson around, no trouble at all. In fact, you could stay here for the holidays on your own if you like. I’m going back home for a couple of weeks and it’d be good to know the place wasn’t empty.” She drank some water and offered Nelson a taste of ham from her pizza. “Well, think about it, no pressure.”
“Where are you thinking of going to? Not north I hope. More snow is expected this week, and they say it’s going to be a warm and wet winter.”
“Whatever that means.” I jokingly finished for him. “I don’t know but I like the idea of going across to Arizona, see Jerome and Sedona and that area. It’s probably only a day or two’s drive for us, we stop every hour or so. Anyway, I’d like to keep exploring, camping, daydreaming…”
“ – and deciding?”
“Yes, there is that. I miss the bus as well.”
“But you’re not ready to go back yet?”
Jonnie passed me a glass of wine and we all followed him onto the porch, our nightly routine. “I can understand that. Have you heard from Mark?”
I sipped the malbec and leaned back in an armchair. “Yep, he’s in L.A. having a blast, he said. He even got to play bass for some band one night. They’d had a car accident on the way to the gig and, well, he was in the right place at the right time. It’s a dream come true for him, so I can’t blame him, not really.”

Jonnie brought out the rest of the pizza and picked at a slice as we chatted away companionably. Nelson yawned. Angie petted his head, playing with the long soft ears.

“Well, you have to stay in touch with us, okay? I’ll miss you both. You’re always welcome back. And if you move back to Oliver, we want to come visit, right?”

“Right, I’ll let you know where I end up, we end up, that is. To new beginnings.” I raised my glass to them both with a smile.

“To new friends.”

“To pizza!”

Glasses clinked and Nelson sat up, hoping for food, that’s my happy boy.

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER: SHOW ME THE WAY

 

 

“What the hell? You’re joking right?”

Five DEA agents surrounded Mark. They demanded that he hand over his plants. Mark stood there in his shorts and boots, bare-chested and indignant. A couple of black SUVs blocked our Subaru in the driveway. Helicopters, four of them hovered overhead, passing back and forth as they had all morning. I stood on the porch, holding onto Frida who wouldn’t stop barking and growling when anyone came close.

“Your ID please, sir.” An officer stood in all-black clothes and dark sunglasses and he had a gun. He held out his hand to for the license.

Mark laughed, “Where do you think that might be? I’m practically naked here.” he turned and started walking over to me, when the officer stopped him forcefully.
“No sir, you can wait with me and your wife can fetch both your IDs.” He nodded in my direction.

“Girlfriend,” muttered Mark. He put his hands in his pockets and pulled out a cigarette and lit it. “They’re tomatoes,” he muttered under his breath once again.

Two officers followed me to my car and I pulled out our wallets and handed over the documents. One stood next to me silently and the other read them before handing them to his partner. Mark asked why they’d come to harass us.

“We were told your wife –“

“Girlfriend.”

“- had been talking about her pot plants at the coffee shop.”
“Her potted plants.” Mark said, and he looked over at our home. The patio was covered in hanging plants of all kinds. Mint. Toms. Lettuce. Onions. Creeping vines. Geraniums. Wildflowers. You name it, I’d planted it.

The man with my ID passed it back and headed for his boss without a word to me. He had a potbelly big enough to hold a drink if he’d leaned back just another inch or two. I tried not to think about it. I coughed under my breath.
“It’s who we thought.”
Mark smoked in silence. Frida whined. I shook. I wish I had my boots on, I felt vulnerable in flip-flops.

“I’m Detective Anders. Would you take us to your pot plants please Mark.”

The man had cropped gray hair and a belt full of his important toys and symbols. And a gun. He lifted his sunglasses briefly to make meaningful eye contact with Mark, who set off in the direction of the bus. I joined him on the porch. I quickly grabbed my boots and sat down. Mark stood next to our pots.

The officer didn’t move. “Well?”

Mark pointed out two tomato plants at the front door. “That’s all we have.”
The officer didn’t smile one bit but reiterated his request. The take-me-to-your-leader kind of an order. “We spotted some twenty pot plants near by and your home is the closest. I suggest, sir, that you comply with my requests. Take me to your plants.”
Mark sighed in exasperation. “We don’t have any. I don’t even know what you’re talking about, as if we’d grow pot plants on our property. That makes no sense. Neither of us smokes anything but this stuff.” He pulled out the cigarettes from his back pocket and held them out.

Another SUV showed up and drove past the other vehicles across my front yard. He pulled up next to us.

“Is there a problem here, Anders?”
“No sir, we were just taking them to the site. Would you like to come with us?”
“Not at all, I’m staying in the air conditioning. Speed it up though. We have another sighting a mile away.” He closed the window and backed out. Tire tracks everywhere. I’d have to rake this later.

“Come along. You can let your dog loose, Ma’am. My officers aren’t afraid of a little runt like that.”

He strode off without a glance at Frida snapping around his boots. I grabbed my hat and caught up with Mark. We followed them down the arroyo on the right, through the hundred-foot bed of coal dust, and past the burnt-out pinion, the result of a lightening strike was my guess. The midday sun wore me out but I kept up with everyone, all ten or us. Although I hated to admit it, taking that hike was easier than digging in fence posts for the chicken run. I spotted some orange paintbrush-like wildflowers on the southern slope. The ridge took us up and over into a neighboring meadow of cacti and silvery stunted shrubs. We walked over the scrubby grasses, along the riverbed and past trees dead and dying. The entourage stopped next to a clump of junipers. Mark and I looked around us.

“Where are we?” he whispered.

“Please, sir, if you have something to say, say it to the group.”
Were we in high school again? Mark said nothing. I coughed. He snickered. Frida found something and ran off. I heard her digging furiously.

“Stop that dog. She’s tampering with evidence.” They ran after her and someone pulled her out from under a tree by her tail. The poor girl yelped and raced over to Mark, jumping into his arms. She buried her head in his armpit.

“What had you found, girl?” he talked softly to her. She looked up briefly, saw Anders walking over, and whimpered.

“This way please, Ma’am, Sir.”
We looked at each other and followed him into a clearing. A bunch of tall bulky and bright green pot plants lay on the dirt. Pulled out by the roots. Each one was at least four or five feet tall, I’d guess, thick and furry.

“Wow. Those are huge.”
The agents watched us closely. I stepped up to poke one with my foot. “Are there more?”
“Why?”
“I’ve never seen anything like this.” I practically laughed in fascination. I bent down and picked at one. It stank. I picked off a piece and put it to my nose before someone yanked me back.

“That’s enough. Where are the rest?”
“Huh?” I stood up and brushed myself off. “You tell me. You brought us here. This isn’t even our land.”
“Nope, never been out here before, have we Jen? I like it. Is this on our property?” He asked Anders who had a bundle of Xeroxed maps in his hand. Mark went to look and unthinkingly took the top copy. It was of a map of our forty acres and both properties on either side. The road cut through ours in a pretty diagonal, across the two arroyos.

“Isn’t that us?” He held it out to me and I looked over his shoulder, or rather under his shoulder. My finger followed the road, the paths we usually took and found our campsite and the bus, somewhere in the middle. We’d placed it well, apparently. I nodded and handed it back to him. Mark passed it to Anders.

“That’s our place, right? Here’s the road, the bus, our gardens and the boundary where we walk the dog. See?” Mark in his innocence started to walk back the way we’d come.
Two of the officers blocked his path. They kept their hands on their hips.

“Unfortunately, sir, that might be true, but you two live right next to this large collection of illegal plants. We don’t believe you, to be blunt. Now, where are the rest? Someone who grows this many usually has at least another ten or more hidden nearby.”
“Couldn’t your helicopters see any?” I piped up.
Anders stared at me. “No, they didn’t.”
I shrugged and sat in the shade on a huge rock the size of a VW Beetle. Frida tried to join me but she kept slipping off the rocks. She sat at Mark’s feet instead. Anders watched us both carefully.

“Show us the path you use to bring the water out here,” he asked after a while.

“No, you show me.” Mark was getting braver and braver as time went on. I was quite proud of him. “Because there isn’t one and you know it. You know that this isn’t our doing. We’re too effing naïve, aren’t we? Oh, and to add to the equation, we haven’t lived here long enough. You might want to check your records before you try to pin anything on us. I only moved to Oliver, what, two months ago at most.”
Anders looked between Mark and I. He looked down at his paperwork.

“Is that right?”
We both bobbed our heads in agreement. He started to sweat.

“Damn. Who owns this bit? I’m going to get in such deep trouble for messing this up.”

His officers hung back, slowly melting into the trees around us. Frida headed for the freshly dog holes and stuck her face back in them, sighing loudly. I almost felt sorry for Anders. I came to look at the map he held. I recognized the driveway he pointed out as being the nearest. I said nothing.

He folded up his papers and looked around for his men. They’d gone back without him.

“How do we get back from here?”

He turned in a circle, desperately looking for someone to lead the way back. The clearing stood empty but for five dying plants and the rear end of a digging dog.

“We follow the little runt,” said my boyfriend with a sweet smile. “Frida, let’s go home.”

 

“Another pint, Jenny?”
“Hell yeah.”

We stood at the bar surrounded by locals, Dieselhead Danny being one of them. He’d been telling everyone about watching us with the cops and how suddenly they’d all just left, driven off, no charges, and no further searches. Or finds.

“They didn’t get the others,” he announced proudly. He kept buying us drinks. The tavern was pretty empty but it was a Wednesday afternoon. The tourists took over town on the weekends. After we’d found out that little detail, we had adjusted our drinking times suitably, still trying to fit in. Anyway, Danny kept slapping Mark on the back, thanking him for not mentioning the water hauling or anything like that.

“Oh, right, I’d forgotten about that. I just hated the way he called my dog a runt. He pissed me off.” Mark leaned against the stool I was sitting in and gave me a quick kiss on the ear. That third beer was doing wonders for his mood.

We’d got back to the bus with Anders in tow and had made ourselves a cold drink. All three of us sat on the deck and watched as Frida found a rawhide and fell asleep with it under her front paws. One SUV waited for him as he finished his lemonade and apologized in a roundabout way. Finally we were alone again. I got up and raked out the tire tracks. Mark took a sponge bath. Frida napped.

Half an hour later we drove to the tavern, under the watchful eyes of two helicopters. Mark gave them the finger. Frida panted. For once, I drove.

 

Danny wandered outside for a smoke and Mark joined him. I sat there alone for a while, I was glad the day was over. The bartender came over and handed me a pint of cold water.

“You’re looking a little rosy,” he said politely.

I snorted. “I know. It seems to be my New Mexico color, I’m okay, just a little flushed after this morning.”
He laughed out loud and grinned with me, and had no teeth missing. The job must pay better than most.

“Yeah, I heard. That was a close call, you realize that, don’t you?”
“Yes, that’s why I’m here. I need to forget how close a call. Does that happen a lot around here? It was crazy. Do you think the cops even know whose stuff it was? Is?”
“Probably, but I’d forget all about that if you can. At least now, you’ve made a friend for life with Danny. He’ll look out for you for as long as you live near by. He’s as loyal as a puppy if he likes you.”
Once a year apparently the cops come around, hoping to find fields of green. Instead they bust two or three people for having a handful of pot plants. After seeing the five ‘copters and twenty or so ground personnel, SUVs, even a couple of all terrain vehicles, I have to wonder how much that all cost?

As usual, Mark interrupted my deep thoughts.

“There’s a BBQ out on Alaska road on the weekend, and we’ve been invited. Want to go?”
“Sure. Whose?”
Mark grinned. “I don’t remember but here’s the address for us. Dusk onwards, and he said bring beer, instruments, and dogs, not bad eh? Frida’s first party.”
More importantly – it was going to be our first party in Oliver. We’d finally arrived.

 

 

Reviewers Wanted!

Who here would be interested in reviewing my latest novel LIVING THE DREAM? I am looking for intelligent clear thinking, articulate writers who would like to review my book and have me write reviews for theirs. Are you a published writer? An author? If so, get in touch and let me know why you think this would work for us both okay? I’ll send you a kindle ready version of the novel and links to where it’s available online.
Thanks and let me know,

Sarah

Googling your own books is fun!

Createspace estore. https://www.createspace.com/5266256

In Santa Fe, NM: http://www.santafe.com/authors/sarah-leamy

On youtube, you can see videos of my home, animals, land rovers and even an interview! https://www.youtube.com/user/sarahleamy

Well, that should keep you going for a while, right? Thanks for looking! Take care, s

Radio Interview #1!

http://www.santafe.com/podcasts/listen/honey-and-sarah-leamy-talk-about-her-new-book-lucky-shot

Yesterday I drove to Santa Fe to chat with Honey Harris of KBAC 98.1. She’s a great interviewer, making me feel incredibly at ease, talking of the book, what’s next and how it all fits together as an author in a small town. Please listen on the link above.

Kirkus Review (1/2012)

One man’s journey through crisis, loss and love is captured through his camera lens.

Lucky Phillips has had a rough year—his father is in coma following a stroke, his girlfriend is cheating with his best friend, his beloved dog has gone missing—when he throws his camera and other belongings into his truck and leaves Santa Fe and his troubles behind. Lucky drives through the Midwest, meeting locals and snapping photos, and feeling all the while that he is “just not living up to” his name. His fortunes change when he arrives by chance in Madison, Wis., and is taken in by two university students, Christine and Joanna, who are charmed by his stories, his cooking and his free-spiritedness. He soon finds himself pursued by two women—good-girl Christine and sexy Michaela, who lives next door—and by a local gallery owner who wants to exhibit his photographs. Despite these promising events, Lucky’s past continues to haunt him as he struggles with feelings of guilt and betrayal and risks sabotaging his budding relationship with Christine. Inevitably, he must return to Santa Fe to face his critically ill father and decide how to care for him—and how to say goodbye. As Leamy’s novel comes full circle, Lucky proves to be an endearingly flawed hero, and the glue that holds this meandering narrative together. While Lucky is complex and engaging, one wishes the plot were as taught and focused as Leamy’s prose. But Leamy also demonstrates a talent for examining small moments—cooking dinner, smoking a cigarette—and probing their emotional depths. With its hopeful ending, this tender story of one man’s very human struggles will resonate with readers.

An endearing, ultimately hopeful novel about self-discovery.

Kirkus Indie review 2011

While some may find the subject matter dismal and the novel’s chilly tone depressing, readers who enjoy vulnerable, flawed characters will find themselves engaged by Lucky’s courageous attempts to leave the past behind. Leamy’s writing is solid, but the book’s tendency to abruptly jump between the past and the present can be distracting. Still, readers who have been down on their luck, especially in these difficult economic times, will find themselves sympathizing with Lucky and will ultimately be inspired. For a hefty dose of harsh reality, tempered by the kindness of others, give this book a “shot.”
Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Media

 

 

For the link to all books available:

https://www.amazon.com/author/sarahleamy

 

The Right To Die: who decides?

At Bromsgrove North High School, I remember Miss Jones asking us to debate this in class. Without parroting our parents, following political party lines or the rhetoric of the religious right(eous). I remember heated name calling, raging against each other, not the clear compassionate conversation she hoped for.

I don’t remember my thoughts at the time.

Now though is a different matter. I’ve had some intense personal experience with the question. Who decides to take a life? At what point is the machine unplugged and the spirit set free? Or do you see it as murder?
I’ve taken a moment, a question, a memory from my life and I sowed that seed in my protagonist Lucky and watched to see what Lucky would do. It’s not my story but it began with me. Now I ask the readers to let me know what they, you, would do in Lucky’s situation? Run away? Stay? Move into a longterm facility? Call the lawyers or the pope?

It’s not easy, none of it is. Lucky Shot  brings up hard questions for the protagonist but there is also some laughter amongst Lucky’s friends both new and old, there’s a journey across country, desire and the start of new relationships, and throughout Lucky finds a sense of community’s strength to relax into.

The novel hopes to start more open hearted thoughts for this taboo subject, lets talk, lets listen to each other’s stories. It’s not pretty, but death isn’t. It just is part of life. yet no one likes to talk about it and that’s hard, horrendous, when faced with these choices and you’re alone with them.

First tempting read of the new book! A chapter at a time…

LUCKY SHOT

PART ONE


I started out with nothing. I still have most of it left.

Dad had met my mum in the sixties in the San Francisco bay. He was a 21-year-old army boy, she a street kid, following the hippie myth all the way from Higginsville, Missouri. One night. One kid. A lucky kid. That’s what they’d told me.

Dad did the right thing. Mum didn’t. She died when I was ten. That wasn’t part of the plan. Dad kept me. For a while. And then he couldn’t.

They call me Lucky. My parents that is, they called me Lucky when I was a kid. Anyway, there I was, in my late thirties, wondering what the hell to do with myself. My dad, my girlfriend, my dog, my job, and my best friend; all were gone. For one reason or another, I’d lost them all. I stayed in Santa Fe. I tried to work, to keep the homestead fires going, but, well, like I said, it was a rough year. I packed my bags, threw everything into the crew cab of my 1983 Nissan truck, and prayed she would take me further than Eldorado, the one in Santa Fe that is. With camera in hand, I looked for a new life.

Is this what they call a mid life crisis?

Books Books Books!

Hello folks,

This site is a place where over time I hope to condense all my marketing for the books I’m publishing, a place for links, reviews, comments, and updates as I go along with the experience of finding an audience base. Let me know if you have any ideas and suggestions. Thanks!

Lucky Shot – a novel about sex, death, and photography just came available online. Your local indie bookstore can order it for you. Want to review it? Get in touch.

When No One’s Looking – my first novel – came out last fall and is all over the web! I’ll post links and reviews later.

Random Tales (Out On The Road) is a collection of travel stories taken from my twenties and thirties when I crossed Europe and the States on my own, sometimes on a motorbike, other times with Daisy, a slightly overweight Border Collie.