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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 16, 2013 03:26PM) (new)

Please enter a piece of your writing to be in the running to win a copy of a book of your choice out of a given selection.

There are no topics or word limits, all you have to do is enter a piece of writing (any form, story, poem, whatevs) and be in the running to win a good book to read. :)

Competition opens 17th March and ends on the 17th of May.

Good luck!!! We look forward to reading your submissions.

Please enter!!!

message 2: by L.M. (new)

L.M. Batstone (lmbatstone) | 1 comments The Pirate's Apprentice: The Devil's Triangle.
Chapter One
Morning came early on the beach. John pulled his blanket over his face and willed himself back to sleep, but the thin, moth-eaten wool was useless at keeping out the bright rays of the rising sun. As he tried to ignore the light penetrating his eyelids, he became increasingly aware of the stirrings of those around him.
Nearby, a pirate retched into the sand, the man cursed as he coughed, and spat. Farther down the beach, another pirate struggled to hack up stubborn phlegm lodged in his lungs. John rolled onto his side as if he could roll away from the sound.
His ears picked up a group of men laughing and talking in the distance. John's eyes opened and his heart raced as the smell of coffee, burning tobacco and campfire smoke assaulted his nostrils, making it impossible to go back to sleep.
Sitting up, he rubbed the inside corners of his eyes with his fingertips and looked to the empty bed roll where the captain had spent the night. His eyes scanned the beach, looking to see where Captain Black Sam had gone. He saw only the bodies of men littering the sand like dead fish washed ashore, but John knew that the men weren't dead, just dead drunk. There were at least two hundred pirate's sleeping on the sand, some seemed to have dropped where they stood, still gripping a bottle of rum.
John yawned and stretched, his sleep had been fitful at best. Throughout the night, he had been woken up many times by the drunken revelers as they sang, whooped, fought, yelled and laughed. The last time he had woken he remembered noticing the sky was beginning to lighten.
At the far end of the beach, a small group of pirates were sitting around a campfire, drinking coffee. John stood up and checked to see if the rolled-up map was still tucked into the waistband of his breeches. Relieved that it was still there, he set out towards the group.
As he approached the men, John recognized Joseph Rivers the cook, Captain Black Sam, and Wilson the dwarf. The rest of the men he assumed hailed from the Marianne, John had little to do with her crew as he had only just begun sailing with Black Sam and his men a fortnight ago.
A transient image of his mother's face passed through his mind as intangible as morning mist. After a brief goodbye, he had left her behind without a second thought, eager to start his adventure on the Sultana. Did she ever make it to Jamaica? he wondered. Surely, she must be at her sister's by now.
He felt a twinge of guilt as he remembered the look in her eyes when he pointed the stolen pistol at her. In an instant, her expression changed from anger, shock, sadness and then finally to fear. It was an odd feeling knowing that his mother was afraid of him. He wasn't sure how to feel about that. At the time, he had felt angry and powerful, but now he felt a mixture of guilt and shame. If only she hadn't tried to stop him from becoming a pirate, then he wouldn't have had to scare her like that.
He kept such thoughts to himself, of course. He didn't want the pirates to know how he really felt for fear they might think him soft. I suppose I should feel grateful my mother gave me the opportunity to prove my worth to Black Sam, John mused. If she hadn't rushed in to stop him, John wouldn't have pointed the gun on her and Black Sam wouldn't have taken him on as an apprentice.
As he sat down on the sand next to the captain, Joseph Rivers handed John a tin mug half filled with thick, black coffee. John thanked the cook and took an experimental sip of the acidic brew. A grimace took hold of John's face. The men laughed as John struggled to choke down the bitter liquid.
"It'll put hair on yer chest lad," the captain chuckled.
John took another sip, managing not to make a face.
"Is this the fabled Bloody John I've 'eard so much about?" a grisly, hungry looking pirate asked in a heavily slurred Irish accent. "He doesn't look a day older than ten."
"Aye, 'tis the very one. An' he's at least that old," Black Sam confirmed.
"After all the tales I've 'eard, I thought ye'd be taller an' older," the man said in disbelief, his blood-shot eyes wide with surprise. "If ye stood back to back with Wilson here, ye'd be about the same height."
Wilson looked up from his coffee and smiled, showing his scurvy ravaged gums.
"Is that to be yer pirate name, young John? Are ye now to be known as Bloody John?" the dwarf asked.
"I don't know," John said feeling bewildered.
"If it sticks jus' go with it," the captain said. "Why not? It suits ye well enough on account of yer fiery locks an' disposition."
John nodded and smiled into his tin mug as he sipped his coffee. A distorted view of himself stared smugly back at him. The name Bloody John would help me maintain a fearsome pirate reputation, he mused. He knew just what the men were referring to with such a name and it had nothing to do with the color of his hair. The dried blood on the shirt he had brought with him to the beach was a testament of his new disposition. He reminded himself that he needed to scrub out the stain with sand and water before they returned to the Sultana.
He hadn't always been a violent person. In fact, he was just as shocked as anyone else had been when he stabbed the French captain in the leg with his dagger. He had done it out of desperation without thinking. He'd do anything for Black Sam, the French captain had a knife to the pirate captain's throat, and he had reacted instinctively.
John reached for the dagger that hung from a strap across his chest and stroked the soft brown leather of its sheath. John couldn't remember exactly how it had all happened, his memory of the attack was now just a blur of thoughts and emotions. The pool of red on the deck and his hands slick and sticky with blood afterwards was his most vivid image from the event.
Black Sam leaned in close to John, "Wilson says he speaks an' reads some Spanish," the captain whispered.
John's eyes widened as he glanced at the dwarfish man. "But you said I shouldn't trust anyone," he whispered back.
"Aye, 'tis true. I remember giving that counsel, but ye won't know what the map says if ye don't get help with the Spanish."
"True," John responded. It seemed as though the captain was just as interested in what was on the map as John, even though the man had shown no interest in travelling to the devil's triangle the day before, saying it was a fool's errand.
"I'll ask him to translate it for me," John whispered.
"Be sure to do it when thar's none else about ye," the captain cautioned.
"Aye, aye," John agreed, stealing another glance at Wilson. How am I going to go about showing him the map when there's so many men around, he wondered.
John sat with the group for a while listening to their stories and waiting for a time when Wilson could be caught alone. As the morning wore on and the pirates began spiking their coffee with rum, the stories became more exuberant and the men more competitive.
Kennedy, the hungry looking man John had thought hailed from the Marianne, was telling a story about how he escaped capture after the British Navy had attacked his ship. It seemed now that Kennedy and his small crew weren't from the Marianne at all, but had been stranded on Blanquilla Island for over a week.
"I tell ye that Captain Hume, he's a crafty scoundrel. They were waitin' fer us to come 'round the bend as we was lookin' fer a place to land. In the end, I had to jump fer it an' swim t' shore cause they set me ship ablaze. Almost didn't make it," Kennedy said as he spat into the sand.
Black Sam nodded, "We'll keep an eye on the seas fer 'em. Where'd ye encounter the bloody rascals?"
"Jus' off the coast of Venezuela," Kennedy replied. "Me an' me men 'ave been waitin' here fer rescue ever since."
"Aye, yer lucky we came along. Tis' blind luck that we stopped fer a wee bit of respite," Joseph Rivers said as he stood.
"Aye, yer welcome to join us on the Sultana. We 'ave need o' seasoned jack tars," Captain Black Sam said.
The two men grasped each other by the elbow embracing in a rough and rowdy pirate handshake.
"I thought ye'd never ask," Kennedy said. He grabbed Black Sam's forearm with both hands, giving him another enthusiastic joggle.
John watched as Joseph Rivers left the group to help at the ground ovens. His stomach gurgled in anticipation of the feast to come. The meat had been cooking all through the night and was now filling the air with its succulent aroma. Steam rose from the pit as the cooks cleared away the top layer of sand and leaves exposing the great hunks of steaming roast beef wrapped tightly in banana leaves.
John's stomach rumbled again, breakfast had been skipped since most of the pirates were still sleeping off their rum. There seemed to be no point for the cooks to prepare a meager breakfast of porridge when there was going to be a roast beef feast so early in the afternoon.
A group of pirates were busy setting up a giant make-shift table using driftwood and gangplanks from the two ships. When they were done, the men covered the planks with layers of green palm leaves, and then dumped bananas, coconuts, and prickly pears over the top. Two large wheels of cheese were set at each end of the table, along with two heaping mounds of sea biscuits. Then, with thick, long, pointed sticks, the men hoisted the dripping packages of roast beef out of the ground oven, placing them carefully on the center of the table.
After the meat was unwrapped the table was a sight to be seen, John's mouth salivated. Every day for the past month, he had eaten the same salty soup and hard sea biscuits. Now, the food spread out before him seemed as if it had come from a dream.
By the time the wine, beer and rum casks were set out most of the men were awake and ready to eat. The pirates began gathering around the massive table to wait for their portion. There was so much food that John thought each man could come back for extra helpings three times, if they wanted to.
After carving up the roasts with their knifes, the cooks handed out hearty portions of the steaming hot, still bloody meat wrapped inside green banana leaves. John stood and waited for his portion at the back of the line. He passed the liquor casks first and chose to fill his tin mug with red wine. He sniffed at the fermented drink as he shuffled towards the table. It smelt like an old musty cellar, which wasn't very appealing. He dipped his finger in the wine and tasted the drops that rolled along his skin. The wine was tart with an astringent aftertaste, but it wasn't as harsh on his throat as the rum had been.
When John reached the head of the line he chose a thick slab of cheese and a half-ripened banana while he waited for Joseph Rivers to hand him a huge hunk of beef wrapped in a large green leaf. When it was given to him John stared at the meat, wondering how he was going to manage eating it all. It seemed an awful waste to feed such good meat to the birds.
John placed the cheese and banana over the beef, wrapped it all in the large leaf and carried it back to the campfire where he had spent most of the morning. When he arrived, he sat down on the sand facing the waves, his back to the dying flames.
When John opened the leaf he discovered the cheese had melted over the beef. He decided to eat the meat first. Lifting the beef with both hands, he took a bite. Hot, bloody juice ran down his arms as he ripped off a hunk of meat with his teeth. There was something extremely satisfying about eating meat this way. Back home he always sat at a table, eating on a finely decorated plate, using a fork and a knife.
Wilson sat down next to him and began tearing into his portion of beef as well. The two sat in silence, enjoying their meal until the meat was devoured. Then as John began to peel his banana, Wilson spoke.
"The captain tells me ye have need of a translator," the dwarf ventured.
L M Batstone

Amy (readalotsleepyhead)  (readalotsleepyhead) | 55 comments I turned onto her street, the one I had avoided for months. My walking got slower and slower until I stopped in front of a house, her house. Tears threatened to spill down my face as I stared up at it, memories crowding my thoughts, but I held them in. I walked up to the front door, and hesitated before I bent down and snatched the key from a blue bucket under the rose bush. My heart thumped as I inserted it in the lock, paused for what seemed like hours, and turned it.

I took a deep breath as I crept into the house, I’d never been there by myself before and it was eerily quiet. I closed my eyes, wanting to leave, to forget what she did, but I can’t, I must know, there must be a clue somewhere. I realised I was leaning against the wall, breathing heavily, and tried to calm down, but it was too much. I took off up the stairs and veered off into her room, the door slammed behind me.

I stood there for a minute, looking around her room. It looked the same as it had 8 months ago, the last time I had been in here. Nothing had been touched, her bookshelf, full of her favourite books and little ornaments, was as neat and tidy as ever, and her phone, notebook and pen lay on the bedside table. Positioned on her desk were a neat stack of school books, a pen, and her copy of ‘Tomorrow When the War Began’ the purple tassel of a bookmark peeking out the top. I walked over to the desk and pulled open the drawer, underneath her packets of coloured pencils, paints and other craft things lay her diary.

I reached for it and sat down on her bed. I stared at it, my thoughts conflicting. ‘I promised her I would never read it. She will never know. What if it is my fault? I must know.’ Eventually I opened it and began to read. At the beginning she was just talking about what she had been doing, but then it began to be more about her thoughts and feelings.

‘These days I feel so left out, at school I sit off to one side and nobody talks to me, at lunch I go to the library and read. Occasionally I sit near the edge of the group of people I used to be a part of, but they never talk to me, don’t even acknowledge I’m there. I never do anything after school or in the weekends and holidays; instead I sit at home by myself. Aisha never texts or calls me. We only see each other when I organise it, and recently I have given up trying to find a time when we’re both free. I miss her. I miss our old school .I miss my old house. I miss everything.’

‘There was another Earthquake today. I can’t stand them. Every time one hits I start shaking, terror shooting through my body, sending me into shock. I try to hide it from everyone else, but I don’t know if I will be able to much longer. Everyone else seems to be adjusting, getting used to them, but I can’t. I don’t think I ever will. I don’t know if I can live here much longer. It’s getting too much for me to handle.’

There were pages and pages of writing. Then I got to her last entry:

‘I can’t live like this. I feel as if I should be somewhere else, someone else. I am sick of pretending to be happy, of hiding from everyone and just getting by. I walk through life in a trance, doing what I have to and never being noticed, of trying to be happy. I may as well be dead. If I was dead, I wouldn’t have to worry, to hide, and to pretend. No one would care. I could do it. Die. But what if my life gets better? How do I know? I don’t. But how can it get better? The city has crumbled to the ground, I panic on a regular basis about things others are used to. The only way my life could get better would be if I could wipe my memory clear, move somewhere else and start again. But that’s not possible. I can’t live like this, so I can’t live.’

The tears poured down my face. ‘My fault, it’s my fault. I was supposed to be her best friend. I should have seen her more. I knew she wasn’t happy, but I didn’t do anything about it. I thought she’d get over it, that she’d be okay. Now she’ll never be okay. Never. And it’s my fault.’

I lay on her bed for hours, sobbing. Wishing I had kept our friendship real. Wishing I had made her feel loved, made sure she knew she had a friend

Eventually I knew I had to go home. I stood up and gently smoothed down the blankets, placed her diary back in the drawer and neatly piled her craft things back on top of it. Slowly, I closed the drawer and walked across the room. I crept out of her room and down the stairs. I slipped out of the front door after checking to see if anyone was outside. Hesitantly, I turned the key in the lock before replacing it in the bucket. No one will ever know I was there. I walked down the path to the front gate where I paused one last time and looked up at the big brick house where she used to live.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Hey Alexander,
Would you like to enter something into the writing competitions? Maybe an excerpt of your writing or something? It'd be awesome if you could enter... The more the merrier, right? :)

message 5: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 17 comments Forgive me if I have chosen the wrong thread. As it is Easter I thought I would include something I wrote years ago.

Follow Him

It is hard to watch as I see you walk in this parched heat. The ground is so rocky and your feet by the end of the day is blistered by the hours you spend walking from one place to another. Do the people see this, Son?

I follow you.

I see you touch this person, I see you speak to another and they are healed of their infirmities and that which had imprisoned their souls. Do they thank you Son?

I stand apart, yet, as one with your circle of friends. They love you, but not as I love you. Do they understand Love, Son?

I follow you.

Ah, I watch as your face alights when the little one's rush forward. Your laughter rings through the air, what a joy it is to hear. But Son, do you remember when I held you close to my own heart?

Once again I see you walk in your gentle manner towards the rocky ground as you seek silence to pray. My eyes follow you from a distance as you disappear from my sight. Do they understand prayer, Son?

I follow you.

You are surrounded by your friends as you speak words of Wisdom to them. Your face lights up as you speak about Heavenly things. But Son, am I the only one to see the shadow which passes across your face?

I hear your friends promise to do mighty things for love of you. They rely on their strength without fully understanding what real strength is. Yet there is one who unsettles my heart, he turns from you when you reach out to him. Do you see his rejection Son?

I follow you.

It is difficult when I see strangers in fine clothes criticize you. Yes, I hear the murmurs which strike at my own heart. Do you hear them Son?

Ah, finally I see the crowds throw Palms before your feet. Their voices sing out Hosanna, such rejoicing. But, do they know who you are Son?

I follow you.

A terrible foreboding fills my heart, I hear the murmurs grow. The whispering grows stronger by the hour, despite all you have said and done they do not believe. Have they stopped listening to you Son?

I see you beloved of my heart as you kneel before your friends and wash their feet. My mind wonders back to the days when I bathed you and held you in my arms as you gurgled and smiled at me. I watch from a distance as you break bread, my head is bowed. Do they understand the significance Son?

I follow you.

One leaves early, my heart is deeply troubled. My body trembles as my ear catches more whispering. These are the same people who killed the Prophets. I hear your voice ring out strongly, I listen to you Son.

Can I come to you my Son? May I hold you in my arms? Will you be my son for just one more day? I have heard the Prophets of Old, I have listened to you Son, but when I close my eyes I see you, tiny, innocent, loving, holding out your arms to me. Can I be just another mother for one more day Son?

I follow you.

I can find no rest tonight. I pace the room and in the sanctum of my heart I cry out to God who strengthens me. I look out the window and though the world continues to turn as the night closes in, still my heart finds no rest this long and lonely night. Who is keeping watch with you Son?

While I kneel in prayer I hear hurried feet, I rise to face the news. They are like children, lost and forlorn when the snow shuts out the sun. My heart fills with pity as I console them. We go in search of you. Will others go in search of you my Son?

I follow you.

There are crowds everywhere. Where are you Son? I must find you. I am jostled too and fro we stand in the courtyard as the news reaches us. You have been condemned, I must find you. Where are you my Son?

I feel the sobs of your friend who stands beside me, he is trying to be strong. I take his hand and look into his eyes, he looks away. Who can bear to look into my eyes? We hear from a distance 'Crucify him.' Where are your friends my Son?

I follow you.

We hurry to find you Son, I will not leave you. The crowd parts and at last I see your beloved face, my knees give way at the sight. Your friends hold me up as each fist strikes my own heart. My heart is faint as they scourge you, the face I once held to my breast is now beaten and bloody. Is that you my Son? Beneath the blood, the sweat and the mucus is that you my Son? My beloved Son? I will not leave you my Son.

We follow your broken and bloodied body as you try and carry that heavy Cross. You fall and I cover my face, what mother can bear it? If it were not for our friends I would be unable to walk, but I will not leave you Son. Our eyes meet. Agony is met with agony, I reach out to you. I am here my Son.

I follow you.

I look up and there you are before me. I hear the taunts from the crowds, were these not the same who sang Hosanna's to you my beloved Son? I hear you cry out as my own soul is rent asunder and my silent scream reaches the Heaven's. Will anyone understand such an agony? I fall to the ground as your blood drenches my own clothes and with words unspoken I plead in my heart, 'give me the body of my bloodied and ragged Son.' I hold you to my heart, though it beats my heart is broken. My tears fall onto your stiff and quiet face as I hold you to myself. I didn't leave you Son...I didn't leave You.

Later Peter comes to see me. My heart fills with pity he is a broken man. I take his hand, look into his eyes and say to him.....

Follow Him.

message 6: by Farah (new)

Farah Bajarias | 2 comments wow! interesting..i'll try to write one :D

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Okay, good luck. Remember, the comp ends 17th of May.

message 8: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Brandyn (suzannebrandyn) | 2 comments I would be interested in to find out who the winner of this competition was.

Thank you,

message 9: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 04, 2013 02:35AM) (new)

Here's a sneak peek at my novel, Season Of The Stranger:

Here's A Riddle For You

May 1994

Robert James Etchinson scaled the long, narrow staircase leading to the third floor living quarters of the cemetery gatehouse. In his left hand he clutched an ancient book of poems, 'Maurine' by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, it's gilt-edged pages yellow and decaying after years of exposure to the bleak sadness of his mother's bedside. She has presented the rare volume to Robert on the eve of her death, which had come quietly in the middle of a chill autumn night as the claws of a hopeless cancer finally overcame her staunch resistance.

Now, a year after her death, Robert had come to appreciate the book of poems, the flawless rhyme and meter of a bygone era that lulled and consoled him with the gentle reassurance of a mother's caress. Poetry offered the seventeen year old peace...and diversion from the morbidity and frustration that were necessary evils of his thankless role as the dutiful son of a crippled cemetery caretaker.

Robert had risen with the dawn on this ordinary day, his eyes clouded and burning from lack of sleep after completing Homer's Iliad for his English class, and had marched as if to a solemn dirge down the gatehouse steps to the basement crematorium, where he had patiently read 'Maurine' as the white hot fires of the industrial oven reduced another corpse to a mound of chalk and bone.

When he reached the third floor landing, he placed the book on the oak parson's table beneath his mother's portrait and ushered himself through the musty Victorian dining room to the kitchen, where he hastily began preparing his father's breakfast.
Cracking two eggs in the skillet, which his father preferred 'over easy' with a dash of salt and no pepper, Robert winced when he heard the familiar sound of his father's wheelchair, creaking from the adjoining bedroom to the head of the table.

Daniel Etchinson was a stickler for punctuality, and on those rare occasions when Robert had failed to meet the unwavering exactitude of his father's schedule-one that revolved around mundane chores and regular meals-the day had invariably begun on a harsh note.

Why can't he understand I just want to lead a normal life? What's wrong with that? I've got to have a life of my own. I've got to get out of here. Just because he's stuck in a wheelchair doesn't mean I should have to vegetate along with him, Robert mused to himself as he started up the coffee.

"Riley didn't show up this morning," Robert announced matter of factly as he slid the plate and the clinking cup and saucer into position in front of his father. "I had to put the Ferguson woman in myself. God, I hope he's here in time to pack the urn. The service is at ten thirty."

"He'll be here," the old man croaked through thin colorless lips that were drawn in a perpetual frown across his weathered face.

Robert lowered himself into the high backed chair to the left of his father and snatched an orange from the bowl of fruit in the center of the table. Father and son were a study in contrast. The vibrant teal blue of Robert's eyes had, in his father, faded to a lifeless gray, and the square jaw that was once a hallmark of the Etchinson clan had eroded into bags of sagging flesh around the old man's throat.

Robert clearly favored his mother, whose attractive features had endured until virtually the eve of her death. His blue-black hair was thick and lustrous, combed back from his high forehead in soft waves. But it was the awkwardness of Robert's six foot two inch frame that prevented him from being considered a handsome man.

Robert stood a head over his father, whose spinal column had withered four inches after the crippling accident that had relegated him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The accident happened two years ago while Daniel Etchinson was rearranging the artificial grass mats that one of the workmen had carelessly placed over the fresh mound of soil beside an open grave. Cursing under his breath, he stooped down and grabbed the offending mat with both hands. But as he braced his feet on the ground and tugged, the edge of the grave gave way and he found himself catapulting backward into the open hole...where Riley had discovered him, his arms and legs twisted beneath him like a crumpled marionette, only moments before the mourners arrived.

Robert gathered the orange peelings into a small, neat mound on the table in front of him, broke off a wedge, and popped it into his mouth.

"You eat like a damned pig, " his father declared.

Robert winced. "Dad...I've been wondering. What would you think if I got a summer job in town?" Shifting in his seat, he tried to assume a casual expression. "Just waiting tables or something." He shrugged sheepishly.

His father continued chewing, then replied. "There's plenty of work to do around here."

Robert set the orange down on the table and folded his hands in front of it. "But Dad...I want to..."

"What you want to do," his father said with his mouth full, "and what you're going to do are two different things." He lifted the coffee cup to his lips with a trembling hand.

"But I'd be home every night," Robert insisted, a hint of exasperation creeping into his voice. "Nothing's gonna change. I'd still be here to take care of you. You know I'd never-"

"No!" his father snapped. "I need you here."

"Dad," Robert protested incredulously. "I'm only talking about a few days a week over in Daly City. You know I won't leave you alone."

"No need to go way the hell over to Daly City. Your place his here-with me"

Robert squirmed and looked at his father defiantly. "I'm getting a job, Dad. As soon as school's out."

Looking directly into Robert's eye for the first time this morning, Daniel Etchinson croaked. "You never done a day's work in your life and now you're telling me you want to get a job?"

"Dad," he said hesitantly, "please listen to me...I'm your son. I love you. I just want a chance to...strike out on my own a little be like the other kids." He sighed deeply, reached across the table and wrapped his fingers around the back of his father's hand. "Please try to understand me. I've been a prisoner of All Saint Hill for seventeen years. It's like..." His voice cracked. "It's like being dead."

Daniel Etchinson snatched his hand out from under Robert's, curled his bony finger around the edge of the table, and pushed the wheelchair away with a fierce scowl.

"You know what they call me in school Dad? Coma Man. They call me Coma Man! Pretty funny, huh? Well, I am in a coma...I feel like I'm dying." As his father spun around in the wheelchair, turning his back on him, Robert experienced a surge of pity for the man so bitterly trapped in a gleaming mesh of stainless steel and spoked wheels.

Robert placed a hand on his father's shoulder. "Your father worked here...." The words seemed to stick in his throat. He swallowed. "And you worked here...." He curled his fingertips into the soft flesh of his father's spindley shoulder. "But I can't. Don't you understand I get sick every time I see a line of black cars rolling through those gates. I want--"

"YOU WANT!," The old man spun around, his gray eyes flashing. "You want? You want what, you ungrateful little bastard? You're just like your mother. No loyalty! She couldn't wait to leave me."

Robert could no longer hold back the flood of tears. "Mother didn't leave you. She loved you...she gave you everything she had. This place killed her...just like you're killing me!"

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