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Excerpt taken from Patches of Grey: A Novel

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message 1: by Roy (last edited Mar 19, 2021 02:45PM) (new)

Roy (mplwdscribe) | 60 comments Mod
Copyright 2009 by M.U.D. House Books
Patches of Grey
Patches Of Grey by Roy L. Pickering Jr.

Lionel marched briskly home. A man's place was at the head of his household and it was essential that this be recognized. God was worshiped first and foremost because of the fear His power elicited. People might praise His infinite capacity for love, but it wasn't love that brought them to their knees in obedient prayer. When Lionel entered his kitchen he found Caren setting the table for dinner. A dinner the money she earned had paid for. What need did she have to be grateful to her husband, except for the merciful restraint he showed? But in order for the restraint to be acknowledged, a hint of power had to be displayed. Caren must be reminded of the fear.

"So I'm a real bastard, is that it?"

Lionel answered his own question by flipping over the dinner table, sending dishes and silverware clattering to the checkered linoleum floor. "How dare you tell Ellen I abuse you?"

Caren was momentarily distracted from the question by the mess her husband had created. A few plates and glasses had been broken. Fortunately, she had not yet placed any food on the table.

"I never said such a thing."

"I don't care how crazy she is. She didn't come up with that shit off the top of her head. She was quoting you."

"I told her you've been on edge because of the strike," Caren said. It would be no easy task to douse Lionel’s anger. She would probably have to settle for stifling her agitation at Ellen for poking her nose where it didn’t need to be. Caren knew that her friend had well meaning intentions, but stirred up trouble pays little heed to the purpose of its instigator.

"I break my back every day for this family. All I ask for in return is a hot meal and just maybe a little respect. You think I treat you bad? You don't know what bad is. But you seem to want to find out."

Caren was aware that the right choice of subservient words could placate Lionel. But thoughts had been placed in her head lately that she was unable to wish away, and these thoughts urged her to challenge rather than concede. Perhaps the self-respect fostered by her job of the past several months played a large part. Day by day, the woman who allowed herself to be intimidated by her husband was fading away. In her place, a woman who was just beginning to recognize her own value after four decades of living now stood. This woman was tired of such tirades, and even more tired of rationalizing her husband's occasional cruelty. Ellen was right. Lionel’s reign as tyrant had gone on long enough.

"I've got to run back and forth between work and keeping this place up,” Caren said. “You know what thanks I get? A drunken husband screaming at me like a baby who wants his bottle. You want a hot meal? Go eat it off the stove."

She tried to leave the room, but Lionel stuck out his arm to prevent her exit. It was then that Tony stepped into the kitchen, unheard over his parents’ argument and shielded from view behind his father’s tensed back.

"Don't you walk out on me," said Lionel.

He could not allow the matter to end on Caren’s terms. It was not supposed to have gone like this. Where was the remorse, the groveling for forgiveness? His wife needed to learn what life had taught him a long time ago. Pride would be knocked right out of a person who didn't have enough sense to hold it in check when necessary.

Caren read his eyes and found herself at peace in the retina of the tempest. Like the most experienced of sailors, she knew that nature’s wildness could not be fought, only waited out.

"What are you gonna do, hit me? Go ahead then. Get it over with if that's what it will take."

Caren staggered backward from the blow which followed, tripped over an outstretched table leg, and fell to the floor. Tony wrapped his arms around his father like a boa constrictor suffocating its prey.

"Who is this? Get off me. Get off me or else."

Tony ignored the commandment, holding on as if the fate of the universe depended on his grip.

"I'm not going to tell you again." Though his words were still acerbic, Lionel had ceased to physically struggle against the vise he was in. He was too drunk, and his son too strong with desperation. Nevertheless, Tony held on even tighter.

"You're going to regret this, boy."

Tony did not doubt that the truth had been stated, but refused to acknowledge it. No one would be allowed to harm his mother, not even the man he feared most.

"Let him go, Tony."

His mother’s soft spoken request accomplished what his father’s threats could not. Tony backed away from Lionel, hyper-alert to whatever might happen next. Lionel did not bother to look his son’s way, but simply walked out of the kitchen and left the apartment.

Caren knew exactly where he was headed and what he would do. Her husband would drink until his wallet was empty. Then he would come home, shamed and drunk enough to be willing to apologize in order to coax her into making love. She was used to the ritual and accepted it as she did the sun rising each morning.

"Are you okay?" Tony asked as he helped her up.

"I'm fine."

"I'll never let him hit you again."

Caren’s sudden burst of indignation had just as swiftly disappeared, replaced by a need to pacify and explain.

"Your father has a lot to deal with right now. He's angry about the strike and this is the only place he can let it out."

"He has no right to take it out on you."

"We're his family. If he can't count on us, who can he count on?"

Tony shook his head. Not only was his mother not distraught, but she seemed to have accepted what had happened and was asking him to do the same.

"You forgive him for everything."

"Of course I do. That's what love is."

Caren ran her hand through Tony’s hair. She could see the hate in his eyes and wanted to remove it. No boy should hate his father. Life was tough enough as it was.

"I love you, Mom."

"I love you too, and so does your father. Promise me you'll try to understand him."

"I'll try," Tony said, not caring if he sounded sincere. He understood his father’s brand of love well enough. It was based on orders being followed, his presence being trembled before. But the day hopefully was soon coming when it would no longer reduce Tony to a petrified child.

Mother and son stood in loving embrace. Caren reflected on what she had just said. That's what love is. Moments earlier she lay on the floor, her hand covering the handle of a fork. She had imagined shoving the tongs into her husband's eye. If Tony had not come into the room, if Lionel had advanced to finish teaching his lesson, would her fingers have let go before bad grew irreparably worse? She didn't know the answer so she silently made the same promise she had asked of her son. All was lost once people could no longer forgive.

message 2: by S.I.R. (new)

S.I.R. Pierre (ShairanXIII) | 24 comments Very emotional, realistic depiction of a far too common scene in many households... the family relationships remind me of Go Tell it On a Mountain. I like how the voice in this one is so different from the other excerpt. Once again, I’m truly impressed...

message 3: by Roy (new)

Roy (mplwdscribe) | 60 comments Mod
Any mention of my writing and anything written by Baldwin, no matter how casual the connection made, is considered a great honor. Thanks for the kind words. As for comparison to other pieces I've written, I try whenever possible to sound as different from prior versions of myself as I can.

Patches of Grey
Patches of Grey by Roy L. Pickering Jr.

message 4: by Roy (new)

Roy (mplwdscribe) | 60 comments Mod
The entire first chapter (it's a short one) of Patches of Grey can be found here -

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I was very moved, and I can definitely relate to this excerpt on some levels. Alcohol and arguments were commonplace growing up, and breaking this cycle was the only option for me. I'm getting a copy of Patches of Grey the first chance I get.

message 6: by Roy (new)

Roy (mplwdscribe) | 60 comments Mod
Glad to hear, Mark. Thanks. Be sure to let me know what you think of the book in its entirety. Have a great weekend, everyone.

message 7: by Raquel (new)

Raquel Very nicely written. i feel strongly about voilence and abuse in homes and want to see more literature out there devoted to describing the horror and trying to fix and prevent such situations. I was disturbed by Carmen's passive acceptance. Dont you think she should fight her husband, if not for her sake that for her son's? There is nothing worse than a child's hatred for his father.

message 8: by Roy (new)

Roy (mplwdscribe) | 60 comments Mod
Yes Rachel, in an ideal world the action you described would be any woman's reaction. Actually, in an ideal world no woman would have to deal with such behavior from the man who professed to love her in the first place. Sadly this is no ideal world, but it's all we've got.

message 9: by Roy (new)

Roy (mplwdscribe) | 60 comments Mod
Patches of Grey has been reviewed at Alvah's Books -

I recommend checking it out, primarily because the reviewer had kind words to say. :-)

message 10: by Roy (new)

Roy (mplwdscribe) | 60 comments Mod
My interview with about Patches of Grey and the craft of writing in general can be found at

message 11: by Roy (new)

Roy (mplwdscribe) | 60 comments Mod
Another Patches of Grey review can be found here -

Patches of Grey by Roy L. Pickering Jr.
Patches of Grey

message 12: by Rita (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) Hi, Roy. I really enjoyed the excerpt. Thanks for sharing. I'll be looking for an opportunity to read this book.

message 13: by Roy (new)

Roy (mplwdscribe) | 60 comments Mod
Rita wrote: "Hi, Roy. I really enjoyed the excerpt. Thanks for sharing. I'll be looking for an opportunity to read this book."

Thanks for the kind words, Rita. Please be sure to let me know what you thought once you're done reading. Have a great one. - Roy

Patches of Grey

message 14: by Roy (new)

Roy (mplwdscribe) | 60 comments Mod
Announcement: To enter the Art & Literature Giveaway contest I'm co-hosting, check out:

message 15: by Ra-Ra (Laura) (new)

Ra-Ra (Laura) Wow! That was really well written. I enjoyed it.

message 16: by Elise (new)

Elise Crawford | 4 comments Roy wrote: "Copyright 2009 by M.U.D. House Books
Patches of Grey
Patches of Grey by Roy L. Pickering Jr.

Lionel marched briskly home. A man's place was at the head of his household and it was..."

You're a great story teller Roy. Sadly, your story is too true for some women, women like me, as a child then again as an adult, Mark was my only salvation, after his murder it took me seven years to find myself again and then I had to start all over. I hope your story wasn't inspired by actual events. I'm currently working on my next book, Wednesday's Child, it is a prequel to A Promise Kept. It is also non-fiction survivor story, about coming to terms with the challenges faced by children that are survivors of childhood abuse and neglect. I uploaded my excerpt successfully, thanks for the guidance. I'm glad we connected and thank you again for including me in your group. Blessings, Elise

message 17: by Roy (new)

Roy (mplwdscribe) | 60 comments Mod
Latest review of Patches of Grey:

message 18: by Roy (new)

Roy (mplwdscribe) | 60 comments Mod
Review by RawSistaz Reviewers -

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