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Surviving the Truth

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Overview

SURVIVING THE TRUTH, Sharon Coleman Monroe’s first novel, is about Laura,

a 50-something woman who discovers family secrets, loses her husband, wins

some cash and learns that helping others isn’t as easy as she thought it would be.

The family secrets shatter the idyllic ...

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Surviving the Truth

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Overview

SURVIVING THE TRUTH, Sharon Coleman Monroe’s first novel, is about Laura,

a 50-something woman who discovers family secrets, loses her husband, wins

some cash and learns that helping others isn’t as easy as she thought it would be.

The family secrets shatter the idyllic image she and her sister Susan had about

their childhood in Kerrville, Texas. The loss of her husband in the mountains of

Wyoming shatters her confidence in herself and reality shatters her ideas about

giving to others.

Laura and Susan begin a journey to expose the secrets, come to terms with the

loss of Laura’s husband, James, and discover that throwing money at problems

doesn’t necessarily solve them. Chocolate and Pinot Noir take the edge off their

problems but that combination comes with its own set of difficulties.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781491835487
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 11/23/2013
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Surviving the Truth


By Sharon Coleman Monroe

AuthorHouse

Copyright © 2013 Sharon Coleman Monroe
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4918-3548-7



CHAPTER 1

Saturday


"DAMN. YOU. SORRY. SACK. OF. SHI ...!" The old guy in the Lexus did it again! He tailed closely for a few miles, changed to the passing lane, sped around, turned into the slow lane again and then slowed to exactly the speed limit! "Jackass!

It's too damn hard to quit cussing. Swearing was an issue for 53 year-old Laura Gregory. What started off at college in West Texas with a few "hells" and "damns" in the late '70s evolved into an extensive repertoire of profanity that now colored most of her speech. She always got a kick out of the swearing scenes in Whoopie Goldberg movies.

The necessity to change her speaking habits was highlighted at church when she was talking to Father Pete during coffee hour after service. She mentioned "raising a butt-load of money" selling cookbooks at the annual Aspen Falls Spring Celebration and Father Pete's slightly raised right eyebrow was enough to let her know the swearing had to stop! Damn! Maybe "butt-load" should be replaced by "boat-load".


So, a road trip was exactly what she needed to concentrate on amending her language. She even googled "How to stop swearing!" What a load of crap! It reminded her of Nancy Reagan and "Just Say No"! Some words are definitely forbidden. "G.d." is not acceptable because one should never take the Lord's name in vain; which also ruled out using the name of any other members of the Holy Family. "Son of a bitch" and the related word "bastard" aren't applicable because they actually "dis" the mother of the target instead of the target himself. All the words pertaining to bodily functions can be used quite expressively and the "f-bomb" is the most versatile of all!

Twice a year, late spring and mid-October, Laura drove 900 miles from Aspen Falls, Wyoming to Sinclair, Kansas to visit her younger sister Susan. A few times her husband James went along but after a handful of disagreements because he didn't want to be there in the first place, Laura started going by herself. He seemed happy to stay home with his tools and wood carvings and the dog; and her visits were a lot more fun without having to worry about cranky James. The long drive-time each way was therapeutic. Sometimes satellite radio helped pass the time but mostly the quiet allowed her to sift through all the junk that had piled up in her head over the past months and dispose of the negativity. She always felt clear-headed and ready to "face the day" when she returned from a Kansas road trip.


Fort Collins, Colorado lies halfway between Sinclair and Aspen Falls. It is nestled against the foothills of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, and is about as far as Laura can drive before her knee starts to protest. Arthroscopic surgery was recommended to clean out the debris floating around in her right knee but she never took the time for the surgery. The Alpenvale Inn was her favorite place to stay and just before 6:00 in afternoon she checked into the log-cabin style, two-storey motel. Room 112 was on the backside of the building and unloading took two trips; one to unlock the door and check out the room and the other to bring in a suitcase and the loaded pistol she kept in the arm rest between the front seats.

Laura had been around guns all her life. Handguns, shotguns and rifles were a common sight at her childhood home in Kerrville, Texas. Her father, Andy Billings, enjoyed hunting the white-tailed deer hiding in the oak motts throughout the Hill Country and Laura and Susan both bagged their first eight-point bucks before they were 12! Andy's gift to each of his daughters on their eighteenth birthday was a .38 Special. They had been target shooting under his supervision for years.

Laura didn't need to change clothes to go to dinner. Fort Collins wasn't Vail or Aspen; and jeans, a pull-over sweatshirt and hair pulled back into a Kansas University ball-cap were just fine. After putting her feet up for a brief look at a news channel she locked the handgun in the room-safe and walked across the parking lot to the Alpenvale Restaurant. The pot roast was savory; the vegetables were tender and crusty bread and salad made everything just right.

It was early evening and the restaurant faced due west, so exiting was directly into the blinding mountain sunset. Laura lowered her sunglasses from the brim of her cap and walked back toward the motel. Halfway there the urge for something sweet made her wish she had ordered dessert.

A convenience store/liquor store was across the street so she walked over and bought a sudoku puzzle book, a Hershey Bar, a pony bottle of Pinot Noir and a 12-drawing, multi-state lottery ticket. Buying lottery tickets never required pondering numbers or a Quick Pick. Years ago she won $500 playing the numbers 6, 8, 17, 29, 42 and 46. Those numbers came from a fortune cookie she got with some take-out Chinese food. She won several more times; never as much as the $500 first-time ticket, but enough to keep choosing the same numbers. Throwing everything into her slouchy shoulder bag Laura walked back across the street and through the door of 112. She got ready for bed and called James.


"Hey, Babe!"

"Hey, yourself! Are you in Fort Collins?"

"Yeah, I got here about six. I've already eaten and I'm fixin' to go to bed. How's everything?"

"Good, everything's good. We had some excitement. A bear broke into the shed early this morning and I think he was trying to get into the freezer! I'm sure glad I put that lock on it. I woke up to Jo-Jo, barking like a maniac. The motion-detector lights came on and I saw the double doors to the workshop were wide open and one was hanging from a bent hinge. I turned on the back flood lights and stood in the doorway and started honking the air horn. I guess that was enough to scare it away because he came out of the shed and waddled on off toward the tree line. If I'd gone out on the deck I would have grabbed the gun but it didn't seem like it was interested in me at all."

Spring and late fall are the most dangerous times for bear attacks. Securing your garbage and not leaving out pet food or filling bird feeders during active bear season are the best ways to avoid a bear encounter.

"How big was it? Did it mess up your work bench?" For the next 15 minutes James talked about his world! He never asked about Susan or the trip or anything else. These conversations weren't unusual and Laura was used to the disinterest concerning most everything else but the dog and his woodworking projects!

"Well, I'm going to bed. Tomorrow I only have to drive 370 miles so I should be home early afternoon."

"Okay, it'll be good to have you home. Drive careful, I'll see you tomorrow, bye".

And he hung up. No "I love you" and no "I missed you." That was a snapshot of their marriage. Better than some, worse than others.


Chocolate and red wine is the perfect combination. The flavors complement one another and Laura savored them. Propped up under the fluffy comforter as protection against the chilly spring night the wine, chocolate and sudoku made for a cozy few hours before she relaxed enough to sleep.


Sunday

The drive up from Fort Collins to Laramie and across Wyoming to Rawlins was unsightly to some and downright ugly to others. There could have been people who liked the scenery. After all, someone must have liked it or no one would have stopped along the way during the pioneer's emigration to the Pacific Northwest. Or, maybe, that's as far as they got when their animals gave out or their wagons broke down.

Whatever the reason, there were few cities and towns, not much to look at and even less to slow down for and soon Laura was turning north at Rawlins for the two-hour trip to Aspen Falls.

The scenery changed as she got closer to the Wind River Range. The stark high desert was replaced by the breathtaking geology of the Rocky Mountains. Aspens and Ponderosa pines were interspersed with meadows of native grasses. Little streams joined with bigger ones and a few lacy waterfalls added glittering points of light to the landscape. Her first glimpse of the mountains usually evoked a sense of calm and peacefulness and this time was no different.

Aspen Falls lies on the eastern slope of the "Winds" between Lander and Fort Washakie. The center of town is at the foot of Mt. Carson and the residential areas spread up the slope to the west. Laura and James live in a restored log home located on the mountainside right above town at the edge of the city limits.

The first time Laura saw the little town she was entranced. She was with James on a business trip to meet an oil field contractor and the mountains called to her like nothing before in her life. She could relate to John Denver singing, "coming home to a place I've never been before."

"James, I don't want to leave. I've never seen anyplace so beautiful!"

When the trip was over James had transferred to the local division of his company, and Laura was working on her speech to her daughter Erin about the beautiful mountains and how she hoped she would like living in Aspen Falls, Wyoming.


Erin's reaction to the news made the transition from Kerrville easier than anticipated. Most 13 year old girls would've had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, away from their friends and the comfort and security of living in the same town since birth. However Erin was quiet, self-assured and not interested in most of the social situations marking the middle school years. There were three close friends but no agonizing drama; a few tears and sad good-byes and plans to post on Face Book and talk on cell phones.

The move for Laura wasn't as easy. She was born and raised in Kerrville and taught second grade at the same elementary school since graduating from University of Texas—San Antonio. It was hard to leave forty-four years worth of friends and colleagues and the hardest person to leave was her dad.


Andy Billings was still living in the same house where he raised his daughters. Pulmonary problems made every day a challenge and he met them with the same hard-headed determination he used to meet all the other challenges of living a regular, up-and-down, happy-and-sad life. And now, that life included an oxygen concentrator for the house and portable tanks for the car. With a small tank in a shoulder-pack, Andy's routine, including air travel, was rarely interrupted.

His daughters were the pride of his life and he encouraged them with unwavering support.

"Little Girl, that sounds great!" Laura was always "Little Girl" and Susan was "Baby Girl".

"When I was still in school I went through there on my way to Yellowstone for a summer program on volcanic geology. It's beautiful country. Y'all go on and just make sure you have a guest room 'cause when you get settled in I plan on being your first visitor!"


Laura and James had only been married a year when they moved to Wyoming. Her first marriage to George Patula endured fifteen years. Charming before the marriage evolved into verbally abusive and neglectful. Erin was born within the first five years but George seemed incapable of being a family man. He wanted his wife and child at home and separate from the friendships and activities that often took him to San Antonio for basketball tournaments or hockey games. Questioning only served up sneering and snarling and replies like "Don't worry about it! I take care of you, I pay the bills and I do what I damn well please!" Actually, Laura paid the bills and managed the finances but that never occurred to the arrogant asshole.

After a while, Laura and Erin got used to George being gone. Life, then, was calm and peaceful. Since George was never affectionate to Erin, even as a baby, she didn't realize until she was older that not all fathers were as self-centered and mean-spirited as George.

He never raised a hand to Laura or Erin; but the verbal abuse and emotional neglect cut like a knife and when Laura looked back on those days she really couldn't explain why she stayed as long as she did. Erin could retreat with homework and books and never appeared to care about what went on outside the sanctuary of her bedroom. Occasionally, the old charming George would walk through the front door and for a while things were calm and he was loving and life was "normal". But it never lasted. First thing you know, he came home at the end of the day working for the County Utilities Department, changed his clothes and walked back out with "See y'all later, don't wait up."

It never occurred to dumb-ass George that Laura was making as much money teaching 2nd grade as he was with the county. Long about year ten Laura opened up an account at a local bank, different from the one where she and George had their joint checking account. She didn't want a savings account; she didn't want to earn interest. She was trying to leave as small a paper trail as possible in case thick-headed George started looking at their tax returns with more than a cursory glance when he signed his name. She never deposited more than would be missed and she chose paperless statements that were sent to a new email account she had set up specifically for this reason.

Laura was very patient and she used the time to go back to school and get a Master's Degree in Education; this added a boost to her salary and gave her the confidence that she could take care of her daughter and make it on her own. After five years she had her master's and enough money to move out, hire a "hard-nosed" attorney, divorce the shit, sell the house and keep half the proceeds.

George's reaction was surprise! Surprise that Laura wasn't satisfied being treated like a possession instead of a wife and surprise she had enough gumption to leave him. She got special satisfaction from the look on his face when she gave him the divorce papers. After several months he moved to San Antonio. He made a few feeble attempts to see Erin but those rarely happened according to the court's schedule. Eventually he stopped and he stopped making child-support payments.


Laura was patient and instead of going to court for the back child support she went to court and got full custody of Erin and George got limited visitation rights. The paperwork was sent to his last known address and was returned with the required signatures. From then on he might as well have fallen off the face of the earth. Laura never heard from him or of him. Erin accepted her mother's explanation for the divorce and a few years later, when she had the maturity to express her feelings, told her mom that she always knew George didn't love them and wondered why Laura didn't see it sooner. The wisdom of your children! Just when you think you have them fooled, you end up being the fool!

After all was said and done Andy Billings offered up his opinion. "Little Girl, I never liked the son-of-a-bitch and I'm glad he's gone. I told myself that I wouldn't interfere in your marriage as long as you looked like you could handle it, and you handled it well for 15 years!"

Laura's reply was, "Daddy, he's not a son-of-a-bitch. That's disrespecting his mother. He's a sorry sack of shit and I just took out the trash!"


The road sign read "Aspen Falls—10 miles." She was ready to be home, ready to see James and ready to get out of the car. It had been a long drive.

CHAPTER 2

Monday, the next day


The sun was shining on her face. She didn't open her eyes. She burrowed further beneath the down comforter until nothing was exposed but the tip of her nose and lay there listening to the familiar sounds in the log house. Spring mountain mornings were still cool enough to keep the comforter on the bed and flannel pajamas and socks were her usual sleeping attire. The smell of coffee lured her from the warmth of her cocoon and she walked into the kitchen.

James was sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee and feeding toast to Jo-Jo. The five-year old Yellow Lab was at his feet patiently waiting for the buttered bites.

"Hey, babe! You were sawing logs in there and I didn't want to wake you. You ready for some coffee? We already ate!" He was usually up before Laura and seemed to enjoy the solitude; so he ate by himself and Laura took care of her own breakfast whenever she woke up.

She turned on the TV and sat in her recliner, her breakfast on a wooden folding TV tray in front of her. Laura was a news junkie and was happy to have the TV on all day; she didn't seem to care if she heard the same news story repeated five or six times. James was just the opposite. He could barely listen to the news stories even once, never mind over and over again with the broadcasters yelling at one another. He was much happier at his workbench or walking the dog.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Surviving the Truth by Sharon Coleman Monroe. Copyright © 2013 Sharon Coleman Monroe. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgements, vii,
Chapter One, 1,
Chapter Two, 8,
Chapter Three, 16,
Chapter Four, 24,
Chapter Five, 28,
Chapter Six, 35,
Chapter Seven, 45,
Chapter Eight, 57,
Chapter Nine, 67,
Chapter Ten, 74,
Chapter Eleven, 83,
Chapter Twelve, 90,
Chapter Thirteen, 101,
Chapter Fourteen, 110,
Chapter Fifteen, 118,
Chapter Sixteen, 126,
Chapter Seventeen, 134,
Chapter Eighteen, 141,
Chapter Nineteen, 156,
Chapter Twenty, 164,
Chapter Twenty-one, 170,
Chapter Twenty-two, 178,
Chapter Twenty-three, 187,
Chapter Twenty-four, 197,
Chapter Twenty-five, 202,
Chapter Twenty-six, 210,
Chapter Twenty-seven, 220,
Chapter Twenty-eight, 229,

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014

    I found this book to be an easy read. It held my interest and t

    I found this book to be an easy read. It held my interest and towards the end it had a twist that I was not expecting. It is more of a book for chick's! I enjoyed the book.

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