|Publisher:||El Cid Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.72(d)|
About the Author
In school Joe's love was the theater. He carried the lead in a number of plays, including Prince Charming in "Cinderella," Pish Tosh in "The Mikado," and the villain Cassius Carstairs in "An Old-Fashioned Melodrama." Joe uses his acting experiences to create active scenes, lively dialogue, and memorable characters in his writing.
Joe's only regret, he didn't start writing earlier in life.
Read an Excerpt
A Man is Found in the Park
"Julia, c'mere. Did you hear about the guy they found in County Park last night?"
The hoarse nasal voice of Pine Lake's postmistress and gossip queen made Julia cringe. She had put in a long night at work and wasn't in the mood to listen to a bunch of chinwag. All she wanted to do was drop her tax return in the mail and go home to bed.
Reluctantly, Julia stepped to the counter. "I wondered what the ruckus was about. Those police cars woke everyone at the nursing home."
Dolly continued sorting the handful of letters in her hand. "That no good Cory Bradley had the Harvey girl in the park at one in the morning, when this guy stumbled out of the moonlight and fell against their car. They were probably doing the dastardly deed ..."
Julia cleared her throat. "What about the guy?"
"Oh, right. He's got blood streaming down his face, his eyes were glazed and he cried, "help me," before crumbling to the ground."
"My God. What happened to him?"
"When the police got there, the guy was unconscious and a bloody mess. He had all these cuts and wounds to his head. One of the cops said, he looked like he'd been hit by a freight train. The doctors at the hospital did everything they could for him but he never came out of the anesthesia."
Julia clutched her throat. "He died?"
"Slipped into a coma."
Julia breathed a sigh. "Who is it? Someone from town?"
"That's the best part," Dolly said with a grin. "Nobody knows. His pockets were empty, no billfold, no identification, nothing." Dolly tossed the letters in a mailbag. "I heard too, the Harvey girl missed her period and her folks are sending her to a home in Green Bay."
Julia had heard the rumor but wanted no part of trashing the girl. "Sorry Dolly, I've got to run, I left my car running." Seeing Dolly's frown, Julia added, "Thanks for the information." On the way to her car, an icy blast of air blew her jacket open, exposing her cotton uniform. She shivered and pulled the jacket collar tight around her neck. Yesterday it was close to sixty degrees and today the cold cut clean to the bone.
"Jules, wait up." Her friend Doug trotted up to the car. "Haven't seen you in a while. What say we go to Teddy's for pizza tonight?"
Julia searched for her keys. "Pizza sounds great. I'm working at the hospital until four. Can we meet at five?"
"I suppose you've heard the news about the guy in the park."
Julia thumbed toward the post office. "Dolly gave me the whole scoop. I cringe every time I have to listen to her garbage. She never has anything good to say about anyone."
"That's Dolly's stock in trade. In this town gossip travels at the speed of light."
"I think every police car in county drove past the Glen last night with their stupid sirens blaring. They woke everyone. It scared the living daylights out of some of our patients. They thought the place was on fire. I had a devil of time calming them down." Julia held her collar closed. "Do they know what happened to the guy?"
"No, Sheriff Joe talked about it in the coffee shop this morning. He doesn't have much to go on."
"Is it a young guy, an old guy?"
"Joe said he's Caucasian, twenty-five to thirty years old. No tattoos or physical markings, nothing in his pockets or anything that could be used to identify him."
"That's what Dolly said." Julia nodded to the post office. "It's a little scary, don't you think?"
"Councilman Harris is afraid it could have a negative effect on summer business. You know how jumpy people get around here if they think something will prevent people from coming. He's planning to ask the Middletown paper not to make a big to do of it."
"Do they think he was beaten up or something?" Julia asked, arching her brow.
"Harris said that until we know for sure what happened, we should say the guy got hurt in a fall or something like that."
"Are people that upset about this? Like it's some big crime thing?
"The sheriff isn't ruling that out. He's sending the guy's fingerprints to the FBI and checking arrest warrants and missing person reports in a four state area to see if he can find a connection. You know Joe, he's not the brightest star in the sky, but he figures solving a case like this could get him reelected in the fall." Most people were still scratching their heads at how Joe Christenson was elected sheriff in the first place. Everyone thought it was a joke when he declared his candidacy. His opponent in the race, the chief of police from Middletown, was a well-respected, highly trained officer with thirty years' experience. The chief should have won by a landslide. Fate handed Joe the job, when a month before the election, the chief suffered a mild heart attack and withdrew from the race. Joe barely beat "none of the above" to win.
Julia gave Doug a wry smile. "Let's hope our illustrious sheriff can find out who this person is. It's scary having someone found that way and not knowing who he is or what happened to him." Julia got in her car. "I'll see you at five."CHAPTER 2
Julia Parsons had moved to Pine Lake two years ago. She needed to leave Florida. Her personal life was in shambles and she wanted to get as far away from ex-fiancé Brad Holton, as humanly possible. She threw everything she owned into her '53 Chevy and headed north.
She had grown up in Milwaukee and as a twelve-year-old, spent a wonderful two weeks at a summer camp on Pine Lake. Having no better place in mind, she kept driving until she landed here.
Pine Lake offered her a place to regroup, to start over and begin building a new life. The people were friendly and the pace of living suited her. In Tampa, everything was hustle. She worked full time in the campus bookstore while completing her Practical Nurse's training. Her boyfriend, a high school star quarterback, got a free ride football scholarship to the University but took to drinking and partying and flunked out after one semester. Wedding plans were put on hold, as Brad tried to "find himself" and were scrapped when Julia found him in bed with her roommate. To make matters worse, he tried to blame her for never letting things between them get past kissing and petting. He called her a prude for wanting to bring her virginity into their marriage. She packed up and left the next day.
Julia felt fortunate to have landed the job at the Glen, a locally owned nursing home. There weren't many year-round career opportunities available when she arrived, especially for young people. Her Practical Nurse Certificate was the door opener and she gladly accepted the graveyard shift. It also helped her land a part-time job at the hospital. Even having to work two jobs to make ends meet, she loved small town life and quickly embraced her new home.
Her shift at the home went midnight to eight in the morning. She'd grab a few hours' sleep and then be at the hospital, helping out in the therapy room from one to four. This schedule raised havoc with her sleep regimen, but she loved both jobs.
Julia pulled up to her place and ran to the back door. Her fingers shook as she fumbled to put the key into the lock. She quickly closed the door behind her, threw her jacket over the kitchen chair and hung up her purse. "I've just about had it with this cold weather!"
In minutes, she was out of her uniform and into her warm, toasty flannel pajamas. She cheated, set the alarm for twelve-thirty instead of noon, pulled down the shade, and crawled under the covers. Her thoughts of the man found in the park lingered. Who was he? Where did he come from?
The alarm clock made its usual annoying buzz and Julia was quick to hit the button. She threw back the covers and ran her fingers through the tangled backlash of what was left of yesterday's hairdo. In the mirror, she faced the obvious, strands and curls pointed in every direction. It was going to be a wash and ponytail day.
It took a while for the water in the shower to heat up. She let it run to warm the room before undressing. At twenty-four, five foot six and a hundred twenty pounds, she had a body most girls would die for and most boys would lust after. Her soft features, creamy complexion and high cheekbones turned heads wherever she went.
She sped up her routine and walked into the hospital with a few minutes to spare.
Julia opened the therapy room door and mimed an imaginary fork to her mouth and chewing, to show she intended to get a quick bite to eat. Phyllis acknowledged Julia's crude sign language with a laugh. Phyllis Morgan, an Osteopathic physician, believed muscle manipulation and exercise were essential in the healing process. She pressed for a physical therapy department at the hospital, a relatively new concept in the early sixties.
The cafeteria was packed. The hot station was lined with people waiting for steaming food. Julia opted for the cold station, which had one man looking over the sandwich display. She grabbed a tray, took an apple, an orange, and a small carton of milk. She side stepped the man, and grabbed a ham and cheese sandwich before scanning the dining room. "Hi Florence," she said to the woman at a corner table.
An elderly woman, nattily dressed with silvery hair wrapped in a bun, looked up from her plate. A smile brightened her face. "Julia, so nice to see you." Florence was the front desk supervisor and privy to everything that went on in the hospital.
"Have a busy morning?" Julia asked.
"Fridays are always busy. You know, you've worked the desk before."
"For a year-and-a-half." Julia tried not to appear overly interested. "How is the young man doing? The one they found in the park."
"He's in a coma." Florence gave Julia a puzzled look. "Why do you ask?"
"Just curious," Julia said, picking up her sandwich. "Was he beaten? Do they know who he is?"
"The doctors don't know what happened to him. If somebody did beat him, they did a pretty good job of it. Besides all the nasty cuts and lacerations to his head, he's got a broken nose, a busted eye socket, and probably sustained a concussion. Doc Richardson did a marvelous job of patching him up. It was a shock to everyone when the fellow failed to come to. His vitals are good and they continue to monitor him in ICU." Florence put her napkin on the tray. "How do you like working with Doctor Morgan?"
"I love it. Phyllis wants me to take some classes at community college this fall. I'm hoping to become a physical therapist someday." Julia took another hurried bite of her sandwich. "So ... nobody knows who this man is?"
"He's listed as John Doe. It's funny no one has come forward to claim him." Florence stood and brushed off her dress. "Come sit with me at the front desk, sometime. I miss our little chats."
"I will, I promise." Julia stood. "I've got to run too, I'll talk to you later." Grabbing the apple and orange off her tray, she hurried to the therapy room.
Phyllis wasted little time getting her protégé involved by having her help a recent surgical patient walk around the room. This was the part Julia enjoyed — seeing people making meaningful strides in their recovery. The afternoon went by quickly. When the clock signaled the end of her day, Julia jumped to her feet, grabbed Phyllis's hand and danced around. "It's Friday," she squealed with delight.
"Got a big date tonight?"
"Not really a date. Doug Foster and I are meeting at Teddy's for pizza."
"Well, have a good time and I'll see you on Monday."
Julia gave Phyllis a quick hug, threw her jacket over her shoulders and skipped out of the therapy room. In the hall, she stopped and took a tentative half step towards the intensive care unit. Shaking her head, she zipped her coat and made a dash to her car.CHAPTER 3
Doug, A "Townie"
Julia mused over Phyllis' question. Date? No, it wasn't a date. Doug was a great guy, but she viewed him more like a brother than a beau. She recalled the day they met. Having just arrived in town, she was getting gas at the Shell station when he drove up in his pickup truck. He jumped out and smiled her way. She pretended to be disinterested, but was intrigued with this slender, six foot, middle-twenties guy, sporting a flattop haircut.
Doug was a townie, born and raised in Pine Lake, as was his father. Up until shortly before World War II, His grandfather sold ice for people's iceboxes. He built the icehouse that stood adjacent to the bait and liquor store he opened when refrigerators put him out of the ice business.
Nora, the manager and head nurse at the Glen had clued Julia in about Doug's family. His mom was from Chicago, sort of a wild hare. They met when his dad worked construction down there. The couple was only married a few months, when the grandfather passed away, and had to come back to Pine Lake to take over the store.
One day, when Doug was still in grade school, His mom just up and left. Gossip offered a number of scenarios and reasons for her departure, but Doug's dad never gave credence to any of it. John Foster took his wife's leaving hard and soon tried to find solace in the bottom of a bottle.
His son pretty much had to fend for himself. Doug could have used this as an excuse to cop out on life, instead, he was determined to make the liquor store a success.
When they first met, Doug pushed the idea of boyfriend and girlfriend, but Julia resisted. She wasn't ready for another close relationship. The sting of Florida was too raw. Brad's infidelity had crushed her, and sent her self-esteem through the floor. She fought depression and struggled with anxiety if a man showed any signs of affection. Doug must have sensed her resistance, but she was still surprised when he backed off and agreed to just be friends. Their platonic relationship seemed to work fine, she slowly built a trust in him and although she learned to enjoy doing things together, she wasn't ready to take it beyond that. Date? No, in her mind, this wasn't a date.
Julia parked in front of the bank and hurried inside. There were lines in front of every teller. A lady was telling anyone listening, "Sheriff Joe has had no luck identifying the man in the coma. He suspects foul play but doesn't have a crime, a motive, or any suspects. As far as Joe can tell, the guy isn't a missing person, nobody's looking to arrest him and the FBI said it would be a month before they would have any information on the guy's fingerprints."
A man in the next line laughed. "I heard Ole Joe was so mad when he heard that, he kicked the dog and stomped out of the office."
Julia chuckled as she peered ahead to see what was taking so long with the guy at the window.
People continued to discuss the man's plight. One lady wondered if this could be connected to the Kennedy assassination. "It's only been six months since that happened," she said. No one thought that, but one man was sure it had to be a drug deal gone badly.
"That's highly unlikely," said a nurse in uniform, who claimed to have been in the operating room when the man was brought in. "He didn't have any drugs in his system." She praised Doc Richardson. "For a small town general practitioner, he did a swell job of patching him up."
Julia finally made it to the window and withdrew twenty dollars. She frowned at the single digit account balance in her passbook. Somehow, she'd have to make this stretch through the week.
Friday night was Julia's night to relax and enjoy herself. It was the same for most locals. They'd throw back a few beers, scarf down a plate of fish, and sleep in late Saturday morning.
A night out at Teddy's was easy to dress for, nothing fancy. Most people would be in their work clothes. Julia chose a white blouse, blue jeans and white canvas shoes. She tied a blue handkerchief around her neck, and moved the knot to the side. A well-scrubbed face, pink lipstick and a matching blue ribbon to hold her ponytail achieved her intended look.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Born Yesterday"
Copyright © 2016 Joe Van Rhyn.
Excerpted by permission of El Cid Publishing.
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.
Table of Contents
A Man is Found in the Park,
Doug, A "Townie",
Her Curiosity Continues,
Life Moves On,
Someone New For the Glen,
Her Special Patient,
Was It All A Dream?,
Would Life Change,
Very Pleased to Meet You,
An Unexpected Visitor,
A Pleasant Afternoon,
Going For a Ride,
The White Wings,
Sixty Years in Business,
There Could Be A Problem,
Things Were in the Works,
Pizza With Doug,
Leaving the Glen,
The Doctors Were Right On Schedule,
Spending Time at Julia's Place,
Josh Meets Doug,
Going to Nora's,
It Ain't Rocket Science,
Dinner at Nora's,
It's All the Unknowns,
It A Pricelist,
A Look Inside the Icehouse,
A New Set of Wheels,
What's In a Name?,
A Picnic in the Park,
Josh Gives Doug A Hand With the Boat,
Plans For the fourth,
It Looked Like an Old Keystone Cops Movie,
A Trip to the Middletown Flea Market,
A New Dress For Julia,
The Yacht Club Dance,
The Night Was Young,
Sheriff Joe Apologizes,
A Ride to Weston,
The Truth About Grove Street,
Puppies For Sale,
A Letter to Julia,
What's in Waukegan?,
Lunch at the Blue Water Inn,
Dinner at Jenny's,
The Long Ride Home,
Back in Pine Lake,
Josh Returns to Pine Lake,
Big Plans For the Icehouse,
Will You Be My Girl?,
About Joe Van Rhyn,