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I Can See Clearly Now
     

I Can See Clearly Now

5.0 1
by Barry Altman MD
 

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Barry Halpern, a hard-working, successful New Jersey surgeon, is finally starting to see clearly about everything in his life. After twenty-three years of living with his narcissistic wife's indiscretions, he decides he can no longer tolerate her obsessive behavior. As he reenters bachelorhood, Barry refuses to be socially stagnant-a choice eventually leads him in a

Overview

Barry Halpern, a hard-working, successful New Jersey surgeon, is finally starting to see clearly about everything in his life. After twenty-three years of living with his narcissistic wife's indiscretions, he decides he can no longer tolerate her obsessive behavior. As he reenters bachelorhood, Barry refuses to be socially stagnant-a choice eventually leads him in a completely new direction.

After a lengthy, self-imposed hiatus from committed relationships, Barry travels to France, where he suddenly falls in love with Monique Girard, a beautiful art conservator and the widow of a French government agent mysteriously killed a year earlier. For a time, he shuttles between New Jersey and France and attempts to convince Monique and her teenage daughter to emigrate to America. And then Monique suddenly disappears one day, leaving Barry with no answers or idea of what has happened. Driven by fear of losing his last chance at true love, Barry returns to Paris and partners with a French agent to find her, unaware of what they are about to uncover.

As an American doctor on a dangerous chase to locate his French lover is unwittingly led straight into the clutches of an international mob, he soon discovers he can count on only one person: himself.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2014-09-23
In Altman's debut novel, an ordinary doctor fights the Russian mob in Paris in order to save his kidnapped lover.Forty-seven-year-old American urologist Barry Halpern has begun a new stage in his life. After ending his marriage to his cheating wife, he starts playing the field. In November 1984, a trip to a urologic meeting in Paris brings him to the bar of the InterContinental Hotel, where he meets French widow Monique Girard. He learns that her husband was employed by the Renseignements Généraux, the French equivalent of the CIA. Although Monique speaks little English, the instant, mutual attraction between her and Barry needs no translation. Later, he meets 16-year-old Luisa, Monique's daughter. After several more trips to see Monique in France, Barry's ready to make plans for her and Luisa to join him in New Jersey. But when he goes to Paris, he finds that Monique and Luisa have disappeared. He returns to the United States only to learn from RG officer Pierre Manteau that Luisa is dead and Monique has been kidnapped by the Russian mob who killed her husband. Barry decides that the only way he can help Monique is by going to Paris to investigate her disappearance himself. He quickly receives threats telling him to go home and is even stabbed in a hotel lobby. After he illegally obtains a gun, he joins Pierre, other RG officers and gendarmes to try to find Monique and take the mob down. Altman effectively shows how Barry's machismo and surgeon's quick reflexes come in handy when he's caught in gunfights. Barry is a likable character although he comes off as a bit crude at times ("My lust for sex had been beaten out of me"). The story is told from Barry's first-person point of view, but it might have benefited from other perspectives, such as Monique's as she withstands her captor's cruel treatment. Overall, Altman offers a propulsive, engaging narrative, particularly during Barry's search for Monique. Eventually, Barry exacts brutal retaliation as only an urologist would in a strange, gruesome twist.A short but often appealing thriller.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781491717981
Publisher:
iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date:
12/16/2013
Pages:
196
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.45(d)

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Read an Excerpt

I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW


By Barry Altman

iUniverse LLC

Copyright © 2013 Barry Altman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4917-1798-1


CHAPTER 1

My sense of freedom was elevated immeasurably once I'd moved into my new home. It was a few weeks before Christmas in 1980. I had stayed in Anna's room for nearly two months. My new home was a duplex condominium much closer to my office and the hospital. It had a very contemporary layout.

I had a wonderfully gratifying experience decorating the place. I managed to keep some of the artwork that we had purchased on various trips abroad. I kept a Calder print, my Motherwell print, and a couple of lesser-known artists' works. I invented a system of hanging the art using wood lattice, painted and nailed to the wall. Taking my time, I went into New York City on my days off and wandered into the various decorator buildings and met some interesting people. It was a revelation to me that after being married for over twenty-three years and depending to a large degree on my wife for socialization skills, I was developing more of my own. This helped me purchase some beautiful furniture with the help of some of the salespersons. I purchased a stunning Poggi Italian dining room set that was an eye-catcher and a very modern addition to my home. I developed the most sophisticated and luxurious bachelor pad I could conceive of.

My mind seemed to get uncluttered, and I began to loosen up. I must admit that seeing a good psychiatrist in New York for a while was extremely helpful. There was individual and group therapy for those with "spousal loss," one way or the other. For me, it was not a loss but a gain. All of this helped me to develop a sense of self. I was still not ready to venture into the singles market, although I had several opportunities on those days in New York. I was actually asked out to dinner by a beautiful saleswoman at one of the showrooms. That was indeed a lovely adventure.

On the other hand, Linda proved to be her usual narcissistic self. I received a call from a good friend of mine from one of the hospitals I worked in. Sam was an orthopedic surgeon who was a good-looking man that was single, having divorced his pretty wife, Nancy, recently. He advised me that Linda, hearing of his divorce, had wasted no time in trying to connect with him. This was only a few weeks after I'd moved out of our house. Sam and I had a good laugh over the situation.

I said, "Sam, baby, she's all yours."

"Not on your life, Barry. I'm just getting my life back in order since Nancy and I split. But, hey, Barry, wouldn't it be a hoot if we double-dated someday ... you with Nancy and me with Linda?"

"What other nightmares have you had lately?" We laughed and said so long.

I began hearing of several of Linda's escapades soon after. She could not control her lust. I tried not to involve myself in any of her seemingly desperate attempts to have affairs. I ignored most of what the grapevine revealed. I actually tried to assist her on occasion by helping her get a job in New York.

Being alone and getting used to it was my salvation, but I saw my kids as often as they liked. The girls came to my place for dinner when they could. I tried to see my son, Jack, as often as possible, usually on my days off and on an occasional weekend. He was still in the psychiatric hospital at that time; he was in and out of them much of his life. He was born with Klinefelter's syndrome, a genetic disorder manifested by testicular atrophy, moderate obesity, some degree of psychoneurosis, and decreased mental activity. I'm sure all the arguments and tension he witnessed in our home did not play well with his mental attitude. I visited him as often as possible, and I loved him dearly.

My evenings were filled with music. After buying a respectable high-fidelity system, I was able to play my large collection of albums and tapes constantly. My New York Philharmonic tickets were never wasted, as I often took a friend with me. My life has always been filled with beautiful classical music and always will be. Taking piano lessons as a child was not entirely gratifying; it mitigated time to be with friends, playing ball, being outdoors. But having tasted classical music as a child, I've never been able to get enough of it.

Going to theaters and movies and concerts alone became very easy and enjoyable. Some of the most memorable times I recall were going to the Ninety-Second Street YMHA concerts alone for more intimate classical music events. A few times I met some acquaintances there and while chatting they would ask about my wife. I wasn't secretive about it and readily advised them that we had separated. Usually the ladies looked amazed and almost always said, "Have I got a girl for you!" I merely smiled.

Life was easily lived in this new circumstance. Occasionally I would miss conversation, and that would annoy me. I would go to a nearby bar that I sometimes frequented for meals. It was owned and managed by a patient if mine. There was always someone of note there to converse with. This was certainly better than the constant arguments at my former home during my marriage. Almost all the close physician friends that I had were married, and I did not try to insert myself into their lives. Some of my closest friends became very distant, indeed, as if separation from my wife were a communicable, fatal disease. They hardly spoke to me, and if I bumped into their wives, I was ignored completely. People can be idiotic and very hurtful. Though these occasional circumstances were easily ignored, it revealed a lot about the offending individuals.

In the rather close medical community where I practiced, the expected rumors were rampant. Few people would believe that I had any reason to leave Linda. Nor did I have to explain my reasons to anyone. There were a number of people, mostly women, who could see right through my former wife and her narcissism; they understood immediately why I'd left. Some of the rumors were totally absurd and dissipated rapidly.

During the first year, I rarely went on a date. Opportunities presented themselves, but I usually decided to avoid entanglements. It wasn't until nearly a year had passed that I actually thought about connecting with women.

My sexual needs were easily gratified with a young, beautiful laboratory technician who worked in my office building. Beth was a very sensuous blonde that came on to me every time I saw her. She became very hard to resist. And so I stopped resisting. I felt I needed some rejuvenation, and this was the perfect opportunity. She was unattached, as was I, and so we connected. Although I enjoyed my solitude, the occasional sexual interlude and relatively intelligent conversation was gratifying.

Beth and I saw each other on and off for dinner and sex for about a year. It was a lovely relationship, both benefiting by satisfying our social and sexual needs. She was a dynamo in bed and taught me a few tricks that were very gratifying. In addition to the sexual aspect of this relationship, she played the piano and loved classical music. This was a big plus for me, as it meant I had another companion to go to concerts with.

There was another advantage to having Beth around on occasion. She met my son, Jack, and he liked her and found it easy to be with her. In fact, he often asked me to bring her when I visited him or took him out for dinner. It was unfortunate when Beth decided to take a new position in Colorado. I always had the option of making our relationship more permanent, but my trepidations of another marital situation made that untenable. We kissed, and she bid me adieu. She left for Colorado the following week.

Life was very busy for me at that time. Practice was going well, and I had developed a successful treatment for a miserably debilitating disease entity known as interstitial cystitis. I was very excited about this. I had a large clientele of female patients with this disorder. It often causes burning bladder pain and irritability associated with severe frequency and urgency of urination. When this evolves in women, they are indeed miserable. They can't go out anywhere due to the symptoms and can't have sexual relations because of the pain. They are really miserable by the time they seek help in my office. After a complete physical examination rules out any other cause for their symptom complex, I arranged for them to enter the hospital for the treatment that I devised.

This consisted of a mild, short-term anesthesia during which I performed a cystoscopic procedure examining the patient's bladder, urethra, and vaginal vault. The noticeable feature was severe hyperemia (redness and swelling) of the floor of the bladder, called the trigone. On examination done in my office, this same area was exquisitely tender. I then injected the area with a diluted solution of triamcinalone acetinide (Kenalog), which is a locally active anti-inflammatory steroid. The patient was usually discharged on the same day. Within two to three days her symptoms would disappear and rarely return. I had a lot of experience with this modality and got many more such patients because of my reputation. I actually wrote a paper on this and submitted it to the Journal of Urology, but it was rejected because it was just an "observational" study not a controlled study. I was too busy to care about that and just continued to treat my patients and enjoy the success.

I had one patient, a sixty-five-year-old, lovely Irish woman who presented with some blood in her urine and back pain. She was found to have a bladder infection and a suspicious cyst on her left kidney. After a complete workup and treatment of her infection, she came to surgery. At that time I explored the kidney, removed the large cyst, and noted a very tiny yellow lesion near the cyst in the kidney. Just on a hunch, I resected this tiny lesion, which was perhaps two millimeters wide. I sewed the patient up and sent her to the recovery room.

Two days later, the pathology report revealed a benign cyst, but the tiny yellow lesion was a definite hypernephroma, a kidney cancer. It was indeed a surprise to me, and I counseled her and her family. She had two daughters, one married and a gorgeous single daughter, Marie, who had been divorced twice. I explained to both women that I had to reoperate on their mother and remove the kidney. They were visibly upset but concurred with the need for surgery. This pleasant lady came to surgery on the following day, and the kidney was removed. She did well and was home a few days later.

I took Marie out for dinner a week later. She was really very, very attractive. Every aspect of this woman oozed an inconceivable sensuality.

Marie and I were an item from then on. I saw her several times a week. She stayed at my place often. We went on vacations together. She began to learn about my love for music and joined me at the New York Philharmonic every time I went. She began to love and appreciate the music herself. Most of our vacations together were very beautiful. Our first one was to Italy, visiting the highlights of Venice, Florence, and Rome. We took some leisure time at a beach resort near Portofino, and she was very dramatic and beautiful in her bathing attire. I couldn't wait to have her to myself in our beautiful hotel room. And I had a good feeling that the feeling was very mutual.

That vacation seemed too short, but it was wonderful. We were two people that really cared for one another. But there was always a fear component. Neither of us was in any condition to begin a permanent relationship. Neither of us was involved with anyone else at the time, and definite commitments were not on the agenda. I could say that I loved Marie, and I felt that she was very comfortable with me—perhaps in love with me. There was sincere trust in each other, and we looked forward to being together.

But I found one thing missing when we were together. She was very bright but lacked academic sophistication. I really needed that in a long-term relationship. She had graduated from high school but never pursued further education. Her smarts evolved from her rather tough life of two divorces and rearing a child while single and holding down a job. Marie was interested in learning. She was observant of all aspects of the more sophisticated life I introduced her to. Music, dining, and travel became very important to her, as they had always been to me.

My girls liked Marie. She was "one of the girls." They got along beautifully. She met Jack only once, and they seemed to get along as well. I introduced her to several of my friends and colleagues at a few parties, and Marie more than easily held her own. Everyone seemed to like her.

Life seemed to plateau for me. It was a relatively peaceful and pleasurable time of life for me. The exquisitely sensual aspect of my life with Marie gave rise to more love emotions for the two of us. We were very free when with each other and very comfortable as well. As time went on in this very comfortable situation, we grew close to each other.

There were times when I wanted to talk about a good book I was reading, but she was not into that type of reading or conversation. She could not relate to me on any geopolitical or philosophical or medical matters. After about a year, I suddenly took stock of my life. And I got a little depressed. I wondered where all of this was going. I had a feeling that Marie needed more. Certain comments she made caused me to realize that this wonderful game had to have a conclusion. I was not sure how much closer we could be without getting married.

That's when the word hit me. Marriage! I just could not do it again. It was too soon, and my divorce was not yet finalized due to Linda's procrastination. I had to lay it on the line with Marie. We had a brief conversation about it, and she was more adult about it than I was. She was able to evaluate our differences better than I could. She realized how much our needs differed.

I learned a lot from Marie. She was steady and true while we were together, but she also realized that the age gap of about thirteen years would mitigate my ability to keep up with her in future years. Marie and I saw each other infrequently thereafter, though we both avoided sexual situations. We parted as friends.

CHAPTER 2

I played it very cool from then on. I had to be satisfied with occasional relationships with some good nursing friends and a few people I met through a dating service in New York City. Some were really interesting personalities. There was a judge in Long Island who was very pretty and always wanted to play games as a hooker. She would meet me on a street corner in Great Neck with a small, pink overnight bag. We would go to a nearby motel and have a very pleasurable and sometimes drunken orgy. I would pay her fifty bucks, and she would dress and take a cab home, where her kids awaited her. I began to feel guilty about this (why, I still don't know) and stopped seeing her.

I remember meeting a young, interesting, attractive professional violinist who worked as a "pickup" for visiting orchestras from all over the world. She told me the pay was much better than working for one local orchestra and the experience was phenomenal, as she worked with people from different cultures and played different music. Nadia was a fascinating young lady who engaged in conversations about anything and everything—a real joy to be with intellectually. The only intercourse we engaged in was verbal. She eventually accepted a position as first violinist with a symphony orchestra from Kyrgyzstan. I saw her only once more when I was on a trip to Budapest. It just happened that the orchestra from Kyrgyzstan was playing in Budapest. We finally connected sexually. It was an exhilarating episode, clear out of the blue.

Diana was a successful sculptress from Long Island—a very pretty woman who knew it and flaunted it. She was divorced with two children and always on the go. She often had two or three shows of her work at one time. We had a few dinners together, always on the Long Island side of the Throgs Neck Bridge. Her work with marble was truly beautiful and different, displaying a delicate treatment of the material that was indeed unique and so unlike her approach to sex. She manhandled me as if I were a rough piece of Carrara marble. I was just happy that she left her chisel and hammer in her car. I enjoyed coming home in one piece, all my body parts intact. That relationship did not last very long. My lust for sex had been beaten out of me (temporarily, thank goodness).


(Continues...)

Excerpted from I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW by Barry Altman. Copyright © 2013 Barry Altman. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
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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I Can See Clearly Now 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a page turner with turns and twists and a surprise ending that will stump the mystery-devotee. The doctor-narrator tells some hilarious tales about his days as a bachelor and the women he linked up with. The American doctor's romance with a French woman hits a wall then she goes missing, and his plight is spooky and tense and emotionally harrowing. A gripping read; you can't put it down and at less than 200 pages, you won't need to.