It's 1946. Tomas is 17 years old, living in Franco's fascist Spain, on the Canary Islands, where they are still recovering from three years of a bloody civil war.
Torn between his family and the desire for freedom, Tomas makes a decision that changes his life and those around him forever.
Journey is based on the true story of a man named Tomas Castellano, and the secret he's kept from his family his entire life.
It all begins on the night before Tomas and Marlene's 50th wedding anniversary, when their son Mike Castellano, discovers the secret.
Because of the political circumstances, and economics, Tomas leaves his home, his family, everything he knows, and loves - in search for freedom, and a better life, which nearly cost him, his.
Journey shows us vividly, the ache and the pain one goes through - and the courage one needs to leave behind their home, their family, everything they know and love to live a life of freedom.
Without telling anyone, Tomas and his friend Antonio risk their lives to escape.
The story follows the extraordinary adventure of two young men, their struggle for survival, and the suffering a family goes through not knowing whether their son is alive or dead.
Journey is a story about freedom...
Freedom, to live the life you dream of...
Freedom, that happens when you to let go,
And... Freedom, that comes from knowing who your father is and where you came from.
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|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.46(d)|
Read an Excerpt
JourneyBased On A True Story
By Stephen Mateo
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Stephen Mateo
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIt was ten in the morning and Mike rushed around his one bedroom apartment half dressed, a suitcase lying open on the end of his bed. "Where the hell are my keys?" he shouted, half expecting a reply. Mike lifted another sofa cushion and hurled it across the room; however, his car keys remained elusive.
"Oh Christ, it's ten o'clock, I've got to get it together or I'll never make the plane. And why the hell does she need to have all these god damned cushions?"
Mike's words left a bitter taste in his mouth, just like the bitterness of his late morning realization that Christine had left without saying good bye, and not knowing whether she'd be there when Mike returned from Toronto.
He should've finished packing last night, but he was too busy trying to save his relationship after another of their heated arguments. Those seemed to be happening more and more lately over the same subject ... having a baby.
Mike was angry. His anger would eventually turn to shock, but not just yet. Why would she pick this moment to end it? To throw it all away? It's not like she didn't know what an important weekend this is for me.
Mike had been planning his parent's 50th wedding anniversary for the past six months. He was on top of every detail: invitations, music, tables, chairs, bartender, food; tents just in case it rained. He'd even found an Episcopalian minister to surprise them with renewing their vows.
It was being held at the house where he and his siblings were raised, five in total; three boys and two girls. Mike was the one elected to handle the details, since he had more time on his hands than anyone else. Still unmarried, he was the one brother who hadn't gotten around to having kids. And after last night, I don't think either will be happening anytime soon.
Everyone was flying in for the big event. His sister Nancy was coming in with her husband and four kids from Switzerland, his other sister Maria and her husband, his older brothers George and Paul and their families were coming in ... and Mike was alone.
Perhaps it was the stress of a big family gathering that intimidated her, perhaps it really was that she felt something had gone out of their relationship by not having children; either way Christine said she felt they needed some time apart, "To think about our relationship, and whether it's something I want to continue," she'd said.
She sounded much like a sales exec when she was in the midst of one of her tirades. It's partially what attracted Mike to her in the first place, but it's also part of what kept him from taking that next step with her.
How can I marry her if I have to negotiate my way into her life? Guess this is what happens when you're 40 and your life isn't where you thought it would be, and doesn't look like it's going there anytime soon.
The truth was, Mike didn't want to face the concept of life without Christine, at least not at this very moment anyway.
"Come on!" Mike said as he swept his hands across the kitchen counter, where a clutter of unpaid bills and yesterday's mail resisted his inspection. He heard a rattle of keys.
He grabbed them and pushed the bills and mail to one side. He didn't have time to sort any of it right now. He didn't have time to even sort through his cluttered mind, let alone his cluttered life.
It will all just have to wait until I arrive back in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Mike downed a couple of Advil with his last gulp of coffee, which he'd had to make himself this morning. Normally Christine would have thoughtfully started his coffee as she left, accompanied by a note that said "I'll miss you all day, can't wait to see you tonight ..." Today he discovered a hastily written scrawl; "Have a good trip."
How am I supposed to have a good trip with this hanging over my head?
Mike had barely any sleep the night before; he kept hearing Christine's ominous refrain: "I think we need some time apart to think about our relationship ... and the future."
Eight years. Eight goddamned years!
Just before Mike went out the door, he went over to the bookshelf and picked up a picture of himself and Christine, holding each other on the beach in Hawaii.
It had been taken in front of the Royal Hawaiian hotel; it was one of their more memorable moments together when their relationship had begun. He was living there for a short time, teaching search and rescue lessons at a lifeguard academy; she was just ending a relationship - a few Mai Tais later, they'd fallen over each other with laughter.
From the moment he met her, he felt comfortable with her, as if he'd known her all his life. It was easy to fall in love with her, and it was incredibly hard to admit that he knew that he'd always love her, even if she really meant she was going to leave him.
He paused for a moment as he re-lived the setting in the photograph; the hot Hawaiian sun, the sound of children's laughter on the beach, the soft lapping of the waves in front of the pink hotel as the sun set over Honolulu. He thought of her soft curves in the sarong she'd found in a tourist shop, the straw hat she'd pulled low over his Wayfarer sunglasses. Both smiled as if their futures depended upon it.
He set the frame down next to the coffee pot in the kitchen; hoping she'd be back to see it. He grabbed his bag and headed for the door, but not without turning back one last time to look at the picture.
Tall, willowy and raven-haired, Christine had given up her dream to be an actress to become a mid-level sales executive. Mike's dream had been more Hemingway in scope - he loved the idea of being a novelist and adventurer, which is why he was drawn to the sea.
However, at the present moment, his good looks and great physique landed him a gig as a Personal Trainer at a fancy gym on the west side of Los Angeles. It was a spa dedicated to the industry elite; studio executives, producers, writers, actors. When asked if he was an actor (like everyone else in Los Angeles), he'd scoff and say he was a free-lance writer. That did include being published in the LA Weekly, an article in Premiere magazine, and most recently in Los Angeles magazine. Unfortunately it was usually articles about fitness and physiques in L.A. – his more serious writing never made it past his laptop.
Mike was obsessed by routine. Like clockwork, he got up daily before sunrise, discovered his note and coffee, and devoured a bowl of cereal. He'd then organize his mid morning snack of cottage cheese and yogurt to take with him, and again like clockwork, endure the 35 minute bike ride to the gym.
For four straight hours Mike would give his undivided attention to every tired, overweight, exhausted client to the next. That is, when his mind wasn't thinking about his other passion – writing. The monotony of the workout and the gym made it the perfect place to develop story ideas; there was a mélange of odd characters, and good stories everywhere he looked.
There were Hollywood wives gossiping behind each others back about who had the latest face lift or shots of Botox, or the Primo Donnas, as he called them - the men who bragged about their exploits with their mistresses, or who were on the warpath for their next conquest, whether male or female.
Each time Mike came up with an idea for a story, he would get excited about a particular subject, sit down and write the first thirty pages and then inevitably get distracted. Either he'd lose interest or some drama would take all of his attention and focus.
There was a box in his bedroom where there were at least five different stacks of unfinished stories, their presence served to remind him of all of his story ideas that had gone unfinished. It was an endless source of needling that Christine would point out when she was feeling blue about their relationship.
Christine had fallen for Mike's charisma and sense of humor the first night they met on the beach in Hawaii in front of the Royal Hawaiian. She was having difficulty with her ex, a banker who'd stormed off in a huff and left her stranded in the hotel. Mike had come to her rescue and made her laugh in spite of her anger; she instantly liked his brooding Spanish eyes and the rich timbre of his laugh. He radiated warmth when he spoke to her.
She was fond of saying that the moment she heard his voice she felt like she'd heard it before, "there is je ne sais quoi in everything about you," she said - from the way he smiled, to the sound of his laughter, to the way they made passionate love every night those first few months.
Mike felt the same way; the first four years had flown by. It had been an amazing relationship, everything he'd hoped for: great conversation, plenty of laughs, plenty of time hanging out together; and the sex - it was passionate, mind numbing, heart wrenching. But there was always an escape clause; they each had their own place to return to after a couple of days. That small amount of time apart had worked, and he assumed it did for Christine as well. That is, until the bombshell she'd dropped that one night.
On their fourth anniversary, Mike took Christine out to dinner to her favorite restaurant; La Paella, the famed eatery on San Vicente Boulevard. He'd planned everything the same way he'd planned his parent's anniversary - down to the last detail. Their night was to begin with tapas and drinks at the bar, continuing with dinner at a table for two in a booth in back, accompanied by a savory, elegant, bottle of her favorite wine; Rioja Alta.
Everything was going to plan - that is, until the Crema Catalana - when Christine suggested that they move in together.
Mike had known the minute Christine moved into his one-bedroom apartment, the compass of their relationship wasn't exactly finding true north any longer. It had remained on course nicely enough, but there was a slightly uncomfortable quality to it. It wasn't something he really thought too deeply about, or if he did, it was in one of those moments he later chastised himself about for being weak.
When he felt Christine becoming restless, or moving into a commitment mode, he would take her out to a nice restaurant, seduce her with her favorite dinner complemented by copious wine, and then they'd go home and fall into bed. This strategy had always worked in the past. At least it appeared to Mike that it had worked. Unbeknownst to him, a small tidal wave was brewing in his apartment.
One day Christine said the B word; "Baby," and how she wanted to have one, "maybe even two," she'd said. Mike's reaction was revealing; mouth agape with a blank look on his face. In an instant, he saw his dreams being washed out to sea.
It was obvious to Christine from his reaction that Mike wasn't ready to take the next step in their relationship. Hell, he was still hoping that one day he'd write the next best American Novel, or blockbuster screenplay. The thought of having to take care of a child and the responsibility that came along with it scared the hell out of him. It's not that he didn't ever want children; he just wasn't ready for them showing up on his doorstep at that moment.
Mike had debated her departure with himself all morning.
Is this why Christine left? Because I'd let myself drift too far off-course from our original plan? Did I get too caught up in the minutiae of life and let the dream of writing a book gather dust on top of a long list of dreams? Or did she think I was being too damn selfish, not wanting a child? Or both?
Mike hadn't quite felt like himself lately. Turning forty had really gotten to him; he was still training, getting up at the crack of dawn, listening to everyone else's stories, but there was the gnawing desire to write his own.
He was from a middle class family in Canada, with a father who worked full time for the same transport company for over thirty-five years, and a mother who stayed home and looked after the house and kids. He left home at the age of twenty-two for Los Angeles to pursue his dreams, something his parents knew nothing about.
He originally thought he wanted to be an actor – to dive into the lives of other people who had more interesting of a life than his own.
He never forgot the feeling the first time he laid eyes on the Hollywood sign. He was so young, his possibilities endless. But as bad as he wanted it, he realized how bad he was as an actor, and remembered the first time he was rejected from an audition for being "too ethnic."
Here he was, twenty-two years later, his only consolation being he hadn't given up and gone home with his tail between his legs. After all, he was still there, even if it was to help tired, overweight executives lose a few ounces each week.
What had changed was that now when he sat down to write, words didn't come as easily as they once did, and he found any excuse to drag him away from his work. Anything could take his mind off the blank page. Usually a bottle of Rioja did the trick, sometimes even two.
"Seat 27C, down the second aisle, please."
As Mike took his seat on the Air Canada flight, his thoughts again returned to Christine's departure.
Eight years ... how had it all dissolved in one moment? How could she leave, right now, when I need her most?
As the door of the plane closed he realized there wasn't a hell of a lot he could do about it now. He picked up his cell phone and angrily fired off a text message: "Thanx alot C, your timing is really perfect!" The flight attendant motioned for him to turn the cell phone off, and Mike muttered under his breath as he flipped it shut.
The plane taxied out onto the LAX runway bound for Toronto.
Chapter TwoIt was a clear summer day in Toronto and the day was just about to give way to night. Mike glanced out the airplane window as it came in for a landing; he could see the majestic city skyline to his left. Maybe it was the 1800 foot tall CN Tower shooting up into the sky while reflecting off of Lake Ontario, or the dusk tinged amber sky that shined on the tall glass modern buildings, but his hometown already seemed to have cast a spell on him, and for a brief moment he completely forgot about his troubles with Christine.
It didn't last long. The next moment his stomach felt like it was tied up in a knot; a combination of nerves from returning home for the first time in four years, and of being afraid of losing something he had and counted on for the past eight. Whichever it was, he needed to shake it off, because it looked like he was going to lose it at any moment.
Okay, I'd better pull myself together.
Mike was happy it was only his sister Nancy who was going to be picking him up; everyone else was too busy running around with the list that he had emailed them with things that needed to be done before tomorrow's big day.
Mike's bag appeared on the carousel and he grabbed it before proceeding to the Customs Clearance Area. He saw the exit sign where he knew his big sister Nancy would be anxiously waiting for him to emerge, so that she can have her moment to reveal how good she looks ... even after having four kids. They hadn't seen each other in person since Mike's last trip home.
Nancy lived with her husband and four children in Switzerland. She'd married a banker twelve years ago and was a dedicated executive's wife, hosting dinners at home and doting on the children. Every now and then she and Mike would Skype each other over the internet, and catch up on each other's lives.
The doors finally opened to reveal Nancy, all dolled up, waving. "Mike!"
A big smile came over his face as he waved back. He dropped his bag, and gave his big sister a hug.
"Well, aren't you a vision? You look good Nance. I like the hair. What have you done? Different color?"
"Mike, where's Christine?" Nancy said as she looked over her younger brother's shoulder expecting to see his girlfriend.
"She's not here."
"What do you mean; she's not here, is she coming later?"
"Sort of work, sort of not happy with me, but Nancy ... I really don't want to talk about it now. Can we just get going and talk about something else for a while? We can discuss it later. I promise."
Excerpted from Journey by Stephen Mateo Copyright © 2011 by Stephen Mateo. 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.
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