For Johnny “Agile” Walker, middle age presents a host of challenges. He is estranged from his parents, and he is in the process of watching his wife, Beth, lose her fight with cancer. The medical bills have overwhelmed him, and he must sell the family home. His daughter, Jen, hasn’t matured as he had hoped. His job is boring, and he’s suffering from writer’s block for the book he’s penning on the side. For Walker, a gentle man with a generous demeanor, it is an emotionally destructive time. But, Walker finds a bright spot when he meets Zinny Jones, who has advertised a room for rent. Taking care of her aging and senile father, Zinny needs the extra income. She’s hoping to satisfy her ex-husband’s demand for money; Mark, her ex, wants her to sell the house and give him part of the proceeds. Walker moves into the room and begins to get to know Zinny a bit better. Together, Walker and Zinny jump the hurdles and challenges that middle age throws at them in order to gain some satisfaction and joy out of lives that haven’t quite met their expectations.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.65(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Sampson and Delilah
By Arthur P. Day
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Arthur P. Day
All right reserved.
Thomas DiNapoli hated family problems. Hadn't he worked and slaved all his life to put himself in a position where other people worried about problems? Hadn't he earned the right to sit back, enjoy life a little, play a little golf, show up at charity events with a big smile and a check, flirt with women half his age and enjoy one or two of them in bed? Thomas sighed and sipped his Kona coffee. It was absolutely the best in the world, he thought, and let the flavor build in his mouth as he swallowed it slowly. Yes, business could take care of itself now. Sure he had to make decisions now and then and keep a firm hand on the rudder but people he'd brought up and trained could now take over. Families, though, never stopped demanding attention.
In the business world, you ran the numbers, and made a decision based on the facts, and what you thought would happen if you did A or what would happen if you did B. Thomas loved the intricate puzzle that was business, the negotiation, the plan, the execution and the result. Always be aggressive but never merciless. Always leave a little on the table for your opponent. That way, you did not have to be constantly watching your back and you could always go back and get it the next time. He had never forgotten his father's truism; be careful who you step on when you're going up because you'll meet that same person on the way down. It was a philosophy that had worked for him, made him rich, kept him alive to enjoy life.
With families, though, no decision was simple. There were seldom any real facts that were not influenced by emotional attachment to one person or another. No matter what he did, someone would not like it and not hesitate to say so. It was all very disagreeable and Thomas DiNapoli resented having to deal with disagreeable matters. He sipped his coffee again. It was getting cold. He should get a freshly brewed cup.
The trouble was his daughter, Lisa. He loved her dearly. His wife, Maria, had such trouble bringing Lisa into the world, and would have no more children. Lisa was it and she had proved to be the equal of several children when it came to attention. Thomas pushed a button on the floor under his desk and set the delicate Dresden china coffee cup gently down on its saucer where it picked up the sunlight from the window behind him. Lisa had been an open, friendly, laughing child and had grown into a charming, sophisticated woman, unless she did not get what she wanted.
Thomas sighed as the door to the study opened and Janey came in from the kitchen holding a black lacquered coffee tray carefully in front of her He picked up his cup and waved it at her. Without a word, she placed the cup and saucer on the tray and replaced it with an identical cup and saucer full of steaming Kona coffee. "Thank you, Janey," he told her.
Janey smiled, nodded, turned and left the room as silently as she had entered.
The problem as he saw it was twofold. Lisa was spoiled rotten. Maria had doted on her only child as only an Italian mamma can. Nothing was too good for Lisa, no pains would be spared to provide for whatever she needed and, moreover, whatever she wanted. Thomas had to admit that he was guilty of this as well, but the consequences were not pleasant for anyone in the surrounding area when Lisa lost her cool. It was as if a Cat 5 hurricane had swept through flattening everyone in its path and leaving a trail of emotional wreckage. The second problem was men. As Lisa got older, she proved to be a horrible judge of them.
Thomas had tried several times to interest her in men he thought would make good husbands, solid, reliable men, professionals, with family money and good connections in the government or business. The two were rapidly becoming one in the same even as the politicians denied it. Washington was no less corrupt than Baghdad. There had been Terry Voccia, son of Bob Voccia of Voccia Construction, for example. The company was doing well. Bob was a big-time donor to the Republican Party and his company bid on and got a steady stream of lucrative government projects. Voccia had the reputation for finishing on time and on budget thus preventing any embarrassing, political fallout. He used union labor and specialized in projects where special skills were needed thus minimizing the competition. Thomas had been an early investor and had never regretted it. When the unions had gotten a little greedy, he had put in a word with the right people. The son, Terry, was Lisa's age, good looking, well educated, enthusiastic about working the business with his father. He absolutely idolized Lisa. They had known each other for years. What was not to like? It seemed like a match to end all matches.
The results had been disastrous with Lisa throwing off immense numbers of screams and insults. She would be dead before she even met a man her father had chosen. He was some kind of monster to try and foist these morons on her. Did he think that they were living in the nineteenth century? Terry was a friend, and nothing more. She did not love him and that was that. No, Thomas did not think that. His ego was such that he thought she was rejecting suitors because they could not, in her mind, match her father. Nevertheless, he would not be around forever and feared for her comfort and security when he and Maria were planted in the Old Oaks cemetery. She needed a husband. Every woman needed a husband. Thomas saw nothing wrong with that thought.
His daughter had, though. She had despised anyone he had tried to introduce to her. Instead, she continued to go through men like toilet paper. They might last a day, a week, a month or two. Thomas thought the record was five or six months but he was not certain. He sipped at his coffee, closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair. He hated family problems. There was always a maximum of grief and a minimum of profit, usually no profit at all but simply expense. The current boyfriend was a classic example.
When Thomas had first met Mark, Lisa had brought him over to the house for lunch. He had shaken Mark's hand and looked him in the eye and silently asked himself what could his daughter possibly see in this man? The man had the look of a sullen child and eyes that had no depth or feeling to them. His handshake had been weak and sweaty. Thomas knew a lot of men like Mark. Many such had worked for Thomas over the years and the current crop still did. They were the soldiers, the wannabe's who stood on the edge of the conversation and smiled and nodded their heads though they did not have a clue to the problem or its solution. When asked, they inevitably came up with a quick, bloody and totally wrong answer. They always saw themselves as being right on the edge of success, advancement, wealth and power. None of them were even close. They held their pride out like a shield. They would get into a fight over nothing and end up winning nothing. They were the brawlers, the con men, the sharpies who looked to take advantage of anyone they met and whenever they were a few bucks ahead, they would show up in expensive clothes wearing lots of jewelry and driving heavy metal.
Thomas had looked at Mark, shaken his hand, and taken his measure. This was a loser who was never going to be more than that. Thomas had been polite and avoided arguing with Lisa about Mark, but it had taken all his willpower to do so. He thought Mark would last less than a month or two before Lisa got tired of his constant need for money and attention. In the meantime, though, Mark was a problem and becoming a bigger one.
There was a soft knock on the door.
"Come in," Thomas called.
Artie Tagliemo came into the study. He was a square, block of a man with sandy hair thinning at the top and cut short, close-set dark eyes and a nose that had been broken at least once. "You wanted to see me?"
"The problem we spoke of the other day? He's into me for ten large. He says he can get the money but it will take some time."
"You believe him?"
"Doesn't matter. Lisa still thinks he is a man among men. It's not a huge amount so I'm giving him a chance, but I want some eyes on him."
"If he makes good, fine. If not let him know that we are not happy about it. Nothing permanent, but if word gets out that he blew me off ..." Thomas blew air through his lips and did not finish the sentence.
"Understood. I'll be in touch." Artie turned and walked out of the room.
Thomas shot his French cuffs and picked up the cup of rapidly cooling coffee. Artie was not much for conversation, a trait that Thomas appreciated. Artie simply got things done and done right.
Family problems were a pain. He had bigger tasks to attend to. Thomas DiNapoli put his coffee to one side and started in on a pile of reports in front of him.
Chapter TwoE2 Main Street
She was in the hospital for the last time and that was a blessing. No glorious cloud full of angels singing hosannas; no gentle light through yonder windows with soft hands calming fevered brow or anything but the end of agony, the goodbye of withered flesh and tortured mind. The woman stood in the doorway leading from the bedroom to the hall silhouetted by the overhead light fixture above and behind her. She was all angles and bones, sharp curves, small breasts barely visible under the powder blue peignoir. Her face was shadowed but the light caught the tangled mass of her hair kicking highlights into a glistening halo. I knew she would come in happy she was still alive. I sat on the bed and watched her.
Johnny Walker sighed and looked around at the huge room that was the ground floor of the Hartford Public Library. He had done everything but what he had come to do and he couldn't help but think of his wife, Beth, in the hospital for the last time. He had checked out the people huddled over the banks of computers built into rows of desks like so many moles burrowing into the fecund earth. He looked down at what he had written and felt like screaming. It was shit. Pure deep shit. He who was full of death could not write about life. How ironic. Just when he really needed to finish the book at least to the point where he could compose a query letter. He crossed out the woman in the doorway. Maybe she was already in the bedroom. Lying on the bed. Naked. And the man was ignoring her. Why? Were they enemies? Maybe he has just rescued her from an awful death at the hands of a psychopath and she wants to thank him. Maybe the writer is a drone and a hack. Walker crossed out the whole page. It was impossible for him to write here even though it had been impossible for him to write at his house, now alone with all his memories of a wife and a life now gone or almost gone. Walker felt more alone than ever. The mole next to him straightened up and yawned widely in toothsome wonder. Good thing that wasn't a fart, Walker smiled to himself, or he would have had to evacuate along with everyone else in the immediate area. Need sustenance. Need booze. Need a new brain. On sale at Sears. Now fifteen percent off but not for men with liver problems or who are pregnant or might become pregnant. He wished he was. Then he'd have something to write about. Could call any publisher. Have a ghost writer do all the work. Laugh all the way to the bank instead of the other way 'round. Wouldn't have to try selling this piece of shit to pay the bills and now with Beth generating bills instead of helping to pay them. Oh me oh my oh.
People drifted up and down the wide corridor between a bank of computer kiosks and the area of computer desks. He watched them as he might storm clouds peeking over purple hillsides. At the end of the corridor a long desk served to dispense information, register books brought in and taken out. The desk bulged at the top in a modernistic outward bow that resembled the prow of a ship. The good ship Hartford, Walker thought, and watched a particularly ugly librarian stacking books behind the counter. Where do they come up with people who work in libraries? Must be a special factory that turns out great intelligence and not much else. The woman looked a little like one of his neighbors who would walk up and down the street on trash day thrusting her arms into the trash cans and bags with a look of single-minded purpose. Long, thin face, slash of a nose. Well so? You're not such a Casanova either Walker reminded himself. Fat little scribbler of me-too trash. You shouldn't throw stones, my man. At least she can look down and see her toes, if she has any. The thought made him smile until he remembered.
He had been a small, overweight boy of eight years dressed in neatly pressed khaki slacks and wearing a white shirt and shined brown leather shoes carefully tied. He walked slowly down the hallway filled with pictures of dead people. He felt their staring eyes watching and judging, critical in the pigmented stillness. He tried not to look at them and walked in the middle of the hallway for he was not looking forward to entering the room at the end of it. His father was waiting for him and the boy knew that when that happened and he had to see his father in THE LIBRARY he was once again in trouble. The door was partly open and the boy sighed softly, and pushed it the rest of the way.
"You know why you're here, don't you?" The man behind the huge desk was powerfully built and darkly handsome with an aquiline nose and brown eyes that sat in a broad expanse of tanned flesh with only slight wrinkles around the eyes and mouth. Brown hair was swept back in waves. He was, indeed, a fine figure of a man, one used to power and the use of it without the rectifying quality of humility, a person for whom the achievement of goals was the ultimate goal. His family seemed merely reminders of his mortality. He was the storm moving mindlessly across the land; the blue skies and sunshine behind and in front of him were something with which he did not have to deal and which, therefore, did not exist in the barren chamber of his imagination.
"I've seen your report card, and I am not impressed. Not at all. You can do much better than B's."
"You are not applying yourself. You are a Walker. We are a proud family that has always excelled in whatever we set our mind to. You have heard this before, but apparently you weren't paying attention. Do you understand me?"
"Very well. Grounded for two weeks and extra work on History and Geography. You will also lose weight. You look like a little balloon. You disgust me. You may leave." The majestic figure behind the desk turned away to focus on more important matters.
Walker grimaced at the memory, disappointed that he still remembered standing there while the old bastard laid into him and went on and on about the family and their achievements and their honor blah blah blah. How often had food been withheld on the excuse that he did not need it and that it was for his own good. Countless the diets, the times of hunger and imagined starvation to lose a few pounds only to lose all the ground gained as soon as possible after the enemy had relaxed his grip on the food intake of young John, not Johnny, for that would be plebian and common, not something in which the Walker family played a part.
His mother had remained a mystery to Walker and was so to the present day. Walker had not spoken with her in years and would be happy to continue that silence until she could speak no more. He regarded his nurse, an Irish girl named Bridgette, as the true source of his upbringing. His mother had been a shadow figure who, when he had been in her presence, had talked of guest lists and invitations, charity events and board meetings. He remembered her as tall and thin, bending over his bed occasionally and staring down at him as if he were an alien being for whom she did not take any direct responsibility. As he got older, she became a person, but not a pleasant one or even one he would come to know, for she was rarely around. You really need to focus on what you're doing, John," she would tell him. "This is not some kind of trivial charade. This is life. It is cold, hard and brutal and if you don't accept that and act accordingly, you will not be in charge, but always be one of those people bleating about how hard it is." She was a woman with an agenda always in her schedule book and later in her computer. She ran everything wonderfully and made most people feel as if they had just taken part in a mud wrestling contest.
Cold she was and cold she is to this day he'd guess. When he left years ago, he had no regrets. They were probably happy as well. Lose the family embarrassment. He hadn't even thought of her in years. She hated Beth. Too plebian and Jewish to boot. They thought he should be a lawyer or a doctor. Yeah, well. Sorry, Ma, guess your one and only was not cut from that bolt of cloth. He'd be better off if he had been, though, and no mistake about that.
Excerpted from Sampson and Delilah by Arthur P. Day Copyright © 2012 by Arthur P. Day. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Arthur Day captures the mid life pathos of a working man like no other writer. This book is moving, and evocative. Moreover, it tells a story seldom told; about a man coping with a life and what it throws him. All the good stuff -- which seems to be long gone-- and much more of the bad. The books' hero is identifiable and he will pull at your heartstrings, you desperately want him to be happy! There are plenty of books about women's struggles, now finally there is a quality and very well written book about the struggles and relationships of a middle class man coming to terms with this day and age!