“FROM SOMEWHERE IN A DREAM” – EXCERPT

Book Four of the Ark City Confidential Chronicles finds facially scarred World War I veteran Baron Witherspoon being pushed out of his job as a beat cop. It’s 1948. He’s fifty. His health is beginning to decline.

With a secretary/researcher at the local paper as his advocate, he lands a job as a newspaper columnist. Mixing tales of past police adventures with anecdotal tales, he becomes even more popular than before. Life is quieter and stable and not terribly boring.

However, over the course of the next six years, he will come face to face with specters from the past, issues and encounters considered long since dead and buried. But Baron finds there is no Tomorrow until the Past is laid to rest.

Charlie Gullickson extensively reviewed the first few columns as he knew more about writing than I did. This was the most schooling I think I ever had in my life. After I corrected the same mistakes I made over and over again, he finally helped me find my “voice” even though I didn’t know I had one. He was far more patient with me than he was most of his students. Once it became second nature to me, Sandy encouraged me to alternate between funny stories of the everyday life of a policeman with the serious and darker stories of crime in our fair city. In this way, she explained, newspaper subscribers would read more often to wait for the “juicy stuff” as she liked to call it. I got the feeling it was she who made the recommendation to Mr. Stauffer. It just might be we all have a guardian angel over our shoulder. Mine apparently was gray haired and bespectacled.

On occasion, I visited the station and caught wind of a local domestic disturbance, a minor theft, or public drunkenness. My contacts were former co-workers, young guys who saw me as an older brother. I would try to educate the readers on local city ordinances. However, the managing editor heavily censored my story about Article 6—Offenses Affecting Morals and Decency, particularly 9-612, Section 82 on Street Walking. It might be something I could put into a book at a later point in my developing career. For the decent people of Arkansas City, it was like taking cod liver oil.

Whenever I was at Daisy Mae’s, someone would likely lift their paper and point out the column of mine they were reading. Bernard Welch’s favorite comment was, “Well, you done it again.” Twenty-eight years as a policeman made me recognizable around town. In a few short months, I now achieved a notoriety of a different sort. I was amazed to consider the many changes in my life, the various versions of myself I had been. Now, I was on a par with Walter Winchell or Ernie Pyle. A scribe, a guy named Scoop, hat pushed back from my head, pencil behind my ear, banging out a story you couldn’t stop reading, on the verge of breaking The Big One and yelling “Stop the presses!”, and rubbing elbows with butter and egg men and canaries.

It was as though I had been given a new life, or at the very least a new chance. I slept better, didn’t have quite the tingling in my face, and many of the dreams vanished like a puff of smoke. It was as though the past became a distant memory.

Until the day I came face to face with it.

“From Somewhere in a Dream” is available on paperback and on Kindle.

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