Searching for Kansas

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Searching for Kansas

Postby Elaine Glimme » Tue Jul 05, 2016 11:50 am

Hi,

I'm still looking for a title for my novel. "Searching for Kansas" is the best I've come up with so far. I'm posting some of it here:

Alex’s prologue.

When he was a child, Alex Lidecker found he had an amazing gift for lying. No matter what he said, they’d believe it. And “they” were everyone - young, old, gullible, genius, near-genius, and everyone in between. They all bought his stories. That gift landed him a beautiful wife, Vivian, and a job in the White house.
Jeremy Scoggins, the Weasel, was his closest friend since college, and together, they had concocted some fantastic schemes: They manipulated California’s electrical power supply; they dismissed climate change as a myth and people bought it. Alex and Weasel even started a couple of wars. But Alex found it harder and harder to deal with the stress of what he had done. He had the whole world at this feet, but for a price. Finally, he confessed it all in an article that made the front page of most newspapers.

That’s how Alex had ended up in prison. His soul was free, but he’d made a lot of enemies as a result. Many rich and powerful enemies. One of them was the Weasel.


_______________________________________________________________________-


Funny how things work out, thought Alex, looking about his jail cell - how his life had turned on a dime. He’d gone from Armani silk to orange jumpsuits, from five-star cuisine to greasy beans, and other prison slop. Every day he woke up amazed at what he'd done - given up everything for truth - for that pearl of great price. No kidding about the great price! What a fool he’d been! Or was it what a brave man? No, He couldn't take on the badge of hero. He was anything but.
Now, Alex found himself “doing without.” Doing without money, possessions, and his old luxurious lifestyle. He didn’t care about the “stuff” all that much. No matter what the advertisers say, it’s not important. Except that his wife Vivian cared about stuff. He couldn’t imagine her living a simple life. Vivian loved expensive clothes, opera, fine dining, the works. And Alex found that he cared for Vivian with a surprising fierceness he hadn’t been aware of before.
But what really hurt was the loss of power. Power had defined who Alex was. And now he was stripped of it. Now power controlled him. The criminal justice system and concrete walls controlled him.
He looked around his jail cell. Old paint - a non-descript, grey. A two-inch mattress that sometimes allowed sleep to happen. Monotonous - that sums up being in jail, he thought: monotonous paint, monotonous bars, monotonous days with nothing to do but ignore the low life around you.
Night time was the worst. During the day, there were TV privileges, meals, yard time, but, after dinner, everyone got confined to their cells. Down time they called it. That was when Alex was alone with his cell mate Carl, the evolutionary throw-back. Carl was missing one of his front teeth, had shaved his head shiny bald, and had white-supremacist tattoos inked all over his arms and back .He was worse than no company at all. A man with next to nothing in the way of brains, he was like an itch that wouldn’t go away, constantly talking about the women he had bagged. And he twitched, as if he were high on meth. ‘Is it that easy to get meth in jail?’ Alex wondered
Alex often found himself pacing. He was just like thousands of other inmates trying to fill the void with something, anything, to keep the crazies away. His sense of person was under attack. His toilet and wash basin stood in plain view of anyone who passed by; for that matter, in view of the cameras that watched him day and night. He was reminded of tigers pacing in their cages. Did the tigers mind, he wondered - did they mind being stared at?
This was now Alex’s life - punctuated by an occasional flush followed by the odor from someone else’s toilet, or by a clanging sound of a door opening and shutting somewhere in the distance.
There were voices too, floating along the hall - sometimes crude, moaning and mumbling, often angry, and sometimes profound. These were the sounds of someone trying to keep his mental house in order. Alex hadn't contributed to these voices He'd just listened, stared at the walls, paced, and absorbed it all against his will.
Last edited by Elaine Glimme on Tue Jul 05, 2016 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Searching for Kansas

Postby Tituba » Tue Jul 05, 2016 2:58 pm

Why not use Dorothy's line from Wizard of Oz "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore"
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Re: Searching for Kansas

Postby Elaine Glimme » Tue Jul 05, 2016 3:11 pm

Thanks, Tituba,

Yes, that's what I was referring to - the line "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." A lot of the story is about searching for normal, for home. Maybe I should just use the whole line as you suggest.
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Re: Searching for Kansas

Postby inspiresuccess » Tue Jul 05, 2016 5:06 pm

Gee Wiz, Gosh Golly, Holy Be-jebers, Holy Cow, Yowza, Holy Moly, etc.

Is this how you write, Elaine? I'm embarrassed to say I've never read anything except the Molly book. You're really good! I don't mean to sound surprised, but you're always saying how you're not any good. I guess I took your word for it and didn't read anything myself. No offense to Molly (and please don't tell her I said this) but you're such a better writer than Molly!

I was immediately drawn into the story, the characters, the what's going to happen next.

I can't wait to read more.

Yes, the title is a work in progress. It will come. I'll brainstorm on it. My brainstorming on titles can be endless so I'll edit it down to a few. I love the idea of the Wizard of Oz. I think the full quote is too long for a book title, but I think you title is too vague. There's definitely a happy medium out there. I read once that the title of a book is about 1/3 of what it takes to sell it. Even if the book is good, if someone isn't drawn in by the title, they may not go any further. I've always loved the title, Temporary Address. Now I'll have to go read it.

Keep up the good work and quit telling people you aren't any good! Geez! They might be dumb enough to believe you!
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Re: Searching for Kansas

Postby inspiresuccess » Tue Jul 05, 2016 5:29 pm

Yikes, Elaine! I almost posted a success story about you, without your permission. Here's the thread I was going to post in Success Stories. Let me know if I have your permission to do it.

Elaine, the writer! (title of thread)

Go check out Searching for Kansas in the Becoming Writers and Speakers forum. I just read it and was immediately hooked on the story from the get-go! It's the first time I've read anything by Elaine and I'm really looking forward to reading more.

Toot, toot! I'm tooting your horn for you, Elaine! Because I know you'd never do it yourself!

Inspire Success


(Since this is your thread, I think you can delete this response, if you want to. If not, I know Tituba will know how to do it. Hope you say, Yes!)
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Re: Searching for Kansas

Postby Elaine Glimme » Wed Jul 06, 2016 1:46 pm

Thanks for the wow of confidence. You're a great teacher. Yes, please, go ahead and post about me.

As for the title, I'd love any ideas anyone wants to give me. Just please be okay with it if I use something else. A lot of times an idea leads to another idea which leads to another idea, etc. etc.

Inspiresuccess, your logon is perfect. Thanks for the kind words.
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Re: Searching for Kansas

Postby SquarePeg » Thu Jul 07, 2016 12:09 pm

It's so good, Elaine. I like the names, the premise, the atmosphere.... Don't worry -- the title will come.
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Re: Searching for Kansas

Postby Elaine Glimme » Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:18 pm

A couple of weeks had gone by since Alex’s arrest. He was sitting on his bunk composing a letter to Vivian and trying to digest lunch, when a sound startled him. Footsteps announced the appearance of two guards at his cell door. Again Alex had no freedom. He couldn't tell them to leave him alone. His life belonged to the Washington D.C. criminal justice system.
One walked over to a console at the end of row of cells and typed a command to open Alex’s door; the other escorted Alex into a small cubicle. “Visitor, Lidecker,” was all he said.

The cubical had a desk, a phone, and a glass wall separating inmate from visitor. Alex hoped the visitor was Vivian. Instead Weasel walked into the space on the other side of the glass. His stride was strong, and the expression on his face told the world, "Ain't life grand!"
Weasel picked up the phone to talk to Alex. “You’re free. Charges have been dropped.”
“But why? I didn’t think you’d be speaking to me let alone springing me out of jail.”
“Hey, we have to look out after each other. After all the stunts we've pulled, the scrapes we’ve come through, the crazy adventures that almost did us in. Forget the letter. It's history, forgotten three days after it appeared in print. Fortunately, people are gullible and have short memories.” Alex didn’t know what to say. He felt – well clean, with the prospect of getting out of jail.
“In return for your get-out-of-jail-free card, I’ll have to ask you a small favor or two every now and then.”
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Re: Searching for Kansas

Postby inspiresuccess » Sat Jul 09, 2016 11:35 am

Tituba,

How did you know the title referred to the Wizard of Oz?
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Re: Searching for Kansas

Postby SquarePeg » Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:45 pm

I wonder, Elaine, did you go visit a prison to get the detail that you describe? It's amazing!
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Re: Searching for Kansas

Postby Elaine Glimme » Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:53 am

The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorites.

I've inspected jails back in my haz mat days, and I looked up some pictures on the net. But a friend works for San Quentin, and she gave me some great info. From her I learned that few things I'd written before were wrong.

Okay, here's the next installment:


This one was hard. “Weasel, I’m through with all that. I just want to get a job, make a living and hope I can win my wife back.”
“It’s not that easy. You’re indispensible to a lot of people - very important people. You can’t just go to work for the phone company anymore and forget about the rest of us. It doesn’t work that way.”
“Well, it’s just going to have to.”
Weasel’s face was a poker mask. He stared at Alex, not speaking. Then suddenly he leaned back in his chair and laughed comfortably. It was the old Weasel, confident, not a care on earth. “Okay, so be it. But know that the door is always open any time you need a project to create emergency cash. Meanwhile, you and I, we're square. I won’t ask you to do anything that isn’t legal, ethical, or moral. Fair enough?”
“More than fair.”
“And we’ll consider the get-out-of-jail a present, say, the gold watch at the end of a sterling career in politics. But I’ll expect you to take on some perfectly legal favors. You do owe me that much.”
And there it was - the pull of obligation, the leash, the tug on his freedom. “You can count on it,” Alex said and tried to match Weasel's grin.
And then Alex was told that he was free to go. A see-through bag with his belongings was ungraciously dumped in front of him. He signed some papers, and that was it. The whole process took less than an hour.
Alex phoned Vivian, but no one answered, so he left a message. “Hey, Vivian, I'm out of jail and I'm coming home. I love you. When I get home, let's talk.”
Last edited by Elaine Glimme on Sat Jul 16, 2016 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Searching for Kansas

Postby SquarePeg » Fri Jul 15, 2016 2:12 pm

"A see-through bag with his belongings was ungraciously dumped in front of him." Gosh I heard and felt that bag hit the table when I read that! WoW!
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Re: Searching for Kansas

Postby Elaine Glimme » Mon Jul 18, 2016 10:01 am

Now Alex was free. The air outside had that fresh grassy sting that comes after a good rain. A new beginning,’ he thought, ‘a chance to make it right with Vivian, a chance for life to mean something.’ Waiting for his bus Alex took a deep breath. What a treat to breathe fresh air! Who knew?
He came home to the scene of Vivian packing and crying. Alex watched amazed. Even with tears in her eyes, Vivian exuded class, style, sex, and just plain excitement. Her hair swooped along the side of her face in a chestnut swirl.
“So this is it,” he said flatly, gesturing around the room. She had three suitcases, an overnight bag, and a duffel pack all bulging with her things.
She looked up at him, not speaking, her brown eyes wide, like a doe’s.
“You’re leaving.” Alex was never at a loss for words. Only now he was. He watched her pack, entranced by everything about her. She looked at least twenty years younger than her actual age of forty-three. Her waste was still tiny, and her blouse exposed a touch of cleavage.
Vivian glanced away almost guiltily. Then she stuck her chin up and stared Alex in the eye. “I have to. It’s just been too much. I. . . I. . . I need to get away. I’ll be in Bar Harbor, if you need me, staying with my friend Denise for a while. I have to get my head around all of this.”
Alex stuttered. “It’s always been you. In spite of everything… and there’s been a lot of everything. Apparently I can’t lie anymore… it’s always been you.”
“If I could believe that, maybe, just maybe, we could have a future together. Because, Alex, for me it’s always been you. But after all this – well I just don't get it. I don't get you. For sure you’re not the man I married, the man who was going to protect me, and love me, and take care of me for the rest of our lives. Perhaps I was naïve, and a little bit spoiled. Maybe I expected too much. But we could have talked. We could have played it above board. I didn’t have to have all the luxuries you gave me. But we never seemed to have the time to talk. And now, there doesn’t seem to be much point.”
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Re: Searching for Kansas

Postby inspiresuccess » Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:58 am

Elaine Glimme wrote:
... his cell mate Carl, the evolutionary throw-back... he was like an itch that wouldn’t go away,


Elaine,

I decided to start reading from the beginning of your thread. FYI -- I read about a novel a week. I read a lot. I'm very drawn to this novel. Reading again, I noticed the touches of humor, like the quotes above. I think you know me well enough by now, to know that I'm a serious person, who also loves humor. Nice touches of it above, mixed in with the rest of it. Can't wait to read more.
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Re: Searching for Kansas

Postby Elaine Glimme » Tue Jul 19, 2016 4:42 pm

Alex had never before needed to plead or beg to get a girl. With a spray of freckles across his nose, and ash blond hair falling over his eyes, he had the appeal of a little boy. His eyes were blue, deep blue because of tinted contact lenses. And he had a charming smile and a way of tilting his head or looking up - his little soldier look. Usually these were all he needed. In a pinch he had his lucky word, Remoridia. And somehow, when he’d say the word, like magic he’d figure out exactly what to do to get her. But that was manipulation No he had to play it straight up. Be honest. Be real.
“Don’t leave. Don’t do this. I’ll change. I have changed. Please believe me. ”
Vivian shook her head and kept on packing.
He grabbed her arm. She gave him a look that said it all. And he let go.
Alex felt wooden watching her pack. He didn’t know what to do, what to say. Words seemed so weak. And then the taxi came and the cab driver loaded her bags into the trunk of his cab.
“At least keep the door open for me - just a crack. Let me prove to you that I’ve changed. That we could still be a team for life. That the love is still there.”
And he watched as Vivian rode away. ‘Is the good part of my life over?’ he wondered. ‘Or will the wound heal with time? Mechanically he poured himself a drink, and after two swallows, he poured it down the sink. ‘Real good Scotch too,’ he thought.
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