Saturday, January 22, 2005

Pecaw's Gift / Chapter 1 Sounds of Silence

I'm still working on photos (which ended up as a post unto itself) to import with the blog. I will eventually figure all this stuff out. In the mean time, here is a taste of a book I wrote while working on the night shift several years ago (never got published). If you would like to see more, use the COMMENT BOX (at bottom of post) to encourage the next installment.

( For whatever reason, the paragraphs structure did not transfer properly and so some sentences will appear disjointed. I have tried to re-edit them with no luck at all. The original story was written on an antique word processor which contained embedded printer commands and that may be the reason. )

Pecaw's Gift

A novel by T. Fraser Stern

(Presented in installments)

Chapter One / The Sounds of Silence

The traffic into the city was moving fairly well as the old blue pick up truck eased past the 60 mph mark. “Not bad for an 8 year old truck”, Sinclair thought to himself as he passed the Chevrolet dealership on the freeway. It would be nice to have a brand new one; but, this one was paid for and a new one would cost upwards of $400 a month, not to mention the jump in his insurance rates. He had changed the oil and filters every 3000
miles and kept the tires balanced. The light oxide blue finish had been baked and weathered. The genuine plastic wood grain decals on the sides had begun to peel.

“Maybe a paint job would give it some sparkle”, as he noticed a spot of rust near the fuel tank switching lever. The noise of the freeway, with the windows rolled down,
splashed over the music of the radio and he unconsciously turned it up with his right

His thoughts turned to a trip that he and Bev had planned to make next week to
the Dallas Temple. He had already gotten permission to take off on his regular duty
shift the Thursday before so that he would be alert for the drive up. Bev had made the
reservations at the motel and had set aside some box drinks and other snacks to take
with them. He was really looking forward to this particular trip; he had completed
the necessary paper work so that he could do the ordinance work for his grandfather.
Sinclair missed his grandfather. He even felt a little guilty about it because he had died
the same day that Sinclair was trying out for Little League baseball in the spring of
1960. It was silly to feel that way, but he had loved him so much. The music on the
radio was from the late sixties and he found himself humming the tune and remembering
the words. It was an old Simon and Garfunkle recording.

“Hello, darkness , my old friend,

I've come to talk with you again...”

Sinclair was forming the words with his mouth and he could picture the two
performers as they rocked the thousands who had turned out for the reunion in Central

“ ... And the vision planted in my brain

still remains

within the sound of silence...”

The Mckinney street exit ramp was only a mile ahead as Sinclair throttled past a

slow moving garbage truck that had been coughing a trail of smoke at him. The
acceleration was still there as he got back into the far left lane to exit.

“... And echoed in the walls of silence...”

The city was upon him instantly as he rolled to a stop in front of the library. The
parking garage for the Havercamp Building was only a few blocks away as the tune came
to an end.

“... And whisper'd in the sounds of silence."

He could hear the last few notes fall from the deliberate and clear guitar just
before he turned off the radio and pulled into the garage. The manager of the building
had given him a spot on the main floor so that the tall camper shell on the back of the
truck wouldn't scrape the fluorescent fixtures that spanned the upper levels. Sinclair
walked over to the small office and greeted the cashier on his way to the time clock.

“Damn time clocks and damn the guy who invented them!”, as he jabbed his
weekly time card in the slot. The black and chrome box replied with a mechanical
“ka-thunka”, and he was now on duty.

The garage was used by a variety of professional types; lawyers, doctors and their
assistants. They were all the most important people on the street and expected to be
ushered into the garage in the morning and onto the street again at day's end. Sinclair
was good at working traffic and would orchestrate cars and trucks the way a conductor
brings out fine music from violins and kettle drums at a concert. He would weave his
way along an imaginary corridor that he alone could see on the pavement. There was a
measurable feeling that the flow of traffic would generate, a rhythm that most people
never noticed. Some days it was smooth and gentle like Beethoven's Violin Concerto
while other days it jumped and bolted from all sides like Gershwin's Rhapsody of Rivets.
He could see a large truck's mirror jutting out as it raced down the lane at him; a casual
bob of his head and it was by him. There was nothing that could harm him as long
as he paid attention. He enjoyed directing the evening rush of people on their way home
and for two hours he was the main event, the star attraction. A printer friend of his had
printed some business cards, " M. S. Dosilmeyer, Traffic Control Artist". As the last
torrents of insane drivers exited the garage the streets emptied onto the freeway. It was
over and time for him to get home to his own family. He rested one arm out the window
while looking for a chance to enter the freeway, the tune from earlier was still roaming
around in his head...

“... In restless dreams I walked alone

Narrow streets of cobblestone...”

The seemingly endless ribbon of cars in front of him left him alone in thought as a
thousand brake lights all lighted up in marked succession. The guy in the car next to him
was all hot behind the collar trying to see if there was a way around the snarl up;
there wasn't.

“... And in the naked light I saw

Ten thousand people maybe more...”

He was really enjoying the old tune and trying to remember all the words and
verses as he played it over and over in his mind.

“...Because a vision softly creeping

left its seeds while I was sleeping

and the vision that was planted in my brain

Still remains

Within the sounds of silence...”

He could barely have realized the words that had been sung would have such a
profound meaning to him. He began to sing the same verse over and over; listening to
the combination of sounds and mixing it with his own thoughts. He pondered the
beautiful calm feelings that he would enjoy at the temple, removed from all the cares and
duties of the world.

The streets of his neighborhood were now covered with the shadows from the
Ponderosa pines that had been planted just after the end of the war with Japan. Who
would have thought that this post war housing development would have turned out to be
such a lovely place to live. The houses were small, but with each new owner they had
been added to and personalized in such a way that they now had a wonderful character of
their own. Each street was like a neighborhood unto itself; some streets were lacking
and seemed like they were cold, while others were bright and gave the impression of
being friendly. Sinclair turned onto his street and wondered what kind of feeling his
street gave to others; but, that was not really what was bothering him. He had doubts
about how others felt about him. He wanted to be thought of as a friendly sort; but, felt
that his necessary outward image of being a cop had stereo typed him as a mechanical
dullard. He began a brief inventory of his own qualities and short comings.

“...Fools,” said I, “You do not know,

Silence like a cancer grows,

Hear my words that I might teach you.

take my arms that I might reach you."...

It was interesting that the words of the song should creep into his very soul. He
wondered if even his closest friends had any idea of the real “Sinclair”. Did they know
of his fanatic love for music; not just the popular stuff, but the great masters too? They
couldn't know that he dreamed of being a painter of grand sunsets. When he read a soft
and touching poem, did anyone other than Bev notice the streaks of wetness that
marked his cheeks? He wanted to be a total person, not just a uniform that clocked in
and out with each passing day. It hurt from within as he realized that most of his
thoughts had never been shared with those that he called close friends. As a young man,
he could remember being so shy that it was painful to talk about his inner feelings, even
with his parents. He was afraid to ask girls out to football games and dances at the
school. He was unsure of himself to the point of avoiding life. Now as he
approached middle age he continued to wonder if he was understood by others.

“...But my words like silent rain drops fell,

And echoed in the wells of silence...”

Was the song telling him of the missing parts of his own personality or that the
world was just not caring enough to help him break out of his shell? He felt an
emptiness, a nagging deep inside that was shouting at him all the truths and lies of his
life. He had never really wanted others to know him that well. He had made every
effort to build walls of insurmountable heights to keep from the day to day of it all. Now
the walls were strong and thick. He felt helpless and had only himself to blame.

“...And whisper'd in the sounds of silence.”

The head lamps lighted the oil stained slab of concrete driveway as he stopped the
truck behind the Triumph. The British Green color had always pleased him. They had
spent money they didn't have to buy it, but it was a romantic fling and Bev could be a
little flashy going around town in it. Once when she was over visiting with her mother
and lost track of the time, she had put it to the test. As she cruised down the freeway,
hoping to beat the clock and Sinclair home, she had made the cross over to Memorial in
front of the police station and was on the last leg for home. Sinclair had just left the
station himself and was getting the truck up to speed on Memorial as she was
accelerating a little, a little over 80 mph. That stretch of road was so much fun to
drive that she never even noticed the old blue pick up that she had passed. “That’s my
girl”, he laughed out loud as the car disappeared into the darkness ahead. When he got
home that night he had not mentioned it at all; she had acted so innocently; this was the
girl who had never gotten a traffic ticket.

He rested for a moment before getting out of the truck, leaned over and picked

his Sam Brown from the floor and heaved a sigh. It had become second nature to remove
the Sam Brown immediately upon getting off work. It was like taking off a pair of
uncomfortable shoes; sure felt good when it was off. As a rookie it would leave a black
and blue mark on his hip, but that was before he had any extra skin to protect him. He
carried it toward the house, glanced into the mail box and breathed out deeply. He
was finally home.

Bev looked at him and wondered what had happened at work. She had not seen
him looking; what was it, so distant in years. His brow was wrinkled and the lines on his
face seemed deeper. She could tell that he was involved with his thoughts and
decided not to bring up the broken water heater until after diner. She kissed him and
gave him a hug. He walked straight to the bedroom where he put away his uniform and
locked the pistol in the vault. The news was just ending as he sat down for dinner.
William came to him with a few pieces of what looked like a balsa wood airplane.

“The 'compeller' broke off. Can you fix it?”
“After diner, would you like to say the prayer?”