Effective January 2014, the Blog-Zine is cosed to new posts and is going dark. The blog and its archives will stay "up," though, so please feel free to peruse the archives and discover all of the great books, authors, articles, and other features that have joined me here over the years. Thanks to all who helped make my Blog-Zine adventure a raging success! Read on!

03 September, 2008

Chronicles of a Lesser-Known Writer: Part Xb - Do You Know Who Carole McDonnell Is?

If you don't, check out an excerpt of her writing and visit her blog at: www.carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com. She writes that she's not yet famous in China, folks. But let's see what we can do about the good old USofA, to kick things off...

Chapter One from Carole's Christian Multi-cultural Romantic Suspense Project, titled, Inheritance. Enjoy!

“He’s a great kid, ain’t he?” Ethan Lee wiped a tear from his face as he compared the photo in his hand with the printed one in the Albany Courier. He turned to his sister, Ruth Ann Hong. A questioning half-smile lingered on her face. “You’re laughin’ at me.”

“No, I’m not. It’s just that I haven’t seen my brother cry in awhile.”

Turning to look behind him, he indicated the armed correction guards several feet behind him. “I cry, Sis. I cry. You just don’t see.”

She placed her open right palm on the glass separating them. “I know.”

On the other side of the glass, he lifted his own scarred cigarette-stained left hand, mirroring her right one. They held their hands together for several seconds as if that small dual action would bring them closer together. It was Ruth Ann who first pulled her hand away.

“Ruthie”--Ethan leaned back in his chair-- “you’re tellin’ me the truth, right?”

“No, no, Danny’s a good kid. Up-and-up. Finding his life again.”

Ethan eyed his sister calmly. He was thinking of his large extended family, thinking how some had disowned him, others moved downstate. His brothers thought he only brought shame to the family, but his mother.... He pulled at his scraggly black hair. “I wish Mom knew.”

Ruth Ann sighed. “If you tell her you have a son, you have to tell her you lied about the rape, that you really did do it, that maybe you did kill those two missing girls. You really want to do that to her?” She stopped talking but he felt that she was daring him to feel some compassion for people other than himself.

“I care about Mom,” he defended himself.

“If you really do, you’ll let her believe that the cops ‘framed’ you, that...”

Her words trailed away but Ethan’s thoughts concluded her sentence. That I am a good person.

“That you didn’t kill those girls,” she said, quickly avoiding his gaze.

“I didn’t kill them,” he defended himself. He folded his arms, tried to look like a wrongly-accused innocent, which he knew he wasn’t. “Why do you keep bringing that up? It happened more than twenty years ago. It’s old news, and it’s news that don’t concern me.”

She eyed him steadily, almost challenging him. “I wish I could believe you, Ethan.”

Behind him, to his right, the Corrections Officer was peering through the frost-covered window. Ethan thought about his soon release. August. Summer months. Girls in their summer dresses. He turned to his sister, aiming to turn her mind back to Danny. “So what’s wrong with me wanting to meet my own son?. I can meet him without Mom knowing.”

Ruthie raise her eyebrows, gave him one of those looks she always gave him whenever he said something she considered laughably impractical. “Do you know how ridiculous that sounds?” An angry rush of heat bolted through Ethan’s body. He bit his lip and clenched his hidden fist. Women! he thought. Stupid ninnies! If she wasn’t my sister, I’d strangle her.

He told himself to force a smile. At least Ruthie hadn’t forsaken him as his other brothers and sisters had. Heck, even her husband wrote him the occasional letter. He knew if he pressed the point or got angry, she’d start thinking he wasn’t really rehabilitated. She’d start believing he actually did kill those girls – which he did but hey, why admit it? To tell her the truth would put her into one of her ethical quandaries. And who knows what would happen? She might inform on him to the parole board. Even if she didn’t snitch, she’d probably tell the kid. Hell, she’d probably make his son – his own son– take out a protection order against him.

He lifted the newspaper, glanced at the photo of the graduation class of the Natural Bridge community college, studied his son’s face... then sulking, pushed the newspaper aside. “You don’t think I’m human anymore, do you, Ruthie?” He noted that her shoulders slumped. Perhaps he was getting through to her. “I am, though. And I appreciate all you’ve done. Befriending him and not letting on who you are, writing these articles, taking photos of him from kindergarten and all through college. It’s like I’ve been there, seeing him grow up before my eyes.”

“Not to mention that I’ve made a local star of the guy,” Ruthie said, laughing.

“But...it ain’t enough. I’m his dad, Ruthie.”

“You aren’t Danny’s dad, Ethan.” She said this too firmly for Ethan’s taste and he flinched.

Curse words came to his mind. To prevent himself from saying them, he clenched his teeth so hard, his gums hurt.

“His dad’s his dad,” she continued. She sounded like a prosecutor resting her case.

Ruth Ann was a sucker for a sweet tone. Ethan made his tone sound honeyed. “He doesn’t look like his ‘dad,’ does he? His dad’s not Chinese, is he? But I am.”

Her raised eyebrow implied, So, what’s the point?

Ethan sucked in his breath. Over the past months, Ruthie had been sounding stronger than she used to. Even at those times when her voice trembled. Being a reporter all those years, and now promoted to an associate editor, that would boost anyone’s ego.

But since his release date had been set, she’d gotten more ....Is it because I’m finally going to be free? Is she afraid of me? Is that it? He told himself that he’d been damn good. He’d kept his temper controlled, survived all those parole denials, avoided prison fights. Whether or not Ruthie or his siblings liked it he was gonna be released in seven months....and he would meet his kid.

He forced his lips into a sweet smile. A smile would bring her round. “So, is it true that he crosses his right leg over his left ankle like me? That he’s got funny twisted toes like me...like you? That he’s got that allergy thing?”

“Yeah.” She giggled like an adoring aunt. “He blinks a lot. Especially around animals. And in the spring. Like you do. He’s got our allergies definitely. I always wonder how he manages it, with all those animals on the farm.”

Touching the glass cage one more time, she stood up and uncreased her wrinkled linen blue pantsuit. “He’s still not your son, though. Biologically yeah...but not really.” She was speaking in that reasoning tone again.

“Don’t you remember,” she continued, “how crazy he got when he found out he wasn’t one of those little Chinese kids everyone’d been adopting, that his mom had actually been raped and that he was the child of rape? Didn’t I tell you?”

“You told me.”

“He went crazy. You remember, don’t you?”

“I remember.” Why’d she bring that up again?

“All that acting up,” Ruthie said. “All that trouble with the cops. All the drug use. He’s older now, of course. He’s not an innocent teenager anymore but, why push it? You wouldn’t want to mess up your son, would you? He’s got good parents. The pastor...he treats him like his own son. His older brothers and baby sister love him...if you --”

Ethan interrupted her. Interrupted her because she was rattling on. Interrupted her because his manipulating didn’t seem to be working. “Like you said, he was a kid then. Fourteen. And he found out in the wrong way, didn’t he?”

Ruthie didn’t answer him. Silent, they faced each other staring. When Ruthie blinked and turned her gaze away, Ethan relaxed.

“You mean he’s never mentioned anything about wanting to meet me? I mean, you and him being friends and all... He calls you Auntie RuAnn, doesn’t he?”

“Because his mom and I are close friends, because she and I belong to the same Bible club. Yeah, we’re close but not close enough for me to ask--”

Ethan prodded. “Why not?”

“Ethan, someone tells you a family secret, you forget it a minute later. That’s how it’s done in real life.”

“I know how real life works, Ruthie. I’m not dumb.”

“I’m just saying that if I do what you want me to do, he’ll think I’m behaving like a snooping reporter. He put up with all those ‘updates’ I did on Chinese adopted kids and he appreciated all those positive articles I wrote for him. He was glad I was there for him when he was in trouble. That’s why he told me when he found out the truth...and I, well, I had to sit there and listen like I didn’t know. Know why?”

He wished she wouldn’t talk down to him. “Why, Ruthie?”

“Because he was being very brave talking to me. Because although he knew I was a reporter, he trusted me enough to not think I was gonna spill his story as some kind of pro-life whatever Pulitzer article. He trusted me that I wasn’t gonna out his mother’s secret. I felt pretty honored about that cause that kid keeps his mind to himself and his bearing his heart to me showed he trusted me. And you think he’s gonna tell me what he feels about you?”

Ethan rose from his prison-hard metallic chair. “Do you think I can’t get a letter past these censors, Ruthie?” He gauged how much he could threaten. “I can. But I still didn’t try anything, did I?”

She stepped backwards, her thin pale face almost angry. “You wouldn’t do anything that stupid.”

For a moment Ethan worried he had overplayed his hand. If Ruthie perceived his statement as a veiled threat, which it actually was, he’d be in trouble. He wanted to force her hand but he didn’t want her to actually think he would send a letter. “No, Sis, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t.”

But her voice was already overflowing with regret and self-recrimination. “I shouldn’t have told you about Danny. When I figured it out, I should’ve just kept it to myself.”

“That’s okay, Ruthie. You wanted me to know. It’s alright. We Chinese are like that. We like family, and it’s good that I know. Good that I knew I brought some good into the world at least. You pray for him in church, right?”

She nodded.

“Good. I’m glad he’s got you – his aunt, his bone, flesh, and blood looking out for him.”

A smile spread wide across Ruth Ann’s face, and Ethan knew he had won a small battle. Our blood, our flesh. He now knew how to win future battles. He lowered his voice. “Sorry, Sis.” He knew she liked it when he apologized. It made her feel he was actually listening to her. “I’m glad he’s got you in his life...even if I can’t be.”

Ruth Ann nodded. “So you promise you won’t try to meet him when you’re released in August?”

“I promise, Little Sister. I’ll meet him in heaven, maybe.”

He saw Ruthie’s face soften, listened as she beamed, introducing the same old topic. “Ethan, they still think you murdered those girls. Even when you’re free, Detective Ramsey’s gonna still he’ll be on you. So...well, you’ll have to keep your nose clean.”

Detective Ramsey was always showing up at his parole hearings and dogging Ethan. But she couldn’t keep him in Attica anymore. He had served his time. Twenty years. And more. Over and done. The girls’ bodies still hadn’t been found. And he told himself that if he killed anyone else, their bodies wouldn’t be found either. “Don’t Ruthie, I’ll prove to everyone I’m not a murderer.”

She tilted her head. “You’ll like the gas station job. It’s not a lotta money and you’ll be out standing in the cold but you’ll be free, out in the world.”

Ethan fixed his face, fixed it so she would think her love for him was well-placed, fixed it so she wouldn’t think he was as bad as she feared he was. “Sis, you won’t be disappointed in me. I’ll prove that I’m not a killer.”

Ruthie’s hands tightly clenched her black wool coat. “I’m depending on that. I’ll try to see you next month, okay. And remember, don’t do anything that’s gonna...gonna...make your life difficult. Keep away from fights. And forget about meeting Danny. When he went researching his birth, he found your pictures. He’s probably got it emblazoned in his brain.”

“Emblazoned,” Ethan said, “my little sister uses big words.”

She smiled, and walked through the visiting room. That made Ethan smile also, but only because he knew his sister’s heart, and how powerful and manipulative his own words were. He knew he had succeeded in directing her future course. Sooner or later she would fulfill his wish. Yes, he thought, she’ll introduce me to my son.


In the dark of his cell, Ethan lay waiting. His beloved was coming soon. If it had not been for The Beloved One, he would have gone mad. He’d have died from loneliness, would have been overwhelmed with the “need.” All those years, she had given him hope, fulfilled him.

A sweet smell of death began to pervade the room. His pulse raced. He felt an erection harden between his leg. He waited for the fog in his cell to condense into a torso. He wanted to tell her he had done what she had asked: that he had pressured Ruthie to introduce him to his son. The fog thickened began to take on human shape. He never could guess what it would look like: squat and fat, lithe and slender, white or dark-skinned. It never mattered and it didn’t matter now. What mattered was that his Beloved had arrived and he felt her joy in his presence.

Meet Carole McDonnell: Carole has spent most of her years surrounded by things literary. Her writings appears in various anthologies including “So Long Been Dreaming: Post-colonialism in science fiction,” edited by Nalo Hopkinson and published by Arsenal Pulp Press; Fantastic Visions III" anthology published by Fantasist Enterprises; “Jigsaw Nation” published by Spyre publications, "Life Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: writings by mature women of color,” “Then an angel came along,” published by Pleasant Word Books Her reviews appear in print and at various online sites. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, two sons, and their pets. Her first novel, Wind Follower was published by Juno Books in 2007. The Constant Tower, is to be published by Marcher Lord Press in early 2009. Wind Follower is about loving God with all your heart, Constant Tower seems to be about loving one's neighbor as one's self -- in this case “neighbor” means someone not of your clan, not of your race, not of your technological advancement. She is currently working on her third, a Christian horror novel called Dark Inheritance. She has yet to figure out what commandment that will be about.

1 comment:

CaroleMcDonnell said...

Wow, Terra! Thank you soo much. -Carole