After weeks of being hidden away, working over the keyboard, my newest nolvel, “The Fourth State” is ready to go. There is still a final edit and some formatting and cover art needed but it will be available at Amazon and Smashwords soon. Take a look at the opening pages and let me know what you think.
The pain in his face burned almost as much as the anger and hatred in his heart. The taste of blood filled his mouth as he struggled to clear his head. He wanted to jump up and kill the old bastard but something still held him back and he stayed on his knees, looking down at the floor. Perhaps some shred of duty or responsibility still held on through all of the beatings. Or maybe it was fear. The old man was bigger and stronger than he was for years. Now he no longer held the physical advantage but the fear was still there.
Anger consumed the Eckhart house and family like the fire ate the logs in the massive old fieldstone fireplace. George’s mother and younger brother cowered in the kitchen while his father exacted his version of discipline on his eldest son.
“You, my first son! You are supposed to be giving your brother a good example of how young men should live! And you bring this into my house! I hope you have learned your lesson you vile little heathen!” With that his father threw the tattered Playboy into the fireplace.
“Yes sir, I have learned my lesson.” He obediently told his father, staying down on the floor to avoid any more blows.
As the pages began curling in the flames, the elder Eckhart turned back to George and snarled, “That’s where you’ll be soon enough! The flames of hell will be swallowing your sinful body. It’s well past the time that you should be a man. If you need lessons to be a man, study your bible, not foul wickedness like that magazine.”
His father stood looking down at him until George feared that a kick may be coming. At last the elder Eckhart turned and walked out of the room leaving George kneeling on the floor alone.
‘Indeed I’ve learned my lesson well you old bastard. Don’t ever, ever get caught.’ he thought as his father walked away cursing him.
George was a tall, strong and athletic young man. He probably could have overpowered his father with ease. But his father’s unrelenting domination over the last seventeen years held him back once more. No one ever made their own choices when old man Eckhart was around. You did as you were told, or you got a beating; it was indelibly imprinted onto the psyche every member of the family.
From George’s earliest memories, his father controlled everything that went on in the Eckhart household. He even decided the most trivial details like what would be served for dinner, and what his wife should wear to church. The Eckhart boys grew up knowing such constant, rigid control, that they simply assumed all fathers told their children how to fold their underwear and where to place it in the drawer.
The boys had often felt the pain of their father’s wrath. Even the smallest violation of his rules would get them a resounding slap. Anything more serious would bring the lash of the strap on their backsides. As they grew older, their punishments continued to get more violent and this time he had used a closed fist on one of his sons.
His father’s last blow had opened a cut inside his mouth and the blood was beginning to make him feel sick. He ran for the bathroom knowing that a mess in his father’s precious living room would certainly get him another beating.
George walked out of the house and was nearly out of sight when his younger brother saw him leaving. Running after him, Jim called out, “Wait up! George, wait for me.”
The Eckhart boys spent a lot of time together since their father made it difficult to have any close friends; they lived in a prison with no walls. Jim caught up to George but had to keep jogging to match his angry, rapid stride as they walked along the edge of the road.
“Boy, Pa really whacked you today. I thought he was gonna to kill you. Ma did too; she was crying in the kitchen.”
“Yeah, that old bastard has hit me one too many times. I ain’t gonna stand around and get beat up any more.”
“What ya gonna do? You can’t leave; you’re still in high school.”
“I don’t know what I’m gonna do yet. I just know I ain’t takin it any more. I might just bust him in the mouth if he tries to lay a hand on me again. I’m bigger than him and stronger. I could kick his ass anytime, and I will if he tries smackin me around again.”
“George! You can’t do that. You know what it says in the bible about respecting your parents. Pa’s being a father, that’s all. He was punishing you for having that Playboy; you knew you shouldn’t have that in the house. Look at Abraham; he was going to kill his son because God told him to do it.”
“That’s a bunch of bullshit, Jim. God don’t want anybody punishing anybody else. As far as I can see, God don’t really care much what we do. Nobody ever gets punished for anything they do except by other people. People love to punish, but I never saw anybody get punished by God. Have you?”
“What about when that tornado that Ma talks about hit the town. She said God punished a lot of people that time.”
“A lot of people suffered, but nobody was getting punished. There were good people and bad people who suffered and lost their houses. Do you think bad people all build their houses in a row so God can bring a tornado in to punish them? Do you really think anybody was getting punished?”
“I guess not, but the things you’re sayin sound really bad George. You’re scarin me. I never heard anybody call the bible bullshit before.”
“Well, I might be scarin you a lot more pretty soon. And I’ll scare a lot of other people too. You’ll see, I’m not gonna be anybody’s punching bag. If there’s any punching goin on, I’ll be doing it, you just watch.”
The brothers continued to walk off the emotional stress they were feeling until they realized they might be late for dinner. Both of them broke into a fast jogging pace to get back home quickly enough to avoid another violent confrontation with their father.