NOTES: Surprise! We're back! After a much-deserved vacation, Disavowed Proofing/Editing and a couple unexpected trips, I'm back in the saddle. To tell you the truth, I wasn't even sure I was going to do this novel live. It's going to be a little tough during the holidays, but if you're in so am I.
THIS NOVEL: I'm probably going to write about some uncomfortable topics this go-around. As you all know, no one is perfect, not even a Marine :) This story will delve into some of the issues our uniformed men and women deal with on a daily basis. I'm not sure where it'll lead, so hopefully you can help guide the ship.
GRAMMAR, ETC: Due to the limited time at the end of the year I am not going to go back and read anything I've written until the very end. That means that your daily installments may be a bit more raw than you're used to. I hope you're good with that. If you want to chime in with grammar and typos suggestions, please save it for the beta reading after the first draft is complete. (big thanks to those who have proofed and are currently digging through Disavowed)
Okay. I'll shut up now and let you get to the story...
(CAUTION: The following contains unedited material that may be unsuitable for the grammatically inclined)
DRAFT Book blurb:
A new Marine Commandant...
An insidious threat to his beloved service...
Cal Stokes steps back in uniform...
The new Commandant of the Marine Corps is worried. Not only is he dealing with a shrinking service, a tightening budget and a war-weary nation, he's also just found out that there's an even bigger threat, a mounting menace that could tear the mighty Marine Corps apart from within. The Commandant calls on Cal Stokes and his team of former Marines to re-enter the Corps in order to root out the threat before it's too late.
Disney Yacht Club Resort
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
10:37am, December 3rd
A refreshing breeze blew in across the small lake that separated the Disney Yacht Club Resort from Epcot and the Boardwalk retail strip. The low seventy-degree morning did little to dissuade the grandkids from building mountains and forts in the hotel’s sand filled swimming pool. The 3-acre water paradise was like a magnet drawing in every kid who clamored on their parent’s bedside whenever the sun came up.
He watched his four grandsons and one granddaughter as they switched from building to destruction. The youngest, Lily, boisterous with her blonde curls and swim diaper stuffed swimsuit, squealed as her brothers and cousins smashed and swept their creations away.
He smiled as they played, savoring each moment. Their had been too many lost moments over the years. Some were inevitable, some self-imposed.
His hand reached over and touched his wife’s leg. She was engrossed in the latest Danielle Steel novel, seemingly not noticing the goings-on in the pool. But he knew better. She was a good mom, a terrific grandmother. She could hear a cry from across the house or detect danger as it was happening. Like so many military wives, she’d learned to adapt, to play the role of mother and father while her husband was away.
Without looking away from her book, she set her hand on top of his. It wasn’t as smooth as it used to be, or as soft as the first time he’d felt it, but he loved it just the same. If the past month had taught him anything it was that family was important, possibly most important.
It hadn’t been easy. His two sons had grown up on bases all over the world, following him as he climbed the ranks. He understood their bitterness. They’d never had a home, always traveling, always moving.
But things were better now. He’d made an effort to reconnect where in the past he probably would have buried himself in work. He wouldn’t take the credit though. It was his wife who’d finally given him the ultimatum.
She’d dealt with the missteps, the infidelity, the open-ended deployments, but she drew the line at her family.
“You’re about to lose them,” she’d said, that hard Southern edge he’d come to associate with her mother. “You either fix this or I leave.”
They’d railed back and forth. He told her that he was doing it all for her even though he knew just as the words left his mouth that it wasn’t true. He loved the uniform, the challenge. He thought that maybe after a day or two she would back down, see the error of her demands.
But she hadn’t and he was glad for it.
They’d been in Florida for almost a week. Breakfasts in bed or a lobster omelet at the Captain’s Grille. During the day they’d traversed the Magic Kingdom and worn out the rides as the grandkids begged for the next amusement. Lily loved the Peter Pan ride. Grant preferred Thunder Mountain. At night they ate at the Beaches and Cream Soda Shop, sharing the enormous Kitchen Sink sundae for dessert. They hadn’t come close to finishing it.
While the kids napped, he corralled his sons and spent the time getting to know them again. His oldest was a school teacher, soon to be principal. The second was back in school getting his law degree after a disappointing run as a financial planner. Neither had followed him into the service, and now he knew why.
For years he’d been bitter of that fact. They were both fit, gifted athletes. They would’ve done well. Instead they’d taken after their mother, gone the liberal route, often taunting him with their politics.
He didn’t care anymore. His wife was right. All that mattered was that they were together at last. One family.
The kids were changed and the adults were trying to herd them into the jogging strollers. Lily was the only one cooperating, a fact that made him smile. He bent down and hugged her, receiving a wet kiss on the nose in response.
“I love you, Grapa,” she said.
“I love you too, sweetie.”
He kissed her on the forehead.
“So we’ll meet you at the French cafe in an hour,” his wife said, stuffing snacks in her purse.
“I’ll see you then,” he replied.
“Are you sure you won’t come with us now?” she asked, her tone clearly indicating what she thought about his other commitment.
“It won’t be long, honey, I promise.”
It was a lie, but she didn’t seem to notice.
“Okay. Don’t forget to put on some sunscreen,” she instructed.
He nodded and then kissed her on the lips, moving in for a hug. He savored the smell of mint shampoo and the perfume he’d bought for her the day before. In that moment he realized how much he loved her, how much he needed her. He couldn’t let go.
“Um, honey, the kids are leaving,” she said.
He let her go and stepped back, smiling.
“Love you, honey.”
She smiled back and took off after her family.
He watched them go.
When they’d finally made it over the bridge leading into the international entrance of Epcot, he turned and headed back to the room.
He emerged five minutes later and headed out the front entrance, nodding to the greeter in his ship’s captain uniform. The prayer came to him as he walked, a snippet remembered from some long ago sermon.
Lord, forgive my thoughts, my actions and my words.
Before he knew it he was surrounded by prickly palmettos and towering pines. The busy roadways were far behind. He had no idea how long it had taken him to walk to where he now stopped.
There’d been a lot of hikes over the years. Back-breaking rucksacks and sweat filled boots. Sweat and blood. He and his his men, one foot in front of the other.
He thought of it now with with nostalgic reverence as he fell to his knees, the emotion threatening to overwhelm his resolve. Images of his wife, his sons, his grandkids floated in front of him. Then came his men who had died, given their lives for their country, for the brother standing next to him.
He took a deep breath and reached into his pocket. It was time.
The Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps put the barrel of the Colt 1911 in his mouth, and pulled the trigger.
Comments? Questions? Concerns? Tell me in the COMMENTS section below.
Join me as I write a new novel LIVE with your input. Tell me what you like, what you don't like. This is a joint mission to write a kickass novel.