His soul in his pocket travelled aimlessly…
Release Date April 17th
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Enjoy the Prologue to The Traveller
“Goddammit, Maria.” An empty spaghetti sauce jar flies across the kitchen shattering across the worn wood floor.
I watch my mother cower before the man I’m forced to call Dad. It’s been years and years of abuse from this monster. It escalated after the death of my sister. Arthur, my dad, blamed it all on my mom for letting her go to prom. Before her death, he was an angry asshole spewing verbal abuse to his family, but the loss of my sister turned him into a vicious man who gets high on beating his wife and son. Breaking bones and leaving bruises is his greatest high and he’s an addict.
“I didn’t marry an Italian woman for fucking store bought sauce,” he roars, nearing her.
I’m certain the scent of his whiskey clad breath is bathing her every sense.
“I’m tired.” Momma’s eyes are sunken and her bald head is covered with her favorite scarf from her great grandmother.
Cancer has begun to eat her alive. Fucking breast cancer…
“No fucking excuse.” He grabs the bottle of Jack and slams it down then advances on her.
My job in life has changed since the death of my sister. I’m the punching bag refusing to let the cocksucker touch my momma.
“Back off.” I shove his shoulder.
Arthur falls back, already inebriated by his favorite poison. I take advantage of his slumped state and push him again and even get a kick into his shin. I should know better, but it feels too good. He thrives off pain, only fueling his fire.
“You worthless piece of shit.” He lands a punch to the side of my jaw.
It’s morphed into a sick and twisted addiction of mine. It scares me, the similarities between the two of us. I’m him. He’s me. The process is inevitable. Taking his hits and abuse fuels me to fight back even more. Peas in a pod. The stings of his punches give me life.
“It should’ve been you, not Belle. Your throat should’ve been slit that night.”
Same song and dance just a different night of him drunk off his ass. Arthur loved Belle. She was his princess and the day he lost her he lost his last shred of humanity. He hated music. Refused to let my mother play music. When Belle found her love of country music, everything was right in the world with Arthur. He took her to auditions, stood by her beaming with pride, and all that died the day Belle took her last breath.
He sends two more hard punches to my face, splitting my lip and breaking my nose again. The fire inside me builds, making my fists thirsty for redemption. My rage matches his, and it scares me, but no one touches my mother. The cycle goes on until Arthur has forgotten all about the store-bought sauce.
When the out of shape, piece of shit man exhausts himself, he steps away wiping the blood from his face. “I’m going to the bar and finding a real woman.”
“Don’t fucking let the door hit you on the way out,” I roar back at him.
I see it coming but don’t back down. I welcome the sick and wicked torture the bastard delivers. The now empty bottle of Jack sails my way. I don’t duck. It’s my job to protect my mom from Satan. The bottle clocks me in the side of the head splitting open a new wound. More blood joins the mixture already spitting from my face.
When the front door slams, I turn to my weeping Mom huddled in the corner of the kitchen. She has spaghetti sauce speckled on her face. I haven’t always been able to shelter her from his abuse, and that fact has the devastating power to destroy me.
“It’s okay.” I go to her, pulling her frail frame into my lap. “We have to leave, Mom.”
“No. No. No,” she sobs into my chest. “He’s hurting.”
I understand cancer, and its natural ability to eat away a human body, only offering glimpses of hope to cut down the body again. What I’ll never understand is the sickness attacking my mother’s heart when it comes to my father.
“He’s going to kill you one day.” I hold her tighter to my chest. She’s a proud woman and loves with everything she has. “We are leaving, Momma.”
I force her to sit up and look at me. “Why?”
“My Belle,” she sobs.
“Momma, we will take her stuff. I promise. We are leaving tonight.”
“He’ll kill you. He’s threatened by you, Hart.”
“Fuck him.” I pull her to a standing position and then carry her to Belle’s room.
She doesn’t stop sobbing the entire time. It pisses me off, even more, knowing she’s exhausting her dying body as is.
“Mom, five things. What five things of Belle’s do you need?”
She’s silent, controlling her sobs for a few moments, but lets the tears roll down her face. “I’ll tell you the five things, but then you have to make me a promise.”
“Mom, we are leaving. End of story.”
“Hart.” She rises up on shaky legs. No matter how sick she is, the woman has the power over me to make me listen and respect each of her words. “Take me to my sister’s house. I’ll never come back here, but you will join the Army in two weeks after graduation.”
I process her words for a few moments then nod my head. “What do you want?”
She points to Belle’s guitar, ballerina slippers, a framed photo of our once happy family, Belle’s baby blanket, and finally to her graduation cap she never wore. I gather the items in a small bag and then grab our clothes.
The hurt in her eyes tells me the rest of the story—she doesn’t need anything else from her home she spent years building a life in. That pains me more than any strike, cut, or bruise I’ve ever endured.
My aunt is one tough broad who no one messes with. I’m no means in love with leaving my mom, but knowing she’ll be with my aunt makes it an easier pill to swallow. Adelina or Peaches as we call her, owns The Shade Tree bar in Nashville. It’s the place you go when you have stars in your eyes. The number of stars to start out at The Shade Tree is in the triple digits.
My mom will be just fine…
The future is uncertain.