Thursday, May 10, 2012

Teaser Train Excerpt from LEAVING SERENITY by Alle Wells





All aboard the #TeaserTrain!

I'm tickled to host a teaser from Alle Wells' third novel, LEAVING SERENITY. Alle writes Southern fiction that tells the story of one life and how society, beliefs, culture, and the choices an individual makes can shape that life.

In addition to writing great stories, she hosts Alle's 5 Star Reviews, where she reviews books by indie authors. You can also find Alle on Twitter (@allewells) or Facebook.

Check out Alle's teaser below and then stop by Amazon to buy all three of her books...




Chapter 5
Leaving Serenity
July 1971

My heart skipped a beat when he casually walked through the door. He was even taller than me, clean-shaven with a trace of sun-kissed freckles across his face. Dark ringlets flowed freely around his relaxed shoulders. He wore tiny wire-rimmed glasses, gently worn bell bottom jeans, and an African print dashiki shirt. A strand of colorful beads fell just below his Adam’s apple. Images of Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors who died the week before, popped into my head.

Andy spun around on the counter stool and raised his hand.

“Jack, my man!”

The guy called Jack brushed his palm lightly over Andy’s hand. “What’s hangin’, Bro?”

Andy ran around the counter and fished two Mountain Dews from the drink box. Andy’s reaction to this guy told me that he was as special as he looked. I watched his every move from the corner of the dining room where I filled the salt and pepper shakers. I’d never seen a real live hippy before. I wondered where he came from, if he went to Woodstock, and if he did drugs. Most of the guys at school had shaggy hair just above the collar, but none dared to have hair as long as his. And nobody in Serenity dressed like that except Kizzie when she was here. I was fascinated by him and couldn’t pull my eyes away.

“So, Jack, my man, what’s goin’ down?”

“Ah, Man, I’m so mad I could spit nails! That hillbilly construction foreman canned me. He claimed I ripped him off.”

Jack pointed a long, tanned finger in Andy’s face. “I said to him, ‘Dude! How dare you have the audacity to question my veracity?’ ”

I pictured the irony of a construction worker spitting nails and held in a giggle. The whole room seemed to light up when he spoke. His accent was smooth, not flat and southern like everybody else around here. He sounded really smart, too. I wondered if he was in college, like Adam.

Andy took a swig from his drink bottle. “Bummer, Man, but you sure told him, for sure.”

Jack held a Marlboro between his lips, lighting it with a quick flick of the wrist. The sharp knuckles on his large, lean hands caught my eye.

“Right on, Dude! He’ll be sorry he messed with Jack, the man!”

Andy glanced at me and cocked his head, inviting me over. I shook my head at him and straightened my hair that looked like yesterday’s dough burger. I wanted to run and hide, but it was too late.

Andy called out, “Hey, Jack, I want you to meet a friend of mine.”

I wiped my hands on my jeans. My knees felt like jelly as I walked across the dining room that seemed to get bigger as I approached the counter. Jack swirled around on the stool and smiled at me. “Well, hello there, pretty lady.”

No one had ever called me pretty or a lady. I imagined my whole body melting into the floor like the wicked witch on The Wizard of Oz. I managed a weak smile to match my jellified knees. No words came from my mouth as I swooned over his sculptured face.

Andy spoke for me. “This is Annette.”

Jack pointed toward me with the hand holding the cigarette. “Yeah, far out! I remember you. You’re sister to that Ken Doll…” Jack pinched his nose with two fingers on his other hand. “Ah, Adam…something.”

The thought of someone making fun of Adam made me laugh. A giggle slipped from my throat. “Ken Doll?”

Jack looked at me, amused. “Yeah, you know, all up-tight and stiff-like. He’s your brother, right?”

I hid the grin behind my hand. “Yeah, I guess so.”

Jack patted the stool next to him. “Here, pretty lady, take a load off.”

He said it again. Jack’s charm drew me in as he looked at me sideways.

“You don’t remember me, do you? I’m the guy who used to wink at you in the drug store.”

Suddenly, I recognized the freckle-faced boy behind the lunch counter who made me laugh. Heat trickled over my face. “Oh yeah, I remember you now.”

His beautiful green eyes studied my face. “You want a drink or something?”

I shook my head. “Nah, I’m supposed to be working.”

Jack turned back to the counter. “Hey, Bro, how about getting me one of Rosie’s famous dough burgers?”

“Sure thing, Man.” Andy disappeared behind the kitchen door.

Jack turned his drink bottle up and put it back down. “Yeah, I remember you coming in on Saturdays with your mama. How many sisters and brothers do you have?”

“One sister, two brothers.”

Jack lit another cigarette. “Yeah, right on. I remember you, for sure. Of course, that was before I went to Nam.”

My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I realized that I was talking to someone who had fought in a war clear on the other side of the world. “You were in Vietnam?”

Jack took a drag from his cigarette and said, “Yep. I was waiting to hear from the Navy Seals. Special Forces like that need smart guys like me, you know. So, I was just sitting around waiting to be called, and damn if the Army didn’t get me first. Drafted. Bummer, Man!”

“For real, did you like being in the Army?”

Jack laughed. “Hell-blazes, no! The army is nothing but one big hassle. I don’t like hassles. I’m cool. I like taking it easy, see?”

Andy came back and put the sandwich on the counter, but Jack was way too wound up to eat. Andy leaned on the counter to hear Jack’s war story.

“I had this sergeant, see. He was the meanest son of a you-know-what you ever saw. He was always yelling right up in your face. I didn’t feel so bad for myself because I’m a pretty tough dude. It was the other guys I felt sorry for. So this sergeant starts cussing and raising all kinds of Cain at us, orders us to get in the trenches, you know, like nasty swamps. Well, I’m cool and down for just about anything, but snakes and such…no way, Buddy. I don’t want no part of that. You know what I mean?”

Jack jumped off the stool and threw in a few hand gestures to punctuate his story.

“Well, so this high and mighty dude says for me to get my –uh, you know what – down in that swamp. I said, ‘Well the hell no!’ He said to me, ‘Boy, you’re gettin’ in that swamp, or I’ll write you up and have you thrown in the brig.’ Now, that really pissed me off ’cause I don’t take too kindly to getting snake bit. So he starts walking back to his tent to write me up, like he said. I take that big gun I’ve been carrying around for days but never got a chance to use and BAM! I shoot his ass!”

Andy’s eyebrows shot up. “Did you kill him?”

Jack waved his hand. “Nah, Man. I mean I literally shot the guy in the ass.”

I was engrossed in the story, staring wide-eyed at the ringlets falling freely around his manly face. “Wow, he’s okay, right?” I asked.

“Aw, yeah. He just couldn’t sit down for a month.”

We all laughed at that until Andy asked, “What did they do to you? I mean, did you get in trouble?”

Jack took another swig from his drink bottle and sat back down to eat his burger. “They threw me in the brig for six months, and then I got a discharge. Being here is a lot better than being over there, that’s for sure.”

Andy shook his head. “Hey, that’s a real drag. What was it like in the brig? Was it bad?”

Jack pondered over the question. “Far out, enlightening, Man. You find out all kinds of stuff in prison that you’d never learn about out here in real life. I met some really smart dudes in there, Man. Dudes that know about things you and me would never dream of, like conspiracy. Do you know what conspiracy is?”

Andy and I shook our heads.

Jack pushed his empty plate away and explained. “Conspiracy is what the establishment is all about, Man! The politicians, the bankers, everybody over thirty, they all want to turn us into a controlled society. You know, like we’re nothing but a bunch of worker bees while the fat cats sit back and tell us what to do. It’s been going on for years. The establishment has your whole life all planned out for you, even before you get a chance to live it.”

Jack shook his head. “I’m telling you, Man, never trust anybody over thirty!”

Andy scratched his chin and answered quietly, “Yeah, I see what you mean.”

Jack stood up. “Well, Dude, I gotta jet, places to go and people to see.”

Jack reached over the counter and shook Andy’s hand like a real grown-up. Andy nodded and smiled at him. I nearly fell through the floor when he turned to me, stared directly into my eyes, and actually kissed my hand!

“Until we meet again, my pretty lady.”

Then he dashed out the door. My heart felt like it jumped out of my chest and ran out the door behind him. He was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen in real life or on TV.

“Oh God, Andy, did you see that? He kissed my hand like I was some kind of princess.”

Andy smiled. “Yeah, Jack’s all right, a real straight up guy.”

“Yeah, cute too, and so smart! But you know what? He didn’t pay!”

Andy leaned over the counter and whispered, “Yes he did.”

He opened his hand and revealed the marijuana joint. Then I knew why Jack shook Andy’s hand.

Andy gave me a half-smile. “If you want, we can smoke this tonight after work.”

“I don’t know, Andy. Smoking’s not really my thing.”

“This is different. Trust me, you’ll like it.”