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Summertown was written by Jeff Gafford and published by Amazon Digital Services in 2012. You may purchase it at Amazon.com/kindle. Visit the author on Facebook.

By Jeff Gafford

Summertown is a quiet, friendly little village where everyone knows everyone else and the latest gossip is shared at the local coffee shop. When the Stone and Shirazi families have a wedding the whole town turns out for a reception no one will forget. When someone speculates which girl might catch the eye of the handsome, single, young Deputy Marshal everyone places their bet in a town-wide pool. But we soon discover that even the quietest of places can hold ugly secrets, and Summertown has a deadly one.

Jimmy Stone is like a lot of Americans in small town America. Tries to raise a family in modern day life and things always seem to get in the way. As the story starts, the thing that almost ends that life is a bullet. Jimmy takes us through the story of his life in Summertown while he hovers close to death.

Filled with humor and blunt honesty about his life and his ex-wife Corinda- Jimmy weaves us through several relationships and the struggles and challenges that the people of Summertown encounter. But there is something sinister lurking which is a product of Summertown’s history and it’s a secret that will deliver dire consequences.

The author delivers a well written story which is filled with interest and the curiosity of the tale only increases as the pages turn. Each author has his or her forte. Mr. Gafford’s strength as a writer comes with his ability to give a rich and colorful personality to his characters. Well developed and interesting- the characters hold the reader to the very last page.

I give Summertown 4 stars.

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/

Jeff Gafford will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday August 19, 2013 at 7PM Central Time-USA.

 

THE DARK RING AND THE MYSTERIOUS MAN

BY TOM RIDDELL (Originally written in 1997- edited in 2013)

Sometimes in life we can meet someone in the space of just a few minutes and that encounter can change everything in our world from that moment forward- even if we never see that person ever again. It’s a chance encounter that could be imprinted into your psyche and memories for the rest of your life. Sometimes, upon immediate reflection, the event or the words spoken seem so surreal that we wonder if we may have just witnessed a piece of heaven or another world. We are left wondering: WHO was that person!!?? After you read my story that follows, you decide. Did I have an experience that was paranormal or absolutely explainable? I will most definitely need your thoughts on this. There’s a back story to tell first. Here it is:

From 1989 to 1992 I had to endure some very dark times. A very deep and very sever depression had settled over me that would eventually almost kill me. In the beginning I was without a home and lived for five very long and hellish months in a mental hospital. Every single day was spent in extreme and unrelenting emotional pain and eventually I lost my will to live. Many people who contemplate ending their lives reach out and  say or do things that are really just a call for help.  In my case, I truly wanted my life to end. I wanted it over. Thankfully my life continued with the help of a very special few and I went on to become happier than I ever could imagine.

My rebirth into a brand new life began in 1992. One of the biggest steps that I took out of my darkness came in July of 1992, when after doing some family research, I decided to take a 360 mile bicycle ride from Syracuse, NY to New York City. I was in the beginnings of researching a very interesting but very dark history involving my Grandfather. His story alone fueled a new purpose and inspiration to live (A story that will be told at a later time).  The 360 mile trip was a long, very challenging ride, especially for a 36 year old. It took me into some very steep grueling hills with some merciless stifling summer heat which had me on the verge of heat exhaustion. Like my depression, the elements tried to end my ride but I overcame the adversity of the ride and made it to the Big Apple in just three days. I triumphed through the heat and hills and saw some awesome scenery along the way. High magnificent hilly bluffs slopped down to the majesty of the great Hudson River- leaving me slack jawed in a state of “WOW!” The small towns that I rode through begged the keeper of this world to turn back the hands of time. I thoroughly enjoyed watching people come and go in these small picturesque towns. Busy with their daily lives, a few stopped to talk to me about my ride. One man particularly caught my interest and he is who this story is all about.

I had just stopped for a soda pop at a small convenience store in one of these sleepy little country towns.  I was getting ready to hop back up onto the seat of my bike when this man, who I figured was close to seventy five or eighty years old, came walking at a leisurely pace out of the store. He had wispy white hair on a tanned balding head with a beard that matched. He wore  farmer overalls but the thing I remembered the most during those first few seconds was his smile. It was a  big smile that plainly said “I love life” and his eyes were locked on me as he strolled across the parking lot toward me. His stride that closed the gap between us seemed……. purposeful.

When he reached me he said, “Where ya headed?” “To New York City, from Syracuse..” I said. I was intrigued looking into that old happy face. I remember how good It made me feel. He asked the usual questions about the bike and what I ate for energy to keep me going all those miles.  We small talked for a couple of minutes and he introduced himself as “Ernie”.  He then said something to me that surprised me a bit. He said, “Riding the way you are is good for the mind. It clears a lot up and gives a person a boost…” Well, after hearing how close he seemed to be in knowing the duel purpose of my ride, I felt compelled to share with him what my life was like for the last three years.  His smile never wavered and nothing at all indicated that he was at all surprised at what I told him. Strangely, he was acting as if he already knew my story before I told him!

Before I tell you what happened next with Ernie, I need to tell you about the ring.  A few years into my depression, while I was still in the “system”, I bought a black hematite ring. I had read that it was believed to have special properties. Besides having magnetic properties, hematite was called the “blood stone” and it was thought that maybe it had formed from the blood of Christ when he was on the cross. I wasn’t one to buy into all the mystical properties of such a stone but symbolically it meant a lot to me. I had decided that I would not remove it from my right ring finger until I was totally cleared of my depression and back to living a productive life. Now back to Ernie and I in the parking lot…

As our conversation was drawing to a close, Ernie wished me well in life and told me to enjoy the rest of my ride into New York City. What happened next still baffles me to this day and probably will for the rest of my life. As we were saying our good-byes Ernie reached out and grabbed my right hand in a very firm hand shake and said, “Good luck to you. May God bless.”  As Ernie gripped my hand I heard the ring break inside the finger of my glove. (The gloves I wore were the type with the fingers exposed just below the second knuckle.)  It was a definite *crack* I heard and I immediately thought OH NO MY RING! but I didn’t say anything.  As Ernie’s hand drew away I looked down to see if the ring had fallen to the blacktop pavement of the parking lot. Nothing there. As Ernie had turned and was walking away I thought, it’s in my glove. I felt for it in my glove but I found no ring or remnant of it there. Not on the ground. Not in the glove. Gone from the finger! I was bewildered and must have stood there for at least a minute looking around on the ground all around me. It became quite obvious. The ring had simply vanished!!

I climbed back on the bike and rode for about fifteen minutes before I had to get off for a minute and to think about what had just happened. The ring that symbolized my depression was gone and that fact had a profound impact on me.  I stood there leaning against my bike and smiled. But the happiness within those moments soon turned to joyous and grateful tears. My cheeks were wet as I began to chuckle and cry at the same time.  I felt free and extremely happy- at last!!!!

I have never forgotten Ernie and I have wondered through the years: Was Ernie just a friendly old farmer or was he much more than that?  What do you think???

(Note: The photo of the man displayed here is not Ernie but a close resemblance of what he looked like.)

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/

 

POEMS- WINTER MAGIC- BY TOM RIDDELL

BY TOM RIDDELL

The blades dig in as I twirl around-

In a world of white, it’s the only sound.

The pond is frozen and the world turns cold-

But a new kind of magic begins to unfold.

As my blades slow me down and I come out of my twirl-

At the edge of the pond appears a beautiful girl.

Desire, love and passion in sparkling eyes of blue-

How she arrived, I have no clue.

How can we question God’s great design-

She’s as beautiful as fresh fallen snow on a Christmas pine.

In her smile, I see what I need to know-

Then, just like magic, it begins to snow.

I ask what kind of magic brought her here-

She smiles and says, “Your love and imagination, dear.”

We begin to kiss with an icy hot desire-

Cold and snow can not stop our hearts of fire.

The falling snow blinds me and makes me blink-

I stare ahead, and I feel my heart sink.

She’s gone in the blink of an eye-

Leaving a blizzard of snow falling from the sky.

I’m left alone in the cold- Why?

Life in a cold climate can freeze your senses or sometimes bring them ALIVE!

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/

 

POEMS- RIDING THE ROAD- BY TOM RIDDELL

BY TOM RIDDELL (Written in 2003)

My pedals await on this fertile spring day-

I slip on my shoes, gloves and helmet- body and bike are ready for my annual foray.

The years and miles have passed by but I crave for more-

Remembering that first ride to mighty Niagara in seventy-four.

Those times on the bike were magic, so many years ago-

To relive those pleasures are such needs, you can never know.

In ninety-two it was down the Hudson River through towns painted by the imagination of Twain-

A three day glorious ride and not a drop of rain.

The people I met in all those miles-

The hobo, the farmer, the storekeeper, brought a treasure of smiles.

Now, the longing is there and the memories are sweet-

I put my toes in the clip and swing up on the seat.

These older bones continue to smile in the glory of the ride-

When the road has ended, my memories will swell with a sense of pride.

 

Being on a bike with the world open all around is a treasure. I hope you can experience it some day.

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/

POEMS- ON MAGIC LAKE-BY TOM RIDDELL

BY TOM RIDDELL (Written in 2003)

I cast my bobber onto a lake of glass-

I lay myself back on a bank of grass.

I feel that special kind of magic in the call of the loon-

The sun settles down to be replaced by the moon.

Time stands still in these moments of awe-

The world around me is without a flaw.

From this hypnotic place I listen to the bullfrog song-

My mind and body relax; my worries- gone.

Under a twilight sky, I enjoy a magical bliss-

My line gives a tug- it’s like a summers kiss.

ENJOY your summer.

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/

 

POEMS- BEAR KISS- BY TOM RIDDELL

BEAR KISS- BY TOM RIDDELL ( Written in 2003)

We’ll swim and play in polar waters where the cold will send a chill-

We’ll eat seals, berries and seaweed until our hearts and tummies fill.

With you next to me, our days will be happy and we’ll have a ball-

who says polar bears can’t have it all?

Those funny looking people don’t know what they’ll miss-

For when the sun goes down we’ll enjoy a polar bear kiss.

Have another LOOK when you go to the zoo.

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/

POEMS- FOOT PRINT MEMORIES- BY TOM RIDDELL

BY TOM RIDDELL (Written in 2003)

A midnight stroll along a sandy beach-

Memories of long ago; a love out of reach.

I held you in my arms on that moonlit night-

An ocean of love and dreams, our future looked bright.

Years have passed and still I wear the golden band-

Tears in my eyes, I remember our vows in the sand.

With a lump in my throat I remember that beautiful day-

Not long after, death swept you away.

Waves roll in to smooth out the troubles in this man-

For now, my pleasures are in this picture-

Your last foot print in the sand.

The future can never smooth out a print in life like this.

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/

BROKEN OAR- BY TOM RIDDELL

BY- TOM RIDDELL (Written in 2003)

Out of my boat with a broken oar-

I sit on a river bank and watch an eagle soar.

Water soaked and cold to the bone-

Strangely, it feels nice to be alone.

A deadly river. A deadly power-

A cloudless sky now owns me in twilights hour.

As the great bird reaches its first mile-

I close my eyes…and just smile.

Through the adversities of life we can only survive if we keep focused on the positive and good. I learned this the hard way many years ago. PEACE!

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/