Larry Enright

Larry Enright

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sample Sunday January 30, 2011 - Four Years from Home Chapter 2

Chapter 2

We stayed up most of the night, which was not unusual for us on Christmas. When we were younger, we'd play with our toys and Mom and Dad would sit together on the sofa watching us, trying to figure out who would be the first to break one and start crying. I think they had some sort of bawl-o-meter to measure the degree of brokenness versus decibel level and thereby judge the winner. Funny how I never won that contest, but then I was always the breaker, not the breakee.

Mom always made our favorite punch of grape juice and ginger ale. And Dad would get out his old violin and scratch out all eighteen verses of Tura-lura-lura, the Irish sandpaper ballad that made my hair stand on end. I know you know what I’m talking about. They used to play it in the Irish Concentration Camps to educate those who doubted that Saint Patrick drove out all the snakes from Ireland. Saint Patrick had a fiddle too. And we never had a snake problem at our house.

Playing the board game Risk was one of the things we always did. Always — it was a Ryan tradition. Every year, after we’d all outgrown our urges to eat the shiny dice and the pretty game pieces, we would drag out that time-honored game of global conquest, set it up on the dining room table, and settle in with our cookies and punch to begin the epic fighting and arguing.

Sam always holed up in Japan, building his forces up for one massive sweep across Asia. I called this the “Kamikaze” strategy since it invariably never worked for him but did have the effect of softening up Asia for my onslaught. Mary insisted on controlling the United States regardless of the losses involved. After all, she could not let such famous landmarks as the Washington Monument, Mount Rushmore, and Hollywood Boulevard fall into the wrong hands. I called this the “Stupid Landmark” strategy since it involved protecting positions that were useless and indefensible. Kate had very little interest in the game and didn't care where she was, usually winding up in the totally indefensible Europe. She would have been the first eliminated from the game every year had she not been the baby of the family, not in age, but in maturity level. I never had a term for her crybaby strategy since she apparently had none. Harry invariably went for Australia. His was the “Hide Out” strategy — hide out in Australia and let the world destroy itself while he watched from the safety of his four-marker stronghold. He never attacked anyone and no one dared attack him because there was only one way in and one way out. He just built up his forces and watched.

And me? I always took Africa, the birthplace of civilization, my civilization. From there I could strike out at South America, Europe, or Asia. South America was always unclaimed territory and therefore an easy conquest and usually my first target. Then came North America. Boy, did that make Mary mad.

“Why do you always attack me first?” She would predictably fume when I threw her pieces into the box as I easily overran her. “You jerk. Let me arrange them neatly. I want my dignity in defeat.”

I never quite understood her point. But her response was always so predictable. She would quietly get Sam’s attention and nod to him to meet her in the living room. There they would conspire against me while I made rude gestures that kept Harry and Kate in stitches. When they returned, Sam would announce to the world that the time had come for his hordes to sweep the world clean of evil and his march across Asia would begin. Things would always seem desperate for me as Sam’s forces pounded their way into Africa and took my home continent, bringing Mary’s triumphantly wagging tongue into my face. Once he even got as far as North America before running out of men. But his defeat was inevitable. You see, I had attrition and numbers on my side. He had to leave at least one marker in each conquered country, and all I had to do was bump off a few along the way until he ran out of men. You’d think he’d never had a day of math. I mean, I slept through most of math, and even I could count how many men I had and just how many countries I would need to take to wipe someone out. Plus, I had my secret weapon — I always held back a matched set of Risk cards until the right moment when I would play them and recover a zillion men to thoroughly erase Sam and his minions. Every year it was the same. You’d think they’d remember. They didn’t.

That invariably left Harry and me, and I owned the entire world except for Australia. But usually by then everyone was tired and we called it a night without a resolution except to say that I won. I always won — just ask me. Or at least I would have won had we fought it out. Except that one time I actually did attack him. I forget why — he probably pissed me off, or more likely Sam and Mary pissed me off. For some odd reason, I was losing way more guys than him and I knew he was going to beat me. I had him three or four to one and still he held fast to his Australian hideout. That was the one time in a Risk game that I used Plan B. Plan B was my fallback plan in any game where I knew the outcome would be my defeat. It involved a clever, fully deniable tipping over of the board so that no one could ever get it back together again. Thus, I could not lose. I didn’t win, but at least I didn’t lose. I was always so good at games.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Excerpts from The Man in the Basement by Albert Them 01/16/2011

Al Them is a very good friend of mine and a storeyteller who has published two collections:
Ghost Stories and Other Tales of Lansdowne and The Man in the Basement. Today's Sample Sunday is excerpts from his wonderful and humorous collection of stories, plays, and anecdotes, The Man in the Basement. Enjoy!

From Stories: “The Man in the Basement”:

“Tell me, Dr. Martin, you did not become afraid when Billy shouted. That was a loud and sudden bellow! Billy has frightened, at the least, the very county authorities who want him committed. Why weren’t you more alarmed?”

“Because I expected a show of territory, Mr. Thurman. I know how confinement hurts; I know the feelings, anticipated them, and sympathized.” Erin Martin was not a stranger to the sound of bellowing. She sometimes imagined herself the source of a feral, desperate howl.

“Well, I hope bellowing is the worst you have to deal with while you are here. That and the occasional power failure; I don’t know which is worse. I am used to both, and so is Mrs. Harkins, and neither of us is very tolerant. Well, come. After we have checked on Billy, I shall bid you good evening.”

“I would like to see Billy by myself, thank you. If that is all right with you, I will say good evening here.”

Mr. Thurman considered this option. He was not accustomed to being offered alternatives. “Mind the electrical power. Shout if you need help.” He nodded abruptly and left the room.

Dr. Martin called Billy’s name, rapped softly on the door, and asked if Billy would talk to her.

“What about?” came a grumbled response.

“Billy, would you open the door? Will you come out to see me?” A silence of a few moments was broken by the soft creak of the opening of the heavy door. Billy wiped his mouth as he finished a cup of something.

“Want to see my safe spot?”

“Not now, Billy. Later, I promise. Right now, I want to ask you about living here in the basement. Then, I would like you to tell me how Mr. Thurman and Mrs. Harkins treat you, and if you would like to stay here.”
“I want to go to the safe spot.”

“Do you like living here in the basement?”

“I don’t know. I guess. My safe spot is easy to find. Go out the side door straight into the woods. When you come to the tree, take the path to the right. After a while, you see the shed.”

“Are you able to keep warm in the basement?”

“I keep the door to the shed closed. You can’t tell if I am inside the shed or not.”

“Does the basement give you enough light to be able to read? What do you like to do here in the basement?”

“I like it when you can’t tell if I am inside or not.”

“Billy, I do not want to talk about your safe spot now. We can go there tomorrow. Will you answer some questions for me tonight?”


“All right, then. Do you have any questions for me?”


“May I see you tomorrow, then?”


Dr. Martin nodded, turned to leave, looked back at Billy, and closed the creaking door softly. Before climbing upstairs, she sat on the floor of the darkened cellar, wrapped her arms around herself, and rocked. She recalled times when she sat in the dark behind a locked door, silent, aware that no one would heed any cry she made.

After leaving the basement, she knocked at the door of the housekeeper’s room, but there was no answer, and she contented herself with making a few entries in her casebook, eating the sandwich left by her bedside, and going to bed. She dreamed of trapped, clawing creatures, looking for an exit. She awoke with bleeding fingernails.

From Wordplay: “Hybrids in the Animal World”:

Boxer + Wildebeest = Boxer Wilde: A remarkable writing dog, author of:
An Ideal Housepet;
The Importance of Peeing Outside;
The Hydrant of Dorian Greyhound.

From Poems: “Biological Adapatation”:
Biological Adaptation
A fast, fierce carnivore,
The velociraptor
Was once a fine captor.
None could have been apter
To have hunted and trapped her,
But to be succinct,
The old boy’s extinct,
A bad biological adapter.

From Short Plays: “Corpse”:

DETECTIVE: Oh, come, come, save your tears, Madam. You should have thought of the consequences of your terrible action before pulling the trigger of that revolver.

WIDOW: I am weeping, if you must know, because I have been sitting in that chair for ten minutes without any lines to say, while the Corpse …the Corpse!... has a jolly go sticking his lines in wherever he wants. This is the director’s fault! Sal, are you listening?! I weep because I thought I had a chance to play the beautiful innocent, the scheming seductress, the crazed killer. I could chew the scenery and enjoy standing ovations every night. But no, all the lines go to the corpse.

DETECTIVE: In the annals of justice, no one is more deserving of …

SERGEANT: Punishment, sir.

DETECTIVE: …punishment for their heinous crime than such a one as this …

SERGEANT: Sorry spectacle?

DETECTIVE: …sorry spectacle of a black widow, blah, blah, blah.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sample Sunday January 9th, 2011 - ForestWalker Chapter 13 excerpt

This is an excerpt from ForestWalker, a novel I wrote quite a few years ago. It is the tale of a man whose mind becomes lost in the fantasy world of an online video game called Everquest. The story picks up in this chapter at a cabin in the woods. Sean, the protagonist is already mired in his own confusing reality; and Kate is trying to get them both out of danger, for danger is coming after them.

Chapter 13
 “Sean, get the poker, we’re leaving.” Kate’s voice was shaking as she gathered up the printouts and stuffed them into her bag.
“Your, uh, your sword, your scimitar, you know. Hurry, please.” She packed up the ENS into a trash bag, throwing some of the bubble wrap in for padding.
“Where are we going? Lesser Faydark? We should tell Selyn TreeKeeper before we leave. And I cannot find my pouch. And Kaeril…”
Grabbing Sean by the arm, pulling him toward the door, Kate replied frantically: “We don’t have time for this. Utak, please just trust me, ok? We have to go now.”
His confusion resolved into a simple answer: “I trust you, Emmalea. We will go.”
The storm was a furious downpour of driving wind and rain, stinging Kate’s face and drenching her the moment they stepped off the porch into the swirling floodwaters. She tried to shield the printed directions and read them by flashlight, but it was hopeless. The ink was already running off the page and the page was a sopping mess. Then she remembered something… She pulled Sean over to the car and knelt with him beside it. “Utak,” she yelled over the torrent. “Do you remember the way back?”
“Yes. Back. How did you get here?”
“To Crushbone?”
“Yes, Crushbone. Can you take us there now?” Kate felt like she was slipping into Sean’s insane fantasy world but she knew no other way. If he still remembered how he had gotten to Bill’s cabin that first night, maybe, just maybe, that memory was intact and Sean could lead them to the village and safety.
Utak felt disoriented, afraid, and unsure of himself, unsure of everything. Ever since gating back to Kelethin with Kaeril his life had been a confusion of thoughts and emotions, as if he were being torn apart by forces from two different worlds. He needed to speak with Selyn - she would understand. But that would have to wait until after the journey to Crushbone. Emmalea needed him now and he must follow his heart, even if he did not understand why. He looked around in all directions, looked up into the driving rain, and then into Emmalea’s eyes. “Yes, I know the way. Follow me.”
Crushbone was north of Kelethin but the blinding rain made Utak think twice about cutting straight north through the forest. Even with his keen druid senses, they might yet get lost. He found the westerly path, now a river of muddy waters, marked only by a parting in the trees. This they would follow until they passed the ruined stone circle, an ancient druid ring, or so he had heard. The druids had great power in Greater Faydark, and even sloshing through the knee-deep water, Utak felt that power guiding him unerring to his goal. The path joined a larger trail and Utak stopped.
“What’s wrong?” Kate pushed the hair back from her face.
“Something is different.” Reaching down into the water, Utak retrieved a signboard and read it aloud: “Almost Heaven. What does that mean?”
Kate looked at the sign. “That’s the sign for Bill’s place. I remember now. He’s a John Denver freak. We’re on the right track. Now which way?”
         Closing his eyes, Utak looked up into the rain. “Tunare will guide us, Emmalea. She protects those who guard her lands.” Putting his hand to a tree trunk, Utak listened to the whispering, heard its tale, understood its meaning. It was a sad tale, of an elf warrior who had died in battle many years ago in a great war with the Golems of Frost. The warrior, Gwindara, had been faithful to Tunare and his god had looked kindly on him in death and granted him his last wish - to become one with the Forest and help those in need of guidance. Now he was thankful that the Orc sign that had been nailed to him for years was gone. “We go this way,” Utak said to Emmalea.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sample Sunday 01-02-2011 ForestWalker Chapter 4 excerpt

This piece is from chapter 4 of a novel I wrote about eight years ago called ForestWalker.The scene begins with Sean in the middle of playing an online game called Everquest (EQ). He is married, has children, has marital problems.The novel explores an interest I had in video game addiction.

Chapter 4

Michael surprised Sean: “Hey, is that your girlfriend? Nice. She’s a real looker, Dad.”
“Jeeze, Michael, you scared me. What are you doing home?”
“It’s 3:30, Dad. You know, school’s out?” Michael sat down next to his father laughing.
“Looks like you had a good day,” Sean smiled.
“It’s over, I’m here. Hey can I play now?” he motioned to the computer.
Clearly disappointed, Michael moaned, “Aw come on, Dad. No homework tonight and no tests tomorrow.”
Michael’s face flushed. Sean recognized the stop sign and confessed. “I set your computer up today with an EQ account and dial-up, and put in the character transfer request. You should be all set up, son. Knock yourself out.”
His face lit up. “You did? Cool, Dad. Thanks.”
The phone rang and Michael left. Sean picked up the receiver. “Hello?”
The voice at the other end was Connie’s. “I’m going to be late tonight, Sean. Something’s come up.”
Sean heard a click on the line. “I can imagine,” he replied flatly.
“Listen, I don’t need that right now. Take care of dinner, will you? Order pizza or something.” She abruptly hung up.
Sean listened for a few seconds and heard another click. He replaced the receiver in its cradle. Footsteps… from their bedroom to Michael’s room…
The living room was cozy. Sean put on a Greatest Hits of the 60’s CD and lay down on the sofa. He had picked the sofa himself, his decision based solely on how it felt when you lay down on it. Connie loved the color, so she was happy with it too. Lying back, he closed his eyes. The world seemed so saner with eyes closed. He could see none of the violence and oppression, none of the insanity that happened every day in the city, none of the insanity that was his life. It all melted into darkness, a darkness in which his mind created whatever it pleased. 
In the darkness, the quiet night wrapped its soft arms around him and caressed him lovingly. Faceless, giving, soft in its affection, the night kissed him sweetly. His lips longed for its enveloping love and cried out silently to be taken and taken again. The moon rose from behind the trees and the darkness took on a woman’s form, unclothed and beautiful in the soft glow. She pulled him to her and they kissed in an embrace that lasted an eternity.
Melting… he was melting. Panic… ringing… his ears were ringing.
Sean sat up in a sweat. The music had stopped. It was dark outside.
“Dad! It’s for you!” Robbie called from the kitchen.
“What?” His mind was still crossing back to this reality, slowly, unwillingly.
Robbie brought the cordless into the living room and handed it to him. “Phone, Dad. Some woman.”
Pushing his hair back from his face, he took the phone. “Hello?”
“Sean?” It was Kate.
Unable to mask his surprise, he replied: “Kate? Why are you calling?”
“Well, thank you very much,” she laughed. “I just wanted to make sure you were ok. I left work early too. Must be a bug or something.”
Finally awake, Sean asked: “You’re sick?”
“Well, if you want to know the truth, I’m just sick and tired. That place makes me sick. Fasula is the pits. I just couldn’t take it any more. So what are you up to?”
“Nothing. Just took a nap. Connie’s working late and I guess I need to do something about dinner for the kids.”
“I’ve got an idea.”
Hesitatingly, Sean answered: “Yeah?”
“How about I stop over with pizza?”
“Don’t you live in the city? Kind of a hike, isn’t it?” Sean regretted saying that as soon as the words came out. He bit his lip.
He was relieved when she answered: “I’m at the mall doing some shopping. Would you guys rather join me here?”
Glancing around the almost respectably clean room, Sean said: “No, it would be great if you came over. Let me give you directions.”
Kate arrived with the pizzas and 2-liter cokes about thirty minutes later. She wore tight-fitting jeans and a white blouse. Sean was also in jeans, though his didn’t fit quite so well. He had lost weight lately. His baggy sweater concealed his thin upper torso.
“Hey,” Sean said simply, opening the door and letting her in. “You found us ok?”
“No problem,” she replied smiling. “Here take these.” She handed the shopping bag of cokes to Sean and they went into the kitchen.
“Ok if we eat in the kitchen? It’s where we usually eat.”
“Sure, fine by me. Less formal. Where are the boys?”
Sean called for the boys. They yelled back from their room: “Just a minute.”
“Teenagers,” he shrugged. “Want a drink?” Sean offered Kate a glass of coke.
“Yes, thanks. Nice place. How long have you lived here?” Kate sipped her drink slowly.
“Oh about fourteen years I guess. We moved here around the time Michael was born.”
“How much land do you have here? It seems huge compared to my little apartment.”
“Thirteen acres. Most of it is wooded. We planted a ton of Christmas trees, to sell I mean, but gave up on that idea a year or so ago. Too much work.”
“Cool. Can you show me around? I’d love to see it.” Her eyes were disarming. They looked into his and right through him. He felt them probing for something.
“You mean now?” He wondered if his nervousness showed.
“Yes, now. Is that ok? Looks like we have to wait for the boys anyway. A minute for them will be at least fifteen minutes.”
Sean glanced out the window at the darkness. The moon was out and backlit the trees outside the kitchen window. “Sure, there’s enough light I guess. I’ll give you the moonlight tour. Costs extra you know,” he laughed.
“That’s ok. I brought my credit card,” she said, pulling her wallet from her handbag.
They walked through out the back door into the soft moonlight. The evening was beautiful and cool, the flowers heavy with their spring scents. Sean took Kate’s hand and guided her toward the back field. He stopped and let go when they reached it.
“This is the back edge of the property. That field belongs to the Toomy’s. See those woods to the right? Our property is L-shaped. The woods all the way back to the end of this field belong to us.”
Kate took his hand again and he shivered. “Show me,” she whispered.
The house sat on a small hill. Most of the property was on lower ground. He led her down the hill to an unused barn, past it, and back into the forest of cedars and beech. They had to go slowly for it was darker here than out in the open.
“What’s in the barn?” Kate asked pushing branches out of the way.
“My wife likes horses. We used to have a horse.”
“But not now?”
“No, she never rode it, and, well, it ate like a horse,” he laughed. “We found a good home for her though.”
They came to a clearing in the woods and Sean pointed out a stone marker to Kate. “That is the property line. To our right it gets pretty wet - a marsh - so we should probably not go there, at least not in the dark.”
“It’s beautiful, so peaceful. What’s that singing noise?”
Sean listened. “Frogs, tree frogs I think. Only the males sing. To attract the females.” He was looking down into her moonlit face. He was only slightly taller than Kate, maybe two inches. An eternity seemed to pass.
“Show me the barn,” she said finally.
“Ok,” Sean took her hand. It was moist and warm. He led her back to the barn and inside.
“There are four stalls. Two are filled with junk and the other two are empty.” He flicked on the lights. “Sorry about the mess, and the smell. Standard hayloft upstairs. That’s about it.”
“It smells like my grandparent’s barn in Ohio,” Kate walked the center hall, opening the doors, looking inside, closing them again. “You do have a lot of junk here.”
“My wife grew up here, so most of it is her family’s stuff. Her dad sold us the place when we were looking for a bigger house and he was looking for a smaller one.”
“Oh, where does he live now?” Kate peered up into the loft darkness.
“In a nursing home. He had a stoke a few years back.”
“Oh, sorry. What’s up in the loft?” She turned on the loft light.
“Uh, hay?”
“Come on, let’s check it out.” She ascended the wobbly ladder carefully while he held its base. He caught himself staring at her nicely shaped figure and looked away guiltily. He followed her after she was safely in the loft and they stood quietly in the musty loft.
Sean walked softly to the loft doors and swung them open, letting in the cool, sweet night air. It seemed too pure in comparison to the city’s smoke-filled streets, so much easier to breathe in without regret. When he turned back, Kate was there, and he was in her arms. She held him lightly, looking up into his eyes. His arms slid around her and his hands pressed against her back, bringing her closer. He thought of nothing but his desire to kiss her. Their lips met and his world melted away in their hunger for each other.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Four Years from Home named Number 1 Frugal Find by The Frugal eReader for December 2010

Saturday, January 1, 2011

December's Ten Most Popular Frugal Finds!

Below are the Ten Most Popular Frugal Finds Under Nine
Four Years from Home

1 ~ Four Years from Home, Larry Enright ~ $0.99 Currently 5 stars (8 reviews)