The Origin of the Universe (Part One)
It started with a dream. I think it was back in 1991. As with most dreams, the waking came with jagged shards of consciousness. The theme, if you can call it that, was a small boy of perhaps ten riding in the back seat on a car. They were returning from a little league baseball tournament in which he was the star. As the car crested the top of a bridge, the father, bedazzled by a day in the sun and perhaps a little day drinking, crashes the car into the bridge abutment. The dream was so lucid that I woke in a frenzy. I had one lasting image of the boy. His face was destroyed and had a thick “trench” of blood running from temple to cheek. I found a post-it note and wrote down the word Trench. That’s it.
Fast forward to 1996. It was one of those “perfect moments in time.” I had just started a new job and one of the main benefits was an interest free loan to buy my first computer. Being the transient that I am, I was moving to another new apartment. I was unpacking and opened one of my dozens of shoe boxes, my preferred filing system, and out popped this random post-it note with the single word “Trench” written on it. I set up the computer, loaded Microsoft Word, warmed up the printer and started typing. The story took place in New York City. The main character was Mickey O’Brien, named after the great Mickey Mantle by his Yankees fan father. He was my first “superhero.” That was the start of my fictional universe.
In 10 weeks I had a 400 page, 100,000-word novel. I also had the writer’s version of post-partum depression. I didn’t write another word for five years.
Fast forward to 2001. 9/11/2001 to be precise. I was starting another new job (a frequent theme of mine) and I was camped out for the summer in Midtown Manhattan learning how to run a new restaurant concept. I was staying in a hotel at 31st and Broadway, or about three miles as the crow flies from the World Trade Center. I got to see first-hand the sights, sounds and especially smells of 9/11. I stuck around New York for another seven months before I ultimately returned to Ohio. Once home, I formed the Write Klub writer’s group with a few friends from all walks of the creative life. We met in a bar over drinks and we pushed ourselves with words. I miss those days. Keeping up with the Heslops , Hickman-Romines and Courtads of the world forced me to keep my writing fresh and nimble. Around that time I also did a two-year turn as the host of an open mic poetry night at Kafe Kerouac. But I was doing everything but writing books.
It took a few years before the next novel had gestated enough to begin the writing process. The main character was a damaged police detective by the name of Conor O’Brien. You guessed it, Conor is Mickey’s little brother. He cameoed as a baby in the first book. In true soap opera fashion, Conor went from baby and toddler to 32-year-old in the space of one book. Don’t worry, the timeline is resolute and the numbers work. The resulting story, UNREQUITED, was a serial killer thriller released in 2006. It is also a love letter to New York City.