I’m sharing the beginning of a manuscript, “The Black River” written by Jovon Scott and edited by Larry L. Franklin. Jovon is an inmate in an Illinois prison who has his first published book, “Blood of my Shadow.” I continue to enjoy working with Jovon and consider him to be an up-and-coming author. Hope you enjoy the writing.


            Victoria watched the rough-water hug the riverbank. The sun retired for the day and the river gave birth to short bursts of waves that threatened the shore. Mother Nature’s elements of tranquility and destruction were on full display. Victoria’s eyes pierced the water’s surface as she studied the river that snaked through pastures and open plains. Barricades dared not to confine its flow.  

            When Victoria was young, large bodies of water threatened her well-being. So much so that she barred herself from diving into the mysteries that lie below the river’s surface. Time revealed the reason for her fears. Someone or something lived in the darkened waters that threatened her safety. But don’t blame Victoria for having a dysfunctional childhood and an overly creative mind. Her brain was hardwired to think irrationally. 

            Something was off that day; a gut-wrenching and unnerving kind of off. Victoria blamed herself for what happened when she met Chanel at the river. While all of the signs were there, it was a time of confusion when 2 equals 1. 

            “Are you scared?” Chanel asked.  “You’re shaking.”

            Victoria knew that she was afraid. As the two of them stood on the water’s edge watching the currents race by, there was an eerie silence. Victoria didn’t know why, but she had told Chanel that she wasn’t afraid. 

            Chanel had an energy about her that was quite alluring; an adrenaline junkie who danced along the edges of danger. Each adventure was accompanied by a spiritual energy as if she was suddenly reborn. 

            Although Victoria didn’t know what was about to happen, her breathing became more labored and her heart was on fire. She grabbed Chanel’s hands that were cold and unwelcoming as if she had touched a stranger. They faced each other; so close that their heartbeats were in unison. As their lips touched, Victoria was reminded of the passion that burned deep into the soul; spellbound and persuaded by the words that Chanel never spoke; eyes that shared a telling tale; and private things that were hidden from the world. 

            Chanel’s demeanor morphed into an emptiness disconnected from reality. Is this the person who Victoria had known to be Chanel, or was she an illusion? 

            “Do you love me?’ Chanel questioned. She gripped Victoria’s hand tighter as if she dared her to tell a lie.

            “Of course, I love you,” Victoria answered. But the grip of Chanel’s hand was different, causing Victoria to wonder if Chanel had become a complete stranger. At the moment, Victoria did not fear the river. She was more afraid of the entity she perceived to be Chanel.

            “Why would you ask if I loved you?” Victoria asked.

            “Because I need to know,” Chanel answered.

            “Yes, I love you. But you know that already. You’re acting strange and freaking me out,” Victoria admitted. 

            Chanel’s laugh was accompanied by a sinister smile. “If you love me, jump, jump into the river,” Chanel commanded. “Love is all about trust, right?” 

            “I will drown,” Victoria replied. “I can’t swim, you know that.” 

            “Trust me,” Chanel explained.”  I would never allow anything bad to happen to you.”

            Victoria felt overcome by emotions knowing that she needed to escape before it was too late. While she remembered fragments of what happened that day, she preferred to believe that Chanel pushed her into the river. Given Victoria’s fear of the river, that made more sense. But reality told a different story. Victoria jumped into the river. 

            Stupidity is oftentimes driven by ignorance, a compelling force that causes us to defy logic. Perhaps a need to display her courage was why Victoria jumped into the river; perhaps it was love interlinked with confusion. 

            A blind fondness accompanied by faith creates the foundation for love. But reckless love ignores your core, leaving you to think only of the image you desire; the one that caused Victoria to jump into the river. 

            Chanel stood on the shore watching Victoria struggle to evade the adversity she had feared since her childhood — drowning in the river. Her attempts to scream were muffled by the sheer volume of water. Most people who fear the possibility of death by drowning, stay away from large bodies of water. But not Victoria, she jumped into the river. 

            Victoria’s mind held no clarity or reasoning for what was happening to her. She felt the burning sensation a body experiences when your lungs take on water. The image of the river changed as she began to accept her fate. The deeper parts of the river were calm and without motion, unlike the chaotic movements of the river’s surface. The struggle to survive diminished as her body sank towards the river’s floor. 

            Victoria remembered seeing Chanel through the water’s surface; lips parted with a smile on her face. At that moment Victoria’s heart no longer beat; not from drowning but from a broken heart. Chanel killed Victoria before the water filled her lungs and severed her oxygen supply.

            She then experienced a more peaceful world as her body embraced the river’s floor. She looked up through the surface and saw Chanel standing at the water’s edge. No longer angered. Victoria was at peace. Now as Victoria accepted her fate, she saw the two of them standing side by side; both one in the same, when 2 equals 1. 

Published by llfranklin12

Larry L Franklin holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University. He performed in the U.S. Navy Band located in Washington, D.C. from 1967 to 1971. From 1972 to 1975, he taught music at Southern Illinois University. In 1976, he completed requirements for a certified financial planner designation and maintained a successful investment business until 2007 when he retired to devote his energies to writing. In 2003, he received an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. Franklin is the author of “Mnemosyne: A Love Affair with Memory,” published by Xlibris; “The Rita Nitz Story: A Life without Parole,” published by Southern Illinois University Press; “Cherry Blossoms & Barron Plains: A woman’s journey from mental illness to a prison cell,” published by Chipmunka Publishing Company; and “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals,” published by History Publishing Company. He currently resides in southern Illinois with his wife, Paula.

2 thoughts on “THE BLACK RIVER

  1. Beautifully written, Larry. Moving and sad. You are doing a great job with this book.

    Sent from my iPhone


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