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The Black River

“The Black River” is a manuscript written by Jovon Scott and edited by Larry L. Franklin. “The Black River” is near completion. Hope you like it.

Larry L. Franklin

“THE BLACK RIVER”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

            This is a work of fiction, a psychological thriller to be exact. The fact that it could have happened is not that farfetched. Any time we delve into the mysteries of the human mind, we marvel at our saneness. After all, the human brain has over 100 billion nerve cells called neurons that communicate with other neurons through a substance called neuro-transmitters. This enables us to do all of the things that we consider humanly possible — drink a cup of coffee, climb a mountain, or if we’re one of the lucky ones, calculate the size of the universe. It is here where sanity and insanity are controlled by DNA, life experiences, medication, street drugs, sex, and fate.

            The human brain serves as a hotbed for the characters — some real and some not. The main character is Dr. Tianna Smith, a psychologist who suffers from a serious mental illness and creates imaginary people. Each character, whether real or not, is pictured as a sane individual with the typical social interactions humans face. As the story develops, the secrets will gradually unfold, providing the reader with a clear understanding of where we are headed.

PROLOGUE

            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 snaking 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 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. Her breathing became more labored and her heart was on fire. Victoria 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 remembered the passion that burned deep into her soul; spellbound and persuaded by the words that Chanel never spoke; eyes that shared a telling tale; and private things that remained 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.”

            “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, or was it 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.

CHAPTER ONE

CHANEL

ONE YEAR EARLIER:

            It was in the early hours of the morning when the city was stirring with party-goers, drug addicts, and the homeless who were looking for a place to sleep. Except for a few travelers on their way home, the streets were filled with police cars and ambulances looking to salvage another night in the city.

            An ambulance raced down the streets with lights flashing and sirens blasting, hoping to make it to the Mount Rush Hospital in time. The paramedic in the back of the ambulance told the driver to go faster; the woman might not survive. 

            “We have a female patient suffering from a drug related overdose, believed to be heroin,” the paramedic said as the patient was being moved from the ambulance to the emergency room.  A doctor entered the room and flashed a light into the woman’s eyes to determine if they were dilated; a common clue for a drug overdose.

            “Get an I.V. going. I need her vitals asap. Start the reversal drug immediately,” the doctor ordered as the medical staff went to work, knowing that there was a small window to save her. While the woman’s pulse was faint, she was still alive. Her name was Chanel Rosenthal.

            “Chanel, how much did you take?” the doctor asked. “I need to know.” As the nurse added the solution to her I.V., Chanel responded in gibberish. She then leaned over the bed and vomited onto the floor. This was a typical day for Chanel. She frequently found herself in the Mount Rush Emergency Room where the doctors and nurses knew her well.

            Chanel found these roller coaster rides to be exhilarating.She cherished the altered state of mind, shifting from one reality to another. For her, the drug overdose was mind blowing; releasing the beatitudes that opened the path to a spiritual awakening; and being on the edge, the place that society deemed to be life threatening. Chanel asked only for the freedom to be herself.

            Hours passed before Chanel opened her eyes. She scanned the room as memories of her night flashed through her mind. While only fragments, they began to tell a story: Chanel had gone to one of her favorite clubs, listened to music, had drinks topped off with coke, followed by a heavy dose of heroin. She was no stranger to blackouts or being strapped to hospital beds after drug overdoses. Although she had teased death on multiple occasions, killing herself was not a conscious choice. She just loved being high, drunk, and the short bursts of ecstasy driven by emotional orgasms.

            The thought of death had never discouraged Chanel from her chosen lifestyle. While she barely survived many life-threatening experiences, there were no regrets. Circumstances had always returned her to the living. Her mind had been plagued with so much trauma and torment that an adjustment of her brain’s wiring was an escape.

            Except for the fact that they had been killed, Chanel knew nothing about her parents. The man who raised her was a father figure, providing her with a different perspective on fatherhood. When he died, Chanel was placed into foster care, another life experience gone amiss. This was where Chanel’s young mind was introduced to the ugly side of life.

            The poverty-stricken slums of Chicago catered to degenerates and the altered minds of most adolescences. The child-care system was the equivalent to a prison for children. Chanel embraced her rebellious ways and became the epitome of a destructive, unpredictable teenage menace; possibly the worst case in the group home. When Chanel turned 18, psychologists and psychiatrists considered her to be socially disconnected from reality.

            As time passed, Chanel became engrossed in drugs and sex while chasing that first high; a high that she could never match no matter how hard she tried. Despite the drug abuse, Chanel was a beautiful woman. Her appearance was the ultimate bait in reeling in men to play out her lifestyle. While it was a reflection of her behavior, she never thought of it as being repugnant. Sex was only a deflection allowing her to dissociate from her conscious thoughts.

            Chanel’s five-foot five-inch frame, shoulder-length hair, and thick lips added to her sex appeal. Perhaps her dark-colored eyes accompanied by an alluring gaze were the ultimate mystery that grabbed your attention.

            “Chanel Rosenthal, I guess you must like us here at the Mount Rush Hospital?” Nurse Jamie asked as she and the doctor walked into the room.

            “I’m thinking that you have a thing for me, Doc. We can’t keep meeting like this,” Chanel joked with a half-hearted smile.

            “Are you trying to kill yourself or are you just in dire need of some attention?” the Doctor asked.

            “Now you sound like Doctor Phil. Dying isn’t easy for me. I’ve tried more times than you can imagine,” Chanel replied.

            The Doctor proceeded to make his case for survival. “Maybe self-sabotaging isn’t for you. I can tell you next time you try to kill yourself, you may succeed. Here’s something you need to do for yourself, stop using. Look at this x-ray.”

            The Doctor held the film up to the light. “If you look near the heart, you’ll notice a dark area the size of a golf ball. That’s called an aneurysm which is a blood-filled bulge in  your blood vessel. If this were to erupt, you’d die from eternal bleeding. It’s a miracle that it hasn’t already killed you. You don’t need surgery. It’ll go away on its own if your heart isn’t forced to do unnecessary work. When you shoot drugs, it forces your body to regulate the body temperature, heart rate and other things. So, if you want to live, no more drugs. I can give you information on where to find help, but you already know these things.”

            “I didn’t know it was that bad,” Chanel answered with a measure of concern.

            “Yeah, it’s very bad,” the Doctor replied. “You’re young and beautiful with your entire life ahead of you. Make something of it and do yourself a favor, stay alive.” With that said  the doctor left Chanel to think about her mortality. She closed her eyes and explored her thoughts. She didn’t want to die. While she didn’t have a lot to live for, maybe one day that would change. She at least owed herself that. She’d never attempted to quit, but the stories she heard from recovering addicts was something she wasn’t ready to experience. It’s a shame how people don’t get the chance to choose who brings them into this world. Her mother was dead, and her father was a piece of dysfunctional shit. When Chanel felt a tear fall from her eye, it became real. Only Chanel could save herself.

***

1968/2020 in America

It was fifty-two years ago in 1968; one year into my four-year commitment to the U.S. Navy Band in Washington, D.C. A beautiful Spring morning soon morphed into a sky filled with swells of black smoke. My wife, four-month old daughter, and I occupied a two-bedroom apartment in Oxon Hill, MD, just inside the District of Columbia. My job was playing taps for Viet Nam soldiers killed in action, White House arrivals, patriotic gatherings, and touring the United States two months of each year. While the spirit of America was beaten-down, it was not dead, yet.

            April 4, 1968 is etched into my mind as the time when I believed that America was broken. It was the day that Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot dead. Being that I considered King to be an  American hero, I was saddened by his loss. His passing was met with the grief and anger from a sizable portion of our population. But for many of us, fear was added to the equation.

            My wife and I stepped onto the balcony of our two-bedroom apartment and viewed the landscape, questioning whether the violence, looting, and burning of buildings would reach our apartment some four blocks away. I was totally confused. I was not a racist; open to other points of views; had black friends; and considered Martin Luther King, Jr. to be an American hero. But for the moment, my survival instincts took over. For the first time in my life, the safety of my family was my main concern.

            I called one of my fellow musicians with the band who lived in a safer location and told him of my concerns. He immediately invited us to stay at his house for the night. By now, daylight gave way to the darkened night, leaving me to wonder how I would get my family to the car and travel to my friend’s house. The sky was leaking smoke and it was time for our escape. I had a .22 caliber pistol that might fire and might not. I decided to carry our daughter and my pistol while my wife carried the suitcase. If confronted, could I really shoot someone, especially people who I considered to be my friends. If challenged, I could show the gun, possibly shoot in the air, and yes, for my family, I might have to kill. How could I make eye contact with my black friends again? Thoughts raced through my mind while I struggled to make sense of my dilemma .

            We made it to my friend’s house, and I didn’t fire my gun. The next day my friend and I traveled with the band to a concert in Philadelphia to perform at a Navy function. While traveling through the District of Columbia young people threw empty bottles against the windows of our bus. No one spoke while we traveled through the city and onto Philadelphia. While my family was safe at my friend’s house, the civic uprising continued from April 4th through the 8th. In Washington, 13 people were dead and 1098 injured at an estimated cost of 27 million dollars. The emotional cost was unknown.

            While the hot summer of 1968 experienced temperatures well into the upper 90s, a brief monsoon unloaded over the District; not a good time to live in a tent. A community of 3,000 black people set up tents near the national mall just south of the reflection pool, and close to the Lincoln Memorial. They were determined to make a statement about poverty among the black population. While their attention was to stay a week, it grew into a 6 week occupation, May 15th to June 24th. The movement was called the Poor People’s Campaign, sometimes referred to as the Encampment Resurrection City. On Thursday evenings we played concerts entertaining tourist and residents of Resurrection City.

            On June 6, 1968 Robert Kennedy, Jr. was assassinated in California. His body was transported by rail from California to Washington, D.C. I remember our bus ride from the Navy Yard to Union Station. Not a word was spoken. We stepped from our bus and played two hymns while Kennedy’s body was carried to a long, black hearse. As the hearse disappeared into the night, we packed up our instruments and climbed onto the bus headed back to the Navy Yard. Not a word was spoken.

            The summer of 1968 has been reignited in a once dormant place in my brain. The emotions bubble over as my wife and I digest the television coverage of riots, killings, and lost lives happening before our eyes; wondering why the injustices of our society continue; why we have to be reminded that black lives matter; and why we watched a video of George Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis who was killed before our eyes. May wife and I turned to look at each other. Not a word was spoken.

One Man-Four Barn Shallows

  

ONE MAN AND FOUR BARN SWALLOWS:

An ongoing battle between myself and four Barn Swallows, referred to as Bird One, Bird Two, Bird Three, and Bird Four, is commonly considered a legend, a mere folklore that began 5 years ago. Historians asked that the events be documented in order to call the tale for what it really is — a true story.

            This war began several years ago near a small village called Makanda. While some view this as a battle between good and evil, the truth says otherwise; a war built on love and respect and fueled by the need for survival. I protected my property while Birds One through Four fought for a location to populate their family.

            Every soldier realizes the importance of knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent. Only then is victory possible. I researched my opponent, looking for ways to win the war. While a worthy foe, the size of a Barn Swallow is somewhere between a small and medium size bird; some twenty grams — the weight of 8 pennies — and can fit in a man’s hand. A wingspan of 12.6 to 13.6 inches allows the bird to fly in a zigzag manner at an approximate speed of 11 meters per second and a wing beat rate of 7 to 9 times per second. They fly close to the ground or water surface allowing them to eat some 60 insects per hour while in flight. The Barn Swallow is a beauty in flight with its blue back, wings, and tail; a cinnamon-colored forehead; and an orangey underbelly. It is a rainbow in motion as it speeds 10 to 20 feet above your head, and sometimes much closer.

            While researching Barn Swallows One through Four, I fell in love with my opponent. The mere beauty and aggressive nature of the warrior is amazing. So, why would I feel  determined to keep the birds off my property? It’s the nest, the messy combination of mud, grass, and feathers form an open-cup shape. Give it 20 hours to set and I have a concrete-like structure stuck to the inside of the porch. Gallons of soapy water cannot remove the nest without leaving a stain on the wall; a stain requiring two or more coats of paint.

THE BATTLE:

             I was inspecting the property and more importantly the front porch. This was the time of year, and the spot where they launched their annual attack.

            OMG! A long row of mud was stuck to the top of the wall. The key, as I discovered during an earlier time, was to counter-attack immediately. DON’T WAIT UNTILL IT DRIES. I connected the water hose, turned on the hose to its most powerful flow, and headed to the battle-site. Fortunately, the mud hadn’t dried, and the removal was easy. But knowing Barn Shallows One through Four, I knew they would be back. So, the plan was to have the water hose ready and check on the porch every 30 minutes. With four birds, a nest can be rebuilt lickety-split. If I stayed with this plan for a few days, Barn Shallows One through Four would likely give up and look for another structure to build their nest. After all, the baby birds will need a home. That was the plan.

            Sometimes I retreated inside my home and looked out the window. Other times, when my testosterone was in a state of rage, I stood at the steps of the porch and spayed a steady stream of water at the birds and yelled profanities. Their response was to reach their maximum speed and dive-bomb me at a distance of 2 feet before I launched a counterattack causing Barn Swallows One through Four to pull back. The give and take between the soldiers were similar to ballerinas jumping and spinning on a New York City stage. Poetry in motion, that’s what it was.

            While the counterattacks continued, my grass had grown to the point where I needed to start up my riding lawn mower.  What was about to happen was predictable. It happened many times before. While I mowed, Barn Swallows One through Four dive-bombed me over and over and over.  I yelled and screamed and eventually began singing in an operatic style with a loud voice.

            In a previous year, I had purchased a large plastic owl designed to scare Barn Shallows One through Four. Nice thought, but it didn’t work. As soon as the birds figured out that the owl was plastic, they flew over and to their target. So, I thought of another idea — take a 6 foot ladder and place the owl on top leaving little space for Barn Shallows One through Four to fly. While it’s too early to declare Mission Accomplished, 2 days have passed without another attack. It’s likely that Barn Shallows One through Four found another target, possibly my neighbor. And that’s okay since my neighbor said that Barn Swallows One through Four were smarter than me.

Time by Jovon Scott

“Time” was written by Jovon Scott while incarcerated in an Illinois prison. I edited Jovon’s recent book, “Blood of my Shadow,” book one of a 6 book series. If interested, check out Jovon’s website at authorjovonscott.com

TIME by JOVON SCOTT

It feels like I can’t breathe while isolated from society,
despite my sobriety of being sober from sidewalks and stop signs,
watching cars pass me by as years fade in crimson shades.

Time passes like ticking clocks,
seconds morphed into a thousand days.
I watched myself watch myself,
through broken mirrors and foggy perceptions.
Dying to find myself,
Lost in hidden books on forgotten shelves.

Waiting on my moment, waiting on my moment.
I said I’m waiting on my moment
as if my freedom means anything to the free world.
The spoils and riches defined by inches as I grasp my sanity,
exposed to bridges of vanity,
profound words of profanity.

Taught not to give a fuck,
as luck have it I never gave a shit.
Defined by crimes I was convicted as forgotten,
thrown into a cell like…
Nigger or nigga, you know what the fuck going on,
Being trapped, confined in a cycle of bars and cop cars
with flashing lights, lights so bright.
They blind the blurred lines that entangle minds to think alike.

Jobless homes and fatherless thrones where princes often land,
enslaved in chains far from home.
Detached my sense from pain and grief,
for lies and blood filled streets.
I fell from grace, landed in isolation.
I live for time, I lone for time,
and define myself as a man who’s trapped in time.

Sometimes words are not enough.

I’m not sharing this for a pat on my back or some positive recognition. It’s always been my hidden dream to make a positive contribution while I’m still living. Perhaps it’s part of the aging process that we all want to be remembered in a positive way before we move to the next level, where ever that might be.

This letter that I received today reinforces the idea that we can all make a difference. Be kind to someone with an open hand and share the best of yourself. That’s all it takes. The reward in unimaginable.

***

I’ve learned to live in my head, a place to be free. But that was not always the case. Imagine that you met a person in your life who will forever change the way you view strangers. I met such a man. He knew nothing about me, at least nothing positive nor good. He only knew that I was incarcerated for gun violence. This man taught me things a father should teach his son. Being that I came from the slums of Chicago and had been hardwired to be destructive, I grew up less fortunate than most. Where I came from did not offer hope or a different path from the one that guided me to prison. But I’ve always been creative with a vivid imagination.

I was isolated from society while being confined in a cage and forgotten. But I met a stranger who believed in me and grounded me when my life was falling apart. The culture of the streets isn’t built to elevate your potential or drive you towards success. It taught me not to trust strangers and be relentless in terms of rage.

This man wasn’t like the men that I grew up with. His skin is a different color and he doesn’t speak the same urban language that I do. But he believed in me and never gave up. And for a kid from the streets of urban Chicago, that’s the difference between life and death. This man is my role model, father figure, noble, and someone who pushes me to be great. He is my second chance. His legacy will forever be embedded into the fabric of my future. He is also the man who advocated on my behalf, and invested in me without complaint. This man is my friend, Larry L. Franklin.

Thanks to everone who has purchased a copy of “Blood of my Shadow” and who continue to sped the word. If you’re trying to contact me, you can write to me at:

Jovon Scott #M09478
P.O. Box 1700
Galesburg, Il 61402

THE BLACK RIVER

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.

PROLOGUE

            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. 

A Unique Review

A review by iloveuniquebooks.com

Blood of My Shadow is a book that covered all the shenanigans that takes place in the underworld where drugs are freely ferreted across borders by cartels. Granted that lots of books have been written in the past that gave insight about the drug world, however the author, Jovon Scot told the story in a unique and indebt way. The reason is not farfetched considering that he was an active player in most of the activities and was able to have firsthand information as well as observed everything from close quarters.

Another good attribute of Blood of My Shadow that helped in making it more “real” and pulsating is the way Jovon Scot begins the chapters with time, date and venue in dateline sort of. Once again, in helping to project the worldview of the characters in the book, the author would bring everyday life theories in explaining the motive or why the characters chose to act the way they did.

In terms of overall character development, the actors in Blood of My Shadow does not really ‘jump in your face’ so to speak. That is one area the author should have done better. The characters ought to have been more dramatic with salient unique attributes that would easily set them apart. This is not to say that they are all bland, not even in the least. However, the point is that they should have been more developed.

Another important aspect of written works whether fiction or nonfiction is the plot. It is the storyline that will determine whether a story will be thrilling or otherwise and that’s another major area Jovon Scot was able to score a bull’s eye. The book has a rich plot that seamlessly flowed from the beginning to the very end.

Another factor that helps in transforming literary works into becoming evergreen classics is the ability to make readers to identify with it, and Blood of My Shadow did well in that area. Readers that know how the underworld of drug racketeering works will easily agree with the events that took place in the book as factual while others who had no prior knowledge will be able to gain an insight beyond what is peddled in the mainstream media.

On a general perspective, Blood of My Shadow is amazing and such well detailed book can only be written by someone who was once actively involved as an insider.

The Birth of a Book

It’s been some time since I wrote a blog. I’m been busy editing , reading manuscripts, and offering contracts to authors for the History Publishing Company. Accepting contracts as an editor is a lot easier than finding a contract as an author.

Watching a manuscript travel the road to acceptance, to editing, to formatting, and to a book that smells like a blend of Tennessee whiskey and strawberry wine, is an emotional high. (Sorry, I can’t get the lyrics of “Tennessee Whiskey” out of my mind.) Perhaps it’s more like watching the birth of an author’s baby. Any yes, like any parent, the author can be gracious, protective, defensive, perhaps a bit mean, before reaching a state of bliss.

I’m showing four books that I’m played a small part in their eventual birth. They will be released in a matter of days. And I currently have eight more manuscripts making their way through the birth canal.

I must say that I’m finding the position to be both exciting and stressful. But, hey, isn’t that what life is all about. I’ll be back in a few weeks with additional books to share.

Fish Heads in an Open Bag

     Each time I drove the five-hour trip to the Dwight Correctional Center, Rebecca Bivens was on my mind.  Becca, as she was called, was found guilty-but-mentally ill for the murder of her five-year-old step-daughter.  The fact that she had been diagnosed as having a bipolar disorder grabbed my curiosity.  As an investigative journalist, I try to get into the subject’s head and experience what she must have felt. 

     As an experiment, I imagined that I was Becca, diagnosed as bipolar and off my medication.  I would then write what might have gone through Becca’s mind on a normal day.  After writing three examples, a shared them with Becca, asking her if this is similar to what goes on inside her brain.  While not a scientific experiment, I found it interesting that her initial reaction was, “Yes, that’s me.  That’s what goes through my mind.”  This was later published in Cherry Blossoms and Barren Plains:  A woman’s journey from Mental Illness to a Prison Cell” by Larry L. Franklin

***

     My name is Rebecca Bivens.  It was the 1980’s.  I was barely a teenager and the summer days were long and dry.  Bacon was frying in a black metal skillet, and the morning was clear.  My mother was talking and pouring her first cup of coffee.  Her voice was faint and the words made no sense and the sounds became one, like the annoying hum of a fluorescent light.  She probably told me that Dad and my brother were going fishing for the day, or that my room was a mess, or that I was a bad kid. 

     I might have been thinking about the fish heads I saw at Friday night’s fish fry.  The severed heads were stuffed into open bags. The bodies were gutted, washed, and rolled in seasoned flour, and cooked in black skillets like my mother used.  The heads were alive.  Their eyes and mouths continued to open and close, and called out for help.  Their misery was real and hard, just like mine.  My mother’s shouting brought me back to her reality.  My mind jumped around a lot in those days.  Maybe that’s when my mind began to slip away.

***

     The voices have no name.  They’re not these booming commandments from up above or down below.  They’re more like thoughts, racing thoughts that pound the inside of my head like a jackhammer.  Sometimes I write the words on a piece of paper, and then another and another.  Later, when I’m kind of normal, people tell me that the words made no sense.  They stare at me like I’m different, and then they turn and walk away.  It’s so lonely in my world of cherry blossoms and barren plains.  I wish that I could take you on a tour of my brain.  All of the twists and turns through the cerebral matter must be a bit like running through a maze.  Wherever I turn, I’m always lost.

***

     It’s been nearly ten years and some ten-thousand pills later since I killed Dani.  I can barely say it since I still don’t remember doing it.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about it.  But each time I try, I end up seeing fish heads in an open bag.  Now I try not to think about that part.  I just think about what a wonderful girl Dani was.  I tell Larry, my writer friend, to write more about Dani.  I want everyone to know her like I did.  I want them to know how she liked to read books, listen to music, and play make-up.  I bought her a long blond hairpiece.  She loved wearing that hairpiece.

     I haven’t gone completely manic since I’ve been here.  I take my meds every day.  I can’t take a chance on losing control of myself.  But the meds are not easy.  I never feel right.  My hands shake, I get nervous, and I always have some kind of depression.  Sometimes I wonder if that’s God’s way of letting me know that I’m a bad person.  But that’s not what my psychologist says.  I get to see him one time a month.  And that’s not what Larry or the Pastor say.

     The only reason that I agreed to tell my story is so other people can better understand what happened; and my poor kids who have been without a mother for so many years.  I want them to know that I’m not a terrible person as some might say.  I want them to know about my world of ”Cherry Blossoms and Barren Plains,” and how I sometimes see fish heads in an open bag. 

Writings from a Prison Cell



I’m passing on a message from Jovon Scott, author of “Blood of my Shadow: The Rise & Fall of the Syndicate.” I edited his manuscript and arranged for its publication with History Publishing Company.

I’m writing to you from a cell in the Hills Correctional Center, looking to share the experiences from my earlier years that helped shape the storyteller I am today.

The characters and personalities in “Blood of my Shadow” come from people that I know. I’ve met some entertaining people who later became subjects in my stories, allowing me to balance imagination with the reality of my life. Getting to know me, the author, is imperative to understand why I say and write different things.

Before my life in the prison system, I was handed off from one relative to another. Most of my siblings were adopted by foster parents, causing a distance to develop among all of us. We were like strangers. Later we tried to reintroduce ourselves, hoping to bond as ordinary families are suppose to do. My father at the time was still finding himself and trying to support his children. But life sometimes has a way of reminding you that you are alone. Being the only boy in a pool of sisters and an absentee father, left me without a male role model to guide me through the perils of manhood. This was when I turned to the streets and the gang culture.

I grew up on the Southside of Chicago in the Robert Taylor housing projects. The stuff that I was forced to endure were not things that should be a part of a kid’s life. My mother was raising too many children on her own, leaving me to be consumed by the streets. When you’re raised in a toxic environment, you learn to live inside of your head and create a safe place to exist. My imagination was filled with an array of colors — vibrant and full of life.

When I first came to prison I was used to the violent and hostile environment. After all, I was raised in a world that equated to what I was being thrown into. Although this was the first time I’d ever been isolated from society, it was no different from the world on the streets. It all seemed like part of my life’s cycle. The first couple of years in prison weren’t any different than life on the streets. Eventually, prison nearly destroyed me. Prison makes you more aggressive and fills your heart with so much anger, resentment and perplexity.

I lost myself and nearly became that person I didn’t want to be. I was in a dark place and being pulled into an even darker one. I contemplated suicide. Life wasn’t worth living any more and I wanted out.

When I went to segregation for an extended amount of time, I rediscovered writing. This was where that shift from the unknown to certainty brought me back to the living. It was in that moment that I began writing “Penumbra,” which was later changed to “Blood of my Shadow.” I found myself in each of the characters I created in my stories. Writing saved my life and allowed me to see all of my lost years. The circumstances weren’t what held me back, it was me. I held myself back.

All of my writings will take you on an interesting journey filled with suspense. I thank everyone who has supported me, and I pledge to take advantage of this life-alternating experience. I ask that you spread the word about “Blood of my Shadow” and encourage people to visit my website — authorjovonscott.com I’m also on Facebook — Author Jovon Scott

I’m open to correspondence from anyone that’s interested in getting to know me and have a dialogue about the book. 
Jovon Scott #M-09478
P.O. Box 1700
Galesburg, Illlinois 61402