Category Archives: book

A message from the author.

I‘m supporting Jovon Scott, friend and author of “Blood of my Shadow.” I had the pleasure of editing Jovon’s book and bringing it to fruition. I’m posting a message from Jovon written from locked in a prison cell.

Writing and imagination have been an escape from the reality of my upbringing.  The ability to create a world where I can exist is compelling; perhaps enchanting.   The streets nearly killed my creativity and pulled me so far under that I lost myself.  The drugs, violence and other things that came along with the culture damaged my ability to feel; to be a kid, allowing myself to reach the potential of who I am today.

I was mentally isolated in a bondage that imprisoned my mind.  But words freed me from the mental incarceration, opening the doors that allowed my mind to run rapid and unharness my imagination.  Now at the age of 30, I’m free and more alive than I’ve felt before.   

Blood of my Shadow:  The Rise & Fall of the Syndicate is a depiction of my imagination mixed with the reality of the street culture.  Urban fiction and organized crime have never been entangled into one genre — until now!  This 6 book series is my mind run rapid on pages that allow you to enter my world of reality and creativity.  Thank you for your support.  I promise to keep the art of storytelling alive. 

Jovon Scott

Memories

Memory is life’s greatest gift.

It was an earlier time, late 19th or early 20th century, perhaps, when three learned men — Hermann Sorgel, Daniel Thorpe, and Major Barclay — gathered in an English pub.  They had attended a day-long Shakespearean conference in London, listening to lectures on the works of William Shakespeare and experiencing a lively discussion on the structure and theme of their favorite sonnet.  What better place to finish the day.  A bar lined one wall, a smoke-stained fireplace stood against another, and several like-minded patrons circled small wooden tables separated just enough for an intimate conversation.  The cigars were strong that night, and the dark, warm beer was smooth and plentiful.

     The Major abruptly changed the conversation when he pointed to a beggar standing outside.  Islamic legend has it, he said, that King Solomon owned a ring that allowed him to understand the language of the birds.  And a particular beggar, so the story goes, somehow came into possession of the ring.  Of course the ring was beyond any imaginable value and, as a result, could not be sold.  Legend has it that the beggar died in one of the courtyards of the mosque of Wazir Khan, in Lahore. 

     Sorgel jokingly added that the ring was surely lost, like all magical thingamajigs.  Or maybe some chap has it, he said with a chuckle, and can’t make out what they’re saying because of all the racket.

     Thorpe weighed in.  “It is not a parable.  Or if it is, it is still a true story.  There are certain things that have a price so high that they can never be sold.”  Thorpe went mute and stared at the floor.  He seemed to regret having spoken at all. 

     The darkening of Thorpe’s mood and the lateness of the evening moved the Major to call it a night.  Thorpe and Sorgel soon followed suit and returned to their hotel.  Thorpe then invited Sorgel to his room to continue their conversation.  It was there, in the privacy of Thorpe’s room, that he asked Sorgel if he would like to own King Solomon’s ring.  “That’s a metaphor, of course, but the thing the metaphor stands for is every bit as wondrous as the ring.  Shakespeare’s Memory, from his youngest boyhood days to early April, 1616 — I offer it to you.”  Sorgel fell silent as he struggled to find a word.  Thorpe continued.  “I am not an impostor, I am not insane.  I beg you to suspend judgment until you hear me out.” 

     Thorpe continued.  “I was a military physician.  I was in a field hospital when a soldier who had been shot twice was about to die.  What he told me might sound  quite startling, but strange things are the norm in times of war.  The soldier, Adam Clay, offered me Shakespeare’s Memory, and then, in the final minutes of his life, he struggled to explain the singular condition of the gift.  ‘The one who offers the gift must offer it aloud, and the one who is to receive it must accept it the same way.  The man who gives it loses it forever;’ he said to me.” 

     “And you, now, possess Shakespeare‘s Memory?” Sorgel asked.

     “I am now in possession of two memories — Shakespeare’s and my own.  They seem to merge, or maybe I should say that two memories possess me.”

     I’ve searched the works of Shakespeare for years, Sorgel thought.  What better gift than to know the inner workings of Shakespeare’s mind, and maybe touch his soul.  “Yes,” Sorgel declared with an assertive tone.  “I accept Shakespeare’s Memory.”

     “Shakespeare’s Memory” is a short story by Jorge Luis Borges.  While the work is fiction, Borges’ insights into memory are both precise and profound, and as real as life itself.  Borges leads us through a maze of discoveries as bits and pieces and chunks of memory begin to unfold. 

     Sorgel recalled Thorpe’s words.  “It will emerge in dreams, or when you awake, when you turn the pages of a book, or turn a corner.  Don’t be impatient; don’t invent recollections.  As I gradually forget, you will remember.”

     Sorgel’s sleepless nights were mixed with the fear that it was a hoax, or possibly an illusion, and the longing hope that he might in some way become Shakespeare.  Memories began to return as visual images, and then auditory, sounds that issued from him when Sorgel sang a melody he  had never heard before.  In a few days, Sorgel’s speech took on the “r”s and open vowels of the sixteenth century.  He began to sound like Shakespeare.

     Memory was not the stretch of rolling hills with green meadows and natural springs that Sorgel had hoped for.  It was a mountain range with beautiful and at the same time, terrifying peaks, frigid temperatures, and the threatening crevasse just around the corner.  Some memories were shadowy, and some were so traumatic that they were hidden forever.  Sorgel enjoyed the happiness of the moment, and then his mood darkened from an unwanted memory.

     At first, Sorgel’s and Shakespeare’s memories were separate and easily distinguishable each from the other.  Then they began to mix, and finally, Shakespeare’s Memory overpowered his own, causing Sorgel to question his sanity and wonder how little time was left before he was no longer the man he once knew.

     It became clear that Sorgel had no choice but to give Shakespeare’s Memory away.  He dialed telephone numbers at random.  At first they were met with skepticism and then an abrupt hang-up.  In time, he reached a more receptive gentleman and Sorgel said, “Do you want Shakepseare’s Memory?”  And to Sorgel’s surprise, the voice answered, “I will take that risk.  I accept Shakepseare’s Memory.”

     Shakespeare’s Memory was transferred a little at a time, and was irregular at best.  But years later, some residue still remained.  “I am now a man among men,” Sorgel wrote.  “In my waking hours I am Professor Emeritus Hermann Sorgel; I putter about the card catalogue and compose erudite trivialities, but at dawn I sometimes know that the person dreaming is that other man.  Every so often in the evening I am unsettled by small, fleeting memories that are perhaps authentic.”

A journey of enlightment

Larry L Franklin

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I never thought I would write or edit five prison-related books. That was not my intention some 15 years ago while traveling a beaten-down, two-lane highway to the Dwight Correctional Center. I was about to have my first interview with a female inmate, convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. What I thought would be a one-time interview, turned into a two-year journey and my first book — “The Rita Nitz Story: Life Without Parole.”

While working on Rita’s book I met another inmate who was incarcerated for killing her five-year old stepdaughter. The inmate, Becca, suffered from a bipolar disorder and unable to recall the murder. After obtaining copies of her mental health record and confirmation of her mental illness, I began another two-year journey that turned into a second book — “Cherry Blossoms & Barren Plains: A woman’s journey from mental illness to a prison…

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Evolution of my *&*&# Potato Chips

Larry L Franklin

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My wife and I modernized our shopping strategy.  We purchased an Alexis unit that sits in our kitchen waiting for our daily directions, “Hey Alexis, add peanut butter to the shopping list.”  Alexis answers with a pleasant, “I’ve added peanut butter to your shopping list.”  We installed the app on our iphones which allows each of us to access the grocery list.  I go to the south end of the store while my wife heads north.  Place an item in your grocery cart, delete it from your app.  That’s the plan.

I’m in the south end of the store moving down the potato chip aisle looking for my favorite, “Cape Cod Whole Earth Collection 40% Reduced Fat Potato Chip.”  And then it strikes me, “Where in the hell are my potato chips?”  Standing in front of me is an entire aisle of different varieties of potato chips performing the “wave”…

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Psychiatrist on the Colorado theater shooting case of James Holmes

Larry L Franklin

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Jeffrey L. Metzner served as psychiatrist on the Colorado theater shooting case of James Holmes, ruling him sane and fit to stand trial.  Holmes was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the death of 12 and the wounding of 70 individual.

Pleased to receive a review from Jeffrey L. Metzner, M.D.

This book provides the reader with a history of the burgeoning growth of supermax prisons within the United States and an insider’s knowledge regarding many of the problematic inmates housed in such prisons. The complex dynamics leading to the often bizarre self-injurious behaviors demonstrated by a small but significant number of supermax inmates is explored in this well-written book. The authors’ conclusion that the mental health treatment offered to inmates with a serious mental illness at Tamms was often better than the treatment available at other Illinois prisons, related to class action litigation, is ironic and concerning.

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The day my father loved me.

Larry L Franklin

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It was an earlier time, many decades ago, when the love between my father and I first appeared.  My parents had ended their dysfunctional marriage, leaving my older brother, Keith, to live with our father while I was sent away with my mother and a dog named Nippy.  Keith was 13 and I was 7.  I was later told that Keith and I had to be separated; he did bad things to me.

Two months later, after the spring plow and the crops had been planted, I returned to the two-story farmhouse for a one-week visit with Keith and my father.  On this summer day, my grandfather and mother were in the front seat of his 1951 Chevy while I peered over the back seat looking for the house where I had spent my earlier years.  No sooner had we turned off highway 16 and headed north on the DeLand…

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Title to be determined

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First attempt at writing an Urban Novel.

Prologue

Miami, Florida
June 1, 2012
9:15 pm

Red and blue lights flashed repeatedly, interrupting the darkness of a summer night. Anisa pulled over as the Police Cruiser followed closely behind. The back roads were isolated and secluded from the busy streets of Miami; mostly open to the Everglades and small planes that landed on private airstrips.

The officer slowly emerged from his cruiser and approached the vehicle. Anisa and Kema were both under the provision of the Russian counsel, making them diplomatic citizens. The vehicle was registered to the Embassy and considered diplomatic property, causing Anisa to question the stop.

“Is there a problem officer?” Anisa asked as she lowered the window.

“No, not at all young lady,” the officer answered. “Just don’t get much company back here. This is just a concerned safety stop.” Anisa smiled. Kema remained composed, yet vigilant.

“We’re alright officer, just taking this road to the air strip ahead,” Anisa explained.

“Well, I see you women are alright, so I’ll let you get on your way.” Without hesitation, the officer stepped back, unholstered his service weapon and fired into the vehicle. The first trajectory grazed Anisa’s cheek as she managed to duck the second one. Kema jumped from the car and returned fire. Anisa followed in unison. A series of shots sent the officer running for cover. Kema closed in, firing at the fleeing officer as he managed to fire back. While he made his way to the driver side of the car, he saw Anisa. But it was too late. She fired a shot that ripped through the officer’s clavicle.

“Ah Shit,” he yelled in excruciating pain. Anisa walked up close as Kema made her way around the car.

“Who do you think he works for?” Kema asked.

“The Cuadras Cartel, definitely,” Anisa said, firing a bullet into his skull.

“Are you alright?” Kema asked.

“Yeah, it’s just a graze wound,” Anisa answered. “Let’s get out of here. I’m sure someone heard the shots.

 

 

A final goodbye

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“I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy — 1972

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again.

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong

I am invincible

I am woman

***
Patty Smith was one of my best friends for the past 47 years; a long time, but not long enough. Paula and I moved to Carbondale in 1971 and bought a house next door to Buddy and Bev Rogers. It was through the Rogers that Paula and I began a friendship with Dick and Patty. In many ways, the six of us – Buddy, Bev, Dick, Patty, Paula and myself – were like an extended family. We shared stories, meals, jokes, laughter, sadness, opinions, and the occasional game of pinochle. It was not unusual for the six of us to hang out two to three times a week. Based on 47 years and my rough calculations, we spent some 10,000 hours just hanging out.

Without hesitation, Patty Smith is one of the strongest women I have known. Each of us has obstacles that block our chosen path. How we deal with each challenge defines our character.

Patty was married to James Staff in1964 and lost him in 1966. During that love-filled marriage, Patty gave birth to Jimmy. In a flash, Patty had become a widow and a single mother. A few years later, she married Dick Smith and became the mother of two families rolled into one. In time, Patty and Dick lost Scott, their oldest son, to cancer. As time passed, Patty was dealt an additional challenge – Dick suffered a major stroke. In addition to the normal duties of wife and mother, she was now a caregiver, head of the household, and major provider. She stepped out of her husband’s shadow and took charge.

Any one of these challenges could break a weaker person. While family and friends offered their support, Patty turned to God, her spiritual source for guidance and strength. Her loving qualities grew and her toughness only strengthened, allowing her to face any adversary. Patty’s spirit now resides in the glory of the Lord. But her compassion, strength, and knowledge continue to live within each family member and friend who knew her well. She gave us a template, a master plan for how to face life’s challenges. But we have to act upon the lessons she has passed on. The answers, the magic is there. When faced with our next test, I suggest that each of us say, “What would Patty do?” “What would Patty do?”

***
I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can face anything
I am strong
(strong)
I am invincible
(invincible)
I am woman