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Death takes the Highway by David McLain – Part 3

Next week, we’ll be  featuring Leigh Goff’s new book, Bewitching Hannah which launches September 17th! You can find Leigh’s book here and even pre-order it now!

This week, David McLain’s short story continues… Find Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Find David’s novel, The Time Traveller’s Resort and Museum here.

 

They walked slowly through the hospital, reaching the elevator in what felt like thirty minutes. Neither one said anything. The hallway was oddly, almost suspiciously empty, as if everyone in the hospital had gone on a coffee break. They got into the elevator, and walked down a hallway to the lobby. Again, there was nobody. They walked out through the doorways, and out into the cold January air.

“I’m right around the corner,” Death said.

They walked slowly around the side of the building to a visitors parking lot. Parked in the handicapped parking space was a bright red 1964 mg convertible with the engine running. It was in mint condition, like a beautiful little matchbox car.

“What’s that?” William asked.

“I was going to ask you,” Death said.

They got into the car. William could tell that the car was going to be considerably nicer to look at then it would be to ride in. Even with the engine running, it was difficult to see out the front window, and in the cold, the vinyl seats felt like sacks of heavy cement. “Do you know how to drive stick?” Death asked.

Will nodded. He didn’t want to admit it, but he hadn’t driven any car, manual or automatic, in a little over five years now. He stopped driving at his daughter’s suggestion, and had gotten around with her help and with the senior bus. Still, he used to love driving. When he was younger, well, a lot of things were different when he was younger. He put his foot on the clutch, and tried putting the car into reverse. It stalled right away.

“Been awhile?” Death asked.

“They don’t let you go out for a drive when you’re in hospice,” William pointed out.

“Just take it slow,” Death suggested. “It sticks a little going into reverse, but after you get past that, it’s not bad.”

Will restarted the car, this time he backed out of the spot. He shifted it into first gear. Slowly the car rolled forward. They turned left onto the street, and headed west. William Hershel was eight-one years old, and the clock was never going to roll forward.

The beginning of long journeys always seem like short ones. William didn’t know where he was going, or how long it was going to take. He had a feeling though, that this wasn’t a day trip.

“Where are we headed?” he asked. He tried to make it sound casual, as if they were headed out to dinner and he didn’t know which restaurant they were going to. For that matter, it occurred to him that he didn’t know if dead people eat. Maybe they were done with that sort of thing now.

“The sunset,” Death said simply. He seemed to feel that this was enough information.

“West then?” William assumed.

“Take the highway,” Death said.

William found his way onto the highway. It was a route he could’ve driven blindfolded. He’d lived in this town for forty years, and knew every street like the back of his hand. Much like the hospital, the streets were impressively empty. The lights all seemed green too. “Death waits for no one,” William thought, suppressing a smile.

They headed out on an unassuming highway toward the west. Upstate New York was both beautiful and ugly in equal parts, and driving through it now, the beauty seemed hidden, or at any rate overwhelmed, by the dull monotony of gray hills, gray clouds, and gray little towns where people were doing their best to earn a meager living. William found that the little sports car was hard on his back, and after a few hours, he needed to stop and rest.

“There’s a casino a few miles ahead,” Death suggested. “Let’s stop there.”

“I’m not much of a gambler,” Will admitted.

“Where we’re going, you don’t need money,” Death replied. “But they’ll have a restaurant.”

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Interview with Owen Swain, Creator of the #tourdesketch Windsor Colouring Book

Owen Swain, a Windsor-based artist, is the creator and artist behind #tourdesketch Windsor, an adult colouring book featuring the sights of Windsor, Ontario. I’ve invited Owen to answer some questions for us, so we can get to know him and his seeing/drawing process.
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M|W: Other than drawing, what do you do in your spare time?
Time is flow. I enjoy: bicycling (really, really dislike driving a car), reading (fiction, nonfiction), listening to music, volunteering in my community and parish, meditation, hanging out with the Love of my life and our dogs. And when I am not drawing I am often to be found drawing or painting or, well, you get the idea.
M|W: What was your biggest obstacle in getting where you are today with your art?
Not fully believing in myself or say, not listening to my own narrative for my life. Everything belongs though and it all is a part of “now”.
M|W: What made you choose to feature Windsor in particular?
I’ve lived in Windsor since 1999 but only more recently have come alive to being alive “here” and discovered our city by bicycling and drawing on-location.
M|W: How long does a typical drawing, like the ones in the book, take you?
Roughly 57 years and 8 or 10 hours. It’s a largely different process from my usual on-location sketching in that I took my own photos, make sketch notes on site and then returned to the studio to work. They are less immediate than my usual methods for on-location drawing and more particular in trying to make them suitable for colouring in.
M|W: What’s your favorite part about drawing?
Seeing. I feel the most alive to myself and my environment when I am drawing. Getting to know a person, place, animal, tree, thing, etcetera by trying to truly observe the essence of the subject not merely rendering what I think I know about them/it.
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Owen Swain is a Windsor, Ontario illustrator and painter who works in a variety of media and styles and is interested in all manner of subjects while specializing in on location, observational drawing, sketching, mentoring and portraiture. He is never without a sketchbook.

Owen’s creative impetus is daily observational drawing that moves beyond looking to seeing, from thinking to being, and from mere drawing to discovering and developing one’s own mark. Owen believes that the Zen of what Frederick Franck coined as ‘seeing/drawing’ has transferable life skills for all.

He is the creator of #tourdesketch, an art-for-all monthly event that includes in-season slow-bicycling Sketchouts with a focus on local culture and heritage and during autumn and winter months, sketch meet-ups with instruction on ‘seeing/drawing’ as meditation as well as good fun drawing, tips, and sketchbook skills for the artist within each of us.

Owen moved to Windsor with his family in 1999 for what seemed a clear path and purpose. Things changed, life morphed, the path clouded and it wasn’t long before he felt discouraged, as though he was living someone else’s narrative for his life. He persisted in trying to make the detour make sense. However, at a critical point, Owen determined the best thing was to simply be more fully who he’d always been, to rediscover his first love and vocation as a person who makes art. To re-learn how to be, rather than to do. He got back on his bike and rode and rode and drew and drew and gradually he came to love Windsor, its people and his ‘new’ way of being.

Excerpt: Black Lightning by K.S. Jones

Just a reminder, in celebration of Black Lightning’s launch this month, the Ebook is ON SALE in our store until May 31st! Use the promo code: LIGHTNING to bring it to $0.99!

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After his mother’s car accident, Mrs. Abel had driven Samuel to the hospital and stayed until Aunt Janis and Uncle Jack arrived. “Don’t worry,” is all she would say to him. “You must have faith.”

But when Samuel saw the doctors and nurses rush to the Critical Care unit where they had hidden his mother, he worried anyway. He had paced the long hospital hall from end to end while Mrs. Abel read one magazine after another.

At nightfall, Dr. Reed, a frail middle-aged man wearing blue medical garb, emerged through the double doors marked Authorized Personnel Only. With a determined gait, he walked straight to Samuel. Reeking of antiseptic, he asked, “Are your aunt and uncle here yet?” When Samuel shook his head, the doctor stiffened then announced, “Your mother is still in serious condition. We’re doing what we can.” Then, without waiting, he turned and walked back through the double doors as if his job were done.

“What did he mean?” Samuel asked Mrs. Abel.

But instead of explaining, she said his mother was in God’s hands. Then she promised Uncle Jack and Aunt Janis would be with him soon.

Samuel hoped, prayed, and paced. He put all his trust in God to heal his mother.

As the full moon rose high into the night sky, Mrs. Abel fell asleep on the waiting room couch. She was still sleeping when the doctor returned.

“I’m sorry,” Dr. Reed announced. “Your mother passed away.”

With one shove, Samuel slammed the wire magazine stand to the floor, sending the bound pages sliding across the linoleum like racing sleds. “NO!

He hated the drunk driver who had slammed into his mother’s car and he hated the doctors and nurses who couldn’t heal her. He was especially angry with God for taking her, but the fury that burned most seared straight through his own heart. Why hadn’t his prayers been strong enough to save her?

A fiery pain burned deep inside him, so clear and sharp it almost drove out his sorrow. Raging against faith, Samuel looked up and shouted, “You can’t take my mom!” But when no reply came, he slammed one foot and then the other against the floor. He envisioned cities and people beneath his soles. Bad people. Monsters. He would murder them all as payment for taking his mother. But as he stomped, the truth slowly settled. He was powerless to do anything at all that mattered. Feeling his strength drain, Samuel dropped to his knees, sobbing. His mother was dead.

KS Jones

Karen (K.S.) Jones grew up in California, but now lives in the beautiful Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio with her husband, Richard, and their dogs Jack Black, Libby Loo, and Red Bleu. Black Lightning is her first middle-grade novel. She credits her love of fantasy to the early influences of authors J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. Her award-winning first novel, Shadow of the Hawk, a Young Adult Historical, released in 2015.