A Tough Journey: To the Heart of Happiness
About the Book:
Set in Huntington Beach, California and briefly in France, A Tough Journey examines domestic violence and a community’s obligation toward its battered women.
Bernie Perkins, local surfer and photojournalist is in conflict with his father over local politics on one level and his father’s insults on another. His father owns the local newspaper.
Bernie is a lay philosopher and a lapsed artist. He tries to love his wife, who, like his father, insults him. He adores his three-year-old son and his mother, a native of France. His son dies; his wife leaves him.
Someone murders the neighborhood dogs one by one. Bernie tries to find the murderer. He runs for city council to protect the women’s shelter. Due to his father’s sabotage, he loses the election by a few votes.
He chooses an affair with his married neighbor over a woman who is too available, takes his neighbor to France. When he loses his mother, he travels from the despair of attempted suicide into the mysteries of his own heart. He returns understanding some of the complexities that fuel family, neighborhood, and community conflicts and discovers who really killed the dogs and why.
It’s a wild ride all the way!
Purchase through me and I’ll sign your book!
He saw the girl standing on one leg and rotating the other in a slow circle, bare toes pointed like a ballerina’s. Tall, slender, and inviting in her gauzy beige skirt and ribbed tank top, she watched him come out of the ocean. Her black hair, parted in the middle, hung straight to her shoulders. With pale blue eyes fixed on him, she stood in his path as he trudged across the sand. When he reached her, she said, “You’re good.”
“Thanks.” He stopped, tugged at his shoulder zipper. With one hand he peeled off his wet suit.
Her eyes followed his every move. “What’s your name?” she asked.
“Bernie. What’s yours?”
“Bernie? What a dippy name. Doesn’t suit you at all. I think I’ll call you . . . Landon.”
“Suit yourself.” He knocked the sand off his board and tucked it under his arm.
“They call me Chloe. My car’s in the parking lot. Got a stash in the glove box. Care to join me?”
“Sorry. I’m married.”
She tossed back her head and let loose a few musical peals of laughter. “I’m not asking you to fuck me or nothing.”
Bernie glanced at the sun. It was just about to sink behind Catalina Island. The crowd of
gulls aimed their beaks out to sea, waiting for that final drop. Judy was home, most likely
sprinkling a cake, thawing out hot dogs, and talking to her mother on the phone. She wouldn’t
miss him. What the hell, it was still early and it wouldn’t hurt to relax for a change. He grinned.
“Today’s my birthday. Let’s go fire one up.”
“Hey, party time!”
Chloe had parked at the farthest corner of the lot, a good two blocks away from the pier where she’d been watching Bernie surf. “Where you from, Landon?” she asked.
“Right here. Good old Huntington Beach, CA.”
“No shit, you live here? I never met anyone here from here.”
“Now, you have. I grew up here.”
“No wonder you can shoot the pier like that. I bet you know all them pilings.”
“Yep, and every barnacle on ‘em.”
The sun dropped behind Catalina as they reached her green Volkswagen Rabbit. It was parked next to a huge dumpster that hid it from the street. Lace curtains decorated the side windows and a miniature ceramic dog hung from the rear view mirror. A black and gray German Shepherd, curled in the back seat, lifted his head and growled at Bernie.
“Quiet, Bruiser. It’s only me and Landon.”
The dog settled down. Chloe eased into the driver’s seat, opened the passenger door and invited Bernie in. The strap of her tank top slipped off one shoulder. Her nipples pushed against the flimsy cotton.
Bernie laid his board and wet suit on the pavement and climbed in, keeping an eye on Bruiser. When he closed the door, the glove compartment banged open by itself. In it was a well-rolled joint. She pulled it out, lit it, inhaled, and handed it to Bernie. He knew he shouldn’t be doing this. His father’s scowling face appeared on the windshield like the ghost of Christmases to come, scowling at him, ogling her. He blinked the image away and took a hit.
Chloe smiled and slowly pulled her undershirt over her head. Her tan breasts burst out at him like Van Gogh sunflowers. “Give me a scratch, will you, Landon? I got so hot watching your muscles flexing and your brown curls flying in the wind, I spilled a cup of sand all over me.” She took his hand and ran it over her right breast.
Bernie felt the fire. Slowly, because he wanted to be polite, he removed his hand. “What were you doing, drinking sand?” Bruiser growled softly and flicked his ears.
“No, making a birthday cake in the shoreline just for you.”
Grinning, Bernie leaned back against the seat. Where do these chicks keep coming from? He inhaled again and held it. Giggling, he said, “I haven’t had any of this shit in years.” He passed her the doobie.
“This stuff’s nothing,” Chloe said on the intake, “compared to what you can buy legally. The guy who raised me took every prescription drug known to man but came unglued about a little pot.” She handed him the joint.
He held it between his fingernails in front of his mouth and sucked in ocean air along with the hemp. He felt her hand on his dick, slowly caressing it through the nylon of his swimsuit. She pulled at the drawstring and untied it. With another what-the-hell-why-not, he struggled to pull the damp suit over his boner. Finally, with her help, he shoved the suit down to his thighs. His dick stood at attention ready to earn that Silver Star.
Still caressing him, she leaned over and enveloped his penis with her mouth, running her wet tongue over it. Then she lifted her head and quickly, deftly slipped a condom on him. He had moved beyond caution five minutes ago and was grateful she hadn’t. Hot breath came out her open mouth in short gasps. She climbed over the gear shift, and straddled him. Her sunflower breasts, smelling of sea and sand, filled his face. She inhaled his dick into her slippery pussy as effortlessly as she’d inhaled the joint now smoldering in the ashtray.
Chloe began a slow teasing motion up, down and around. Soon the Volkswagen found a rhythm of its own and seemed to be rocking them. Bernie leaned back and let the rhythm take over, thrusting him up and down in her wet sea just like the pumping oil derricks that peppered the city.
She dug her fingernails into his shoulders as she came, moaning with pleasure. It was a deep guttural sound that triggered his own pump. Man, she was fast! Briefly, he wondered when the Rabbit would stop pumping him. Eventually it slowed.
“Wow, Chloe,” was all he could say. After she lifted herself off him and fell into the driver’s seat, he peeled off the condom and dropped it on the floor. “D’you mind the litter?”
He pulled up his swimsuit. How the hell did this happen? “You’re amazing.”
She shrugged. “So–you like my little birthday present? You’re not bad yourself. I really dig that lower lip of yours.” She fingered his lip. He wanted to tell her his lips came from his French heritage, but guilt slipped in, holding him back from intimate conversation and the temptation to befriend her.
Smiling, he stepped out of the car, picked up his board and wet suit, saluted her, and headed toward the pier. He glanced back and saw Bruiser looking at him out of the rear window. It gave him the willies.
When he faced forward, he saw Judy standing on the tarmac thirty feet away, hands on her hips. He stopped, then moved toward her. His feet were pure lead.