On January 1, 1995, I went out to my office in Harbor Springs, Michigan – that’s where my computer was located – and began writing the first draft of what has become my current novel-in-progress, Bobby Cramer. I didn’t have a title for it then, and two years into it I started it all over again when I switched from the Apple IIc to the Gateway. I had no idea where I was going with it; some would say I still don’t, but I’m having a lot of fun, and last night when I stopped writing at 11:38 p.m., I was on page 784.
About five years ago I wrote the preface – the teaser, if you will. Here it is in its entirety.
The kitten is staring back at me. It looks startled, but it is unblinking, unmoving. Off in the distance I hear a series of high-pitched beeps. A soft female voice says, “Breathe.” I take a breath, the noise stops. I feel weak, my body heavy. I try to look around. Soft lighting, chemical smells, muffled sounds, people moving. The alarm sounds again and the voice repeats, “Breathe, Richard.” My throat is dry. I am very tired. Darkness moves in.
The light comes back slowly. My right hand is resting on my chest. A long metal cap like a thimble with a wire running from it encloses my index finger. I try to lift my arm, but it is too heavy. Once again I hear the beeping and I take a deep breath on my own.
My head is clearing. The kitten is a poster on the ceiling: Hang In There, Baby. I am in bed, the covers lightly tucked around me. My left leg throbs but I cannot move it.
“Are you awake?” says the voice. She is wearing a white coat, large glasses, and a shower cap. She smiles, adjusts something. “Where’s Bobby?” I whisper. She moves off. More darkness.
The next time I open my eyes she is at the foot of the bed. Someone who looks like Alan Alda in green scrubs and dark hair looks closely at my leg. “Need to loosen it a little.” A high whine, the smell of cut wood, the heaviness lessening. The noise stops. “Where’s Bobby?” I say.
The man looks at me. “You’re a very lucky man, Mr. Barlow.” He moves to my side. “Do you know where you are?”
“In a hospital, I guess.”
“Do you know which one?”
I try thinking, but nothing comes. For a moment I stare at him, then shake my head.
“You’re in Longmont United. Longmont, Colorado. Do you know how you got here?”
I shake my head again. Still nothing.
“Do you know the date?” says the woman.
“February something. Nineteen ninety-five.”
She puts a clear plastic tube into the needle in my arm.
“You’re still a little groggy,” says Alan Alda. “You’ve had surgery to reduce a fracture in your left ankle. I did the operation.”
“Thanks. Where’s Bobby?”
He pats my hand gently. “We’re going to keep you overnight for observation. Go back to sleep. We’ll talk later.” He looks at the nurse, she nods, and the kitten fades into the growing darkness. (Copyright 2005 by the author.)
That’s enough for now. Back to work.