Dark, gritty, and riddled with back alley characters, The Third Step is one man’s journey into the black recesses of his own soul…
Meet Frankie, a young, disaffected amateur boxer, really more of a punching bag, a drunk and a drug addict. He is a loser at love, except for his relationship with his grandma, who, rumor has it, is a white witch. She, along with a handful of others, serve as his moral compass.
Frankie fights a lifelong struggle to find an understanding of the creator of the universe, not the poisoned caricature painted by the church and the “holy” people who seem to torment him.
His journey takes him from the East Coast down to New Orleans to face confrontations with his demons, both real and imagined.
Along the way the story is littered with tales of drug smuggling, murder, an affair with a woman who may be the devil herself, and an ultimate quest for revenge.
Frankie comes to terms with his addictions, but his search for a deeper understanding of this God entity and his need to connect with his soul could be his ultimate addiction, one that may follow him beyond the grave…
Targeted Age Group:: 18-80
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
For a long time I've felt a need to put this struggle into words. Addiction and recovery are never easy, some people die trying. The third step of the twelve traditions of AA/NA, says, "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him." That was the one I really struggled with. I still struggle with it. I am still trying to come to my own understanding of the creator of the universe. This is a central theme of the book.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
These characters, all my characters, are based, loosely, on people from my past, or currently in my life. Some are friends, some are old enemies. They come to life when i write them. In "The Third Step," I'm told my characters are "deep and well developed." I take great pride in that.
CHAPTER TWELVE – STONES
Frankie picked up the CB and spoke again. “Mr. Jones,
did I ever tell you about my stone collection? I’ve had
these stones with me all my life: magic stones, plain
stones, fossils, heavy stones, boulders, little stones, big stones,
the stones of ugly old and gray memories.
When I was a boy I had none; no boy does. He accumulates
them over time. It starts with the small stones of the smallest
crimes, boy crimes. The stones grow heavier and get larger as
the crimes become more complex and life turns from daylight
and sunshine to twilight and darkness. The bag we carry just gets
fuller and fuller, but it seems there is always room for one more
stone. The stones of long-dead relatives, the stones of my dead
father, impossible to carry; the stones of my dead grandfather
and the stones of his life, again, impossible to carry; the stones
of their existence, the passing of the weight of their stones to
me. Somehow, one day, their weight, their stones, became my
stones; my load to carry through this life.
Someday I know these stones will kill me. The weight will
drag me down, back down into the earth with them. I do not
go higher. I cannot. It’s not my place. I don’t soar. My place is
under the earth, in the cold dirt, in the deep and dark and moist
and violent forest, in the ground with the mud and worms and
decay. It is not my place to rise above. It’s my place to fall below.
I cannot give these stones away. I cannot throw them in the
stream and watch them disappear.
Nothing can lighten my load. I can’t lose them; they are
always with me, following me, reminding me. This night, my
friend, watching Eddie burn, is going to bring many of his
stones into my bag. I can feel his weight already upon me. I’ll
carry his weight with me through the rest of this life. I know
now that is how we die, how men like me die, how violent men
die. The weight of all the stones of all the lives we’ve twisted and
broken and manipulated and disappointed just weigh us down
until we are slowly dragged under the ground, until forward
motion stops, and breath stops and life stops. Finally, expectedly,
predictably, perfectly, we become one with the ground.
Every woman, every fight, every loss—they all add stones—
every lie, every drink, every pill, every crime, every defeat, they
are all stones. I can feel Eddie’s weight now, Mr. Jones, and it
is dragging me under. Never fit to carry my father’s stones or
the broken promises of my grandfather’s stones and his father
and his father before him. Don’t all men carry the weight of
their past and their father’s past? I’m too young to die of this
weight, but I feel them all on me now. The bag just grows to
allow one more. Just one more and one more and one more. In
an imperceptibly slow avalanche until I become buried in the
Who will carry my stones, Mr. Jones? When I die and I’m
free from all this, who will drag this bag of stones on? The sins
don’t die with the man, his crime, his dishonor. These are the
things of every man’s legend. These are the things that never die.
I love listening to eulogies, Mr. Jones, all the flowering,
positive words from the preacher. He’ll talk for what seems
like hours about what a good Christian man this guy was, and
how he’s now in this Heaven place and seated at the right hand
of God. And I want to interrupt the flow of the speech, the
imagery and prose and ask the preacher a few questions. I want
to ask him if he ever met this guy, and then I want to ask if he
knows about the neighbor’s wives, the stabbings, and the people
he abandoned; the violent fights, the thefts and the lies, police
records, and all the stories he created to cover the stories. I want
to walk up to that ugly casket and ask the dead guy who now
will carry his stones, and hope it’s not me.
I’ll watch from a distance as they lower him into the ground.
I’ll feel the weight of his stones come upon me as they throw
shovels full of rich, brown, sweet-smelling, moist dirt on his
casket. I’ll walk away slower, heavier, and a few inches closer to
the ground. I’ll struggle to stay upright, above ground.
I don’t want some preacher to paint a lie for me, Jones. I want
you boys standing there telling the truth. Tell them who I was.
Break open the lies, for one moment. In the last moment anyone
will pay any attention to me, tell the truth. Paint the picture in
black and red and dark, dark blue and gray. Paint it in the colors
of my life. Tell the stories that will make the well-dressed ladies
get up and leave as the men shift uncomfortably in their seats,
look at the floor, and pray they are not named.
Then look around the room of that funeral chapel. Look
for that one guy sinking down, staring at the floor. His face is
ashen. He may be crying. That’s the guy; he’s already picked up
my stones. Leave him be. He’ll leave alone and in silence. Please,
leave him be.
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