Driving Distance ~ How far out of love can we fall?

Here is a little info about (and a short excerpt from) my latest novel in progress…

  1. What inspired you to write this book?
    Love. Where we find it. How we lose it. If it’s possible to get it back.
  2. What about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
    Hmm…I’m not sure if this will pique interest or scare away, but the novel is pretty stream of conscious so as a reader you jump in time and space, usually without warning or explanation. The actual time passing for the majority of the novel is about 27 minutes (the time it takes to drive 6.66 country miles with one stop along the way.)
  3. Where did the idea come from for the book?
    An interesting combination of watching other married couples,  my own separation & hours spent driving my kids up and down the same stretch of road.
  4. What genre does your book fall under?
    Literary fiction
  5. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
    That’s a hard question…probably The Lover by Duras &  Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson. Oh and The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, by Roddy Doyle.


 * * * * *

The car rounded a curve and Gwinn swerved left, just missing a rabbit. The animal scurried into a sun-baked grass clump and disappeared. As Gwinn’s eyes returned to the spot where the rabbit had been moments before, he wondered if the tiny creature had any notion of the concept near miss.


May clutches the Bourbon in a five finger choke hold and pops the lid off the pills with her free hand.

“May!” Jake’s voice is stern as he directs his gaze at Lucy, who’s standing wide-eyed in the doorway. “Don’t do this shit. Not in front of your daughter.”

“Here we go—World’s Greatest Dad telling me how I should act,” May sneers.  “I’m not the one fucking around.”

“Not this year,” Jake says under his breath but neither woman hears him.

“And you, you bastard. You have the audacity to tell me that it’s been hard dealing with the fact that I’m depressed lately. Like that’s a legitimate excuse for adultery.”

“May, you don’t get out of bed in the morning! You haven’t had a job in years. Half the time you barely speak to your own kids . And you treat me like chicken shit stuck on your shoe.” He doesn’t bother to mention the condition of the house—loads of unwashed laundry and dishes, rotting food on the counters, piles of abandoned projects and books littering every surface.

“He’s a regular fucking Super Dad isn’t he Lucy?” May says, indifferent to Jake’s accusations. “I mean, the farm’s about to be repossessed. I hear all Super Dads have trouble paying their bills.”

“At least I work. Or I do when you let me out the door in the morning.” Jake’s voice booms as anger sets in. “And who spent all our remodeling cash on cocaine and beach trips?”

“Very nice, Jake. Let’s talk about cocaine use in front of your fourteen year old.” May’s eyes glitter maliciously. She loves to goad him. “And what about Townes?” she crows.

Jake’s voice drops to a whisper. “What about him?”

“Your own son’s scared shitless of you. You know he is.”

Jake looks at his feet. This is true. He’s blamed it on the Protection From Abuse order May contrived against him, but….  He feels a hot sting in the corner of his eyes. Townes has always feared him.  It’s like some genetic coding passed from Gwinn father to son, too powerful for Jake’s years of love and care to overcome.


“Life was better for both of us the evenings he went out. Which was most of them.” Gwinn’s grin is bitter. “Carousing, you know. He did a lot of that, my old man.” For a moment he stops speaking and concentrates on the electrical wires he’s working on. “Anyway,” he finally continues, “if Dad stayed home, Mom and I both had to tiptoe around him.”

Reyna sits on the floor in front of Gwinn, her eyes searching his face as he talks and works. They are learning each other’s details. It’s not a slow process. There is an urgency. Neither wants to wait for eventual revelations.

“So what happened if you didn’t?” she asks. Her right eyebrow arches slightly and Gwinn can see she suspects things got ugly.

“It was never an issue.”


Reyna leans closer and rests her hands on his knees. Gwinn takes comfort in their warmth. For a moment he is tempted to speak of horrors he’s never voiced. He laughs instead.


Her gaze is probing, but she says nothing.

“There was just something about him. Is something about him, I should say. He hasn’t really changed. He’s the kind of man you fear.”

Reyna looks skeptical at this explanation. She understands there are tangible reasons for his fright. “You’re still afraid of him.” She reaches up and strokes his hair from his eyes.

Gwinn nods and turns his head so her fingers slip across his lips. He kisses them as they pass. She pulls herself up and wraps her arms around him. “I’m sorry,” she whispers.

She’s not afraid. She can’t even imagine this fear that’s followed him throughout his life. Gwinn sees this in her eyes and suddenly loves her all the more. Loves her innocence and her courage. For a moment, he feels precious and safe.

“There’s something you need to know about me,” he murmurs, burying his face in her hair. Under her soft warmth, he feels the tautness of anticipation. “I do love you, Reyna….but I’m a coward.”


Jake stares at May. She’s still wielding the bourbon bottle like a weapon.  His fury explodes on her. “You do everything you can to encourage that boy’s fears! What kind of mother intentionally poisons her children against their father?”

“You made your bed, Jake. Or that bitch you’re fucking made it for you. Either way, I’m just being honest with the kids.”

“Bull shit!” He’s yelling now. “You’re using this to turn the twins against me. I never fucked Reyna.”

“I always knew you’d do this eventually,” she tells him. “Sooner or later, I knew you’d want revenge for my relationship with Steven.”

“You’re wrong, May, if that’s what you think this is all about.”

May’s eyebrow arches and her squared chin juts definitely, as if challenging him to find some more plausible explanation.

“You want to know why I like being with Reyna?” Jake smiles as the words roll off his tongue. “We make each other happy. No fucking required.”

Across the room a glass shatters on the floor. Lucy’s hand is bent like she’s still holding the cup full of soda as a strange expression creeps across her features.  Her jaw remains set like her mother’s, haughty with anger. But her eyes grow tender and, as she gazes at her father, he recognizes longing there. Longing for him to find happiness. And perhaps the chance of some for her as well. For an instant Jake sees the possibility that Lucy might not hate Reyna.

May, glancing from Jake to Lucy, sees it too. Her face falls. In a swift gesture she empties the pills into her mouth and washes them down with a swig from the bottle.

Lucy gasps, before crying out, “Mom! No!”

Jake merely watches, surprised and somewhat guilt-ridden by his own indifference to the unfolding melodrama as May’s excessive coughs are followed by a bitter laugh.

“Well, Jake, guess now I’ll either be happy, or I’ll be dead. No fucking required.”

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