Saturday, August 17, 2013

Harmless by Ernie Lindsey (Excerpt)

Don’t ask me why, because really, I don’t know—okay, I do know why, but that’s a different matter altogether—I didn’t call the police.  Not immediately.
And this would later prove to be one of the smartest moves I’ve ever made.  As contrarian as that sounds, it’s the truth.  My unforgivable, despicable qualities aside, I’m not known for wise decisions, either.  Bad investments, missed opportunities, falling victim to the whole “everybody’s doing it” pretext and then being the only one to get caught.  Life would’ve taken a completely different direction if I hadn’t lost my baseball scholarship over an isolated steroid incident.  I didn’t know it was a banned substance.
Eh, let me back up.  That’s not exactly accurate.  When I say isolated, that’s too limiting.  More like, I took the same thing (one steroid = isolated) for two seasons, but I still didn’t know it was illegal.  I’m sure there’s a list somewhere, but Coach never told us what was on it, so whose fault is it?  I refuse to believe I’m to blame.  How is anyone supposed to excel if you have no clue about the things that’ll give you a legal advantage rather than an illegal one?  The NCAA can kiss my ass.
To this day, the disgrace of walking out of that locker room with my tail tucked between my legs stings like it just happened.  I get a bit misty-eyed when I watch the Giants, knowing that it could’ve been me up there on the mound, hurling my ninety-eight mile per hour fastball past one batter after another.  One, two, three strikes down the middle.  Have a seat, chump.  Don’t let the bench give you splinters.
That was back when Shayna loved me.  College sweethearts, hottest girl in her sorority dating the captain of the baseball team.  Apple pie, Statue of Liberty.  Put it in a Norman Rockwell painting, right?
And while I’m talking about paintings, it’s too bad that some people—Shayna, primarily—see an unattractive model instead of the Mona Lisa when they look at me.  That’s a stretch, but you get the point.  Kerry, now, she would’ve seen every masterful brushstroke.
For a time, after I moved into my House of Exile, I’d shed a tear or two over those days, wondering if that’d been the genesis of my downfall.  If I hadn’t become so morose over the years, lamenting the life I could’ve had, would Shayna have driven me to infidelity?  Or was it the need for approval from someone—a necessary ‘atta boy, good job’—that wasn’t forthcoming from the woman who was supposedly on my side?
Or was it always there?  This weakness gestating inside me, waiting to be born, with the labor induced by that first unintentional mistake, each bad decision thereafter another contraction, finally forcing the real me, the wretch, into the world.
Am I, though?  A wretch?  I don’t think so.  I’m just a good guy with certain uncontrollable limitations.
The fault lies with he who can’t find a better reason.  I say “reason” instead of “excuse” because there’s a huge difference.  An excuse is an admission.  A reason allows room for circumstances beyond my control.
I’ll offer this: losing my scholarship wrecked my confidence, for a time.  I felt like I’d lost my ability to make any sort of intelligent decision, at least until I realized that I was a byproduct of everyone else’s need to screw over the human race.  You give, they take.
Until you can’t anymore, then you do something about it.  A guy can only subject himself to so much.
Here’s what I want to know: was I born this way, or was I created?
That’s for you and God and society to decide.
I know I sound bitter, but when a dream is ripped from your hands, it leads to some lashing out.  Believe what you will—I have no trouble accepting blame when it’s indefensible, when my situation isn’t the byproduct of someone else’s greed, ignorance, or arrogance.
Three times in my life—the scholarship, my family, and Kerry—I’ve been robbed of an acceptable future.
Don’t think the irony was lost on me.  I got it.  I saw it.  It was like a big, flashing scoreboard out in center field: three strikes and you’re out.
Only I was the one at the plate and Kerry’s death was a curveball I never anticipated. 
I didn’t even get the bat off my shoulder.
It’s tough, this life.
From the *USA TODAY and Amazon Bestselling Author* of SARA’S GAME…this is HARMLESS, an unconventional love story, a murder mystery, and a laugh out loud, funny novel.
There’s someone for everyone…even Steve.
Steve Pendragon is an eccentric (and sometimes delusional) used car salesman in love with Kerry, the quiet, secretive girl next door–only she doesn’t know it. When the would-be love of his life turns up dead, all signs point to Steve.
Once the detectives hit a dead end in their investigation and he becomes the prime suspect, Steve is left with only a reluctant police officer and a crooked private investigator to help him prove his innocence. Could a kindhearted homeless woman and a cryptic note in Kerry’s diary provide the key to the mystery?
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Mystery/Suspense
Rating – PG13
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