“The future’s uncertain, and the end is always near…”

So sang Jim Morrison in the Doors’ song, Roadhouse Blues.

Prescient? Perhaps, but in the same song, he also sang “Save our city, save our city
Right now”. While some of the sturm and drang of the Doors’ music could be over the top, (disclaimer: I’m a fan), it reflected the zeitgeist of the time. It’s also pertinent today with so much uncertainty about our future.

Each day brings a new revelation or speculation about the future, short and long term. Truth is no one really knows. And in A Coward’s Guide to Living, neither does the middle-aged protagonist Jacob Will. His future is uncertain, and the end? Well… that’s to be discovered.

But, as with Jacob, we’ll all have to plow on through this to find out what happens.

In the meantime, in the closing words of Roadhouse Blues, Morrison wails “Well, I woke up this morning, I got myself a beer.”

Why not?

Brienne of Tarth, maybe.

The first time Jacob Will saw Hannah, Brienne of Tarth from the Game of Thrones TV series came to mind: not so much the perpetual scowl but her countenance. Uncommonly tall, uncommonly beautiful, and a dazzling smile. But why was she with an older, a much older man? And in Key West. All of it seemed unlikely.

And like Jaime Lannister, Jacob would be smitten too and it would change his life forever. But that wouldn’t happen until he had committed his own eleven little deaths.

“I thought the secret of life was obvious: be here now, love as if your whole life depended on it, find your life’s work, and try to get hold of a giant panda.”

If A Coward’s Guide to Living’s protagonist Jacob Will was much of a reader, he might have come across this quote from Anne Lamott. And if he did, he might have recognized its significance as he drove across the country with a giant, chromium yellow panda bear as his silent companion. But as fate would have it, he’d learn it the hard way.

Charged

Eduardo Garcia, the real-life “star” of the movie Charged, faced unbelievable odds and obstacles in his fight to survive. With help from a friend who stood by him the entire journey, he overcame them, but at such a cost. He came though it, physically diminished, but perhaps more alive than ever.

What does this have to do with A Coward’s Guide to Living‘s Jacob Will? A lot.

A set of unmatched bags…

When people talk about someone having baggage, they’re usually referring to those issues that need to be dealt with. It’s not unusual, when drilling down into them, to discover they’re all related. Some of that is true for the middle-aged protagonist of A Coward’s Guide to Living, one Jacob Will.

But in his case, it’s a grand set of unmatched luggage, different sizes, colors, and of no good to anyone, including Jacob, and more of it than he might care to admit. In fact, that is the problem – acknowledging that which he’s been uselessly carrying around his entire life.

In his case, the lost and found is and isn’t the answer. He’s got to find out what his issues are before he can finally lose them, and that’s easier said than done. It’ll take at least eleven little deaths for him to overcome the crap holding him back.  And how he does it, well, let’s just say it will take him places he’s never dreamed of.

True life.

In order to move forward, A Coward’s Guide to Living protagonist Jacob Will had to get past “Stop.” That’s probably true for many of us. I know it is/was/(still!) for me. We all have our issues, hangups, and internal roadblocks that prevent us from getting anywhere. And that’s what A Coward’s Guide to Living is all about.

It’s been said too many times, ‘write what you know’ and this is some of what I know or at least suspect. While this book is fiction, some of it is ‘torn from the front page’ (overly dramatic, yes?) of my life. Consequently, in those cases, I do know of what I’ve written. Some of the issues written in this book are universal, while others are personal. A number of incidents portrayed here are real and for the most part, unembellished. Except for the alarm clock.

Other situations are fiction with a hint of truth/reality in them. Hopefully, the whole book rings true. For the past few months, I’ve been teasing about the story here. Now, as I move forward with the blog part of this website, I will write more about what brought A Coward’s Guide to Living into being. I hope you enjoy it.

What would you do if…

Exactly. It’s like what your parents might have said, “If someone told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?”

And as a child not wanting to upset their mother or father, the answer would probably be a sheepish “no.”

But what happens when your best friend leaves a deathbed wish for you to commit eleven little deaths… of your own. You. Not someone else. And it’s all legal.

What would you do? And why?

“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.” Ernest Hemingway

Truer words have never been spoken. They’re especially poignant as the trip middle-aged Jacob Will was embarking upon was a solo endeavor. And it would be safe to say, Jacob did not love himself.

This journey was also laced with no small amount of irony as what precipitated it was the suicide of Jacob’s best friend. Just like Hemingway, who he was to encounter later on. While Jacob was not intent on his own suicide, he did have to commit eleven little deaths of his own. What would Ernest have said about that?

Put the bottle down and step away from the wall.

perrier

After hours on the road in his attempt to commit eleven little deaths of his own, Jacob Will stopped at the first liquor store he found. Not so much to quench his thirst or to imbibe, but upon a realization, he was determined to commit the first of these deaths right then.

But did he have to buy such an expensive bottle of Champagne to do it? More importantly, what did he do with it if not drink it? And what happened afterwards?

#elevenlittledeaths

Not necessarily an illegal alien, but…

‘What is there to do in Roswell?’

That’s what was on Jacob Will’s mind as he pulled into town. There was no shortage of signs, businesses, museums, and teams commemorating the aliens’ place in local culture. Short of boarding the next saucer out, it really wasn’t that different from other towns. Besides, he’d seen weirder things at the advertising agency he’d worked at.

So, not necessarily a believer in things UFOs, extra-terrestrial and such, he still wanted something to remember his visit and a crappy baseball cap wouldn’t do. His solution was as alien to him as those portrayed all over town. But what did that have to do with his eleven little deaths?

A lot.