These are three short stories by Amazon bestselling author, Tom Winton. Both his novels published 2011 (Beyond Nostalgia and The Last American Martyr) have been on several Amazon bestsellers lists. All three of these short stories are filled with the emotion and drama that has become a trademark of Tom Winton's previous work. In each of them, he delves deep into the human condition.
Excerpt from MOVIN’ ON:
At the time, moving to Florida sounded like a “real keen” idea, though I was positive it wouldn’t do any good. As far as I was concerned, going to Florida, Siberia, Timbuktu, or even the moon wasn’t going to make Mom and Dad get along any better. None of our other moves had, and there had been plenty of them. I was only in the fourth grade back in 1958, and already I’d taken up space in four different New York schools. We’d lived in six apartments, also—each dingier than the last.
No matter where we moved to it was always the same deal, Mom and Dad battled like two caged pit-bulls. When they got going, they made Stanley and Stella Kowalski look like June and Ward Cleaver. I can’t count the times I got stomach-sick watching or hearing their tirades. Seeing my father in his black rages, wearing that sinister sneer, flipping his loaded dinner plate upside down on the table, or heaving the whole works up against some rented kitchen wall.
With vivid clarity I still remember all those late nights my brother Theodore and I cried beneath our pillows, while our loving parents exchanged shoves, insults, threats, and horrible dirty words no kids should ever hear. Still close to the center of my mind is the time Dad smashed our glass coffee table with the heel of his foot. And all those other nights when he or Mom trashed our living room lamps, mirrors, TVs, telephones or whatever else was within reach.
Bad as all that was, the worst nights were the ones when Mom didn’t feel like dealing with any of it. She’d just put on her stockings and heels, slip into one of her second-hand, low-necked dresses, spray on that orange scented perfume that always lingered, and take off for some anonymous bar. What she did at those places, or with whom—if anybody—I never knew. But I do know for sure she went to them. Because time and again on the mornings after, when everyone else was still asleep, I’d rummage through her purse (before Dad had a chance to) usually finding, and disposing of, a matchbook advertising some dive she’d gone to.
Nevertheless, we were going south for one last try. I wouldn’t tell Theodore (even though he was two years older than I) because he worried and fretted about everything, but I’d overheard Mom and Dad one morning make a pact over coffee that if they couldn’t rectify their problems in Florida they’d file for something called an “uncontested” divorce. Now, I knew what a divorce was because I’d read on the covers of Mom's Silver Screen magazines about all the movie stars who were getting them. But in the real world, in 1958 blue-collar America, getting a divorce was the ultimate admission of failure. Not only that, but things could actually get worse from there. There was always the possibility of that granddaddy of all disgraces looming over you. You could be excommunicated from the Catholic Church—possibly burn in hell’s roaring fire for eternity.
To most people it simply wasn’t worth the gamble. Miserable or not, they’d stick it out. But Mom and Dad were a different species than most folks. They just might go the distance and get that divorce. It sure looked like they would. Bad as I wanted them to avoid it, I couldn’t help but to think this move to Florida, this half-ass attempt to quick-fix their sorry marriage, was destined to be the last in a long string of miserable failures. Certain that my parents would be branded, diminished, and disgraced by divorce, I feared that Theodore and I would also. That’s all we needed after all the harassment and bullying we’d already been subject to as “the new kids” at every school we attended.
But, like it or not, we were moving again. I clearly remember that cold February early morning when Theodore and I were getting dressed to leave. My Dad, in a rare display of paternal optimism, came into our room and told us, “Now don’t you boys worry about leaving in the middle of the school year, ya hear? This trip’ll be an education you could never get inside no classroom. As long as you live you’ll never forget some of the things you’ll see along the way.” And, man, would he prove to be right.