Here it comes. That is, here comes that Amazon book titled “Every Kind of Angel” that I have been writing about in this space since 2015. Better late than never.
But let’s not waste time on why the book is so late coming out. But instead I will go into the reason I wrote the collection of stories. It is about the same reason why in ancient times social critics began to communicate in parables and fables rather than in direct essays that went straight for the throat. It is always a softer experience to hear a story than a lecture, and it creates fewer repercussions against the messenger.
I have introduced each story in the book to be a kind of fictional mermaid that is half human. The human part of the story is what I heard from an actual event that stimulated me to create a fictional “tale.” But it is also the human part of the stories that bug me. Here are two that especially nag me.
- My first story is based on a real human being whom I would watch go about town when I lived in Visalia, in Tulare County (in Central California .) This wandering bearded man was known to practically anyone there as “Augustus.” He had been fairly well known for his popular TV repair services. He had been married, and seemingly living a pretty normal life. Then his wife left him, and it set off for him what we know to have been his nervous breakdown.
I am sure that any Beacon reader is acquainted with the regimen of a nervous breakdown. I first met a person recovering from such a breakdown when I shared a room with one as a freshman in college. “Bill” was still recovering even as he entered college after suffering the breakdown shortly after graduating close to the top of his high school class.
With his excellent high school record, Bill was able to secure a relatively high paying job over the summer that promised to pay for a lot of his university bills. Unfortunately, as is usually the case, the high pay also accompanied a comparable high level of stress. For someone who was simply used to the routine of earning high grades, the sudden new responsibilities not only caught Bill off guard but overwhelmed him to a turn into helplessness.
Fortunately, Bill’s family had the health insurance that enabled their 18-year-old son to be slowly weaned from the helplessness that he had desperately escaped into as a form of sanctuary. Unfortunately, my Augustus – an older man with no health insurance at the time – had no program to help wean him from the helplessness that he had similarly entered as a sanctuary in the face of feelings of abandonment. His continuing inability to function only gave him a small monthly award for disability but nothing to help house or employ him.
He “got used” to sleeping in the fields around Visalia during the city’s freezing winters and its equally extreme blazing hot summers. Day after day of sleep deprivation from exposure to the harsh elements took its toll on him, until his helplessness exceeded that of the first blows of his nervous breakdown,
One day I find him standing in front of me at the Visalia Post Office – the first time I had actually been within physical reach of him. I began by saying hello. I had already heard some of his story. No response at first. I asked a couple of friendly, easy questions until finally he turned to looked at me. Then he clicked his heels and saluted. I guessed that this came out of his military history. But that was all I personally learned from Augustus, unless my short story about a Sebastian has revealed the secrets of what is less than conscious about him. .
My story about Sebastian in “Every Kind of Angel” is titled “The Family Angel,” whose text was originally published in Aphelion internet magazine in 2007 .
- My next story in this book that seeks to challenge our system about a young man who has to learn to live in pain after being wounded and discharged from a wound he suffered on duty in the US army in Iraq. It is a kind of continuation from what we have all seen on TV and many times in our family lives about our fellow young Americans coming back to America in constant pain from horrendous war wounds.
Still, my own personal contact of such a person is not from the ranks of our military, but from our police force.
Like our soldiers, our police officers have also have had now to deal with horrendous physical and emotional mental wounds to have come from terrible new destructive technology used their and our enemies.
Never before in our history have both our soldiers and our police officers faced such insidious weapons designed to kill and maim them, and the rehabilitation taking place now for these American heroes speaks volumes of what they have been through.
My police officer friend Paul has been maimed by a car that criminally crashed into his police car, which left him so too disabled to take on a normal police beat. So he has to work in a police forensics room now, and he does so still grateful to serve his nation and his community as a police officer. Yet his original desire to join the police had a lot to do with the adventure of the job, and he clearly now misses that variety of venture.
I also do not know if his divorce was connected with his injury, but we have become familiar with how difficult it is not only for a wounded soldier or police officer to deal with the pain of a severe wound or injury. But to a different extent how the family deals with it as well is a critical issue.
The title of the story of my wounded young man is “The Angel out of Nowhere.”
I hope that my stories will so something to successfully plea for the people who inspired them.
Chris Sharp- Commentary
Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . Sharp's latest book is an Amazon Kindle collection of his published short stories, Every Kind of Angel http://a.co/fuaXDsP. His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon