The RedeemerHarry Hole investigates a mistaken assassination
DOROTHEA BENTON FRANK
After the death of her mother, author Dorothea Benton Frank wanted to buy back her family's old beach house on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina. To find the funds, she told her husband she'd write a best selling book. The New York Times bestseller Sullivan's Island not only sold over a million copies, but writing it helped the popular fiction books author deal with the pain of her loss. In all Dorothea Benton Frank's books, in fact, she relies on humor and optimism to deal with family issues-from the struggles of a society divorcee in The Land of Mango Sunsets to the trials of star-crossed lovers in Bulls Island. Dorothea Benton Frank's books have earned her appearences on NBC's Today Show, Parker Ladd's Book Talk and many local network affiliated television stations. She is a frequent speaker on creative writing and the creative process for students of all ages and in private venues. Before she became a popular fiction books author, Dorothea Benton Frank was involved extensively in cultural and educational organizations, and in raising awareness and funding for various non-profits in New Jersey and New York. Today, she serves on the Boards of the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and The South Carolina Historical Society. Author Dorothea Benton Frank and her husband of 25 years, Peter, divide their time between New Jersey and South Carolina, where their children attend school. In addition to writing popular fiction books, she is extensively involved in the arts.
I will tell you the one thing that I have learned about life in my thirty-something years that is an absolute truth: nothing and no one in this entire world matters more to a sane woman than her children. I have one child, my son, Charlie. Charlie is barely ten years old, and he is the reason I get up in the morning. I thank God for him every night before I go to sleep. When I was stationed in Afghanistan, I slept with a t-shirt of his wrapped around my arm. I did. Not my husband’s. My son’s. It was the lingering sweet smell of my little boy’s skin that got me through the awful nights while rockets were exploding less than a mile away from my post. I would fall asleep praying for Charlie. And, if I had known what would happen, I would have petitioned harder for my husband, Jimmy’s, safety in those same prayers. I should’ve prayed harder for Jimmy. Now I’m driving south on I-95 while Charlie sleeps, slumped in the seat next to me, and I wonder: what the hell was the matter with Jimmy and me? Why did we think we had the right to be so cavalier about what we did for a living, pretending to be bulletproof and fireproof and thinking nothing could happen to us? Sure. Me—an army nurse doing three seven-month tours in a war zone—and Jimmy answering the firehouse alarms, rushing out to save what? The world? No, my Jimmy died trying to save a bunch of low-life crackheads in a filthy, rat-infested tenement on the Lower east Side of Manhattan. He fell to his death when the floor beneath him collapsed. How do I tell my Charlie to make any sense of that when I can’t make sense of it myself?
Ah, Jimmy McMullen, there will never be another man like you. Nope. Not on Earth and not in Heaven. You were one of a kind. Here’s to ya, blue eyes, wherever you are. I took a swig from my water bottle.
I was pretty certain that wherever Jimmy was couldn’t be too far away because I could feel him, watching over me, over us. And when the world grew still, deep in the night, I could literally feel enormous regret gushing from his gorgeous big Irish heart, regret about leaving us. But I’d never believe it was his fault for one minute. He’d been stolen from us, ripped out of our lives like a bad tooth. Jimmy’s death was another victory for the Dark Side. Plain and simple. at least that’s how it seemed to me. I mean, I was not some crazy religious fanatic at all, but I believed in God. And the God I believed in would never sanction such a senseless, violent death for such a righteous man. Jimmy McMullen was a righteous man who loved his church and never missed Sunday Mass unless he had a fever of a hundred and three. on his days off, he took Charlie and his toolbox over to the rectory and hammered loose boards back in place or unclogged a slow draining sink or put a coat of paint where it needed to go. Father O’Quinn would ask Jimmy if he could help him out on Saturday at nine in the morning, and Jimmy would be there at eight thirty with a bag of old-fashioned doughnuts and a disposable cardboard tray, two large cups of coffee wedged in the holder. That’s what he did in his free time when he wasn’t taking Charlie to a Yankees game. That was just the kind of guy he was.
From the book PORCH LIGHTS: A Novel by Dorothea Benton Frank. Copyright C 2012 by Dorothea Benton Frank. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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