Author: Neal Starkman
Publisher: The Zharmae Publishing Press
Genre: Literary Fic
Release Date: Nov 7th 2013
From the outside, letter carrier Cleve's life looks to be that of an
ordinary guy, living an ordinary life, in the ordinary small midwestern town of
Eaton. But looks can be deceiving...
After tragic events plague Papua New Guinea, Cleve begins to suspect
connections between the poisoning of 50,000 South Pacific islanders and
his small town. In an effort to appease his growing curiosity, Cleve begins to
investigate on his own and finds himself facing an obstinate midget mayor, a
sniper attack, and a love triangle with constant complications.
With his life turning into shambles, Cleve finds himself wondering what happened
to his once ordinary, peaceful existence.
Leila put a hand on Cleve’s. It was cold from holding the beer. “It ends up hurting you because you’re so damn vulnerable. You’ll be disappointed, Cleve. I can bring you only grief.”
“Don’t I have any say in this? How is it that you end up making the decisions for both of us?”
“Because I have a better perspective.”
“Cleve”—she was sounding exasperated—“I know what you want. You don’t know what I want, because I don’t know what I want.”
“So we’re even. Both of us know what I want and neither of us knows what you want.”
“Cleve.” Now Leila took his hand in both of hers and looked straight at him. “You’re a very nice man—too nice. You need a nice woman. I am not a nice woman. I will hurt you.”
“How will you hurt me?”
“By leaving you.”
“Leaving me?” Cleve took a last swig from his glass and put the glass down hard. “You’re not even with me yet. How can you think of leaving me?”
“I plan. Look, let’s just continue the way we’ve been going, all right?”
Cleve considered this. It wasn’t up to him to tell her what she wanted. But then it wasn’t up to her to tell him what was good for him, either.
“No, it’s not all right,” he said. “It’s not all right at all. I don’t think you should make my decisions.” He went on, fueled by his own brazenness. “If you don’t like me, if you don’t think I’m good for
you, that’s one thing. But don’t tell me what’s good for me.”
Leila drank some more beer, swirled it in her mouth. “Cleve, I’m not taking responsibility for you. Listen, if you get hurt, then that affects me. I’d feel awful.”
“So what does that mean? You get involved only with guys who aren’t vulnerable—like Rolf?”
She waited a beat, just long enough to make him feel uncomfortable. “Yes, like Rolf. I can’t hurt Rolf, and he can’t hurt me. That’s how I like it. We’re both safe, and we don’t worry about each other.”
“Is that all you want? Not to worry about the other person?”
“I don’t believe you.”
Cleve thought furiously. Did she mean what she said? Should he accept her rejection, and redirect his attentions to lusting after The Woman and reading histories of pagan societies?
“Leila, suppose I told you that I wasn’t as vulnerable as you think, and that you really couldn’t hurt me. Couldn’t you have misjudged? Just because I’m a nice guy doesn’t mean that I’m weak. I can take care of myself.”
She looked at him and shook her head.
“Cleve, I wasn’t implying you were weak. Look, it’s not only you I’m afraid might get hurt.”
She said this quietly, but it hit him like a rocket. This changed things considerably.
“I understand now,” he said, and took her hand. If he were more of a cavalier, he thought, he would kiss her.
“I think I should walk you home now and spend the night with you,” he said.
She pulled her hand away, and stared at him. “Haven’t you been listening to me? I don’t want to get involved with you.”
“Then don’t. Just spend the night with me.”
She looked at him for an agonizing moment, smiled, and laid her head down on the table. “You don’t respect me, do you,” she said.
Cleve kissed her head gently. Her hair was surprisingly soft.
“Yes, I do,” he said. “I respect you more than anybody. I just don’t always believe you.”
He took her hand, and they strolled out of the tavern. When they closed the door behind them, Cleve noticed a Japanese sign taped to it.
About The Author :
Neal Starkman has been a writer all his life, developing works for a wide range of audiences. He has written on subjects ranging from a study of why people don’t complain to innovative health education. He is dedicated to making complex issues clear and attempting to improve the
Neal resides in Seattle, Washington with his wife and son. He enjoys driving his Prius and occasionally going off his low-carb diet.