A Brief Synopsis
Parker Rydell’s art has turned as dark as his constant black eyes. The wife he loved left him, mistakenly thinking he cheated with her best friend. Parker’s systematic form of self-punishment, usually a brawl in a bar’s gravel parking lot with his face on the losing end of a cue stick, is only slightly softened by the myriad of one-night stands he brings back to his two-story Federal in East Haddam, Connecticut.
Complicating matters, his downstairs tenant, Camille, a single mom with a ten-month-old baby, is broke and months behind on her rent.
Things go from bad to worse when Parker takes in Ira, an old musician friend. Ira is a once-upon-a-time Orthodox Jew, once-upon-a-time Catholic, once upon-a-time Trappist Monk, and an all-time hypochondriac. Ira’s wife leaves him when he is actually stricken with agoraphobia—an unnatural fear of people and open spaces—the opposite of Parker’s self-destructive lifestyle.
Enter Rio Santiago, an S and M-oriented rich girl who drives a hearse with a big happy face on the door, and a casket in back for her la petite mort. Parker rejects her, and she sics her sociopath boyfriend, Sully, on him. When Sully comes after Parker, Ira, Camille, and her baby are endangered, igniting in Parker a desire to protect them with a purpose and passion his life has been lacking.
I lived in East Haddam, Connecticut for quite a few years, and while my house did burn down with all of my art work, it wasn’t under circumstances as fictionalized in this novel. I did design and rebuild the house, alone, pretty much as described. Only it took me a lot longer as I was working full-time as a staff illustrator for Weekly Reader.
After the house burned, and while rebuilding, I lived downriver in a small barn that had been converted into a studio near an old farmhouse in the township of Chester. I also had a friend with agoraphobia, but I’m sorry to say my circumstances at the time didn’t permit me to take him in. I was working full-time, going to the building site straight from work each evening, weekends, and holidays while living in a small place with one sleeping space. I can only hope he understood and forgave.
As writers that’s what we do: take a situation, an event, an overheard line of dialog, say “What if . . .” and take it from there.