From April 19, 2018 until April 26, 2018 the Kindle ebook version of Bob Thurber’s Award Winning Cinderella She Was Not ( list price $4.99 ) will be available for 99 cents.
This novellette won the 2006 Editors’ Prize for Fiction from Meridain / the semi-annual from The University of Virginia.
Here is the opening section, to whet your appetite.
“It isn’t enough for your heart to break
because everybody’s heart is broken now.”
— Allen Ginsberg
* * *
This is a roughed up fairy tale, a sort of teaching tool for my children and yours. The year is 1999. I can’t predict the future but right now the world is an ugly mess, so don’t count on anything even resembling a happy ending.
My name is Raymond Masterson. I’m twenty-eight, married, chronically unemployed, and lucky not to be dead or rotting in some prison cell. Back when I was nineteen, I ripped off a couple of downtown Providence dope dealers, Southside boys, the kind of people who don’t forgive and never forget. It was a really stupid thing to do once, blatantly insane to do a second time. The only reason they didn’t torture and kill me was some narcotics agent shot them both dead during an undercover sting operation. Lucky me. The whole point of that anecdote being that I hardly expected to see my twenty-first birthday, and now, pushing thirty, I’ve got one kid in diapers, and another child on the way.
Lucky me again.
As pathetically mundane and unexciting as all that sounds, I’m actually doing okay. Thanks to my wife’s recently defunct old man (You may have read about the passing of Sam Porter, aka Uncle Sam, founder and CEO of Porter’s Drug Stores), I’ve got a few bucks in the bank, so I don’t have to labor like most folks. It’s a great thing not to have to work or to worry where the money is coming from. Even so, in spite of my good fortune, most days I’m miserable, tortured by a terrible sadness. For one, I don’t know a damn thing about being a good father. So I worry about that.
Mainly, I’m frightened that despite my good intentions, given enough time, I’ll somehow screw my kids up. Most parents seem to manage that without even trying. So I worry about heredity, and the dark horrors hidden in ancestral genes. Granted, I concern myself too much with things beyond my control — about “Foreign Policy” and “U.S. Interests” and what the world will do to my children. About depravity, and disease, and war.
I once read that if parents truly loved their children there would be no more wars. That’s a hard line to swallow, though difficult to argue with. Oddly, it was written by a mystic who never went to war and never had any children.
Incidentally, there’s a war in this story, a small war, the shortest on record, but a war nonetheless. Possibly you watched it on television, and rooted for the home team. Or maybe you know someone who was there, and can describe the fireworks first hand. I’m only including this little war here because it is a semi-pertinent part of the story, but I’ve played it down as best I can.
Primarily, this is a tale meant for my children, for when they become young adults. It’s a somewhat crude but hopefully moral lesson in love and lust, if not quite a secret map to guide them and keep them forever watchful against the coldness in us all.
Once upon a time . . .