An excerpt from Sleeping Birds Do Not Sing, a novel about mental illness and friendship that I wrote a decade ago that only one person has ever read—until now.
I open the door of the car which swings open freely, and set my feet on the ground, run for the tree line. There is a path in here somewhere, the hayfield, I know it. There isn’t. I will have to create my own path. This is where the adventure starts. Where the snakes hide in wait. Where the flowers form at the root and the weeds do all they can to strangle the beauty. The road is not paved before me. It never was. This is where the children of my past run freely. Where the thorns snag at shirts and acorns fly through the air like bullets piercing into skin.
Jeremiah had this cat named Leon Phelps, named, yes, after the character from the movie The Ladies Man of the same name. This is the story of when Leon introduced himself to Cal Adams, Jeremiah’s new roomie (from “When the Lights Go Out at 10:16: A Memoir of Life and Friendship”)
When the Lights Go Out at 10:16 is a story of life and friendship, when innocence is lost and reality is confronted, that began the day I learned one of my close friends was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. I was 21 years old at the time I began writing this story; my friend, Jeremiah Hamlett, was 24. It was the summer of 2003. (Dedication and Preface)
In the mid 1980s, there was a makeshift skate park on the tennis court off Church Street in Phenix, Virginia, where long haired, zit-faced teenage boys would do kick flips and ollies on their skateboards and smoke cigarettes under their perfectly constructed wooden quarter pipe while listening to The Ramones and Motörhead. These kids formed a rough and tumble street gang known as The Aces. See end note.