DiscoverMystery & Crime

The Needle Shower

By

Loved it! 😍

A coming of age story, filled with tragedy and healing. Reads like a memoir of troubled friendships and small town life.

Synopsis

This is a story of love and friendship like no other. A story of a crime which shakes that love and friendship to the very core and begs an answer to the question "What would you do for love?"
It is 1964, the Beatles are topping the charts in America while on the other side of the world the Vietnam War is escalating. In a one-light town in upstate New York lives Danny Fosse, who is an average fourteen-year old who is becoming more and more confused and disillusioned by the world around him.
His idyllic small-town life takes a dreadful turn when one of his friends is the victim of a brutal attack. In attempting revenge, things don't go as planned setting in motion a series of shocking events which tests beliefs in family, faith, love and friendship. Then, kids go missing without explanation just as the Vietnam War taps this town on the shoulder.
All of these events seem unrelated, but are they?
In this formative decade of his life, Danny is searching for something that always seems to be just out of his reach until another singular event gives his life meaning and purpose.

The Needle Shower reads like memoir, though it seems too laden with dangers to be real. Danny, Billy, Tommy and Jo are best buddies in high school, standing up for each other against bullies and parents. They explore the area around their small town, rambling about through abandoned mines and lakes, hills and backroads. Things seem to be going along swimmingly. But darkness looms. As the friends grow up, one of their gang falls to the wayside, then another.


As with most coming of age stories, the kids grow into adults with a history together, a history full of serious events and tragedies. Choices are made. The secret they hold pushes them apart, even as their ties pull them back together. Misunderstandings lead to more tragedy; it seems like all is lost, but the friendships that these four forged in their youth stay strong. Will they be alright, with the dangerous knowledge they share?


Along the way, each of the friends sacrifices something, makes decisions that dramatically change their path forwards. One cancels plans for college, another enlists in the military, and one vanishes. Will they find each other again, rebuild their friendships? Will Danny ever get out of town as he hopes?


This is a story with a creeping sense of evil. There is a pervasive sense of being trapped. A few chapters had me reading as fast as I could, just to see if the characters would make it through intact.


The pace is uneven, with much time spent in description, but the author places you right in the scenery, has you walk along with the friends, shows you the details of the town and the people who live there. I feel as if I spent time in the town, felt the oppressive air, saw the faces of the participants.


At other times, the story seems rushed, with a few bits and pieces being sketched more than drawn. That said, I couldn't put the book down. It's a good read, and a memory trip as the characters live through the 50s and 60s, Vietnam and Woodstock, childhood and growing up.


Worth a read.

Reviewed by

An avid reader of all genres except romance (it makes me snicker). Published writer of humour and short fiction/non-fiction. Currently working on a fiction trilogy and a self-help book for people with MS or other brain conditions.

Retired nurse. Now artist and crafter plus the writing, of course!

Synopsis

This is a story of love and friendship like no other. A story of a crime which shakes that love and friendship to the very core and begs an answer to the question "What would you do for love?"
It is 1964, the Beatles are topping the charts in America while on the other side of the world the Vietnam War is escalating. In a one-light town in upstate New York lives Danny Fosse, who is an average fourteen-year old who is becoming more and more confused and disillusioned by the world around him.
His idyllic small-town life takes a dreadful turn when one of his friends is the victim of a brutal attack. In attempting revenge, things don't go as planned setting in motion a series of shocking events which tests beliefs in family, faith, love and friendship. Then, kids go missing without explanation just as the Vietnam War taps this town on the shoulder.
All of these events seem unrelated, but are they?
In this formative decade of his life, Danny is searching for something that always seems to be just out of his reach until another singular event gives his life meaning and purpose.

September, 1974, Dutchess County, New York

What would you do for love? A simple question, really, with no simple answer. Each and every person has a different response, as unique to them as are their thoughts, their DNA. Family, friends and life experiences would all play a part, certainly. But also trust, loyalty, passion and intimacy. And religion. There are as many influences on, and answers to, this question as there are stars in the universe. And every one would be right, in its own personal way.

Would you fight for love, or let it slowly sink into the deepest recesses of your being like a stone cast into this river? Would you lie for love? Would you steal for love? Would you be dishonest for love? Would you kill for love?

Is love permanent, or does it come and go like the tides in this river? Does it stay or can it be carried away like a piece of driftwood, ending up in an eddy, forever swirling in the opposite direction of life’s tides, tantalizingly close yet unreachable?

What would you do for love?

 

I’ve been sitting on the beach in this small cove staring at the agitated lead-colored river for hours. Its foamy whitecaps, driven by the earlier storm, have swirled, crested and fallen as far as my eyes can see. They’ve rumbled and roared as they’ve collapsed onto this glossy pebble beach, their spuming fingers reaching out as if to drag me in. The cool mid-September wind bites at the waves and tugs the gulls sideways with invisible strings like some crazed puppeteer.

The sun charges into the western skyline, slinging the last horizontal red and tangerine rays like arrows. My shadow grows longer by the minute as the shy full moon peeks above the eastern horizon as if checking to see if the sun has completed its job.

Shivering in my rain-soaked clothes, I bury both hands a little deeper into the pockets of my sweatpants seeking warmth like a burrowing animal, but it is not there.

 Earlier in the afternoon, I had watched two boys up the shoreline holding on for dear life to their multicolored kites as they flapped and darted up and down in the wind, the tails desperately tried to keep the kites facing into the breeze, as effective as a broken rudder on a floundering ship. The wind on the paper drew out a slapping sound, like a hand landing flush on a cheek, and threatened to rip them apart at any moment. Now all that remains is a deserted river’s edge slowly being lit by silver moonlight as the sunset reluctantly retreats.

The elephant gray hues from the rain storm appear to be waning, giving way to a clear evening sky and a calming river. I can smell the moist air. I can taste it on my tongue as it stings my tired eyes. 

A metallic blue dragonfly appears at eye level as if inspecting me. It hovers for a few seconds and then is gone in a flash as the cooling air makes my eyes tear. Wiping them with my sleeve, I close them and briefly rest. Exhaustion settles in. Even so, it is comforting to be back here where I have spent so many wonderful summer days. This beach is where, as a small child, I met the water for the first time, heard its song, experienced its magic, felt its life. It is where I learned how to love it, fear it.

Reaching into my pocket, I remove an orange plastic vial. Twisting off the lid, I pop out two purple pills, each the size of a bullet, and swallow them one after the other. It’s just another in a seemingly endless parade of anodynes I have been given over the last few years. Recapping the vial, I stuff it back into my pocket with a sigh.

Gazing back at the blackening river, I spot a maroon tug highlighted by both the rising moon and the last straggling rays of sunlight. It is thrusting a corroded barge through the water, seemingly making little progress, appearing almost still in the water, despite the waves clawing at the front. From where I sit now, it seems as if I have always been like that barge, constantly pushing ahead but seemingly getting nowhere. Living can be like that.

That all will change tomorrow.

Looking up, I see the blinking lights of a jet passing silently overhead leaving a fluffy white contrail as soft as love in the moonlit sky. Life goes on for others.

Gazing back at the now gentle, frothy waves kissing the beach, I realize that there has only always been this. Water. My one constant source of enjoyment and love has been water. To be near it, to stare at it, dip my toes into it, jump into it. It was my home.

And my real passion was swimming. As a kid, I would look for any excuse to steal away to a cool forest lake or to this tempting river to jump in and swim. It seems at times that I spent most of my early years wet. I absolutely loved it, especially in the early morning, as the sun rises, before the world comes alive. There is something you can’t describe about being in water with an untroubled surface, smooth as glass, surrounded by total quiet, as a new sun rises, full of promise, warming your face. You have to experience it, spend time with it, get to know it; only then can you come to love it.

That love was taken from me, stolen in my youth in an instant. It has been years since I have really enjoyed the water, and with good reason, but tonight it is once again flirting with me, enticing me. It beckons me like a lost love, I can feel its sultry pull. Sometimes, against all common sense, it is difficult to say no to love. Once it has penetrated and grabbed your heart, it never really ever releases you.

           A lone seagull floats by screeching like a rusted hinge, before gliding further down the river as I rise to stand. To the north, a lonely lighthouse blinks its cautionary beacon. Looking at the water again, it’s almost low tide.

A meteor streaks across the ebony sky, dissolving into darkness. It’s time.

About the author

I grew up, and currently live, in the Hudson Valley of upstate New York. I use my varied work experiences-grave digger, mason, professional student (B.A./M.B.A. Syracuse), founder of manufacturing company, the list goes on and on-along with my love of nature to enrichen all of my narratives. view profile

Published on November 22, 2019

Published by Amazon Books

80000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Mystery & Crime

Reviewed by

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