As I stated in my previous post: Moses The Singer EXCERPT 1: First Beginning, my new novel releasing July 1 is at first told from two perspectives. First by a group of talented teen musicians (Excerpt 1) and second by Musa “Moses” Marbun. When the two stories converge, everything changes.
In this excerpt, we get to see the tragedy that occurred which brings Musa to the island of Penang.
CHAPTER 2 of MOSES THE SINGER:
Twenty-Eight Years Before Any of Them Were Born
He stood five-foot-two from the top of his forehead with his chin held high—short enough to lean against the side of the boat without any of his wiry hairs sticking over the edge. Twenty people crowded in a space that would have made ten sardines uncomfortable. A man’s elbow wedged into the side of his neck. A woman holding a crying infant straddled across half his lap on the opposite side. He shifted his legs in constant motion to ward off fatigue from the two others who had come to rest on his bony legs by no will of their own. The boat rocked on the waves, causing many episodes of voluminous vomiting from the souls trapped under the harsh moon of midnight. He wished for pitch blackness, so he couldn’t see their expressions. But the moonlight played its cruel tricks and exposed the true emotions of the weary travelers.
He moved his neck away from the elbow of a man as the woman on his other side couldn’t hold it any longer and threw up across his face. He lifted his arm out of the human traps surrounding him and shimmied it high enough to wipe the vomit from around his mouth. But it didn’t prevent the taste from seeping into his lips. He did all he could to stop himself from joining the grotesque scene. He closed his eyes and waited. What he waited for wasn’t important. What could be worse?
Seven hours. His body cramped in several locations. He had fallen asleep for a time, which coincided with the infant’s lungs finally exhausting themselves to such a degree that the child itself fell asleep. So did the mother. So did he.
A loud voice stirred him from his restless slumber. He glimpsed over the edge of the boat at a few flickering lights in the distance. They had neared the shore. But the two men at the helm argued. Violent words. Panic amongst the cowered passengers ensued. He pulsed upward for a second look, and that’s when he heard the engine approaching.
“You’re in violation of our sovereign waters.”
Lights flashed. An alarm sounded. Additional claims of rights and ownership echoed from the approaching boat, which prompted a first person to jump into the water. Someone screamed. A large shot trailed across the sky. The entire boat shifted back with the men at the helm yelling for everyone to stay down. But no one listened. A rising sensation. A quick shift. Bodies tumbled on top of each other. The side of the boat lifted into the air, expelling body upon body into the dark waters until it was complete. The boat capsized and trapped many under its turned-over belly. Darkness encompassed him as he sank. He looked once at the faint glimpses of skin and bones falling below him. He gasped and hit his head on the edge of the boat, ripping open the side of his cheek. It would have been easier not to fight it anymore—to glide slowly into the deep.
But the light had not yet faded, not at the young age of twenty-two, so he dove under the edge and around three bodies next to him, reaching upward towards the light and the chaos above. He broke through the surface into the air and flailed his arms and pumped his chest for breath once more.
“Help,” he cried in his native Batak language. No one heard him over the roar of the engine and the panicked voices of the few remaining on the surface. The loudspeaker continued to announce its presence.
“Help,” he called again.
He had never swum in his life, so he clung his fingers to the edge of the turned-over boat and waited.
They grabbed him and plopped him over the side of the railing and onto the deck as he panted for air and laid flat on his back. Blood dripped down his left cheek, and a drenched shredded rag clung to his body like the initial layer of mummified cloth. No one spoke to him or even looked at him. He rested in the open space on the deck of the ship and noticed three others on his right as weary as himself. The rest had vanished into the place that no one imagines. Gone. He looked straight into the sky. A flag with a crescent moon, a sun, and red and white stripes fluttered above him. He mumbled a few words and closed his eyes.
They brought them ashore and placed them in a vacant room with cement walls and a fluorescent light illuminating a wooden door. They didn’t bother searching him for identification. He had no possessions on him other than the ragged clothing—thin cut-offs for pants with nothing underneath—a ripped shirt that showed a large burn scar across his chest. He wasn’t only short, but also thin, gaunt. His ribs revealed themselves on each side. The blood had ceased to drip from his dark-skinned cheek. He asked for water, but no one paid attention to him or the three others. The room had no windows. The stale air hung thick and humid like a second layer of wet clothes. Nothing dried, so he sat in the dampness and waited.
Hours passed. They put all four of them in the back of a truck—open air yet caged in with wire-netting on all sides of the frame. His clothes had dried, but he hadn’t been given anything to eat or drink for hours. His pasty mouth clicked when he moved it. Nobody talked. The seventeen missing souls did the talking for them.
Dawn broke through the dark-grey shroud of night as they cruised along a modern divided highway. After an hour, they exited and weaved through the early morning traffic until they stopped in front of a detention center. They separated him from the others and placed him in a blank room, stripped him of his rags, and gave him a light blue cotton pullover shirt with matching pants. They spoke, but not to him. The words swirled around him like a strong wind that turned his head in every direction and left him nothing but confused. One man grabbed his arm and placed his right fingers one at a time on an ink pad and blotted his prints on a square cardboard stock. They spoke again, but he gazed in silence into the wall. One took him by the shoulders and pushed him into a molded plastic chair and left him alone. Again. And he waited.
Thirty minutes passed when a man in a blue decorated uniform, with a badge hanging off his left side, entered with a woman, also wearing a suit. She wore a hijab over her head. She spoke words he could understand, and he glanced at her and provided the answer to her question.
“Musa. I am Musa Marbun.”
Moses the Singer, my brand new YA novel set to release on July 1, has two beginnings. The first part of the novel is told from two different point of views. First, there’s the story of four talented teen musicians as they plan to win their school’s talent show. The second part is about Musa “Moses” Marbun, a destitute and country-less old man living a meager and marginalized existence on the island of Penang. Then the stories merge.
I’d like to share both beginnings with you. The novel will be available in Kindle and paperback starting July 1. Kindle pre-orders are being taken now!
EXCERPT 1 – CHAPTER 1 YOU SUCK – In this chapter, you get to meet the bantering Will & Sanchez who have been playing music together for years.
The patio door whipped open and startled the two teens sitting on upside-down white paint buckets—papers with lyrics and chords strewn on top of a plastic table in front of them.
“Enough. Please. Will, you’re killing me.”
The teen lowered the six-string into his lap. Behind him, two yellow palms towered in ceramic pots.
“I’m just trying to get this song down.”
Will’s father tapped his clenched fist on the glass door. “Isn’t it obvious? That song is not going down, and if it does, it’s going to be regurgitated back up.”
“All right, Dad. Jeez.”
“I’m sorry. I’m just trying to get some sleep.”
Sanchez, at Will’s left holding his fretless bass, glanced over at Will’s father. “Will the killer. That’s what I call him.”
“Shut up,” snapped Will.
“You’re killing this song. And I don’t mean that as a compliment.”
“Boy, you two are really supportive.” Will stood up and hit his knee on the side of the table, knocking several pages onto the patio stone.
“Why don’t you guys wrap it up, okay?” shouted the perturbed father.
“All right. But did you hear my singing?”
“Who couldn’t hear your singing?”
“Sanchez thinks we need another singer.”
Sanchez waved his hands in the air and blurted the honest truth as clearly as humanly possible. “Dude, you suck.”
“Why is everyone attacking me?” Will threw his left arm into the air, his right still grasping the neck of the guitar.
“Because it’s 2 A.M. and your screeching is keeping all the night critters from their work. And my nighttime work is sawing logs so I can do actual work in the morning. That’s what I do. I work to support your garage band habits.”
“But Dad … just listen to one thing.”
Sanchez along with Will’s dad lowered their heads in synchronous agony.
“Come on, just give me a second.”
Will returned to the upside-down paint bucket, lowered his hands on the fretboard, and plucked out a series of notes clear and melodic—a beautiful sonic moment, until his mouth opened and inserted a strand of battle-weary notes which had been ripped to shreds by the Muse—the sage protector of all melodic harmony.
Sanchez put his hands over his ears and mumbled, “It’s been like this all evening.” He put down his bass and snapped open his case.
Will’s dad stepped a foot out onto the patio. “Will, listen to me.” Will stopped playing, which allowed the creatures in the neighborhood to catch their breath. “You’re a terrific guitar player. Really, I’m amazed at what you can do. But you’ve got a disease, and you need to admit it.”
“Yes, it’s called the Kerry Livgren syndrome.”
“There’s a name for this?” inquired Sanchez, clasping the buckles on his case close.
“Kerry Livgren. Master composer, guitar player, musician extraordinaire of the classic rock band Kansas?”
Both boys stared into the blank night with confused looks.
“You know, ‘Dust in the Wind,’ ‘Carry on Wayward Son’?”
“Dad, do you have a point?”
“Yes, Kerry Livgren was a musical wizard, but he couldn’t sing a lick. Or as Sanchez stated so eloquently, his voice sucked!”
“What are you trying to say?”
Will’s dad used his left index finger to point at the place between his eyebrows several times. He seemed to be rubbing out the rough edges of his stress-induced midnight headache.
“You need to find a new singer.”
“That’s what I’ve been telling him for a year,” chimed Sanchez.
“And go to bed. Do the latter, first.”
“I’ll catch you later, Will. Good night, Mr. Jennings.”
“Good night, Sanchez,” offered Will’s dad. Will, guitar in hand, walked past his dad standing in the sliding glass doorway. “Good night, Will.”
“I’m still a little angry at you,” moaned the guitar player.
“The sheep over my bed feel the same way. I guess we’re even.”
I’m happy to announce that I’ve finally compiled and released three new volumes of plays.
“Dear High School” is a complete show – with bonus material – all about the trials and triumphs of high school.
“Tales of Wonder” is a collection of three complete Christmas shows and 29 plays, which can also be used as individual sketches for a variety of settings both secular and sacred.
“Tales of Redemption” is a collection of short plays about the Christian experience – perfect for a variety of settings.
The Short Play Collection:
Volume 1: Theatrical Duets for Stage, Competition, or Classroom
Volume 2: Tales of Wonder: Sacred & Secular Christmas Plays for Stage, School, & Church
Volume 3: Dear High School
Volume 4: Tales of Redemption: Christian Themed Drama for Stage, School, or Church
There’s never been a better time to delve into my trilogy THE FORGOTTEN CHILD.
Book 2 The African Connection is FREE on Kindle through the weekend! HERE!
And as a bonus, Book 3 The Parting in the Sky is on sale for only $0.99! HERE!
These deals won’t last, so grab them now and tell your friends!
If you read and enjoy, please don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads! Thanks for your support.
Here’s your last chance to win a pre-release copy of my brand new novel Moses the Singer. The GIVEAWAY ends tomorrow, May 28.
I hope you get yourself a copy. If you do, please consider leaving a review. Thanks!
Someone said (probably a famous writer whom I can’t remember) that writing a novel is like driving in the fog with one headlight out.
I like that analogy because that’s the way I write. I have no idea where I’m going. I don’t know the climax, the end game, the resolution, or who takes whom to the dance. I’m as lost as the reader until ….
THE CLOUDS PART. THE SUN SHINES THOUGH. THE ILLUMINATED IS BATHED IN A HEAVENLY SPOTLIGHT AND I HEAR THE ANGELS SINGING.
It is revealed. I love it when that happens.
I never know when, or if, it will happen. Sometimes it doesn’t and I just muddle through and try to think what is the best ending. But other times, it is revealed. Not created. Not imagined. Revealed. It just comes, to me, but I did nothing to allow it to come to me. It just does.
And when it does, I’m just so happy to be the conduit of the revelation. It’s one of the BEST parts of writing. It’s kind of like a vindication of the hours spent in front of the screen and the gods of writing finally nod and say, “Ok, let’s give him some satisfaction.”
If you haven’t guessed by now, it happened today. I’m writing my tenth novel and I’m having an absolute blast. Probably the best time I’ve ever had in writing. It’s about baseball, of course. What else could cause me this much joy?
I’ve always admired the works of W.P. Kinsella and I’m not ashamed to say that my work is heavily influenced by his ideas. Not that I’ll ever attain his impeccable prose, but I hope to take the spirit of what he wrote about baseball and humanity and just have fun with it in wrapping it up in an engaging historical fiction that runs through the American century from 1920-1955. The Mythology of Baseball is its pretentious title. I love it. Truly do. Early this week I was lamenting to my students that I wish the main characters were real people. I want them to have walked the earth and to have done the things that they have done. I wish it were so. But I guess that’s what makes good fiction. I hope, at least.
Today, as I was finishing one part of the story – this is not a conventional novel that starts from the beginning and ends at the end. Certainly not. Baseball is not that neat and tidy. It is many stories. Yet one story.
Have I told you that I love it?
Anyways, I was finishing one part of the story that had been causing me some consternation. I really didn’t know what was going to happen until the character made this gesture that even surprised me. It surprised me, the writer. I couldn’t tell you how much I loved it, cause the recipient of the gesture sure loved it a lot. The clouds cleared and the beauty of the moment emerged.
I couldn’t have been happier.
I can not wait to share The Mythology of Baseball with the world. It’s already at 77,000 words and counting. It will likely be my first work ever to top 100,000. I hope so, cause these characters deserve it. Every word.
I’m giving away 100 pre-release copies of my new novel on Goodreads! Offer ends May 28.
To enter to win the Goodreads’ giveaway, CLICK HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN!
One of my former students – a beautiful person and a beautiful dancer – passed away suddenly this past week. Please keep her grief-stricken family in your prayers.
Her father posted many moving dance video tributes to her amazing grace and talent. Here’s one from a rehearsal of my 2014 show RLT Players present “For All Generations.” This video features the ever poised and beautiful Thizbe as she rehearses with her partner David Beak for the finale of the show. They are using my voice-over for rehearsal purposes. You can hear me reading the script I had written. In the final show, the actors recited the words live as Thizbe and David danced.
Thank you, Thizbe, for sharing your talent with our theatrical group. You added much! As you are right now in heaven, too.
Releasing July 1, 2020
A talented group of teen musicians. A stateless old man living on the margins of society. What do they have in common? Humanity and sweet music.