Shadowridge Press titles in detail...
P. Gardner Goldsmith
Trade paperback / 5 x 8 / 132 pages / Publication date / Feb 2017
Now… A sociopathic murderer escapes from a prison transport vehicle in early ‘Seventies Massachusetts, intent on finding a teenage girl in distant Vermont.
Then… Two schoolgirls run away to a ‘Sixties hippie commune on a farm west of Boston. There, they believe they will discover the freedom and love they’ve been lacking.
None of them will find precisely what they seek.
“Fishing” is Gardner Goldsmith at his fist-clenching best, weaving brutal, honest psychological realism with transcendental surrealism to offer a Minotaur’s Maze of a plot. It turns unexpectedly, at locomotive speed, and when you turn the final page… You will feel it for the rest of your life.
HERE'S A PREVIEW OF FISHING
After two years, I am free. I, the Devil Incarnate. The Lyrical Savant. The Poet Laureate of Prison whose voice has echoed off the walls unrelentingly, vibrating, decoding, corroding, – a shamanistic ritual giving birth to my liberty. Giving rebirth. For I am the Destroyer returned. Where I tread I leave nothing but death and destruction.
And I find that good.
I have killed and killed, and it is good. I am flesh, nature-made, and life requires death. Be it vegetable or animal, one must always kill in order to thrive.
And I have thriven.
The rebirth is painful and loud, a tumbling cacophony of violence and blood. The aid I have received from carefully cultivated inmates and the mixtures I have made are things my captors do not expect. Their tiny minds rarely deal with postulates and potentialities; their imaginations barely reach beyond the next meal. Where they see insanity and bombast, there is genius. They see the surface. I live and plot in the depths.
And from the depths I rise. With an explosive push I emerge, falling into a world of dry earth and bare sky, of heat and dust and the angry sun, unable to stop me.
I hunger and I thirst and I sweat, but I run, heedless of the pain, focused on liberty and the Plan.
And they called me insane.
Because I am educated, because I notice things others miss, speak in ways others cannot, think along currents they dare not explore, drive myself to know, to understand, to take what is rightfully mine, they label me apostate.
But I have my Plan, and it begins operating automatically as I run.
My goals lie before me on the vast expanse that is time, and the distance will grow smaller each day.
I will get my life back. I will get my love. And I will prosper while those who tried in vain to hold me whither and die.
I suffer no delusions. A scion of Pangloss I am not. There will be hurdles. Already I experience flashbacks. I know the chemicals I ingested for many years and the visions they have shown me have changed the makeup of my brain. The Age of Aquarius has made me more… receptive now. But I view it as a blessing, rather than a curse. One need not fully distinguish fantasy from reality to see how the latter unlocks the secrets of the former.
Fantasy was my only succor for many long days and endless nights. Unreality revealed to me the possibility of my escape. Like a portal opening to a vast sea of roiling probabilities, it showed me the scant but definite chances I had. It also showed me the threats. I calculated, I planned – all the while visited by apparitions I could barely define, images of a world outside, of places I longed to see and feel. And of my angel, Isadora.
I see her again as I break into this furious sprint. She rises from the hot green tree-line on the horizon, her supple body a blend of heat haze and blue sky, her face aglow, her angel wings spreading to show me the way. West I race on pounding bare feet, into the cool arboreal stillness of the forest, breathing hard, sweating, near nauseous. I double over in pain, ears ringing, but my other senses are heightened and I relish in the luxurious feel of the woods and the scent of the pines. I fit in here. I blend. I am a force of nature preparing to move once more.
I look back at the transport vehicle -- its chassis still ablaze and coughing black disease -- at the guards leaking their blood onto the packed dirt road, and my smile is unavoidable. I savor it for a moment, but not longer. Instead, I move, heading north-northwest, along the route I detailed in the library. So mindless of them to leave books like that in the stacks. Did they not think a genius of my capacity would find them and utilize them to my advantage?
I have only minutes before the lack of radio contact triggers alarm among the others, so I do not slacken my gait. Despite their attempts to weaken me with their gruel and dirty water, I have prepared in my cell. They mocked me for being small and wiry. Napoleon Complex, they laughed. But Napoleon is fitter than they know, and soon, the river is ahead, beckoning me with its song.
I am cautious. I know this siren hag could spell my doom, so I crouch in the weeds, hot sun drying my sweat. In the time it took them to convict me and lock me up, an inelegant new highway has been built in this area of the Commonwealth, and its gauche lanes run across the water at this very spot. I see cars and trucks of new design speeding along the overpass, fouling the air. Nature is a shy thing. She made a retreat in the Sixties, shrinking away from man’s advance here in the western part of the state, and it appears the Seventies will accelerate the slide into bleak uniformity.
I wait until I hear no roar along the road and then I rush in, splashing and drinking and stumbling towards the shade of the bridge. The water is low; stones and pebbles bite my feet like rats, but I move, and when the brown oasis surrounds me, I fall into the stream.
Now, after the initial rush of adrenaline and blind force, I must quickly assess my state.
The hounds will be out soon. And, contrary to what the westerns mythologize, the beasts can detect their quarry in running water. My only hope is to continue moving, to ride the rails north along the Knowledge Corridor until I reach Bennington, then hike to Frenton. Isadora’s grandparents call the hamlet home. She fled there, and it is there that my angel waits.
I know the map. I have studied the freight line schedules. They give me time to get new clothes, food, and a new identity along the way. I will not relent in my pursuit of the goal. I will follow the Plan, and I will kill to survive.
We all kill to survive.
I chuckle as I feel the caress of the cold and clear water, as I feel Isadora’s hands there as well. I am aware of the unreality…
…but the sensation persists…
“Do it again and I’ll pull harder.”
Isabelle squinted under the pressure of Kim’s grip, her eyes watering in response to the pain. Her tears turned the sky into impressionistic halos of kaleidoscopic delight and made the lush foothills of Mount Tekoa roll like ocean waves. Fathomless and green, they shimmered in the sun, and released the scents of wildflowers on a light, southerly breeze.
Kim let go of her long hair and Isabelle turned around, feeling the scrape of stone on the backs of her bare legs.
“It was a big hit two years ago,” she said, shielding her eyes against the setting sun. “John Phillips wrote it for the Monterey Pop festival.”
“It sucks. And, by the way, neither of us is going to San Francisco in our lifetimes, with or without flowers in our fucking hair.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure of that, Ms. Dunberry. Why do you always have to be so negative?”
Kim stared at her, green-tinted hands locked on her chubby, wide hips, and looking for all the world like her mother on bad days. A worried, disbelieving, Irish-Catholic red-head, there was a lot of Mrs. Dunberry in Kim – thought Kim would go to great lengths to deny it.
“Why do I have to be so negative? Will you grow up, Isabelle? You and your Age of Aquarius. All that peace and love horseshit is just a big acid trip that gets you nowhere. We’ll be lucky if we move to Boston someday, let alone across the country.” She thumbed at the vista before them. “I doubt I’ll ever get out of goddamn Woronocco.”
“Well, I will, Kim. I’ll get a Beetle and drive across the country and meet Indians and live near Haight Street.”
“Great. Send me a postcard if you still have any money. Now turn around, I’m almost done.”
Isabelle did as she was told, feeling the reassuring pressure of Kim’s strong hands on her shoulders as she changed her perch on the rock and faced east once more. She was glad they came here today, because the place spoke of freedom. They were liberated from school, part-time jobs, and senseless parental edicts. This was their spot. This was their time. And being together here -- seeing their shadows united as one and stretching down the juniper-covered slope -- felt as right as a heartbeat.
She reached up and patted one of Kim’s hands before her friend resumed the work of fitting more flowers in her braids.
And a few minutes later, when Kim was done, she turned again on the lichen and the stone, and said, “Now it’s my turn.”
Then she stood and took the spare flowers from Kim’s hands. A moment passed as the red-haired fifteen-year-old stepped down the rocky path and plopped her chubby behind on the stone. Then she sighed and leaned back on her elbows to cast an upside-down glance at Isabelle.
“What do I do now?” she asked, smirking in the golden light.
“Just keep smiling,” Isabelle told her.
Then she leaned over, placed her hands on either side of Kim’s jaded face, and kissed her on the lips…