- File Size: 2585 KB
- Print Length: 286 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Severn River Publishing (June 10, 2019)
- Publication Date: June 10, 2019
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07SXCSXC2
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #769,649 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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"This is a book that all should read. A story that encourages one to truly seize the day, love who you love, and not be afraid to be who you are." -WTFAreYouReading.com
"I eagerly devoured this book in only a few days." -Krystal Rinyu --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
scottjholliday.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The story begins with Roy Pellerin, a sideshow attraction for his scale-like skin, who is sent to prison for murder. There he is subjected to unimaginable cruelties and kept in solitary confinement. The cell, a literal hole dug into the ground outside the main prison building, is exposed to the elements. He is not expected to survive this punishment long. With only a bucket to be used for both fresh water and for his own toilet, he is taunted continually by the guards, except for one, Paul Constantine, a childhood friend. Paul mysteriously observes from a distance but does not make himself known to Roy or let the other guards know he is a friend of the prisoner.
When the other guards are not watching Roy, he hardens his body by exercise and his fists by delivering blows on the earthen wall. When they come by to change the bucket or to drop food, he pretends that he is weak and on the verge of death. He practices his death each day as well, holding his breath, reducing his pulse to a bare murmur.
One day it finally appears to the guards that he has died. They take him outside the prison walls to bury him and he suddenly rises up and attacks. One of the guards, his former childhood friend Paul, must now track him down and bring him back, alive or dead. But he has a conflict. He became friends with Roy when his parents brought him into their home after Roy's mother's death. How can he kill Roy or, even worse, return him to the brutal life in the hole?
The back story of how Roy was born with a congenital birth defect, how his mother died, and how he came to join the circus as a sideshow freak is both sad and compelling. Born into a poor family with a rare skin condition in Louisiana's Bayou Rouge, he and his mother struggled to eke out an existence after the death of his alcoholic father. Rejected by the local school because of his deformity, he joined his mother in fishing and netting crawdads to feed the family. One day his mother, after a successful morning of netting crustaceans, called to her son in joy. Just then a gator clamped down on her ankle and took her under.
He is taken in by the Constantine family and he and Paul become great friends. Paul reveals to him his horrible memories of an abusive bully who forced him to drown a dog or be drowned himself. Together they give each other support and comfort. But soon they must part. Knowing Roy would not be accepted at the local school with the horrible deformity, the mother homeschooled him for a while but then did the next best thing she could think of to insure his survival in a world prejudiced against those who were different. She got him a job in the sideshow with a travelling circus. There, as Scales, the Crying Lizard, he joined the Fat Lady, Samson, the Pinheads, The Camel Girl and other oddities earning a living and living a life with some semblance of normality. He even had a brief love affair. But it was doomed to end.
The chase through the countryside to Chicago and beyond is fast-paced and violent. There are encounters with soulless highwaymen, with psychotic prison guards sent to "help" Paul in bringing back the prisoner, and finally the discovery that the childhood bully is now a grown man and a threat to both Roy and Paul. The action is as exciting as a good Stephen King or Dean Koontz novel. The plot is tightly-written and the language clear, compelling, and fresh as an autumn morning. Here's one short example of his lapidary prose:
The trees were bare and gray, and the ground was thick with
their fallen leaves. Each leaf was frosted in its own unique patterns,
and they cracked underfoot like bird bones.
Scott Holliday is a young author who honed his craft with short stories, and with a couple of novels he chose not to publish when he was a journeyman author. This reader for one is glad that he waited.
I then ordered "Normal", an EXCELLENT story, though more on a philosophical bent than the straight up Detective Barnes story.
Roy's story made me wonder if I'd have been as phlegmatic as he, or as accepting as Paul. I hope so. (You'll have to read it to understand what I just said! :-))