Book II from IN THE VALLEY OF HOPE is here!
Farewell PFC POLK: The End of a Nightmare opens in 1945 with a troubling nightmare on Charles Polk, Jr.’s 9th birthday.
There was that dream again. Buddy sat up in his bed and looked around the room for more pictures like those still fresh on his mind. Black and gray images depicting deep emotions of sorrow, pain, shock and desperation. People he knew: crying, moaning, screaming. There were strangers among them: motionless, speechless, sad. And the hundreds of black flowers on a bed of stars, stripes, and brass buttons made him feel trapped, isolated, helpless, and afraid.
My new novel picks up the story of Charlie and Mable Polk, 35 years after the end of Book I, IN THE VALLEY OF HOPE: Faith Conquers Fear. The flame of love as depicted in the first book was long gone by the time Charles, Jr. hit his senior year in high school.
Aging does more to a married couple than just alter physical appearance. Beyond the visible wrinkles…bulging waistlines, graying hair, and sagging skin are internal changes evidenced by altered personalities, irascible dispositions, and negative attitudes. Romantic closeness and intimacy are replaced by enmity, strife, and distance.
As their love faded, Charlie Jr.’s romantic star was rising, with not just one but three girls longing for his undivided affection. There was Bobbie Jean Beeler, the nurse.
She could have kicked herself for saying something so foolish. “I am so sorry. I should never have said that. It’s just that…I’m crazy about you. See what you do to me? You make me act all stupid. I’m so into you that, even when I’m with Cliff, I pretend it’s you. Look, I’ve said enough, more than enough.”
Roxanne Smitherman, a student from New Bern, NC, nearly captured his heart, until he found out something about her that instantly cooled their relationship. I’m not going to give away what happened but here’s a clue.
About a quarter way through the movie, Roxanne took Buddy’s hand and held it tightly. He was pleased with what he perceived as a demonstration of affection. But at the halfway point, Mrs. Smitherman grabbed his other hand, and as the tension built in the Hitchcock thriller, the hand squeezing intensified.
Then there was Sally Duffy, a pretty waitress from West Point, Virginia that swept him off his feet. The feeling was mutual, well, sort of.
Sally’s icy stare melted. She had that dear-in-the-headlights look. Stunned, motionless, silent. Tears began to stream down her cheeks and then slowly she walked toward him, threw her arms around him and hugged him with all her might. Finally, she allowed her eyes to meet his and then she kissed him, softly at first and then passionately. After a moment, that Buddy believed was pure bliss, she pushed him away. “I’ve got to go,” she said, unable to stop crying. And then she walked away and never looked back.
So, what do you do when you get jilted? I don’t know about you, but Charles answered that question by joining the Marines. He enlisted on the Buddy Program, which meant that he and his best friend from high school, Donnie Turner, went through Boot Camp together.
Donnie glanced at Buddy to see how he was holding up under the pressure, which resulted in an angry drill instructor yelling within an inch of Donnie’s face. “Did I tell you to turn your head?”
“No, sir,” yelled Donnie.
“Will it happen again?”
“Was it a stupid thing to do?”
“So, you’re stupid.”
“You’re not stupid?”
“When I get finished with you, you’re gonna be a genius. Ain’t that right?”
“Yes, sir.” ”
What are you gonna be?”
“A genius, sir.”
“Right now, what are you?”
“I can’t hear you.”
“Stupid, sir,” yelled Donnie, louder than before.
Just wanted you to know that there’s more to this story than just tears. It is a very emotional story but there’s plenty of humor interspersed through the narrative.
Two days before his 20th birthday, Charles (aka Buddy) was accidentally killed by his best friend, or at least, according the official Marine Corps report. But is that what really happened? Does a best friend try to get his pal fired from his job, force himself on his girlfriend, and then lie about the circumstances of his death? Sally didn’t think so and with good reason. Don’t want to give that away either.
There’s no greater pain for a parent than the loss of a child. The tragedy catapulted his mother into deep depression and caused her to lose the spiritual strength upon which her family had always relied. Her faith failed and she feared she would never get it back.
How do you put your life back together after losing your greatest earthly treasure? Therein lies the reason for the story because there is life after the death of a loved one. You can and you will experience joy and happiness again. Mable Polk’s faith did return with a little help from an unlikely source.
Farewell PFC Polk: The End of a Nightmare is based on a true story. I should know. I was there.
Although I was 7-years-old when he died, my family kept his memory alive and used his life as the standard to which I should aspire. This book is also dedicated to my grandparents, Mable and Charlie Polk, who suffered the unfathomable pain of losing a child. Their climb from the pit of despair taught me that life isn’t always fair and tragedies don’t always have happy endings. But where there is faith there is always hope.
This book is not about a popular subject but it is something that all of us either have dealt with or will face in the future. This is not a counseling book or a how-to guide on how to survive after the death of a loved one. It’s just a story of what can be…when we have faith.
You can get your copy of Farewell PFC POLK in print or eBook formats from most of your favorite online retailers.
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Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post. Have an awesome day.