Sunday, June 2, 2013

Excerpt #2 from California Homecoming

After a discouraging day of job hunting, Hunter started his Thursday morning by pounding down the compacted beach sand of Rio del Mar. As he ran, he scanned the ocean cliffs for trouble. He ignored people’s curious stares at his prosthesis, but kept an eye out for any sudden moves.

Today’s run wasn’t the same as dashing down the beach as a kid, but he was thankful technology had gotten to a point where he could be almost good as new on the outside.

Whenever he stopped by the Veteran’s Hall, the old, bearded Vietnam vets in wheelchairs saddened him. How might their lives have been different if they could have walked?

Was his life going to turn to be out any different from theirs in spite of his physical ability?

He increased his pace, wet sand flying behind him.

The salt-laden air filled his lungs, cleansing them further from the stale smells of hospitals and rehab facilities.

He watched a seagull lift in flight, soaring against the wind in takeoff. Hunter longed to have that ultimate freedom, but running was as close as he was going to get.

It would have to do.

A few surfers off in the distance caught his eye. Unfortunately, he’d never be able to do that again. He’d been learning to surf in junior high school. Only in Santa Cruz could you get gym credits for surfing.

At least he was in laid-back Santa Cruz. He’d dreamed of the beach town ever since his father had yanked the family out of the city when Hunter was fourteen. He’d never forgiven his father for the change.

A sudden movement made him shy. Hunter’s adrenalin surged and he automatically reached for a weapon, before his therapy kicked in. He forced himself to examine his surroundings. Tiny clusters of snowy plovers played tag with the waves, a pelican dove beak-first into the waves, and a pair of dolphins crested the waves.

His breathing slowed and he eased his pace. His muscles ached and he tired more easily than he had before the injury. The doctors had told him his physical abilities would improve over time.

That’s how he tried to think of it— a simple injury. Just an accident that had cost more than he’d ever wanted to give.


Sweating, he reached the parking lot. Even in mid-January, the California coast could generate some heat. Today was the second in a string of perfect days the weatherman promised.

Perfect except that Hunter had to figure out how to live. His mother wanted him to come home so she could baby him. The VA wanted him to go to job training.

All Hunter wanted to do was get back to construction work. But construction work was hard enough to find if you had all your limbs. Hiring bosses took one look at him and shook their heads.

So much for supporting veterans.
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California Homecoming comes out June 24, 2013!. Stop by the blog after 5:00 pm EDT for an excerpt from California Sunset, the first in the series.

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Casey Dawes


Jennifer Wilck said...

Great excerpt.

Debby said...

Returning to civilian life is so very difficult for some many vets, especially those with injuries. Great job!!
I did like your FB.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Casey Dawes said...

Thanks Jennifer and Debbie!

Shadow said...

Wonderful excerpt! Thanks!