The Shrill of Sparrows
Author: SA Collins
Publisher: Akwekon Media; 1.2 edition (January 16, 2015)
Book Length: 168 pages
Genre: Gay, Romance, Action, Werewolves, Witches
Hank O'Malley is about to have his idyllic West Virginian life turned upside-down. It's 1956 and Hank leads a quiet, boring life of a senior at Cavanagh Gap Regional High School. On the cusp of his 18th birthday the pack of bad boys at school have told him, "It's time..." - just what that means for unassuming Hank, he can't begin to imagine. With a new threat on the horizon, he might not have to. This edition is the first of a series - episodic in nature.
I guess the best way to begin is by telling ya who I am. Yeah, that’d be good, I guess. My name is Henry O’Malley, but most people around here call me Hank. I was named after my daddy, but he ain’t around no more. Not that he left us or nothing. Well, not by choice. See, my mama got pregnant with me a few years before Daddy joined up to the army. This happened shortly after Pearl Harbor at the start of our part in the Second World War. I guess the government got desperate. Not that my dad was in poor shape or nothing. From the pictures I’d seen of him, and the man I know’d he’d become before he shipped off, I spied that he was a mountain of a guy — massive, monumental enough to rival Hercules hisself. The only reason he flew under the radar for most of the draft I guess was because we were in a Podunk of a town in the furthest backwater you could find. And you’d still have to walk a couple of miles further to get here — even then, you still might get lost, the kind of place that was so far off the beaten path that you’d have to pipe sunshine in, as we’d like to say. Sparrows Hollow wasn’t the kind of town that appeared on any map. Just ‘twasn’t worth the trouble. I think the last census had us pegged at about 500 people who called her home. I was surprised by that because I swear you could walk for miles and never see a single soul and you wouldn’t have to try too hard to do that, neither. But as I said, it was just Mama and me now. Daddy wasn’t in the picture on account of him going off to the war and they sorta lost him, no body to bury; no funeral to hold — only because we never knew what happened. ‘Twasn’t like the only time Daddy’d left us, neither. While he and Mama got along for the most part, they did have discussions about things I wasn’t a part of. Daddy’d go off for a couple of nights a month. He’d never say where he’d gone or what he’d done. Didn’t make Mama happy none, but he was the man of the house so no one did anything to stop him. ’Twas the was the way ’twas, thassall. I remember one time when Mama accused him of having another woman in his life in some other town. He told her that there wasn’t any woman and that he had to take care of business on those nights a couple of counties over with some of the boys. A guy thing. But he swore “‘tweren’t any women involved.” I don’t know how he convinced her, or what he said, but somehow she believed him. Didn’t make it any easier on them, or me, but we learned to accept it. Then came the call from the war; he went and just never came back. Yet, there were times I swear I could feel him near: while I was walking home from school, or when I was out tryin’ like hell to catch some fish in the one creek we’d used to fish in that I could guarantee hadn’t been ruined by the mines. It wasn’t that I heard him, just a familiar scent on the air, something that was intrinsically him — from memory, deeply rooted inside of me since I was a boy. I never knew what to make of it. Mama said it was just his spirit watching over me. We did okay because along with Daddy’s pension from the Army, Mama had inherited the general store from her father when he passed. So at the very least we had food and a roof over our head. To make things a tad easier, Mama took to selling the house we had and we took to living in the small apartment above the store. Doing so, we were able to eke out a decent life. For a few years it went like that. It was just Mama and me. We did the best we could. It meant that I had to grow up quite a bit faster than most of my friends. What few I had. There was little time for playtime or just being a kid. It was a life filled with school, the store and just generally getting along as best we could. That’s when Cora Reiff entered our lives. Cory was as gentle a soul as you’d ever meet. She was of an average height, but had the appearance of a farm woman of German stock. Though she had probably had the coloring of an Aryan for most of her life, by the time she came to us her hair had lost any of its original hues in favor of a crown of white. Her eyes flashed with a brilliant blue that rivaled the skies and held a spark that belied her age. She was what you called an old soul, a learned soul. She was not book smart in that way that some people liked to profess, but I learned very quickly that she was a walking encyclopedia of life experience that she’d spoil me by letting me plunder whenever the mood struck. It struck quite often, I can tell you that. Cory and I were like two peas in a pod in the store. Cory didn’t have much of anywhere to go, no family to speak of. She just showed up one day to find work. We had some and she charmed the pants off of me, literally, ‘cause she said they needed cleaning something fierce. I was eight at the time and I was smitten with the attention she lavished on me that never failed to make us smile. Cory was the balance in my home life, mostly ‘cause Mama was not always what they’d call en pointe, as she’d like to say. It was a phrase she picked up from her days in college that Cory and me had acquired. Mama had her good days, that was unless, of course, she had one of her quiet spells. Then Cory and I had to pull more than both our weights around the store to get things covered. ‘Twasn’t Mama’s fault exactly; she just was given to severe bouts of depression over what she said was our miserable lives.
I didn’t think they were so miserable. Well, they had their ups and downs just like any other. But we did okay. I was a good student in school, well by Sparrows standards, that is. Not that I’d had to worry about going to college or nothing no matter how smart I was. It just wasn’t gonna be in the cards for me — no matter how many times Mama had said that was her biggest wish for me. She wanted me to get out and get as far away from Sparrows as I could get. She had her reasons, I suppose. It was just the way life in Appalachia was. There were very few souls that ever escaped her mountains for greener and greater horizons.
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S.A. Collins hails from the San Francisco Bay Area where he lives with his (legal) husband, their daughter and, wonder of all wonders because he only just broke 50, a whirlwind of a granddaughter. Their home is filled with laughter and love. A classically trained singer, and a theater actor for many years (under another name), Mr. Collins is all about the story telling and the spell a good yarn can weave for an audience. This is Mr. Collins first foray into writing but, as with all his creative endeavors, he leaps right in and figures it out as he goes along. It's been a winning combination thus far so why break a working formula?
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SA Collins is giving a lucky reader the chance to win a Kindle or ePub e-copy of either The Shrill of Sparrows or HO'M,O: Henry O'Malley Omega. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment below. (Void where prohibited) Best of Luck!