New EPOCH Chapter!

New EPOCH Chapter!

Jacob was awake before Grace opened her eyes. She could hear the shower running. A dull ache at her temples was a reminder of the red wine they shared at dinner. Christopher had only woken up once in the night. Grace fed him and changed him in the dark, a well-oiled machine of motherhood. He had fallen asleep while breastfeeding and Grace placed him back into the crib, staring for a long moment in the darkness. A bunny nightlight gave his perfect pink skin a warm shimmer. She tucked a thin blanket around his legs and crossed the hallway into the master bedroom where Jacob had wrapped himself around her and sleep came quickly.

Behind the bathroom door, the shower shut off. Grace savored the moment. She was ahead in her studies. No papers or assignments loomed. Grace’s ability to schedule and execute were the reason she could enjoy Saturday morning. She had breakfast on her mind. The slight hangover called for eggs and bacon. Parmesan eggs. Did they have bacon?

The door to the bathroom opened. Jacob stood framed in the light, naked and washed. He smiled at her.

Maybe breakfast could wait.


The smell of coffee filled the kitchen as Grace gathered the ingredients for their Saturday feast. The bacon question had been answered. With two busy adult schedules they had run out, and the supply was never replenished. It didn’t matter. Not much mattered for Grace this morning. Jacob had woken her up inch-by-inch, smelling like soap and toothpaste. She welcomed the morning with a toe-tingling orgasm. Since the baby turned their schedule upside down, there had been very little lovemaking. Jacob even started the shower for her afterward and headed across the hall to answer the morning cry of a dirty diaper. Grace’s headache receded, replaced by hot water and the luxury of time.

When Grace stepped from the shower, she could hear Jacob talking with Christopher. The baby monitor was on beside the bed and he was singing about five little monkeys jumping on the bed. Jacob was always the man in any room, strong and reserved, but from the moment Christopher emerged, Grace watched him discover the child in himself. The two of them were both competitive through the first years of college, even with each other. Jacob had set a goal to take the Bar Exam by the time he reached twenty-five. It left little time for a relationship. When Grace discovered she was pregnant, they took in the news with an unspoken certainty it would be a bump in the road, fixed by a visit to a free clinic to alleviate the “problem.”

Grace stared at the pregnancy indicator in the following days, studying it as deeply as any medical text she encountered in her classes. Her workload was intense, but she was excelling. She and Jacob shared an apartment mostly out of necessity. They had been going out for over a year and the time spent commuting between dorm rooms could be put to better use.

A baby was not in the syllabus.

But something stirred in Grace. Something much deeper than her practical nature which locked down a full ride scholarship and had her grade average surfing at the top of her class. They drove in silence toward the clinic. Jacob was sullen and angry. Suddenly, they were strangers to each other. Grace broke down on the way and Jacob stopped the car. It all poured out of her. She wanted this baby. She wanted to meet it and love it and raise it, giving it the attention her own parents always withheld in their quest for upward mobility and a bigger slice of the pie. Jacob held her and started the car up again. She knew it didn’t fit in with his plans. She knew it was the end of them.

Jacob then turned from the road leading toward the abortion clinic and a cold end to this sudden family. Like a psychic concierge, he drove to IHOP instead where they ate pancakes and anything else Grace was craving. They married three months later in a quick ceremony between semesters. Five months after that, Christopher arrived, early but perfect. School and a baby were exhausting. But they managed.

Grace stood in the downstairs kitchen of the small home they found. Jacob was singing to Christopher upstairs.

“…Momma called the doctor and the doctor said—“

The baby was laughing. It was the most beautiful sound Grace knew. Mr. Coffee was humming along, filling the kitchen with the promise of dark roast. The day outside the window was perfect. Grace stared out at it as she poured a coffee, watching the swirl of cream lighten the dark, rich cup.

A scream came from upstairs. It wasn’t the infant cry of hunger or wetness. It was Jacob.

Shrieking.

He was calling Christopher and Grace was running up the stairs and into a sudden nightmare. Jacob was on his knees. On the floor before him was Christopher. The boy’s eyes were open, shining with a numb emptiness. Blood covered his small head, flowing from a deep gash over his eye. Jacob was screaming, his face shocked and mouth trailing spittle.

Above them, the newly installed ceiling fan turned. One of its blades listed off-kilter, broken and bloody. Grace stood in shock for a moment. It seemed like a lifetime.

Jacob turned to her. He was white, his face twisted and ugly. He spoke one word:

“Please.”

Grace picked up Christopher, holding him close as she hurried into the master bedroom. She laid him on their bed, dialing the phone. An operator answered and Grace babbled, asking for help. Christopher was looking up at her from the unmade bed. His mouth was wide, gasping. Grace dropped the phone and tried to stop the blood running from his head. She glanced back over her shoulder to the nursery across the hall. Jacob was still on his knees, weeping and lost.

Grace held Christopher close as she ran down the stairway. The sunlit day beyond the front door had transformed from golden to harsh and unforgiving.


Like the aborted car ride to the Planned Parenthood clinic two years ago, Grace and Jacob stood in silence. They were stained with blood as they stared down at the small figure in the hospital bed. Christopher wore a bandage around his cranium, framing his swollen and unrecognizable face. The Doctor spoke to them with the hushed whisper of terrible news. Christopher had suffered a serious brain injury. They would know more once the swelling went down but their perfect child would never gain the full use of his developing brain. Basic motor functions would continue allowing Christopher to grow and live, but he would be severely disabled. He would remain an infant in his ability even as his body grew. There would be questions that needed answers regarding the accident. Blame hung in the air, unspoken and bitter.

Jacob took it all in without speaking. Grace was on her own. She had lost them both in that terrible moment in the upstairs nursery. She kept staring up at the clock on the wall. Somehow, time continued to move forward even though the world ended hours ago—

Outsiders Way & Curtis Brothers Lane

Outsiders Way & Curtis Brothers Lane

“Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name…

…and you’re always glad you came…”

The familiar song from Cheers was always something I looked forward to. A show where people seldom died (except Coach RIP) and wonderful characters floated in and out, delivering verbal jabs but ultimately always there to remind each other they were important. I’ve personally never been able to patronize a bar stool. Beer makes me sleepy and harder alcohol is a ticket to the Land of Spinning Regret, but the spirit of Cheers is alive and well. Its address is the corner of Outsiders Way and Curtis Brothers Lane. I was fortunate enough to pay a visit at the height of last summer to see the early stages of the Outsiders House restoration process.

Playing the role of Sam in this metaphor is Zachary Matthews. I had spoken with Zach prior to my arrival and developed a quick text-based friendship. He was waiting at Tulsa International with a photographer in tow. We piled into a car and Zach suggested that we visit The Outsiders House before stopping at the hotel.

Zach! Do you realize I just flew for 6 plus hours, the longest stretch of which I was sandwiched between a very nice, but slightly ripe, real-life Hodor and a teenager with a head cold? It’s 106 degrees outside, Zach! A construction site?

My mind threw out protests when the barkeep suggested this particular concoction, but I sat back and allowed him to shake and pour what would turn out to be just what the doctor ordered.

I had been to Tulsa before, of course. My last visit was 34 years ago when I stepped off the plane as a 17-year-old. My return was one of those surreal moments where the new and the old were superimposed over one another. In many places, it seemed that Tulsa had remained the same. The Admiral Twin drive-in welcomed me. It had burned a few years before and Tulsa had worked to rebuild it. It marked the site I first heard the word “Action!” and thrilled at the adrenalin of filmmaking. This wasn’t just a visit to a location. It was a look back at the dreams of a 17-year-old with his entire life ahead of him.

This was “gold.”

Zach drove us across the river and into a familiar looking neighborhood.

“That’s where Johnny’s house used to be. And there’s the park…”

The park. The overwhelming heat of the day didn’t cure the cold memory of the fountain that no longer stood there. And I was the lucky one. I stayed mostly dry during those cold night shoots while Bob and Ponyboy were drenched. Ponyboy would get his revenge on a mountain top in a few months, leaving me in the snow to die.

What goes around…

We pulled up to the house. The doors and windows were open. A large fan did its best to cool the interior. It didn’t help, turning the place into a convection oven. The drywall was torn down and ceiling stripped back. It was the bare bones of a place that had little meat to start with.

I couldn’t have been happier.

Greeting me was the amiable drawl of Donnie Rich and Boston import Michelle Weagle with whom I had formed a relationship through social media and finally had the pleasure of meeting in person. The glow exuded was more than sweat. These were people engaged in something they love. These were the Restoration Faithful. Members of the Tulsa community had offered their services to fix the deteriorating aspects of this beloved location and you could feel it in the air. A new front door, built to the specs of the original, waited for installation. The front porch would soon be excavated and rebuilt. Furnishings that matched the props in the film were rolling in.

To the right of the front entrance, the stripped wall revealed a memory into my first real introduction to the power and genius of Francis Ford Coppola. When a tracking shot was desired following a fight between Ponyboy and Darry, the Academy Award-winning director had called out the set carpenters. With their circular saws in hand, they cut away and removed a large part of the wall, making it possible to dolly from an interior shot of the living room to an exterior of the front porch as Ponyboy fled. The replaced plywood bore the year of its placement. 1982. I stood on the porch so many years later and looked down at the memory of a slack-jawed teenager who had watched the scene take place. This was magic and nobody does it better than FFC.

Literary Rock Star S.E. Hinton flanked by Darren Dalton and C. Thomas Howell

After a quick tour through the bare bones of these wonderful memories, I checked into the hotel and washed off the Oklahoma stickiness for a very special evening:

Dinner with Ms. S.E. Hinton and the lifetime bearer of her literary alter-ego, C. Thomas Howell.

“He-whose-name-is-a-complete sentence” has been my closest friend for decades. Ever since we saved the world from the Russian invasion. We got along fine during Outsiders filming but the kid just never stopped working. It’s hard to bond when you’re trying to drown someone in the freezing cold. I knew what I would get when sitting down at the plush restaurant with C.T; witty and spicy with a heaping helping of little brother. Our focus was on the Mama Bear herself. I’ve had the pleasure of Suze’s company since our time filming her seminal novel. When they created the word “Authentic,” they had Susan Eloise Hinton in mind. It was one of those evenings that takes on a timeless quality where past and present meet.

Perfection.

The next morning, Ponyboy and I hit the links for a round of golf with a gathering of Tulsa Country Club members. This is a Soc’s heaven. The fact that I haven’t swung a golf club in months was kept hidden for the moment by a deluge of rain. It proved to be an entertaining delay and the hosts were excellent. When the rain finally stopped, I got my turn over the ball. The course was beautiful. I should know. I checked out every bush and tree that lined the fairway.

In the evening was the main event. The love that people have for the book and movie always raises me up. The man responsible for this entire trip through such a wonderful part of my past was here. Danny O’Connor aka Danny Boy had taken it upon himself to save a crumbling house destined for demolition. I had met Danny while joining his podcast and liked him immediately. A towering presence, his dedication as a curator on such a wonderful part of my life was inspiring. It inspired the troops that surrounded him and the crowds that came to help raise funds for the effort.

The throng of fans that attended the evening was amazing and polite. Even to a Soc. It was a testament to the power of the book and the film I had stepped off of a plane so long ago to experience. As that theme song says, “You want to go where people know, People are all the same.” We were all gathered to celebrate the message behind the movie. For me, it was a trip back across the tracks that separate the dreams of a young man with the struggles of mid-life.

As I left Tulsa. Michelle Weagle gifted me with a silver pendant. Engraved on the pendant were the words “Trust Your Journey.”

What a journey it has been.

“EPOCH” Excerpt

“EPOCH” Excerpt

Grace Carnegie loved Saturday mornings. Even with a new baby, there was still a golden aura around the first day of the weekend with its wide open schedule and endless possibility. She was not the sleep-in type. Why waste a beautiful Saturday morning? Plans were always in pencil. When a fiction novel called, there was no cut off if the pages were turning. Sucked into a Twilight Zone marathon? Grab a blanket and get lost. For Grace, it was as necessary as the decompression time for a deep-sea diver.

Before they married, Theodore struggled with this aspect of “Weekend Grace.” He loved planning a trip filled with social destinations and bucket list priorities. Grace had worked to accommodate him. But, as they grew used to each other and the facade of perfection wore thin, she often sent Theodore out on his own. Grace would find herself alone, savoring the freedom which only came when you knew it was temporary.

The birth of their son Christopher had altered the Saturday morning delicacy at first. An infant didn’t know Saturday morning from a Monday afternoon. Soiled diapers still beckoned. Feeding time never took a day off. Christopher struggled with a sleep schedule that made time itself become a foreign language. But, the trigger of weekend possibilities still gave Grace the initial thrill of sunlight hiding behind closed curtains. Saturday morning was Grace’s favorite destination in any week.

Until it became the worst day of her life.

***

Theo was awake before Grace opened her eyes. She could hear the shower running. A dull ache behind her eyes was a reminder of the red wine they had shared last night. Christopher had only woken once. She fed him and changed him in the dark, a well-oiled machine of motherhood. He had fallen asleep while breastfeeding and Grace placed him back into the crib, staring at him for a long moment in the darkness. A bunny nightlight gave his perfect pink skin a warm shimmer. She tucked a thin blanket around his legs and crossed the hallway to their bedroom. Theo wrapped himself around her and sleep came quickly.

Behind the bathroom door, the shower shut off. Grace savored the moment. She was ahead in her studies. No papers or assignments loomed. Grace’s ability to schedule and execute were the reason she could enjoy this Saturday morning. She had breakfast on her mind. The slight hangover called for eggs and bacon. Parmesan eggs. Did they have bacon?

The door to the bathroom opened. Theo stood framed in the light, naked and washed. He smiled at her.

Maybe breakfast could wait.

The smell of coffee filled the kitchen as Grace gathered the ingredients for their Saturday feast. The bacon question had been answered. With two busy adult schedules they had run out, and the supply was never replenished. It didn’t matter. Not much mattered for Grace this morning. Theo had woken her up inch-by-inch, smelling like soap and toothpaste. She welcomed the morning with a toe tingling orgasm. Since the baby turned their schedule upside down, there had been very little lovemaking. Theo even started the shower for her afterward and headed across the hall to answer the morning cry of a dirty diaper. Grace’s headache receded, replaced by hot water and the luxury of time.

When Grace stepped from the shower, she could hear Theo talking with Christopher. The baby monitor was on beside the bed and he was singing a song about a bunny rabbit. Theo was always the man in any room, strong and reserved but from the moment Christopher emerged, Grace watched him discover the child in himself. The two of them were both competitive through the first years of college, even with each other. Theo had set a goal to take the Bar Exam by the time he was twenty-five. It left very little time for a relationship. When Grace discovered she was pregnant, they both took in the news with an unspoken certainty it would be a bump in the road, fixed by a visit to a free clinic to alleviate the “problem.”

Grace stared at the pregnancy indicator in the following days, studying it as deeply as any medical text she encountered in her classes. Her workload was intense, but she was excelling. She and Theo shared an apartment mostly out of necessity. They had been going out for over a year and the time spent commuting between dorm rooms could be put to better use.

A baby was not in the syllabus.

But something stirred in Grace. Something much deeper than her practical nature which locked down a full ride scholarship and had her grade average surfing at the top of her class. They drove in silence to the clinic. Theo was sullen and angry. Suddenly, they were strangers to each other. Grace broke down on the way and Theo stopped the car. It all poured out of her. She wanted this baby. She wanted to meet it and love it and raise it, giving it the attention her own parents always withheld in their quest for upward mobility and a bigger slice of the pie. Theo held her and started the car up again. She knew it didn’t fit in with his plans. She knew it was the end of them.

Theo then turned from the road leading toward the abortion clinic and a cold end to this sudden family. Like a psychic concierge, he drove to IHOP instead where they ate pancakes and anything else Grace was craving. They married three months later in a quick ceremony between semesters. Five months later, Christopher arrived, early but perfect. School and a baby were exhausting. But they managed.

Grace stood in the downstairs kitchen of the small home they found. Theo was singing to Christopher upstairs and the baby was laughing. It was the most beautiful sound Grace knew. The Mr. Coffee was humming along, filling the kitchen with the promise of dark roast. The day outside the window was perfect. Grace stared out at it as she poured a coffee, watching the swirl of cream lighten the dark, rich cup.

A scream came from upstairs. It wasn’t the infant cry of hunger or wetness. It was Theo. Shrieking. He was calling Christopher and Grace was running up the stairs and into a sudden nightmare. Theo was on his knees. On the floor before him was Christopher. The boy’s eyes were open, shining with a numb emptiness. Blood covered his small head, flowing from a deep gash over his eye. Theo was screaming, his face shocked and mouth trailing spittle.

Above them, the newly installed ceiling fan turned. One of its blades listed off-kilter, broken and bloody. Grace stood in shock for a moment. It seemed like a lifetime.

Theo turned his face to her. He was white, his face twisted and ugly. He spoke one word.

“Please.”

Grace picked up Christopher, holding him close as she hurried into the master bedroom. She laid him on their bed, dialing the phone. An operator answered and Grace babbled, asking for help. Christopher was looking up at her from the unmade bed. His mouth was wide, gasping. Grace dropped the phone and tried to stop the blood running from his head. She glanced back over her shoulder to the nursery across the hall. Theo was still on his knees, weeping and lost.

Grace held Christopher close as she ran down the stairway. The sunshine beyond the front door had transformed from golden to harsh and unforgiving.

***

Like the aborted car ride to the Planned Parenthood clinic two years ago, Grace and Theo stood in silence. They were stained with blood as they stared down at the small figure in the hospital bed. Christopher wore a bandage around his cranium, his face swollen and unrecognizable. The Doctor spoke to them with the hushed whisper of terrible news. Christopher had suffered a serious brain injury. They would know more once the swelling went down but their perfect child would never gain the full use of his developing brain. Basic motor functions would continue allowing Christopher to grow and live, but he would be severely disabled. He would remain an infant in his ability even as his body grew. There would be questions that needed answers regarding the accident. Blame hung in the air, unspoken and bitter.

Theo took it all in without speaking. Grace was on her own. She had lost them both in that terrible moment in the upstairs nursery. She kept staring up at the clock on the wall. Somehow, time continued to move forward even though the world ended hours ago—

***

EPOCH will be released late summer of 2017. For news and an advance opportunity to be a preview reader, please use the contact form provided here

“The Hand of Glory”

“The Hand of Glory”

Counting money had never been a chore for Rex. Unlike numbers on a ledger or computer screen, this was something he could feel. Something he could smell. He made small piles. First thousands. Then tens of thousands. When he finally got up into six figures, the truth became crystal clear.

He had made it.

Rex had run the scenario before, thinking of ways to surprise his fragile family that lived in the small apartment above the shop. He could plan now. A casual announcement of a trip whose destination would be a home with no shared walls and plenty of space. Private rooms for Franny and Holden. A suite for his mother, complete with the largest television he could find. She would weep with joy. The pale gray of her skin would eventually welcome sunshine and relaxation.

Franny would hug him and run from room to room, announcing each wonder as she found them. Holden would try and keep his cool but he would eventually join in, melting from the grown-up role he had inherited to the boyhood that he deserved. There would be grass outside, acres of grass, bordered by trees, and flowers and nature.

Rex told himself that these things were to fill a void in their young lives, but in the quiet part of him that knew the deeper truth, it was for him. It was a part of life that he had never had. He would be able to experience that joy through them in the same way that a prisoner watches a sparrow fly. The thought reminded him that he was no saint, he was damaged goods. He wasn’t anywhere near a mid-life crisis but, like the pawned items that filled the cases out front, the chips and cracks and defects would never be restored to newness. Rex could feel the glow of innocence, but only secondhand. Franny and Holden would know it completely.

The electronic beam in the front of the store chirped. Rex glanced at the closed circuit monitor across the room. A woman had entered the store. Young. A cotton sweatshirt beneath her leather jacket concealed further identity.

Rex quickly scooped up the stacks of bills, shoving them into the heavy safe to his right. He would have to start his count again. He thrilled at the thought of the bills and the happiness they held. Swinging the safe shut, he spun the tumblers and locked his happiness away.

Stepping out into the storefront area, the first thing that Rex noticed was her eyes. This wasn’t unusual, he often noted a person’s eyes first. They usually told a better story than any words that might come out of their mouth. But these eyes were spectacular. They were a deep golden color, lighter on the outside and merging to a fiery orange at the pupils. They were also larger than average, especially against the small, pale face. Unlike many eyes that entered his shop, they made no effort to appear interested in the items that filled the cases or hung on the walls. Their gaze settled on him as he emerged, taking an inventory of their own.

“I wasn’t sure that you were open.”

Her voice had a slight accent. Rex couldn’t place it. But, it was clear she wasn’t a native to New York or the surrounding boroughs. She pushed the sweater hood back. Dark hair appeared in a riot of curls.

“We don’t keep regular hours,” Rex explained, noting the backpack that the girl carried. A seller. Without a doubt.

“Neither do I,” the girl countered. She lifted the backpack onto the counter between them. “You buy things, correct?”

“I loan money based on collateral. I hold it for 90 days. If you come back for it, you can buy it back for the amount plus interest. You don’t come back, I have the option to sell it.”

The girl looked around at the cases of items.

“Does anybody ever come back?”

Rex could smell her. Cinnamon. Something else he couldn’t place.

“Some do.”

The girl pulled her leather jacket off, draping it across the counter. “It’s boiling in here. You like it this hot?”

Rex started to speak as she pulled the sweatshirt off as well. The action lifted her t-shirt beneath, sliding it a few inches up her body until Rex could just make out the bottom curve of her breast. With the sweater free, she pulled the t-shirt down, hiding the flawless skin beneath it.

Rex cleared his throat.

“Is there something you’re looking for?”

The girl smiled, grabbing for the backpack and digging inside. “I have something for you.”

The T-shirt had short sleeves. Pale arms. Free of marks. A lot of those who came into the shop fitting the girl’s demographic were looking to support a drug habit. Rex had someone bring in a microwave while it still had their forgotten lunch inside. She didn’t fit the profile.

The girl withdrew a rectangular tin box. It had once been painted an olive green but the paint was worn and chipped, reducing the color to a mottled gray.

“Tell me if you’ve seen one of these before.”

Opening the lid revealed a human hand. The flesh had dried over time, becoming the shriveled color of a raisin. The area around the nails had retracted, giving them the appearance of being long and claw-like. The girl, without reservation, lifted the severed hand from the box and placed it on the glass counter.
Rex studied the grisly trophy.

“Not what I was expecting.”

The girl was smiling, reaching into the box again.

“It’s a complete set, too.”

From within she pulled a misshapen yellow candle and placed one end into the hollow formed by the hand’s palm. A thin wick waited on top, looking like a gruesome cake for a cannibal’s birthday. The girl was searching the pockets of her jeans. They were tight enough that Rex could see she would find nothing.

“Do you have a light?”

Her tone was casual. Rex just stared at the withered hand on the counter.

“I don’t really deal in this kind of thing.”

This wasn’t completely true. In his business away from the storefront, Rex had acquired items for clients that ranged from a rare, earless monitor lizard to a human liver for a desperate transplant patient.

The girl smiled again. “Do you know what this is?”

Rex touched one of the upturned fingers. The skin was hard with age.

“A human hand.”

She leaned toward Rex as if the pawnshop was packed with eavesdroppers.

“You don’t have a lighter? A match?”

Rex walked to a case nearby. Inside sat a collection of used Zippo lighters. He pulled one out that had an American Eagle etched into the surface. With a deft flip, a flame sprang to life. He snapped the cover closed and handed the lighter to the girl.

Flipping the lighter open again, the girl thumbed the wheel and brought the flame toward the candle—

“This is the hand of a thief. They cut it off after his neck was broken on the gallows in the 1700’s. A public hanging. The candle is rendered from the fat of the that very same unlucky man.”

The flame lit the waiting wick.

“The wick is woven from his hair.”

Rex watched the flame burn. It reflected deep in the girl’s golden eyes. She was watching him. With a smile, she whispered once more.

“The Hand of Glory.”

Suddenly the world closed in on Rex. His vision narrowed and the world spun. The last sound he registered was the crack of his head on the tile floor.

***

A high-pitched whining filled the world. It accompanied the pain. It seemed that a million voices held a million conversations, narrowing down until only one sound could be heard.

Knocking.

Rex sat up. The light outside the pawnshop windows told him that hours had passed. Framed in the overbearing sunlight was a thin, aging man. Even in silhouette, Rex knew who it was.

Crebbs.

On the counter nearby sat the withered hand. The Hand of Glory, she had said. The candle it once held was reduced to a puddle that overflowed the palm, spilling onto the glass countertop. The knocking came again. Rex stood, his legs weak, and lurched to the door, opening it for the thin man.

“Almost nine thirty, Rex. I’ve been banging for half an hour.”

Crebbs came inside as if he owned the place. Several of the items within the cases had actually been his once. He meant to add to them.
Rex felt disoriented. He hung on to the door knob for support.“What time did you say it was?”

“Half past nine, Poor customer service, Rex,” Crebbs said, shaking his head.

The thin man held up a gleaming watch. He spoke like a proud parent introducing his straight A student.

“Rolex Yacht Master.”

Rex’s instincts kicked in. The watch was a fake, the face too wide for an actual Yacht Master. He knew that he’d give Crebbs money anyway.

Rex straightened up.

The money.

A surplus of contained hope suddenly soured in his stomach, a voice screaming in his brain—

The money!

Running to the back, Rex struck his hip on a glass display case. The contents inside scattered and the withered hand rocked, threatening to fall. . Rex ran into the doorway to the back as well, like a human pinball until he came to a stop, staring—

The safe hung open. Its interior screamed at Rex, violated and empty. His fortune was gone along with the dreams he had for his family upstairs.

“Back to square one,” the voice laughed in Rex’s head.

If Rex had been the crying type, he would have covered the floor in tears.

But, Rex was the get even type.

Crebbs heard a roar of anger from the back room. He hesitated, thinking of the rental time the watch might allow him on his favorite bar stool. He stared down at the mummified hand on the countertop.

Better come back later.

Crebbs fled through the front door.

In the back, Rex picked up his phone.

Forever an Outsider: Tulsa author S.E. Hinton looks back 50 years to her first book

The roster includes Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, C. Thomas Howell, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, Leif Garrett and Darren Dalton.

“There wasn’t any infighting, there wasn’t any backstabbing and nobody was gossiping,” she said. “They were cohesive.”

Hinton became a type of mama bear, or maybe cool older sister, to the young actors. She still keeps in touch with all of them.

“The boys were brought here and turned loose with no adult supervision at all,” Hinton said. “I stayed out of the hotel and didn’t want to know what was happening. Now, on set, I was on them. But I knew better than to go to the hotel and control things.”

One of Hinton’s favorite party stories begins with: “I made Tommy Cruise throw up.”

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Star-studded benefit event draws crowd of spectators to ‘Outsiders’ house

All that separated the dozens of people staking out “The Outsiders” House on Saturday from a VIP event that afternoon was a weathered chain-link fence.

So, as the book’s author S.E. Hinton mingled with folks inside the barrier, dozens of eyes peered through to catch a glimpse. When Ralph Macchio, who played greaser Johnny Cade in the 1983 movie adaptation, was ushered to the side of the house for a photo opp, the fans saw that, too.

People staking out the house isn’t all that uncommon, said Ron Collins. He lives across the street from 731 N. St. Louis Ave., and said ever since Danny Boy O’Connor bought the property to turn it into an “Outsiders” museum, people stop by.

”Not like this,” he added.

On Saturday the sidewalk in front of the home, which is famous for housing the Curtis brothers in “The Outsiders” film, was packed with people.

They had been there since about 8:30 a.m., Collins said.

That’s because less than 12 hours later, Macchio, C. Thomas Howell, Darren Dalton and other “Outsiders” insiders were scheduled to appear at a museum fundraising event and 50th-anniversary celebration at Cain’s Ballroom.

Some of the spectators came to the house because they were in town for the event and needed to kill time, others because they had a hunch something would happen there Saturday…

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Win tickets to The Outsiders 50th Anniversary Celebration from Tulsa World Magazine

Tulsa World Magazine is giving away tickets to The Outsiders 50th Anniversary Celebration & Fundraiser on May 6 at Cain’s Ballroom.

And be sure to get the special “Outsiders” edition of Tulsa World Magazine when it comes out Saturday, April 29.

“The Outsiders” book by Tulsan S.E. Hinton was published 50 years ago, and a movie that launched the careers of several big stars was later filmed in Tulsa.

The event at Cain’s will help raise money to restore and preserve The Outsiders House Museum, where parts of the film were shot. There will be appearances by actors Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell, Darren Dalton and more, with music by DJ Lethal and a silent auction.

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