In an effort to keep Fiona and Colan a little longer I decided to edit and release a 2nd edition of my first self-published ebook and historically top selling, Make Mine a Heel. As always when I dive back into the pages of this book nostalgia takes hold. This time it was so refreshing as I expected such a mess of a story and saw that even then my voice had a cadence and a charm I hardly expect to see or read. I started critically and then I just fell back in love with Banner and Keith:
“You must hate me,” Banner whispered.
“Why would I hate you Bay? You’re at least here trying to understand.” His deep voice sounded solemn, humble. “That’s more than that jackass that knocked my mother up has ever even tried to do.”
The next thing she knew his hands were on her shoulders and she could feel his breath at her ear. “Yeah, we got off to a rocky start, but you’re here for the same reasons I am. We’ve done what we’ve done for basically the same reasons. I could never hate you.”
He turned her to look at him; the truth of it in his eyes. “Twice in your life?” she asked.
He gave a false smile with a joyless laugh. “I may have exaggerated a little. I believe the last time I heard from the son of a bitch was him admonishing me for my career choice. With my size and athleticism I should’ve become a basketball player. Something people could respect.” He turned from her. “That was when I realized what a fool I’d been all my life. You tell yourself you’re doing something just to prove what you’re worth. It isn’t until much later do you actually admit who you’re trying to prove it to.” He admitted.
“Broke your heart,” she guessed.
Keith laughed. “A broken heart I could’ve dealt with. This was worse. It broke my spirit,” he shook his head gravely as he spoke. “I didn’t know which way was up anymore.” His voice turned gravelly as he spoke as strong emotions coursed with his words. “I had convinced myself in the deep dark parts of me that I never try and speak to that if I did good in this he would see what I was worth.” He stopped his face taking on this expression of mocking disbelief as he continued, “Finally he would come along. Be repentant, beg me to forgive him, and we could start fresh as I proved that I was worth his time. Now I would allow him to do the same.”
He sat again staring at the screen, the two men in the ring tumbling, twisting. The announcer was increasing his tone, his pitch to match the action. The crowd was screaming, yelling. This was made all the more apparent by his stillness. His green eyes wide yet focused on the screen, almost innocent with shadows. For a moment Banner could see him as he had been when he fell in love with this sport. That young boy that hadn’t yet understood the whys and hows of life, but knew if he could chose it would be like what he saw.
“My foundation, my hopes and dreams were rocked and shattered. It was more devastating because I didn’t know until that very moment how much of what I had done and become was based on this perception. I had built everything on the idea that one day he would think I was worth his time.” He stared silently at the screen for a few moments after his wrenching speech.
Banner looked at the screen because his face was much too painful to look at. Then she just looked at the floor because watching what had made him choose what he had chosen was no better. She could see it. What a small boy would see; all the fans, the unconditional love, the affection. The absolute lines of right and wrong. Men hugging each other knowing that it was okay. It was the same things that made young boys play football or any other sport. Why boys joined the military. Why they joined gangs. Always, they were just looking for a man strong enough to love them. They sacrificed everything only to wake up one day and realize that the only man that could do that for them is the one they become.
“My father, and I use that term loosely, is a waste of space,” he began his eyes never leaving the screen. “I was never going to matter to him. I was the fallout of a drunken night on a leave weekend from some Mexican whore that didn’t know any better. He was the son of a high ranking Navy Colonel and no way was the world going to know what he sired and with what. He considers my mother and our family mongrel beasts; nothing but poor hapless peasant stock. Had he known that I was being born he probably would’ve had it taken care of. As it was, my mother was much smarter than he ever figured. She used it to get into America. She made the ass pay child support and raised me to know all sides of myself. Not just the ones she was comfortable with. She planned it all out, right down to my name. Now I just know that the prick did a disservice to only himself. He missed out on an amazing woman.” He ended reverently.
“And a son,” Banner said softly.
“I think some things are hereditary. It took me a while to become the boy my mother tried to raise.” He dropped his head. “The fallout from me was much worse than my father had ever wrecked.” He said dispassionately.
He wiped his face showing his exhaustion. “You’re right; I need a break. Didn’t realize it, but that took a lot out of me,” he gestured towards the TV. “Sit and watch for awhile?” he asked.
Make Mine A Heel available in ebook and coming soon in print.