Tuesday, February 12, 2019

BLACK HISTORY MONTH
























Last but not least, a date near and dear to my heart in Black History because I had the opportunity to participate in it directly was: 1-20-09

Monday, January 7, 2019

CHAPTER ONE - read by the author



I hope you enjoy listening to this excerpt (with accompanying slideshow of visuals) from my novel MATTERS OF CONVENIENCE. Perhaps I'll keep recording and create a full audio book. Then again that's probably best left in the hands of those with greater expertise, though I don't think I sound half bad if I do say so myself. I may have even managed to outdo my effort from the last go around. If you want more of the story, a printed or electronic copy of my book will need to be obtained and read. For now, just hit play and kindly grant me about six and a half minutes of your attention.







Sunday, December 16, 2018

End of Year Book Giveaway Blitz

I've decided to close out this one-of-a-kind year with giveaways for my two novels at Amazon (scroll down for links). Next up will be publication of my first children's book and the undertaking of my third novel. Stay tuned.



Kindle edition of MATTERS OF CONVENIENCE will be available FREE OF CHARGE from December 20th to December 24th (aka Christmas Eve).





Kindle edition of PATCHES OF GREY will be available FREE OF CHARGE from December 27th to December 31st (aka New Year's Eve).





Pickering’s talent is astonishing and ignores every precedent. – Alvah’s Books Pickering’s love for his characters makes us empathize with all of their plights. – Five Borough Books Pickering’s writing style will cause readers to empathize with the characters’ actions, no matter how wrong. – RAWSISTAZ Reviewers The plot kept smashing my soul into pieces. – Books and Wine Pickering’s writing is beautiful and poignant, causing the reader to become one with the characters, feeling their pain, their anger, and their hurt. – A Book Vacation "Patches of Grey” is a deeply complex tale with authentic characters whose personalities are strong and well developed. Mr. Pickering writes with a voice strong enough to one day propel him into the category with the likes of other great Novelists such as: Richard Wright [Native Son, Black Boy], Ralph Ellison [Invisible Man], and John A. Williams [The Man Who Cried I AM]. - Dianne Rosena Jones Roy L. Pickering, Jr. deftly weaves a coming of age tale. – Reads for Pleasure Patches of Grey is a story that will appeal to all audiences and make for great discussion between parents and their young adults, students and book clubs. – Precision Reviews Pickering’s talent is fluid and crisp. There’s a certain clarity to the prose that’s considered and well judged – just enough to paint the picture and more than enough to drive along the narrative. – Unheard Words ...a must read! This recently honored B.R.A.G.Medallion book is one you will be glad you picked! - IndieBrag #bookreview #bookstagram #PatchesOfGrey #RoyLPickeringJr #authorsofinstagram ##BookAndBarbecue
A post shared by Roy Pickering (@roylpickering_author) on



Happy downloading!  Happy holidays!  Good luck with keeping your resolutions for 2019 especially if one of them is to read more often, more varied, more great books. Happy reading!!!



p.s. - Here is my final book review of 2018. Kept this one short and sweet.

The Poisonwood BibleThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

description

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

THE KISS




                                 THE KISS
                                            BY ROY L. PICKERING JR.



     Packing is thirsty business, even when gathering up nothing but the bare essentials, so I stand in the light supplied by my refrigerator and take a swig of soda from the bottle.  This is a childhood habit that I did not or would not outgrow no matter how frequently my wife nagged me to get a cup, to set a better example for our children.  She never has understood that when drinking, I am making no attempt to be a role model.  I’m simply quenching my thirst.

     It is a few minutes past midnight and my house is silent and near pitch dark.  I am frequently awake at this hour, usually not by choice, but due to my body’s frustrating rebellion against sleep.  This situation has worsened considerably in the past few months, probably because I’ve had much on my mind, and troubles do not give respite just because eyes have been closed.  Tonight however, I fully intended to be awake at this late hour.  There is a purpose to my current night crawling.

     As I drain the bottle of ginger ale, I am reminded of an  evening in the distant past.  I was in my first year of high school at the time, and the occasion was my school’s freshman dance.  The cafeteria was serving as dance hall, and the majority of my classmates were exhibiting their best moves in rhythm with the blaring music.  As for me, I was stationed by the punch bowl, snacking on potato chips and downing one glass of punch after another.  Throughout my mindless snacking my gaze remained steady. The object of my observation, admiration, dedication and desperation was Erica Murphy.  I was absolutely crazy about her, had been since the first time I laid eyes on her, and had no idea what to do about it. 

     She was dancing with her boyfriend, a guy who I would have disliked on general principle based on his personality, but the fact that he had claimed the girl who had claimed my heart cemented the deal.   A slow song came on and Mark got to pull Erica closer and hold her swaying body in his arms.  This was more than I was willing to take.  I would not allow my solitude to be taunted any longer.  I would not allow my passion to be made a mockery of.  Plus, I had to pee.  

     I headed to the bathroom.  Once my business there was taken care of, I took a long hard look at myself in the mirror.  I wasn't bad looking.  A few pimples, but no major damage.  If only I wasn't so shy.  If only I had met Erica before Mark.  But "if only" was too depressing a concept for me to deal with.  "If only" never got you anywhere.  It never got anything done.  You either accepted what you were and where you were at, or else you went and changed it.  I chose the former and decided to go home.

     As I was leaving, who should come walking my way but Erica.

     "Hi, Denis."

     "Hi, Erica.  What are you doing out here?"

     "Going to the bathroom."

     "Of course.  So, uh, are you enjoying the dance?"

     "Yeah, it's okay."

     I was quickly running out of small talk.  My heart was beating furiously.  I sensed an opportunity, but for what I wasn’t quite sure.  "The music's pretty good."

     "Yeah, it's okay," she responded.  A few more seconds of torturous silence passed.  I couldn't think of anything else menial to say.  "Well, see you later," Erica said as she headed towards the girls room.

     "Wait a minute."  I noticed that I had grabbed hold of her arm, but I had no idea why I was stopping her.  Then suddenly I did.  I took a step forward, closed my eyes, and kissed her. 

     No dictionary contains the right words to define the sensation of that moment.  Never before had I felt so alive.  My imagination had failed to warn me that her lips would be so soft and sweet.

     "Denis, I ..."

     "Yeah, I know," I said, cutting her off.  I didn't want the magic to be tainted by an "I like you, but as a friend" speech.  I was perfectly content with my initiation into manhood.  And though I had not been transformed into an expert on the ways of women, something about that kiss told me she had wanted it as much as I.

     Time has a way of sneaking by at a pace that would make you nauseous if you were conscious of the speed.  Somehow, some way, twelve years have passed between then and now.  Yet it's crystal clear in my mind, no detail forgotten.  I've gained much since that night when I lost a little of my innocence with Erica Murphy. A diploma, a marriage certificate, kids, career, house. Sometimes I wonder if it was a fair trade.

     I guess I'm done packing now.  Strolling down memory lane has made me hungry, as has the open refrigerator door.  Maybe I should make myself a sandwich for the road.  No, I'm just delaying the inevitable.  I've spent too much time thinking this over.  I thought of every possible reason not to do it, and none were good enough.

     I leave the kitchen and quietly enter the bedroom of my two children, Krystal and Tyler.  It's hard to believe sometimes that I'm half responsible for creating anything this precious.  I fear they will hate me.  If they don't on instinct, my wife will make certain they learn.  Not that I'll blame her.  I'm going to have to take the heat on this one.  No way I squeeze out smelling like a rose.

     I grew up on westerns, so am no stranger to the good guy/bad guy motif.  Every story has to have one of each, and nobody has any problem telling them apart, on account of their hats.  The good guy has it all.  The townspeople adore him, for he's come to save their little world.  He has no guilt complex to contend with, no inner demons to fight, because he has strength of conviction.  That is, he's always sure he's right because right is all he knows.  With such dedication to justice, not to mention a perfect profile, of course he always gets the glory and the girl.  Not a bad job.  But you have to wonder how difficult it is to keep that hat so white.  How much does he have to sacrifice? 

     After eight years of playing the role; loving husband, dutiful father, church going - tax paying - hard working community pillar, I decided to switch hats.  I'm giving up my good guy perks for the piece of my soul I pawned away, and a hat much easier to keep clean.

     Looking at my kids is almost enough to do it.  I'm just about willing to slip back into my marital bed and continue with the facade.  This won't be easy for them.  They won't understand.  From their point of view, hell from everybody's viewpoint, what we had seemed fine.  People have spouses who cheat on them, or abuse them, or commit any number of matrimonial atrocities.  Not so in our case.  Our lives were a Norman Rockwell painting with one invisible flaw.  Somewhere along the line I fell out of love with my wife, and she responded in kind.

     How did it happen?  If I could, I would make a concise declaration illuminating beyond the shadow of a doubt the specific reason for the downfall of our marriage.  No can do.  There was no climactic episode, but rather, a steady progression of moments, infinitesimal on their own, each serving to further widen the rift that had formed between us.

     I fell in love with my wife in one fell swoop.  I fell out of it slowly, steadily, by degrees.  I realized it had happened when I couldn't smile for a picture.  You choose to spend your life with someone because that person makes you happy.  I was all out of happy.  And after trying for a few years to figure out where it had gone and how to get it back, I reached the conclusion I had suspected all along.  It wasn't coming back, and I didn't want to live this way anymore.  

     I cautiously enter the other occupied bedroom in my house.  There she goes, my wife of eight years.  On insomniac nights I have spent countless hours watching her sleep.  But never like this.  Never standing in the doorway with a knapsack wrapped around my shoulder, saying goodbye in secret.  It feels cowardly, but what good would a big teary scene do?  Like any sane man, when I die I want to go in my sleep.  I'm a firm believer in silent exits.

     I walk to my wife's side of the bed and memorize her expression in slumber.  If it's going to haunt me, I might as well get it right.  She's still so beautiful.  As beautiful as when I first kissed her.  I had been right.  She did want it as much as I. It took all of a fourteen year old boy's courage to snatch that first kiss, and another two years romantic labor to earn a second. A long time by some people's standards.  But to me it seemed a worthwhile venture, and time was a commodity I possessed in abundance.

     Without hardly being conscious of doing it, I lean over and kiss her softly.  Her eyes flutter, then snap open.  Her gaze locks onto mine for a moment.  Then her eyes wander over me until something makes them come to a stop.  She has spotted my knapsack.  "Erica, I ..."

     "Yes, I know", she says, giving me grace to skip the speech I don't have it in me to utter, and she can do without hearing.  What can we say in one night that we haven't said in eight years? We've run out of words, out of steam, out of time.  It's almost funny that I had worried about a tumultuous farewell.  The air has been leaking out of our balloon for years, so how could we possibly go out with a bang?

     Erica can afford to be silent.  Everyone will automatically take her side.  Nobody roots for a deserter.  It will be apparent who the bad guy is, so she knows she can save her breath.  In my defense I could explain that I did not terminate our marriage by running away, because you can't kill what's already dead. But what would be the point?  Once you've been seen wearing that black hat, it's yours forever.

     Life seemed perfect on that once upon a time night, standing outside the boys bathroom with my body on fire and heart on a string.  My first kiss almost lasted forever, but not quite.  I guess sometimes not even your destiny is the one.

     There is nothing left to do but turn and leave.  It ended a long time ago.  It just took me a while to follow our love out the door.  No one will believe me, but this is the most necessary thing I've ever done. 

     Still, I am torn apart inside.  She was after all, my first love.  This woman provided the two most potent memories of my life. The first time I ever kissed her...and the last.