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I resent my dad. Well, there’s not much to tell except that I vowed never to be like him. Any decent man steps up and takes responsibility, right, Doc? Not my father. He walked out on us, the coward. Didn’t even try to reconcile with Mum. I wonder if Mum tried? She never did say, so I guess not.

I remember the rain bucketing down that night he left. My father’s tall, dark frame cutting through the torrent, deflecting the heavy rain drops that bounced off him like bullets against Superman’s body, disappearing from the view of my bedroom window, vanishing into the darkness.

He didn’t even look back. If he had, he would’ve seen my face, wide-eyed and curious, pressed up against the glass, bewildered. At the time I thought he was coming back, probably just gone to the shops, or gone to see a man about something or other, as he would always tell Mum. Little did I know it would be the last time I would ever see him, and not even a goodbye. I mean, what am I supposed to think? The man I loved and adored couldn’t give a damn about his own flesh and blood. What kind of a man is that? Certainly not the man I want to be.

Excerpt (novel) – Insane Truth – Grant Ackermann

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The outside porch light gleamed off his beady eyes and his smile worked hard at masking his guilefulness. The reverend stood upright and tall. For a man over fifty he had not a grey hair in sight. Instead, boasted a perfectly combed mop of brown hair and a perfectly straight set of glowing white teeth. He reached out and shook my hand, his gold watch gleaming with reflected light. Needless to say, I now knew where all the Sunday collection money was going―straight on the reverend’s looks.

‘May I come in?’

‘Yes, of course. Nicole and the girls are already asleep. Do you want me to wake them?’

‘No, no, it’s you I want to speak with.’

‘Great!’ I thought.

The reverend glided past me, his smile still in place, and a waft of heavy cologne left hanging in his trail—his demeanour projecting himself more as a used car salesman than a man of the cloth.

Now, I’m a person who believes in respect and manners and it didn’t seem fit to kick a man of faith out of my own house, especially when his wife played an integral part in helping my daughters live their lives. So I just sat there and indulged him.

We moved into the lounge and I invited him to sit. Of course he took the seat directly opposite me and right in line with the TV so I was obliged to turn it off and keep my eyes focused on him. It was already going bad and we hadn’t even started yet. He placed his briefcase onto the table but still held on tightly to his bible. He regarded me for a long time.

‘Would you like something to eat?’ I asked.

‘I’m fine, thanks. Tracy cooked up a storm in the kitchen tonight. She really outdid herself, so I’m quite comfortable.’ He patted his stomach, which folded over his belt buckle like rising bread dough out of a baking tin. ‘Gosh, I’m a lucky man, Edwin. She’s a truly wonderful person, isn’t she?’ He looked at me expectantly.

‘Drink? Beer?’ I asked, sidestepping his question, hoping, in fact praying, pardon the pun, that he’d accept so that I could have one to take the edge off. God knows I needed  it.

Excerpt (novel) – Insane Truth – Grant Ackermann

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Doctor Stephens, with test results in hand, sat us down in his office. I can still smell that subtle lemon odour of disinfectant that hung in the air. He palmed away a strand of grey hair that hung across his brow and adjusted his specs, which usually rested low down on his pudgy nose. He set the pages on his desk, letting his fingers rest upon them like a paper weight, as if he expected a gale force wind to howl into his office and swirl them into a scattered mess on the floor. He cleared his throat.

‘Thanks for coming,’ he said, and his lips twitched into a crooked smile that seemed just as out of place in this setting as was the blazing red tie he wore around his neck. Pushing through the awkwardness, he continued giving us the bad news in a rather direct, matter-of-fact fashion, as though he was presenting the daily news at six. He gave us all the facts and all the results of the tests, but the bottom line, he said, was that there was nothing they could do to help them … there was no cure.

The girls’ level of the disease was classed as type two, which meant their bodies would slowly give way to this condition, gradually losing muscle function until finally their respiratory system would cease to work, their breathing would stop, and they would die. When? Nobody knew for certain, but the life expectancy of patients with their severity was not good. When he was done speaking, he sat back in his leather seat and waited, his fingers laced together on his lap.

We sat in stunned silence for what seemed like a lifetime, staring at him as though there was more to add, something vital that he had left out that would change this news into a positive feel-good moment. Something along the lines of, ‘Only a kiss from their true loves could save them, and it’s up to you to save the day.’ Then we would race home and kiss them and watch the magic transformation as they swirled in golden light to be healed of any such disease. But it wasn’t like that; it’s never like that.

Excerpt (novel) – Insane Truth – Grant Ackermann

 

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Definitions for blinkered – adjective [bling-kerd]

  1. narrow-minded and subjective; unwilling to understand another viewpoint.
  2. having blinkers on; fitted with blinkers.

His father had warned him of the sultry seductions that came with success, but his stubborn, blinkered arrogance ignored the advice, and now he was back home and humbled with only an apology in his pocket.

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People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.

 

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If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.

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Amy: They clinked teacups and sipped their hot drinks, the steam rising and twirling before them, while the rain pelted down against the soft green earth outside. Amy wishing and naively believing, as a young mind is inept to do, that death was still a long long way away … but she was wrong.

Rose: Her daughter nodded more in acknowledgement than in agreement but the mood remained as dreary as the weather and Rose, taking it upon herself to lift the mood, tried to shake off the vibe that stuck to them like a wet blanket. ‘Today is a celebration, so let’s forget the bad news and celebrate,’ she said enthusiastically, raising her voice to an almost cheer, bringing a sudden spark to their energy and a smile to both their faces. Rose hoped with everything she had that it would last but as they drank their tea and watched the rain roll down the window, she could only see tears, lots and lots of tears that only supported her deathly premonition.

Excerpt (novel) – The Wish List – Grant Ackermann

 

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