This week begins the official release of my new book, The Coward! I am so excited to finally be releasing the book and hope that you get a chance to enjoy it. The book is available on Amazon.com (click here) or on CreateSpace.com (click here). I would also love to invite you to my book signing event at Gatsby’s Coffee in Lubbock, TX, Saturday, January 25th at 8:00pm. I’ll have signed copies of the book there as well as readings from the book.
Exclusively here, I share with you an excerpt from the book. I hope you enjoy!:
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John Oscar Burke was a coward. As long years passed after the war, his old, misty eyes eventually reflected a man afraid to admit his own cowardice. Even in his old age, he desperately wished he wasn’t. To his friends, his family, those whom he loved, he was “Pops,” the war hero. But make no mistake, John Oscar Burke was a coward, through and through, and he knew it. It takes a man of real guts to admit something like that, and after eighty-three years of long, tired, sleepless nights, Burke knew it was true. He saw it every morning when he looked into the mirror and saw his scarred, ragged face staring back. He saw it in his sunken, tired eyes that aimed the guns and that witnessed the fire he helped reign down. He knew he was a coward when he sat in his easy chair, watching his trembling old hands play with his blissful grandchildren. He knew he was a coward; he remembered it every day he lived after the war, and he knew that he never had the guts to convince the rest of his family that he was.
He especially saw his cowardice in the flag that hung on his dining room wall every morning. It hung there, in the dining room – a big red, faded circle on a white, tattered backdrop, watching him eat his breakfast every single morning. Years before, his children had dug it up and had it framed for Veteran’s Day. They thought it would make him even more proud and the tragedy was, it did make him proud. That was what made the flag so damn awful to look at – it made him proud. It reminded him that he was a coward for the U.S. government and a coward to his people. Regardless, as he would look at that Jap hanging in his dining room – with tattered corners, worn edges, writing scrawled all around it – it made him a proud man. It made John Oscar Burke a proud coward.
Never, in all of his 83 years of living, did Burke ever tell his family how or especially why he got the flag. Never, in all his years, did he tell them the whole truth. And perhaps only now did the truth come out so as to settle an old spirit that gravely needed his rest. For Burke, it was never a point of conversation he felt needed hashing out. That flag hung on his wall for years and as his children and grandchildren looked at it, they too felt proud. Burke never figured it mattered that they knew the truth. Deep down it always worried him that they might find out the truth and that the truth would stop making them feel so proud. Sometimes, things are better left unsaid. Other times, things are better said when there is no one left to say them. So for Lieutenant John Oscar Burke, it was better that they never knew while he was alive. It kept him as a hero.