Sunday, July 19, 2015

Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton

    Lacy Dawn is a true daughter of Appalachia, and then some. She lives in a hollow with her worn-out mom, her Iraq War disabled dad, and her mutt Brownie, a dog who's very skilled at laying fiber             optic cable. Lacy Dawn's android boyfriend, DotCom, has come to the hollow with a mission. His equipment includes infomercial videos of Earth's earliest proto-humans from millennia ago. He was          sent by the Manager of the Mall on planet Shptiludrp (Shop 'till You Drop): he must recruit Lacy Dawn to save the Universe in exchange for the designation of Earth as a planet which is eligible for             continued existence within a universal economic structure that exploits underdeveloped planets for their mineral content. Lacy Dawn’s magic enables her to save the universe, Earth, and, most   importantly, her own family. 

 Parental Guidance Statement:

            Piers Anthony, best selling fantasy author during the '80s and '90s, found that Rarity from the Hollow was “…not for the prudish.” Kevin Patrick Mahoney, editor of the once noteworthy site, Authortrek, found that it was, “…not for the faint hearted or easily offended….” By child developmental stage, the novel is similar to the infamous early adolescent insult in E.T.: “penis breath.” It is tame in comparison to the content of the popular television series, South Park, which is being devoured by millions of teens. The story does include marijuana smoking, but that subject has been        frequently broadcast in the news when states enact legislation or debates emerge.

            Except for a scene involving domestic violence in the third chapter, there is no violence or horror -- no blood, guts, or gore, but there is one comical and annoying ghost. There are no graphic sex       scenes in the novel. The renewed romance between the protagonist’s parents does include off-scene sexual reference, but nothing that is beyond real-life typical teen exposure. The android coming   of age during his pursuit of humanity is reality based. Any boy above thirteen years old would attest. However, Lacy Dawn never lets the android get farther than to kiss her on the cheek, once. The        android expresses no interest in sex – he falls in love, all consuming love by the middle of the story. The “F word” is used once, but there is very little profanity. There are two mild sex scenes past   the middle of the story that could disturb some folks with conservative values on the subject, but one of the scenes is comedic and the other involves the inhabitation of a maple tree by the ghost,    so the story is not erotic.


From chapter 13, Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé:
            …Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn's name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.
            I hear her voice. Why won't she answer me? 
            “Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods. 
            Nobody responded. The trees weren't supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.
            I will always love you guys. 
Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.   
            Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front. 
            Jenny looked to the left of the path.
            There ain't no cave Roundabend, but there it is. 
            She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face.  Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn't exit and into a blue light that did.
            “All right, you mother f**ker!”
            “Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you're supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story)."
            DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner.  Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.   
            "Grrrrr," emanated from Jenny.  It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn's dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house.  It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate.  No one moved.  The spaceship’s door slid shut.
            “Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”
            “You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.
            Stay between them.
            “Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I'm old enough -- like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend -- what you call it -- my fiancé.” 
            “You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce. 
            “MOM!  Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”
            Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.
            He ain't got no private parts, not even a little bump.   
            “DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”
            Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.  
            “Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.” 
            I will need much more training if I'm ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.
            “Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”      
            Jenny's left eye twitched. 
            DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…    
            …(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There're a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain't complained since the shots started -- not even with an upset stomach.”
            "He's a doctor?" Jenny asked.
            “What's your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know.  You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that's different -- even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”
            “Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.
            Mommy's right. Maybe I need a different argument.
            A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.
            "What's that?" Jenny asked. 
            She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.
            “But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.
            “Mommy, I'm so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn't talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he'd be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain't had no chance to talk. All I know is that he's home and I'm sooooo happy.”
            “Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more…. 
            It's unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that's a good sign. Maybe she's right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They've been together for a while and I ain't seen a mark on herThat's unusual too. He ain't got no private parts and that's another good thingHell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. I'd better play it smart. I don't want to lose my baby. 
            “What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.
            “I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”
            “My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition -- the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said. 
            They both glared at him. 
            "Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said. 
            “Okay, Mommy.”
            “I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her. 
            “I love you too,” DotCom said.
            Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile -- at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.   
            Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up.  My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”

   Robert Eggleton was born in 1951, the eldest son of an impoverished family in West Virginia. The family received government surplus food called commodities. His alcoholic and occasionally      abusive father had PTSD from WWII. Beginning in childhood, Robert worked odd jobs to feed his family until, at age twelve, he got a minimum wage job in a drug store. The store manager would let         him take home paperbacks if returned in a same-as-new condition. That's how Robert was introduced to Kurt Vonnegut and the world of speculative fiction.

            In the 8th grade, Robert won the school’s short story contest. It was a story about a redneck semi truck driver so obsessed with theological debate that he lost concentration on the road and caused       a terrible accident -- a philosophical theme similar to Cat's Cradle from a teen perspective. As it often does, life got in the way of Robert's dream to become a famous and rich writer. He has made      payments into America’s Social Security for fifty-two years. He continued to work at various minimum wage jobs during high school and college. Work, antiwar activities and school kept him too       busy to write stories, so he wrote poems on scraps of paper. One was published in the 1972 West Virginia Student Poetry Anthology. Another was published in a zine. He graduated in 1973 with a      degree in social work and received an MSW from WVU in 1977. After college, he focused on children’s advocacy. The Vietnam War and the draft had ended. His new political cause became            children’s rights and welfare. He was involved in this emotionally charged work for the next forty years during which time he wrote social service manuals, research, investigative, and statistical           reports on child abuse and delinquency, but read Bradbury, Adams, and Tom Robbins, even newer voices in speculative fiction than Vonnegut, Dick, and Le Guin.  

            In 2003, Robert became a children’s psychotherapist at the local community mental health center in his home town. It was an intensive day program for kids with very severe emotional disturbances. One day at work in 2006, during a group therapy session, he met the real-life role model for his fictional protagonist. Lacy Dawn had been severely abused, had dissociative disorder that caused           delusions and hallucinations, but was so resilient that it was inspiring to everybody who met her, staff and her peers alike. Robert started writing fiction. Three short Lacy Dawn Adventures have been             published in magazines. His debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow, was released in 2012 by Dog Horn Publishing, a small traditional press located in Leeds. In May 2015, Robert retired from his job as         a children’s psychotherapist so that he could concentrate on promoting and writing his fiction that introduces Lacy Dawn Adventures to the rest of the worldThree weeks later, a retired editor of       Reader's Digest posted a book review that it was the most enjoyable science fiction that he has read in several years. proceeds have been          donated to a child abuse prevention program in West Virginia.



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