Lorin Lee Cary once taught Social History at the University of Toledo, wrote historical works and co-authored Slavery In North Carolina, 1748-1776 and No Strength Without Union:An Illustrated History of Ohio Workers, 1803-1980. Both won awards. He also served as a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Now he creates fictional cause and effect relationships. The Custer Conspiracy, a humorous historical novel set in the present, is one result, the novella California Dreaming, a meta fiction venture, another. Short stories and flash fiction pieces have appeared in Torrid Literature, Cigale Literary Magazine, decomP magazinE, Lit.cat and Short Story, as well in a couple of now defunct journals. (He did not cause their demise.) Othersfiction is being considered by over-worked editors. He is also a prize-winning photographer.
Brian chewed his lower lip, checked the windows and returned to his desk. Just one more chapter to go. He’d finish it. He knew he would. He had a strong track record. He smiled as he ran through his achievements, the titles of his success. His Passage to Toronto grabbed the number one spot on the New York Times list for weeks. Orchid won prizes on three continents and translation into forty-two languages. Readers begged for more of his series featuring sleuth Daniel Frost. His sci-fi novel Obsidian Planet garnered a Hugo and high praise in all the best magazines. A well-known figure on talk shows and a frequent speaker at writing conferences, he taught creative writing a Muddleburg University.
Brian told his students that heroes needed to be a bit less than perfect. As he surveyed his own characters, he’d long ago recognized that he’d gone over the top. An alcoholic who often relapsed, Daniel Frost struggled to control his anger. Bipolar tendencies swayed the lead character in Obsidian and the woman featured in Orchid contended with an obsessive compulsive disorder and trust issues which left her isolated and lonely. Banker Alfonzo Splenda’s polished Italian loafers and tailored suits exuded charm and wealth, an exterior at odds with his schizophrenia.
Brian nibbled at his nails. In the future a precocious doctoral student would ponder the relationship between such characters and the author. They’d find him out. Yet his family tree, he assured himself, harbored no mental illness or alcoholism. No abnormalities marred his looks or speech. Average height. Average weight. Deceptively normal, he thought.
“Worry achieves nothing,” his therapist Dirk Beauregard told him. “Take your Zoloft and don’t worry about your characters.” Brian remembered the admonition as he moved his pen holder one-quarter inch to the left, assuring that it lined up perfectly with the back of his desk. Yet neither this advice nor the affirmations he used each morning—“I do not worry,” “I am untroubled,” “I am at peace”—calmed him.
Brian walked to the kitchen sink and washed his hand again. He dried it off and washed the other hand. He returned to his desk, then decided to clean the refrigerator before he’d do any more writing. Not that he’d gotten much done so far. It was a question of priorities.
Later Brian sipped a martini, his private reward for chapter completion. He tapped his fingers on the desk, gazed out the window, wondered if it would snow, wondered if people hated him. Well, enough of that. On to the next project. He needed to create a character in a stable relationship, a person unburdened by psychological disorders or repressed memories that affected behavior. He might bite his nails, but he would be mentally balanced. Brian got up and washed his hands again. Looked over his shoulder. Checked the windows. Ensured that the temperature still read 67.2 degrees.