Sunday, March 28, 2021

How Did She Get Here?


Several years ago, Kim and I visited Hannah and Alex in Pittsburgh. We had a nice dinner, and after, Hannah and Alex showed us some of the sights. Kim and I had been around the city on our way to or from Wisconsin, but we hadn’t actually been in the city. Once or twice on recruiting trips, I had been on the outskirts, but I had not visited Pittsburgh.

It was a nice trip. I had no idea that Mr. Rogers was from Pittsburgh. We saw a large statue of him. We walked the water front and watched speedboat races. Listened to music. Then Alex drove to a lookout where we could see the city skyline. Pretty at night.

On our drive back to their apartment, we drove through both nice, upscale areas of the city, and some of the harder hit, rundown areas. On a couple of the corners, there were some of the homeless begging for change. An elderly woman, or at least who I thought was an elderly woman, pushed a grocery cart with what looked like all her personal belongings.

Alex turned to me and said, “Do you ever wonder how she got here?” I looked at him questioningly and he clarified, “You know, how did she ever come to this place in her life?” I tossed out the responses most of us had heard through media: mental illness, PTSD, addiction, alcohol. Yet looking at her, watching her push what was left of her life in a grocery cart, caused me to think.

How did she, or anyone for that matter, get from a home and three meals and a bed, bath or shower, to living on concrete in cardboard boxes with garbage barrel fires for warmth? How?

In 2018, Tenille Townes wrote and recorded a song, Somebody’s Daughter.

I drive home the same way, two left turns off the interstate
And she's always standing at the stoplight
On 18th Street
She could be a Sarah, she could be an Emily, an Olivia, maybe Cassidy
With the shaky hands on the cardboard sign
And she's looking at me

Bet she was somebody's best friend, laughing
Back when she was somebody's sister
Counting change at the lemonade stand
Probably somebody's high school first kiss
Dancing in a gym where the kids all talk about someday plans
Now this light'll turn green and I'll hand her a couple dollars
And I'll wonder if she got lost or they forgot her

She's somebody's daughter

How did she, or he, get there? Here?

I have to admit that like most everyone else, I see “them”, the homeless, the disposed, the unwanted and unwashed, and I go my own way. At times I see the same one or two standing at the same corner or walking to or from their spot. Like most everyone else, I drive by as I hurry here or there.

When we lived in California, Kim and I would visit Baja, and the kids and others would sell gum or beg for spare change. We were “advised” to not pay attention because if you help one or two, you will be flocked like pigeons after seed. On one trip, my brother Jack, Hannah and William were with us. Wil was adopted from Guatemala, and once upon a time, as recently as a year or so before he was adopted from an orphanage, he was one of those kids panhandling on the street. Shoplifting to survive. He gripped my hand tightly and wouldn’t look at the kids. His head down, eyes on the pavement, he’d walk by.

I used that experience in my book, Betrayed. Three fifteen-year-old adopted brothers, George (a Navajo), Brian and Brett (both from upper-middle-class homes) traveled through the squalor of and Navajo Nation Reservation. The thought Brian had was that he dared not look at George, because he understood that George was once one or two rungs up the ladder from where these kids played in the dirt streets barebacked and barefooted.

Aren’t we all? One or two steps away from living on pavement? Most of us, fortunately, will never know living in a cardboard box or under makeshift canvas tents. Most of us, fortunately, will never know life on concrete under bridges. Most of us, fortunately, will never know the gnawing feeling of hunger or thirst. But some of us will. Some of us will be somebody’s daughter. Some of us will be somebody’s son. Some of us . . . Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make a Difference!

To My Readers:

Great News!!!!!
I signed a 4 Book Contract with Black Rose Writing to Re-Issue the Lives Trilogy and Prequel! I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. This past week, I re-edited all four books, Taking LivesStolen LivesShattered Lives, and Splintered Lives. I will keep you posted as to when they might be available for purchase on Amazon and on Barnes and Noble.

More Great News!!!!!
I signed a contract with Black Rose Writing for my new book, Blaze In, Blaze Out that will be published January 6, 2022! Like the others, it falls in the thriller/mystery/crime genre, but this time around, it features my trio of cops: O’Connor, Eiselmann, and Graff. It will be more cops than kids, though you will always have a visit with the Evans Family! I will give you updates on when it will be available for preorder, as well as provide snippets from the book on my author website and Facebook.

I have an author's website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page.

On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books. I release snippets from those books. I let you in on any interviews I have done. I will let you know of any events coming up for books sales and signings. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at:

 Other ways you can connect with me on Social Media: 
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Betrayed: A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader's Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is willing to talk. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted.

Spiral Into Darkness: Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. He has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.

Caught in a Web: A PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by 

The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer. Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family.  

Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved. 
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them. 
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
A 14-year-old boy knows the end is coming. What he doesn’t know is when, where, or by whom. Without that knowledge, the FBI can protect him or his family. And he cannot protect himself or his family. 
The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11-year-old Brett McGovern, and 11-year-old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out.     

Photo courtesy of Jon Tyson and Unsplash


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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe