Happy Tuesday, my friends! It's my pleasure to be part of the A Long Way from Clare Blog Tour! Robert W. Smith has stopped by to share an excerpt from his new book! Plus, Meryton Press is giving away an eCopy of the book. Details are at the bottom of this post.
On the trolley back south, Conor wondered whether Maureen’s presence at the dinner, the seating arrangements, even this trolley ride home were coincidence or some sort of sinister plot by his devious friend, Father Brendan. He never thought of his relationship with Maureen Brogan as a courtship, nor had he harbored any desire to court the girl. Still, his initial opinion of Maureen had been unfair, unkind even. There was substance in Maureen Brogan, intelligence to spare, and the kind of independence he so much admired in Rebecca Fletcher. And make no mistake, he thought, Maureen was an attractive woman. There was no denying the fact.
Out of nowhere, Maureen asked from the seat beside him, “So what did ye think of Father Brendan’s matchmaking then?”
He laughed. “Yes, I noticed. It was a little embarrassing, I suppose, you and I being more or less business acquaintances—I mean in the matter of my brother.”
She kept her eyes trained straight ahead. “Of course, in the matter of yeer brother…and all.”
Conor found it an uncomfortable conversation, so he tried to inject humor. “Well, I suppose a Catholic priest with a girlfriend would want to see everyone with a girlfriend.”
His attempt at humor flopped. “’Tis a myth, if ye ask me. Father Brendan is a complicated pairson. He feels guilty about being a priest, t’inks he has it too easy. He doesn’t want people to see him as marally superior, so he makes up sins about himself, sins he never committed. It makes him feel more like the rest of us poor fools. Besides, you already have a garlfriend, and, if you ask me, she’s too old far ye, no matter how nice she is. I t’ink the garlfriend is in his fookin’ head.”
Conor knew better, but Maureen Brogan had effectively shut the lawyer’s mouth. Brendan must have told her about Rebecca, but who told Brendan? Outside Maureen’s flat, he stopped at the exterior door of the house and tipped his trademark homburg, “Goodnight, Maureen. It was a very pleasant day.”
Still holding little Patrick’s hand in hers, she took a step toward Conor, raised herself up on dainty tiptoes and kissed him gently on the lips. “Goodnight, Conor Dolan, and t’ank ye for a wonderful day.”
On the streetcar ride east, it occurred to him how complicated his life had become in the last two months. He had learned much about women, about sex, even about the basest proclivities of human nature. And that was only his personal life. The more he learned, the more confused he became. He recalled a paraphrased quote from Oscar Wilde to the effect that, “Experience is the name men give to their biggest mistakes.”
He hopped off the streetcar at LaSalle and caught a southbound transfer with no wait. The car was empty but for a shabbily dressed woman with a young boy playing a harmonica. He sat facing them in the open car, and he was struck by the woman’s uncanny resemblance to his own mother. For the first time since his arrival, Conor thought consciously about his mother, about Ireland, the little white cottage, and the road down to the bog. He remembered the music that filled the family’s evenings as the turf fire cast its shadows along the stone wall. In that moment, he could almost smell the fire and the song of the kettle on the hearthstone.
Pa was proud of the stone house he and his brother had built; the people in their village, most of whom lived in cottages, lauded him for his craftsmanship.
On rare occasions these days, Conor would still dream about his little dog and the incident at the Cliffs of Moher, but that was more a nightmare than a memory, banished to the whim of his unconsciousness.
He passed Murph’s place on the walk home but fought the urge to stop for a nightcap. He would need his rest for the coming days.
eighteen during the Vietnam War. Following a year of language training at Syracuse University, he served four years as a Russian Linguist in Security Service Command, a branch of the NSA. He attended DePaul University and The John Marshall Law School in Chicago on the G.I. Bill while working as a Chicago Transit Authority Police Officer. Thirty-odd years as a criminal defense lawyer in Chicago followed. His first book was Immoral Authority (Echelon Press, 2002) followed by Catch a Falling Lawyer (New Leaf Books, 2005) and The Sakhalin Collection (New Leaf Books, 2007, hardcover). In February of 2022, Between the Lines Publishing released Bob’s newest novel, Running with Cannibals, a historical/military thriller based on actual events of the Philippine-American War.
- One person will win an e-copy of A Long Way from Clare by Robert W. Smith
- One winner will be randomly picked
- To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below and leave a way of getting in touch with you, or check back for the winner announcement.
- Open internationally.
- The last day to enter the giveaway is Jan 31st, 2023, by the end of the day.