2022 American Book Fest “Best Book” Finalist, Anthology
2022 Honorable Mention, Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
2022 IAN Book of the Year Finalist, Short Story Collection

Available on:

“Flanigan is an entertaining, skillful storyteller…Three compelling, impressively crafted tales united by authenticity and grace.”
Kirkus Reviews

People on the Verge

Dewdrops--The life and death struggles of a charismatic but tormented drug rehab counselor and his patients.

Some Cold War Blues—A neighborhood snowball fight erupts into a thing as close to war as an 11-year-old American boy is likely to face.

 On The Last Frontier—Old and broke in Juneau with winter coming on . . .

“The diverse array of stories in…DEWDROPS, are compelling and realistic. Flanigan’s characters are vulnerable, and their struggles with addiction and loss are recognizable.”- Thaïs Miller, Author of The Subconscious Mutiny and Other Stories (2009)

From Chapter 3 of Dewdrops

…“YES,” RAY CONTINUES, gesturing at the whiteboard and repeating, “what’s that do to your world view? Out there addicts by the thousands—who knows how many—are dying every day.” Some in the audience writhe at this thought, shaking their heads and making scoffing sounds of protest, regret, disgust. He continues, stifling any rising protest. “Progressive. This disease is progressive. And fatal. It gets worse over time, and it ends in death. Early death. It kills in all sorts of ways. Cirrhosis, car accidents, murder, suicide. But it wasn’t the thought that I was dying that was so awful for me. It was having to live death. Right out of the horror movies. We become vampires, the living dead.

It doesn’t start out that way. It didn’t start out that way for me. At first it seemed to give me life, to fill up that void, that Black Hole that had been in me since I was a little boy. It let me celebrate. ‘Dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free’ and all that crap.”          

Laughter sifts through the audience. Ray smiles.

Life should be a celebration, right? A lifting up? Soaring? It let me talk. It let me laugh away the willies, laugh at that damn Boogie Man. It let me hurl my words at the savage gods. I couldn’t seem to talk without the booze. The booze let me let go. My heart, my tongue, were blocks of ice, and the booze melted them and let the poems in me flow. At least that’s what I thought. But that void space in me, that Black Hole, was really just getting bigger all the time.

I don’t know exactly when it turned on me, like it does to every addict. I got married, had a child, a daughter, went through graduate school, got a university teaching job. Maybe the wife and kid, the sense of moving forward, of life still being incomplete, kept me straight for a long time. But my wife, she was just a sweet girl I’d somehow picked up along the way. I didn’t deserve her, and she sure as hell didn’t deserve me. She just wanted fairly simple things—kids, a family life. Dull. Not me. Not me. I was too wonderful for that. I needed excitement. More and more all the time. Because nothing was ever enough.

I just took off one night. Drunk, of course. Propelled my wonderful self into the universe. We confuse freedom with escape. Oh the next day! The hangover willies. Like a mad dog, shaking and whining. But I got drunk again real quick and called my department chair and my wife. ‘I can’t do it,’ I said. ‘I’m crazy. I’m evil. You’re better off without me.’ She wanted to work it out somehow. Not me. I had written my script. The tragedy, or the melodrama, or whatever it was, had to go on. So, like my old man before me, I abandoned my wife and child.

Somehow I got another teaching job. Some fool hired me. A girl’s college. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Angels everywhere…”

Ray catches himself, realizing he has used the wrong word in this particular situation. He stammers and seems to have forgotten what he intended to say next. A few in the audience understand what has happened, including Angel, whose “Ha!” of a laugh sounds above the others.

“So…So…I brought my sickness in there and started infecting others. As it got worse, it got all tied up with sex. Another way to try to escape the despair. The obsession with sex. What’s the connection? Not that we’re the only ones. Look at the culture. It’s fuck-crazy. Listen to how we talk. Fuck this. Fuck that. Fuck it. I wonder if it’s because that’s all we’ve got left to try and feel with. A remembrance of wonder. But it can’t bear the weight. Nothing can bear that weight. So it becomes just another commodity, then garbage, trash, pornography. Just another way to jack off. We’re always looking for that peak experience, the big thrill that might just make us want to keep on going. ‘The orgiastic future’ Fitzgerald called it in Gatsby. Insatiable. Searching for the answer. The answer. I gotta have the answer.

Well, I was out of control. No celebrations now. Drinking just to stay alive. But I still had hope. It’s so hard to kill the hope. Fitzgerald again, our whole world summarized in a paragraph, ‘So we beat on, boats against the current.’ Chasing after something. That remembrance of wonder? And then I discovered—it! Magic dust. Cocaine. Just in time. It cured my alcoholism. All that guilt and shame? No more. Gone. Snort some coke, and you are in control. For half an hour, you are master of the universe. The gods walk the earth again. Resurrection!



© All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy

Site Created by KC Web Specialists, LLC

Content on this website is protected and not intended for use by AI or machine learning systems. We do not sell or distribute any lists of customer information to any third parties.