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Jeannine D. Van Eperen
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They walked beside the blue ocean. Gentle waves lapped the shore. She ran ahead playfully. She turned, laughing, brown eyes sparkling, before she splashed into the water. He followed after. The water wet her legs, then the skirt of her white dress. She looked back once again and beckoned him. He frowned, confusion filled him. It wasn’t the ocean, but a clear pond. Water suddenly began swirling, and she was drawn under, twirling in the eddy, spinning around and around. He raced toward her, his heart pounding. He called to her. “Solonge!” Her white skirt billowed and twisted under the water, she floundered going under. Her dark tresses floated upward as she descended. Her hand reached out. He ran fighting the water, but could not reach her. Then he was caught in the maelstrom, spinning...but he didn’t go under. He was left to anguish with nothing...only memory and desire.
Drumbeats pounded loudly, rhythmically. Guitars squealed and reverberated as the tumultuous crowd roared like waves hitting a craggy shore, making the whole auditorium quiver with anticipation as feet pounded in time with the thunderous metallic, electric music. The excited crowd was brought to a frenzied fever pitch as drums continuously pounded as if in some ancient pagan ritual.
Reece leaned his head against the wall. Never had the music or the audience seemed so loud. His temples throbbed and he wished he were anywhere but where he was. How could he go on stage? How could he face the crowd that chanted his name over and over again like a religious litany? Who was he that he should be so adored?
He had not performed in almost two years, not since his arrest, trial, and imprisonment. It was ironic, he thought. He killed a man. And now, he stood here to be welcomed with open arms by his public who cared nothing about the past, cared nothing of Solange’s untimely death. It was his fault she was dead. If he had made sure she had locked the door, if he had been a perfect husband, if he had not wished he were single, she would be alive. He was filled with guilt. He was alive, waiting to go on stage to sing and dance, to look happy and to bring happiness to those who thronged to see him while Solange was dead. How could he go on stage to be worshipped like some pagan god? His stomach churned and he was filled with anxiety.
The fans waited for him, chanted his name, "Rico, Rico, Rico!" They screamed for him, worked into a frenzy by the music and the drums. "Rico! Rico West!" The auditorium was filled to capacity and the roar of the crowd crescendoed down upon him like the waves of a crashing angry sea, like the winds of a hurricane on his island home.
He heard the master of ceremonies announce his name. He felt terror more profound than when that group of men had surrounded him in the prison shower. He thought that was one of the worst moments of his life, but he was wrong.
It was now.
Again, he had nowhere to go, no refuge. He took one step and saw the huge auditorium, people leaning over the balconies, and standing in the aisles just to get a glimpse of him. He felt very small, the focal point and reason for all the insanity around him, and froze with stage fright. Paralyzed, he could not move of his own accord.
Someone pushed him onto the stage bringing an even louder roar from the crowd. "Rico, Rico, Rico!" Reece moved woodenly, heavily toward center stage. His heart fiercely pounded in his chest. He was a reluctant sacrificial lamb being led to the slaughter. If only he would die now! He turned to face his public. The roar heightened, almost bursting his ear drums, his eyes glazed over, and water seemed to flow over him; he was drowning, swirling in the whirlpool as he had every night since Solange died.
The nightmare began again; it was never ending. Day as well as night it cursed him. He was spinning in an eddy that kept him swirling, but refused to let him go under. He could taste the salt water, feel his lungs exploding, tightness in his chest, pressure in his ears, knew he was floundering, prolonging his agony. He saw lovely Solange reach out for him, then she descended below the clear, blue water, her large, brown eyes still open, staring at him accusingly. He wanted to drown but couldn’t. He prayed to die but his prayer was denied by an unsympathetic God.
The whirlpool wouldn’t stop and it would not let him go. Solange’s parents stood at the edge of the turbulent pool, smiling, seeing his misfortune, waiting for the sea to claim him, to atone for their beloved daughter’s death.
FAR-Award-winning author, Jeannine Van Eperen, currently lives in Wisconsin, the state of her birth, but she lived for many years in New Mexico and sets many of her novels in New Mexico and Albuquerque, the place she calls home. You Can Bank on It is a fictionalized version of her early years working in the Albuquerque National Bank and also the Bank of New Mexico. She is a people-watcher and “what-ifs” often become the basis for stories. Some incidents happened but most are made up, just as the characters are.
Jeannine attended schools in Chicago and Albuquerque, attended the University of New Mexico, College of St. Joseph on the Rio Grande and Western States University College of Law in Anaheim, California.
Besides the banking industry, Jeannine worked in the insurance industry as an office manager, in the travel industry as a motel manager, and was the director of publicity at the University of Albuquerque. She and husband Lou love travel and have been to all fifty of the United States and Puerto Rico, most Canadian Provinces and thirty countries. She is particularly fond of New Zealand and England. She is a private pilot, enjoys reading, euchre, downhill skiing and needlework.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 338
Paper Weight (lb): 14.1
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