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Micah Stewart is in the throes of a mid-life crisis. He’s bored with his job as a sports writer. While he maintains a good relationship with his ex-wife and children, he feels unfulfilled in many areas of his life.
A random act of violence in the workplace forces Micah to hit the road in search of meaning to his life. Will he find enlightenment? Can he find happiness again? Can he find contentment at the end of the long highway?
A soft, warm breeze filled the pressbox behind home plate at Riverfront Stadium,
giving some relief from the humidity that was typical of Cincinnati during muggy July evenings. The Ohio River slowly flowed by several hundred yards away while the lights across the river in Covington flickered in the heavy air. A sparse crowd sat throughout the ballpark, drinking beer or sodas to beat the heat. Except for an occasional shout at players or umpires from a few of the diehard fans, most of those in the stands appeared to be sitting in their seats in a dull stupor instead of being involved with what was happening on the field.
“This is the worst time of the year to watch baseball,” Micah Stewart, sports columnist for the Cincinnati Register, said while peeking out over the pressbox railing. “The team is already out of contention and you’ve got to sit here and watch them go through the motions. They’re bored. The fans are bored. I’m bored. We’re all bored.”
“Don’t complain to me, buddy,” said Frank Smith, the newspaper’s beat writer. “I’ve got to be out here every game. At least you can pick and choose what you want to write about. I’m stuck with them through the end of the season.”
Micah laughed lightly and took a swallow from a cola. He wiped off perspiration on his neck and leaned back in his chair.
“You’ve got a point,” Micah said. “At least we’re past the All-Star game. It’s all downhill now.”
“Hell, it’s been all downhill from the first week of the season,” Frank said while recording a groundout in his scorebook. “They haven’t been in contention since losing their first eight games. It’s been pitiful. Oh well, maybe next season they’ll be better.”
“That’s right. There’s always next season. That’s why people keep coming back. There’s always that hope that things will be different. Hmm, I believe I’ve got a column idea,” Micah said with a chuckle.
“Haven’t you written about that already?”
“I’m sure I have, several times if you wanted to be technical about it. I just regurgitate words and try to put a different spin on it. At least you have a different game to write about each time. The results may be the same most of the time but it’s still a different game.”
“But you know it’s drudgery to have to go to the clubhouse and talk to the players,” Frank said with a frown. “They’re not in any mood to talk about the game. Especially the veterans. They’ve been through this before.”
“You’d think if they didn’t like it that they’d try to do something about it,” Micah said. “Like win a few more games.”
“Hey, you’re being too hard on the boys,” Frank said. “They can’t help it if they’re not very good. Blame management.”
“You’re right,” Micah said. “It’s the front office that assembled this group of players.”
The Dodgers were leading, 8-3, in the top of the eighth. The Reds would need to stage a big rally to pull out a victory but that was unlikely since they had shown little capability of coming back in games because of the lack of power hitters.
“What are you doing after the game?” Frank asked. “Care to go over to the Dugout for a few beers?”
“I don’t think so. I’ve got to attend my son’s game tomorrow morning. I promised him I’d be there.”
“Then you’d better be there,” Frank said. “You don’t get many makeups on games when your children are growing up. Before you know it, they’re grown and out the door. Cherish these opportunities.”
“Hey, I know what you mean. I’ve already missed quite a few games in the past couple of years. It didn’t seem that important at the time but now I know that it was.”
“Don’t get a guilt trip over it. Some things can’t be helped. We’re not the only people who miss activities while kids are growing up. It happens to everyone. You just try to make the events that you can. Kids understand more than you think.”
“Yeah, but it still doesn’t make things easy. I missed enough activities that it helped bust up my marriage.”
Michael Embry is the author of three nonfiction sports books and three novels, including Foolish Is The Heart for Wings ePress in 2008. His career includes more than 30 years in journalism as a reporter, sportswriter and editor. He lives in Frankfort, Ky., with his wife, Mary, and Yorkshire terriers, Baxter and Bucky.
Embry has worked for Kentucky newspapers in Madisonville and Lexington and a national news service, making stops in Louisville, New York, Milwaukee and Lexington. He retired as editor of Kentucky Monthly magazine in Frankfort in 2006 to return to school to become a special education teacher. Among the organizations he is involved in are the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Golden Key International Honour Society, National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, Sierra Club, and The Friends of the Paul Sawyier Public Library in Frankfort.
Embry and his wife, Mary, live in Frankfort with their two Yorkshire Terriers, Bucky and Baxter.
Michael Embry's honest, open, evocative prose engages readers from the opening sentence and propels readers along a storyline that leads straight to the heart. One of my must reads, but be forewarned, once you start reading A Confidential Man, you won't want to put it down until you finish. --Chris Helvey, eliminations editor for Best New Writing 2009, author of Purple Adobe.
Love, liaisons, death and deceit all find their way into the newsroom where sportswriter Chase Elliott spends his days. Admired for his reticence, Chase fears that the last secret entrusted to him may hold the key to a friend's mysterious death and may have put his own life in jeopardy as well. Michael Embry has crafted a treasure of intrigue and romance in A Confidential Man--a real page turner by anyone's standards. --Cleo Roberson, newspaper columnist and co-author of Muhlenberg County (Images of America: Kentucky) and A Mother's Cherished Memories.
Everybody has secrets! You better be careful who you tell them to. A Confidential Man by Michael Embry looks at the inner workings of a major newspaper. Sports columnist Chase Elliott is the “Confidential Man.” He can keep secrets and give advice. He isn’t like others who love to gossip and some who are direct pipelines to management.
Some secrets are just too big. Chase struggles with his own personal responsibility with secrets revealed to him in confidence. Infidelity and fraudulent news stories become the focus of ongoing office romances and newspaper politics. What should Chase do? What can he do?
His friend, Brett Johnson, special sections editor, dies suddenly. The apparent accident spirals into a murder investigation as each piece of the puzzle is revealed. The action reaches every corner of the newspaper as you turn the pages quickly wanting to know more. Michael Embry weaves an exciting story with shocking revelations. This newspaper will never be the same. --Peter Hurley, Beyond the Rain
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 347