Norton’s Ghost

Norton's Ghost Cover


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The death of Kyle Dearmond’s estranged father sheds new light on the mother Kyle never knew. But the will his father left behind raises more questions than it answers and no one seems to know the whole story.

Abandoning the life of a college student to pursue new possibilities, Kyle hits the road in search of answers and to flee the guilt that follows him.

Interwoven between his attempts to piece together his life and its meaning are his trials to find food and shelter on the road. However, not all is dark within the seedy underbelly of San Francisco when Kyle finds a surrogate family he never expected.

Kyle’s search will bring either answers or disaster, for the streets and open roads hold both danger and promise.

 

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I’ve learned more about shelters since then than I perhaps care to know. Some are like the one I stayed in that night–wet shelters, so-named because they accept people under the influence of drugs or alcohol, like the people around me that night. Dry shelters, on the other hand, will ask you to leave if you are under the influence. Some shelters are open all day, every day, while others are only open during the night and kick everyone out in the morning. Still others only operate during the coldest months of the year. There are some where you are allowed to stay for long durations, weeks or months if necessary, so that you can get your life back in order and your feet on the ground, and others only serve to keep you out of the cold for one night, and you’re never guaranteed a bed or a place to sleep.

Part One, CH 14 p111

[My] food gone, I sat back down again and sipped my soda. It was sweet and cold–every bit as good as I’d dreamed of in days past. Ice crunched pleasantly between my teeth. It froze my mouth and cheeks to the point of pain, but I enjoyed it, knowing full well that I had no idea when I’d get another chance. There were so many things that I took for advantage in my normal life, and it took living on the road to realize and appreciate them. Things like ice and cold drinks, the ability to loiter somewhere that you can’t get kicked out of, or places to store things without carrying everything on your back. My current state brought them all out of obscurity and into full detail. For a few minutes, I missed home, even if it was a forty-year-old dorm room.

Part One, CH 16, p129

Blood oozed from a gash above my left eyebrow.

“Look,” I said, “not to be rude, but I don’t think that’s any of your business.”

He shrugged. “Fair enough. You’re going to need stitches for that cut, I think.”

“Then I guess I’m out of luck.” I scrubbed at my face with a paper towel and winced when I hit certain spots too hard. “I’m broke.”

I saw the eyes of his reflection move downwards towards my pack. “Hitching?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

Blood and water formed a runny red stain that leaked down my face and stung when it got in my eye.

Part Two, CH 9, p198

Each city has its good sections and bad sections. As I followed Gareth through the streets and down crowded sidewalks, I realized he was leading me to the bad section’s bad section. The evident visible wealth grew less and less, even by the Tenderloin’s standards. The community grew bleaker by the moment as we walked. I saw people sleeping on the streets, wrapped in dirty, torn blankets, or sitting together in groups smoking cigarettes, the same dejected and dead looks on every face. A not altogether attractive woman in a too-short skirt asked those passing by if they needed a date for the night. Her voice lacked energy and passion. Almost like she asked the questions by rote, an automatic response triggered whenever someone walked close enough, like my thumb going out whenever a car passed.

Part Two, CH 11, p217

We sat as we were, touching and quiet, beside the spraying water on a marble bench in a concrete plaza under a starry night sky. I tried to remember what the moment felt like–tried to capture every detail, every feeling into memory–so that I could relive it later.

But it never works. Whether the mind gets too clogged or just can’t work that way, the sharpness of memory fades not long after the moment has passed. I know mentally how it felt and that I enjoyed it, but I cannot remember and feel it; I’m left with mere glimpses and pieces, precious fragments of the greater whole now lost forever to me.

Part Two, CH 19, p254

I was cold, I was wet, I was tired, I was hungry, sore, drained, injured, frustrated, depressed–I was anything and everything I could possibly be.

Part Three, CH 2, p346

The modern man or woman has no time to get to know the area around their home, let alone the areas they travel through day after day. We’re far too busy running through life, scrambling to attain a carrot on a stick that doesn’t exist. We go so fast that everything disappears.

I wanted to see everything, I wanted to quit and go home, I wanted to see what was over the next hill, I wanted to hop in a car and just get to where ever I was going, to hell with “connecting” and all that crap that seemed like fluffy mumbo-jumbo when I was exhausted and twenty miles away from anywhere. No matter what my mood, though, I always kept going. The road had become my home.

Above all else, the road endures.

Part Three, CH 2, p348

Everyone is always happy in the beginning.

Part Three, CH 7, p370

The comforts of a house are inexplicable in their subtlety and simplicity.

Part Three, CH 9, p375

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