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ralph robert moore


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ralph robert moore

Copyright © 2015 by Ralph Robert Moore.

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new, expanded edition of father figure
july 1, 2015

Back in 1988, Mary and I were getting ready to leave Maine forever, much like six years earlier, in 1982, we were getting ready to leave California forever. We always leave forever. We're not sentimental, that way.

We had a lot of fun in Maine (we have a lot of fun everywhere.) Mary, a southern California girl, had never experienced snow before, so this was exciting for her, to live in a land where each Winter went white for months. We built snowmen. Realized our ears were turning red and numb when we ventured out of our third floor walk-up apartment to experience our first Maine snowfall, all those millions upon millions of unique flakes twirling down in the dark, cold, crystalline air, shot through like prison searchlights by old-fashioned street lamps. Seeing Mary's beautiful, happy face in the lessening light, blonde hair and rosy cheeks decorated with snowflakes. I remember all our trips down to the docks of Portland, entering the wooden shacks selling fish hauled from the ocean, so fresh their shiny scales were bubbled with blood. Remember all the so, so many lobsters we cheerfully killed in our various small kitchens, blue and green antennae twitching as lowered into the boiling water, steam rising from the lifted metal lids, drenching their red and white meat in melted butter, watching movies on this new invention that had just come out on the market, the VCR. And making our own 90 minute film, our last Spring and Summer in Maine, starring just us, The Rob and Mary Show - The Movie.

But it was time to move on.

We packed our bulkier belongings in cardboard boxes, shipped them to Mary's parents in Milwaukee, figuring once we found a new home somewhere in the horizons of America, we'd have them freight everything to us.

All told, we were on the road eighty days. Nearly three months.

We lived out of the trunk of our car, up on the road early each morning, breakfast somewhere off an interstate exit, then back up on the endless highway, tires humming, until it would get to late afternoon, at which point we'd pull into a black parking lot at a motel in Miami, Chicago, Boulder, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Albuquerque, San Diego, Olympia, Vancouver, Anchorage, Winnipeg, or dozens and dozens of other cities. Each night, in whatever anonymous motel room we found ourselves, sitting around the circular table that always came with our room, we'd pull out our maps and AAA guides, pour some drinks, and plan in which direction we'd head the following morning. North, south, east or west. It was an extraordinary adventure. It was incredible freedom. We wanted to spend the rest of our lives on highways.

And while we traveled back and forth across America and Canada, all the while, sitting behind the steering wheel, watching the white lines race under the front of our white hood, I plotted out my second novel, Father Figure.

The idea for Father Figure came to me just before we left Maine. Like most ideas, that initial germ changed dramatically as I thought more and more about the novel.

The first idea for Father Figure, that floating speck, was of a sex change clinic, where one of the patients was a highly manipulative person who was now in the process of once again changing his/her sex.

On the road, that first thought evolved. I thought of someone/something who has been alive for longer than recorded time, who can change shape at will, who is not all powerful but certainly immensely powerful, who spends his longevity finding pairs of unrelated people he wants to match in order to destroy them, for his own amusement. He chooses each pair while they're infants, then works his wiles manipulating them over their formative years with frequent, covert visits, until he's ready to have them travel to where they'll "accidently" meet, after which he interjects himself into their situation, manipulating them further until he brings them down. Because he/it is bored. If you've lived forever, perhaps you do evolve into a creature that enjoys tearing the wings off flies.

In the novel, the two victims are Daryl and Sally. The story takes place in Lodgepole, Alaska. A town I created. And is it fun to create characters? Of course. But to create an entire town? Wonderful.

South of Anchorage, accessible only from a muddy road off Seward Highway, lies the town of Lodgepole, Alaska. After midnight, among the blueberry bushes of White Birch Park, a man crawls on top of a woman and begins making love to her. As her orgasm rises he puts his hands around her throat, shutting off her air. She struggles, not to stop him, but to stop herself from trying instinctively to pull his hands off her throat. As the top joints of his thumb meet at the front of her throat she comes, her cry of orgasm ricocheting around inside her forever.

Daryl Putnam, handsome, bookish, wakes up from a nightmare and decides to do something he hasn't done in years. Take a walk outside at night. Down in the park, at the lime green shores of Little Muncho Lake, he comes across the body of the strangled woman.

The next morning, at the coffee shop of the hospital where he works, Daryl meets Sally, a pretty, dark-haired girl. He's intelligent, she's outgoing. What they have in common is both are living lonely lives. Until today.

Also in the hospital coffee shop, shaking half a can of black pepper onto his tomato soup, is Sam Rudolph, a fiftyish man with eyes like an angry dog, who has spent over twenty years quietly manipulating events in Daryl and Sally's lives to have this seemingly chance encounter among the three of them occur.

And who is actually a lot older than fifty.

The freedom we were feeling in our lives, driving across America, I wanted to express in my novel, so Father Figure has absolutely no constraints. It is sexually explicit, extremely so, and contains a number of scenes some people may find disturbing, offensive, or unwholesome. I did not censor myself at all. Every time there was a line, I crossed it.

Father Figure was first published in 2003, by Bookbooters. The book sold well with them, at the top or near the top of a number of their sales categories (Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Erotic.) A year or so after Father Figure was published, one of the owners of Bookbooters unfortunately suffered a health crisis, Bookbooters went out of business, and Father Figure went out of print. I decided at that point to offer Father Figure for free on my website, as a PDF download. In the time since, it's been downloaded over 100,000 times.

Over the years, I've had a number of people who have read the PDF download contact me to ask if a print version is available. So I finally decided to bring out an edition myself.

This new edition of Father Figure, in addition to the original 175,000 word 2003 text, includes a 2015 Author's Preface, as well as an appendix containing 6,000 words of deleted scenes. I initially deleted the scenes primarily for reasons of pacing, but each scene is worthwhile in and of itself, and adds to the story. Think of it as a Ryko CD with a couple of previously unreleased songs added.

While I was preparing this new edition, I of course reread the novel, which I hadn't done in a decade, and I have to say, I was really pleased how well it held up. It is definitely a dark story. I would say probably the darkest thing I've ever written, but you really do get a strong, intimate sense of the characters, and the plot itself moves along at a quick pace. And there are some really great scenes throughout the novel.

The 2015 edition of Father Figure is available in trade paperback and Kindle editions through Amazon, and other online vendors.

To order Father Figure through Amazon UK, please go to here.

To order Father Figure through Amazon US, please go to here.