Autumn of 2009, look for my new young adult novel
from Texas Tech University Press!
Just who is this HELLIE JONDOE? A tough street Arab, a seasoned pickpocket and a small girl in big trouble. There's a time to cut and run and there's a time to stay and fight - knowing which takes savvy and guts. It also takes heart - all found deep down inside HELLIE JONDOE.
Click On Movie To Stop
So, you've been warned. You just watch out for that HELLIE JONDOE! She's a girl who can pick your pocket, lift your watch, and steal your heart.
Click on the a-bombed dude above and see what Slangmaster is all about!
Contact Randall for more information or if you need a quick answer to a slang word or expression. The Great Slangmaster knows all - well, okay, not all, but a heckuva lot. Slangmaster™ currently has 32,000 entries and is growing daily!
RISKY BUSINESS meets SIX FEET UNDER
Mary Murphy McConigle has a little problem.
She borrows eighty bucks from the Junior Class car wash proceeds, then heads to the Lucky Feather Casino to win back the money she owes and, within an hour, loses it all.
Make that Murphy has a big problem.
Accidental solution: sell the trinkets, balloons, stuffed animals and other gewgaws intended for the Junior Class Carnival to the grieving people at a makeshift memorial for little Eva Melendez, seven-year old community icon who has just died of cancer. A touching solution to poverty and grief, especially since Murphy comes from a long line of respectable funeral directors. Murphy knows mourning and Murphy certainly knows how to dig herself a grave.
So, make that Murphy has a major problem.
But Murphy isn't the only one with problems. Her best friend, Erica "Bings" Binger has lost her job, Bings' beloved grandmother has just been diagnosed with cancer and Murphy's parents, Ken and Barbie, are struggling financially with the McConigle Mortuary. And one way or another, all these problems are stacking up on Murphy's shoulders.
Really, all she wanted to do was pay back the class money she lost gambling, not cause a national dialogue on how we mourn. From borrowing that first twenty dollar bill to blackmailing Riley Cobean, her father's shifty new funeral director--it's an all-or-nothing gamble to save the family business. Murphy takes a fast track, self-taught course of Business Models 101 and learns that in life, as in business, there can be profit in loss and and loss in profit.
A girl in search of an education, a draft horse in search of one last chance, a derelict tractor in search of a missing gear, and a young man in
search of a home. These unlikely compatriots join forces and
risk everything for a small bit of something during a
time when nothing was king -
|Last name, first and middle:||Jones (comma) Liberty Justice|
|Age:||17, more or less|
|Describe yourself in one sentence:||Steal-trap mind with a spring-loaded mouth|
|List Three Goals:||Get off this farm.
Get into college.
Work on people's heads and I don't mean curling hair.
|List Financial Assets:||$1.73, not counting the money my brat brother owes me. That would make it two bucks even.|
Yeah, yeah, things are tough all over. It's 1936, what do you expect? Don't you know we're in the middle of a Depression? How's about a buck for every time I've heard that one? And what is more depressing than to be stuck here, smack dab in the middle of my mother's Christmas tree farm, pruning her precious little trees of joy? Being poor as Job's turkey is pretty darn depressing. My red frizzed hair is pretty depressing, but one depression at a time here.
I think getting kicked out of school was a blessing. I've been bored stiff anyway since the 7th grade. I'm too smart for my own good, so they say. They tell me to learn to type or teach or become charming to lure some nice young man willing to overlook my IQ. Best forget all my silly dreams of science and math and medicine. So much for Liberty and Justice. Best stick with the common attributes of Jones. Be thou common and spare thyself.
Maybe I'm not as smart as I think. How come I can't figure out a way to get my mom out of debt and off this wreck of a farm? Grandy's no help, that's for sure. I love her, but she's nutty as a walnut grove and talks to her stupid old tractor, Stella. And my brother Jefferson is a liability, not an asset. Now, good ol' Charlie McGregor is a good man and would do Mom a lot of good, if she'd get over this "no handouts" kick of hers.
Sure, I can run away. Hop a train and be where - halfway to Yale or Harvard or Oxford? Ha ha ha. Maybe as a filing clerk. Say by some miracle I do get into college. Then what? Blame myself for the rest of my life that I walked out on my family, causing Mom to lose her own dream - this newfangled idea of growing plantation Christmas trees? Here! On the Oregon Coast Range, for cryin' out loud, where any fool can walk into the forest and into a tree, and cut it down for free? Logic has nothing to do with dreams.
Now there is one small glimmer of hope on the horizon. There's this contest for the most beautiful Christmas tree delivered to the state capitol. And the prize for perfection of color and symmetry and size? Five hundred dollars!
I have the plan, I have the tree and I have a coconspirator - Rudy Somebody, a drifter fresh off the rails. And there's Stella, our Frankensteined tractor and of course Quiller, my old best friend, my American Shire draft horse. Simple. All I have to do is move this 25 foot Christmas tree from here to Salem. In the snow, without getting caught. I can do it all with physics and okay, maybe some luck.
Look, I'm not stupid. Hard times do hard things to anyone's dreams - Mom's, Grandy's, mysterious drifter's, mine... even those who seem to have all they could ever want. I reckon there comes a time to put aside one's own dreams for someone else's.
And a time not to.
Evan Schmidt, seventeen, wants out. Wants out of his mother’s life, out of high school, out of the Northwest and out of the pit of guilt he has dug for himself. Maybe that’s his attraction to film - where you can write, rewrite, edit and cut out all the bullshit, and leave moments best forgotten frozen in time on the cutting room floor or crumpled in the virtual trash can on his computer.
Evan, gifted and bright but on a downward spiral after the death of his younger sister, signs up for the All My Yesterdays film project at Six Cedars Active Aging Community. There he meets a strange and vile, yet intriguing, old man, Leo Pollen. On the outside, Leo is nothing but a creaking, drunk, drugged-out old con man - hardly good fodder for a stellar docu-memory the other high schoolers have found at Six Cedars to document. Still, there is something very disturbing, very seductive and dark about this old man - lifetime loser - for Leo also writes stories about hate, death, war, vengeance and love and regret. Evan is immediately drawn into Leo’s past - far back to 1939 and the streets of Warsaw, Poland as the Germans invade, as world war looms, as the Holocaust begins.
Evan learns they called him the Arab of Warsaw, a young punk who turned his back on his family, his fortune, his future, his religion and his people. As a kid on the streets, he steals, lies, cheats, cons and methodically kills. But he also survives the coming of the German army, as it goosesteps into Warsaw. The way Leo tells it, this Arab of Warsaw could be a whole R-rated XBox Game, only without the XBox. Can hero be anti-hero?
As a seller of cigarettes and anything else he can trade or steal on the streets, Arab meets a young Nazi lieutenant, Fritz Von Segen. They find they have many things in common, a fondness for cigarettes, liquor and, of all things, language. Arab finds he can survive if he caters to the vices, whims and the arrogance of the Germans. Who is he to get in their way? What is there to lose except himself ... and perhaps his innocent, crippled baby sister, Ruth?
But as Leo recounts these times, as he fades in and out of the present, in and out of reality, Evan begins to doubt him. Just another old fart living in a past that probably never was. Old folks exaggerate, forget, embellish and old folks just plain out and out lie. What do they have to lose? Yet Evan is drawn back by Leo’s seductive skill with a story. Perhaps a film based on Leo’s incredible past can become Evan’s ticket to film school.
As Arab’s and Evan’s stories entwine, an awkward friendship is forged, trust is begrudgingly granted. A memory from decades ago revives a memory of yesterday; a comment today crawls back into the bleak darkness of the Warsaw sewers in 1940. A scene from a frigid winter long ago evokes things best forgotten today. A random act of violence sixty-eight years ago begets forgiveness today.
The Arab of Warsaw is a story of heroism and cowardice, insignificant acts and of monumental acts, standing out and standing up and turning to look the other way. It is a story of sparing lives, taking lives and forgiving others and ourselves for making these choices. It’s also the story of not forgiving. It is neither black nor white for who isn’t both at times? We are all gray at the end of the day, only in the shades of different circumstances. Would you kill to save a life? Would you betray someone to save yourself? Would you forgive yourself for saving strangers when you could not save the ones you loved?
Above all, The Arab of Warsaw is a story of forgiveness, of changing of lives, of knowing when to move on, knowing when to go back and knowing when to leave well-enough alone.
New Events Coming Soon!