The Great American Novel? (Looking for Jesus, I.)

(I have been thinking about giving a go at writing a novel. Here is the first unedited chapter. Not sure I have the skills for it.)


Looking for Jesus


“No, you’re not.”

I stood my ground, “Yes, I am.”

Retirement was a real bitch. I knew it was coming. I had tried to get prepared for it. I bought and diligently worked through books on designing the next stage of my life. I colored mandalas. I tried making a belt in hopes that it would lead to a wallet and perhaps, one day, to a pair of sandals. I took a painting class. I even tried reading the Holy Bible all the way through. I got as far as where God created the world. I stunk at golf and I thought fishing stunk. I created a Facebook page, but had nothing to post. I created a blog site, but had nothing to blog. I tried to learn how to play the guitar, but I couldn’t play an F chord so I said, “F it.”

I was lost and I was bored and I was anxious and I was getting depressed.  I did not want to find myself back with a therapist who visits with you for fifty minutes and then charges for sixty minutes of their time. Who in the hell said that was proper?   My life seemed to be centered upon visits to the doctor’s, the dentist’s, and attending somebody’s ‘celebration of life’ service.  The last time I went to the doctor he said that I wasn’t going to win the swimsuit contest. It is not a good thing when your primary care physician is making fun of you.

So here we are. When I told my wife I was thinking about getting a private investigator’s license, she, at first, just stared at me. I had seen that look many times before. I saw it when I told her I was going to start a worm farm. I saw it when I told her I was going to start a tree farm. I saw it when I told her I wanted to buy a farm farm.

“You’re fuckin’ me,” she said.

Unfortunately the combination of blood pressure pills, pills for high cholesterol, and pills for controlling blood sugar had made her statement a near physical impossibility. I was too cheap, or too embarrassed, to pay for the boner pills.

“No, I am not,” I said. “I completed all the paperwork and Randy said I could set up an office at his place.”

“Randy, the massage therapist, spiritual healer, and psychic? He is going to expand into private investigations too? Perfect. Are you out of your mind? You’re kidding right? You didn’t even talk to me about this? Randy,… your cousin,… is an … idiot.”

I had expected that the conversation might go this way which is one reason why I kept my plans to myself. Why have the bad conversation over and over?

“Ok, first of all Randy is culturally engaged and … granted he does have a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit.” I said looking directly into her angry eyes. To break eye contact would mean she won.

“I get it. You’re bored. Why don’t you write a book? Go volunteer at the homeless shelter. Start playing the guitar again. Go get a goddamn girlfriend. What do you know about investigations? You need a hip replacement. We gotta a dog to take care of. And, shit, you might get yourself killed.”  She was as angry as I thought she might be.

“Look, I’ve told you. I don’t want to just live my life out like that dumbass we talked to in the parking lot with his customized van telling us that it cost a lot of money, but this was his last go around. I want to live, get up excited in the morning. Homeless people smell bad. I am a gagger, you know I can’t handle odors, like puke and piss and shit.  We got enough retirement money. I don’t have to take on anything dangerous. Just a little whom is fuckin’ whom and maybe some insurance fraud stuff. I’ll be taking a lot pictures, might get some titty shots. It could spice up our love life some.  It’s better than being an Uber driver.”

“It could use it and who said anything about being an Uber driver?”

“I’ll even start working out.”

She got quiet. I knew she was worried. She has always been worried about me which is why our marriage has lasted so long.

“Ok, so tell me just one thing. How does being a retired religious studies professor make you qualified to be a private investigator?”

“I’m smart? I don’t know…but here is the state license to proof it.”

She took the paper from my hand and went back between staring at it and me.  She was pissed off, but slightly impressed.

‘Mark Chambers, licensed private investigator, State of California’

It took the two of us to create one interesting life. When she did her crazy things, I performed the role of the grown up. When I went crazy, she was the momma. It created some epic arguments through the years, but it worked for us.  I just didn’t think this was crazy.  It was to stop me from going crazy.

“So, you say you’re thinking about it and then you pull out the fucking paper to show me you already did it?”

“You know, you curse a lot for a grandmother.”

“And, you’re the fuckin’ reason why,” she said with equal emphasis on each word.

There was a sudden lull in the shit storm. She shook her head and then said, “Sure you don’t want to give that worm farm another try? Maybe you were ahead of your time.”

“I usually am baby. I love you.”

“No guns. You promise me?”

“No guns, baby. Just a really cool Nikon camera.”


“What is your name?” she asked.

“Rooster,” he replied.

“You want to be my boyfriend?”

“No,…You’re too old,” he said.

“I look older than I am, but I am a good lover, a really good lover… if you’re a good boy. I haven’t seen you before. Where you …”

“No, No…You put that back you fucking sonuvabitch, you asshole!” the young man suddenly hollered to nobody while swinging his arms.

The woman paused, cocked her head a bit to her right, and ran her left hand through her stringy, dirty, blond hair. Although she had not met this particular one before, she knew him. She got off her bicycle, which was hooked up to a small cart full of aluminum cans, and she slapped him with her right hand across the left side of his face. He just stared at her.

“You got your meds, Mr. Rooster?” she asked.

“Uh, uh.”

“Ok, you stay with me now. We’ll get ‘em. My name’s Fat Shirley,” she said as she took Rooster’s hand and led him along the sidewalk.  “We need to get your meds.”

Rooster obeyed.




I met Randy at the gun range on the north side of town….