Joseph Pinto has been touring the internet, supporting his novella Dusk and Summer. Dusk and Summer was written as a tribute to his father, whom he lost to cancer in 2007. The following is a guest post that Joseph penned where he talks about losing his father and the resulting novella that came out of that loss. Without further ado, I’ll turn you over to Joseph…
Dusk and Summer
A Tribute To My Father; An Unforgettable Fantasy Journey
Joseph A. Pinto
One of my biggest thrills for me as a writer is experiencing the growth of a story, even one that began as painful as the tribute fantasy I wrote to honor my father, Dusk and Summer.
For me, a story needs to find its own set of legs, run its own course and be true to itself. No matter the image or emotion that comes to me, I take it, examine it from all angles, then carefully hone it until it becomes large enough to begin its journey. There needs to be an element of evolution that will continually spark my imagination, fuel my need to follow its twists and turns, and ultimately allow it to reveal its own organic ending. If I try to force a story to follow a specific course, it ends up feeling flat and stale with no genuine passion infused into it.
A prime example of the fuel behind my writing, heart wrenching as it may be, is my latest release: Dusk and Summer. My father loved the ocean; at one point in his life, he’d been an avid scuba diver. As a kid, I remember the various trinkets he’d bring home after a diving excursion and the stories my mind would conjure surrounding the mysterious ‘life’ and ‘watery demise’ of each piece. The diving association he belonged to had given him a sweatshirt, every inch of it covered with patches detailing the shipwrecks he’d explored. They were badges of honor in my eyes, and I’d lose myself in thought for what felt like hours while admiring it.
One day, completely out of the blue, my father told me that when it was his time to die, he wanted to be cremated and his ashes scattered across the sea. I never took his comments seriously, and we never spoke of the matter again. I don’t mean that as a callous remark, but if you had known my father, you’d know he was a bull of a man – and when you’re young, you simply don’t ever think of your parents dying. He was larger than life to me and honestly, I thought he’d live forever.
I believed it right up until the day he passed away after a fifteen-month battle with pancreatic cancer. When he was initially diagnosed, his prognosis was a life expectancy of three months. But not my dad, he wouldn’t accept that; he’d be damned if someone else was going to tell him when to die. Fifteen months… an unbelievably long struggle for a man who had been given only a few months to live, but he did it – he fought with every ounce of will power he had. As painful as it was to watch, it also became a gift; one I will forever be thankful for.
As I said, a story needs to live its own life. Nearly six years ago, a voice inside my head told me ‘write for him’ and I did just that; what followed was an unexpected and bittersweet tribute to my father. I took his passion for the sea and immortalized him in his own myth. The story that evolved surprised even me and to this day, its message and revelations speaks to all who read it.
Thank you Joseph. Now let’s take a closer look at Dusk and Summer… There will be an excerpt to follow as well!
When his dying father whispers a cryptic message to him, he has no choice but to summon his courage and begin the quest of a lifetime. It’s a race against time to realize his father’s wish and fulfill his own destiny; it’s a discovery of the unbreakable bond between father and son. It’s a journey of the heart that unfolds where only the Chosen exist – in the moments between Dusk and Summer.
“A poignant, metaphoric conversation between son and father. A story that will warm your heart.”
–Yvonne S. Thornton, M.D., bestselling author of The Ditchdigger’s Daughters
The author will be donating a portion of the proceeds from this book to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Joseph A. Pinto is the horror author of two published books and numerous short stories; he is a member of the Horror Writers Association as well the founder of Pen of the Damned, a collective of angst and horror driven writers. Indulge in his unique voice on his personal blog josephpinto.com and PenofTheDamned.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephAPinto. Joseph hails from New Jersey where he lives with his wife and young daughter.
There’s a Giveaway too!!
Sirens Call Publications will be giving away digital copies of Dusk and Summer by Joseph A. Pinto to 5 (five) lucky winners! Follow the link to enter for your chance to win!
An now an excerpt from Joseph Pinto’s Dusk and Summer…
The Good Fight
I lost my father between dusk and summer.
Perhaps he left me long before I care to admit, long before he refused his last meals, long before his spent eyes flickered like candles behind cracked panes of some forlorn, abandoned house. Before his neglected muscles jellied into the folds of his stark white hospital sheet, and the rise of his chest grew shallow and weak. Maybe it was plain selfishness on my behalf; sitting at his bedside all those times, soothing his ears with encouragement as I squeezed his hand, desperate to impart the very courage and determination he had infused into me over my years. Even as he relied on me to raise a flimsy plastic cup of ice water to his parched lips. Had I become too scared to realize or just too blinded to ask: whose fight did this now become?
“…find me… from Tolten…”
I could have dismissed the words from his cracked lips as merely disoriented chatter, but his mouth pursed them too purposely, his tone too firm. Still, my father’s words jolted me from my bedside vigil. I bent over his thinning form, promptly taking his hand into mine.
“…go… now,” he croaked, his strength fading.
I held my breath, dared not speak. Gently, I massaged his fingers, marveling how thick and calloused they remained; my own always a child’s within their clasp. Typical blue collar hands, fearless of toil and grime. My father squeezed back, eyes widening. His candlelight flared, sparked brilliantly a moment before blinking away. I knew then I had been wrong. Someone remained home inside that deteriorating body after all. My father hung on, refusing to surrender. But what little had spilled from his lips now hung heavy between us. The message became clear. My father would not leave me.
Not until I finished his business.
My throat constricted as a terrible heat swelled within my chest. I gritted my teeth, blinked furiously and choked back the tears best as I could. Eventually, I eased him into continuing. A corner of his mouth curled. It gained momentum, spreading across his lips, his smile warming me. From within his cocoon of pillows, my father nodded his approval.
I leaned close, carefully straightening the air tube dangling from his nose. Caressed his cheek, returning his smile as his short, white stubble tickled my palm. Swallowed another blistering lump deeper into my throat. “Tell me what you want me to do, Pops,” I whispered.
I listened very intently to the scarce words my father pushed from his lips. Go. 141 Sea Cargo Drive. Manasquan. You’ll know. Go now. He did not tell me what I would find or even what I needed to do. He held the obvious trust that I would just as soon figure it out, and I was not about to question or let him down. I kissed his forehead, told him I would leave, that I would see him later. From the moment my father became sick, goodbyes no longer existed. Only see you laters. As I forced myself from his sallow room, he cleared his throat. Must find me… she… come back from Tolten. I froze, deluged with fear and for the very first time a sense of hopelessness as I questioned, but for a moment, the sanity of his words, the tenuous grip he maintained upon his own reality. No; I would have none of that. I squared my jaw, turned and measured my father. I did not see a sick and dying man. The matted wisps of white hair that returned after his last bout of chemotherapy were gone, transformed into thick, luxurious curls of chestnut locks brushed back in heaps. The sagging skin of his arms now tight, bulging with muscle, the tattoos acquired while stationed in the Air Force as crisp and fresh as the day they were etched. Shoulders squared, again capable of carrying the world as he had done so many times before. Chest, wide and broad—within, the power of a Titan, the pride of a lion. Skin so vibrant and pure. His sickness did not diminish his stature. My father grew before my eyes, every day becoming more the man I had known. I nodded, determined to accomplish what he needed of me.
I nearly collided with the nurse as I left his room. “Oh, I’m so sorry!” she exclaimed.
“No, it was me. I should’ve watched where I was going.”
Her thoughtful eyes washed over me. “How are you holding up?”
My father’s nurse was one of the better ones and tended to him with sincere compassion. Painfully, I had encountered too many who believed my father was just another room number. I regarded her nameplate, my gaze lingering. Dawn. Normally I would have little difficulty remembering. I had seen enough of her—every day for the past week, too many, many times over the past months. All that while, I found it easier to address her with simple hellos, with downcast, fleeting glances. I disassociated myself from the moment she entered his room. For my own self-preservation, I could not bear to voice her name. I had no choice. To do so would have thrown me under the remorseless incandescent glare of reality and I liked it where I was, alone, lost within ignorant shadows. There I could disguise life; the curtained obscurity made things not so real. It took all I could do from dropping my head upon her shoulder and weep. The shrug I managed in response drained all that remained of me.
Hesitantly, Dawn lifted her hand, carefully rested it along my arm. Gave me a soft but reassuring stroke, then slowly pulled away. “The morphine drip you requested is working as well as it could right now. Your dad has been unbelievable, you know. Joking nonstop, up until…”
My features shifted. She read it well. No luxury of morphine existed to mask my own pain. Dawn stole a look down the hall. No one approached. “Has the doctor seen you recently?”
“No more than he needs to, I guess.”
She offered a sad smile. “You should know your father’s kidneys are failing. His… the truth is his entire body will eventually shut down. That’s why his arms… they flop when he tries to raise them. His speech—”
“Incoherent,” I interrupted. Tolten. Tolten. Come back from Tolten. “That is, when he can speak.”
An uncomfortable moment passed. An eternity gutted my soul. “We’ve done all we can. But this is… you need to know this is the last stage. We’re keeping him as comfortable as we can right now.”
She must have believed I was strong enough to handle it. Wise enough to see the writing upon the wall. She knew little of my father’s resolve however, nor of the spirit I lent him all these months, and I was not about to quit.
Eventually, even a fool must realize when one’s own hand cannot bend fate. No matter how hard you try. “I appreciate all you’ve done. I really do.” I gritted my teeth. “That’s a tough sonofabitch in there.”
She nodded. “And a good son out here.”
Tolten. Come back from Tolten. My father’s words haunted me. It was time for me to go. “Can I ask a favor of you?” I said.
“You have my cell phone number in your contact list. Call me first should… should you need to. But not my mother. Please, spare my mother.”
“Of course,” she answered slowly.
Shuffling away, I whispered, “Thank you, Dawn.” It was at that moment I was dragged from the shadows. Things suddenly became all too real.
Thank you Joseph!