I released my third book in the fall of 2018. Part of my ‘world book tour’ took me to my old haunt of Govan, Saskatchewan where, in the school library, I did my first ever reading. You can watch it here:
In 1937, cousins ‘Chug’ Carlson and Orville Solberg set out from their families’ farms in Saskatchewan to take in the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth — the Calgary Stampede. They quickly learn that their bicycles are the only predictable part of their journey. The characters they encounter and the situations in which they find themselves force decisions neither had ever considered.
If it Has a Beginning… is a story about coming of age, a road novel, and a tale of adventure, all spun from the seat of a bicycle.
Chug wasn’t sure whether he’d felt it or whether he’d actually heard it. Perhaps it was a little of both, but one way or another there was no mistaking the crunch of cartilage breaking a split second before stars exploded behind his eyes. With one well-placed (albeit desperate) right hook, old Mack McKlosky had laid Chug’s nose neatly on the side of his face. If he’d still had his wits about him, Chug would have been shocked that the old guy had managed to muster such a good hook this late in the match.
His nose had popped like an overripe tomato, and the blood that spewed halfway across the ring served to freshen up a canvas stained ochre by fights long forgotten. The crowd went wild as primal bloodlust dug deeply into the men’s souls. The adrenaline pumping through Chug’s body kept him on his feet, even as the stars continued to pop, and he struggled to keep his legs under him. He was vaguely aware of someone counting. As the count reached ten, somewhere in the distance a bell sounded. He staggered to his corner, with Twitch half steering him. Sinking gratefully to the tiny stool, he could hear the old trainer shouting in his ear, his voice seeming to come from afar.
“NOW yer a fighter, boy! NOW YER A FIGHTER!” Twitch yelled with undisguised glee as he tossed water in Chug’s face, mopping it up with a dirty towel. He flipped the blood-soaked towel over the ropes where it landed in a mushy heap. “Saved by the bloody bell! Jesus, boy, you walked right into that one. You gotta be more careful than that! One more of them and she’s lights out. I guarantee that!” He pulled a fresh towel off his shoulder and applied it with surprising tenderness for such a gruff-sounding man.
“Here, lemme straighten that out for you.” As he said it, Twitch reached out and grabbed Chug’s nose, pulling it straight with one blindingly quick snap. His chatter continued uninterrupted as he flicked blood and snot from his fingers and wiped them on the towel. “I know that hurt, but you’re gonna thank me some day for fixing it before everything swelled up. You gotta stand to the side, boy. I already told you that. Small target! Small target! Footwork! Rhythm like we worked on!”
Chug was having trouble following Twitch’s advice. Instead, random thoughts flickered through his foggy mind. What round was that, anyway? He pondered the question with difficulty. How in the hell had he ended up here in this seedy joint? He hadn’t anticipated getting his brains beat out at the Calgary Stampede. He tried to remember the name of this place, but somehow it escaped him. Some kind of emporium or something. The hubbub of the crowd grew louder as he tried to sort out these questions. Cigar smoke stung his eyes. Then the bell rang again.
“Round eight!” The ringmaster shouted, and the crowd roared its approval.
“Ah, round eight,” Chug said, and although he imagined he had spoken aloud, what came out was half mumble, half grunt. Twitch threw another cup of water on his face as he rose and slid the mouthpiece between his swelling gums. He shook the water off like a dog, stumbled to his feet, and almost fell into the middle of the ring to face McKlosky. McKlosky. Chug’s twisted face left little doubt of his dislike for the man whose faceless form had visited his dreams so often over the last week. McKlosky the man had become McKlosky the legend—a riddle that Chug had spent his sleeping and waking hours trying to solve. However, now there was only time to focus on one thing:
Not kissing canvas.