Ocean of Storms is a literary triptych featuring three separate but related stories: “The Age of Rockets” tells a mysterious tale of the 4th of July storm of 1969; “Moonnight Laika” offers a different perspective on the first manned lunar mission; and “The Wreck” brings the story full-circle as a fisherman happens upon an ominous discovery.
Hardcover, 52 pages.
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My last true memory is of the 4th of July, 1969. On that sweltering Ohio afternoon my father is sitting across from me at our backyard picnic table under our leafy maple tree in a white cotton tee shirt and olive Dickies. He is smoking a cigarette and sipping from a can of Stroh’s lager. My mother is clearing the detritus of our afternoon cookout; paper plates and chicken bones, crumpled napkins and plastic forks. Overhead, the veiled blue of a wispy cloud afternoon is gradually giving way to the top-hats of thunderheads. There are no fireworks in town this year—budget woes the council claims—but I don’t mind. Instead, we’re going to see a movie, The Love Bug, at the Clan-Zel Theater in town.
By the time Dad stows the grill and feeds our dog, Sweetie, it’s time to leave. Mom has changed into a pink top and pink and green plaid clam-diggers for the night out. We pile into our blue Camaro, Dad’s pride and joy. I’m in the back, where I can’t ride on long trips because I get carsick, but I’m okay for the ten minutes it takes to get to town.
On Plasterbed Road, Dad opens the V-8 up and the trees along the ditches fly by in increasingly blurred visages until Mom yells for him to slow down. She’s been jittery about riding in the Camaro since her co-worker, Angie, died in a fiery wreck in May. Angie’s boyfriend flipped his Mustang on Route 2 coming back with her from a date in Randleman. One of Dad’s buddies worked at the junkyard where they towed the wreckage and he snuck us all in to see it. It wasn’t so much the sight, though, as the smell I remember; burned plastic with an undertone of something sweet and spicy; overcooked pork on a grill. Dad’s friend ghoulishly told us—as if he were some kind of forensics expert—that the driver probably died on impact, but the passenger survived long enough to feel the flames and grab the hot metal door handle, leaving behind a strip of charred flesh.