Webster was returning from London

By Joe Shumock

October 3, 2013


On an errand for the U. S. Marshals Service, Webster was returning from London with a detainee. Thirty minutes into the flight, he had put his book down and was gazing at the view outside the window. Distant clouds reflected the sunshine giving more color than usual to an already beautiful afternoon. The flight was proceeding, smooth and steady, toward home.

Webster’s thoughts had continued to slip back to hopes for a normal life—one consisting of family, children, a reasonable career and not getting shot. Winston Churchill’s comment on the subject came to mind. Remembering the British statesman’s words, Webster smiled. Churchill had been quoted as saying, “There is nothing so exhilarating as being shot at without result.” Webster had failed to have that feeling—twice!

Intentionally, Webster attempted to turn his thoughts to other subjects. As he was about to pick up the book again, his boyhood came to mind. The uncle who had raised him touched Webster’s thoughts.

Once more, the book settled to his lap.

Uncle Sid had never understood why he would leave after graduation without looking back. To Webster, it was obvious. He had prepared for that night, having thrown the few belongings he owned into his old car prior to the ceremony. In the last several days, he had said goodbye to the few individuals who mattered.

A girl he had been friends with since grade school had volunteered to return Webster’s robe and mortarboard, leaving him free to simply drive away into the night. Looking deep into his eyes, Webster’s friend had given him a parting gift, too—his very first kiss on the lips. Then, stepping back, she had surprised him a second time. Reaching down for Webster’s hand, she placed it gently on her breast. “Remember me,” was all she said before turning and walking away. The sensation was permanently imprinted on his memory.

As he left Semmes, Alabama, that night, Webster had thought of his mother. He remembered wondering if she had felt the way he did, like she was shaking off something that no longer fit her.

As a young teenager, his mother’s brother had grudgingly taken him in after she caught a bus one night and was never seen again. The uncle had shown Webster to a sparsely furnished bedroom and given him a list of chores that would be his responsibility. Meals were eaten without conversation. Feelings such as hugs, friendly hands on shoulders, or tousled hair, were not a part of living in his uncle’s house. That being said, there was no reason for him to stay after he finished high-school.

His grades had not been so good, either, and except for one teacher, no one had seemed to care. Part time jobs, sometimes two or three at a time, had taken priority. The money he earned had allowed Webster to buy clothes he needed and finally, the old Ford automobile. There had been little time for anything else.

Then it was all over . . . except for the leaving.



Cary Anne Warren

By Judy Ragan and Joe Shumock

October 2, 2013

In Joe Shumock’s first book, “A Letter to Die For”, Cary Anne Warren was the character that captivated our interest and kept us turning the pages as she set out to find her birth family after the accident that claimed the lives of her beloved adoptive parents. She had been instrumental in planning their trip and was now motivated by guilt and an intense desire to know more about the mysterious death of her birth mother, the identity of her father and the circumstances surrounding her adoption.

We followed the unnerving experiences of her discoveries in New Orleans, the unfolding relationship with her mysterious new friend, Webster, and ultimately, his disappearance from her life. How would she cope with the information she uncovered, and the loss, and how would she change as the result of those experiences. Maybe there are some clues for us if we look hard enough!

A letter left in Cary’s adoption file by her mother, Janice Talmer, explained the difficult decisions the young mother had been faced with and the strength and compassion. These same decisions had propelled Janice to leave a dysfunctional, abusive family, never to return. When she arrived in New Orleans, Janice dedicated herself to creating the life that she knew was possible. She studied hard to complete her education and developed some very good friends like Carolette who was with her when she died.

Then Janice met and fell in love with Cary’s father. She was attracted by his good looks, charm and ambition. Unfortunately, he had neglected to tell her about his marriage and family, and she soon discovered his ambition would overshadow any concern he had for her and the baby they had created. To his detriment, he surrounded himself by some unsavory characters that appeared to insure his success. When Janice told him she was expecting his child, their relationship could not compete with his ambitions for a powerful political career. We know how disappointed she must have been by his betrayal. However, the young expectant mother’s strength surfaced again as she chose to give Cary an opportunity for a better life through adoption.

Now we realize that Cary was genetically predisposed to her determination and intelligence—yes, and even her beauty.  Add to that, the love, integrity and wholesome life she inherited from her adoptive parents, the Warrens, and I  expect we can look forward to meeting a new Cary with all the beguiling characteristics we loved but enhanced by the swift and powerful surges that come with major life changes.  I think, if we meet Cary again, we’ll find a very strong, intelligent, and beautiful woman who can wield the power necessary to achieve her goals without sacrificing the integrity she so values.  My guess is she will lead more than follow, take responsibility rather than waiting for someone else to take care of her, and perhaps outgrow many innocent, naïve tendencies of her youth.