VENICE, Fla. — Sunbury Press has released Charlie Caw, Paul Argentini’s latest novel, for middle grade and young adults.
About the Book:
A crow that picks wildflowers and delivers them to show affection, and a fatherless boy who teaches the bird how to fly create a heartwarming story of these two disparate beings going and growing with one another. Their deep and abiding companionship keeps them close, yet they remain free to maintain all their relationships. Each protects the other in awkward situations, but they respect one another to allow the freedom to make individual choices. They confront humorous and dangerous situations with daring spirit learning a bit more of the other’s world with each confrontation. CHARLIE CAW is such a likeable story one can only believe it is true. It will find a niche in your memory for a long, long time.
Charlie Partridge caught at his breath with the firing squad’s volley. His body tensed. He expected the bullets to tear through his clothes and into his flesh. He felt as if they already had.
It was the nightmare. Again.
The panorama of the cemetery flashed into his mind. There was the October mackerel sky and the flag-draped casket suspended over the blackness. Standing were dozens of people wearing mask-like faces. As he had never seen her, there was his mother sitting under the canopy: her face white and drawn, her eyes glowing briquettes, her lips held tight to a slash. There was the bass-drum monotone of the minister uttering profundities. There was the cadre of officers and the honor guard who had escorted the fallen decorated hero to this country gravesite with its majesty of flowers. There was the formal precision of the military funeral. These ceremonies were for his father, Lt. James Partridge, but he hoped they had made a mistake and it really was someone else.
More volleys followed.
Charlie wondered if such a barrage had also resounded before the hero had died. He wondered if he, too, had smelled the acrid smoke from burning gunpowder.
Charlie watched the haze settle softly among the blades of dew-damp grass. Then, closing his eyes, he saw himself start to fall as if into an abyss of reverie: it was dawn. His father whistled, as usual, as he slipped into his bedroom to wake him. As they had done so many times before, father, mother, and son grabbed a quick breakfast and the fishing gear, then the three of them were off. Shortly thereafter, he stood shivering in the gurgle and splash of the spring-fed brook where the bespeckled trout hid.
Charlie opened his eyes. A stern-faced officer bowed before Charlie’s mother. He offered her the triangularly-folded American flag. With yet another rush of tears, she took it and clutched it to her breast. Without straightening, the officer turned to Charlie seated beside her, and their eyes locked. As if taking part in a conspiracy, he signaled Charlie with a slight nod.
He watched the officer perform an agonizingly slow salute to his mother and to the flag. Charlie felt the wet at the small of his back turn cold. Then, the officer beckoned with his fingers and nodded, indicating Charlie was to follow him. Charlie stood. They walked to the far end of the headstone-studded field.
“We need to talk,” the officer said to Charlie.
Charlie stared at his medals, then at the man’s chest. “Your shirt is stained, sir,” Charlie said.
“I apologize if it troubles you,” he said pointing, “but this is a blood stain from the wound that earned me the Silver Star Medal and took my life. That’s what happened to your father,” the officer responded. “Only those who have been wounded in battle may have the honor of participating in the ceremonies for a fallen comrade. It is my privilege and honor to be here.” The officer turned toward the knot of people surrounding the open grave, then asked, “Were you and your dad close, Charlie?”
Charlie raised his eyebrows and looked up at the man, nodding his head for several seconds, then said, “Sir, I must go home. Now.”
“Sorry, son,” he said. “To leave this cemetery, you need to be brave; you need to be courageous and you need to be strong. You must allow yourself to cry. You must accept what has happened. This funeral will go on until you accept the fact that your dad is not coming back. When you acknowledge that, then this funeral will end.”
“Everything was so sudden,” Charlie said.
The officer put his hand on Charlie’s shoulder and said, “You can only deny this for so long.” The soldier’s face grew even more somber as he folded his arms and continued, “Time is another problem. When is your next birthday?”
“June sixteenth. I’ll be fourteen.”
“Fourteen! Is that so? You seem older. The fact is, your next birthday, that’s your deadline.”
“Deadline?” Charlie flexed his eyebrows. “Why a deadline?”
The officer shrugged. “Son, many brave men and women fall in battle. Each one deserves to be commemorated, such as we are doing now for your dad. But, we only have so much time for each funeral, or we’d fall way behind. We want to serve everyone their full measure of respect. Once you acknowledge that it is your father’s funeral, you will be through with the formalities, the grieving, and with us here at the cemetery. It will allow us to move on with our work, and you can get on with your life.”
“Thank you, Sir”, Charlie said. “All I know is that something important has changed in my life. It’s so confusing, and I don’t understand any of it.”
“I regret to say understanding will come with time. Meanwhile, it’s like getting measles, you just have to work through it,” the officer said. “The apparitions and demons must be worse.”
Charlie felt the muscles in his face tighten. “Yes, they’re just awful. They’re frightening.” He pulled his shoulders back and said, “Mother’s alone. I must go.” He turned and marched with the officer back to the ceremony.
The brittle, dredging notes of the bugler’s taps consumed the air as if to suffocate Charlie.
He found his arms tight around his mother with his face buried in the folded flag, her spasms pulsating through and shaking his body for an endless moment. Then, taking his mother’s lead, he tried to place the rose he found in his hand on the imposing coffin. He could not let go of the stem – it stuck to his fingers! Shake as hard as he could, the flower still clung to him, and he felt it draw him into the void beneath the casket.
Authored by Paul Argentini
List Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 154 pages
Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc. (April 23, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
BISAC: Fiction / Young Adult / Relationships
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