- Title: Finding Roland McCray (The Adventures of Roland McCray Book 3)
- Author: Blaine Coleman
- Genre: Fiction, Anthology, Coming of age, Personal & spiritual growth
- Format: eBook, Print, Audiobook
- Publication Date: February 11, 2014
- Length: 348 pages
This book is part of in “The Adventures of Roland McCray” series. These stories see every moment as its own adventure, rather than adventure stories in the non-stop, action-packed thriller sense. They follow the life of Roland McCray from age eight to eighteen Roland’s story begins in a small, southern town in the 1960’s and recalls a simpler time to be a kid, when children played outdoors for hours instead of spending hours on their smart phones, tablets and video games. He attends a Baptist church with his family and it’s a peaceful life, on the surface. Inspired by his grandfather’s quiet, unwavering faith that all things work for the good of those who seek good, his Church’s fire & brimstone teachings seem false. Roland experiences those angst-ridden teenage years when he is no longer a child but not yet an adult. He learns the pain of loss and feels that joyful rush of first love. He comes to understand the need of forgiveness and acceptance in an often confusing world and begins his own search for truth. As a teen, Roland is enticed by more temptations than ever, but he believes in the quiet morality of his grandfather’s belief, that faith isn’t a thing to be displayed to the world but is a quiet certainty that all things work for the good of those who seek good. Roland holds fast to that faith to overcome the beliefs imposed on him by the church his entire life and as a guide to his own Path to God. Will Roland find his Path, that truth he searches for, or does he take the path of least resistance that most people choose because it’s the easy way? Each chapter is a complete story, but taken together, they form a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. This book will quickly pull you into Roland’s world and the coming of age struggles everyone faces. Roland’s story is a nostalgic tale of a young man growing up in the south and losing his religion to find God. His is an ultimately satisfying and inspiring story that will leave you with a new view of the beauty that is life!
I slowly released the safety on the shotgun, and though my thumb barely moved, an audible ‘click’ sounded and both of the wood ducks were instantly in the air, weaving through the maze of trees like a thread through cloth as they rushed for the shelter of the forest. Since I’d set up there a half hour earlier, my gun was already pointed toward the area where I’d seen two wood ducks feeding just after dawn, so I sighted quickly on the male… ∞ ∞ ∞ One of my chores after we moved to the farm was to make sure there was enough firewood inside the house to last until I got home from school. Dad had been hurt on the job, badly enough that he wouldn’t be going back to work, so his pay was a lot less than usual. He had worked as an electrical engineer and there was some kind of chemical spill in the lab where he worked. Dad and six others were hospitalized for several weeks, and though he didn’t look like he was injured, there was mild brain damage. When he came home from the hospital he was much quicker to lose his temper than before the accident and occasionally his thinking wasn’t entirely clear. Since there was no type of physical therapy for brain damage, Dad compensated by reading, exhaustively. He was considered a genius and had always read for hours when he was home in the evenings, but after the accident, he read every minute he had free, which, of course, was all day, every day. He believed that reading would be the best thing he could do to mitigate the effects of his brain injury, which in itself was a brilliant thing to do. The farmhouse only had a really old oil burner for a furnace, but Dad didn’t think it was safe to use, plus it burned a lot of fuel oil when he did run it. To save money, Dad said he didn’t want to run the heat all day when we had a cast iron woodstove in the kitchen, a perfectly good fireplace in the living room, and plenty of wood for me to split into firewood. The wood came from a huge, old, sycamore tree that a lightning storm had taken down in front of the house before we moved in. The tree had been cut into short enough lengths to use in a fireplace, but with the trunk up to three feet diameter, no one had bothered to split it or even haul it away. I asked Dad to rent a powered log-splitter; I’d seen one used before and was sure I knew how to use it. But Dad refused because he said it would be too dangerous, so he got me an axe to use for sections of the branches and a sledge hammer and several steel wedges to break open the trunk itself. I didn’t understand why he thought swinging an axe and hammering wedges with a sledge hammer would be safer than a powered splitter, but I assumed he wasn’t thinking clearly so I didn’t complain. Sometimes, when driving in a wedge with the sledge hammer, I’d hit the wedge wrong and send it flying several feet into the air, and when using the axe, I had to be careful that it didn’t just bounce off of the log and hit my leg or even cut off my foot. To me, using an axe, sledge hammer and steel wedges seemed far more dangerous! But later Dad told me that he just couldn’t afford the rental cost. I knew he worried a lot about money, and since he wasn’t able to do the work himself, splitting wood became one of my winter chores. It took me hours to make even one of the large pieces into firewood, but at least a single section of trunk lasted several days. I found that if I split the firewood and brought enough of it inside after getting home in the afternoon, then I’d have plenty of time before school to walk down to the old pond. I’d leave the house when the sky was just beginning to lighten and by the time I crossed the field to reach the tractor path it would be light enough to safely walk into the forest. The pond was in the woods behind the house, near where Blackwater Swamp ran through the back edge of the farm, and since I didn’t have to be at the bus stop until about seven-thirty, a lot of mornings I’d walk down there on an abandoned tractor path before school. My Aunt Eloise, who owned the farm, had told me to stay away from the marl pits. Marl, Aunt Eloise told me, was a type of clay that used to be dug there and used to make bricks, including the brick foundation for the farm house where I lived. She said they’d stopped digging it after a tractor slid into one of the pits and it had been left there. Since the old marl pits were close to the swamp, they’d filled with water and tangles of tree roots filled them, so falling into one meant you weren’t getting back out. I did walk around and between them and the water was as black as could be, so I’d sit on a dry log on top of the dam, the pond on one side and the swamp about 50 yards away on the other, and listen as the forest came to life. Dad said the trees there were probably the only ones on the farm that had never been cut down, because the ground was too wet to get equipment close to the swamp. The sheer height of the trees, compared to those a little farther uphill, agreed with that. The canopy towered incredibly high above the ground, and even in the winter, there were still bird calls when the first shafts of morning sunlight streamed through the mostly bare trees. Dark green clusters of mistletoe grew far out on the branches, and squirrels’ nests looked like random clumps of dead leaves where tree trunks forked high from the ground. Squirrels don’t hibernate, and they’d run from limb to limb and jump tree to tree, calling to one another in what sounded like short, scratchy barks. A murder of crows raucously cawed the start of the day from the branches of pine trees where they roosted. Sometimes, I’d even see a red tail hawk leaving its nest to feed near the fields that bordered the woods on both sides of the swamp. Turkey buzzards soared above, dark against the sky, sailing atop the morning thermals as the sun warmed the fields. I loved the fresh, clear, crisp-in-the-winter morning air, the sounds of birds and squirrels, the forest awakening to a new day…
About the Author
Okay, this is where I’m supposed to say something about myself… A lifelong resident of Virginia, I grew up in the rural southeastern part of the state with a large extended family. As a child, I attended a Baptist church with my mother and two sisters until I stopped attending at age twelve. After high school, I was foolish enough to drop out of college after one year to get married. The marriage didn’t last, but I was blessed to have a wonderful son, Jason Adam. Over the years, I’ve worked as a busboy, dishwasher, cab driver (a difficult, low-paying and potentially dangerous job which I wouldn’t recommend to anyone), a delivery driver and once worked a four week night-shift stint in a ball bearing foundry where the melted steel was so hot that large bay doors along both sides of the building were kept open all night even during the winter, a retail clerk, garden center helper then manager, retail store manager, regional manager of a retail chain, manager of an auto repair shop, an independent courier and an independent contractor/landscaper. At age 35 I opened an antiques mall which I sold in 2006. Those disparate job experiences provided me the opportunity to meet and interact with a wide range of people in all socio-economic brackets and learned that the old adage is true- people are people and if you skim away all the trappings of materialism, we really are all the same. I try to put that ethos to good use in my daily life and writings. I sincerely believe that all people are loved by God, are Children of God, and will, eventually at least, find God and that there are many paths, so I won’t denigrate anyone’s chosen path since God has a plan for us all. When I was thirty, I returned to school at Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond Virginia, where I majored in Religious Studies and minored in Creative Writing with a focus on fiction. I attended evening classes and worked a full-time day and part-time evening job so that I could attend VCU while raising my then 7 year old son on my own. I was fortunate to have incredible writing teachers, one of whom helped me appreciate the power of poetic prose, another who inspired in me a love of southern fiction. I now live in a rural area near Richmond where my beagles, 5 year old Leah and beagle puppy, Sage, have room to run and I’m able to spend my time gardening, reading voraciously and writing as often as possible. I write more than southern fiction, but in 2012 I began a series of short stories, “The Adventures of Roland McCray”, which I want to develop into a trilogy of stories about a young boy growing up in the south and learning to question the religious beliefs he has been taught in church as well as the race and class divisions he sees in his everyday life. My latest release, “Falling Water: Stories & Poetry”, examines the challenges we all face in life, the joy and the grief, suffering and happiness, loss and healing, and the inherent goodness in life that underlies it all.