Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sample Sunday

Second Chances by Valerie Maarten


Premise:  After 20 years of the pain and suffering from the loss of a loved one, Dain and Kadi must confront the ghosts that haunt their past, present and future.  Will they, in turn, be able to embrace their Second Chances?

The set-up: With a heavy heart and a blackened soul, Dain McKnight lays-in-wait to finally confront the man that was convicted of murdering his sister, Hanna.  He sits in the dank bar across the street pondering on the multitude of ways to torture a man as he bides his time.

Dain McKnight’s jaw clenched and unclenched in a violent rhythm of madness.  His large hand cupped the glass he held, threatening to shatter it into a zillion shards.  Still, the low rumble of voices in the dimly lit bar couldn’t drown out his fatalistic thoughts.  The primal instincts for blood had dwelled dormant inside him…until he heard the news.  He took another swig from his glass.  The burning sensation went down, slow.
The bartender broke into his thoughts, clearly intimidated by Dain’s dark, mysterious behavior.  His eyes instinctively lowered in submission.  “Do you want another?”
Dain grunted.  He slid the empty glass over in the man’s direction.  Yet, his eyes never left his line of sight.  The brown, two-story brick building held all his attention and the brunt of his wrath.  Inside that building lived the man who brutally and savagely murdered his sister Hanna, 20 years ago.  Now here he was, free and living amongst society as if nothing had ever happened.  Yet Hanna still lay cold in her grave with no such reprieve.
Dain clenched his teeth again, his jaws flexed violently as the muscles in his neck strained to break free from beneath his skin.
The bartender returned with another double shot of whiskey and placed it on the table in front of him.  His eyes wandered curiously at the window to try and glean what held his glare so intently.  All he could see was the normal comings and goings at the Trinity House, a half-way house that housed reformed drug addicts and paroled prisoners. 
Dain ignored his presence and essentially dismissed him with a $50 bill that he slammed down on his tray.  The bartender shrugged and returned to his tasks.
An older gentleman who had been sitting at the bar since Dain’s arrival appeared to have finally drunk enough to conjure up the courage to approach.  He staggered and side-stepped the whole way.  In an almost comical way, the drunken man gave a slight bow in a gesture that indicated that he had come in ‘peace’.  Still, he swayed back and forth as he tried to maintain his equilibrium. 
“If it’s a young lady who’s got you drowning your sorrows away, let an old man give you a word of advice…” he gave Dain a friendly, toothless grin.  “Get another one.  No woman is worth so much pain.”
Pain.  What does he know about my pain?  He frowned and gave the man a menacing stare, though he didn’t waiver.  He seemed too deadened by all the alcohol that he had consumed throughout the course of the day to be afraid.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about, Old Man,” Dain said in a low grumble.  His voice was low, his tone even.  Which was the opposite emotion of what he felt inside.  Inside, he felt bold, brazen and on the verge of being unable to contain the ‘Monster’ that lived in his darkened soul.
The man was oblivious to Dain’s contempt and sat down in the empty chair across from him.  Dain’s eyebrow went up slightly. 
“I’ve spent a lot of days in that chair,” he pointed to a dark, lonely corner at the back end of the bar.  Dain stared for a moment, allowing his eyes to adjust to the dimness of the room after having stared out at the glare of the street for hours on end.  “No woman is worth the sorrow I see in your eyes, boy.”
“I assure you, she is worth it.”  He leaned forward so the man could see the hatred that lurked behind his eyes.  “I am prepared to kill for her.”
The man scotched back in his seat, feeling the power of Dain’s declaration.  For a long while he was unable to speak.  There was a moment of clarity in his eyes.  In that instant, he was as sober as a Judge.  “You don’t mean that, son.”  He pleaded.  “You have a second chance, right here…right now.  All you have to do is take it.  Don’t throw your life away.  There’s nothing worth that.”
Dain leaned back in his chair, pondering the words of the man before him.  He was a complete stranger to him and yet he had cared enough about him to warn him against the destructive thoughts that haunted his mind, knowing that it would ruin the rest of his life and destroy his family.  But the need to avenge the death of his beloved sister was too powerful.  He wanted nothing less than to make the man who was responsible, endure the same pain and suffering he had caused her.


Oriental Ham Soup


  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sliced bok choy
  • 3/4 cup carrot cut into thin strips
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • Dash pepper
  • 8-ounces fully cooked ham, cut into thin strips (1-1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup spinach or regular egg noodles


  1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven combine water, boy choy, carrot, onion, soy sauce, dry sherry, and pepper. Bring to boiling. Add ham and noodles.
  2. Simmer about 10 minutes or until noodles are tender and vegetables are crisp-tender. Makes 4 servings.

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