Lisa Wingate’s new book, the third book in the Daily Texas Series, Never Say Never, will be released in February, 2010.
"Never Say Never"Excerpts from Chapter 2
I've often walked the shore and wondered if all things drift according to a larger plan. For each message in a bottle, each straw hat blown from the hand of a strolling lover, each sailor far from home, all the lost coins from all ancient ships, is there a designated landing place? I've marveled at the seeming randomness of the treasures pushed up on the tides, corroded by salt, encrusted with barnacles, at home in the ocean, now tossed back to the land.
A street preacher on the pier told me once that God stirs the currents with His fingertip, the winds with His breath, and that even in the vastness of the sea He knows each ship at sail, each tiny creature beneath the water, each shifting patch of sand. Nothing lost, said the preacher, is ever lost to God. A homeless man, begging for change from tourists, took a free sack lunch from the preacher and held it in his blackened hands and agreed that nothing adrift is meant to stay adrift forever.
The homeless man had eyes as dark as coal, as deep as the waves on moonless nights. I gave him a dollar that had been washed and dried in my pocket. He smiled as he unfolded it and straightened the crisp paper. His hands reminded me of Grandmother Miller's hands, but I knew Grandmother Miller would have said I was a fool for giving the man anything. She would have talked about shiftlessness, the results of it, and the fact that those who find themselves destitute have caused their own misery. Teach a man to fish, she'd say, and then, if my father were in the room, she'd give him a narrow-eyed look. My father would put up with what he called the sermon for whatever amount of time was necessary. He'd play Grandmother Miller's game--pretend he wanted to get a real job and keep it, promise to start going to church again, agree that a family needed stability. He'd vow that if Grandmother Miller would just help us out one more time, he'd give up his dream of making it in the music business. He'd promise to become normal, conventional, faithful, devoted. To comply with her wishes. Then, once we had what we needed--usually money--we'd leave. We wouldn't come back to Grandmother Miller's big house in McGregor, Texas for another year, or two, or five, depending on how soon we were destitute again.
Maybe I gave the dollar to the homeless man because I knew that Grandmother Miller--wherever she was by now--wouldn't like it, and even at twenty-seven years old, I was still trying to prove she wasn't right about everything. She wasn't right about me. I was nothing like my mother or my father, and I never would be. Or maybe handing over the dollar seemed like a good thing to do, because, when a storm the size of Texas is just over the horizon, it's probably smart to get some good karma going. Even though weather forecasters had predicted she'd stay south and make landfall somewhere below Brownsville, I could feel Glorietta swirling across the Gulf of Mexico, closing in. The sky was as blue as a baby's eye today, but Glorietta was coming. Three nights in a row, I'd dreamed she hooked north and headed our way.
My landlord, Don, was sure there was nothing to worry about, but then that was Don. A few quick looks at the weather reports, and he was chillin' like a tall glass of iced tea with a little paper umbrella on top. In his mind, Glorietta was already a non-event, an uninvited tourist wobbling across the Gulf. In the meantime, the surf shop was doing a brisk business in boogie boards, water bikes, and jet skis, with the waves up and tourists rushing to have a little fun, in case they had to cut their vacations short and run from the storm. Even though half of Perdida had already boarded up, Don didn't want to mess with putting the storm shutters on the shop, or on our apartments upstairs, so I'd started doing the job myself.