Friday, May 1, 2015

First Fight Friday: Soulmates by Kevin Wallis

Goats solve their differences head-on. They don’t give the silent treatment or yell, they butt heads, and then it’s over.

Cowboy Marvin has learned humans resolve issues differently especially those romantically involved. His curiosity sparked, he has invited authors to stop by on Fridays and share the first fight from one of their books.


Kevin Wallis

     is here for ...

First Fight Friday 

with a scene from

From Chapter Two of Soulmates. 

The first real fight of the book is a verbal altercation between Daniel Young, one of Jack Chandler’s best friends, and his psychiatrist. The scene sets up Daniel’s mental state, which rapidly deteriorates 
over the course of the novel.


Daniel Young wanted to die.

That had been the dominant thought in his head since The Incident. Through the sweaty classrooms and drunken amnesia of college, he had wished to die. Plodding through the halls of judgment and oppression known as high school, he had craved the infamy death would bring him. Did you hear about Dan? He was so quiet, such a nice guy. We should’ve talked to him more. Wait...Dan who? Even earlier, as he entered the eternal middle school struggle to “find yourself” and “define the person you are becoming” – he could still hear a generic potpourri of his teachers’ voices repeating the phrases as Gospel – Dan yearned for a release, reached for something more but knowing it was not to be grasped in this world.

I’ve defined myself, alright, and it’s not pretty. How proud my teachers would be now.

How many hospitals did this trip make? Four? Five maybe? He couldn’t remember, they all blurred together, just dreary rooms with plastic mattresses on creaking beds, pastel walls meant to soothe but succeeding only in instigating sudden bouts of nausea, and that ever-present stench of age and waste - but this time had been Dan’s most dire effort, his deepest cut yet. His attempts were inching ever closer to the desired goal with each try, so he figured he could be at least a little proud about that. His cowardice was finally caving under his relentless desire to die.

He rubbed his wrists, grimaced as a scab popped off in his fingers, and felt the bite of the blade as if it had slid through his flesh just seconds ago. So primitive, he thought. So brutal. But I guess that’s why it works the best. Better than sitting in my car again and opening the garage door just before passing out. Too much time to think in the garage. Too much time to think how she—

Footsteps echoed in the hallway, and he found himself hoping they belonged to Jack. His friend had yet to visit him this time, but Dan knew he would come as sure as the sun would rise and once more fail to bring him warmth. Jack was always there, had been since before the days of deepened voices and armpit hair, and he was usually the voice on the phone as Dan panicked after a night of drinking, drugging, or in this instance, slicing. After all of Jack’s late night dashes to Dan’s house and the tortured soul inside, Dan figured he owed him at least five figures’ worth of gas money.

The footsteps ended just outside his door, and Dan heard his chart being pulled from its holder. Great. Another doctor. As long as it’s not Dr. Donahue.

No sooner had the name scurried across Dan’s brain than the psychiatrist stepped through the doorway. Dan knew how this would go, thought he could perform the conversation on his own with a high degree of accuracy, but kept his mouth shut and waited for Dr. Donahue to begin his lecture.

“What was it this time? What earth-shattering tragedy is responsible for your promotion from pills to a razor blade? Tired of getting your stomach pumped?”

The harshness of the question stunned Dan for a moment; this was new. “They let you keep your license with that compassion, Doc?” he asked.

Donahue took off his glasses in a sweeping gesture that reminded Dan of a prosecutor about to reveal to the jury the final shocking nail in the defendant’s coffin. The psychiatrist was rotund, his white coat the size of custom curtains yet still bulging at the single-buttoned waist. Pink splotches dotted his walrus-mustached face, and Dan could never recall seeing him without a thin sheen of perspiration across his brow. Donahue pointed the spectacles at Dan and told him in a huffed, perpetually out-of-breath voice, “I have compassion for those who try to help themselves, Danny.”

Dan flinched. He hated being called Danny, and this mountain of sweat and bristles never failed to strike that nerve.

The doctor shook his head, took a deep breath, placed his glasses back onto his spectacularly wide and flat nose, and continued. “You never stay in rehab for more than a few days. You’re only partially compliant at best with your meds. You don’t call me when you feel suicidal. Instead, you pull sh...stuff like this, get everybody riled up, and I’m supposed to come in and save the day. Thank God you always freak out and come to your senses before doing any real damage. That sound about right, Danny?”

“First off, Doc, my name is Dan. Second, it’s okay to say ‘shit’ in front of me. I won’t tell. You can say ‘f***’ and ‘asshole’ and anything else too. Third—”

“Is this all a joke to you, Danny? Do you think you’re fooling anybody? You’re screaming for help every time you do this – I know, I know, it’s straight Psych 101 textbook shit – but you refuse to let anyone in as to why you need so much help.” Donahue pulled a chair closer to Dan’s bed and sat. The chair’s bindings groaned. “Frankly, I don’t know why I stay on your case.”

Dan lowered his gaze, suddenly ashamed to meet the enormous man eye to eye. The doctor wasn’t following the script – Let’s up your meds, get you into some more counseling, and we’ll go from there, okay, Danny? – and Dan didn’t know how to handle it. His f***-the-world attitude wasn’t flying with the doc anymore, and he wasn’t sure he had a backup approach.

Donahue had seen Dan through some of the troubled young man’s roughest times, and more than one botched, half-hearted attempt at suicide. But Dan had never told the doctor, nor any of his court-appointed psychologists or social workers or voodoo bullshit artists, about The Incident, even though he understood that therapy was only beneficial if the kook in question opened up completely and divulged every dirty desire and sinful transgression in his past. Pills only calmed the storm if the patient took initiative to fight through to the eye and confront the demons lurking there. But The Incident was his and his alone; he would deal with it his way, and if that road led to an early, self-inflicted death, then, well, that brought him back to f***-the-world.

“Danny,” Dr. Donahue said, “can you tell me what set you off this time? Have you been taking your Lexapro and your Seroquel? We can up the dose, you know ...”

Dan closed his eyes and smiled. Familiar ground always felt so much safer.

Copyright © Kevin Wallis

Soulmates by Kevin Wallis

“I cannot die.” 

For Jack Chandler, death meant eventually being reunited with his wife, who had died in a car accident a year earlier. But that small comfort is shattered when he is shot by a strange duo seeking his help against a mysterious entity known as the Shadowman. 

Now Jack must come to terms with this “Gift” that has upended his life and find the strength to confront a monster than cannot die.


is available on
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Thanks for sharing Kevin!

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