Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunspots by Karen S. Bell @KarenSueBell

Since the mid-1960s, the Broken Spoke, known as “The Spoke” to regulars, has been an authentic Texas honkytonk where country bands play live music and denim-clad, pointy-booted dudes and gals line dance, two-step, and effortlessly swirl and whirl the Texas swing. I spy John Travolta leaning against the bar and he winks at me and touches his finger to the tip of his big, black cowboy hat and nods. I blink in disbelief and my Urban Cowboy hallucination dissolves. “Did you see that?” I ask Marina but she is walking toward an empty table situated by the tiny stage where tonight, regulars, Alvin Crow and the Geezinslaw Bros. are playing separate sets. Right now, the opening group is playing and they are a pure delight. I tap my feet to the great beat. Iced-cold beer in a large pitcher is slammed on the table and Paul pours.

“Hey hon,” says Sophie in a loud voice and waves to a big burly man wearing the obligatory black, wide-brimmed felt western hat and whose eyes are fixed on our table as he comes into the bar. We are all introduced and shake hands. He’s Sophie’s husband, JD Davis, a successful lobbyist for the oil industry, I later learn. Okay. I thought she was single, but no problem. Then I realize JD is not alone, Marty something, partially shielded by JD’s hulk, shakes Paul’s hand and from the corner of my eye I notice he nods to me and Marina. She nods back. I am frozen.

Discomfort travels up my spine and settles in my flushed face and ear lobes. I smell set up and immediately build a fortress around myself not having the slightest interest to peer out of the guard’s post opening to assess the enemy. If anyone had asked me to describe this Marty creature, I could not and so he will be left totally to the imagination. I also do not look at Sophie’s husband because, feeling the fool and quite embarrassed, I keep my eyes cast into my beer or set in a mesmerized stare in the direction of the dance floor. I get up and excuse myself as I head toward the Ladies room.

Luckily the bathroom is clean so I can fool around in there awhile without getting sick to my stomach. I fuss with my hair, my make-up. I brush my teeth with my finger and water. I breathe deeply. Finally, I’m tired of standing. So I come out and make my way around the perimeter of Texas swing dancers. I see Marina making her way toward me with an expression of concern. Ugh! I don’t want to deal with this. I was having such a good time just a short time ago. I slow down and look around to find an exit door. Suddenly, I am yanked onto the dance floor. Completely flummoxed. What in the world? I’m being whirled around the room in the arms of a perfect stranger whose height and stature could be that of a pro football player. I pull back to get away but he holds me fast and says, “Whoa girl,” like I’m a horse. This further angers me.

“Hey, I’m not a horse,” I tell him.

“Well, aren’t you just about the meanest and cutest filly in this place,” he says as he leads me around expertly.

“Ever been kicked by a horse, pahdna?” I say still trying to extricate myself from his grasp.

“Look, I’ll cut out the horse analogies, Okay? It’s just a dance. How ’bout we just do that? Okay?”


Sunspots follows the healing journey of a young woman thrown into the horror of losing a spouse. It is a love story of loss and redemption and the ghosts that haunt our lives and our houses. Skirting the genres of magical realism and romance, Sunspots, explores the existence of the afterlife and the paranormal. The story takes the reader on a path of high emotion as the narrator, Aurora, uncovers her husband Jake’s secret life and her own internal conflicts as she matures to self-awareness. The novel’s tone vacillates from irreverent humor to solemnity as Aurora relates her previous life with Jake and her present challenges. The title refers to the solar maximum which became the backdrop for Aurora’s conception when her hippy parents went to Canada to observe the Aurora Borealis. In name and in spirit, Aurora is connected to the observable and unobservable energy around us. With the help of friends, family, and the ghost of Viola Parker (her home’s original owner), Aurora accepts her fate and the secrets revealed about Jake’s true character. She realizes that in this life she will finally break the cycle of pain caused by her love for this man, Jake Stein, through the centuries.

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Genre – Contemporary romance, Magical Realism

Rating – PG-13

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