Indie Book Promo is happy to welcome Joshua Herdt to the blog! He’s here to share about his book, Harper’s Ferry. If this book sounds like something you would be interesting in reading, please find buy links below and pick up a copy or two.
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Harper had everything. She was smart, athletic, and unbelievably pretty. It was annoying. I hated it, and I hated her for coming around. Okay, maybe hate is a strong word. It just bothered me, the way they all gawked at her. Especially when HE did it. Charlie, I mean. When he looked at Harper, no one else in the world mattered, not even me.
I had a hard time picturing them together. Charlie and Harper seemed as different as any two people could be. I often wondered what they saw in each other. Were they in love? Or, was it some kind of adolescent fascination?
I knew what I saw in him. Charlie wasn’t like other men. And, he was fascinating. He was thoughtful, and at times over burdened by responsibilities. There were so many things he thought he had to do. He was care worn. I have no doubt that he had his entire future mapped out. Or, at least, parts of it. The problem was two-fold. First, he had no idea how to get there. Second, life doesn’t go according to plan.
Charlie was handsome, in his own way. He had tawny skin and copper hair that grew lighter in the summer. His eyes were always cool and caught somewhere between green and blue. They could never make up their mind and swam, instead, between the two. When we first met, he was too skinny and wore glasses that resembled coke bottles. He wasn’t the type of boy girls would fixated upon, which is what made him mine.
We spent our childhood together, and were for the most part, inseparable. I loved him then. It was an anxious, desperate kind of thing. I was all butterflies and stutters as we grew up beside one another. It was a secret I tried to share with him, but he could never see. I dropped hints and planted seeds, but none ever took root. We kissed once, an innocent experiment, that I wished would continue. It didn’t. Instead, it slipped away.
While I tried to claw my way out of the shadows, he dated all kinds of girls. There were tall ones, short ones, skinny ones, and pudgy ones. I tried to counsel him. I tried to show him that they would never take care of him like I would, but my words fell on deaf ears. Or, maybe I wasn’t clear. I could never tell him exactly how I felt. He might not have known what I wanted. It was… frustrating, and still is.
I had fallen into a state of acceptance when she walked into our lives. I guess we all had. It was just us back then. The five of us for a time. We had nothing to do and nowhere to go. Together we weathered an eternal summer. Time was on our side. Charlie thought we were lost, but I disagree. You can only be lost if you are alone.
We spent our days swimming in rivers of beer and cheap booze. One day was no different than the other. We saw our futures as paramount. We imagined them as castles dotting some distant hillside. With no place to hold court, we did so in The Stonewall, our bastion in the landscapes of our youth.
I can still see us, all of us. Blake would stand there off to the side. He was always quiet. He always wore a smirk as he watched us. He was so still compared to the others, almost statuesque, but probably just as lost.
Blake might as well have been Calvin Klein. He was always so put together. I remember him in his slim cut dress shirts and sharp ties. He seemed a model cut from the pages of GQ. He had wanted to go to school for acting, but his parents would not have it. He would have made a great actor, though. He had a way of dominating a room, or falling into the background on cue. Between the loss of that adolescent dream and reality, he had somehow lost his way. In that way he was like the rest of us.
Beside Blake would have stood Derrick. He would be front and center. Behind him sat a platter of empty shot glasses. The bar lights would float like moths. Their light was suspended in the blurry haze of those drunken days. He was at home in the spotlight, his voice booming like a drum, as he regaled us with some story.
I liked Derrick, despite our aggravations and complaints about one another. I liked him for who he had the potential to be. Not necessarily, for who he was. When he wasn’t talking he could be a fairly decent guy. Unfortunately, he never shut up. Charlie seemed to idolize him, but I found him a bit shallow.
Yes, he was ruggedly handsome. He had big arms, a square jaw, and abs that could pop open women’s bras. Women loved him, and he loved them in return. He was a regular womanizer. He also had the tendency of being a royal dick.
Derrick had a lot of earthly blessings, but a majority of them were lost to him. For such an imposing figure he was absolutely crippled by insecurity. This insecurity bred narcissism, which caused him to stray from whatever grand destiny he envisioned for himself. In that respect, I pitted him. Derrick was hard to love. He never made it easy. But we loved him all the same.
Henry would have been sitting at the bar beside Charlie and me. He was easy going. By nature, he was relaxed and unperturbed. While the rest of us endured personal dramas, Henry was our rock. He was a reminder that time kept moving, and that everything would be alright eventually. I guess he was unconcerned. Yes, that’s how he’s best described.
That same lack of concern showed in his appearance. Henry was always in need of a shave. He had that bristly face and hair that might never have seen a comb. He had a way of letting himself go. Despite being in filthy work clothes, and looking like a lumber jack, he still managed to pull girls. They loved his devil-may-care attitude. Hell, so did I.
About the only thing that did bother Henry was his job. He hated HVAC, and reviled his boss. Despite that truth, he wouldn’t quit. Instead he persisted in some kind of self-appointed exile. Maybe he didn’t think he could do anything else. Maybe he lacked motivation. Regardless, his job haunted him. He escaped it by sailing away on a bourbon bottle. It might have cost him his liver, but for a time it made him happy.
Until Harper arrived, I was the only girl. I liked it that way. I had no love for gossip and girls were just too much work. The boys, on the other hand, were easy to understand and relatively straight forward. It never bothered me when they brought other women around. Not really. I knew they could never replace me. They were just ships passing in the night.
Harper was different though. She came to us twice. In both instances she brought change. She made a lasting impression, especially on Charlie. There was something between those two. Something I had wanted. I could see it in the way he looked at her. That’s how I wanted to be looked upon. That’s the kind of look I would have returned. Despite whatever else she might have done, she taught Charlie something invaluable. You’re probably asking yourself, “What was it?” Well, I’ll let you figure that out.
Harper’s Ferry is a story about transition. It’s story about them, about me, and about all of us. It’s about what she did, what she didn’t’ do, and what happened as a result. Like any story worth telling, it begins and ends with a girl. It’s a love story, and well, something a little more.
Harper’s Ferry can be purchased from:
Joshua Herdt graduated with a degree in Sociology and Anthropology from VCU. He currently resides in Richmond, VA with his wife Michelle and daughter Isabelle. Feel free to contact him via social media or email.
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