Order Charles' Latest:
The Road

Right now I’m reading Cormac McCarthy.  He’s one of the great ones.  It’s got me thinking about the road I’m on.  So, in that vein, and for all those enamored with the glamour and starpower of a high-powered book tour, here’s a sample day on the road:

Heavy trucks on the road below.  Hitting every pothole.  Horns rattle the glass.  Orange street light out my hotel window.  Alarm sounds.  Clock reads 6 a.m.  Back stiff.  Mattress too soft.
Feed hotel room coffee maker.
I sip.  Spit out.  Brush teeth.  Brush teeth again.
Dressing.  “Did I wear these clothes yesterday?  The day before?”  Sniff test.  “Wow.”  Call Christy and the boys.  Breakfast in the background.  “You guys doing okay?”  Off to school.
Stumble downstairs. Starbucks across the street.
“Grande Latte please.”  Pause.  “Better make that two.”
Back in my room.  Check e-mail.  Tab over to word document. “Where was I?”  Work a while.
Dress quickly.  Coat.  White button down.
Walk to studio.  Bright lights.  Local morning show.  The anchor waves.  They walk me in.  Clip microphone on.  I pull up my collar.  Light turns from red to green.  She speaks to camera, “And after the break, we’ll be talking with an author who’s written a self-help book for caretakers of the terminally ill.”
Commercial. She turns to me.  “So, how’s a young guy like you come up with a self-help book like this?”
“It’s fiction.  A novel.  My 6th.  It hit the New York Times list.”
A wrinkle appears on her forehead.  “It’s not a self-help book?”
I shake my head.
Red light turns green.
Back to hotel.  Fitness center. Woman next to me on the treadmill keeps curling her nose.  A quick whiff.  I’m rank.  One too many days in these workout clothes.
Move to stationary bike.  Read Cormac McCarthy.  Counting Crows on my ipod.  Back in room.  Pushups.  Stare in mirror.  “I used to be stronger.  I’m nearing forty.”
Checkout.  Drive three hours.  The next town in a thirty-town tour.  Listen to Vince Flynn on tape.  Call agent.  “Any news?  Any of those movie studios ever call back?”
Stomach growls. “Did I ever eat breakfast?” Fast food as far as the eye can see.  Subway.  “Tuna on wheat.  Provolone.”
City limit signs.  Hotel.  Valet.  “Do you have a reservation for Charles Martin?”
Elevator to room.  Pull six different plastic keys out of pocket. “Which one fits this hotel?”  Look around.  “What city am I in?”
Back down to counter.  Show her my deck of cards.  “My key doesn’t seem to fit my room.”
“It’s this one.”
Schlepp back up to room.  Rolling my life with me.  Dial Christy.  “How’re you doing?  Well…just lay down and take a twenty-minute nap before the boys get home.  Don’t they have piano this afternoon?  Yeah, I’ll call you. Make sure you’re up.”
Plug in laptop.  Work a while.
Make coffee.  Still no better.  Drink it anyway.
Phone rings.  Telephone Interview.  Thirty minutes.  Talk while staring out window over city.
Sit back down at laptop.  Brilliant sunshine outside.  Go for a jog.
Another shower.  Dig for clean clothes.  Drive to bookstore.  Conscious of my wrinkles.  Sit in parking lot. “Please, Dear God, let somebody be here.”
Walk through doors.  “Hi, I’m Charles.”
A small group of women huddle together.  They are holding my books.  Well worn.  Bindings are cracked.  “Hi…we’re from from…”
“But that’s like two hours from here.”
They nod enthusiastically.
Turn another corner.  Forty people are sitting in chairs.  My books on their laps.  The manager is smiling.  “Do you need a microphone?”
“No, thanks.”
I read.  Talk.  Answer questions.  Sign for an hour.
Back at hotel.  Collapse onto bed.  Check in with Christy.  The boys.  Bedtime prayers.  The thousand mile tuck-in.
Glance at television.  Remote control.  Grab my laptop, headphones, head down to the lobby/bar, order a bite to eat, beer, “Do you have any salmon?  Blue cheese please.”
Work an hour or two or three.
Save document.  Book #7.  Far Side of the Mountain.  E-mail to self.  Three different accounts.  In case of fire.
Brush teeth.  Fall into bed.  Flip channels.  Three minutes.  Lights out.  Lay there.  “God, please take care of my wife and kids. My life.  Our dreams.”
My mind replays the day.  Final thoughts: “Where am I tomorrow?  When do I go home?  Is Christy awake?”  Text message.  Iphone to iphone.  The thousand mile kiss.  “Love you. Miss you.  C.”
Lie in the darkness.  Eyes blink open.  Book #7 bubbling up again.  Click on the light.  Scribble on the pad next to the bed.  Lights out.

Heavy trucks outside my window.  Orange light shining.  Alarm sounds.  Clock reads…

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