Up and Coming - January 2021
Up and Coming
Wounded Angels and
Black Hell Drowning
Wounded Angels is still garnishing new reviews. I am very pleased to share the latest one with you here. As I mentioned earlier, I intend to finish Black Hell Drowning, at its own pace rather than rushing to finish it in order to get the "next book" published. I also said that I would share it with you as I wrote it, so I have included the draft of the first chapter below. I welcome your comments.
The Latest Wounded Angels ReviewReview by Kellinewton42 -- Wounded Angels by Chuck Miceli
4 out of 4 stars
Wounded Angels-Sometimes the Only Way to Heal a Broken Heart is Through a Wounded Soul, is a gripping story that takes us on a journey through the life of Maureen Bowers. Told from Maureen’s point of view, the story is organized into five parts, each covering a time in her life with an emphasis on particular relationships that were integral during that time. The story begins in 1937, when a 14 year old Maureen experiences the unexpected and tragic loss of her father, leaving Maureen, her mother, and her brother, to pick up the pieces. This horrific experience leaves her with the fear of being left alone and abandoned, one that would reemerge several more times throughout her life. When she meets Frank Russo, a handsome young skating instructor, Maureen’s life changes forever. It doesn’t take long for the two of them to fall in love and start to dream about their future. Throughout their 52 years of marriage, Frank and Maureen would share the many blessings of a true and enduring love, the joys and challenges of raising two wonderful daughters, and the adventures of deep friendships. With the good would also come many hardships, such as separation during World War II, emotional baggage that can result from the atrocities of war, and more loss and sadness along the way. Though Frank is a huge part of her story, Maureen and Frank’s love is not the only relationship told about in the book. Maureen shares a close bond with her daughters and she also becomes unlikely friends with an eccentric and adventurous woman named Doris Cantrell. All of these people are important and instrumental in helping Maureen work through her fear of abandonment, feelings of guilt, and even depression.
Chuck Miceli writes with such beautiful description, creating settings and describing characters that are so vivid and clear for the reader. With captivating detail, the story flows smoothly, making it easy to follow and a delight to read.
I truly have no negative feedback for this story.
I wholeheartedly give this book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. Not only do I feel that the author was a master at writing descriptively, but I also love that his story was so rich with content. It wasn’t just a book about enduring relationships and love, it also touched on the historical events that were happening throughout the specific times in the story line such as, World War II and the Vietnam war. The story also dealt with some very real topics such as depression and PTSD.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys realistic fiction novels that include complex relationships involving friendships, family, and love. Those who enjoy historical fiction may also enjoy the references to the important events that occurred throughout the story as well.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Latest Review: Wounded Angels by Chuck Miceli
The First Draft Chapter of
Black Hell Drowning
Chapter 1 - Carmella
“Angelo and Giuseppe, stop throwing stones in the water,” Carmella yelled out the open kitchen window. The boys dropped their rocks and climbed further up the bank, away from the stream that ran under each of the outhouses. With the evening chill and the breeze blowing sideways across the hill, Carmella could leave the kitchen window open as she continued preparing dinner. The sewage smell was barely noticeable.
After replacing the cover on the heavy iron pot, she moved it from the sink to the stovetop. It will need more coal, she thought. Franco will be hungry after work and if I don’t have dinner ready, his foul mood will last the rest of the night. She took the poker and pried open the side-door of the cast-iron stove, took a couple scoops of coal from the pale and laid the new coals on top of the embers. In a few minutes, the hot coals would boil the soup and keep the house warm until bedtime. She opened the oven door to take in the aroma of the apple pies she made for the church supper and then wrapped her knit shawl around her shoulders and stepped out into the cool night air.
Carmella looked down at the shanty rows to each side of the outhouses. Dusty walking paths in front of each row connected the buildings from the top of the hill to the bottom. At the base, the paths continued past the houses of the supervisors’ and mine bosses and on to the colliery. Her house was near the top of the hill. While it made for a longer walk for Franco, the breeze was a Godsend during the stifling summer heat. Carmella enjoyed the view and the boys didn’t have to walk far to get water from the patch well. With the sun low in the sky, each of the gray, weathered shacks took on a golden glow. For a few minutes each day, the sight was almost pretty.
Beyond the patch, the enormous breaker blocked the sun entirely. Standing over a hundred feet tall, decades of coal dust cloaked it in black. The tipple shack topped it like the head of a helmeted warrior. The shaft running from the left side reached down like a giant arm to seize the heavy-laden coal cars that spewed out of the mountainside. Below the tipple, a conveyor formed its right arm, stretching out over the culm bank, where it discharged its coal-laced slate and stone. Its thick legs straddled the tracks running beneath it where it discharged streams of stone coal into the giant gondola cars that carried the anthracite to every corner of the country. Silhouetted against the pink sky, the breaker stood like an enormous gladiator, ready to cut down any would-be challengers and, like the battle victor, it bellowed out a constant roar that filled the valley as it crushed huge chunks of coal to pieces with its iron fists.
“It’s going to be a chilly one tonight, eh Carmella?” Her neighbor stood on the common porch of their adjoining shanty. “Have you got enough coal?”
“Yes, Sophia, thank you. I sent the boys to looking along the railroad tracks. They came back with two buckets full.”
“Why not just send them to the Culm bank? They could have brought you back six pails in the same time.”
“Not unless I go with them. They have too much energy. I’m afraid they might try to climb up the bank and cause a slide, especially if there’s no one to watch them. The two buckets will keep us until Sunday and then we’ll go to get more. How is Anthony? I heard him coughing again last night.”
“He’s getting worse. When he’s not coughing, he’s choking. Lately, it’s been so bad he can’t even lie down. Most nights he sits up in a chair and can only sleep two, maybe three hours. The miner’s lung is bad enough, but he won’t quit those damn cigarettes. The foreman said the next time he catches him smoking in the mine, he’s going to send him home and lose him his day’s pay. I swear if he doesn’t kill himself first, he’ll cause an explosion and take the whole crew with him. What’s the use? He won’t listen to me anyway, so I’ve stopped trying. Have you made your pies?”
“Yes. I got a half-bushel of apples and the pies are baking now. What did you decide to…”
The sound of the breaker whistle cut short Carmella’s question. Both women stood still as the color drained from their faces. Up and down the hill on both sides, shanty doors opened as women and children poured out of their homes. Anxious mothers wrapped their arms tight around their children as they looked toward the breaker. Some of the younger women nearest to the colliery ran toward the mine head. During their first few years in the patch, Carmella and Sophia ran too. Each time, however, Carmella’s heart pounded so hard she could hear it. Each time, she anxiously waited for word of what happened, sometimes for hours, until Franco finally arrived. Each time, it tore a little more of her soul away. Now, she and Sophia waited in front of their homes.
It was almost an hour before the breaker’s grinding stopped and the entire valley fell silent, but that was a good sign. The mine wouldn’t stop operations for one or two men. For the breaker to stop right away, it would have to be a terrible disaster. Carmella looked down as the mining supervisor’s wagon made its way into the patch. If the wagon started up the right side of the hill, she and Sophia could breathe a sigh of relief. This time, it came up on the left. They watched for it to stop in front of one of the shanties below. For a moment, it stopped in front of one of the Polish shanties near the steepest portion of the hill. Carmella felt a pang of sorrow for the panicked women at the door. They had only recently been married. The supervisor snapped his whip, shook the horse’s reigns and yelled. The horse and wagon jerked forward and the young Polish girl slumped against her door. Carmella and Sophia watched the wagon slowly continue up the hill. With each house it passed, Sophia’s anxiety grew.
“Oh my God,” Sophia started trembling. “Oh my God, please no,” as tears started streaming down her cheeks. Carmella hugged her and yelled out to the boys, “Angelo, Giuseppe, quick, go inside.”
Angelo, at nine, was the oldest and protested, “Awe mama, it’s still early and papa isn’t even home yet.”
“Do as I tell you and go inside now.” The boys did as told while the supervisor’s wagon made its way further up the hill.
As the wagon passed the last shanty before theirs, Sophia became hysterical. “Oh my God, no.” Carmella tried to console her but Sophia’s arms flailed wildly as she screamed, “No, God, no. Please no!” Both women stood motionless, wrapped in each other’s arms until the wagon stopped in front of the house. The supervisor and his helper retrieved a body rolled in fabric from the wagon. They carried it to the house and rolled it out like a carpet until Franco came to rest against Carmella’s front door. His shirt sank in on his left side as though there were no bones in his chest to support it. His left arm slung limply behind him as if barely attached and blood oozed out onto the porch and pooled beneath him.
Carmella fixed her gaze on Franco. She said nothing but her legs gave out and Sophia gripped her tight to stop them both from falling. “Don’t look.” Sophia blocked Carmella’s view as she eased her down onto a chair. Anthony’s coughing announced his arrival. “Quick, Anthony,” Sophia directed. “Go inside and bring me a blanket and a glass of water.” When Anthony returned, Sophia handed the water to Carmella, “Drink.” Carmella rested the glass on her lap and stared blankly into the distance. Sophia moved to Carmella’s door, draped the blanket on Franco’s body and returned.
“Oh, my God. The boys!” Carmella looked up to Sophia. “They can’t see him like this.”
“No. They won’t.” Sophia looked to Anthony. “Get some help and bring Franco in here. Then hurry and wash off the porch.” Then she returned to Carmella. “Don’t say anything to the boys yet. You go inside, feed them and put them to bed. We’ll take care of Franco.”
As Sophia helped Carmella to her feet, Anthony and another man carried Franco’s body away. Carmella had to step over Franco’s blood to go inside. Before she closed the door, she looked out over the patch. The deep red sunset faded to black as the stars showed overhead.
“What do I do now, Sophia?” Carmella asked.
“Right now,” Sophia answered, “you just look after your boys.”
That's All For Now, Folks
That should do it for now. If you have the time and inclination, I welcome your questions, comments and feedback.
In the meantime, I hope this finds you and yours safe, happy and healthy. Until the next time.
Chuck Miceli works like hell to write heavenly novels