About the Author
Twenty-five years ago
When Brian J. Anderson returned to his room in the May Roach dormitory he had an idea in his head and the idea was the plot for a novel he would write and even though he had thought about writing a book before he had never done it so he decided that this time things would be different. His room mate was away for the weekend and he didn’t have much school work to do so he went to his desk and he sat down and he started to write the story that was in his head.
The events in the book took place shortly after the Civil War and these events centered around a man who was falsely imprisoned for murder. After spending some time in jail the prisoner decided he had had enough and he would plan a daring escape and then he would lead the posse that was chasing him through the mountains of Wyoming. He didn’t have the story outlined fully or planned to its conclusion but Brian was very excited as he wrote it because he could see the characters and the setting and the events in the story clearly in his head and the words came to him quickly almost too quickly to write them.
Some of the people in the dormitory were staying in their rooms for the night but they weren’t writing novels of their own they were instead drinking alcohol and listening to rock music and playing games with cups and quarters and ping pong balls and as Brian was writing about the prisoner that would escape from jail someone knocked on his door. When Brian opened the door his neighbor Chris was standing in the hall and Chris was intoxicated and swaying on his feet and in his hand was a plastic cup containing beer.
Whassup Bri, Chris said. You partyin in there?
No I’m not partying, Brian said.
Well it’s friday night why the fuck not?
I’m just not.
You fuckin studyin then?
No I’m not doing that either.
Chris laughed and stumbled backwards a little and as he did some of the beer in his cup sloshed onto the floor. He told Brian that since he wasn’t doing anything anyway he should come and party with the guys down the hall to which Brian said okay but just for a little while.
Atta boy, Chris said.
As Brian closed the door behind him he looked at his desk across the room and the desk lamp was still on and it was illuminating the pad of paper there and on the paper was the beginning of his novel about the man wrongly imprisoned for murder and he really wanted to get back to writing it and it made him a little sad to stop but he told himself he would continue writing it very soon.
Fifteen years later
Brian was driving home from his job and his job was as a protein analyst for a biotechnology company and he was thinking about the plot for a novel he would write. He liked his job and he liked the people he worked with and he thought that the work he did was important but he thought that writing a book was important for him to do as well. He couldn’t really articulate why he thought this he just did and he thought about the novel he started to write in college and how he didn’t finish it and he told himself that this time things would be different.
After his children went to bed Brian started working on the novel he had been thinking about and he decided to write an outline for the story and he decided he should work out the plot to its conclusion as well. As he was doing these things his wife Elizabeth came to him and asked him what he was doing.
Writing a novel, Brian said.
Is it the one you started in college, Elizabeth said.
No it’s a different one.
What’s it about?
It’s about a guy whose father disappears and the guy goes out looking for him and all kinds of bad shit starts happening to him.
What kind of bad shit?
He gets beat up a lot and he’s betrayed by a friend and there’s also a big conspiracy.
Elizabeth thought about this and told Brian that he may have some unresolved anger issues to work out.
No I’m fine, Brian said.
What’s it called, Elizabeth said.
I don’t know yet.
Okay have fun. I’m going to bed.
Brian said goodnight to his wife and later when he went to bed himself it was two thirty in the morning but he wasn’t really tired he just thought he should get some sleep so he wouldn’t fall asleep analyzing proteins the next day. He knew that he should be exhausted from getting up early that day and from going to work and from playing with Alec and Isabelle in the backyard and from staying up until two thirty in the morning but sleep didn’t come because all Brian could do was think about how he was going to get PJ Marshall out of all the bad shit he had put him into.
Three years later
Brian was on a backpacking trip with his friend and they had stopped hiking for the day and had set up their tent and were boiling water to make freeze dried lasagna. They had camped in a hanging valley and there were mountains on all sides of them and the mountain to the east of their camp was colored pink and orange with alpenglow. Brian and his friend sat against a boulder and looked up at the mountain and as they did they listened to the hissing sound the burner of their camp stove made and also to the creaking and groaning sound the aluminum pot made as it expanded with the heat.
Are you writing anything now, Brian’s friend said.
I just finished a novella, Brian said. But I’m still tweaking it.
Cool. What’s it about?
It’s about a kid who starts hanging out with this girl and they become boyfriend and girlfriend but then bad shit starts happening to them.
Brian’s friend laughed a little at this and said of course bad shit would happen to them and then he asked Brian what the novella was called.
The Stand at Foster’s Field, Brian said.
After some time their water began to boil and steam was coming out from under the lid of their pot so Brian’s friend took off the lid and lifted the pot with the gripper and measured water in their cups and poured it into their pouches of lasagna. Brian stirred the contents of the pouches and folded the tops of the pouches closed and set them aside to rehydrate.
Brian’s friend sat back against the boulder and said that he was glad that Brian had found something he loved to do and was passionate about doing and Brian replied to this by saying he was glad as well. They were looking up at the mountain again and the colors on its face had changed in both intensity and arrangement and were yet continuing to change. After they watched the mountain for a little while they took up their pouches of lasagna and unfolded their tops and stirred their contents once again and when they were done stirring they began to eat.
Let me know when your new book is out, Brian’s friend said.
Okay, Brian said.