Hard Scrabble

Mark "Tiger" Edmonds


    Thirty-five years before, she helped him beat alcoholism by suggesting he reach for a Scrabble board every time he wanted a drink. Now she's been diagnosed with terminal metastatic cancer and he's helping her in a journey of spiritual realization. A true story of a true male-female friendship.

ISBN: 9781604890006 Library Binding $26   Sale: $15.00

ISBN: 978-1604890013 Trade Paper $15.95   Sale: $9.00

223 Pages

 Excerpt From the Book:
 About the Author: 

I was born into a Golden Age in America; I celebrated my 65th birthday a month or so ago. These were the best times this country has ever known for a lot of reasons. I grew up in an era when America had the finest education system the world has ever known.

So, I ride old German iron. When Iím not doing that, I am often afield with a dog and a gun or standing in an incoming tide with my good fishing pole or riding my horse. I prefer pale horses and all my good dogs have been black. I like my women laughing, my occasional drink of whiskey is taken neat, and I drink my coffee black. I canít abide a soap opera or a psychodrama. I am better off outdoors, unless itís cold, and then Iím better off farther south and outdoors.


Chapter 19


     The next time I talked to her was several days later.  I was in Indiana on my way to Michigan.  She made me tell her about the miles, about the sights and the scenery.  She wanted to know the routes and about the roads.  So I told her current highway stories for awhile.  I thanked her again for the little leather satchel, told her it was real handy and very classy.

     Finally, we got around to her.  She didn't sound good, and I told her so.  

     "I'm just trying to get your sympathy so you'll come home soon,"  She coughed over the phone.  I could hear B.B. King in the background.

     I laughed and replied, "Aha!  A ruse.  A hoax.  A clever deception to get me to turn it around before the turnaround." 

     She laughed and coughed, and I went on, "Serious, Homegirl, you O.K?  If you need me to, I can ride all night and bring it home to you in about twenty-some hours."

     I could hear her laboring for breath on the phone.  I could hear her hurting from a thousand miles off.  Even at this distance, I could feel her dying.  I was by myself at the time, so I may have let a tear or two go.

     She said to me, "No, I'm alright.  If it gets bad, I'll let you know."

     I managed to say, "Told you I'd hold your hand while you're dyin'.  I'm holdin' you to that one."

     I could hear her smile over the phone, across the miles, "Talk about hoaxes and tricks.  Tiger, you've been holding my hand for the last forty years or so.  You held my hand while I was living high, and you've held my hand while I was dying."

     I somehow controlled my voice when I told her, "Pacey, do not die without I'm there with you.  O.K?  You owe me a Scrabble rematch, damn it."

     "Alright, Tiger."  She tried to laugh, but she coughed instead.  Finally she went on, "I'm pretty sure I'll last until the turnaround for you.  Call me in a couple days."

     I rode on to Michigan, sold some books, and called Pacey in a few days.  I thought she sounded better.  Then I thought about how bad I wanted her to sound better.  As the conversation went on, I realized that only the latter was true.

     She wanted to know if I was selling any books and offered a couple ideas about marketing strategies.  Mostly she wanted to know about the things I had seen and places I'd been.  I described the back roads in Alabama, the little towns in the mountains of Tennessee.  I told her about the short hills through the hardwood trees in Indiana and old farmhouses along the way.  I went on some about The Great Lakes shorelines and the northwoods.  There were details about birch trees and islands.

     "How's the bike running?  She asked.  I could hear her gasp for air.  I could feel her slipping away.  

     Once again she managed to transcend, to rise above her own lethal problems in favor of hearing about my travels and recent adventures.  Here we were discussing mechanical performance, the nature of which way the drive wheel rolls.  Once again, I marveled at her courage, at the example she was being for me.  One more time I was in awe of her humor.  And again, one more time, I was glad I was by myself so no one else could see me cry.