May 15, 2019

“Madrone,” Because People Asked “What Happens Next?”

“Madrone,” Because People Asked “What Happens Next?”

It’s March, 1969. Twenty-five-year-old Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers, two months out of the military, arrives in California and into the arms of Jane Chandler, the girl he left behind. Jane, now a junior at the University of California, Santa Cruz, wants Nate to join her in the creative writing program, headed by Professor Gerald “Gerry” Iron Moccasin, a Lacota Sioux Indian with a penchant for literary theory. Nate is thwarted in his application for admission to Santa Cruz by his poor grades from the University of Chicago, giving him cause to rethink his academic career path. Pressured on every side by Gerry, Jane’s father Will, his widowed mother and the button-down American path to success, Nate increasingly questions whether a college degree—even from prestigious UC Santa Cruz—will help him become a writer. He spurns the college…

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May 8, 2019

“Wild Blue Yonder,” The Novel That Started It All

“Wild Blue Yonder,” The Novel That Started It All

It’s 1965. Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers has lost his father, flunked out of the University of Chicago, and finds himself facing the draft. He opts for four years in the US Air Force over two years of Vietnam in the army. He and four like-minded troops are thrown together at a small remote air base in Germany, where they try to make sense of their lives and the strange world in which they find themselves. These are military misfits whose behavior doesn’t quite qualify for a dishonorable discharge, yet are sufficiently problematic that if they were sent into the Southeast Asia war zone it would look like punishment—therefore more trouble for the military brass. So they are sent to a place irreverently known in the military as “Bumf**k,” where they can be forgotten about until their…

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May 5, 2019

“The Lighthouse,” A Short Story by Derrick R. Lafayette

“The Lighthouse,” A Short Story by Derrick R. Lafayette

Featured Image Photo Credit: Wikipedia. West Quoddy Head, in Quoddy Head State Park, Lubec, Maine, is the easternmost point of the contiguous United States.  A clump of snow slid from the plunging power lines and splattered atop the coffin. Utility poles leaned on both sides of the road. When Maverick looked up, the empty white sky was blocked by rubber cables. For miles ahead, the snow sparkled untouched. No tracks, nor footprints, completely uncharted. Behind Maverick and Goose were two sets of footprints and sled marks. Thick rope was cutting into their shoulders, dragging the wooden tomb. Its imprints creased the burly coats they’d been wearing for two months. Goose pulled down his wool scarf. The first exhale billowed into a cloud of frost. His nose was beet red, poking out from a black garden of unkempt facial hair,…

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May 2, 2019

Hi! It’s Jack Again.

Hi! It’s Jack Again.

Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers’ Milieu The 1960s was our generational time of great social change, not only in America but around the world. It was the first time America had gotten into an unpopular (and ultimately unwinnable) war. Driven by World War II GIs returning home, followed by the 1950s Beat Generation, it was a time of massive youth rebellion against the staid, comfortable, hierarchical parent-child social structure, which had prevailed for decades. These were still times when adults believed youth should be seen and not heard, but as Bob Dylan sang, those times were a-changing. It was the time of the Hippies. When we meet Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers, he is a true naif, unaware of the ways of the world. One thing he knows: he doesn’t want to be drafted into the Army and tote…

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May 1, 2019

A Personal Message from Founder Jack B. Rochester

A Personal Message from Founder Jack B. Rochester

We Fictional Café Baristas are not only editors but writers, too. Just as we introduce you to Member Writing and our forthcoming Anthology, from time to time we’ll invite you to learn more of what we’re doing as creative individuals – as I’m doing now. For the past decade I’ve been writing novels about a young man and his coming of age in the 1960s and ‘70s. His name is Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers, a bookish 20th-century Candide who has been sent off to the Air Force in the midst of the Vietnam War. He will discover friendship, Chinese philosophy, hippie counterculture, and the meaning of romance as he tries to make sense of what’s happening in America. Nate’s fervent wish is to live by Bob Dylan’s refrain: how to avoid making the same mistakes twice….

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