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Monday, November 25, 2013

Do you have a secret too?

It’s unbelievable how fast contemporary country life is changing. I had my first taste of it when I temporarily moved back to my childhood home in northern Michigan last year. I’d been away for almost 25 years and you know the old saying ‘You can go home but you can never go back’? Yep. It’s true. 
It’s sad in a way. The atmosphere of my hometown changed to the point where it didn’t feel like ‘home’ anymore. Gone were most of the people I grew up with, the mom and pop stores I frequented and the old stomping grounds gave away for a new town congress and high school. And though these things bothered me in a nostalgic manner, I also experienced a wonderful, uplifting surprise. Absent was most of the limited vision I grew up with, replaced with a sense of welcomed transformation. There was a definite change in attitudes, in acceptance and even (gasp!) lifestyle.
Now not everyone changed. There were still some – both young and old- who clung to their bigotry like a grave shroud. They seemed to be all for the progression of the economy, yet bulked at the melting pot of ideas flowing into the community brought on by a diverse demographic. 
However, with the hope of the current and upcoming generations,  I believe those folks are part of a dying breed. With cable television and the Internet becoming available in rural areas, the narrow-mindedness of the past is choking on it’s last breath.
It was in celebration of that fact that I wrote Hometown Secrets. I got the idea by piecing together some of my past, sprinkled with a little of my present. The characters, the location, the festivities, even the family farms are based on real life experiences.
Originally titled Dirty Little Secret, it started out as a story for an anthology – but the characters sneered at the brevity and demanded I write past the 12,000 word limit. 
It was both thrilling and gloomy to type ‘THE END”. At last, I had something completed to submit to a publisher, yet Pete, Asher, and the whole town of Delton felt like family to me and I didn’t want to say good-bye.
I hope someday to write a couple more stories with other characters based out of Hometown Secrets.

 An old secret. A new secret. A surprising secret. A dirty secret. 
Coming to terms with his sexuality, Pete Stubbs has found his ‘Mr. Wonderful’ and wants to celebrate his happiness by coming out. Yet admitting he is gay to his family is taking a bit more courage than he originally thought, especially when his mother stuns him with her unexpected homophobic hatred. He starts to wonder if his coming out will be more selfish than freeing.

Out and proud Asher Gilford is tired of always being the ‘throw away boy’ in past hush-hush liaisons. He feels he deserves to be loved by a man who is not ashamed to be with him. Though his current lover reassures him ‘a little more time is needed’ before they can go public, Asher is beginning to fear he is becoming someone’s ‘dirty little secret’ and vows it will not happen to him again.

When a church sponsors Pete and Asher for a charity event, it becomes the catalyst for a series of startling secrets to explode within the community. In his silent confusion, Pete watches life crumble and realizes that by remaining in the closet, he could lose his nephew, his best friend and most important, Asher.
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Pete’s thoughts drifted, and he became uncomfortably warm. Yes, it was an honor to represent the church in the cowboy games, but to do it with Asher Gilford? Did he really want to chance an association between them, no matter how benign? The two of them together in public could draw too many questions he did not want to think about, let alone answer.

Brother Billy thumped Pete’s back, “We are  pleased both young men agreed.”

“Peter hasn’t signed the contract yet.” His mother sipped at her coffee. “And I doubt he’s going to now. Too much of his valuable time will be spent in training a novice, and as for Mr. Gilford? My son has a reputation to think about.”

“Sister Stubbs.” Brother Billy frowned, his manner noticeably more formal in tone and gesture. “The events require teamwork, and all the participants who enter the games take the time to train together, regardless if they grew up with the skills or not. And as far as Asher is concerned, he’s a virtuous congregational member of good moral standing.”

“And you can’t get any more of a straight moral compass than Pete and Asher.” Agnes leaned back in her chair. “Oh, they’ll make a wonderful pair, those two.”

Pete winced, wishing Sister Agnes had kept her opinion to herself.

“Agnes Klotz! Don’t you understand?” his mother shot through pursed lips. “Asher Gilford is an outright, unrepentant homosexual.”

“Judge not lest ye be judged, Sister Stubbs.” The quiet comment flowed from Brother Billy’s lips.

At Brother Billy’s words, his mother simmered down and regained her composure. “I’m not judging here. I’m full of love and compassion and concern for the church.”

“Hey, you.” Lucy nudged Pete with her elbow. “You’re being awful quiet about this. How do you feel?”


Pete jumped and sought out the cell phone in his pocket.

Brother Billy rose from his chair. “Yes, what do you have to say? Are we still in agreement that you’ll represent the church for the cowboy games, even with Asher Gilford?”

Pete hesitated. He loathed being in positions like this. Yes, he wanted to be a part of the team. Yes, he waffled at the thought of being with Asher in public. Yes, it bothered him that his mother was expecting him to do what she believed was right. But what was right for Peter Stubbs?

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