Below is a short Preview of "The Brook"
If you are intrigued, you can go to the purchase page to get your copy.
This book, while based on actual events is in fact fiction. Any similarities to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.
The book was written to highlight the problem of corporate pollution in the United States and for that matter around the world. In an environment where Wall Street dictates success and failure of a company by the profits that they produce, the situations described in this book are not out of the ordinary. Moral conscience goes out the window when success or failure depends on profits and so do annual bonuses to top executives. For every company that gets caught polluting the environment for profit, several others go under the radar and can go for years without getting caught.
It was also written as a warning to all people about the health dangers posed by the irresponsible disposal actions of major corporations around the globe. I personally witnessed the severe damage that was done to the citizens of my town because of lead and mercury contamination and decided it was time to warn others about the consequences of both. Both heavy metals can cause diseases and mimic diseases that are hard to diagnose the origins of unless the health professionals are aware of the potential for lead or mercury poisoning. Sometimes these problems can go unsolved for years, as was the case in my town. Once discovered, treatments were begun, but in some instances it was too late to help some people who still suffer to this day from the after effects of the poisoning. For example, certain cancers are known to be caused by prolonged exposure. Lupus, an autoimmune disease, once contracted never goes away and I noticed several people suffering from Crohn's disease in the town. These people will have problems for the rest of their lives.
It is up to every person to be vigilant and be aware of their surroundings and the potential for health causing hazards in the environment.
I sincerely hope that whoever reads this book enjoys it, but most importantly I hope they learn something from it.
I have entitled it simply "The Brook" Enjoy.
Here he stood, at the door to the Mayor’s office, two months after being sworn in and he still could not get the keys to the filing cabinet that had been locked since his election. He was filled with righteous indignation, convinced he was being picked on by both the staff and the former administration that had hired most of them. He was about to perform another wedding, something of which, when he ran for the office, he hadn’t even been aware. Yet here he was barely a Mayor for two months and he had already performed five marriages. And there stood that bloody file cabinet with the Bibles he was supposed to be handing out to the newly weds, locked up tight. Finally out of sheer desperation, he told the Clerk to call a locksmith to open the cabinet. He had been patient with the staff long enough and he was not about to be embarrassed again by not having the traditional Bible’s to hand out. He thought about how much had changed in his life since that Election Day in November, when against all odds he won the election. He thought about the ensuing weeks, the challenge to the results by the opposition, the endless petitions and recounts and finally the recertification that upheld his election. And then the antics in the office began and no keys to the filing cabinet. His wife Tracy was right, he was too patient with people; always expecting them to do the right thing.
Before he knew it Amy was standing by his side saying something, but he had been too lost in his own thoughts to hear her.
“What did you say Amy?” he asked
“I said that I just called the locksmith, Mayor, but he won’t be able to get here until tomorrow morning.”
“Tomorrow morning!!” he yelled in sheer exasperation, “But I have a wedding to perform tonight.”
“I’m sorry, Mayor,“ she said. “That’s the best I was able to do”
“Aren’t there any other locksmiths?” he asked.
“Mayor, I have already called every locksmith I could find in the phone book and he was the only one who could be here as soon as tomorrow. No one else could get here before next week.”
“What about the Police?” he asked, “Can anyone of them do this. They open car doors.” “That’s totally different, Mayor; the locksmith will be here tomorrow.” Amy replied.
“Well what am I going to tell these people tonight?” he questioned. “They’ll be expecting something as a gift from the town.”
“Just explain to them that we had a problem and I will mail them their gift tomorrow.” she said. “In the meantime, I prepared that special certificate and framed it for them, as you requested.”
“That’s good, at least I’ll have a little token to give them.”
He was concerned about having some kind of gift to give at the end of the ceremony. Whenever they scheduled a marriage service, they asked that the people make a contribution. The mayor could keep it as an honorarium, but Harry felt uncomfortable doing that. He had spoken with one of his predecessors about doing the services and discovered that he sent the contributions on to one of the volunteer organizations in the community. Harry thought that it was a sound idea and so he had reinstituted the practice. So far the First Aid Squad, Library and Fire Department had all been beneficiaries of the money that had been received.
He had also wrestled with the idea of even performing the ceremonies. He was a Catholic and not sure he was permitted to do this by the Church. But he consulted with the parish priest who told him that it was part of his civic responsibility and the Church did not interfere in matters of government. Technically, he was performing a governmental service not a religious ceremony. It was a fine line, but he guessed it was enough. He had to smile to himself when he thought that here he was a dropout from the seminary, marrying people. There was a certain irony.
As Harry drove off to the restaurant to perform the wedding that evening, he had no idea that all of the problems he had faced after being elected and the resentment he experienced from the staff in the municipal building, which he had considered to be major issues, would soon be dwarfed by the most serious issue he had ever faced in his life. It was all in that filing cabinet and he had absolutely no idea of the magnitude. But what was about to be opened in the morning would forever change the lives of the people of his community and the life of his family as well.
For the moment, however, he was content to reflect on the year that had just passed and how monumental it had been to him. His community was a small suburban town, with a tiny downtown shopping district. It had been settled in colonial times and remained a sleepy farm town until the turn of the century. Just prior to the new century, it had broken away from a larger township and set up its own borough government. Like most small farm communities, it had established a bi-partisan form of election, which the Republicans had controlled for most of its history. It had been well traveled during the American Revolution, attained a certain notoriety for manufacturing the chain that went across the Hudson River to prevent the British Ships from sailing on it and manufactured the cannonballs that were used to fight them. One of the streets in town is still called Cannonball Road. During the 19th Century and early 20th Century there was a steel mill on the River but that had long since closed and there were only small fragments of buildings left to even indicate there had been such a thing.
It was the town that he had grown up in and it was the town that he had raised his children in. His family was in the first wave of Post 2nd World War settlers who moved here looking for a peaceful, suburban life. Houses were sprouting up all over the town. Farmers fields were quickly turning into developments. Acres and acres of corn were being displaced by acres and acres of Cape Cods. In 1950 the population of this little village was only about 2000 people, by 1970 it had swelled to about 12,000. It was remarkable for an area of only 2 square miles. Bordered on three sides by rivers, it was easy to set boundary lines for the community. Each new pilgrim purchased his 50 by 150 foot lot and moved in to his little two or three bedroom Cape to raise a family. Back then no one paid much attention to the rivers or the fact that they were purchasing a home so close to them. They could launch a boat from their yard, or even fish from it. These were GI’s back from war, fleeing the cities in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families. Taking full advantage of the VA mortgages available to them, they settled in to enjoy the new world they had created by defeating the menace of Hitler and the warlords from the far east. They had survived this horrific conflagration and just wanted to relax in the democracy that they had preserved. They had found a new home with pristine lakes, river water so clear you could drink it and quiet. Most of all it was the quiet that they welcomed.
Over the next twenty years, with the increase in population, schools needed to be built and additional equipment purchased to meet the needs of the new residents. Sewers and water systems had to be developed and built to accommodate the expansion. And as years went on he watched one farm after another turned into developments. Since his family had been in the first wave of these post war settlers, when he arrived there was still a significant amount of farmland left. He played in a cornfield across the street from his cousins’ house when he was small, constantly wary of the farmer who would threaten to shoot them if they didn’t stay out of his fields. He would yell and they would run, convinced as any eight year old that they had seen their last day on earth if they didn’t move fast and get out of the range of his gun.
Soon that field was plowed under and that too was reborn as part of the new suburban sprawl. As these lands became more and more utilized, the new residents suddenly found themselves confronted with a new enemy they had never given a thought to - water. The people who had dreamed of boating and fishing from their back yards were now being flooded. And when these rivers were swollen from spring rains and mountain snow melts, it was not just the people living along the rivers who suffered. Hundreds of acres of suburbia were underwater. Basements, kitchens, living rooms, garages, bedrooms all submerged. To make matters worse the newly constructed sewer lines began to backup from the water and so homes were being turned into cesspools of water, waste and mud. This new found enemy awakened the new settlers from their bucolic euphoria. When their demands to governing bodies fell mainly on deaf ears, they became political activists and both political parties saw an increase in participation. It was as a result of all of these newly relocated city dwellers that the Democratic party first came to power in the town. These newly elected officials were supposed to do something about the flooding. Unfortunately, one survey by the Army Corps of Engineers after another was done with solutions to alleviate the problem, but no money was ever funded and no work was ever done. There were suggestions of buy outs and flood tunnels but nothing ever happened with that either. It seemed everyone forgot about the problem in the years that were dry and only became motivated again when everything they owned was under water. Needless to say, residences changed hands rapidly during the dry seasons only to have the new residents discover first hand the ravages of water.
When Harry ran for mayor, the flood of 1984 was still a recent memory, but already many of the residents of the flood plain were new to the area and hadn’t witnessed the devastation. Many of them had not registered to vote and so in their door to door efforts, they started registering voters. It still amazed him how so many variables came together to get him elected in the first place. He was approached by the Democratic Borough leader in early 1987 with the offer to run as the party’s nominee to the state assembly. He respectfully declined, since no Democrat had been elected in the district since his father had held the seat in the early 1970’s. It was a district that was created to be a safe Republican one. The legislators in their wisdom had carved out both safe Democratic and safe Republican districts and then created a few “swing” districts. He figured that this was done so that the “heavy hitters” on both sides would never really have to worry about their elections. During that phone conversation, however, he did make another offer.
“Carmela, I’m not interested in running for the Assembly. It’s a lost cause. I’ve been the sacrificial lamb for the party before and I know the district well. If a Democrat is ever going to win it, he would need at least two years head start, not ten months. I am interested in running for Mayor, however, if you need a candidate.” he said
“Right now we have several candidates for mayor,” Carmela replied. “Rick is interested, Tom is also interested and I might give it a try myself. So we really don’t need another candidate but I’ll mention your name and see what the committee says.”
“OK,” he said, “thanks for the call.”
“I would ask that you reconsider the other position though,” she said. “I’ll call you back in a few days to get your answer.”
“Carmela, I’m really not interested.”
“Well, I'll call anyway. You might change your mind.”
With that he hung up the phone. Tracy wanted to know what was going on. When he told her about the assembly nomination she started to laugh. “There’s no way you could win that election,” she said, “why are they wasting your time.”
“I know,” he said, “But I also know what they are thinking. I have the family name recognition and it would probably put us one leg up. They also know that I am a hard campaigner. But don’t worry, I told her that I was not interested. I did, however, tell her I would consider running for mayor.”
“That’s just as crazy,” Tracy stated, “There hasn’t been a Democrat elected in this town as mayor in over twenty five years. You’re just going to be wasting your time.”
“I don’t think so,” he said. “First, the constituency isn’t as large as the assembly district. We are only talking about 6000 voters. Ten months in an active campaign could be enough time to pull it off. It would mean going to every event that came up, going door to door, getting press coverage and putting together some dynamite brochures. It would also mean getting everyone on the ticket to pull together as a team. I really think it can be done.”
“You really are a dreamer,” she said. “For one thing, your own party probably won’t nominate you. They think you’re a maverick and their ideas of how things should run and your ideas don’t always coincide. For another, you are going to be running against an incumbent mayor who has been there for four years and who before that was on the council forever and whose grandfather was mayor of the town. Do you really think you stand a chance?”
He had to admit the way she put everything, it did not sound at all hopeful.
“You’re probably right,” he said. “They probably won’t even nominate me.”
Several days passed and he had not heard from Carmela. His wife and he both figured that her estimation had been right. They went about their days not even thinking about it. Finally after about a week had passed, he received another phone call from Carmela.
“Harry, the screening committee has agreed to talk to you,” she said. “The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday night at the Citizens Center. Please bring a brief resume’ with you and be prepared to answer all of their questions.”
“What happened to the other candidates?” he asked.
“All of the others have decided not to run for Mayor. They are going for the Council seats instead. Tom and I are going for the two three year terms and Jerry is going for the one year unexpired term.” she answered.
“What about Rick?”
“Rick has decided to stay on the Council and serve his term there. He said he didn’t need the distraction of running for Mayor, but we still haven’t ruled him out as a potential candidate.”
Rick had been elected to the Council the previous year and was the only Democrat serving at the time. The entire Council as well as the Mayor were all Republicans. These first few months of office had been no picnic for him.
“All right,” he replied, “I’ll see you Tuesday.”
Ah, here already. The restaurant was right in front of him. He had been so consumed in his thoughts he almost drove right by it. Well marrying Sam was about to do it again. The ladies in the office had started calling him that, when he began doing so many services. He quickly parked the car and went inside to meet the prospective bride and groom.