Another Great Novel from Paul Wolfe
Blood of Our Children Will Stop You In Your Tracks …
“As a parent, I couldn’t put it down,” says Martha Griswold (Online Critics Corner)
While the young man known as Angel and his ragtag group of hopeless, homeless, futureless, and youth-less children of the streets battle the pimps and their own inner demons in the basements, alleys and deserted parks of New York, Anneke stands beside them. Anneke is the indomitable woman who looked at the kids the world had forgotten and said she would never forget them. As the young man known as Angel and his ragtag group of strays and castaways battle the streets, the pushers, the pimps and their own inner demons in the basements, alleys and deserted parks of New York, Anneke stands beside them. Even as it all spirals out of control to a breakneck conclusion. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely for the big of heart.
“If you’ve read Paul Wolf’s magnificent Postcards From Atlantic City, you’ll be as eager as I was to read Blood of Our Children, his novel about a group street children and the woman who protects them from harm. Wolf can certainly hold your interest with his storytelling skills,” says Rosemary Mason, former feature writer for Florida Times-Union.
You can instantly download the ebook for only $3.99; or buy the paperback edition for $14.95. Simply click here
to select the version for your ereader.
Also from Paul Wolfe …
You will want to read this author’s loving tribute to the Boardwalks of Atlantic City with this wonderful multi-layered novel that reviewers call “a must read,” “a fascinating book,” and “a love letter to Atlantic City.” One fan writes, “There’s sex, a caper, and more stylish writing per page than you have any right to expect.”
Here’s an excerpt that will make you want to keep reading …
The dynamite man looked out to sea.
Waves of grey Atlantic surf pounded the sands of southern New Jersey, sculpting the beach in a geometry of turmoil. He could see the empire of water breathing before him, stretching to the limits of the horizon, indifferent to the task of destruction at hand.
The wires had been laid, like death veins through the body of the ancient hotel. The plunger was active. Safety fences had been stretched from Park Place to Ohio Avenue, bearing signs: No Trespassing. Property condemned by order of Governor Brendan Byrne.
Then the man looked down, and as his watch read 4:01, he pushed the lever. The Marlborough Blenheim exploded. To cameramen filming from the sea, it seemed a mushroom-shaped cloud had risen like a vaporous umbrella over the boardwalk, an Alamogordo by the beautiful sea.
For an instant the hotel hung in space, a vast assembly of bricks and ghosts riding the air of New Jersey in seeming disbelief of its destiny. Then gravity triumphed, and it was over. The building materials that had so long ago become a hotel, became building materials again, and then rubble. The Marlborough Blenheim lay, a colossus of ruins at the intersection of history, Boardwalk and Park Place.
JFK arranged his own assassination.
His brain was withering. His nervous system engulfed itself. Pain leaped the barricades of medicine and clawed silently into the root molecules of his body: a terrifying, degenerative disease, endured secretly in the sanctum of world power. He needed to end it cleanly and swiftly. He needed to spare the Republic the nightmare of a shining leader’s slow fade to oblivion. He devised a plan. An ingenious plan. A conspiracy perpetrated on itself.
Factions from the CIA. Anti-Castro Cubanos, bitter from betrayal at the Bay of Pigs. Operatives scoured up from the bowels of the FBI. Capo regimes from the Marcello family in New Orleans, arranged through Sam Giaconda, who shared a woman with the President and now death. It was a conspiracy of overlapping, redundant assassination systems, each fragment ignorant of the other, so that their shadows would haunt history, but their strands would never be unraveled.
Florence Chansen stood in the empty store reading The National Star. She enjoyed stories like this, the strange, exciting revelation of the secret truth that underlay things. They seemed to connect the pieces of some vast, intractable puzzle. So much was beyond her grasp now.
The tabloid was spread before her on the knotty pine counter, a relic now, as Chansen’s Store itself was a relic, with Harry in the graveyard over in Margate six years now and the City gone all to hell. Once the store had boomed, a vital emporium of postcards and stationery in the World’s Playground by the Sea. Once Chansen’s sold books; Atlantic City tourist books, of course, because no one came here for literature. They sold newspapers (she would seize the first copy of the National Star and Harry would ask her what she thought the customers would read.) They sold cigarettes. Harry broke open a pack of his beloved Raleigh’s each day to banter with the morning men coming in for papers and smokes. Even Skinny D’Amato bought his cigarettes here: Skinny, so handsome, so regal, the King of Atlantic City. His 500 Club down the block ruled the world, it was a second home to Frank himself, and the launch pad for a couple of knuckleheads named Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
That was then. The store continued, as if from force of habit, even as the people around it started vanishing. The store stayed open, but Atlantic City closed. The rowhouses along Atlantic and Pacific disintegrated, and the porches slowly sank along Fifth Street, where Chansen’s stood at Number 857. Black men in undershirts took over the streets, sitting on boxes and kitchen chairs without backs, gazing bloodshot with swallowed anger at streets where traffic had ceased to flow. The souls that remained in Atlantic City had no need of cards, or stationery, or books. Even the new breed, the slot jockeys and craps wizards who had come with the gambling, had no need of printed matter, though she did sell two copies of How To Win at Blackjack, by Ken Uston, the half-Caucasian, half -Japanese financial genius who stormed Atlantic City in the wake of legalization and seized hundreds of thousands from the casinos before they barred him.
So she shuffled through the empty store these days, as people no longer driven by imperatives of children or financial survival shuffle through their lives, keeping busy in small, arbitrary ways as an alternative to stopping altogether. She no longer distinguished the store from her private apartment upstairs. Both levels of the building exuded soul-coddling familiarity.
But it would soon change. Of this she was certain. The casinos would resurrect Atlantic City, and the golden days would return. Resorts International came first, and was already pulling in a million dollars a day. A million dollars. Caesar’s was Number Two. And now they were breaking ground at the most famous address in the world, Boardwalk and Park Place, even if it was only the most famous address in the world in a board game: With the coming of legalization, building sites up and down the Boardwalk had been seized. Construction fences stared the death of Atlantic City boldly in the face. Multi-national logos winked flamboyantly at the Atlantic Ocean: Hilton. Bally. Penthouse. Playboy. The big boys had come to town, and if the Golden Days weren’t on their way back, she reasoned, the Good Days certainly were.
Florence remembered the day she saw Jane Russell walk the boardwalk. She was hidden in red scarf and sunglasses, but who wouldn’t recognize those breasts? Yes, the bigwigs would return, and the business would follow. Chansen’s would place orders again with Hallmark; wedding cards, bar mitzvah cards, birthday cards. She would sell magazines and newspapers again. She’d need help. A young person with moxie she could trust, someone who wanted to make something of his life, starting small in a good business, and who knows where it could lead?
Her body had decayed in parallel with the city around her. Gravity, unopposed by any counter-initiatives of the spirit, sank the contours of her face. A spider web of lines was etched on skin deprived of oxygen by Pall Malls, the long, unfiltered Pall Malls in the beautiful red pack, and afterward, in a slight bow to her times, filtered ones, a strange brand called Lark. They made her cough brown. She rubbed a mole on her chin, and waited for The Resurrection of the City. As she waited, she read her tabloid in peace by the old Nichols & Ballway cash register.
A 90-year old woman had given birth to triplets in England, she read, when the entrance door rang jarringly, signaling the arrival of a customer. She was startled by the intrusion, so rare these days. A young man entered, seeming to Florence as if a god had entered the barren air of her near-deserted store. The strikingly handsome face, hormones pumping vigorously through a young body, all a counter-force to the death that spread like netting over western Atlantic City. Lost in the vapors of her tabloid, Florence Chansen didn’t answer when he asked if she was open.
He is a very polite boy, she thought to herself. This was how young people should be. She nodded mechanically and then, devoid of inflection, she asked if she could help him.
“Got any books about the history of Atlantic City? I can’t find one anywhere, not even in New York. It’s weird.”
She shrugged and aimed a bony finger at the dusty shelves in to the rear.
“You visiting?” Vaguely remembered social graces slipped slowly into place.
“No, I’m an architect, working on the Bally Park Place Casino. You know where that is, right?”
“Of course, Boardwalk and Park Place, over by the old Marlborough-Blenheim. What a shame. To tear down such a beautiful hotel. We used to have dinner there every year on our anniversary. The Neptune. Now that was a restaurant. First-class. Waiters all had these smart uniforms. Maroon I think, like soldiers with those things on the shoulders, the tassels. I don’t know what you call them. The stones came all the way from Arabia.”
“It is a shame,” the young man agreed. “I work for the firm that’s building the new casino. They say the Blenheim was too far gone to save, too expensive to rescue. They’re probably just looking for the shortest distance to a field of slot machines.”
“It’s no good. Everyone will come to no good. You don’t tear down a wonder of the world like that.”
Maybe she was right. Vince Lopez, head of construction, had suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack two weeks ago, dancing at Pepi’s Lounge. Maybe there was a curse on this whole venture.
“No good will come out of it.”
She told him to help himself and he wandered to the back of the store, to a shelf of old tourist books that had been laid to rest in the dust of a metal shelf. He came upon a thin soft covered booklet called Kingdom by the Sea, by Amos Toland. The Marlborough Blenheim Hotel stood shining on the cover, a Moorish fantasy from 1001 Nights drenched in morning light, and a yellow starburst proclaiming 35 cents blazed like an Arab sun beside the minarets.
“I didn’t know that was there,” Florence said, staring strangely at the cover like a man uncovering a rare fossil in his picnic basket. “Hunh, you never know what you have. I got postcards too.”
“Yeh, somewhere, the old postcards, from years back.”
“I’d like to see them,” he said, and she shrugged, shuffling toward the old, wood-stained door that led to the basement. He opened the book at random:
The Marlborough Blenheim was built in 1905. In the heyday of Atlantic City, it was the home of royalty by the sea. King Farouk stayed in the Emperor’s suite with his French mistress. A sultan with nine wives camped out one summer. The Miss America contest called it home from 1945 through 1953. The world-famous Fountain of Neptune was carved in Italy using aquamarine marble and shipped to America in 200 pieces. It took two months for workers to assemble it.
Florence returned with a dusty box of marbleized cardboard. It was filled with postcards, the old sort of cards that resembled tiny paintings and always smelled of some forgotten past we somehow lost track of, stiff and colorized. Hotels floated past as the cards were turned — the Dayton, the Mermaid, the Dennis. He saw the boardwalk, the beach, a package of Turkish taffy, carriages circumambulating the boardwalk, bathing beauties long dead, and, in wide variety of lights, the Marlborough Blenheim, the hotel that died to make way for his new job as assistant field architect on Atlantic City’s third casino.
“I have to charge you a quarter a piece,” she said, not knowing why she asked so much from such a nice young man. But his heart was racing as he wandered through the antique pictures.
“I’ll take the box.”
“The box? You want so many cards?”
“OK, I’ll have to charge you ten dollars.”
Loaded with a dusty treasure, a book about the Marlborough Blenheim and a box of postcards from Atlantic City, he headed west on Illinois towards the ocean …
Postcards From Atlantic City is available as an ebook or a handsome 6″ x 9″ trade paperback. To purchase it instantly, simply click here to select the version for your ereader.