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When Moments Become Memories

First and foremost – THANK YOU to all of you who gave their feedback and took the time to let me know what you think about my book! Seriously, you are the ones who put a pep in my step and a smile on my face. Without you, I’m just a weird guy from Ohio 😉 And with you, (I still am. But with more friends. 😉 )

Below is the last chapter of my book that I’ll be sharing before publication. If you have the time, let me know what you think. Please let me know if it hooked you and you want to know what happens next.

And if you want to read the story in order – start here:

The Road To Life Chapters 1 & 2 – tonysbologna : Honest. Satirical. Observations

Again – thank you so much. All of you make me happy.

Chapter 3 – The Letter

Jasper and Omar entered the truck stop, their arrival announced by the doorbell’s familiar chime.


Omar couldn’t help but rub his temples as the weight of reality bore down on him threatening to crush his head. There he stood, knees buckling, taking in the spectacle that was Roadside America.

Sitting behind the gas station counter was a husk of a man who looked as if he’d seen the worse of humanity. And to be fair, when you work at a roadside truck stop with a tiny bathroom, you probably have.

His tattered grey skin and dark circles around his eyes seemed to scream for a break if only he had the energy to do so because now, all his energy was directed at one man, the leprechaun man standing in front of him. He wore a green suit jacket with red hair pouring out from under his shillelagh cap and he was gripping a lottery ticket as he yelled at the attendant as if he stole his pot of gold.

“Now listen here, my lad, by state law, you have to cash me out!”

Omar and Jasper leaned in like they were in the audience of a Jerry Springer show, enjoying the rich American drama of a good-old fashioned public outburst.

“Listen, Bub; I don’t got to do shit – it’s my gas station.” The Gas station attendant grumbled.

“Is your name British Petroleum? No… It’s Bob!” He said as he pointed to his badge. “And I’m not your Bub… BUB!” Said the leprechaun man as he pulled off his badge and threw it across the counter.

“Yeah – yeah, take your lotto to someone who has the money!” Bob barked.

Jasper and Omar shifted uncomfortably, unsure whether to step in or stay out, as they exchanged sideways glances.

“I’ll be back!” The leprechaun man screamed before bumping into Jasper on the way out. Omar bristled, but Jasper shrugged it off with a slight smile at his son’s reaction. Now, standing in the moist air of a thoroughly awkward moment, they approached Bob pretending as if this didn’t happen.

“Eh – man, is your restaurant still open?” Jasper asked, his smile mischievous.

Bob frowned as if the question was beneath him. As if Jasper and Omar should have been able to read an invisible sign that told them of the store’s hours. Then inconceivably, he pulled his dirty trucker hat down, complete with a ring of white, dried sweat, and put a 1950s diner’s chef on his head.

“Right this way your majesty.” He stepped out from behind the counter and led them past the sugary sweet shit, all stoners love as they moved into the restaurant.

The restaurant had all the hallmarks of a dingy roadside truck stop: foam booths with stuffing poking out, tables scarred by ancient coffee cup rings, and mahogany brown coffee mugs that screamed “1970s kitchen.”

Omar glanced at Jasper, a hint of panic in his voice. “Dad… what the Hell are we going to do?”

Jasper sighed, his gaze scanning the room. “We’re going to enjoy breakfast, and we’ll figure it out.”

“How can you be so relaxed about this?! We almost died! And the car did die!”

“Because we crashed my crappy car and not my Vette’.” Jasper said with a smile. “We’re fine. Stop being too damn worried.”

Omar shifted from side to side, hoping that it would level out his frustration. No dice.

“We’re fine? – we don’t have a fucking car!”

Across the restaurant, a man with a protruding beer belly cleared his throat and looked directly at Omar. He was wearing a shirt with an arrow pointed to his face that had the words, “Please, sit here.”

“Uhm, excuse me?” He interrupted.

Jasper and Omar turned.

“This is a family establishment.” He said pointing down to a greasy table. The F in the family hung in the air like smoke around a fire. “Watch your language, please. There’s ladies here.” His forced smile was completely insincere as he put his arm around his wife, who wore a “Yoga is for yuppies” shirt.

Jasper called back to the man.

“This generation, I’m telling you… no respect.” He said with a smile.

The man laughed. Omar rubbed his temples. Having never quite appreciated how likable his father was. He could make a friend out of the grim reaper.

“It ain’t no big deal, I’m going to get us a rental car, and we’ll be back on the road in no time.”

“Rent from where? We’re in the middle of nowhere.”

“There’s always a somewhere in nowhere.” Jasper said, eyes drifting towards the suitcase.

Omar rolled his eyes.

“So you excited to start your job?” Jasper offered.

Omar frowned. “No…” But I have some friends that’ll make me excited.

“Well, hopefully, you won’t forget about your friend right here when you’re out in the big city.”

Omar raised an eyebrow.  

They ordered their breakfast and carried on until the man with the arrow shirt struck again and and lumbered over to their table.

Jasper scanned the restaurant looking for an explanation. His cool, icy-blue eyes carried an oil and water mix of are you fucking kidding me? And Is this real? Each reaction fighting for control as he attempted to grab the waitress with his eyes, pleading with her to deal with some crowd control. Just a nice, do you want some more coffee? Could stymie the small talk. 

No dice.

She returned the pleas with a half-ass smile, moving the gum from one side of the mouth to the other, remaining utterly indifferent to the situation at hand.

So Jasper shook his head and bit his lip. He was going to have to deal with this mess head-on.

“Hey – how you doing pal!”

The stranger obliged.

“Say there, what in the world is that?”

The idiot pointed his hairy hand at the magenta smoothie sitting in front of Jasper.

“Just a dragon fruit smoothie”

“Dragon fruit smoothie?” The stranger could hardly contain his excitement, “I thought dragons were extinct!”

Jasper let out a fake laugh; that he hoped the stranger, turned idiot, would notice. He didn’t.

Instead, he looked back at his wife, who sat at attention, eager to hear the news.

“Hey Helen, It’s dragons!”

The stranger’s wife smiled like she had learned a dirty secret, her eyes carrying a smug yet satisfied look.

And then, with a complete lack of awareness of social situations, the stranger slapped his belly,  laughed a bit too loud, and sauntered off back to his table. No goodbyes. He was certainly out of earshot but not out of the ethos.

Jasper turned back from the interruption and tried to collect himself. He shook his head like he had water in his ear that he was trying to knock out, and then he stared straight at his son with glazed eyes and slipped out four words that cracked his son’s heart.

“Man, this place has a bunch of fucking assholes.”


Across the table, Omar sat back in his seat and felt an unusual feeling coming from his cheeks: a smile growing across his face.

That was the most honest interaction he had with his father in years. 

Jasper finished his smoothie and looked back at Omar. His usually cheerful face faded as it drifted towards the suitcase again.

“Hey – uh – can you hand me my suitcase?” Jasper said with a bit of uneasiness. Omar handed him the suitcase and leaned forward.

“So umm… listen. I know life has been hard lately- and we haven’t always been close – but there’s something I need to tell you.”

Omar shifted from side to side, hoping that it would diffuse whatever was about to happen.

“This is going to be hard,” Jasper said with a melancholy tone.

But then, Jasper sighed again, and this caused a monster to crawl up Omar’s spine.

“Son… ah– well – there really isn’t an easy way to say this, so I’m going to come out and say it, and please don’t make a scene.”

Omar nodded and wondered how in the hell he was expected not to make a scene without seeing the movie. He leaned forward.

“I have cancer.”

Omar shot back in his seat, the air escaping his body. Perhaps for the first time, he was reminded of an unfortunate truth: mortality. And this caused him to feel a strange twinge in his heart. For the first time in a long time, he saw his father wasn’t a robot programmed to perfection but was in fact, the opposite. A flawed human. A doomed Human. A human-human. And then Omar did something he hadn’t done in a long time. He really saw his father for what felt like the first time.

He noticed how his face had seemed to be a little more gaunt; his skin was weathered. He saw how his eyes were a tad more sunken, and his shirt seemed to dangle off his bones. Jasper was objectively skinnier than before, and he had aged. And this caused Omar to wonder how he had not seen what was right in front of him.

He snapped back into reality. The diner reanimated as a waitress dropped off scrambled eggs at the next table.

“I’m so sorry; how bad is it?”

An eternity passed.

Stage 4″


How much time you got left?” Omar meekly asked.

Jasper stared down at his bottomless cup of coffee and noticed his reflection. It was like seeing the Grim Reaper with his sickle on his neck.

“We’ll see.” was all Jasper could let out. And the diner that was once very much alive became very much still, at least, to the Watson men.

Jasper then reached across the chair and slowly hoisted up the black suitcase; the gold buckles shot a bright light across Omar’s brown face. 

He couldn’t tell what, but something was off.

“Now that I’m faced, or rather reminded, that my time is coming to a close, there’s really only one matter that’s important.”

All around him, the other diner people were living their life. Somewhere a lady was mentally bitching out a waitress for not filling up her coffee in time. In the bathroom, a man pissed on the floor and walked away like it was nothing. Yet, just a few tables over, two lives were crashing. It made Omar think about how the world is blissfully unaware.

“I don’t think I’ve been a good Father to you.” Jasper admitted.

Omar hugged himself.

“And now that you’re moving way – I.”

“Don’t you think you could’ve told me that before I decided to move across the country?” Omar erupted.

“Don’t you think you could have called me once during the past five years?” Jasper retorted.

Then, Jasper exhaled.  Hold on, let me finish. I know I haven’t always been there when you needed me. But I want you to know the only thing that I have ever unconditionally loved is you.”

Omar fought back tears welling in his eyes.

“And I honestly have a hard time expressing myself, so I wanted to write you some letters on everything I never said but should have said.”

A diner fan hummed overhead.

 “No matter where you go in life, these letters will help you find your treasure, and believe me; there is treasure to be found in this life.”

Jasper unbuckled the suitcase and pulled out the first letter. It was an old beige color as if it had been hiding in secret for years, waiting to come into the world. In the center was the initials J.W. with a red wax stamp.

“There are five letters total, and I’d like to give you one each day of the trip. I know this is heavy, but please allow me this last pleasure. It’s a dying man’s wish.”

Omar cleared his throat, hoping it would distract from the slowly rolling down his cheek.

“Excuse me; I’ll be right back.” He stood up and made a b-line for the bathroom.

The bathroom was covered in tile and had all the charm of a men’s room that’s never been cleaned. Curly hairs waited in urinals, the floor was sticky, and toilet paper was nowhere to be found. There he stared into the mirror and released a dam.

Thirty years of unresolved issues, seeing the light for the first time. Inside his head the diner spun in circles. He had never seen his father vulnerable before. Growing up, he was the spitting image of strong, with a hardened face and harder emotions. Yet, Omar couldn’t escape the fact of how even of the strongest succumbed. And they have every time. He ran the water to mute out the sounds. After a spell, a loud fart behind the stall reminded Omar that it was not private and probably a good time to go.

Wiping the tears from his eyes, he returned to the table and plotted his face in his hands.

Jasper sat up.

“Are you ok? He asked with a sincere twinkle of concern.

“I’m fine, just allergies.”

“Pain in the ass.” Jasper nodded, hoping it would move the moment along.

“Ok, why don’t you read the first letter.” Jasper slid it across the table so as not to really give a choice. Reluctantly, Omar picked it up, sighed, and began to read.


By now, you know the truth. I am sick and don’t have long for this world. And when you’re sick and reminded of your mortality, you’re reminded of the gift life really is. You’re reminded that any day can be your last day. You’re reminded of the people and places that were important to you. You’re reminded of the value of a moment and reminded how it slips into a memory.

I have so much to say to you that I struggle to say it. Do you know the saying, “Words can’t express what you mean to me?” I think it’s wrong. What they really mean is, “I love you more than words”, and for me, it’s true.

Now the silver lining in this shitty moment is that it caused me to reflect on what’s actually important in my life and not the bullshit, the booze, and the bottles… perhaps that’s the greatest blessing… clarity.

 And it’s with that spirit that I want you to know that I’m dedicating the end of my life to turning it into a treasure hunt for you because you see, or may not see, life is one giant treasure hunt and it’s on you to discover it. In these letters, I hope to teach you everything you need to find it. And when I’m gone, I hope you will find the treasure that I have left you.

I know that our relationship hasn’t always been the best. And there is so much I want to say. But I want to end on what’s most important. You’re my son. My friend. And my legacy. I love you always and I always have.

No matter where you are in life, know there’s a treasure waiting to be found, as long as you learn how to see it and the first tool you need to discover treasure in any story is a compass. Fortunately, you were born with a compass, and its arrow is energy.

You see, son, you have a compass that points to the inescapable force of energy. It’s on you to discover what pulls you forward, and what makes you feel alive. Energy, like all energy, can’t be seen but can rather be felt.

And the way you feel is to notice the moments when time moves slow. To notice the moments where minutes become hours. To notice what the activities are that put an extra pep in your step and a smile on your face.

In short, your job is to notice.

Pay attention to your compass because it’s only when you’re on the right track that you can you find your treasure.

I love you and am proud of you very much.

Your father,

–         Jasper.

Omar neatly folded the letter in half and delicately tucked it away back into the envelope, unsure how to act after being brain bombed. His mind was oozing every which way, and he was surprised he didn’t have goo dripping from his ears. He stared across the restaurant, avoiding eye contact with Jasper, who was still, despite all this, this emotional fucking bomb – was drinking a diet Coke like it was any old Saturday and not a day that had one car accident. one cancer revelation and… and…

Omar fainted.

He was in black. Here but there. Near but far. And then, inconceivably, whiffs of hot sauce came in and out of his nose and burned his brain. Across the table, Jasper waved a chicken wing as if he was an air traffic controller.

And as Omar stirred, Jasper sat across with a smile on his face.

Damn – and I’m the one who’s sick.” Omar smiled again. It was all Jasper needed.

They finished their meals, tipped the waitress, and sauntered towards the front when the leprechaun-like man reappeared, now accompanied by a gang of equally peculiar friends.

Five grubby-faced men and women dressed in caps reminiscent of the 1930s encircled the cashier like a pack of hungry wolves. The leprechaun man shouted at the wide-eyed gas station attendant, “You’re going to pay me, or the boys are going to give you some trouble.” He said, as he moved his tongue over his gold tooth.

Bob crossed his arms, a disapproving smirk on his face. “I said it once, and I’ll say it again – get out of my…”

Before he could finish, one of the leprechauns swung a mini-sized bat and obliterated a box of Paydays. “Give me a break… now I gotta clean that up! ”  Bob grumbled.

Suddenly, the sound of shattering glass filled the air as a gumball machine toppled, sending colorful orbs rolling in every direction. A rogue purple gumball rolled to a stop near Jasper, who promptly scooped it up and popped it into his mouth.

“Dad?!” Omar exclaimed.

“Five-second rule,” Jasper replied nonchalantly, adding, “I wish they’d hit that Coke vending machine.”

As if on cue, one of the leprechauns’ goon’s eyes lit up, as if he just heard the best idea in the entire fucking world, and moments later, the vending machine crashed to the floor, scattering soda bottles everywhere. Jasper sneakily snatched one up, and the duo began to tiptoe around the commotion towards the exit.

“Someone’s gonna pay for that!” Bob screamed and noticed the Coke in Jasper’s hand. “That’s stealing,” he accused.

“What, this?” Jasper gestured to the bottle. “I just found it on the ground.”

“I’m calling the cops, man!” Bob said, sounding like a hippie losing his mind.

“Is it ’cause I’m black?” Jasper retorted.

Bob didn’t respond.

“Shit,” Jasper muttered, turning to Omar. “We gotta get out of here.”

Meanwhile, the leprechauns were scurrying about the store like mice in a basement, their leader shouting, “Move! Move! Move!”

As quickly as they’d appeared, was as quickly as the left. The gang made their way outside to a waiting white van with the engine running.

“Dad, they’re calling the cops!” Omar’s voice trembled with fear.

Omar cast one last glance at Bob, whose phone was glued to his ear, before they piled into the van and sped away.

Jasper’s eyes darted, and he made eye contact with the leader of the gang. “Hey, man – can we get a ride with you?”

The leprechaun man gestured towards the van, urging them to hurry. Reluctantly, Jasper pulled Omar into the vehicle.

“But… but…” Omar stuttered.

“Just get in the van!” Jasper insisted.

12 thoughts on “When Moments Become Memories

  1. I scrolled to the bottom without reading Chapter 3 so I could make this comment without seeing any spoilers. I will ABSOLUTELY read your book since I’ve been following your very entertaining blog and enjoying it immensely. Now
    to start with Chapter 1 …

  2. What a great excerpt! Love the understated humor and I thought the leprechaun gang was fun. I want to read the other 4 letters. 🙂

  3. These two are a hoot! Even though there’s a tragic element throughout, you balance it nicely with humor. Soooo hard to do. Looking forward to the rest!! (But I’m also preparing for a Terms of Endearment type of cry.) I think it’s neat that you gave a teaser to your blog followers.

    1. Thanks so much KG! Figured the best way to know if a story has legs is to test it out live! I can’t wait to read your book! Also – I actually cried writing one scene so I’m hoping I’m not the only one!

  4. Just finished Ch. 3, still love the story. Was a bit confused with some of the dialogue (I think the Bob part just needs a bit of clarification as to who’s speaking) and I caught a few glitches that were probably just typos. BTW, now that I’m so invested in this book, I’m wondering what happened to the other driver right before the accident? And why didn’t Omar or his dad get injured? These questions just mean I care about this story. I hope there’s more coming after this fantastic cliffhanger scene!

    1. Oh thank you so much for reading! These are such good notes – The goal here is to just get some reactions so I know what to improve before I take it to an editor -but this helps immensely. And I can say, the other driver does return… with a lesson.

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