Join me in welcoming Lloyd A. Meeker to my blog with an Exclusive Excerpt from his newest release, Traveling Light, from DSP Publications!
About Traveling Light
An eye for an eye….
Ian McCandless is a hospice nurse, training to become a shaman. When his mentor orders him to make peace with his estranged family, Ian reluctantly agrees, anticipating another conflict-filled visit. On their way from the airport, Ian’s older brother Will interrupts a convenience store robbery and is shot. As he dies in Ian’s arms, Will begs Ian to avenge him.
Ian uses his shamanic abilities to track down the killer, but his quest soon becomes a hunt for revenge—forbidden to any shaman. His actions jeopardize his relationship with the spirit-world, endanger the lives of those he loves, and threaten to banish him from the path that gives his life meaning. Ian must choose between vengeance and service to community as the root of his shamanic covenant. Evil or noble, every choice is sacred to the Great Web, and every choice has consequences.
Ian has just broken up with his long-term lover Sam, for whom Ian’s shamanic work has always been a problem. Instead of spending the rest of the night with Sam, Ian has returned to his own apartment.
He was on his own. As long as he could remember, he’d always had someone he could call and talk to. First his parents, and then Will before he got too pushy, as if Ian was obligated to him for rescuing him from his high school harassment, then Ang or Sam. He’d always had someone else to listen to him, to help him think things through—and now he didn’t. It wasn’t as though he always had talked things over with someone else, but someone had always been there when he’d wanted to. Now there was no one, no matter how badly he might want that tonight.
Part of him, hurting, wanted to call Sam and tell him all the hocus- pocus stuff was over and that he wanted to come back over tonight, but he knew he wouldn’t. He loved Sam, and if he lost him, he’d hurt for a long time. But he’d already decided—long ago—to take the path he was on. He’d made that choice even before he’d met Sam. It hadn’t seemed so important or far-reaching then, but now it overshadowed every other aspect of his life, such as it was. And that was just the way he wanted it.
As Ian poured himself a glass of water from the filter jug, he wished vaguely that he still drank alcohol—he’d quit years ago on Ang’s instruction. No, that wouldn’t help solve anything, either. He might not get much sleep tonight, but at least he knew where he was headed— straight into the unknown, alone, and without a clue. By his choice.
Ian sat on the floor with his back against the love seat. Maybe some meditation time was in order. Yes. He’d sit in the overlapping of the worlds, declaring his rightful place in both, and let guidance come as it might.
He closed his eyes; his breathing slowed and deepened. As they had countless times before, the rich essences of the All-That-Is wove gently around and through him, supporting, nourishing, filling. Thank you, Ian sent into the silence. Thank you. Guide me, please, and help me keep open to your guidance. Please show me what I need to know to walk my path in a good way. After a while, a harmonious reassurance came—and, if not exactly peace, then at least the possibility of peace. It felt good.
When he was finished, Ian got up and got ready for bed. Eventually he slept. And dreamed.
He was happy, standing in his kitchen scrubbing carrots at the sink, whistling, and someone knocked at the door. He opened it, and the Ghost Woman floated in. She gave him a somber nod and settled at his little dining table with ankles crossed and her hands folded primly over a huge purse on her lap.
He returned to the sink to finish the carrots, with the Ghost Woman watching. He didn’t object to her presence, but he was uncomfortable with her there—as if she were reminding him of something he had promised to do but hadn’t done, couldn’t even remember what it was he’d promised or to whom. When he was done with the carrots, he didn’t know what to do with them, so he put them in a plastic bag and put them back in the fridge.
“I’m glad to see you don’t peel your carrots,” Ghost Woman said. “So much of their nutritional value is right under the skin, and you lose that when you peel them.”
“Why are you here?” he asked, slightly irritated.
There was another knock at the door, and Sam let himself in. “I brought your house keys, and I’d like mine back too.” He sat opposite Ghost Woman at the table and clacked the keys down on it. He glowered at her for a moment and then turned to Ian. “Who is this?”
“I don’t know. She’s shown up in my spirit work a couple of times now, and I have no clue about her. She’s what a journey guide called one of the unhappy dead. That’s all I know about her.”
Sam turned to Ghost Woman. “Who are you?” he demanded. “Why are you bothering Ian? Aren’t those needle tracks on your arms?”
Ghost Woman stiffened, looking suspicious. “You’re a lawyer, aren’t you?” She stared back at Sam. “I don’t like lawyers much. No imagination. Yes, they are needle tracks. Yes, I was an addict. Yes, I was a prostitute. Yes, I was a terrible mother who didn’t deserve to be one. Yes, I died from an overdose.” She snorted and shook her head. “You guys never come up with new questions, do you? You just beat the old ones to death. Ha. And now I’m the one who’s dead.”
She turned to Ian. “I have nothing more to say to him. I came to see you.”
Sam stood up impatiently. “Can I have my keys, Ian? I’ve got to go. I’m already behind schedule.”
Ian dug into his pocket and pulled the keys off his ring. Sharp finality cut through him as he dropped them into Sam’s outstretched hand. “See you soon, Sam. I hope.” Sam scowled but said nothing, stuffed the keys in his pocket, and strode out, slamming the door behind him.
“Lawyers!” Ghost Woman sniffed.
“He’s my lover—or at least he was. He’s a really fine man, so please don’t lump him in with other attorneys you may have known.” He felt the nagging unease return, the feeling he was supposed to be fulfilling some obligation but couldn’t remember what he had promised to do. “You said you came to see me?”
“Yes.” She rummaged in her purse, which had become a cavernous brocade bag, just like one Aunt Beth used to carry all the time. She pulled out a glowing life thread and held it up, looking a little confused. “I’ve been keeping this for you, but I’m not sure why.”
He reached out to touch it, but Ghost Woman yanked it away. “No. I’m still keeping it for you. I just wanted you to know, so I’m showing it to you. I thought maybe you could explain why I’ve got it.”
“What is it?” he asked. “I mean, I know it’s the thread of someone’s life, but who does it belong to?”
“It belongs to your older brother, William McCandless. I think I’ve been asked to take care of it until you are ready to have it.” Ghost Woman sniffed. “You don’t seem ready to me.”
Ian froze. “That’s Will’s life? Are you the reason I haven’t been able to find him? How dare you? What do you mean, you think you’ve been asked to take care of it? Wouldn’t you know? Besides, you have no right to decide that! That’s completely unfair!”
“Of course it’s unfair. Who do you think I am, your good fairy godmother?” Ghost Woman frowned, as if insulted. “Look, I didn’t ask for this,” she said, sounding irritated. “And I don’t really understand what it means. I didn’t want anything to do with it, but my son insisted, so now I have it. I’ll be glad when I can give it to you and be done with it.” She stared at him, her eyes full of pain. “I want this finished as much as you do.”
“Please! Just let me touch it,” he begged. His head felt swollen, heavy, about to explode. “Please let me touch my brother again.”
“Later.” Ghost Woman stuffed the glowing lament back in the bag, zipped it shut, and stood up. “When you’re ready.” She looked like she was about to cry. “I am so fucking tired of this shit. Hurry up, will you? Waiting would be killing me, except, well—you know.” She drifted through the unopened door without looking back.
Ian choked and bumped against something hard as he wrenched himself awake. He was hanging over the edge of his bed, head almost to the floor. He coughed and pushed himself back up to sag against the headboard. Taking deep breaths, he forced his thoughts to slow down. Something about this dream was true, he could tell. What if all of it were true? Ghost Woman held the thread of Will’s life and death. Even she didn’t understand why. Why was she tired of holding it? Her son gave it to her. What did he have to do with Will’s life?
With such an important problem before him, Ian ached to discuss it with Ang, but that was impossible—at least until after the twelfth. What if Ghost Woman appeared to him before then? Ian already knew the answer to that. Next time he would follow her anywhere to find his brother.
Lloyd Meeker can’t help what he writes—stories arising from the between places, the mystical overlapping between the worlds of matter and spirit, and the sentient, unpredictable beauty that dwells there. It’s his natural habitat.
Happily ensorcelled by music, subtle energy healing, and the wonders of nature, he lives with his very understanding husband in southern Florida, among friends, family, and orchids that take his breath away every morning.
In addition to his written work, which includes novels, essays, poetry and short stories, he has served since 2008 as a final-round judge in the Queer Foundation’s annual National High School Seniors Essay Contest, which promotes effective writing by, about, and/or for queer youth, and awards scholarships to the winners. Finalists are selected from schools across the United States by members of the National Council of Teachers of English.
His novel The Companion was named a finalist in the 2015 Lambda Literary Awards, and is the author of other popular titles, including Blood and Dirt, Enigma, Blood Royal, and A Cape of Good Hope Christmas.