"The Carriage Driver 3" by Mike Friedman, Book Review
In this third in a series of short stories about the afterlife, Fiction Award-winning author, Michael Friedman, continues to delight his readers with glimpses into what might await us in our next life among the stars.
These short stories serve to reassure the reader concerning those who have made the journey to the other side telling of travels guided by Captain Griffin Chaffey, the carriage driver with his noble stead, Nuelle.
The book opens with a story about a man and his six-year-old Labrador Retriever, who, after losing her master, makes a new acquaintance and finds a new life. For pet lovers that wonder what will happen to our pets should we depart first, this tale gives a sense of peace that all will be well with the creatures we leave behind.
Have you ever wondered what Heaven would be like? For those who have, this collection of stories offers new glimpses into the realm of possibilities. If presented with an eternity to live, the reader must only choose their destination in which to live out their dreams.
The stories in this book talk about those who've demonstrated a spirit of love and caring during their lives. For these folks who've crossed over, there awaits a better place that matches their talents, interests and desires. For those that promote evil and nefarious deeds, there also awaits a destiny. That is, if you believe The Promise.
For me, this book has proved to be of great comfort when a loved one passes away, something that as we grow older, seems to happen more frequently. With this sobering realization comes the importance of making the most out of life and poses the question, "Who goes to Heaven and why?"
Through these stories we meet Nichole, Ann, Magruder, Betty Lou, John, Annie, Paula; professors, farmers, hippies, pilots and soldiers, children, mothers, brothers and blue-bellied warriors. Some have seen nearly a century of life, balancing their toils with joys, dancing their way across the years while others are plucked early from life by the ruthless, murderous spawn of Satan. They're from Texas, Florida, New Concord, Pakistan; north and south, east and west. They've explored the Euphrates and the deserts. They represent folks from every walk of life. Each story has a character to which we can feel a bond, a familiarity and presence of someone we knew or held close.
"When I was arrested I was dressed in black."
I Think I'll Run
In this story, the reader meets a character quick with a practiced smile and devil blue eyes whose penchant and passion included illegitimate schemes for making money. It seems every family has one of these characters that operate the "small cons, even on members of his family."
This particular stocky man, fond of wearing black and tons of gold jewelry, thinks he is in charge of the destiny of others even in the afterlife.
"There would be hell to pay," and his self-assured promises were put to the test when Dottie’s name appeared in “the book.”
What happens to you does not define you."
A Woman Like Me
Anyone familiar with Goth or Emo can relate to the story about Lisa whose wardrobe consists of a black leather jacket with silver studs, heavy black boots and layers of mask applied over many years. She wears layers of darkness to distance herself and to pull “the cloak of fear” about her.
After she manages to escape on Nuelle, she's comforted by the oracles that take her under their wings. Later, at Elysian fields, they render aid along with a heavy dose of much-needed healing.
The story of Louise tugs hard on my heart strings as it reminds me of my mother's sister, my maiden aunt whose life purpose was one of gentle simplicity, of kindness and charitable actions. In the story, Louise transcends a life where her mobility has been restricted and after a life of active sports, dancing and grace, she's confined to a wheelchair. Her vision has been taken away by age-related Macular Degeneration, and at the age of ninety-seven, she's removed from even the simple pleasures of reading, playing bingo or watching her favorite game shows.
Her transition to the afterlife includes the gift of a brand new pair of emerald green, t-strap dancing shoes fit for a ballroom. Like Cinderella, she's transformed from her former diminished self into a new and enchanting world of music and song finding herself in a great hall filled with handsome and willing dance partners where they twirl under a galaxy of glittering stars.
We played our music. It was a protest. . .Our generation did not want to think about war or the bomb."
Every day the news seems to bring word of the passage of one of our modern musical heroes. From Elvis, to Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Tom Petty, the stars are falling from the sky like raindrops. This story highlights a young performer, Chuck Berry, who drew the hordes of youth out onto the dance floor stepping to his tunes. He brought "generations of teenagers together."
When his time came to take the carriage ride to the stage in the sky he reminisced about meeting Elvis, and how the influence of the Beatles, Marvin Gaye and Otis changed the world.
Captain Griffin Chaffey and his trusty steed, Nuelle, travel the skies, transporting dearly departed souls to the destination of their wishes, sharing an apple and small talk while we eavesdrop into their journeys, gleaning a fragment of hope and solace in our hours of need.
It's a book in which the reader will find comfort and hope. This is a book to be shared and treasured; a book that explores “our deepest desires for an afterlife free from the stress and constraints of our earthly bonds.”
© 2018 Peg Cole