Who is Responsible?

Who is responsible for determining one’s course in life? Like many philosophical enigmas, the question seems straight forward enough. But I ask you, do we make our decisions based on an internal moral compass? If so, is that compass ours by nature or is it engrained in our being by habit and self, societal, and parental corrections? In regard to the societal aspect, what role does social learning play in determining our actions? Do we respond to peer interactions by adjusting our own value system on the basis of the input and desires of those around us? Are we morally pure at birth only to be morally corrupted (or resist said corruption) by the influence of others? If we are born pure, is there an absolute good known intuitively by us— an internal moral compass? If so, why do many people choose not to do the good when they know it is the morally correct course? Alternatively, what if we lack free will? What if our actions are predetermined by fate or predestination or some law(s) of physics, rendering us helpless to change the course in any manner to any degree that influences the final outcome of our direction? Is the human condition a battle between good and evil forces and if so what are the faces of good and evil?

Jurisprudence concerns aside, the answers to the above stated philosophical problem impact the psychological well-being of most of us, for the greatest human dilemma is this: We look back on poor decisions and regret them; we look forward to the future and fret with considerable anxiety over what is the right course of action to take.

Like most of us, Samuel Blaney, the protagonist of this novella, is living this dilemma. Things began innocently enough, but early on in life’s course he was diverted, side-tracked if you will, to a tragic path. He blamed himself for circumstances beyond his control, damaged his self-esteem, rebelled against authority, turned to crime and self-abusive behavior in his attempt to cope with his guilt, fears, and loss of hope. And now, Daniel “Pockets” Blaney is heading home from his troublesome sojourn in the North of Ireland, having has placed his own tumultuous life on hold in order to expedite final arrangements for his youngest brother, Teddy, who having lived his entire adult life estranged from the rest of the family, is now nearing his end. While travelling aboard The Wall Street train from Newark to Birmingham Junction, an epiphany unearths the root of Pockets’ self-destructive lifestyle, setting his life back onto the right track.

 

Update: Ride The Crusader

Updated 6 Sept 2018

As summer draws to its close, I continue daily work on the novella formerly entitled Clattering and now dubbed Ride The Crusader. As things now stands, I anticipate that story will run about 60-80 pages in length. With this in mind, I have elected to publish the story minus the memoirs described below. They will instead appear in a future publication.

 

I have yet to complete any of the other shorter stories and memoirs, although most are now outlined. Some of my never before published photos are ready, but several needed for the travelling nurse interview have yet to be scanned. We hope to meet to me with Virginia next week to do so, and to also finish the interview proper. Ten or so questions yet remained unanswered. She has quite a few 35mm slides from her railroad days, and also a collection of photos and handouts from their annual reunions, which were held in Florida in the years following the end of the travelling nurse era.

Peace,

Bill

CLATTERING & other tales of the rails

Greetings.

I am currently working on a novella entitled Clattering, to be published the summer of 2018. In addition to the novella Clattering, this collection includes short stories and memoirs about the Penn Central, Conrail, and AMTRAK railroads and also an exclusive interview with Virginia Hulick, a retired traveling nurse who served on the Florida to New York trains of the Seaboard Air Line, Seaboard Coastline, and AMTRAK railroads.  The story collection incorporates several period photographs of the Penn Central, Conrail and AMTRAK railroads.

Clattering is the first of three sequels to my Irish historical fiction novel Six Counties Sevens Sins. Brian “Pockets” Blaney is heading home from a troublesome sojourn in the North of Ireland. He has placed his own tumultuous life on hold in order to expedite final arrangements for his youngest brother, Teddy, who lived estranged from the rest of the family. While travelling aboard The Wall Street train from Newark to the family home Birmingham Junction, an epiphany unearths the root of Pockets’ self-destructive lifestyle, thus setting his life back onto the right track.

Clattering Cover