Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Sean Paul Murphy, Writer
Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


Welcome to a preview of my new novel.  Please read the earlier chapters first.

Click here to read Chapter One.
Click here to read Chapter Two.
Click here to read Chapter Three.
Click here to read Chapter Four.
Click here to read Chapter Five.
Click here to read Chapter Six.
Click here to read Chapter Seven.
Click here to read Chapter Eight.
Click here to read Chapter Nine.


T H E  M O T O R C Y C L E

I headed into my bedroom to throw the dirty towels into the hamper. Then I went into the bathroom to wash my hands. There was still plenty of clean-up to do, and I fully intended to go to the electronics store to get another keyboard and mouse, but when I sat down on the edge of my bed I became deathly tired. I fell backwards and I was asleep instantly.

I was awakened by the sound of the motorcycle. Not “a” motorcycle, “The” motorcycle: Lenny’s motorcycle. 

Lenny never really owned a car. He sold cars for a living and simply borrowed cars from the dealership for personal use. On the weekends, he always rode his big Harley Davidson motorcycle for fun. It was also his primary form of transportation when he was out of his mind. The sound of that motorcycle during the middle of the week was a telltale sign that Lenny was off his meds. The roar of that engine at night always inspired dread in my mother, my sister Janet and myself. I could pick out that specific engine out of a thousand others. It was ingrained into my mind. That roar meant we would soon be wrestling Lenny to the ground and dragging him off to the hospital to be forcibly committed.

I opened my eyes just as the motorcycle pulled into the driveway. I turned to my alarm clock. It read: 3:00am. But something was wrong. That wasn’t my current alarm clock. It was the one from my bedroom in the old house. I looked around the room in the darkness. The contours of the furniture also told me that I was back in my bedroom on Rueckert Avenue, where I lived until I was thirty-one-years-old.

Bullshit, I thought. This isn’t real. It’s just another dream. I shook my head back and forth quickly and opened my eyes again. My relief was palatable when I found myself back in my apartment bedroom. I fell back in bed and pulled the blanket over me despite the fact I was still dressed from the afternoon.

Then I heard a key in the lock of my outer apartment door. I sat up. No one else had a key to my apartment except Gina, and I’m sure that wasn’t her. Probably just a drunk neighbor at the wrong door, I told myself, calming slightly.

Then I heard the door open. WTF? Who could that be? Like a scared child, I threw myself back in bed and covered myself with a blanket. A light went on out in the living room. I could see it under the bottom of my bedroom door. I heard footsteps, but they didn’t come all the way down to my bedroom. It sounded like they stopped near the kitchen. My guess was confirmed when I heard my cabinets open and close and the rattle of some pots and pans. Then the voice.

“Mom, where’s the hot dogs?”

It was Lenny, adult Lenny, with his stupid hot dogs.

When Lenny was crazy, he would disappear for days or weeks at a time only to show up in middle of night to cook some hot dogs. He’d boil them in a pot on the stove, but he invariably fell asleep before they were finished. The water would boil off and the hot dogs would start burning and the next thing you knew the smoke alarms would be ringing and the house would smell like burnt hot dogs for a week.

“Mom, where’s the hot dogs?” he shouted again, this time louder. 

“She’s dead,” I shouted back, immediately regretting it. Note to self:  You don’t shout when you’re trying to hide. It’s counterproductive to say the least.

More footsteps. This time they came directly to my bedroom door. I could see movement underneath the bottom of the door. Someone was really there because this wasn’t a dream. I had already woken up. Right?

There was a knock on the door. “You in there, man?” Lenny said.

No way was I going to answer him. My thoughts were on the door itself. Did I lock it? No. Why would I? I immediately toyed with the idea of jumping up and locking the door, but instead I just pulled the blanket the rest of the way over myself.

After another knock, the door creaked open. I heard footsteps as the person entered the room. I was shaking with fear as he stopped near my bed. “What are you doing under there, Ricky?” he asked. “Beating off?”

I stopped moving. Silence, then I heard a match being struck. I peeked out from under the blanket to see Lenny, looking more or less the way he did around the time of his death, leaning against my dresser drawers lighting up a cigarette. That was just like him. He was always so inconsiderate when he was off his meds.

“It’s a smoke free building,” I said, despite myself.

“Really? When did this stop being America?” Lenny asked, making eye contact with me as he took a puff. “I’m glad I’m dead.”

“You’re not Lenny,” I said.

“Then who am I?” 

“You’re her,” I replied: “Elisabetta Kostek.”

“The lady from the picture?”


“Ricky, you’re supposed to be the smart one. Use your head,” Lenny answered. “How would she know about The Kobayashi Maru?”

Good question, but my answer came quickly: “You can read my mind.”

“And you were thinking about The Kobayashi Maru when?”

Good point. I hadn’t thought about it since Charlie’s funeral.

“I can prove I’m Lenny,” he said.


“Ask me something you don’t know.”


“If you don’t know the answer to the question, I can’t be pulling it from your mind,” he answered. “Right?”

“But how do I know you’re not just going to make up an answer.”

“Ask me the question. I’ll give you the answer and tell you who can back me up.”

I didn’t necessary think this was a smart game to play with this person before me, but I couldn’t resist. “What happened to your motorcycle?” I asked. That was something I had wondered about. It disappeared a few weeks before his death and its fate really worried our mother because the State of Maryland was threatening to fine us a great deal of money over its missing license plates.

“At the bottom of the Gunpowder River about a mile east of Belair Road,” Lenny replied, and then he laughed. “I was really nuts then. Pete and me were doing some trails and I saw a little hill that looked like a perfect ramp. I bet Pete twenty bucks I could jump over the river. He said I couldn’t and he was right. It’s probably still there in about six feet of water. We tried to get it out, but it was wedged between some rocks. I’m lucky I didn’t die that night. Ask Pete.”

He took a contemplative drag from his cigarette. “You know, I wish I would’ve died then. That would have been a much better way to go. More fun. People would still be talking about it.”

“People still talk about you,” I said quietly.

“That’s cool,” he said, and then he added. “I liked that memorial you put online for me. Very touching.”

“You saw it?”

“Of course.”


“I have a question for you,” I said.

“Shoot,” he answered.

“If you really are Lenny, why did you try to trick me into jumping off my balcony?”

“Because you’re my brother, man, and I love you,” he said, before he turned and left the room. He called to me as he walked back toward the kitchen. “You sure you don’t have any hot dogs?”

I got up and followed him. I didn’t go into the kitchen with him. I stayed in the dining room and talked to him over the serving island. “If you love me, why do you want me to kill myself?”

Lenny stopped rummaging through my refrigerator and turned to me. “’Cause I know where you’re headed, Rick, and I’m trying to make it as painless as possible.”

“Where am I headed?”

“Insanity and death.”

“I’m not crazy,” I responded angrily. He really struck a nerve. Trust me, when you live in a family touched by multiple suicides, you constantly search yourself for any signs of madness. I had none, the last two days notwithstanding.

“Really?” Lenny said with a smile. “Then go work tomorrow and tell everyone you spent half the night talking to your dead brother. Trust me, you’ll go from employee to patient lickety-split.”

He had a point.

“Here’s the options,” Lenny explained. “One, you’re actually talking to your dead brother. That’s crazy. Two, some dead woman you took a picture of is masquerading as your dead brother. That’s really crazy. Or three, you’re sleepwalking yourself onto your balcony two nights in a row in order to jump off. That’s lock ‘em up and throw away the key crazy.”

“I’m not going out on my balcony,” I replied.

“Really?” Lenny replied. “Where do you think you are now?”

“My dining room.”

“Think again,” he replied, his expression sympathetic. “Open your eyes.”

What did he mean? I was awake. I had been dreaming, but I pulled myself out of it already. Or did I? I squinted hard, and when I opened my eyes I discovered Lenny was right. I was out on my balcony again. I was holding onto the railing and looking down ten stories toward certain death.

I backed away slowly until I reassuringly touched the outer wall of the building.

“Lenny?” I whispered, but there was no response.

Maybe he was never there, and maybe I was crazy.

Click here to read Chapter Eleven.

Copyright 2016 by Sean Paul Murphy.  All Rights Reserved.

Be sure to read my memoir The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God.

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