Woodbury Avenue is my most recent work in progress. Although it is still a first draft, it is a little more than 84,000 words and 29 chapters. I began it on June 2, 2013, and finished on July 9. After gathering hundreds of comments, suggestions, questions, and other things from a group of some fabulous beta-readers, I am now in the process of revising. In my opinion, it is the best thing I have ever written. Here’s a bit of a summary. Or maybe it’s a synopsis. Not quite sure.
Woodbury Avenue is about a quiet, tree-lined street in an average suburban neighborhood. Some lovely people live there, and they have a new neighbor. Jay Ferrell (45) was chased out of his previous neighborhood for things that are not openly discussed but easily figured out.
Jay has issues. First and most obvious is a spell of OCD and an obsession with the numbers 3 and 9. He is rather fanatical about baseball, as his older brother is a former college all-star who never made it to the Majors. Most intriguing, however, is his obsession with knowing what goes on behind the closed doors of the other homes in his new neighborhood.
Directly to the right of Jay’s house is the home of Walt (70) and Betty Elliot (68), a pleasant, retired couple who are friends with nearly everyone. They also seem to know anything interesting about everyone.
Straight across the street from Walt and Betty are Carl (35) and Jenn (29). Carl is the son of Walt and Betty, and in a nearby town he owns and operates a pub called The Fire House. Carl is a volunteer firefighter in town, and Jenn is his live-in girlfriend as well as a former waitress in another bar that Carl once managed before buying his own bar. That other bar was a strip bar, and Jenn was a dancer. Or maybe, when Carl is not around, she still works the pole.
On the left side of Jay’s house is a quiet man with two teenage boys and one teen girl. When Jay first sees Jimmy Taggert (39), he’s carrying a shotgun while a dead deer is in the back of his truck. Although that shakes Jay a little, he will be far more shaken when he learns about the suspicious circumstances of the apparent suicide of Jimmy’s wife several years prior.
One more house to the right, past Walt and Betty, are Rob (28) and Annie O’Connor (26). Several times a day they can be seen walking their Pointer named “Cash” around the block. Rob is a big fan of Johnny Cash, and if you watch and listen carefully enough, you might see and/or hear Rob treating Annie worse than he treats the dog. When Jay learns how Rob treats Annie, he knows that something needs to be done about it.
Last but not least, and directly across the street from Jay, is the home of the Harpers. Steve (35) is a high school gym teacher, football coach, gym rat, and a little distant from his kids at times. David (12) and Steve Jr. (17) are both decent athletes, but no matter how good they might be, Steve Sr. will always insist they can be better. When David struggles pitching Little League baseball, it is Jay – not the boy’s father – who teaches him to pitch better and helps him to his best season ever. Steve Sr. believes sports is the way to a college scholarship, and they better not let him down. His wife Carrie (30) is a long-legged brunette and immediately catches not just the eye, not just the heart, but also the “want” and lust of Jay. At times, Steve does not pay enough attention to Carrie, but Jay will do his best to make up for it. But just how far will Jay go to give her the attention that he feels she deserves?
As Jay pays attention, too much attention to these new neighbors, we learn more about Jay’s personal problems. He certainly has compulsions about sex, but he also seems to have an attraction to children. Although it is not clear if he is a pedophile, he pays an unusual amount of attention to a few neighborhood kids, especially a blonde, 12-year old girl who often rides a scooter past his house.
From his modest home, Jay immodestly pleases himself while believing he has a right to voyeuristically delve into the pleasures of those around him. And if they are “deserving,” he plans to add to their pleasures. And if they are not “deserving,” he plans to take their pleasures away.
Woodbury Avenue is currently being revised and slightly expanded, likely to grow an addition two or three chapters, maybe another 8,000 words. I hope you have a chance to read and enjoy it. If you want to read it in its more raw, first-draft form, let me know and I can send you a .pdf file.