Which road will you and your hero take?
February 16, 2014
This is the story of two men and a crossroad.
It doesn’t matter.
It could even be a story about two women.
That wouldn’t make any difference either.
The two men were a lot alike and came from similar backgrounds.
Both had been raised in small town America.
One in New England.
The other in Utah.
Both had seen and felt the torment of broken marriages.
Their parents had divorced. They had, too.
One after eight years.
One after five.
Both men had graduated from college.
Both had white-collar jobs.
One was an accountant.
The other was a bank cashier.
They attended church. One was Baptist. The other was Methodist.
One coached Little League baseball. One coached peewee football.
One was black. One was white.
None of it made any difference.
If one of the men looked in the mirror, he could see the face of the other even if they had never met.
So much alike.
But then they came to a crossroad that neither expected.
Both were ambitious. Both had aggressive personalities.
Each of them wanted a larger house.
Each of them lusted after a bright red sports car.
They couldn’t afford either one anymore, and, without warning, their ex-wives were in court again, demanding higher alimony payments.
Where would they get the money, and how much would they need to get?
The judge said they needed a lot of it.
The gavel fell.
They looked up and saw a crossroads running in two different directions.
One man took on a second job and worked fourteen hours a day.
He was tired.
He was boring.
He no longer felt young.
He would rather sleep than go to a party.
All he did was work.
Day and night, he worked.
The other didn’t believe he had time wait.
He wanted the money quick.
He wanted it now.
He was bright. He was alert. It surprised him to find that he was also crooked.
He figured out his own math to manipulate the books.
Skim a little money here. Embezzle a little there.
Don’t worry. He would pay it back someday.
After all, it was only money.
He was neither tired nor boring.
Just throw a party, and he would be there.
He bought the big house. He drove the hot sports car.
He found a trophy wife, barely old enough to go to the prom.
He wore his new wife on his arm like a piece of expensive jewelry.
She wore the big rocks, and they were all real.
All the man did was play.
Day and night, he played, until the day was no different from the night.
There they were, the same kind of men confronted with the same problem. They took two different roads.
One was rich the day he went to prison.
He had lost his wife and money by the time he walked out, wearing a cheap suit and cheaper shoes.
The other was never rich.
Every day he was the victim of the same old grind.
No time for girls.
His girlfriend walked out when he forgot that February had Valentine’s Day.
He never tasted the good life.
But then, he never tasted prison food either.
One had the money and lost it.
One had his freedom and kept it.
That’s the way it is in life. That’s the way it is in a good novel.
Either one of them could be the hero. Either one of them could turn out bad.
Finding out who is who and which road they will travel is what makes a good book good.
With apologies to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Stephen Woodfin, Show me a hero, and I will write a tragedy.
Show me a tragedy, and I will find a hero.
Show me a hero, and I know where the tragedy begins.
Someone always takes the wrong road.
Please click the book cover image to read more about Caleb Pirtle and his books. In Deadline News, the crossroads are filled with characters both good and bad.