This is an important and timely question explored in the highly acclaimed spiritual novel, SNOOZE: A STORY OF AWAKENING, winner of the 2015 National Indie Excellence Award for New Age Fiction.
Written with young adult and young-at-heart readers in mind, SNOOZE further proved its literary merit by being selected as a 2016 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Finalist in the Young Adult-Coming of Age category and receiving an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Beach Book Festival Prize competition in the General Fiction category.
You’re invited to join—either with eyes or ears—Max Diver, a.k.a. “Snooze,” along the razor’s edge of a quest to rescue his astronaut father from a fate stranger than death in the exotic, perilous Otherworld of sleep.
This inspiring tale interweaves a plethora of paranormal and metaphysical subjects, from Bigfoot and enlightenment to the Loch Ness Monster and time travel via the Bermuda Triangle.
In her review of SNOOZE published in INDIE SHAMAN Magazine, June Kent had this to say about what she described as “superlative fiction”: “Engrossing, entertaining and occasionally humorous, SNOOZE also takes a look at a wide range of subjects including levitation, telepathy, lucid dreaming, spirit animals, parallel universes and shamanic-like journeying, giving a wide range of information effortlessly absorbed as you enjoy the story as well as much food for thought.”
Naturally, your generous review would be greatly appreciated even if you simply enjoy the full text now being presented on this blog and numerous podcast platforms. Keep in mind that paperback and ebook versions are for sale. A complimentary online version is also available for your reading pleasure.
SNOOZE: A STORY OF AWAKENING
By Sol Luckman
It was just before seven, according to his alarm clock, when Max wandered through the house in his pajamas, disoriented by his dream of meeting another Max, in search of his father.
He looked for him in the kitchen, the living room, the study, the guest bedroom where Aunt Nadine stayed when babysitting, even the garage—but Captain Diver was nowhere to be found.
As a military man, his father had always been an early riser, which explains why it occurred to his son last that he might still be in his bedroom. Silently gliding across the carpet barefoot, that was where, unnoticed, Max discovered him.
At that early hour, his father had no reason to suspect he wasn’t alone. He was seated, dressed in jeans and a blue Naval Academy T-shirt, on the bed beside his wife’s old Seward trunk, its hinged lid open to reveal its contents, staring, lost in memory, at her Egyptian scarab hairpin in his palm.
The scene sucker-punched Max. He never saw it coming. It encapsulated in one poignant instant the tragic beauty of his family history. Still disoriented by his dream, his emotions nearly got the best of him—and he instinctively sucked in his breath to keep from sobbing.
His father heard the sound and turned, only mildly surprised, still lingering over thoughts that had to be that much more bitter in the end for being so sweet at the beginning, to examine his son in the doorway.
“Sorry for disturbing you, Dad.”
“She was wearing this when I first saw her,” said his father in a distant voice. “Sort of to the side of her head in that amazing hair of hers.”
Max didn’t know what to say. He had never heard his father speak with such tender honesty about his mother. “I can come back, if you like.”
“That’s okay. I was just … having a moment. Forgive me. I tend to miss her this time of year especially.”
“Me, too. Even though I never knew her.”
“You’re just like her. Brilliant. Headstrong. Different.”
“Hey, variety’s the spice of life,” Captain Diver said as he carefully replaced the hairpin, latched the lid, and slid the trunk back beneath the bed. “You’re up early.”
“I couldn’t sleep.”
“You couldn’t sleep?”
“Okay. I had a bad dream.”
“Another one, huh?”
“Care to talk about it?”
“Ravenous. But not for oatmeal.”
“I was afraid you’d outgrow my oatmeal someday,” his father said, only half-jokingly. “Why don’t you grab a shower, brush your teeth, and put some clothes on.”
“Where are we going?”
“Out to breakfast.”
“That’s for me to know and you to find out.”
A little over an hour later, having parked the Jeep downtown, Captain Diver led his son the length of an alleyway into a hole-in-the-wall restaurant whose fluorescent sign in the window read Juanita’s.
“What is this place, Dad?” asked Max, looking around the packed, miniature dining room that smelled of decades of cigars, strong coffee, pork fat, black beans, and rice.
“This place, my friend, serves the finest Cuban food outside Cuba.”
“I thought it was illegal for Americans to visit Cuba because of the embargo.”
“Have you ever been to Cuba?”
“Hola, cómo estás, Thomas?” exclaimed a full-bodied Hispanic lady with graying hair in a bun on seeing Max’s father at the register.
“Muy bien, Juanita. Muchas gracias,” replied Captain Diver in perfect Spanish. “Y usted?”
“Muy bien, gracias.”
“Ocupada, como siempre?”
“Sí, como siempre.”
“This is my son, Max.”
“Qué rico!” exclaimed Juanita, who, turning to Max, spoke in English with a thick accent. “You look exactly like her! I loved your mother!”
A formica table beside the window was just opening up. With a whistle to the busboy, Juanita saw that it was cleared and wiped clean, then seated Captain Diver and Max herself. “I’ll be right back with your menus,” she said.
Max had no idea what to expect when his father said he was taking him to breakfast. Certainly, he didn’t see this coming—any of it. “I had no idea you spoke Spanish,” he said. “Not like that anyway.”
“It’s a little rusty, I’m afraid.”
“Where did you learn?”
“Off the record?”
“If it has to be.”
“Here are your menus,” said Juanita, reappearing and disappearing in a flurry to greet two new customers at the door.
“How do you even know about this place?” asked Max.
“Oh, I’ve been coming here nearly twenty years, ever since I entered the space program. This was where I brought your mother on our first date. We used to eat here regularly.”
“I wish I could have been a fly on the wall listening to your first face-to-face conversation.”
“It was pretty one-sided, I’m afraid. She mostly talked and I mostly listened. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.”
Juanita reappeared to take their orders. Max realized he hadn’t even glanced at the menu.
“Un momento, por favor,” said Captain Diver.
“What was Mom’s favorite breakfast dish?” asked Max.
“We used to order a medley. Would you like me to order the same for us?”
“That would be great.”
“Okay, Juanita. Nos gustaría tostadas … croquetas … fufu … jugo de mango …”
“… café cubano … y café con leche.”
Max was amazed to hear such fluent Spanish coming out of his father’s American mouth. There was clearly a lot more to this man, in any number of ways, than met the eye.
When Juanita was gone, and the busboy had brought ice water with lime, Max asked, “What did you order for us?”
“Buttered and toasted Cuban bread, for starters.”
“Sounds good. What else?”
“Ham croquetas, which are breaded and fried creamed ham rolls.”
“And fufu, a dish made with green plantains, onion, and in this case bacon.”
“I’m glad we’re not watching our weight.”
“Yes, let’s give thanks for having been born with high metabolisms. I also ordered mango juice and coffee. I hope you like everything.”
“I’m sure I will.”
“I guess you’re wondering why I’ve asked you here today?”
“Is that supposed to be a joke?”
“No. You are wondering, aren’t you?”
“Well, I have a pretty good idea. There are at least two reasons. First, you want to know about my fight at school.”
“And you also spoke with Dr. Morrow.”
“Is there another reason?”
“Yes. But it’s about me. We’ll get to that.”
“Fair enough. You want to start with the fight?”
Max recounted the bizarre episode in its entirety, from start to finish, pulling no punches, literally or figuratively. Just as he finished, Juanita brought black café cubano for Captain Diver and creamy café con leche for him. “Try it before adding sugar,” she said. “It’s already muy dulce.”
Being unaccustomed to coffee of any kind, Max feared he might not like it—and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was delicious. “It’s excellent,” he said, blowing across the steaming liquid and taking another sip.
“Not too sweet?” asked Juanita.
“Just sweet enough.”
“So how’s your eye this morning?” asked Captain Diver when they were alone again.
“It doesn’t look too bad. And the ribs?”
“You think we should get them checked out?”
“No. They’ll be fine.”
“So what did Doug look like?”
“Not so good. Though I didn’t exactly stick around to ask how he was doing.”
“What if I told you you broke his collarbone?”
“Broke? You can’t be serious!”
“Ah, but I am.”
“How do you know?”
“A little bird told me.”
“Come on, Dad. Get real.”
“Let’s just say news travels fast on the naval grapevine. Captain Biggins and I go way back.”
“Who’s Captain Biggins?”
“Doug’s father. As if he needed another reason to hate me.”
“Why does he hate you?”
“He was passed over when I was selected to become an astronaut. That kind of snub can run deep in a career military man.”
The proverbial light bulb flashed on in Max’s mind. “So that’s why Doug likes to pick on me so much,” he said.
“That would be my guess. Though not anymore, I’d wager.”
“No, not anymore. Thank God. Is he okay?”
“They set the bone. He’ll be okay when it heals up. Max, have you been studying any kind of martial art I don’t know about?”
“And you’re absolutely sure this … astral body beat him up like that?”
“Positive. Tuesday saw it, though I don’t think anybody else did. She can vouch for me.”
“She doesn’t have to. I believe you.”
“Because of what Dr. Morrow said about me?”
“Let’s just say my conversation with Dr. Morrow was … eye-opening.”
Juanita returned bearing several plates of exotic food and two frothing glasses of fresh mango juice. “Buen provecho!” she said.
“Muchas gracias, Juanita!” said Captain Diver.
“Eye-opening?” asked Max. “How?”
“I don’t have all the technical language. Basically, he said the readings from your brain that night in the hospital were indicative of someone with highly advanced psychic ability. It’s the kind of thing observed in people exhibiting telekinesis, or the ability to move objects with the mind. Have you ever heard of remote viewing?”
“You mean where the government employs specially trained psychics to access classified information by spying at a distance?”
“How do you know about that?”
“I read a book about it.”
“That’s one application of the technique.”
“Is that what Dr. Morrow’s really involved in?”
“What makes you say that?”
“Come on, Dad. Do you think I’m so naïve as to believe the Navy sponsors research in sleep disorders?”
Captain Diver laughed. “Hard to believe you’re not even twelve. Yes, off the record. Dr. Morrow would appreciate the chance to study you a bit more.”
“At least, he doesn’t think I’m crazy.”
“No, he doesn’t think you’re crazy. I don’t either. Eat up before your food gets cold.”
On his father’s suggestion, Max tried dipping the tostadas in his café. Then he tried the croquetas and fufu, which he particularly liked.
“Better than oatmeal?”
“Much better. It’s delicious. Especially the fufu.”
“That was your mother’s favorite.”
“You say Dr. Morrow wants to study me?”
“That was his word. I don’t think he meant in any sort of invasive way.”
“Why? So he can determine if he wants to train me to be his little spy monkey?”
“Not to my knowledge. Perhaps he could glean things from you that could help him train others. Look, I wouldn’t be bringing this up if I didn’t think it’s an opportunity to learn more about who you are.”
“Who I am?”
“You know, what’s going on with your … abilities. Dr. Morrow could help you .. control them better. Or do you want to go around breaking people’s collarbones forever?”
“Very funny. We’re talking about someone who works for the same government that won’t even let Americans visit Cuba, Dad. Officially.”
“I realize that.”
“This same government, the one you work for, puts toxic fluoride in the water supply. This glass of water,” said Max, holding his glass up to the light from the window, “contains poison. And we’re just supposed to drink it, no questions asked.”
“What’s your point?”
“I thought this was a free country, Dad.”
“It is a free country.”
“Maybe for some. Don’t get me wrong: I respect your patriotism because it’s obviously genuine. But why would I, knowing what I know, want to help people who insist on hurting other people?”
Max, who considered himself a pacifist, found himself in the middle of his second fight in less than twenty-four hours. In many ways, this one was even worse than a fistfight, because he had never so much as argued with his father.
Captain Diver, though his son’s words had to sting, took them on the chin like a man. He downed half his glass of mango juice and said, “I respect your opinions, even if I don’t agree with all of them. I also know it’s easy to be idealistic when we’re young. But the world, Max, is run by pragmatists.”
“Do you think my mother believed it was a good thing for the world to be run by pragmatists?”
“No. I’m quite aware she believed just the opposite. But I loved her. And I love you. That’s why I do what I do.”
“I know. I love you, too, Dad.”
“I know. You certainly don’t have to see Dr. Morrow, if you don’t want to.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“I appreciate that. There’s no pressure, though. This needs to be your decision.”
“Thanks. That means a lot.”
“Which brings us to the third reason I brought you here today.”
Before Captain Diver could continue, Juanita swung by to check on them. “You like the food?” she asked the boy.
“It’s great,” said Max.
“Muy bien. Más agua aquí, José!” she called to the busboy, who promptly refilled their nearly empty glasses.
“I gather it wasn’t to sample Cuban food,” said Max, picking up where his father had left off.
“Not exactly. I’m thinking about … dating again.”
“I haven’t been out with a woman since I dated your mother.”
“I noticed that.”
“I’m sure you did.”
“I guess I wasn’t ready.”
“And now you are?”
“As of this morning, yes, I believe so. I’d like to ask out Maizy, if it’s okay with you.”
Max thought there was no way he could be surprised over breakfast more than he already was—but he was wrong. “Maizy? As in, Tuesday’s mother?”
“I understand if this feels a little weird.”
“It’s not that. It’s just … you two are very different.”
“Don’t forget, Max, I married your mother.”
“I realize that. But Maizy …. Dad, she’s a witch.”
“I don’t mean she’s ugly. To the contrary. I mean she’s an actual witch.”
“I think the more politically correct term is pagan.”
“Well, you’ll have to sort out the semantics with her.”
“So do I hear a tacit yes?”
“You don’t need my permission, Dad.”
“No. But I do want your blessing.”
“Then you have it.”
“Are you sure?”
“I wouldn’t want you to feel I’m doing anything to dishonor your mother’s memory.”
“Look, I think it’s a wonderful idea, really, so long as you’re up for a little mind expansion. I think Mom wouldn’t wish you to be alone indefinitely. And you’re not that old.”
“Ha, ha. We could go on a double date. Me with Maizy, you with Tuesday.”
“Don’t push your luck, Dad.”
Father and son smiled at one another, comically yet with genuine affection. After years of skimming along the surface with respect to their shared past, Max had the sensation they had finally, like the name they also shared, dived beneath the water’s surface—and it wasn’t nearly as cold as he had feared.
Copyright © Sol Luckman. All Rights Reserved.
Introducing Sol Luckman’s new visionary novel, CALI THE DESTROYER. Learn about the single most censored story in the history of the human race—and why it matters today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sol Luckman is a pioneering ink and acrylic painter whose work has been featured on mainstream book covers, the fast-paced trading game BAZAAR, and at least one tattoo on a female leg last sighted in Australia.
Sol is also an acclaimed author of fiction, nonfiction, and humor. His books include the international bestselling CONSCIOUS HEALING, which you can read free online, and its popular sequel, POTENTIATE YOUR DNA, available in English and Spanish.
Sol’s popular book of humor and satire, THE ANGEL’S DICTIONARY: A SPIRITED GLOSSARY FOR THE LITTLE DEVIL IN YOU, received the 2017 National Indie Excellence Award for Humor and was selected as a Finalist in the Humor category of both the 2018 International Book Awards and the 2018 Best Book Awards.