There is nothing quite so exasperating as carrying a story around in your soul for 37 years and not being able to get it all down on paper. Such is the case with a story I have finally written called THE SMALL HOURS. In its various partial iterations, it was called FIRST PRESS and GALVEZ GOLD, but the current and final title seemed best, given the subject matter.
And the subject matter is this: During and after the Spanish Civil War, various Leftists, wanted by the Right, hid out from their potential captors in attics, false walls, "spider holes" in the ground, and any number of ingenious locales. Now, this made good sense during the war (1936-1939), but what about after peace was declared and Francisco Franco had emerged the victor? The Left did not trust Franco and the Right, still doesn't to this day, even though the dictator died in 1975. The reason for this lack of trust being that more than once Franco declared an amnesty for enemies of the state, ostensibly allowing those folks to return to their home towns and resume their lives. The first time many took advantage of the offer only to be rounded up and summarily executed. To be fair, Franco did offer one final period of amnesty a few years before his death and this time people were not jailed or killed. But who could trust the man?
When Mary and I, along with out children, moved to Spain in 1981, one of the first things we learned in the village of Macharaviaya was that a man had come out of hiding in the next village. Not only had the war been over since 1939, but Franco had been dead for six years. Such is the power of institutional fear. I was immediately captivated by this news and have held onto it ever since. I learned about these men, called topos, or moles who had been springing up since Franco's death. I thought about their families, having to worry about children innocently spilling the secret on some soccer field or schoolyard. I thought about those very families missing out on their loved one's company, of mothers never getting to sit in the town square with their sons. I thought of siblings without their brothers. But most of all, I cooked up the idea of what it must have been like for the protectors of these men, the ones who kept them alive while they whiled away their lives in hiding. Was there love coupled with grief? Was their irony coupled with courage? And what would life underground be like if the man didn't really want to be involved in the war in the first place?
I'm hoping you all will get to find out as I currently search the internet for an agent who hopefully can sell this manuscript to the appropriate editor who in turn will work his/her magic and make the novel available to the public at large. I believe it is the best piece of fiction I've ever written. William Saroyan was right. You can't really call yourself a writer until you've put down one million words. I am a better writer than I was several million words ago and THE SMALL HOURS proves it. I just hope you get the chance to decide for yourselves.