Regrets often happen too late and sometimes our actions do not speak louder than words that often create situations that will come back and haunt us forever. Michael Embry presents a collection of short stories that will teach every reader many lessons in life and hopefully awaken you to the harsh realities of what happens when greed, lack of thought, regrets that are too late and rationalizing our wrong doings and lack of forethought will change the course of your life and others. Laments a book that will definitely give everyone much pause for thought.
Story One: A Brother’s Lament:
Families often go through difficult situations and when financial aid or help is needed some try to assist while others do not. Jack and Arnie were brothers. Arnie for some reason could not get a job nor keep one. Jack, being his brother, bailed him out when things got really tough. Arnie appreciated the help but when you hear this story and you learn what happens you might wonder if he didn’t have too many excuses not to forge ahead with this goal and get a job. As Jack bailed him out with 1000 dollars his friend Burl asked him to place a bet on the horses. But, Arnie did not think of the consequences involved of placing bets with money that his brother gave him to pay his bills and expecting it back from a friend that used him for his own financial purposes. When the debt was not paid and the bets were placed Burl made excuse after excuse to not pay him back. But, Arnie, in his own way, not really thinking, maybe somewhat too naïve pressed the issue and then made the biggest mistake of his life by going along with a scheme to get money that would change everything. Would you rob a bank to get money to pay your debts? Would you go along with a friend who never plans anything out and never really considers the end result?
When his brother gets him a job as a roofer, why does he forge ahead with Burl’s plan? When things get out of hand you won’t believe the end result and who winds up losing the most and how? Sometimes being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be costly. Sometimes listening to the wrong person can cost you more. Author Michael Embry presents the reader with a moral issue as to how this all might play out. When things went haywire one man left and the other went back to learn the truth about what really happened. Would you rob a bank to pay your bills? What would you do if you were Arnie once you learn the outcome of what he will be lamenting about for the rest of his life?
A Coach’s Lament
Some people are not cut out to work with kids while others are more understanding. Tommy is the captain of the basketball team and works really hard to do his best at every practice. So, why does the coach literally do a number on him during every practice that makes him rethink whether he wants to be on the team anymore? Running the practices like an army drill camp or boot camp can definitely dissuade anyone from wanting to continue working with that coach. Each time Tommy does his best and each time he thinks he is succeeding the coach not only criticizes him but puts him down in front of the rest of the team and claims if he cannot do better how will his teammates respect him. Even the assistant coach feels the strain and questions how Tommy is being treated.
Tommy decides to handle the situation head on and approaches the coach and asks to speak with him. But, this man shows his own bravado and depends he speaks in front of the team which proves to be a mistake for Tommy. With his mother on his side and definitely understanding the problem Tommy decides to quit the team and avoid the stress. What the end result is you will have to learn for yourself as Tommy and his mother decide to move to another town and live near her parents. What happens when the coach tracks him down and the end result will let the reader know that sometimes your treatment of others comes back to haunt you when you least expect it. Does the coach learn a lesson when Tommy’s decision is final? Will he ever understand that playing basketball is not army drills? Read story two: A Coach’s Lament and find out what this man will be thinking about for a long time.
A Dad’s Lament opens with a father telling his son that he should not allow another child to pick on him and he should stand his ground. There are many kids that would prefer backing away from a fight and others who will handle the situation head on. Doug is a really level headed 16 year old teen that would prefer not fighting but his father seems to feel that giving it back to the teen that is picking on him is the only way to prove he’s not a wimp. Asking for help and hoping his parents can come up with a better solution he learns that what you hope for is not what you always get. His father seems to brow beat him and comes down on him and the end result will not be what anyone expects or wants. As Doug goes to the park and sits on a swing and laments in his own way to solve the problem is mother approaches his father with other solutions that he would not consider. When things heat up in his own mind the solution will change not only his life but that of the bully too? Read this story and find out what happens when a teen has nowhere to turn and the end result is a Father who will do more than just lament over the bad choices made.
The stories in this book teach many lessons that adults and parents can learn. Money is something that can cause people to do things that are not smart. Bullying in school is wrong and handling a fight with a fight equally as wrong and parents need to listen to their kids when they ask for help. Coaches need to know that playing on a team can be competitive but basically kids should be having fun. When the element of fun turns into the element of disgrace and fear find out what one wise young man does. An ending that will certainly bring chills down your spine and a father that will never be the same. Pressuring young children/teens into using their hands inside of their minds and intelligence to deal with a bullying can sometimes being catastrophic results.
A Drinker’s Lament is next as we meet a group of friends that are drinking in a local bar and concerned over one friend named Dylan that had too much. Leaving the bar he gets into his car and speeds down the freeway not really focused. Traveling at a high speed another car comes around and he winds up flipped over and the car bursts into flames. The following morning Dylan goes to check on his friend Marty to learn that he died in a crash the night before. Not really focused on what happened and hoping to learn more he questions his friends and they await Marty’s parents. But, what happens next will surprise you as Dylan handles the situation, learns more about the accident and someone notices his car and what they realize you will have to learn for yourself. Dylan’s lesson in life might be short lived and those that might discover the truth will have to decide how to deal with it. Will they figure it out? Read A Drinker’s Lament and find out that will be thinking about what and why?
When someone expresses grief for or about something they lament. In the first story the brother will lament what happens to someone he cared about and was always there for him. In this last story when they realize the truth many will deplore or lament the senseless act that caused a young man’s death and in the Dad’s lament the father laments his grievous act towards his son and the sorrow he expresses and regret will linger on with him forever. The next story is a Father’s Lament. Not everyone is cut out to do every job. But, Jake is 22 and seems to be floundering and his father comes down hard and wants him to become responsible and a man. Thinking about his many options and not really finding anything he decides to join the military. The branch of choice the National Guard and that is where the rest of the story begins. Training camp goes well and then his unit is called up. His father is concerned about the bills, Jake helping his family with their expenses and never realizes the gravity of his decision. Jake is sent overseas and what happens will definitely make a father think about what he asked his son to do and the choices that some young men make at their own expense. Just what will be this man’s final lament find out when you read this story.
A Friend’s Lament is truly a heartbreaking story that will give readers much pause for thought as we meet Esther and Lorraine two best friends. Lorraine lives alone in a neighborhood that Esther thinks is dangerous. Geraldine, Lorraine’s daughter agrees and together they try and convince her to move. But, no one realizes that she is happy there and her life with her late husband was there and all of the memories too. When Esther decides to present Lorraine with something she hopes will keep her safe she never expects the outcome that will teach many a long and hard lesson. What happens next will definitely bring tears to your eyes and the end result might not be what it seems or appears to be. One woman just wants to live her life where she wants another thought she was being a friend. Find out the end result when you read this story and decide who should be lamenting and why.
A Grandpa’s Lament follows and the story focuses on smoking and a young child who emulates him. The next is a Husband’s Lament focusing on a family who seems to go out of their way ignoring each other and not really caring about the needs of anyone but themselves. The father seems preoccupied with his job, the mother with her new focus on losing weight and her children into their own things. When the father requests his son turn down the music or else find out what the response is and find out what happens when parents do not pay attention to their children or each other. The next story focuses on teenage pregnancy and what happens when one young teen tries to talk to her mother who seems unyielding in many respects. Wanting to make her parents understand that she would like to be allowed to take birth control pills, Becky’s argument for the most part is on deaf ears. With a father who seems to understand her and a mother who rarely listens except to her own side, the end result is definitely not uncommon but with one twist. Some girls in order to please a boyfriend give in to their wishes and demands. Becky is not different and she and she alone suffers more than just the consequences of her actions. When her parents learn the truth what happens will definitely not endear you one of them and harden you to the cold facts that some parents need to lift the barriers and really listen to their children when they speak. This is a story that should teach parents and teens some very important lessons. As the book closes with A Sister’s Lament. Hannah and Mildred are sisters and live together. Mildred seems self-centered and Hannah lets her know it. What happens between them is not uncommon as they bicker, yell and scream and one sister goes about her business and the other eats a sandwich. The end result of this simple act will surprise the reader and the final outcome will leave one sister thinking about her last words before learning the truth.
Each story is unique unto itself and each teaches a simple lesson in life yet one that many never realize needs to be learned. Read Laments and hopefully you will come away with the lessons imparted by the author and learn from the mistakes of those that lived them.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer