Authors: Kathi Kamen Goldmark
Tags: #Literary Fiction
Her Wild Oats
By Kathi Kamen Goldmark
Copyright 2014 by Kathi Kamen Goldmark
Cover Copyright 2014 by Untreed Reads Publishing
Cover Design by Ginny Glass
The author is hereby established as the sole holder of the copyright. Either the publisher (Untreed Reads) or author may enforce copyrights to the fullest extent.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher or author, except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages embodied in critical articles or in a review. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. The characters, dialogue and events in this book are wholly fictional, and any resemblance to companies and actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Her Wild Oats
Kathi Kamen Goldmark
Her Wild Oats
is dedicated to everyone who helped make its publication possible. You know who you are. Thank you.
Let us tell you a little something about Kathi Kamen Goldmark…
Kathi Kamen Goldmark was the author of the novel,
And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You
, coauthor of
Write That Book Already!
The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now
(with her husband Sam Barry) and
The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Joke Book
(with Dave Marsh). She contributed stories and essays to many other books, including
My California: Journeys by Great Writers and Single Woman of a Certain Age
. Kathi was a San Francisco Library Laureate and winner of the Women’s National Book Association Award. Kathi was also the founder of the all-author garage band, the Rock Bottom Remainders, which has raised millions of dollars for charity and includes such illustrious authors as Stephen King, Amy Tan, Scott Turow, Mitch Albom, James McBride, Roy Blount Jr., Ridley Pearson, Greg Iles, Dave Barry, Sam Barry, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Roger McGuinn, and at one time Barbara Kingsolver and Frank McCourt.
Kathi worked for every major publisher as a media escort and publicist, was director of cultural arts and adult programming at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, and producer of Sedge Thomson’s radio show
West Coast Live
As president and janitor of “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” Records, Kathi wrote and produced dozens of original songs, one of which was included in Stephen King’s miniseries
. The label’s album
Stranger Than Fiction!
includes music performed by Maya Angelou, Norman Mailer, Stephen King, Leonard Maltin, Molly Ivins, Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Robert Reich and other writers willing to sing their favorite songs for a good cause. Kathi is survived by her husband Sam Barry, son Tony Goldmark and stepchildren Daniel and Laura Barry.
Kathi always liked to think she was ready for anything.
Somehow, somewhere, my late wife Kathi Kamen Goldmark is watching me write this foreword. She is tickled pink (assuming the afterlife includes tickling and the color pink) to know that her literary agent Joelle Delbourgo found a publishing home in Untreed Reads, led by Jay Hartman and K.D. Sullivan, for this witty, wonderful novel. Of course it wouldn’t have happened if Kathi hadn’t written such a damned good story.
To know Kathi was to laugh, dream big (or at the very least risk the ambitiously absurd), often as not to fail, but no matter what, to enjoy the ride. Although she was accomplished, beautiful, and smart as a whip, she was not interested in hiding behind a façade of elitist sophistication. She did everything she could to tear that façade down, though not in a mean-spirited manner. It’s just that Kathi was genuinely as appreciative of the unheralded, neglected people of the world as she was of those who were accomplished, successful, and prominent. She made a point of getting to know just about everyone with whom she came into contact, and saw the good in them, one and all. She saw the good in me—and for that I am forever grateful.
Kathi could have used her many contacts to benefit her own interests, but that wasn’t her nature. Her passion was connecting people, and she did it better than anyone I’ve ever known. Now I want to do that for her. I want to connect Kathi, through her wonderful novel,
Her Wild Oats
, with you, the reader.
From the opening pages of
Her Wild Oats
you will note that there are no sacred cows in Kathi’s world. If you can’t laugh at yourself, then you are in trouble. But if you can, you’re in for a fun ride.
The novel features the people of the highways and byways of central California. The central character is Arizona Rosenblatt, a young woman with honey-blonde hair and green eyes who suddenly learns that her entertainment lawyer husband Jerry owns a gun, is having an affair, and is donating large amounts of their money to Jews for Jesus, a group with which they had no connection—or so she thought. Arizona does the only thing she can think of—the great American solution to sudden crisis—throwing a bag in her car and driving down the highway, with no plan or clear purpose. She’s not sure she’s leaving Jerry, but she’s also not sure she’s ever coming back.
Out on the road Arizona manages to maintain her old job while landing a waitressing gig in a local diner. There she meets the members of Bobby Lee Crenshaw’s Hell Bent and Whiskey Bound tour, a country band of lesser renown, which includes thirteen-year-old Otis Ray “Wild Oats” Pixlie, boy-genius harmonica player. Oats is on his first grown-up band tour and is trying to figure out how to be a man. When Oats discovers that his father may not be the one who raised him, he takes a page from Arizona’s playbook and runs, setting a series of events in motion that change the course of his, Arizona’s, Bobby’s, and numerous other lives.
I invite you to join Arizona, Oats, the members of Bobby Lee Crenshaw’s Hell Bent and Whiskey Bound tour, as well as a cast of eccentric characters from the entertainment business and small-town America, as they hit the road running from and in search of their destiny. Arizona and Oats are looking for respect, love, and a life that makes sense, and like many of us, they find all of this—but not in the way they expected. Kathi had a magical, whimsical way of telling a story, and in this book, she lives on.
3:11 AM: How could you be married to a guy for over three years and not know he owned a gun? Arizona Rosenblatt stared at the digital display on her bedside alarm clock, the only light in a pitch-black room. Jerry snored—the locomotive snore, not the gentle snore—beside her.
3:13: Eyes wide open, brain buzzing a mile a minute. Jerry’s behavior had been getting more and more bizarre and just last night she’d found out about the Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum. He’d brought it into their bedroom to show her, like it was a new appliance he thought she would enjoy. It was the biggest gun Arizona had ever seen up close; actually, it was the first gun she’d ever seen up close, and it was still sitting a few feet away on Jerry’s bedside table. Apparently the gun had been in the house for months, maybe longer, without her ever knowing.
They’d been watching
CSI: Des Moines
, as they often did before going to bed. On the show, someone had asked if the safety was on a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum, and Jerry went berserk.
“Everyone knows a .357 has no safety,” he’d fumed. “How could they have been so careless with their research? This used to be my favorite show, but the writing has gone to shit.”
“Oh, come on, Jerry,” she’d laughed. “Just sit back and enjoy the gritty realism of gorgeous young actors in cocktail attire playing cops.”
But he’d stomped around, downing a couple of shots to ease the pain while getting out his own .357 to show her how it was really supposed to work. She was dismayed at the discovery that there was a gun in her home, but when she tried to talk it over he’d laughed dismissively.
“I’ve owned a gun all my life, baby. It’s perfectly legal; it’s registered. What’s your problem? I’m a lawyer, an officer of the court.”
Then he’d turned out the light and gone to bed with the gun—a gun without a safety, no less—sitting there on the table.
3:17: Jerry mumbled something unintelligible and threw one hairy, muscular arm over her stomach, drawing her closer. His snores grew louder, his grip stronger. Arizona usually liked to cuddle, but tonight her husband’s arm felt like it belonged to a stranger. She tried inching away; he held on tighter. She waited. When his snoring resumed its deep, adenoidal rhythm, she slowly removed his heavy limb from across her stomach. To be safe, she lay perfectly still until she was sure he was still asleep. Then she slipped out of bed.
Arizona tiptoed downstairs and turned on the light in her brightly colored kitchen. She began warming some milk, sat down at the table, and booted up her laptop. The desktop art came into focus—a digital version of her favorite wedding photo—just as the milk began to bubble in the pan. She poured some into a mug and sat for a minute looking at the picture, wistful as she recalled their large, festive wedding at a private club in the hills above L.A. It was a happy picture, Arizona slim and tall in her embroidered Mexican wedding dress with a few simple white flowers adorning her long, honey-blonde hair; Jerry’s smiling face and muscular frame in a flamboyant red tuxedo with a ruffled shirt, his arm around her shoulders. They were surrounded by their favorite people, all laughing while raising glasses in a toast. Everyone had teased them, saying they looked like they were going to two different weddings. In fact, Jerry’s dufus brother had picked up the wrong tux at the dry cleaner’s, and there had been no time to correct things before the ceremony. Arizona sometimes wondered about the lucky prom-bound boy who’d ended up in her husband’s Armani, imagining how the wardrobe malfunction might have changed his life.
Since she was wide awake and stressed out anyway, it seemed like a perfect time to balance her checkbook, so she logged onto her online banking site and entered her password. Her paycheck direct-deposit had posted—great, and not a minute too soon. Despite the nice salary she earned as assistant to the head of Gargantuan Entertainment, lately the money had been going out faster than it was coming in. Though Arizona was sure she’d left enough in the account to cover, it looked as though her deposit had hit just in the nick of time to prevent an overdraft. Going through the last couple of days, she recognized payments to her dentist and the phone company, and a purchase at the grocery store. Then she saw the $1,750 debit. She had no memory of writing a check that size; certainly she wasn’t paid enough to forget spending that amount in one place. She clicked the “view” option and an image appeared on the screen bearing her signature, made out to a recipient whose name made her slam the mug down on the table in surprise, spraying hot milk all over her silk pajamas: pay to the order of
Jews for Jesus.
She stared at the screen, wondering how this could be—if the bank had made some kind of mistake. A closer look revealed that what had passed for her signature was in a familiar handwriting—Jerry’s. How could he have done this without asking? Hands shaking, she clicked through her statements and found several similar checks, each for over a thousand dollars. At least this explained why she’d felt so strapped lately.