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Authors: Mary Kay Leatherman

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Vanity Insanity

BOOK: Vanity Insanity
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For a story depicting such a seemingly ordinary life, Leatherman’s novel packs a punch. The carousel of themes-abandonment, abuse, adultery, death, depression-keeps the plot lively ... A realistic, captivating portrayal of a man’s life in full.”
Kirkus Review

“Mary Kay Leatherman is truly a gifted writer.
Vanity Insanity
is a deep, fabulous and fun read. I really could not put it down. Readers will recognize themselves in the various relationships and situations in this story about growing up. Mary Kay powerfully deals with life’s issues. At the same time, she shows the impact that faith and spirituality have on one’s growth and personal development, ultimately, bringing freedom and peace to a person. Enjoy—as much as I did!”
Father Tom Fangman, pastor of Sacred Heart Church and CEO of CUES in Omaha, Nebraska

This book is a work of fiction. Names, character, places, and incidents either are product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2013 Blue Wave Press

All rights reserved.

American Pie

Words and Music by Don McLean

Copyright © 1971, 1972 BENNY BIRD CO., INC.

Copyright Renewed

All Rights Controlled and Administered by SONGS OF UNIVERSAL, INC.

All Rights Reserved Used by Permission

Reprinted by Permission of Hal Leonard Corporation

You’re So Vain

Words and Music by Carly Simon

Copyright ©1972 C’est Music

Copyright Renewed

All Rights Administered by BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

All Rights Reserved Used by Permission

Reprinted by Permission of Hal Leonard Corporation

Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot

Music and Lyrics by Sting

Copyright © 1996 STEERPIKE LTD.

Administered by EMI MUSIC PUBLISHING LIMITED

All Rights Reserved International Copyright Secured Used by Permission

Reprinted by Permission of Hal Leonard Corporation

Dancing Queen

Words and Music by Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Stig Anderson

Copyright © 1977 UNIVERSAL/UNION SONGS MUSIKFORLAG AB

Copyright Renewed

All Rights in the United States and Canada Controlled and Administered by UNIVERSAL - SONGS OF POLYGRAM INTERNATIONAL, INC. and EMI GROVE

The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America
by Bill Bryson

Copyright © 1989

All Rights Reserved by HarperCollins Publishers

Grateful acknowledgement is given to the following for permission
to reprint the photos in the insert:

Courtesy of Saint Pius Parish and School:
here
and
here
, all photos.
© Photographer Bob Dunham:
here
, top.
© Union Pacific Railroad Museum:
here
, bottom.
With permission, Warren Buffett:
here
, top.
With permission, Brookhill Country Club:
here
, top.
Courtesy of Marian High School:
here
, bottom left.
Courtesy of M’s Pub:
here
, both photos.
Courtesy of Sacred Heart Church:
here
.
Courtesy of NU Media Relations:
here
, both photos.
Printed by permission of the Norman Rockwell Family Agency:
here
.
Copyright © The Norman Rockwell Family Entities.
© Curtis Licensing:
here
. For all non-book uses © SEPS. All Rights Reserved.
© Photographer Jeff Bundy, Omaha World-Herald:
here
.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, character, places, and incidents either are product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © Blue Wave Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 1489560734
ISBN 13: 9781489560735
Library of Congress Control Number: 2013910110
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
North Charleston, South Carolina

Lovingly dedicated to my husband Michael,
the man who was just
crazy enough
to believe in me and this story

A long, long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile.

Don McLean, “American Pie”

Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity.

Ecclesiastes 1:2

Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?
Alice: You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret.
All the best people are.

Lewis Carroll,
Alice in Wonderland

CONTENTS

PROLOGUE
    Baby Bookmarks

PART I
           Hey, Good-Lookin’    1969 to 1980

PART II
          Let’s Go Crazy    1981 to 1994

PART III
         The Day the Music Died    1995 to 1997

EPILOGUE
     Faith of Our Fathers

PROLOGUE

Baby Bookmarks

L
ittle bookmarks.

That’s what my mom calls babies. Their debuts into this world are marking points that she refers to as reminders of specific times. If she’s in the middle of a story and needs a time reference of an event, she just thinks of her baby bookmarks.

“When did the Shanahans add a sunroom to their house?”

She needs a baby bookmark.

“I think it was right after the bus accident. Remember when Al, the bus driver, drove into their house on Maple Crest Circle? Evidently, he lost his footing or something. And the Shanahans’ house was right at the bottom of the cul-de-sac, so he crashed into the south side of the house. Wait, the bus crash was the year that Faith Webber was born. I remember because we were all standing out in the front yard after the accident, seeing if Al and the kids were OK before checking the damage done to the Shanahan home, and I can remember Ruth Webber waddling out to the scene. It had to be one hundred degrees. That poor thing looked so miserable. She was pregnant with Faith, and Faith was born a year before you, so that must have been September of 1960. OK, so the Shanahans remodeled in 1960.”

Faith marks the events for that year.

The baby bookmarks mark all sorts of things. My neighbor Lucy Mangiamelli is the bookmark for the year of Kennedy’s assassination. Elaine, Stinky Morrow’s little sister, is a bookmark for the blizzard of ’75. Mrs. Morrow almost didn’t make it to the hospital.

I, Benjamin Howard Keller, have the dubious honor of being the bookmark that no one talks about. We all know it, though. My birth on October 7, 1961, in Omaha, Nebraska, marks the year that my father walked out on my mother, my two sisters, and me. I will forever be the neat little marker of the old man’s amazing disappearing act. He left three weeks before his only son was born, as though he didn’t even want to meet me, let alone raise me. I’ve worked that one out, though. A man who walks out on a woman and three kids without looking back—I don’t want to meet him either.

Mostly, babies mark less personal or noteworthy events—like, Lovey Webber was born the year two local schools merged, or my best buddy A.C. was born the year Bob Devaney took the head-coaching position for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, not personal but important to me. At the time, the event was big news. Now it’s just conversation filler. For my mom, a baby bookmark is there to help her remember what year it happened. The baby helps her find her place in time, sort of like an old song. The order of it all adds a secure feeling that temporarily lessens the pain of the death of a friend or the rejection of a husband or father. The order is functional.

Maybe that’s why my mom can never remember the year that my business burned down. No baby was born that year. At least not in our little world. Nineteen ninety-seven was just a blur to her. “How long has it been since the fire? It can’t be that long ago. Are you sure?”

No marker.

Most of us lost our place that year. So much more than the fire of my business burns in our memories. Great loss ravaged that fall. For me, 1997 brought about a challenge to faith, a questioning of dreams, and an incredible suffering, all for which I had never asked.

Years have a way of building up, quietly assembling upon each other. People, some random, some purposeful, have lined those years for so long, all the while demanding that we assign them as one or the other.

That’s easy.

We just hold on to those who leave their mark.

PART I

Hey, Good-Lookin’

1969 to 1980

If boyhood and youth are but vanity, must
it not be our ambition to become men?

Vincent Van Gogh

You’re so vain, I bet you think this song is about you.

Carly Simon, “You’re So Vain”

1

The Creek

1976

W
e weren’t supposed to be anywhere near the creek, but we were.

I looked down at Hope Webber, who was standing at the creek’s edge, her head hanging low. I called to her as I ran down the hill from the Wicker house, “Hope, we’ve been looking everywhere for you. Everyone is worried sick.”

When Hope slowly looked up at me on that awful day, I could see dirty tears trailing down her cheeks like several sad little creeks. The slightly overweight fourteen-year-old with the dark hair and blue, almond eyes cried, “Ben, I can’t find Grandma. What if she got hurt? What if I never find Grandma?” She sniffed loudly and coughed. The stain of those dirty tears spilled over the front of her favorite David Cassidy T-shirt. My voice shook as I caught my breath and coaxed Hope to me, away from the nefarious creek. “Hope, we need to get out of here…”

The creek was a perfect place to play as a kid.

Long before the tragedy at the creek, before the adults of our world deemed it evil, my buddies and I wore a path between the Morrow and Mangiamelli houses that took us to the best area by the creek. I can’t begin to count the hours we spent down along its winding bed, finding bugs, building forts, fighting off imaginary bad guys, and getting dirty.

BOOK: Vanity Insanity
13.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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