Finding Espinosa is fictional story that contains some factual events in Colorado history. It is a novel of about 70,000 words and will soon be adapted into a screenplay.
The story is set in tiny La Veta, Colorado in the present day. Simon Elliot, is a forty-something writer for a dying local newspaper. A British combat vet, Simon is not well liked in his town, due to his blunt criticism of local leaders and the school district. He is further irritated when a sixth grader named Gabe moves in next door and becomes fascinated with him. This angers Gabe's grandmother Rosita, who often exchanges un-neighborly glares across the fence with Simon. Vivian, Gabe's mother is not keen on Simon either, as she came to La Veta to free Gracie and Gabe from their abusive father, Felipe Espinosa who's about to be released from a nearby prison. Simon struggles with Post Traumatic Stress, and his symptoms increase in intensity when an arsonist sets fire to the newspaper office.The paper is all but lost, and the technology inside is destroyed. Simon must now earn the trust of the La Veta School’s technology guru, Ignacio Benjamin Mitchell (IBM) to continue an investigation of what happened, which just may keep the paper alive. Meanwhile, Gabe struggles at school, due to the bullying of his social studies teacher, Richard DuMoor. As the head of the teachers union, DuMoor has been the catalyst of discontent among some teachers who want to strike. A break in the investigation leads Simon and IBM to a hunch that the arsonist is not acting alone. When IBM is beaten up, and DuMoor is kidnapped, a manhunt is launched. With help from Vivian, Simon must gain some control of his Post Traumatic Stress symptoms if he's going to find out who's terrorizing the small town.
Excerpt from Chapter One - "Meet the Neighbors"
Simon Theodore Elliot enjoyed his afternoons on the porch, just as generations of settlers have who lived in these old Victorian houses for the last several hundred years had. He enhaled a breath full of fresh air and thought about how the mountains, and clean water meant opportunity for those brave enough to venture west back in the 1800’s. La Veta is an incarnation of “The Life” in Spanish. It’s a shame no one could spell back in the 1800’s or the town of just over twenty thousand would have been spelled La Vida…Simon swirled his Guinness bottle, feeling the liquid inside rotate around the glass before he raised it to his lips. His feet rested on the railing of his porch, while his legs supported an empty graph-lined notebook.
Simon’s first winter here was so cold that he told his wife they were, “La Vida Loca to live here.” But that didn't stop him from moving here from England back at the turn of the century(the last one) to marry his American love. She was a special education teacher, and he took a job writing at the local paper. It was his pathway to a life that he always wanted to write about. The West. His fascination would surely lead to authoring the ultimate, Great American Western Novel ever written by an Englishman. It was a perfect plan. But, as he learned during his compulsory service in the Royal Army, the best laid plans never survive contact with the enemy. The enemy in this case, a decade later, would be his wife, whom he dearly loved until she left him for a the athletic director she worked with at Le Veta High School. Apparently, the man she left with was everything Simon was not. Not that Simon wasn’t athletic, because he was, if Cricket is considered a sport. He surely wasn’t overweight, and he knew how to take care of himself, which helped in a town full of people who didn’t necessarily embrace diversity. Simon, after all was a red-head, a Ginger. Being slender, like an orange q-tip, he’d be the target of awkward stares. Being skin and bone, he was certain made the cold of the Colorado mountains more bitter than his divorce. His ex moved to Denver, and now Simon found himself sipping beer on his porch waiting for his antiquated life to pass him by. The beer he sipped was his daily reward for churning out a column and a clever crossword puzzle in a paper that surely no one in this little town reads. The only job security he had in La Veta was that seventy-five percent of the population was over sixty years old...and they read a newspaper everyday. Which is why he still had a job to pay the bills after the divorce. He was certain that some Le Vedans read it to see if they’re in the Obituary section, which has been pretty busy lately. Two full pages. He squinted at the tiny print on the last page of the Obituaries he wrote, which must have been typeset at point 6 font size. Simon held up his beer bottle to toast one Charmane Tillington, 89, who passed away in her sleep last week, two days before her ninetieth birthday. “Here’s to you Charmane,” he said, reading his own writing:
"Charmane was a loving piano teacher, member of the La Veta parish where she taught Sunday School for twenty-five years. God bless you, you will be missed."
Simon folded his copy of the paper and gathered himself and his beer to go inside. It was time to prepare dinner, then he could try to write the night away, only to repeat the cycle yet again tomorrow.
WRITING FOCUS: "Finding Espinosa" - A Novel
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