Book Excerpt: Dreams That Never Were by Greg Messel
Contributor

“Some men see things as they are and say, ‘Why? I dream of things that never were and say, ‘Why not?" -- Robert F. Kennedy

June 5, 1968:  Senator Robert F. Kennedy, then a candidate for President and victorious in the California primary, was mortally wounded by assassin Sirhan Sirhan as he exited the ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.  Innocent bystanders were also wounded, including young and idealistic Alex Hurley, a San Francisco reporter.

Swept up in the turbulent events of 1968, Alex is captivated both by the Presidential race and by Vietnam, where he had recently been a war correspondent.  His time in Vietnam had cost him his marriage and bitterly separated him from his own family.

Recovering from his wounds—physical and emotional—a new and surprising love restores his hope.

Part political thriller, part romance, Alex Hurley’s story in “Dreams That Never Were,” captures the turmoil of the day, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and America's wrenching response to it. This novel is the latest historical fiction from award winning author Greg Messel.

Dreams That Never Were is available at Amazon at https://amzn.to/2Z8tGOD.

Book Excerpt:

Sirhan Sirhan shot Robert F. Kennedy in the kitchen pantry of the Ambassador Hotel. Kennedy was leaving a victory party after winning the California Primary in June of 1968. Sirhan continued to fire his gun as the crowd tried to subdue him. Five additional people were wounded by the stray bullets. I have one of those wounded be my fictional character, Alex Hurley. This excerpt is when Alex wakes up in the hospital and is unaware of what has occurred. Here’s the excerpt:

I heard unfamiliar voices talking.

“He’s starting to open his eyes,” someone said.

“That’s a great sign,” commented another.

I detected a pain in my side, just below my rib cage. I tried to open my eyes, but they seemed to be glued shut. The voices resumed—talking about me as if I wasn’t there. Finally, I blinked my eyes, trying to focus, and soon realized  I was in a hospital bed. Standing by me, with concerned looks etched on their faces, was an odd collection of people from my life. 

Through my bleary eyes, I saw my ex-wife Brenda; John Greer, my photographer pal from San Francisco; and Darlene Harvey, the reporter from the Los Angeles Times, I’d been admiring from afar since I had arrived in Southern California. 

Brenda moved forward and tenderly gripped my hand in a way that she had not done for a long time. 

“How are you, Alex?” she asked softly. 

I gave a weak shake of my head. “I dunno. What happened?” 

“Don’t you remember, mate?” John jumped in. 

“Remember what?” I mumbled blankly, as my weak voice tailed off into nothing.

“He’s still coming out of the drugs. Give him a minute,” Brenda pleaded. “They’ve been keeping him kind of doped up since the surgery. This is the first time I’ve been able to talk to him.”

“Surgery?” I asked. 

Brenda shushed me and gently ran her long, slender fingers through my hair. “Take it easy. Don't try to talk right now. Take your time. Then we’ll help you understand what happened.”

I groggily attempted to get my bearings. “We were at the hotel. Everyone was celebrating Bobby’s victory. I was following him out of the ballroom, and there was like a riot. I was suddenly on the floor and couldn’t get up. It was strange. All of these people kept stepping on me—on my arm and on my legs.” 

I glanced at my right hand which was heavily bandaged. “I got knocked down. I’m sorry. Everything is a little hazy. I’m having trouble getting my brain to work.”

The three people hovering over me could not have been more different—two beautiful women and John, with his long black hair pulled back in a ponytail and a scruffy beard covering his face. The trio exchanged concerned glances, whispered, and nodded at one another. I started to shift in my bed and was met with a jolts of pain in my side and my leg. 

Brenda attempted to lighten the mood. “I was afraid you’d wake up in your hospital bed, see your ex-wife standing over you, and think you’d died and gone to hell.”

I gave her a weak smile, while the others chuckled to break the tension. 

Brenda was trying to make sure my re-entry was a slow descent, but that strategy was quickly dashed when John started blurting out all the details of the last 14 hours. “Take it easy, Alexander. You’ve had surgery. You were shot, man. They removed the bullet. The doc says you’re going to be fine. Some people from San Francisco are on their way down here, including our boss. Everyone’s been worried about you after they saw the news.”

“The news? I was shot?”

Brenda glared at John. “Way to go slow, John. Senator Kennedy was shot. You and some other people were also wounded by the assassin.”

“No, no, no!” I yelled. “Bobby was shot? No, not this time! This wasn’t supposed to happen! Assassin? Is Senator Kennedy going to be all right?” 

John moved closer. “Bobby’s just down the hall. He’s still alive, but he’s not doing very well.”

“Not doing very well?” I snapped with rapidly accelerating alarm.

John blundered ahead. “This place is like a fortress. It was hard to get in here especially onto this floor. Cops are everywhere.”

“Maybe we should go,” Darlene said shooting a glance at John. “We’ll come back later, Alex. We just had to see you. We were so worried.” 

“No, no, don’t leave right now,” I pleaded. I repeated what I had been told to try to take in the enormity of the news. “Senator Kennedy was shot. How could… how did it happen?”

Brenda nodded to John and Darlene. “I’ll stay with him. I know you must be very busy.”

Darlene leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. She was dabbing tears from her eyes. “It’s been a long night. We’re all living in a nightmare. I’m so sorry, Alexander. It’s good to see you awake.”

Darlene grabbed John by the elbow and pushed him towards the door. John flashed a peace sign. “Peace, my brother. I’ll see you a little later. Take it easy and get better. I’ve got to call San Francisco. Everyone’s anxious to hear about you.”

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