Hunkered down his fingers feverishly striking the keys John typed. Memories rushed through his mind, his fingers racing to keep time. John Dennis Fitzgerald had a promise to keep. And the ghost of that promise was at the door collecting.
From the tender age of thirteen he had dreamed of becoming a published author. He didn’t count the three hundred plus stories he had sold as published. No, a real writer would have a book. It wasn’t for lack of trying that he hadn’t achieved his dream. At one juncture in his life the dream desperately drove him to a secluded mountain cabin. The he fought for inspiration. None happened.
Hungry, broke, and resigned he fled. Selling his typewriter in angry submission, he returned to the real world of California and became a buyer for Triangle Steel.
His life had been one impetuous run from 1923 to 1955. Blessed with passion and wanderlust he eagerly abandoned his tiny western hometown at the age of eighteen. The bright lights of Grand Junction, Colorado called. During his first year of emancipation John toured as a drummer in the band, Danceopators; a hot up and coming jazz band. Decked out in black tuxedos, white shirts and sporting perfectly parted brilliantine slicked do’s. The all-male band traveled from Utah to Colorado then onto Lincoln Park, Chicago, for a full summer gig.
Once out of Price, his hometown, John inhaled the air of adventure. His destiny, he was certain, lay in the bright lights of big cities. He never looked back. Following the summer in Chicago, John retired from the band. His hands itched to write. Relocating to New York, he took a job as a cub reporter for the police beat where he worked with Damon Runyon.
In his off hours, Fitzgerald wrote detective stories for pulp fiction magazines, stories entitled The Merchants of Penance and Too Mean to Live, often under a pen name. “The pay wasn’t great but it was a start.” He’d recall. Eventually disappointment set in. Unsatisfied and anxious he turned to foreign correspondence. Working through United Press he traveled as a feature editor to Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. However, life on the road became tiring.
John about faced again. In 1940, he returned to America to work on the campaign staff for Wendell Willkie’s presidential race. Following Roosevelt’s win John moved onto Metro-Goldwyn Mayer in the publicity department.
Throughout those ambitious years John continued to submit stories, as well as try his hand at novels. Born to be a writer he was sure one day he would succeed. No matter what he tried though the dream always turned into a nightmare. Weary from the fight he quit. Tightly he locked his dream in a dark part of his heart and hid the key.
Finally at the age of forty-nine, serenity set in. Happily married, consistently employed, and abundantly well traveled John found fresh delight in personal writing.
No longer slave to the nightmare of becoming a published book writer he filled his writing time typing his family history. The only readers he desired to impress were his nieces and nephews. Cute kids he had grown fond of. Happy, contented and pressure free, he dug in. Night after night, following a full day at the steel company, he would plunk the typewriter keys and tell the tales he had heard and lived in his childhood home.
One night his wife read the work, “This would make a great story.” She said. The banished dream began to rumble from its dark corner. During all the years of ambition John had neglected the very tale he could tell best, the romantic union of two unlikely people, his parents, a Catholic man and a Mormon lady, and the town they helped create.
John let the idea simmer for a while, still unsure if he should tread into the writing water again. Following another read through of his work, John too, saw the potential. The tale would need some adaptation to fulfill publication needs, things such as names would need to be altered and events transferred to strengthen the plot, but the key pieces were there. John opened the door of his heart and let the shackled dream run free once more.