Monday, November 26, 2018

Latest by Aaron Paul Lazar, The Asylum, Appears Now in Love Under Fire!

No matter when I hear the word Asylum, I immediately think of an old song that was sung in the movie, Snake Pit..."Going Home"... The song evoked such sympathy for those crowded in the older asylums, with only one thought. They wanted to go home...

St. Michael's had been an asylum for many years. Now it had been greatly upgraded, but still had the same purpose--to house those that were mentally disturbed... Or was it?

As her mother slid the tray out of the oven, Carmen thought about giving up her apartment. She knew she should have saved more money, but her blasted car 
had needed one repair after another for the past two years, and she’d barely made ends meet. “I know you’re right. But I feel like a failure. I need another job. Fast.”
“You’ll find something.”
“What? With my limited experience? All I’ve ever done my whole life is work in
that sardine factory. I check fish for freshness, proper packaging, and weight. How desirable are those skills, mom?”
“Come to dinner tonight, baby. Let’s talk about it. Rocco said they’re hiring at
Saint Michael’s. They pay pretty good, even though it’s not the nicest place in the world to work.”
“St. Michael’s?” Carmen made a face. “You mean working with all the, um, crazy people?”
“Rocco says we should say ‘mentally ill,’ or some term like that. He says we
can’t call them crazy. It’s not proper.” She started to loosen the cookies with a
“Is it dangerous work?”
Her mother grimaced. “No more so than working with a snake like Dixie, I
guess. But Rocco would be there. He’d have your back.”
“True.” Carmen drained the tea in her cup. “You really like him, don’t you,
Rosita snorted a laugh. “Well…yes. I do.”
“You gonna get married?”
“Oh my goodness, I don’t know.” She batted a hand in the air. “Now, try one of
these cookies. They’re Miss Lolly’s favorites.”

...Rosita nodded. “We missed you too, honey.” She glanced at the man who sat beside her, his head bent low over his plate. “Now, you want to tell Rocco what happened?”
“Okay.” Carmen took a deep breath and turned to him. “Rocco?”
He straightened and gave her an interested smile. “What’s up, little Angel?”
She warmed to his nickname for her. Rocco had always been the gentlest man
she’d ever met, and he always made her feel comfortable and safe, unlike any of her own boyfriends. “I need a job.”
“What’s that?” His eyebrows shot up. “Something happen at Rocky Shores?”
His voice was low and soft, with a touch of a slight Southern drawl.
Rocco had come north many years ago when he married his beloved Maybelle,
whose family lived in Maine. She died eight years earlier when visiting her sister in Kansas. The tornado had swept the car into the sky, dropping it into a field miles away. They’d both died instantly.
Carmen went on to tell the story of Dixie and the planted drugs. She’d already
shared the news with her brother and sisters, so they listened again while she
explained what had happened.
His eyes narrowed. “You want me to go have a talk with those high-and-mighty
Munros?” He cracked his knuckles. “I’ll teach them not to mess with you.”
Carmen laughed. “I’d love it.” She took a sip of her milk. “But for now, I just
need a job. Mom says you’re hiring up at Saint Michael’s?”
“Well, yeah. We are. But I’m not sure you really wanna work there, Angel.”
Her mother gave her an encouraging look. “Go on, honey.”
“You’d be there, right?” Carmen said. “And Mom says they pay pretty well.”
He sat back and exchanged a glance with Rosita. “You sure about this, Rosie?”
Rosita buttered a piece of French bread. “Carmen’s a big girl, Rocco. She can
handle anything those mean nurses can dish out.”
“Please, Rocco? Will you put in a good word for me?”
He shrugged and gave her a half smile. “Okay. If that’s what you want. But be
warned, most of them folks up there aren’t real nice. And I don’t mean the patients; they’re a hoot. It’s the staff.” He stabbed a meatball and took a bite. “Maybe you do this only while looking for a good job. Then it’ll be temporary.”
Carmen nodded and reached for his hand. “Thank you.”
Rosita kissed Rocco’s cheek. “He’ll take good care of you, honey. Nobody
messes with my Rocco.”

The Asylum

By Aaron Paul Lazar

This is not the usual drama presented by Aaron Lazar. Sure, love comes into the picture fairly early, however, the thrust of the book relates to the inner workings of an asylum for the mentally impaired. St. Michael's had been an asylum for many years; however, with new ownership, it had been upgraded, especially the inside facilities, so that it catered to a clientele who was rich and expected comfort for their family members.

Carmen Garcia had been set up to be fired from her long-time job, because of jealousy--she had started to date the boss' son and his old girlfriend wanted her new competition...gone...

She had given up her apartment and moved home into the attic because of the numerous family members. She was happy to see everybody, but she needed a job...and, with the help of her mother's male friend, Rocco, who already worked at St. Michael's, she was interviewed and hired as an orderly assistant. But as time went by she learned that in emergency situations, especially. everybody was called upon to help in any way necessary...

The receptionist had been kind and given her a few play down her looks. They didn't want to have pretty girls working there... and it helped so she was hired immediately. The orderly assistant turned out to be handling and stocking supplies for the facility, mopping and taking care of accidents of the patients...But after being around fish for years, Carmen didn't mind.

Routine set in and she had a chance to get to know some of the patients. Lollie, her mother's boss, had been placed at St. Michael's recently, and Lollie was thrilled to have somebody that was close to her friend and helper Rosita... In fact, Rosie came in routinely with baked goodies for Lollie, but made enough to share and the patients loved her...

Only one thing raised some concern--when she had been introduced to the director of the facility, he had made a point of talking about discretion, security...and that his word was final... Of course, Carmen expected and did just that...until... later...

She was also introduced to Dr. Michael Worthy, who was the nephew of the director...and was surprised that he was much friendlier than anybody else she had met... Of course, Dr. Michael was handsome and easy to be attracted to...and he felt the same way... although that mutual attraction became a problem quickly!

Carmen was often asked to help patients to their room. It was then that she talked with that individual and began to wonder. They were effective communicators, knew what was going on around them... As one man and woman came to trust her, she was told similar stories...the families placed them in the home to get rid of them, and control their estate in their absence. And often that included the patients being drugged excessively... When Carmen was in one of the rooms when the director visited, she asked about the patient and almost got fired, being screamed at for questioning the director's orders...

Something was wrong...but who and what was responsible. Carmen began to investigate and keep track of questionable things...But could she, alone, do anything to help the patients? I think we have always heard stories about how patients might be treated in homes for the mentally disabled. Lazar has made this sad, but important, issue, into a fascinating suspenseful mystery that not only is interesting, but important for all of us who may have relatives in all types of facilities for the elderly... 

As always, Lazar as a wonderful storyteller keeps readers interested, with the activities of the characters and before the end there is dangerous action as the climax of the book takes begins! It's different from his other books, but one that provides the heartwarming story we have come to expect,  that underlies the mystery. Highly recommended.


Note: This story is now only available through the Love Under Fire Box Set... A major deal for only 99 cents for a limited time! Enjoy! Watch for more individual book reviews as I read them!

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