EUREKA MAN - Literary Fiction by Patrick Middleton

"A searingly honest novel about determination and redemption that is also an emotionally rewarding reading experience." KIRKUS REVIEW
A story about one young man's journey through the American penal system and his quest for knowledge, hope and the power of the human spirit.

 When attractive free-lance journalist Hope Best enters Riverview Penitentiary for an interview with the young, handsome scholar Oliver Priddy, the three topics on her agenda are: violence, love and hope. As she sits in a chair sipping a cup of hot herbal tea, Oliver tells her:

On violence:    “This prison has its own pulse and if you pay attention to the way it breathes, it won’t hurt you, but you have to remain circumspect and try to figure out everyone’s angles long before they do because anywhere you go in this place you can find trouble or be it You can fight until you can’t fight anymore and you can laugh out loud when you dodge the knife and die when you don’t.”

On love:    “What people in society know about what goes on between the sheets in prison can be summed up in a phrase: Bubbas and Pretty Michaels. Well, in case you didn’t know it, there are also real-life love affairs in this place too, just like anywhere else. A secretary, a teacher, a nurse, a female guard, or any other willing woman, can ease the pain in a man’s groin and at the same time ease the ‘I’m-so-lonesome-I-could-die stuff in his head.”

On hope:    “Your name says it all. Hope Best. That’s just what I do. I hope for the best every day of my life. It’s strange. I feel I know a lot about you just from knowing your name. Like you couldn’t possibly go through life with that name and see the glass any other way but half full all the time, could you? And if you, yourself, as lovely and dainty as you are, if you were a prisoner like me, you’d still be hoping for the best, wouldn’t you?” She nods her head, mesmerized.
    “I know you would,” he goes on. “And you know how I know? Because I can tell that you know that life is life everywhere, don’t you? You get it, don’t you?”
    “I get it, Oliver Priddy,” she says singing her words.’
    ”You know what? I’m going on sixteen years in this joint and I still sing and dance every chance I get. Do you dance?”
    ”All the time.”
    “Slow or fast?”
    “Whatever the occasion calls for.”
    “Would you like to dance with me?”
    “Sure. Any time.”
    “Come on. I’ve got music back in my office. And after we dance you can sit cross-legged on top of my desk if you want.”

    It’s more than serendipity when a grown woman who has seen it all, had it all, finds leaf-sigh rapture in a private dance with a prisoner. Her sagacity tells her he is not in that class of shifty-eyed criminals depicted in novels, with cagey hearts and misanthropic motives, bent on assuaging their luckless existences by hook or crook.
    When the dance is over, she says to herself what she has no need to say out loud. That I have made friends all over the world, have touched lepers on a leper colony, bathed with strangers on a Greek island, eaten roots with a tribe of Zulu warriors. And now I have seen the bright promise of hope shining in the eyes of a condemned man. And, oh, the way he dances! How close and loose he holds me, his fingers in my hair…