Kathryn Eberle Wildgen - About the book
Kathryn Eberle Wildgen - Welcome to my website!
ShareSecrets dead and buried, fragments of memories—or are they dreams?—and a chorus of voices contribute bits and pieces to a story so complex, the final mosaic image emerges only at the very end. There is also a fictional medieval manuscript embedded in the novel. (Be sure to click on The Medieval Component page.) At first it may seem extraneous and irrelevant. Its significance and great importance will be revealed only gradually as Malachi's story is revealed bit by bit, layer by layer.
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Cypress Shadows, Malachi's home in LouisianaMalachi Walmsley has been summoned to Covington, Louisiana because his mother, from whom he has been estranged for forty years, has died. He lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with his wife Amanda Greene; they have been contemplating divorce. Malachi has suffered from depression and unbearable nightmares all his life and has been seeing a psychiatrist, Cletus Hardin, in Jerome, Arizona. The death of his mother and his subsequent return to his childhood home send him into a tailspin. The nightmares worsen. He e-mails Cletus for help via the internet but Cletus prefers to put him in touch with an old friend of his, Ruth Blanchard, who also lives in Covington. Ruth becomes convinced that the very core, the root of Malachi’s torment lies in his relationship with a childhood friend, Winifred Hauser, with whom he is still in touch via e-mail. As Ruth delves deeper into Malachi’s situation, it becomes apparent that his problems are multiple and will have to be dealt with in stages as one after another, aspects of the mystery that is Malachi unfold. By the time Ruth gets to the full truth, she-and the reader-come to a complete understanding of the significance of Malachi's e-mail ID: fractal. 
Listen first to Malachi's voice... W
 
"Fractal and fracture are semantically related. They both carry the weight of brokenness. When I began my study of math, chaos theory was a gleam in Benoît Mandelbrot’s eye. Chaos theory is still a corner of math looking for an application. For now it is mostly an intellectual curiosity; the buzz words are strange attractors and phase-space. Phase-space is used to describe attractors, and chaos theory has some promise in cosmology. I’m no expert in the field and I’ve only played around with it. But then I learned about fractals, extremely irregular curves or shapes for which any suitably chosen part is similar in shape to a given larger or smaller part when magnified or reduced to the same size. They remind me of mirrors that, when placed at proper angles to each other, send the same image bounding back and forth to itself. Chaos and fractals were good metaphors for aspects of my life. Chaos was a bit too trite for my ID; and I was almost certain it was taken. Fractal seemed to fit me better. And, as you point out, it resonates with the notion of fragments, fractures, broken things, things in small pieces, some infinitesimally small."
Malachi Walmsley
Mh
 
The mysterious house on the riverWe were all relaxing and having a fine time until I spied a house that, once again, brought back those feelings of deep distress, dread and anxiety. Celestine and Ruben were uneasy as well but pretended not to be. Since Celestine won’t tell me anything, I’ll try to buttonhole Ruben and see what I can dig out of him. The mystery house is quite different from the rest of the places on the river. Most are very open, with tall windows offering as much view of the river as possible. This one is dark, shuttered and seemingly abandoned. When I asked Celestine who lived there, she said she didn’t know but I think she does. Again, I have that feeling of having been there before.en sixty-two-year-old MalachiWalmsley fi nds out that his motherhas, he travels from his Fla
The house at the Bay, dear to Malachi's heartYesterday I went to our former family home at the Bay. I almost wish I hadn’t. Our summers at the Bay remain my most treasured memories. It was a magical time, before all the mess of later years. And even the little time we spent there after the accident seemed to wash away the dirt of ordinary life. My visit was like finding a beloved toy in tatters. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
One year—I think it was before we met—I went to Camp St. Joseph, the summer program of a school there, and made a sign that said “Camp St. Joseph” out of tin by pounding the letters into the metal with a hammer and nail. I mounted it and gave it to my parents. When the house was sold, I’m sure the plaque was tossed. But it’s one of those icons of my youth I’d love to have.
The property is as large as I recall. They say everything looks smaller when you go back to visit childhood places; not so for the Bay house. The only difference is the absolute dearth of pine trees, all knocked down by Camille. Have you been there since the storm? If so, how did your house fare? I’d have looked, but I forgot exactly where it was. There was one tree on our property—not a pine—that we used to call the butt tree: it had an odd protuberance that looked just like a rear end. I was about twenty-seven and living in Flagstaff when the storm hit; but that house was always important to me and I worried about its fate. Now I know. The garage, with a garçonnière on top, was demolished, but the house came through OK. It’s still a house of bedrooms unless the current owners have done some remodeling. When we lived there, the front porch, with its swing, and the screened-in back porch passed for living and dining rooms. There was an over-rigged sailboat in the yard that Dad and Buddy used to take out in the bay. The street, Leonhard Avenue, meets the water at right angles. Dad used to take me crabbing at the seawall. Remember how in the summer, the street would get so hot, little bubbles formed in the tar and we’d pop them? The two mid-town theaters, the Star and something else I can’t recall, are stores now and have been replaced by multiplex mall theater complexes in areas that used to be woods. We were watching a Judy Canova film at one of the downtown theaters when the railroad bridge burned in ’50-something. Remember?
 
The street in Kachina Village where Malachi's first house is locatedNo riff-raff need cross the great divideThe subdivision where I lived with my father butted up against one of the more colorful areas, Kachina Village. In fact, it touched the trailer park area and Forest Highlanders constructed a wall that actually crossed a street in order to ensure that none of the riff-raff invaded their territory. I eventually got tired of life with Dad, even if it made great economic sense, and I rented a place south of the railroad tracks but close to town, the low-rent district. Trains come through all day and most of the night, so the closer one lives to the tracks, the lower the rent because of the infernal racket. I finally got used to it and no longer heard them. They were just part of the background noise of life. Even today, the sound of a train takes me back to my bachelor days in Flagstaff.

Listen as Ruth speaks...
 
 
The Verde Valley seen from Cletus' balconyCleopatra Hill in Jerome AZ
I reached Jerome in late afternoon and found Cletus’ house with no problem. My map service directions were fine and Cletus’ house, built in 1912 and meticulously restored, is fabulous. It’s in Giroux Street on Cleopatra Hill, as high in the town as one can get. When I walked onto the back deck, I gasped in wonderment at the view of Verde Valley, but also with a certain unease at the precariousness of my perch. The deck is supported by uprights fixed into the mountainside and seems to float in space. The drop-off on the side facing the valley is precipitous. The deck faces east so the escarpment across the valley was drenched with setting sunlight and ablaze with color. At a moment in the past, parts of the town, including the jail, slid down the hill much to the delight of some townsfolk. I trust the supports of Cletus’ house are firmly entrenched in bedrock.
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