Fiction. Billy Bright, intelligent but undisciplined, is one in a group of dissolute high school seniors known as "the boys." During the mid-1960s, Billy struggles to come to grips with his anxiety and insomnia caused by his father's drinking and verbally abusive behavior. Billy vows to get away from his father as soon as he can. As graduation approaches and the Vietnam War escalates, Billy is pressured to make plans for his future. Should he go to college? Should he enlist in the military? Should he go to the local community college, continue working at the local grocery store and enroll in the store's management program, the safe path his father demands he follow? Billy's father, George Bright, suffers post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by service in World War II. He engages in capricious behavior that is damaging to his son. The roots of George's malady is disclosed through historical vignettes featuring Company G, 119th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division. It is maddening for George Bright to realize he and his comrades prevailed in WWII only to see their sons become casualties of the war in Vietnam, scenes from which are juxtaposed with WWII battle scenes. Billy Bright's girlfriend, Robin Miller, is an attractive but batty girl who takes it upon herself to map a future for the ambivalent Billy. She secretly harbors a dream for Billy in which he leaves his small hometown, and the boys, and moves to California for college. Billy learns Robin's seemingly ideal life is only a facade as her family suffers financial setbacks resulting from her mother's profligate spending. Robin's father, a retired Air Force officer who monopolizes Billy's visits with ramblings about the glory of war and the honor of military service, is enamored with the war in Vietnam and laments that he is too old to serve as he urges Billy to enlist in the military and participate in the defining event of his generation. Billy's efforts to get away from his father to attend college or enlist in the military presents a classic conflict and in the end he becomes a casualty of everyone's lost dreams.
"The much-anticipated release of this prequel to the unforgettable Baxter's Friends was well worth the wait. Randle raises the curtain on the formative years of Billy Bright's life, revealing a formula for his adult years that is at once both intoxicating and utterly sobering. DOWN CEMETERY ROAD delves into the disillusionment of adolescence sadly often shot down by mid-life."—K.K. Snyder
"During the 60s, the most divisive period of American history since the Civil War, coming of age was abrupt and ambiguous for able bodied boys fated by the shadow of conscription. This insightful novel explores death of boyhood replete with a bathtub baptism comically celebrating the slap dead end of innocence and the abrupt birth into the adult world, where high school graduates must decide to fight, fly or go to jail for resisting an immoral and unjust war. This novel is provocative and carefully written—a good read."—O. Victor Miller
Ned Randle resides in southern Illinois, just across the Mighty Mississippi River from St. Louis, His poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals and reviews including Lummox, Poydras Review, West Texas Literary Review and The American Journal of Poetry. His chapbook Prairie Shoutings and Other Poems was published by the Spoon River Poetry Press and Coffeetown Press, Seattle, published his full-length Running at Night: Collected Poems in 2013. His fiction is imbued with lyrical language influenced by his work has a poet. His short stories have appeared in literary publications such as The Examined Life Journal, Soundings Review, Red Earth Review, and Prism Review. His debut novel Baxter's Friends was released in 2013 by Coffeetown Press to very good reviews.Author City: SOMERVILLE, MA USA