Monday, November 7, 2016

CLOCK STRIKES THREE and the Magnificent Helen Duvall

Figure One - NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Violence and mayhem ensue after
a hunter stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong. Could Anton Chigurh use a shrink?
In CLOCK STRIKES THREE,  I wrote about a troubled young man who is sent to a court-appointed psychiatrist by the judicial system. What did I know about psychiatry or psychology when I wrote this story? Nothing, except for some movies about the subject and a couple of psychology courses in college. Although, I was a somewhat successful manager in corporate America for many years, and all good people managers are part time psychologists, as well as their boss duties. I once had a boss who dabbled in psychology quite a lot and tried to use psychology to manipulate his management team, not from a positive perspective mind you, but as a way to control and undermine the cooperation between the members of his management team. He was a manipulative micromanager who loved being the pivot point for all important decisions and the conduit for discussions between his managers.   
When I wrote CLOCK STRIKES THREE about this troubled young man named Joey Gellar and his court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Holbrook Devon, I drew part of my psychiatrist character from the boss I mentioned in the previous paragraph. I wanted to portray Dr. Holbrook Devon as a person who needed to be in control of every second of every day. Ultimately, this obsession extended to his patients. In CLOCK STRIKES THREE,  I attempted to demonstrate how Dr. Devon manipulated a few select patients. I wanted to show how Dr. Devon looked for psychological weaknesses in his patients and if the patients were ripe for manipulation, he pushed them down his path. You will have to read CLOCK STRIKES THREE to see where Dr. Devon's path led. 

Now, let’s meet Dr. Devon and one of his patients, shall we? The passage below is from CLOCK STRIKES THREE. In this scene, Dr. Devon is meeting with a long time patient, the elegant Helen Duvall. Dr. Devon has gone too far in his treatment with Helen Duvall and she is beginning to realize what he is doing.         
Back at Dr. Devon’s office, he was meeting with one of his woman patients by the name of Helen Duvall. She was in her late fifties, but she still possessed the striking image of a fashion model. She was tall and willowy and walked with the grace of a gazelle. Her hair was gray, a beautiful dye-free, natural gray. She wore her hair in a loose bun, free enough to cover the tops of her ears. Her face was long and thin with a perfect nose set on it. Helen did have some wrinkles etched in her face, but they were slight and on her distinguished face, they symbolized wisdom and experience rather than age. She sat up straight in her chair, her posture as straight as an arrow, yet she did not look stiff and uncomfortable. Tiny trails of tears followed the contours of her cheeks, getting lost in pools on her long, pale neck. Dr. Devon, with fountain pen in hand, was taking careful notes and thinking through what Helen was telling him. Finally, she stopped talking long enough for the doctor to feel comfortable interrupting her.
“Please accept my condolences to you and your family in regards to the unexpected passing of your uncle,” Dr. Devon declared while shoving an open tissue box across the coffee table that separated him from Helen.
“Thank you,” Helen responded, slightly winded from unloading her emotions onto the doctor. She reached down with long manicured nails and plucked two tissues from the cardboard box. She gingerly dabbed at the tears on her cheeks.
“You have spoken about your uncle so many times in our sessions that I feel I knew him,” Dr. Devon declared and then after a pause, he stated, “But, I do feel it quite unusual for you to react the way you are in regards to your uncle’s death.”
Helen stopped drying her eyes and cheeks. Her facial expression tightened. “Why do you think that this is unusual, Holbrook?” she questioned, using the doctor’s first name.
Dr. Devon cleared his throat while thinking about the best way to answer Helen’s question. “Well…uh…I am not sure that this is the appropriate time…I mean…to revisit all of the horrific things your uncle did to you as a child,” the doctor hemmed and hawed.
Helen continued glaring at Dr. Devon, patiently waiting for him to finish his thought. She balled up the tissues in her white-knuckled fist. For the longest time, the doctor and Helen just sat there, she staring at him while his eyes looked down at the coffee table. The only sound came from the rhythmic ticking of the mantle clock as it measured the uncomfortable pause between doctor and patient.
Helen broke the silence, asking, “Well, doctor, are you finished?”
“Uh,” Dr. Devon mumbled, knowing that he was opening up a can of worms. After a long pause, he responded, “Your uncle was one of the main reasons you came to me five years ago. It has taken you most of your life and all of your inner strength to find the courage to forgive this monster for the emotional and physical damage he inflicted on you as a child.”
Figure Three - The beautiful and elegant Helen Duvall
What did her uncle do to Helen and how did Dr. Holbrook Devon get involved? Dr. Devon cannot stand not controlling every situation when it comes to his patients. You will have to read CLOCK STRIKES THREE to see what happens between Dr. Devon and Helen Duvall. I promise, you would never guess….CLICK TO ORDER CLOCK STRIKES THREE

Sunday, October 23, 2016

WheN LeAves cHangE CoLor and the PUeBLo rEvOLt

Figure One - Painting from buffalo hide depicting Pueblo Revolt of 1680. 
Most  Americans believe the American Revolutionary War of 1776 was the first revolutionary war in the United States, but there was one that was much older, the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Let me give you a summary of what happened.   

When the original Spanish conquistadors explored what would become New Mexico and Colorado in the late 1500s, tensions between the Spaniards and Pueblo Indians were palpable. The Spaniards had new and dazzling items that the Pueblo Indians could use and covet while the Indians had more than enough land and minerals to share with the Spaniards.

As the years advanced, the tension between the Pueblo Indians and the Spanish settlers rose.
As new Spanish settlers arrived in the New Mexico territory, they brought more cattle and an increased hunger for land and minerals. Then, the weather gods struck. At the beginning of 1660, a long sustained drought swept across New Mexico. Rivers dwindled into streams, and streams became dry washes. Winds carried desert sand high into the brown skies. Cattle suffered and crops failed. Famine swept across
Figure Two - Po'pay unveiled at
U.S. capitol. Cliff Fragua (artist).  
the Pueblo Indian nation. At the same time, raids on the Pueblo Indians from nomadic Indian marauders became more frequent and daring. The Spaniards provided little relief for the Pueblo Indians who expected the Spaniards to help them. Disease soon followed famine and in 1671 an epidemic killed many people and most of the remaining cattle.

The Pueblo Indians were highly religious. With drought and famine set upon them, they wondered why their gods were punishing them. Perhaps, they were being punished because of the Spaniards? The Spaniards were pushing to convert the Pueblo Indians from what the Spaniards thought was paganism to Christianity and Catholicism. The Spaniards went about this conversion by expunging the symbols and beliefs of the Pueblo Indian's religion. The destruction of the sacred Pueblo kivas and kachina masks in the Spanish-led purge in 1661 added to the growing discontent of the Pueblo Indians.        

By 1675, tensions between the Pueblo Indians and the Spaniards became insurmountable. Governor Juan Francisco Treviño ordered the arrest of forty-seven Pueblo medicine men, charging them with sorcery. The Spaniards convicted four of the medicine men to death. The Spaniards hung three of these men while the remaining medicine man took his own life. The Spaniards publically flogged the rest of the medicine men before sentencing them to jail. 
Outraged, the Pueblo Indians moved against the Spanish capital city of Santa Fe and forced the governor to release the surviving medicine men from jail. The Spaniards knew one of these medicine men as Po'pay. In the eyes of the Pueblo Indians, Po'pay was powerful magic. After his release from jail, Po'pay took up residence at Taos Pueblo. For the next five years, Po'pay and others planned the destruction of the Spaniards. 

Figure Three - Map of key Pueblos at
beginning of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.  
Po'pay accomplished something that no other Pueblo Indian had ever done before. Po'pay united the separate nations of the Pueblo Indians. Most of the estimated sixty or more pueblos had fewer than four hundred individuals with a couple of pueblos have two thousand or more people. Each pueblo lived more or less autonomously. Po'pay created a coordinated and united front within the Pueblo Indians against the advanced weaponry and horses of the Spaniards.  

On August 10, 1680, the

Pueblo Revolt began.

My novel WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR commences thirty days prior to the start of the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. In the scene below, a rich Spanish landowner named Juan Pablo Ortega is attempting to convince the Spanish government of New Mexico that they have pushed the Pueblo Indians too far. Here is how that went.  
The date was July 9, of the year 1680. The location was the province of Nuevo México, or New Mexico, in the provincial capital of Santa Fe. A distinguished elderly man with a white beard sat in an overly ornate chair in the provincial governor’s office. The massive chair dwarfed the white-bearded man, who sat across an opulent desk from Señor Governor Antonio De Otermín, the Spanish ruler over all of New Mexico. The governor had personally handled all of the details of decorating his spacious office. Governor Otermín imported from Spain the hand-carved chairs and the massive oak desk he sat behind, a far and costly journey for mere pieces of furniture. The white-bearded man was holding onto the last thread of his temper, taking out most of his pent-up anger on the wide brimmed sombrero twisting in his hands. His face could not disguise his frustration and fury as the governor continued to talk down to him, as if he were a child. Sitting to the right of the white-bearded man was another government bureaucrat, a man named Francisco Xavier, the arrogant Secretary of War. The white-bearded man had just concluded another intense argument with the governor. The old man’s face was flushed with anger, a stark contrast to his ghost-white beard. The governor sat smugly behind the king-sized desk, knowing that he made all of the final decisions related to the running of the province. Señor Governor Otermín glared at the white-bearded man with an expression somewhere between dislike and calloused indifference.

The white-bearded man was not going to give up easily. He circled around for another attempt at convincing the governor of his original argument. “Señor governor, we must allow the Indios de Pueblo the freedom to practice their beliefs…their religion, without interference from the Franciscan priests—”

“Señor Ortega, you are very wrong on this issue!” Secretary Francisco Xavier interrupted the white-bearded man. “We cannot let these people decide their religion for themselves! What they have is not a religion. The Indios de Pueblo do not even believe in our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. How can you call what they have a religion when it does not include our Savior? What they have is nothing more than pagan rituals. The Indios believe in many gods, not one God! Our God! The priests…our priests are attempting to convert them to the right belief, that there is only one almighty God…our God…my God, señor.”
Juan Pablo Ortega avoided looking at Secretary Francisco Xavier. Juan Pablo had traveled to Santa Fe and the Governor’s Palace to meet with the governor, not one of the many lackeys the governor had surrounding him.

“The Indios de Pueblo are suffering from starvation and they need protection from the other tribes who are preying on them,” Juan Pablo continued. “Perhaps if we helped them with food and protection, they would be more open to looking at other religious beliefs.”

“My dear Juan Pablo,” Señor Governor Otermín jumped back into the debate, unable to disguise his contempt for Juan Pablo Ortega. “When the King of Spain gave this land to me…gave this land for me to rule over, one of my goals was to civilize the Indios. The only way to civilize them is to convert them to the one true religion, Catholicism. This is what the King of Spain intends for me to do and this is what I shall accomplish. I do not care if the Indios de Pueblo are hungry, in fact, this only makes them more dependent on me. I do not care if the Apache and the Comanche raid the pueblos. This only makes the Indios de Pueblo more dependent on me. This is exactly the way I planned it.”

I think you get the picture. The Pueblo Revolt throws the family of Juan Pablo Ortega into the raging fires of war. You will have to read WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR to find out what happens to the Ortega Family AND to New Mexico. You will be surprised at the outcome of this story.  

Figure four - WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR by John Bradford Branney


Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Bartender in CLOCK STRIKES THREE, a John Bradford Branney Novel

Figure One - Lloyd, the creepy bartender from the movie The Shining.
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) confided in Lloyd. Big mistake.  
How many of you have ever befriended a bartender? Okay, how many of you have confided in a bartender, told them some of your more personal information? Have you asked your bartending "consigliere" their advice on important decisions in your life? Okay, hands up…let me do a  count….hold up your hands high if you have befriended a bartender and confided in them…

Yep, you over there! There's one. How about you? Did you befriend a bartender or are you scratching your nose? Yep, okay. You...and you in the front row and you in the back row, that’s right, you! Yep, there are quite a few people in the audience who have confided in a bartender. It may have something to do with the tongue-lubricating liquor served in these establishments.      

When it comes to discussing important issues in our lives, most of us would rather consult family, friends, or maybe a close coworker. However, as you can see from the show of hands, some people confide in their bartenders. These same people may not have friends or family to confide, or perhaps, they are too embarrassed to confide with friends or family, or perhaps, they have just become friends with the bartender. There is absolutely nothing wrong with bouncing ideas off your local bartender.     

During my own lifetime, I have frequented many bars and drank at the bar while watching a sports event or conversing with friends, but I have never befriended or confided in a bartender. I am a very private person, that might have something to do with it. My father was the exact opposite. He owned vending machines, such as pinball machines, bowling machines, candy machines and cigarette machines. He put many of them in bars and businesses around several towns. He would get to know the bartenders since in many cases they were his customers. There were a few of these bartenders I remember my father actually quoting and talking about. I am sure he reciprocated and spoke to them about what was going on in his life.   

Figure Two - Sam Malone from the TV comedy,
Cheers. Everyone trusted Sam.
In my most recent book entitled CLOCK STRIKES THREE, my main character, a young man named Joey Gellar, befriended a bartender, an ex-police detective named Hank. Joey had a pretty tough upbringing and so far, life had dished out some pretty rough times for Joey Gellar. In the passage below, taken from my book CLOCK STRIKES THREE, Joey just entered his friend’s bar and is instantly interrogated by Hank, the bartender and owner of the bar. Joey has to explain to his much older bartender friend why he was seeing a psychiatrist. I will catch you on the other side of the dialogue.

            “How are you, Joey?” Hank welcomed his friend and patron. “You are a little early to begin drinking today. Did your boss let you off early?”

“I had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and decided not to go back to work,” Joey explained.

“Doctor’s appointment?” Hank queried. “Hope everything is all right, amigo.”

“Yeah, the judge ordered me to go to a doctor as part of my sentence.”

Hank looked confused. “The judge sent you to a doctor?” he asked. “Are you talking about the legal issue you had with those bikers?”

“Yep,” Joey declared and then added, “Double shot of Early Times.”

Hank turned around and retrieved the bottle of bourbon from the counter. He turned around with the bottle and fetched a fresh glass. “Rocks or neat?” he asked Joey.


Hank poured and handed the glass to Joey. “The judge has you going to a doctor?” Hank repeated his question, his curiosity mounting.


“What is the doctor supposed to do?” Hank asked with tongue in cheek. “Remove your head from your ass?” 

“Ha, ha, Hank, aren’t you funny?”

“Seriously,” Hank said with a grin. “Why would the judge send you to a doctor? It makes no sense. Did you get a hernia lifting those Ferrari wheels?”

Embarrassed by the questioning, Joey downed the double shot of bourbon instead of answering. Hank stood behind the bar, his arms braced against the counter, waiting for Joey to reveal the mystery. “Those bikers hurt you or something?” he probed. 

 Finally, Joey felt enough pressure to get Hank off his back. “All right,” he mumbled, barely above a whisper. “The judge thought it would be a good idea if I went to a psychiatrist. Now, are you satisfied that I answered your question?”

“HA! HA! HA! HA!” Hank burst into laughter loud enough to raise the heads of the two drunks in the corner, temporarily, at least.  

“C’mon, Hank, quit laughing!” Joey implored. “It ain’t funny!”  

“HA! HA! HA! Bullshit, it ain’t funny!” Hank roared. Finally, Hank calmed down long enough to ask Joey for confirmation, “Let me get this straight, young one, the judge ordered psychiatric treatment for you? What does he think the bikers screwed your noggin up or something?”

The questioning embarrassed Joey. He wanted to scream. Joey did not need any more questions or critiques from the peanut gallery. He felt insecure enough without Hank’s help. Finally, Joey answered the question in a very measured tone of voice. “The judge thought my bad childhood messed me up or something like that,” Joey recalled. “He told me I was a magnet for bad people and trouble. He thought that a psychiatrist could help me deal with my bad childhood and help me figure out why I attract so much trouble.”

“I am sorry, kid,” Hank apologized, suddenly very solemn.

In CLOCK STRIKES THREE, the relationship between Joey and his psychiatrist is something that Joey and Bartender Hank have to revisit often. Hank always looks out for Joey and Hank does not like what is going on with the psychiatrist's treatment. Hank does not mince words when expressing his concerns to Joey. How does this triangular relationship between patient, doctor and bartender work out? You won't believe it if I told you. You are just going to have to read CLOCK STRIKES THREE to find out for yourself.

In the meantime, you can order CLOCK STRIKES THREE on the link below. Please enjoy. Above are some bartenders you just might remember.

CLICK for CloCK sTrikeS THree


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Novel CLOCK STRIKES THREE - Bunker, Crane, or Lecter?

Figure One. Armchair psychiatrist Archie Bunker. If you don't
know who Archie Bunker was, you are too young. ;).  

It is difficult for some of us to admit we need mental or physical help from a doctor,
any doctor, any reason, especially a psychiatrist. I know more than a
few people over the years who may have wanted to suggest to me that I needed some psychiatric help and they were probably right.   

In my recent book CLOCK STRIKES THREE, I wanted to show how difficult it is to breach the subject of getting help from a psychiatrist when the patient does not believe he or she needs help. In CLOCK STRIKES THREE, my main character is a young man named Joey Gellar. Joey is caught by the police committing a crime with some really bad dudes. We can argue all day long whether or not Joey was coerced by these bad dudes into participating in this crime caper or whether he went along using his own free will. You will have to read CLOCK STRIKES THREE to derive your own opinion on that. However, that does not matter since Joey's court-appointed attorney somehow convinced the court that Joey was basically a good egg, led down the crime trail by some bad eggs and he was caught, but it was not his fault, it was his upbringing that allowed him to be easily coerced and manipulated. That was not an easy sell for that attorney, but the judge bought it hook, line, and sinker.  
Figure Two. Frasier Winslow Crane, fictional character on the
American television sitcoms Cheers and Frasier.

Yes, it is true. Joey’s court-appointed attorney convinced a real ball breaker of a judge to find some compassion for this poor kid named Joey Gellar. Yes, I heard violin music playing in the background when I wrote that part of the book. The court-appointed attorney told the court about Joey's bad upbringing, how Joey grew up in a broken home, how his father had abandoned Joey and his siblings, and how Joey and his siblings were raised by a prostitute / drug addict mother. Do you feel the tears coming on?

The judge found mercy for Joey which sets this thrilling adventure off into overdrive. The judge sentences Joey to probation. The judge also makes Joey seek psychiatric counseling from a court appointed psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Holbrook Devon. Now, I am not going to tell you what Dr. Holbrook Devon is like. You are going to have to discover this on your own. His practice might resemble one of the three psychiatrists on this page or it might be a weighting of all three psychiatrists or it might be none of the above. You be the judge. 

Figure Three. Dr. Hannibal Lecter is a psychiatrist in a
series of suspense novels written by Thomas Harris. 

What the judge did for Joey was truly compassionate and fantastic. Joey really had a bad upbringing and he could really use some psychiatric help to deal with his life. However, was Dr. Holbrook Devon the right individual to help Joey? You will have to read CLOCK STRIKES THREE to see how that relationship works out.

Were Joey Gellar and Dr. Holbrook Devon a match made in heaven or were they a lighted match in a pool of gasoline? I can guarantee you that their relationship will surprise you in more ways than one. 

Guess which one of these three psychiatrists Dr. Holbrook Devon resembles the most. Then, read CLOCK STRIKES THREE to find out the answer.         


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Joey Gellar and CLOCK STRIKES THREE by John Bradford Branney

The main premise of my latest book entitled Clock Strikes Three centers around the theme of  “Patient versus Doctor". I might add that Clock Strikes Three ties in well with the tried and true “Man versus Beast.  I will let the readers decide whether the beast is the patient or the doctor, in this case the doctor is a well-known psychiatrist. 

In Clock Strikes Three, a young man, with a very checkered past, by the name of Joseph Gellar tries to match wits and intellect with a court-appointed psychiatrist named Dr. Holbrook Devon. Needless to say, Joey Gellar has his work cut out for him, facing the brilliant and manipulative Dr. Devon Holbrook. By the end of the book, each reader will have their own impression and judgement of the relationship between this psychiatrist and patient. I expect a diverse opinion about the ending since each of us bring our own experiences and paradigms into the book with us. Each of us should see characters from a book under our own light from life.

In this blog posting, let me first introduce you to the patient in this "Patient versus Psychiatrist" drama. Here is a passage from Chapter One of the book where readers get to meet Joey Gellar:  

Joseph or Joey Gellar was all of five foot seven inches tall and weighed one hundred thirty pounds soaking wet. He strutted down the sidewalk in front of the bar as if he owned the city. What Joey lacked in size, he made up in cockiness. When he reached the front door to the Muleskinner’s Ice House, he flung the door open, wanting to make a grand entrance. He sauntered across the stained wooden planks of the floor, looking like a puffed up cat in the midst of a pack of hungry dogs. His eyes burned from the thick cloud of cigarette and cigar smoke that hung in the air. His squinty eyes scanned the floor of the massive barroom. He was looking for someone he knew. Most of the bikers were crowded around a line of pool tables against the far wall. Posters of mostly-naked woman were plastered on the wall behind the pool tables. A few of the bikers looked up when Joey came in, but then never gave him a second thought. That was one of Joey’s problems; no one ever gave Joey Gellar a second thought.

Joey’s eyes prowled the barroom, checking out the groups of bikers in booths and standing around. It did not take him too long to find who he was looking for. How could he miss Big Bill standing at the bar, all six foot six and two hundred fifty pounds of him? Big Bill was conversing with another biker while puffing on a massive cigar. Joey could not just saunter over to Big Bill. He needed to know who was talking to Big Bill. Joey had to be careful. He owed money to more than a few people in the city and he sure did not want to walk up to one of his creditors, especially with his light wallet. In this lawless establishment, he could be risking life and limb. Joey tried to blend in with the wooden support column in the center of the barroom floor. He peeked out from behind it and spied on the two men. The unidentified man was facing away from Joey. All Joey could see was a baldpate on top of the man’s head and the thin strands of gray-colored hair coming together in a pitifully sparse ponytail running halfway down the man’s back. Through the thin veil of the ponytail, Joey could see that the man wore the same motorcycle club colors that Big Bill wore. Joey peered around. The last thing he wanted was another patron to catch him spying. He could end up in a dumpster somewhere. For an instant, Joey thought about making a run for it, a hasty retreat out of the bar, perhaps coming back at a different time or day. However, Joey stayed put. He did not run. His business with Big Bill was urgent. Finally, the man with the skimpy ponytail turned and headed towards the john at the other side of the barroom floor. Joey knew the man. 

Joey Gellar was twenty-six years old when Clock Strikes Three took place. His twenty-six years had
been pretty rough. He grew up in a single parent family. His father had abandoned the family early on, so Joey really did not even know his father. Growing up, he had no male role models to look up to. And his mother? Well, she was pretty much missing in action, as well. It was only Joey and his siblings attempting to survive. Since Joey was the eldest child, he pretty much had responsibility for his siblings. The Gellars never had any money and their home life was a disaster. Joey quit high school and in one of his smarter moves, he went back later for his GED.

Even though Joey took full responsibility for raising his siblings, his own life was an unmitigated mess. Joey’s feet never seemed to be grounded on any positive influences, besides his job. Bad people continued to manipulate and influence Joey Gellar’s actions, drawing him down the wrong path, time after time. Finally, his life bottomed out and a hard-nosed judge showed sympathy for Joey. The judge’s sentence of probation and the assignment of court-appointed psychiatrist Dr. Holbrook Devon to help Joey, just might finally be the ticket for turning Joey’s life around. This was Joey’s second...maybe third...probably sixth chance of turning his life around. Perhaps, all will end well for Joey Gellar in Clock Strikes Three. I am not telling! ;).    

In Clock Strikes Three, I hope that Joey is a character that readers will empathize with, a character who readers can root for.  The readers of Clock Strikes Three will face the same questions I did when I originally wrote the story. Will Joey finally be able to turn his tumultuous life around or was it too late? Will renowned psychiatrist Dr. Holbrook Devon help Joey? When I wrote Clock Strikes Three I did not know the answers to these questions until the characters took over the story and wrote the book for me. I, like you, discovered the answers to these questions, page by page. You will be surprised at how the characters ended this drama.  

Clock Strikes Three is available at all major booksellers, including Black Rose Writing, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. CLICK BELOW for Ordering Information.