Title: LOVE, LOSS AND LAGNIAPPE
Author: Richard Robbins
Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Genre: Literary Fiction
Life is good for Dr. Drew Coleman, a successful young eye surgeon living in Uptown New Orleans, and he knows it. Having met and married his beautiful medical school classmate, Kate, the two settle happily into the routine of raising their two young daughters.
Drew’s charmed life is soon shattered by devastating news, causing him to go on a ten-year transcontinental journey of self-discovery, during which he explores the nature of God and Man, the divine inspiration for many of New York’s landmarks and artistic treasures, and the relationship between the found and the lost souls passing on the street. He meets a number of memorable characters, including the young blue-haired runaway, Blue, who renounced her given name when forced to leave her Minnesota home with her girlfriend, Anna.
In time, he discovers and explains the scientific basis for the meaning of life, and is finally found, or finds himself, setting the stage for a bittersweet and memorable ending.
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About the Author
Richard Robbins has always liked telling good stories, but it was not until his youngest child left for college that he was able to find the time to put them into print. His first novel, Love, Loss, and Lagniappe was inspired by actual events in his life, and utilizes Richard’s Medical and Business School background to explore the journey of self-discovery after heartbreaking loss, while revealing the scientific basis for the meaning of life (You’ll have to read it to find out!).
Richard is currently working on his second novel, Panicles, a multi-generational story of the intersecting fate of two families and the price of fame versus the simpler pleasures of a grounded life.
Richard lives in New York City with his love and inspiration, Lisa, his wife of thirty years (and counting), near their beloved grown children.
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Drew picked up his pace as he walked across campus on a steamy Saturday morning. He was scheduled to lead two Admissions Office tours for high school juniors and seniors starting in five minutes. It would likely be a busy week, since seniors had recently received their acceptance letters and the deadline to reply loomed only weeks away. Furthermore, as Spring Break had hit for northeastern high schools, there would be a roomful of well dressed New Yorkers and Bostonians soaking in the “local culture.” And they did not like to be kept waiting.
Drew had no time to stop for coffee on the way over, which might become a problem. Although he could grab some standard coffee free from the student cafeteria, this morning called for the good stuff. There would be pots of his favorite PJ’s coffee in the Admissions office, but they reserved that coffee, along with fresh croissants, strictly for the visiting students. Admissions required tour leaders to follow three essential rules: don’t flirt with the visiting students, don’t flirt with the moms, and don’t touch the refreshments.
At least he still had enough time to admire a lovely New Orleans spring morning. Spring in The Crescent City brought its own special feel. The morning sun burned the dew off the grass, creating the humidity for which New Orleans was famous—or infamous. The magnolia and cherry blossoms had burst into full bloom, creating a white and pink pastel background for the canvas of Victorian homes and buildings that gave Uptown New Orleans its distinct character.
The morning was typically quiet—few places as peaceful as a college campus at 8:45 on a Saturday morning. It would soon come alive with the sounds of backpack-sporting students purposefully going about their ways, but for now, he enjoyed having the campus to himself.
For an eighteen-year-old from Florida—the land of strip malls and perfectly straight roads, where each fountain-fronted community’s location was described as if on a Cartesian grid—New Orleans, with its unique architecture and culture, felt like a European movie set. Or a dream.
As he crossed the quad and walked under the breezeway of the library, the massive outline of Gibson Hall, which housed the Office of Admissions, came into view. Tour guides had been taught extensively about Gibson’s checkered history. It bore the name of Confederate General and US Senator Randall Lee Gibson, the first President of Tulane University. The massive Romanesque structure sat majestically across from the grand entrance of Audubon Park, separated only by St. Charles Avenue, with its anachronistic but still quite functional open-air Street Cars.
As he approached Gibson Hall, a familiar voice called out to him. “Cutting it a bit close, aren’t we?”
Drew looked over at his friend Matt, who held a steaming cup of cafeteria coffee, calm and sweat free, looking as if he had been there just the right amount of time.
“Made it with almost a minute to spare. Why come any earlier than you have to?” replied Drew. “What’s it look like for today?”
“A big group, lots of kids from New Jersey and Maryland. I talked to a few of them while they were signing in.” Matt blew on his coffee.
“That’s not what I was asking. Anybody cute? Anyone from Hollywood Hills High?”
“Dude, you know the rules. Plus, you see them for an hour and a half, then never again. Why even make the effort?”
Drew shrugged and shook his head. Classic Matt, perfectly rational.
Matt, along with their friend Clayton, was one of Drew’s two best friends from Hollywood Hills. As seniors, the three of them had decided to attend Tulane together. Matt, at six feet four inches of solid steel, was the picture of youthful vigor. Drew figured that’s what he got from eating a macrobiotic diet before anybody had ever heard of macrobiotic, and from working out every day.
Matt was a lefty and a heckuva baseball player, and such an intimidating presence that during baseball practice, Drew would literally shake in his shoes hoping that Matt would not hit the ball to him. He was also the most disciplined person Drew had ever known, numbering all his shirts and wearing them in sequence so that they each received the same amount of use.
Although Drew didn’t think of Matt as naturally funny, unlike most unfunny people, he appreciated good humor, which made Drew like him even more. He could live a hundred years and never find a better person or a truer friend.
Thursday morning tours followed a routine schedule: half the group took a walking campus tour from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM, while the other half sat through an information session. Then, from 10:30 to noon, they switched. As the clock turned to 9:00 AM, the tour leaders headed to opposite corners of the admissions office to divide up the large group.
As Matt turned to throw away his cafeteria coffee, Drew called out to him, “Hold on there, big guy. Give me that cup.”
In the activity of the moment, Drew took the cup, snuck over to the refreshments table, and filled it up with a generous helping of PJ’s coffee.
None of the cafeteria stuff today. Time for High Test!
As long as he kept it in the cafeteria cup, he figured they would never discover his petty theft. He also gave a longing eye to the Croissants, glistening in their buttery glory, but thought better of pushing his luck.
Fueled and ready, the sweat from his morning rush finally drying, he stood ready to give his standard welcome speech to his group, complete with well-rehearsed laugh lines and fake self-deprecation. Nothing made him feel bigger than giving admissions tours as a college freshman to high school juniors and seniors. At that age, each year felt like a graduation. The difference between being a high school junior and senior had been big, but the difference between being a high school senior and college freshman was huge.
Drew felt it, and he loved it.
He took a long sip of the forbidden coffee and put his Trojan Horse of a cup down on the long mahogany table, as he had dozens of times before. He then turned toward the group and looked up, and….
One particular visiting student, standing eagerly near the front of the group, immediately captured his attention. He became momentarily disoriented and his vision blurred a bit, then sharpened directly upon her. Everyone else in the room—as far as he was concerned—had vanished. Continue reading