A man and a woman are cast on separate paths with no apparent avenue of return to their former picture-perfect marriage. Against her picturesque portrayals of Ohio’s Great Serpent Mound, Arizona’s Navajo Nation, and its northern city of Flagstaff, author Linda Lee Greene unpacks a thrilling psychological drama—a deep examination of the complexities of marriage, of family dynamics, of the influence of marital vows and history. Spiced with compelling sequences of time-traveling, this page turner will keep you on the edge of your seat as deep dark secrets unfold bound up in breathtaking betrayal, murder, and home-wrecking love. Available on Amazon, B&N, and other online booksellers.
Excerpt of Cradle of the Serpent for book web site 5-25-18
Lily – Lily Light – light of my life, lamp unto my feet, of my eyes – my Lily mine.
You remember the day I made you mine. There was a light snow on the ground—the first of the season. It was a Saturday morning, not long after sunup. I had awakened earlier than usual, and something prompted me to get up and do my laundry. I didn’t like the laundry facilities in our apartment complex, and it was my practice to drive to another one not far away. The weird thing was that I never never did my laundry on Saturdays. You know what a creature of habit I am. A change in my routine throws me into turmoil. But this voice inside of me wouldn’t let up. ‘Get up now and go do your laundry!’ it demanded. I threw on some clothes and headed out of the door, my duffel bag of dirty laundry draped over my shoulder.
I tossed the bag in the trunk of my car, started the engine, and scraped the windshield of its layer of snow. The parking lot was nearly empty of its usual full-complement of cars, and only I was braving the cold and snow. It was eerily quiet—only a car or two passed on the typically busy road fronting the complex. Like me, hundreds of students of nearby Ohio State University rented apartments there, especially older students pursuing advanced degrees, many of them married and with young children. Although I was single and without children, I liked the apartment complex. I liked the family atmosphere. It was a Thanksgiving weekend and I figured most of my fellow locals were out of town visiting Grandma and Grandpa.
Just as I approached the door of my car to get in, I heard a crunching of footsteps in the crusted snow. I looked over my shoulder and a woman leading a dog on a leash was walking toward me. Her free arm raised and waving in the air, she called out, ‘Sir, sir, can you help me, please?!’ Since there was no one else about, I realized she was yelling at me.
‘What does this strange person want with me?!’ I said to myself. And strange she definitely was. I could see that she wore a pair of white pajamas with little red balls printed all over them. Later I figured out that they were Christmas balls, the kind you hang on Christmas trees. Her long blue robe was visible beneath a thin trench coat, one of those classic tan trench coats you see everywhere. She wore a red wool scarf around her neck and brown high-top boots, scuffed-up, field boots, I later realized. She was hatless and her black hair, tangled and stringy as if she’d just crawled out of a hard night in bed, hung limply over her shoulders and down her back. She was a sight to behold.
I turned toward her and nodded my head as she approached me. ‘Sir, I wonder if I can use your phone? I’ve lost my key and I can’t get into my apartment. I need to call my sister. She has an extra key and she can come and get me in. You see, I keep an extra key on a short little chain that I hang on the same hook with my dog’s leash…that way I don’t have to carry my big key chain with me with all of my other keys…I have a lot of keys, keys to my sister’s place and my parent’s, my lockbox, my storage unit, my car, and I don’t like to carry them with me when I walk my dog. By the way, this is Chester. Anyway, I always carry a plastic bag with me to pick up Chester’s poop, and I guess this morning, I tossed my key in the dumpster with the poop bag. Did I tell you this is Chester? Don’t worry, he won’t hurt you. I’m Lily,’ she said as she reached out a gloved hand.
I started to tell this Lily person to go to the office of the complex and get a pass key, and then remembered that it was closed for the holiday. I was in a foul mood most of the time in those days. I’d just extricated myself from a toxic relationship and I was anti-female. Hell, I was anti the entire human race, but then that’s another story, one entirely too long for this letter. It flashed in my mind that I’d just read somewhere that handshaking had begun back in the old days as a way of showing a stranger that you weren’t carrying a weapon in your hand. ‘But what of the weapon one carries in one’s head,’ I thought to myself. I shook the thought away and followed with a shake of her hand, and heard the extraordinary sound of my voice actually inviting her to my apartment to use my phone.
I brewed two cups of hot tea while she unpeeled her outer garments. She was quite tall and slight once some of the layers were laid aside. ‘I’m Jacob,’ I told her as I sat down on a chair across from where she sat on my couch. The preliminaries accomplished, we commenced to talk, easy talk, comfortable, interesting. She was a practicing archaeologist, and although she was five months my junior, she had graduated from Ohio State the previous year. The incredible thing was that she was already doing what I wanted so much to do. The idea occurred to me that this was a remarkable coincidence, and I listened intently to her lilting voice as she told me that she was working at a small dig in Chillicothe, the city that had been Ohio’s first capital and was located just a few miles south of Columbus. The serendipity continued as I learned that her special interest was also the same as mine; like me she wanted to uncover the mysteries of the indigenous people of the western hemisphere. An hour later, and to my disappointment, her sister arrived. As Lily exited my door, she said to me, ‘Come up and see me sometime. I’m in apartment 2B.’ And she laughed brightly at her allusion to Mae West.
All through the day, I couldn’t get her off of my mind. Once she’d peeled away the trench coat and scarf and gloves, and rearranged her messy hair with her fingers to a sparkling cascade of fathomless ebony, I saw the wonderment of her for the first time. Then her boots and socks came off in a jumbled heap on my floor, and I saw her dancing toes and the way they conducted her words. Despite the flannel Christmas pajamas, she was so elegant, so self-possessed, brainy, and funny in a kooky way. It was then that I knew I wanted this woman to be mine. I knew that if I played my cards right, she would be the best thing that would ever happen to me.
I was unable to do another thing the entire day but lie on my couch and fantasize about this woman. I never lie on my couch. I never waste a moment lying on anything, unless I’m sleeping in my bed. By seven o’clock in the evening, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I showered and shaved and cleaned up, scrubbing every little nook and cranny. A gargle and a splash of cologne, a deep breath, and I headed to her apartment.
You came to the door in one of those tiny spaghetti strap dresses, pale blue and shiny. It barely covered your backside. You were barefoot, and your toes–well, they still had that life of their own–your twinkling toes. I wanted to take them in my mouth and have them for dinner. But they would only have been an appetizer because there was so much more of you I wanted to devour. And within that same hour, you dropped a spaghetti strap, and then the other, and my real Lily came out to play—the Lily who belongs only to me! To me! To me! Within a week we were hooked, both of us, inextricably hooked–hook, line, and sinker.
Sometimes I think about that day, the way the universal forces turned fate our way—the way it made me get up out of bed and be in that parking lot, and the way it made you lose your key. Just think, it was a key, just a tiny key on a short length of chain that was the link to bringing us together. Now that I know you, I recognize that keeping the extra key on that little length of chain was just like you—you, that neat and organized Lily—that Lily who so diligently catalogues all of our finds, who researches so thoroughly the geologies, the histories of our archaeological locations—that exemplary, ultimate professional who has taught me so much about our work—that Lily who for days on end makes sure that my Lily ceases to exist when as night falls we’re both so dirty and sweaty and spent from our grueling field work that all we can do is to fall on our bunks, usually with our clothes on, and sleep the sleep of the dead until the break of dawn, and then we’re back at it again, your feet running as they hit the ground—I love that Lily, too—but that Lily isn’t my Lily—you know the Lily I’m talking about. My Lily is the one who as soon as we get back home and clean away all of the sweat and grime—my Lily is the one who with just a drop of a spaghetti strap comes back out to play with me. Oh Lily, how I love you. Your husband, Jacob
This story begins with a love letter written nearly twenty years earlier by Jacob Light to his wife Lily. The names are fictitious, as are all of the names in this writing, including my own. The anonymity is essential because I am a psychotherapist and this is my rendition of the case history of a former patient of mine, the aforementioned Lily Light. Her therapy spanned a period of roughly three years beginning in the summer of 2011, ostensibly because she was suffering from extreme anxiety linked to her fear that her husband was engaged in an extramarital affair…..
5 Stars…”Greene has an amazing gift for illuminating the lives of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. And by utilizing her exceptional grasp of human behavior, their needs, and their adaptive skills, as in the other books she has written, in "Cradle of the Serpent", sentence by remarkable sentence, she matures the novel’s protagonists into convincingly better people than they were before misfortune befell them. In the process, she stunned this reader with the astonishing quality of this novel.”
5 Stars…”…It angers me when historical fact is ignored, but in "Cradle of the Serpent," the intensive research into historical fact is apparent. Add to that an enthralling story of trust and betrayal, love and infidelity, and you have an enthralling novel that will keep you reading on.”
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