“He didn’t sing. No, he cut his heart open and bled his soul onto the stage.” – Eden Winters
Title: Highway Man (2nd Edition)
Author: Eden Winters
Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books
Pages/Word Count: 45 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Killian Desmond’s dreams died in a flash of pain and the scream of twisted metal. He lost it all the night a tour bus sailed off a mountainside, sending his band—with his brother—to their deaths.
Killian is dead too, if the papers are to be believed, and living a half-life of odd jobs, rodeo rides and pick up gigs. The road that once meant freedom is now Killy’s exile. No strings, no ties, no names for the one-night stands.
Answering a tribute band’s ad thrusts him face to face with his past, and into the arms of the one man who just might understand.
Review: I originally fell in love with Eden Winters’ Highway Man back in June of 2011, when I was reviewing for another blog. I just read that review and am halfway tempted to plagiarize myself because my opinion of this short but skillfully layered story hasn’t changed at all. If anything, it served to remind me of how well Killian Desmond and his Texas Rose play like the notes of a song: soulful, resonant, building one upon the other until it reaches an emotional crescendo before descending into a sweet and subtle finish.
Killy and Tex both have a cross to bear, they’ve both suffered loss on the journey through life, a journey that hasn’t always been kind or forgiving. Where music once filled Killy’s soul, that space is now filled with grief and bitter regrets. Killy keeps his pain close and his desolation closer, crisscrossing the country from one city to the next, a dead man hiding in plain sight as he travels life’s highway, drifting from one meaningless encounter to the next.
The overarching theme in Ms. Winters’ touching portrayal of Killian is that confession is good for the soul, and the truth sets him free. When Mike Rose comes into Killy’s life, through chance, synchronicity, a twist of fate, destiny—whatever name we offer to those inexplicable mysteries of the universe—it gives Killian not only the opportunity but the desire to purge all the despair he’s been carrying for so long, to make room for something and someone else in the half-life he’s been living.
Highway Man is a picturesque glimpse at the barren landscape of a man’s life. It’s not long on word count, nor does it offer any more background into the lives of these two men than is absolutely necessary to make this the perfect short story—long enough to engage and make it feel like a fully realized narrative, short enough to read in one sitting and leave you wishing for more Killy and Tex.
In true Eden Winters style, Highway Man is a romantic interlude that strums a poignant tune on the heartstrings, then comes to an uplifting end, earning its small gems recommendation.
You can buy Highway Man (2nd Edition) here: