Portal to Myself–An Unpublished Novel (1)

In 2000 Hampton Roads published my first novel “Motorcycle Enlightenment”. In 1998 I began writing my second novel, “Portal to Myself” but procrastinated so long that by the time I finished it Hampton Roads was no longer publishing fiction. I decided, therefore, to place the novel on the blog in daily installments.

Portal to Myself

Charles Sides


Is it possible that with each decision we make a part of us enters an alternative reality?


Dave Wilson was a real estate agent, but his true occupation was searching for the meaning and purpose of life. One day good fortune fell from the sky. He learned that he was the sole heir of an uncle who provided him with enough money to quit his job and begin the quest in earnest. He knew there was an answer and he would find it.

As most seekers do, he flew to Nepal and India expecting to find a guru who, just happening to be sitting on a mountaintop, would radiate the answers he sought. He found gurus, of course, but not a single one was willing to clearly elicit Dave’s specific meaning and purpose for life or, for that matter, the meaning of the universe itself. Sure there was peace and love and unitive consciousness … but that was too abstract. Dave wanted something more concrete. He wanted a direct answer, maybe even to have the sky open and an angelic being descend and then, miraculously, the whole universe would make sense. But, alas, it was not to be found in the East and the answer remained hidden.

Next Dave saw an ad for a Colorado spa which promised that “all your questions will be answered”. He flew first class. There he was pampered with massages, bathed in hot tubs and calmed in meditation. But, alas, all his questions remained unanswered until one day he was sipping lemonade beside the pool and had an epiphany.

Well, maybe it wasn’t exactly an epiphany. It was more like Dave splitting into three parts of himself, each one separate and unknown to the other. Had he realized what was happening he would probably have seen a psychiatrist and been diagnosed schizophrenic. But fortunately for the Dave who was sipping lemonade, he saw only one course of action.

All the gurus and all the spa personnel had told him the answers lie within. “Within what?” Dave asked, although he knew they meant inside him. But where inside? His head? His heart? Dave wasn’t certain. But, fortunately for him, he no longer needed a job and had enough money, so he would begin searching within…still uncertain exactly where that was. Undaunted, he would start writing about his journey and, as he did, the answers would rise up and fill the pages. Dave would become an author. Why, Don Quixote himself would have followed Dave on this quest.


While this Dave, the one sitting beside the pool sipping lemonade, was fantasizing about becoming an author, another version of himself was forming. This second split-off Dave was visualizing a bookstore he had been trying to sell when he had been a real estate agent. In this version Dave saw himself purchasing the bookstore and spending his days reading. Surely, through books, he could discover the meaning of life and share the answer with his customers. He pictured himself as a lesser guru, more like one sitting on a stool instead of a mountaintop.


The realities weren’t finished manifesting. A third Dave lay in waiting. In this one he actually had a more complete vision of the future. He saw John McGregor’s farm transformed into the home of the Executive Park Business Consultants. “This information was dumped into my head,” he would later tell others. “I knew the price John wanted for the land, saw the design of the building, and even envisioned my secretary Debbie sitting at her desk. It was all there.”


One Dave, three alternative versions, finished their lemonade, checked out of the spa and flew back to Barnesville.


Dave Wilson, the soon-to-be-philosopher/writer-if-he-gets-around-to-it, returned from the spa to his small but pleasant home on Elm Street. He bought the best computer and printer and set up his office. Then he sat down to write, waiting for the pages to fill themselves … but nothing happened.

Dave knew the problem immediately. The cars on Elm Street distracted him. He needed peace and quiet. He called the real estate firm where he used to work and asked for a realtor to show him country property on which he could build a house. The realtor who had replaced him and who, coincidentally, answered the phone was Barbara Tagor.

Barbara and Dave spent several days driving around the hills of Barnesville, walking through woods and sitting by streams. Dave told her he was searching within for the meaning of life and as soon as he discovered it he was going to write. Barbara told him she was going to paint, eventually. Although they were looking for property they found each other.

After a few weeks they also found a parcel of land where Dave could build a house on a knoll and have a wonderful view of the distant mountains. He could sit by a stream in the back or walk to a nearby lake. He was sold on the property and Barbara.

Dave spent the next several months with architects and contractors at Trent Construction until he saw his house appear on paper. A year later when the house appeared in stone, Dave and Barbara moved in. Dave now had a perfect office with a view for inspiration, books for research, a computer for typing, and a recliner for napping.


The other Dave, the bookstore-share-wisdom-with-the customers-bookstore-owner Dave completed the purchase of the Reading Place with the assistance of Barbara Tagor. He was unhappy about having to spend any money and disappointed that Barbara couldn’t negotiate a lower price. The deal was reluctantly completed and a month later Dave was the new owner.

Gail Jones was the only employee at the bookstore. Although Dave was quiet and somewhat miserly with his money and time, she enjoyed his company and assistance. The previous owners had semi-retired and turned the store over to her, hoping that someday the store would find a new owner. Dave brought new interest and ideas and together he and Gail envisioned a profitable business.

Eventually a relationship developed and Gail began spending most of her non-working hours at Elm Street. Soon she moved in.

The house was small with only two bedrooms, one of which served as Dave’s office and meditation room. Gail, therefore, used the dining room for her office and they ate at a counter in the kitchen.

Gail thought the house was small and wished they could build one in the country.  She looked around on the weekends and found a property that had a knoll with a stream in the back and a lake nearby. When she finally convinced Dave to look at it he said it was too expensive and the discussion ended.


The I’m-going-to-buy-John McGregor’s-farm-Dave returned from the spa to his small but pleasant home on Elm Street and immediately called the real estate firm where he had worked. He asked the new realtor, Barbara Tagor, to contact John McGregor and negotiate the sale of his farm which John didn’t know was for sale. This Dave, however, had seen the future and knew it was for sale and the price John McGregor wanted. On the drive to McGregor’s farm Dave explained his plans to Barbara. With a little negotiation and a lot of money, the farm took its first step toward fulfilling its destiny.

Barbara was impressed with Dave and he was attracted to her. Soon she was involved in the planning phases of the building and shortly thereafter in designing the office she would occupy.

With a relationship developing Dave realized he needed a more spacious house than the one on Elm Street. So, he and Barbara spent several days driving around the hills of Barnesville looking for property. They found the perfect site with a stream in the back and a lake nearby. These were pluses that increased the resale value.

Dave focused on the business plan that had dropped into his head a month earlier at the spa. Then one day while taking a mental break and leaning back in his office chair an idea for the design of a house fell into his head. He quickly sketched it on the back of an envelope. Not much interested in the details, he telephoned an architect at Trent Construction and asked if they could make a blueprint from his rough sketch. They could and soon the home became a reality. Barbara and Dave moved in.

Dave had designed the perfect house which would soon become a museum of Dave Wilson memorabilia. The built-in bookcases would house his prized golf trophies. The walls would be covered with photographs of Dave and famous golf personalities who would be invited to play in the Executive Park Business Consultants Pro/Am Event, held every year to support Barnesville’s local charities but more importantly, to increase Dave’s wealth.


Writer Dave wakes up on the lounge chair beside the lake. For a moment he’s disoriented. He was dreaming … again. He stares at the water and waits for a clue to remember the dream. It involved a bookstore and he was standing behind the counter. The place seemed familiar.

Dave leaves his lakeside chair and walks the path back to his home on the knoll so he can use the dream as an idea for a short story. He’s been writing mostly short stories that grow out of dreams or strange thoughts that suddenly occur to him. He jokingly refers to napping at the lake as doing research.

Back at his desk he begins a story called “Lake Dream 502”.

“I was sleeping at the lake and awakened in what seemed like the middle of a dream,” he writes. “I was standing behind the counter of a bookstore.” He stops and thinks. It was familiar. It was the bookstore on Maple Street. I believe it was one of my old business listings.

He returns to typing: “The bookstore is one I had been trying to sell. I think it was called The Reading Place. The owners wanted to retire but couldn’t find a buyer. The place was old, the inventory ancient and the profits nonexistent. I think the store probably closed but in the dream it was open and I owned it.”

He pauses to think more. There was a female. Who was she? He searches his memory but the details of the dream have faded.

Honing his writing skills, Dave fills in fictional details. “The proprietor of the thriving bookstore called The Reading Place is Dave Wilson. He’s assisted by his loyal employee, Bonnie…” he considers an appropriate last name…“Bookbinder. Together they turned a failing business into a local success story.”

Dave works on a few paragraphs, introduces customers, and sets the tone for the story. He rereads the material and declares it “not bad” which means he’ll probably never open the file again.

to be continued…………


5 Responses to “Portal to Myself–An Unpublished Novel (1)”

  1. A Portal to Myself – "I of my own knowledge…" Says:

    […] Portal to Myself–An Unpublished Novel […]

  2. janeperanteau Says:

    Intriguing. Hope to see more soon.

  3. charlessides Says:

    Thank you, Jane. I will attempt to publish an installment every day.

  4. Nancy Ford Says:

    This is fun, Charles. Glad it’s finally being seen.

  5. charlessides Says:

    Thank you, Nancy. Your comments when you read it a long time ago encouraged me to make it available.

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