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Cigarette Break (The Angel of Death Book 1) (English Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Irma Fritz

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“Cigarette Break” is the first in a series of short stories about death. C.J. and Crystal seem to be a typical young couple vacationing with their three small children. If it were not for the fact that C.J. suffers from PTSD. He’s an American soldier on leave after three tours of duty in Iraq and with orders to deploy to Afghanistan. When they cross the border into Canada, C.J. says he’d rather kill himself than go back. The family stops at a remote B & B where they’re the only guests. Crystal decides it's an idyllic place for the kids. For C.J. it's the place where he plots his suicide. What happens when he decides he can’t leave her behind?


  • Format: Kindle Edition
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  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 27 Seiten
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  • Sprache: Englisch
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Mehr über den Autor

I had two childhoods. One was as a kid in Germany, the other as a teen in California. Now, my husband and I live in Seattle, WA. I was passionate about reading and wanting to be a writer from early on. Growing up in post-WWII Germany, I wrote poetry and short stories, and I read everything I could get my hands on, no matter if it was the classics or dime-store novels. I learned to appreciate Schiller and Goethe, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, and, finally, Shakespeare. He says it all! In college I also discovered contemporary writers and learned to tell good from bad. I earned a B.A. in English from California State University at Los Angeles, where I studied literature, poetry, novel & short story writing. I worked as a press agent at a few Hollywood PR companies until I experienced major burn out. Hollywood stars are sooo narcissistic! I traveled & worked at too many jobs to count. In Seattle I found a home in banking administration & human resources. I kept writing. I kept learning, attending workshops and writers' groups. Finally, I published my first novel, Irretrievably Broken. What a long road it's been!
Irretrievably Broken had many inspirations, but ultimately it was a newspaper clipping from my hometown in Germany. A neighboring property had been torn down and a mikvah, a Jewish ritual bath, was unearthed. Experts speculated that a synagogue would most likely be situated beneath the foundations of the house I had lived in as a child. I read the clipping and promptly forgot about it. Or so I thought! But this discovery must have been burned into my subconscious. I was almost finished with the novel when I rediscovered the clipping and realized how these facts had informed my writing. There, at the heart of a tale of adventure and travel, of love and loss, was a Holocaust story, come to light after years of concealment, very much like the mikvah that had been unearthed so many years later under our former neighbor's house in a small town where no one in post-WWII Germany ever spoke about such things.
My work experience in Seattle banking inspired my most recent novel, Confessions of a Predatory Lender, also available as an audio book. The year is 2006 and everyone knows you can make a fortune in mortgage lending. "Good girl" Christy is our guide through the maze of predatory lending with BFF Megan her ever-present and irreverent sidekick. Together they're an irresistible combination as they love, covet, shop, and lend their way toward an ending we're all too familiar with.
I'm also publishing a series of stories about love, death, redemption, and hope. They are available as Kindle shorts, called The Angel of Death.
The first in the series, Cigarette Break, is the story of C.J. and Crystal. They seem to be a typical young couple vacationing with their three small children, if it weren't for the fact that C.J. suffers from PTSD. He's an American soldier, on leave after three tours of duty in Iraq and with orders to deploy to Afghanistan. When the family stops at a remote B & B, where they're the only guests, Crystal decides it's an idyllic place for the kids. For C.J. it's the place where he plots his suicide. What happens when he decides he can't leave her behind?
Amazing Grace is the second in the series. Pastor Ken has a problem. It's called membership stagnation. The miracle he asks his flock to pray for arrives with Valley View, a new housing development. When conventional means of luring these prosperous new residents to Sunday services fail, the youth minister presents the solution: Rally Sunday. A morning of worship followed by an old-fashioned barbecue in the very park that divides rich from poor. But a woman named Grace, her daughter Lydia, and a suicidal bum wreak havoc on the congregation's hopes of a miracle. Or do they?
Number three is Dear Sugar. One love ends; another begins. One has embarked on a new life. The other is left behind and can't let go. Across the miles, memories and longing, interposed with an exuberant joy of life keep the two bound to each other. Dear Sugar - an intimate exchange of love letters.
Number four in The Angel of Death series is Piano Lessons. A writer tries to understand what happened to Klara during the final days of WWII. Every time he finishes a new book and worries over what to write next, it's to be about Klara. With one tale spun out and the next not yet begun, hers is always the ace in the hole as he stares at the blank page. He believes a good writer writes to find his narrative, but he also suspects that every writer has such a chronicle, which he can produce when his muse fails him. And then it may have been that Klara was his muse, and after telling her story there would be nothing left to write. Perhaps this is why he saves Klara's account till the end of her life. And the end of his. What is the truth about Klara and the men in her life?
Number five is Interception, the story of "Big J" Jim Jackson, the star quarterback of the Colorado State University Rams. When he can't get to first down with the hot new cheerleader, Valerie "Legs" Foster, he buys her an engagement ring. With expectations of playing pro ball and his wedding date to the prettiest co-ed set, Jim's future is bright. Then he meets Betty. Jim can't believe his luck. Engaged to the woman of his dreams and a sizzling-hot lover on the side--he can have his cake and eat it too. When he learns that nothing in life is free, he runs as far away from Betty as he can. But she's right there to intercept every one of his passes. When she brings on her final play, he can only win by losing.
My husband and I make our home in the Seattle area. Besides writing and publishing fiction, I serve as volunteer contributor/translator to PBS News Hour, and as classroom volunteer at a local community college.

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Thought provoking indeed 9. Mai 2012
Von Jeff Dawson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
This is the second book I have read from the author. The first was "Irretrievably Broken."
I must say, Irma Fritz's writing style is very fluid and soft. She tackles social issues that weigh heavily on society every day whether it occurred sixty years ago or just yesterday. She paints excellent scenes with wonderful character development. The reader finds themselves immersed in her stories and the plights they are encountering. For this, I commend her.

My only drawback with this on is how the story ends. Unfullfilling. The story covers the lives of the couple Crystal and C.J. C.J. is back from his second tour in Afghanistan. He is scheduled to be redeployed but is suffering from severe post traumatic depression. The thought of returning to the battlefields is tearing him apart. His wife (no matter how many attempts she makes) can not reach the boy she fell in love with in high school just seven short years ago. During the brief "leaves" the army allows C.J., they bear three children (one when he graduated high school and two during home leave) who keep Crystals days tenuously busy while C.J. is on station.

Approaching the end of their meager savings as they travel from town to town, Crystal convinces C.J. they should stay at this very quaint B&B in Colorado. It will be a huge improvement over the other motels they have frequented of late. C.J. is AWOL. Crystal hopes the surrounding countryside and the wonderful folks who host the B&B can help C.J. regain his lost childhood and replace his nightmares of fallen comrades bodies being torn apart from shell,shrapel, and bullets with those of her and their beautiful children.

Will the peaceful calm surroundings allow C.J. to fall back to the carefree days or will his torment continue until the weight is too heavy to bear? Will Crystal support his decision 100%?

The readers time and money will be well spent finding the answer.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Man At War With Himself 9. August 2012
Von Lori - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Cigarette Break is a cautionary tale detailing the curious stranglehold of war's after-effects. C.J. has PTSD (or PTSI, Post Traumatic Stress Injury, as many define it); wife Crystal is doing the best she can to help him without training and three children underfoot. When they flee to Canada, they stumble upon a gorgeous home retreat, a B & B with a picture perfect family. The disparity of their lives sharpens into focus, and instead of providing the respite C.J. needs, it propels him further down a dangerous path. Unfortunately, Crystal chooses to follow him in a co-dependent form of AWOL. Cigarette Break is chilling, gritty, a bit uncomfortable, but so very real.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Original Slant on PTSD Problem 24. September 2012
Von Dennis Fleming - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
I read Irma Fritz's CIGARETTE BREAK--the first in her ANGEL OF DEATH series--during a time in my life when I could readily identify with the main character's post traumatic stress disorder. His desire to end his life matched, at times, mine. I put the piece down and waited until I came out of my depression (only the second event of my life, the first in 1983) before trying to write out what I thought of Irma's treatise on death.

This is a short story, so I can't talk about it without giving away too much. There is a lot to deal with when writing about a subject as complicated as a soldier on leave--he's set to redeploy--who has PTSD, and is traveling with a wife, and three kids. Fritz's job as an author is to focus in tight and get to the story's point. This, she does. We enter the characters' world and quickly come to a bed & breakfast, the place around which most of the action takes place, within a couple of paragraphs.

Fritz's prose is clean. It allows the focus to stay on the central issue, which to me isn't C.J.'s PTSD and his disenchantment with war. It's his wife Chrystal's actions when she realizes the depth of her husband's depression and his plans to commit suicide.

The suicide rate among soldiers returning from tours in Afghanistan and Iraq is higher than the rate in the general population. No surprise there. But the real value in reading Ms. Fritz's short story is in the collateral damage to her soldier's family.

People do things incomprehensible to me all the time. The result of C.J.'s and Crystal's last cigarette break makes little sense to me. But the author places her characters in a context which allows that action to produce, arguably, the best outcome.

The very idea that in 2012 men and women the world over kill each other over religious and political ideologies is abhorrent to me. It's a fundamentally insane idea, so it's no great stretch to imagine the radical ways in which people, directly affected by the horrors of war, behave.

CIGARETTE BREAK took me to a place I hadn't expected to go to. It made me think about those we send to die for our country. Kids right out of high school. We train men and women, people we don't trust to legally drink in public, to kill other human beings. We expect these young people to separate from their loved ones for long periods of time, and act surprised when their lives fall into irreparable disarray.

Ms. Fritz's story could have ended more horribly. She leaves me sad, yet she leaves me hopeful that several of her characters are left with an outlook for a better life. Death, perhaps an angel, has delivered them.

I'm looking forward to the next short story in the author's ANGEL OF DEATH series. I'm intrigued that a writer would tackle the subject of death this way. Will death always be an angel?
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The end? 24. August 2012
Von lacey85 - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
I enjoyed this short story very much. I see not everyone was satisfied with the ending. Well, I agree that the story could have continued for a few more pages, but IT IS a short story. I was satisfied with how it ended because I knew what happened and don't really feel it needed to be confirmed. But really, I'm just assuming I knew what happened.....either way, it was a good read and a great take on reality. I'm looking forward to more published works from this author :)
2 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen FIVE GOLDEN CIGARETTES FOR IRMA FRITZ 28. Juli 2012
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
Cigarette Break: Irma Fritz

Sometimes life takes on a different meaning when a traumatic incident or injury causes you to change your perspective on life. One young couple would pay the ultimate price when something happens to this young soldier whose life crumbles from fear, stress, and distrust resulting from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Meet CJ and Crystal an ordinary married couple with three children. Although they appeared happy on the surface they appeared to be living in two separate worlds CJ is AWOL from the army after returning from a tour overseas left with remnants and visions of what he encountered he can't seem to function properly without the aid of his meds and Crystal's calming effect. Hiding from the army and often himself CJ enters a world that only he feels safe in but not anyone else. Enjoying life, his children and his blessings comes hard to him and he often takes out his frustrations on his family. But, a family vacation and meeting two wonderful people might give him some solace and peace for the first time. Paranoid, suspicious of other people and not wanting his family to get close to anyone he constantly threatens and warns Crystal to watch her words and deliver them carefully. Loyal to him and never floundering or faulting her feelings for him, CJ still does not trust Crystal. Always thinking she tempts men or flirts to get their attention he never really appreciates the fact that she is always there for him. Hoping to relax and allow his children to have a proper vacation he decides to give in to Crystal and stay at a Bed and Breakfast owned by Tom and Noreen Lessard. Instant friendships form as CJ and Tom bond and fish together allowing Crystal to talk to Noreen and vent for the first time in her life.

CJ was traumatized from the events he remembers and saw when over seas. Friends killed, car bombs, explosions and the violence ring through his mind on a daily basis. The pressures he encountered and the knowledge that his reason for enlisting was not his own but his father's plagues his mind as he did not dare disappoint him and the knowledge that the army would provide for his family if something happened to him gave him some comfort. CJ was always a carefree, kind and understanding young man until the army changed him. Although Noreen and Tom were great friends and the children were finally meeting other kids, learning to do things they never did before, CJ never really relaxed and Crystal never really had a life. Afraid she would replace him if push came to shove he decided there was only one way they would never be apart.

Talented in her own right she never had a chance to flourish and gain her own recognition. Able to create fashions on paper, fixed broken jewelry and create her own style, Crystal often made extra money while on the army base when he was away helping out some of the other wives. Making decisions he felt was his job and any time she voiced her concerns or wanted to help in the planning or decision making he cut her down, was abusive and explained he ran things an no one else.

Cigarette Break is a unique story created by author Irma Fritz. Where does the title come in? Every time CJ and Crystal needed a short break from life, doing chores or just after dinner they would disappear and take as their children realized and would chant: A CIGARETTE BREAK! Living on a military base and describing her life to Noreen enabled her to finally come to grips with what she and her family have endured. Picture this young girl caught in a web of her own that someone else created. She seemed to live as a robot whose arms, legs and mind were mechanically controlled by its creator.

Two women wanting the same things: Children and security and one who was content and the other unable to find her way. How far would you go to prove your loyalty to someone you love? How far would you go to protect your children? As the days lingered to weeks and they assimilated into a life that they both really needed and wanted the time came for a change.

As Tom and Noreen had another couple staying at the B&B they became involved in their upcoming wedding. Great people they also included Crystal, her kids and CJ too. But, after the wedding and taking pictures, CJ decided it was time to leave and test his wife's loyalty and trust.

One conversation and several to follow allows the reader to learn of what he has planned. Leaving the B&B and saying goodbye to Tom and Noreen they stop at a diner for lunch. What happens next you will have to decide for yourself as the author leaves the ending wide open to speculation. Lunch, dessert and then as the children chant, " Cigarette Break, Cigarette Break," as their two parents exit the diner. Thinking they would return they continued eating, have their lunch and drinks never realizing the ultimate outcome. This story will leave the reader asking many questions. Where are CJ and Crystal? What really happened to them? Would they really leave their children unattended? What caused them to fall off the face of the earth an unable to be found? Many soldiers commit suicide when things in their own minds become too difficult to handle. This they feel is their only way out. But, how many would take another person with them? After reading this story, hearing the voices of CJ and Crystal relating the events, as Crystal is your narrator for most of it, you decide for yourself what happened. Did they take the ultimate way out? Author Irma Fritz brilliantly and deliberately leaves the ending open for the reader to decide for himself/herself. From the author of Irretrievably Broken comes a story that will make you stop and think and realize the sacrifices our young men and women in the service make everyday. Cigarette Break: Will she write the rest? Just how long is too long: This story will definitely give you pause for thought.
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