A supernatural romance novel by Frank Karkota
Every story has a story behind it, often referred to as a backstory. There are two backstories to Tales from a Haunted House and The Last Summer. The superficial story is found at the backs of the books, referred to as "About the Author," but there is a much more complex and dark story behind these books.
About the Author
Frank Karkota spent most of his life as a radio communications specialist. At twelveyears old, he got a ham radio license. After college, he worked as a broadcast engineer for a Boston radio station. In the army, he served two tours in Vietnam as a member of a team that provided long-distance communications between the man in the field and his support, which may have been scores of miles away.
Subsequently, he started a business that provided consulting services to local radiobroadcast stations. Eventually, his business made special radios so that thousands of blind people could hear volunteers read local newspapers and other timely written material.
For a diversion, Frank hikes wilderness trails and takes nature photographs. In theevenings, he writes essays and stories.
Backstory to The Last Summer and Tales from a Haunted House
The story behind my stories goes back several decades. Once I tell my story, I will tell the underlying themes of the books I have written and how they relate to my experiences. Years ago, I owned a small company that made special radios so that blind people could listen to the daily newspapers. There are services all over the country that provide this programming for the blind. Other engineers had tried to make these radios, but they did not work well. They were noisy with poor fidelity. So I worked hard and used all of my talent to make a superior product. They were, literally, the best radios for this purpose ever made. Although my radios were expensive, they were well worth the money and the listeners appreciated my efforts. It brought me so much satisfaction that my talents made a positive difference in people’s lives.
We also made equipment for emergency alerting such as AMBER alerts. We even sold special radios to the militaries of the United States and Israel. My employees and I were proud of our company. Occasionally we were contacted by brokers who wanted to arrange the sale of my company to a large company, but I had no interest in giving up my work.
But in 2003, we had a minor problem with the IRS. The agent assigned to the business was a bully. She berated me and declared that everything that I said was a lie. If she had been professional, the issue could have been resolved, but I couldn’t deal with her. So, I hired a lawyer and entrusted him with $20,000 which was sufficient to resolve the issue. He took the money and the IRS never got any of it. He defrauded the banks where I had accounts by $200,000 and then he took every cent out of the business. The work of a lifetime was destroyed. I worked so hard to build the business and sacrificed everything so that the business would succeed. The business was my whole life and it was gone, destroyed!
Since numerous federal crimes had been committed, I went to the FBI. Without even looking at the evidence, the agent told me that they do not have jurisdiction to investigate lawyers who commit federal crimes. He told me to go to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, the BBO. I went to the New Hampshire Attorney General and they actually reviewed the documents. They told me that the FBI is the only agency with jurisdiction. I contacted the Massachusetts Attorney General and was told to hire a lawyer. I had no money to hire a lawyer.
I filed a complaint with the BBO and charged the lawyer with fraud, tax fraud, embezzlement, and perjury. I used the General Electric account to prove embezzlement. After nine months, they exonerated the lawyer, claiming that the IRS agent was to blame. By default, they implied that the embezzlement took place in the General Electric bank. I asked to see the evidence of the investigation and I requested a hearing before the full Board. Both of my requests were refused and the investigation was closed. It was obvious that the investigation was a cover-up and they made no effort to hide that fact. Once the BBO clears a lawyer, no other agency will investigate.
Then the lawsuits started. Some of the banks realized that I was a victim of fraud and left me alone, but four banks came after me: Bank of America, Chase, Discover, and General Electric. They were nasty and it seems that they were after vengeance for having allowed my lawyer to steal money from them. They threatened and harassed my parents who were in their eighties. The lawyer for Chase Bank sent me other people’s bank statements with name, address and social security number, as a threat to me. In Massachusetts, that’s perfectly legal. He then filed multiple lawsuits for the same account and for an account that never existed. The banks did not care that the accounts were stolen; they just wanted their money.
When General Electric sued me, I used discovery to request documents from the BBO, but they refused and the judge ignored my written motion to compel. I showed the judge documents proving, beyond any doubt, that money had been embezzled and that the BBO exonerated the lawyer. Embezzlement of bank funds is a federal offense. Neither the lawyer nor the judge reported the crime, and their failure to do so is called misprision of a felony and obstruction of justice. In most states, this can cause a lawyer to be disbarred and a judge to be removed from the bench. The judge ruled that I am legally responsible for recovering the stolen funds. General Electric can persecute me for the rest of my life.
I sent a letter to the US Attorney and did not receive a written response, but a few months later, some deputy sheriffs went to the home of my elderly parents and conducted a warrantless search of their property looking for something to seize for General Electric. I filed a complaint against the sheriff’s department with my local police for illegal search and seizure as well as witness intimidation. To my knowledge, there was no investigation, but months after I filed the complaint, the sheriff was found in Maine with a bullet in his brain. I do not know if there was any connection between my complaint and his death.
These past years have been the roughest of my life. When I was a young man in the Army, I was stationed in Vietnam. Although my assignment was much better than many men who were there, it was still a war zone. At any time, I could have been shot or blown up by a mortar. But, I could fight back and the men with whom I served watched each other’s back. And I knew that if I made it home, I had my whole life ahead of me. But, I do not know how to fight back against these evil banks, lawyers, and judges and I am alone with nobody watching my back. And I do not feel that I have a future. My youth is gone, my business is gone, my career is gone, my reputation is destroyed, and I face persecution by General Electric and others who care only about money and vengeance. I did not inherit my Constitutional rights, I earned them. I feel that the actions by the government in this matter are a repudiation of my sacrifice and service to our country.
I became deeply depressed. I had put my whole life into my business. Not only did I loose all my money and over thirty years of my life, but because of my business, I never married and never had children. I had lost everything important in life. My reputation had been so badly damaged, by the lawyer and the lawsuits, that nobody would do business with me. My career was destroyed by my poor health resulting from the stress of the lawsuits and the threats to my parents. And worst of all, I had been robbed of my future.
The most exciting part of my career was design and development because it was creative and in many ways artistic. I missed being creative; I missed being artistic! So, I bought a refurbished digital camera and started taking wildlife pictures. I especially enjoyed taking pictures of Canada geese and goslings. I envied the loving parents taking care of their young. I had always wanted children and I wished I could be like those geese raising their young. Taking pictures helped me to deal with my depression. Then, I started writing essays about my photographs. Next I started writing short stories. And then I wrote my first novel.
My first story was Tales from a Haunted House. It was based upon a story idea that I had had many years ago while driving home through a snow storm. It is about a house deep in the woods that was built by a man for his beloved. Because of that love, the house acquired a soul that gave to all good people within its walls that which they needed to find happiness and success. Writing the story was wonderful because I could literally drift into a fantasy world of my own creation. I created honest people who worked hard to achieve their goals. I enjoyed being with them and sharing their lives. The story has a ‘pay it forward’ theme which expresses the care and concern that I have for others. Since the day I lost my business, I have been very isolated, talking only to those people with whom I occasionally share the beauty of the woods. It was so nice being with these wonderful people whom I created in my story.
Then I wrote The Last Summer where I could express my regrets about my life and express the sadness that I felt about never marrying and having children. The story is about the writer of trashy romance novels who is told by his doctor that he will die in about six months. Upon reflection of his life, he realizes that he has never done anything of value that will last beyond his death, so he decides to write a great novel. During those last days, he meets the woman for whom he has been searching all of his life. They both enjoy hiking and mountain climbing and during the last summer of his life, he finds true happiness, and love.
The woman in the story suffers from chronic depression that lasted for most of her life, and prevented her from finding happiness and achieving something to last beyond her death. I show the reader how depression feeds upon itself. And Robert regrets that he never reached his full potential, writing only trashy novels. But he most regrets that he never married and had children. Each of them had wasted their lives, but yet still had a chance to do something of value, something to live beyond their deaths, during the last summer. Most of all The Last Summer is about hopelessness and how the two characters dealt with it. At the end of the story, the reader will realize that there is always hope and that each of us has a reason for living.
For me, writing these two novels has been an exciting experience. It has helped me to deal with my depression and it has given me the opportunity to say, “This is who I am!” It shows that I am more than just a victim of a dishonest lawyer and a corrupt legal system, but that I am an honest and caring person, like many of the characters in my stories. I am not the dishonest person portrayed by the bank lawyers. I was deeply hurt, and always will be, by their slanderous portrayals of me in court.
These stories were not written for others to enjoy, but so that I could say what I wanted and needed to say. The theme of Tales from a Haunted House is that honesty, hard work, perseverance, and charity is the way to find happiness and success. And for The Last Summer the theme is that we should never waste our lives. We should always strive for the best and never, never sell our souls. If others can gain inspiration and live a better life after reading my books, than that’s great.
I don’t believe that my books will achieve any level of popularity. I’ll be lucky if I make enough money from these books to pay my real-estate taxes. The only books that sell are full of sex and violence, books like Fifty Shades of Grey. My books are clean, rated PG. You don’t have to hide them from the kids! But maybe in the future, clean wholesome books with a message of morality will have a place in our culture and society. Maybe teachers will assign them to their classes. Maybe I will have left something of value behind. The opening quotation in The Last Summer is by Horace Mann. “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” I hope that people get inspiration and hope from my stories. I hope that the readers are entertained and inspired, and most of all, I hope that my books qualify as a victory for humanity.
Since the destruction of my business, I have had business opportunities, but the offers were withdrawn after a background check showed the numerous suits filed against me. The lawyer destroyed my company; the banks destroyed my career!
What should anger people is that not only were I and my employees hurt, but the thousands of blind and handicapped people who could have benefited from my talents were also hurt. The lawyers, bankers and government literally stole from the blind. It had been my plan to work at my company for another five, ten, or fifteen years and then sell and retire. I would then have had plenty of time to tinker with gadgets to help blind and handicapped people. I could probably have helped thousands or even tens of thousands of people. Instead, I have spent the last fourteen years fighting these banks. Instead of relaxing in my retirement, I am anxious about what nasty plans these evil banks have for me in the future. That is ruining my health and probably shortening my life. But I will keep trying to seek justice until I clear my name. I also want to bring about changes in our legal system so that this never happens to another person.
(The words of John Greenleaf Whittier echo through my mind: "For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: 'It might have been!'")