Interview With An Author: T.Anthony Bland

Melissa Holden, Writer

About T.Anthony Bland: 
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T. Anthony Bland was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. His first book “In The Apartments Next to Mine”, is a collection of short stories about everyday people.
Although he grew up in the Public Houses(the Projects)in the Bronx, T. Anthony Bland didn’t just stay there. In fact, he spent most of his life traveling to work in Manhattan and Queens, NY. He even worked in Long Island as a school bus driver. He was a Head male Counselor at a camp for children and adults with disabilities up in Putnam County, NY surrounded by mountains and trees.
In his spare time he loves listening to Jazz and reading Autobiographies, vegetating in front of the TV watching movies, screaming at the television during football season and in his spare, spare time, he fights hordes of zombies with his incredibly, awesomely beautiful wife, Sharol.

What got…

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“In The Apartments Next to Mine” Book Excerpt 3

2015 book trailer (6)“I don’t know what I’ll do as far as a career, but this is just the beginning of my life. I hope I’ll be able to go home like my Dad suggested years ago. Thank you all but, I can’t take any more questions. I have a plane to catch.”  With that said he stepped back, turned and fell into Cynthia’s waiting arms.

“That was the bravest thing I have ever seen,” she said as they walked through the sea of flashing lights.  Hailing a taxi, they headed for the airport.  During the entire flight, neither one uttered a word – they just watched the flight attendants in navy blue suits walk the aisle passing out peanuts, sandwiches and drinks.  Caleb took his infant size pillow and laid still against the window all the while trying to ignore the six year old kicking the seat from behind and the rank smell of the adult diaper needing to be changed from the seat in front. Cynthia just laid motionless watching the in-flight movie until she fell asleep.

Arriving at O’Hara Airport in Chicago, they hailed a taxi with the help of a red cap.  This time Cynthia tipped with a little more gratitude.  They hopped into the cab and went straight to Chicago General Hospital. “Excuse me nurse, I’m here to see Rev. Bowmont,”

“Yes ma’am,” the nurse replied. “He’s in Room 323.”  With butterflies in her stomach, she pushes the door slowly entering with Caleb following.

“Hi Daddy,” She reached back for Caleb’s hand.

“Hello, little one.  I’m glad you came.”

Pulling Caleb closer, “This is…Ca…”

“Oh, I know who he is.  I just saw him on the news.  Come on in son.”

After sitting and talking a while and repairing the father-daughter relationship, Rev. Bowmont prayed for the two. He reminded them to trust God with the rest of their decisions.  Then he pulled Caleb close and whispered, “Son I know firsthand what some of those video games do and how some of them rob our children.  The Ranch Ministry I started years ago was because of you.”

“Because of me…?”

“Yes, the Ranch is to bring the city youth up to the mountain to get away for a while and to explore the stars and feel real animals.  The most popular violent games they’ve played have been the ones you developed personally.”

“I’m sorry sir.”

“There’s no need for that.  You’ve made the right choice now.  I prayed for your change of heart years ago.  I’m just glad I was able to see it happen.  Thank you son, for your witness to the video game industry.”  After shaking hands, they said goodbye.

“I’ll see you soon Daddy, I’ll call you from Austin too,” Cynthia said, waving on the way out the door.

They stayed at the Bowmont Ranch until Monday morning.  Boarding yet another plane, they headed to Austin, Texas.  Once again, upon landing, they rushed to a taxi, traveling in the bright Texas sun. It wasn’t long before they approached the college campus,  now surrounded by the NFL Officials, news media, helicopters circling and thousands upon thousands of ‘Longhorn’ fans all chanting Jedidiah’s name.  Like the woman who pushed her way through the crowds to get to Jesus, they too were pressed on all sides.  Finally making it to the office, they were escorted to the field where the press conference had already begun.  Unable to make their way to the stage where the rest of the family was, Caleb and Cynthia managed to squeeze up front just behind the ‘press corps’.

There standing before him was the youngest of the ‘James boys’.  The once chubby, ashy, slow poke had become a man.  A literal tower of strength, his deep brown muscular frame glistening in the sun, he leaned on the podium with his left hand – his left shoulder and profile resembling the regal look of Daddy.

Jed leaned forward with his hands cupped over his eyes as he spotted his big brother and smiled.  Putting his hands down, he continued with the conference.

“Alright, alright guys, where were we?”

“You were going to tell us what we’ve waited to hear all weekend,” one reporter comments.

Playing with the press, Jed replied, “Ah – what was that?”

“The draft Jed, the draft!” they shouted.

He inhales, raising his muscles underneath his orange and white ‘Longhorn’ polo shirt, and answered the long awaited question.  “When I was a boy, my parents got me into football because they thought I was built for the game.  Being from New York, we were huge ‘Big Blue” fans, so it was easy to love the game.  In high school, I played football because I was good at the game.  I also wanted a college scholarship. I received it – then came here to school.  I played college ball for ‘me’ because I wanted to play football – because I love the game.”

“Yes, Yes,” a reporter shouts.  “What’s your answer?”


                                      “Going Home” and more can be found inside…

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“In The Apartments Next to Mine” Book Excerpt 2

2015 book trailer (5)“It’s okay Jay.  I can do it,” Jared said.

“No, it’s not safe.  They might hurt you!  Jared, come back!” he yelled desperately.  But he was too late.  The police burst through the door smashing Jared into tiny bloody pieces.  Henry tried his hardest to restrain Jay but he broke loose and ran for the first officer through the door.

Jacob, seeing only his brother’s blood went after the “beast” who slain him.  He grabbed the blue beast by the throat and squeezed till his yellow eyes popped out.  He watched the droll from the fangs pour on his large hands.  When the beast clawed at Jay, he broke both of his arms and was going for the legs when the rest of the pack charged at him. The defender was no match for their weapons.  Like fire, the small pellets from their claws burned through his chest.  Jay’s blood spread quickly across the hard wood floors. Nicole stared in horror as she witnessed the whole thing.          Salt streamed down her full face as she watched her baby being carted off like a panther by hunters.  Yet, she couldn’t move.  The whole scene was being played out on what looked like a muted big screen television – badges flashed from all directions, guns drawn, Henry, with his hands outstretched, his mouth moving but no sound passing through her ears.  Then like an explosion, she heard everything at once which caused her to scream.  “Stop…stop!”  All fear now gone.  “Get your hands off my husband.”

“Ma’am, calm down, we’re just…”

“Just what?!”  Arresting him for nothing! She interrupted.

“You bust in our home, shoot my child and now you put guns to my husband’s head, frighten my daughter and tell me you’re just…just what?  Just gonna make a statistic of my husband?  You claim he’s resisting arrest, why would he need to be arrested?!”  Her heart moved like a commuter train within her.  Her words were full with rage.  Then before the police could answer, the paramedics cut in to remind them of something far more important.

“I have a pulse…he’s still breathing and I need to get this man to the hospital now!”  With that the sirens rang through the streets as the ambulance driver tried to break sound and speed barriers to get Jacob to the hospital.

Henry was still arrested, arraigned and released, then met Nicole at the hospital. Mercy General was known for many things but being the best hospital was not one of them.  However, Jacob received excellent care partly because he had become a local superstar.

“Mr. and Mrs. Jackson?” the surgeon asked.

“Yes, Doctor,” they answered in unison.

“Your son is in critical but stable condition.”

“Can we see him?” Nicole asked

“Maybe in a couple of hours, he’s still unconscious.”

Nicole turned to see Henry just staring into space.  “Henry, did you hear what the doctor said?  Henry?”  She called again.  Still no response; Henry collapsed in the vinyl chair.  With his hands still in his pockets, he began to wail, out of both pain and anger.  His shoulders caved in on each other, his body curled in a slumped ball.  He no longer looked like the tower of strength Nicole knew him to be.  He was now in need of her strength.

“If you’d like, I could have someone come and talk with you,” the doctor offered cautiously knowing that the suggestion being made could sometimes make matters worse.

Nicole rested her head on Henry’s. “That would be fine, thank you, doctor…?”

“Roberts,” he finished as he disappeared around the corner.

Two hours later, the triage nurse was wrapping up Henry’s hand when the psychologist walked in.

“Mr. Jackson, I presume” smiling.  What happened to your hand?”

“He put it through the candy machine,” the nurse answered.

“Really? You didn’t see the strip on the bottom that said ‘push’?” making light of the situation.  Henry looked up at the man and answered, “I did. I thought it meant the glass.”  The two men laughed as the very angry nurse left them alone.  “I don’t often make light of people assaulting fixed objects.  It often means there’s something going on inside.  But in your case, I read the report.  Heck, if what happened to you and your family happened to me, well I’d take out the coffee machine as well,” the doctor continued. “By the way, I’m Dr. Michael Arnold.”

“Henry Jackson, that’s my wife Nicole,” pointing outside the door. “Why don’t we all go somewhere quiet to talk?” The doctor asked.

They found a nice spot in a corner outside the hospital’s chapel.  The doctor explained how Jacob had been tested for drugs as well as other tests.  The test for drugs was negative.  So he asked them if they knew what brought on the behavior and why the cops shot him so many times.  So Nicole explained that she had heard him talking to himself in the room.  When she asked who it was he was talking to, he’d told her to ‘shut up’.

“Did you have an argument earlier?” the doctor questioned.

“No, he’d been in his room all day.”

“What about you, Mr. Jackson, anything odd?”

“Ah…yeah. When the cops banged on the door, he told Jared to come away from the door.”

“Who is Jared?”

“Our youngest son.  He was killed by a drunk driver.  But that was five years ago. Jacob was acting like he was standing in the room.”  He tossed me like a rag doll then bolted for the door.” he continued, puzzled.

“Mrs. Jackson?” The doctor’s face now full of concern.

“Yes,” she answered.  Her expression said she knew more.

“Um, a couple of years ago he said he saw Jared eating in the kitchen,” shrugging her shoulders.

“Was that the only time?” the doctor continued to probe.

“The coach in high school called me in because Jacob was in the locker room talking to himself.”

“What was he talking about?”

“The coach didn’t say – just that he was arguing.  And I didn’t ask Jay either.”

“Excuse me doctor!”  Henry was now furious.

“This happened more than once and because of it – whatever “it” is our son is dying upstairs! But for some unknown reason, you never told me! Thanks, Nicole, thank you very much!”  Knowing that asking Henry to calm down would go badly, Dr. Arnold just calmly spoke to Nicole while Henry paced the hallway in front of the chapel.

“Nicole?” choosing his words carefully.

“Do you know if there’s anyone in either family with a mental illness?”

Her eyes searched the hall, “What do you mean?”

“He means anybody like that crazy uncle of yours, Nicole!”  Henry barked.

“Uncle?” asked the doctor.

“Um, ah, it’s not my uncle.  He’s just “high” all the time.  My father was diagnosed with schizophrenia”.

“What?  You told me you didn’t know your father and you heard he died when you were 12 years old!” Henry’s voice was so loud that the chapel door creaked open and a pair of tiny child’s eyes stared at him.

“Henry, please,” Nicole pleaded.  “Please, look at the kids.  Come sit down,” tears streamed from her eyes.  “Honey, I’m sorry I lied,” searching his face for understanding.  “I was 12 when he died,” she continued.  “My dad was a young man with troubles – at least that’s what people said.  He couldn’t handle life,” they said.  “So, he shot himself. I came home and found him holding a picture of me in his arms.  Blood was everywhere – the ceiling, the walls and on his favorite arm chair.  We would sit in it together to watch football games.  I found him slumped in our chair with my picture because he gave up on me!  That’s what I told myself.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I was told that my Dad was schizophrenic.  I was only told because I was marrying you,” she held his hand.  “My mother didn’t want me to have children.”  She leaned back on the bench and began to cry.  Henry looked into her oval face.  The look in his eyes told the story of his heart.  He loved Nicole.  He couldn’t imagine what it would be like to carry such a burden.

“Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, I believe that what your son was going through, is quite possibly schizophrenia,” Dr. Arnold said.

“Do you know what made it happen?  Was it football?  Jared?”  Nicole asked.

“No,” he continued.  “No, in your case Nicole – may I call you Nicole?”


                                                      Kaleidoscope and more can be found inside…

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