straight down the line

“You Can’t Take Anything From Someone Who’s Lost Everything”

As his wife greets him on their doorstep in San Francisco.


Meet Donnie Rawlen.

His father raised him, alone, after his mother died during childbirth. Growing up in the family’s grocery store in the suburbs of Chicago, he’s accustomed to the rhythm of the city. One day, however, two men showed up and his father gave him some of the money from the cash register. He said, “Run, Donnie! And don’t come looking for me! I love you, that’s why you have to run. Start out the back and hop the next train West from the station. That’s money’s for the fare. You’re smart. You’ll be good on your own for a while.”

His favorite meal consists of coffee, black, and a fried egg sandwich accompanied by a pack of his whisky-soaked smoking pipe. He is a well-read, self-educated writer struggling to get his big break in San Francisco.

Years later, he’s married a smart, young waitress from a diner in San Francisco. They have a child, while his writing “career” is still in its infancy. One week, while his wife and child are on a trip to see her family in Buena Vista, Colorado, he receives a telegram. The train they were riding home aboard had lost control of its brakes going through the Rocky Mountains.

Heartbroken, he leaves San Francisco, alone, to look for a place to settle down, without the haunting memories of his once-joy-filled life.

Donnie Rawlen, struggling writer and widowed orphan.
“You can’t take anything from someone who’s lost everything.”

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