When John Divine first sees the seductive Hallie in 1962, she is doing The Twist, a hot, new dance just arriving in Atlanta. Before the night is done, the gifted, young radio personality is smitten, his tenuous marriage is over, and he is already hopelessly enmeshed in a relationship he senses will not end well.
By turns, dark, hilarious and chilling, The Morning Man chronicles the adventures of the legendary Divine, a Houston radio icon in the 1960s. It is a story of sexual obsession and betrayal, of alcoholism and insanity, of a talented young man on the brink of self destruction.
It was a dismal morning, even for February—dark, drizzly and bitterly
cold. An icy wind whistled across the lake and through the skeletal
hill-country trees. I paused at the open door of the van, wondering if
the dramatic change in the weather could be some kind of omen: the day
before had been like spring.
The other passengers were already seated, waiting patiently for me to
board. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, the big black dog on the
gate attendant’s leash began to growl and bark—apparently at me. I
shuddered and climbed up into the van feeling somehow like a criminal.
They had, predictably, not wanted me to leave, had all but demanded that
I stay for the whole “treatment.” But soon after my arrival, I had
begun to suspect that my choice of the Hill Country Clinic was a huge
Administered by a psychologist and ex-drunk named Horowitz, the small
facility (maybe 40 beds) was designed to provide therapy for alcoholics,
drug addicts and others suffering from what were called “minor
emotional disorders.” (Were they joking? Some of these people were
complete fruitcakes! There was one man who talked to himself non-stop;
another who ate what he picked from his nose; several had a history of
suicide attempts. For christ sake, who qualified as having a serious
The problem, as I saw it, was that everyone seemed to get the same
treatment: A daily regimen of exercise, yoga, craftwork and a vicious
kind of group therapy described by Horowitz as “confrontational.”
Three days into this bizarre routine—when the worst of the shakes and
depression had waned—I realized the Clinic was not for me. My heart
sank. This whole approach was nonsense. I felt trapped, and I wanted
“John, what brought you here to the clinic?” It was Horowitz.
Swarthy, slim and seriously sober, he peered over the top of dark horn
rims in a way that seemed slightly affected (not unlike Jose Ferrer, I
mused, in Doctor Zhivago). We were seated in his surprisingly modest
office, a small room with one large window, sparsely furnished and
cluttered with books. I had come to tell Horowitz I was leaving. His
question, I thought, was designed to put me on the defensive.
“Depression, mostly and, okay, booze,” I said. “Look, we’ve been
through all this before. Last week...well, it all just got the best of
me. I...needed help.”
Horowitz said nothing, just kept staring at me in what seemed to me a
slightly superior manner. After a few moments I got the message: Figure
it out, Johnny-boy. Nothing has changed, you still have a problem. If
you leave here now, how will you handle it?
I had no idea, so I looked out the window. It was a gorgeous morning, a
Colorado morning—so astonishingly clear and cool and dry, I felt I
could almost taste it. How wonderful it would be, I thought, to live in
this beautiful spot year-round, tucked away in some cozy cabin, living
somehow off the land, surrounded by flowery meadows, winding streams and
glorious hillside greenery.
A picture began to emerge. In this vision, I was burning leaves in the
of a rustic little bungalow. Hallie stood on the back porch smiling in
my direction. We had left the big city and all its distractions and were
truly happy now. We were so much in love and would always be. Here in
the Texas hill country, we had finally found peace. (“In a mountain
greenery, where God paints the scenery, just two crazy people
“And, now?” Horowitz interrupted.
“I beg your pardon?”
“A few days ago, you said you needed help. How are things any
“I’m sure I still need something or other,” I heard myself say,
“I just don’t think this is it.”
“John, you recognized you had a problem you couldn’t handle by
yourself. So, you asked for help. That was smart. Lots of people never
do that. Then, you made a commitment—a commitment to accept that help.
In this case, to spend 28 days with us here in the clinic. It’s been
three days. Is that a fair trial?”
I had no reasonable answer, so I said nothing.
Excerpted from "The Morning Man" by Robert R Randall. Copyright © 2017 by Robert R Randall. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.