Requiem in Red by Norma Roth
is the third book club selection.
Contact Norma to purchase a copy for $11
or download a Kindle copy.
Myrna Schroeder's beauty shines as she goes about her night shift job in the drab factory. Her beauty, however, is a cross she must bear. It's 1952, and no Mrs. is in her name, no gold ring on her left hand. Her child, Scarlett, five, is the result of a night of terror perpetrated by a man whose name she keeps secret. She is the core of Myrna’s life. Myrna has erased all thought of romance from her mind. Then, an accident at the factory brings her to the attention of Mark Weston, unhappily married owner of the factory. Their meeting is like the collision of two atoms, but Myrna rejects his advances. Mark and his wife divorce. He and Myrna almost touch complete happiness until Scarlett's wild, fire-red hair and green Dragon Eyes reveal her father’s identity to Myrna’s aunt Ada. Ada decides to blackmail him, beginning a chain reaction that sets off the explosion which almost destroys Myrna. Can she recover to let love back into her life? Can Mark's love repair her shattered world? Will they live the dream they began?
By Norma Roth 6/15/21
The germ of Requiem in Red planted itself deep into my brain in 1954. I worked the night shift in a factory that made automatic switches. One of my coworkers was Peggy, (not her real name) was an unwed mother with a little girl about the age of my daughter, who was five. The child’s name was Scarlett and I thought it was strange that an unmarried mother would give her child that name. I guess she had never read “The Scarlett Letter.”
Peggy was a little strange. She wouldn’t allow her daughter to eat ice cream because she read in some grocery store newspaper that an evil person put ground glass in ice cream; she wouldn’t let Scarlett use Play Dough because it was “dirty.”
Myrna, the protagonist of my story, is not strange. She’s just the opposite.
I often wondered what happened to Peggy and her daughter, and I thought it would make a good story. After many years, Saltwater Writers helped me finally make that story: Requiem in Red
Myrna Schroeder is the mother of five-year-old Scarlett, the result of a date-rape by David Holman, the son of the town’s first family. She kept her pregnancy and the birth of Scarlett secret from him.
Myrna is an orphan raised by her mother’s much-older brother, Ernie, and his wife, Ada. Ada resented having to care for Myrna as a child. She persuaded Ernie to tell Myrna she had to quit high school when she turned sixteen. She went to work on the night shift in Weston Automatic Switch Company. Myrna has longed to finish high school ever since.
One hot evening at the factory, Myrna decided to eat her sack lunch in the company’s parking lot. She chose the top step of a high stoop as her dining table. Before she had a chance to begin her lunch, the door behind her swung open and struck her hard, knocking her to the pavement of the parking lot, about four feet down. The fall broke her arm and stunned her. When she opened her eyes, a pair of dark brown eyes, and the handsome face of a man were staring at her. It was Mark Weston, the owner and president of Weston Switch Company.
Mark was instantly attracted to the beautiful young woman who lay on the asphalt. He followed the ambulance to the hospital and after she was treated, he took her home to the upstairs apartment where she lived with Scarlett.
Mark attempted to woo Myrna, but she knew he was married and had a reputation as a womanizer. After David Holman had raped her and left her pregnant, Myrna wanted nothing to do with men. Especially, not Mark Weston.
On the Fourth of July, Mark went to the park where the city was having a fireworks display, found Myrna and Scarlett and joined them for the evening. Unknown to him, his wife, Noreen’s father had died from sudden heart attack at the dinner table, and she had been trying to find Mark.
No love was lost between Mark and Noreen. Her father was a wealthy doctor and financed Mark’s start in business to manufacture the switch he had invented in grad school. The doctor was the primary shareholder in the company and never let Mark forget who had financed it. Noreen was extremely close to her father. He was the only reason Mark and Noreen had not divorced.
After her father’s death, Noreen went to Reno for a quickie divorce and married a tennis pro from the country club. Mark then pursued Myrna.
Myrna had made a close friend of Lydia McIntire, an African American woman, her age, who had recently come to work in the factory. Lydia was a college graduate but because of her race, could not find work teaching chemistry in the local high school. She lived with her mother, Sarah, who had been a head housekeeper in a Chicago hotel before her retirement. Lydia wanted to stay with her in Newport City, so she went to work in Weston Automatic Switch Company. Myrna and Lydia gravitated toward each other because they were outcasts in the factory department where they worked. Myrna was shocked that Lydia, with her college degree, had to work in a factory. Lydia decided to start a union in the factory, which brought Myrna into conflict with Mark.
Mark was still in love with Myrna after Noreen left and proposed. She knew she loved him, but she was afraid she would be an embarrassment to him because of her lack of education and her working-class background. She accepted his proposal on the condition that he help her finish her education. He promised and also promised to adopt Scarlett as his child.
Then, tragedy struck Myrna. Everything in her life turned upside down. Lydia and Sarah invited her to stay with them until she recovered. She was afraid Mark would take back his proposal, but he surprised her by staying close.
Mark started a new business in Seattle, Washington, and he and Myrna began planning for their move. Myrna was excited about living in Seattle; she had always wanted to live somewhere other than Newport City, Illinois. Despite Mark’s reassurance. Myrna still worried that she would not measure up to the demands of a rich man’s wife.
You can download the PDF version here.
Tea with Mieke and Norma (discussing their books) on 2/25/2018
Mieke Tazelaar and Norma Roth quizzed each other and read passages from their two new books: Requiem In Red by Norma and Geezer Crossing by Mieke. Norma's first book is a romance novel and Mieke's fifth book is a collection of fiction and non-fiction short stories. Norma and Mieke answered questions from the audience about how to self-publish books. CreateSpace was recommended as a free service to assist with formatting documents for publication.
Separate audio and video-audio were recorded.