Dori Ann Dupré was born and raised in New Jersey. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in History and is a veteran of the United States Army. Dori currently works in the legal field in North Carolina, where she resides with her family.
Scout’s Honor is her first novel. Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission.
Scout’s Honor – a novel
My debut novel, Scout’s Honor, is an epic tale about a young girl named Scout Webb, who suffers a profound emotional trauma at the hands of an older man in a position of trust and then how that experience affected her life as she went away to university as a young woman and then later in her life as she faced middle age.
Scout’s Honor is written in first person by multiple narrators, who fill each chapter individually. While the story is Scout’s story and she is the protagonist, it is told with several perspectives, including her best and closest lifetime friend, Charlie Porter, showing that life isn’t necessarily always how we perceive it. People come into our lives, some stay and some go, and each one affects it for better or for worse. While we might think that we know what others were thinking or feeling, the truth is, we most often do not.
Scout’s Honor is both a coming-of-age and self discovery tale, dealing with many human relational issues such as self acceptance, self identity, faith, forgiveness, trust, family, secrets, betrayal, and love. But it is mostly about love. Scout’s Honor fits best in the contemporary fiction and southern fiction genres; however, it is for everyone and anyone who enjoys a good story.
Lastly, and most importantly, Scout’s Honor’s book launch occurred as I sat in the chemotherapy infusion center at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer Hospital in Chapel Hill, where my husband is being treated for Stage 4 Colon Cancer. I wrote a blog post on my Launch Day experience, located at Finding Dori. He was diagnosed with this most devastating disease in February, the day before his 47th birthday. To say in words just how much this tragic diagnosis has destroyed our lives would take many books. Anyone who has been a similar experience knows what I mean.
There are not enough descriptions to convey the pain, suffering, fear and horror that is a terminal cancer diagnosis at any age, but certainly when you are still in the prime of your life. Because of what has happened to my husband and my family, and because I refuse to accept that he is just going to die, part of the profits I receive from the sales of my book and any royalties I earn from my publisher, will go toward my Scout’s Honor 2016 fundraiser which directly funds Colon Cancer Research at UNC Lineberger.
People can donate to the fund directly and do not have to buy my book at all. There has been so much progress in cancer research lately, and the only hope that I have left is that there just might be a breakthrough in time to save him. If there is not, I know that the funds raised through my book’s launch will be used to save someone else.
In addition, I use my book events to educate people on the need for a younger screening age for colon cancer. My husband is under 50 so he was never screened. Ten percent of new colon cancer cases are in people under 50, and because there are no symptoms, the cancer is usually found in a more advanced stage. Stage 3 colon cancer is a seventy percent survival rate after five years. Stage 4 is a death sentence. Ten percent of good, hardworking, younger people diagnosed with this cancer are apparently acceptable collateral damage in our broken healthcare system. And that is wrong.
Enjoy this excerpt from Part 3 of Scout’s Honor:
It’s always weird when I go back home to Haddleboro. Every time I go to my parents’ house, I feel like I’m fourteen years old again, just a little girl with a daughter of her own. A child with a child. I sat on the bed in my old bedroom with my white dresser still in the corner. Jemma’s duffle bag sat on the floor with a black dress lying over my old desk chair. The room was still the same pale pink color that it had been when Jemma and I moved out for good back in 1994 and into our first little above-the-garage apartment just a few miles away.
Jemma was outside with my brother Jonny who brought over his new dog, Leo. She hadn’t seen her uncle since Christmas and, since he was moving to Atlanta next month, she was trying to make up for the time ahead that would no longer be.
Tomorrow was Ms. Porter’s funeral. She would be buried at the First Baptist Church’s cemetery, and Pastor Dan, the new young pastor who took over for Pastor Rhodes when he retired last year, would officiate. Charlie’s been staying at his mom’s house this week, trying to deal with some of her paperwork and the many details of an untimely death, when someone you love dies from an errant blood clot.
The day after I had been blindsided with the discovery of what exactly my “friendship” actually meant to Thom Robinson, I was at Paw’s trying to get a fecal sample from Mr. Moody’s German shepherd named Venus. My cell phone rang and, seeing that it was my daddy’s number, I let it go to voicemail because I was holding a Popsicle stick smeared with dog poop at that particular moment.
Several minutes later, when I listened to Charlie’s very deliberate voice tell me about what was going on with Ms. Porter, I finished Venus’ exam as fast as I could and told Paw that I had a family emergency and needed to get to Harper Hospital down in Fayetteville as soon as possible.
When I got there almost an hour later, my parents were both with Charlie and I had never in my life seen him in such a state. His face was ghostly white, like life itself had disappeared from his body, and when he saw me, he grabbed onto me like he was a little boy again. Sandy-haired little Charlie with the big toy dump truck that we’d push around in the sun yellow kiddie pool.
Eventually, I got him to sit with me on one of the hard plastic chairs in the waiting room and my daddy told me that he and my mom were going to head up to Raleigh to let Boo out and go to Jemma’s game. They would get her some supper and take her home afterward and would even stay the night if I needed them to, so I could tend to Charlie. In my emotionally frazzled head, from both the bizarre drama the night before with Thom and his daughter and now this horrible tragedy with Charlie’s mom, I hadn’t even thought about the fact that Jem had a game today and that my parents were planning to come up for it.
“Will you call Stephanie?” my mom asked me. “We don’t have her number and Charlie forgot his cell phone in Raleigh.”
“Yes, of course,” I said, my hands tight on Charlie’s shoulders as he sat in the chair, frozen, paralyzed, by the horrible shock of his loss.
Charlie has dealt with a ceaseless amount of crime scenes and victims over the past several years — all kinds of deaths, murders, rapes, shootings, suicides, stabbings, and some of the ugliest things that human beings do to each other or do to themselves. His mother died of natural causes on an average sunny spring day while working at the hardware store and, instead of the thoughtful and stoic SBI agent, he just turned into that sad little boy again, the one with no father, the one who had come up to me at the church Easter egg hunt when we were five years old and asked me if he could have one of my eggs.
Eyeballing this scrawny boy who I had never seen before, and who had ketchup smeared on the sides of his mouth, I asked him who he was.
“Charlie Porter,” he answered.
“Where’s your mom and dad?” I asked him, with the authority of an adult.
He turned and pointed at a young blond woman in a peach colored sundress, sitting at one of the picnic tables by herself. “That’s my mom.” Then he said, turning back at me, “I don’t have a dad.”
I considered that for a second, realizing that I had never heard of someone not having a dad before. So I handed this Charlie Porter boy one of my eggs. It was purple. He opened it and out dropped three jellybeans and a slip of paper.
“That’s the special egg,” I said to him, excited that I was the one who found it.
“What’s a special egg?” he asked me.
“It’s the egg with the paper in it. It means you get an extra prize,” I said, recalling Pastor Rhodes’ instructions before the egg hunt began. “Take it over to Pastor Rhodes and he will give you the prize.”
Charlie held the jellybeans in one hand and the purple egg and piece of paper in the other. Then he handed the piece of paper back to me. “Here, you should have the prize. You found the special egg, not me.”
He was right. I did find it. But there was something interesting about this strange little boy who was shorter than me and who made me feel like we had been friends before, once upon a time and in a land far, far away.
Not long ago, when I was in a drug store, I read something on a greeting card that said, “Souls recognize each other by vibes, not by appearances.” That was the best description I ever came across about what transpired between me and Charlie Porter on that warm spring day so long ago.
Taking the piece of paper from him, I grabbed his hand and put it between our hands and held them together. I picked up my basket and walked with him hand-in-hand, leading him over to Pastor Rhodes who was standing next to the grill with the sizzling hotdogs.
“Pastor?” I said, getting his attention. Pastor Rhodes looked down at me.
“Yes, Miss Scout,” he said smiling, holding a pair of tongs in his hand.
“Charlie and I have found the special egg,” I said, unclasping our hands and giving him the piece of paper.
Three minutes later, we were sitting under a large dogwood tree, sharing the biggest chocolate bunny I’ve ever seen. And now, twenty-nine years later, almost to the day that we shared that chocolate bunny and became the best of friends, I held him in Harper Hospital as he wept the kind of weeping that has no tears or noise, the kind of weeping that a grown man does when he loses his mom forever.
“Charlie, we should go. There’s nothing we can do here. The folks here have everything under control. I’ll take you to your mom’s house and stay with you ‘til Stephanie can get there,” I said, facing him on my knees, holding his hands as he held his head down in sorrow. “If you’re not okay to drive, I’ll drive you. We can just leave your car here and get it another time.”
Charlie looked at me, his eyes glassy and full of despair. Then he looked down again and said, “It’s alright. I can drive.”
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So long until next week, hope this leaves you laughing.