Marc M Minnick
Marc is a retired automotive professional who started writing later in life. The Sunshine Machine is his first novel and part of a trilogy with a prequel and sequel in the works. When Marc is not writing he enjoys playing acoustic guitar, hiking trails in the Adirondacks, reading and spending time with his family. Marc is a graduate of the school of Architecture and Environmental Design from the State University of New York at Buffalo. and resides in Buffalo with his wife, Kathi.
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The Sunshine Machine
Growing up in the household of ABUELA GUADALUPE, a native American woman and
a single parent mother, mold FRANCESCA into a young woman of conflicted thoughts about
sexuality and self. Her mother, SORPRESA DA RIMINI, a flower child of the sixties, offers little
support to her maturation and Abuela Guadalupe provides only mythical native tales of the “The
First People” to school her in feminine sexuality and identity. From an early age she discerns that
she is different, supported by the fact that she has a mysterious birthmark on her hand. Abuela
Guadalupe insists that it is a sign of her wolf spirit, which affirms strength and vision. Others see
the birthmark as a curse and bad luck.
Francesca’s halcyon teen years are interrupted by the untimely death of her mother,
Sorpresa. At her mother’s funeral she meets the patriarch of the Da Rimini family; GUIDO DA
RIMINI. She is surprised to learn he is her grandfather and requests that she return to the family;
The Da Rimini family her mother was banished from years earlier, because of her illegitimate
pregnancy. She accepts the patriarch’s proposal but later pays a heavy price, when she is raped
by her cousin; ROBERTO “Robbie” DELGADO.
The rape compels Francesca to return to the sanctuary of Abuela’s ranch, where the
longing to discover herself and her father’s identity intensifies. Father PAOLO DA RIMINI is the
parish priest at the Mission which is located near the ranch. He is Francesca’s uncle and religious
mentor. It is rumored in the community that he has knowledge of her father’s identity. When
Father Paolo dismisses Francesca’s numerous attempts to quiz him of this knowledge, she tricks
him to reveal her father’s identity during the sacrament of confession. Although Father Paolo is
dismayed by her sacrilegious overture, he acquiesces and later hands Francesca an enigmatic
letter that starts her on her journey, which leads her to the Valley of Guadalupe in Baja Mexico.
In Mexico she learns details about her father which are enlightening but inconclusive. With new
found information, she leaves for the US to further her quest. During the trip, a friend and she are
accosted by two policemen and an altercation ensues, shots are fired, and the two officers and her
friend are killed. She flees the scene and arrives to the border only to be arrested.
In the custody of the Mexican police she is accused of murder and jailed. It is the
beginning of the downward spiral of unfortunate events that intensifies the internal battle
between her wolf spirit; Guia Lobo (fierce and strong) and her Catholicism (submissive and
forgiving). When it appears that neither will save her from her fate, she is rescued by PEDRO
“PETE” DELGADO; senior director of the Rimini Wine Company of Santa Barbara. Francesca
doesn’t know Peter Delgado and is surprised to learn that he is another uncle. Pete Delgado
explains to her that, he is there to retrieve her at the behest of Father Paolo, who is in poor health.
During the return trip from Mexico they are involved in an automobile accident where Pete is
killed, and Francesca seriously injured. When Francesca awakes she doesn’t remember the
accident or who she is. When next of kin are notified of Pete Delgado’s death, Roberto “Robbie”
Delgado arrives at the hospital to identify his deceased uncle’s body and Francesca. Because of
her retrograde amnesia, Francesca doesn’t recognize Robbie. When she is well enough to travel,
she is transported back to Santa Barbara to meet the business partners of her deceased uncle;
ROGER MONTCALM and CONCHITA DETUMACO. They agree to take her in and get her back
on her feet. Roger and Conchita “Connie” are the proprietors of a new age clothing boutique;
THE SUNSHINE MACHINE.
Francesca is recruited into Connie’s escort service and adult films. Certain events and
places begin to stimulate Francesca’s memory, which in turn reinvigorates her desire to know her
identity. Connie holds the carrot over her head, in anticipation of this knowledge. Francesca
doesn’t lose heart and carries on. Suspense escalates when Francesca witnesses the murder of a
business associate of Roger and Connie and her life is put into jeopardy. Connie reassures her
that no harm will come to her if she remains silent. Part one ends with Francesca being assigned one last “job” before she wins her freedom. Connie reassures her all secrets will be revealed and all promises will be met.
LUKAS HELIT is disillusioned with his recent relocation to Isla Vista California. Long hours and the monotonous routine of managing THE SUNSHINE MACHINE bring no joy to his life. His days are consumed with interacting with college students, religious fanatics, and various degenerates. His perspective changes when Francesca enters the boutique. Unaware of her profession, he is immediately smitten and attempts conversation with this mysterious woman. Francesca senses that Lukas is neither predatorial or threatening and accepts his invitation for breakfast at his apartment. The breakfast rendezvous, although innocently planned, escalates into a sexual encounter that is interrupted by the breakfast eggs catching fire. Now the damage is done. An insatiable one-sided infatuation develops between Francesca and Lukas. Whereas Lukas is obsessed, Francesca gives only of her sex, fearing love always precedes heartbreak.
When Lukas advertises for a roommate, he meets an older man; ALI-AZIZ MIZRAAHI. Unaware that Mizraahi is part of a larger plan to investigate the criminal activity of THE SUNSHINE MACHINE, they meet at a bar. Mizraahi explains to him that he is a devout Muslim and requires certain restrictions of a roommate. Lukas finds his views racist and misogynistic but agrees to his terms, hiding his relationship with Francesca. Although their differences are many they become friends. Like the character Virgil, in Dante’s Inferno, he guides Lukas through the allegorical rings of “Hell”, shattering stereotypes of race, religion and sex. Lukas learns that things are not always what they seem and grows suspicious of Francesca, but deeper in love.
Tension escalates when Francesca makes an unscheduled appearance at THE SUNSHINE MACHINE and informs Lukas she will be gone longer than usual and that he shouldn’t try to find her. Confused, Lukas asks why and Francesca answers by once again seducing him. They make love and she leaves hastily, unintentionally leaving a book of matches as a clue.
THE story ends with all the signs leading to the assumed death of Francesca, at the hands of her cousin, Robbie Delgado. But the reader will ask. Is she dead? What looks like a murder is not. The reader will experience her death, but a body will never be found. When Lukas travels to the presumed location of her death, it appears that his quest hits a dead end, until he is approached by an ancient Native American man that directs him to a cornfield on the Mission grounds. He is instructed by the old man to wait. He waits and falls asleep. When he awakes he is in the presence of a she-wolf. The wolf leaves at his feet an Abalone necklace. The necklace Francesca never removed from her person. Lukas imagines that he has entered the portal of another realm. A realm where events that are unexplainable in the real world have extraordinary consequences in a spiritual world. A place where those who are wronged by the sins of others are given a second chance, a purgatory of souls which is best described as THE SUNSHINE MACHINE.