What happens to a young man, who has The Right Stuff, but never fulfills his dream of becoming an astronaut?
Nate LaChae learned to survive the ghetto streets and successfully competed in technical areas while in High School. His experiments revealed talents that amaze his fellow students and teachers. He attends school only to get information for his projects, which include: rockets, ESP, and computer programs to beat the race tracks and lotto.
Scarred by a tragic marriage and breakup, he begins an odyssey of relationships and jobs where the love and success he craves eludes him repeatedly. Spurred on by his dream of inventing a gravity-engine, Nate seeks employment with companies that have the tools and equipment he needs for his projects. His work draws the secret attention of more than one government.
He works in many European countries and makes friends everywhere he goes. During one three-year stint outside the U.S., he meets an inventor who has independently duplicated experiments Nate conducted years before. This reignites Nate's determination to perfect his engine, which has powers beyond his comprehension.
Returning to the U.S.A. Nate attempts to reconnect with his adult children and fulfill his dream of climbing The Monkey Bars of Life.
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The Monkeybars of Life
The uniqueness of The Monkeybars of Life is that the protagonist is from the inner city and yet the book is not about drugs or sex. Rather, it tells about a technically talented man’s struggles at work and at home.
One thread of the story is Nate’s passionate desire to complete his anti-gravity engine which he accidentally invented. Late in the story, he discovers an identical engine is being developed by an inventor in Scotland.
Another thread deals with the protagonist (Nate) feelings of anger and guilt over his failed marriage. The readers get to experience the inner life of a man who feels he was unjustly separated from his family.
The Monkeybars of Life goes beyond racism and explores some of the obstacles to creativity and the consequences of a lack of formal education.
The author hopes that the book will serve as a guide to life choices young people may face if they are creative and have uncompromising minds.
From Chapter Three:
Just then, Etta called down the stairs, “Alright you guys, I've got sandwiches and French fries on the table.” Etta joined them and Nate related an incident that happened a few weeks before.
"Some friends came over and they brought an African student with them. I asked him whether he felt there would ever be an African space program. When he said he didn’t think so, I asked him why not. Then I went OFF when he said he felt the White Man had something special in his head that allowed him to invent things and go to the moon!
The reason I was so upset is that I believe the greatness of our race will not come from the USA. It will be from Africa one day. And to hear an African student say what he said just set me off. I told him, anybody that fills a thirty-five story rocket with liquid oxygen and hydrogen can go to the moon.
I explained that the laws of physics work the same for everybody. Then I told him not to ever think or say what he said again. Even I was surprised at how I reacted. But we’ll never even try things with the kind of thinking he had. I just want to show that God doesn’t play favorites.”
While still chewing Bill said, “Hey man, I agree with you 100%.” Then Etta added “That’s what we teach our girls, that they can be anything if they put their mind to it. What about your kids, Nate? Me and Bill were wondering if any of them are interested in science.” Bill looked toward Etta with surprise.
“To tell you the truth, Etta, I don’t know what they like.”
Bill said “Hey man, If you don’t want to talk about it …”
“No, no. It’s alright. I have wondered about the same thing myself. You see, my father was the first black engineering foreman at Standard Oil company and my mother was good at chemistry and math in college. So, I figure maybe that’s where I inherited whatever talents I have. I’d like to think that some of it got passed on to the next generation, but I just don’t know.”
“Did they ever see you launch some of your rockets or stuff like that?” Bill asked.
“Oh yeah, I took them to the MiniLab sometimes. And before that, I was building everything at home. I remember when I was building the tracking system and working late at night, sometime one of them would come quietly into the room and scare me. But, I haven’t been communicating with them since I left New York. Its better that way.”
“I don’t know, Nate.” Etta said, “I’d have to communicate with my kids no matter what. And it seems like they should know about the things you’re doing. Where else are they going to find a role model who builds space engines?”
“I know what you mean. And you notice I haven’t talked about my family in New York before …”
“Was it because of Beatrice?”
“No, not at all. In fact, I met Beatrice after my wife and I had broken up. So I don’t have any guilt feelings about that. It’s just that the breakup was very bad. I loved my family and did the best I could.” Nate was staring at the wall as he spoke.
Bill thought about stopping him, but didn’t.
“My wife didn’t think my work was important. She even told me I should have opened a taxi business instead of the MiniLab. At one point I saw how ironic everything was because I got a patent pending on one of the Gamma engines just one month after we broke up for good.”
“So, what about all your equipment and notes at the MiniLab?” Bill asked.
“All of that stuff was moved to an old abandon building in Harlem on 125th street, where me and Ernest lived for a while. I always kept my Gamma notebooks in a safe place. When I came to Chicago, they were the only technical stuff that I brought. I tried to forget about the Gamma principle because everyone kept saying ‘It can’t work’ and ‘it violates Newton’s law’. But I knew that my experiments had worked and I believed what I’d told that African student … about God giving ideas to anyone. Besides, I saw the Gamma principle everywhere; even when looked at ceiling fans rocking back and forth. So, I slowly got started working on the engine again. Then I met a guy in Washington Park …”
Bill finished with, “And the rest is history … No, I mean will be history.”