Could You Surrender Unfettered Access To Your Mind And Thoughts?

“… Richmon has dove into the human psyche and painted a story that shows you the importance of forgiveness, of letting go of the past and embracing what’s in front of you. It’s very real and raw and reminds you that even when you feel like you’ve lost everything that matters–you haven’t.”

“…I absolutely loved it! This book is full of twists, turns, and fresh perspectives. I’ve been fangirling about this book to my best friend (privately) since I read it. I’m so glad it’s published now because I can finally tell all my friends to go read it.!”

“This novel explores what it means to drop one’s walls and have someone truly see you. This does not mean just physically but also mentally, to allow the truth to come out in everything and to hide nothing. While it is an unusual premise for me as a reader I found that I enjoyed the openness of the characters, the way they were weaved together with multiple POV’s and that the author did an excellent job clarifying who was speaking as well as making sure everyone had their own ‘voice’. Overall it was an entertaining read and really eye-opening pointing out a different way of life.”

An isolated boy. His loving but meddlesome mother. An astonishing journey into inexpressible unity.

Jason Anderson keeps his private life locked away from prying eyes. Socially awkward and deeply introverted, the seventeen-year-old high schooler avoids relationships with his peers at all costs. But acquiescing to a pair of beautiful classmates for a ride leads to a tutoring gig… and the girls becoming entangled into the very fabric of the reclusive nerd’s complicated household.

Kate Anderson craves for her vanished nirvana. Still grieving the death of her and her husband’s paramour two decades earlier, the shrewd woman sees a pattern when her son’s new consorts’ social status and physical appearance make them dead ringers for herself and her lost lover. Convinced that history is repeating itself, Kate manipulates the teens to live vicariously through them until they turn the tables on her schemes.

Shocked and uncomfortable with the queen bees’ exploration of his world, Jason is dumbfounded when the girls declare their relationship as friends. And though Kate is overjoyed the young ladies are walking the same path she did, the perceptive forty-something fears her boy’s resistance will doom her desperate grasp for happiness.

As old memories and present passions collide, will a tormented family repeat history or find a way to return to Eden?

With fearless insight and great sensitivity, author John Richmon poses the question: What would it be like to be truly naked inside and out? Told from the perspective of each member of two different throuples, this unique novel brings to light the pain of hidden yearnings, the importance of human connection, and the transcendent power of love.

Outside These Walls is an extraordinary work of literary fiction with a speculative twist. If you like layered characters, exploring the recesses of the soul, and hints of magical realism, then you’ll adore John Richmon’s passionate tale of finding peace.

Download Outside These Walls to strip away secrets today!

Content Warning

This book contains strong language, an instance of assault, nudity, alcohol use, sex, and scenes with explicit sexual references. Read with care.



Through several rounds of beta reading, this author discovered a decoder ring, of sorts, was needed for my characters. To remove all confusion, the following discussion will help you to distinguish who is speaking.

One character is a ghost. For reasons I hope will become apparent, the usual means for identifying when a character is speaking don’t apply to her, so some creativity was in order. She introduced herself in the prologue, and she always speaks in brackets. {I’m Deb, a disembodied spirit.}

There is also horny-guy, Jason’s alter ego. He always uses ▪ to identify when he’s hanging around and making snide remarks. Horny-guy has been known to say things like … ▪ I can think of all kinds of ways to tutor Jennifer Conner. ▪

Toward the end of the story, I use italics, but it might spoil things if I tell you what they’re for. I trust you can figure it out easily enough, though.

All narration is through the eyes of the characters, changing often from scene to scene, each identifying which character is narrating. You’ll recognize their internal dialogue with a standard font in the present tense.



{Some people think life’s a bitch and then you die. Not for me. Life was bitchin’, and then I died. I’m Deb, and I’m a disembodied spirit. A ghost if you must, but I prefer the former. It sounds way cooler. And as much as I wish this story is about me, it’s not. However, without me, there would be no story. Why? Thank you for asking.

I started it all. Kate says it was her, and technically she might be right. But who cares about technically? I’m the one who said, “Let’s go this way.” I’m the one who asked the question. And I’m the one who started the truth or dare. Or in other words, I stirred the pot. Kate says she did, but what’s getting a little naked compared to asking the question that turned our lives upside down? Besides, Kate shouldn’t get any credit for the naked thing. It was Pete. He offered the pool, and he went first.

Fine. I’ll give her a little credit. But showing your tits doesn’t even come close to confessing about secretly dreaming of giving a guy a blow job and what—forget about the what-part. Kate says it never would have happened if she didn’t embarrass the shit out of me. Debatable. I will concede, though, that by surviving the immediate humiliation, I discovered I kind of liked it—being exposed, I mean. There’s a certain freedom that comes from exposing all that you are. Sound crazy? Kate and Pete thought so too.

But if not for the truth or dare, without the dare, and if not for my humiliation, there would have been no question. No question, no story. See? Damn! I almost forgot about the question. What would it be like to be completely naked, inside and out? Transparent. No hidin’ nothin’. No clothes and no secrets. Pete, my darling’s reaction … “Scary as, as shit.” Yes, but the secret is getting past scared and stepping outside our walls. That’s where the magic happens.

Our story begins on the twenty-fifth anniversary of my death. Kate and Pete, my soulmates, are truckin’ to pay their annual respects. Me, I’m floating around in some kind of netherworld, alone with no one to talk to, while those two are still sniveling over my death. Hard to feel sorry for them, though. Their misery was of their own making.}


Chapter One

The Reckoning

October 1994 – Winterhaven, Ca. – as told by Kate

Heart pounding. Breaths short. My stomach had definitely felt better. Never in the previous twenty-five years had I been so consumed with the apprehension devouring me heartbeat by heartbeat. I had no idea what the day would bring. Only that in the end, our silence would be broken.

“Your credit card, ma’am.” My body stood motionless. “Ma’am?”

“Oh. Thanks.”

“And your lilies?”

“Right. The lilies.” As I touched the pink and cream, foiled-paper wrapping, the sound of a sudden breath could be heard. A strange consciousness passed over me—through me. I exhaled.

Deb, the ghost: {Bejeebers, Kate. I can feel you. Sense you. Never since Monterey. What’s happened?}

My breathing eased. Pulse slowed. I experienced a feeling of déjà vu, like that glimpse. Months after our marriage, Pete and I drove the coast from San Diego to the Redwoods, a honeymoon of sorts. Monterey took my proverbial breath away. We sat for hours watching the waves from the beach. One day was particularly gorgeous. With a sky so blue, it was nearly impossible to differentiate between it and the water below. If not for the breaking waves and foam of the surf, there would have been no distinction in the engulfing color of the day. The power of the sea and the safety of its arms offered a striking paradox, and a glimpse of another life passed. A life for which I craved. One we called our Eden.

I don’t know exactly what it was about the ocean that day, but I sensed it, albeit faint. A feeling best described as an emotional orgasm. I felt it as surely as my hand in Pete’s, but a glimpse it was. Recognizable, but just a trace of a familiar scent, only to be carried away by a gentle breeze. I was heartened by that glimpse but not content. I’d have given anything for another. I hoped, but hope proved insufficient. There was no more. Pete would have understood that feeling better than anyone could. But that was a former life, and a life we had long ago sealed away.

But unlike that day at the ocean’s shores, the potion of the lilies lingered on. It was as if a blanket of mercy had been cast over me. Despite its anesthetizing effect, the source of my pain remained. There had been no baptism.

“Need a gift card, ma’am?”

“No. Thanks. They’re for a gravestone.”

Pushing against the door, it swung open. I saw that Pete had moved the car closer.


I’m sure he thought his gesture was considerate, but I could have used more time. As I placed the lilies in the backseat, Pete took notice. His expression said it all. I wondered if he’d comment, but he said nothing. Our drive was quiet and solemn, typical for our annual visit. As we took the last turn to Deb’s gravestone, I saw redness in Pete’s eyes—never a good sign. We parked. Pete grabbed his windbreaker and turned while raising a hand to his face and fingertips to his eyes.

Who do you think you’re fooling?

With his sorrow-laden hand, my soulmate helped me from the car.

Over her parents’ objections, we spread Deb’s ashes at our favorite retreat. It was in the middle of nowhere on a tributary of the Colorado River. Years later, we placed a gravestone overlooking the water, ducks, and tall reeds of grass, all against the backdrop of the purple hills in the distance.

“It doesn’t get any easier, Kate. Twenty-five years.”

“No, hon, it doesn’t.” Hearing Pete sniff, I searched my bag for a tissue.

Her death was brutal for both of us. Once in a while, I’d find Pete staring at the framed picture we kept on our mantle. A practice not limited to him alone. Sometimes, it cut like a double-edged sword. It was a visual oxymoron, a constant and painful reminder of the day tragedy struck. We learned to move on, somewhat, but our lives never made much sense after that day. It’s a wonder the two of us found our way back to each other.

“We were just kids,” I said.

{What’s that in the corner of your eye, girl? I might expect a tear from my darling, but you? It must be the wind, huh?}

A droplet from my eye fell onto my cheek. Years had passed since I last wiped away a tear. Perhaps time was catching up with us. And as I’d done every year for the past twenty, I laid Deb’s flower bouquet at the base of her gravestone. The white lilies were in stark contrast to the grass and colors lining the riverbanks. I stood and wrapped my arms around myself to fend off the wind.

{Thanks for the flowers, girl. But what’s with the lilies? You’ve always brought me roses.}

The gold and crimson of the season offered a symbolic yet painful vestige of our loss. Sadly, the changing colors of fall were but a blip of the agonizing reminders of her death. A song, a word, a look, most anything exhumed the past. Not much different from the loss of a limb, I suppose. As automatic as it may be to don a prosthetic each day, it couldn’t help but serve as a constant reminder of what used to be or might have been. Truth be told, we felt like amputees. But there was no prosthetic for what her death carved from our souls. A third of us was torn away. Nothing was left but ragged edges. Just like that, we were without purpose. Without a sense of being. Lost.

I miss you, girlfriend, still. Sure, I have Pete. To share life without him goes beyond imagination.

Since our marriage, he’s always been my safe zone, providing a needed retreat when I’m confused or require an overdue respite from the demands of life. But when it came to Deb, he could provide no safe harbor. After twenty-five years, I desperately wanted to see spring again. For sixteen months, everything had perfectly aligned. But like an eclipse, it was temporary. Time passed us by in a single breath. At least, it felt that way.

Damn, I want it back, what once was. Is that so much to ask for?

Pete gave my hand a gentle squeeze. “OK. Come on.”

I wasn’t sure why he was in such a rush. We only visited once a year. Maybe it wasn’t his haste as much as it was my reluctance. Somehow, I felt closer to her there and made a point of telling her each year I was sorry for our silence. An agreement, yes, it was. We thought it would lessen the pain. It didn’t. Pete pulled at me, so I gave in, taking his hand as he led me to the car. Penetrated by his adoring eyes, he opened the door and helped me in.

That man.

I remained quiet, as did Pete. As soon as we hit the main road, he reached with his hand, smiled, and gently patted my leg.

I know. I love you too. “Eyes on the road, hon. I see what you’re doing.”

Pete smiled a bit with his lips a little puckered. I’d caught him. I think he likes it when I do. The man admires me like a da Vinci. He has a way of looking at me. It’s in his smile, ever so loving, followed by a sigh.

I’m not all that, you know. How did you do it? How did you see me the way you did? You saw right through me. Why can’t you see me now?

{Smile, Kate. What’s wrong? Is something happening between you and my darling?}

Pete stared at the road ahead and wiped at the tear rolling down his cheek. “I, I’m not sure I can do that again, dear. Not only does it not get easier,”—Pete’s voice trembled—“it gets harder every year. The pain. It won’t go away.”

Lowering my sun visor shaded my eyes, but it did little to buy me the time I desperately needed. I turned my head and gazed out the passenger side window as I groped for words. With a tissue in hand, I blotted up my tears. Feelings welled up, and I struggled to get out a single thought.

Pete was right about the pain. It hadn’t gone away. Perhaps it couldn’t go away. After moments of silence, “I’m not happy, hon.” I turned and faced my husband. “Not for a long time. You’re not alone in that pain department either.” With my eyes fixed, I picked and played with the tissue in my lap. My head shook by degrees. “Fuck,” I muttered. “I can’t do this anymore. This lie. It’s taken all my strength. I’m exhausted.”

“Then you must be scared as well.”

A playful smile stretched across my lips. “What was your first f-ing clue there, hubby?”

“The f-word and bullshit flag all in one breath.”

Pete’s retort caught me off guard. Golly, we didn’t speak of those days, and mentioning our flag was straight out of our past. I returned my eyes to my lap and tattered tissue.

“As a point of correction,” he said, “it wasn’t me you were throwing it at. It sounded like you were throwing it at us … our marriage.”

I took that as a good sign. At least Pete wasn’t completely oblivious to our lack of marital bliss. After a brief moment, his eyes welled up. And once again, his emotions banded together to form little armies against that merciless force that had bewitched us.

{What’s with the tears, darling?}

Gracious, hon. We need to talk.

I handed him a tissue I’d taken from my bag and surrendered a couple of moments of silence to collect himself. Then, lifting my head and leaning it back against my headrest, “Does it really matter who or what? I’m unhappy regardless. Something’s got to change, but not returning isn’t a solution. It wouldn’t be fair to Deb. We agreed we would do at least that much in her memory.”

{This is about me, isn’t it?}

Pete blotted his eyes. Glazed over with hardly a blink, he stared ahead and focused frontward like I wasn’t even there. “Is this about our past?” he asked. I was taken aback, feeling like he could read my mind. “Dear. We need to defer this conversation. Later. My emotions are … right on the edge. Please.”

“We’re out of laters, Pete Anderson.” My voice escalated. “We’ve used them all up. Look. It’s out there now. You remember that rule, don’t you?”

Damn it. Calm down, Kate.

Pete briefly turned his head. “It still hurts. It was all I could do to keep it together back there. The last thing I need is you going off into Deb-mode.”

Deb-mode? I thought you had long gone buried that past. “Fine.” I crossed my arms across my chest. “I’ll give you your space, but I need to talk about this.”

Pete fell quiet. He was done. He shook his head and wiped his eyes with the side of his hand. His lips quivered, and his jaw shook. The anguish pooled in his eyes until he could see no longer. He pulled over while I kept the tissues coming, one after another. His lips tried to form words, but he struggled with a single coherent utterance.

“Deb,” he said. “Deb”—Pete swallowed through the lump in his throat—“won’t be … with us, Kate.”

“What do you mean?”

“You … need to drive.”

We switched places, but I turned off the engine, remaining quiet through “Alice’s Restaurant” and the extended version of “Light My Fire.” The silence between us, it wasn’t the first time. Meanwhile, that sensation from the florist remained with me and intensified my craving for a long-lost life.

While twisting in my seat, I turned toward Pete. My heart beat close to my chest, my hands shaking. “I meant what I said. It’s like we’re living a lie. I want out of this purgatory we’ve found ourselves in.”

{Out of this purgatory? Holy jumpin’ bejeebers, girl. Your thoughts. I know your thoughts. Can you hear me? I’m here.}

“What are you saying? You want a divorce?” asked Pete.

He knew better and wasted his breath. We’d already tried that without success for the five years following Deb’s death. Still, “If I thought it would end this misery, I’d say yes.” Pete offered no reaction. Not a word. Not a shake of his head. “Look. I admit I’m on empty in the solution department. The only thing certain is we’re pretty f’ed up right now.”

Right now was a stretch. We should have had f’ed up tattooed on our foreheads long before. Pete looked over at me. I could see it in his eyes. He rolled them a bit, and his lips tightened. He took a deep breath.

“No half-truths, Kate.”

Maybe you can see me. “What half-truth? I’m not speaking in half-truths.”

“Bullshit, dear, and you know it. Why not just say it? You want it back.”

Have you been in my head? I shrugged and said, “I’m not interested in getting anything back.” Pete shook his head. His lips were tight and pulled off to one side. He gave me his eye thing too. I felt like giving him one of Deb’s faces.

You think you’re so smart.

I wanted to be forthcoming with him. I did. It’s that total honesty was something that time took from us. I knew he’d never agree if I came at him directly.

We sat in silence for who knows how long. I turned my head and looked directly at him. With my head tilted, wrist bent, and thumb and forefinger touching my ear, “Honey, we need some quality time together.” I moved closer and rubbed my hand on his upper thigh. “We haven’t gotten away, just the two of us, for eons.” Touching the side of my neck with the back of my fingers and tilting my head downward, “How would you feel about getting outta Dodge to figure this out?” Lifting my head, I smiled with my eyes, parted my lips, and touched them with the index finger of my right hand. “And maybe we can light each other’s fire again.” Pete smiled and let out a faint chuckle. “What’s with that? I’m being serious here.”

“Kate Marie.”

{I’ve seen that look. You are so busted.}

“Remember the first time you tried those maneuvers on me?”

“Why, honey, what are you talking about?” Argh.

“Seems to me I received a similar response many suns ago. And before you start your pouting, I suggest you come clean and end this little charade.” I avoided any eye contact.

You can be so infuriating. I could play dumb. Nah. That would only add to my humiliation.

I felt just like that time I got caught smoking. Got caught red-handed in a lie. Even when my brother caught me experimenting with myself. Gracious.


Once again, I leaned my head against my headrest. “I’ve been dreading this, hon.” I let out a deep breath. “What we’ve been doing isn’t, hasn’t been working. It hasn’t worked for twenty-five years. It’s time. I miss her so.”

Pete’s chest expanded. He held it for a quick second, then audibly exhaled. “Kate. Please. Just spit it out.”

“This silence about Deb has to end. I want to bury our agreement. Nullify. Cancel. No más. It’s bad enough that her memory lies dead back at that river. That needs to be the only place she lies dead.”


“Twenty-five years is long enough. She needs to live again. In our house and in our lives.” I looked up and over at Pete as he again wiped at his eyes.

{You canceled me? What the flying bejeebers. Just wait. Just you two wait until I can give you a piece of my mind. So uncool.}

“Go on.”

“We’re still stuck in the day she died. We need the joy that was Deb back in our lives. Let’s get away. Reminisce. Find some joy again. I want to celebrate her life.”

“Celebrate, huh? Sounds like a thinly—” Pete stopped and raised the corner of his mouth. Then he gave me one of his looks. I thought for sure he would throw our flag at me. “You don’t know what you’re asking.”

“I don’t?”

“No. Trust me. You don’t. I’ll never go back there, Kate. Get that through your pretty, diabolical head. You want to go on a trip? Fine. I suppose you want to go to Monterey. Fine. I wouldn’t mind a visit with the waves myself.” Pete paused while taking a deep breath. “But celebrate? No. There’s nothing to celebrate. She was taken from us, Kate, and nothing can bring her back.”

But you loved that girl. Can’t you do it for her?

Pete looked up, staring through the sunroof. And after another deep breath, “I see this means a lot to you, so I’ll agree to cancel our agreement. Won’t change much anyway.”

{Cancel our agreement? Yes! Yes! I’m here, darling.}

“Can we add reminisce?”

“I can’t very well stop you. It will be a solo affair. Know that.”

Says you. You’ll see it my way … eventually.