Excerpt From “Reconstructing Charlie” by Charmaine Gordon

Charlie Costigan has a secret. Home life gone from bad to the worst when she protects her mother from another vicious attack by her drunken father. Midnight. Clothes thrown into an old suitcase, she races for the bus with a letter to an unknown aunt and uncle. “This is my daughter. Embrace her as if she were your own.”

Determined, Charlie begins again. Alone with her secret.

_

Excerpt:

Prologue

In 1996 I killed my father.

Dear old Dad was great with a belt. A belt of whiskey. A belt from around his waist unbuckled when you least expected it and later I knew when it was coming and some of us escaped. Not me, not Mom. Never Mom. I’m the oldest. I didn’t want the little ones to see the okay dad turn into a monster on payday.

Chapter 1

I heard the television turned up loud before I opened the door. Mom always hoped for a distraction. Maybe this time instead of beating up on us, he’d watch the Minnesota Twins beat the hell out of the Boston Red Sox. Rant over every play, curse the umpires, yell that the Hubert H. Humphrey Stadium wasn’t good enough. 1996. Not a great year so far for the Twins. On this payday, after I dropped the kids off, I raced home just in time to be with Mom.

The front door banged open hard enough to rattle dishes in the cabinet. Mom’s treasure—a painted porcelain egg—rolled to the edge, teetered for a second and fell end over end to the hardwood floor. The small egg cracked with the force of a bomb. Mom stared at broken pieces from a life she had long ago. Her face turned white, every freckle showing, and my fists clenched.

He staggered around waving a tire iron in the air; muscled from working a jackhammer for the city all his sorry life and ugly drunk. Flowers flew off the table with sprays of water and shattered glass. Cursing, he went after Mom. This time I was ready. I wrestled it out of his filthy hands and hit him good. He lay torn up, didn’t move, blood everywhere on Mom’s clean kitchen floor. I stood there looking down at my father and thought how hard it was going to be for Mom to get the blood up. And how come he was the worst father in the world scaring all of us, hurting Mom and me. I breathed too fast and almost threw up. We were safe now because I’d done this terrible thing and I didn’t know how I could live with it.

Mom’s thick auburn hair came loose from her bun and she looked so pretty bending over him, a finger pressed to his neck as if she was a cop. On tiptoes, she pulled the ceiling fan chain and her sleeve rolled back. Black and blue marks covered her arm. I counted them. Mom had a lot more than I did. The breeze felt good. Then she wiped my fingerprints off the tire iron and replaced them with hers.

I watched Mom change from quiet refined Liz Costigan to someone I didn’t know.

“No more sweltering in my house,” she said.

She reached in his pants like a pickpocket and came up with a handful of dollars and coins. Handing me the money, Mom said, “I guess he drank the rest of his pay. Sorry it’s not more. Let’s get you packed.”

She was in charge, this new mother, and I didn’t question her. Icy cold inside myself, Mom dragged me along to my bedroom. I kept looking back expecting him to come after us.

“Reach up high on the top shelf, Charlie. Bring the suitcase down.”

Mom’s hands caressed the leather case I’d never seen.

“I packed my clothes and ran away sixteen years ago,” she said. “I was wild, out-of-control.”

“Were you ever sorry, Mom?”

“I have you and Jimmy, and my little girls. Take a shower. I have things to do.” She pushed me toward the hall.

I heard Mom opening and closing drawers, knew she’d be too busy to worry about me for a while and crept back to the bloody mess to make sure he really was dead. His dark eyes had turned to an empty stare. Shivering, I ran for the bathroom. Even a hot shower couldn’t warm me and blood refused to wash off. Words spun around in my head. ‘Out, out, damned spot.’ I scrubbed ‘til it hurt. Lady Macbeth, that’s me.

Wrapped in a towel, I watched Mom empty my clothes into her suitcase. I couldn’t move. He’s dead in the house and she packed my clothes for what? Mom added a dress hanging at the back of the closet, folded and placed it on top. The sound of the zipper closing on the suitcase startled me into action. I pried up the board in the closet, removed my money, and secured it into a money belt I’d bought in a second hand shop. Mom nodded approval.

“Wear this,” she said, handing me jeans and a long sleeved tee shirt. I dug some underwear out of the suitcase and dressed. “Take a windbreaker. Air conditioning on the bus.”

Unfastening a gold locket on a long chain she wore around her neck, she said, “Hold up your hair, my girl.”

We stood face to face, her hazel eyes looking into mine. I heard a tiny click when the clasp was in place around my neck. She kissed the locket and let it slide under my shirt.

“What’s in the locket, Mom?”

“Two sisters, my dear Charlie. One wise. One foolish.” Mom smiled the saddest smile. She held my face in both hands. “Yes, I have a sister, your aunt Eleanor. Now listen hard. Money and education. Most important. And one more thing, precious girl, don’t let boys catch your scent. Keep clean. That’s something I forgot.”

Scared and bewildered, I wasn’t used to her making fast decisions. Any decisions.

“I’ll call the police after you’re gone. It was self defense. There are hospital records of abuse for years. The Union will take financial care of us. Your job is to make a new life. Catch a bus to Chicago. My sister is there.”

She pulled a box out from a drawer in my small desk and opened it. Fancy stationery paper, the old fashioned kind with the scent of flowers. Taking a deep breath, mom wrote in her perfect handwriting. I always believed mom had a lot of secrets. Now I got a peek at some just before I was leaving. Not fair and I felt like my little sisters when they stamped their feet against the world. I didn’t want to leave. She tucked two sheets of paper in a matching envelope and added an address.

“Don’t lose this, Charlie. It’s your passport to a new life.”

I couldn’t speak. Somehow words got stuck in my throat so I read the name Mom had written. Mrs. Stuart Alfred. I unzipped a side pocket on my backpack and placed the envelope in with care.

“Don’t let her turn you away. She’s my older sister. She hated your father.”

I never saw her cry before and when tears fell, she brushed them away.

Panic set in. “What if she’s not there?”

“She’ll be there, same as always. I’ve kept in touch with her. Not often. Just enough.”

So sure of herself, this new mother.

“Charlie,” Mom looked in my eyes so deep as if she was taking a picture, “don’t call. I’ll call you when I have something to say. Now hurry. It’s not too late to catch the bus.”

Mom hugged me and I ran.

***

Charmaine Gordon is the author of seven books all published by Vanilla Heart Publishing.
authorcharmainegordon.com
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CharmaineGordon

Excerpt From “Exchange” by Dale Cozort

Exchange, by Dale R. Cozort is an outstanding new science fiction adventure.  A series of Exchanges swaps town-sized realities with dangerous places and other times. Such  Exchanges have become ‘routine catastrophes,’  creating a new frontier — a wild, dangerous place that people can go to start a new life if they’re brave enough and/or crazy enough. Sharon Mack wants no part this frontier, but when her anarchist ex-husband takes their seven-year-old daughter into the alternate reality she has no choice but to follow, fighting her way through threatening animals, a brutal street gang, escaped convicts, and the “Church of the Second Chance” to rescue her daughter before the Exchange ends.

Excerpt:

Sharon stood at the top of a knoll. She stared across the EZ into Bear Country. Wind stirred a vast grassy sea marked with islands of trees. There was no sign of human impact to the landscape except for ruts ripped in the soil by trucks; ugly, alien slashes through thick savanna grass.

I shouldn’t have stopped.

Tracking the convoy kept her mind and body distanced from the pain and despair that threatened to overwhelm her. Stopping gave a foothold to the pain of her bruised jaw and rope-burned wrists and ankles. Pain she could deal with, but Anthony or maybe Sister West’s collection of loonies had Bethany.

Bethany, her fixed smile hiding what? Terror? Bewilderment?

A flicker in her peripheral vision startled her. She reached for the gun on her belt—Elroy’s heavy .45, retrieved from her car. A grasshopper-sized green and yellow bat hopped from a grass stem and fluttered away.

Nothing.

As she studied the horizon, details jumped into focus. In the distance, hairy, elephant-like mastodons tested the breeze with questing trunks while green monkeys scrambled between their bulky forms. Nearer, a prairie dog, big as a raccoon, stood at attention next to its burrow—watching her with suspicion. June’s hot late-afternoon sun made her squint through her sunglasses.

“You have to keep moving if you don’t want someone sneaking up behind you.”

The calm but unfamiliar voice was close. Reflex sent her hand streaking toward her belt, but he was quicker—he smoothly plucked her gun from its holster. Spinning, she turned toward the voice, acutely aware of her empty hand.

The man was tall, well over six feet, and husky. He had deeply tanned skin; his head was topped with blond hair mussed by the wind. His khaki pants and polo shirt were unwrinkled and clean, and he appeared cool in spite of the heat of the day. He smiled sheepishly—showing white, even teeth set in a square jaw.

“Childish of me to sneak up on you and take your gun. However, you looked like you were out to kill someone. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t me.”

Sharon blinked to see if he’d vanish as suddenly as he’d appeared. She moved back a step, then her anger boiled.

“I’m extremely tired of people sneaking up behind me,” she said. “If you’re real, I’m probably going to kill you.”

The man stepped toward her.

“So you are in the mood to kill someone, which is why I grabbed your gun. I’ll give it back if you promise not to shoot me.”

“I’ll think about it. Who are you?”

“My name is Leo, and who are you?”

“Sharon. To sneak up on me, you must move like a ghost—except you leave a trail.”

“Sorry about that.”

“Sneaking up on me or leaving a trail?”

“A little of both.”

“What are you doing out here?”

Leo smiled. “Good question. Wandering about in another timeline? Risky. We could get eaten by a sabertooth or we could stay out too long and get stranded. They say Exchanges last two weeks, but who really knows? Sooner or later, the Exchange will reverse itself and Rockport will disappear. Like getting off on the wrong floor and having the elevator door shut behind you, except that the elevator never comes back. Just you and me. Well, not quite. You and me and whoever made the ruts.”

“Like Adam and Eve.” Sharon intended the comment to come out sarcastic, but she heard a wistfulness in her voice that made her cringe. She hastily added, “The elevator does come back. There have been a couple hundred Exchanges.”

“But they never happen twice in the same place and only rarely even close together.”

Leo slowly extended the grip of her pistol—she grabbed it. He hurried along the ruts Sharon had been following, speaking over his shoulder.

“I can’t help but think of the Exchange fifty miles west of here, the one where the prison came back, but the guards were murdered and the prisoners were missing.”

Sharon hesitated for a second and then followed him.

“You still haven’t told me what you’re doing out here.”

“That makes us even. What are you doing out here?”

“I started out in a jeep—swerved to miss a badger. Hit a stump and broke the radiator.”

“But you kept going,” Leo said. “Determined. Well, Sharon, I think you’re trying to catch someone who stole something important. Money? Jewelry? Heirloom? What’s important enough to risk your life for?”

“How do you—”

“What’s with the bruise on your cheek?”

“Whiskey bottle.”

“Ah. And you have rope marks on your wrists, plus shallow cut marks,” Leo said. “Someone clubbed you, tied you up and robbed you of something. But what could it be? Money’s worthless here and it’s too soon for food to be as valuable as gold. And you don’t seem the type to worry over jewelry.”

“My daughter. My seven-year-old daughter.”

Leo stopped abruptly and turned to face her.

“One of the people who made these ruts took her?”

“My ex-husband. Anthony.”

“Why?”

Sharon turned so that the tall man couldn’t see the tears on her cheeks.

“He wants to live out here. He thinks the cult will help him.”

“Cult? Sister West and her flock?”

Sharon nodded. “A bunch of them got arrested for kidnapping and murder a few years ago.”

“I heard about that.”

“Anthony was a member until they kicked him out. He says he still has friends there who’ll help him.”

“Friends in Sister West’s flock, huh?”

“I think Sister West plans to stay over here,” she said.

“That wouldn’t surprise me.”

“It should surprise you.” Sharon brushed a grasshopper-sized mosquito off her arm. “They couldn’t survive out here.”

“It would be a tough life if you weren’t prepared. What will you do if you catch up with them?”

Sharon sighed. “I don’t know. Grab my daughter and bring her back. If they’re guarding her too well, I’ll go back for help.”

Leo nodded. “Did you ask the Marines to help?”

“I didn’t bother,” Sharon said. “They have bigger problems on their plate.”

Leo nodded. “Their mission is to protect Rockport—enforce quarantine and get the city back to the world in one piece, if possible. I imagine chasing down a stray girl doesn’t weigh much on their scale. So, you’re out here alone. Brave. Stupid, but brave.”

“I can take care of myself.”

“Like you did when you went up against the whiskey bottle?”

“He won’t find me so easy to surprise next time,” she said. “I have a black belt.”

Leo stopped and smiled down at her. “A martial artist. How interesting. Going to use your black belt against a bear?”

He turned and walked quickly.

Sharon hurried to catch up. “The plan is to stay out of the way of bears. Or shoot them.”

“Well at least shooting one might make it mad. A karate chop wouldn’t even do that.”

“So what’s your plan to stop a bear?”

“Play dead and hope he’s not hungry.” Leo stopped and scanned the horizon. “Hold up. I hear something. Sounds like horses.”

“Are there any over here?”

“Yeah, a species of mustangs that died out at the end of the ice age back in the World. They’re close. Almost on top of us.”

He crouched in the grass and tugged her to join him. A dozen men on horseback abruptly appeared over a low hill. They wore the tattered remnants of orange jumpsuits.

“Convicts! So much for Adam and Eve.”

Leo frowned. “Two years without women. I’m sure they’d be happy to be Adam to your Eve. I hope you know how to use that gun.”

“If they try anything, they’ll find out.”

The convicts rode up, deploying in a semicircle.

A wiry man with a pockmarked face said, “What have we here? Strays from the flock?”

The man glanced at Leo, froze and stared. His face turned pale under the dirt. He talked quietly to his buddies. A short, balding convict shook his head.

Sharon heard a fragment of the reply, “…don’t care who he is. I haven’t had a woman in years.” She eased the pistol from her belt.

Not a man. Just a target.

The balding convict spurred his horse and approached at a gallop. He raised a stone-tipped spear. The others eyed Leo and stayed put. Sharon raised the pistol, thumbed the hammer back, and aimed at the center of the man’s chest.

“I’ll shoot.”

He grinned and kept coming. Sharon hesitated. The sight wavered.

No choice. Do it.

She fired. The pistol jerked against her hand and the bullet’s crack echoed in the still landscape. Above his paunchy stomach, a red stain blossomed on the man’s tattered shirt. The spear dropped at Sharon’s feet. The convict fell with one foot still in the stirrup, spooking his horse, and the animal ran off, dragging his unconscious rider. Sharon caught a glimpse of a rifle tattoo on the convict’s flailing forearm—AK. She shuddered when his head bounced off a rock outcropping and turned away, only to find the convicts’ semicircle had dissolved into chaos. Another convict fell off his bucking horse, which kicked him in the chest with both hind feet when he started to get up. The man flew backward and twitched in the grass.

When the remaining convicts got their horses under control, the man with the pockmarked face spoke to Leo.

“Don’t imagine you’d sell the bitch?”

“You can’t afford her,” Leo said.

Sharon stared at her companion. A strange, eager expression faded from his face as she watched.

“Let us just get what’s left of Joe and catch the horse that ran off. Then we’ll be on our way.”

“Good idea.”

While Sharon and Leo watched, the convicts hauled up the bodies and arranged them on horses. They rode off, several looking over shoulders to stare or gesture at Sharon and Leo.

Sharon kept her pistol pointed warily toward them until they disappeared over a hill.

“They didn’t seem like the kind of men to give up that easily,” she said. “He was an AK. I think they all were.”

“Aryan Kings? Probably. They’re in most prisons and a lot of cities in the Midwest.”

“Not people to run away from a fight.”

Leo grinned. “Maybe you scared them off. Only three of them had guns and who knows if those guns had ammunition. Could be a lot of things.”

“I don’t think so,” Sharon said. “I think you scared them.”

Leo smiled. “You had the gun.”

“I had the gun but they weren’t afraid of me. Who are you?”

“Leo.”

“That’s not enough.”

“No, it probably isn’t. You just shot a man. Are you okay?” Leo peered down at her.

“I haven’t had a chance to think about it yet.”

Sharon turned away, then felt nauseated. She fell to her knees

Leo rested a strong, callused hand on her shoulder. The touch felt right, desperately needed.

Don’t trust him! Don’t let him see you’re weak!

She stood up too soon and swayed, knees locked, dizzy but trying to look strong. It took a minute, but the sickness passed. While scanning the horizon for more trouble, she unconsciously replaced the spent cartridge in the pistol.

“Sorry,” she said.

“I understand. Taking a life is no trivial thing.”

“Anthony—”

“You won’t kill him. It won’t come to that,” Leo said. “Follow me.”

He veered off to the right of the ruts they’d been following. Sharon stopped. “Where are you going?”

“I think one of Sister West’s trucks broke down and they pushed it this way to hide it. If there’s nothing seriously wrong, maybe I can get it going.”

Sharon tried to spot a trail in the knee-high grass.

“I don’t see anything,” she said.

Leo nodded. “They hid the trail. I almost missed it myself.”

They trudged several hundred yards before Sharon spotted the truck hidden in a gully with branches piled over it. Leo opened the hood and poked around. He pulled open the driver’s side door and turned the key. The truck started.

He grinned at Sharon.

“Battery cable worked loose. They reinforced the suspension but didn’t tighten the battery cables. So, walk or ride, your choice.”

Sharon shook her head. “Good set of choices there.” She climbed in.

Leo drove back to the ruts they’d been following and swung onto the trail. Sharon looked out at the Bear Country prairie and forced her body to relax—pushing pain and worry to the back of her mind. She watched the little dramas of life around her. A tiny brown bat landed on the mirror outside her window. It glared at its reflection in the mirror, raised its wings, hissed, and flew away. A bird swooped on the bat. Sharon didn’t see if it got away. Half a dozen birds flew over the truck, darting and snapping at insects and small bats disturbed by their passage.

They drove for nearly an hour before the truck crested a hill and nearly hit a sabertooth cat feeding on a buffalo calf. The cat backed off, hissing and baring large blade-like teeth. It crouched, then charged the truck, but stopped before making contact. Leo slowed, but kept edging forward. Sharon took out her cell phone and took a picture as the sabertooth backed off. The cat came back once they were past. After growling disapproval, it went back to feeding.

“I’m glad we’re in this truck. I wouldn’t want to meet that beast on foot.”

He grinned. “I agree.”

His grin faded when Sharon pulled out her pistol and pointed it at his head.

“Too bad your ride ends now—before you drive me into Sister West’s compound to deliver me to them.”

Leo chuckled. “I knew finding the truck was too obvious, but I don’t want to be on foot out here at night. I didn’t think you bought it. Which is why I switched guns with you. The one you have is empty.”

Sharon frowned at the unfamiliar weapon. She shifted her aim a couple of inches from his head and pulled the trigger. The hammer clicked on an empty chamber. Sharon stared at the gun, then at Leo. All the anger, frustration, and pain of the day was in her voice.

“If the mind games don’t stop right now, I’ll tear off one of your arms and beat you to death with it. Let’s start with a full name; who are you?”

Leo laughed. “I have the gun and you’re making threats. I like that.”

He stopped the truck and shifted in his seat to face her. He held out a hand for a handshake.

“My name’s Leo West.”

***

Dale Cozort lives in a college town near Chicago with his wife, daughter, three cats and a lot of books. Dale is a computer programmer and teacher as well as a long-time science fiction fan. He has a huge and diverse range of interests, ranging from computers and history to martial arts. He loves animals and did a stint as a foster home for orphan Samoyeds. You can find Dale at his website: http://dalecozort.com/index.htm or at Stairway Press: http://www.stairwaypress.com/bookstore/exchange/

Click here for an interview with: Dale Cozort, Author of “Exchange

Click here to read a fascinating article: Three Things Television Tells Us About The Future of Writing by Dale Cozort


Excerpt From “Blood On His Hands” by Mark P Sadler

Blood on His Hands is one man’s tale of the inner struggles that we all deal with in our lives. Mike Renton struggles between doing the right thing or doing that which will benefit himself; taking the road to righteousness or the one the one leads to deceit.

His life seems to end the moment he pulled the trigger sending his unfaithful wife and her lover into oblivion.

On the lam, his journey takes him from rural Oklahoma to the glitz of Las Vegas. He had not however, anticipated the determined tenacity of private investigator Ian Walker, who tracks him down to northern Georgia on to the Appalachian Trail just outside of the sleepy hamlet of Helen. Was the path chosen by both men the trail to redemption, forgiveness and repentance, or was it one that will eventually pull them into tempest and despair; a black hole into oblivion?

Nine months later, in the spring of the following year human remains are discovered by a hiker just off the Appalachian Trail. How will the decisions made by the White County coroner’s office affect the final outcome of the journey Mike Renton started when he killed his wife and will he be able to deal with the repercussions that come along with the choices he made? Blood on His Hands leads us from wanton despair to the promise of a new life no matter the cost.

Excerpt:

The truck seemed to feel its way over the red dirt road. Although he had not returned home in the past twelve years Mike navigated each crook and gully as if he had been here just yesterday. A barbed wire fence still separated the ranch from the road, but when he came to the gate, it was off its hinges, rusting in the tall weeds. The branded wood sign that read Circle Y was swinging by its chain from one end of the frame work that he passed under. He drove slowly over the cattle grid, bumping and swaying.

The bank had never been able to sell the foreclosed land and it had sat, deteriorating slowly. With each gust of wind that blew across it, the dirt shifted, helping the ranch seem more desolate. Tumbleweeds danced, twirled and weaved in the wind, like straw ballerinas who finally sacrificed themselves on the barbed wire.

The house was silhouetted with the moon in back, but still he could see that the windows were boarded up. For a moment, in his mind’s eye, he saw his folks; Dad sitting out on the front stoop, in his rocking chair, corn cob pipe in his hand, and a hound dog or two at his feet. Mom, out in back, in her white linen apron, hanging freshly laundered sheets on the line, and himself as a toddler stumbling and bumbling along chasing horny toads and getting under her feet at every opportunity.

Shaking his head, to clear the memory, he drove forward, picking out the remains of the old barn just down a way. It was barely standing; just a skeleton of planks held together with rusty nails, chicken wire and cobwebs. A few old rusting tractor parts and tools still clung to the work bench and walls, a vice stood open, probably rusted solid. He pulled in and shut off the engine.

Here will be a good place to die. Popping the lid off the aspirins he palmed a handful of little white pills into his mouth and chased them down with a swig of liquor from the whiskey bottle. Tears ran down his face as he stared at the photograph of Caleb and Seth, still in their pajamas, sitting around the Christmas tree a few months ago. My boys, oh my boys. Slowly but surely his eyes closed. He sunk sideways into the passenger seat. The ball cap slipped from his head and the bottle fell from his grasp.

He opened his eyes. If this was hell it smelled an awful lot like vomit. Choking, coughing he sat upright. The spew was dried and stuck to his face and t-shirt. Wet hair was plastered to the side of his head from the cold sweat he had been in all night. Outside the wind continued to howl and light flickered in through the broken slats of the barn. Another day. Still alive. What a fucking failure.

Getting out of the truck he walked around to the passenger side and opened the door. Bending over he picked up the puke covered ball cap, and used the bill to scrape the chunks off the seat. He flung the floor mat into the dirt, followed by the ruined cap. The remaining aspirin rattled around and the whiskey bottle rolled under the seat. They could be left there; a reminder of his botched attempt. After removing as much of the dried vomit as possible he rolled the window down.

He unzipped and peed over behind the tailgate of the truck. His kidneys ached. Climbing back into the cab he turned the engine over, and put the truck into first gear. Edging forward he pulled out of the old ramshackle lean-to barn, and headed back out past the house without even a sideways glance. This place had killed his parents but rejected him. He needed to be on the road. Down the highway was Albuquerque and beyond that Phoenix. It had been a mistake to come back here; too many ghosts and memories. Without a backward glance in the mirror he peeled out off the cattle grid, leaving behind the desolate shadows of the ranch in a cloud of dry dust.

***

After a bitter divorce a walk on the Appalachian Trail blossomed into a murder mystery set in the hills of northern Georgia, near the picturesque town of Helen. Mark P Sadler set his first novel in a scenario he was familiar with and loosly based his book on the true-tale of his hike (He divorced his wife yet gave his character the ability to murder his fictional wife). Now ten years on he is happily remarried and working on the next novel. Find Mark at his website: http://markpsadler.com

Excerpt From “One Blood” by Qwantu Amaru

For Every Action…

Lincoln Baker, born a ward of the state, has gone from orphan, to gang banger, to basketball superstar, to lifer at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in the space of eighteen years. During his prison term, he meets Panama X, a powerful and mysterious father figure who gives Lincoln a reason for living – he must assassinate Randy Lafitte, the sitting Governor of Louisiana.

There is an Equal and Opposite Reaction…

In order to force a pardon, Lincoln orchestrates the kidnapping of Karen Lafitte, Randy’s only daughter. But Randy Lafitte is a man who built his fortune by resurrecting a family curse from slavery to kill his own father. A curse that may or may not have been responsible for his son Kristopher’s death in the gang crossfire that sent Lincoln to prison for life. Randy will stop at nothing to save his daughter, even if it means admitting the curse is real. Even if it means committing greater atrocities.

Too bad for Anyone Stuck in the Middle.

Three days after Karen’s kidnapping, an explosive cocktail of revenge, manipulation, serendipity, fate, truth, and redemption detonates throughout Louisiana. When the dust settles, the ending is as unexpected as it is illuminating. There are secrets sealed in our blood, you see. The best answers, as always, lie within.

EXCERPT:

1963

New Orleans, LA

During the day, New Orleans’ most famous neighborhood was a tribute to architectural and cultural homogeneity. At night, the French Quarter’s multicultural legacy blurred into an unrecognizable labyrinth; especially in the eyes of the drunk and desperate.

At the moment, Joseph Lafitte was both.

Joseph careened down the dark alley and absentmindedly brushed at the dried blood beneath his nose with his free hand. His tailor-made shirt and pants were drenched with sweat and felt sizes smaller. He was overcome with the sensation that he was running in place, even though he was moving forward at a brisk pace. Until he tripped over a carton some careless individual had placed in his path.

Upon impact with the concrete his cheek flayed open, but he barely felt the sting as his priceless nickel and gold plated antique Colt Navy Revolver clattered away into the darkness, out of reach. Even now, breathing as harshly as he was, he could hear someone behind him. Somehow they managed to stay just out of the range of his sight, but within earshot.

It was the ideal moment for them to pounce, but Joseph would not give in so easily. He pushed himself to his feet, sweeping the ground for his weapon. He located it near a dilapidated doorway. Clutching it once again, he felt his self-control returning.

Then his dead wife called his name.

“Joseph? Joseph, where are you?”

That was all the motivation he needed. He broke into a full gallop but couldn’t outrun what he’d seen back at the hotel, or what he’d just heard.

They are toying with me. Trying to make me doubt my own mind.

This was New Orleans after all. A place with a well-documented history of trickery and alchemic manipulation. He must have drank or eaten something laced with some devilish hallucinogen. For all he knew, his own son—Randy—had given it to him.

Randy still blamed Joseph for the car wreck that took his mother’s life. Joseph had noted the murderous hue in Randy’s eyes after Rita’s funeral, and even though Joseph explained that it was an accident, he knew Randy would never forgive him.

Was this Randy trying to get some sort of revenge?

It didn’t matter. Randy was weak—always had been and always would be. As an only child, he grew up to be softer than cotton—Rita’s doing by babying and spoiling the boy.

Have I underestimated my son?

This thought, along with his first glimpse of light in quite some time, simultaneously assaulted him.

Where am I? And why haven’t they caught up to me yet?

Maybe they want me to go this way.

Joseph glanced down at the revolver that had once been carried by the great Robert E. Lee. He’d show them who had the upper hand; if Randy was behind this, he would soon be joining his mother.

Rather than heading toward the light, Joseph turned left down another dark alleyway. The façade of the building was damp to the touch. Other than his troubled footfalls, there was no sound. Who knew a city nearly bursting at the seams with music could be this eerily silent?

Joseph used the quiet to collect his thoughts.

***

He’d spent that afternoon as he spent most Saturdays, sipping bourbon and talking shop with other New Orleans power brokers inside the private room in Commander’s Palace. He knew something was wrong as soon as Randy appeared at the doorway, motioning to him.

“We have to leave New Orleans right now, Father,” Randy said in a hushed tone as Joseph entered the hallway.

“What are you talking about, Boy, and why are you whispering?” Joseph replied, a little louder than he needed to.

Randy jerked Joseph’s arm in the direction of the exit, his eyes pleading. “Something bad is going to happen if we don’t leave here right away.”

“No, Son,” Joseph said. “Something bad is going to happen if you don’t remove yourself from my sight this instant!”

And that had been the end of it. Randy left, looking back only once, as if to say, Don’t say I didn’t try to warn you.

Joseph returned to his drinks and colleagues. Afterward, he went downtown for a little afternoon rendezvous with a beautiful Creole whore. She came as a recommendation from his regular mistress, Claudette, who was on her cycle, and the girl certainly fit the bill.

He made it back to the hotel just as the sun set and settled down for a drink or three after taking a steaming hot shower. In the comfort of his armchair, in the privacy of his suite, his thoughts returned to Randy. It was Randy’s eighteenth birthday and the boy had been acting oddly ever since he’d arrived in New Orleans two days earlier. In truth, he’d been acting strangely much longer than that.

Joseph would never forget the revulsion he’d experienced when the maid in their Lake City mansion had shown him the pile of bloody rags at the bottom of Randy’s hamper. That disgust tripled once he found out the source of the blood. One night, Joseph waited until Randy exited the bath. The raw pink and black slashes across Randy’s forearms, thighs, chest, and abdomen were all the evidence he needed. Apparently Randy had taken to cutting himself in the wake of his mother’s death.

Randy was barely a teenager and there was only one thing Joseph could think to do to keep from locking the boy up in a sanitarium. He sent him away to a French boarding school and commissioned some distant relatives to keep an eye on him until he graduated. If he survived that long.

***

This weekend was supposed to be a celebration of sorts. Randy had returned from France a distinguished young man, and Joseph was ready to bury the hatchet.

But what if Randy doesn’t want it buried? What if he wants my entombment and has been patiently waiting all these years to get his revenge?

Joseph grabbed hold of a lamppost to steady himself. A statue of a man on a horse loomed over him. His feet had brought him to Jackson Square.

Surely, nothing bad can get me here, right?

He’d believed the same to be true of his hotel room and that had definitely proven to be false.

***

Joseph had been cleaning his prized revolver before sleep overtook him. The sound of the door opening brought him back to consciousness. Even though all the lights were still on, his bleary eyes could barely make out the two figures—a young black male and white female—standing in his doorway.

Joseph sat up in his seat. “Who are you? And what the hell are you doing in my room?” His hand quickly found the revolver on the table next to him.

The man and woman looked at each other and Joseph heard a deep male voice in his head say, “Don’t worry, Joseph. It will be ova’ soon.”

He felt the voice’s vibrations in his teeth and jumped to his feet. The young woman reached out to him and he heard her voice in his mind as well. “Don’t fight us, Joseph. It is so much better if you don’t resist.”

Joseph felt wetness below his nose and when his hand came up blood red, he bolted around the woman, out of his room, and out of the hotel.

***

Now he stood in the shadow of Andrew Jackson’s immortal statue, exhausted and nearing the end of rationality. A sudden thought occurred to him.

Maybe this is all a nightmare. Maybe I’m still sitting in my chair snoring.

He latched onto the idea. Hadn’t he heard recently that the best way to wake from a nightmare was to kill yourself?

Where did I hear that?

Ah yes, now he remembered. The Creole whore had mentioned her grandmother’s secret to waking from a bad dream.

What an odd coincidence…

Joseph stared down at the revolver as if it were some magic talisman. If this were a dream, it was the most vivid of his life. He could feel the breeze from the Mississippi River, the cold bronze of the statue beneath his hand, his sweaty palm wrapped around the hilt of the gun. And he could hear footsteps nearing.

Rita’s voice rang out across the square. “Joseph, I’m here to bring you home.”

His mind showed him an image of what Rita must look like after six years underground. He hadn’t cried at her funeral, but petrified tears streaked down his face as he gritted his teeth.

I have to wake from this dream!

The footsteps were getting louder and closer. He didn’t have much time. To offset his fear and still his shaking hand, he thought of how good it would feel to wake up from this nightmare. He put the gun in his mouth, tasting the salty metallic flavor of the barrel as his mouth filled with saliva.

God, this feels real.

But he knew it wasn’t. He attempted to gaze at the statue of Andrew Jackson riding high on his horse. The statue was gone. As was the rest of Jackson Square. It had been supplanted by that damnable live oak tree in front of his Lake City mansion. He should have chopped that thing down long ago.

Joseph let out an audible sigh of relief.

It is a dream after all.

“It’s time, Joseph,” Rita whispered in his ear.

Knowing what had to be done, Joseph squeezed the trigger.

***

Qwantu Amaru has been writing since the age of 11. An avid reader, he has always aspired to write suspenseful page turners and socially significant literature like those of his writing influences Richard Wright, Harper Lee, Walter Mosley, Tananarive Due and Stephen King. Qwantu draws his inspiration from his modest upbringing in small towns and cities across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Florida. In addition to his first novel, ONE BLOOD, Qwantu has published six volumes of poetry: Lightbringer, Lovelost, After the Storm, Midnight’s Shadow, Awakening, and Actual-Eyez. Qwantu is an active member of the outstanding socially active poetry collective Black on Black Rhyme out of Tallahassee, FL. He has performed spoken word in poetry venues from New York to Los Angeles. Qwantu currently resides in Jersey City, NJ.

Link to get autographed hard copy of the book or ebook in any format: http://www.qwantuamaru.com/the-products.html

Link to website: http://www.qwantuamaru.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/onebloodbook

Twitter: @onebloodbook

Click here for an interview with: Qwantu Amaru, Author of “One Blood”

Excerpt From “Murder At The Rocks” by Jill Paterson

When Laurence Harford, a prominent businessman and philanthropist is found murdered in the historic Rocks area of Sydney, Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn is asked to solve the crime quickly and discreetly. After barely starting his investigation, uncovering a discarded mistress and disgruntled employees, a second killing occurs.

Meanwhile, Laurence’s nephew, Nicholas Harford, has his certainties in life shaken when he becomes a suspect in his uncle’s death, and receives a mysterious gold locket that starts a chain of events unravelling his family’s dark truths.

Murder At The Rocks is the second book in the Fitzjohn Mystery Series.

Excerpt:

Laurence Harford emerged from the building into the cold night air and lit the cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth. Drawing on it, he discarded the match and exhaled, watching the smoke blend with the shadows in the dimly lit laneway. He started walking toward the stone archway and the street beyond, but froze when a figure stepped out in front of him. As their eyes met, Laurence’s heart pumped, a sense of recognition registering in his brain. Beads of sweat broke out across his brow and his cigarette fell to the wet flagstones, its life snuffed out. Laurence lurched out into the deserted street, the sound of uneven footsteps behind him.

Mapsom opened the door when Laurence arrived home. His demeanour displayed all the attributes of an accomplished butler. ‘Good evening, sir.’

Laurence handed Mapsom his coat and, without a word, crossed the hall to his study, slamming the door behind him. He did not feel the chill of the room as he took the top off the decanter and poured whisky into a glass, nor did he hear the door open behind him when he took a gulp. He only felt the dampness of the laneway in his mind and saw the face that haunted him.

‘You’re late.’ Laurence flew around at the words.

‘For what?’ he bellowed.

‘It’s Monday. Remember? We’re due at the charity dinner at eight.’

Laurence glared at his wife, her tall, slim figure accentuated by the electric blue gown she wore. ‘You’ll have to go alone, Julia. I have a matter to deal with this evening.’

‘You can’t just not go. You’re expected.’

Laurence, his face contorted with rage, banged his glass down, its contents flying across the desk. ‘I don’t give a damn if I’m expected. I’ve got more important things to attend to.’

Julia tensed before a smirk crossed her face. ‘Ah yes, of course. Charlotte Holmes, no doubt.’ Laurence glowered at her. ‘Don’t look so shocked, Laurence. I’m not a complete fool, whatever you might think of me. I know all about you and that poor misguided creature. To tell you the truth, I’m surprised she’s lasted this long. Your women usually realise much sooner what a contemptible bastard you really are.’

‘Get out.’

Julia smiled. ‘With pleasure. Oh, but before I go, your late brother’s solicitor phoned earlier. Andrew Pemlett, I think his name is. He said Nicholas arrives back from South America tomorrow.’ Julia watched the colour drain from Laurence’s face. ‘I thought you’d be pleased to hear that bit of news.’ She opened the door to leave as Laurence’s glass flew across the room and smashed against the wall.

***

Jill Paterson was born in Yorkshire and grew up in Adelaide, South Australia before spending 11 years in Ontario, Canada. After returning to Australia, she settled in Canberra.

After doing an arts degree at the Australian National University, she worked at the Australian National University’s School of Law before spending the next 10 years with the Business Council of Australia and the University of NSW, ADFA Campus, in the School of Electrical Engineering.

Jill has two published books. The Celtic Dagger and Murder At The Rocks.

My Blog: http://www.theperfectplot.blogspot.com

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Murder+At+The+Rocks&x=0&y=0

Excerpt From “Gargoyles” by Alan Nayes

Brilliant pre-med student Amoreena Daniels needs money. Desperately. Her mother is dying of cancer and her medical insurance has run out. When a seemingly perfect women’s clinic offers Amoreena a generous payment for service as a surrogate mother, Amoreena thinks her prayers have been answered. But then—much too early—her baby begins to move.

The strange dreams, another surrogate’s mysterious death and a drug-addicted former medical intern confirm Amoreena’s worst suspicions: there is something terribly wrong with the pregnancy. Amoreena embarks on a dangerous journey to uncover the truth behind the endless battery of genetic tests, sonograms and frightened patients, only to discover that she has unwittingly become a pawn in a high-stakes game of biomedical experimentation.

GARGOYLES is book 1 of the Resurrection trilogy.

Excerpt (Chapter One):

Amoreena Daniels gazed at the woman retching into the plastic emesis basin and struggled to visualize her mom as she once was, her mom prior to the diagnosis, her mom minus the cancer. It was a difficult if not futile exercise.

Wearing a hospital gown that appeared two sizes too large, Geneva Daniels adjusted her brightly flowered scarf with one hand, the cloth a replacement for her once-vibrant tresses. Seated next to her, Amoreena counted another fresh bruise coalescing under her mother’s limpid skin, where an IV line replenished her fluid stores.

Room 441 on the University of California Medical Center oncology ward no longer seemed just a hospital room; rather, a bleak reminder of what physical devastation a disease run amuck could wreak on the human spirit. Even the astringent, aseptic smell failed to eliminate completely the specter of illness and suffering.

“Amoreena Daniels.” It was the ward clerk. She waited outside the door as if what lay inside was contagious.

“Hold on,” Amoreena said curtly, throwing her thick mane of auburn hair out of her face with a toss of her head. “You okay, Mom?” she asked, helping steady the basin.

Geneva coughed twice and nodded. “How ‘bout a cigarette?”

“Not funny.” Amoreena checked the basin. No blood, only thickened saliva. She carried the basin into the bathroom.

Geneva heard the water in the sink. “You’re just like your dad. No sense of humor.” It required two breaths and a coughing spell to expel the words.

Amoreena returned, setting the clean basin on the nightstand. “I’ll develop a sense of humor when you develop an appetite,” she said, studying her mother’s skin. She thought the sallow hue had lessened, or maybe it was just the fluorescent lighting. “And will you stop with the ‘Dad jokes.’ He doesn’t deserve it.”

“Ms. Daniels.” It was the clerk again. “Dr. Gillespie’s waiting.”

“Sure, all right.” Amoreena feigned a smile. It wasn’t the ward clerk’s fault her mother had metastatic cervical cancer. “Mom, I’ll see you before I leave.”

Geneva coughed deeply and spit into a Kleenex before finding some renewed vigor. “Amy…” She called her only daughter “Amy” with a short ‘a’ whenever their discussions centered on the serious. “When you’re through with Dr. Gillespie, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me now. He can wait.”

“No, later. Dr. Gillespie’s very busy.” She attempted a weak grin. “I’m not going anywhere. Yet.”

Amoreena bent low and pecked Geneva on the cheek. Her skin felt cold and dry on her lips. Not the way she wanted to remember her mother. “See ya.”

The conference room for the oncology ward was situated adjacent to the central nurses’ station. Amoreena was very familiar with it. It was in this very room six months ago that Dr. Gillespie had unleashed the appalling news that her mother’s cancer was a stage IV, metastatic. It had already invaded the liver and lungs. The revelation had given new meaning to the term shitty Monday. But there was still a fighting chance, he’d said. More out of a sense of duty than any realistic expectation of success, Amoreena surmised. Only later that night when she and her mom were alone did the real tears flow.

Dressed in faded denims and a loose scooped-neck T-shirt, Amoreena approached a man in a wheelchair. She moved with a certain aloofness that was both enticing and ingenuous.

The man waved. She returned the gesture. She’d seen him several times before during her prior visits, and each time he appeared thinner and more cachectic. Acute myelocytic leukemia.

“Heya, gorgeous,” he said, as she passed.

Amoreena allowed a smile. “How’s it going?”

“Another day, same old shit.”

Momentarily, she wondered how long he had. She didn’t even know his name. Quickly, she dismissed the thought when she observed the blinds to the conference room drawn shut. Ignoring the stares from the nurses and resident physicians, Amoreena paused at the door and inhaled. Fuck cancer. She knocked.

“Come in.” The voice sounded apologetic.

She entered and shut the door behind her.

Dr. Gillespie sat alone at a long table. Balding and bespectacled, he was an African-American with a well-trimmed gray beard. A medical chart lay open before him. He motioned her to a seat.

Finding the chair directly across from him, she didn’t miss the gyn-oncologist’s pained expression. The same expression he failed to mask six months ago.

In that one instant, Amoreena knew the news, whatever it was, was not going to be pleasant.

“So how’s premed these days?” he asked, breaking the ice.

Amoreena stifled saying ‘same old shit.’ “Fine,” she answered.

“Interviews?”

“Next fall with UCI, UCLA, and USC.”

“Want to stay in California.”

“UCLA’s my first choice. It all depends.” She left it hanging.

“Hm-hm.” Dr. Gillespie’s eyes scanned the blackboard.

Amoreena followed his gaze. Limned in chalk were clusters of cancer cells—she presumed they represented cancer cells—the big CA on an oncology ward was usually a dead giveaway. Adjacent to the diagram, a list of drug names had been scrawled. A second sketch demonstrated how these specific drugs attacked the foreign cells’ replicating system. Curing cancer was simply that. Stop the unauthorized replication and the patient survived. Amoreena wished it were that easy. Dr. Gillespie lightly tapped the chart on the table. “Your mother’s weight’s down.”

Amoreena felt a tinge of undeserved guilt. “I know, it’s almost like I have to force-feed her at home. This last round of chemo really took a lot out of Mom.”

“You and Geneva are waging a tough battle.” He hesitated, as if unsure how to proceed. “Amoreena…” he started again, but pursed his lips at the knock on the door.

Amoreena turned to find the door open and a woman filling the empty space. She was large, not fat, and exhibited an androgynous figure. She sported a business suit, one of those styles illustrated in catalogues targeted toward female corporate types who seemed to believe that becoming as successful as a man entailed dressing like one. The woman carried a thick satchel.

Without waiting for an invitation, she strode imperiously into the room and took the chair at the head of the table.

Dr. Gillespie made the introduction. “This is Ms. Rosalind Cates. She chairs our hospital’s utilization review committee. Her specialty is medical oncology.”

Amoreena sat in silence, staring at the only medical chart in the room. Her mother’s. With no prior experience, she suddenly knew she despised utilization review committees.

“It’s come to our attention, Amoreena,” the oncologist continued haltingly, “that…” There was another disquieting pause.

At this juncture, the imposing Ms. Cates grabbed the reins. “I’ll take it from here, Doctor,” she said.

The tone of the woman’s voice exhibited a callous knifelike quality very much like a personal-injury attorney Amoreena had seen pitching on late-night television.

Ms. Cates set her satchel on the table but remained standing. She placed both hands on the back of the chair. “Ms. Daniels, I believe your mother’s health care coverage had been provided by the Standard Care Insurance Company.”

Amoreena nodded. “That’s correct. And still is,” she added in rejoinder to Ms. Cates use of the word “had.”

Ms. Cates grunted. “Well, that’s the purpose of this meeting. As of the end of this month, Standard Care will no longer cover Geneva Daniels for health care needs. This includes any catastrophic coverage.”

Amoreena felt her face grow hot. “What do you mean?” She swiveled to face the oncologist. “Dr. Gillespie, what’s she talking about?”

“Ms. Daniels,” Ms. Cates interjected.

Amoreena ignored her. “What’s this lady got to do with Mom’s treatments anyway?”

Before the doctor could reply, Ms. Cates had removed a spiral-bound notebook from her satchel and placed it on the table. “Ms. Daniels, your mother was employed as a secretary for H&M Printing Press for fourteen years. Is that correct?”

Amoreena refused to make eye contact. “And she’d still be employed if her pap smears had remained normal.”

“When did her leave of absence commence?”

“Six months ago. After the diagnosis.”

Ms. Cates gave a satisfactory nod. “That partially explains the confusion.”

“Confusion?” Amoreena blurted out.

“Ms. Daniels, as of five months ago, H&M Printing has been in receivership, they’ve declared bankruptcy, and are no longer paying premiums for their employees’, including any retirees’ health care coverage. As per the law, Standard Care, as well as the human resources department at H&M, notified your mother numerous times that her medical coverage would be her responsibility. Unfortunately, Geneva Daniels failed to respond appropriately, no premiums were paid, and therefore, as of this moment, she is without coverage.”

Amoreena’s mouth felt gummy. No coverage. My God, she has metastatic cancer. She barely heard Ms. Cates continue.

“I took the liberty of presenting Geneva Daniels’s case to a group of other insurance agencies for gap coverage. However in light of your mother’s current situation, they felt it would not be in their best financial interests to intervene. One did agree, though, to issue a policy, however, it would not cover any preexisting conditions. I’ve referred her case to Social Services.”

Amoreena shook her head. “That’s fucking great.”

“Pardon.”

Amoreena stood. “What is this shit? This is a damn hospital isn’t it, or did I drive into the wrong parking garage?”

Ms. Cates cleared her throat. “There’s no need to be obscene, Ms. Daniels. I understand—”

“You don’t understand crap.”

“I understand this,” Cates retorted. “I’ve reviewed the chart and doctors’ notes regarding your mother’s treatments and at this stage of Geneva Daniels’s illness, her cost/benefit ratio fails to fall within the curve of a successful outcome. Unless you can devise alternative means to finance her treatments, I regret to inform you, your mother will be forced to seek care elsewhere once she is discharged.”

***

Alan Nayes was born in Houston and grew up on the Texas gulf coast. He lives in Southern California. He is the author of the critically-acclaimed biomedical thrillers, GARGOYLES (Book One in the Resurrection Trilogy) and THE UNNATURAL. His most recent releases are BARBARY POINT, SMILODON, GIRL BLUE and PLAGUE (Book Two in the Resurrection Trilogy)

An avid outdoorsman and fitness enthusiast, he is one of only a few individuals to ever swim across Wisconsin’s chilly Lake Winnebago. When not working on his next project, he enjoys relaxing and fishing at the family vacation home in Wisconsin. Website: http://www.anayes.com

http://www.amazon.com/Gargoyles-Resurrection-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B005CXVVIK/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1326264275&sr=1-3

Interview with: Alan Nayes,

Excerpt from “Crime and Drugs on Trip City Street” by Timothy Louis Baker

At only four years old, Kevin Gregory Wilson entered a life of crime on the streets of New York City. Saving his money, he began plans for building a terrorist army when he was only 10. The most powerful man in the world by the time he turns 40, the huge amount of money he amassed through organized crime allows him to finally build his army…the army that will launch an assault upon the U.S. government military bases. Will the government discover Kevin Gregory Wilson,s New Army and stop them? Or will he and his army overpower the entire population of the earth and rule it under the anarchy of crime?

Excerpt:

Now in this crime syndicate on Trip City Street of New York, New York, there was an upper silent circle of men who were bosses and who served those who made the money they got a cut from. They were made men. In this silent circle, guy A knew guy B and guy C knew guy B but guy A didn’t know who guy C was nor did guy C didn’t know who guy A was. Guy B knew both who guy A and guy C were and everything coming or going from one to the other up to his boss, who neither guy A nor guy C knew either. The silent circle then kept all protected as long as guy B never talked. In this crime ring the guy B never did.

In 2018 there was a party for all of the upper silent circle on Trip City Street and Budweiser was the “in” drink at this party-down-big-time party-down-place from a long-timeway- ago-back past. Along with whiskey and Coke to mix it with and pot, acid, cocaine, crack, what have you in the doings of the people of the party there on Trip City Street. It was the host’s stuff from and where the one getting and giving the stuff is silent in the inner circle and gets his stuff from out of town or more usually from out of the country there on Trip City Street, New York, New York, USA,

Planet Earth, in the solar system where all of that space is. The guests kept thinking about the effects of the drugs as the leader of the group who lived in the rich neighborhood was speaking, keeping the audience spellbound in their thoughts about the glorious subject of crime and drugs.

The host, Craig, who was the rich upper man of this crime syndicate was saying, “We all jumped off the back of the boat into the water off the dock and swam to the dock on the other side of the harbor and climbed up on it and took off running before any of the Feds could catch up to us. They fired guns, and believe it or not, on top of that entertainment center where that hole is in that hat is where the bullet that almost got me! No shit! They got the boat and the shit but we managed to escape and I almost bought it.” Girls cooed and men stood in awe and said, “Wow!” and another said, “No shit?” and yet others simply stated awe in their breath.

The bravest one there, Jack, the drug runner, the one who worked for the man who owned the house and the one who did all of the dirty work, found it amusing that all of the man’s adventures were not nearly as close to being as dangerous as the life he had led. It was a remarkable life he had led to get this together and piece by piece he knew he had many times the amount of lore and guts, life to death closer than anything Craig had ever or would ever have done. He knew it would take a long time to get it all together, what he had done, but he also knew it could come apart at any second in time.

The house was an expensive huge mansion, Craig’s home away from home of his penthouse apartment, and even for the rich man Craig, it was expensively decorated with the souvenirs from various places he’d been to see about the things pertaining to crime of other nature than setting up a deal, before he did this softer, easier, less dirty work of smuggling drugs into the country. He used to smuggle other things from foreign countries overseas, stolen stuff, foreign guns, diamonds, jewelry, paintings, other art works, and now drugs instead. It brought more money to smuggle the drugs instead of all of the latter, which are less risky. The drugs are more risky but paid well if you dealt in large enough amounts of business and used to have and still had other businesses, stolen cars, chop shops, prostitution, and drug sales in and around Trip City Street.

The carpet in the house was deep plush and there was a linoleum kitchen floor. There was deep brown paneling, dark brown fine furniture, and he even had a pool table at the back of the apartment with a bar in it, and they were all in that room having the party together, and taking the drugs continued for quite some time.

Other people told other lore. Some of it was quite good. One man after another challenged each other with previous experiences, the bravest things they’d ever done, the closest to getting caught without getting caught, the most dangerous things they’d ever done, the closest they’d ever been to getting double crossed by someone else in the drug world, the closest they came to getting busted, and a whole multitude of things to match that and the henchman Jack was aware the whole lot of them hadn’t done as much close calls to death or any other danger as the ones he’d personally done. The total amount was more than what they’d all done combined, all of their experiences they talked about, and he knew they talked about all of them and had a good time with them. The stories were silent of other names because that was the silence in which they lived and died by hopefully. So they snorted lines of cocaine and smoked the dank shit (that’s how fresh it was), which they dried out under light bulbs first, and drank their casual party beer. It was a better party than Craig ever expected. It was just a casual beer and dope party with a group that worked together for a man who worked for somebody else and neither Craig nor the others there, nor the others not there any of them dealt with, never say anything to anybody about anything ever or the vow of silence was broken, and if you ran, you’d be found quicker than you could get away. There would be no reason for you to run because you would be found.

The inner circle was assembled within the New York City part in Trip City Street. The bosses of the boys were gathered together there.

Crime was what was going on. What one man stole another man fenced but it passed from one to another by a boss of a lower or the upper inner silent circle. Drugs were also dealt. Where they came from and where they went was the inner circle of silence. No one ever told, as it would have been pointless to do so, there was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. The hit man would find you wherever you were, and you would be found where there would be a hit man to find you and you would be on a contract, with your death warrant signed by yourself.

***

Timothy Louis Baker has published five books. He is a maintenance technician for a machine service shop. Timothy resides in Paulding, Ohio.

Crime and Drugs on Trip City Street by Timothy Louis Baker Available @ http://fantasticfloridafun.com @ http://timbaker.bookblogworld.com @ http://www.authorsden.com/timothylbaker @ http://tinyurl.com/457nas7

Click here for an interview with: Timothy Louis Baker, Author of “Crime and Drugs on Trip City Street”