Sign up for Newsletter - Blog Talk Radio ShowsShows

Sunday, May 23, 2010


This story is a real page turner. Craig Clyde is a wonderful writer who has had a book published and it's time to take this book right to the top. A good story ia a good story so let's see if we can get this book out there where it belongs. Send this to your friends and see what they think. Sometimes, we have to just help someone get out there...Please let me know what you think? This book was written using characters from the screenplay FIRST WE DANCE.

Thank you
Marsha Cook
Available at


He was sitting there, remembering that scene from the Thomas Crown affair? Not the remake but the original with Steve McQueen, when McQueen was sitting on an airplane looking out the window at the world below. McQueen’s character looked pensive as the voice-over tore your guts out and you realized that he’d beaten Faye Dunaway at her own game and it was her own damned fault...and they were never going to get together again...ever.

Jake Samuels felt like that right then. Just like Steve McQueen. And at that particular moment he was on a Delta jet headed for Paris and thinking about a woman he’d never see again. He had beaten her at her own game, just like Steve McQueen. Well, actually he had killed her. After he made love to her.

He sighed to himself. It was a long story and reliving it wasn’t all that easy on him right then.

There was a woman sleeping next to him. She was making little baby-like snoring sounds, her beautiful head leaning against his shoulder. She was wrapped tightly in one of those flimsy airline blankets. The ones they always hand you, without being asked, in July but you were forced to beg for in December. She was lovely and she was with Jake going to the city of romance, wine and French bread. He wasn’t crazy about French bread.

He touched his jaw gently. His tooth was aching again. It had been aching for nearly two months now. He knew exactly when it started. It started when the murders started. He still hadn’t gone to a dentist.

He needed something to do. To keep his mind occupied so he fumbled around for his wallet to make sure he had remembered everything. Jake had never been to Europe before. Hell, he’d never been out of the state except for a quick trip to Vancouver British Columbia once.
He took out the passport and looked at the picture. It was him, a little heavier -- two-twenty and six four in his stocking feet. The widow’s peak was salt and pepper. He only weighed 190 now but that’s what a bullet will do for you he thought. Six hours of surgery and three weeks eating through a tube. World’s fastest diet.


Next to the passport was the shield. It glimmered in the dim airline reading light. A silver badge with an eagle over a star cloisonné. The name read: Detective Sergeant Jacob Samuels, West Precinct, Seattle Police Department.

He felt for the bulge on his right side out of habit but it wasn’t there. He knew there was no need for a piece in Europe. Too much hassle anyway even if you were a cop. He missed it. It was his security blanket.

In his line of work he needed that shimmering blue-black, 3 1/2 inch-barreled security blanket. A Smith and Wesson Model 27 .357 Magnum revolver. His “Hammer of Thor.” A mighty bolt of thunder and lightning from a small package. One hundred twenty-five grain Federal hollow points packing twelve hundred and fifty foot pounds of energy. It slammed into you like a pile driver and dropped you down like a bad habit.

It wasn’t department issue. Seattle PD issues Glock twenty-twos in the .40 S&W caliber. Good round but sometimes not as effective as it could be. He was living proof of that wasn’t he? It was the same thing she shot him with and he was still here wasn’t he?

Out the window Lake Washington was sliding away to the North, shimmering like a immense blue mirror in the waning light.

Seattle, Washington. Big shouldered, fish-mongering, neon Pacific rim pearl that it was. Jake Samuels didn’t grow up in Seattle, he grew up farther East in a insignificant town called Toppenish which sat in the very center of the Yakima Indian Reservation.
But Seattle was home. It was where he killed the woman.

As he watched the city disappear under the wing, his mind wandered back to what happened. He looked at his watch and thought it was ironic that when you forgot the date you looked at your day-date watch. What day was it?

January 24th. Jesus, how’d it get to be the end of January he wondered?

His chest hurt. Ached actually more than a hurt. He felt like that guy in the James Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun” -- he was different physically. Had a third nipple. Very rare.

Jake was like him. He had a third nipple. Not so rare though. He got his from a 148 grain slug smashing through his lungs. It was a Christmas present from her, the woman he had killed.
He thought about that, being shot. It had hurt like hell he remembered, but not at first. At first it felt like a small rock had slammed into him harder than anyone in the world could throw it and it just kept going. Didn’t bounce off. It pierced him, tearing away the flesh, splintering any bones it happened to run into and finally stopped somewhere in his thoracic cavity.

Broken vessels, ripped muscles, shredded mesenteric tissues spewed blood all over the place. All inside him. Then he had started to lose his hydraulics, a dizzy feeling replacing the initial sting. His head started to swim and he fought to stay on his feet. But he couldn’t. Not for long. He was bleeding to death internally and there was nothing he could do about it.

Except fall over.

She shot him and damned if he didn’t miss her even then, there on that airplane going to Paris, France at six hundred miles an hour with another gorgeous woman who said she wanted to marry him when they get back. Hard to believe. Impossible really.

And it had happened just one month before, five days before Christmas.

Seemed longer. Maybe it was.

He wasn’t there when it all started.

Fifteen Years Ago...

Dr. John Taylor Bennett, PhD. stared at the ceiling and looked bored. He always looked bored. But he wasn’t bored so much as perpetually overwhelmed by the patients who came to him for help. And he tried to help. The operative word being “tried.” He never did anymore - help them that is - he couldn’t. He was burned out.

Bennett slumped, round-shouldered, at his desk looking more like a mushroom than the eminent child psychologist he was. He was a nationally recognized expert who’d been written up in dozens of national publications, everything from Better Homes and Gardens to Playboy.

“I see all kinds,” he muttered to a large man who’d just come into his office and taken a seat. “All kinds.” It was at least another minute before the old psychologist looked up again. In fact the man wasn’t at all sure whether Bennett was even talking to him. He was a troubled and anxious father who sat expectantly, waiting to learn what was wrong with his daughter.

Unfortunately, the renowned Dr. Bennett couldn’t tell him shit. Because he had no idea what the seven year-old girl’s problems were. Besides, Bennett was bone tired. Tired of anxious parents like the one in front of him. Tired of the traveling and lecturing and book schedules that rarely permitted him any time to himself. Tired of what he had become, a burned-out media shrink living on past glories. He was nearly seventy for God’s sake.

But mostly he was tired of looking into the small troubled eyes of his patients. He couldn’t take that anymore, their eyes. As the thought took hold, his own eyes opaqued into a thousand yard stare.

The anxious father glanced around the office and noticed that there was hardly an inch of space that wasn’t covered by a poster. Posters of sports figures: Michael Jordan, Reggie Jackson, Johnny Unitas, Tiger Woods, even an old black and white poster of Jim Thorpe. All beaming down at him.

Confronted with the daily parade of sick and anguished supplicants, it was like Bennett needed the permanent benediction of all the healthy, functioning, blessed individuals he could cram onto the plaster walls.

When Bennett finally did turn his head, the action seemed to cause him enormous effort.

“Okay,” he sighed regarding the man across from him with all the interest a street sweeper has for a dog turd, “Let’s watch her.”

He stood up and walked to the only section of wall without a poster - a curtained rectangle. A two-way window for observation into the next room. As Bennett pulled the cords the curtains parted and the father saw his little daughter. She sat in the very center of a small playroom, a variety of toys strewn about her, but she only played with two dolls: a boy doll and a larger girl doll. And her play was not play – it was combat.

Over and over she slammed the larger doll into the smaller doll. Again and again. Each time with more force and venom. Her eyes glazed with hatred. Slamming the dolls violently. The odd, muffled “oommph” of the cloth toys battering one another was the only sound the doctor and the father heard. Because, other than an occasional grunt, the little girl never uttered a word. Not a syllable. While most children playing with dolls make up their own dialog this little girl only slammed the two figures into each other repeatedly. As if trying smash them - and what they represented - into oblivion.

“That’s all she does during sessions, beat the living shit out of those two dolls.” Dr. Bennett said in a low monotone, “I’ve tried to reach her but she closes herself off.”

As the father watched his little daughter, unseen through the two-way mirror, a single tear found it’s way down his cheek. In his mind he wondered how had he let her down? Was it her mother’s fault? Was that the reason for this behavior? Was that why she was so angry? But she was so little. How could she grasp that? His mind wrestled itself for answers. There were none. He looked at Bennett, silently imploring him for a solution. Any solution.

“I’ve done all I can.” was all the aging psychologist mumbled as he closed the curtain and motioned to the door. That was it, no counsel, no communing, no nothing. No more interaction than you’d get from a toll booth attendant.

The father shook his head sorrowfully and left.

And Dr. John Taylor Bennett went back to staring at the ceiling in his office and looking bored.

Eleven Years Ago...

The same girl stood alone in what seemed to be a great hall. She was tall, thin and awkward-looking now. Her agate-green eyes reflected the only light illuminating the empty studio, a single floor lamp at the far end of the room. A brass and wood railing stretched waist high along the opposite wall. Full length mirrors, staring into eternity, faced each other at one end. Lockers at the other.

In between, the wood parquet floor stretched out into the darkness. Gleaming golden slats laid so closely together that you almost couldn’t see the seam which betrayed the perfect marriage of burnished wood boards, one to another.

When she cleared her throat the sound echoed hollowly. She craned her neck, looked around. Nobody.

But she wasn’t alone. She knew that.

He would be there. Watching from the shadows of the eaves, his eyes burning at the sight of her. Wearing the crisp white shirt, black trousers and small wine colored beret he always wore.

In her mind’s eye she could already see the silver flecked, neatly trimmed mustache - straight as a string - above the razor-thin lips. In fact it was like he had no lips. Instead, a perfectly straight slice across the middle of his face.

If the man never spoke or ate or breathed you wouldn’t know he had a mouth at all. Which is why he wore the mustache she decided, so people would know where his mouth was.

That thought made her smile ever so slightly. A quick fantasy skipped across her brain – she was sewing his perfectly straight mouth together, stitch by deliberate stitch. Taking great care.
That was it! She could see it more clearly in her mind now, he was asleep and she was sewing his “non-lips” together.

It made her smile even wider.

In her fantasy she reached up and held his nose. The thought of his anguish and struggling, gasping for air that he wouldn’t get, made her feel so much better.

His face soundlessly screaming at her. No air to fill the searing lungs. The muffled death shriek rattling in his throat. The panic in his eyes!

It was a wonderful dream.

And then it was gone, like cotton candy on your tongue, only a hint of it’s sweetness left behind in the memory.

She stood there. Waiting. She had nowhere to run. She glanced down at her ragged, bitten fingernails and thought of the way he had touched her yesterday. And every day before that for two years.

The sallow, liver-spotted hands running up and down her leg, (First her right then the left. Always right to left) and each time all the way to the top, caressing the small cleft between her legs. The odd tingling sensation she felt and then the waves of revulsion. She remembered the hurt and humiliation when she vomited. How he had railed at her, bellowing in Spanish at the top of his emaciated lungs about his ruined shirt. The stinging tears she fought back when he slapped her.

She scolded herself for having eaten that morning. Never eat before his instruction. Never. It always makes you puke when he starts touching. If you don’t eat - you don’t puke! That was simple enough she thought. She must force herself to remember the maxim, “Don’t eat before...”

But it was so hard sometimes.

Yesterday the lunch in the cafeteria had been her favorite: macaroni and cheese with a black cherry Jell-O cup, peanut-butter cookie and chocolate milk. Food of the Gods.

She had tried to act like she wasn’t hungry but she was famished. She had let her guard down and wolfed the food in record time. She had paid dearly for the indiscretion in the rehearsal hall.

That wouldn’t happen again. Never again.

She didn’t move when she heard his soft footsteps advancing toward her from behind. She just looked straight ahead and never moved a muscle. She would soon know again the minty tobacco smell of his breath, softly brushing the back of her neck. The softness of his hands as he straightened her shoulders. She stood, waiting. Staring. Hating.

“Should I begin at the bar Master?” she would ask in a soft whisper.

She could already hear the phlegm-coated baritone voice rumbling at her: “No. First, you dance.”

And then she would dance...

Four Years Ago...

“She can’t stay. The school board has already voted.”

Headmaster Clarence Collins’ intent was unmistakable. He was the nervous sort anyway. Balding prematurely, the little man was constantly rubbing his hand back across his receding hairline and sucking his teeth.

The girl was now almost sixteen as she watched him rub his hairless “red-as-a-Christmas-ornament” head for the zillionth time. Her eyes, half-lidded from boredom, glanced over at her father. The big bear of a man’s face wore the saddest expression in the universe.

“I don’t give a shit!” she screamed at him in her mind. “You’re the reason I’m here. You’re the asshole. You should have known what was going on. You should have understood when I came to you. All you ever did was teach me how to fight. That’s why we’re here!”

“It’s her first offense,” her father said.

“And her last at this institution,” said the twitchy little man darkly. He raised himself to his entire five feet four inches, “It was a violent act. The school will not - can not - tolerate any violent acts. She is out. Today.”

The girl wanted to say something but she just kept her mouth shut and held her mud. “I’ve learned how to do that, haven’t I? Damned straight!”

She knew the score. Once you slide past a certain point in life, self-loathing becomes easy.

There was one thing the girl had become though, more beautiful. Even now she was a woman, not a girl. Nearly sixteen and possessed of the consummate female form.

It was the reason Headmaster Collins was so fidgety. Her beauty was breathtaking. Clarence Collins wasn’t afraid for the school or it’s students, the little fart was afraid for himself. Because in his heart of hearts he knew that, eventually, he would touch her supple young body.

The fact that one of the school rugby players had grabbed her breast and paid for it by having a Bic pen shoved three inches up his groin, didn’t really have any bearing on his decision. This young woman was more alluring than all of Jason’s sirens put together.

Collins knew she had to go when he began having wet dreams about her. His wife was getting suspicious. God help him if she found out about his fantasy. No, the girl simply had to go and that was that.

Her father stood up. He said no more, just shook his head and left the office. She supposed that something about the wired, balding little Nazi Headmaster with the electric pupils didn’t brook much quibbling today. Good advice. Know when to break camp and get the hell out.

The girl got up and followed her father out. But as she passed Collins she purposely brushed her breasts against his heaving, concave chest.

When she was gone, he nearly fainted.

Two Years Ago...

Troubled masculine eyes watched the beautiful young woman. Twenty-three years old and flawless, her perfect figure in the full bloom of womanhood.

The eyes had spied on her for days now. Had followed her every move: when she went to work, when she went home, when she slept, when she bathed, when she ate, when she had a man over (though the eyes became deeply saddened - and maddened - when that happened).

Whenever the unseen watcher was awake, he was watching her. She was the most desirable woman on the planet. The raven hair, the jutting breasts, the slender smooth legs, the blindingly white shorts pulled right to the edge of that so exceptionally rounded ass.

That was why she must be submissive to him.

He watched as she pulled her car out of the university parking lot, staring at the now familiar Washington State license plate as it got smaller...HrdRkWmn.

“Hard Rock Woman.” Nice play on words even though it was her last name. It was also the perfect reverse of how she made him feel—rock hard.

He had to have her. He would have her.


The First Day — December 21st

Jake Samuels was at the Ambrewster School for the Deaf signing with the kids the night everything went to hell.

Signing was something he did to keep his skills sharp and to satisfy that inner urge to be something his mother would approve. It was interesting, he thought, how people continued to please parents even after they were dead and gone. He did. If his mother came back at that very instant and said he was her wonderful, darling, baby boy and everything he did was equally wonderful and darling -- he probably wouldn’t have heard her anyway.

Jake had lost most of his hearing when he was six. Oh, he still had about 50% in his left ear but the right ear was an appendage that matched but didn’t work. The flu had worked it’s way south into his ears that summer in the sixth year of his life and subsequently his first grade of school was spent entirely at St. Elizabeth’s hospital in Yakima, Washington.

His parents had taken him to an ear, nose and throat specialist named VanWorden. At the time, he didn’t care whether the doctor specialized in ears or assholes. The boy had a raging fever that was so painful it lit up the sides of his face like a arcade game whenever he opened his mouth.

The Belgian-born Doctor told the little boy that they were going to play “telephone.” The euphemism was lost on Jake’s six year-old mentality. All he knew was that the doctor was going to put something into his ear so the little boy could hear. Just like a real telephone.

Jake didn’t realize his inner ear was over-flowing with infection and the ‘telephone’ Dr. VanWorden shoved in his ear canal was in reality a pointed, skinny, tube-like drainage probe. When the probe hit the bulging ear drum the inner ear exploded.

The pain was brilliant. Beyond anything Jake’s young mind could describe. The worst agony he had experienced. He screamed, while inside his head he heard a prolonged “kissing” sound and then felt the hot, pus-filled, yellow fluid spurting onto his shoulder.

He nearly passed out.

procedure he was prepped for a mastoidectomy. A simple After three unsuccessful weeks of this excruciating procedure really where the mastoid bone (that smooth bulging bone right behind the ear) gets infected, starts to disintegrate and finally has to be surgically removed. That’s what “ectomy” means -- removal.

And now Jake was essentially deaf in his right ear. He could hear enough to carry on a conversation but if you stood behind him on his right side and told him to go to hell I wouldn’t hear it.

Everybody he knew had, at some point or another, done that very thing to him. Ancient news he thought as he headed toward the nearest exit of the school. Ambrewster was essentially one large and very old red brick building with ivy walls, wooden banisters that disappeared into a dark second floor and floors that shine with an amber patina.

Old gold inside and out.

It’s principal, Annabelle Marsden, was a waspish woman with severe features and her hair rolled in a bun so tight it made her eyes look slanted. She had never married preferring, instead, to devote her life to teaching deaf children. A noble cause to be sure but somehow out of place in her tightly enclosed world. Still, she was a devoted educator who gave young minds a way to learn in their silent world.

She had approached Samuels a few months earlier to come on a regular basis and “speak” with the children about his work. Kids, whether they could hear or not, were fascinated by cops. And he was a cop who could actually communicate with them in their parlance. After all he had been a teacher. He was on his way out when Marsden stopped him at the door.

“The children love your stories, Detective,” she said in clipped precise tones, “I wanted to thank you for your generous offering of time.”

“Glad to. I don’t get much of a chance to use my signing other than here.” he smiled.

“Well, be that as it may, I am very much in your debt. You are the only Seattle police officer I’ve found with the ability,” she said. “It adds greatly to our curriculum here to have various walks of life portrayed individually to the children.”

Her voice and diction were always so exact. He supposed that was why he said yes in the first place. On the phone she sounded exactly like his mother.

“We’re having a Christmas party tomorrow night. We’d very much like you to come.” she continued then, almost as an after thought, “Bring a date if you want...”
As he got into his car Samuels wondered what kind of life a woman like that had outside the school?

He decided not much as he hauled the heavy blue-black Smith and Wesson from the jockey box and slid it back into the well-worn horsehide holster on his hip. He felt better, as he always did, when the scarred revolver was back in its rightful place.

The car engine groaned as he turned it over in the cold. He pulled out of the tree-lined drive and headed toward the city as his mind wandered back.

Jake Samuels was twenty years old, in his Junior year at Washington State University when his parents died. It was one of those senseless accidents that happens to people who don’t deserve it. Rain slicked road, headlights that wouldn’t pierce the gloom and sheets of water as the car hurtled down the two-lane blacktop.

His father was driving the old Plymouth station wagon trying to get home before the downpour turned to snow. Going too fast. An on-coming automobile crested the hill and the headlights shone into his eyes. He swerved to the right, only just a little, to avoid crashing into two tons of Ford 150 hurtling straight toward him.

But that was just enough.

The big station wagon went off the road, down a sheer one hundred foot drop, and slammed onto the rocks below. The car turned over twice, the headlights making crazy search patterns in the sky, and settled under twelve feet of water.

“You have to be brave,” Shirley Conroy, his mother’s best friend, said to him as he sat dry-eyed at the funeral. “It was quick and merciful. They never even knew what happened.”

Samuels glanced at the assembled multitude in the small church on Second Avenue. It seemed like every cattleman in the state was there. His father, Pat Samuels, was a rancher and well thought of by stock breeders.
His mother, Bess, was an English teacher at the Indian School in White Swan and so virtually all the students from the tribe were there as well. It was SRO as the gaunt Minister (six and half feet of cheap black suit, Adam’s apple and ankles) droned on about their great contributions to the small, cloistered community.

The caskets were closed. Apparently, the undertaker had a difficult time putting them back together. And for what? No one comes to visit you when you were six feet under. As a result Samuels wasn’t able to say good-bye to either of his parents. He wouldn’t have known what to say anyway.

His mother was a dear soul with a penchant for correct grammar. Her main contributions to him were the ability to sign — the language of the deaf — and a solid English background. She had spent a lifetime trying to teach he and his father how speak the language with skill and proficient vocabulary. She was ardent in her pursuit of knowledge and had passed that love of learning on to her only child.

Jake’s earliest memories of life were seated on the toilet straining to “do his duty” and reading the vocabulary words she had posted in the bathroom every month from the Reader’s Digest’s “Increase Your Word Power” section.

“People judge you from your speech Jacob,” she would say, “you are only as educated as your language.”

He had taken took to heart because, for one thing, his mother wouldn’t have it any other way. On the final Monday evening of each month there was always a test at the dinner table. If he answered nine out of ten vocabulary words correctly his allowance was increased a pittance. Fewer than eight and it stayed the same. Fewer than that and it was decreased. Times being what they were he learned quickly that he couldn’t afford not to learn the words.

His father didn’t share her passion for advanced vocabulary skills and he would never help when his son fumbled for a definition. As far as the boy knew she had never cut his father’s allowance and she could have as she was the only one bringing home a salary in those days.

His father had grown up a cowboy, just like the ones people read about in the old west magazines. Pat Samuels was descended from the Scotch-Irish on his mother’s side and, apparently, some Jewish ancestry on his father’s. And yes, Jake had heard all the jokes about Jewish cowboys and sports heroes. According to Jake’s father the Jewish blood was minimal, whatever that meant. The boy didn’t know if it was true or not but his progenitors had traversed the continent in covered wagons a hundred and fifty years earlier, crossing the great divide and settling in the Pacific Northwest. As such Pat Samuels was a persevering, hard-working man who knew the value of a dollar and never let any of his family forget it.

Pat was quite a bit older than his wife when they married. She was a new teacher with the shiny ideals and convictions that all new teachers bring from college. He was a dyed-in-the-wool cowboy with colorful language who said he swore because it was the only damned communication cattle understood. She had, over the years, tried to temper his enthusiasm for cursing but with little success. When he did turn the air blue with expletives, he would explain later that it was only the remnant of a far larger vocabulary. As a consequence, Jake learned to swear with perfect grammar.

Pat and Bess had met at a Saturday night dance in the old Armory building of the small town. Pat was in his mid-thirties and only there because his best friend, Tony Lamebull, had nearly forced him at gun-point to come. Pat was not a dancer. To him dancing was just one step away from homosexuality.
Tony was his partner at the ranch in those days, a handsome young Yakima Indian who loved life and women. Tony had set up a blind date for Pat but when the woman didn’t show Samuels was content to sit on the sideline sipping tepid punch and watching the couples grope each other on the cracked and peeling armory floor.

Bess Gephardt was of German extraction the only daughter of an austere banker who had six sons. She was the oldest and therefore became the caretaker of the family when her mother died in childbirth.

Grandfather, Hatler Gephardt, was a martinet who insisted on absolute obedience from his children. He too was a staunch believer in education and saw to it that all of his children received University degrees. Though a chauvinist in many ways Hatler, nonetheless, was dauntless in providing the kind of environment that would prove fruitful in the pursuit of knowledge to all his children, including Jake’s mother. It was ironic that she was the only one of the children to earn an advanced degree.

Grandfather never remarried which meant Bess literally raised her younger brothers. She had been teaching and nurturing young men’s minds long before Jake came into the world.

That night at the dance she had come with her best friend. She wasn’t all that interested in meeting men but Shirley Conroy had persuaded her that if she were going to be living in the valley she might as well get to know the current crop of available bachelors.

Jake had seen a picture of his parents from that night. When he was little he would look at the framed black and white photo trying to imagine what they were really like in those early days. Bess was willowy with soft dark curls framing her delicate face and a Mona Lisa-type smile that you could never be sure was a smile. Pat was tall and rangy with rough-hewn features and piercing china blue eyes. Years later she told her son that Pat’s eyes were what captivated her. She knew she was going to marry him (even though marriage was the furthermost thing from her mind) that first night they met.

They were, in many ways, an odd match but to Jake but they represented the epitome of the perfect couple. One thing he did know, even from his earliest recollections, they loved each other. Totally and completely.

When Jake’s father lost nearly a quarter of a million dollars in falling cattle prices during the late 1970’s, his mother took up the financial burden of keeping bread on the table. The boy knew that fact was corrosive to his father’s pride but Pat never said a word about it. Instead, he worked day and night trying to make that small ranch a success while dutifully paying back a little each month on the crushing debt and accompanying interest he’d incurred.

The irony of it all was, the week before they died, he had finally paid every last cent of the loss. Jake shook his head in the dark. The senseless, savage tapestry of life. An accident which snuffed out the lives of two loving people who’d done nothing to deserve it.

The rain had turned to snow. Big sloppy flakes fumbling their way down onto the windshield as Jake wheeled his car toward the city center. Jake decided that the real record of your life exists on a cellular level. The mind buries a great many memories and the body is where they’re buried. The familiar bulk of his gun was a good example, it always gave him peace of mind.

Something that had been lacking in his life for a very long time. The fact was, he was never sure where his life’s journey would lead. Or even where it was going. He didn’t know it then, but somehow felt, that he had to make the decent — to crawl into the inferno, fight the beast — then pray to God in His heaven he could crawl out again.

As Jake Samuels rounded the corner to Flannigan’s he had no idea the descent had already begun.