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First pages

1

NORTHERN NEVADA

 

The land was remote and desolate.

And hot.

Very, very hot.

 

The blazing sun scorched everything that tried to exist in this endless wasteland where the sand seemed to stretch out forever and the heat made the air itself wave as it rose from the surface of the hot sand.

Bright shafts of sunlight glistened off the rocks but there weren’t any people around who had to shade their eyes.

The only indication that humans ever existed in this part of the world were the railroad tracks that had been here for who knows how long.

A common chuckwalla lizard, one of the hardy creatures that somehow managed to thrive in this harsh environment, sat proudly on the shiny, metal rail surveying its domain. Often confused by humans for being a Gila monster, the chuckwalla was ready to inflate its loose skin or hide in a crevice if a predator should approach.

But there were few predators it had to worry about out here.

He could live in the oppressive heat during the day or the wicked chill at night. This was his world. He was king of this land.

Then the king was crushed as tons of steel burst across the tracks — the California Zephyr, on its way to Chicago.

Oblivious to the carnage just inflicted, the train and its passengers disappeared into the wavy images of the hot desert landscape.

 

Once again, the land was flat, remote, and desolate.

And hot.

Very, very hot.

2

"You can't make me talk," Luis Antonio Maria Hernandez III grumbled.

Luis wore the bright orange jumpsuit of a county prisoner.

Lt. Dan Morgan, Chief Investigator for the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Central Division, ignored the complaints of his passenger as he guided the light blue Crown Victoria to a stop on the railroad tracks.

The lieutenant reached across the man’s body, unlocked the cuff on the man's left wrist, and reattached the cuff to the steering wheel of the police cruiser. It was an awkward position for the man with his right hand now secured to the steering wheel, but the lieutenant didn’t seem to care if his passenger was comfortable.

"I have my rights, man."

Luis tugged at the restraint but the hand cuffs were firmly attached.

"You gotta get me a lawyer. That's the law."

Lt. Morgan reached into his coat pocket and took out a small tablet and a pen.

Luis shook his head.

"I'm not talking."

Lt. Morgan put the tablet and pen back in his pocket and checked his watch.

“Hope I'm not keeping you from anything important,” Luis said.

It had just the right amount of bravado — you had to let these guys know you weren’t afraid — but not too much — sometimes they could get violent, especially when you were so far away from civilization and it was only your word against theirs.

Lt. Morgan grinned and got out of the car.

"You can't make me talk!" Luis yelled at him. "Ain't no way you can make me talk."

Luis tugged again at his cuffs. It wasn’t his fault he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. There were rules you had to live by if you worked the streets and the big one was you don’t rat to the cops ‘bout nothin’.

"You think I'm stupid, man? I give you names and I'm dead."

Lt. Morgan walked about thirty yards down the gravel trail that passed for a road in this part of Nevada and sat on a small boulder.

It wasn’t fair, Luis thought. The cop didn't know what it was like to live on the streets.

Luis didn’t do drugs. He didn’t like the people who did drugs. Drugs were bad. He was just taking a short cut through the alley when he saw the deal go down. He had nothing to do with it. He shouldn’t have even been there. It wasn't fair.

Lt. Morgan took out a stick of gum, opened the wrapper, slid the gum into his mouth and flicked the wrapper into the desert.

"That’s littering," Luis said. He knew the cop couldn’t hear him so it was okay to say what he felt. "You're supposed to be an officer of the law. Why don't you arrest yourself?"

Luis pulled again on the cuffs. There was no way he could get free from the steering wheel.

The windows were up, the engine was off, and so was the air conditioner. The county jail where they had kept him last night was uncomfortable but this was worse.

Luis felt the temperature inside the car going up by the second.

That’s one thing Luis didn’t like about the desert. It got hot.

Luis used his left arm to wipe the sweat that was now streaming down his face. There wasn’t even a bottle of water inside the car.

The lieutenant smiled at Luis from his perch on the boulder. Once again the lawman took out the notebook and held it up for Luis to see.

Luis shook his head and the cop put the notebook back in his pocket and smiled.

“It’s a freaking sweat box in here!” yelled Luis, pounding on the dash.

This had to be torture. Maybe he could sue them.

That’s it!

He could find some lawyer willing to take the case on a percentage basis and sue the State of Nevada for a million bucks. If he won he would be a millionaire. A millionaire. No more griftin’, angling for deals, or checking his back to see if he was safe.

Just the good life.

A million bucks could buy a very good life!

Wait a minute.

Luis realized there was a slight problem with his plan.

Lawyers.

Lawyers were crooks. What kind of a percentage would a lawyer want? Twenty-five percent? Fifty percent?

The lawyer wasn’t sitting in the sweat box. The lawyer wasn’t cuffed to a steering wheel while the cop was chewing gum and checking his watch. The lawyer wasn’t suffering.

The lawyer didn’t deserve a dime.

Maybe Luis would offer ten percent. That wouldn’t be so bad. He could give up ten percent. But only if he sued them for at least two million. That way he’d still be a millionaire.

On the floor board near the gas pedal Luis saw it — a crumpled bill. The stupid cop left money in the car with Luis. This imitation Sherlock Holmes wasn’t the sharpest marble in the drawer. The guy deserved to lose it.

Luis twisted his body and reached under the steering wheel. His fingers almost touched the bill. He twisted some more and stretched. Two fingers barely touched the edge of the beautiful paper. He had to be careful not to push it further away.

As he squeezed his fingers on the bill, he felt the car shudder but that was of no concern. One final stretch and he had it.

Unraveling himself from his position, he managed to sit up and look at his prize. A five dollar bill. The stupid cop left him five bucks.

“Possession, man.” It was Luis’ turn to grin at the cop. “Nine-tenths of the law. It’s mine now, sucker.”

Luis tried to slip the bill into his pocket but the jumpsuit didn’t have any pockets.

Luis looked in the mirror.

“Orange,” he muttered. “Man, I don’t look good in orange.”

He felt the car shudder again.

“Why do you make me wear this thing?” Luis yelled at the cop. The guy was still too far away to hear but it wasn’t right. “I’m not a prisoner! I want my lawyer.”

Again the lieutenant smiled from his perch on the boulder.

“Stop with the stupid grins!”

That’s when the lieutenant pointed.

“What?” Luis yelled.

A horn blared in the distance. Luis looked out the passenger window.

He saw it’s shape in the distance. Maybe a couple of miles away but it was coming fast.

A train.

Luis tugged at his restraints but it was hopeless. The cuffs wouldn’t break free of the steering wheel.

A quick glance out the window. The train was heading straight toward him.

“There’s a train coming!” Luis pointed madly toward the train. “Get me out of here.”

The lieutenant reached into his pocket and pulled out the little notebook one more time.

“God, help me!” Luis yelled. “I’ll stop cheating people! I’ll stop cussing! I’ll stop drinking.”

The train seemed to fly over the desert getting closer and closer.

“I’ll go to church!”

Again the horn blared.

“I promise!”

Luis kicked at the side window and tugged at the steering wheel. He couldn’t get free.

The train was only a few hundred yards away, its horn blasting. The car shook. The windows rattled.

“I’ll talk! I’ll talk!”

The massive metal monster filled the window. Luis closed his eyes and scrunched into a fetal position on the front seat.

The car felt like it was going to explode as the train passed just inches in front of the vehicle on a separate set of tracks.

Luis slowly emerged from his cocoon and watched the last car pass.

“That was wrong!” he yelled at the cop. “Wrong!”

The stupid cop had no right to do that. No right at all.

Luis looked up and spoke to the sky. “I said I’d think about it. It wasn’t even on my tracks, so I don’t think it counts.”

The car door opened. Lt. Dan Morgan, Chief Investigator for the Nevada Department of Public Safety held his notebook in one hand and a pen in the other.

“You look like you might have changed your mind.”

“You’re a cop. You can’t do stuff like that. Can you?”

The sun reflected off the lieutenant’s glasses and Luis had to move out of the glare.

“I saw your lips move,” the lieutenant said. “Were you trying to tell me something?”

Luis shook his head no.

“Too bad.” The lieutenant looked at his watch again. “If the next train is on schedule —”

“Wait!”

Luis knew it wasn’t right but this cop was nuts. He might actually do it.

“Man, you can’t tell anyone where you got this.”

The lieutenant waited with his pen poised to record the words.

“There were six of them.” Luis looked around as though there were a possibility there might be another human being listening in on this conversation. “Carlos was there.”

“Carlos Leon?”

“Yeah. Word is he’s moving into some of the rural areas in the state and needs a new supplier.”

“You heard them say that?”

“No. That’s just the word on the street.”

“I need to know exactly what you saw and heard when the deal went down.”

“You’re not going to like it,” Luis said.

“Try me.”

“One of your guys was in on it.”

“What do you mean?”

“A cop. One of the guys at the deal was a cop.”

“Do you know who it was?”

“Don’t know his name but I could pick him out of a lineup. I got a good look.”

Lt. Morgan closed his book and put it back in his pocket.

“You’re not writing.”

“That won’t be necessary. I just wanted to know if you would talk.”

“I will. I told you I’ll talk.”

Lt. Morgan looked at his watch.

“What’s with this watch stuff?” Luis asked.

The lieutenant held out his hand. “My money.”

Reluctantly, Luis handed Lt. Morgan the five dollar bill.

There was another horn blast in the distance. The car shook again. Coming from the other direction, Luis saw another train. This one was on the same set of tracks as the car he was sitting in.

“I said I would talk!”

“That’s what I needed to find out,” the lieutenant said.

“Let’s get off these tracks.”

“Can’t do that.”

“Why!”

“Because now I know you’ll talk. My friends wouldn’t like that.”

The lieutenant walked away and pulled out his cell phone.

Luis ripped at the steering wheel, kicked against the door, and tried to slide his hands from the cuffs.

The vibrations increased.

The car shook and groaned.

The horn from the train blasted across the desert.

Luis could see it.

It seemed to be flying directly at him.

Breaks squealed. Sparks flew. There was no way the tons of metal barreling down the tracks would be able to stop in time.

“Dear God, please!”

Luis kicked at the window.

Walking calmly away from the tracks, Lt. Dan Morgan spoke on his cell phone. “I want to report a terrible accident. Survivors?”

He heard the impact and turned to see the crushed car wrapped around the engine being pushed down the tracks.

“I don’t think so.”

The lieutenant watched the sparks fly. He knew it would take close to half a mile for the train to stop and there wouldn’t be much left.

It was a shame.

Lt. Morgan really liked that car.

3

Flat on the ground, covered in dirt, his hand still cuffed to the steering wheel, Luis watched the train screeching to a stop.

The wheels squealed as the train slid on the tracks. Sparks flew and the metal of the wheels and rails groaned in what seemed like agony.

The cop had tried to kill him.

It wasn’t an accident. The cop wanted him dead.

The train continued to roll down the tracks with the Crown Victoria wrapped around the front of the engine.

“I coulda been in there,” Luis yelled in the direction of the cop on the other side of the train, who was probably still chewing his gum and smiling. “You tried to kill me!”

Cops weren’t supposed to do that.

Luis felt like he’d been hit by the train but fortunately he had managed to pull the wheel free from the steering column and kick out the window just seconds before the train hit.

Luis pushed himself to his feet.

This wasn’t the time to wait for the dust to settle. The cop was on the other side of the train. The cop who tried to kill him. Luis didn’t know what the cop would do next and he had no intention of waiting around to find out.

He had to get away.

Every part of him hurt but this was not the time to think about pain. Forcing one foot in front of the other he stumbled down a gully, struggling to keep his balance and gain distance.

He didn’t know where he was or where he was going but he had to get as far away from the train and the cop as possible.

The screeching train was slowing but Luis didn’t look back.

He had to keep moving.

Faster.

Faster.

He couldn’t stop.

His stumble turned to a slow jog, then a long stride run, and then, as he got control of his balance, it was a flat out sprint.

The lieutenant was one of them, obviously. They tried to kill him.

But they didn’t succeed.

He got away.

He was free.

4

Sprinting was no longer an option.

Luis’ body had decided that limping was now the only form of movement it would allow.

So Luis limped along the remote dirt road. He didn’t know how long he’d been going. An hour. Maybe two or three. He just knew he was hot and thirsty.

He didn’t have to worry about the detective following him. The police car was little more than a crushed sardine can. It would be awhile before the cop got support and Luis wanted to be as far away as he could get.

He couldn’t believe it.

He’d nearly died.

Died — as in it’s all over … the end … bring down the curtain.

Just a few more seconds and it would have been over. He stopped and looked up into the expansive sky.

“You call this saving me?” Luis growled. “Where am I going to go? What am I going to do?”

There was no answer from the sky and Luis pushed on.

Keep moving.

Don’t stop.

As the day wore on, the sun edged toward the horizon. The desert became a display of reds and yellows. The colors seemed to blend in with his orange prison suit.

This had not been a good day. He’d spent the night in jail because he took a short cut.

He’d been hauled out of jail and thrown in the cop car because the state cop wanted to get information from him.

When he said he’d give the cop the information, the cop had tried to kill him.

He’d been running across the desert for hours.

He was hungry and thirsty, and now his body was rebelling — it wanted to stop.

Definitely not a good day.

Luis stood still for a moment and considered his condition.

All he could think of was one thing.

“I don’t look good in orange.”

But he couldn’t do anything about that. He wasn’t about to take off the prison jump suit and run around naked in the desert.

His body wanted to just lie down and rest. He didn’t know where he was or how far away he was from help but he knew waiting in place was a bad decision.

So he forced one leg forward and then the other and then he was jogging again.

Time seemed to move slowly.

“Run,” he said aloud, hoping his body would get the message.

Keep running was all he thought.

But everything began to slow down. His legs didn’t want to move forward. It was difficult to persuade his feet to take another step.

Even the sun took its time dropping below the distant mountains.

The dirt road headed deep into nowhere and his body ignored his mental pleas to push on.

Luis stopped to look up at the sky. If there was a God, He wasn’t doing a very good job of taking care of Luis Maria Antonio Hernandez III. Not a very good job at all.

“I’m thirsty. I’m hungry. I ache all over.”

Luis slammed the steering wheel against the hard road. It didn’t shatter. It just caused his entire arm and shoulder to vibrate.

“If I hadn’t pulled this free, I’d be road kill right now. What are you going to do about it?”

The sun finally disappeared below the horizon and darkness spread quickly across the desert floor.

“Great. A cop tries to run over me with a train and now some wild animal is probably stalking me thinking I’d make a great late night snack.”

A coyote howled.

Luis glared at the sky.

“That’s not funny,” he yelled at the sky.

Luis leaned forward, placed his hands on his knees and rested standing up. Just a few minutes, he promised himself. A few minutes of rest.

There was another howl from some creature in the dark.

Luis slowly straightened up letting each muscle and joint complain about what they had been forced to go through.

Luis scanned the rough landscape. There were no signs of life for miles in any direction. He hoped that was a good thing at least for tonight. Although it would be nice if a town was nearby. He could really use a town.

A small shape ran past him just off the side of the road. It was too dark to make out what it was but soon the night was filled with the short, high pitched yips of coyotes communicating with each other.

Luis resumed his walk down the rough road.

The night sky began filling with stars and almost seemed to glow.

“I ask for help and this is what I get,” he spoke to the God he didn’t believe in. “If you’re not going to help, I don’t need you.”

Another small shape darted past him on the other side of the road.

“From now on I’ll take care of myself.”

Luis re-gripped the steering wheel. It would make a good weapon if any of those shapes decided to come his way.

5

What was left of the Crown Victoria was being peeled off the front of the train by the repair crew.

High intensity lights were pointed at the crushed vehicle as the workers focused on getting the tracks clear for the next train which was due in just a few hours.

Lt. Morgan stood at the railroad crossing being interviewed by two TV news teams and a couple of print reporters. The lieutenant seemed to enjoy the reporters who held out their microphones and recorders and waited for his view of the incident.

“He wasn’t a prisoner,” Lt. Morgan said. “We were taking him to a safe house for questioning.”

“Why do you think he tried to get away?” the reporter from the local TV affiliate asked.

“I really don’t know. A lot of very bad people were trying to find him and eliminate him. Maybe he thought he would be safer on his own. It’s a real shame.”

“Will this hurt your investigation,” the print reporter from Las Vegas asked.

“He’s the only one who knows the identities of …” The lieutenant pretended to hold back a tear. “He’s the only one who knew the identities of the leaders of the drug ring. Now we’re back to square one.”

One of the members of the repair crew waved his arm and tried to get the lieutenant’s attention but Lt. Morgan was basking in the media spotlight.

“I’ve come to know Luis Hernandez as a man of great integrity and courage. It hurts me deeply, personally, that his life should end in such a tragic manner.”

“Wasn’t he in your protective custody?” the network TV reporter asked.

“Yes, he was, which just makes my pain so much harder to bear.”

The member of the repair crew finally got the lieutenant’s attention.

“Excuse me,” Lt. Morgan said to the reporters. “They’ll need me to identify the body.”

The lieutenant pushed his way through the reporters but gave them time to reposition so they could follow him to the scene.

The wreckage was piled next to the tracks. Lt. Morgan came over and looked at it.

“Where is it?” Lt. Morgan pointed at the mass of metal that had been his car. “Where’s Hernandez? I don’t see his body.”

“There is no body,” the repair crew member said.

“You mean it was destroyed beyond recognition in this terrible accident?”

“I mean there’s no body.”

Lt. Morgan pushed the worker aside and stood close to the wreckage.

The workers had peeled the metal off the frame of the car, revealing a crushed seat, a crushed door and a crushed dashboard … but no body.

“The dirt bag got away?”

6

Luis walked slowly down the road, clutching the steering wheel tightly to his chest. He heard every sound in the desert, even those that weren’t there.

There was no moon but his eyes had adjusted to the starlight and he could see several hundred yards in all directions.

Three little shapes scurried by him on the left. He turned and held the wheel in attack mode. He couldn’t make out the shapes and they soon disappeared into the darkness.

Behind him a twig snapped and Luis spun to see what it was. Another shadow disappeared into the darkness.

Then the yipping sounds started again.

Looking up at the night sky, he finally gave in. “Maybe I was a little hasty. I could use your help.”

Luis was tired but he figured it would be too hard to walk through the desert during the daylight hours so he had to keep moving while it was cool.

Plus he didn’t want to lie down and sleep while the little creatures were around. At least he hoped they were little creatures. The last thing he needed was to wake up with something gnawing on him.

Luis hoped the road actually went somewhere. He needed water, food and a change of clothes, and he needed to get the stupid steering wheel off his wrist.

It sounded like something was slithering on the ground.

Did snakes live in the desert? Did they come out at night? Did they attack humans?

“God, please. I’ll do anything. Just get me out of here.”

Then he saw it.

At first it was just a little speck in the distance but then he could make out the headlights of a car coming down the road.

Could it be the cop? Not possible, Luis realized. The car would have been crushed beyond use by the train. It had to be an ordinary person. Maybe someone on his way to a nearby town. Maybe rescue was coming his way.

“Never mind,” Luis said to the sky. “I’ve got this one covered.”

The whine of the engine carried across the desert. The headlights bounced up and down on the road and occasionally disappeared when the road dipped down below his line of sight.

Luis took a position along the side of the road. He held the steering wheel behind his back and stuck out his left thumb.

The way things were going today it would be the cop but he didn’t have many options.

He took a step back, closer to the edge of the road so he could run into the desert if he needed to escape. There was no way a car could drive in the deep sand off the road.

“God, please, no cops.”

The car came out of a low area and had a straight run to him now. He couldn’t see the type of car it was because the headlights nearly blinded him.

It couldn’t be a cop. It had to be some tourist or local heading home. They were just traveling on this lonely road because it was the quickest way to get to where they were going.

They must have water in the car. Bottled water or an ice chest filled with cold beer. And food. Luis was sure they would have lots of food and would be glad to share it with a lone man in an orange county prisoner uniform handcuffed to a steering wheel.

Okay, that might be a problem.

The car bounced up the road toward Luis. The headlights were out of alignment, one pointing up and to the left, the other pointing at the ground. He still couldn’t make out what type of car it was but there was definitely something on top of it.

Luis gave his biggest grin, held out his thumb, and watched the car pass him by.

“Thanks a lot,” Luis groused.

Then the car slid to a stop about fifty yards down the road and the passenger door opened.

“Told you I didn’t need you,” Luis said to the God he didn’t believe in.

Luis made a gun with his hand and fired into the sky. Then he ran to the car.

It was an old Ford Escort. The rear fender was partially ripped off and one tail light was broken. A mattress and chair were tied to the top of the car.

As Luis approached from the rear he couldn’t tell who was driving because the inside of the car was filled with boxes and blankets.

“Get in!” a voice boomed from inside the car.

There was no way a cop would be driving a piece of junk like this, Luis thought.

The steering wheel attached to his wrist made it difficult to squeeze into the car stuffed full of boxes, books, blankets, books, canned food, and more books.

“I’m Paul Snyder.” The driver placed a box on Luis’ lap and held out his hand.

Luis managed to shake it with his one free hand.

The guy was old. Luis guessed he must be in his 70’s. He was thin and he had a broad smile.

“Sorry it’s so crowded,” the old man said. “I’m moving.”

“Really?”

“Sixty-seven years of living and this is everything I own.”

The car belched to a start and books from the dash tumbled onto Luis’ lap.

“I love my books.”

“I kinda picked up on that.”

Luis tried to jam some of the books back onto the dashboard.

“That one.” Paul pointed to the book in Luis’ hand. “An excellent study of the Persian kings during Daniel’s life. If you want to read it, just ask.”

“Thanks.” Luis pushed it between several books on the dash.

The single headlight that pointed down didn’t give that much illumination of the road ahead but Paul wasn’t really looking at the road. He was staring at Luis.

“You’re probably wondering about this.” Luis pulled the steering wheel out from under the box on his lap and held it up for Paul to see. The handcuffs couldn’t be hidden.

“We’re all tied to something,” the old man said. “But I was wondering about the orange suit.”

“I can explain,” Luis said.

Paul glanced out the front window to see if they were still on the road. “Orange isn’t a popular color for men today. Can’t remember when it ever was and I’ve been around a long time.”

“It’s not what you think.”

“Oh, don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying it looks bad on you. I think young men make a statement with their clothes today. Orange looks very good on you. Very good indeed.”

Luis stuffed the steering wheel back under the box on his lap.

“So, where you headed, man?”

“Borax,” Paul said.

It bothered Luis that the driver kept looking at him instead of the road.

“It’s a little town off the main highway. Population two hundred and thirteen.”

Luis looked straight ahead, hoping it would be enough of an indicator that the driver should also look at the road but Paul seemed to want to make eye contact with his passenger.

“There’s one small school serving the region, one post office, one bar, one jail, one doctor — that’s important when you get to be my age — and one church.”

“Sounds like a great place.”

“I wouldn’t actually know. I’ve never been there.” Paul pulled out a paper map and spread it across Luis and the front seat. “I hope this is the right way.”

“Watch out!”

The old man looked up and turned hard left. “Thanks. It’s hard to see the road at night.”

Especially if you don’t look at it, Luis thought.

“Where are you going?” the driver asked.

“Borax sounds fine to me.”

Paul reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card. Luis struggled to reach over the boxes and take it.

“I’m the new pastor of the one church in town.”

“Figures.”

“What?”

“Nothing.” Luis looked at the card. It read Paul Snyder and then had a bunch of letters under his name. B.A., M.Div., Th.D., Ph.D. In the bottom right corner of the card was a phone number.

“That’s my phone number,” Paul pointed at the card. “It’s a cell phone. I carry it with me so feel free to call me anytime. I don’t have an email address. I prefer to talk to people.”

Luis held the business card but pointed with both hands at the front window, hoping the driver would look where he was going.

“Are you a Christian?” Paul asked.

“No.”

“Mind if I talk to you about the Lord?”

“Yes.”

“I like to tell people about Jesus. I wasn’t always a Christian. In fact, when I was your age —”

“Listen. I appreciate you picking me up and all but I don’t do God.”

“You don’t believe in God?”

“Let’s just say we have a very clear working relationship. He doesn’t help me when I ask him for help so I don’t plan to ask him for help anymore.”

“You must have had a bad experience in church as a kid. Don’t let one bad experience keep you from considering God.”

“I’ve never set foot inside of a church in my life. I have no intention of changing that.”

Once again, Paul looked at the road in front of them but only for a few seconds.

He turned to face Luis. “Have you ever thought about what happens after you die?”

“As a matter of fact, I thought about it a little earlier today. It doesn’t appeal to me.”

“Are you prepared to meet God?”

“I’d rather not talk about it if you don’t mind.”

“We never know when ….” The old man gasped and gripped his chest.

“We never know when ….” The car drifted back and forth along the dark road.

“That’s good,” Luis said. “You should have been a salesman.”

The old man slumped forward on the steering wheel. The horn blared. The car drifted toward the side of the road.

“You’ve made your point.”

Luis watched as the car picked up speed and headed straight toward the edge.

“Okay! Okay! Go ahead and tell me about God.”

The car shot off the side of the road and tumbled sideways down the gully. Over and over.

Luis screamed.

The car tumbled.

Books and boxes flew everywhere.

Luis felt himself turning round and round while books slammed against his head.

There was a thud.

The car stopped rolling.

It came to rest upside down.

Then there was silence.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

I'm a storyteller. I've been telling stories most of my life -- first in the classroom (I was a History teacher) and then as a writer. I've published four novels, a couple of short stories and optioned several screenplays. I believe stories are important. The stories we tell and the stories we choose to consume or ignore impact our worldview and how we interact with one another.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
I love to see people out of their element (in this case a con-man mistaken for the pastor of a small church) because it forces the characters to face their stereotypes and prejudices and consider what is true.
Q. What books are you reading now?
A.
I just finished "Defying Hitler", a journal of a young man who grew up in Germany before World War II. His description of daily life in Germany during those tumultuous times is fascinating. We get glimpses of what it is like to live in a society that is crumbling even as a new world is emerging.
Q. What books have influenced your life the most?
A.
My favorite novel is "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. I've read it several times and each time I get new insights into the human condition. She was an excellent writer. The book that has had the most influence on me is "The Bible." Nothing else comes close.

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This time, she won't take "No" for an answer.
Between Love and Fear
Will protecting her save him from himself?