The Adventures of Gabriel Celtic

The Adventures of Gabriel Celtic

Thursday, April 30, 2015

One Minute Mystery- Fred & Margo

Periodically, I will put a small mystery on here for you to solve...just for fun! After all...I'm all about the mysteries!

Jimmy and Alicia and Fred and Margo all live in the same house. Jimmy and Alicia go out to a movie, and when they return, Margo is lying dead on the floor in a puddle of water and glass. It's obvious that Fred killed her but he is not even prosecuted or severely punished.

What the hell is going on?
For answer, go HERE!

Quote of the day 4-30

You can't sweep other people off their feet, if you can't be swept off your own

Clarence Day

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Quote of the day 4-29

It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around so much, doing nothing, really doing nothing.

Gertrude Stein

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Murmansk! Chapters 6 & 7


Every week or so I will be putting up an advance chapter or two of my newest International Thriller...

Murmansk! You can of course find the earlier chapters further down the page.The book should be

 published around July of this year!

**Note this is first draft so be kind to any mistakes I may have :O


Chapter 6
November 24, 2000

“I totally understand Jackson,” I heard Abby talking on the phone in the other room, “It’s just that I was hoping to eat today…and my baby’s getting kinda cranky with the malnourishment and all.”
May and I turned toward each other and smiled. This was Abby’s domain…collecting money…and she used whatever tools were at her disposal. While most of the people that hired us paid on demand, there are a few pinchpenny holdouts that respond better to cynicism…and even a small number of that she has had to threaten!
We didn’t work for those types more than once.
“I’ll be picking up Jackson Wiedemann’s money after lunch,” Abby exclaimed as she walked back into the kitchen with a smile. “Just a little jab here and a poke there and he decided it was time to give it up!”
Jackson Wiedemann was a local Bail Bondsman that had thrown a couple of jobs our way over the last few months. As I said before, if I had my druthers I wouldn’t touch bounty hunting with a stick. But if we had to do it, Jackson was a good guy to work for…he just liked to hold onto his money for as long as he could.
Thank God Abby didn’t mind handling that! 
“Thank you again for taking care of that kind of stuff,” I said to Abby as she poured herself another cup of coffee.
Shrugging, Abby made her way back to the table with a grin, “Just a part of doing business.”
A knock sounded on the door just then and May shot up to answer it.
Pulling the dark-haired woman standing in the doorway into her arms, they embraced for several long moments. Finally pulling away, May beamed at the new arrival.
Raven Forester was very easy on the eyes. Years ago, we had also once been a couple, until she dropped me for my lack of perceived earning potential.
Although May and Raven had never been close in either school or adult life, they had grown very close when they both found themselves widowed under strange circumstances a few years ago. When they finally realized that there was a possibility that both of their husbands had been murdered by the same man, they called me.
I had been out of touch with both of them for years before that. May, my oldest and dearest friend had found love elsewhere as I let her slip through my fingers. Raven, the love of my life in college had moved up the social ladder through several marriages.
Honestly, I had hoped to never see her again before they hired me to help find their husbands’ killer. Thankfully our friendships had all blossomed during that case. May and Raven, both only children, had latched onto each other like sisters. And of course May and I had gotten married…not without some friendly competition from Raven first however.
“It’s been too long Raven;” May grinned while taking Raven’s arm in hers and leading her to the table. “Those month-long trips of yours keep you away from me way too long.”
“Aw,” Raven exclaimed as she pulled May back into her arms, “I’ve missed you too!”
“Ahem,” I heard then from the doorway, “Mind if I come in too?”
I grinned as I offered my hand to the thin, brown-haired man.
“Good to see you again Hershel,” I winked, “Or are we Snake today?”
“Definitely Snake,” he grinned back, “Hershel is just for strangers boss.”
Snake Black always called me boss, a habit I had grown accustomed to on our last big case, although I had no idea why he did it. He was also Raven’s new love…and also a thief…an art thief to be exact.
Or, at least he had been before he met us.
Entering our house one night last year under the mental control of the man who called himself Wolf, he then set about to try and kill me!
Fortunately for Snake (and unfortunately for Wolf), we captured him and broke the spell of the Antichrist. Feeling an unwarranted sense of duty to help us after that episode, he quickly allied himself to us, becoming an invaluable part of our so-called army and helping in the defeat of Wolf and his henchmen. 
His skills, both during that case and since had been priceless, although he now spends most of his time with Raven and her impressive art collection. Working closely together during the case and since, they had also fallen deeply in love in that time.
Snake now went by Hershel Longmire in public, an unfortunate façade he had to maintain to hide his previous life.
For the first time however, he now had the chance to work on the one thing he has loved his whole life…and do it legally.
“Thanks for coming!” I uttered while pulling out a chair for him. “We thought you should be a part of this decision.”
“From what you told me on the phone, it sounds intriguing,” he exclaimed as he sat down, “Tell me more.”
Over several more cups of coffee, Abby, Preacher and I laid out the details of our meeting earlier in the day, including the respective opinions we had each formed at that point in time.
By the time we were done, we all sat back in our chairs and grew quiet. Amazingly, I realized at that moment that we had all apparently been desperately waiting for Snake’s opinion before we made our final choice.
Having taken it all in, Snake had also grown silent as he seemed to be contemplating the coffee before him. When he finally spoke, he was still staring only at his cup.
“As you know, I have spent most of my previous life working for…shall we say nonstandard customers. Even when an upstanding individual or an insurance company hired me to reclaim a piece of art, the deals were always a little shady. I mean…it’s not like I showed up on their payroll or anything.”
You could have heard a pin drop as we waited for more.
“So in that respect anyway, it will be like nothing else you have done before. I would imagine that most of the cases he throws this way will have some essence of secrecy to them. And I can tell you from experience that this would throw you into a type of shadowy existence, one where you would not be able to tell most people you know what you do. In point of fact, there should be some thought given to still doing some local jobs to draw attention away from what you are really doing.”
“After all…you don’t want people to start nosing around because they can’t figure out what you’re doing to make a living.”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” Abby exhaled. “But that makes perfect sense.”
“I don’t know that we’ll even be that busy with this guy if we accept,” I mentioned, “He really didn’t give us a clue as to how busy we would be.”
Snake nodded in understanding. “From what you have told me though, the work could be anywhere in the world. And with that, comes traveling…and traveling takes time. Add to that the probability that these aren’t likely to be simple jobs, because after all, anyone could do simple jobs.”
“So even a few jobs could take some time,” Preacher nodded. “That wouldn’t bother me any. Except for Dirk, hanging out with you guys and work, I’ve got no life anyway!”
His face held a grin when he said it, but I often wondered how our friend was handling his quiet down time alone. Although he had been smitten with Dirk, who lived with Preacher most of the time, I had never seen him with a human companion of any sort…besides us of course.
“I don’t know,” I mumbled, “I don’t know if I’m up for that much traveling…I like being closer to home.”
May set her hand on mine, “If you’re worried about me being alone…don’t! Ya Su and I will get along splendidly without you guys for a few days here or there. Besides, he already told you that you didn’t have to take every job he offered. If you need a break, just pass.”
Patting my hand then, “Besides…you need this! You’re going stir crazy!”
Moving her eyes toward Abby and Preacher, “You all are!”
“I think we should vote on it,” Abby exclaimed, “All in favor…”
“I would like to add one more thing before you vote if I may,” Snake mentioned quickly.
“Of course Snake,” I nodded, “You’re one of us.”
“That’s kind of what I wanted to talk to you about,” he continued shyly. “Although as a full partner I would heartily vote for this proposal…I no longer have the desire…or the time to go gallivanting around the world at a moment’s notice.”
Abby and Preacher looked shocked at his statement, but I had seen it coming for quite some time. The man had spent his life doing almost exactly what we were discussing. Now he had a real home…and a real love in Raven. I couldn’t blame him for backing away from the projects we were discussing…in fact…I was happy for the both of them.
“Not that I wouldn’t be interested in doing something now and again if you needed me,” he continued reassuringly. “After all…it is in my blood…and sometimes that blood boils for an exciting project. But I wouldn’t feel right casting my vote to something I couldn’t devote myself to full time.”
Raven folded her hand over his and smiled at him lovingly before turning back towards us.
“Don’t worry, if you need him, he’ll be there. I’m relatively certain he won’t mind getting away from me periodically.”
“Ok then,” Abby chimed in again, “All in favor?”
Preacher and Abby raised their hands immediately…followed closely by May. Shaking my head in amazement at my wife, I finally relented, raising my hand slowly above my head.
“It’s unanimous then!” Abby crowed, sliding the untraceable phone across the table to me as Ya Su let out a wail from her room.
Standing up to go see to her daughter, Abby looked back at me before leaving. “I’m ready any time after this feeding,” she grinned before leaving the room.
I couldn’t help but smile at her statement as I powered up the phone and waited for it to come on. It seemed that we had all voted to enter a new phase in our lives, one that held untold promise of adventure and danger.
Punching the speed dial number, I waited as the dial tone rang in my ear.
When he answered, McGruder said nothing.
“Patrick?” I queried finally.
“Indeed it is Gabriel,” he replied then. “What have you made of my offer so far?”
“We’d like to accept on a probationary basis,” I replied carefully, “Depending of course on if we find any jobs acceptable…and if we think we want to continue after doing the first one.”
“As is your right,” he exclaimed, “Splendid news Gabriel, spectacular news!”
“So how long do you anticipate it will be before we can look over our first job?” I queried before hearing a knocking at the door.
“I would imagine that the courier at your door has already brought you something to peruse Gabriel…enjoy your first dossier. I’ll be anxiously awaiting your response.”
With that the line went dead.
“I wonder who that could be,” May questioned aloud as she stood to answer the knock.
“Apparently,” I replied while folding the phone, “That is our future knocking.”

Chapter 7
November 24, 2000

“This will do,” the man uttered as he stared out the front window of the rental.
The landlord wrung his hands nervously; dickering about money and contracts was not his favorite part.
“It’s a thousand dollars a month, with first and last month’s rent due up front. Additionally, there is a thousand dollar security deposit, also due immediately upon signing of the lease…one year minimum.”
The man continued to stare out the window for a full minute before pulling back the lapel of his coat. Reaching his hand inside, he clasped an envelope and extracted it before turning slightly and handing the envelope to the man.
The landlord took the envelope, finding it stuffed with hundred dollar bills. Excitedly, he counted out the money.
“Seven thousand dollars?” he exclaimed with confusion, “I don’t under…”
“I only require the use of your facility for six months,” the man interrupted as his eyes remained on the street below. “I will not be signing a lease.”
“This is highly irregular,” the landlord stuttered, conflicted.
“I would imagine seven thousand tax-free dollars is also irregular,” the man continued. “That’s my offer…take it or leave it.”
“I’ll take it!” the landlord exclaimed, having made a quick executive decision.
“Additionally,” the man uttered with finality, “I will not be seeking the return of the deposit, but in return, I will require complete privacy during my tenancy. Should you enter the house at any time, I will seek recompense.”
Turning slightly toward the landlord, the man glanced back at the toady man through his mirrored sunglasses.
“Do we have a deal?”
“Y-y-yess sir Mr. …?”
The man turned back toward the window. “Just leave the keys by the front door…all of the keys. I will deposit them in the mailbox when I leave for good.”
The short, pudgy landlord swallowed back an objection he had been forming, turning quickly away instead and making his way down the steps. Pulling a ring of keys out of his pocket, he pulled off his own key for the property and added it to the smaller key ring.
With that done, he bent down and laid the keys on the floor before letting himself out of the house. As he made his way down the sidewalk, he patted at the envelope now in his breast pocket.
Unusual circumstances require unusual responses, he thought as a small smile creased his lips, the first in a day that would be devoid of many others. Although he didn’t like exposing himself to liability by not having a signed lease, the cash would have to do.
Sure he didn’t even know the man’s name, but he seemed more than responsible.
This was the rationalization that centered his mind as he let himself into his car and started the engine…the butt of the gun he saw peaking out of the man’s coat hadn’t had anything to do with his decision.

Quote of the day 4-28

A poet is someone who stands outside in the rain hoping to be struck by lightning.

James Dickey

Monday, April 27, 2015

Friday, April 24, 2015

Murmansk! Chapters 4 & 5

Every week or so I will be putting up an advance chapter or two of my newest International Thriller...Murmansk! You can of course find the earlier chapters further down the page.The book should be published around July of this year!

**Note this is first draft so be kind to any mistakes I may have :O






Chapter 4
November 24, 2000

We sat quietly by as May helped McGruder out of the house. Once the door was closed however, Preacher stood and made his way to the door, easing the curtain aside slightly as he watched the man head toward his car.
“That-was-freaky!” Abby stated exuberantly, her eyes still on the doorway as if she too were following his progress.
By then May was standing beside me, her hand on my shoulder.
“You don’t believe him Abby?” May questioned.
“I have to believe most of what he said,” Abby said with a shrug, “Because it was the truth.”
“It’s what he didn’t say that worries me,” Preacher mumbled as he watched the car pull away from the house. “He’s gone.”
Glancing at me with a questioning glance, I nodded.
Returning my nod, he quickly opened the door and exited the kitchen.
“Where’s he going?” May asked.
“To follow McGruder,” Abby stated quietly, her eyes still on the kitchen door.
“You guys don’t trust him,” May exhaled quietly when she realized what was happening…a statement not a question.
I put my hand over hers and turned to look up at her. “Trust is a big deal in our business May, and he laid a huge amount of information on us without really telling us anything.”
May nodded distractedly. I think she had been so excited that McGruder was offering something exhilarating for me to do that she never gave a thought to whether he was on the up and up.
“May?”
She looked down at me and smiled, her reverie broken.
“You ok?”
Taking her chair beside me, she patted my hand. “Yes Gabe, I had just assumed that you would jump at his offer. But I can see now that the wise move is to be suspicious until you can confirm some things.”
Turning toward me, her blue eyes glowed as she smiled. “I’m just afraid however, that your normal system of checks won’t work very well on this particular man.”
As if confirming May’s prediction, Preacher came back into the house at that moment, his face a mask of frustration.
“I lost the son of a bitch!”
           
***

“You lost him?” Abby exclaimed. “But he just left!”
“I am aware,” Preacher responded tightly as he picked up his cup and moved toward the coffee maker.
“I saw him drive off. When I got to the street I could see him a block away. By the time I got my car rolling, he had his signal on to turn right. At the end of the block he turned, and thirty seconds later I did the same.”
“And he was gone?” I asked, perplexed.
“Disappeared off the face of the earth…like one of those huge elephants on a TV magic show.”
I went over the area in question in my head. Heading west on my street, McGruder would have ended up on Nowlin Avenue. Turning right would have taken him north on Nowlin…basically a two-lane county road out of town. There were few roads to turn off of for the next quarter mile, and the road was fairly straight…you can see almost a half mile ahead at that point.
“He could have done it by simply speeding up. If he had accelerated to over sixty miles an hour he probably would have been out of sight in thirty seconds.”
Preacher shrugged, “He was driving real slow before that…old man slow. Plus, his car was just an old Ford sedan.”
“You mean like an old Crown Vic?” Abby interjected excitedly, “Like they use for police cruisers?”
Preacher shrugged again dejectedly, “Could have been…I guess…”
“Whether he shot off like a rocket or magically made his car disappear, that’s a lot of deception to throw at us the first day,” I said dejectedly. “How far can we trust someone like that?”
“I’m with Gabe,” Preacher offered angrily, “All this sneaky shit doesn’t sit well with me.”
As we quietly mulled this over, I glanced at May, who was smiling across the table. My eyes followed hers to find Abby deep in thought.
“What say you Abby?” May questioned quietly.
Seeming surprised at hearing her name, Abby glanced up, looking from one to the next of us before speaking.
“I disagree,” she stated simply.
“You disagree?” an angry Preacher responded. “He’s already deceiving us and we haven’t even started working for him yet!”
“Is he?”
“Is he what?” I replied, surprised at her proclamation.
“Is he deceiving us? In this particular case anyway, I’m not sure we have been looking at it the right way.”
“Please,” Preacher sighed with frustration, “Enlighten us.”
“Ok…ok…here’s my thoughts. Number one, who’s to say that this wasn’t his normal mode of operation? If we are to believe what he has told us so far…and there’s no reason to doubt it…maybe he has to be careful.”
“Look what he has dredged up on us so far!” she continued. “My information wasn’t top secret or anything, but neither was it important enough to surface anywhere on its own…I mean who would care about my past?”
“And another thing…how could he know about Dirk? No one keeps records on cats!”
“And your stuff Preacher…that was buried. Not only did he find it, he was able to alter it…to protect you! That’s some amazing shit!”
“It is actually,” I agreed.
“Someone like that…doing what he does…that’s bound to make somebody pissed. By the very nature of what he does, I can see where he would have to be careful…probably all the time.”
We quietly digested what she had imparted to us before I interrupted.
“Did you imply there would be a second reason for what he did today?” I asked.
Abby grinned. “Yep! He could have just been showing off…trying to impress us…like the text messages this morning.”
“Might I say something?”
All eyes turned to May, who sat there with a determined smile on her face.
“Of course May,” I smiled. “None of us meant in any way to exclude you…you’re one of us now.”
“You just have to learn to jump in when you feel like saying something May!” Abby grinned.
May’s smile widened. “It will take some getting used to, but thank you!”
“I know I don’t have the same background as you all,” she continued, “But I do have a few skills that have served me well over the years, and one of those would be witness interviewing.”
Although no longer practicing, I sometimes forgot that May had been an attorney for most of her adult life.
“Among other things, we would have to form a judgment on the truthfulness of what the witness would say or how he acted when he was on the witness stand or in interviews.”
She paused before continuing.
“Based on what I saw this morning…I believe Mr. McGruder to be truthful…I trust him.”
“Not that I don’t have faith in your judgment May…” Preacher started.
“Hear me out please Preacher,” May exclaimed with determination, her hand held out, palm forward as if she were stopping traffic.
“I was pretty certain of his honesty during most of the meeting…but it’s what happened at the end that gives me the confidence of my feelings.”
“The pain?” I asked, turning to meet her eyes. “It looked to me like he was in pain.”
“Precisely!” May grinned. “People in that much pain and fatigue have a harder time lying, and going through the motions of trying to avoid your tail would be extremely trying…unless he was used to doing it all of the time…his standard practice if you will.”
Clearing her throat, she then wrapped up her thoughts.
“In my humble opinion, Mr. McGruder was quite frank with us this morning when he said he could use your help.”
“I’m in,” Abby grinned then, glancing toward Preacher.
Preacher shrugged. “My gut tells me to believe you guys no matter what I believe. Besides, if he did actually alter my records, I owe him anyway.”
Abby and Preacher then turned questioning eyes toward me.
“Gabe?” Abby questioned.
I sat back in my chair to give it a little more thought. From the whole conversation I would have to agree that he was probably being truthful…but what after that?
Were we even able to handle the work he had promised us?
Would we even like it?
I was too old to start doing stuff that I didn’t enjoy…I was doing that now!
Sighing, I leaned forward, ready I supposed to put in my two-cent’s worth.
“I think we should call Snake before we give our answer, but other than that…I’m in.”
“Yessss!” Abby exclaimed. “Handsomely paying jobs here we come!”
I had to grin at her reaction…outwardly at least. Inwardly…I hoped that we weren’t making a mistake…

Chapter 5
November 24, 2000


“Marshrut devushki byla ustanovlena ​​... ona ostavlyayet v techeniye dvukh nedel’,” the pockmarked man uttered as he entered the room. “My mozhem vzyat’ yeye, kogda ona prizemlyayetsya.”
“Rysk gris” (Russian pig) the other person in the room hissed under their breath, icy blue eyes flashing at the Slavic words.
“English! Speak English or nothing at all!”
“As you wish,” the man responded after a brief moment, biting back his preferred reply. “I only mentioned that the girl’s itinerary has been set…and that she leaves in two weeks. It will be an easy thing to grab her once her plane lands, will it not moy Rukovoditel?” (my Leader)
The woman turned from the Russian, glancing out at the barrenness that surrounded her new home.
Her blood pressure rose with just that small glance.
“And what of the other thing?” she asked as she turned to face the man again. “Will it be enough?”
The big Russian shrugged his shoulders, causing a clump of greasy hair for fall across one of his eyes.
“I know not of the response, it is much too early to…how you say…spec-u-late. He does have ties to the girl’s Papa…does he not? It would be unusual if he were not called for such an event.”
The woman nodded absently while she eyed the stupid Russian, wondering if he would push the nasty hair out of his eyes before her senses overwhelmed her and she shot him.
“Keep me apprised Ivan,” she replied instead as she once again turned toward the window. “But you better have your part in this down pat. Failure is not an option…failure can be deadly.”
Ivan licked his lips at the veiled threat while his eyes held on the beauty of her backside.
You will be bent over the desk for me before this is all over Printsessa, he thought to himself, noticing a further reaction below his belt, screaming for Ivan…begging for Ivan…
“Your wish is my command, moy Rukovoditel,” he said aloud then, “We will not fail you.”
Taking another long glance at her ass, Ivan turned on his heel and left the office.
The woman’s lip curled slightly with the sound of the door. She had known that Ivan Primalov had been eyeing her…expecting to be paid an amorous bonus when the job was done…a bonus that would never happen.
Dropping her hand to her belt, she ran her fingers lovingly along the hilt of the small knife she kept there.
She would take great pleasure watching the pig squeal when the time came…

Quote of the day 4-24

I never learned from a man who agreed with me

 

Robert A. Heinlein

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Quote of the day 4-23

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that receives it.

Edith Wharton

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Quote of the day 8-20

I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions

Lou Holtz

Quote of the day 4-22

Imagination is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got.

Philip José Farmer

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Murmansk! Chapters 2 and 3

Every week or so I will be putting up an advance chapter or two of my newest International Thriller...Murmansk! You can of course find the earlier chapters further down the page.The book should be published around July of this year!

**Note this is first draft so be kind to any mistakes I may have (grin)**



Chapter 2
November 24, 2000

As our eyes moved to the sidewalk, they were met by a strange sight.
Leaning on crutches, a small man with round, wire-rimmed glasses stared back at us with a small smile on his lips. Wrapped in a long, dark coat that almost touched the ground, his head was also covered by a dark, brimmed hat.
“I would like to hire you Mr. Celtic,” he proffered suddenly as he started moving toward the porch steps. “At least, I’d like to discuss hiring you, if you have a few moments.”
Still moving toward us, he started up the first step with a small clank. As my eyes were drawn toward the noise, I noticed that he was wearing some sort of leg braces. Glancing at May, she met my questioning glance with a shrug, but her eyes were dancing with excitement.
“Show the gentleman in Gabe,” she grinned before her eyes moved back to the approaching man. “It’s too cold out here to discuss business.”
Nodding, I jumped up and made for the door, opening it and standing aside to allow our guest into the kitchen.
“Please come in,” I smiled as I watched him pass.
“Thank you Mr. Celtic, Mrs. Celtic. I must admit, I’m already chilled to the bone.”
As he cleared the doorway, May moved around me and pulled a chair out at the head of the table.
“Please sit here Mr…?”
“McGruder, Mrs. Celtic,” He grinned as he offered her his hand, “Patrick McGruder.”
“Do you like coffee Mr. McGruder,” May asked while shaking his hand.
“I do indeed, thank you.”
Turning then toward me, he again offered his hand.
“Gabriel Celtic, it is indeed an honor to make your acquaintance. I have heard much of your exploits…particularly that mess in the Vatican last year…spectacular work really, simply spectacular.”
I studied the man’s face suspiciously as I shook his hand. Although I could read nothing in it that would indicate anything but good intentions, I had to wonder how the man could know anything at all about our exploits at the Vatican.
No one knew!
That was a rash generalization of course. The Pope and some of his people knew of course, as well as some highly place bureaucrats in Germany, and probably a few other world leaders as well. But in general…no one really knew what happened except the few people in my inner circle…only my family and friends that had been with me on that deadly day and a few others that had assisted us along the way.
It made me damn suspicious!
Before I could reply to his statement however a knock sounded at the door. Confused at the sudden high traffic so early in the morning I glanced at May, who could only shrug.
“Excuse me a minute Mr. McGruder,” I mumbled distractedly as I released his hand and headed toward the door.
Not even seven o’clock in the morning and it was already like Grand Central Station!
Except for the time, I was not overly surprised at who I found standing on my porch.
Standing a stocky 5’10”, the dark-haired man wore a light blue leisure suit straight out of the 70’s, as well as an eye patch. Holding a mangled yellow cat on his arm, he immediately set it down on the floor before extending his hand to me.
“Preacher,” I greeted my partner, extending my own hand. “What brings you and Dirk out here so early?”
The look on Preacher’s face turned to confusion as he stepped in through the doorway.
Before he could say anything however, we were interrupted by a grumpy-sounding, “Morning.”
All eyes moved toward the living room doorway as a bedraggled Abby moved into the room. It was clear from her demeanor that she was not ready to be here at this hour of the day.
“I’d better make more coffee,” I heard May exclaim before turning and heading for the coffee pot.
Stepping forward, I encircled my arms around my daughter’s shoulders and gave her a squeeze.
“You should have slept in Abby,” I soothed, “We would have taken care of Ya Su.”
Pulling back out of my embrace, she looked at me like I was some unknown ogre.
“You asked me to come down!”
“I did what?” I replied with confusion. “Abby, I’ve been down here since 5:30 this morning, most of that time spent on the porch. I haven’t even been around your bedroom!”
Confusion was spreading around the room like the plague.
Looking frustrated, Abby dug her hand into the pocket of her robe and pulled out her cell phone. Flipping it open, she then spent a few moments punching at the keys before turning the screen towards me.
“Does this ring a bell?”
Taking the phone out of her hand with growing aggravation, I glanced down at the screen:

6:50 AM
From: Gabe
Can you come down to the kitchen?
There’s someone I’d like you to meet!

My eyes felt like they would bug out of my head when I read the message.
I didn’t send this! I mumbled more to myself than anyone.
By this time, Preacher was tapping me on the shoulder with his own cell phone laden hand. Handing his also to me, I eyed his open screen.

6:35 AM
From: Gabe
Can you come over right away?
There’s a guy here that may have some work for us!

My mouth was agape as I moved my eyes to meet Preacher’s. Staring at each other for a few moments, we then both turned toward Abby.
Aggravation had melted away to confusion by the time we all slowly turned our heads toward the visitor.
A small smile beamed at us from across the room before he shrugged shyly.
You?” I accused as I glanced back at the two phones in my hands.
“I haven’t even turned on my cell yet! How the hell could you have sent these messages?”
McGruder shrugged his shoulders once again.
“I am sorry for instigating so much confusion before the sun is even up Mr. Celtic, but you see, I really needed to see all of you. This is after all, an interview of sorts.
Taking up his crutches, he then stood and made his way over to us, his braces clicking as he moved.
“And as a matter of fairness,” he stated as he stopped in front of us, “I realize that in essence, you are also interviewing me. It was with this in mind that I instigated the cloned text messages, in part to show you a little bit of what I would be able to bring to the table.”
“Kewl!” Abby exclaimed suddenly.
Glancing toward her, I noticed the gleam in her eyes at McGruder’s revelation. Ever the techie, what Abby perceived to be a marvel of technology I often found hard to fathom. Although technology had its uses, much of it I perceived as nothing more than an annoyance.
Turning my attention back to our guest, I took a few moments to mull over what he had revealed.
“What exactly is it you do Mr. McGruder?”
Grinning back at me, “It’s hard to put a name on it Mr. Celtic…but I consider myself…a Watcher.

Chapter 3
November 24, 2000

“Humph,”
I turned toward Preacher as he rolled his eye at McGruder’s proclamation.
Laying my hand on his shoulder in understanding, I turned back toward McGruder.
“Maybe we should all sit down and grab some coffee and discuss this further,” I uttered.
“Splendid idea!” McGruder exclaimed as he turned back toward the table.
As the others moved to take their seats, I met May at the coffee pot to help her.
“What do you think?” she asked in a whisper when I was beside her.
I shrugged.
“He has impressive tricks,” I whispered back, “Let’s just see what else he has to say.”
Nodding imperceptively, the bright glow in her eyes as she gazed back at me nevertheless revealed her true feelings.
You will never be bored again if you hang out with this guy!
Shaking my head at her implied thought, I hefted up four cups and headed toward the table.
“You take anything in it Mr. McGruder?”
“Cream and sugar please,” McGruder answered happily. “And please…call me Patrick.”
Grabbing the plastic jug of milk out of the fridge, I set it in front of him as May set down the sugar bowl. Grasping the milk, he poured a generous amount into his cup before adding four spoons of sugar.
Taking my seat between May and Abby, who now held Dirk in her arms, I sipped at my own cup as I watched McGruder enjoy his first taste. Smacking his lips, he then looked up at me with a smile.
“You have questions I see,” he stated matter-of-factly. “May I offer up some…examples of what I can do?”
“That may be a good place to start,” I uttered as I glanced at Abby and then Preacher. “Please continue Mr. McGruder…Patrick.”
“Very good,” McGruder exclaimed. “Shall we start with Preacher here? For instance, I know that until a little over a year ago you were holed up in a bookstore in Phoenix, Arizona…suffering under the Witness Protection program.”
The gun was out in a flash as Preacher stood, knocking his chair over in the process. Holding the barrel inches from the man’s face, Preacher was as angry as I’ve ever seem him.
When Preacher had come to me last year offering his help, he had told us little about his past life. We had taken Preacher at face value, as he had asked, and I had never been sorry.
That McGruder knew he had lived in Phoenix was more than what had been revealed to me however, and apparently the truth was a very sore subject with Preacher.
To McGruder’s credit, the little man didn’t even flinch when the gun came out.
“Who else knows about this?” Preacher growled threateningly.
“No one,” McGruder replied evenly, facing down the angry man. “And if you will lower the weapon, I’ll convey more information that will probably make you feel a little better.”
Preacher stood there for a few moments, anger coursing through him.
“Preacher?” I finally uttered.
Preacher glanced at me. “Let’s hear what the man has to say. If you don’t like what you hear…you have my permission to shoot him then.”
A glint of a smile crossed Preacher’s face then as he nodded and finally holstered the gun under his coat. Turning around, he picked up his chair and took a seat before pointing a meaty finger at me.
“I’m going to hold you to that Gabe!”
McGruder giggled at his reaction.
Worriedly, May placed her hand on my forearm. Covering hers with mine, I then looked back toward McGruder.
“Please continue.”
Not missing a beat, McGruder looked toward Preacher once again.
“In point of fact Preacher, you evacuated your previous city in the nick of time. Your enemies, who shall remain nameless, had indeed discovered your location. Had you not left to come here the day that you had, you may not have been here at all!”
Preacher’s face paled at the news.
“Since then,” McGruder continued, “I have overhauled your records. Should anyone ever get close enough again to peruse your file, they will find that you and your Road Runner had met an early demise in a traffic accident in San Francisco.”
“But the Road Runner was wrecked here!” Abby interjected. “Won’t they be able to trace it back?”
McGruder turned to Abby with a smile. “It was a simple thing to change that record as well. The car has been destroyed for scrap. The record I created is now the only record of it at all.”
“Prove it too me!”
Preacher’s sudden outburst surprised even me, but it didn’t seem to even faze McGruder. Waving Preacher closer, he whispered something in his ear that caused Preacher to rear back in surprise.
“Son of a bitch!” he whispered.
“Preacher?” I questioned, unnerved at his shock.
Preacher turned toward me, but stared blankly for a few moments.
“He knows my real name,” he finally mumbled in explanation, still stunned.
“What about me?” Abby exclaimed then, setting Dirk down on the floor. “What can you tell me about me?”
McGruder turned in his seat with a smile.
“Gabriella Tran…but you go by Abby. Born and raised in Vietnam. Daughter of one Anh Ly, stepdaughter of a man named Kym Tran, who joined your pregnant mother in an arranged marriage, adopting you after you were born.”
“Anh Ly passed in 1997, revealing that your true father, Gabriel Celtic was indeed alive and living in Indiana in the U.S. When you arrived to seek him out, you found that he had moved to Lima for an extended stay at an archeological dig. You stayed here, making a new life for yourself as you waited to hear anything about him. When you found out he would be returning, you secretly flew to Lima Peru and met him there. He was, however, unaware of your true relationship to him at the time.”
“Damn!” Abby exclaimed, sitting back in her seat.
“You really do know things!”
“I deal in information my dear, I even know of the exploits of your fine feline Dirk,” he continued as his eyes sought out the cat now lounging in the middle of the floor. “Initially possessed along with his owner Sonja Nelson, you converted him to your side…along with your friend Snake Black I might add,” McGruder continued before turning back toward me.
“Please don’t think me too brash for delving into all of your lives, I usually only take what I need to accomplish the job at hand. Today, I needed to impress all of you a little, as well as show you part of what I do…and part of what you would be involved in should you accept my invitation.”
I had been knocked back psychologically by everything he had revealed so far, and was still far from recovered when I continued the conversation.
“Call me dense Patrick, but I cannot fathom how we would be able to help you. Besides Abby, none of us are really computer literate, although I can see her jumping into what you do with a passion.”
Patrick McGruder folded his hands in front of him, seeming to collect himself.
“What I do can’t be easily classified Gabriel. As I mentioned before, I consider myself a Watcher, but that is a title that I have created for myself that seems to fit the overall flexibility of my chosen profession.”
Sitting forward determinedly, he continued.
“In essence, I do many things for many people. Some things happen because I instigate them; some things are instigated by others. Those I try to fix. You see, there are very few people that know or can even comprehend that someone like me is out there. Because of this, I watch what is going on in the world and try to help where I can by offering my services.”
“And people pay you for this?” Preacher asked, leaning over the table with intense interest. “Do you like…give them a quote or what?”
McGruder reared back in laughter, enjoying the interaction immensely.
“Sometimes yes, sometimes no,” he finally uttered between breaths. Those with money will oftentimes pay handsomely for my services…and will do so gladly. But I also help those with little or nothing, for which I charge nothing.”
“So, you would want us to work for free sometimes?” Abby questioned then, always the practical one in the family when it came to money.”
McGruder grinned as he faced her. “Absolutely not my dear, should I offer you a project; you will be paid handsomely for it!”
Abby grinned at the prospect, but I was still perplexed.
“Again, sorry for being dense Patrick…but why would you ever need us? It sounds like you have everything well in hand.”
Patrick grew serious as he turned toward me once again, a sadness seeming to envelop his being.
“As you can see Mr. Celtic, I deal with certain physical limitations on a daily basis. There are times…many times actually when I need trusted operatives in the field. One of the biggest quandaries I face in my work is finding operatives that I can trust. There are any number of men and women out there that can do the work, and there are any number of men and women out there that I can trust…but finding both in someone is rare.”
Reaching for his cup, McGruder sipped some of his coffee before he continued.
“You see Mr. Celtic; I have been watching you and your group for quite some time, since before your clash with the Wolf last year. To put it bluntly…you are good people.”
“Good people that also have the requisite skills and disposition to carry out my projects the way I would like to see them carried out. I only waited this long to present myself because I recognized that you all needed a break after your last case…time to heal…and time to build a family. Similarly, I excluded any alerts to Mr. Black, since he hasn’t been working with you much lately, although I also consider him a valuable asset should you choose to bring him in on this.”
His eyes grew in intensity as he finished his thought.
“I am trying to do good in this world Mr. Celtic. And that is not always the easiest thing to accomplish…especially when you don’t or can’t trust the people that are working for you!”
With that, Patrick McGruder stood, placing the crutches under his arms with a practiced motion. A look of pain and fatigue crossed his face as he rose, giving me an insight to another side of Patrick McGruder. I hadn’t given a thought to how much his disability might pain him until that moment, how much he actually had to fight to keep doing what he was doing.
“I have given you folks much to digest I’m afraid. I should go and let you discuss the proposal.”
“But we still don’t know what it is you would want us to do,” I exclaimed.
A small smile crossed McGruder’s face again. “You would always have a say whether you accepted any project Mr. Celtic. Suffice it to say that they are of such a varied assortment that it would be hard to put into words.”
Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a cell phone and tossed it to me across the table. Snatching it from the air, I looked at it with confusion.
“Untraceable and secure cell Mr. Celtic,” He continued in a strained voice as his pain apparently ramped up. “When you are ready to speak again, I am on speed dial one.”
Turning slowly, McGruder started for the door as May got up to help him out.
“I have one prerequisite before we even start to consider your offer Patrick,” I called after him.
Turning, he looked at me thoughtfully, pain now etched plainly on his face.
“Call me Gabe…Mr. Celtic was my dad.”
Smiling a smile that transmitted both humor and pain, McGruder nodded before turning back toward the door.
“As you wish Gabriel, as you wish.”

Copyright 2015, J.T. Lewis

Quote of the day 4-20

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.

Edward Abbey

Friday, April 17, 2015

Chapters From The New Gabriel Celtic International Thriller ~ Murmansk!

I will be putting a chapter or two up every week of my newest book, Murmansk. It will appear both here and on Wattpad. I hope you will like and get into the story as it progresses.

Please note and keep in mind that these pages are from the first draft, and as such will not be as finely tuned as the final document.

Enjoy!



Murmansk

Prologue
December 10, 2000
Murmansk, Russia

Abby slid the tray slightly on her shoulder to help the balance as she weaved her way through the tables.
Setting the tray down at a booth with four leering men, she distributed glasses of Vodka to them while surreptitiously eyeing the front entrance.
“Hey!” she shouted, suddenly jumping away from the table.
“Xpahnte Grubby pkyn moeň ass!” (Keep your grubby hands off my ass!)
The Russian men around the booth burst out in riotous laughter as they threw their money on the tray.
Grabbing up the tray, Abby pocketed the bills and made her way to the bar to pick up the next order. As she waited for Gregor to fill the tray again, she blew her bangs out of her face nervously as she once again furtively glanced toward the door.
Where the hell are you, Gabe? She mumbled to herself worriedly.

***.
Outside of the bar, a man in the back of a nondescript car lowered his sniper rifle. He could have easily pulled the trigger when the American girl was serving her last table; even though his shot would have probably been ruined when she jumped back…one of the old perverts had grabbed her from behind!
The man smiled despite the delay in completing his mission.
“Soon little printsessa, soon. We will soon see if your man comes through with his end of da bargain.”

The Arctic

I shoved the hand full of gauze pads against Preacher’ shoulder and applied pressure.
“Hold on buddy, it went through and through, we just need to get the bleeding stopped.”
Preacher’s pain was evident in the film of sweat on his forehead, his breathing short and shallow. Wrapping his shoulder tightly with tape, I was relieved when I saw that it had seemed to slow the flow.
Covering him with several blankets, I went to check on the heating unit. I could see by the condensation showing at the bottom of the tank that we were about to run out of propane.
Dammit I whispered, angry at getting my friend into this…Angry at getting myself into this!
Slipping into the heavy parka, I pulled the hood over my head and walked out of the shack and onto the barren plateau. Distractedly, I realized that it was close to the first day of winter…the shortest day of the year.
But there had probably been no sun here today…we were already in the depths of arctic winter.
Pulling the satellite phone out of the parka’s pocket, I powered it up and waited for it to find a satellite. I had discovered a speed dial number on a note taped to the phone when I woke up, and I was waiting to try it when I heard the beep.
Looking down at the device, it told me that there was a picture message coming in. Clicking on the icon, the screen filled with the image of Abby, looking back over her shoulder toward the camera. It would appear that she was acting as a server at some establishment, but that wasn’t the worst part of the picture.
The picture had been taken through what appeared to be the scope of a rifle…the crosshairs converging on her heart!
Punching the speed dial, I waited anxiously for someone to pick up, holding the phone to my ear, I could barely hear the ring tone over the biting wind beating at my face.
“Da?” the voice finally answered smugly.
I waited a few seconds before I said anything, exerting I suppose the last vestiges of my failing rebellion.
“Ok,” I finally said into the phone, “You have my attention.”

Chapter 1
November 24, 2000

I pulled the coat around me a little tighter when I saw my breath form a cold fog in front of me.
It was 6:30 in the morning and I was enjoying the dark silence of the street as I sipped on my third cup of coffee. Most of the Black Friday crowd had already left for the day, and those of us that didn’t brave the malls were letting the day unfold before us at a slower pace.
My mind wandered to the day before with a smile. It had been the first Thanksgiving with May and I together as man and wife.
It was also my first Thanksgiving as a grandfather!
Although I was still not used to that term applying to me, I was getting a little more comfortable with it.
I grinned despite my overt reluctance.
Raven May Celtic had come into this world in June, and had basically been running the household since then!
The spitting image of Abby, Ya Su* was a bundle of joy and determination. Already crawling, the purposeful set of her exotic eyes when she was concentrating on a task never ceased to bring a smile to my face.
(* We called her Ya Su at that time to avoid the confusion of calling her Raven or May. It is a Hoosier-ized attempt to simplify the Vietnamese Nhô Xíu, which essentially means tiny girl.)
Moving in the chair again to get comfortable, I uncrossed and re-crossed my legs, looking for a spot that eluded me.
I sighed with frustration before taking another sip of the coffee. I knew it wasn’t the chair that was bothering me.
Although I had never been happier with my life on a personal level, I was still antsy.
Our last big case had been over a year ago now!
We had kept ourselves busy of course, and those first few months had been filled with healing from our injuries from that case anyway. Once we had recovered however, we started taking on a veritable treasure trove of smaller cases. But working as a bounty hunter or catching cheating husbands was not what I would consider remotely challenging.
Not after helping to save the world!
I had to smile at my mental proclamation. It had indeed been a heady time then, and an accomplishment that I had thought would hold me for the rest of my life.
I had been wrong.
I sighed as I took another sip, hearing the door rattle beside me.
I looked up and smiled at my oldest friend as she shut the door behind her. Carrying a blanket and a cup of coffee, she handed me the cup before sitting beside me on the glider and covering our legs with the blanket.
“Brrr,” she shivered as she took back her cup and tipped it to her lips. Taking a swallow, she then leaned over to give me a kiss.
“Good morning,” she smiled as our eyes gazed into each other’s.
“Good morning yourself,” I replied. “How did you sleep?”
She smiled as she took another sip of her coffee. “Pretty well…mostly. I got up with Ya Su around 4:00. Abby had already been up with her twice…I’d forgotten how annoying teething could be.”
I smiled back. May, my bride of less than a year had two grandkids of her own, but they all lived far away and she didn’t get to see them often. Although my daughter Abby and she were not related by blood, they had grown together as friends as well as mother and daughter long ago.
Abby’s mother had died years ago in Vietnam. Not knowing anything about me until her mother’s deathbed confession, Abby had then moved to the states to seek me out.
I hadn’t known of her existence before that time, but found her to be a natural addition to my life.
It had been a wild ride ever since…and I wouldn’t have changed a thing!
“I may need a nap later,” May continued with a grin. “I’m not as young as I used to be.”
“Maybe I’ll join you,” I grinned with a wink. May giggled and pulled me to her as she kissed my cheek and whispered, “Again?”
We both then fell into a comfortable silence…sipping our coffee and watching the quiet street as the day started making itself known in the east.
My mind had inevitably wandered back to my dilemma when May again spoke in a near whisper.
We need to get you a job.
It took a few seconds for her words to fully hit me, but when they did I quickly sat up and turned toward her.
“I have a job May,” I smiled as I took her hand in mine, “As well as a whole household of family that I love dearly. I’ve also acquired just enough good friends, ones that coincidentally I can work with and depend on with my life. I’ve never been blessed with so much goodness at one time…ever!”
Folding her hand over mine, she gazed into my eyes lovingly.
“I’m blessed also, but we both know something is missing…don’t we?”
I had been trying to hide my feelings from her on this matter for months, and the fact that she already knew what I had been thinking made me a little sad. I certainly didn’t want her to think that she wasn’t enough for me!
“I’m sorry,” I started, “I hope you know this is no reflection on you, May. Finding each other again after all of these years is one of the best things to have ever happened to me.”
Nodding, she then laid her hand on my cheek. “Me too Gabe, but you have always had the need to be working on some kind of mystery or adventure. Even when you were a boy I often wondered how any woman could ever corral your heart if there was another adventure around the corner.”
Leaning toward me, she kissed me gently. Holding herself inches from me, she smiled a smile that infused my soul.
“I am that woman now Gabriel Celtic; and I feel no threat from any mystery that you throw yourself into. It is a part of your makeup, part of your persona that can not be denied…even by you!”
Deep in my heart I knew that she was telling the truth as she saw it. I smiled inwardly as I also thought of her part in our last big case. Both her and Raven, another friend and love from long ago had both risked their lives as we faced off the enemy at the Vatican.
I had witnessed bravery that day from those two that I could never have imagined possible.
Leaning back into her seat, May took a few moments to sip some more of the warm coffee.
“True as that is May, there is nothing out there!”
Frustrated, I turned forward in my chair again, leaning back into it with a sigh. My eyes flicked momentarily to movement out on the street. A dark car was parking in front of the neighbor’s house…probably picking someone up for a trip to the mall.
“It’s the weirdest thing, but there hasn’t even been a single murder in this part of the state all year!” I continued. “Not that I’m complaining about that mind you, but it’s indicative of the lack of anything interesting going on!”
Turning toward her again, “Maybe I’m just too old for this crap anyway. Maybe everyone thinks I’m washed up…or that I think I’m too good to work the measly crimes anymore.”
May grinned at me with tender eyes. “Something will turn up, it always has and it always will.”
“Yeah well,” I grumbled, “Patience hasn’t always been my strong suit.”
At that moment, a voice from the sidewalk suddenly interrupted our conversation.
“I may be able to help with that.”

Copyright 2015 J.T. Lewis