First blog post

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Checkout Line Rants

There you stand: you have two items in your hands. The express lane is closed and there are three people ahead of you. None of them have a full, wheeled basket, so maybe this won’t take too long but here’s what happens.

The first in line, a sweet-looking little old lady (SLOL) is standing there with her purse resting on the counter. Her hands are clasped on top of the purse and she has a neighborly smile.

“That’s a total of thirty-three, sixty-four,” the cashier says.

“How much?” SLOL says. “Thirty-three, sixty-four,” the cashier says again.

After digging in her briefcase-size purse, she looks up with a smile.

“Oh, let me see. I have two twenties here,” SLOL says.

She hands the cashier the two twenties and, before the cashier can ring up the sale, stops the action.

“I think I have the correct change, please wait.”

The cashier stands with the two twenties in her hand, waiting. So is everyone else in the line.

The SLOL now opens her little pink change purse and starts digging, looking for change.

“Oh, I guess I don’t have the correct change. All I have is three quarters. If I give them to you can you apply that against… what did you say it was? Sixty-four cents?

” “Yes, M’am. I can do that,” the cashier says.

The cashier hands the SLOL $7.11 and waits while the woman turns the bills so that they are all facing the same way and reopens her already-closed coin purse to deposit the eleven cents.

Meanwhile, I’m standing there with a cold half-gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. One hand is getting cold and I’m trying not to crush the bread—waiting for the next patron to check out.

The cashier, aided by modern technology, swipes two six-packs of beer for the man. He stands, waiting for his total.

“Eleven, eighty-eight,” the cashier says.

The man pulls his wallet from the rear pocket of his jeans and hands the cashier a hundred-dollar bill.

She stares, at first, seeming confused then finds a special pen to drag across the face of the greenback. After it doesn’t show up as counterfeit, she hands him his change.

He’s been holding his wallet open, waiting for his change. The cashier hands him his $88.12 by placing the cash on his open palm and the receipt and coins on top.

He has to put the billfold down; separate the receipt from the change and put the coins in a pocket. He then throws the paper back on the counter and puts the cash in his billfold. Finally, he grabs his Bud and leaves.

The woman in front of me has been reading one of those supermarket tabloids. The lead story was, “Has the Ghost of Princess Di Been Captured by Space Aliens?” The woman’s cart was half-full. When the cashier has tallied all the items, she announces what shows clearly on the computer screen.

“The total is $114.56, M’am,” the cashier says. The customer turns back and puts the tabloid back in the rack. “How much?” the customer says? The cashier repeats the total.

The customer then opens her purse and begins a search. After my left hand, holding the milk, is almost frostbitten, she finds a checkbook. The process of writing a check is, of course, long and arduous. Once she hands the check to the cashier for processing, she begins the subtraction from her check log.

By this time, three other customers have lined up behind me. There are a couple of not-so-nice comments filtering through the tense air.

“Didn’t she know how she was going to pay before she even got in line?”

“Is she having trouble spelling the grocery store’s name?”

I gratefully shift the cold—or now maybe not-so-cold—milk to the counter and slide my bank card.

“Debit or credit,” the cashier says.

“Debit.” I say.

Transaction complete.

By the time I get my purchases and head for the car, the severe weather that caused me to shop for the classic essentials has arrived. I’m drenched by the time I get to the car.

Shopping is an adventure.

A New Publication

Until recently, all my published work, except for individual poems in literary magazines and the chapbook of Vietnam poetry, had been prose fiction.  That has changed.

In May of 2018, I published a book of Christian-themed essays called Meditations of A Layman. The book is available on Amazon in paperback and digital (Kindle) formats.  There are currently no plans for an audiobook.

Following is one of the short essays from the book.  It comes directly from a personal experience with an old friend.

_____________________

All That Christians Need

A friend, Ralph C. Hammond—who passed away in December of 2010 at age 94—once told me, referring to the 14th Chapter of John, “…if that’s all I had of The Bible, it would be all that I need.” Ralph had a storied life as a WWII war correspondent; a press secretary for Alabama’s governor, and president of the Alabama Writer’s Conclave as well as the State Poetry Society—then Poet Laureate of Alabama—to name a few of his literary achievements.

He singled out this chapter as enough for his faith, if nothing else was available.

Looking at the chapter, the reader is immediately struck by the wonderful, comforting words:

“Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in Me.”

In Chapter 13, John reported that Jesus had washed his disciples’ feet, teaching them about humility. He was also preparing them for His coming crucifixion and giving them a new commandment: that they love one another. Much had been happening in a short period of time and the disciples were confused. They’d heard Jesus say that one of them would betray him, they’d seen their Master acting as a servant and Judas Iscariot had left. Jesus had also said that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed in the morning.

Now was the moment when Jesus comforted them and showed them the way to The Father. He told them that he was going to The Father and prepare the way for them to join him. He told them, “And whither I go, ye know the way.”

Yes they did. They knew Him. I can imagine a loving smile on his face when Thomas spoke.

“Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; how know we the way?”
The Lord then used Thomas’ question to teach them even more.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

When another disciple, Philip, asks to be shown The Father, Jesus’ words are again loving, and mildly reproving.

“Jesus saith unto him, ‘Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father?’ Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.”

Look closely, Jesus has now definitively identified himself as one with God The Father. None of the other three (synoptic) Gospels report this declaration. In fact, Biblical scholars estimate that ninety percent of John’s Gospel is unique.
Consider the opening words of John’s Gospel, some texts call it a prologue:

“1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2.The same was in the beginning with God.
3.All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4.In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5.And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

And then:
14.And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Lets go back about seven hundred years, to the prophesy of Isaiah:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

In John, Chapter 14, Jesus promises the Wonderful Counsellor, in Verse 16 and again in 26:
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

Now, in the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, we see the Wonderful Counsellor (the Holy Spirit) and the Everlasting Father present in the person of Jesus.

The next verse in John, number 27, completes the Trinity.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Jesus was and is the Prince of Peace.

In many ways my friend Ralph was right. All that Christians require is expressed in Chapter 14 of the Gospel of John: the Way to salvation through Him; the Holy Spirit for our comfort; Jesus for our savior and source of Peace in our lives.

 

Thoughts for Good Friday

The Darkest Sabbath

 

The four Gospels tell the story of Christ’s betrayal, mock trial and crucifixion, with few variations. All of these events took place on Friday, the day before the Jewish Sabbath. The Romans who crucified Jesus went about breaking the legs of those who had been crucified to assure their deaths before the beginning of the Sabbath, which commences—by Jewish tradition— a few minutes before sundown on Friday and lasts until three stars are visible in the Saturday night sky.

The bible does not directly tell us what happened to the people who survived, who were closest to Jesus, on the Sabbath immediately following his crucifixion and burial. We can only speculate. Based on what we do know about several of Christ’s closest followers, we can imagine how the night and day following the death of Jesus affected them.

John

In the Gospel of John, the Apostle often refers to himself as the “…disciple whom Jesus loved.” Not only was he one of the twelve, he was, along with his brother James, and Simon Peter, a member of those closest to Jesus and, more—considered himself as the Lord’s best friend. Recall that those three were selected to be with Christ during the transfiguration.

As darkness covered Israel the night after Jesus was crucified, John had Mary, Jesus’ mother, in his house. He had, at the foot of the cross, been charged with acting as Mary’s son. Possibly she was the one who lighted the candles for the Shabbat. John could hardly forget how, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had asked that he, James and Peter stay awake with him as he was in agonizing prayer before the crucifixion, but they could not. He, along with most of the Disciples ran away at the approach of the chief priests and temple guard. Remorse over his failure must have deepened his grief. Did he sleep at all during that during that dark Sabbath?

Peter

The fiery, impetuous leader—the disciple who became The Rock—must have had a much worse night and day, following the death of Jesus. Not only had he failed his Lord in Gethsemane, he had openly denied knowing Him three times before the rooster crowed. Peter was a strong-willed, proud man. He was the only one of Jesus’ followers who offered physical resistance when the Jewish leaders and guard came to arrest Christ. Recall, he drew his sword and cut off the right ear of one of the High Priests’ servants. Of course, Jesus rebuked Peter and replaced the man’s ear. I recall a preacher from my youth who speculated that the man whose ear had been severed and healed, “…probably went home.”

Did Peter sleep that Friday night? Could he truly rest during the following Sabbath day?

Mary Magdalene

The woman whose name is, after the mother of Jesus, most prominently mentioned in the Gospels, was faithful to her Lord throughout the Passion. She and Jesus’ mother did not leave the awful scene on Golgotha. They were there until the final moments and didn’t desert Him as his body was laid in the tomb. The women probably watched the mighty stone rolled in place to seal the entrance. Despair and pain must’ve filled her in the night and the following day.

We may speculate that she spent that night and the following Sabbath in the house with Jesus’ mother. This is because the scriptures describe them as being at the tomb together on the third morning.

Mary Magdalene, the woman who had been possessed by demons before Christ healed her, was faithful to Him through the hour of His death.

Did she sleep past tears and mourning during those awful hours following Jesus’ death?

Mary, Mother of Jesus

God chose Mary to bring Jesus into this world. Although the Gospel of Luke describes her as “…troubled…” when Gabriel told her of her mission, the sense of deep fear isn’t in the story. Remember, Luke was not one of the Apostles. His recounting of the Annunciation could have only come from interviewing Mary.

With no scripture that speaks of the desolate day following Christ’s crucifixion, it is possible to consider that the woman who was Jesus’ mother had a deep faith that her son’s death was not final.

She must’ve mourned and felt bereft of her reason for living and the treasure God had given her. Did she, could she, sleep?

Summation

Could any of these, who were closest to Jesus, find rest until they knew He was resurrected? Certainly, there was no peace in their hearts until they had seen Christ again, much as there is no true peace in our hearts until we have seen Him.

Memorial For Vietnam War Anniversary

The Wall was a controversial memorial from the beginning, but is a moving, appropriate monument for those who did not come home from Vietnam. The silent power of that black granite with all those names is something one never forgets.

This is a link to an article about the Wall. It explains why the refrain, “Soldiers should not make their own monuments” appears throughout the following piece.

https://www.history.com/news/6-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-vietnam-veterans-memorial
                                                                 

THE WALL

For all Vietnam Veterans

 

I. Roll Call

Arrayed in perfect ranks and files,
row on row,
gleaming metal and polished black,
sharp straight edges cutting the wind,
they stand
in static silent formation.
Only their nameplates speak…
a voiceless babble of American families,
no other speaks, or spoke, for them.

Soldiers should not make their own monuments.

Away from this place of silence,
this place of unheard voices,
(where a limp flower hangs,
pushed into a crevice of the black stone),
the nation erected proper monuments of heroism:
sinewy white marble demigods with laurels;
or helmeted bronze men, thrusting a flagpole upright.

These recall brass band parades,
bright red roses, gleefully flung into city streets
beneath gleaming, triumphant boots;
V-Day kisses, tears of victory, of joy;
these, …in memoriam…in appreciation… are proper.

These tell sufficient truth.

Soldiers should not make their own monuments.

II. Personnel Files

Teachers filled their childish ears
with the rattle of musketry,
— Valley Forge, San Juan Hill,
and, yes, Antietam, Gettysburg, Atlanta,
they believed.
Believed nostalgic fathers, wistful uncles;
— grand visions of Over the top… over there,
Pearl Harbor infamy:
steaming Sands of Iwo Jima –
Okinawa’s steel typhoon;
—Inchon landings and The Bridges at Toko-Ri.
Victory, heroism, glory.
“Glory, glory, hallelujah…” they believed
in “Duty, honor, country,”
with the Faith of Our Fathers,

and on silver Paths of Glory,
blazed into thousands of sunsets;
-on insubstantial contrails,
Blowing in the Wind evaporating in the heat,
leaving no track home.

 

III. Separation

Believing, they went…
then losing belief,
fought
– or, just endured
and changed.
Some died, most returned;

many to the silent muster of this wall;
more to await honors
from fathers who could not hear,
and children who would not listen;
making their own hollow parades in shabby fatigues,
down almost-empty streets.

These have made their own monument,
a prostrate memorial in black stone.

Soldiers should not make their own monuments

 

 

 

Thomas Rowe Drinkard
From Finding The Way Home

 

 

New Version of Older Story

In a recent posting, I described the upcoming publication of a rewritten book.  The book, now published on Amazon, is called Murder And The Preacher.

The book Where There Were No Innocents, though written later, is the prequel to the new publication. It tells, through a war and love story, how Mack Brinson came to be where he was when the action starts.

Following is a brief synopsis of the new book.  You can read the first few pages and see the beautiful cover, designed by Patti Roberts, on the Amazon page:

Synopsis:

Mack Brinson is a retired Army officer, living on the North Shore of Lake Ponchartrain. He lost his wife, Song, to cancer three years ago. [Note: the book Where There Were No Innocents is a prequel and describes Mack and Song’s meeting and falling in love] .

He’s now living with Song’s mother, Huong, and their Bull Terrier, Alex. He’s working as an independent entrepreneur, brokering estate jewelry sales.

Neither he nor Huong, have quite recovered from the loss of Song. He immerses himself in his work and frequently mourns, on long walks, with only Alex as a companion.

Huong has become fascinated by the “faith healers” she sees on TV, coming from the New Orleans area. She is enamored by one in particular, a sleazy preacher named Ansel Schoomer. She has been sending his “ministry” money, in increasing amounts. The situation has become so critical that Brinson has decided to take action. When he calls on the phoe , he’s rebuffed. When he makes an ill-advised, but humorous, visit–he’s physically threatened.

Brinson makes a recon trip to Mobile, AL, hoping to catch Shoomer in a scandalous situation, but barely escapes detection and probable death.

Mack’s life begins to change when, on his way back from Mobile, he meets a woman who begins to tear down the emotional walls he’s built around his heart.

Threatening Mack Brinson, however, only makes him more determined. After a late-night shootout on the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway Bridge, he calls in his old war buddies to retaliate.

Then, Huong is kidnapped.

Brinson’s true target is not, however, Schoomer. The true, evil, mastermind of the preacher’s organization is a shadowy entity who has links to Brinson and his friends, going all the way back in time, to Vietnam.

There are a number of other action scenes and a strong love story. The climactic scene at the end has some characteristics that have caused a few readers to disbelieve. First, those people don’t understand the almost unbelievable toughness and determination of a Bull Terrier.

They also underestimate the same qualities in some men.

 

New Version of My First Book

I’ll keep it short. As frequently happens with first time authors, I made a mistake in my choice of publisher. The company went broke and sold all the books to another publisher.
Unfortunately the second publisher was one I could not work with. Also, they never paid me a dime, on books I know sold. After several emails, the company gave me back my book, last year.
When I read the book I realized that the man who started the novel, about ten years ago, wasn’t the same man who would write it now.
I have rewritten, to the extent possible, the book. It was originally called “Piety And Murder.” The new book is Murder And The Preacher. The revised version is a few pages shorter and has a number of typos corrected.
Here’s the synopsis:
Mack Brinson is a retired Special Forces officer, living on the North Shore of Lake Ponchartrain. He lost his wife, Song, to cancer three years ago. [Note: the book Where There Were No Innocents is a prequel and describes Mack and Song’s meeting and falling in love] .

He’s now living with Song’s mother, Huong, and their Bull Terrier, Alex. He’s working as an independent entrepreneur, brokering estate jewelry sales.

Neither he nor Huong, have quite recovered from the loss of Song. He immerses himself in his work and frequently mourns on long walks with only his Bull Terrier as a companion.

Huong has become fascinated by the “faith healers” she sees on TV, coming from the New Orleans area. She is enamored by one in particular, a slimy preacher named Ansel Schoomer. She has been sending his “ministry” money in increasing amounts. The situation has become so critical that Brinson has decided to take action. When he calls, he’s rebuffed. When he makes an ill-advised, but humorous, visit–he’s physically threatened.

Brinson makes a recon trip to Mobile, AL, hoping to catch Shoomer in a scandalous situation, but barely escapes detection and probable death.

Mack’s life begins to change when, on his way back from Mobile, he meets a woman who begins to tear down the emotional walls he’s built around his heart.

Threatening Mack Brinson, however, only makes him more determined. After a late-night shootout on the Lake Ponchartrain Bridge, he calls in his old war buddies to retaliate.

Then, Huong is kidnapped.

Brinson’s true target is not, however, Schoomer. The true, evil, mastermind of the preacher’s organization is a shadowy entity who has unsuspected links to Brinson and his friends, going back to Vietnam.

There are a number of other action scenes and a strong love story. The climactic scene at the end has some characteristics that have caused a few readers to disbelieve. First, those people don’t understand the almost unbelievable toughness and determination of a Bull Terrier.

They also underestimate the same qualities in some men.

Audiobook Ready

Good news! The audiobook version, expertly narrated by Carl Moore, is now available on Audible.com and will soon be available on iTunes and Amazon.

Go to the following link to listen to a sample from Chapter 2. I think you’ll like it.

https://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Swift-Co-Audiobook/B0777T4VTX/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srImg?qid=1510418983&sr=1-2

I will have five (5) freebie codes available in about a week. These will be given (no strings at all) to the first five people who request them–starting at noon (CST) on 11/11/2017. To request, send an email to author999@gmx.com – Subject: Audiobook.

I’ll be looking forward to your message and your reactions.

Tom

Veterans Day, 2017

I may have posted this poem before. I may post it again next year. It’s based on an actual encounter with a WWI survivor, in a VA hospital. After meeting him the event stuck in my mind until I finally wrote the following:
____________________________________________

OLD SOLDIERS

Old soldiers from all our modern wars
crowd into the same slice of time,
-in Veteran’s Hospitals,
waiting together,
mutely bonded by losses,
-empty spaces that surround
and define us.

Sitting on an uncomfortable island of vinyl
awash in a surf-rolling susurrus of voices,
cocooned inside my silence,
untouched by misery and despair
swirling in the crowded air like cigarette smoke,
stinging exposed nerves.

I felt the touch of ancient eyes
-looked back;
like a man afraid to look in a mirror
after long, dark nightmares.

How big a man he was, I’ll never know.
He stared out at me from the hillock
his loose white shirt and brown suit made,
stuffed into the seat of a wheelchair,
blue eyes flickering about the ward
like a sparrow watching from a nest of rags.

The woman stood behind him,
thin arms circling the chair,
holding his shoulders
as if he might roll away
-again.

He wanted to talk.
Asked which war was mine,
and, without an answer,
told me I would never know real war.

The kind he knew in the Meuse-Argonne,
where artillery stormed
through nights when rain was steel.

The earth, ploughed,
and sown with exploded metal
-sterile, unstable-
a treacherous place for man to walk.

They sprinted along trenches
splashing through partly-frozen mud,
and huddled in bunkers,
-fear of crashing shells almost lost
until the silence;
when the big guns stopped.

Ears groped through underground darkness
stretching to know
when slow, soft mortar plops
signaled sliding yellow death
feeling its way over broken ground,
finding edges of the earth where men hid.

Mustard gas, like a living predator,
seemed to find them by sensing their fear
and clawed bare skin,
prying at protecting seals of rubber masks.

I listened,
held by more than soldier’s courtesy,
due an older warrior.

His images of war,
the Great War,
-pinched in my vision,
superimposed over silent, jerky, black-and-white films
whose soldiers in wool uniforms,
puttees and greatcoats
look vaguely ridiculous;
always smiling, waving to the camera,
holding long, bolt-action rifles.

What did he see,
when TV specials showed his war?

Did the gait of those old films move
with smooth, strong strides of young heroes?
How did that mirror,
those old moving pictures, reflect the man
now shrunken inside a pile of old clothes?

As he held me with his stories,
I was seeing pictures of my war;
old nightly news clips from Vietnam,
-live firefights,
color TV with sound,
projected against the back of my brain.

Though these mirrors,
-constant reflections stuck in time,
now begin to look archaic,
looking into them, I find myself again
chilled with the immediate fear
that swirled in battle like morning fog
and coalesced into rage,
forging a weapon
more lethal than simple tools of killing.

But at war’s end, survivors return,
with eyes of old soldiers,
-to insults or parades.

Apparitions that were young warriors
burned in mind’s retina
like lingering persistence of vision;
-portraits stamped on the face of a mirror,
forever the age of those whose names
old veterans read in monument stone.

Like fragments from a looking glass,
slowly shattered by the warp of changing seasons,
these broken pieces of a dead war’s face,
-unfashionable images,
-shards of incomplete reality,
reflect all that my sons will know,
looking back on a father’s war.

Free Kindle Book

From August 29, through September 2, 2017, the first novella of the American soldier/vampire series, V-Trooper – First Mission will be free:

What if a commander in Afghanistan had a soldier who was also a vampire?  He could take advantage of the man’s abilities to terrorize the terrrorists.

Come along for the action!

The following is a sample.

Prologue
Mustafa Muhammad was cold. Night in the mountains near Bamiyan, Afghanistan, chilled the Taliban warrior. His robes were not enough to block mountain winds that slithered as he squatted, watching the trails that led to his master’s encampment at the top of the hill.
No enemy will come, not even the infidel’s Special Forces, but the Sheikh would have my head removed if I left this post. Eight of us guard the Sheikh’s tent. If I have to piss, I can only go three meters away to a tin bucket, and I have to smell it until my relief comes at four in the morning. Then I have to take away the bucket, empty it, and bring it back for the next man.
My sergeant is sleeping in a comfortable bag inside a big, warm tent while I freeze.
A sound, like great wings above him, made Mustafa look to the stars and lift the barrel of his AK-47.
Nothing.
Then he was there, coming up the hill. A slim man in a black uniform, an American. He approached Mustafa without speaking. In the bare light of the sickle moon, the man seemed to smile. Before the Taliban guard could bring his weapon around, the stranger had grabbed the gun barrel. He was smiling, though there was a strange look to his mouth.
The intruder wore curved sunglasses and pulled them aside as he came ever closer. The eyes were red and glowed as fiery as the burning coals they mimicked. Mustafa released his grip on the weapon and turned to run. He opened his mouth to yell an alarm, but a hand as cold and hard as a knife’s blade covered his mouth and spun him around, drawing him against a body hard as dragon’s scales. The mouth the Taliban soldier thought was eerie, opened. Fangs, like those of a viper, glittered in the moonlight.

The only sound at the guard post was a slight drumming as the dead guard’s feet trembled in the dirt.

1
It started with a routine complaint from an Afghan farmer, and then changed.
“Sir, there’s a local man who says that someone from my company has been stealing his sheep. One of my troops says he knows who did it.”
The baby-faced captain had come to Major Vic Russell, reporting a problem that could adversely affect the unit’s relations with the local community. Russell was the commander of the 3rd Battalion of the 54th Sustainment Brigade. His unit was a bullets and beans command, providing supplies for combat forces. The unit was headquartered near Kabul, distant from areas normally infested with active Taliban.
“Have you had the Civil Affairs Officer look into the problem?” Russell said.
“Yes, sir. He’s with the farmer now. We were hoping that you could spare a minute to let the farmer know we’re concerned from the top down. Good Hearts and Minds stuff.”
The major levered himself out of his big swivel chair, pausing a couple of heartbeats, establishing his balance.
“Okay, Captain, I’ll speak to the farmer. Go with me. Who said he knew who did this?
“My Food Service Sergeant said one of his cooks, a private, saw a man carrying a sheep to an abandoned house at the edge of the Village. The man was an American soldier.”
“Tell me the whole story when we get back from our Hearts and Minds visit with the farmer. We’ll call in your Sergeant and the cook, if necessary.”
Russell, two captains and an interpreter met with the Afghan just outside the compound gates and listened as he told his story. Anyone within fifty yards could have heard the bitching. The American officers listened to the man’s complaints through the interpreter.
“What would two decent sheep be worth?” Russell said “About a thousand Afghanis, sir,” the interpreter said. The Major turned to the Civil Affairs Officer.
“Give him a little more, give him about $25.00 worth and he’ll have nothing to gripe about. I’ll sign the voucher for it.”
When the interpreter explained the cash windfall, the farmer was ecstatic and covered it poorly. The sheep he’d lost must’ve been skanky.
In the meeting with Civil Affairs captain, the Food Services Sergeant and the cook, the private said the man he’d seen carrying a sheep into the broken house was a sergeant named Boyd.
“There could be legal proceedings, so don’t talk about this with anyone. It could bite you in the ass. I’ll call you in when I need more information,” Russell said.
When the troops were gone, Russell called in his battalion Sergeant Major, a veteran of several wars, Bobby Flynn. He was a thickset man with dark, wavy hair and wild eyebrows. He wore Master Parachutist’s Wings and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge, uniform; decorations Russell also wore. Flynn had a leg-lift brace from a wound he suffered while assigned to a Ranger unit in Iraq.
When Flynn came through the door, Russell nodded for him to close it behind him and motioned to one of the visitors’ chairs.
“Who is this Sergeant Boyd, Bobby? I don’t recall meeting him,” Russell said
“Hasn’t been here long. He’s an MP with the security detachment. He’s been attached to us less than two weeks. You haven’t met him, because he pulls night duty. The new men usually pull those shifts. It’s a special courtesy.”
“Bring him to meet me. Stay close. I may need to call you in to witness.”
An hour later, Flynn escorted Boyd into the Battalion Commander’s office, stepped back outside and closed the door. The sergeant reported to Russell formally, coming to attention and saluting. He was blonde and lithe as a whip. He touched his heels at the same second his fingers touched his forehead in a salute.
“Stand at ease, Sergeant. Someone has accused you of stealing two sheep from a local farmer. Tell me your version of the story,” Russell said.
Boyd relaxed his posture to a parade-ground position, which wasn’t at all relaxed. His response came, respectful and quiet.
“Sir, I did it. I stole the sheep. I killed them, ” Boyd said.
The direct admission caused Russell to pause and fall back on military formalisms until he could assess the sergeant.
“Sergeant Boyd, as your commander, I have the duty to inform you that court martial or punishment under Article 15 may result if what you say is true,” Russell said.
“Yes, sir.”
“Boyd, you are admitting an offense that could get you into deep shit. Do you know that?” Russell said.
“Yes, sir. I wanted to clear the air. Major, can I ask for someone from the surgeon’s office to check me?”
“Why?”
“Sir, I’ve got a problem.”
“Tell me about your problem,” Russell said.
“Sir, this is going to take a few minutes. May I sit down and talk to you openly?”
Boyd said.
“Sure, sit.”
Russell leaned forward, elbows on his desk. “Major, I may be a vampire,” Boyd said.

~~~~~~~~~

Starting tomorrow, August 29th, go to Amazon and type my name, Thomas Drinkard, into the search box.  Scroll down to  V-Trooper – First Mission.  It will be free.

Have fun.

 

Audiobook Will Be Coming Soon

I’m pleased to announce that the audiobook for Swift & Co. will be in production soon. Carl Moore, who narrated the two V-Trooper soldier/vampire books, will be narrating the new book. He read the critical second chapter flawlessly in the ACX audition.
I expect that the audiobook will be available—through Audible, Amazon and the Apple App Store by the latter part of September.
P.S. There will likely be a few freebie audiobooks once it’s released.
I’ve become fond of audiobooks for several reasons. I wear hearing aids which are linked, via Bluetooth, to my iPad. I can drive or do household duties and listen to a book. Currently, I’m listening to Hemingway’s For whom The Bell Tolls. Just as a side note, it’s still a great book, but is showing its age in the use of the language. Still, the principal sweethearts, Robert Jordan and Maria, swear that they “…felt the Earth move.”

I hope to be able to share a sample of Carl Moore’s narration of Swift & Co. quite soon.