Stories, including "Thirty Seconds to the Ground," a skydive gone wrong: "Geek of the Road," (auto test-driving); "For a Cup of Coffee" (sometimes when you can't get one that's all you can think of); "My Husband, My Hero" (a nursing home love affair); includes the novella "Into Tilovia" (a costly adventure by seven young soldiers of fortune)(8 more stories)
Barnes & Noble.com
Rather than trying to describe the book, because there is no central theme; none of the stories are related, so I will list the contents:
These stories are not directed toward any certain group of people; young, older, students, some even benign enough for a child. Others, of course, are not. Thank you!
8 THIRTY SECONDS TO THE GROUND (A skydive gone really bad.)
20 MY HUSBAND, MY HERO (A nursing home love affair.)
24 GEEK OF THE ROAD (Believe it or not, the geek sometimes gets the girl.)
33 FOR A CUP OF COFFEE (Really, how much is a cup of coffee worth? For your sanity, sometimes quite a bit.)
44 THE REAL MEANING OF A QUARTER (One shiny little quarter can mean the difference between a good day, and a really bad one.)
49 DON’T GET TOO CLOSE (A nursing home resident goes from down, to way up, to really down, in the space of a couple hours.)
56 THE ONE WHO LOVES ME (A little girl is the only one who knows who she should go live with.)
67 GIRLFRIEND FOR MOTHER (Sometimes a friend asked to help can become much more than a friend.)
74 WAITING TO DIE (Since the 1918-1919 influenza mankind has feared return of the pandemic, an extraordinarily-mutated virus, that vicious creature that cannot be seen by the naked eye.)
83 VOICE FROM THE CONGREGATION (A crippled girl’s voice creates new life in a young couple’s marriage.)
90 ONE MORNING AT BOXELDER COVE (A young red squirrel learns a whole lot about life and survival.)
96 HE HAD IT COMING (A boss gets murdered, and nobody, not his family, and not even one employee, is sorry.)
116 INTO TILOVIA (Nobody was helping the Tilovians; seven friends decide it’s time somebody did.)
An excerpt from "Geek of the Road"
Hillman was considered, by some, to be a geek. And slow, too. Not slow in intelligence, but very slow in getting it. Continually the brunt of jokes, he rarely understood what everyone was laughing at, and almost never, if ever, knew when people were laughing directly at him.
But, geek or not, Hillman was about to meet an angel. A real live, flesh-and-blood, girl, angel.
About five minutes remained before they would take the cars out for road-testing. Hillman's vehicle was running and he was enjoying seventies classic rock music by the group Journey. He loved almost all types of music.
A rap came on the window. Hillman turned and saw the lead driver, the only one in Hillman's group who never teased him. But who also rarely talked to him. Hillman opened the window. The lead driver looked at him with an expression of, well, if Hillman had been less of a geek, or been one of the other guys watching from the side, the expression maybe could have been read as restrained amusement, because of what was coming.
"You've never been trainer, have you, Hillman?" Lead driver asked.
"Well, it's your turn."
From lead driver's left side stepped, well, what Hillman saw first were the gentlest blue eyes he had ever seen. The impression was made but Hillman didn't really think about it right then. Instead he opened the door and stepped out.
"Trudy," lead driver said, "This is Hillman. You'll ride with him tonight and then...," he pointed, "you'll drive that red Neon tomorrow night, because tonight is that driver’s last night."
Trudy stepped forward and held her hand out, "Hi, Hillman."
Hillman jerked his glove off and took the hand, and experienced softness like he never knew existed. But again he didn't think too much about it. He was a geek, remember? Yet the impressions were made on him. Gentle blue eyes. A soft hand. "...Hi...." He didn't know what else to say so he just started telling her about the job. Words tumbled out nonstop. In the next two minutes he told her everything she needed to know…up to that point, and a lot of things she would never need to know.
But, that's how geeks operated.
Engines were revving.
"Let's go, Hillman!" came the voice of one of the other driver's.
"Lay'er on your own time, Hillman!" came another.
Hillman heard the comment but did not grasp the hidden meaning. That's how geeky he was.
"Radio check, Hillman," came lead driver's voice.
Hillman climbed into his Accord, grabbed the CB microphone, "Loud and clear."
Trudy stepped into the passenger side and would have, likely, in another second or two, done what Hillman told her, "Put your seat belt on, please."
She did it, then smiled.
The smile made its impression, but for the moment was mostly lost on geek Hillman, "So, have you driven before?"
She smiled again, "Yes, a few times."
Even Hillman realized how that had sounded, "I meant..."
She touched his right forearm, "I know what you meant, Hillman. And, no, I've never done anything like this before."
The autos started moving. Fourth in line, the middle car of seven, Hillman shifted into gear and they moved onto English Avenue. He glanced in the mirror. "Looks like everybody made it," he said, "That's important, for everybody to stay together."
"I'm sure," Trudy answered.
"We'll go thirteen blocks north," lead driver said over the CB, "Then a block west on Meridian Street, then six blocks east on Almanac Boulevard, then the interstate."
Hillman chuckled, "Ol' Number One Driver, he always tells us where we're going, as if we might get lost or something."
"You mean he tells you stuff you already know, or even stuff you don't even need to know?"
"Yeah, right, ol' Number One acts kind'a geeky sometimes."
An excerpt from "Into Tilovia"
The minutes passed, for certain nine.
On cue the intercom crackled, "Release your safety belts."
Two or three seconds passed as seven snaps were heard. Foster counted. The clicks were louder than guns going off beside his ear. Again the crackle, "Hang on!"
An explosive 'whoosh' as the custom-fashioned bomb bay door fell open. Cargo away. They saw a few lights, far, far, away. Foster dropped the mouthpiece, shouted, "One-thousand!" and stepped into air. A split second later he heard Corissa, "Two-thousand!"
Almost nothing but black. Those shining things were lights on earth. No. Stars, and the moon, partial anyway. Foster knew he was tumbling—stabilize. Get control, flatten out, slow down. How much time had passed? He did not know. He must have been scared too. Hell, he was scared now. Too old for this shit! His lungs felt…he didn't know.
His mouth opened. Cold air blasted his insides. He must have been holding his breath. He coughed. Get control. He determined which of the shining things were lights, which stars. Then, as countless times before while tumbling for fun, he straightened his arms and legs, flattened his body.
"Radio-check, kids." He felt surprised his voice worked.
"Right behind you, Foster." Corissa's voice. He felt like crying with relief.
"Loud and clear, Foster." Tyke's voice.
"Loud and clear, Foster." Mick's voice.
Seconds passed. Kuai should have answered, "Kuai…?"
"I've got her." Tyke's voice, "We jumped holding hands."
"Good man, Tyke. Van…Giant…?"
"Loud and clear, Foster." Giant's voice, "Van's not far below me. Still tumbling. If he doesn't stabilize soon I should be able to catch him."
"Don't wait, Giant. None of us will be able to stop him."
All at least accounted for. Foster flipped onto his back. Corissa, not five feet above. He wanted to reach and pull her into his arms and pull the covers to their necks and make love forever. But changing any position of his body would just drop him further from her. No, it was up to her to catch him.
She drew her arms to her sides, closed her legs slightly, dropped the five feet smoothly and spread-eagled again, slowed again, grabbed his right hand with her left. Even with full acceptance of reality, Foster wanted to seize this moment of complete privacy to pull her against him, to give this soft woman love, love, love. But their radio-mouthpieces, their parachute harnesses, their weaponry.
Corissa grabbed his other hand, began pulling herself into him. Yes. Do it. We may die tomorrow. Make love tonight. Right now and here, forever and ever. Their lips found each other. The radios were not in the way hardly at all. The kiss happened. Foster's very soul stopped functioning. Reality paused and soared away. Then the kiss ended. Corissa must have kept her head, because Foster had not. He released her, flipped back to his stomach, then grabbed her left hand again, and glanced at her.
Even in the darkness, even with the brutal wind whipping her face, he saw her snapping eyes grinning behind her goggles.
It had been a bewitching few seconds.
An excerpt from the mystery "He Had it Coming"
And now he had some material to ask questions with. But the day was about shot.
He started the next morning with Mrs. McBane. Still no apparent tears over her loss of spouse.
“I’ve talked to the police, Randy, and I don’t care to talk to you.”
“Did you tell’em ‘he had it comin’?” Taking a chance there, just gossip.
“That’s the grapevine.”
Mrs. McBane went dark, “He did have it coming.” Her voice was low, angry, but not the sound of a murderess, “He slept with any woman who even looked at him, and half his female employees!”
Randy had figured that, and for a second wondered if Molly had been one of them.
Mrs. McBane’s dark blue eyes narrowed, “Don’t you have watering to do, Mister Crowell.”
“I’m on my break. But, thanks, ma’am.”
Time left for a quick coffee. Outside the lunchroom, standing alone with a Styrofoam cup, rich black hair, fair skin and dark eyes, was one of the temporary college girls. He got his coffee, found out her name from one of the others crowding the lunchroom, then joined her, “Mornin’, Bobbie.” He felt strange calling her by name, as if he actually knew her. Hmmm...maybe should examine his own attitude, about temps and seasonals, anyway, “How you doin’?”
“Oh, OK, I guess,” she gave a quick smile, but did not appear to be doing so well, “You’re Randy, right...?”
“Yep.” Evidently people knew his name, so maybe he should make an effort to learn theirs. They talked about nothing special for a couple minutes, Bobbie adding little, finally, “Bobbie, what was your worst time with ol’ Gil?”
Bobbie’s creamy face colored, her eyes popped, then she turned away, “He was always hugging me!” Her face contorted, “I hated it!”
“Oh, well, I saw’im do it once. It looked innocent.”
“Innocent?” Bobbie’s eyes snapped.
“Course, I could be wrong.”
She grabbed his arm, roughly, spilling part of his coffee, pulled him farther from the lunchroom, “Sure, it was innocent when people were around, but he’d want to do it when people weren’t, too!” She threw her cup on the concrete, stomped it, “Then it wasn’t so innocent! I hated it, Randy—I hated him! I’m glad he’s dead. I agree with Mrs. McBane—he had it coming!”
Bobbie stomped away, and Randy had a good idea she didn’t do the murder, either. Who next?
Noon break. Randy took dinner an hour later than the rest and ate on the run, so he could approach the transplanters as a group as they worked, with the benign sounding comment question, “Well, we’ll all sure miss Gilmore, huh?”
“He was a real lecher, all right.” Martha, biggest and tallest, did not smile, apparently would be spokesperson.
“I wouldn’t call him anything so tame,” said little Giselle, the prettiest, “Worm is more like it.”