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The Story Teller - Tony Bertot
Ever wonder what it would be like to die or be in a coma? Will you be forgiven of your sins?
NEW YORK – “Hell Train” (ISBN 1468041053) by Tony Bertot gives readers a glimpse into an eternity of paying for one’s mistakes. By offering the controversial and somewhat taboo topic of hell and its very existence, through fiction, he opens the door for readers to discuss their personal beliefs, doubts and fears.
Our character, George Raines, was born into privilege and cared little for the struggles of others as greed governed his life’s ambition. More was never enough in spite of the cost. Readers follow George and several others as they find themselves fighting for their lives in an unforgiving world where privilege does not exist and human suffering prevails at the hands of creature slaves. George has a one-way ticket to this world. His journey is ours as we give thought to what we have taken without regret.
“I haven’t read any other novel that unwittingly delivers individuals to their destiny as well as reveals what penance is delivered for a sordid past,” Bertot states. “My stories are meant to be entertaining, with the intent of captivating my readers with an ‘I could not put this book down’ scenario.”
Although this is his first thriller, Bertot has also completed the assassin trilogy and received positive feedback for this first endeavor as an author.
For further information on the assassin trilogy, please visit his website.
As the darkness engulfed the city, it began to materialize. Invisible to all but a few, it fixed its gaze up at the 3rd floor office windows across the street. Those that passed by within inches felt a cold chill run through their bodies, causing them to quicken their pace. Its breath stank of decay as the ominous figure, cloaked in a black hood and robe that covered its entire body, moved slowly towards its prey.
It was the end of another cold December New York City workday when Gertrude finally reached the end of her patience as her boss, George Raines, bellowed, “Where's my coffee?”
Gertrude Sykes was hired through a temporary agency. Having been a temp for over fifteen years, she was very skilled and in high demand. As a result, she didn't need to take the aggravation inflicted by her new boss of merely three days. His screaming and unruly behavior was the last straw for Gertrude, who calmly got up, grabbed her purse and coat, walked into his office, smiled at him and gave him the finger, then walked out.
“Damn it!” George yelled. As he stared up at her, watching her retreat, he realized he’d have to get his own coffee.
George, a man in his late fifties, stood 5’10” and carried a middle-aged paunch. His wrinkled grey suit and open collared white shirt did nothing to improve his declining stature. The cigar protruding from the side of his mouth completed the picture of a mafia capo straight out of one of those detective movies. A building property owner, he had the gift for making money but lacked the milk of human kindness. He was described by most as a major asshole but, nonetheless, owned thirty-two buildings in the upper New York City area, where he leased approximately seven hundred rooms. George had inherited most of the buildings from his father who had died suddenly from a heart attack. But there were rumors that some of the buildings he now owned were acquired through extortion and gambling debts or shady transactions, though no one could prove it.
George stepped out of his office on the third floor of a seven story building, which was located on 50th Street near 8th Avenue. On his way to get his coffee, he was just in time to see Gertrude exiting the main doors.
"The hell with her, I don't need her. I just saved a hundred and fifty bucks ‘cause I sure ain’t going to pay her ass!" he shouted after her. A sigh of relief fell over Gertrude as she continued her trek towards the exit, waving her middle finger at him as the doors closed behind her.
Now alone in his dimly lit office he prepared his own coffee. Suddenly, he got the odd feeling that someone was staring at him, causing him to whirl around, only to find the familiar solitude. The chill that instantly enveloped him did not deter him from the business at hand. He glanced at the pile of eviction notices on his desk that were waiting for his signature. Smiling, he began to sign and place them in the outgoing basket.
"Every time I kick one of these low-lives out, I increase the rent by ten bucks and another sucker pays. If this keeps up, I will be retiring before my next birthday. Yeah, this is the sweet smell of success," he remarked to himself.
As George placed the pen to the paper, he once again had the sensation of being watched as the chill crept over him. He looked up and nearly wet his pants when he saw the silhouette of a man standing at the doorway.
“What the hell! Who are you? How did you get in here?” screamed George. A gray haired old man stepped forward into the light and asked if he may come in. The man looked to be in his mid eighties, of medium built, and wearing a long black overcoat and hat.
The old man made George feel uneasy, but this might have been a future tenant. Old people have lots of money, George thought, as he said, “You startled me. Yeah, sure. Come in, and take a load off.” As the old man took a seat, George once again felt a cold chill.
“Want some coffee?” George reluctantly asked him.
“No, thank you.” the old man responded.
“Well, then, what can I do for you?” asked George.
The old man shifted in his seat as he leaned forward. “Please, listen carefully, Mr. Raines, as I am only going to say this once.”
“Sure, sure, what is it?” George, never known for his patience, responded.
The old man took a deep breath, looked into George's eyes, and began. “I am asking, no, begging you, to please discontinue your ways. Many people have suffered by the acts you have committed, and I am here to warn you to change your ways before it is too late. Throw away the eviction notices, and lower the rents of all of your tenants as a sign that you will mend your ways. If you do not heed my words, you will pay dearly. Consider this a warning, one that is not normally given. Your father has long forgiven you for your corrupt ways. Change your direction, before it's too late,” the old man concluded.
George stared at the old man for almost a full minute before responding with, “Who the hell do you think you are? Coming into my office and giving me a warning. Who do you think you are dealing with?" George stood up, walked over to the old man and grabbed him by the shoulders, yelling as he practically dragged him towards the exit doors.
George opened the outer office doors and shoved the old man out onto the floor. The old man landed on all fours and slowly turned to stare up at George. They both eyed one another for a second before the old man said, "I am warning you, Mr. Raines, change your ways!"
"Yeah, asshole, let me jot that down," George said, laughing as he slammed the door behind him. He walked back into his office, chuckling aloud. However, his laughter stopped abruptly as he felt another cold chill and the old man's eyes on his back. George quickly turned and found the old man standing just a few feet behind him with a paralyzing stare that penetrated his soul. For a second, George thought he saw his father’s face on the old timer. "What the..." George began to say as he jumped back.
He blinked, and the old man vanished right before his horrified eyes.
A little shaken, George remained standing there for some time, staring at the spot where he last saw the old man, before backing away and getting back to his desk.