A Treasured Threat is a historical “What if” of a group of Floridians that are thrown into the deadly repercussions of an Old Testament generational curse. The author integrates several ancient and contemporary events that most readers can relate to and was heavily researched with an eye for accuracy and continuity.
With an exciting combination of wit, humor and drama, A Treasured Threat will hold the readers' attention until its unexpected, high impact conclusion.
Certain language and situations may keep A Treasured Threat from being categorized as a Christian book, but the main plot is based solely on Old Testament passages from the books of Kings and Deuteronomy.
The first few pages of A Treasured Threat begins with a training mission during WWII that ties in later, then jumps to present day. Enjoy!
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Late that evening a car stops on an unpaved road in front of a dilapidated silver Airstream trailer. There is a jumble of boxes, bar-b-cue grills, bicycles and other various household items huddled under a tattered canvas awning attached to the side, a sight that would be more probable in remote Appalachia than in rural Palm Beach County.
It's Jim Wallace, a short and slight fellow with close cut hair. With his fair complexion and round wire rim glasses, he would fit un-noticed in any corporate office.
Not knowing for sure he is at the correct location, Jim squints to check the address Johnny gave him on the dimly lit mailbox. Scanning the property, he recognizes Johnny's old Mustang with the North Dakota license plate and the faded remnants of a 'Go Navy' bumper sticker.
Getting out of his car, he makes his way through the maze of rubbish to the door of the RV. The distinct twang of country music and loud male voices emanate from inside. He takes one step up the stairs and knocks on the door. "Come on in!" one of the voices shouts.
Jim opens the door getting a blast of stale cigar smoke; Johnny sits just inside leaning with both elbows on a table. Stepping up and in, he sees a small dinette with beer bottles scattered about as a poker game is in progress. The players' faces are illuminated by a plain light bulb hanging by a single wire from the ceiling. Obee sits behind the table with the stub of a cigar tightly gripped in the corner of his mouth flanked by two scruffy looking fellows in cowboy hats.
"Sorry I'm late Commander" Jim says, "I had to finish some reports and pack".
Johnny ignores him while turning his cards over for all to see. Obee lays his cards down face up and leans back with a grin, chewing the butt of the cigar. Johnny slams his cards on the table and stands up quickly enough to knock his chair over backwards bouncing it onto the floor. "Damn!" he exclaims still looking down at the table.
Obee pulls the cigar from his mouth, "Is there any gas in it?"
Johnny, having to bend slightly because his head would hit the ceiling, slowly turns his eyes up to look at Obee. Growling in a low pitch, he reaches in his right pocket, pulls out a set of keys and slings them across the table hitting Obee in the stomach. "No genius, and it needs a damn clutch!"
Turning away from the table, he kicks the helpless chair out of his way. As it spins on its back and hits the wall, he puts his hand behind Jim's shoulder turning him toward the still open door to guide him out. Johnny says in a commanding tone, "Let's go Wallace." then forces himself in front of Jim at the bottom of the steps. "Is that your damn car over there?" as he pushes over some boxes that seems to get in his way.
"Great, get me the hell outta' here before I kill that little...." Rushing in the dim light, he stumbles on a bicycle wheel that's turned out, "Damn it!"
Jim trails behind, "But isn't that your car over there?"
Johnny stops, turns and glares at Jim holding his hand up shaking his finger as to say something. He just shakes his head, grunts and returns to his rapid quest to get to Jim's car. Opening the passenger door, he slides in and slams it shut.
Not in such a hurry, Jim reaches the drivers door and gets in turning sideways in his seat to look at Johnny.
Johnny rests his forehead in his hand, his elbow on the door, "Damn!... Damn! Damn! Damn!" gritting his teeth and tilting his head back in frustration.
One hand propped on the steering, the other draped over the back of his seat, "Bad night, ah?" Silence looms for a few moments.
Johnny twists his head slightly; cocking his eyes toward Jim, and cracks a mild grin. "Sorry Jimbo, it's good to see you again." He twists completely around holding his arms open. They meet over the center console and give each other a hug, patting the other on the back.
Separating, Johnny asks, "So how tha' hell ya' been buddy?"
"Like I said Commander..."
Johnny interrupts, "Jimbo, stop calling me Commander, we're not in the Navy anymore... so how's the wife? The kids?"
Jim leans back on the driver's door and bobs his head back in forth, "All's great, all's great. Shirley says she can't tell the difference from when I was in... my daughter's in her second year of college and the boy starts in the fall."
"That's great Jimbo. So whatcha' been doing for a living?"
"Like I was telling you Comm... Uh Johnny, this outfit recruited me two years ago to run their sounding systems. I haven't regretted it for a minute. How 'bout you? Last time I saw you they were loading your sorry butt in a chopper and you didn't look so sporty."
Johnny shakes his head slowly as he sits back in his seat, "Yea, spent about three weeks in the hospital. After that I shipped out, back to Bismarck" He rubs his jaw, and continues "Things seemed to be okay for a few months, but... but, I don't know. Maybe over the years Fran and me, we just grew apart..." Johnny looks out the side window at the night sky and changes the subject. "Can you take me to the marina? I've got a charter at O eight hundred and I need some shut eye."
"Sure Command... I mean Mr. Johns." He turns straight in his seat and pulls the seat belt from over his shoulder.
Johnny slides down in his seat putting one foot up on the dashboard, "Just turn around... take a left at the stop sign. It's about fifteen miles or so to the east."
Jim reaches and starts the car and turns the headlights on. He puts it in gear but hesitates as the headlights illuminate an old 1968 blue Mustang GT convertible. The rear deck lid is a different shade and the body has rusted thru behind the rear wheels. The rest of the body is badly faded and the paint has given way to the underlying gray primer on top of the fenders. They both stare at the old pony car for a moment as Jim opens his mouth slowly, "ah..."
Johnny chimes in, "High school."
"Had that ole' thing since high school... my Dad helped me get it when I was eighteen... sort of a graduation present" Johnny looks away and exhales a long breath, "Lets go Wallace."
Following Johnny's directions, Jim lets off the brake and slowly makes a U turn. They travel a few hundred yards down the bumpy dirt road in silence and make the turn onto the highway.
Jim glances over at Johnny, "Well? Where's Fran now?"
Johnny presses his lips together, "I haven't talked to her since I came down here" He looks out the side window up into the night sky. "A few months after I got back I was pretty much healed up... I'd been helping Dad out on the farm...we raised beef cattle you know." He hesitates and glances over at Jim. Jim returns a short look of curiosity as he continues to drive. "I guess she got tired of my war stories and I got tired of the wives tales...we really had nothing in common anymore."
"Did you get divorced?"
Johnny sighs again and returns to his star gazing, "No, not then. For the time being we decided that she would move back to her mother's for a while and I'd go back to the farm. We'd see if distance would make the hearts grow fond again." Johnny shifts in his seat, taking his foot down and sitting up straight again. "Well, I guess it didn't because a few months later I decided to come down here... then a year later I got some legal papers in the mail to sign, she'd filed."
" Uh, that's too bad Johnny."
"Yea I suppose, Mom said Fran had met up with some banker fella' and was moving to the city."
"And you, now?"
Johnny snickers as his demeanor completely changes, "I'm sleeping with the landlord...it's got its perks."
"What?!" Jim asks as he leans forward and turns to look at Johnny.
"Nah, Jennifer, that's here name Jennifer, she's a really good gal. So, what brought you to the sunshine state Wallace?"
"Well, this outfit I'm with does mapping of submerged topography and some underwater photography. Most of our work is plotting for pipelines and stuff. We also work for the USGS and NOAA sometimes." He grins, "But eeevery once in a while, we get a gravy job for some T.V. network."
"Yea, it really is... Have you heard about the five old Navy TBM Avengers they found in the late '90's?"
"Yea, yea I remember that. They thought it could be the lost Flight 19 out of Lauderdale but turns out it wasn't, right?"
"Exactly. A cable network hired us to locate them again and film them for a documentary. We finished up and we're cutting out in the morning." Jim tilts his head in thought, "You know, it's really kind'a weird... here are five front line navy airplanes that had to ditch in the Atlantic... at different times, different dates, different reasons all within a mile or so of each other."
Johnny looks at him, squinting his eyes, trying to find a reason.
Jim goes on as he drives, "What's the odds of that?" Jim glances away from driving to see Johnny intensely listening. "All the planes were on training missions, two were out of Fort Lauderdale, two from Jacksonville and one Miami, but...the first one went down three years before the last one, none went down together. They were all roughly on a line of twenty degrees (Compass heading) from Lauderdale."
"Did they find out why they were grouped like that?"
"That's a negative, we first did a search pattern for twenty miles in all directions to see if there were more planes."
"No, not any war planes." Implying they found something else.
Jim glances back at Johnny, "The only other airplane we found was a fifties vintage Cessna...'and' there were surface vessels scattered around, maybe two dozen of them, dating from last year back to who knows when."
"So what are you thinking? Raise the Avengers?"
"No, nothing like that. Besides they wouldn't be worth the effort."
"Well what then?"
"I ran into Steele a few months back."
"Yea, he told me."
"We caught up on things..."
Johnny interrupts, "Sorry Jimbo, but take a right there at the next light, that's U.S. 1... sorry go ahead."
"Roger that... Steele told me what you were doing and I thought you may be interested in this." Jim opens the center console and feels around, removing a CD and holds it up to verify it's what he's looking for. "This is a copy of all the data from the scans I did, there are a few interesting soundings on there. One in particular that I want you to look at."
"Okay Wallace, you've got my attention... and by the way, see that blue sign down there on the left?"
"We need to turn left in there."
"That's Affirm... Anyway, we've got the latest stuff, I don't even think the Navy has it yet. It's on the edge, the scans are like looking at a T.V., the resolution is that good, you'll see...left here Johnny?"
"Yep, go down to the end and I'll get out there."
"Roger that." Jim waits on traffic to make the turn. "Johnny, I wrote the co ordinance right there in the cover, it looks like a ballast pile from an old ship."
Jim makes his turn across the busy road into the drive. "Johnny, I've been looking at the bottom of the ocean for over twenty years and when I saw this thing... it screamed at me. I'd never seen anything like it... it's either that or an old Indian burial sight...take a look at it and decide for yourself. It's definitely not a natural formation." Jim pulls around to the end at a cul-de-sac and stops under a streetlight.
"Okay Wallace, I'll have Genius load it up tomorrow and we'll take a look at it."
Jim turns in his seat to face Johnny, "'Genius?' Who's Genius?"
"That little twerp back there that I threw my keys at, Obee."
"Well, either you think Obee's a blooming idiot, or he's some kind of rocket scientist."
Johnny forms a smirky grin on his face and gives a quick point at Jim, "You nailed it Jimbo."
"Well which one is it?"
"Well let me tell you. Little Obiwankanobe has a PhD in Astro Physics."
Jim drops his mouth open in amazement, "You're kidding."
"Nope, and a hundred and sixty plus I.Q." Johnny shakes his head, "You'd think he'd be at NASA... a defense contractor or be rich and famous or something. But nooo, he'd rather be a boat beetle and low rent card shark."
"Well that explains all the junk in front of his trailer."
"Yea, and bunch of it used to be mine."
Jim pops the top of the console with his hand remembering he forgot to tell Johnny something, "Oh, let me tell you. Don't let anyone know you have that program... it's proprietary. Hughes will sue you for everything you've got."
Johnny turns and looks at Jim saying sarcastically, "Greeeat. That's all I need." He slaps Jim on the knee, "You want to come down to the boat for a beer?"
"Nah, I've got a flight at seven thirty. I really need to hit the road."
Johnny opens the door and swings one leg out setting his foot on the ground, "Well old buddy, it's been great to see you. Too bad we didn't have more time."
"Yea, same here."
"Hey, when you get some shore leave, why don't you, Shirley and the kids come down for a few days, I'll take you out and putcha' on some sail fish?"
"Hmm, sounds good to me. I'll mention it to 'em when I get back."
"Well, it's been great," as he swings back over to give Jim a hug. "And thanks for the ride." Johnny slides out, turns around and stoops to look back in the car at Jim.
Jim points at Johnny, "Hey, if that turns out to be something, don't you forget me."
"If it turns out to be something, I'll buy you your own underwater looking-at-the-stuff-on-the-bottom company... you take care of yourself Wallace." Johnny stands up straight, shuts the door and taps the roof of the car twice. Jim drives off slowly into the dark while Johnny stands watching. He looks at the disk in his hand and taps it in the other in thought.