“Pulse!” A short story from my upcoming Anthology: “Front-Line Heroes.” #RRBC #IARTG.

HEROES LOGO

My latest work in progress is an anthology of stories dedicated to the bravery of men and woman worldwide. ALL those that silently and without fanfare hold down the Front Lines. ALL the front lines. On the streets of any town, anywhere, you’ll find them, The Policeman, Paramedics, Firefighters, Nurses and Doctors and all their support personnel. Those on the battle-fronts in foreign lands, and those on the battle-fronts of streets peopled with others that have slipped through the cracks and crevices of the world we now live in. The many brave souls that endure the lasting, life changing flashbacks, and battle each and every day with the nightmare that is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

These are their stories.

 

Front-Line Heroes … An Anthology of short stories.

PULSE.

By

Suzanne Burke 2017.

Chad moved gingerly, his bruised ego competing with his other more visible bruises for distinction.

He’d once believed he could hold his liquor better than most guys his age, but his heaving stomach rapidly turned that hopeful little daydream into a blatant lie.

He made his way to the bathroom, pleased with himself for a moment as he looked around his small apartment, and found contentment by the order he found there.

He avoided the mirror this morning. His hands were too shaky to risk a shave.

The shower revived him to a reasonable degree. Orange juice and strong coffee took care of the rest.

He flicked a look at his phone,  checked a couple of missed calls, but nothing urgent needed his attention for now.

Today was already planned, based on an assumption that the few drinks with the guys and girls from his future work place couldn’t possibly result in feeling less than the six-feet-four, well-muscled and lean persona that belonged utterly to Chad Williams. Ego is such an inconvenient thing. The thought made him smile for a moment.

He shook his head to clear it a little: he’d need to get moving if he wanted to see and map out the sections of the city that would most likely need his attention two nights from now.

He glanced across at the uniform and jacket that hung on the hook outside his wardrobe. The jacket, large and in screaming yellow with Paramedic emblazoned across it to identify him to anyone that needed to know why he was wherever they ended up.

He’d not so long ago worn a different uniform in a very different theater of combat.

“Old habits die hard, that’s how it goes down. I need to take the pulse of my new terrain, do you get that?”

He’d spoken those words to the paramedic he’d be riding with in just a few short days.

“Yeah … Oh yeah, I get it.” Katrina Georgiou gave him a brief smile. “But …” She stopped to better form the question, “I’m gonna be ridin’ with you, Chad. I need to know what you’re bringin’ with you from your past, into my current equation. Do you get that?”

“So … why did I choose to leave? Is that what you need to know?” He asked, with a mask rapidly descending over a face once young, but rapidly ageing.

“Yeah … that’ll about cover it.” she’d said.

Chad had considered his response for a few long moments. His face reflected sadness accompanied by a firm resolve. “When you do your job … you do it for strangers, and the chances of you being called to attend someone you know and care deeply about are minuscule at best. Would that be an accurate assessment?”

She nodded her head, “If you mean family, I’ve only ever heard about that happening, maybe twice or three-times in my twenty-three-years on the job. But, I guess there are many different layers of caring … aren’t there?” She questioned gently and then continued, “Go on.”

“The people that I saw, the dead and the dying, the ones I could help and the ones it was too late to offer anything but  a prayer for, … a thankful prayer that death had been mercifully fast to take them. They weren’t nameless strangers. I ate with those men and women; I played cards and shot the breeze about baseball, and basketball and whatever other damned sport you care to name. I laughed with them and occasionally at them … and then far too often … I watched them bleed.

“So, here I am. These folks we’ll try and help, these folks will be strangers. Strangers I can tend to, to the best of my ability, and when they have been handed over to the hospital I can walk away without the need to hear the ones that care, the ones remaining, cry out their despair.” He looked into her face and saw the beginnings of understanding reflecting back at him from her kind eyes.

She touched his arm, “You’ll do me just fine.” She stood then and offered her hand, “Welcome to your new battle station, Chad.”

He shook the hand that she offered and left her.

He had uncharted terrain to explore. He’d grown up in this city, but he knew her pulse had changed.

He was almost done … only a couple of the dockyard places remained to  be looked at more fully.

The pulse of the city had slowly revealed itself to him,   making itself known to his hyper-alert senses.  He recognized the heartbeat of this city he’d been born in … and over the course of three long days and nights he began to recognize the areas that could explode with testosterone-fueled rage, or the rage of futility … for he knew too well, that rage had its own unique pulse.

Fear signaled a different beat again, the fear pulse came with a residual echo, as if hopelessness had its own sounding chamber.

The visual images of fear burned themselves into his core memory … .

He would save them for later.

Partly satisfied that his recon had given him at least some parameters to work with, he crawled into bed and finally slept. The sunrise heralded the beginning of his new tomorrow.

He watched it rise, and spent the day quietly; his shift began at 2100 hrs … 9.00 pm he corrected inside his military trained head … . He wanted to be, needed to be … must be, on premium, optimal, alert.

He was a little tense on the drive in, and pulled over and breathed through it before he continued.

Katrina  Georgiou,  acknowledged him briefly “We already have a call out, Chad. I’ll fill you in once we get underway.”

Chad climbed up into the ambulance and seated himself in the shotgun position beside her.

“Ready to rock n’ roll?” She asked.

“Let’s do it.”

She nodded and drove out.

She pulled expertly into the heavy traffic of a Friday night in this city, and hit the siren. She grunted in satisfaction as cars began to pull over to let the ambulance through.

“Okay, Chad, here’s where we’re at. We have a Police officer down.  Multiple shots fired, officers responding report  that our patient is on the pavement at the entrance to the old art-gallery off George and Park. No movement detected.”

“We first in?”

“Looks that way.”

“Understood” … “ETA?”

“Four minutes.”

Katrina pulled the ambulance expertly into the boundary already set up by the responding officers.  It was bordered shoulder-to-shoulder with a blue breathing wall of police.

The officer on the sidewalk was around fifteen-yards from the edge of the police presence.

Katrina spoke up, “We need to get to the casualty.”

The officer in charge nodded his head. “I understand that. He’s my man, but we still have a shooter somewhere in that alley. The rear access is covered, so our shooter could be more than a little desperate right around now.”

The body on the sidewalk moved slightly, an arm suddenly extended to drape itself across the side of the man currently facing them.

Chad looked at the blood rapidly pooling on the sidewalk.

“Oh fuck … he’s gut shot.” he said half to himself. “We don’t have time for this, guys. He  could bleed out pretty quickly.” He looked at Katrina and she gave him the yes nod he’d hoped for.

The cop in charge looked at them hard for just a moment “God bless you both.” He turned to his men. “Let’s do this … Jesus … okay, move … on my signal” He gave it, and put both he and another two officers in the direct line-of-fire to escort the paramedics the short distance to the fallen man in blue.

No shots came at them,  and Katrina and Chad set to work.

They were both on autopilot now … focused only on what they needed to do to give this one the very best chance of surviving.

“We’ll need the gurney to move him.” Katrina spoke softly.

“It’ll take too long, Katrina. I’ll carry him, if you go ahead of me and hold the drip feed lines. Yeah?”

She agreed and they prepared him hurriedly for the necessary dash to the ambulance. Both of them focused only on what was ahead and not what could well be waiting to kill them all from behind.

The cops closed ranks and provided them a brief shield, falling back into line with a rapid but pleased glance from the others still waiting to be ordered to move in.

Katrina climbed in to the driver’s seat once they had their patient secured, and Chad sat alongside the unconscious man and willed him to hold on.

The sound of a second shot startled them both, and not waiting to hear more, Katrina revved the vehicle, set the sirens screaming …  and got them all the hell out of Dodge.

The casualty made it the hospital and was still alive when he was handed across to the ready and prepared E.R staff.

***

Chad joined Katrina outside and was grateful when she offered him one of her cigarettes.

“That was quite a christening.” Katrina said as she lit up his Marlboro.

He looked down at his hands, relieved and a little surprised to find that they were steady.

“It was the same, wasn’t it … that Pulse beat you were talking about?” She asked suddenly.

He was surprised … then felt suddenly guilty at feeling that way. “Uh-huh … yeah, yeah …  it was.”

She reached for his arm and gave it a gentle squeeze.

“You do know that those boys in blue will be buying you beers for a long while to come … If you let them that is. Will you let them in close enough to allow that, will you let them be grateful, Chad?”

Chad checked his pulse rate, and then gave her a weary smile.

“I have no choice. Do I? Can we check on him before end of shift?”

“Welcome back to the land of the still living, Chad.”

Chad just nodded his head.

Ready or not … He had finally come home.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Acts Of Betrayal” Book 2 (Unintended Consequences”) By Suzanne Burke. A terrifyingly possible scenario! #RRBC #IARTG #IAN1. @pursoot

ACTS OF BETRAYAL NEW PROMO 8 2017

“If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared”

Niccolo Machiavelli

***

Can one powerful man bring mankind to the brink of extinction?

In this powerful sequel to Acts Beyond Redemption, Nigel Cantrell is back, and he’s out for blood.
One of his team holds on precariously to life, with no guarantees of recovery.

Can those responsible drag him into a nightmare he will struggle to contain?

In a complex dual where oaths taken are forsaken, and promises made are broken beyond repair, he must seek the help of the only people he can trust … people who revere him … and, those that despise him.

Cantrell is efficient and deadly, but even he has ghosts in his past, demons, that must be exorcised.  Nothing is more demonic than the peril he must now face, as a one man’s maniacal thirst for revenge is uncovered.
A man so enormously powerful, with a hatred so intense, so extreme, that the possible demise of his own species means nothing to him. He will dispense his revenge as his diseased mind sees fit.

Nigel Cantrell and his team do not have failure as an option.
The fate of their country and beyond now rests in their hands.
Can they prevent the final Acts of Betrayal?

Acts Of Betrayal on AMAZON.Com

 

“My Name is Flic.” A short story by Suzanne Burke. From my upcoming anthology. “Front-Line Heroes” @pursoot

FIRST RESPONDERS BEST LARGE

What follows is one selection from an Anthology I’m working on.

The books title: “Front-Line Heroes.”

I want to pay tribute to ALL the Front-Line Heroes. The Soldiers, Paramedics, Police Officers, Firefighters, Doctors, Nurses, Drug Enforcement Agents, Teachers, Foster-Parents, Counsellors and Carers.

The selfless angels that work the streets every night from all the marvelous charitable organisations. They are the Front-Line Heroes … every precious one of them.

I hope my stories assist in further understanding their utter devotion, and undeniable humanity, and how they may need to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

These are all works of fiction. However I hope that each reader will recognize these people, and give thanks that they exist.

***

My Name is Flic.

A Short Story.

By Suzanne Burke

Some people grow into the name they were given at birth by a mother caught up in hormone driven, wishful thinking. I wasn’t one of them. She named me Felicity. Now, I’ll grant you there is nothing wrong with the name. But, you know, sometimes people have a visual image pre-ordained in their heads that have all the Felicity’s as golden-haired, blue-eyed and sunny-natured, shining examples of goodness.

So, everyone that knows me understands that I prefer to be called Flic.

It had always been strange coming into this office. Trepidation was my constant companion on those days. The smell of the furniture polish never changes, nor does the light penetrating the squeaky-clean glass of the double glass doors.

It’s lonely here gazing down at the quadrangle, knowing I can see so clearly, without being observed.

I feel like an intruder in other people’s guarded moments, yet I need the comfort that observation will grant me right now. I needed to know what’s waiting down there in the quadrangle. I need to prepare.

The new intake of girls stand segregated for now, whilst the teachers act upon predetermined decisions on who to pair them up with. Each newbie will be partnered with an older, more experienced member of this community of discarded young people. A mentor to help ease them in to the difficult period of adjustment that lay waiting.

I watch the body language of the group, I need to identify them for my own satisfaction … I’ll know better how to move among them that way.

Four of the young people are quietly standing, eyes downcast, shoulders slumped. They have long believed themselves unworthy of being loved. It would take time, and patience before that could change … if it ever did.

Three of the new intake are afraid. They have been suddenly taken from their comfort zones, their sanctuary. No matter how bad it had been, it was familiar, and something they had lived with all of their lives … until now.

Now the courts had made the choice to remove them from that environment. To place them into the care of people trained to help them redefine who they were.

Definitions were difficult in those early weeks and months as both teachers and students struggled to be accepted. I knew that.

I recognized two of the girls standing to the rear of the assembly. These girls were not new. I know them. They had been placed in foster homes and returned when they had proven too difficult to keep. The haunted look in their eyes battled with the sadness, as they accepted finally that the only home they would ever know … was this one. Until and unless they found the courage it would take to make it alone. My memory was rippled with the scattered bodies of these kids.

I knew their anger seethed just below a surface they created to expel any thought of comfort or human contact. They had long ago witnessed just how their skin could be stripped from their bones with words used like weapons on their fragile defenses.

I knew that anger. I also knew that it could and would explode into violence, unleashed by any one of a thousand trigger situations they could suddenly find themselves in …utterly unprepared.

The other girls stood out clearly, they didn’t walk to assembly, they strutted. Tossing long hair and smiling as if they held a secret that only they could ever see. These broken babies flirted with everyone, irrespective of gender or position in the pecking order. You were human and breathing and that was enough to force them to offer you themselves in return for whispered lies of love. Learning to stop equating sex with being loved was a lifetime of counseling away.

I knew too that the teachers burned out fast here. Some managed to survive all the pain they witnessed daily; but it was the support network they had outside these walls, that offered them their only tangible comfort.

Those that tried to absorb all that they witnessed in the vain hope they wouldn’t get flamed into nothingness by it … they crumpled like singed tissue paper and burned to a cinder. Many of them would never be able to teach again.

I looked on as a few of the youngest students started to cry. I watched them comforted by the others that had enough heart still left in them to offer it.

It all came down to the look in the eyes of both students and teachers. There was a hunted and haunted look that ate into your soul and remained there … indelible, immovable, and endlessly sad.

The door opened and Margot the school secretary caused me to turn away from the window.

She glanced at her wristwatch and gave me what passed for a reassuring smile, “It’s time, Flic.”

I nodded and answered, “Be right there.”

She smiled in acknowledgement and left the door ajar.

I gathered my scattered thoughts and wrapped them around me as I walked downstairs, and caught brief smiles of recognition from a few of those assembled.

I stepped up to the microphone. “Good morning, everyone.”

And sixty voices echoed back at me, “Good Morning Principal Flic.”

I had traveled full circle. I had come home.

 

 

 

“Glimpses Across The Barricades” #Poetry in progress. ‘In Dreams of A Perfect World’ by Suzanne Burke.

Welcome to ‘Glimpses Across the Barricades’ This poem was included in the epilogue of my book “Faint Echoes of Laughter”.

In A  Perfect World

by

Suzanne Burke

 

Dreams of aperfect world image

As I lay snugly warm and safe
Within my families womb
My heart begins a slow sad ache
For another child will cry tonight
Another child will die tonight
What was once their home
will become their tomb

Anger tears me as I read
The desperate plead of a child in need
How can we continue to ignore
The deafening cries from every land?
Can the balance be restored or
Are we so desensitized to pain
That we can’t give
Without thought of gain

If I had but one wish to make
Then that wish would surely be
That when my own sweet child has grown,
and if fate so decrees

I’ll hold her own children on my knee
And when I lay them in their beds
No sad thoughts will fill their heads

For our world will have become a place
Where all its children have their space
Where no ugly thoughts will touch their minds
When faith is restored in humankind

No sweet child will need to cry
No hungry child will need to die

We have that power in our hands
To make these changes throughout all lands
If we can but clearly see
That our world is not
What it needs to be

Once the changes have been made
Each child may sleep with sweet child dreams

Each child will wake to see the dawn
Each child will be thankful
they were born.

In my dreams of a perfect world.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: “Ultimate Betrayal” By Jo Ann Wentzel @WentzelJo #Science Fiction #Dystopian. #RRBC

BOOK COVER ULTIMATE BETRAYAL BY JO ANN WENTZEL

BOOK REVIEW: ULTIMATE BETRAYAL. By JO ANN WENTZEL.

Meet author Jo Ann Wentzel.

Jo Ann Wentzel Book Review Bio

Jo Ann Wentzel has been married to the same man, Dan Wentzel, for over 52 years. She is a mother, grandmother and former foster care provider. She worked with over 75 kids while also working as a writer for weekly newspapers and many websites. She served as a Guardian-Ad –Litem and Court Mediator. She and her husband have been speakers and workshop presenters for many groups including foster parents. Almost two years ago, she and her husband retired to a motor home and travel the US with a rescue dog named Jessie.

Ultimate Obliteration is Wentzel’s fourth book and sequel to her novel Ultimate Betrayal. In her first novel, she describes her setting this way “Imagine a dystopian world where society cannot protect their children from moral decay and the spread of evil.” Ultimate Obliteration continues finding a solution to this issue with many using their own brand of justice.

The Rave Reviews Book Club selected her book It Begins and Ends with Family as one of the Books of the Month. This book describes her experiences working with challenging teens and the secrets to running a foster home.

Wentzel also wrote a book A Collection of Jo Ann’s Thoughts, a selection of a variety of her articles in answer to many of your questions.

She has several writing projects in the wings so you certainly will see more of this author.
Jo Ann wants to thank all readers who support her and would love to hear from you. All contact information, more of her writing and a forum to express yourself is available on her website, authorjoannwentzel.com

 

I am reviewing “Ultimate Betrayal.”

BOOK COVER ULTIMATE BETRAYAL BY JO ANN WENTZEL

BLURB.

Imagine a dystopian world where society cannot protect their children from moral decay and the spread of evil.

Andrew Zenith, a conscientious local TV reporter, never worries about getting ahead just making a difference. He uncovers a story that will change the direction of his life forever. After hearing this story, all he thinks about every moment is confirming the facts he hopes are not true. He is driven to save the children. This task is near impossible since the majority of people have cold hearts and a loss of compassion for others.

He joins with others who care. Their mission-is to save the children at all costs. If their mission fails young lives will be ruined and even cut short. The fate of the children rests upon finding answers to the questions no one even wants to ask. Will he succeed against overwhelming odds?

 

MY REVIEW: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A look into a frighteningly possible world.

This book may well be science fiction, and set in a future Dystopian society, but, you would need to be utterly hidden from our current society, with no outside communication whatsoever, not to understand that this book can well reflect with rare exception, the inhumanity exhibited in our world today. Not in some far distant time.

The character of Andrew Zenith is presented well. Author Jo Ann Wentzel’s writing allows us to feel the many layers of this man, his passion for life, his compassion for those for whom life has become unbearably dark. Most notably the children with nowhere to run and nowhere to turn to for safe-haven.

The book permits us a glimpse into a future where the desensitization to other people’s pain has created a callous indifference to suffering, and a well-shielded conscience.

The story is classical good vs evil. What sets it apart from other such classic tales is the author’s ability to allow many shades of both darkness and light to co-exist. It is a complex co-existence. Author Jo Ann Wentzel weaves it well.

An entertaining and thought provoking read indeed. I look forward to reading the sequel.

Purchase Ultimate Betrayal on Amazon.com

Jo Ann Wentzel’s Amazon Author Page.

TWITTER LINK

Author Website

 

BOOK REVIEW: “Panama” By C.S Boyack @Virgilante #RRBC #IARTG

BOOK REVIEW COVER PANAMA BY CS BOYACK

Hello and welcome to my BOOK REVIEW: “Panama” by C.S Boyack.

MEET THE AUTHOR:

BOOK REVIEW BIO PICTURE OF C S BOYACK

I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

BOOK REVIEW COVER PANAMA BY CS BOYACK

BLURB:

Ethan and Coop are sent to the construction zone along the Panama Canal. They have some experience with strange phenomenon, but nothing prepared them for this.

They are faced with civil war, Carlist pretenders to the thrones of France and Spain, an invading Spanish army, and another from Hell itself. They’ll be lucky to survive, let alone take care of anything while they’re down there.

This story is based upon the construction of the canal, Panamanian independence, international cooperation, and a few celebrity cameos. Even the magic takes on an international flavor.

Ghosts and Voodoo are one thing, but they have no idea what waits along the isthmus.

MY REVIEW: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟An utterly Captivating reading experience!

I have read and reviewed another book by this talented author, and was consequently eager to begin this work. This is a marvelous blend of genres. Author C.S Boyack possesses that rare talent of seamlessly blending Historical fact and entertaining fiction together to create a story that is as informative as it is entertaining. I ask no more than that from an author. I was most assuredly captured by rich and divergent characters, so skillfully crafted that they breathed on the page.

Author Boyack has a unique style. He captured me immediately with the introduction of the Ghost whisperer, Ethan, and his delightfully different cohort,  witchdoctor in the making that is Coop.

Many reviewers have covered the basis of the plot, which to say the least is threaded together with the skill of a spider spinning a sparkling web.

This authors’ ability to write wonderful dialogue, combined with a depth of characterization that brings the sounds, scents and imagery into the readers mind, is inspired. There is humor here, and it appears throughout this book, with a deft and certain touch that made me smile and take these diverse characters to my heart.

A stunning combination of fact, mystery, and the supernatural, ensure that this work will linger in my memory and have me seeking more of Author C.S Boyacks’ work.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

talent-spotter-images-links-for-liza-oconnor

PURCHASE “PANAMA” ON AMAZON.COM

C.S BOYACK AUTHOR PAGE on AMAZON.COM

Find C S BOYACK ON TWITTER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Arrival” Excerpt 2. My work-‘Under Construction’. A Paranormal Thriller.

Hello, and thanks for joining me again. I will be sharing one of my latest projects here with you each week. The installments are brief. I do hope you enjoy them.

If you like what you read, you can catch up with all previous excerpts here:

PREVIOUS EXCERPTS FROM ARRIVAL … HERE

 

ARRIVAL

By

S. Burke

Chapter 1 … Excerpt 2.

MIND CONTROL FOR TO BE CONTINUED PAGE ARRIVAL.

.

 

Chapter 1 … Excerpt 2.

 

 

Diego rested his hand on the Glock, seeking comfort in the unrelentingly cold hardness of the metal.

He checked the CCTV image; uncertain if it were a trick of his mind that permitted him to visualize the shapes that waited there, as friend, and not foe.

Two people stood unmoving, both concealed by the dark hoodies that covered their heads and faces so successfully. The stance of one was tantalizingly familiar; yet Diego’s brain recognized it as an impossibility, even as the thought formed. ‘No … impossible!  No, no, no,  you’re dead’

He clicked the intercom open, and was not surprised when his voice quavered as he spoke, “What?”

“That’s no way to greet an old friend, Chicano!

“Santa Madre de Dios! No! I saw you die.”

The one who had spoken, raised both hands, then, slowly and with long-tapered fingers’, pushed back the hoodie. The perfect features worked themselves into a high-powered smile. “I decided that death was supremely overrated, Chicano! You know how I am when I make up my mind. Now open the fucking door, I need a drink!”

Diego Ortega made his choice, and with a hand that shook, he deactivated the explosive charge, his first-line of defense.  He opened the door; even as he clicked off the safety on the Glock, and stood ready to use it at point blank range if necessary.

“Weapons on the table. Both of you, now!” He said, surprising himself that he could speak at all.

“That’s the first smart thing you’ve said.” The un-hooded one replied, placing another Glock on the table.

“You!” Diego pointed his weapon at the shorter of the two, “The weapon, now!”

The second person slowly moved their right hand, and pulled a gun from beneath the hoodie. It was carefully laid alongside his companions.

Diego placed his gun barely inches from the face of the one he recognized, “The back-up. On the table. Make it fast.”

“Good call! So you do remember?” The left ankle was quickly revealed and a lethal knife was quickly removed from its sheath, to join the guns on the table.

“Hands behind you. Kneel on the floor.”

“You,” he pointed the gun at the second one, “Down.”

The two threats to his sanity were now cuffed. “Tell me what you want. Make it fast.”

“I want a drink, Chicano. You know what I like.”

“Still drinking Buds?” Diego smiled stiffly as he asked.

“I’ve never touched beer in my life. Nice try, Chicano. But no cigar! You disappoint me; I expected your wits to have remained sharper than this. I have my preferred drink of choice in my backpack; unless you happen to have a Twelve-year-old single malt scotch available?”

Diego heard clearly, “That is hardly a secret. You’ll need much more to convince me that you are who you appear to be. Much, more.”

“You whisper ‘Ti Amo’ when you orgasm.”

“I do that with anyone that satisfies me.”

“I’m tired of this bullshit, Chicano! You ask the damned questions. I want a drink while I wait.”

Diego was wavering, but held the gun ready. He racked his memory banks for something unique to his tormentor. “What did your mother say to you just before she died?”

The tormentor glared at him, not speaking, for a long, cold, moment. Then the words erupted like poisonous sores spewing puss.  “She said, ‘You were always the waste of a perfectly good fuck!’ Just before I shot her.”

Diego stood motionless for what felt an eternity, then, with tears pouring from his still disbelieving eyes, he moved behind the visitors and removed the cuffs.

“Querida. Mi amor preciouso!” He pulled the woman into his arms.

She laughed delightedly and kissed him. “Your accent thickens whenever you are passionate or afraid. Which is it now? ”

Diego looked in her green eyes, as his memories threatened to spiral out of control, “A mixture of both, Elizabeth. We need to talk. I have company coming, soon now. We will talk later.”

He turned his attention to her companion once more, “Your name?”

“His name is Javier.”

“Can he not speak for himself, Elizabeth?”

“No … he cannot. The Breed removed his tongue.”

Diego looked at the younger man, “I’m so sorry.”

” Why did they allow him to live? They usually complete the butchering process.”

The woman looked across at the young man. They shared an unspoken moment.

“It will take time to explain, Diego.”The woman looked into his eyes for a long moment. “These people you are expecting … . Do you trust them with our lives, Diego?”

To Be Continued …