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After  I published Against All Odds I have started on my next book a detective story.  I’ve titled it Beyond Redemption. Today I finished the third chapter of the novel, and I felt good about that   So, to celebrate I’ll post the first chapter unedited and all for your enjoyment.  To keep me working steadily on the book I’ll post other chapters down the road.  Please enjoy.

Beyond Redemption

Chapter 1: A Murder Victim in the Park

The cellphone on the nightstand had only rung softly for a few moments when Vanessa reached for it.  She listened to the caller briefly and replied, “Give me three seconds.”  She looked over at William glad he was a sound sleeper.  For a moment she watched him sleep peacefully.  His lips had formed a faint smile.  She blew him a kiss and hurried to the living room to take the call.  Forty minutes later she drove her Buick out of the driveway.

She had showered and dressed quickly before she had stopped for a minute at Adrian’s bed.  Slowly she had bent down to kiss his forehead and had whispered, “Love you.”  He’ll be two in three weeks she had thought, as she had hurried from the room. She had left a short note for William telling him she would call him later and had hurried to the garage.

Her thoughts remained with her child and her husband for a few more minutes, and the brother or sister they would give Adrian in six months, as she continued to drive into the city.  It had rained for a short time after midnight before it had cleared, but the streets were still wet.  She cast a glance at the full moon illuminating the night sky.  The sight of it caused her to shift her thinking to the call from headquarters.  “Another murder during this phase of the moon,” she whispered.  “This one makes four in five months.”  She shook her head recalling the three other incidents and thought of the similarities she had noted investigating those three slayings.

Some of these resemblances had become quickly apparent to her. All the three victims were known to the police for drug related offenses.  They were single men in their early twentieth or early thirties.  The cause of death in each case on first inspection was thought to the long, sharp hairpin with a black imitation diamond at its top stuck expertly through the heart.  Later it was discovered that these men had been drugged and asphyxiated.  Each of the victims had taken a call from someone phoning from a public telephone, according to their cellphones.  As for other clues that might identify the killer, to this day they had found nothing substantial.  All the bodies were found late at night or early in the morning in a secluded area away from nearby traffic but had been killed at a different place.  How the full moon fit into the mix was anybody’s guess, although Vanessa felt there was a reason.

The similarities had also convinced her each of the three homicides had been carefully planned.  It appeared to her they all had to be carefully executed as well.  All three cases were open and active, and she was determined to solve each of these cases.  She had continued investigating all three, and became convinced they were the work of one individual.  Her investigations had shown the three victims had died of asphyxiation after being rendered helpless, and the point of the pin into the heart, she was sure, was the perpetrator’s calling card.  Vanessa had also concluded this individual had a degree of expert knowledge about the human body.  In each case the pin had passed through the aortic valve.  Vanessa shuttered thinking a person could commit such heinous acts.

Dawn had not announced the new day when she drove into Central Park and pulled to a stop in the space to which the police officer standing in front of the cordoned off area had pointed.  She noticed two squat cars and an undercover vehicle some distance away. Vanessa did not know the officer and showed him her badge before she ducked under the tape.  Walking quickly toward the four other officers she saw searching the area in an arc around a body, she briefly greeted them as she reached them.

Claire Kinson her assistant detective stepped toward her and said, “Sorry to rob you of your sleep, Vanessa.  I was sure you wanted to see this before the body is taken to the lab.”  She turned to the two policemen who had stopped in their search for clues and introduced Vanessa to them.  “Detective Haldersen will oversee the investigation,” she said to them.

Vanessa had taken in the scene as she had approached. Now she let her eyes slowly sweep over the immediate area around the body draped over the guardrail in front of the small pond beyond it.  When her sight rested on the lifeless form of the young man a feeling of pity mixed with anger at the perpetrator touched her.  In the two years during which she had investigated criminal cases that had involved loss of life she had not gotten used to seeing a murder victim.

“Who found him?” she asked turning to Claire.

Claire cleared her throat briefly then said.  “Front desk got a call at 2:47 this morning from a female saying her boyfriend and she had pulled into the park’s parking lot to say good night, but she had refused to give their names claiming they didn’t want others close to them to know of their meeting.  Roberta called me and wanted to contact you.  I told her I would have a look and then call you, if I thought you needed to be in on this matter from the outset.  Harry and I did a walk-through, after we checked for signs of life.  Without touching anything Brent found the hairpin with a black pearl stuck in his chest.  I told two of the boys to secure a large area for us and pointed out where I wanted them to place markers.  There may well be tire marks on this pavement we might want to photograph.”

“Hm, let’s see if we can trace the call and find some names.  Does this appear to be the primary crime scene in your estimation, Claire?”

“It looks that way to me.  We’ll have a better idea about this once we know the time of death and are sure about what killed him.  It has the marks of the other killings we’re investigating, but we must rule out the possibility of a copycat act.  Those three unsolved cases you’re working on have been in the news day and night, and there are those loose canons out there who would do anything to gain some notoriety.”

For a moment Vanessa surveyed her assistant and thought about Claire’s comments.  She had expected a brief answer to the question about the crime scene.  It appeared to her briefly Claire had tried to belittle her by pointing to standard procedures any detective would know.  She was sure she had heard her stress the words you and unsolved like a challenge to her.  Vanessa was tempted to ask her what her problem was.  She had taken those unsolved cases over from Claire not long ago.  She had headed for the two years back on the force the theft and burglary division and had an excellent track record there.  The Chief had transferred her to homicide to lead that division.  Claire and she now worked on the unsolved cases together, but she decided against pointing these things out to stay focused on the case before them.  “You can continue with your sweep of the area,” was all she said to Claire.

She surveyed the position of the body draped over the two-foot-high guardrail.  It suggested to her the body was dumped out from a car driven parallel and close to the railing.  Since dead men don’t drive, the body had been in the passenger seat, she thought.  For a moment she tried to visualize someone unloading it from the trunk of a vehicle or back of a SUV.  Both those possibilities would mean the crime had been committed elsewhere.

Turning to one of the officers she said, “Tommy, please take photographs of the man where he is from many angles including a couple from above, and keep all vehicles from driving anywhere near this guardrail.  In the first light of the new day she noticed how young the man looked.  It evoked a new feeling of pity in her.

She walked closer to the corpse.  There she made a note of the left arm stuck partly under his body making his hand visible from where she stood.  His right arm hung over the rail and almost touched the grass on the other side.  “Whoever placed him here stood on his right side to do this,” she whispered.

She continued to scrutinize the ground immediately around the body, placed markers from his left side to about twenty feet beyond his right side and about six feet in front of the body.  Before she stepped over the railing at the markers on the far-right side, she told Tommy not to let anyone step into the area she had marked off until they had a chance to examine the entire area carefully in daylight and had taken all the photographs she wanted.  Turning to Tommy again she asked if they had found any identification on the man.  He in turn told her they had not checked for identification yet thinking it more important to secure the area first.

She considered the position of the body again and once more felt pity tugging at her.  Stooping low she examined the ground below the upper part of the body.  Something in the grass below the hand drew her attention.  In the beam of her flashlight she saw a few bunched-up strands of black hair below the hand.  It appeared to her that they had fallen from his hand held slightly open by rigor mortise.  Taking tweezers from her coat pocket she carefully placed them into a plastic bag she had taken out with the tweezers.  When she focused the light beam on the hand, she noticed a hair of the same color stuck between the index and middle fingers.  Something else she saw interested her, a bloodstain on the tip of the thumb and the index finger.

Daylight had replaced dawn when the coroner arrived.  Vanessa spoke to him briefly before he began his investigation.  As the medical examiner he would try to determine the cause and time of death, information Vanessa was hoping to receive quickly.  She turned back to examining a faint tire impression she had discovered to run parallel to the guardrail.  Only three and a quarter of an inch of the tire’s width she saw clearly imprinted on a patch of dry soil that she guessed might have fallen off the vehicle before the tire ran over it.  If that’s the case it had to be the rear tire, she thought, and given its nearness to the rail most likely on the passenger side.  She called Tommy Powers and instructed him to take photographs and measurements of the imprint.  “And Tommy, please bag some of that dry soil.  I want the lab to analyze it.  I didn’t find any soil elsewhere in this parking lot.  This might be useful to us. It might have fallen off a vehicle that had driven in here with the body sometimes during the night.”

She had searched for evidence for nearly three hours before she had felt satisfied she had not overlooked any clue.  Claire, Harry, Tommy and Brent Hooper had arrived at the scene before she had come.  They would also soon wrap up their work she knew.  She made careful notes of everything she had found that she had thought might be important to the investigation.  When she had completed that task, the coroner stopped by.  He informed her he had decided to do an autopsy and likely would order an inquest.  He told her he would call her later in the morning to let her know the approximate time of death as he turned to go to his vehicle.  She thanked him and returned to finish making notes of her findings.

“I’ll get Claire to wrap up here,” she said to Tommy who had come to ask if there was something else she wanted him to do.  “You can finish what you were doing and give Claire a hand, if she needs you.”

She walked to where Claire and Brent stood talking.  “Please wrap up here,” she told Claire.  “Make sure we have plenty pictures of the body and its position here.  “I’ll arrange for the body to be picked up and then head to the office.”  Her thoughts were still on the young man whose body lay draped across the railing like a discarded and forgotten doll.

“Can we talk about our findings?” Claire asked hoping to find out what evidence Vanessa might have gathered.

“Did you find anything that points to a killer?” Vanessa questioned.  She felt a deep urge to find that killer who seemed to enjoy destroying a life.  Claire’s question remained unanswered, lost in the turmoil in Vanessa’s mind.  Instead she said, “We have to catch this monster quickly.  My guess is this won’t be his last victim.

Claire surveyed Vanessa for a moment before she replied, “Nothing substantial.”

“Sometimes nothing substantial solves the case.  Come to my office once we’re all back at the office, right after lunch at the latest, and we’ll put our findings together,” Vanessa said, turned and excused herself.

Claire stared after her until Vanessa had almost reached her car.  Then she called Tommy and Brent to meet with her.  “She was rather curt,” she grumbled.  “I wonder what’s got to her?  Thinking of Vanessa for a moment longer a vision of William’s smiling face entered her thoughts.  “I’ll have to get her to ask me over to their place again,” she murmured under her breath.  “That man of hers is something special.  I wonder how she was able to snare him.”

Brent had observed her as he approached, “A cappuccino for your thoughts,” he said grinning at her.  “You look pleased about something.  I hope your thoughts were of me.”

“I was just thinking about stopping for coffee latte.  You can buy me one, Brent.  “I can use a few minutes to forget this and think about more pleasant things.”

Vanessa decided to stop for a bite of breakfast at a diner she passed on the way to the office.  After seating herself she dialed William’s cell phone.  “Good morning, sweetheart,” she said when he answered.  “Did you miss me this morning?”

“I miss you every second of the day when you’re not with me.  Did you know that every time I look at you I say to myself, “Will, what did you do to deserve to have the most beautiful woman in the world agree to be your wife?  I missed you when I found you gone this morning when I woke up.  Hopefully you weren’t called out to deal with something unpleasant, and that you’re having a good morning.  I had a fantastic breakfast with our boy and reluctantly dropped him off at Marvelous’ house.  You should have seen his face when he had finished his waffle.  His whole face had enjoyed the syrup and whipping cream from ear to ear.”

Vanessa giggled imagining how Adrian had enjoyed eating breakfast.  “Why did you drop him off reluctantly, William?” she asked.  “Your sister loves him.  And her two girls dote on him.  Adrian loves them all too.”

“Oh, I know all that, but I would have liked to have taken him to Jimmy’s place and taught him to play pool on my way to Harmony One,” he teased.

She laughed.  “I love how you can take my cloudy and dark days and turn them to clear skies and sunshine.  I love you.  What’s on your agenda today?”

“I have to deal with something that has come up unexpectedly this morning.  We will have to discuss it tonight.”  But Vanessa’s curiosity had peaked, and she pleaded with him to give her at least an idea what had come up unexpectedly.  There were not many things he could deny his wife.  “I had a visit from a corporation’s vice-president who came to tell me his company is interested in purchasing our five Harmony stores, both businesses and properties.  He told me his company would be willing to offer us twenty-two million.  He left us a document detailing that offer.  You’ll see it tonight.”

“Are you teasing me again, or is this on the level?”

“I’m not joking, sweetheart.  I have started to do some research into this corporation and have called Parker Rundle in Seattle.  He sold his wholesale company to them a year ago.”

Vanessa had no idea what the stores were worth and was about to ask William, if the offer was tempting to him, when the waitress arrived with her breakfast. They said goodbye shortly after this and soon her thoughts turned again to the murder she wanted desperately to solve.

The morning’s vision of the young man draped over that guardrail had touched a cord in her heart.  He looked so young and innocent, she thought.  What bad decisions did he make to be the victim of this targeted hit.  She guessed it likely had something to do with drug trafficking, but he didn’t fit the stereotype.  His dress was modest.  He had no weapons on him.  They had no mugshot of him down at the station, but it was mostly a gut feeling that caused her to think he was not connected to a gang or was involved in a criminal activity.

She shook her head and sighed.  I’m not going to leave a stone unturned until I find that killer, she thought.  First, we’ll determine if this murder was committed by the same person who is responsible for the other three in our jurisdiction.  She sat up strait finishing that thought.  Two things struck her.  She and her team had exclusively concentrated their search on males.  So far they had also not checked on other jurisdictions countrywide.  “We have to broaden our search,” she whispered, “and I’ll have that hair and bloodstain analyzed.  It didn’t look like there was a cut on his hand.  I want to find out from where that blood came.  With any luck we’ll find it’ll belong to the killer.  That kind of clue won’t help us a great deal in the early stages of our investigation, but every bit of evidence will help us proof our findings.”

She drove slowly to the station.  Her mind remained focused on all she had observed and found at the murder scene, as she steered her unmarked car through the increasing traffic.  She parked quickly when she had arrived at the station and walked briskly up the stairs.  She greeted her friend Kimberly at the front desk and asked her to let Claire know she hoped to be in her office now for a few hours.

Kimberly told her that Claire had not come in yet and said, “There was a call for you from the East Coast from a detective.  He said he was investigating a homicide in Boston.  The fellow said he had several questions he wanted to ask you about a case he had heard you are working on, and asked that you call him back.  Not knowing when you would be in I told him I would give you his request as soon as you were in your office.  I placed a note with his name and phone number on your desk.”

Vanessa thanked her and asked if Lee, her son’s earache had improved.  She entered her office and closed the door a moment later.  Reading the note Kimberly had left on her desk she decided to call Boston after she had contacted the lab and left instructions there.  Her call to Glenda at the lab had taken longer than she had anticipated, and she had barely hung up when Kimberly put through another call.  She drummed her fingers on her desk wanting to make that call to Boston, but this caller made her stand up strait.

“I know,” she heard the caller whisper and laugh low in a forced way.  The voice had Vanessa’s attention as much as its words and the laugh.  It appeared disguised as if spoken through cupped hands or with something stuffed in the mouth.  Before she could reply she heard the two words and laugh repeated and the phone go dead.

Vanessa hurried to Kimberly, “Did that caller say who it was?” she asked.

“No, he or she only asked for you.  For a second I had thought I recognized that voice, but suddenly it sounded different and kind of demanding.  When I asked who it was the caller said to hurry, and then I heard nothing else.  It was as if the phone had been left in an empty room.  The whole thing gave me the creeps.”

With her brow furrowed Vanessa asked Kimberly to see if the call can be traced and returned to her office.  She wondered what kept Claire, but she recalled telling her to meet with her after lunch.  She scolded herself for thinking her partner had taken her time to come and meet with her.  Once more she thought about the call from the detective who had left his name and number and wondered what he wanted to know.

Claire Kinson had been assigned to her four months earlier.  She had not been new to the force, but had worked in homicide in this jurisdiction for over a year after coming from a unit in the east of the country.  Despite trying to make friends with her Vanessa had realised they had not grown closer.  Vanessa had invited Claire to her home for dinner twice hoping to start to get to know her better and feel more comfortable around her. but if anything, those dinners had created more distance between them.  Claire’s eyes looked at the world with a coldness that Vanessa found unnatural.  Claire’s demeanor around Vanessa at times also appeared guarded and defensive, occasionally even offensive to her.

She sighed.  I must make more of an effort to befriend her and get to know her better, Vanessa thought.  I really know very little about her.  Who knows what demons have tormented her in her life.  She has never mentions anyone she is close to.  My impressions of her maybe totally wrong, and I must not judge her.  I certainly have no reason to be critical of the job she has done since she had become my assistant.  Her ability to think through and analyze complex problems is excellent.  She seems to get along with most of the people at the station.  I hope she doesn’t resent that I was given the lead in the section over her.

For a few moments Vanessa remained seated in her chair quietly trying to clear her mind in preparation for her call to Boston.  She had to wait for several minutes for the detective to take her call, after the receptionist had told her she would connect her to his office.  Subconsciously, she drummer the fingers of her right hand on her desk’s top trying to keep her mind from straying back to the scene in the park.

“Darren Whitestone here,” she heard a man’s voice finally say.  He briefly referred to his official identification then told her why he had called.  “I had opened a cold case a few months ago and had been investigation it without making much headway, when I learned of a case in your area that sounded like a carbon copy of what I have here,” he said.

He went on to speak of a young man who had been on their radar as a dealer who was murdered and found dumped in a wooded area away from traffic.  “He had a needle with a black imitation diamond stuck in his heart,” he went on to say.

Vanessa told him of the cases she was investigating and asked, “Did his time of death by any chance coincide with the full moon?”

After a moment of silence, the detective replied that this was the case.  “I had not placed any significance on that fact.  Is that significant in the cases you are investigating?” he asked and wanted to know more specifically what she made of it.  He thanked her for pointing this out to him.  “This might indeed help us narrow our search,” he added.

“It is a fact in all three of our cases.  As of this morning we have a new case to solve, a case identical to the other three,” Vanessa told him.  She asked him about witnesses, the cause of death and several other questions of interest to her.

They agreed it appeared they were looking for the same individual who had committed these crimes.  They spoke for another fifteen minutes and agreed to stay in touch with each other before they hung up.

It had only occurred to Vanessa this day that there might be cases in other parts of the country that were committed by the same individual she tried to find.  “It’s another item I must check out,” she said.  “It is possible there are other cases in this country and maybe abroad that were committed by this monster.”

She looked at her watch to find that much of the morning had slipped away.  The few leads and clues they had gathered trying to solve these recent cases brought to her mind her last assignment with her mentor in police work.  I wonder what Casey is up to these days, she thought.  She had worked with Casey before she had met William, and on his suggestion gone undercover to catch a jewel thief.  Casey had suspected that thief to be William, the man with whom she would fall in love while helping Casey solve those high-profile cases of the jewel thief who had left no clues only a calling card.

Casey had taught her much.  He had worked as a policeman for many years, had a sharp mind and had keen insight into human and criminal behavior.  She was tempted to call him just to run things by him and see what his thoughts were.  “He may need a little excitement.  Retirement must have some dull moments,” she giggled.

She had quit the force after that undercover operation, married William, completed her last year of coursework in law and had gone to work as a lawyer with a large law firm.  But she had found the work she had been often given to do boring and had soon begun to miss police work.  With William’s blessing she had returned to the force a year later with the theft and burglary division, the division Casey had led before his retirement.

She still knew Casey’s family home telephone number by heart and quickly dialed the number.  A smile formed on her face when, after she had greeted him, she heard his familiar voice say, “Hello princess.  How is my girl today?”

 

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Against All Odds

My book Against All Odds is now published in eBook format and can be found at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Tolino, Playster, Scribd, amd Inktera.  Apple, 24 Symbols, and OverDrive should carry it soon also.

Against All Odds Final

For you to get acquainted with what the book is about I have copied the pages below

Prologue

There comes a time in most people’s lives when someone who has come to know you asks, “Why do you do that?”  Or perhaps while discussing a significant issue with others a person asks you, “Why do you believe this?”  These also might be questions you are led to ask yourself after an experience that causes you to want to examine your habits or beliefs.  It is a good practice to do so occasionally, even if it is for no reasons other than to wish to change a practice or grow in understanding.

One of the admonitions the Apostle Peter gives us is to always be ready to give others an answer why we believe salvation and eternal life are attainable through Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (KJV).  We are living in an age of information overload.  Confronted by the unrelenting flood of knowledge and news it has become most difficult to take time for reflection to quietly explore questions relating to who we are, and on what we have based our beliefs.  In Psalm forty-six verse ten the Lord instructs us to “Be still and know that I am God.”  The Psalmist reminds us to take time away from the whirlwind of our days to know what we believe in our innermost being.

Back when I had completed my first two or three books I had determined to eventually try to write a Christian adventure or love story. After self-publishing my sixth novel, I began to wonder and ask what I should write next.  I had written two historical adventure stories.  Two others can be classified as novels in the genre of crime.  Another is a romance novel, and one is a love story set in a fictional Christian background.  In it I explore how tragedies affect people and even shake the strongest faith.  Now I felt the time was right to attempt that Christian adventure story.  For inspiration for a story I had begun to read Christian novels.

I tend to get my ideas for stories from something I see, read or hear that intrigues me or causes me to ask serious questions.  My novel, “Secrets of Hawking Manor” grew from a painting of an old English country estate I had seen in a hotel with its own history.  The painting had captured my interest and imagination.  I couldn’t get the scene of the estate out of my mind.  I wondered what kind of people might have lived at that estate in its glory days, what their joys and their sorrows were, and what problems and opportunities their time in history presented to them.  I invented the characters, spent many hours researching the time in history in which I had set the novel and enjoyed writing the story of the lives of my characters.  These characters became my companions throughout the months I wrote the novel.  The research of the time in history in which I had set the storyline I found delightful and enlightening.  It inspired me to write a sequel.  I received my inspiration for the next five novels in similar fashion, and I enjoyed writing each one of those novels as well.

As I have mentioned, once I had completing my last novel, I decided to write that Christian book I had thought I would like to write years earlier, but inspiration and enthusiasm for the themes and characters I had explored abandoned me.  Even though I had played with several ideas in my mind the excitement I needed to settle on one of these and start to plan for plot and characters did not emerge with any of my ideas.  Then I read an account of one of the Apostles named in the New Testament.  That narrative did ignite my interest.  But the more I thought about writing a novel featuring a hero or a heroin who encounters adventures like this disciple had experienced on his travels two thousand years earlier, I realized it was not what I wanted my next book to be.

What I knew of these disciples’ lives and ministries, what I had read of the messages they had left behind was a reason for my faith.  Fictionalizing this did not appeal to me the more I thought about it.  Struggling to sort out what I wanted to write I became convinced I should find out as much as I could about each of these men who had followed Jesus for several years.  I was sure they had encountered many adventures and had to overcome many difficulties.  The idea struck me to search beyond what I knew of them and write about what I found out.

Consequently, I determined to challenge myself to do the mountain of research I knew it would require and write not a novel, as I had first thought to do, but a nonfiction account.  While I had read the account that morning which had inspired me, I had also felt deeply drawn to once more analyse the reasons why I had believed all biblical teachings to be true.  I had trusted that Jesus Christ is the Son of God through whom I had become reconciled to an almighty God many years earlier.  It was not that I had begun to doubt what I believed, but I thought it good to show how my experiences validated my faith and to share my testimony of the power of God’s love.

 Chapter 3:  Who Were the Disciples?

The twelve disciples or apostles as they were called after Jesus had risen were twelve men Jesus had called to spent time with him, to learn from him and to get to know him. A disciple is a student, an apprentice and an adherent and follower.  He wanted to teach them about God, show them who he was, explain what he came to do and tell them of the Kingdom of Heaven.

It follows, in my opinion, that his purpose also would have been to prepare them for a life of witnessing of what they had heard him say and saw him do.  We read in the Gospels that one day walking by the Sea of Galilee Jesus saw two fishermen mending their nets.  He called them to follow him, and told them he would make them fishers of men.  Incredible to me is the fact that they left everything and followed him immediately.  See Matthew 4:18-20.

Reading this begs me to ask, what kind of man was this who could ask two individuals working at their trade to go with him, and they do so straight away leaving behind their means to make their living?  Days before this Andrew, who had been a disciple of John the Baptist had introduced Peter to Jesus, but we read nowhere that Jesus had asked either of these two to follow him at that meeting.  In John 1:40-42 we read, One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, ‘You are Simon the son of Jonah.  You shall be called Cephas’ which is translated, a Stone.” (NKJV).  Jewish people at this time were hoping for the promised Messiah to come, free them from Roman rule and set up a kingdom.

In Luke 3:15-16 we read of their waiting for this fulfillment of God’s promise.  “The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.  John answered them all, ‘I baptize you with water.  But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.’” (NIV)

Andrew and Peter were fishermen.  They along with their father, Jonah, owned their boat and perhaps more than one.  It took much work to maintain the equipment needed to be successful at their trade.  Peter was a married man.  His wife’s mother lived them.  Their father likely had dependents too.  Clearly, Andrew and Peter were convinced this man who called them to follow him was no ordinary man.  It appears they did not debate whether their father could carry on alone.  They did not ask how they would support their dependants.

Jesus did not assure them of property or wealth when he called them.  He only promised to make them fishers of people.  They did not ask what he meant by fishers of men, nor what they would need to do or what it would cost them.  Neither did Jesus hide from them that they would face persecution and hardships for following him.

Most interesting to me also, reading and researching information about the individuals known as Jesus’ disciples was to realize that the twelve men were ordinary people like most of us are.  In fact, Mathew was a tax collector, someone the people at that time despised.  Simon the Zealot was a revolutionary who actively opposed the Roman occupation forces.  Several of them were fishermen.  They ranged greatly in temperament.  Some were headstrong and other timid.  There were those who firmly believed the Messiah would come soon, and there were doubters in this group of men.

Like Andrew and Peter, Jesus called the sons of Zebedee, James and John while they were at their place of work.  They too were fishermen.  It is thought by some writers that their father was a man of means.  Some writers suggest James and John were Andrew and Peter’s partners.  Being fishermen they, no doubt, at least knew each other.

One of the twelve, Judas Iscariot has become infamous over the centuries for his betrayal of Jesus.  Even after two thousand years it is not unusual to hear someone call a person who betrayed their confidence a Judas.  To me this disciple is pitiful.  He heard Jesus speak of how to reap treasures in heaven and many other amazing things.  He saw him heal lepers and calm a storm. He was a witness when Jesus raised their friend, Lazarus, from the dead.  What was Judas thinking?  What motivated him to sell Jesus out to those who wanted him crucified?  We know from the Gospels that he was responsible for the group’s funds and appeared to love money.  Still, it is hard to think he would betray his Lord for thirty pieces of silver.  I read in the Gospels that Jesus once asked what it would profit someone to gain the whole world and lose his soul in the process, and wonder what Judas state of mind was.  With that act he had fulfilled an Old Testament prophesy.  See Zechariah 11: 12-13.  Judas had sold his soul not for the whole world but for thirty pieces of silver.

The other men Jesus called also were common folk, men of average talents and means.  Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus and Thaddaeus were all called individually or brought to Jesus by another disciple.  These five are less known.  Less is written about them, but each one continued to the end of his life to be an eyewitness of the life of Jesus Christ, his crucifixion and resurrection, and each one continued to proclaim Jesus’ message against great odds and unjust persecution.

In the pages to follow I will attempt to find as much as is possible and describe each of the twelve men individually fully, and say to what conclusion each of their portraits has led me.  In addition, I will research and write about four others of whom we read in the Bible and who also were eyewitnesses or would have been able to meet and speak to eyewitnesses in their search for the truth about Jesus, the Messiah.

Who were these twelve men?  They were ordinary men.  No special accomplishments or talents had distinguished them from millions of other men before Jesus had called them to follow him.  Their education consisted of what was offered all Jewish boys who eventually would make their living at a trade commonly found at their time in history.  They lived in a country occupied by Roman legions and controlled by Roman law.  They lived in the hope that soon the Messiah who had been promised them by several prophets in the Scriptures would come and free them from Roman rule.

Following Jesus they at first had believed they had found the Messiah who would set up this promised Jewish kingdom for which the people of the land had hoped for a long time.  But being with Jesus for three years they learned of all that Jesus taught, and they began to realize he had not come to set up an earthly kingdom.  They saw the miracles he performed.  It had to convince them Jesus was more than just a man.  His death by crucifixion, his resurrection from the dead and his ascension opened their eyes to who he truly was.  They had realized that instead of freeing Israel from Roman rule they had found the Son of God who had come to prepare for them a place in his heavenly kingdom.  They had found he had come to offer them and all men women and children a life full of meaning on this earth and eternal life thereafter in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Apostles One by One

Chapter 5: Thaddaeus

As I start this section I want to focus on the lesser known disciples first.  One of these men was Thaddaeus.  Little is known about his life.  His name in Greek means large hearted and courageous.  Some writers describe him as good hearted with a servant’s attitude.  Others thought he had been a Zealot and had not been opposed to using force.  He is sometimes paired with Simon the Zealot.  He is also referred to by at least three names.  Matthew in the tenth chapter calls him Thaddaeus.  At that occasion Jesus had called his disciples together to send them out to witness to the people of Israel.

Thaddaeus appears to be the name by which he is most often called.  Other names sometimes used are Labbaeus and Judas, son of James, as he is identified in Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13.  From the account in Acts 1:13 we also learn that he was part of the group of disciples in the “Upper Room” after Jesus ascended to heaven, and the eleven disciples chose Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot.  He is also sometimes referred to as Jude, the son of James. Some scholars think he may be the author of the short Book of Jude in the Bible.  Still others believe later authors trying to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot shortened Judas to Jude in his case.

If he wrote that book of Jude, he was a master of crafting beautifully expressive language.  The opening greeting is delightfully worded.  The Doxology at the end of the book which is quoted below in its simplicity is nothing short of elegant and beautiful.

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Jude 1:24-25 (KJV)

What we know for certain is that Thaddaeus was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples as his name appears in the lists when these men are named.  We also know he was one Jesus sent out along with the other eleven at the time described by Matthew in chapter ten. They were to go out to cast out evil spirits and heal the sick.  Their message was to tell the people that the Kingdom of Heaven was near.  That he was part of this group I believe shows he was seen by Jesus as worthy and able to carry out this task assigned to him and these men.  The assignment was not an easy one.  They were not to take with them things to sustain and protect them like bread, a change of clothes, money, a bag to carry things in or a walking stick.  See Luke 9:1-10.  Jesus also told them that they may not be welcomed by the people in some of the towns and villages, and he prepared them for that kind of eventual occasion.

Some writers examining the apostles suggest that Thaddaeus was the brother of James the lesser and perhaps even his twin.  Both are referred to in the Gospels as sons of Alpheus or of Cleophas and Mary.  They both called Galilee home.  It is likely, therefore, that they were brothers.  Some biblical scholars believed both were married and had children.  Some also suggest that these two men had been fishermen like several others of the disciples were.  There are scholars who believe they were brought to Jesus by James and John the sons of Zebedee.  We know from the Gospels that these later two were fishermen by trade.  However, it is not recorded in the Gospels what occupation Thaddaeus had practiced or how he came to be one of the twelve.

Still other accounts list him together with Simon the Zealot, a man actively opposing the Roman occupation of their country, an act that carried with it a penalty of imprisonment or death by crucifixion.  To the contrary, we know he did not attempt to fight when the band of soldiers and officers of the high priest came, led by Judas Iscariot, to arrest Jesus and take him first to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas the high priest.  This band of Roman soldiers consisted of three to six hundred men trained to put down all riots or rebellions.  It appears they came prepared and equipped for a fight.  Only Peter drew a sword and wounded the high priest’s servant before Jesus told him to put his weapon away, but he was not a Zealot.

We find one event in the Gospels that featured Thaddaeus specifically.  After the Last Supper Jesus prepared his disciples for his death, and he comforted them.  He told them the world will soon no longer see him, but that they will see him again, and he would send them the Holy Spirit.  At that point Thaddaeus turned to him and asked a question that suggests that even with all the miracles he had seen Jesus perform he had not yet fully comprehended who Jesus really was and for what reason he had come to the world.  Perhaps he still hoped Jesus had come to overthrow the Roman occupation and set up a kingdom in Israel.

In John 14:22 (NKJV) we read, “Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”  The prevalent belief by the people of Israel was that the Messiah would come to set up a kingdom and free them from Roman rule.  This disciple must have had no doubt that Jesus was the Messiah, but Thaddaeus had failed to understand who the Messiah truly was.  No doubt he imagined he would receive an important post in the kingdom when Jesus became king and had hoped that this time was close at hand.  We also know from the Gospel accounts that like most of the other disciples Thaddaeus abandoned Jesus when he was arrested and put on trial.

The talk of the town and in the area around Jerusalem centered all around the crucifixion and the things that had happened there on the weekend of the crucifixion.  The men walking to Emmaus spoke of it.  Luke in chapter twenty-four verses thirteen and fifteen tells us, “That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.”

While we know they had deserted him and were hiding, it is still safe for us to assume that the disciple Thaddaeus and the rest of the disciples would have known Jesus had been crucified and had died shortly after this had occurred.  With that knowledge, no doubt, Thaddaeus’ dream of being freed of the Roman rule and of a separate kingdom rising in Israel had perished also.  This had to be a disappointment to him.  His understanding that Jesus was the Son of God came to him a little later, as it did to others of Jesus’ followers.  After Thaddaeus and the rest of the disciples had found out Jesus had risen from the dead they appeared to have been bewildered until Jesus came to them where they were hiding.

From the time of Jesus resurrection onward this man called Thaddaeus no longer had illusions about having an important place in an earthly kingdom.  Tradition tells us he travelled to preach and to heal people in Judea, Samaria, Syria and Libya.  It is also likely he had visited Beirut and Edessa, after Jesus’ ascension.  We know Jesus had prepared his disciples for the task of going out and telling people about him.  From those several earlier times when Jesus had sent them out Thaddaeus would have known he would encounter hardships and even hostile encounters.  Still, he went telling all people with whom he came in contact what he had heard Jesus say, what he had witnessed him do, and that he had come to this world to offer each man, woman and child salvation and eternal life.  To those who doubted he could have said, “I know it is so for I saw him alive shortly after he had died on that Roman cross.”

It is believed he preached in Edessa a town near the Euphrates River, healed many there and many believed the message he had proclaimed.  Tradition tells us that he also preached in Assyria and Persia.  Several scholars suggest he was martyred on one of his mission trips in the area of Ararat in present day Turkey in 65 AD, when he refused to renounce his belief in Jesus Christ.  It is believed he was shot with arrows or killed with an axe.

What may we conclude with a high degree of certainty from the fact that he chose to be brutally killed rather than deny that Jesus was the Son of God?  I believe Thaddaeus, called by Jesus to follow him, had heard his messages, had seen how he had lived and had observed how he had loved the people around him who were lost.  Convinced Jesus was the Son of God once he saw him alive again after he had been crucified, he valued his earthly life much less than the eternal life Jesus had promised him. Thaddaeus had glimpsed eternity. He could not but remain faithful to Jesus.  He witnessed most of the miracles Jesus had performed, and he was convinced now beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was who he claimed to be, the Messiah, the Son of God.  If it could be possible for us to ask him, if he could vouch for all he had seen Jesus do, and if he had actually been with Jesus several times after he had been crucified and had risen from the dead, I have no doubt he would say something like, “I have touched the nail prints in his hands.  I know my Redeemer lives”

Chapter 19:  My Life Experiences

Reasons to doubt

But what have my own experiences taught me?  By nature, upbringing or by life’s early encounters I am skeptical.  For others to convince me of a point I will likely ask them to show me rather than just tell me. I know I learn best that way.  Common sense to me is one important guide also when making decisions.  I like to analyze and dig deeper when I deal with ideas and events that are not immediately transparent.  “Prove it,” is a phrase I have said more than once.  What then have the events in my life shown me?

On the previous pages I have already pointed to several reasons why I choose to believe what the Bible teaches.  For me the wonderfully accurate functioning together of all things I find in nature speaks of the existence of an all-powerful intelligence, God.  Having read and considered what the Bible declares I find I cannot dismiss biblical accounts as only stories of overactive minds.  The crucifixion and resurrection accounts are historical facts.  From my childhood onward those accounts have always had a profound effect on me.  Many prophesies of the Old Testament, I cannot deny, point to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Emmanuel.  The life and testimony of the eyewitnesses are more than convincing of what Jesus taught, the miracles he performed and who he is, in my estimation.  But what have my life experiences taught me?  Do my experiences line up with what I have chosen to believe based on the above reasons?  Have I found that the almighty God of the Bible really is interested in the life of all individuals including me, and does he hear their and my prayers?

First let me recall events in my life giving me reasons that should have been sufficient for me to claim there is no God, or at least to believe there is no benevolent God.  I was born in Breslau, capital of Silesia. It was and is a beautiful city on the River Oder.  The city, after the Second World War, when the borders of Germany were redrawn by Russia and the Western Powers, became part of Poland.  It is now known as Wroclaw.

We lived in a comfortable home on the Koenig’s Strasse translated King’s Street.  My parents were well to do.  As a three-year-old child I remember going on one of my father’s business trips in an automobile driven by a chauffeur.  Few people owned motor vehicles at that time and fewer had chauffeurs to drive them.  I also remember a young lady who helped my mother with household chores and with us children.  I recall teasing this young woman in mischievous ways and now wish I had been always kind to her.

My early childhood memories of our home in Breslau are all happy ones.  I vividly recall Sunday afternoon strolls in the city and the countryside many times with my extended family.  We often stopped for cake or ice cream on these walks.  Swimming on my father’s back in the river was a favorite activity for me.  Listening to my mother reading to us and reciting poetry in her animated way always was a special time for me.  We sometimes visited my grandparents and aunts.  Some lived in the city and others in a town nearby.  These events were wonderful times.  Celebrating Christmas and Easter for all of us were always happy occasions.  But all this changed in the late summer of 1944.

The air raid sirens from that time on began to wail much more often, and when taking walks into the city center with my mother and siblings on warm days I could now see buildings that lay in ruin.  Early in the New Year my father could make no more business trips.  He, along with all able-bodied males of over fourteen years of age and older not in some way connected to the army for one of the permitted reasons, was now pressed into service and forced to defend the city from the advancing Russian troops.  I don’t recall seeing him any longer from that early January onward.  After the happy Christmas holidays, he was not home much of the time.  Bombing raids of the city increased daily.  We now often hurried to take cover in the basement or the shelters of the city when we did venture out on sunny days.  I did not understand what this was all about and wondered why people who lived in other countries wanted to hurt us.

I also noticed a change that had come over my mother.  The songs she used to sing or hum I no longer heard.  Her face often spoke of fear to me.  One day I watched her reprimand a small group of German boys bullying two other, younger children carrying home small milk cans.  I had sometimes also gone with my mother to the store with a one-liter milk can to purchase fresh milk.  These two children, not much older than I was, wore black armbands which I later found out Jewish children had to wear.  They had not been accompanied by an adult.  When I asked my mother why the older boys would not let these two pass by, she bent down to me, and I think her hands shook before she spoke.  Her eyes grew large.  She whispered to me, “You must not ever tell anyone what I just did out there.”  She usually took time to answer and explain all my many questions that I often asked her, but that was all she had said this day.  It had baffled me at the time that she would say no more.  We also made no more trips to my grandparents from that time on, and the young lady who had helped my mother came no longer to our house having been ordered to do duties in support of defending the city.  I’m sure despite my teasing her she would have liked to stay, but she had no choice but to obey.

At that time in Germany power was held by a few people.  Men called Gauleiters were top party officials and were powerful and greatly feared.  Disregarding their orders often resulted in the dissenter disappearing and winding up in a secret camp, now known by all as Concentration Camps.  Most of the subordinates of these men were feared also.  They reported the most minor offenses that sometimes resulted in dreadful consequences.  My grandfather during a parade of an army unit did not salute Hitler and for that offense was blacklisted, lost his job and could only secretly earn a living from that time onward.  One of his friends who had celebrated to much the previous night had dressed in a uniform of the Kaiser’s time who had reigned previously in Germany.  This friend had shouted from the horse on which he rode a salute to this dead King.  He was not seen or heard from again until after the war.  I was too young to have a clear understanding of all that had occurred in those days, but I did realize that many things had changed.  It had not escaped me that the smiles I had usually seen on the faces of the people I knew had disappeared.  I had sensed a condition in our neighborhood that I could not grasp at the time, but had eventually realized to have been fear and uncertainty.

It was near the middle of January that one day a man came to our house and told my mother we would have to leave our home that day and go to a village some distance to the west of the city where there would be a room for us in a house he had identified for my mother.  I don’t remember much about this village except it had snowed on our trip there and during the days we had remained there.  To me it had appeared that the lady of the house did not seem to care much for us staying in a room in her house, when she had showed us the room where we were to stay and the bathroom in the hallway.  She had looked somewhat older than my mother to me.  Her husband was likely where most able-bodied men were, in the army or recently conscripted.  I had not seen any children in the house while we were there, but in the backyard stood a swing set for children.

We were there for a little more than a week.  Then we were able to go back home, as the Russian army had been beaten back according to a conversation I had overheard.  The most vivid memory I have of that week in this village was of the one Sunday afternoon we had lived there.  I had followed several older children who were taking their sleighs to a hillside where they took turns sleighing down the hill.  I was happy because two of these children gave me a ride a few times, but as the day turned to dusk they began to leave to go back to their home.  I suddenly realized that I did not remember in which house we had our room.  The houses all looked the same to me.  I had followed the other children back and had walked past the house where we had our room.  I had walked back and forth on the street where I knew the house was without recognizing into which I should go.  When it was nearly dark I had become panicked.  Then I had spied my mother searching for me.  She had rescued me, but to do so she had to leave my two younger sisters behind alone to go out to find me.  While I’m sure she was displeased with me, she hugged me when she had found me.  It had been the first time in my life that I had experienced the feeling of being lost.  Its impact would remain with me for several years.

Back home in Breslau the air raid sirens sounded now daily and sometimes into the night.  Before we were allowed to turn on lights in a room at night we had to make sure drapes or blinds were pulled so no light could be detected outside.  Early in February the man who had told us to leave a few weeks earlier came to our house again and told my mother we had one hour to begin traveling westward.  I’m not sure if he had stipulated a village to which we were to go.  My mother had decided previously that if the fighting continued we would travel to Bavaria where one of my father’s sisters lived with her family, and to where his mother and other two sisters had gone weeks earlier.  My mother had packed, after we had returned from the village where we had lived for a few days, a backpack for her and a small one for my sister, who is a year younger than I am, and one for me.  These stood ready day and night for us to take in the event we had to flee again.  Under the mattress and blankets of my baby sister’s carriage she had stored valuables and money.  Our beautiful city had become a scary place.

Sections of the city now lay in ruin, and all women and old people I saw looked to me to be sad and afraid.  I could not understand why they spoke so little now and smiled no more.  On the first day or two we had traveled by train.  It had stopped often and did not move at night, as no lights were to be seen.  Often when we came to areas where the rail lines were damaged by bombs we had to leave the train.  At those times we walked.  One day my mother managed to get us a ride on a horse drawn wagon for a distance.  I vaguely recall sitting on it as it rambled along.  It was a short time later that we were able to catch a train again, although this one was a freight train.  The days had grown cold and it snowed lightly, I recall.  This train carried us to the outskirts of Dresden on February 12, 1945 according to my mother.  It was just before dusk when we had to leave the train, because of anticipated bombing raids predicted for this area.  Accompanied by the continuous droning of distant air raid sirens we began to walk toward the city to find a shelter for the night.

That trek into the city had covered about ten kilometers.  I can almost still feel the weight of the small backpack getting ever heavier, as I hung on to one side of the carriage.  My younger sister on the other side trudged along without a word, but I had begun to complain. At one point I sat down on the curb of the street we had crossed saying I wanted to go no further.  My mother, patient and creative had me soon up and moving and looking forward to something to eat that she was sure we would find at a shelter.

It seemed like an eternity before we came to a theater complex where we were invited to enter and stay for the night.  No opera, ballet or music artist would perform there that night.  Most of the seats had been cleared out and on the sunken floor we found straw and blankets spread out on top of it.  Other Flichtlinge (fleeing people in German) had already claimed a spot in the floor.

I remember throwing off my pack and coat at an empty place.  Flopping on the blankets and fully stretching out.  I was happy to have arrived at a warm place.  We did receive a bowl of warm soup and a slice of bread, and I soon forgot about my tired feet.  It was around ten that night that my mother suddenly told us to get our coats on again. To my sister’s and my loud complaints, she helped us button our coats and shoulder our backpacks.  To our questions she told us we would go and look for a better shelter.  The bombing attack sirens had not quit their eerie warnings as we trudged back into the darkness.  I don’t remember how long we walked.  Eventually my mother found an underground air raid shelter she thought would keep us safe.

After leaving the theater that had been prepared for the many women and children fleeing westward for their lives who had stopped for the night in Dresden, we came across a youth who seemed to wander around without having any place to go.  He looked to me to be the age of high school boys.  I had learned some years later that he was a young conscientious objector who wanted to stay out of sight for fear of being sent to prison.  My mother taking pity on him told him to stay with us.  She would eventually smuggle him into that underground shelter as her young, injured brother.  At the shelter she had found she was repeatedly told at first that it was full.  The person in charge kept telling her to hurry on in search of another shelter.  But that individual didn’t know my mother.  She was a strong-willed woman.  She would not budge and eventually had managed to persuade the woman in charge to make room for us.

The next day and for the next forty-eight hours the sirens wailed without stopping it had appeared to me.  Objects in the shelter shook.  I remember that the air inside the shelter appeared to vibrate sometimes.  Occasionally dust or sand dribbled from cracks in the ceiling.  The heat that next day became almost unbearable.  We learned eventually that the Allied warplanes had dropped not only bombs but also incendiary devices.  I can still see and hear in my mind an elderly lady continually crying.  She had gone insane from fear my mother had told me years later.  In my youth I wondered sometimes what had become of her.

The first morning when no bombs appeared to fall any longer and the sirens had stopped sounding the signal for active air raids, I wondered what had happened.  Shortly after daybreak my mother hurried to bundle us up, and soon we were ready to leave the shelter.  I will never forget picking our way from the city’s center to the outskirts of Dresden.  Everywhere I looked I saw ruins.  Parts of damaged walls reached into the sky where once buildings stood.  Smoke rose from many sites.  The streets were covered with rubble, parts of buildings and trees.  Hanging on a jagged wall still standing of what had been a tall building the burnout fuselage of a fighter plane stuck.  To my surprise I cannot remember what it smelled like around us that morning, as we tried to find our way out of the city.  For a good portion of the cloudy morning we walked in circles trying to pick our way through the debris.  To this day I wonder how my mother managed to push the baby’s buggy through all the debris obstructing the streets.  Not many people had ventured out into the open when we had left.  Dawn also seemed to struggle to advance.

Eventually we passed the place where the theater once stood, where we had stopped for one or two hours on our way into the city.  It took me quite a while to recognize the place despite not being able to stop staring at the wreckage and the men trying to clear away parts of the walls.  Even in my young mind, not yet six years old, a bell tolled with the message that my mother, sisters and I might have had to be pulled from those ruins that morning had we remained there.  My mother silently hurried us past the site.

 

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Several times in the last couple weeks I have been asked by people if I’m writing anymore books.  Others have asked how many books I have written.  To answer the first question let me say that I am in the process of writing a book.  This one is nonfiction and requires me to do a great deal of research.  It’s one of the big reasons it’s taking a long time to finish this book.

Other reasons are that after completing and publishing the last novel, “After the Last Game”, I took some time to get inspired about what to write next.  First I thought of writing another novel.  I even had come up with a title that appealed to me thinking I should write a mystery story and call it “Beyond Redemption”.  Then the idea of writing a nonfiction book began to appeal to me more.  I have not attempted to write one in that genre so far, and I like trying new things.  And to be honest, yes, I have had days when writer’s block kept me from the keyboard. It has all added up to no new book for quite some time. But I have finished a good third of this book I’m writing now, and I hope to be able to publish it in late spring.  So far I have leaned to title the book “Against All Odds”, but by the time the book is finished I may well settle on some other title.

As to how many books I have written, the number is six.  Two are historical adventure stories, two are love stories and two are a combination of detective and love stories.  Two condition I have set for myself in writing all novels are:  They are to make the stories lifelike and to keep the language clean.  Happy endings also appeal to me.  Although for the book I had thought of writing before the current one I had tried to imagine a protagonist for whom redemption would be out of the question.  I’d love to hear from those of you who have read some of the novels to let me know if I’ve been true to those conditions.

Secrets of Hawking Manor Storms_copy (1 use) Beyond the Breaking Point Cover

Beyond the Law 6 cover-2-of-in-joy after-the-last-game-2

 

 

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Will the World End?

Will the world end once all the dust is settled after the US presidential election?  Probably not.  But I have no illusions about the world being a better place once the new president is sworn in.  While I only believe a fraction of what the media reports, the debates in which the two candidates running for president had an opportunity to shine shed a lot of unfavorable light on each of them as well as the media.

Most of the issues each of the candidates addressed were accusations of the other individual’s shortcomings. They pointed to terrible, if not criminal activities.  When we see smoke are we wrong to assume there is also fire?  Scary!  If only half of the accusations they leveled against each other is true, then the world is in for a rough ride.  Ineptness, fraud, greed, disrespect, lies and an unwillingness to go by the rules, all bared by the debates, will be the lesser of the evils heaped on this world by the new leader of one of the most powerful nations in the world, in my opinion.

As to the media, will the guardians of the truth, our news outlets, come to the rescue?  What have they reported about the debates that is substantial and informative to give us any hope?  We heard conjectures about who won the debates from them.  We learned how one candidate sometimes snorts into the microphone.  They commented on dress and missing handshakes.  They analyzed little if anything about what the candidates said about what they would do to make sure no child in this world goes hungry, what strategies they would employ to achieve world peace, what specific measures they would support for the people of this world to able to breathe clean air and a host of other topics that would make this world a better place.

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Two new titles

After months of editing, proofreading and formating I have published the next two of my novels in eBook form, “In Joy and in Sorrow” and “After the Last Game”.

In Joy and in Sorrowcover-2-of-in-joy

Life is good for the Claremontes.  Danielle is a talented teacher and Douglas an outstanding and successful pastor.  When their future appears the brightest, they are called to go through the fire of suffering.  Danielle is diagnosed to have cancer.  Joshua, a boy the Claremontes had taken into their home and heart has a fatal accident. Douglas is unjustly accused of enticing other men’s wives.  At the same time, Jack, an old enemy, secretly surfaces and plans revenge for a past incident he believes Douglas is responsible.

In her suffering Danielle’s faith remains strong. She is able to maintain the family’s routines, but she struggles with the thoughts of having to leave her small children motherless.   His many prayers for Danielle’s healing appear to be unanswered. The new trials heaped on to the bereavements he had experienced in his childhood and youth leave him vulnerable and shake his confidence.

Half a world away Lois, Danielle’s sister, serves in a mission hospital in outback Zambia.  The great distance from home she hopes will help her deal with a secret she believes she must never reveal.  She is committed, talented and beautiful.  An acquaintance in the nearest city in Zambia is secretly infatuated with her and sends her anonymous, unwelcome notes.  Threatened by these notes she tries to discover who her tormenter is.  Before her final term at the hospital ends he pretends to assist her in finding the man who had sent the many threatening notes, but in reality he lures her to an isolated cabin where he attempt to seduce her.

Danielle’s hopeless condition, Jack’s revenge and his kidnapping of the couple’s daughter, the accusations levelled against Douglas, Lois’ trials and her return home from Zambia unite in a maelstrom and threaten to shipwreck even the strongest faith and heart.

After the Last Game 

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Michael is a professional hockey player. He has played the game for as long as he can remember.  His father was his first coach.  On the frozen pond eighty-two steps behind the farm’s machine shed he learned to skate.  There his father taught him the basic skills of the game before he was old enough to go to school.  There he practiced to stickhandle and shoot for hours and played many games with his friends for the cup until darkness ended their games.  After years of playing at the hightest level he still loves the game.  He loves it more than all the riches the sport has given him.

It’s the last game of the season.  He and his teammates are the underdogs competing in a best of seven games series for the ultimate prize, the coveted cup.  At thirty-two Michael did drink from the cup once already.  He knows what it will take to lift it again.  He is in the best shape of his career, and he wants to hoist the trophy once more.

Yet, when he is alone in his mansion after the game, he feels in his heart that something important is missing in his life. He has more worldly goods than most men, a good education that will provide him with a profession when his plarying days are over.  He loves his parents, the rest of his family and his many friends.  They provide him with strong roots.  To others he appears to have everything a man can desire.  They know nothing of the silent longing in his heart.

After the last game, a sweet victory on the ice, at the team’s fan appreciation day’s ceremony he and his teammates present bouquets of roses as a token of appreciation to fans who have come to celebrate the team’s victory.  As Michael hands a bouquet to Rachel, a young woman he has never seen before this day, he realizes instantly that she would fill that silent longing in his life.  But how can he meet her again?  He knows nothing about the lady or her friends with whom she came to watch the Falcons fight for the cup in that last game and to the fan appreciation ceremony.  All he knows is that he must find her and meet her again.

Rachel was instantly smitten by the tall player who smiled at her and handed her the delightful bouquet of roses.  She is beautiful but shy around strangers.  Her heart always beats faster whenever she thinks about him.  As the days pass, she realizes that she never felt what she feels for this stranger for any other man.  As much as she would like to get to know him she does not dare to try to contact this man who captained his team to the ultimate prize and captured her heart handing her a bouquet of roses after the last game.

 

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We have had a few days of spring like weather, but the weatherman tells us it will rain for several days now.  So I hope this little story below will make you smile even with that kind of forecast.  532

An American I’m going to call Donald (For some reason that name sticks in my thoughts these days.) decided to write a book about famous churches around the world.  So he hopped on his jet and flew to Orlando deciding that he would start by working his way across America from South to North. On his first day he stepped inside a big church there to take photographs.  While snapping away he noticed a golden telephone to the right of the main altar with a sign above it that read “$10.000 per call”.

Donald was intrigued and asked a priest getting ready for mass what the telephone was used for. The priest replied, “That’s a direct line to heaven and for $10,000 you can talk to God.”  He thanked the priest and flew on to Atlanta.  There at a large cathedral he saw the same golden telephone with the same sign above it.  He asked a nearby nun lighting candles who could use the phone and was told it was a direct line to heaven and he could talk to God on that phone.

He thanked the nun and soon traveled to Indianapolis, Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York.  In each cathedral he visited the same golden telephone and $10,000 sign hung on a prominent feature wall.  Finally, leaving Vermont he decided to fly on to Canada to see if Canadians had the same phone in their cathedrals.  In the first huge church he entered in Canada sure enough there was the golden phone, but a sign below it told him a call would cost him fifty cents.  Disgusted he meant to leave, but asked a priest kneeling at the center alter about the sign.  “Father,” he said, “I’ve traveled all over America and seen this golden telephone in many churches, but each call to heaven there costs $10,000.  Why in the world is this call so cheap here?”

The father rose.  He smiled at him and answered,  “You’re in Canada now, my Son.  It’s a local call.”

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Sunrise over the strait

Sunrise

 

 

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To all who read this, Happy New Year.  Have a blessed and prosperous 2016.  And when you look back and think about this year 2016 once it has passed, you can say, “It has been a good year.

For my family and me 2015 was a good and an eventful year.  Our children and grandchildren and we had been blessed with health and good fortune.  We have downsized putting our house of 36 years up for sale and purchasing a much smaller house.  I had my first vehicle accident in 60 years of driving, but on the plus side managed to get three of my novels published as eBooks with another one, “Beyond the Law”, to be published soon.  Best of all we were able to celebrate the Christmas season together with most of the family.

 

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