Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chapter 1 preview

Chapter 1

    “Lieutenant Commander Charles McKay?” The man in the conspicuous black suit meant business.
    “Yes Sir,” Charlie managed in a playfully ironic tone, still disoriented from the morning light blazing through his front door. Though his awareness was quickly rising from the sugar in the Corn Flakes he shared with his daughter.
    “Sir, you’ve been activated. As a matter of national security, I’ll need you to come with me,” the young FBI agent instructed robotically. His credentials showed brilliantly under the sun, illuminating the Hoover watermark behind his picture. Incidentally, the young man took a picture just as stern and meaningful as he was today. This man takes his job way too seriously, at least in Charlie’s mind. His partner, standing by the charcoal colored Escalade, in a matching black three piece ensemble helped no more to assuage Charlie’s fragile moment of panic. Be that as it may, the credentials were valid and it was all Charles needed to comply.
    “Let me just put some pants on and we’re on our way,” Charlie explained.
    “We’ll be more than happy to provide you a suit after we reach our destination,” the ominous agent said. He turned and walked down the redwood steps of Charlie’s wrap-around patio. The partner deftly swung open the rear door of the SUV, invitingly. As many times as Charles had been in this situation, it never made the gofer’s presence any less intrusive.
    “Kayla,” was Charlie’s first instinct, calling his daughter. Charles immediately heard the patter of tiny Yo Gabba sandals tickling his waxed Brazilian wood floor. He turned in time to see the concerned face of his younger daughter erupt into a crying fit. His second instinct was to wrap his daughter up in his fatherly arms. “It’s okay, baby. Daddy won’t be gone long.”
    “Don’t GOOO!” his daughter said. She squeezed the words in repeatedly between sniffles. The words got harder to listen to each time he herd it. Charles tightened the huddle with his little girl.
    “What’s wrong, honey?” A feminine voice boomed deep inside Charlie’s Victorian home. Michelle appeared urgently, a heroine to her daughter. When she saw her daughter was in equally protecting arms she sighed of relief, only to feel her lungs nearly explode on the next breath when the tall black object behind her husband registered in her mind. The tinted SUV outside, motor still running, told the whole story. Another indefinite period of worry in the forecast. A single-parent hardship. A chance of loneliness. Her eyes bared deep into her lover’s own, searching desperately for a gleam of sympathetic suffering. She found it as usual, somewhere behind Charlie’s explicitly dutiful eyes. Those eyes which told her that tomorrow would be business as usual, consisting of dropping Kiki off at her fourth grade homeroom and Kayla at day care.
     Michelle would then speed off in her Odyssey before the first eager class trip showed up at the aquarium to learn about her tiger sharks. She’d break for lunch soon after, talking birthing strategies and fundraising efforts with her colleagues at the table. Before her day was through she’d likely help with the daily checkup of Monday, the park’s lone killer whale. The cetacean was making her way south from the Hudson Bay where she was found beached off of Prince Frederick. Though it was a joy to have her for a moment her condition was worsening inside the dolphin tank and required so much resource.
After she put in about ten hours, Michelle would pick Kayla up, then Kiki, then maybe some Chinese for dinner since wrestling with sharks all day is less than an energizing experience. Then sleep, without the comfort of Charlie’s arm around her.
Michelle handed for Kayla, acquiescing to her destiny. “Come on, baby girl,” she whispered underneath her daughter’s hysterics.
Kayla didn’t care to listen, as her arms tried with all their might to choke her father, resisting the pull of her mother’s around her waist.
Charlie broke his daughter’s grip.
I got her,” Michelle told him. “You go get ready.” Michelle tried her best not to reflect the disdain in her words.
Charlie dodged his daughter’s flailing arms to give his girls a kiss on their cheeks. “No time baby, gotta’ go. He shuffled backwards out the front door, bending his toes to keep his plush slippers on, but never loosing sight of his family.
What?” Michelle demanded restitution for her pain. “Where’s your pants?” Or at least a silly answer to her silly question would suffice.
Hey, you know I’m the first one to jump at the chance show my package off.” He kids because he cares. “The faster I get there, the faster I get back.”
Where are you going?” Michelle shouted beyond her daughter’s cries.
I d-…” Charles was interrupted by the firm hand of the rent-a-goon gripping his arm, compelling him to break his moonwalk and walk right. Before he could think of anything fresh to say he was being shoved into the SUV like a suspect. He climbed in, respecting their authority. The agent climbed in beside him, forcing him to move over and just before the door slammed shut Charles managed an emphatic “love you!” The car engine belched into a near violent rev and Charles was surprised not to hear the tires screech with the torque ejected from the turbo-charged 6.2 L V8. As the SUV ditched from the curb Charles opened the sun-roof just wide enough to yell, “tell Kiki I love her,” before the SUV banked right at the corner. A succession of two state patrol units and two flagged motorcycle units followed.

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