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Oct 10

Written by: Bruce A. Sarte
Monday, October 10, 2011 2:18 PM  RssIcon

Here is a SNEAK PEAK from Philadelphia Story coming January 2012!!


The wind whipped around my head like a cyclone on steroids.  Rain pounding down with such ferocity it stung like tiny needles each time it struck my skin.  Every few minutes I could feel it pool on my forehead just above my eyebrows before it spilled over into my eyes.  Every drop of water made the cut on the side of my face burn like someone was rubbing salt into it. 

Under normal circumstances for most people this would merely be an annoyance that would cause them to, perhaps, reach over and grab a towel.   Not me.  Not tonight.  On this pitch black, stormy night I was pushing the 427 in my cherry red 1969 Camaro Convertible hard.  I had my baby hitting seventy-five miles per hour catapulting down Columbus Boulevard… with the top down.

I’m sure this immediately raises several questions in your mind.   Where am I going?  Why am I going there so fast?  And why on God’s green earth is my top down in the pouring rain? All those are great questions and I have answers to all of them.  A few of which I’ll actually share.  Unfortunately this weather coupled with the difficulty I was having with the convertible top and other factors created a real need for a shot of liquid resolve.  I reached over without looking and grabbed the bottle of Gentlemen Jack from the passenger seat.  I deftly unscrewed the cap with one hand and pushed the cold glass to my lips.  The amber liquid shot into my mouth like quicksilver and burned down the back of my throat like molten lava.  Out of the corner or my eye I saw the light traffic light flip from yellow to red as I shot past the waterfront museum.  Yea, I saw it… I just don’t care.  I’ve got to get to the pier… I’ve got to get to the girl.  I clumsily thumbed the top back on the bottle and tossed it into the seat just before I spun the wheel hard to the left.  The back end of the car got a little loose but I feathered the clutch and hit the gas just in time for the rear to regain traction on the wet pavement.  The engine roared as it passed the torque on through the driveshaft and gave the wheels the power they needed to catapult me into the parking lot of Pier 51. 

The building was just ahead and all I could think of were the words she said to me.  The tone of her voice begging me to go save her little girl.

“Lance, please…” she sniffled her pain back inside herself, “please save Jenny.  I’ve got no one else to turn to.”  I felt her suffering through the phone in her throaty, dry voice.

“Lin, tell me what’s going on.  I can help you!” I urged her.

“Lance, there’s nothing you can do for me – they are coming for me.” I cut her off.

“Lindsey tell me where you are, you have to tell me.  I can help, I’ve got people – you know I’ve got people!”

“Lance get to Pier 51 – go now!  Hurry!  They’re coming and they are…” there was loud crash on the other side of the phone and Lindsey screamed.

“Lindsey!” I called out.

“Lance, please!” The sound of the gunshots echoing through the phone hit me right in the gut.

“Lindsey!” I screamed again and felt a cold numbness seep through me.  “Lindsey…”

  That was two hours ago.  I had no idea where Lindsey was or if she was all right.  I was pretty sure that wherever she actually was, she was not all right.  I rubbed at my eyes and took another deep drag from the bottle.  I came up around a corner and could see lights on top of each corner of the vomit yellow structure that had to be fifty years old as my Camaro tore into the parking lot.  I slammed on the brakes and the car skidded to a stop square in front of the three-story dinosaur.  The car was still jerking to a stop when I through the door open, jumped out and ran around to the north side of the building.            

“Jenny?!” I called out.

I waited a moment but only heard the sound of the rain smacking the pavement and the river splashing up against the pilings of the peer.  My gaze went from building to pier to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge off in the distance.  The bridge was lit up like it was the 4th of July only it wasn’t.  I directed my gaze at the boarded up skeleton of the Moshulu still moored at Pier 51.  She’d once been a fine sailing ship and then a four star restaurant.  Now she sat, crippled by fire, waiting for someone to save her… or the scrap heap.

“Jennifer!” I yelled with a sense of urgency in my voice.  Again I listened and heard the dancing of the rain and the lapping of the waves.  But then what was that sound?  There was a rustling on deck of the abandoned ship.  I ran to the edge of the dock and looked from the bow to the stern of the three hundred and ninety six foot shop.

“Jenny!  Is that you?  It’s me, Uncle Lance!  Is that you?”  I cupped my hands to my mouth to amplify my voice.  I needed to make myself louder.

Then there was a muffled scream and then there were footfalls on deck.  I pulled my Colt from its holster and ran to where the gangway sat pitching back and forth to the rhythm of the river.  I shook the padlocked gate fiercely trying to find a way around it.

“Jenny!  I’m coming!”  I could still hear the sounds of whoever it was moving towards the stern of the ship that faced Camden, New Jersey.  I point my Colt at the lock and fired, shredding the lock into several pieces.  I kicked the gate hard and it flow open clanging into the metal posts of the gangway.  With a quickness and agility I hadn’t displayed in years I bounded up the platform in four quick steps.  I made a beeline for where I thought the noise was coming from.

I stopped and looked all around me.  The rain was still coming down and the wind blowing in from the river made it very difficult to see.  Then I saw her.  The sight of little Jenny standing on the platform of the deck only inches from the railing sent a chill down my spine.

“Jenny…” I started but was cut off.

“If you take one more step, I’ll off the girl…” the man with the gun pointed at Jenny’s temple paused and then added with a sarcastic tone, “Uncle Lance”, he then punctuated it with a maniacal laugh.  I looked into Jenny’s face and saw pure, unadulterated fear.  She was frozen, not able to make a sound or move a muscle.

“Jenny, don’t move.  Everything is going to be OK.”  I tried to reassure her while slowly aiming my pistol toward the bad guy.

“You think so, Uncle Lance?” he nudged at her head with the muzzle of his gun.  “What makes you so sure of that?”  Jenny stumbled to the side as he poked at her.

I looked him straight in the eye and said, “This…” and pulled the trigger twice placing two clean shots in his forehead.  He had just enough time to register a look of shock on his face before he dropped his gun to the deck. The loud bang from his gun as it struck the deck was punctuated by a fire in my upper right thigh.  I felt my leg go numb as I watched the bad guy free fall over the railing and into the river with a soft splash. 

“Jenny!” I exclaimed with relief.  I limped to her and took her in my arms in what seemed to be a feeble attempt to keep her safe from harm.  On some nights it would have been enough.  Tonight, not-so-much -- but tonight, it was the best I could do.

“Is it over?” her small voice came to me through the rain.

“Yes, honey… its over.”  I replied looking across the Delaware River to the Jersey side.  Admiring how the lights from the bridge made the slums of Camden look like the Disneyland of murder and mayhem.  But tonight it was the Philadelphia side that was filling my murder and mayhem quota with absolutely no help from Camden.

“She’s dead…” Jenny said matter-of-factly.  How did a ten year old simply work to the acceptance of the loss of her mother so quickly?

“Yes,” was all I could say and I hugged her just a little tighter.


Keep a lookout for it!  And remember, this is a completely unedited snippet from the book..

Copyright ©2011 Bruce A. Sarte

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