Terrorists strike a deadly blow and the chase leads a Texas Ranger across the country to the hills of Pennsylvania to join Lieutenant Sam Deland and his troopers in a desperate search before terror hits again.
Ground Effect: Genre ~ Suspense
EXCERPT: Ground Effect
Walid’s running shoes were almost dry. The ride from Del Rio had gone well, so far, but when he glanced to his left, he saw Ghali’s eyelids drooping. They’d been awake for almost two days and had more than a hundred miles to go. The propane tanks in the bed of the stake body truck jingled when they touched as the truck passed over bumps in the road. It was early in the morning and, after crossing the border in the night, they found the truck where their instructions foretold it would be. Now, on the desolate highway moving east into the rising sun, Walid squished his toes inside the shoes and felt the coolness of the Rio Grande’s muddy remains, wishing he could get an American hamburger to fill his growling stomach.
In halting English Walid said, “Wake up. Do you need coffee?” The prospect of finding anything but scrub bushes and dust in this flat near desert seemed remote. The small town they just passed through was still waking up and the only place to eat was crowded with vehicles and men in broad hats and coveralls moving in and out. They had not dared to stop. The long straight road was carrying Ghali to dreamland.
Walid rolled down the widow and let in a greater volume of cool air. It would soon warm in the desert sun and the truck seemed to lack air conditioning. Even the beat up cars back in Benghazi usually had working air conditioning, when they could find petrol.
The truck hummed and jingled and Walid looked up to see the first curve in miles just ahead. He started to look over again at the driver when the truck drifted into the curve, but rather than follow the road to the right, it moved over the yellow center lines.
“Bulis!” came out in Arabic from the startled Walid as he looked straight into the front grill of a Texas state trooper car sliding to the side to avoid smacking head on into the truck.
~ * ~
The morning sun sent a glimmer from the gold bar on Ken’s left shoulder. Sam felt the shafts of sunlight warming the front of his trousers and pushing the chill away. It was going to be another beautiful day and Sam snuck a glimpse upward to the wisps of white beginning to form in the blue sky.
“Then, by the authority vested in me, I pronounce you husband and wife. Ken, you may kiss your bride.” The Chaplain smiled and closed his booklet. The small group sighed collectively as the blue uniformed Air Force 2nd lieutenant swept the beautiful black haired bride into his arms and found her lips. Her white dress crinkled as she moved into him and the applause rose with shouts of joy and congratulations filling the air.
Sam couldn’t stop the big fat tear that ran out of his right eye and rolled into plain sight down his cheek. His nose was running too. His son was married and he was happy and sad at the same time.
“Hey, boss, you got a hankie?” Sgt. Walter Stanislaus Ozliewski, Sr. looked very uncomfortable in his state police uniform. Pieces of Ozzie’s 6’3”, 235 pound frame seemed ready to exit the fabric at several places. The brand new sergeant stripes on his grey sleeve covered nicely the spot where just last week corporal stripes were in place.
Sam reached into his dress uniform jacket and came out with two white handkerchiefs and handed one to Ozzie, “Here, I need one too. I guess you never get too old to cry.”
“Weddings and funerals. Every time.” Ozzie slipped his Smokey Bear hat up and mopped his forehead too.
Second Lieutenant Ken Deland and his new wife, the former Grace Echaverria, made their way from the wisteria covered Eisenhower Arch toward the banquet hall of Varnum Military Academy just off the Main Line of suburban Philadelphia. The two lines of guests wore state and local police uniforms and were mixed in with Army and Marine dress blues. Civilians in suits and dresses joined in and applauded the couple.
State police Lieutenant Sam Deland took off his cap and watched the couple walk up the slight hill. He put out his arm and took the baby from Eileen and left her the hat. He hated the thing. The hat, not the baby. The dark haired eighteen-month old boy was asleep, for now. Sam snugged him into his shoulder and took his wife’s hand.
“Now we can feed Ozzie. He was making noises.” Sam grinned and Eileen Matthews Deland walked beside her husband, leaning her head into his unoccupied shoulder. His own gleaming silver lieutenant’s bar was there above her dark hair. She had on a dark blue silk suit with flared pants and shoes that had a heel. Unusual for her. She wore soft leather cowgirl boots most of the time but sacrificed for this day.
“God, she’s beautiful. Her mom too. They’re gonna make great grandbabies,” Eileen said.
Sam had heard that before. A little over four years ago when Ken and Grace met. How they managed to wait until Ken graduated from the Air Force Academy was a wonder. But they had and now they were soon off to Texas for his flight training.
Ozzie was just ahead walking with his whole tribe. Marie and Ozzie had six kids and if she hadn’t lost the last one…
Grace’s mom, Katrina, was a trim, blonde forty-five year old that looked like a movie star. She managed to slide up next to Trooper Calvin Livingston as they moved along the sidewalk. Calvin wore one stripe on his uniform sleeve of a Senior Trooper. Calvin was tall and trim and just one of several black faces in the small crowd. He also was still single and very happy about that.
Katrina was too, happy and single. She met Calvin at the rehearsal dinner and managed to keep him out much later than was good for either of them. Katrina sold real estate in Florida and was enjoying the crisp Pennsylvania air. It was hotter than blazes in Sarasota this first week of June.
“Later?” She said quietly as she passed Calvin. He gave her his million dollar smile and she felt that certain tingle in just the right place.
~ * ~
Not many were left. The heaps of black and grey tailings discarded and piled high from the now closed mines got picked over and hauled off. New technology producing power from the bits of coal left between the rocks and dirt. “Lemme see.” Normy Hansen reached out and tried to take the cheap binoculars from Darrell sitting next to him atop the pile.
“Wait, she went back in,” Darrell Pickford said and lowered the field glasses from his eyes and rubbed them with his dirty hand. “She’ll leave now.”
Normy leaned forward and pulled the round tin of “smokeless tobacco” from the hip pocket of his jeans. The tin would be replaced with another as soon as it was emptied and the succession of the habit had worn a lighter blue ring on the outside of the pocket.
“Kay.” Normy was big and fat with stringy yellow hair and pimples. The stench from the snuff only cut his sweat smell slightly and Darrell shifted a few inches away to a kneeling position and brought the glasses up again.
Darrell could see the woman come out of the nice house in the subdivision below them and slide into her already running BMW. Normy watched but had to squint a bit to even see the car from the distance.
“Give it a while, then we’ll go down and see,” Darrell said.
Normy peeled off his flannel shirt. The sun was up over the hills that ringed this part of Wilkes Barre. The roar of trucks on I-81 was echoing off the rocky slopes and the piles of tailings in the creases between them and the six-inch H&R .22 pistol was digging into his ample backside.
After writing professional documents for many years, Mike has finally devoted time to his true passion, writing fiction where the story and characters come alive in the reader’s mind. While his days were filled with authoring hundreds of detailed crime reports, arrest affidavits, search warrants and grand jury presentments, he took some of his own time and devoured books by the dozens. Reading not only was a rewarding diversion, it provided him with the added education he needed to function at a high level in his profession.
This has led to the creation of Mike’s crime/suspense/detective novels Sink Rate, Rope Break and Side Slip, the first three in the Sam Deland Crime Novel series. All are expected to be published in 2015 and 2016 by Rogue Phoenix Press
Mike writes with the real life experience that many years of law enforcement shaped and influenced. The stories may be fiction but are based on how things happen in the real world. His books are honest and captivating novels written with a unique voice that will both chill and charm.
Mike is a veteran police detective. He did it all from rookie patrolman to Senior Special Agent. His life has been enriched by a wonderful marriage, parenting, work, flying, sailing and good books. Mike is a lifelong outdoorsman, an experienced tactical firearms instructor, champion sailplane pilot and the captain of his own sailboat. All of these skills have made his novels vivid, exciting and real. Now retired after a career with three law enforcement agencies, Mike enjoys winters writing in Naples, Florida and summers sailing, writing and researching the next novel at his rural Pennsylvania home.
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ALSO BY MIKE FULLER