COPAN: MILES FROM NOWHERE

COPAN: MILES FROM NOWHERE

Spy

I’m a spy
In Copan, Oklahoma.
I don’t know why,
I’m like a carcinoma.

Love and Loss,
I write it down,
No matter the cost
Or if we drown

All over again,
A painful déjà vu
Of our first sin
When our souls did slew.

I’m a spy,
In the past I dwell.
I’m like a die
Cast into a well.

I’m a spy.

In the 1960s, Copan was a tiny, rustic speck in the great cultural landscape of our country. It was like Earth compared to the galaxy, or the galaxy compared to the universe. Its insignificance in the scheme of everything was so great that it’s almost unimaginable. Yet the very thread on which the universe spins ran straight through that place and it was there that great truths were discovered and it was there that the depths of loss were plumbed.

Excerpt

Linda was an attractive, freckle-faced woman with a voluptuous body and an appetite for Wild Turkey whiskey. She and Gene would often bring a bottle into the station and we would all proceed to get smashed, drinking it straight, washing it down with 7-Up. And when we did this she would be downing twice as much as everyone else, repeating that she loved the stuff because it “doesn’t take your breath away like cheap whiskey.” When she appeared at the screen door the day I was performing collection duties for Al, she looked like she had been drinking the stuff that does take your breath away for the past several days. Her already full face was puffy and tired, her eyes were bloodshot and jaundiced, and her short, sandy hair was matted and oily. She was wearing very short cutoff jeans with the top button missing and a stained T-shirt stretched tight over her large breasts. I could see her nipples beneath the thin cotton.

“What do you want?” she asked.

“Albert sent me to pick up the check,” I answered, using Albert instead of Al since it was the form of his name they always used. “He said he called.”

“I didn’t talk to him.” Linda picked a package of Winstons up from a cluttered table next to the door and shook one out. She pulled a lighter out of the front pocket of her shorts and lit the cigarette, inhaled deeply, then blew a thick stream of smoke out of the corner of her mouth.

“I’m just doing what Al asked me to,” I said, feeling strangely awkward and uncomfortable as she took another drag on her cigarette and French inhaled, opening her mouth slightly and drawing the white smoke up and into her flared nostrils.

She then did something that caught me so off guard I could only stand there and stare while my mind tried to comprehend what my eyes were seeing. Using one hand she grabbed the front of her shirt and slowly pulled it up until her protruding brown nipples were completely exposed and staring me in the face. I was stunned, scared and transfixed by her unexpected move and remember the tan areolas covered nearly the entire front of each breast.

Once before, when I was maybe eleven, I had seen a woman do this same thing and, at the time, I had no idea what it meant. I was tagging along with my brother and Bobby Campbell at a parking lot carnival in Bartlesville. We were playing the ten cent crane games, the little cable-operated buckets you tried to maneuver by cranking a loose knob on the front of the glass case in usually failed attempts to win worthless treasure such as toothpick holders shaped like cowboy boots, miniature spy cameras that used a film you had to mail to a place in New Jersey to get developed, and pocket radios that looked like transistors, but were really only cheap crystals – the kind that used no batteries and could only be heard through an ear piece. It was getting late in the afternoon and Bobby was supposed to be home at a certain time. None of us had a watch so he asked the woman running the cranes, “Excuse me lady, do you have the time?”

Without hesitating, the woman, who I only remember as being red headed and wearing, what else? a T-shirt, bent over the row of cranes and lifted it up, briefly exposing smallish breasts that were covered with freckles. “I’ve got the time if you’ve got the money,” she said.

Bobby turned to my brother, his mouth open and his face screwed into a big dumb question mark. It was probably the same expression I had on my face as I stood there in front of the Drumheart’s screen door.

Linda took another drag on the cigarette and this time blew the smoke through the screen into my face. “Gene’s not here,” she said. “Want to come in and wait for him?” Her breasts were still exposed, the shirt lewdly hooked over the top of her fleshy orbs in an erotically trashy manner.

THE CANCER CLUB

THE CANCER CLUB

This book tells the story of William Ridley, ex-special forces soldier, now marketing manager for a major aerospace firm who is recruited into a covert CIA-run organization informally called The Cancer Club.

Having been diagnosed with prostate cancer, Ridley is recruited by the Club through a renowned cancer treatment center in Virginia. It is there that he is told his cancer is untreatable. The pitch is: do something worthwhile with the short time you have left — do something meaningful for your country. After giving up all he owns and severing all ties, including those with a woman he’d planned to marry, Ridley joins the group whose members are sent on high-risk, often one-way missions to take out selected targets in the United States’ global war on terror.

In the meantime, the Lions of the Jihad, a sophisticated Islamic terrorist organization with a sleeper cell in New York City, moves forward with a plan to detonate a powerful and highly radioactive dirty bomb near the Hell Gate section of the East River. This pending disaster looms large when Ridley discovers the Cancer Club carries its own malignancy, one that makes all other CIA-run black operations look like child’s play.

Excerpt

The Osprey began dropping like an out-of-control elevator as Ridley staggered toward the opening at the back of the airplane. He felt light on his feet and grabbed a stabilizing arm of the ramp with his left hand. Reaching down, he gripped the M-4 and pressed its selector switch to semi-auto with his thumb. The aircraft bottomed out causing Ridley’s knees to buckle slightly and once again they were just above the surface of the water, the grey stream jetting out behind and below as if he were standing on the stern of a speedboat. The rotors of the Osprey were roiling the blowing snow up on either side of the aircraft and it snaked behind them like corkscrews.

“Lower,” Qualls said.

“If I get any lower the blades are going to be in the water,” Mario answered, his voice stretched wire-tight.

Ridley felt numb, out of it, and he forced himself to focus. For a moment he thought he was going to puke up the pills he had dry swallowed minutes earlier. His stomach had even started the violent process, but he tightened the muscles in his throat and forced the emesis to check down. The taste of his own bile spread in his mouth and he spit, or at least tried to. Nothing came from between his pursed lips. Strach must have sensed or seen that he was having problems because his voice came through the earpiece. “Come on Bill, cut your head in.” Ridley could feel sweat pouring down the front of his face in rivulets.

“We’re coming up on them, Terry,” Qualls said. “Hold on and get ready.”

Ridley felt himself pulled toward the front of the airplane as Mario suddenly reversed the pitch of the propellers and tilted the engines upward, transforming the propellers’ configuration once again into rotors. It felt like the pilot was standing on the brakes with both feet as the Osprey decelerated, wallowing in the air like a fish in mud. Hydraulics whined and servos screamed as the pitch was again changed, allowing the machine to hover. Another round of banging broke out inside the aircraft and Ridley was conscious of metal bits and pieces of airplane ricocheting behind him.

“You ready, Bill?”

Strach’s voice was coming at him from a million miles away and Ridley heard himself say, “Don’t worry about me.”

CONFESSIONS OF A DOG ASSASSIN

CONFESSIONS OF A DOG ASSASSIN

This collection of eleven short stories provides a twisting, far flung journey through the American Experience like no other. These tales have been thrown from a speeding car careening on the knife edge of human control, forged on dark and dangerous highways, gleaned from narrow alleys littered with tragedy and heartbreak, and viewed as unsettling reflections in a spook house mirror. They are fraught with extraordinary adventure and even more extraordinary characters that define and document this crazy quilt life of ours in a language and dark humor inextricably woven with both the blessing and the curse of human consciousness.

CONFESSIONS OF A DOG ASSASSIN: STORIES FROM AN AMERICAN MIND captures the good and the bad, the longing and the loss, the pleasure and the shame, the noble and the low down… all of the elements that make us what we are, however measured or defined, however desperate or disquieting, however broken and sadly mortal.

HORN: HOT ZONE

HORN: HOT ZONE

New York City 2025. A crumbling concrete wasteland where crime rules the streets. For a cop, it’s an endless beat of violence on the edge of madness. For Max Horn, the madness came the day everything he loved died in a brutal nightmare, with nothing remaining but a face… a grinning blond specter who left him for dead.

But cold hard cash and the genius of an underground techno-doc gave him new life, replacing his shattered limbs with supertuned E-mods… outlawed mods that turned Horn into something extraordinary.

Now his beat is New Pittsburgh, a burned-out titanium-mining colony in space. A dome-covered hellhole of cheap pleasures and easy death. New Pittsburgh is where Horn will repay his debt of vengeance to the dark forces that stole his soul.

Written as Ben Sloane and published by Harlequin / Gold Eagle.

HORN: BLOWN DEAD

HORN: BLOWN DEAD

No killer can outwit him no cop can outlast him. Max Horn is a New York City cop with a debt of vengeance against the dark forces that shattered his body and stole his sole.

The year is 2026, a world of man-machine interfaces and regenerating software. A world where people can become weapons. Equipped with outlawed super tuned e-mods, Horn is back on the beat…an all-American cop hardwired for revenge.

Written as Ben Sloane and published by Harlequin / Gold Eagle.

HORN: OUTLAND STRIP

HORN: OUTLAND STRIP

On the Moon’s surface, a neon-bathed gambling resort that rivals Las Vegas and Atlantic City — beneath this sensation-choked world churns a sinkhole for the desperate who deal grim fantasies with death as table stakes.

Max Horn is a New York City cop who wears his scars in the form of E-mods, outlawed body modifications of combat titanium and precision-machined power.

Horn’s investigation of the murder of a fellow cop uncovers more than he’d bargained for: it opens the dark door of his past and makes him the wild card in a game where no one gets out alive.

Written as Ben Sloane and published by Harlequin / Gold Eagle.

HORN: ULTIMATE WEAPON

HORN: ULTIMATE WEAPON

Invincible! The murder of a U.S. senator brings New York City Police Detective Max Horn up against a bizarre and deadly plot. To cinch an arms sale, a renegade scientist must demonstrate the lethal scope of his merchandise. Target – The United Nations building and all its occupants. Maximum weapons capability – total kill.

While the unending quest for money and power continues in the city’s tarnished towers, Horn throws himself into a cross-country pursuit. What he’s got going for him are his supertuned E-mods – and a newly implanted target-acquisition module. But the madman has taken Horn’s measure and knows the one thing needed to bring him crashing down: Betrayal

Written as Ben Sloane and published by Harlequin / Gold Eagle.