Category Archives: Novel

A Work in Progress

The Starbucks on Temecula Parkway was busy as usual. Five people stood in line ahead of me, waiting to place their orders. I looked around and saw the young pastor sitting at a table in the back of the room. He waved and I nodded at him.

I eventually received my coffee and walked toward the pastor. His thick, dark hair framed his long, thin face. He resembled an ordinary businessman in his crisply pressed khakis and blue button-down shirt, open at the collar. He stood and we shook hands.

“Dylan, thanks for coming,” he said.

“It’s my pleasure Pastor Rick.”

We sat down and I sipped coffee. He folded his hands in front of him on the table and looked as uncomfortable as I felt at that moment.

“An insider on the selection committee told me that you were the most influential person when it came to choosing me as the church’s new pastor. So −”

I interrupted his prepared speech.

“So, why did I walk out of your first sermon, right?”

He nodded and grinned. His eyes revealed relief that the elephant was out of the closet.

“Pastor Rick, it had nothing to do with you or your sermon. It was probably something I should have done years ago.”

“I don’t understand.”

I repeated the same story I told Jane about feeling the Lord wanted me to do something and how I’d ignored it for forty years until yesterday. The young pastor nodded from time to time as though he understood my dilemma, but I felt he struggled with my answer.

“Is there anything I can do to help you?” he asked, almost as a reflex when I finished.

“I don’t know. This is new territory for me.”

The young pastor sipped his coffee and remained quiet for a minute. I did the same, not wanting to interrupt his thoughts. The chatter from the nearby tables shielded our conversation.

“My dad and grandpa were pastors. Both taught that pastors don’t own the members of churches because they belong to the Good Shepherd. Their obedience must first of all be to Him, and not to any pastor. I agree with their teaching, but I am concerned about you,” he said.

“Oh really, why?”

“As an ordained pastor, my main job is to feed the sheep. So, where will you be fed and nourished each week?”

“I don’t know.”

“I assume Jane will be leaving with you, right? Where will she be fed and nourished?”

I shrugged my shoulders.

“Who will you fellowship with?”

I shrugged again and looked away from his piercing eyes.

“So, you walked out of church without a plan or a pastor in mind for you to be accountable to, right?”

I nodded.

“Do you really believe God would ask you to do something like this in the twilight years of your life?”

I set my cup down a little too hard. The coffee splashed out of it onto the table.

“Excuse me?”

He cleared his throat and sipped coffee while I wiped the spilt liquid up with a napkin.

“Shouldn’t you just enjoy your children and family for the remaining years of your life? After all, you’ve pretty much run your race. What can you really accomplish this late in the game?”

I stood up, put my hands on the table and leaned toward him.

“I don’t have any answers right now,” I proclaimed three levels louder than normal. The people sitting nearby stopped their activities and stared at us.

“As far as my legacy, I’m going out to make a new one because I’m not satisfied with mine. And mistakes?  Or my age? I couldn’t care less about either one right now. I just want to stay in the fight until I take my last breath.”

Spinning around, I walked out of Starbucks, not in anger or rebellion, but in freedom.

(Excerpt from my work in progress: Still in the Fight by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2020.)

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Here’s A New Novel I’m Working On. What Do You Think?

dolly 231

 

Chapter 1

“Dev, what makes you tick?”

“Hatred. Pure hatred!”

“What is wrong with you, Sheehan?”

“Listen up, Captain,” I said, swiping the shot glass off the round table with my left hand while standing up and knocking my chair over backwards onto the floor, all in one motion. The people sitting nearby jumped up from their tables and backed away. “Do you want me to lie or do you want to hear the truth?”

At the sound of the shattered glass, the bald-headed bartender vaulted over the bar and stood next to me with a bar towel in his right hand.

“Listen, Dev, we don’t need any trouble from you,” he hissed through his teeth.

“What are you going to do? Call the cops?”

He shook his head. “Yeah, like that’s going to help, seeing that both of you are wearing your black uniforms right now.”

I shrugged my shoulders and smiled.

“Calling the cops won’t help, but instead I’ll whistle and Shorty will show up from the kitchen. He still remembers the night you sucker-punched him and handcuffed him to the tree outside. He believes the leather blackjack attached to his wrist will make the difference this time and you know, he’s itching to find out,” he said with a smirk on his pockmarked face.

“Bring him on! I’m ready!” I said, clenching both fists and stretching up to my full height of six feet three inches.

“Dev, sit down,” said Captain, tossing a twenty-dollar bill onto our table. “Here’s for the damage. We won’t cause any more trouble tonight, okay?”

The bartender scooped up the bill with his left hand and headed back toward the bar, slapping the towel against his right leg as he walked.

I picked up my chair and sat down, looking across the table at Captain Salvatore Testa, my best friend since attending third grade together at Holy Rosary Grade School, in what used to be Little Italy in northeast Los Angeles. Time had treated Captain well over the previous twenty-six years. Thick dark hair and clear brown eyes complemented his iron-man chiseled body. But his phone call at 1700 hours to meet him at Bundy’s Bar, near Echo Park, had irked me because I had other plans for the evening, which had to be canceled.

“Is this about Kathy?” he whispered.

Just hearing her name spoken by a friend who knew her prodded me out of my sour attitude into a solemn one. You’d think that I would have been better about hiding my feelings after eighteen months, but the guilt I felt over her brutal murder had not lessened one bit inside me. Whiskey helped, but still the nightmares returned every night, showing her bloody body lying in that hospital’s parking lot. Her second trimester baby boy, which had been ripped out of her stomach, lay atop her. His decapitated head had never been found and was probably resting in the murderer’s trophy case.

“How can it not be? She was my kid sister, for heavens’ sake. I practically raised her after Mom died.”

“Dev, I know, I know,” whispered Captain leaning across the table, “but are you working on her case?”

“I work it on my off-hours. So, it’s not hurting your precious budget.”

Captain slammed the table with his right fist.

“Lieutenant Sheehan, we’re talking about conflict of interest, not my budget!”

“Cap, she and her son’s murders have officially been placed in the cold case file. You know as well as I do with three to four hundred new homicides in LA every month and an understaffed police force, their murders will never be worked again. I promised myself I would find that man and bring him to justice.”

He blew out his breath. “What do you have so far?”

“I have copies of all the files and reports. I’ve checked them out. The biggest error that I can see is that the investigators focused too long on a seventeen-year old MS-13 member. Eventually, a cop came forward with an alibi for the kid, saying he was in a fight at a McDonalds, twenty miles from the murder scene. By that time, the investigators overlooked what I believe was the best lead.”

“Okay, I’m hooked. Tell me more.”

“A witness saw a medium sized, well-built, red-haired man with a grocery bag walking down the sidewalk. She said he had a large “Roll Tide” tattoo on his left shoulder and wore black pants, black shoes and a black sleeveless t-shirt.”

“What are you doing with that info?”

“If the man was walking, it means he may have lived in the area. So, I’m going door to door. Someone is bound to know something, right?”

“Keep me in the loop and don’t do anything crazy.”

“Okay.”

Captain folded his arms across his chest.

“I didn’t call you here to talk about your investigation or your life. I came to ask you to head a security detail tomorrow, guarding Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Grayson Armstrong and three other important men.”

“What?”

“General Armstrong will be hosting a meeting with General Yitzhak Ben-David of Israel, General Akeem Najjar of Jordan and General Rashad Kadir of Syria at LAX Airport tomorrow at 0700 hours. It’s a secret meeting and will be held in a cordoned off room. We are backup to the Elite Special Reaction Team Forces who are guarding the four generals, but I want our butts covered.”

“What if I say no?” I asked, knowing his answer ahead of time.

“Then I’d have to order you to do it, Lieutenant Sheehan.”

“Okay, my answer is yes.”

Captain handed a command packet with all of the needed codes and security info across the table to me. I slipped it into my jacket pocket, next to my backup pistol.

“And Lieutenant Sheehan?”

“Yes, Cap.”

He stood up, leaned over and looked straight into my eyes. “I’m walking out of Bundy’s Bar right now and so are you. That’s an order.”

I smiled and stood up.

“Hey, bartender,” I shouted over my shoulder at the bartender. He turned to look at me. “Tell Shorty, I’ll see him next time, when I’m alone.”

Be honest about what you think, okay?

 

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Still in the Fight

 

The drive to meet Pastor Rick took me past the Temecula Valley High School baseball field where our son, Cole, played shortstop for the Golden Bears during his four years there. Cole was a good player, but that wasn’t the reason I always thanked the Lord for His mercy when I drove by the field. It was because of a special miracle the Lord did twenty-two years ago during a state playoff game.

On that particular day, the Golden Bears were playing the Norco High School Cougars. The pitcher for the Cougars was Carson Riley, a right-hander, who threw around ninety-five miles per hour and was a solid major league prospect.

Cole stepped into the right side of the batter’s box to lead off the seventh inning. Riley’s first pitch was a fastball, which tailed inside and hit Cole in the middle of his chest, knocking him to the ground. He laid motionless on the ground.

The coaches for Temecula Valley rushed to him. One of them took out a cell phone and made a call.

Jane and I were sitting in the bleachers above the dugout on the first base side of the field. I grabbed Jane’s hand. “Honey, we need to go out there. Cole’s in danger,” I said.

We stood up and hurried to field.

Jim Dawson, the head coach for the Golden Bears, looked up as we approached home plate. “Dylan, he’s not breathing. I phoned for an ambulance, which should be here in four minutes,” he said.

Jane and I dropped to our knees and began praying. She prayed in tongues while I placed my hand on his chest.

“Father, You gave me a promise when Cole was born that He would preach the gospel and do miracles in Your name. When You made that promise, You looked into the future and saw this day. And yet, You still made that promise to me. I am not leaving until You honor Your promise and Cole stands up, totally healed in Jesus’ name. You did it for Elijah when he prayed for the widow’s son and I’m asking You to do the same thing for Cole, right now,” I prayed.

Coach Dawson grabbed my shoulders. “Dylan, let’s wait for the ambulance,” he whispered.

I slapped his hands away. “Let go of me,” I shouted. “God is doing a miracle here.”

Dawson released his grasp and wandered off. A siren could be heard pulling into the school’s parking lot.

“Father, I didn’t ask You to give me that promise for Cole. You did it on Your own. So, honor Your promise, in Jesus’ name,” I prayed over and over again.

“What’s happening here?” asked a paramedic, rushing toward us with a stretcher.

Cole’s green eyes fluttered and opened. He looked into my eyes. “Dad,” he whispered, “I met Jesus. He said I had to come back to life because of your prayers.”

My son was totally healed and wanted to stay in the ballgame, but of course, the two paramedics insisted on him riding in the ambulance to Temecula Valley Hospital. Jane and I followed them in our Chevy Tahoe.

All of the tests on Cole proved to be negative. The Lord healed him.

Cole graduated from high school two weeks later and now lives in San Diego with his wife Allyson and their two daughters, Mia and Madison.

If I drove by the baseball field a hundred times in any one day, I always thanked the Lord for that miracle every time. I never want the Lord to forget how much it meant to me.

(Excerpt from Still in the Fight, a remodeled update of the short novel Unhinged Geezer, and a work still in progress by Larry Nevenhoven)

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