These dreams are killing me, figuratively

After escaping the sinking ship, those that read yesterday’s post will know what I’m talking about,  I started thinking about the helicopter episode.

I think it had to do with the aches and pains I acquired spending an hour out in the garden trying to defeat the weeds and failing.

How did I get in that helicopter?

It’s like watching an episode of some series or other where you see the main character trapped in an exploding car, and right after the starting credits, it says ‘two days earlier’.

So, two days earlier,

 

Someone once told me it was not a good idea to ask your commander out to dinner.  Not a date, just the fact you’d like to get to know her better.

Yes, my commanding officer was a woman.

I thought the dinner went well, we found some common ground, ice hockey, and baseball, albeit barracking for different teams.  

Then, the next day when I went into ‘the office’, the operations officer called me aside.

“Who’d did you piss off?”

Good question, had I, and who?

And asked, “Who?”

“The Commanding Officer.  She asked me to put you on patrol, nothing ever happens, and it’s as boring as shit.”

Usually, I was in the front line, what they called in the army, cannon fodder.  Some said I had a death wish.

I shrugged.  “No doubt she has her reasons.  I could think of worse assignments.”

“Well, till then you’re on standby.  Make the most of it.”

 

This will no doubt change when I think about it some more.

Stay tuned.

 

© Charles Heath 2018

“The Devil You Don’t”, a surprise, a shock, a near death experience

http://amzn.to/2o7ZtxZ

John Pennington’s life is in the doldrums.  Looking for new opportunities, prevaricating about getting married, the only joy on the horizon was an upcoming visit to his grandmother in Sorrento, Italy.

Suddenly he is left at the check-in counter with a message on his phone telling him the marriage is off, and the relationship is over.

If only he hadn’t promised a friend he would do a favor for him in Rome.

At the first stop, Geneva, he has a chance encounter with Zoe, an intriguing woman who captures his imagination from the moment she boards the Savoire, and his life ventures into uncharted territory in more ways than one.

That ‘favor’ for his friend suddenly becomes a life-changing event, and when Zoe, the woman who he knows is too good to be true, reappears, danger and death follows.

Shot at, lied to, seduced, and drawn into a world where nothing is what it seems, John is dragged into an adrenaline-charged undertaking, where he may have been wiser to stay with the ‘devil you know’ rather than opt for the ‘devil you don’t’.

 

newdevilcvr3

That helicopter story that kept me awake

Or part of it anyway.

 

So, there I was, hanging half out of the helicopter, shooting a handgun at a truck speeding along a dirt track.

I know, what’s the effective range of a handgun?

The sound of the rotors was still deafening even with the earphones on and as I run out of bullets and was reaching for another clip, I heard a voice crackle in my ears.

“Some fool’s got a rocket launcher.”

That fool was trying to lean out the passenger side of the truck and aim the launcher at the helicopter.

The bucking and swaying of the vehicle nearly tipped him out onto the roadside, but something managed to anchor him, and he was taking aim.

“Now would be the time to peel away,” I said, not knowing if the pilot could hear me.

Our course didn’t deviate, so perhaps he hadn’t.

I calculated the distance between the helicopter and the ground, and the speed we were traveling.  Fast.  Short drop.  Quick landing.  Very painful.

In that moment I saw the rocket leave the launcher, I let go.

There was that instant where you feel disembodied and floating on air.  The same as that few seconds in free fall, just before pulling the rip cord of a parachute.

I hit the ground a rolled, not that I thought it would do much good, and the stopped, just before I lost consciousness.  Somewhere in front of me, there was a huge explosion, and then nothing.

Last thought, I hope the helicopter didn’t land on me.

 

© Charles Heath 2018

Just one of many reading lists – part 3

Everyone, it seems, will publish what they call the top 100 books that you should read. Some are voted on, some belong to the opinion of the editor of the book review section of a newspaper, and, as you know, there are a lot of newspapers, a lot of editors, and a lot of opinions.

I’m not a newspaper, I’m not an editor, but I have a list, based on personal experience, and many, many years of reading.

It’s in no particular order.

41.  The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as a host of other Sherlock Holmes stories

42.  The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad, one of Conrad’s later political novels, set in London in 1886 and deals with anarchism and espionage.  In those days spies were called anarchists.

43.  The Ipcress File by Len Deighton, introducing us to Harry Palmer, who was personified by Michael Caine and led to Horse Under Water, and Funeral in Berlin.  More of Len Deighton later on in the list

44.  The Remorseful Day by Colin Dexter introducing the somewhat enigmatic detective, Morse, his first name not revealed for a long time but oddly, Endeavour.  John Thaw brought him to life

45.  Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, hard to pronounce and even harder to read, but perhaps worth it in the end.  By the time I read this I was wishing for a Russian writer had could use an economy of words

46.  Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak wasn’t it.  A vast and lengthy dissertation on lost love, I felt very sad for Zhivago in the end.  I saw a stage play of the same name, and I’m sorry, but it’s a few hours of my life I will never get back

47.  Casino Royale, the first of the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming.  I have to say these are among my favorite spy books.  I must say I preferred the new James Bond in Casino Royale, though Sean Connery still rules!

48.  The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsythe, a fascinating story about an assassin

49.  Anything written by John Le Carre, but in particular, the George Smiley collection.  Finally unmasking his nemesis the Russian spymaster made it all so satisfying.

50.  The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlam, inspiring a long series by both Ludlam and Eric Lustbader makes entertaining reading, but the first, the man who did not know who or what he really was, was excellent.  Matt Damon didn’t harm his persona either.

51.  Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers, whose detective is Lord Peter Whimsey, a 1933 mystery novel that’s eighth in the series

52.  Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith.  You have to admit that his Russian detective Arkady Renko is up against it when his investigation goes in a direction that uncovers corruption and dishonest in his superiors

53.  The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler, a semi-autobiographical novel written between 1987 and 1884, and published in 1903.  The story of the Pontifex family.

54.  Howards End by E. M. Forster, first published in 1910, is an interesting insight into the behavior of the, and between the classes, with the Schlegels acting as the catalyst.

55.  Washington Square by Henry James, originally published as a serial, and covers the conflict between daughter and father.  I must say I prefer The Ambassadors to Washington Square.

56.  Ulysses by James Joyce, a day in the life of an ordinary man, Leopold Bloom, why could it not be the 7th June rather than the 16th, for obvious reasons

57.  The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley is a view of society at the end of the Victorian period through the eyes of a young boy.  I read this while still at school and had no clue why, but later, when I read it again, I understood the meaning

58.  Atonement by Ian McEwan, I saw the film and then read the book.  Never a good idea.  Basically, a young girl makes a bad mistake and tries to atone for it.

59.  Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell, the War and Peace of Americal novels, and as long by comparison.  The only book written by Mitchell, and the second most read book by Americans.  The film was interesting but awfully long.

60.  The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, with a man with severe burns and the effect he had on three others.  Colin Firth is villain one day and hero the next, this time in the cinematic version, an out and out cad.

More to come…

 

I’m supposed to be winding down!

It’s late at night and I just watched the start of a James Bond movie.

Not the sort of thing to be doing just before going to bed.  I watched the start, typically one of the best parts of the film, and then turned it off.

Then, while trying to switch my mind off so that I could get some sleep, it started running a hundred different scenarios that I might use in a story.

The catchy start, the sort that drags the reader into the book with a bang, high action, with bullets, grenades, a rocket launcher, maybe, a car or a helicopter chase, and a lot of death and mayhem.

Soldiers would tell you this is a typical day in a war zone, with real people, and innocent people as casualties.

Certain police forces would tell you this is what it’s like going up against drug cartels and organized crime.

Spy stories always make good reading and sometimes better movies because it is not something er, on average, equate with reality.  We have a hero, we have innocent people being saved, and the bad guys always lose.

Well, most of the time.  Sometimes they may be allowed to have a small win until the next book in the series.

It’s escapist entertainment, something that takes us away from the daily drudge.

Yes, I can see the beginnings of a story, helicopters, bullets, cars, danger.

Let me get back to you, I have to write this down before I lose it.

 

Just one of many reading lists – part 2

Everyone, it seems, will publish what they call the top 100 books that you should read.  Some are voted on, some belong to the opinion of the editor of the book review section of a newspaper, and, as you know, there are a lot of newspapers, a lot of editors, and a lot of opinions.

I’m not a newspaper, I’m not an editor, but I have a list, based on personal experience, and many, many years of reading.

It’s in no particular order.

21.  Passage of Arms by Eric Ambler, I have to say I have read most of his novels and they are very good

22.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, a very powerful story of a courageous, independent woman

23.  The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers, a 1903 secret service story, and a good example of an early espionage novel

24.  The Father Brown stories by G. K. Chesterton, which features a Roman Catholic priest who is also an amateur detective

25.  The Grantchester Mysteries by James Runcie, similar to the above, but featuring an Anglican vicar Sidney Chambers and set in the 1950s.  Recently brought to life on television.

26.  The High Commissioner by Jon Cleary, an Australian author, this novel introduces Sargeant Scobie Malone, in the first of many adventures

27.  A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, the first Dickens book I read, possibly because it was one of the shortest, and paved the way to reading all of his books.  Who could forget Madame Defarge

28.  Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, another of those delightful but depressing stories of the 20s through to the 40s, perhaps for some, the golden age.  What could be said, in the end, about the Flytes?

29.  The Godfather by Mario Puzo, is the story of the Corleone mafia family, and for me, the most interesting part was that of the horse’s head, and of course, the death and mayhem

30.  The Shipping News by Annie Prouix, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and a story about a man, Quoyle, who against all odds puts his life slowly back together

31.  Detection Unlimited by Georgette Heyer, noted mostly for her Regency romances, she also wrote a series of detective novels.  This was her last detective novel published in 1953

32.  Poldark by Winston Graham, a series of stories about the Poldarks and Cornwall, and his arch-nemesis, George Warleggan

33.  Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene, one of many very interesting novels, this the first I read, followed by the Quiet American and Travels With My Aunt.  Seeing movies of some didn’t enhance the reading experience.

34.  The Mayor Of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy, another of his interesting but sometimes hard to read novels of rural England.  This led to Jude the Obscure and others in the ‘series’.  It all started with Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

35.  A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, set during the Italian campaign of World War 1.  He also wrote The Old Man of the Sea

36.  Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, I don’t think he was all that lucky

37.  Whiskey Galore by Compton MacKenzie, the story of the ‘resue’ of several hundred cases of whiskey and the locals’ efforts to hide it.  Also famous for writing Monarch of the Glen, later a television series

38.  The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett, a collection of satirical observations of English life in the 1700s in spa towns and seaside resorts

39.  Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope, part of the series known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire and features the unpopular Bishop Proudie and Mrs. Proudie

40. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie, Christie’s first book published in 1920, and introduced Poirot, Arthur Hastings, and Inspector Japp.  Who knew so many books would follow

The list continues

“Echoes From The Past”, buried, but not deep enough

What happens when your past finally catches up with you?

Christmas is just around the corner, a time to be with family. For Will Mason, an orphan since he was fourteen, it is a time for reflection on what his life could have been, and what it could be.

Until a chance encounter brings back to life the reasons for his twenty years of self-imposed exile from a life only normal people could have. From that moment Will’s life slowly starts to unravel and it’s obvious to him it’s time to move on.

This time, however, there is more at stake.

Will has broken his number one rule, don’t get involved.

With his nemesis, Eddie Jamieson, suddenly within reach, and a blossoming relationship with an office colleague, Maria, about to change everything, Will has to make a choice. Quietly leave, or finally, make a stand.

But as Will soon discovers, when other people are involved there is going to be terrible consequences no matter what choice he makes.

http://amzn.to/2F7gqAL

newechocover5rs