Per suggestion from a Dickhead, here’s part of the Prologue…
“Suppose a man died with the dearest wish of his heart unfulfilled.
Do you believe that his spirit might have the power to return to Earth and complete the interrupted work?”
- Jerome K. Jerome “Ghost Story”
November 17, 1971 – Santa Venetia, California
It was an ordinary ranch-style house on a quiet cul-de-sac; a dark, starry night—until the explosion. Even that was muffled and neighbors would later claim they didn’t hear a thing. If they had been watching, they would have seen a firestorm roll through the house and crack the front picture window.
An hour or so later, a big, red 1963 Pontiac convertible rumbled around the corner onto Hacienda Way heading toward the house. The couple inside the car giggled like teenagers. The girl driving was only eighteen, but the man pawing at her was old enough to be her father. He was also a semi-famous science fiction author, but that meant nothing to her. She had other interests in Philip K. Dick.
“Stop it,” she said as she pushed him away. “You smell like greasy burger and onions. You know that stuff’ll give you bad dreams.”
“Not tonight, baby,” he whispered in her ear as Sharon parked the car in front of Phil’s place. “I’m only dreaming of you.” Phil was swaying to Carole King’s light and breezy voice on the radio. “Let’s do it here.”
“Nooo,” she whined. “Let’s go in and do it on the floor.”
Phil’s girlfriend-of-the-moment hopped out of the car and pulled him from the passenger seat. He playfully tugged at the buttons on her blouse as they staggered up the walk-way to the front door. Phil had never actually “done it” with this girl, but liked the idea. Since his last divorce, he hadn’t technically been dating anyone. Sharon was one of several young druggies he let crash at his house.
In the Bay Area in 1971, everyone was scoring or selling some kind of dope. Phil didn’t care much for hash or coke, but was a considerable consumer of white cross tabs—amphetamines. Writing fuel. His need for speed was also a way to keep Sharon around, and keep an eye on her. Phil fancied himself her savior. Actually, Sharon was the one taking care of Phil. Someone had to.
Phil was prone to terrible bouts of depression and paranoia. He was also agoraphobic, and needed someone to drive him places, even to the grocery store or burger joint. But on such a starry night, Phil was happy for a change and focused on the possibility of making it with this young dark-haired girl.
“Vincent,” he slobbered in Sharon’s ear while fumbling with the key to unlock the front door.
“Man, you are stoned,” she stopped and frowned. “Are you a homo?”
Phil smiled, “It’s a song. Fabulous.” He sighed, “Brand new album. Wait til you hear…” He pushed the door open with his hip and was about to give another push toward Stephanie, but she moved to flip on the light switch. Before he could finish his thought, she shrieked, “Jesus! Phil, look!”
For a moment, Phil couldn’t comprehend the devastation. “What the…?!”
A million tiny pieces of white debris covered everything – the carpet, furniture, the drapes and it was even sticking to the walls. As his eyes darted toward the adjoining den, his writing room, where chunks of metal were strewn among the bits of white. Phil pushed past Stephanie, who was frozen in place, to his study and saw the mangled remains of his fire-proof file cabinet.
“Shit, I knew it!” Phil rubbed his eyes and temples. The force of the explosion had blown slivers of steel into the side of his oak desk. Bits of canceled checks, and other unrecognizable paper and plastic swirled together into a sickening stew of debris.
Phil allowed friends to come and go, smoke pot and make a mess of his house, but no one was allowed in the writing room. It was his only safe haven, strictly off limits. He kept that room neat and tidy. It was the only way he could organize his thoughts and have any privacy to work on his novels. Now, his mind was as cluttered and confused as the mess around him. He knew one thing for sure—his latest and most important manuscript was gone.
Sharon followed Phil into the den and found him staring off blankly. Then he erupted into a crazy, maniacal laugh that scared her.
“Thank God I’m not crazy!”
“I’m calling the cops,” the girl said, looking around for the phone.
Phil grabbed her forcefully. “No you’re not.” The wild look in his eyes scared her. “No fucking cops, you hear?”
She began to shake and cry.
“I’ll deal with this. You need to leave.” Phil practically shoved Sharon out the door and then felt bad. It wasn’t like him to be mean, especially to a crying woman. But he was about to cry himself, and didn’t want anyone to see that.
Phil collapsed in a heap on the living room floor, in the middle of the mess. “Damn,” he sputtered. “I knew the sons of bitches were after me.”
For hours Phil sat on the floor, rocking back and forth and playing over in his mind theory after theory of who would go to such extremes to steal his writing. It was a carefully crafted, professionally executed explosion. They knew to use heavy wet bath towels to muffle the sound and contain the contents. “The bastards,” he thought, hoping they got a soggy wet manuscript and that maybe one of them blew a hand off in the process. Eventually, he drifted off to sleep, still curled up in a half-sitting, half fetal position.
He sat on the floor for hours, rocking back and forth, playing over in his mind theory after theory of who would go to such extremes to steal his writing. It was a carefully crafted, professionally executed explosion. Whoever did it knew to use heavy wet bath towels to muffle the sound and contain the contents.
The bastards. He hoped they got a soggy, illegible manuscript, and that maybe one of them had blown off a hand in the process. Eventually, he drifted off to sleep in his half-sitting, half-fetal position.
In the light of day, the scene was even more disturbing. It hadn’t been a dream. The mess was real. Stiff and foggy, Phil got up and stumbled to the phone, which remarkably was still intact. He found the number of a guy who had been a demolitions expert in the Special Forces. Carl knew all about explosives. Once he was on the line, Phil identified himself and mumbled some cryptic, code talk. He had no trouble conveying the point. In less than an hour there was a knock on his door.
Phil cautiously peeked through the peep-hole. Standing there was a mountain of muscle; six-foot-five, at least two hundred and fifty pounds of it, still sporting a marine-style buzz cut.
Phil opened the door and the ex-marine had the same reaction that Phil had the night before.
“Shit!” Carl cursed as he carefully stepped inside.
Carl instantly began surveying the scene. He reached down and ran his fingers through some of the white debris.
“Asbestos. Your safe was blown, eh?”
Phil shushed him, finger to his lips, and turned on the TV for background noise. Amazingly, it still worked. His stereo, an expensive quadraphonic, was gone. Suspecting the place was bugged, Phil spoke in a hushed voice. “An eleven hundred pound Mosler Class D fireproof file cabinet.” He pointed toward his den.
——— what happens next? Gotta get the book 😉 BUY IT NOW! click link to your right ——> Scroll up 😉
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