include_once("common_lab_header.php");
Excerpt for A Reluctant White Knight - Volume 5 Splash Landing ! by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


A Reluctant White Knight

Volume 5

Splash Landing !

By

T.W. Anderson



Book Copyright 2015 by T.W. Anderson

Published by T.W. Anderson at Smashwords

Front Cover Art Image Open Source Public Domain

Back Cover Art Image Copyright Wikipedia AN0514533

All rights reserved.

This book is available in print and as an e-Book

from most online retailers

e-Reader edition: ISBN-13: 978-1507881729




A Reluctant White Knight novel – Volume 5 – Splash Landing by T.W. Anderson

Acknowledgments

All references to persons, places or events within this work are fictional and intended solely for the entertainment of the reader. Any similarity to any person, living or dead, any place or event is strictly coincidental and unintentional. References to any object name, brand name, and product or service name are NOT intended to imply any endorsement, acceptance, permission granted or involvement of the owners of those objects or names in the publication of this work. References used within this work are used solely for the entertainment of the reader and have no bearing in fact on those things or places named. It is not the intent of the author to either endorse or detract from any person, place, event or product herein named. No portion of this work may be reproduced in any form or fashion without the expressed written consent of the author.

I want to thank Judy Schuler, Edits Online for her professional services in editing the book, and Dixie Anderson for her contribution in story development.



A Reluctant White Knight novel – Volume 5 – Splash Landing by T.W. Anderson

Publishers Edition and License Notes

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, whether in whole or in part, without the expressed written permission of the author.

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



A Reluctant White Knight novel – Volume 5 – Splash Landing by T.W. Anderson

Dedication

This book is lovingly dedicated to my wife, my sons, their wonderful wives and all my grandkids who gave me the inspiration for how different people interact, love and support one another. Only the best traits of my family were used in character development, with literary license and embellishment, I must admit.

The quirks I added!

T.W. Anderson

Author



Prologue

This book is Volume 5 of the novel series and presents a startling beginning, and continuing problems that crop up. It is heart warming how the family faces adversity together and makes the best of it. But the threats to the family continue from unknown sources.

Readers will find that they’ll want to pick up the previous volumes of the book whether they read them before or after this installment of Tom Rowter and Sunny’s complicated love and dangerous acquaintances.



A Reluctant White Knight novel – Volume 5 – Splash Landing by T.W. Anderson

CHAPTER ONE

“Chalasar, get your clean shirt on. You have a visitor,” the prison guard hollers down the corridor.

“What are you talking about? You know I don’t get to see no visitors,” Chalasar yells back. “You’re just sayin’ that so the other guys here in solitary think you have a reason for taking me out of my cell. Then you and the other pigs are goin’ to tune me up again. I ain’t moving and you can’t make me.”

Two guards come to the solid steel door and open the viewing port. The ranking guard growls at the prisoner, “Get out of that bunk and get dressed. Your attorney is here to talk to you about your appeal. You weren’t supposed to get an appeal, and now you are? I wish them dang judges would have the balls to stand behind the sentences they give people like you.”

“You know the drill. Stand up straight with your hands over your head,” the other guard orders before unbolting the door. Chalasar moves slowly just to aggravate his guards. The guards surround the killer and work together to secure him in handcuffs and shackles. Then they roughly push him through the cell door and down the corridor.

When the three men enter the special lawyer interview room, the guards notice that Chalasar doesn’t seem to recognize the lawyer sitting on the other side of the protective glass.

“This is your attorney for the appeal, isn’t he?” the ranking guard asks the prisoner before allowing him to enter the room.

“No, he’s my bitch. Ain’t he cute?” the inmate responds with a sneer and is rewarded by being pushed through the doorway toward the single fixed chair before the guard slams the door and they leave the two men to talk.

Chalasar takes a moment to study the attorney before taking his seat and picking up the intercom handset. Then he addresses his visitor, “Who the hell are you and what do you want?”

It is the attorney’s turn to study the man on the other side of the glass and finally he says, “This room is soundproof to allow the privacy between attorney and client required by law. So do you want to talk to someone other than the guards, or should I go?”

“Okay, I happen to have some time available,” the prisoner responds with a wicked laugh and slumps in his chair.

“My name is Darrell Tribos, attorney at law. I’ve got a writ that says I can talk to you about filing an appeal, even though the judge said you couldn’t have one. That writ isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, but I’ll file it and you’ll be denied. But it got me in to see you.

“We have both suffered a personal loss because of the same person,” the attorney says and then gives the inmate time to consider what he has said.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Chalasar replies. The helpless feeling he endured hanging upside down from a helicopter doing over a hundred miles an hour a thousand feet above the Caribbean Sea rushes back to him and he nearly vomits. The warning the men in the helicopter gave him was hard to hear because of the noise of the helicopter, but he got the message. If he said anything, to anyone, ever, he was dead no matter where he was or what he did to hide. And they’d kill every person who had the unfortunate experience of calling him family or friend. The past year in solitary was enough to calm his fears, he thought. But the bile in his throat tells him that he still believes every word that old soldier said.

“Does the name Thomas Rowter sound familiar?” the counselor finally says.

“So?” the prisoner replies, but the bile builds even more.

“So, he caused my brother to be killed. And he got your brother killed. Personally, I don’t like that he got away with it. He or his family. And I can tell you don’t like it either. Am I wrong?” the attorney explains. But Chalasar just sits on the other side of the glass shaking his head. Then the attorney can see his anger build. The inmate lowers the intercom handset from his face and is swearing and shaking his head. The attorney waits, but the Mexican continues his ranting. The cell is soundproof and not wired for audio, but it is under video surveillance. Evidently, the inmate gets animated enough that the guard opens the door to check on him. The inmate yells at the guard to leave him. And the attorney knows he has him where he wants him.

“I’m going to give you a name and address. You tell the man this: ‘Edmondo says it is time.’ You will receive whatever you need.” Chalasar gives Tribos the information and then adds, “We never had this conversation and you will never contact me again.” Before the attorney can respond, Chalasar slams the handset into its cradle, stands, and pounds on the door for the guard to let him out. Tribos is no saint, or rookie, but the look on the convicted killer’s face makes him glad that he added that last statement because Tribos has no desire or intention of ever having contact with him again.

A Reluctant White Knight novel – Volume 5 – Splash Landing by T.W. Anderson

CHAPTER TWO

The mugger’s right hand is wrapped firmly around my throat and I can feel the life slowly being choked from me. I can barely draw a breath and what little breath I can take in makes me want to vomit from the stench of the foul smell coming from my assailant’s contorted mouth. His face is nearly in my face and I can’t move because he has me pressed hard up against our car.

My vision is starting to narrow. I can barely see, in my peripheral vision, Sunny’s lifeless body sprawled out on the wet pavement behind the man. Everything around me is turning dark. Darker than the dimly lit parking lot started out to be.

The traffic on the eight-lane road passing by the parking lot is loud. Louder, perhaps, than I had ever heard it before, as my ears start to ring.

Why can’t someone driving by stop to help us? Surely with all that traffic someone will look this way and see my attacker.

I struggle with all my might, with both hands, to hold the assailant’s left hand from advancing toward me. The knife he holds in that hand is pointed directly at my gut and both his mighty left arm and both of my arms are trembling now as we fight against each other. As his chokehold on my throat continues to deprive me of the oxygen I need to fight him off, I feel his hand, and thus the blade, creeping closer to my body.

Briefly, my confused mind tells me to give up the fight. After all, if he has killed Sunny, what do I have to live for? But what if she isn’t dead? Then when he finishes me off, she is at his mercy. I can’t risk that. I must not let him finish her off if there is a breath left in my body.

My vision is almost totally gone now. A black cloud swirls in my brain and has taken all but the narrowest part of my focus away. His eyes look like what a wild man’s must look like. I see no mercy, no guilt, perhaps even pleasure in his eyes.

In desperation, I shift my efforts from stopping the knife’s advance on my gut to moving it to my left. Perhaps if God is watching my feeble battle for life, he’ll grant me a less critical wound. A wound I can survive to fight on to save Sunny.

The knife blade is pressing against my jacket now. But I know there is no way the medium-weight material of my coat is going to stop it. I feel a sharp pain on my skin. I feel the blade enter my body slowly, and each movement accentuates the pain. The pain is more than I’ve ever had to endure in my entire life. Even more than when I was shot. I see stars now and my eyes close, even though I fight to keep them open. Although I try to hold it in, I exhale my breath. All of it.

Sharp pricks assault my face. I smell the stench of alcohol. I feel my face washed wet with what must be the sensation of fainting. Now my face feels like it is on fire and my eyes are burning. And then I feel the pressure of the knife that was thrust into my body release and I fall. I fall an eternal distance and never stop falling. Falling into a black abyss. No light. No sound. No feeling now. I am finally dead.

“Oh Sunny. I’m so sorry I abandoned you in your time of need,” my mind cries out.

A Reluctant White Knight novel – Volume 5 – Splash Landing by T.W. Anderson

CHAPTER THREE

There is nothing. Just my thoughts. No feeling. No body. Just my thoughts.

I think how I will miss the joy we had. Sunny and me.

Our first wedding anniversary. It was summer at the ranch. Family all around us. No need to go to someplace else. We both wanted to be with family that first anniversary. Our marriage was a celebration of joining two families together and each person in that family made us feel whole.

We were such crazy lovebirds for a couple of old farts. I’m dead. I can admit it to myself now. I was far too old to be chasing that beautiful woman around the country, around the ranch, around our bedroom. I acted like I was twenty-something again. Heck I was four decades older than that and more than seven years older than her. But it was her fault. Her radiant beauty. Her natural charm. That cute Texas accent. Gosh. She was something else.

And she spoiled me rotten.

She loved everything I loved. Flying, classic cars, dancing to rock and roll, dancing slow, not dancing at all and just holding one another. She loved the beach, the sea, her yacht.

Our yacht. She used to get so mad at me when I’d call something “hers.” How many times did she correct me and tell me it was “ours”? Even her dad, Dusty, would do the same thing. I remember one particularly heated discussion she had with me because of my inability to accept that what was “hers” was now “ours.”

I remember that for my birthday in November she had arranged for me to get checked out in the family’s vintage World War Two P-51 Mustang. Her dad had bought the old fighter plane after the Korean War. He had even raced it at Reno. But now it was just at the ranch for his fun, although his old legs couldn’t take the strain of flying it anymore. Or so he said. Sunny loved flying it too. And she wanted me to get checked out just like I had gotten checked out in the rest of the ranch’s planes.

Sunny’s friends, Connie and Howard, flew out from California and stayed at the ranch with us. I had met the couple when Sunny and I visited them at their vineyard. While there, Howard had even taken me for an orientation ride in that couple’s Mustang. For my birthday Sunny had arranged to have their old war bird brought up to date on all its inspections and test flown by a professional pilot. It passed inspection and I was to be trained by Howard. Connie would give me my check ride at the end of the training.

The weather was perfect. Much better than I had expected for November. But that is Texas for you. A lot of good weather with some days not so good.

I approached that polished aluminum warhorse with trepidation. I had done a lot of independent study on the airplane’s systems so I’d take better advantage of the short time that Howard had to spend with us at the ranch. And some of the old nineteen forties systems seemed prone to causing pilot’s to make mistakes that could damage the plane, and in a lot of cases, kill the pilot.

The Internet is not a good place to study. I found myself researching less about how to fly the plane correctly and more about what had caused most of the thousands of P-51 Mustangs to crash, usually killing whoever was on board.

There was a lot riding on me getting through that checkout without damaging the plane. And this wasn’t my airplane. Dusty, Sunny, Rusty, Joe all had a fondness for this bright beautiful artifact. And they don’t make them anymore. If I bend the thing, if I blow up the engine, it’s going to cost thousands of dollars to fix. If it can be fixed.

Before my first flight with Howard, standing beside the gleaming polished silver airplane I expressed that to Sunny and she became unglued.

I remember her saying, “Are you leaving me?”

I responded, “Certainly not! What gave you that idea?”

“Well it sounds like you have one foot out the door already! I cannot figure out why you won’t accept the fact that what is mine is yours. That isn’t just a saying. That is a fact of life. When you married me, you got the whole package, bud. You got the ranch, the money, and the perks. But you also got the responsibility.

“You’ve shown you accept that responsibility by how you have protected me and the members of this family. You’ve come close to getting killed more than once to save me and others. But you won’t accept that you can enjoy the good parts of this deal. I don’t understand it.

“If you aren’t ‘all in’, then how can this ever be us sharing our lives? If you aren’t ‘all in’, then I feel like you have one foot out the door,” Sunny had cried out and had stomped off toward the corral, yet again.

It was a fact that I had been very careful, in the year and a half we had been married, to make sure that I did not assume too much. She, the whole family, had a history long before I showed up. I didn’t help them build what they had. I didn’t help them earn what they had. I had no right to what they had.

I had earned the love of that woman. I had not earned their things.

But this was another big blowup about the same darn thing. I tried to be careful about not laying claim to the family’s stuff. And she’d correct me about it. Now, it appeared, she had her fill of it.

I tracked her down before she got on her big white mare this time and cornered her in the corral. There, among the horses prancing about trying to get away from this woman that was scaring me as much as the horses, I took command of our marriage and held her tight. I was not going to let her run away from this one. We were going to have it out.

The words we exchanged started out heated, but before long they became tender. She could not stay mad at me, she admitted. She loved me too much for that. She just wanted me to finally realize that it was all ours. I admitted my reluctance to accept that and she pointed out that I now had fun with her late husband’s Corvette. Her Corvette. She’s seen me drive it and smile.

And when she bought me the amphibian airplane, Ducky, I accepted that as ours.

Why can’t I do that with the rest of our things? She asked.

We talked it out. It took quite a while. I promised to turn over a new leaf and she kissed me hard and shoved me in the direction of the hangar where that Mustang stood. I looked back at her as she mounted her big white mare and galloped off toward her mountain.

Correction, our mountain.

And although it was a lot of work, and a lot to remember, I managed to get through the lessons with Howard, and the check ride by Connie, without scaring either of them too much. And they made me celebrate by taking my wife for a ride in the Mustang. I felt a little intimidated with that gorgeous gal sitting in the seat behind me since she had been flying that big war bird for years. I knew she was watching every move I made with her family’s prized Mustang. It was actually quite unnerving. Not the flying. Trying to figure out what she was thinking.

I remember that after we took off I heard her sweet Texas accent come over the headphones of the intercom saying, “You know, this plane was built to withstand the rigors of war. I don’t think you are going to break it if you fly it like you want to. You’re sitting up there like you are afraid to break the darn thing. Loosen up. Have some fun.”

“Okay, you asked for it,” I responded and I wondered if she could see the smile that came on my face through the little rearview mirror above my head.

But I made her wait for it. I moved my butt around and settled more comfortably in the seat, tightened my seat belt down just a little bit more, and took my hands off the throttle and control stick. I carefully trimmed the Mustang for level flight. Then I rubbed my hands together where she could see me do it, took a fresh but lighter grip on the controls, and smoothly rolled the Mustang to the left and over on its back.

As the big powerful fighter plane came barreling toward earth building up speed, I heard a war hoop in my headphones emanating from that petite auburn brunette in the backseat.

I smoothly brought the fighter up into a chandelle, reversing course twice before pulling the airplane’s nose heaven bound and finally rolling the plane upright again at the top of its Immelmann turn.

“Well it is about time!” my wife said from the backseat and I looked up to see her beaming smile and just a little bit of mascara running down from her aviator sunglasses to her cheeks.

My landing back at the ranch was acceptable to my backseat driver and I rolled the canopy all the way back past my position to her position behind me during our slow taxi back to the hangar. When we came onto the ramp, I saw Howard and Connie standing at the open hangar and they were each giving me a “thumbs up”. After the engine had cooled to the correct temperature, as Howard had trained me, I put the big twelve-cylinder engine through its high-idle shutdown. Sunny stood up past the open canopy and gave out a West Texas war whoop that echoed off the hangar.

I looked up in surprise at my wife and she appeared embarrassed by the fact that her war whoop had echoed throughout the ranch compound.

All I could do was smile and thank God that he had gotten us through that little rough spot in our marriage.



A Reluctant White Knight novel – Volume 5 – Splash Landing by T.W. Anderson

CHAPTER FOUR

Thinking of God, I remember I am dead and these are all just remembrances of the past.

Oh, Sunny. I hope my abandoning you didn’t make you suffer. I hate to admit it to myself but I hope you were dead before me. Safe from further abuse by my killer.

Perhaps if I come out of this black abyss to the light of Heaven I might see you again. I’m a Christian. I’m going to heaven, I know that. But when? Christ? Are you there?”

Christ. The Savior. Not of my body, this time. But I’m sure he saved my soul.

Christ. That reminds me of Christmas. That second Christmas. The whole family was there at the ranch. Rusty and Maria with the twin babies. My grown granddaughters, Sky and Autumn, maturing far too quickly, but they treated me like a king. How proud I felt of each and every one of the five boys. And their wives. What fun it was to be a fly on the wall and watch those gals when they got together. They truly exemplified the saying “The more the merrier.” When they got together only good things came of it. And when they were all together, the fun they had, and gave to us? Unbelievable.

And most of them, at least the ones from out of town, spent an entire week with us because they wanted to be there for the wedding. Pat and Dusty’s wedding.

And watching Dusty and Pat. Sure, Sunny and I were acting like star-struck lovers still. But that old cactus was just as goofy. He didn’t change one bit when he was taking care of the ranch and all its employees. Still the great boss and tough task master.

But when Pat called his name, he melted like milk chocolate in the Texas sun.

I wasn’t near as old as Dusty. What was he then? Seventy-seven, I think. Well, maybe we weren’t that far apart. And Pat was his same age. They had said so. Almost to the same part of August. Close enough we had a combined birthday party for them that summer before their wedding.

Their wedding. To just stand back and let the people who loved Dusty plan and set that up. And then to just enjoy the whole affair.

First there was the New Year’s Eve ranch party in the hangar. It served so many good purposes.

For one thing, it was Pat’s real retirement party.

Federal Judge Patricia Charing had her official retirement reception up in Midland four days earlier. Pat had told us she was going to do that for all the stuck up folks that she knew. She told us not to bother attending. In fact she was rather firm that she didn’t want us wasting the trip because she was going to give those stuffed shirts an hour to say goodbye and then she was going to jump in the rental truck she had packed and hightail it for the ranch.

That reminds me that Dusty found out what it felt like to cross the line. He had hired a moving company to pack and load Pat’s things without asking her. She was as mad as I had ever seen her when he told her. They had about an hour of heated discussion about boundaries and got it sorted out. But Dusty held his ground and got Pat to come around to his way of thinking. Then she made it known that she was driving the truck and she didn’t need any further opinion from him about the subject.

So before the retirement reception at the Federal Court House the movers packed the judge’s place up, loaded it into the rental truck, and Pat drove it to the courthouse in her business suit. Pat introduced Dusty to all of her well-wishers and said farewell. Exactly sixty minutes after she had stepped into the courthouse conference room, she handed her access badge to the bailiff and he escorted her to the courthouse front door where they exchanged hugs.

Pat climbed into her rental truck and headed south for the ranch with Dusty in close pursuit in Pat’s Jeep.

But the New Year’s Eve retirement party at the ranch was nothing but fun. The people Pat had invited to that retirement party were also staying the evening to attend Pat and Dusty’s wedding on New Year’s Day. Like we had done for Sunny and my wedding, Dusty borrowed all the used inventory from a good friend’s RV dealership and set up camps in the meadow by the hacienda

Pat’s guest list was filled with law enforcement and judicial people of all ranks and accomplishments. They ranged from her bailiff to her replacement on the bench. Those coming to the ranch were the real friends she had and she could thank them for supporting her.

Dusty had some of his high-level friends there as well. Of course, first to be invited was former president “T.” Bout and his family. He gladly accepted and of course his Secret Service detail greatly complicated the entire event. But Dusty’s friendship with the president was the real deal and worth all the hassle.

Then there was the Senator of the Great State of Texas. She had been a friend since before she became a political dynamo. Those two couples stayed in the hacienda with the family.

Various bankers, oilmen, and other noteworthy guests accepted Dusty’s invitation but mostly Dusty had local ranchers and town’s folk there to celebrate with him.

The other function of the New Year’s Eve party was for the rehearsal dinner of the wedding. But the family only took about half an hour for the rehearsal since it was basically a repeat of where everyone stood for Sunny and my wedding. The only real change was instead of Dusty standing behind his daughter as she exchanged vows with me, I would be standing behind Dusty as his Best Man. Sunny would be standing behind Pat as her Matron of Honor.

We were both thrilled and warmed with the love expressed by the wedding couple when they asked Sunny and me. It was an unexpected, but welcome honor.

The rest of the New Year’s Eve party was a celebration for the ranch hands’ families. About one hundred families to be exact. That drove the Secret Service absolutely crazy. But they got their job done and both the party and the wedding the next day went off without a hitch.

That is except Pat and Dusty getting hitched.



A Reluctant White Knight novel – Volume 5 – Splash Landing by T.W. Anderson

CHAPTER FIVE

I wonder what is holding up Saint Peter.

I suppose if I was totally misguided in my faith I might have missed my chance for heaven and be waiting for Satan’s call to hell. But if my faith isn’t real, then is heaven real? If heaven isn’t real then there isn’t any hell, is there? But I don’t think that’s right. I feel confident in my faith. I know I’m dead. But I’m still confident in my faith. I’ve been talking to God a lot of years and He’s come to my aid a number of times. He didn’t this time, evidently. But when He calls one of his believers home, it is with His timing, not ours.

I chuckle to myself thinking, If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him about your plans. Boy. That was true with my life.

It seemed like everything I had planned was off course eventually and He had to slap me upside the head to get my attention so I’d get back on course. Well, not all the time. Sometimes He did it in the most gentle and loving way. He brought me Sunny to save me from wandering off to who knows where.

Good move, God. I want to thank you again for her love.

And to be truthful He has done it before. He brought to me my previous wife, Dee. She really helped me turn my life around and find Him again. Not that He was lost. I was. Thank you, God. I was truly blessed by you that you brought two great women into my life.

I wonder if I’ll recognize Dee in heaven too?

That is, if I’m going to heaven. Doesn’t seem like I’m going anywhere. At least I’m not in that black abyss anymore. I have not noticed it before, but I’m surrounded by white light. That’s got to be a good sign, doesn’t it?

That black abyss reminded me of the time I had that same black cloud descending on me. Funny thing, I wasn’t dying then. At least I don’t think I was. I was just intoxicated and mad at myself for being stuck in a dead end, unsatisfying job. And I remember I was tinkering with an old car engine and washing it in gasoline and had gasoline all over me and… Maybe I was dying? I don’t know.

But when that black cloud appeared it filled the entire ceiling of the garage. I looked around to make sure it wasn’t smoke, because if there was a fire, I’d be dead from all the gasoline I had used to wash the grease off that motor. No, it was just a black swirling cloud up there at the garage ceiling. I took another drink of the wine I had been nursing all night and the cloud descended a little. My thoughts turned dark for some reason and the cloud came down even closer to my head. Soon it was just above my head and I felt like it was pressing me down. I had to lean down not to have my head touch the black cloud.

Finally when I was bent over entirely I called out the first thing that came to my mind. I called out, “Jesus Christ is my savior and you can’t have me.”

The cloud disappeared and I felt God’s presence there, standing beside me.

Dee rushed into the garage to find out what all the yelling was about and she told me afterward I was talking gibberish. She led me into the house and scrubbed my hands and arms clean of the gas and oil and grease and then put me to bed. She called the ambulance and when the EMT’s arrived and found out what I had been drinking and what I had been doing in the garage, they told Dee that I had taken in too much gas fumes and had chemical poisoning from the gas on my skin. She had caught me in time, gotten me out of the fumes, and washed the gas from my skin. They left a bottle of oxygen with her for me to breathe all night and told her to keep watch over me. If I kept breathing, I’d be fine in the morning, except for a hangover. If my breathing changed she was to call them back.

I was fine in the morning, except a hangover. But as much as I wanted Dee to believe my story of the black cloud entering the garage, she wouldn’t. And she made me take precautions like rubber gloves, an open window, and fans on before working on vehicles again. And I swore off drinking for a while.

But that black cloud was there in the garage. It was the same black cloud swirling around me when that guy choked me and stabbed me to death. I felt the evil coming from that cloud. Had to be Satan. It just had to be.

So what about all the stories about seeing white lights? I should be going toward the pearly gates, shouldn’t I? The white lights are all around me. But I’m just here. Well, my body isn’t here. But my thoughts are here. I’m not going anywhere.



A Reluctant White Knight novel – Volume 5 – Splash Landing by T.W. Anderson

CHAPTER SIX

Let’s see. I was thinking about the anniversary, then Christmas, then New Year’s Eve and the party. Pat and Dusty’s wedding. The reception. How friendly president Bout was to me. Gosh. I like that guy. And Sunny. She was smiling bigger than I have ever seen her smile before.

Poor Sunny. I shouldn’t have taken her to the west coast with me. But we went everywhere together. Come to think of it, why was I in that parking lot where that guy killed Sunny and me?

That’s right. Sunny and I had flown back out to Long Beach to give the new oil-pipeline west coast division manager her annual review that is three months past due. That means, hmmmm. Must have been March. We hired her just before Christmas over a year ago, so this must be March. Kind of cold and wet, even though it’s California? Yeah. It could be March in California. And so I died in March. But where did he attack us?

I remember. The Long Beach Airport parking lot. We had gotten out of our rental car. No. Not a rental car. It was the company car they loaned me from the office. It was night. Too late for us to fly back to Texas. We got to the west coast later than we had planned and it was pouring rain when we landed. Our luggage was in the nose baggage compartment of the ranch’s business jet and I didn’t feel like digging it out in the middle of a rain shower when we first arrived. Janice from the office got access to the ramp with the company car and we still got soaked just rushing from the business jet’s cabin door to the waiting car.

After the division manager’s review, the rain let up some and we returned to the airport to get our bags. I stopped in the parking lot to go in and identify myself so we could drive on the ramp. The big guy jumped me when I got out of the car.

What did he say? I think he said something like “Give me all your money.” By that time, he had me pinned against the side of the car. When he saw Sunny jump out of the passenger side of the car, he pulled that knife. I yelled at Sunny to stay back but she jumped on the guy’s back and tried to put him in a choke hold. The big guy just threw his left fist containing the knife over his right shoulder.

Oh God, I don’t think she was dead. I saw the blade of the knife. It was pointing toward me when he hit my wife. He must have hit her in the head with the butt of the knife handle. That’s right. Then she fell to the parking lot.

Please God. Did you at least save her? I pray you saved her.

I wonder what the sensation of the prickly stuff on my face was when I blacked out. Was it my face going to sleep from the guy’s choke hold? The stench of the man’s breath was bad enough, but when I blacked out it was like he was bathed in alcohol. Like we were both bathed in alcohol. It reeked.

But what was that prickly feeling. It is kind of what I feel on my arm now. But I don’t have any arms. I don’t have a body. I’m dead and this is just my soul remembering my life.

Hey. Is this where they say your life passes before your eyes? It is! Wow. They were right. Cool thing is that it seems like I can spend as much time as I want remembering stuff. I should just think of the good stuff. No use thinking of the bad stuff. So why am I thinking about that prickly feeling and think that something is pricking my arm.

Now that is weird. Now it feels like that prickly feeling is one by one hitting each of my fingers. But I don’t have any fingers. I’m just a soul. Now it is a feeling on my toes, and the instep of my foot.

I have got to go back to remembering happy things. This is starting to hurt much too much. I’m not supposed to hurt anymore. I’m dead. God, you told me in the Bible that when I get to heaven there won’t be any pain and suffering. No crying. But I feel like crying.

God, please help me to understand what is going on.



A Reluctant White Knight novel – Volume 5 – Splash Landing by T.W. Anderson

CHAPTER SEVEN

Suddenly I hear a voice. Saint Peter?

“Doctor, I have reflex action on all limbs. Respiration is up. Blood pressure is slightly elevated. I think we may have him coming back out of it,” I hear a voice say.

The ringing in my ears makes it hard to understand what is going on. The white that had been all around me is now concentrated like a spotlight shining in my eyes. I raise my arm so my hand can shield my eyes from the bright light and I’m at first surprised that I actually have a hand. But then someone gently pulls my hand and arm down and I have more flashes of light in my eyes.

“Would you turn that dang light off, please? I’ve got a headache,” someone says with a very raspy voice. Then I realize my throat hurts like hell and hurts now worse than before I said it.

I SAID IT! That was me. I’m not dead. I hear beeping. That’s a hospital monitor. I’ve heard that too many times already in this life. Life.

“Is Sunny alive?” I croak out. And as soon as I do I start crying and praying at the same time.

“Yes, she’ll be fine. Can you hear me, Tom?” a man’s voice says. Thankfully the bright light moves away from my eyes. I can finally start to focus and I see about six faces looking down on me. None of the people are wearing wings or halos. And they are all wearing face masks. So I quickly surmise that this is not heaven.

“I hear you. Is she okay?” I ask again.

“I assure you, she’ll be fine. Just a bump on the head. She’s been waiting for you to come around. Tell us how you feel, Tom,” the man’s voice inquires.

“Headache, hurts to talk. This side of my tummy feels numb,” I respond indicating my left side.

“Yes. You’ve got nasty bruising on your throat but your windpipe did not collapse. Limit your talking to responding to our questions and your voice should fully return in a day or so. The numbness in your side is where we had to open you up to make sure no vital organs were damaged and then sew you up. Good news there. I don’t know if your guardian angel was helping you fight that guy off, but when he stabbed you he didn’t hit any vital organs,” the voice says and he sounds cheerful.

I don’t feel cheerful. But maybe I should. I obviously am not dead. And he says Sunny is going to be okay. So I guess what I need to do is lie here and recuperate.

“Okay, he’s stable and responsive. Let’s get him to recovery and alert the family. They’ve waited long enough for the good news,” the voice says and I just hum to myself, Hmm Hmm, in agreement.



A Reluctant White Knight novel – Volume 5 – Splash Landing by T.W. Anderson

CHAPTER EIGHT

Tribos feels the vibration from the burner phone in his overcoat. He is startled because he completely forgot he had it. But he is also saddened because, when the man handed it to him in exchange for the cash, he told Tribos that he would not hear from him unless there was a problem.

“Do you recognize my voice?” the caller asks.

“Yes,” Tribos replies.

“The job didn’t get done. We are making other plans. Be patient. Revenge is a dish best served cold.” The caller hangs up.



A Reluctant White Knight novel – Volume 5 – Splash Landing by T.W. Anderson

CHAPTER NINE

“Tom? Can you wake up for me?” I hear the sweet sound of my wife’s voice calling me.

I open my eyes carefully because the last time I did that I had a blinding light shining in my eyes. This time I have the welcome vision of a radiant beauty. My wife, Sunny.

“Oh, honey. I was so relieved when they told me you were going to be all right,” is all I can croak out before I start to cough dryly.

Sunny quickly brings a straw from a glass to my lips and lets me have a sip. “Slowly, sweetheart. Your throat is pretty beat up and you’re going to have a hard time swallowing for a while.”

I finish sipping the cool water and it feels great on my throat. She is right. It is hard to swallow. But I don’t care. I have her back with me.

I think to myself, Thank you God. You saved us again.

“The doctor says that you have to stay put overnight and I’ll be right here with you. They should be able to release you in the morning. I hate to do it to you, but there is a police detective here and he needs to see you as soon as possible. They are trying to figure out what happened to us. Would you be okay with them coming in? I’ve asked them to limit their questions, as much as possible, to yes or no answers so you can just nod or shake your head. But when it gets to be too much, just put your hand up and I’ll get rid of them. Okay?” Sunny asks me.

I nod.

The police detective is accompanied by a patrolman in uniform and they introduce themselves as Detective Hernandez and Officer Patterson. I just wave my hand hello in response.

“Sir, we are holding a suspect in regards to the attack on you, but we need you to identify the man. I’m going to show you a picture of him and ask you to answer yes or no, as your wife has asked. Do you remember this man as being involved with the attack on you and your wife?” The detective hands me an eight-by-ten-inch photo of a young man with shaggy hair and a moustache. The man looks very familiar. But the memory of my assailant is vivid in my mind and there is no way that this is him.


Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-23 show above.)