The Day the Music Died

On February 3rd, 1959, three men’s lives were tragically cut short in a plane crash just outside of Clear Lake, Iowa. Buddy Holly chartered a plane in order to avoid the cold, uncomfortable and overcrowded tour bus while on their ‘Winter Dance Party’ tour. Waylon Jennings gave up his seat on the plane to J. P. Richardson, otherwise known as the Big Bopper, who was suffering from the flu. Tommy Allsup lost his seat to Ritchie Valens in a coin toss. No doubt those two men thought of that tragic night often and gave thanks to the twist of fate that spared their lives.
Many of you are too young to know these men or their music well, but almost anyone who hasn’t been living in a cave is familiar with the song that immortalized them. American Pie by Don McLean. Released in 1971, American Pie has become the anthem for that tragedy.
The eight-minute and forty-two-second song held the record for the longest song ever released to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, much to the relief of many a disc jockey who would put the song on in order to go to the bathroom.
That record stood until Taylor Swift released her ten-minute version of “All too Well” in November of last year, no doubt to the relief of many a country music DJ.
On this anniversary of the passing of those three music icons, it might do us all well to take a moment to reflect on those who we have lost on our journey and appreciate the gift of life as well as those twists of fate, some big, some small, that have kept us alive and brought you to this point in time to read this article.
Why not take nine minutes out of your busy day and pull up American Pie on Youtube? Maybe even call your local DJ and request it. He may even thank you for it.

For Your Consideration part II

Chapter 2, which is available to read on Amazon, is where you get to see more of Kali’s personality, wit, and skill. Enjoy.

Chapter Two: Hunter or the Hunted?

2010, Chicago, Illinois

Night settled over the Chicago skyline and the city lights sparkled like diamonds. A brisk wind off the lake penetrated Kali Hunter’s jacket sending a chill through her. She stood on top of the Desmond Advanced Technology building dressed in black leather and helmet. She looked at her watch, climbed onto the ledge, took a deep breath and jumped over the side.

Descending on a thin wire, like a spider on her silken web, she lowered herself down to the thirtieth floor. Her father had taught her never to look down, but she loved the view of the city from this height. Kali chose the window she wanted and placed shaped charges around the outer edge of the glass. The cold numbed her fingers and she flexed them to get the feeling back. She fastened one last device, a microphone, and touched a button on her wrist. Rising to the top, Kali climbed back onto the roof and activated the headset in her helmet to eavesdrop on Alec Desmond.

* * * *

Alec Desmond was meeting with his security staff in his office. “The upgrades to the security systems is finally up and running.” He paced the floor in front of the line of men. “We’ve installed motion sensors, heat detection sensors and high definition cameras throughout the building. Weight sensors are in the floors of high-security areas. A mouse couldn’t get through without us knowing about it.”

“What’s the big deal sir?” asked Pete Templar, Desmond’s head of security. “This building could practically guard itself.”

Desmond stalked to his desk and picked up a cigar. “The big deal is Adam North of North Electronics. Ever since we took his research, he’s crying to anyone who will listen that he invented the new X165 Super-Chip. My sources say he’s hired Hunter Recovery to get it back. I’ve crossed paths with Kali Hunter before. She’s smart and resourceful. All these security upgrades won’t do any good unless everyone is giving one-hundred and ten percent. She’s beaten me before but she’s not going to get the better of me this time,” he said through gritted teeth.

“Now, I want everybody on their toes until we hit the media with the release of the chip next week. The X-165 is going to make every computer on the market obsolete. It’s worth billions for this company. Starting now, no one goes above the fifteenth floor without the proper clearance. I want surveillance 24 hours a day. I don’t want you going to the bathroom without someone’s eyes on those monitors. I also want all stairwell doors locked above the fifteenth floor, understood?”

“But Mr. Desmond,” Templar objected. “It’s against the fire code to lock the stairwell doors.”

Desmond spun to face Templar. “Hang the fire code. I pay the fire marshal enough money every year, it’s not him I’m concerned with. It’s Kali Hunter I’m worried about. Gentlemen, man your posts.” Everyone nodded and dispersed to their assignments.

Pete Templar remained behind. “Mr. Desmond, I’ve only been with the company about a year now. This Kali Hunter, who is she? A burglar? A con artist? Organized Crime?

“She’s a do-gooder, a goody-two-shoes, a self-righteous Robin Hood. Five years ago, I acquired an advanced pinhole camera from another company who owed me money.”

“But you did it legally, right?”

“If you’re going to work for me, Templar, you’d better learn one thing. If you want to beat the competition, legality is a word you leave out of your vocabulary.”

“Yes sir, I’ll remember.”

“Everybody wanted to get their hands on that camera. Governments, business, even organized crime. It would have meant millions of dollars for this company. Then the inventor hired Hunter Recovery to get it back for him.”

“I take it she succeeded.”

“See this?” Desmond asked. He pulled down on the left side of his shirt collar and showed Templar and inch long scar.

“She did that to you?”

“Kali Hunter had ten years of ballet training and ten years studying under a samurai sword master. She’s graceful as a cat, with a pair of katanas for claws. This scar is my reminder. Every day when I shave it reminds me I’m never going to let her beat me again.”

“Sir, what do we do if she shows up? Turn her over to the police?” Desmond turned to admire the panoramic view from his window before answering. “I want to deal with Kali Hunter personally.”

Templar left and Desmond sat at his desk to light another cigar. Pushing a button, a bank of monitors rose and powered on. Video displays switched between several views of each floor. He could see two uniformed security guards at a desk, their eyes fixed on the monitors. They made occasional comments about what they ate for lunch and the cute secretary with the short skirt and shapely legs.

A red light flashed, jolting him out of his reverie. On the monitor, a black-clad figure ran down a hallway, disappearing around a corner.

An excited voice of a guard came over the speaker. “Sir, we have a breach on the twentieth floor.”

“Twentieth floor, it can’t be,” came Templar’s reply over the intercom. “Are you positive?”

“Yes sir, moving toward the north stairwell door.”

“Check the elevators,” Templar ordered. “Are they locked down?”

“Yes sir, all elevators are on lockdown…Wait a minute…The stairwell door has been breached. Switching to stairwell cameras.”

“What the hell?” Templar growled. “Do you have eyes on the intruder?”

“No sir, I don’t see anything.”

“There!” the other guard shouted, “Twenty-first floor, moving fast toward the south stairwell door.”

The drama unfolded before him and Desmond’s lips formed a sinister smile. “Welcome to my parlor, said the spider to the fly.”

Templar’s voice crackled through the speakers. “Dispatch two guards from the twentieth floor up, and station four guards on the twenty-ninth. We’ll trap her in between.”

Snatching his jacket, Templar entered the hallway, holstered his pistol, grabbed his radio, and ran toward the stairwell door.

The dark figure came around the corner and ran toward Templar at full speed. The intruder jumped in a high arc over his head, then rolled and hit the floor running, well beyond his reach and vanished around a corner.

“This is Templar, she just passed me on the twenty-fifth floor. How in the hell is she moving so fast? She’s heading for the thirtieth floor. Everyone converge on the twenty-ninth floor. I want four guards stationed at stairwell door 29-baker. She does not go above the twenty-ninth floor!”

Desmond stood from his chair, his eyes still glued to the action. He put on his jacket and opened a desk drawer. Taking out a small pistol, he slipped it into the outer pocket of his coat.

On the screen, the dark figure sprinted down the hall of the twenty-ninth floor. Rounding the corner, four guards blocked her path with Tasers drawn. Red dots decorated her chest. Turning to retreat, four more guards blocked her escape. Templar soon joined them, radio in hand.

Desmond waited for Templar’s announcement in the elevator before pressing the button for the twenty-ninth floor. “Sir, we have her at the twenty-ninth floor stairwell door.”

He pressed a button and waited. After a brief pause, the door opened. Desmond walked out with one hand in his pocket while the other held a smoldering cigar. The black leather clung to shapely curves and a tuft of blonde hair peeked out of the helmet. “So, Miss Hunter, to what do we owe the pleasure?”

The black-clad figure regarded him without a word.

“We both know exactly why you’re here.” Desmond blew out a cloud of smoke. “North put you up to this. I took his chip and his research material. He can’t prove my company didn’t produce it. Now you think you can get it back for him. You got the better of me the last time we met, but not this time, and I’ve got a score to settle with you.”

Desmond strolled over to Templar, opened his jacket and pulled out his pistol. With a quick move, he turned, firing three shots into Kali’s chest. The force of the .40 caliber slugs threw her against the wall. She slid to the floor and didn’t move.

Desmond handed the gun back to Templar. He took a Beretta Nano out of his pocket, cocked it and shot one of the security guards in the shoulder. The man fell to the floor, moaning. He grabbed his shoulder and blood oozed around his fingers, dripping onto the floor. A co-worker quickly took out a handkerchief and placed it over the wound. He pressed down hard trying to stop the bleeding, making him cry out even louder.

Desmond handed the gun to Templar. “Now, put the Beretta in her hand. We’ll say she tried to shoot her way out and you shot her. With all these witnesses, the police won’t even bother to investigate. Open and shut case.” He looked at Templar and noticed him staring at the wall behind him, his mouth open wide.

“What’s the matter, Templar? You’ve never seen a dead body before?” He asked.

“I’ve never seen one stand up.” Templar pointed behind Desmond. He wheeled around to look and his cigar dropped to the floor. Kali just stood there.

“Well, Desmond.”  She removed her helmet and ran a hand through her long-blonde bangs. “Looks like you lose again. I just wanted to see the look on your face. I’m going to have a hard time choosing which picture I’ll want to put on my wall. I do know I have your recorded confession, along with the video of you shooting your own security guard.”

Desmond snatched the Beretta out of Templar’s hand and fired at Kali’s head, but with no effect. No bullet hole, no blood, nothing. He marched over and waved his hand through her torso. The image flickered a moment and solidified again. A broad smile spread across Kali’s face.

“All right Hunter, where are you?” Desmond shouted. He pointed the gun at the image of Kali and wanted to fire. He knew he would just be putting more holes in the wall. Kali giggled like a school girl teasing a boy.

“Now where else would I be? I’m in your office. I’m sorry I can’t stay and wait for you. I’ve gotta fly, bye, bye.”

Kali gave a wink and a wave knelt down and pressed a button on her wrist. An explosion startled everyone. Everyone, but Desmond. It could only be the sound of his picture window shattering into chaff. He shoved two guards out of his way, knocking them to the floor, and bolted for the stairwell door. Forgetting he ordered the doors locked, he bounced off it, cursed, and unlocked it with his key card. He bounded up the stairs like a lion chasing prey.

Desmond burst into his office and came to a dead stop in disbelief. Particles of glass covered the floor and furniture. The wind whipped the vertical blinds like a woman’s skirt in a stiff breeze. There, in front of the opening, stood Kali fastening the strap on her helmet. He raised the Beretta to fire when Templar and two guards flew in behind him but didn’t stop quickly enough. They plowed into his back and the lot of them tumbled onto the floor in a heap.

“This has been fun, but I have an appointment with Adam North, so I have to go.”  Kali laughed.

Desmond pushed one of the guard’s legs off his head and saw her do a swan dive out of the window. When he finally pulled himself upright, he saw the silhouette of a Dragonfly 334 mini-copter flying away into a full moon.

He looked behind his desk and growled. The door to the wall safe was wide open. He didn’t need to look inside. He knew the computer chip, all the documentation, as well as his high expectations, had just flown away into the night sky.

* * * *

Kali sat back in her seat and chuckled while watching the security guards chase a holographic image of her. Her brother, Devon glanced over at the screen to take in the action.

“When do you think he’ll catch on we own the security company that installed all of the equipment in his building?” He asked.

“Oh, I think he’ll figure it out soon enough. He isn’t as smart as he thinks he is, but he’s not stupid. By the way, brilliant idea you had installing the holographic emitters inside the video cameras.” Kali leaned back in her seat and let out a long breath. “Let’s get this chip back to Adam North and go home. This evening has been exhausting.”

Did you like it? Hate it?

Any and all comments are welcome.

For Your Consideration…


…and your reading enjoyment, I present Chapter One of The Rise of Kali. Please, by all means, leave a comment even if it’s to say that you liked it or not. Keep it as simple or as detailed as you like.

Part One: Be Careful What You Wish For…

Chapter One: In The Beginning…

2005, Chicago, Illinois

Rays of sunlight wove through the Chicago skyline signaling the end of one shift and the beginning of another. Kali Hunter sat at her desk at Desmond Advanced Technology but going home was the last thing on her mind. She spoke into the phone in hushed tones to her father, Jackson.

“Kali, how’s the plan going?”

“Everything’s on schedule.” Her eyes darted around the room, making sure no one was eavesdropping. “I’ve gotten Grimes attention. You were right, the guy’s a real letch.”

“Remember, he’s only the floor manager, not our primary target. We just need his badge card. Make sure you get him to follow you into the copy room.  Leave it for me in there.”

“Right, it’ll be under the pile of papers in the floor.”

“What about Desmond? Has he kept to his routine?”

“He comes through the floor every day at twenty minutes ‘til five to check with the department head.”

“The stolen camera is in Desmond’s safe. When he takes you to his office, stall him until I get there. You sure you’re going to be okay, Kitten?”

“It won’t be a problem, I’ll have them eating out of my hand.”

“That’s my girl. Now, let’s test your earbud. Shove it down deep into your ear.” Kali took a tiny object out of a case and pushed it into her ear.

“How’s the reception?” He asked.

“Loud and clear. What about visual? Can you see everything?”

“I’m tapped into the office video feed. It looks like Grimes is walking the floor checking out the ladies.”

“Ugh, I hate the way he leers at me, I’d love to give him a two-second vasectomy. That guy makes my skin crawl.”

“Speaking of skin, you’re showing an awful lot.”

“Daaad.” Kali’s cheeks grew hot and she pulled down on her skirt.

“I wanted you to show him some skin, not all of it.”

Kali put her head down on her desk. “Will you please stop?”

“OK, OK, sorry. I couldn’t resist. Here he comes. It’s time, you better get going.”

Kali scooped up a large stack of papers and hurried down the corridor. Not an easy task in four-inch heels. She wore a tight black skirt and a low-cut red blouse to good effect. She caught the attention of every male in the office at some point in the day, including James Grimes, the floor supervisor.

“Okay, I’m headed for the copy room. Where’s Grimes? What’s he doing?” Kali asked.

“He’s a few paces behind you. Ever seen those documentaries of lions hunting antelope?”

“I watched one last week, why?”

“You’re the antelope.”

“He won’t think so when I’m finished with him.”

Kali allowed a paper to slip from her grasp. When she turned, trying to snatch it, the stack spilled, creating a spreading pool of white on the floor. She got onto her knees to organize the mess and her loose-fitting blouse gaped open.

“Here, let me help you with that Miss.” Grimes knelt and feigned looking at her identification badge while stealing a glance down her blouse. The two of them scooped up papers into separate piles.

“It’s Huffman, sir. Kali Huffman.”

“Huffman, you’re the new girl.”

“I’ve been here two weeks. I’m terribly sorry to be so clumsy. I need to get these papers copied before the end of my shift.” Kali caught him staring down her shirt.

“His I. D. badge is on his belt. Be careful he doesn’t notice you taking it.” Kali rolled her eyes at her father’s advice. Yes, dad, I know. He’s so busy staring at my cleavage, I could take his pants and he’d never notice.

With the papers stacked in two piles, Grimes lifted one and stood while smoothing his comb-over with his free hand.

“Let me walk you to the copy room. This is quite a stack for a young lady to carry.” Grimes eyed every inch of her body from her painted toenails to her tight ponytail and smiled.

“Thank you, but I can handle it, really.” She extended her hand to take the stack from him.

“No, I won’t hear of it. You just lead the way.” He winked and swept his arm in the direction of the copy room. Kali nodded and led the way down the aisle, adding an extra swing to her hips.

“Looks like the fish is on the hook,” her father said.

“Uh huh,” Kali hummed.

They entered the copy room and Grimes shut the door behind him. Kali placed her stack of papers on the counter while Grimes plopped his on the copier. He put his arms around her waist, grabbed her hips and spun her around.

“Mr. Grimes, please, I’m not that kind of girl.” She grabbed his hands, attempting to restrain them.

“Oh, come on. You’ve been sending signals all week. You put on quite a show just now.” He moved his hands from her hips to her chest.

“Good grief, what are you, an octopus?” Kali growled.

“It’s my mixed heritage honey. Romin’ hands, rushin’ fingers.”

Kali kept trying to push him away. “Please, I’m going to be in trouble if I don’t finish this copying before quitting time.”

“Honey, I’m floor supervisor. You’re going to be in trouble if you don’t finish me.”

“Hang in there,” Jackson said. “Desmond will be walking by your location in sixty seconds.”

“He can’t come soon enough,” Kali grunted and fought to keep Grimes hands off her.

He buried his face in her shoulder and nuzzled her neck. She squirmed, twisted and managed to pull herself out of his grasp, backing away from him.

Grimes followed her with a devilish grin on his lips. “So, you like to play games, eh? I like foreplay too, but only to a point.” He stalked toward her while Kali held out her palm and backed away. She pushed the pile of papers to the floor between them. He lunged for her and slipped, grabbing Kali by the waist. She managed to palm his I. D. card before they both tumbled to the floor.

Kali landed hard and Grimes fell on her like a bag of wet cement. She let out a loud groan and gasped to catch her breath. She managed to push the card under the pile of paper. Flailing her legs and pushing him away with her arms, Kali growled, “Now?

“Oh yeah baby, now.” Grimes moaned, reaching for his belt.

“Now,” Jackson said.

Kali let loose a blood-curdling scream that echoed throughout the floor. She drove her knee between Grimes’ legs and his face turned several shades of red. His eyes looked like they would bulge out of his head. Unable to breathe, he rolled off her and onto his back in the fetal position. After a long moment, he took a ragged breath.

The door burst open and Alec Desmond stood in the doorway, his imposing figure, that filled the opening, was silhouetted by the lights behind him. “What the hell is going on?” Desmond scanned the scene. Grimes moaned with both hands between his legs while Kali pushed herself away from him. Desmond’s lips formed a tight line. “This is the last straw, Grimes. As soon as you can walk, go clean out your desk and get out.”

Unable to speak, Grimes nodded his head and wept. Kali did her best to hide a smile. Desmond held out his hand.  “I’m terribly sorry Miss….”

Grasping his arm, she struggled to stand. “Huffman, sir. Kali Huffman.” She stood for a moment but stumbled when she took a step. Desmond caught her, helping her to her feet.

“Damn, I think I’ve sprained my ankle when he fell on me.”

“Let me take you up to my office. We can put some ice on it while you tell me what happened.”

“Oh no sir, I’ll be alright. I just need a few minutes.”

He glanced at her name tag. “I insist, Miss… May I call you Kali?”

“You’re the boss…uh, boss.”

Desmond put his arm around her waist and she put her hand on his shoulder. The two of them made their way to the elevator while curious onlookers attempted to look busy

Desmond slid his card through the slot and opened his office door. Kali’s feet sank into the plush carpet that was complimented by Cherry wood paneling. On one side, a shelf held sports trophies along with a few books. Pictures of Desmond alongside various politicians decorated the opposite wall, others of him in army uniform. He helped her to the couch and she breathed in the spiced cologne he wore. That combined with the feel of his well-toned muscles beneath his expensive suit made her heart race.

Kali plopped down and Desmond slid an ottoman over, gently placing her injured foot on it. He sat on the coffee table and removed her shoe, gently probing her ankle with his fingertips. “There’s no swelling yet. It’s probably just a mild sprain.” His fingers kneaded her soft skin.

Kali laid her head back on the couch. A soft moan escaped her lips while enjoying his strong hands massaging her foot and ankle. She chastised herself. Stop acting like a teenager and focus on the mission.

“I’m hoping that we don’t have to report this to the authorities. Grimes really is a good man. He just doesn’t have much luck with the ladies.”

“I can see why. He needs to be in a freak show. I could’ve sworn he had more than two arms. But I grew up with two brothers, so I learned how to defend myself. I can handle a creep like him.”

“Well, he got what he deserved. I’m prepared to compensate you adequately for your injuries.” Desmond winked at her.

“Compensate?” Kali raised her head from the back of the couch and met his soft brown eyes. She noted Desmond’s hand inching north of her ankle.

“Yes, let’s say we have a glass of something cold while I get you some ice for your ankle. How about some wine?”

“It’s a little early for wine isn’t it?”

Desmond went to the bar on the far wall. He took out a bottle and two glasses. “I thought it might take the edge off that sore ankle. Plus, it’ll relax you.”

“I’m five minutes away. Stall him,” Jackson’s voice came through the earbud.

Desmond strode toward her. She reached for the glass and put it to her lips. Breathing in the bouquet, she took a sip, relishing the taste before swallowing and resting the glass on her lap.

Desmond sat next to her on the couch and pulled her legs onto his lap. He placed a bag of ice on her ankle and rubbed her leg. Kali put a pillow on the arm of the couch, propping herself up. She took a deep breath to calm herself. Her heartbeat increased, and heat built inside of her.

“Now, about that compensation…” Desmond’s lips curled into a slight grin.

“You have my undivided attention.” Kali placed her glass on the table and blew out a contented sigh.

“I think we should get you off that dreary 20th floor and move you up to the big leagues. I could use a new executive assistant. The job comes with lots of perks.”

“Mmm, I like perks, keep going.” Kali raised an eyebrow when Desmond’s hand migrated to her knee. She half-closed her eyes, feigning drowsiness. Desmond’s caress caused her skin to tingle all over.

“Well, the pay is excellent, and you’d have full benefits.”

“Benefits are good.” Kali closed her eyes and leaned her head back. Her mind began to spin fantasies about the handsome man massaging her leg. If dad doesn’t show up soon I might start kissing him.

“There would be lots of time for recreation.” Desmond’s hand moved to Kali’s thigh and her heart began to pound. A knock on the door made her gasp.

“You just relax and don’t move. I’ll get rid of them and we can continue our discussion.” He slid out from under her and she breathed a sigh of relief.

“Who is it?” Desmond stood and strode to the door.

“It’s maintenance, Mr. Desmond. We got a report of a problem with the air conditioning.”

“I didn’t report any problem with the air conditioning. How did you get past my assistant?” Desmond flung the door open. A spray of white mist swirled around his face and he collapsed on the floor.

“I thought you’d never get here.” Kali plopped the bag of ice on the coffee table and hopped off the couch.

“So, your ankle is okay?” Jackson pointed to her leg.

“Oh, it’s fine, I figured he’d be more likely to invite me to his office if I was hurt. Did you have any problems?”

“No, the assistant outside is down for a nice long nap. We do need to hurry though. They could discover the missing card any time.”

“So, where’s the safe? Did he get creative with it? Or is he vain enough to hide it behind the painting behind his desk?” Jackson and Kali turned their eyes to the large painting of Alec Desmond, clad in full Army dress uniform. He sported the two silver bars of a captain and a swagger stick tucked under one arm.

“I’ll take door number one, Monty.” Jackson took a small mirror from his pocket and checked behind the frame for any alarm wires. He pulled on the frame, revealing a wall safe with a digital keypad. “Whatever happened to the rotary dial? You could use a stethoscope and get into just about any safe.” He shook his head.

“What can I say? That’s the price of progress.” Kali put her hand on her father’s shoulder. “So, are we guessing at it or do we know the combination?”

“We can’t guess too many times. This is a Brinkley 2000 safe. Three wrong attempts and it sets off an alarm.” Jackson scratched his head. “But, I did enough research on our criminal friend here. I know everything about him, up to and including his underwear size.” He grinned at Kali.

“Ugh, please, not something I want to know.” Kali eyed Desmond’s prone figure on the floor, noting the bulge in his slacks. “Apparently, he was enjoying my company a little too much.”

“From the looks of things, you two were getting along pretty well,” Her father teased.

“Just open the safe, please. Enough with the jokes already.” She raised her palm. “I’m ready for a long hot shower. I haven’t been pawed this much since you got me a puppy.”

Jackson entered one eight-digit combination causing a buzzing noise. “Hmm, it’s not his address.” He tried again, and the irritating buzz sounded off. “Okay, not his phone number. If this last one doesn’t work, I’ll have to use the c-4 that I brought.”

“We don’t have much time left. Just blow it.”

“Too messy and loud. I’ll give it one more try.” Jackson punched in eight more numbers. With a loud click, the safe swung open.

“Let me guess, his birthday, right?” Kali peered over her father’s shoulder.

“Criminals have no imagination these days.” Jackson shook his head. He pulled out a tiny robotic camera prototype along with a folder of schematics.

“Put that right back where you got it, Hunter.”

Jackson froze. Kali gasped and spun around, her heart pounded.

Alec Desmond stood at the edge of his desk, a drawer open and a pistol pointed in their direction. He blinked several times and shook his head.

“Now, Blondie, step away from him. You and I have unfinished business, but I’ll tend to you later.” Desmond waved the gun indicating Kali move away. She regarded him for a moment, chiding herself for feeling anything toward him. She took a few steps to her right, assessing the distance between them.

“I heard you had a daughter. She’s quite the pretty little thing isn’t she?”

Jackson’s brow furrowed at Kali. “I thought I told you to use the new formula of knock-out gas.”

“No, you told me to use up the old stuff first.”

“I did not, I distinctly remember telling you to throw the old formula out.”

“Well, that’s not the way I remember it.”

“Enough!” Desmond’s face reddened. He used one hand to steady himself against the desk. “Hunter, I finally get the pleasure of sending you to jail. And when they cart you off, I’m going to get a lot more pleasure with your daughter.”

Anger swelled in Kali’s chest and her hands clenched into fists.

“The police will see it a lot differently Desmond. This camera doesn’t belong to you. You stole it. You and I both know it.” Jackson shook his finger at Desmond.

“That may be true, but let’s see you prove it,” Desmond said with a smile.

“I’ve had enough of you for one day.” Kali reached behind her back and pulled out an eight-inch sword. Pressing a button on the hilt, another eight inches sprang out. Desmond had no time to react. He shouted when the back of the blade hit his hand. Pain shot up his arm and he dropped the gun.

The pistol hit the floor with a thud and Desmond lunged for it. He froze when the cold point of steel pressed against his throat. Slowly, he stood erect.

Kali’s eyes were slits. “One wrong move and I’ll take away your reason for wearing a necktie.” A trickle of blood slid down his neck, staining the white shirt with crimson. Desmond’s eyes were foggy but bore through her.

“Hit him again with the gas and let’s get out of here.” Kali never took her eyes off her opponent. Jackson stowed the camera and paper inside his coveralls.

“I’m fresh out. Let’s just lock him in the bathroom. I’ll check it out.” Jackson snatched the keycard from the desk and opened the door. “You have a phone in your bathroom?” He asked Desmond. “Kali I’ve told you I need a phone in the bathroom.”

“Eww, no. You are not putting a phone in the bathroom, that’s just gross.” She crinkled her nose. Desmond regarded her out of the corner of his eye. “It wouldn’t be wise to try anything, Desmond. I studied for ten years under a samurai sword master. I can take your head off before you can blink.”

Jackson came out of the bathroom and waved them over. Desmond walked through the door on shaky legs. Kali sliced the phone in half and slammed the door behind her jamming a chair under the handle. She moved to the office door with Jackson behind her and cracked it open. “All clear.” Kali retracted the blade on her sword and hid it beneath her blouse.

“Good, now let me get rid of this outfit.” Jackson unzipped his coveralls to reveal the uniform of a security guard. “Now, when we get into the hallway, start crying.”

The restroom wall shook from Desmond’s attempts to get out.

Father and daughter hurried out of the office and entered the hallway. Kali whimpered quietly, and Jackson led her by the arm to the elevator. They entered Desmond’s private lift and the doors slid closed.

“This is an express elevator. It’ll be the fastest way out.” Jackson put his arm around Kali’s shoulder in a brief hug. “You did great kid. I think you’re ready to operate on your own.”

Kali put one arm around her father’s waist and pulled him close. “I still wish you didn’t have to leave. Can’t they find someone else for the job?”

“I’ve waited a long time for this spot to open up. Assistant to the ambassador to Iraq is quite a step up. Instead of associating with seedy lowlifes, I’ll be rubbing elbows with big-time lowlifes. You’re ready to take over the family business. Your brothers will be home from college in a couple of weeks and the three of you can run things. It’s time for you to take the reins.”

The elevator jolted to a halt, knocking them off balance.

“Uh-oh, looks like the beast got out of his cage.” Kali noted the display. “Not good, halfway between the first and second floors.”

“Okay, give me a hand.” Jackson tried to wedge his fingers into the doors to open them. Kali pulled out her sword, jammed it into the crack and pried. The door inched open. An intermittent buzzing sound infiltrated the elevator. Kali’s heart raced. The two wrestled the doors open enough to slide through. She hopped to the ground floor, followed by her father.

Workers scurried around grabbing possessions and heading for the exits.  A thick pane of glass descended toward the floor, threatening to lock them in.

“Time for you to quit this job Kitten, I think we pissed off the boss.” Jackson grabbed Kali’s elbow and ran. She stumbled and sprawled onto the floor then sat up and took off her heels.

“What are you doing?” Jackson spun around and waved her on.

“I can’t run in these blasted shoes.” She threw them over her shoulder.

“Those are two-hundred-dollar shoes.”

“We’ll be two dead people if we don’t get through that door.”  By the time they reached the glass, only eighteen inches remained open, and that was closing fast. Jackson dropped and slid through on the polished floor. Kali dove headfirst, only to have her ankle caught by the glass.

She looked at her father with wild eyes. “Just go, get out of here.” She waved him on.

“Not without you.” He put his hands under the glass and pulled. Two shots rang out. The bullets struck the thick sheet of bulletproof glass in front of Jackson’s chest. He gasped and jerked his head back. If not for the glass, he would have died instantly. Kali spun her head. A bullet slammed into the glass in front of her face.

Alec Desmond ran toward them and continued firing until he emptied the clip. Bullets made pockmarks in the glass. Jackson bent his knees, screaming as he lifted. Desmond dove to grab her foot. The glass budged just enough. Kali jerked her foot out, the glass slammed down, and Desmond crashed into it.

Kali limped out to the street while leaning on her father. Glancing over their shoulder, two security guards helped Desmond to his feet. They attempted to dust him off when he pushed them against the wall. He screamed at them and glared out into the busy Chicago Street. Jackson and Kali blended into the crowd and disappeared.

* * * *

Jackson walked out the front door of their home, suitcases in hand and turned to have one last look around. Kali stood behind him, doe-eyed and looking lost.

“Now don’t look at me like that, Kitten. You’re going to be fine.”

“But Dad…”

“No buts, young lady. You can do this. I know I’ll be gone a long time, but this is important business. Iraq is dangerously close to developing nuclear weapons and we can’t let that happen.”

“I know how important it is. But, it won’t stop me from missing you.” Kali’s eyes flooded, and she buried her head into his shoulder.

“Hey, you’re the most courageous, most strong-willed person I know. You’ve had to grow up fast since your mother died. But, if there’s anyone in the world I can trust to handle things, it’s you.” Jackson gripped her shoulders and looked into her eyes. He wiped the tears from her cheeks and kissed her on the forehead. “Besides, I’m never more than a phone call away, day or night. Now, I called your brothers. They’ll be home soon to help you with the business. Just try not to hurt them too, badly will you? Hmm?”

Kali managed a weak smile and nodded her head. Wiping her cheeks with the back of her hand, she took a deep breath and hugged her father one last time. Walking with him to the taxi, she helped him put the bags in the trunk.

With one more kiss on the cheek, Jackson got in the car. Kali stared at the taillights until they vanished from view. She couldn’t shake the sinking feeling in her stomach.

The ringing doorbell woke Kali from a deep sleep. She blinked to clear her bleary eyes. The clock read Five a.m. She dropped her head onto the pillow and sighed as the bell reverberated through the house again.

Throwing the covers back, she stood, testing her sore ankle, grabbed her robe off the bedpost and limped downstairs. Her toes peeked out from under baggy pajama bottoms as she shuffled across the polished living room floor.

Approaching the heavy paneled oak door, she lifted the flap covering the peephole. Two men in dark suits stood outside. “Who is it?” Kali shouted.

“I’m terribly sorry to bother you miss. We’re from the State Department. It’s important that we speak with you right away.”

“Let me see some I.D.”

Both men reached into their jackets and produced badges with their pictures. Kali looked them over and unlocked the door.

“What brings you men out and about at this time of morning?” She glared at them through her disheveled mop of hair.

“I’m agent Davenport, this is agent Reeves. Could we come in Miss Hunter?”

“Sure, I need to sit down anyway, my ankle is killing me.” Kali led them to the living room where they sat on opposite couches.

“Miss Hunter, this is never easy to say. There’s been an accident.”

Kali’s eye were no longer slits. “Accident, what accident? Is it my father? Tell me he’s alright. Please, please, tell me he’s alright.” Kali sat on the edge of the couch. She gripped the cushion until her knuckles turned white. Her heart pounded. She fought to clear her foggy mind.

“Your father’s plane went down over Iraq. Now, this just happened you understand. We only have preliminary reports. But from the looks of the wreckage, it’s unlikely that there were any survivors.”

Kali’s mouth dropped open and her body went numb. Feeling confused, she searched for words that wouldn’t come.

“Several search and rescue teams have been dispatched to the area, but I’m afraid you need to prepare for the worst. They’ll continue searching until we have confirmation on each passenger on that plane.”

“How can it be? Do they know what went wrong?” Kali’s voice was breaking along with her heart.

“All we know for now is that they sent a distress call. The garbled message sounded like someone fired a missile on the plane. Again, Miss Hunter, I’m terribly sorry. Is there anything at all we can do for you?”

Kali sat, unable to move, unwilling to think. Agent Davenport waited, then spoke slowly. “Miss, is there anything at all we can do for you?”

Kali shook her head to clear it. “I…I…I don’t know. I don’t know. Will you keep me informed? My brothers, they’re not home. They’re away at college. They need to know.” Kali stared blankly ahead.

“We sent agents to apprise them of the situation and bring them home. You don’t have to worry about a thing. And, of course, we’ll keep you informed. The minute we have any new information we’ll relay it to you. Miss Hunter, is there anything we can do? Do you need to see a doctor?”

“No…uh, no. I’ll be all right. I’ll wait for your call.” She shook her head in disbelief.

“Here’s my card. You can call me at any time you need anything at all.” Kali took the card in a trembling hand. The three of them stood for a moment in silence.

“Again, Miss Hunter, I’m terribly sorry.” The two men turned and walked to the door. Kali closed the door behind them and stood with her back against it. Limping away from the door, the card fell from her trembling hand and dropped to the floor unnoticed. She stopped in the middle of the room because she could no longer see. Tears flooded her eyes, streaming down her cheeks. She collapsed to the floor sobbing. Her mournful wailing echoed to every corner of the empty house.


That’s all for now. So, what do you think?

If you like it and want to read the rest of the novel, you can buy a copy for about the price of a gallon of gas, or about half the cost of a venti vanilla latte at Starbucks.

It’s available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, Scribd, Walmart online and several others including the Overdrive Public Library app.

Fire Your Imagination Part II

Pushing your imagination to the limit is important for an author. We create worlds, populate them with characters that we breathe life into. We decide who gets to be happy and who has a broken heart. We even decide who lives and who dies. That’s edging on the border of megalomania.

As I mentioned in last weeks blog, an excellent exercise is to pick someone out of a crowd and imagine who they might be and what kind of life they lead. I’ll continue with last weeks picture.Related image

Notice the woman on the right, the one who is partially blocked by the tall man with the backpack and headphones? Her name is Dolores, code name Boris. She’s camera shy for a reason. She just happens to be the worlds deadliest assassin. Don’t let her frumpy look fool you. Trained by the KGB, she’s capable of using any weapon known to man and she never misses. Her asking price for any job is ten million Euro. She’s particularly fond of using her bare hands. She derives sadistic pleasure from watching the life drain away from her victim while she strangles them. It’s rumored that she climaxes when their heart stops beating and their eyes go blank, staring into eternity.

The intelligence community received a tip that Boris is in town for a job. Remember Tash from last week? She has just received her assignment. Boris has made her last hit, she won’t survive to make another kill. She will disappear tonight and her body will never be found. Tash has a hypodermic needle implanted under her right index fingernail. Once injected into the victim, it races through the bloodstream, stopping the heart within seconds, and then forms an acid that will dissolve the body from the inside out until only a pile of goo remains.

Fire your imagination. Who do you see in the picture?

Fire Your Imagination

A few years ago I was laid up after a surgery for ten weeks. Instead of keeping the couch from floating away, I decided to make good use of the time. I took a couple of MOOC courses in writing. It stands for Massive Open Online Courses. They have their advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages is that they’re free. That certainly fit nicely into my budget. One disadvantage is that, other than the instruction, that is the only involvement of the teachers. The rest is peer review.

It was the course in Creative Writing that I found most helpful. One of the exercises they encouraged is to study people in a crowd. Pick out a person and imagine who they are. Since you’re a writer, nothing boring would do, not at all. Here’s a case in point. Related image

Pick out someone from this image. Now, look beyond the surface. Let your creative juices run wild. The one that initially jumps out to me is the young woman in the center. Her name is Natasha, but she prefers to be called Tash. But she is no ordinary teenager. Tash is a construct. She is a biomechanical being that has the memories of a normal life implanted in her data banks. Although she looks like a human, she’s stronger than ten men. She has emotions and feelings, but those can be turned off when the need arises. She was built by an agency that is so secret, only the President (not that asshat Trump)  and her creators know she exists.

By day, Tash works at the library, filing and cataloging books, helping patrons. By night, she does whatever job is deemed necessary to protect our country. She can be a bodyguard, one woman assault team, and yes, she makes certain people disappear. Her two worlds never meet. In the morning, after a mission, she is implanted with memories of an evening at home watching TV with her cat, Angelo. At work, she laughs and talks about her favorite show with her coworkers.

In the picture, Tash is on her way home from work when she receives instruction by text that her services are needed.

So, who do you see in the picture? Fire up your creative juices and run wild.

Opportunities Lost, Lessons Learned.

I had a good friend named Brian. Although he was at least twenty years my senior we enjoyed doing many things together in particular, fishing and eating, not necessarily in that order.

He had been bugging me since the end of February, “We need to go fishing.” “We need to get out after those fish.” Not being fond of cold weather, I thought it was too chilly in March and even at the beginning of April. I had also discovered this little hole-in-the-wall diner that served delicious food at reasonable prices. I talked to him several times about taking him there. “Anytime you want to go, just call me. Just give me fifteen minutes and I can be ready.” He was going on a fishing trip with his son over the weekend and we were going to go when he got back.

Brian had spent the day fishing and then told his son that he was exhausted and was going to bed. He never saw the next sunrise. He died peacefully in his sleep. I have to think that if there’s any good way to die, that would be it. Spend the day doing what you love and then go to bed and never wake up.

Now I sit here with regrets that we never did take that last fishing trip or that trip to the diner.

Some lessons in life are learned harder than others. We’re often so overcome with all of the things going on in our lives that we make many plans, but do actually do so few of them.

Brian’s death made me pause and think. None of even know when we’ll see our last sunrise, eat our last meal or tell someone that we love them for the last time. It’s a worthy topic of rumination. What would we do if we knew when we were going to die?  Since none of us do, shouldn’t we stop planning to do things and actually do them?

If you’re a writer planning your first novel or your umpteenth, stop planning and do it. If you have friends and family and you want to spend time with them or just let them know how you feel, don’t hesitate.

Nothing is guaranteed to us while we exist on this spinning ball of dirt. Anyone of us may not live to see the next sunrise, or even make it home from work. Take heed of a lesson hard learned. Stop planning and start doing.

Been Far Too Long


It’s been far too long since my last post. But, life has this particularly nasty habit.  It continually tests you to see just how much you can take. And just when you think you can’t handle anymore, it piles even more on. I know I don’t have it as bad as others. So, it’s good to try to keep things in proper perspective.

In the meantime, whilst I’m waiting for Publishers Clearing House to come knocking, I hold my head up, not quite so high as I should, and carry on. I’m also ever-so-patiently waiting for Steven Spielberg or Joss Whedon to buy the film rights to The Rise of Kali. But I’m not sitting here holding my breath.

A big part of what is keeping me busy is I’m editing AGAIN. After spending over a year on Scribophile getting critiques from talented amateurs, then getting suggestions from beta-readers, I was confident that The Rise of Kali was ready for publication. One of my reviewers from The Naked Reviewers strongly suggested another edit, and with her help, ROK is getting the polish it desperately needed, help from a professional editor.

I’m learning a lot in the process. Points I just couldn’t see before. Pointers on POV, scene breaks, and something I’m woefully bad at, punctuation. English class was my kryptonite in school.


So, be patient with me. I am the king of procrastinators, and I’m not likely to abdicate anytime soon. I am planning to be more regular with my blog posts. Perhaps some updates on the edits of ROK. I do have the first two pages of The Descent of Kali written. It’s just that all those things get in the way of my goofing-off. What I need is someone to help me stay on task.

writing encouragement

Keep watching for new posts each week. If you don’t see one, come on over with a cricket bat and give me some encouragement.

My Review of The Naked Reviewers.

I recently published my novel, The Rise of Kali on Amazon. Being eager to promote it, I volunteered to have it reviewed by The Naked Reviewers. You can find the reviews here:

Sherry Terry runs the site. She’s multi-talented and wears many hats. She’s a published author. You can find her book here:

I’ve bought the book. Sherry is a good writer. I’ve read her work on I’m sad to say that I haven’t read Voyeur in the Mist yet. It’s on my to-do list. But, I’m two-thirds through another friend’s book and I want to finish it first.

Sherry is also a very good editor and her rates are reasonable.  Check her site out here:

Sherry edited one chapter for me and although she thought she was a little tough on me, I deeply appreciated her honesty and found the edit constructive and extremely helpful.

And, of course, she runs the group, The Naked Reviewers. Her criteria to qualify your novel to be reviewed is that she reads some sample chapters and feels that it’s worthy of a minimum of four stars. You also have to make your book available for free for two days in order for her group to read and review it. (More on this later.)

To date, I have received 5 reviews. All five appear on the Naked Reviewers site, but only 3 of them are posted on Amazon. You can read them here:

Of course the complimentary reviews are the ones every author wants, but it’s the ones that aren’t so complimentary that help you the most. After all, it may be embarrassing for someone to tell you that you have a piece of lettuce stuck in your teeth. However, how much more embarrassing would it be to go home that evening and discover it was there it was, on display all day without your knowledge? So in that area, every review is helpful. Even the ones that you don’t like.

As an author publishing on Amazon, you want reviews. In this case the old maxim, “If a little is good, then a lot is better,” couldn’t be more true. On Amazon, fifty is the magic number. With fifty reviews, your book goes up in the standings and your novel has better visibility. Three reviews is a long way from fifty, so I have an uphill climb ahead.

During the two days that I made the book free for download, twenty-two people downloaded a copy. I have no idea how many of that number were members of The Naked Reviewer group. I could only guess at the number because anyone that stumbled across my novel on Amazon could have downloaded it. Was it coincidence? Who knows? But it makes me think that there are a number of members in the TNR group who are only there to get free books. That thought didn’t set well with me. But, Sherry assures me that she’s going to jettison the non-participating members and that’s reassuring.

The other possible drawback is that in order to make a book free on Amazon, you have to sign up for KDP Select, which makes your novel available on Kindle Unlimited. The sign-up period is for 90 days. To me, this is a two edged sword. One the positive side, anyone who has Kindle Unlimited can read your book for free while you, the author, get paid by the number of pages they read.  On the downside, you have to sign up for three months. And as long as it’s on KDP Select, you’re not allowed to publish your book anywhere else. That’s putting all your eggs in one basket. I’m planning to post ROK on Smashwords when the 90 days is up. Smashwords will place your work on at least a dozen other sites like Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, etc…

So, would I recommend The Naked Reviewers? Certainly. Reviews that are complimentary and constructive are never, ever a bad thing. If I had 22 reviews on Amazon I’d be singing praises from the rooftops. If anyone asks me, should they submit their novel to TNR, I’ll tell them that I think it’s a good idea. After all, every review is a good review.


The Rise of Kali is Now LIVE on Amazon

A woman desperate to undo the past.

A long-lost relic that has the power to change history.

The path to uncover is means almost certain death.

But changing the past can have unpredictable results.

If she does reach it, can she live with the consequences of her actions?

The Rise of Kali is loaded with action and surprising plot twists.

It’s available now on Amazon for the introductory price of $2.99 for the month of September.

Get your copy now before the price goes up in October.

An Interview with Kali Hunter


We’re sitting down with Kali Hunter of Hunter Recovery. First off, Kali, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us.

KH: You’re most welcome. I need a little time to relax anyway. We just did a recovery last night and I’m still exhausted.

How exciting, can you tell us about it?

KH: Oh, sorry, no. All of our recoveries are strictly confidential. It protects the confidentiality of our clients. Besides, I’ve made an agreement with Ron Owen that he gets exclusive rights to use details from our recoveries in his books.

That brings up a good point, miss Hunter. Ron Owen has written a book about you and your business. How do you feel about that?

KH: We were careful to protect the identity of our clients while he was researching his novel. It was a little tedious for me with months of interviews, hours at a time. I’m not naturally a person to sit still for very long at a time. All in all I enjoyed doing it.

His first novel, The Rise of Kali, is due out very soon. Can you tell us a little bit about it? For instance, the title, what’s that about?

KH: First you have to understand my relationship with my father. My mother died when my brothers Devon and Bruce were born.

They’re identical twins, correct?

KH: Yes, but you wouldn’t know it to look at them. Anyway, so it was just me and my dad raising my brothers. We had housekeepers and nannies, but they would come and go. So, dad and I were nearly inseparable. He taught me almost everything I know. Then, on a trip to Iraq, his plane went down. It was like my world ended. Like someone reached into my chest and ripped my heart out. For months I didn’t leave the house. It’s a good thing my brothers came home from college or I would’ve starved. Then when I tied to get back to business, I didn’t lead a normal life. I didn’t date. Wasn’t interested in anyone. I buried myself in my work. So, I had to learn to rise to the challenge of living again.

I’ve read a few chapter samples for the book. There’s something else going on regarding the title. Isn’t there something more behind the meaning of The Rise of Kali?

KH: Well, that’s something you’re just going to have to read the book to find out. I promised Ron that I wouldn’t let the cat out of the bag.

What are some of your skills? What’s involved in a typical recovery job?

KH: First off, there’s no typical recovery job. Each one is unique. It’s almost like being a spy. There’s a lot of covert research and reconnaissance. We have to know every detail of every recovery to do our job. I can do anything any thief or second story man could do.

How dangerous is it?

KH: It can be very dangerous. We are stealing from hardened criminals. But we can take care of ourselves.

Just what skills do you have to defend yourself?

KH: My dad made me take ten years of ballet lessons. It teaches you to be tough. But it also teaches balance, strength and self-control. Then I took lessons from a Samurai sword master for ten years.

What was that like?

KH: It was grueling, but after ten years of ballet, I was used to the hard work. Master Yu was a real slave driver during the lessons, but he was a father figure before and after. It wasn’t all fighting skills. He taught me to respect life. Never to harm someone unless it’s in self-defense. It’s also about knowing anatomy. Where to hit someone to disable them without doing permanent damage.

What about firearms? I understand you don’t use them.

KH: I have a working knowledge of all the current firearms in use today. But I hate guns. They’re noisy and messy. Any coward can use a gun. But it takes real courage to face someone with a blade.

Tell us a little bit about your brothers, Devon and Bruce.

KH: For identical twins, they couldn’t be more different. Devon is the mother of the group. Even though I’m the oldest, he looks after everyone. He has an eidetic memory and he’s a voracious reader. He’s like a walking encyclopedia. He’s my right arm while doing recoveries. Then there’s Bruce. He’s like a combination of Einstein and Dracula.

(Chuckles) How is he like Count Dracula?

KH: He’s always hiding out in that lab of his. He calls it the Bat Cave. He really needs to get out and get some sun, but I’m almost afraid he’d turn to dust.

Well, how is he like Einstein?

KH: Are you kidding? Have you seen him? His hair has a mind of it’s own. I just want to drag him in the shower and wash it for him. Seriously though, he’s brilliant. He’s always coming up with these inventions to help us on recoveries.

Can you give us an idea of some of them?

KH: Again, confidentiality. But several of them are mentioned in the book coming out.

I’ll have to make a point to get a copy as soon as it’s released.

KH: You should. Everyone that’s read it so far says it’s enjoyable to read. One woman commented that she couldn’t put it down.

Miss Hunter, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me. Anything you want to add in closing?

KH: Yes, The Rise of Kali, coming out soon. Buy it. You won’t be sorry.