A warehouse in Japan used as an emergency shelter in the aftermath of the 2011 Tsunami. A distraught, young Japanese woman in dishevelled clothes sits on a box, holding her infant daughter. Ben, a US rescue volunteer, kneels in front of her offering comfort. They hug, the baby between them. The moment turns into an hour as the woman sobs into his shoulder; mourning the loss of her husband, her home, the life she knew. A picture is taken, capturing the moment. It becomes a symbol; of help freely given and of the hope of the survivors. The faces in the picture cannot be recognised, and that is how Ben likes it. No celebrity, thanks not required.
But others believe that being identified as the person in the picture is their path to fame and fortune. Ben stands, unknowingly, in their way, but nothing a contract killing cannot fix.
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Context: Ben Davis is a retired police office living in Portland Oregon. He has been in an induced coma in hospital after being shot in in the head in a robbery gone wrong. Ben begins to come around as the medication is withdrawn. Ben’s delirium as he regained conciousness.
Ben’s first thought, as he fought the black blanket that engulfed him was, how much did I drink?
It was the only rational thing his befuddled mind could come up with for the skull splitting headache he had. As he fought through the pain and the nausea that accompanied it a second thought came to him, more of a memory, he didn’t actually drink that much these days.
Not like the good/bad old days when he would finish an afternoon shift and head off to a bar to drink until dawn with fellow cops, wander home, and sleep until two o’clock before waking with a head like this, and swearing never to do it again, until after the next shift when the drinking would more than likely be repeated.
But this was … epic.
It was like the ghost of every hangover he had ever had returned to haunt him and had all crowded into his skull to taunt him. He couldn’t concentrate past the pain and was still trying to rationalize this when he gratefully slipped back into the comfortable darkness.
He was looking down a long dark corridor, a small light was emanating at the end, but from where exactly he couldn’t tell, but enough to tell him that the corridor was long, and the smallness of the light made the intervening dark even darker.
Trying to focus his mind the hangover returned, and he felt the nausea rise in his throat, at which point he realized how sore and dry his throat was.
Jesus, what was I drinking? Engine de-greaser?
Ben tried swallowing to lubricate his throat, but the concentration he needed to build up to do so was slipping away and the whole reason for his effort faded and he found himself in the dark corridor again trying to figure out if he was awake or asleep while the aching in his throat grew to match the headache.
The hangover told him he was awake, and he thought he should try to stand. With what felt like an almighty effort his thumping brain tried to order his body into movement, which promptly responded with nothing much, and mutinied against any further attempt.
Ben slipped away again.
He heard something; he was sure of that, something down toward the end of the dark corridor. He couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t make out what he was hearing, maybe a machine, or traffic, or something. Then from the fog he thought he could make something out, he tried to focus and he was sure that out of sight, and a long way off, someone was calling to him.
He tried to concentrate through the pain and the fugue that settled over him and his mind slipped away from trying to listen, but the voice was insistent, annoyingly repeating, repeating … something, but he couldn’t make it out.
Maybe if he moved down the corridor, he could be close enough to hear, or if the voice came closer to him. He gave up trying to move before he had even started knowing somehow that it would end in failure, but then the voice was louder, closer to him.
“Squeeze my hand,” the voice said.
In his mind Ben squeezed the unseen hand mightily, before the effort all seemed too much trouble and he floated back into his peaceful, pain free, and quiet place.
About the Author
I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops.
My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider.
Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing.
Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school.
So here we are, two books published and another on track.
Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.
Social Media Links – https://twitter.com/rogerbray22
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