Sunday, October 21, 2012


An author will often sneak a true event into a fictional story, embellishing the character or event to fit the overall story line. I have done just that with this small scene between my primary character, General Pug Connor and his friend and colleague, Bill Gordon, the Secretary of Defense for the fictional Republic of Western America. This is from Blood & Treasure, Book Four of the Pug Connor series about an America divided in two by political discord. Life intervenes, however, and this volume has taken the author far longer than it should have. I apologize to those who have been asking when it will be completed. Bill Gordon explains the reason.

Gulf Stream VI
38,000 Feet over Missouri
August, 2017

The rising sun was just beginning to catch the aircraft as they crossed over the Mississippi River enroute to Jefferson Capital Territory. Pug Connor sat in a leather recliner alongside his elderly friend, Bill Gordon, the Secretary of Defense for the Republic of Western America.  He had been quiet for the first two hours of the flight from Washington where they had met with the president of the United States. Quiet, but not sleeping.

As the steward came around with a pot of fresh coffee, both Pug and Bill accepted a refill.

“Pug, have you ever just stared at the passing landscape as you were flying across this great land our ancestors tamed? I mean not reading some report, preparing your talk, or working at a flying desk, but just considering the hardships they faced?”

“I can’t recall that I did, Bill. I noticed you’ve been rather intent on watching the lights down below. What brings you to such a contemplative mood? You look like someone about to retire with nothing to do afterward?”

Rather than respond, Bill Gordon sipped on his coffee and then placed it on the tray, turning away from the window.

“I was introduced to an old friend from Vietnam last week. I didn’t recognize him, actually. He was stealthy in those days, seldom in uniform. A secret agent in fact. It’s been nearly fifty years since we served together.”

Pug sensed something ominous in his friend’s tone, but remained quiet as the story unfolded.

“I was only nineteen when we met, apparently, but I don’t recall being aware of his presence. A couple of weeks ago I was introduced to him, formally, by my cardiologist. His cover had been blown for a few decades, but I still didn’t know him. He went by the name of Agent Orange. His calling card came to be called Amyloidosis, a very rare, and fatal, blood disease.”

The penny dropped and Pug took a deep breath. “I read a report the other day, Bill. It seems several hundred thousand of your age grouped veterans have also made his re-acquaintance. He didn’t take prisoners, did he?”

“He still doesn’t, Pug. As devastating as this news was, the worst part is that Colleen will have to watch the decline and be my caregiver. I wanted better golden years for her. I wanted to hold her hand, walk on the beach … all the damned romantic stuff we see on the television. I sure as hell didn’t want her to have to go through this with me.”

“Colleen is a remarkable woman, Bill. She’ll be there for you. We all know that. Is there anything Rachel or I can do?”

The older man thought for a moment then emitted a bright smile. “You could let me go down the helicopter fast rope with Carlos one more time,” Bill replied, laughing.

“I’d be at your side if you did, Bill. I’m truly sorry.”

“Wishful thinking. I haven’t the strength to hold on to the leather strap in any case. I’m sixty-nine and have lived a damn good life, Pug. No regrets. This will be one more obstacle to face. I’d appreciate your keeping it to yourself for a few weeks. Except for Rachel, of course.”

“You have my word, Bill, and my deepest sympathy. You know how to reach me, day or night.”