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In Search of a Soul
In Search of a Soul
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  • Paperback
  • Oct.05.2010
  • 9780982692424

Dannie gives an overview of the book:

Douglas Durian was a dangerous man, until a traumatic event on his last mission as a Navy SEAL took five years of his memory. He sails the ocean alone looking for answers about his life.He rescues a young girl far out at sea and his life is turned around. She demands that he remember his past in order to save her from the man who held her in servitude. She is abducted and Douglas must rescue her to save both their lives. He sets out to make sure that her captor will never harm her again.In his search he encounters love and friendship as he rediscovers the beauty of the sea and his lost soul.Sailing, humor, high adventure and desperate actions make this tale worth reading and enjoying.
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Douglas Durian was a dangerous man, until a traumatic event on his last mission as a Navy SEAL took five years of his memory. He sails the ocean alone looking for answers about his life.He rescues a young girl far out at sea and his life is turned around. She demands that he remember his past in order to save her from the man who held her in servitude. She is abducted and Douglas must rescue her to save both their lives. He sets out to make sure that her captor will never harm her again.In his search he encounters love and friendship as he rediscovers the beauty of the sea and his lost soul.Sailing, humor, high adventure and desperate actions make this tale worth reading and enjoying.

Read an excerpt »

Chapter 1 #I could hear the soft crunch of rocky sand beneath my black combat boots and feel the weight of the pack on my back. I looked over and in the moonlight could see Moe five feet away and moving with me. Looking ahead I saw a cluster of dwellings about one hundred yards away. Moe signaled a stop and moved to my right ear. He said, “Be alert. There are five targets but there may be others with them. We take the five out and then bug out.” I gave him thumbs up and we moved out, while lowering my night vision monocular eyepiece. I double-checked my weapon. It was set on single-fire and Moe would be set on three-round burst. If we got into it, this would stagger our reloading. I had three small M67 round grenades clipped to my vest and a Kay-bar strapped to my upper left thigh. When we were within thirty yards of the buildings we clicked on our comm gear but remained silent. Suddenly arrows of light streaked out of the night towards us. There were at least four gunmen using red tracer rounds. I was behind a small boulder and followed the trail of fire back to its source. I aimed, heard the spurt of my silenced weapon and saw an opponent drop. I moved to the next and could hear Moe’s weapon spurting out three at a time. The ambush was poorly designed. They must have had some kind of motion detector but only moments to move into a position. No planning in this or Moe and I would have been dead or wounded at once.Four were down when I heard the distinct thud of bullets striking flesh and then heard Moe say in my earpiece, “I’m hit but still moving.” As he continued to fire, I moved closer to the houses and around to the left to stay out of Moe’s line. There was a stone outcrop near the wall of one of the houses. I moved between it and the wall, bounced up for a quick look and saw the last man stooping under a window. I pulled the pins on two grenades and lobbed them towards the enemy, then raised my weapon, flicked the lever to fully automatic and depressed the trigger. There was a low, long blurb and a tongue of fire and the enemy spouted blood like a fountain in an Italian piazza. Then the grenades blew the wall out of the house. I reloaded and listened. Dead silence. I moved along the wall and just as I passed the outcrop a body fell on me from behind, taking me to the ground and knocking my weapon from my grip. It was still attached to me by a lanyard but my hand went to my knife and I pulled, twisted, blocked a knife stabbing in at me and plunged my blade into the enemy. I twisted the blade out and rolled over, listening for anyone else. Over my earpiece Moe said in a strained voice that he didn’t see anyone moving and we needed to be on our horse. I could hear small breathing coming from my opponent and felt for movement. The man was very small and his breathing was high pitched with fear. I pulled out my flashlight and shielded the beam. The face of a child lit up before my eyes. It was a girl, maybe ten years old. Her startling green eyes stared at me in terror. I checked her wound and saw there was no hope, so I tried to calm her with words she would understand. Her green-eyed stare turned to hate and she whispered in her dialect, “You killed my father.” She died and her eyes remained wide as they stared back at me. I started to lose it but over my earpiece Moe said, “Dougy, I’m hit pretty bad and I hear a vehicle coming. We’ve got to get out of here now! Help me, please.” I broke my gaze with the child but knew those eyes were burned into my brain. I moved over to Moe, quickly tied off his upper right thigh and left shoulder wounds. He was bleeding but I had staunched the flow and I could now hear the truck approaching. I lifted him up on my shoulder and moved out. We had six hours of normal moving to our extract point but with Moe injured it would take much longer.It took two days to reach the extract point and as soon as I knew Moe was safe— the green eyes consumed my mind… And then there was nothing…# The boat moved through the deep, crystal blue water; its bow leaped as if anticipating a cool drink of iced lemonade after a long run in the burning noonday sun. I sat in the cockpit under the shade of the mainsail and a constant breeze thick with salt. I was cooled by the thin sheen of perspiration the tropics required for comfort. We were on a southwesterly heading, going to nowhere in particular. I had four or five days to contemplate my next tack. Somewhere about six hundred miles ahead I would have to choose, but that was at least two more days of idle thought before I would bring out my dartboard and then another two days before I would put my plan into effect.When I say “we” I include my boat, Tirak, in all my decisions. She — yes, she was most assuredly a she and was my lifeline. She had ingrained her sleek, boyish figure into me from the start. She sparkled and moaned like a new-found lover and made me cling to her like a mate of the soul. In light to medium winds she would chitter or clang and speak to me through sensitive zones such as her wheel and rudder or even a halyard or stay to make her demands known. In strong winds her standing rigging would sing to me of her needs or joy or of her demand to redirect my manipulations. Her halyards and sheets would thrum in ecstasy or consternation, depending on the mood of her world. Her demands were simple— “Take care of me or I will leave you and you will perish without me."For the past ten ­years I had traveled through life’s stream looking with anticipation for the end. I can’t explain why I had this desire, or perhaps lack of desire, except to say that I had found no lasting enjoyment or, to a greater extent, no purpose for my existence. The past five years I had been aboard Tirak almost full time, never stopping in any one place for more than a few months but generally for only a few weeks. I felt no pity for myself. In fact, I felt very little. Over the years I had trained my mind to forego the undulations of life. I had watched others continue down life’s road, shuffling their feet until forced to lift them a little higher to pass over a bump. My road now had no bumps or dips to cause course corrections.In my solitude I had nothing but time for review and can’t see where it all started, which leads to the conclusion that it must have happened at birth. It’s a dismal thought but solitude had taught me to lay my emotions aside, except for brief interludes, and keep them packed away in the recesses of my mind. Ten years ago my emotions were so erratic they left me with two choices; live or die, with dying being the preferred of the two. At that time I understood why there was a suicide hotline. Because of what faith I had, I couldn’t choose the easy option but instead began to shut down those urges that raced through me, good and bad, and chose solitude as a means to drift rudderless on the stream. The end holds no fear for me and it would come in its own time. I didn’t have any pity for myself… It was just the way it was. I did often look forward to the next step and hoped, maybe beyond hope, that there would be more.I had on a few occasions sat down to make a list of the good and bad of my life, but my pencil never touched paper in fear of what I would see. I had memories of interesting men who I would have liked to have called friends but, as with women, I had an inordinate fear or knowledge that I would expose my failures to the light of day and those I came close to would see through the haze of my facade and turn their heads to hide their smiles.With men there was no sexual desire, only friendship, but I knew it would come down to a contest of testosterone and I would fail miserably, not knowing when to turn it off. I was not a big man but from past work and sailing single-handed I was strong and balanced. One of my many fears was I would hurt, physically, someone intent in only playing a game of who had the biggest set. Something in my past told me to back away from those situations because I was capable of causing serious harm without thinking of the consequences. I really didn’t know where that came from because, as far as I knew, I had never caused that kind of pain before. It lay there like a golden-eyed wolf deciding if it was hungry. I had kept it fed on solitude and it was satisfied.Another of my fears was a block of five years of my past that was gone. When I tried to approach it, I came to a locked steel door. The face of the lock was imprinted with crossed scimitars above a skull. I had made no attempt to see beyond, afraid of what might be there. I had learned to curb my curiosity and it no longer disturbed my thoughts.I think my final fear was women. I knew within me at least one held the key to unlock the chains that bound me. As much as I needed their comfort and touch, I could never, even growing up, get within a few feet of them without stumbling over my feet and blurting out something that would always prove how incapable I was of giving them what they sought. Women lived in my daydreams, not as toys but as companions. I knew there was one who would be the answer I sought but I had no confidence to seek her out or even make the attempt. Like many people, I sat by the door and waited for her to knock. I sometimes thought she had come and gone. Tirak was the only thing I had been able to put my incomplete soul into and she took me in without questions and only demanded my love and care. It was hard for me to believe but she provided me with soft, warm, silky smooth females in need of solace. On those rare occasions I was able to lift myself out of the morass of mediocrity which my life had become and approach my daydreams. Women make this world go round and the sad part was that I was not a part of that world.Tirak also provided male companionship as well. Often sailors of like mind but also interesting men from other walks of life were drawn to her. They too raised me from my level floor with warmth and friendship that lasted for a few days, until I slipped our mooring and moved out into the blue. Of all the people or things I had clung to in my life, my darling boat came the closest to satisfying my needs, other than the sexual drive built into my male genes. Even then she had proven a wonderful stimulant and forgiving lover by providing for my needs when in port.Occasionally, before I even felt the desire to indulge in the one service my darling couldn’t provide, I would hear the soft footsteps of a rare flower tapping along the dock and stop with a sigh. This sweet Rose or fragrant Jasmine or even beautiful weed would look down the hatch and softly hail to the man who owned such a beauty. They were always sure it was a man and not a woman because Tirak had the aroma and presence of a female that was caressed by the kind hands of a man. How they knew I was alone or even if they cared was a mystery between them and Tirak.When at last I presented myself topside, I could see my looks, age and style had only a small part to play in the meeting. My boat seemed to pick out the one that needed to be touched, held and comforted, as they would offer the same to me. The mystery was her secret and all I could do was fulfill my obligations to her.Mind you— this wasn’t an everyday occurrence and often my short stays in one place or another were met with the near solitude of the sea. When Tirak did choose a delicate flower for me I was under great obligation to provide what comfort as I was able. I am, each and every time, surprised by this undeserved attention. I cherish each encounter until the sea beckoned me.My mindset and that of most single-handed blue-water sailors was not so much the desire for solitude but from a fear of others. Of course, there were a few who set out to prove their manhood or womanhood by— and I say this with a smile— defeating and defying the great oceans. I say it with a smile because it can’t be done. As in a good boat, you were merely allowed their pleasures for as long as they liked, and like the evening lilies of this desperate world, their services were never free. As I was saying, I had enjoyed the company of a few women and even spent long, laughing days and nights in their warm company. It always took me a few days to get my land-legs and if the lady wished to prowl the hinterlands of wherever I was, she must wait until my head and stomach agree to cohabitate under a temporary truce. At sea the dashing about or the undulating or even the dead calm was forever in sync with all my body parts, but stepping on land or even mooring dashed one of the ingredients of my stability to the deck and it refused to rise, except in a froth, until I allowed it several days of rest.Now, if the lady could wait the allotted period for my full attention, then life was good. Tirak had a rare ability to choose almost unerringly the one person that would give and receive benefits of a temporary union. Age didn’t seem to play a part in the choice, nor beauty, but I had yet to be disappointed. I would like to tell you that I had an ability to love and did love anyone I was with. The problem with this ability or incapacity, if you will, was that it flows just as my need to sail away ingratiated Tirak’s need to be gone. When at last I felt the pull of the sea and the needs of my boat I took the woman with us on a few days of sailing and we anchored in the afternoons in a secluded bay to say our farewells. Some few who could draw words from me were often surprised at my ability to articulate my feelings of life. After we parted I would most often suffer for a day or two but the sea could carry any of the castings of my mind into its dark reaches.I would like to call it love but in truth it was not love but fulfillment and desire. I treated each one I had the honor to receive as the one and only who had captured my attention. I left each one with some small feeling of regret, on both our parts. I knew this to be true on my part. My search for true love had atrophied in the knowledge that I didn’t deserve it and was frightened of it. I had met one who would have completed my daydreams, but she was called away. In the arms of a woman I was not the same being that houses my soul. Without Tirak, I would rarely have had the courage to pursue the interaction of a relationship; once again, not from lack of need but from fear of intercourse, in which I would be the bumbling fool with no words to maintain my charade. Tirak brought them to me but after the first touch, smile and pleasure, I was off and running, until the fear rose up from the depths of me and drove me back to sea again and again. I knew I was not the only male of my species to live in the clef of depression and seek the clef of redemption but that alone brought no comfort. We who were the hunters and gatherers were put asunder by this modern world in which only mindless words spring forth, or in my case choked, to impress the objects of our need and success. I turned off my mindset, if only for a moment, to check my heading and see to the needs of my Tirak. We were in a following sea with the wind astern and I watched the waves come forth to caress her backside with a smooth firm stroke as they go forth to find another delicious bottom to entice. The waves, made up of hundreds of its reflections, sprinkled the sparkling light of day across the clear, depthless blue as the sun sought its resting place to the west. The clouds captured and then released the light and reflections into a spectrum from rose at their forefront to medium gray at their stern. Their march did not match the airfoil of the gleaming sails of Tirak and fell slowly behind. There would be days in which they raced past and others when they hid completely and the clear azure sky was the only apex of that day’s canvas. A thousand miles from land there was little chance of encounter, but woe to the sailor that lets the ocean be his protector for she would abide you but only to her whims. Tirak had radar and the unsightly radar reflector ball attached to her spreaders that took the stealth out of her travels. She wanted to be noticed and painted an eerie green to the behemoths and even others of her kind. She neither wanted nor required contact and by putting on a bright face she kept her solitude safe. Along with the search of my eyes and feelings, we avoided contact.The sun touched the horizon and started its capitulation to the night. On this day, as if to give a final thrust, the green flair popped to signal surrender. The stars, slowly at first but then with a mobs reaction, jumped upon the stage to celebrate the conquest. With weather clear and reports from satellites good, I did not reduce her sail area but let her drive on in delight to touches of her lover and slice her way in pursuit of the horizon.I scanned the sea once more and descended into my home and prepared a meal and enjoyed a glass of brandy. Later, I would again take up station on deck to enjoy the delights of the Milky Way and the comfort of a good cigar. It was not yet time for my mind to stray to my daydreams. My meals were simple, without effort. I didn’t set my flying-fish net last evening so a can of beans, day-old steamed rice and hot sauce would adorn my table. For dessert, a strong cheddar cheese with vacuum-packed crackers was the finish. A meal set for a man in search of nourishment and not epicurean delight. I checked my charts and navigational equipment and saw that the sea had not interposed her will upon Tirak and we were heading to the place intended. I switched on the radar, made a long-range search for impediments and found I was alone for at least fifty miles. I switched the range to ten miles, set the system to automatic alert and the timer for a check every thirty minutes. This conserved my power and allowed my GPS system to keep track of my position, address the heading and provide steering information to the autopilot. I did enjoy hand steering, especially at night, but an autopilot or self-steering gear was a must when sailing alone. When hand steering I glance at the compass from time to time but use the stars as reference, giving me a surreal sense of ancient times. There my imagination could allow my soul to live in the time I knew I was meant to live. Even with my ancient soul I was dependent upon the modern equipment that truly kept me informed. One might think that sailing a thousand miles from any landfall I could forgo worry about where I was, if even for a little while. In the blue, currents, prevailing winds and wave motion were not things you could leave to chance. In the days of old, many ships’ crews were lost to the quirks of the world. Trapped in the wrong current, with no wind or wrong wind and waves, a crew could find themselves learning the hard way that the sea only tolerates us landlings for a short burst in infinity, especially if we know not where we go. Ships were found, back then and even in modern times, devoid of crew but in perfect condition, except for lack of food and water. I thought about this on occasion and know I would prefer being cradled in the cold arms of the sea rather than bloated and cooked on deck after an agonizing death by dehydration. This was not something I thought of often, as I had complete trust in Tirak to carry me out of harm’s way, even when my ignorance fought her to do as I demanded. I tried to mediate my ignorance by watching her closely and feeling her needs. She had always served me as I served her. I enjoyed the night at sea. Visibility was limited to hundreds of light years, if one looked to the stars, and a few miles of moonlight if looking upon the incessant waters. In a following sea with a brisk wind the rollers marched in rows high above the sight line, only to lift you for a look at your next massive visitor and then gently lower you along its backside as it slipped past. After I checked my darling for the night passage she whispered that all was well. I then lit my cigar to fill my lungs with the stimulating poison and retard my night vision. It was a routine and, as any blue-water sailor knew, life was a routine with the occasional moments of stark terror or ethereal mysteries or even acute beauty of the sea. Routines repeated day after day enhanced and hustled time. Once started the only conclusion was another day had passed and one hundred fifty or more miles had crept by. As long as Tirak hums or sighs, all was well and she would contently go on for days with only mild caresses. There was joy in routine for me as it required no hasty decisions or conversations that might catch me in the truth of my existence. So my days and nights carried me on my way to a decision. Upon its arrival, I pulled my charts out to check the options before me. I could turn north and run with the wind abeam on my port side or I could turn more southerly and run with the wind abaft the starboard beam or even continue on this heading and make landfall in only two weeks. I was not ready for such a short passage so I looked to the possibilities and distances. I could run to the Marshalls or abeam reach to Palau. I enjoyed the Marshall Islands. The people were far from pretty but their hearts were open and they allowed one to be one’s own self in silence or laughter. I had never been to Palau but had read of the beauty of the islands and the openness of the people. In my reading I found that many of the smaller islands were made up of one or two family groups and peace was a way of life. That was a common lifestyle in this region of the Pacific. Islands were often only a few miles long and basically circular in shape. Living on a piece of land that small to you and me had a way of taking aggression out of the gene pool. If one was filled with the need to progress and enhance, then one would soon find one’s mind muddled into oblivion, casted into the sea and swimming until death overtook one. A small-islander might move to a place that would allow one to be drowned in progress. Of all the islanders I had met living in another place, each and every one spoke of going back home to live the good, easy life but very few meant it and they digressed into society to become a part of the mob.On the bigger islands people were more motivated and able to succeed in becoming almost continental. Many of these big island people reminded me of me, living in a world far too advanced and fast paced to satisfy the soul of the ancient that lived inside. My decision was to turn north and make for the Marshalls. They were made up of many small islands of which a number were atolls. An atoll is a coral reef built on the ancient rim of an extinct volcano and its caldron a protected lagoon. One of the Marshalls was noted for having the world’s largest lagoon. The atoll of Kwajalein had a lagoon that was more than seventy-five miles long at its widest point with a number of deep water entrances through the surrounding reef. I had worked there for a year several years before, and it was a very low-lying group of islands. It was a U.S. military test range for the missiles that could destroy the world. That was not my destination. Five thousand people living on an island three and half miles long, half mile wide, and five and a half feet above sea level shrunk my soul. The next island in the atoll was Ebi, with some three thousand Marshallese crammed on the four hundred yard long piece of sandy reef. They were there to work the good life and dream of going home. Other islands in the chain were more to my liking but were not meant for long stays. I would find one with a few families, fill my water tank and live with them for a week or two. I would visit several islands, until the blue called me back.I continued my routine in anticipation of our new tack in two days. It was near dawn so I set my flying fish net on the windward side of the two forward sails in expectation of enjoying a breakfast meal of fresh winged fish. Lightly fried flying fish brings out the oils and the tangy taste of the meat. Add a chunk of Gouda cheese and strong coffee and it becomes a meal fit for a king. In truth, it was a good meal but few would classify it as a gourmet’s delight.I took my place in the stern and watched the curtain rise to the east; no clouds to obscure the main character as he peeked from behind the dark curtain of night. With his brightest smile, he throws forth the red spectrum as if he were a magician releasing fire from his fingertips. Reds matured to gold and then with nature and God’s infinite touch, the day had begun and Tirak seems pleased with her part in the show. She gurgled at her stern, lapped at her bow and even nodded to her passing fans. A sudden burst of water and a flapping of wings on the foredeck announced breakfast had arrived. I hurried forward to the squeals and cheeps of the ocean’s acrobats and I clapped to the dolphins that had herded this new flock to my deck. Today was a bountiful day as I gathered up twenty multicolored beauties, selected five for my pan, ten for the hunters and five to be freed for another chance at survival. The dolphins broke off long enough to gather the offerings and swooped back to ride the bow wave. At the stern, out of sight of the voracious mammals, I released the freed captives and headed down to the galley to sacrifice five to the plate.After the wonderful meal I continued my routine of checking the running and fixed rigging. Next, adjustments were the sheets, sails, winches and the mass of other gear that was required to harness the power of the wind to propel my Tirak onward. At noon I went below and checked my position and recorded our day’s run, one hundred eighty-seven miles of a straight line run. If we were close-hauled in the same conditions, Tirak would have made a similar run but perhaps only moving seventy miles closer to our destination. In the heat of the afternoon I took my position in the cockpit to open my mind to the woes of my life. Depression was a learned way of life but in some families it was passed down like a legacy. I used to fight it with therapy but found for all the good that some doctors did the remission came from the tried and true method of finding the right drug that lifted you but not too much, negated the society one immersed one’s self in and dulled the give-a-damn from life’s trials and tribulations. Drugs were the key; all the talking, just a mere expensive pep talk. The drugs I kept under lock and key for the occasional lift; the talks of old I cast into the briny deep. I had found that depression is not such a bad thing taken in moderation. It was the fertile ground of inspiration to the classic writers and revolutionaries. Even today hordes of writers, who had the answers to follies of the world, spilled forth their feelings on countless pages to which eager readers went in search of life that sinks below their own. They came away with a saddened joy and optimism that in the heap of life they stood not in the ooze of the foundation of society but somewhere within the mass. I joined the former to inspire the latter by writing several books on how life should really be…A romantic adventure. I wrote in a simple, easy to read, too good to be true, no dictionary, style. My books became the Jonathan Livingston Seagull of the new century. That was how I came to my beloved Tirak and we had moved forward on our undulating world ever since. The depths of depression and my daydreams made me rich but Tirak saved my life or at the very least prolonged it. I knew there was someone out there waiting to snatch me up as I sailed by or as I sat aboard waiting for my senses to learn to cohabitate when docked at some future port of call. She would come to me because I was not brave enough to seek her out on my own. Tirak had been given a task and she never shrank from her duty. I, like so many others, waited for the door to open which was never locked but slightly askew in its jamb. I had no idea how I would proceed when that day arrived or even if I would recognize what I was seeing but in my heart I knew Tirak would not let the tribute pass me by. I did believe that my chance had come and gone, but it was not to be.

dannie-hill's picture

I have had positive comments about In Search of a Soul. I have been told by several people that my cadence is smooth and relaxing to read. A Chinese author also told me I handled the young chinese character very well. I've had no detracting comments about the story. It is a good read about a man living in the past who is brought to the present by two beautiful women from different cultures. One a child who needs his protection and the other a woman who loves him. People also find the way he has interaction with his sailboat is well done.

About Dannie

I was born in Mooresville, North Carolina and grew up in Hickory Grove, N. C., a community near Charlotte.

I attended school at CCCP in Charlotte, N.C., Gardner-Webb University, Boiling Springs, N. C., Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, Tulsa OK. My...

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Author's Publishing Notes

Available in paperback and ebook