For so long now, I have attempted to put this book into the hands of a literary agent. I wish so much that they'd read more than just the first chapter or even the first five chapters. Anyway, you'll see me mention it many times in discussions, so here it is,,,,Chapter 1:
By: Raymond Mallette
It was just another quiet day in a small New England town. There was nothing out of the ordinary and nothing to set this day aside from any other. The sun was shining on the brilliantly colored fall leaves of the Maple trees in the immediate area. The smells of autumn were very evident. A light fall wind stirred the leaves in the park and sent a shiver through me as I sat on my porch looking out toward the quiet playground of the village school. I sipped my coffee and contemplated going back inside by the fireplace.
The steam rising from my cup was an indication of the fall chill in the air. Something kept me from going back inside. Some reason that may have been part of my Karma left me sitting there in that wooden chair, unknowing, and without premonition of what was about to take place.
This wasn’t the heart of the Cambodian Jungle, and it wasn’t the sands of Saudi Arabia. There were no enemy forces to consider, and no orders handed down from the high brass to snuff out the life of another insane enemy, responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. My shoulder didn’t have the irritation of an M-16 and my belt wasn’t weighted down with canteens of water, food rations, and bullets. There was no smell of gunpowder and no blood-stained knife shoved into a sheath on my pistol belt.
It was like any other day in the small town of Orwell, Vermont, population nine hundred and thirty. I found myself smiling at a squirrel in the park across the street. Scurrying down the trunk of a Maple tree, he checked his immediate surroundings and scampered across the grass and leaves to a half dying oak, of which he would gather the few acorns that were there for the months ahead.
Unmarried, no kids, and no other residents, the huge six bedroom house that sat behind me attached to a porch with 1850s Victorian style hand rails, seemed so empty yet to me it was a relief from the world I had left behind. A world where I was forced to sleep with one eye opened, never considering what a totally restful sleep must feel like.
It was ten o’clock in the morning and the sound of the school bell rang out and in seconds the first through eighth grade students came storming out of the double doors in the front of the school to their twenty minute recess. For several minutes I watched the children making piles of leaves, swinging, playing kickball, and letting their early morning energy out into their fun filled moments on the playground. They let themselves forget for that short time, the demands of their teachers and class room atmosphere most kids seem to dread.
Having finished my coffee I decided it was time to go back inside, lace on my running shoes, and head out for an eight mile run through the nearly homeless dirt roads of the little town I loved to call home. Staying in shape was most important to me, and I found it therapeutic in dealing with the evils of my past life. A life I knew I would never have to be in touch with again, never involving myself in violence and never having to injure another human being.
I stood, and I reached for the old blackened door handle of a noisy screen door that desperately needed storm windows for the upcoming cold weather. I turned the knob to go inside and I found myself deafened by the sound of a gunshot. A shot, that though it came from a distance, I knew in a micro-second it was not a hunter shooting a partridge or squirrel in the fall hunting season. I knew by instinct and by training that the shot had evil intentions, and it was then that the screams filled the school playground where only moments ago there was laughter and happiness. As I turned and saw a child falling and kids screaming, the playground monitor put her hands to her face yelling for help.
Seeing the child fall sent cold chills through me and I found myself flashing back to a small remote village deep in the jungles of Cambodia.
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