Authors: Jonathan Sturak
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Suspense
Also by Jonathan Sturak
NOVELS (New for 2012!)
Revised 2nd Kindle Edition
Copyright © 2008 by Jonathan Sturak. All rights reserved.
Published in the United States of America by Pendan Publishing
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are used fictitiously and/or are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is purely coincidental.
The Library of Congress has catalogued the paperback edition as follows:
Clouded Rainbow : A Novel
One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life:
that word is love.
A BATTERED MAN WANDERS IN THE POURING RAIN
. He is tall and wears an expensive black suit that is drenched with the sky’s tears. His footsteps splash on the cold, hard ground as he staggers down the center yellow line of the city street. It is night and, although tall glass-encased buildings fill the metropolis and mirror the brilliant streetlights, the city is lifeless. Not a car, a person, or an animal fills the sprawling downtown. There are only two living beings—the man and the rain. His eyes are wide open as the water traverses his day old stubble. He is a man on a mission. The water pelts his fragile frame as his dark hair expels liquid like a drenched sponge. A flash of lighting and a clash of thunder echo through the overwhelming structures, but the man does not flinch. He continues toward somewhere that only he knows. As his steps seem to lead nowhere, a glimmer of something comes into his view. It is subtle yet definite and seems to complement the man’s drive. As the lights grow closer, they separate into two distinct headlights. At first, it appears as though the vehicle is a police sedan of some sort, but as the lights split farther apart, the identity of the vehicle reveals itself as a screaming tractor-trailer.
The creature devours the road as its powerful V-12 engine inhales all in its path like a ferocious lion searching for its next prey. Like the king of the jungle, this beast is the king of the roadway. The windows are blacked out and the driver is unknown. It is as if the vehicle is driving on sheer hunger. Its roaring engine overtakes the sound of the rain as its jaws maintain perfect precision with the endless yellow line.
The unresponsive man continues on his journey. His eyes maintain focus straight ahead at the encroaching force, but he does not blink. It is as if he has no worries, no fear, and no pain. Something is motivating the man to continue down the deadly path—something incomprehensible, something in his determined eyes. A slight yet distinctive glow in his dilated pupils proves his force. Suddenly, another flicker reflects in the whites of his eyes. This sparkle, however, is not part of the man’s determination, but part of the high beams speeding his way.
The truck is within a hundred yards of the determined traveler. Both stick to the yellow line like two chugging trains forced onto the same track. Abruptly, the man stops cold. His eyes remain wide but deep red blood begins to ooze from the orifice. The truck consumes the yards between them. Fifty…forty…thirty. The monster blares its horn. The man takes his last breath and mouths the word “dynamite.”
A calm silence filled the office as Roger Belkin sprang awake at his desk. He rarely dozed off on his throne, but today he felt unusually tired. Roger was a handsome man ripened to the age of thirty-five. He was tall with dark features where it counted and parted his hair to the side in a 1950s style. Roger enjoyed this time of the day. It was four o’clock, and he only had thirty minutes left at work. It wasn’t that he disliked his job, but he was swept up in the anticipation of spending the rest of the evening with his wife. In fact, his job was exactly what he wanted to do after college. Following high school, he was accepted to his first choice school, Penn State. It wasn’t the party atmosphere or venerable football history that drew him; it was the tradition. His grandfather attended the university to study business management, and his father graduated from there after studying economics. It was fitting that Roger took the baton and acquired his higher education from the school in “Happy Valley.”
The businessman’s forte was in the stock market, the almighty dollar, and ways that investors could reap the benefits of big business. The stock market allowed the average Joe with a computer, some research skills, and business sense to rake in big bucks easily. This was something instilled in Roger during his tenure at Penn State and reaffirmed with a glance at his degree in finance, which hung proudly on his office wall.
Roger’s watch read three minutes past four, which jarred his attention. He always seemed to forget about his office pet, Guppy the fish. Guppy was an office gift from his secretary a few months ago. At first, he feared the burden of feeding the scaly creature. But after a few days, he looked forward to it. The fish was a brilliant bluish green. It swam around in a small bowl lined with rocks, simulated green weeds, and an arched sign that read “Beware.” He let his secretary handle the weekly water changes, but Roger never missed its daily feeding. On weekends, though, he usually wasn’t at the office. However, the fish food market had solved that problem. They invented food tablets that lasted varying amounts of time, including a two-day weekend.
Today, the fish seemed a bit sluggish and not its usual self. Roger grabbed the food pellets and carefully held back his suit coat in order to protect his three hundred dollar jacket. As the pellets hit the water, the fish thrust to the surface and inhaled the specks.
Roger’s desk phone buzzed. The noise startled him.
“Mr. Belkin, I have Dr. Kim on line one,” his secretary said.
Roger took a moment to think. Dr. Kim was his family doctor, but he considered him to be more of his wife’s doctor than his. Roger was terrified of medicine. He had a subconscious fear of death, which he never expressed—not even to his life partner. He was terrified of not only the mere fact of dying, but also of the unknown realm that would face him after he had taken his last breath. Out in the world, he tucked the fear into the deepest part of his brain and did his best to keep it there. However, in a doctor’s office, or even worse, a hospital, life and death were everywhere. It baffled him how doctors treated life like a machine, usually following procedures to diagnose an ailment by consulting a reference manual like a mechanic checking a vehicle repair handbook. Dr. Kim was a decent man, and a generous financial client of his, but Roger always felt a hint of defensiveness when he talked to him.
Finally, Roger chimed back, “Thank you, I’ll take it now.”
“Hi, Dr. Kim. How are you, sir?” Roger asked cheerfully.
“Very well, Roger. So when are you coming to see me? I’ve been waiting for you to schedule an appointment. If you don’t do it for yourself, at least do it for your wife.”
The doctor’s reference to his wife put a grin on his face. “I know doc. I’ll have to put that on my list. Lois has been pushing me about that too.”
“Which list is that? The same list that your father forgot to keep?”
“What is this call referring to?” Roger asked.
“My apologies, Roger. I shouldn’t have said that. How is Lois? I hope she is well.”
“Yes, always keeping me on my toes. I don’t know what I’d do without her,” Roger replied with another grin.
“I’m calling for some investment advice. I know that health care is booming. I should know because the practice here is doing quite well.”
“Yes, with the baby boomer population aging, the health care industry is garnering the financial benefits. Pharmaceuticals are a hot sector. Several big names had record earnings this past quarter, beating market estimates.”
“I’m thinking of investing in a good health care mutual fund. What do you think?” the doctor asked.
“Great decision, sir. I would be happy to prepare some information for you to review. We are here to take care of our clients. And you, sir, are one of our best,” Roger responded as he jotted down a note on his desk pad under “to do.”
“Thank you, Roger.”
“You’re welcome. I’ll be in touch with some literature.”
“Very well. Talk to you soon,” Dr. Kim replied.
Roger said goodbye. Silence returned to his office. He glanced at his watch and saw it read fifteen minutes after four. He knew it was too close to quitting time and simply didn’t feel like preparing anything for the doctor. He reasoned with himself that he would take care of that task first thing in the morning. Roger’s evening with his wife consumed his mind as the anticipation of a night of lust aroused his senses. He anxiously tapped his foot as he pondered his drive home and the shower he needed to wash the day away before the evening could begin.
Roger stood and scanned his surroundings. When he got his promotion to Investment Manager last year, he couldn’t believe the size of his new office. But now that he saw it day after day, it really didn’t faze him. He was grateful for it, but something inside him was not impressed. He had always known that he’d get the comfortable office and eager secretary eventually, and when it happened, he wasn’t fully satisfied. The one thing, however, that did astound Roger was his exquisite view of the city. When he felt he needed a break or when he was mulling over something in his mind, he would simply stand and take a gander out the window. Looking out from the twenty-fifth floor gave him a feeling of power and dominance. Today was particularly sunny, with only a hint of clouds looming in the blue sky. As Roger paused for a moment at the view, he could see the bustling streets filled with cars and pedestrians moving around downtown. The one thing he wished the view included was the restaurant and bar district near Fourth Street. That was the side of the downtown where he shared the most romantic memories with his wife.
Roger’s phone buzzed again. For a moment, his contented grin changed to an angered sneer, but his secretary’s words soon brightened his expression, “Mr. Belkin, your wife is on line one.”
Roger thought a call from his wife was the best way to conclude his long day. Lois was the love of his life. She and Roger had met at a quaint coffee shop on College Avenue at Penn State. Roger frequented the establishment when he was studying for his business exams or reviewing
The Wall Street Journal
. Then one evening, she stepped into his life—a tall, glowing woman with a certain aura about her. Roger remembered how he saw her floating through the line and hoped she would sit next to him. Although Roger was an affable man who was always ready with the right thing to say in a business meeting, he was nervous around women. It was fitting that Lois made the first move. She was one year ahead of Roger, a senior to his junior standing. She was a creative writing major with a love for the fine arts. Her parents were extremely affluent. Since she and her sister Carol were their sweet “baby girls,” they took care of both sisters financially. Lois liked Roger’s boyish looks. His 1950s hairstyle and dimples immediately piqued her attention. Roger and Lois hit it off and dated for two years until Lois, not Roger, popped the question. She always motivated the businessman and took charge in the relationship, but she still let Roger appear to be the alpha male. She let him dominate in the bedroom, where she liked to be a submissive female. Roger and Lois were married for eleven years, had a nice house in the suburbs, and lived close to her older sister Carol. The next logical step, albeit delayed, was having a family. Lois wanted to wait until she was thirty-seven. She did the math and wanted her kids to graduate high school and college when she and Roger were in their fifties. She was born when her mother and father were both twenty-two. Having parents in their thirties when one was going to the prom seemed too close for comfort. She couldn’t imagine having gangly teenagers around the house when her teenage years seemed as if they were yesterday. That’s why she thought fifty would be ideal. Roger was indifferent. He loved Lois with all of his heart. To him, she was a diamond in the rough among women. He couldn’t fathom a world without his wife by his side. He would do anything to provide for her.