Authors: J. T. Lewis
Too Close to Home
The Adventures of Gabriel Celtic
Copyright 2011-2015 by J.T. Lewis
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This book is a work of fiction. The
names, characters, places, and incidents are products of
the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and
are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to
persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or
organizations is entirely coincidental.
February 15, 1997
The rain was coming down in sheets as the man pulled the car over to the side of the semi-deserted road and turned on the emergency flashers. Sitting back anxiously to wait, he wondered how long it would take on a night with this much rain? He didn’t have long to linger, however, as an old pickup pulled off the road in front of him. His right eye started twitching quickly, as it always did when he got excited or nervous.
Pulling up the hood of his sweatshirt, he opened the door and entered the storm, running quickly up to the driver’s door of the truck. Rolling the window down, the driver asked if he needed a ride somewhere. Opening his mouth to accept the offer, the man caught a glimpse of a shotgun in the back window. Confusion quickly enveloped him as he glanced back towards his car…an armed man may be a greater challenge then he was prepared for.
As he was mulling over his options, another car was pulling in behind his, the shadows created by a passing motorist revealing two occupants in the front seat. Making a decision quickly, he thanked the first driver and told him his friends had just arrived. The truck driver shrugged his shoulders as he shifted the truck into gear and drove off. The man now ran back to the newly arrived car just as the driver was rolling down his window.
“Need a lift?” the new driver questioned as the hooded man reached his window.
“I could sure make use of a phone if you have one,” replied the now soaking wet man.
“Sure, hop in the back out of this rain,” the driver said as he reached back to un-latch the door.
Sliding in behind the driver, the man pulled the door closed and sat back in the warm seat of the car. “I really appreciate this,” the man exclaimed as he took the offered phone, looking back to check on any approaching traffic. He dialed the number, the other party picking up after one ring.
“Yes?” the person on the other end of the call answered in a raspy whisper, “Are you in position?”
The man replied that he was, stating that a lovely couple had allowed him to use their phone as well as giving him shelter in their back seat.
“Well then,” the person on the other end of the call stated, “shows me what you got.”
Reaching into his pocket, the man pulled out a gun. Casually, he shot the husband first, then the screaming woman, a shiver of exhilaration running down his spine as he watched the bodies’ slump forward into the dash.
April 17, 1997
My name is Gabriel Celtic, an investigator for the county prosecutor, and currently living a hell like none I’ve ever faced. Although I have been to war, shot three times and stabbed once, I had thought of these last few months as worse than any of that. But even as bad as that time had been, that little bit of hell had wound itself up in a gigantic ball of crap and spewed itself out, intertwining my wife and I in its clutches.
I had apparently dozed off, awakening to the now familiar beep, beep of the life support system, the machine now keeping my wife alive. Worry racked my heart as I looked upon my beautiful bride of nine years.
“She should not be here, this was a mistake,”
I thought momentarily. My rational mind then interjected its own line of reasoning. It had been her decision I reminded myself, there was nothing to be done to change that now.
This had been my home day and night for two weeks, watching over my love, praying to anyone that would listen to bring her back to me. She had been shot, and while her wounds had been fixed, the outcome of the act was still less than certain.
Swelling in the brain had left her in a coma, the result of the fall down into the basement of the old house after the shots. I sighed in despair and got up to go to the bathroom and get some more coffee.
It was after midnight and the cafeteria was mostly empty. Celia was there at the cash register, just like normal, it seemed like she must work every night. She smiled her sad smile that I thought she reserved for just me, and asked me about the status of Betty.
“No change,” I mumbled for the hundredth time as I filled my new cup with the hospital-grade brew. I had long ago come to the conclusion that their recipe involved old dish rags and used coffee grounds.
“I’m so sorry,” she replied in her now familiar British accent, not knowing what else to say, but always trying to say something nonetheless. “I just know in my heart Betty will make it, she’s always been so strong,” she added with a hopeful look.
I walked up to pay and Celia stated that the dark liquid in question was the end of the pot and that I should just take it, she would get busy making a new pot straight away.
I smiled again at one of Celia’s excuses for giving me coffee, thanked her, and headed back to the room.
Walking slowly from a combination of exhaustion and worry, I again mentally clicked through the facts leading up to my soul mate lying in a hospital bed. This invariably led to thinking back to our life together, and to the life in whole that had caused me to experience this painful point in my existence. If I could have changed any one of a thousand things, I might have been able to keep my love out of danger.
I put on my game face before I entered the room, convinced that Betty knew when I was there and could probably pick up on my mood. She had always been able to read my mind.
I checked on her condition, leaned over and kissed her forehead, then sat back in the chair they would probably have to replace when I was done with it. Laying my head back, I again went over the case that Betty and I had helped solve, the case that had put her here as she threw herself in harm’s way to save another.
Yet she wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t had a theory, a theory that had led us to the old farm house where she met her fate. I would give anything to have been wrong. I would give everything.
My eyes were heavy and soon I was drifting off, again reliving in my head life’s events leading to this moment. Even as one nightmare was over, another had taken its place leaving me feeling helpless, alone.
Being Gabriel Celtic today meant being powerless and useless. It was not a good feeling.
Fully asleep now, I found myself in the now familiar room: fire blazing in the fireplace, a steaming cup of coffee, and a chess board with a game in process.
I sat down in the comfortable chair, and then hefted the coffee while looking over the board. I smiled at the most recent move of my opponent, obviously he had been boning up on his game.
I heard a creak in the floor behind me, knowing there would be no one there but turning to look anyway. As before the room was empty, but the feeling that someone was coming grew stronger with every visit to the room. I was hopeful that someday someone would reveal to me the mystery of the strange but comfortable room.
That’s the story of my life, yet another mystery to sort out.
February 15, 1997
Reaching into his other pocket, the man pulled out a card with a single word on it. His mentor would not be happy about the card, but he couldn’t help himself; he had to let them know he was the one responsible.
Blood spattered the windshield which also contained the holes where the bullets had exited the car. Both bodies were now slumped forward, looking like rag dolls, waiting their turn on the shelf for the next kid to choose them to play with. Another shiver ran down the man’s spine…he had done it! And it had been so easy…he couldn’t believe he had been nervous about it.
The man dropped the card to the floor as he pocketed the revolver with his gloved hand. Exiting the car on the passenger side and running up to his own vehicle, he quickly entered it. Turning off the flashers, he pulled into the road and casually accelerated to the speed limit.
Pulling off the road again after about five miles, he turned onto a one-lane gravel road. Traveling for a hundred yards he then stopped, exiting the car before entering a black SUV. Pulling this out to the highway, he turned back the way he had come, soon approaching once more to the scene he had just left.
A patrol car had just pulled up behind the couple’s car and turned on its beacons.
“I’d love to see his face when he sees what’s in there,” the man beamed. Looking forward again, he moved on past the police car and continued toward his destination.
Pulling into the deserted city park, he parked in a dark corner of the parking lot, throwing the keys in some bushes as he exited the vehicle. With his hoody already up, he stuck his hands in his pockets and started the long walk home. His instructions were to lay low for a couple of weeks and not do anything out of the ordinary; he would be contacted when the time was right.
Barely able to contain his excitement, the man desperately wanted to stop at the bar to celebrate. Thinking again of his mentor’s warning, he decided against that plan, opting instead to continue home and start on that twelve-pack he had in the refrigerator.
He knew if he went to the bar he would want to spout off after a few drinks, and he also realized that he could not afford to do that. He would wait, knowing someday he would be able to share his exploits. People would listen and adore his courage; the “Ghost” would be famous.
The lights of the patrol car were flashing off of the windshield of the truck, mixing with the water droplets as they ran down the glass in an eerie display of color moving color. The Mentor was observing the cop, smiling as he discovered the carnage within the car. Feeling safe from observation…the dark truck blended easily into the shadows of the stormy night…the hooded figure let the excitement build from deep within.
Finally seeing enough and not wanting to be accidentally discovered, the person known only as the Mentor slowly did a u-turn on the otherwise deserted road, turning on the lights only when out of sight of the flashing beacons.
Smiling at how beautifully the plan had come together, the Mentor mentally started working on details of the next step. Rolling down the window as the truck entered the city limits, the Mentor threw the cell phone out the window as the truck crossed the bridge.