Here’s a sneak peek at Dove of War, now available at Amazon.com. Dove is part II/IV in my planned “quadrilogy.” It picks up exactly where I Know Why the Dogwoods BLUSH ended in 2009 with the anguished phone call to Joe LaHoud from his daughter who vanished without a trace 10-years ago at age 16. Check it out (this is chapter 8 … I didn’t want to spoil most of the new characters for you) and get ready for ACTION!!!
A hero has faced it all: he need not be undefeated, but he must be undaunted.
Joe LaHoud sat in mute silence in his apartment, his hand glued to the handset of his telephone. He’d barely moved for almost 72 hours. He figured he’d probably lost his job by now at the ER, but he dared not leave. Not after he’d gotten that telephone call.
Over the last three days, he’d received more than a dozen calls from creditors, co-workers and Sam. He figured she’d be calling Deputy Matt Miller any minute now to ask him to come break into the apartment since Joe was not answering any of them. How could he do so? He wanted to take no chances. The line absolutely had to remain open and clear.
Each time the phone would ring, he’d jump with a start as the blood rushed to his head. But once the answer machine picked up the caller and he heard it was not from her, he’d immediately switch the call to “answer machine” mode to free up the line. If his friends could not understand that, well, they needed to find a new friend because he was not budging. Not after all these years. She might call again!
Sam had just called again, not more than ten minutes ago. She’d missed seeing Joe at The Perky Pavillion and was worried. Would he please call her? Sorry, Sam, but not now! And he truly was sorry. He was always sorry! He’d been in a constant state of “I’m sorry” for more than a decade. He knew that he had special feelings toward Sam, even though she was ten years his junior. Okay, maybe more than fifteen years his junior. But he was 64 and she was nearing 50, so at that age, the gulf in life experience didn’t seem to matter so much. At least he hoped it did not. There were times when he felt as though she cared for him beyond the professional capacity, and he’d been on the verge of pursuing that possibility, a concept that frightened him to no small degree. Every person he’d ever loved had been hurt seriously. He shook his head and stared again at the silent telephone. He was sorry. Oh my, how he was ever so sorry!
There was a time when Joe was considered “somebody.” He’d been a very high profile professional wrestler in the late 1960s, taking the ring as the vastly popular Viking Warrior! That publicity and his panache for hamming it up on the camera led to commercials, magazine covers, action figures and a Hollywood agent. By the mid-1970s, he was the star of the television superhero series, Lunar-Man! That series lasted six seasons and made him wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. Everybody in the USA knew his name! Life was grand. He married and soon thereafter, became the father to the most beautiful and loved little girl in the world. That all came crashing down just over ten years ago.
He looked over to Tammy’s picture and caressed her smiling face. She would be 26 now if she were still alive. But just last month, he’d decided that maybe it was time to give up that hope and move along.
Whatever happened to her on that terrible day over a decade ago, he accepted now that he would never know. She’d kissed him good-bye and headed into downtown Los Angeles (he’d owned a beautiful home in Coldwater Canyon back then) to shop at the mall. He’d never seen her again. Years of wondering and worrying and following one false lead after another had taken a toll on his health and his marriage. After the divorce, his ex-wife committed suicide with pills two years ago. He’d pulled himself together, moved to Tacoma, found a decent job as the nightshift janitor for the ER, and found a roommate, Bobby Fast, to share the expenses.
Just last month, Bobby committed suicide himself over troubles from his past in Georgia, and Joe felt himself losing his tenuous grip on reality. But through tremendous perseverance and the will to survive, Joe finally had accepted the fact that Tammy was dead and he’d never know anything more than that. He was moving beyond that, beyond the suicides of his ex-wife and Bobby, and was focused on his job, rediscovering his self-respect, and maybe pursuing a relationship with Sam. All that was shattered three days ago when he got the call.
He’d come home around 6:00 AM after a long hard night. He’d been out to check on sweet Josie Warren on his way to work and met her new tenant, ‘Basil Blanco’ or some such name like that. He actually seemed like a good man, plus Hosea vouched for him. Everybody trusted Hosea, so Joe was not worried about Josie’s safety. He’d been tired and ready to relax and read the paper before getting some much needed sleep. He’d crossed the living room to the kitchen to make his usual pot of morning coffee when he saw the flashing light indicating a voicemail on his telephone. He paused for a moment to ponder who might have called him during the night while he was working. To his knowledge he was finally caught up on any outstanding bills or debts. He didn’t even owe any money to his late-wife’s creditors at this point. The blinking light was intriguing. With a shrug he took a giant stride to the phone and pressed the “playback” button.
There was some obvious static on the line and some unsteady breathing that was clearly audible immediately. He’d wrinkled his brow, confused over the premonition that crept up his legs and lodged into his abdomen. And then he heard the voice! It so stunned him that he staggered back and felt his beating heart rocket skyward only to lodge in his throat. His hands trembled as he cautiously reached forward to play the message a second time. And this time there could be no mistaking what he’d heard!
“Daddy? Daddy, are you there? Please pick up, Daddy! I’m so scared! He’s going to hurt me again, Daddy! Please help me! Please help me before…” Click. The line went dead. He’d screamed and pleaded with God and played that message back again and again. He’d considered calling Sheriff Boydon or his friend, Deputy Matt Miller, but instead he just sat and waited, praying that Tammy would call him again.
And now, he’d wasted three days for her to call and there had been nothing. On the night Bobby Fast killed himself, the mysterious man who’d found the body gave Joe a cryptic proclamation:
“Your daughter still lives. She waits for her father to find her and rescue her. This is your destiny … yours and yours alone!”
And maybe the man had been right. Maybe it was time to quit waiting for Tammy to call! Maybe it was time for Joe to be the man … the hero … that Tammy expected him to be. He was Lunar-Man! He was supposed to protect the innocent and punish the guilty! This was especially true for daddies and little girls. Armed with this newfound decision, Joe staggered to the front door and looked out into the early dawn with fear and confusion. Then his fists clinched!
“I’m coming for you, baby! Daddy’s coming to find you now!”