Read an Excerpt
Take a peak inside the book The Grotto
The morning after the incident with Tony and his disgusting friends, Brooklyn sat in her usual spot next to the front windows of the café having breakfast with her mom. It had been a cool, night and the windows facing the bay were heavy with condensation from the warmth of the large kitchen grill, now covered in sizzling hash browns, bacon, sausages and eggs. Normally, it was a pleasant spot to start the day. In addition to the familiar smells emanating from the kitchen, there was the picturesque view of the bay, and interesting conversations of locals lingering over a second cup of coffee before heading off to the work. This morning though, Brooklyn’s mood couldn’t have been farther from such pleasantries.
Her mom sat across from her, taking a fifteen-minute break from hungry customers. She had propped up a copy of the Juneau newspaper from the day before in front of her and absently sipped her cup of coffee. Even though she had hardly begun her shift, she looked tired and her dark brown hair, drawn back in a pony tail, was frazzled and dull. Under different conditions, Flo might be a beautiful woman. Instead, at 40, her twenty years of physical work as a waitress was taking its toll.
Brooklyn pushed her hot cereal around in the bowl slowly mixing in a heaping spoonful of brown sugar. She hadn’t slept well either and wasn’t looking forward to going to school where she was certain to face the boys again. Stories flew through town and all the girls her age probably knew about her rescue by Bingo Bob, the last person on earth one expected to be a hero. She had lain awake for hours imagining the things they would say.
“Hey Brooklyn, we hear Bingo Bob is waiting to walk you home,” or holding their noses, they’d sing a little jingle like “Woo hoo, here’s Bingo.”
Flo peered over the top of her paper. “Something bothering you?”
Brooklyn glared back. “I hate this town. We don’t belong here. We’re outsiders.”
“That’s what you said last week and the week before. What happened this time?”
“And I hate you for making us live here. We never go anywhere, like on vacation. We never do anything together.”
“That’s putting it differently. So, are you going to tell me about it?”
“Tony and his buddies tried to rape me.”
Flo dropped the paper and stared at her daughter with a look of concern. “What? When did this happen?”
“Yesterday, on the road near the boat basin.”
“They tried to rape you in the middle of the road?”
“It was just talk. That’s all. They tried to force me to go aboard a boat Tony’s father has down at the harbor. Only Bingo Bob chased them away.”
“Yeah. He yelled at them and threatened to use them as crab bait, and they ran away. I was scared. What’s weird, instead of being a dirty, freaky person, he seemed like a harmless, sad old man. He was very polite.” Brooklyn sighed and shoved her oatmeal away, but decided the orange juice was okay and took a sip. “Mom, what is the story about Bingo?”
Flo checked the dining room. The few customers still there were busy eating. She looked up at the big clock by the door to the kitchen and sighed too, knowing she’d better spend a few minutes talking this through with her daughter.
“Well, I think it was about seven or eight years ago when Bingo Bob showed up in that old boat of his. He kind of staked out his spot on the dock and has stayed put. I don’t recall ever seeing that boat leave the harbor since then.” She shook her head. “Brooklyn, there are men like Bingo in pretty much every Alaskan town. They choose to live alone, sometimes on derelict boats, again like Bingo, or in a tumble-down cabin. I guess you could call them hermits. I think the wilderness of Alaska has a certain appeal to men like them. Maybe it’s the frontier idea where they can be alone, and they don’t have to interact or talk to anybody. Or maybe, it is because they had to run away from something in their past. Some of them are grumpy old men or alcoholics who just want to be left alone in their misery and probably should be left to themselves. Some of them are fairly harmless, and… I guess… kind of like puppies. When Bingo dresses up and comes to the monthly bingo nights at the community center, he’s a perfect gentleman. That’s how he got his nickname.”
“That’s what I thought about Bingo—a lost little dog or frightened kitten. I’ve always been afraid of him just like all the other kids in town. But when I thought about what he did, I felt sorry for him.”
“Well, don’t let a bit of sympathy affect your judgment. I’d leave him be. He did a good thing, but that doesn’t mean he’s friendly. Men like Bingo can be very unpredictable. They like their alcohol and can just as easily change from a puppy to a bull dog. Violence can be part of their nature.”
Flo glanced at the clock on the wall. “You need to get to school. We’ll talk some more about this tonight, okay?”
“Alright, but what about Tony and…”
“We’ll figure out how to deal with them. Just promise me you’ll not linger on your way home. It’s probably best you don’t go to the community center for a few days.”
The door to the café opened as she stood up, and two men entered. Flo glanced at them, let her paper slip from her hands and hurried towards the kitchen. To Brooklyn, it seemed like her mother suddenly turned pale, like she had seen a ghost.
The cafe’s breakfast crowd had cleared out except for the two strangers. Flo ignored them and left them to be served by Leroy Wilson, the owner. She cleared tables, loaded the dishwasher, and chatted with Leroy through the serving window. He was already prepping for the lunch menu. She saw they needed fresh coffee, so she headed to the supply room at the back of the hallway near the restroom. As she reached for a box of filters on the shelf, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She whirled around.
“How dare you show up like this?” Flo stood with her hands on her hips and glared at the man.
Vince withdrew his hand like he had touched a hot stove, and stepped back. “Hello, Flo, how have you been?” His grin showed a missing tooth. “Ah, sorry. I… uh…”
There was fury in Flo’s eyes. “You’re what? Expecting me to fall into your arms after sixteen years? You ran, Vince. You left me, remember? Yes, I recognized you when you entered the café this morning. Do you even remember seeing me on the street in Juneau five years ago? You didn’t show any sign of recognizing me. Now you can just run away again. You’re not part of my life anymore.”
Vince ignored the stinging words. “Was that my daughter sitting with you this morning? She’s got my dark hair and your sparkly eyes. She’s pretty—like you, Flo.”
“Me? Hardly! I happen to be older—and a lot wiser too. I have endured a lot since you left me. It’s been hard, really hard, but Brooklyn and I are doing okay. No thanks to you.”
“Brooklyn? That’s her name?” Vince‘s face brightened.
“Yes, but don’t you go near her. She doesn’t know about you and I don’t ever want her to. You were so afraid of the stigma that your white wife would bring to your damned Native family and community that you abandoned me when I got pregnant—only thinking of yourself and your own life. Well, it’s going to stay that way.” Forgetting about the coffee filters, she pushed Vince aside to get back to her job. Vince grabbed her arm, but she brushed it off and went on towards the kitchen.
“Flo, wait! I… I don’t know for sure how to say this.” There was pleading in his eyes when she reluctantly turned to face him. “One of my friends is very, very sick and I think he might die. It was real sudden-like. I…I don’t know what’s wrong with him.
Flo stared at him for a moment—noticing his red face and watery nose for the first time. There were tiny beads of sweat on his forehead. He kept shifting his feet and waving his arms like he was nervous or agitated over something.
She frowned and put a little more space between them.
“Now I’m sick too” Vince said. You told me once you attended nursing school in Seattle. Flo, my friend is in awful pain, and I’m afraid I’m going to be the same. I didn’t know where else to go. I need your help. Please, Flo.”
Take a peak inside the book Destruction Island
Norika Edo paced back and forth next to one of the huge picture windows of her apartment that offered a panoramic view of the Roppongi District of Tokyo. She spoke loudly into a satellite phone and then tossed it onto a couch as she stopped pacing and stared for a long time at the carefully manicured gardens five floors below her. The fifth floor of the Izumi Villa Tower was entirely leased by the Edosan Corporation, an international import company dealing principally in precious stones and gold.
Norika was making very little progress in resolving a problem that had consumed her every waking moment of the last four months—from the day that the island of Honshu had experienced a major earthquake. The fact that nearly 20,000 people had died, 400,000 people had been left homeless, and a nuclear power plant had leaked radioactivity and caused a meltdown did not bother her. Her concern was for a very small, unmanned watercraft—an escape pod that had been lashed to the aft deck of a freighter that just happened to be anchored in the Miyako Harbor at the time of the quake.
The Kanji Maru had turned on her port side and had been pushed under a bridge by the receding tsunami wave, drowning most of the crew as the boat sunk just outside the bay. One of the survivors reported that her husband made it into the ship’s lifeboat which may have remained attached to the ship.
When Norika heard about the tragedy, she immediately ordered a salvage crew to find the sunken vessel and to retrieve her husband’s body and a certain item of cargo, only to learn that they were missing and presumably had become part of the massive raft of floating debris consisting of houses, docks, vessels, vehicles, toxic chemicals, personal possessions, and, of course, thousands of corpses.
For weeks after the tsunami, Norika dispatched search team after search team to find the small escape pod from the vessel amongst the debris that continued to drift eastward across the Pacific. Other teams searched inland in the event that scavengers had already salvaged the pod and secreted it away for later resale. Each day the reports were the same—the pod had not been found. She kept the real reason for the search a secret, leaving Edosan employees and the search teams mystified as to why she wanted so desperately to find the boat, knowing that her husband was most likely dead. Only she and one of her most trusted employees, who had just made a report to her, knew that the little pod contained one hundred million dollars in bearer bonds from an offshore bank in the Marshall Islands and another one hundred and fifty million dollars’ worth of diamonds that belonged to her now-dead husband and his business associates. What the rest of her employees did know was that their boss, like her dead husband, was a Yakuza—a crime lord—and they dare not fail in their search.
Her personal cell phone rang again. Norika retrieved it and looked at the number on the display. It blinked “Unknown Caller.” Her tone was terse as she took the call. “This is a private number. Who’s calling?” she demanded.
“Now, Norika that is no way to greet a longtime associate of your husband.”
“Yuri Matasuba! Even if you had called through my personal secretary, I have no reason to offer any pleasantries to you. And in case you are thinking of hanging up quickly, watch your ass. You may get stuck with a needle filled with puffer-fish toxin.”
“Oh, a most unpleasant lady making such violent threats,” Yuri replied with a voice that was even icier than her own. “So I am pleased to respond in kind. Your dead husband was involved in a certain business transaction with myself and another associate whose identity I cannot reveal. It involves a large sum of bearer bonds and diamonds that now seem to have disappeared from our account in the Marshalls. My source informed me that your husband was the person who withdrew, shall we say, these joint assets. He covered his tracks well, but not well enough! Before he most unfortunately died, the young clerk who assisted your husband told us everything. We would like to receive our share—with interest, of course. You have ten days to make arrangements for the transfer. You will be contacted as to the details. Have a most pleasant day, Norika.”
Norika Edo was both furious and frightened as she threw the phone across the room. She turned to the window facing the east side of the city and beyond. Somewhere out on the Pacific was the escape pod with her husband, the bonds and diamonds. It had to be there, and she had an impossible ten days to find it.
When Earl Armstrong assists a group of volunteers surveying tsunami debris that is threatening the pristine Northwest coast, he discovers a body mysteriously linked to a remote island where his great-grandfather once served as a lighthouse keeper. It is an island with a tragic history and holding a secret presumably known only to his great-grandfather and himself. Then Earl discovers there is someone searching for this hoard of Indian artifacts that includes a priceless, golden sun mask–a ruthless collector who will stop at nothing short of murder and kidnapping to possess it.
“Fred has done it again with a great story! Rather than pacing myself, only allowing myself to read a few pages each night, I let myself read this book over a couple days. It was a “page-turner” and I didn’t want to put it down. Thank you Fred and I look forward to the next one!!!” Amazon Review