Thursday, November 22, 2012

Coming Attractions #8: Vril-Ya! Chapter Two

I hope you and yours are enjoying this day of Thanksgiving and that the food is plentiful and the company pleasant. As my way of contributing to what I hope is a wonderful day for you, here's a treat: Chapter Two of "Vril-Ya!" my half of the epic Jim Anthony/Dillon team up of which "The Coming Race" by Josh Reynolds is the other half. Further information about THE VRIL AGENDA can be found here and Chapter One of "Vril-Ya!" can be found here. Read, enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving.


Dillon had said that with no youthful bombast or unnecessary drama.  He had said it with certainty that Jim Anthony had heard from men far older and far more world-weary than this boy.  Whoever he was, wherever he came from, this Dillon had packed a lot of years into his short life.

Frick bent down and whispered something in Jim’s ear.  Jim’s eyes flickered briefly to Dillon’s face, probing every square inch in the time it took for a fly to blink.  Jim looked back at Frick and nodded. 
“Would you mind leaving us alone, Frick?  I have a feeling our young master Dillon has a lot he wants to talk about.”
“Certainly, sir.  But if there is anything you require, do not hesitate to summon me.”
Dillon watched him go.  “I like him.”
“You should.  Frick’s a good man to be on the right side of.  You’d be surprised at who he has the ear of and who seeks him out for advice.  Many powerful men who steered the destiny of this country and were members of this club have benefited from Frick’s advice.”  Jim put his china cup down.  “But let’s get back to you.  Frick told you your mother was a member of the club?”
“He did, sir.  Did you know her?”
“I had long retired by the time she joined.  I met her at one of the club ceremonies and functions that I still attend.  The one time I spoke to her in depth we traded stories about a mythical place that I knew as Xembala but your mother called Shamballah.”
Dillon smiled. “The City Eternal has many names.  Shamballah is the one I know.”
“Fascinating.  Are you telling me that you’ve been there?”
“My mother gave her life to see that I reached Shamballah safely.  I was raised and taught by The Warmasters of Liguria for seven years.  When I turned nineteen I left Shamballah to make my way back to the world.  That was two years ago.”
“You’re being awfully free with this information it seems to me.”
Dillon shrugged.  “Why not?  I will probably never see Shamballah again.  It was a miracle that my mother found her way back.  She was the first person in five hundred years, man or woman to find their way to Shamballah a second time.  And my teachers believe that she did so because of her overwhelming desire to see that I was safe.  We were being pursued by…”  Dillon’s throat tightened with a surge of emotion.  Jim didn’t push.
Dillon got himself under control with a visible effort and continued.  “And I realize that if you’re going to help me then I need to trust you and you need to trust me as well.  And if everything I’ve heard and read about you is true then I’ve got nothing to fear by telling you about Shamballah.”
Jim motioned for the footman at the door to bring them more tea.  To Dillon he said, “have you breakfasted yet?”
“Just some scrambled eggs and toast in the Howard Johnson’s I’m staying at on 8th Avenue.”
“You need more than that to get you going.  You’re a big guy.  For maximum efficiency your metabolism needs a protein boost in the morning.  You’ll have breakfast with me while we talk.”
“Does this mean you’ll teach me?”
“Don’t rush me, youngster.  I said we’ll talk and that’s all we’ll do.  I’m retired and have been for a long time.  I’ve come to enjoy my retirement.  Besides, I don’t know a thing about you.”
Dillon’s obvious disappointment dimmed the sparkle in his copper eyes as he said, “I just told you who I was and you said you knew my mother.”
“To be precise I said that I met your mother.  That’s a long way from knowing her.  And I’ve just met you and you’ve told me a yarn about having been raised in a mythical lost city by an equally mythical group of master martial artists.  No, I cannot say with any sort of confidence that I know you at all.”
And now Dillon’s eyes changed.  The anger rising in him at Jim’s calm but firm words produced a remarkable effect in the eyes under those severe eyebrows that became even more severe.  The friendly, sparkling copper of Dillon’s eyes were no longer sparkling or friendly. 
Dillon rose to his feet.  “I’m sorry to have wasted your time, then.  I’ll take my leave and bid you good day, sir.”
Jim sighed and waved for him to sit back down.  “Take it easy, youngster.  You’ll live longer if you don’t get mad so quickly.  I said we’d talk.  That’s what you wanted, wasn’t it?”
“I want you to train me!”
“Baby steps, boy.  Baby steps.  You’ve gotten an invitation to have breakfast with me.  Isn’t that more than what you had an hour ago?”
Dillon mulled that over for about twelve seconds.  “I suppose it is.”
“Then there’s no telling what you’ll have in another hour if you exercise a little patience, is there?”
Slowly, Dillon resumed his seat.  “No, I suppose there isn’t.”
“Excellent.  Then let’s retire to the dining room and have a proper breakfast while we continue our talk.”

The dining room was easily as luxurious and elegant as the rest of the mansion.  A spacious room with rich oak paneling and reeded moldings.  The vaulted, arched ceiling rose so high over their heads that the dining room actually took up two floors.  Jim and Dillon sat across from each other in handcarved Adam style chairs, eating under the watchful, intense gaze of the life sized portrait of Impey Barbicane, the first president of The Baltimore Gun Club which hung over the fireplace.  A replica of this portrait hung in every dining room of every branch of the club while the original, quite rightly hung in the main branch of the club located in Baltimore.
“How’s your steak?”  Jim asked, while cutting into his own.
“Just fine, sir.  Thank you.”  And indeed, the young man appeared to have the appetite of a thoroughbred race horse.  Jim himself had a more than healthy appetite himself but even he was impressed by the way Dillon shoveled in the grub.
Dillon looked around the dining room.  Six other men were also taking their breakfast.  Jim had nodded to them as he had entered and had even gone over to shake hands and quietly converse with two of them while the waiters lay out and served the food.
“The first thing I’m curious about is how you made your way to America.  What did you use for money?”
Dillon swallowed a mouthful of food and washed it down with a gulp of apple juice before answering; “I remembered a lot of how the world works before Mother took me to Shamballah so I had a general idea of where to go and what to do.  When I left Shamballah I was given a leather bag full of precious gems.  Mostly emeralds, rubies, a couple of diamonds.  I journeyed to Lhasa where I was able to barter and trade some of my jewels for currency.  From there I worked passage on tramp steamers to Australia and from there to Africa. I wanted to travel, get reacquainted with the world.  I sold the rest of my jewels and opened up bank accounts in several cities around the world, including New York.   I worked odd jobs here and there while drifting north, making my way up to London.”
“What did you do there?”
“Believe it or not I went to school.”  Dillon laughed and for the first time Jim felt that his laugh was genuine.  “Most of my formal education came from my father, you see.”
“He was a teacher?”
“He was a genius,” Dillon replied simply.  He abruptly switched back to the story he had been telling.  “It was in London that I decided that I needed training.  My enemies are still out there.  The enemies that killed my mother and my father.  They destroyed my people and my home.  The Warmasters taught me a lot.  But I need to know more.  A lot more if I’m to find them.  If I’m to survive until I find them.”
Dillon reached in his pocket and took out a square of folded paper from a well-worn leather wallet.  He passed it over to Jim.
Jim unfolded it and scanned the list of two dozen names.  His eyes opened slightly wider.  “You’ve just earned a couple more checks in your win column, young sir.  I know the names on here.  Either personally or I’ve heard of them.”
“Do you think they’ll help me?  That they would consent to teach me?”
Jim reached into an inside jacket pocket for a silver pen and smoothed out the paper on the table.  He drew lines through some names, put a star next to others and passed the paper back.
Dillon studied the list for a minute.  He turned the paper around and pointed at a name that had a line through it.  Dillon’s disappointment was obvious.  “Why wouldn’t he help me?  Of all the people on this list I would imagine that he’d be the last to turn me down.”
“He no longer lives in New York.  Or even in this country.  Last I heard he was living down in Central America. Supposedly he’s built quite the remarkable research complex down there. It’s also said he married a Mayan princess and has two daughters he’s training to continue his work.” Jim frowned slightly. “I met him a few times but we never worked together.  Still, for some odd reason I never understood, some people mistook me for him on occasion. ”
Dillon pointed at another name.  “And him?”
“He’s reclusive.  Won’t see anybody. He bought a small island off the coast of Maine, built a modest house and lives there very simply, despite his wealth.  I’ve tried a few times to see him but he refuses to talk with me or anybody else from the old days. He never remarried or had children. But the children of his associates still carry on his work.  His corporation operates on a global scale now.”
“And him?”  Dillon pointed at another name which was also had a line through it.
“Leave him alone.  Oh, he’s still active.  I don’t think he’ll ever stop until somebody kills him.  That’s if he can be killed.  I worked with him two or three times and quite sincerely I have my doubts.  But he’s someone you most certainly should stay away from. He’s...” Jim appeared to be at a loss for words. He finally, waved his hand as if trying to dismiss unwanted memories. “Just leave him alone. Trust me.”
Dillon pointed at still another name, also with a line through it.  “And him?”
“He’s insane. Obsessed. Downright fanatical.  If he’s still alive.  Nobody knows for sure. Not even his wife.”
Dillon sighed as he refolded the paper and put it away.  “You’re not being very encouraging.”
“Look, there are a lot of other good people on your list and they can teach you a lot.  And you’ll run across others.”
“But what about you?  You haven’t said yet if you’ll teach me.”
Jim sighed and picked up his tea cup, sipped before answering.  “You want some advice?”
“Of course.”
“Go back to school.  Get a degree.  Become a doctor or an architect or a teacher.  You obviously are a young man with exceptional intelligence and an amazing degree of confidence and resourcefulness.  Go put those talents to use in a profession where you can immediately see the good that you’re doing.  Your life will have infinitely more satisfaction that way.”
Dillon cocked his head to the side, detecting the note of weary resignation in the older man’s voice.  “And what about your life?  I read up on your career as well as the career of the others on my list.  You’ve done an awful lot of good.  Hundreds of thousands owe their lives to you.”
Jim munched thoughtfully on buttered toast, thinking of his response before he answered.  “I don’t regret the life I’ve lived and I’m proud of the work I’ve done.  And still am doing.  But my career hasn’t exactly been all glorious fun and excitement.  I know that what you read about me and those others makes it seem as if our lives were just one long wonderful adventure.  That wasn’t always the case.  And we had loved ones to think of as well.  Families.  Such a life takes a toll on everybody involved.”
“I don’t have a family.  Or friends, for that matter.  There’s nobody I have to worry about.”
“That will change.”  Jim sat back, folding his hands across his still concrete hard stomach.  “What exactly is it you want from me, young man?”
“They called you the Super Detective.  You were known as a murderist of international renown and expertise.  Teach me what you know.  It’s that simple.”
“Suppose I do.  To what end will you put these skills?”
“As I told you: I intend to find those who killed my mother and father.  I have to because they still want to kill me.  I have to defend myself.  I have to stay alive.  The more I learn, the more I know, the better chance I have.”
“Who exactly are these people?”
Dillon’s voice dropped slightly as he said; “In your career have you ever run across Thahali, She Who Wears The Dress of Seven Sorrows?”
And now Dillon did have Jim’s full and undivided attention.  “Fascinating.  Back in 1956 I had a run in with some of her servants in San Francisco.  I had some help from a private eye named George Valentine.  We barely survived.  Those are some very bad people you’ve gotten mixed up with, son.”
“I have no idea how.  All I know is that my parents were her enemies.  She destroyed their life’s work and a lot of innocent people.  Then she came after them.  And I have no doubt that she will come after me.”
Jim fell silent as he turned his gaze to look out the nearest window.  Outside that window was a world he had spent fifty years of his life to defend, protect and preserve.  It wasn’t a perfect world or even a peaceful one.  But it was one worth keeping.  He liked his life as it was.  But he had to admit: retirement was pretty damn boring at times.  And this wouldn’t be getting back into the game.  Just passing on some of what he knew.  And Jim had to admit that this young man with his stories of Shamballah and his yet unexplained ties to Thahali intrigued him to no end.  But there was no reason to tell all that just yet.
“You have anything planned for today?”  Jim asked.
“Me?  No!  Not a thing!  Does this mean-“
Jim held up a hand in that firm commanding gesture that stopped Dillon’s gush of words as effectively as if a huge cork had been shoved in his mouth.  “It doesn’t mean anything.  I’m still thinking about it.  But there’s no reason why you can’t come with me while I’m still thinking.”
“Where are we going?”
“There’s someplace I check on whenever I’m in New York.  Just let me have a word with Frick and we’ll be on our way.”

The two men in the black SUV hadn’t been on watch long.  They’d just relieved the previous two lookouts that used a similar SUV.  They parked across the street from the Gun Club.  Whenever a traffic cop charged at them, waving a ticket book, the man on the passenger side would simply flip open his wallet.  Whatever it was the traffic cop saw satisfied them as to the legitimacy of their right to park there and they went on their way.
Both men had a disturbing similarity in their features.  They were alike enough to pass for brothers with their very blond hair, chiseled features and impressive musculature.  Even sitting at rest in their car they gave off the air that they could explode into furious action at any moment.
The driver nudged his partner.  “Looks like we’re the lucky ones, eh?”
The passenger nodded and smiled.  He picked up a cell phone from the cup holder he had placed it in.  He flipped it open.  It automatically dialed the number and a strong, vibrant female voice on the other end said; “Report.”
“We have a confirmed visual on Jim Anthony.  He’s standing in front of the Gun Club right now.  Looks as if he’s waiting for one of the footmen to bring his car round to him.”
“Is he alone?”
“No.  There’s a black man with him.  Young.  Dressed extremely casually.  I would say that he’s a janitor or kitchen help from the Gun Club Anthony has engaged to help him do some work.”
“Follow Anthony.  Report his every move.  Where he goes.  Who he speaks to.”
The two men continued to watch as a black Ford Crown Victoria drove up to the front of the club from the garage.  The Baltimore Gun Club kept a variety of vehicles that were at the disposal of the membership when needed.  The two men watched Jim and Dillon climb into the car, Jim behind the wheel.  The Crown Victoria crunched along the driveway.  The gate smoothly drew aside to allow the car to merge into traffic.
The driver started up the SUV and they followed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Casting Call # 19: Glaze Binswanger

In DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL, Glaze Binswanger is Ciryna's partner. A mercenary and professional gunrunner, he's known for his eccentric manner of dress and speech which is right out of 1940's Warner Brothers gangster movies. But his eccentricities disguise a ruthless and highly dangerous nature.  So who do I think would do a good job playing this character?

Glaze Binswanger is known for being a very handsome man and I've got it on good authority that this guy is rumored to be such. I've never seen him play a bad guy but I think he's got a memorable one inside of him somewhere just looking for the opportunity to come out and play.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coming Attractions #7: DILLON 2013

It’s good to talk to friends. Especially when you’re a writer. But it’s even better when you can talk to a friend who is a writer and who also has a practical business sense such as my long-time buddy Josh Reynolds. Along with Joel Jenkins he’s one of those long-distance Internet friendships I have that are now into the double digits that involve a lot of trust and closeness but I have never actually met the man.

It’s Josh who gives me a lot of practical ideas for marketing my writing and it was him who gently reminded me that Dillon’s 10th Anniversary was coming up and shouldn’t I be thinking about doing something special to mark that occasion?
I casually went through the rest of our Skype conversation seemingly not thinking much at all about what he had said but once it was over, I ripped off my headset and dashed to my bookcase for a copy of DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN and looked at when it was first published. And swelp me if he wasn’t right. 2013 will make 10 years since the book was published.

I can’t be too mad at the guy, though. Because he made me sit down and think about where I should be going with this character who I’ve been writing about for 10 years and who I’ve been most closely associated with. And there were a couple of other things as well. Including Email conversations with Charles Saunders and Mat Nastos who have both become two of Dillon’s biggest fans and both of them have consistently encouraged me to seek an audience outside of the one I’ve been pursuing.

And then there was That Conversation that I have come to be grateful for having because it was That Conversation that gave me the kick in the ass needed to get me to stop trying to sell a Lamborghini to stew-on-the-table-mule-in-the-stable-just-plain-folks who were perfectly happy with their Ford Pintos.
So what does all this mean exactly for Dillon in 2013? Son, I’m glad you asked. 

Step up on over here while I elaborate:

A completely new website/blog with a brand spanking new Dillon logo.

I’m currently in the process of finding an artist to commission five brand new covers for all the Dillon books. It’s been brought to my attention that the main problem with marketing the Dillon series to a wider audience is that nobody can tell the books are part of a series. The new logo and standardized cover design/art is to remedy that.  So if you’re an artist or knows one who is willing to talk turkey about a five cover commission and isn’t going to waste my time, you know how to find me.

This is all going to start with the 10th Anniversary edition of DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN which will be completely rewritten including the short story prequel “Dillon and The Escape From Tosegio” into the novel as well as as an extra story featuring for the first time in a solo adventure of his own, Dillon’s favorite partner (and yours) Elias Patrick Creed.

And speaking of “Dillon And The Escape From Tosegio” that little seen 10-page comic book story written by Russ Anderson, penciled by Alex Kosakowski based on the original short story by moi will be resurrected in the pages of the second issue of Airship 27 Presents All-Star Pulp Comics

Every year there will be a new edition of the existing Dillon novels reissued with a new cover and a bonus solo story featuring one of Dillon’s redoubtable Sidekicks. Remember the poll I had up for about a month asking who your favorite Dillon Sidekick was? Well, that was what it was for. I want to write about the Sidekick you’re most interested in reading about. The poll will be back up, don’t worry. I took it down temporarily for reasons totally unrelated to what we're talking about here. You’ll have plenty of time to get your vote in. This is a journey, not a destination as Kwai Chang Caine loved to say.

Once we’ve done the new editions, new Dillon novels will resume but you’ll have plenty of new adventures until then because The Plan is to have three new Dillon ebooks during the year. Your Dillon fix will be well taken care of, I assure you.
Expect the Dillon merchandising you’ve been asking for; hats, mugs, T-shirts, beach towels, mousepads, flak jackets, customized attack choppers….okay, I’m just kidding about the mousepads.

Not enough for you? Okay, how about this to finish up: a Dillon wiki and a Dillon audiobook. And they are happening. But the details will have to wait for another Coming Attractions.

“So why all this now?” you are no doubt asking. Just like most things in life, it wasn’t time for it to happen until now. A confluence of events had to occur to direct my focus where it should be. And I needed the experience to know where to go to get the help I need with all this and how to co-ordinate this. So it’s time. And for those of who who have been with me so far, your support will not go unrewarded. And for those of you who haven’t yet experienced Dillon yet, 2013 is the year to find out what he’s all about.

Finally, to finish this up on a musical note. My good friend and #1 Dillon fan Russ Anderson shared this video earlier today and quite naturally because he and I pretty much think alike when it comes to My Boy we agreed that this would make a pretty nifty theme song for a Dillon movie.

“Ah, it’s nice to dream,” you say with a oh-so-worldy smile and waggle of the sophisticated head that knows How The World Truly Works.

But y’know what? I agree with you. Because a dream is exactly where it all begins. Enjoy the video and we’ll talk again soon.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Casting Call #18: Ciryna

In DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL, Ciryna is one of the most persistent thorns in our hero's side and one of the most dangerous enemies he's ever faced. Her beauty hides an unholy bloodlust and desire for death she is more than capable of indulging thanks to her ability to shapeshift. A product of illegal genetic experimentation, Ciryna is able to morph into a variety of lethal forms, each one more fearsome than the last. Who do I think would be a good choice for this role?

Why Ali Larter? She impressed me during her time on the TV show "Heroes" with her ability to be sexy and cold-blooded all at the same time which is Ciryna to a T. And as she showed in "Heroes" and in the "Resident Evil" movies, she's more than capable of handling the physicality the role would demand.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Coming Attractions #6

Welcome back, friends and assorted associates. Hope you’ve been enjoying DILLON AND THE PIRATES OF XONIRA in the period since we last talked and if you haven’t then why not? Seriously, let me know. This doesn’t work unless you work it, knowhutImean?

But right now there’s a few things going on with our boy that I need to let you in on so let’s get to it, shall we?

THE VRIL AGENDA is still firmly on course. My half of the book “Vril-Ya!” is currently clocking in at 35,285 words. And it isn’t even to the halfway point. At this point Dillon and Jim Anthony have just barely survived the two attempts of Ashanti Garuda to kill them. There have been some surprising revelations along the way as well as cameo appearances by Dan Fowler and Otis ‘Alcatraz’ Brown aka The Magician. But there’s still a lot more to go before Dillon and Jim move on to Buenos Aires and Dillon’s massive knock-down-drag-out brawl with the fearsome Sturmvogel.

I’m finding that writing “Vril-Ya!” is challenging in a lot of ways I thought it would be and even more importantly in ways I never thought it would be. The main challenge, of course is that it’s as much a Jim Anthony story as it is a Dillon story. I’m really conscious at all times that one doesn’t overshadow the other but it’s difficult as because at this point in his career, Dillon simply isn’t the character we’ve known through his previous adventures. Josh Reynolds calls him ‘Not Ready For Primetime Dillon’ and that’s a very good description of him at this time in his life. In fact, there are a lot of scenes where he’s simply standing back and observing or reacting to things that other characters are doing. He doesn’t have the experience to know what to do or say in some situations so he says and does nothing. And those are the scenes that Jim Anthony has to carry.

But on the opposing appendage, it’s a lot of fun writing a Dillon who doesn’t have his guns, gadgets or network of friends and assistants backing him up. This is a Dillon who relies almost totally on his physical abilities and his wits. And so there’s a different dynamic as to how he handles situations. I’m really pleased that even after all this time of living with this guy in my head, there are still new things I’m finding out about him.

I’m also kinda concerned that there isn’t a lot of the humor that I think readers enjoy in a Dillon story. A lot of the humor in a Dillon adventure comes from his reactions to the crazy stuff that’s happening around him and again, he just isn’t that character yet and as another character points out, he doesn’t even seem to have much of a sense of humor. But that’ll be up to you to judge when you finally do get to read it.

What I am pleased about is how the story just keeps moving even though there’s a lot of plot exposition and characterizations. The whole key to writing a pulp adventure is to not let the plot slow down for anything. Now this turns some writers off because they want to be able to do characterization and get into the heads of their characters and that’s all well and good. You can do a considerable amount of that in a pulp adventure story. Just don’t stop the plot while you’re doing it, is all.

So that’s where we’re at as far as “Vril-Ya!” is concerned. Maybe around Christmas time if you’re good I’ll drop in Chapter Two for you to check out but in the meantime, if you missed it, here's Chapter One for you.

What else? Judging by the “Which Sidekick Is Your Favorite?” Poll, Eli Creed is the clear winner. So he’s going to get a solo story in the second Dillon anthology which I’m now calling SIX MORE BULLETS FOR DILLON. I’m going to leave the poll up in case some of you haven’t voted yet. Git bizzy, yo.

Speaking of Polls, there’s another one to the right of this for you to vote on, if you’re so inclined. This one is a little different. Y’see, I’ve finished DILLON AND THE LAST RAIL TO KHUSRA and I’m going to give you guys a choice: Would you prefer to have it serialized here as a weekly Saturday afternoon serial or get the whole thing at one time as my now traditional Birthday Free Ebook Giveaway? I’ll leave it up to you guys. Voting will go on for 30 days and in the end, whatever you’ve decided will happen.

Anything else? Oh, yeah…there’s a truly special Dillon project that is currently being produced but I can’t say anything about it yet as the folks behind it have asked me not to. But they say I can hint about it. So let me put it like this…if you’re a good listener then you’ll love this Dillon project.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Casting Call #17: Dagna Summers

Dagna Summers is an Executive Operative working directly under the orders of Ompuri Winwood. She's a valuable member of his staff having been personally trained by him, making her as dangerous as she is beautiful. She's assigned to help Dillon in his quest to recover The Golden Bell of Malacar. And since the two of them have very different ideas of how to accomplish that task, it makes for some wonderful friction between them.

So who do I think would be a good fit for the role? This chick right here:

Why Pink? I have absolutely no idea if she can act at all. But right from the first sentence I wrote with Dagna, I was seeing Pink's face and hearing the words in her voice.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

And in honor of this worldwide phenomenon which marks it's 10th anniversary today, I thought I'd celebrate the occasion in my own little way by adding another chapter of Dillon and The Pirates of Xonira to go along with the two that have been presented earlier:

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three

So whut d'ye be waitin' on, matey? If ye be a true mate an' not some scurvy bilge rat then drop anchor, fill ye tankard with grog an' read on! Read on, says I!

Dillon And The Pirates of Xonira: Chapter Three



            Like most of us, Dillon liked to take vacations in between his jobs.  However, the sort of vacations that he took were very unlike the vacations most people indulged in. There was a good reason for that.  Dillon’s upbringing had been…unusual to say the least.  There were a lot of things he had missed out on as a child, a teenager and a young adult. And much he was curious about. That curiosity led him to take a vacation two years ago where he worked for a month in the kitchen at Tin’s Sammich Emporium, the most famous sandwich restaurant in South Carolina. One year he’d worked for a summer as a roofer in Mexico. This summer he was considering taking classes at the prestigious Bethune-Cookman University.

Some of Dillon’s friends thought it odd that he would consider activities such as these ‘vacations’. But then again even his closest friends didn’t know the circumstances under which and how he was raised. Most of his early life had been spent in places very far removed from anything they were familiar with. In fact, Dillon had had to relearn a whole lot of things when he decided to leave The Eternal City of Shamballah for good and rejoin the world. And he wasn’t through learning.

Besides, he enjoyed the break from his rough-and-tumble life occasionally.  He genuinely had fun just being a regular Joe Citizen if only a few weeks or months at a time. It brought him a perspective that he felt helped connect him to the world and the people in it. Dillon had seen all too often what happened to men with skills comparable to his when they started thinking that they were superior to other people.

Dillon was staying at a beach house just off of highway A1A, one of the dozen safe houses he owned around the world. This one had two stories, with a wonderful view of the ocean. He hadn’t been here for a few years.  Matter of fact he hadn’t been back in Florida for a number of years following an incident where a rather heated dispute between Dillon, The Federal Bureau of Investigation, The Miami Police Department and the Triad known as The Sons Of The Golden Chrysanthemum led to a 747-8 getting blown up at Miami International Airport.  But he wasn’t worried. He’d quietly entered Florida by highway and a simple disguise: he’d driven a raggedy RV he bought with cash in Pennsylvania that certainly didn’t attract any attention. Every other vehicle on the road these days was an RV it seemed. But he’d taken the added precaution of adding a fake salt and pepper beard and a battered Greek fisherman’s cap. He looked for all the world like a guy who’d maybe just been recently widowed or divorced, just bumming it up and down the road until his cash ran out and he had to go back to his life.

Once in Daytona Beach he contacted the professional property management outfit he used and informed them that Mr. Raymond J. Johnson, Jr. of MacFhearghius Diversified would be using his house for a month and would they please see to it that the house was properly cleaned and aired out? Thank you so much and Mr. Johnson’s gratitude would be sizeable.

Dillon moved in and just spent a week doing nothing. He would get up early, take a four or five mile run up the beach and then walk back to the house, just slow poking, stopping to check out whatever caught his eye. In the evening he went out for dinner, maybe took in a show or hung out in one of the clubs.  He did whatever his mood dictated. Given his usual regiment he very rarely could just indulge himself and go wherever the wind took him.

He’d found this great shop that had Blu-Rays really cheap.  Dillon stood with at least twenty of them in a small red basket. Most of them animated movies or box sets of animated series. He was a major animation fan, never having seen a cartoon until he was a young adult. And when he finally did see one he had been utterly and totally lost in the images on the screen. He could sit and watch cartoons for hours. He didn’t have any Blu-Rays at the Florida house and this was a great opportunity to start a video library down here. He hummed pleasantly as he browsed through the racks.

“Shopping for your kids?”

Dillon turned slightly to his left and found himself looking into a pair of the most enticing almond shaped sandy brown eyes it had been his pleasure to look into for quite some time. There was more to go along with the eyes. Silky, extraordinarily curly, sand-colored, shoulder length hair. A wonderfully athletic build. Lovely mocha skin. Full lips that smiled in an enticingly delightful manner.

“I beg your pardon?” Dillon asked. Not that he hadn’t heard her. He liked to brag he had 20/20 hearing. He just wanted to hear her say it again while he came up with something witty and clever. 

The mocha beauty pointed at his basket. “The only guys that come in here and buy that many cartoons have kids. Boys? Girls? One of each?”

“None actually. They’re for me.”

The mocha beauty frowned. Not that it took away from how fine she was in the slightest, Dillon thought. Not many women could look that good frowning. Of course, the mini jean skirt, red Sabrina heel pumps and the red T-shirt one size smaller than it should have been helped considerably as well.

“Don’t tell me you’re one of those men who suffer from Peter Pan syndrome. I bet your most prized possession is your PlayStation 4 and your Sentinels action figures.”

“Well, I do like them a lot but not as much as my mint condition 1959 Bethea Roadmaster and a Renaissance chateau on top of a mesa in Colorado.”

“Oh.  I see.” Her eyes opened wider as the smile thankfully returned.  “Sorry. Guess I was quick to judge. Comes from dating too many of the wrong kind of men.”

“How do you know I’m not the wrong kind of man? I could be lying, y’know.”

She gave Dillon an appraising look and shook her head slowly. “No...I don’t think so. Not that I don’t think you can lie and do it very well if you have to. Nobody with a grin like yours can be fully trusted. But I don’t think you’re lying to me right now. Maybe later after you get to know me better.”

“Ah. You’re assuming that we will get to know each other better, then?”

“Well, I still am curious as to why you’re buying all those cartoons.”

“Maybe I can explain it over a drink. Do you work here?”

“No, but near here. I’m on my break. Why not meet me back here out in front at four, okay?”

“Knocking off from work so early? You’ve got an understanding boss.”

“One thing about Florida: we know how to take it easy down here.” She held out her hand. “My name’s Toi Lahayne, by the way.”

“I’m Ray Johnson.”

Toi cocked her head to the side in amusement. “A pleasure to meet you Mr. Johnson.”

“Ah, you don’t have to call me Johnson. You can call me Ray.”

Toi cocked her head to the side and looked curiously at him. “Nah…you don’t look like a Ray.”

“You’d be surprised how many times I hear that. Excuse me while I get this rung up so I can go home and make myself impressively handsome for our date.”


            Dillon rolled over in the four poster king sized bed and looked at the sleeping back of Toi Lahayne for a few seconds before impulsively leaning over to kiss her between the shoulder blades. Toi murmured something endearing and continued sleeping. Dillon climbed out of bed without disturbing her. He picked up a pair of workout trunks from a neatly folded pile of them on top of the bureau, put them on and then headed to the kitchen for food.

            Beautiful early morning sunshine poured into the kitchen through the French doors, adding to Dillon’s feelings of exhilaration. There were few things he loved more than waking up to a brilliant sunrise such as this. And a wonderful evening of dining and dancing such as the one he had enjoyed with Toi was added spice indeed.

Toi continued to feign a deep sleep until she heard Dillon moving around in the kitchen. She reached under the bed and withdrew her smartphone. She spent the next minute text messaging. She wasn’t very happy with the responses she was getting but then again she was getting paid an outrageous amount of money for her job so she really couldn’t complain.

She climbed out of the bed, walked over to the closet and opened it. Her clothes hung there nice and neat.  But she picked one of Dillon’s T-shirts and slipped it over her body. She kept the smartphone in her left hand as she walked into the beautiful contemporary kitchen with its gleaming white cabinets and rainforest green marble countertops. She stood there for just a minute taking in the sight of his body. His skin was two or three shades darker than hers, wonderfully sleek muscles moving under the skin with the smoothness of a gymnast or a swimmer. 

Dillon looked up and smiled warmly at her. “Hey.  I’m making a five star breakfast for you, baby. At least if you live in China.  Rice with dried minced pork.”

Toi grinned back. “ Sounds a little heavy for breakfast but it also sounds delicious.” Her eyes wandered over to the open laptop computer that rested on the square glass kitchen table. “Working?”

Dillon moved between the refrigerator and the stove. “I have a job that demands I keep up with what’s going on.” 

“Wish I had a job that fascinating. What is it exactly that you do?”

“It’s so boring that there’s really no point in telling you unless you want me to talk about augmented implementations of integrated engineering principals.”

“Noooooo…I don’t think so.” Toi smiled and sat down at the laptop. The screensaver was on, a picture of African elephants.

“I’d really prefer it if you don’t touch that, “Dillon cautioned. He continued moving between the counter and the refrigerator but he kept an eye on Toi.

“Don’t worry. I’m kinda touchy about people messing about with my computer, too.”

Dillon smiled his thanks and headed back for the bedroom. “Let me throw on a shirt and some shoes. I’ve got to go out to my car for a bit. Be right back.”  He left the kitchen and walked to the bedroom. What a stroke of good luck for her. She had been wondering how she was going to get him out of the kitchen long enough for her to do her work. Toi figured she had about a minute which would be more than enough.  She quickly brought up her phone and with a thumb flipped out a USB plug. This she inserted directly into Dillon’s laptop, her intention to download as much as she could before he-

The screen flashed red and the laptop computer shut down at the same time it emitted a loud and continuous beeping. Toi gasped and looked up to see Dillon standing in the doorway of the kitchen with his Jericho pointed at her.

“Damn. I really liked you, Toi. Take out your phone and close my computer.”

Toi immediately did as she was told. “Dillon, it’s not what
you think.”

“It never is.” Dillon moved into the kitchen. “Place both of
your hands palms down on the table. Do not take your hands off the table. I will not give you another warning.”

Toi put her hands palms down on the kitchen table. “My people have a file on you. I believe what you say.”

Dillon moved in close enough just to pick up the laptop and transfer it to the countertop behind him. Toi’s phone joined it.

“Dillon, if you’ll just give me two minutes-“

“No talking.” Dillon picked up his cell phone which was also on the countertop and pressed the speed dial. The number rang two times and then a warm, rich voice that would have given Barry White in his prime a run for his money said; “Hyatt residence.”

“Wyatt, its Dillon.”

“Hey!  What’s shaking, baby? Who’s trying to kill you today?” Wyatt Hyatt’s infectious laugh boomed in Dillon’s ear. Wyatt Hyatt looked more like a NFL defensive lineman than the technological genius he was. Behind his round baby face, neatly trimmed beard and square glasses was a brain that commanded six figure consulting fees. When he decided to work, that is.  And thanks to his numerous patents in the fields of quantum computing theory and computer neuroscience he didn’t have to very often. He provided Dillon with much of his technical backup. And when things really got boring for him he joined Dillon out in the field.

“Need a favor, Wyatt. I’m holding a gun on this chick. I need her ID’ed quick fast.”

“What’d she do? Don’t tell me she was less than dazzled by the legendary Dillon charm.”

“She tried to download information from my laptop onto a flash drive.”

Wyatt laughed again. As well he should. He had built that laptop for Dillon himself and he would have staked his right arm on it being unhackable by any means. “She probably just wanted to scope out your email and see how many other chicks you got hanging on a string.”

“Maybe so. But I’d like to be sure, okay?”

            “I hear you, baby. Point your phone at her and gimme a picture.”

Dillon did as Wyatt asked, taking Toi’s picture and immediately forwarding it to Wyatt’s location which was his lavish combination home/office/workshop in Milledgeville, Georgia.

“It’ll take a minute or so. When you going to swing by Georgia and hang out?”

“I was planning on stopping by in another couple of weeks to see you.  I’m in Daytona Beach right now.”

“I’m hurt. You went clean through Georgia and didn’t stop to holla at your boy? “Wyatt tsked-tsked. “You wasn’t raised right a’tall…okay…your intel is coming through. The young lady’s name is Toi Lahayne. Impressive resume she got here.”

“Give me the highlights and forward the rest.”

“After serving with distinction two tours of duty in the United States Army, your Miss Lahayne was recruited, trained and worked for Blackspear Consultants for ten years as an executive contractor.”

“Who does she work for now?”

“Doesn’t say. She left Blackspear two years ago. Nothing I’ve got here says she’s been working for anybody since then. Maybe she’s gone freelance.”

“Maybe, but I don’t buy it. Keep digging and anything else you think I need to know, you call me, hear?”

“I can be down there in a couple of hours, Dillon. You may need somebody to watch your back.”

“You’re more useful to me right where you are, Wyatt. Besides, I don’t even know what this is about and I rather not have you getting mixed up in it just yet until I do.”

“Okay. But if I don’t hear from you I’m rounding up the gang and we’re coming to get you. You feel me?”

“Call you back in an hour. That’s a promise. Thanks, Wyatt.” Dillon closed up his phone and made himself comfortable. “So your name actually is Toi Lahayne. Believe it or not, I’m glad. I’d hate to think you’d made up a sweet name like that just to impress me.”

“If you’d just let me make one phone call-“

“To who? Somebody at Blackspear? What could one of the world’s top private military corporations want with me? I’ve never had dealings with Blackspear before.”

“I don’t work for Blackspear anymore.”

“They fire you?”

“I left on good terms with them. One phone call and I get my old job back if I want it.” Toi was beginning to get angry. “Look, you’re supposed to be a smart guy. Doesn’t it seem funny to a smart guy like you that if I was here to kill you I didn’t do it while you were sleeping after we-“

            “That’s the only reason your brains are still inside that cute head of yours.” Dillon’s voice softened slightly. “I’d really like to believe you’re on the level. But the circumstances of the life I’ve chosen sometimes force me to act in a manner less than gentlemanly.”

“Just one phone call. You’ve got my word. One phone call and this can all be explained.”

            “We’ll use my phone. What’s the number?”

Toi gave it to him and Dillon tapped it in.  He turned on the speakerphone mode and placed the phone on the table between them. It rang three times and then a cultured English voice said; “Herman Jeffries. How may I help you?”

Dillon indicated with a head motion that Toi should answer. “It’s Toi, Herman.”

“Toi! Nice to hear from you, my darling! Where are you calling from? I don’t recognize this number.”

“I’m in a bit of a mess here, Herman. I’m calling you on Dillon’s phone.”

“Oh, my. That does sound serious. I take it the gentleman is in the room with you?”

“About five feet away with a gun pointed at my head.”

“I see. Mr. Dillon, my name is Herman Jeffries and I hope we can come to some arraignment that will not result in unpleasantness.”

 “That depends on why you sicced your girl here on me, Mr. Jeffries. Far as I know we’ve never met.”

“No, we haven’t, sir. But we have mutual interests. I’m a member of an organization called The Braithwaite Group and we’ve got some information concerning Xonira that is quite disturbing. Part of our investigation necessitated trying to ascertain if you have had any recent contact with anyone in Xonira.”

“How disturbing?”

“I’d rather not go into it over the phone, sir.”

“Mr. Jeffries, I assure you that my phone is secure. I suggest you tell me what this is all about and do it now.”

“I will not. I’ve stated my position and I don’t intend to change it. Now, I propose that you bring Toi with you to our offices here in Daytona Beach and we’ll have a bite to eat and discuss this matter like civilized people.”

“Why can’t you come here?”

Jeffries sighed theatrically. “It would be easier to convince you of my goodwill here. What if I gave you my word that there will be no trickery involved?”

“There better not be. Okay, Mr. Jeffries. I’ll come.”

“Excellent.  Shall we say in two hours, then?”

            “I can hardly wait.”  Dillon broke the connection and uncocked the gun.  “Okay, go ahead, get showered and dressed. Then you can take me to your boss and I can find out what all this is about.”

“Look, Dillon…what happened earlier…that wasn’t just part of the job.”

“Whatever. It hardly matters. You had a job to do and I respect that. I don’t have to respect the way you did it. Now go get dressed. And don’t feel you have to make conversation while you’re doing it.”


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Casting Call #16: Ompuri Winwood

Ompuri Winwood has the official title of Operations Chief in Lord Chancellor C'jai's service. As he explains to Dillon in DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL it covers a lot of territory as he is Lord C'jai's closest adviser and confidant as well as managing C'jai's day-to-day schedule and being in charge of his security. The position is hereditary as Winwood's family has served Lord C'jai's family for seven generations.

So who do I see as Ompuri Winwood? This rather popular chap:

Why Sam Neill? I really don't know. When I start writing these things I very rarely start off with an actor in mind as a template for a character's appearance or mannerisms. It was only after I finished writing the second draft that I started hearing Mr. Neill's voice coming out of Winwood's mouth and visualizing him as the character when I wrote the third draft. So there you are. Go figure.