The following excerpt incorporates a bit of real life via my experiences in speaking out against 9/11 conspiracy theorists on prominent sites like Parcbench. As with my first effort, the entire novel is based on real-life experiences; however, unlike Water Signs most of which was based on my own personal reality, Sea To Shining Sea weaves true-to-life public events into the fabric of its fictional characters (who are based on real people).
Thus in this scene, Ken and Madeline confront an angry mob of “truthers”, anarchists and cult-like followers of fictional congressman Nathaniel Ulysses Trent (I’ll leave it to my politically astute readers to figure out the real-life inspiration behind that character). 😉
The insults hurled at Ken, including “stooge of the New World Order”, “communist, fascist pig”, and “corporate shill” are the same ones I’ve received as a result of questioning and criticizing the foreign policy, isolationism and blatant courtship of 9/11 truthers attributable to one very well-known, 20-year incumbent congressman who champions himself “The Defender of the Constitution” (recognize him yet, dear readers?).
One note to fellow authors and writers: because the events described in Sea To Shining Sea are mostly from public life, as opposed to personal life, it became necessary to make them personal for my characters. Thus, we learn that part of Ken’s passion and outrage expressed against the truther crowd stems from the fact that he’s lost a few Navy buddies in the USS Cole attack. With respect to the FISA Act (with which I’ve taken some creative liberties in order to make a serious point), the US Congress’ failure to renew it leads directly to the implosion of Ken’s telecomm deal, and the loss of his livelihood — an event that will prompt him to run for Congress as the conservative, grass-roots upstart (a la many of today’s candidates including Ed Lynch, Allen West, Corey Poitier and Bernard Sansaricq, to name a few from Florida). On the way, he’ll encounter much resistance from the GOP good ‘ol boys, who will throw all of their money and support behind their chosen RINO, Bennett Whitehorn.
In other ways, however, Sea To Shining Sea is a hybrid of the personal and public: like Madeline, I too lost a cousin in The World Trade Center on September 11. Like Madeline, I also have a dear older brother with Down’s syndrome, and like Madeline, I have a tremendous amount of respect for a certain former governor for choosing life when tests determined she’d be giving birth to a baby with an extra chromosome. She’s also been immortalized in my book in the character of Anna Hardin. And I’m pretty sure y’all know who I’m talkin’ about, if I may paraphrase Hillary Clinton! If you don’t, you must’ve been hiding out on a deserted island for the past 1 1/2 years, with no access to internet, talk radio or television. 🙂
Seriously, my goal with this latest effort is to uphold American principles, values and traditions within the context of an entertaining, continuing love story.
As always, I look forward to your feedback and thank you for taking the time to read my posts!
The North Shore Mountains stood resplendent and proud in the distance beneath the orange glow of the Vancouver sun as Ken and Maddy stepped out of the limo and onto the Marina. As a chill breeze enveloped them, he slipped an arm tightly around his wife, who was at once relieved she’d had the presence of mind to put on a lined raincoat before they left the Penthouse. May in Vancouver bore no resemblance to May in South Florida, which typically heralded the return of intense heat and humidity. But in spite of the slight discomfort of an unseasonably cool – even by Vancouver standards – evening, the couple looked forward to a few hours’ respite from all things corporate and political.
Alas, as they approached the impressive line of fellow fun-seekers, they quickly discovered that a few carefree hours aboard a touristy dinner cruise would not be devoid of at least some conflict.
“What’s all that commotion?” Maddy asked, noticing a rowdy group of at least 50 protesters standing off to the side, waving signs and yelling.
“Not sure,” Ken replied, protectively tightening his arm around her as they neared the scene. Upon realizing that the assembly of mostly unkempt, gothic-looking twenty-somethings – interspersed with a few elders who appeared to be veterans of Woodstock – were self-described anarchists, 9/11 “truthers” and anti-war activists, they let out a collective groan.
“Ugh, I thought these idiots were mostly concentrated in Austin, Hollywood and Seattle,” Maddy sighed angrily. “Where’s their hero, Congressman Nathaniel Ulysses Trent? Probably speaking to college kids somewhere in the States, calling for the CIA to be taken out. Or maybe he’s here visiting Vancouver on the taxpayer dime to further incite anti-American sentiment.”
Glancing at Kenny, she noted the palpable rage building within, evidenced by his crimson cheeks and stiff upper body. No doubt, gruesome images of the Cole bombing at the hands of barbaric terrorists – complete with the subsequent gaping hole in the ship’s hull and his friends’ violent, bloody deaths – were reverberating through his mind.
“Kenny! I know you’re mad; I am too,” she counseled in a firm, yet gentle tone. You know more than anyone how much I cannot stand these traitors. I’ve been deleting and blocking them like crazy lately on Facebook, but please don’t pick a fight with them. Just ignore them. Things are bad enough at work already; the last thing you need is to end up in the Vancouver papers as the American Executive who beat up a bunch of punks at the Harbour Cruises Marina,” she warned. “We both know who the media will sympathize with, and it sure as hell won’t be the ‘rich’ Americans from Boca Raton.”
He looked at her wordlessly for a moment before suddenly remembering the fragility of her emotional and physical state, and the news he’d yet to break to her. Surely he could summon the inner strength necessary to practice restraint, notwithstanding the fact that – in that very moment – he wanted nothing more than to teach the aging hippies and their lazy, brainwashed protégées a lesson they’d never forget.
“Don’t worry sweetheart, I’ve got it under control,” he assured her assertively as they took their place in line behind an attractive, smiling couple that reminded Maddy very much of her cousins Lyle and Daphne. Suddenly she felt a little homesick wondering what everyone was up to back in Pennsylvania. She leaned closer into Kenny’s chest as a cold shiver ran up and down her spine.
“Good,” she noted in a muffled voice. “Because I just want to spend some quality time with my husband and forget about all of the insanity for a little while.”
Madeline closed her eyes and tried to drown out the cacophony of angry epithets and hateful chants of “9/11 was an inside job!” even as the Vancouver police valiantly attempted to maintain order by enforcing a legally mandated distance between protesters and cruise ship patrons.
But in the very next instant, she nearly toppled to the ground in the domino effect caused by a violent, powerful wave of resistance on the part of the unruly mob. Ken had felt the repercussions first, instinctively holding her up while he fought to keep his balance. Enraged, he first inquired about Maddy’s state before sternly instructing her to move further away for the sake of her own safety. Then he returned his attention to surreal mob scene.
“Fucking punks! Damned cowards! How dare you show up here promoting your 9/11 conspiracy bullshit!” he bellowed, as an officer tried to restrain him.
“Sir, please – get back in line now!” the policeman barked at Ken.
“These Woodstock rejects who don’t know a damned thing about duty, honor or country nearly caused my pregnant wife to have an accident! Get them the hell out of here!” he ordered, undeterred by the uniform.
“Corporate shill! Stooge of the New World Order!” an obnoxious teenager taunted at Ken. “Your former president ought to be tried for war crimes!”
“You little son of a bitch; you have no idea what a useful moron you are do you? Do you know how quickly a Jihadist would chop off your ignorant little head?!” Ken shot back with fire in his eyes. By now, two police officers were restraining him, as the others fought to break up the demonstration.
“Sir, please, I am going to have to arrest you if you don’t get back in line! We’re handling this!”
Ken let out a bitter laugh. “Not very well, I’m afraid, officer. What the hell are these people doing here anyway?”
Before the cop could reply, the young anarchist cried out, “Even one of your own Congressmen knows 9/11 was an inside job. Nathaniel Trent is the only member of your government with guts to call it for what it is – just a bloody ploy to instigate two wars for oil and profit!”
“You stupid punk, you don’t know a damned thing, do you? If you did, you’d know that Nathaniel Ulysses Trent is a laughingstock among anyone with half a brain!”
“Nathaniel Trent knows Al-Qaeda is just CIA fantasy, created to take away individual liberty. But what would a fascist communist pig like you know about freedom anyway!”
“Lucky for you, you little dirtbag, it’s because of people like me that you have the right to spew your conspiracy garbage. I was serving my country long before your worthless ass took up space on this earth. You—”
“Sir, for the last time, either get back in line or I will have to arrest you!” the officer interrupted.
By now, Ken’s face was beet-red, his heart pounding furiously as visions of his Navy days flashed through his mind. Although he’d completed his duty several months before the Gulf War began in 1991, he’d still witnessed plenty of tragedy in the loss of several of his brothers during the course of service; had he remained, he could’ve easily been one of the lives lost in the USS Cole. Encountering spoiled, ungrateful and painfully ignorant fools like this nutjob conspiracy crew – the polar opposite of the dedicated, honorable and patriotic young men he’d known as a sailor – awakened a simmering anger within him. Memories of horrific events like the Cole bombing and the September 11 attacks were never far from his consciousness.
A few feet away, Maddy called out to her husband, sympathetic to his turmoil but fearful of its potential consequences. He vaguely heard her cries above all of the commotion, prompting him to abruptly release his arm from the policeman’s grasp and slowly make his way back to his worried wife. By then, the officers had succeeded in subduing the protesters, while the cruise ship finally began the boarding process.
Ken encircled Maddy in his arms and held her close to him for a moment, relishing her soothing words and reassurances that – although initially rattled – she was indeed ok.
“It’s gonna take a lot more than some Kool-Aid-drinking 9/11 truthers to get the better of me, teddy bear,” she joked. “And they’ve sure given me something to write about on my blog tomorrow – along with RINO Whitehorn and the hapless Florida Republican Party.”
Ken let out a chuckle, then reminded her of their deal to put all of their problems on hold for the night. Placing an arm about her waist, he lovingly escorted her to the waiting ship, as the fiery orange sun glistened on the water and decorated the Vancouver sky with streaks of dramatic, colorful splendor.