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Silver Bullet -- Distant Thunder

Since we're a month or so out from Silver Bullet, I thought I'd share a piece of it that I love particularly, and that might be particularly interesting to Numinous World readers who are wondering if the Order of the Air and the Numinous World overlap.

In which Mitch is doing some detective work, and hears a distant thunder....



The diner was busy, every table pretty much full, tin plated ceiling and walls decorated with pictures of airplanes. Right in front of the door was Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis. They'd stopped here on their tour after they'd flown the Atlantic, had their pictures taken on the field with all the local worthies. Yeah, Salt Lake was somewhere if Lindbergh came here! But that wasn't it, not today. Mitch looked around. There were a couple of stools at the counter, but the line pulled to his left instead, toward the booths….

"Hey Mitch!" A guy raised his hand in greeting. "How's it shaking?"

Yep. Right there. Mitch grinned and threaded his way among the tables to the booth. "Hey, Danny. It's going pretty good. You?"

"Pretty good. Hey, come on and take a load off. I just got here." Danny Carpenter flew for Western and he was based out of Los Angeles, flying the Salt Lake route a few times a month. Bingo, Mitch thought.

"Sure," Mitch said, sliding into the opposite seat and taking his jacket off. "If you don't mind."

"I just ordered," Danny said. "My grub hasn't come yet."

And there was the waitress looking harried. The diner was doing a good business. "Take your order?"

"Coca-Cola, please," Mitch said. "And if you've got it today, one of those good meatloaf sandwiches."

"We got it." She didn't look up from her pad. "Sides are on the board over there."

Mitch craned his neck. "Ok, mac and cheese and green beans."

"Coming up." She retreated, pad in hand, sensible shoes scuffing on the linoleum under a fairly fine pair of legs.

"So how's Colorado?" Danny asked.

"Pretty good," Mitch said. "We've had a crash last week. Nobody killed, thank God, but it was a bad one."

"That was Comanche, right?"

"Yeah. Paul Rayburn. He's a good guy."

"Yeah," Danny said. He shook his head. "Glad nobody was killed."

"Me too," Mitch said. There was a folded newspaper lying by Danny's knife and fork and his eyes kept coming back to it. "What're you reading?"

"Oh." Danny handed it over. "I figured I was having lunch by myself so I was gonna read the paper."

Mitch unfolded it. Not the LA paper, nor the Deseret from Salt Lake either, but some sort of monthly or weekly with a big banner with stars on either side -- Liberation and in smaller print beneath it, William Dudley Pelley, editor -- Vigilance is the Best Security. "I never saw this one before," Mitch said casually, though his heart jumped in his chest.

"Really?" Danny looked up as the waitress came back with their food. "Thank you, miss. He's got some good, sensible things to say. You know, we vets get the short end of the stick, and it don't seem right. Fat cats in New York, bankers and so on, they keep on getting richer. Now I ask you, if the banks are failing, how can the bankers be getting richer? That don't make sense. Any other guy, his business fails and he's out of luck. These guys just keep pulling it in. I think this guy's got a point -- there's something going on that we don't know about. Somebody's in cahoots."

"Maybe so," Mitch said. He scanned over the articles on the first page. Are Illegal Immigrants Taking Our Jobs? Why Roosevelt Owes the Jews. Homeless Vets Lack Medical Care.

"Like that one," Danny said, pointing to the last article. "A man loses an arm or a leg in the service, and once he's discharged Uncle Sam doesn't care! Lots of guys have complications further on, or they need help or a home or something, and they're just screwed. Don't you have a friend like that? Ballard was his name maybe?"

"Jerry Ballard," Mitch said, opening the pages up. "He had a real bad wound in the leg. They had to take it off a year after the war, so he'd been discharged and it wasn't the Army's problem. Wound up in a pauper's ward in Chicago. A good friend and his wife took him home and nursed him. Jerry's a good guy."

"Doing ok now?" Danny asked.

"Yeah, doing ok," Mitch said. "He's got work, and that's a good thing."

"But not everybody's got friends who'll do that," Danny said. "The government ought to do something. And there'd be plenty of money for it if they soaked these fat cat Jewish bankers. Real Americans got to stick together."

"Yeah," Mitch said absently. Page two articles. How Nostradamus Predicted the Great Depression. Why Silver? And then a word in that article caught his eye.

'…some many among the number of veterans have asked, why silver? Why is this color a sacred symbol for us? From ancient times the color silver has denoted the most honorable veterans. Under Alexander the Great those men whose years of service had surpassed twenty years and whose impeccable records spoke of their everlasting honor and fame were designated the Silver Shields. These veterans, oath bound beyond life and death, formed the core of his army -- that peerless army that conquered the world! Their oaths, to death and beyond, were sacred, hallowed by their blood shed in service to their king. Therefore we revere the color silver above all as symbol of our fraternity.'

"Mitch?"

"Sorry." Mitch blinked. "What did you say, Danny? I can't read and think at the same time."

"I said the waitress is trying to put down your sandwich," Danny said.

"Oh." Mitch closed the paper. The woman was hovering with his plate, an annoyed expression on her face. "Beg pardon, miss." He folded it up beside the ketchup bottle. "Would you mind if I kept this paper? It looks real interesting."

"Sure," Danny said easily. "It's got some good stuff. I dunno if I'd go as far as some of the guys in the Legion, but this Pelley guy has some points."

Mitch frowned. The prickle at the back of his neck was back again. He picked up the ketchup bottle and soaked his meatloaf. "Pelley's in the Legion?"

"Oh yeah. He's got a bunch of guys in some kind of auxiliary to the American Legion, some kind of offshoot club. They're kind of hardcore. I don't have time for all that stuff, not with three kids."

"Through the Legion?"

"Where else do you find vets?" Danny shrugged. "It's real political. Me, I'm all for the stuff about making the government pay for healthcare for vets and there ought to be a Bonus, but I can't get on board with wanting to expel the Legion posts that have Latins. You know, I'm from California. Most of our posts have guys who speak Spanish and English both. They ought to be in the Legion if they want to be."

"Yeah, I think that too," Mitch said. But he'd bet ten bucks that Henry's post in Hollywood didn't have Latins, just a bunch of guys with money to spend on things like this. He frowned at the next column, reading the opening aloud. "Nostradamus predicted that the next great crisis in world affairs will begin in 1939. Are you ready?" He looked at Danny. "Is this guy for real?"

Danny shrugged. "Some people believe in that occult stuff."

"No accounting," Mitch said. He picked up his sandwich. "How many guys do you think he has?"

"No more than a couple of thousand."

Mitch nearly choked. "A couple of thousand?" he said when he'd chewed enough to speak.

"Spread through all the posts and his newspaper? Yeah. Though I get the impression most are in the Midwest. That's where the Marshals are."

"The what?"

Danny shrugged again. "He calls them the Marshals. The highest ranking officers in the group, the inner circle." Danny took a bite of his sandwich. "The ones who take the occult stuff seriously."

It was all Mitch could do to keep his voice casual. "That's pretty strange."

"Yeah, you know." Danny grinned. "But doesn't every little kid dream of aspiring to the Siege Perilous? A seat at the Round Table? It's like a lot of clubs. Fancy titles, costumes, Knight of This, That, or the Other. Hell, Los Angeles is full of them!"

"Yeah." Mitch made himself grin. "Fellowship of the Silly Hats!"

Danny took another bite. "Only he calls his guys the Silver Shirts. Makes you think they're wrapped up in tinfoil. My son Howie, he had a shirt made out of tinfoil for this play he was in at school. He was supposed to be the Knight of Good Hygiene. He had a giant toothbrush for a lance."

"A giant toothbrush?"

"It was a real treat, let me tell you! And both my girls want to be tap dancing movie stars! You would not believe the bad tap programs I sit through applauding like a maniac!" He shook his head fondly. "You ought to have kids, Mitch. There's nothing like it."

"I expect not," Mitch said.

"So tell me about this Comanche crash. Was it weather? I don't know Rayburn but he's got a good reputation."

"Nah, it wasn't Rayburn's fault," Mitch said. "Freak instrument failure. He was flying into Denver from Flagstaff…."


I'd love to hear what you think!

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
marag
Jan. 6th, 2014 08:02 pm (UTC)
I'm SO EXCITED for this book. Should I be able to pre-order it on Amazon? That would make my life easier :)
jo_graham
Jan. 6th, 2014 08:48 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you're excited! No, the preorder isn't up yet. We don't know the date for sure because my publisher is trying to work out a promotion with Barnes & Noble, and if we get it the date will be scheduled to fit their convenience.
angelsallfire
Jan. 6th, 2014 09:03 pm (UTC)
MITCH MY BOYFRIEND :D
Lovely teaser, thank you for that...was it really freak instrument failure?
jo_graham
Jan. 6th, 2014 09:07 pm (UTC)
Mitch is pretty smooth at getting info, isn't he? :)

Er, no. Of course it wasn't! And therein lies the plot!
angelsallfire
Jan. 6th, 2014 09:27 pm (UTC)
Smooth like buttah, baby.
I am wondering, and if you don't want to answer this it's fine, but: is Stasi planning on sticking around? I think she's invested herself already, but I think she's used to being a wanderer, too.
jo_graham
Jan. 7th, 2014 12:19 am (UTC)
That's Stasi's big question in Silver Bullet. Will she stick around or go her own way? And part of that depends on Mitch. There are definitely some sparks there, but also some good reasons why it can't work.
azarias
Jan. 6th, 2014 11:41 pm (UTC)
Well that's good and chilling. Yes, veterans should have health care and should be looked after even once the fighting's done! Absolutely it's strange that bankers continue to profit even as the economy shakes itself apart! And then those Jew-- wait a sec.

That's how it starts. With good ideas.
jo_graham
Jan. 7th, 2014 12:22 am (UTC)
Yeah. Because Danny's not a bad guy. And some of the things he wants are good, but.... We're back to the question of the end and the means.

I'm glad it's chilling. This is a hard bit of writing, to put the reader in the shoes that someone in 1932 would have been in, without the hindsight of knowing what will happen.
angelsallfire
Jan. 10th, 2014 01:08 pm (UTC)
So, why did you pick planes? Why aren't they race car drivers, or the crew of a freighter? Just curious.
Not that I can really picture them doing anything else at this point... ;D
jo_graham
Jan. 10th, 2014 10:47 pm (UTC)
I just put up a full answer for you!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )