Authors: John Farris
By John Farris
Digital Edition published by Crossroad Press
Copyright 2012 /
Copy-edited by: Kurt M. Criscione
Cover Design By: David Dodd
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John Lee Farris (born 1936) is an American writer, known largely for his work in the southern Gothic genre. He was born 1936 in Jefferson City, Missouri, to parents John Linder Farris (1909â1982) and Eleanor Carter Farris (1905â1984). Raised in Tennessee, he graduated from Central High School in Memphis and attended Southwestern College (now Rhodes College) in Memphis. His first wife, Kathleen, was the mother of Julie Marie, John, and Jeff Farris; his second wife, Mary Ann Pasante, was the mother of Peter John ("P.J.") Farris.
Apart from his vast body of fiction, his work on motion picture screenplays includes adaptations of his own books (i.e., The Fury), original scripts, and adaptations of the works of others (such as Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man). He wrote and directed the film Dear Dead Delilah in 1973. He has had several plays produced off-Broadway, and also paints and writes poetry. At various times he has made his home in New York, southern California and Puerto Rico; he now lives near Atlanta, Georgia.
John Farris books
currently available or coming soon from Crossroad Press:
All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By
Son of the Endless Night
Soon She Will Be Gone
The Axeman Cometh
The Fury and the Power
The Fury and the Terror
The Ransome Women
Unearthly (formerly titled The Unwanted)
When Michael Calls
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For Stephen and Tabitha King, Stalwarts
THESE ARE THE DAYS OF MIRACLES AND WONDER AND DON'T CRY, BABY, DON'T CRY
-PAUL SIMON, "THE BOY IN THE BUBBLE"
MAUI, HAWAII â¢ MAY 28
he four MH-60K helicopters from MORG's Elite Force left Hickam Field 1 at one A.M. and proceeded southeast at two thousand feet, past the beach-front dazzle of postcard Waikiki. A few kliks beyond the famous headland they were at maximum cruising speed of 167 mph, making good use of a fifteen-knot tailwind. The moon was two days from the full in a clear night sky. From a higher perspective, observed against the crinkly sheen of the ocean below them, the fleet of warships resembled black wasps with razor-sharp halos.
The woman code-named Zephyr, in the lead chopper, passed the time before acquisition of their target by socializing with Portia Darkfeather, the team leader, and Zephyr's occasional lover.
"It's the lemons, babe," Zephyr said. "The peel, and the zest, that make potted veal something out of the ordinary. We didn't have much else when I was a kid, but we had Meyer lemons growing in our backyard. Have you tasted a Meyer lemon?"
Darkfeather put her six-month-old cat, a Persian named Warhol, on her left shoulder. In the low light of the flight deck Warhol fixed Zephyr in the cross hairs of his gaze. Eyes like those of an idol with a jinxed history.
"Don't think I have," Darkfeather said.
"Meyers are more like a blend of an ordinary lemon with a mandarin orange. They came to California by way of China. Four times the sugar of a regular lemon and the aroma is divine. My mom never used any other variety with her potted veal. Pops would bring home some prime veal from the butcher shop when he was sober enough to hold a job. Another of Mom's secrets was rice wine with the veal stock."
Darkfeather said, "I never tasted veal. While my mama was alive we had chicken couple times a week. Simmered in Mexican beer, you know, to tenderize it. And Mama would baste the chicken with chipotle peppers pureed in adobo sauce. Talk about good eating."
Molokai was on the horizon. The helicopters continued southeast, along the Kalohi Channel, the sparse lights of the small island of Lanai appearing on their right.
"Did you ever surf the Pipeline or Jaws?" Zephyr asked Darkfeather. She was a child of the surfin' sixties herself, a runaway beach bum at age fourteen. All of which had never been a part of her official biography, although the tabloids had feasted on such tidbits of her past for many years.
"Not me. My brother did Jaws once. Sixty-footers. But you got to know when your nerve is writing checks your talent can't cash."
"Oh, baby," Zephyr agreed. And put an end to the small talk. Darkfeather fed Warhol a snack from a Ziploc bag.
"Eight minutes to target," the Flight Leader said.
The wind had shifted, coming out of the northwest now, and the ride was getting bumpier. Zephyr looked ahead to the airport beacon at Kapalui and the cluster of resorts around Kaanapali on Maui's west coast. Beyond Kaanapali the west Maui mountains were clearly visible. A seldom visited, by tourists, part of the island. Up to four hundred inches of rain a year made the craters, forested gorges, and marshes difficult to penetrate. Only a few bad roads dwindled into the interior from the shore side towns. The mountains were an ideal place to hide out, if you wanted to get really lost. The lights of Lahaina were coming into view, which raised Zephyr's pulse count in anticipation. She'd been disappointed before, after numerous sightings, stalkings, and forfeitures. But this time she was damned sure they had her, had the Avatar.
Zephyr was outfitted, like the others seated behind her, in special ops gear. She liked being with the military types. The resourceful, the mission- ready. Their terse jargon, the acronyms as sharp and jagged as combat knives. Unlike Portia's Praetorians, she wasn't carrying a weapon. The Mamba Team helos were well armed, the usual impressive stuff like chain guns and rocket pods, but they weren't there for a turkey shoot. Zephyr had allowed that flash-bangs might be necessary. As were the dogs, three big German shepherds in another helicopter.
Portia Darkfeather was on the Mamba Team frequency.
"Designated Hitter, this is Mamba Leader. We are in the gut. ETA four minutes and thirty seconds. How do you read? Over."
"You are loud and clear, Mamba Leader. All is calm, and all is bright."
"We have Zephyr aboard tonight," Darkfeather said. "Let us all be worthy of her admiration."
"Roger that, Mamba Leader."
The helicopters had begun to descend from two thousand feet, a six-degree slope that Zephyr felt in the pit of her stomach.
"Heading zero-niner-zero," the flight leader said. "Systems check, gentlemen."
The other pilots acknowledged him.
"We're go here."
"Full green. Go."
Thereafter the radio was silent as the sea loomed closer and they flew across the foaming wake of a lash ship steaming low and westbound in the Auau Channel.
Portia Darkfeather turned in the right-hand seat, passing binoculars back to Zephyr. The flight leader switched on the outboard searchlight. They were now skimming the sea at an altitude of a hundred feet, the two rotors of each helicopter in the formation blowing the crests off the heavy waves forming over the reef. Zephyr looked to starboard, focusing the glasses as the stealth choppers made landfall.
They crossed the shore road of Lahaina, rising abruptly to follow the contours of the land. They were in computer-assisted flight mode, and Zephyr's seat harness tightened uncomfortably. It was becoming more of a thrill ride than she had anticipated. Fortunately she'd only nibbled a little food at the luau in her honor at the Governor's mansion.
Zephyr blinked to clear her vision as they dove into a valley shaped like a seahorse, with its narrow head at the base of Puu Kukui. The seahorse was divided by the silver seam of a shallow river, descending in stair-step falls from the mountains ahead of them.