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CZECH POINT


CZECH POINT

The dominoes that set off a chain reaction in the everyday life of James Bergen continued to fall. A relentless determination to      rescue his life from spiralling into a pit of ambiguity and mediocrity had been unrewarded. Finding himself unemployed for the first time in his life and at the turning point of yet one more twisted romantic connection, he searched for an option.

The decision to take up an offer by long time friend Brett Rodgers of an ad hoc employment position led him down a whole new path of uninvited intrigue and adventure. Brett had tried to rescue James from his growing negative inner self but James found himself      trading places in protective mode to save Brett from his own naïve escapade to retrieve a fortune in buried Imperial gold.

 Caught in a labyrinth of people who were not who they seemed James found that answers for many of his questions about life came with even more questions. Within a journey that led from the     gangland streets of Sydney to a sultry killing field in the Philippines, James was forced to lament the loss of someone beautiful in his life, swept away by the violent acts that came with callous greed and perverse philosophies.  Manipulated by a ring of international arms dealers and extremists, the journey leads James to the cold cobbled streets of Eastern Europe. His fate and that of a woman he loved were clutched in the hands of unconscionable evil……

 All that glittered was not what it seemed.

In Store Price: $38.00 
Online Price:   $37.00



AMAZON

ISBN: 978-1-921919-14-5  Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 367
Genre:
  Fiction


Author: Daniel McKinnon
Imprint: Poseidon
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published:  2011
Language: English


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About the Author

First and foremost it is to be recognised that there is no implication that the people this book is dedicated to agree with any of the fictitious points of view, the contents or the genre of the story. They are simply the people the author has the highest of respect and admiration for.

The author was born in humble surroundings and into a god-fearing family. Without much in the way of career direction he spent a lifetime of endeavour in many different vocations to put bread on the table and pay the bills. Such employment necessitated the normal constraints of disciplined routine and conformity to the treadmill. An ever-present ache to express his more artistic tendencies was suppressed by a logical and responsible spirit and also by cultural expectations. The need to find self-expression and perhaps even find himself placed the author in the inevitable position of losing much of the life he’d already toiled for. He had battled nagging doubts about the philosophies that he himself had expounded and that he was no longer willing to live by in a hypocritical state. The losses included many financial securities and hard-fought-for material successes along with the loss of family and friends.

The process of being true to himself came with a very high and unexpected price tag. He had managed mild artistic success through expression with painting and other artworks in times past but his sudden disgorgement into a lost and lonely life left him almost impotent to find a track to run on. A love for writing and storytelling was augmented by the life experiences that this period of time brought to him.

Daniel also acknowledges that some strong views presented by his main character may seem to be rambling generalisations and somewhat politically incorrect. What alarmed Daniel was the growing number of unsolicited opinions of many others in his day-to-day life that supported some of the views expressed. He read the findings of various social analysts to discover that it wasn’t just isolated opinion. The existence of these feelings or points of view appeared to be, in fact, the effects of a subtle cultural revolution. Unless the observer had been plunged suddenly into the cooking pot, the gradualism of the slowly increased heat of change left many in denial. He noted that it didn’t stop with the relationship front. The ‘watering down’ of the Western world’s legal systems had left many feeling disillusioned, if not insecure. Politics had become a lacklustre matter to many and religion smelled of hypocrisy. That wonderful reputation of the hardworking, principled nature belonging to the true-blue Aussie seemed to be in danger of being compressed under the burdens of stagnant wages, high taxes, fees, over-regulation and non-contributing minorities. Drug addiction, laziness and violent, promiscuous behaviour were becoming the future reputation of the ‘lucky’ country. It appeared that much of it was either being sold to foreign investors or virtually being given away. Daniel couldn’t work out how it had all happened this way, let alone why.

In a decade of feeling lost and alone and with a string of insubstantial romantic disappointments behind him, he found himself in unfamiliar circumstances. The experiences and the characters that he met along this section of life’s road gave him the fuel to include them in another buried passion, to write. Whether the pains of those years would be worth it, has yet to be determined. However, the rich and bountiful material that enabled the stories to unfold would never have come without it. Other works to date include, Butterfly Kisses and The Curse of the Wings.

It is also to be acknowledged that the characters, places and experiences as expressed within the story are totally fictitious. The author, like many other writers, has used his own life experiences and acquaintances as props and character bases along the way to develop the story. However, this entire story is fictitious and has been created for entertainment purposes only. Enjoy the adventure, the romance and the lessons of the characters.

Preface

James Bergen was just keeping his fingernails dug deeply enough into the precipice of his daily life. Finding himself suddenly without gainful employment for the first time in his life and coupled with the cowardly and spiteful execution of his redundancy, James was spiralling back down the cliff that he had just tried to climb. His mind was confused, unsure of a direction despite the seemingly limited amount of choices on offer. James also wore the troubles of what he saw as a world on the countdown to self destruction upon his own shoulders. At the very same time, as if to test him even more, was his personal mystification attached to the details of one more fleeting romance that seemed to lack the integrity that he had so long desired. He questioned what love and a satisfying relationship were. As he wore these ramifications of a society changing out of control he searched for an answer to where he fitted in. His greatest virtue had been that he had a conscience about most things. That, no longer seemed relevant or useful.

Dying, amid mediocre circumstance, was an ever-plaguing nightmare. He so wanted his journey to have some kind of adventure attached to the drudgery of the universal treadmill. The saying went that one should be careful what one wished for. Life presented an opportunity to pay his daily bills attached to the skirts of a good friend’s unlikely and risky business enterprise. That venture would lead James through corridors that would test his physical, emotional, and personal convictions to the point of reality that well befitted the term ‘an epic adventure’. James could sit bogged in yet one more quagmire in the middle of life’s hectic highway or he could take the chance to see what was down an unknown sidetrack. The choice was his.

James Bergen had lived by his own motto of “wax up and paddle out”. Commitment to that motto had meant that if he was having difficulty taking the first step into a situation that his gut instinct indicated was right, he’d just dive in and swim. However, the emotional near-drowning of the previous decade had brought him around in full circle. In many ways, he felt he was back where he had started. So many times the current had been too strong, or was it that he was tired and not swimming hard enough? James was trying to rebuild his life but had doubts as to why. Good things, mystical answers turning into positive experiences appeared to be what happened to other people. He knew he was becoming a little embittered and longed for a little help to fight that. He just needed one genuine and lasting positive occurrence that might just get him back to who he had been.

He had no way of knowing, as he ate his simple breakfast of toast and coffee on what seemed like just another day the same as all the rest, that one simple decision was about to change his life in a dramatic way.

Chapter One

One More River to Cross (part sample)

 It was one-thirty in the morning, James lamented as he checked the time on his new watch. James had a thing for watches and this one he particularly loved for its heavy, stainless-steel chain strap. He’d bought it at a sports shop on a day off that he had spent with Pieta. The petite dark-haired Italian with smouldering dark eyes had filled the past weeks of his otherwise lonely life with laughter, sensuality and more home-cooked cuisine than he should have been indulging in. The tight fit of his denim jeans prompted thoughts of her amazing handmade sauces and pastas. Good food and abundant white wine were only accessories to the loving softness of the woman herself. Pieta’s almost angelic corporeality masked a harder, devil-may-care mindset. A mindset embittered by the tedious routine of yet one more loveless or unappreciated life. ‘How does someone come from years of physical and mental abuse and still have so much love to give?’ James queried in his wandering thoughts. The back-to-reality check was a ping that signalled the arrival of two slices of well-browned toast.

James raked the edge of the silver butter knife across the crisp, brown surface, covering it liberally with the smooth, creamy, cheese spread. That ever-welcome smell of freshly brewed coffee escaped from the rim of the plain white porcelain cup. After placing his less-than-glamorous midnight snack on the glass top of the outdoor table James lit the tip of the Peter Stuyvesant. Through the spiral of ascending smoke, James winced at the disgusting image of the health warning photo on the pack. The world had become a treasure trove to the ever-mounting masses of one-sided, closed-minded do-gooders, he reasoned. ‘Amazing,’ he thought. ‘Australia had earned the reputation of being one of the most obese nations in the world above the Yanks. More money was spent on obesity-related health problems in a year than was spent on smoking-related ones, yet are there pictures of mutilated organs on a cream donut pack? Are there ridiculously small segregated areas that fatties are relegated to, to stuff their faces with their fists full of chemically enhanced junk food? This world is screwed!’

James’ sleepless night, one of thousands during the past ten years, was fuelled by personal anxiety. For the first time in his life he found himself out of a paying job. The twelve-month business contract had been cut short at the six-month mark. It was true, of course, that along with many other people, James’ life was affected by what was being called ‘the greatest economic and employment crisis in recent history’. However, to accomplish James’ present demise, a goodly serve of backstabbing and personal attacks had been employed to justify the corporate callousness of the dismissal. This of course added a little vinegar to the situation. James always looked for the good in everyone and went out of his way to mentor and enhance the life of others. As was often the result though, it was the very people that James gave to, that attacked or took away from him. Why was that? It was just another of life’s unwelcome twists. He wasn’t about to change anytime soon, but he struggled daily with a growing aversion toward many things that he had always revered. He comforted himself a little in knowing that the karma theory does actually happen and what comes around does, in fact, go around. That bit of self-preserving philosophy didn’t actually change anything though in relation to his present personal situation. It had been a day of small and testing trials, but no different to any average day in the lives of most from time to time. In simple terms, James just had one more river to cross. For the first time in many years of being alone, he had shared his affections with a woman that had seemed to have the potential of being a mate to his soul.

Pieta’s life also was filled with her own personal trials and tribulations, despite many being of her own making. Being able to wake up in loving arms was an age-old panacea that was comforting them both. When the shit came down one more time on James’ life, she had responded by picking James up to spend some R and R time with her at her country lakeside hideaway. In recent years, James was not used to being treated so well by a woman. Nights of midnight walks, food, wine, music, lovemaking and shared affection distracting them from the work-a-day realities. It would have been so easy to just sit there in that warm bath of affection, but it was time to get up out of that tepid tub and face the task of disciplined routine. Pieta had finished her law degree and had to concentrate on her new job and James had to find one, and get his own house in order. The young woman had displayed a good heart to him, but part of her showering him with loving kindness was also about her own neediness seasoned with a little possessiveness. After weeks of being snuggled in nurturing arms, James made the much-needed decision to head back home to his partly-renovated bungalow to start the processes of reinventing himself for the hundredth time.

This first morning back at his home had been spent in preparation for a day chasing up things that just needed to be done. With the sudden loss of his job, many little things had to be addressed. He now needed a mobile phone, internet connection, printer cartridges and so on and so on, things that had been supplied as part of his employment contract. Finally, after doing what was needed in the way of research to locate such items, he locked the solid timber entrance door and headed to the garage. His employer, in true Gestapo fashion had taken back the mobile phone, car, laptop and other items within minutes and escorted him off the premises. James hadn’t seen it coming, so he was little or ill prepared for this phase. His seldom-used hobby, a shiny, British racing green 1967 Austin Healy Sprite had to now earn her keep. James was in positive spirits as he closed the solid half-sized door and savoured the heavy clunk. The lack of sound when he turned the ignition key, however, was not so welcome.

“God damn son of a bitch! Just when I need you!” James slammed the door and started looking for the battery charger amongst the uncharacteristic mess his garage presently displayed. ‘If I didn’t love that damn thing so much, I swear I’d kick its arse – the unreliable piece of misery,’ James brooded. The rest of re-invention day one went on in similar fashion as it often had before. Just life, he considered. Yet his present small trials burnt deeper than they should. This, because the buried disappointments of the past decade, were kicked out of hiding by each new situation, each just added to the mounting list. Thus it was that at one-thirty the next morning James found himself in sleepless mode, eating toast, drinking black coffee and smoking cigarettes on the small entertainment deck at the rear of the partly-renovated kitchen. The dull roar of the Pacific Ocean just a few kilometres away, gave a sense of momentary calm to the night. Then, finally, after one more session of empty contemplation, the black cloak of night yielded to the emerging small rays of light and the first outline of the swaying palms that lined the bungalow’s block, became apparent. The emerging dawn drew a light, cool breeze across the ageing deck.

James lamented the memory of a final scene in a movie he had recently watched. At the end of the movie, the main actor had been betrayed by the one he loved. The character’s life, along with his dreams and plans, had been smashed and broken. The main character stood staring into yet another emerging misty dawn. As the senior prosecutor descended the dusty concrete steps of the busy inner city police station, a colleague asked him why he was just walking away from everything. He turned, deep in thought, and looked the man in the eye. He then replied, “You know, there comes a time in your life when you finally realise that all those mystical and magical dreams and notions were just that. You have to accept that you’re not going to be famous and successful, or even special. You’re not going to be swept into the arms of one special soulmate that helps to complete your life and journey. You have to accept that it just ain’t gonna happen, it just ain’t. You have to accept that you are, in the end, just one more of the mass struggling to survive a life of mediocrity.” The main star of the film then turned and walked a slow gait along the city jungle footpath, as the scrolling credits signalled finality. Not the clichéd Hollywood ending. This scriptwriter had certainly stamped his thoughts on life into his viewers’ minds.

‘Shit, is that true? Do we waste the best part of our youthful lives lost in mental confusion, lost in a mental high of unrealistic, yet positive philosophies? The good stuff does happen to some but I guess they are but only few. If life is just a thought in the end, then without those imaginings, what are we? What the fuck is the point of it all? Surely the dream doesn’t even have to happen as such, but at least, surely a thought! Shouldn’t we make that thought, that cerebral tape, the mental video, an exciting thought at least? We shouldn’t let the inevitable intervention of others in our lives affect those dreams, we just shouldn’t. Why so fucking tedious?’

James could never figure out where or why he managed to somehow still find a thread of that positive mysticism. He couldn’t figure it out because no matter how hard he tried to get his life back on the pseudo-success tracks, it just derailed time after time. He had lost most of what he had worked for some years ago now and the bell curve continued to decline at the wrong time of life. Yet, some small spark within his mind still believed – in something. He had started to realise that even a adventure that ended negatively was in fact just that, an adventure – maybe the whole point lay within that fact. Life appeared to be either benign with material trappings or necessities to be admired or respected at one’s funeral or it could be a collective story of adventures, of real life happenings, of real people, a movie of the mind. A healthy blend of both would be nice.

A blue light flashed on James’ Nokia, the one Pieta had bought for him to continue contact with the world or more so, her. James raised one of his heavy and stinging eyelids a little higher to register a text from Brett Rodgers. The tall, swarthy-skinned and these days, somewhat bulky, businessman had been a friend of many years. Brett had been through similar times but had weathered the storm and came out on top. It wasn’t without sacrifice and basically balls, however. Brett had put his on the line many times and barely retrieved them. He was an amicable, friendly and mostly jovial man, a people’s person by all accounts, but also shrewd when it came to business deals. In fact, a dealer was more the description. James really didn’t know what Brett actually did but it involved an endless series of overseas trips and meetings. Brett would put one person, who was looking for something, in touch with another person who had it, including some personal expenses and a liberal cut of the exchange of course. Brett also had private deals of his own going on, including some very risky ones that as far as James could ascertain involved something to do with gold, pirates and mercenaries. That was about as much as James wanted to know.

Hey buddy, in the Philippines downing a long cold one. We’ll have to catch up when I get back.

James wasn’t sure if Brett thought of him a lot or just wanted someone to know that he was yet again freelancing around the planet. Often it would be a similar text but from Paris, London or somewhere like Milan. ‘Mmm ...maybe we should catch up for that beer. Brett might just have a suggestion or two as to what I might do next for my waning future.’ Brett definitely had something happening in the north that involved a flight to the Philippines and then a boat trip to god knows where. In fact he’d been playing around up there for years, though all very secretive of course. Brett’s oldest; his only son, had spent a lot of time up there too, where ever ‘there’ was, looking after his dad’s interests. James was of course curious, but had never really wanted to ask too many probing questions. He guessed that if a friend like Brett wanted to divulge any details of his escapades in that area he would have volunteered them by now.

There were some schemes of Brett’s that James had been exposed to in the past. They often involved a lump-sum investment with the promise of a possible extremely high rate of return, but with the disclaimer that all could be lost with no return on investment or the capital. The one shot James had taken ended in the later. Brett had an unconscionable approach to this. He figured that he was in effect dealing with the greed factor that lounges around the back blocks of most people’s hearts. For the privilege of using such a vehicle to entertain that greed, one had to take a risk. One thing James could say in all of this was that Brett, while being a bit of a master at whetting the appetite of that greed, always laid the possible consequences of the ‘greed feed’ on the table with the entrée. In Brett’s own case it was more a hunger for adventure than a consuming material voracity. James didn’t have the same knowledge base to enable him to do similar as he had led most of his life as a devoted family man and worker. However, he did identify with that inert desire for life to be an adventure of some kind.

‘Well, my old mate found an adventure, or several, for his life. Good on him.’ The upbeat ringtone on the Nokia rang out to break the pensive pattern yet again. It was Pieta.

“Hi lover, what’s going on? I mean you haven’t called me. You haven’t been to see me. I’m not a camel, James. I need some lovin’ here.”

“I know but hun, you have to be a little understanding at the moment. I’ve got a lot of shit to sort out and I’ve got to get myself on track again, or it can all turn to mush quite quickly without some positive effort on my behalf. I’ve got a lot on my mind.”

“What a load of fucking crap! I’m working six, sometimes seven days a week. I get up, run a few ks, go to work, come home, clean the house, do a work out, can still cook you a feast and screw you senseless all night. So what’s the real story?”

“Babe, that is the real story. Life’s been hard for you too, I know. But you’re basically on track now; I have to find an income quick. The Sprite is a toy, okay for running around to the corner shop but not dependable enough to do a highway run to see you in the middle of the night as you often suggest. I have to get some basic things set up again – internet, fix my printer, renovate my resume, and address some overdue paperwork. I need to find a more reliable car.

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