Well, this week has been proclaimed Mystery and Thriller Week by our good friends over at Goodreads, and since ‘Alexandria Rising’ falls into both of those categories, I am going to participate by offering extended appendices on characters in Alexandria Rising, reveals on philology and symbology and, perhaps most exciting, clues and teasers on the sequel, ‘Alexandria Reborn.’ That said, here is a scene with one of my new characters Winston Radley. When Rand meets him, he is described as having a Texas accent and, “Beneath a pair of dark brown, almost black, eyes greeted him, embedded into a creased face, etched by sun and wind and something else. Dots of unshaven white whiskers covered the chin. Rand estimated the man to be in his late 60s.”
Here is one of my favorite scenes between the two right after they meet:
“What the hell was that son? We were on a coded call! Then Hope? You said Hope? Who the hell is Hope?”
“Sorry,” Rand said. “She was, er, is the only one I know. The only person I can trust anymore. I…I…Well, you can’t imagine what we’ve been through together.”
“I can imagine a lot more than you can, son. And I’ve been through it all,” Winston stood blowing out his breath, running his hand through his hair again, standing and reaching for the bottle on top of the bookshelf.
“You know the headquarters in Austria?” Rand blurted out.
Winston froze in motion. Turned slowly. Arm dropping back to his side. Eyed Rand.
“What do you know about the headquarters in Austria, son?”
“Yeah, I know about them or what was them. I – we- destroyed it. It’s gone. Nothing but a crater in the ground.”
He looked at Rand in shock. Then almost quizzically. Reached back to grab the bottle, pulled it down along with two dusty glasses. Poured a finger’s worth of whisky into each one. Slid a glass over to Rand.
“All right now, son. You’ve heard enough of my story. Tell me yours. I have a feeling I might need this,” he lifted this glass in a silent toast.
“I don’t drink liquor.”
“No problem, chief” he said as he grabbed Rand’s glass, tilted it back and consumed it in a single swallow. “Ah, just the stuff. Now, get started.”
“Here’s the Cliff Notes version. My grandfather left me a map to destroy. I got chased. I got kidnapped. I was taken to The Castle. They found some of the meridian through the map, then – ”
“Slow down. Slow down, Slow down. Damn son.” Winston lifted a hand to his temple, closed his eyes. “Okay, start over. Your grandfather? What was his name?”
“Come on. I’m all you got to trust right now. Are you just going to sit there like a stubborn mule all night. If not, where are you going to go? Shit, I’ve got a couple of guns down here. You want them as insurance? How about my pocketknife? Maybe some solemn oath I could swear for you. Would that make you feel better talking to me,” the man gave a chuckle. “I’m too old for this. Kidnapped? Chased? Austria? Just start over. Slowly. Who was your grandfather?”
The man sat there staring at Rand. His eyes slowly moving over his face. Studying him. Trying to peer into him, Rand thought, wanting to see if he was true. If his words were real.
“I’ll be damned,” a low whisper escaped from the man’s throat
“Did you know him?” Rand asked, breaking the silence.
The man dropped his head, stared at the table. Twisted his lips in a look of resolve. Locked his eyes on Rand.
“So you’d be Andrew and Madeline’s boy?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Son of a bitch. Small world.”
“What do you mean, by that?”
“Looks like we have a lot of talking to do. How about this? We need to get out here in about half an hour to make it on time. Help me pack. Load up and then we can play catch up on the way. Work for you?”