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Roland Hopkins II, Author of The Eyes of Death







                     Roland Hopkins II

Roland (Rolly) Hopkins is a successful newspaper publisher whose background (way back) included Lay preaching, and he came very close to becoming a fulltime minister. Instead, he spent five years as a radio disc jockey, successfully feeding and clothing a wife and three children. Fun, fun, fun. Much more fun than publishing a deadlined weekly newspaper. He also dabbled in professional horse racing, winning (as an owner) over 300 races and having a horse nominated for the Kentucky Derby (the dream of every owner, breeder and and trainer). More fun, fun, fun, but no profit. profit, profit. Rolly’s real passion was and is writing fiction, and this book is his latest attempt at new fun.

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New Title(s) from Roland Hopkins II

The Eyes of Death by Roland Hopkins II Altruism Costs a Life or More by Theodore Bogart Jesus Returns by Roland Hopkins, Denise Bartlett and Charlotte Holley
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The Eyes of Death by Roland Hopkins II
The twenty-nine year-round inhabitants of Fawn Island located off the coast of Cape Cod shrink to twenty-eight as a local handyman is found dead in mid-winter off season. Murdered? Maybe. But the area DA goes out of his way to keep the Cape Cod and island reputation as clean as possible, especially since it is the home of the famous Kennedy family. He hires a local reporter to interview all the remaining residents and prove that the death was an accident.

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Word Count: 100500
Pages to Print: 307
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The Eyes of Death by Roland Hopkins II ORDER The Eyes of Death PRINT BOOK TODAY! (ISBN #978-1-61950-279-6)
   
Altruism Costs a Life or More by Theodore Bogart

The 7 deadly sins count against you at death—does altruism change anything?

A man drowns saving a little girl from the same fate on a freezing wintry day. He returns to earth after his death for a big lesson. Will he be able to step into someone else's life and achieve redemption?

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Altruism Costs a Life or More by Roland Hopkins II Order Altruism Costs a Life—or More in PRINT (ISBN: 978-1-61950-301-4)
   
Jesus Returns by Roland Hopkins II, Denise Bartlett and Charlotte Holley


If Jesus came back at the same time Satan came to create the Antichrist, ordinary people would be called upon to help him out. The luck of the draw - Richard Blade, stand-up comic and private investigator, and his unlikely sidekick, April Love, a girl he literally picked up off the street - the chosen pair.

The two meet Jesus when Richard takes a job as bodyguard for Jesus. That is only the beginning of a mysterious jaunt which leads the reader on a thought-provoking journey into the surreal.

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Jesus Returns by Roland Hopkins II, Denise Bartlett and Charlotte Holley Order The Print Book of Jesus Returns Coming Soon!
(ISBN: 978-1-61950-314-4)
   
   
   
   
   

Excerpts
The Eyes of Death

                                                                   Prologue
                                             Flash Forward Mid-March, 2015


Until I experienced it, I couldn’t have imagined the sheer terror of being in pitch-black darkness, knowing that I had only so much air to breathe, and not daring to call out for fear of using up my final supply of oxygen. I shared a decaying wooden coffin with the rotting forty-year-old bones of a murdered woman—identity unknown. My pounding head needed at least a bottle of aspirin, and I could feel a bloody, wet bump on the back of my skull where someone had conked me with a shovel. I didn’t know how long I’d been out—maybe five or ten minutes. Maybe an hour.

My cheap crystal watch didn’t glow in the dark.

I stretched my cramped arms to explore the limits of my confinement, about twelve inches in front of me, and I recalled that the grave was quite shallow—maybe three feet deep. All my fear-fed, adrenaline-energized strength might have been able to push open the dilapidated coffin-cover, assuming that whoever covered me over hurried away before piling on too much heavy soil. Then again, if I failed, how much oxygen would that effort use up?

My fingers found a familiar shape. Cell phone to the rescue, I thought and sighed relief.

The top flipped open easily and I located the ON button. It sent a haze of light into my tomb. With numb fingers, I felt small coffin-cover cracks in the wood above my head.

Bad news: Dirt particles began to sift onto my face.

Good news: I could easily click on the contact I needed, my lovely newspaper associate Patty in Hyannis. I wasn’t really up to date with the techy world yet; only five names were speed-dialed into my cell phone.

Real bad news: The screen announced dimly, BATTERY LOW. My worst fear had been realized. Shame on me. I should have recharged it. I’m not ever that organized. One of my many faults.

I suppose there are worse fears, like being stuck in a crowded elevator on the fiftieth floor of the Prudential Tower, or being stalled in the middle of the George Washington Bridge when you hear the concrete cracking, or sitting on an airplane when the captain’s panicked voice says, “Fasten your seatbelts, we’re going down.” But this fear was certainly enough for me.

Stephen Hall, Hyannis newspaper reporter, had been buried alive.

By the way, I’m Stephen Hall.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                Chapter One
                                                                March, 2015


“It’s a waste of time, me going back to that little island,” Edgartown Police Captain George insisted. He was fat, close to 65, and less than a Rhodes Scholar. “No one knows nuthin’. You think you guys on the mainland had it bad; Fawn Island Winter weather was damned lousy—most snow in recorded history. No human being could’ve boated, or even flown to or from that place twenty-four hours either side of the guy’s death. That leaves us with those few who live there year-round.”

“How many?” the barely five-foot-tall DA asked.

Captain George counted on his fingers. “Not many more than these,” he said, throwing his open hand out a few times. “Twenty-nine natives to be exact. One dead. Over three hundred in the summer. Besides, no one’s even come forth to claim the body. What does that tell ya?” The police official lit up a filtered Chesterfield, the last one he ever planned to smoke—took a deep puff, and coughed.

Cape and Island’s District Attorney Patrick Neil frowned and said, “The coroner, Doctor O’Dell will consent to write a complete report only after you’ve consummated your job. Ever since he became a member of the AAFS, he’s been impossible to reason with.” Neil was lean, immaculately dressed, with flawless speech, and maybe five years younger than George.

“What the hell’s the AAFS?” Captain George asked. Smoke swirled around his full head of silver hair like a halo.
The DA winced at George’s ignorance. “The American Academy of Forensic Sciences is to medical examiners and coroners what the American Bar Association is to lawyers, or the American Medical Association is to physicians.”

George frowned. “So what?”

“So now he perceives himself as seriously important. He’s driven to perform his duties by the proverbial book. In the old days, he’d scribble his name and move on.”

George shrugged and snuffed out his cigarette. “I’m finally quittin’, by the way.”

“The force?”

“No. Smokin’.”

“Sure you are. You’ve been quitting ever since the day we met.”

The DA perused a few papers on his orderly desk, and then peered into desolate Wood’s Hole Harbor through his salt-water-stained picture window, where a few hardy lobster boats headed out for a late Winter daily catch. The sun had finally peeked through a few days before, but it was still snowing heavily every week. When it rained, everything froze. Miserable.

George fumbled in his pockets for another cigarette. “So that prick O’Dell says he’ll sign off on the Fawn Island death if and when I get a statement from all the inhabitants?”

“It sounds easy. The census says that only twenty-nine people live there year-round. Three of them are kids. That leaves—ahh, wait a minute while I do the math. Yup. That’s twenty-six, and one is dead, so that leaves twenty-five suspects, if it turns out to be a murder.”

“I had a hellava time gettin’ any of them to talk to me about the death. And I know most of them personally.”

Captain George dug a squashed cigarette out of his back pocket. “Most of Fawn Island’s inhabitants are simply odd. I mean, why the hell would anyone live like a hermit out there in the first place?”

The DA straightened his silk tie. “Possibly they migrated there to get away from people like you,” he said and chuckled.

“Screw you, too.”

DA O’Neil’s features remained impassive. He glanced over George’s head to the far pine-paneled wall carrying several framed pictures—a college graduate diploma from Yale, a law degree from Harvard Law School, and a photo of himself with the late Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy seated in a small sailboat, both smiling and holding cans of beer.

Neil waved a crooked finger at the police captain. “Don’t be a naive asshole all your life, George. I know that you need two more years ’til retirement with full pension. So, how would you like to retire tomorrow?”

George closed his mouth and dropped his chin onto his chest like a child who had just been scolded. “They just won’t talk to cops,” he muttered. “I tried, and they won’t talk to me. Some won’t even open the door when I knock. I really don’t blame them. Why the hell do you think they live there year round in the first place? They all want to get away from something or someone, and they don’t want any publicity. Does that make sense?”

“How about that reporter kid, Stephen Hall? He’s got charm—if nothing else. Amazing psychological factoid, but sometimes people spill their guts to reporters when they really should keep their stupid mouths shut. Hey, all he’s got to do is get each one of them to utter one sentence or two. Then the coroner will have to sign off. That’s all I need.”

George smiled. “I’m way ahead of you, boss, and Hall ain’t no kid anymore. He’s almost fifty, and I already approached him to take the job. I even offered to pay a few extra bucks out of my own pocket, if he’d help me with the interviews.”

“And what happened?”

“He told me to go fuck myself.”

“Why? Doesn’t he need the dough? Sounds easy enough to me. Had he been drinking?”

Captain George withheld a punch. He’d always been a tough cop, one who quite often got in trouble for punching first and asking questions later. The town loved him, and he always somehow avoided punishment. “He’s been around the block a few times and said I couldn’t pay him enough to investigate a murder. His life is too precious—risked already one more time than most people. I’m sure you know his Gulf War story. Do you blame him?”

“This isn’t a murder, and we don’t want anyone thinking so. No big deal. I remember his dad. An honest cop and a good guy. And I remember Stephen when he was a kid—a real good high school athlete, president of his class with a great future. What the hell did happen to him?”

“The poor kid signed up for a two year stint when there were no wars in sight,” Captain George said. “I even encouraged him to do it. Serve two years and you qualify for the GI Bill—lots of college tuition help. Who knew Saddam would invade little Kuwait for their oil? Who the fuck had ever even heard of Saddam? The kid got shot up pretty bad, but survived, came home, drank at lot, and failed at several jobs before being hired as a reporter for the local newspaper.”

“So maybe he’s our guy. It’ll make a good story for his newspaper.”

“I already told you that he refused. After getting his ass shot off in Kuwait, he’s shy of anything dangerous. And you have to admit that murder is dangerous.”

The DA scowled. “Every fucking human being has a price,” he said. “The fuckin’ Golden Rule. He who has the gold, rules. I have a special hidden bank account to cover things like this. How much do you think he’d take to do the job? ”

George blew a crooked smoke ring. “If he’d take anything, I’d guess two hundred a day for five days. My guess is that his base pay at the Hyannis Gazette is probably half that.”

“How about I offer a flat five grand? It’s worth it to me to clean this thing up real quiet. The Clintons still vacation at the Vineyard, and Obama visits every year. What do you think would happen if someone found out some bum got murdered on one of our perfect islands?”

George smiled. “I’m sure I can get Hall to go for that price. I’d kill my wife for that amount.”

“You aren’t married, George.”

“Figure of speech, sir. I’ll talk to Hall. Wars fuck a lot of people up, you know. But he seems to be getting better lately. We play tennis and racquetball every week to stay in shape. And he’s in a hellava lot better shape than me. He could pass for forty, and I know he’s almost fifty.”
Back to The Eyes of Death
Altruism Costs a Life—or More

Chapter One

FADE IN ON A SUNNY WINTER DAY—CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS—DOWN A BUSY HIGHWAY AIMING FOR A LARGE AUTO BRIDGE HEADED ACROSS THE CAPE COD CANAL INTO SANDWICH—THE FIRST CAPE TOWN SITTING NEXT TO THE ATLANTIC OCEAN ON THE LEFT, AND TO ALL NATIVES AND VISITORS PATTI PAGE IS SINGING HER FAMOUS FOREVER POPULAR VERSION OF OLD CAPE COD.

“If you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air, quaint little villages here and there, you’re sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod.”

THE 1985 WINTERTIME SUN BEATS DOWN on a frigid Cape Cod Sunday morning—the ocean white-capped and frigid looking. Patches of snow sparsely paint the flat region’s canvas. An inexpensive, small, two-story Ranch House sits next to and across the street from duplicate constructions built and sold forty years ago right after World War 2.

This particular backyard contains an old broken swing and slide set, a stone cookout fireplace, a small doghouse, and a net-less basketball hoop hanging crookedly from a branchless tree. A wide, curtained picture window hides a modestly furnished living room where a heavyset man in his mid-fifties sits on a frayed divan eating his breakfast and drinking a Pepsi. He’s wearing an LL Bean woolen lumber jacket and a backward Red Sox baseball cap. He’s watching on his sixteen-inch, black and white TV screen, his favorite show—The Three Stooges—Larry, Moe, and Jerome Lester Horowitz, better known as just Curly. Our Moe is chuckling as the three crazies sock, yuk, and fling pies at each other.

Entering the room carrying a tray of two helpings of eggs and bacon, along with several muffins, is a much overweight woman wearing an unattractive Mu-Mu. She sits beside her mate of many years, Moses Archer, local carpenter, and lifetime resident of Sandwich, Massachusetts.

“We could go to church,” she says in sort of a pleading soft voice. “You could still see the Pats play this afternoon.”

Moses Archer looks away from the TV screen, snuffs out a half smoked Lucky Strike in a cluttered coffee-table ashtray, and plants a light kiss on his wife’s sagging cheek. “You go,” he says. “I’ll go with you next week. I promise.”

Out of her view he has his fingers crossed.

“You promised last week,” she grumbles at him. “I miss going with you. The first ten years of our marriage you used to go at least once a month. Now. Never.”

“We’ve been married over thirty years, dear,” Moses says. “The reason I went was to make you happy, and now I don’t think I even remember the Lord’s Prayer. In 1962, the stupid Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to start the school day with the Lord’s Prayer. And, I hate to admit it, but this country has been going down the drain ever since.”

A built-in wall bookcase containing several framed photos dominates the decor.

“And I like eating Sunday breakfast here,” Moses says, pointing at the wall. “It brings back all our good memories. Look at that one.” He points to an eight by ten black and white showing him as a teenager with wavy black hair, a muscled body, wearing a football uniform, and a big smile. A caption under the photo reads:

DIVISION III HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL CHAMPIONS 1948
MOSES ARCHER QUARTERBACK, CAPTAIN

A second frame depicts several high school cheerleaders forming a pyramid. The attractive girl on top resembles Moses’s dowdy wife, but is well formed, thin, bright and pretty. The caption reads:

1948 SANDWICH HIGH SCHOOL CHEERLEADERS SQUAD

“Remember when you looked like that, dear? A movie star.”
The third photo is a typical wedding shot—Moses in a white tux, and his young wife beaming. Upon closer examination, her waist appears quite thick in relation to the cheerleading picture. The caption reads:

MOSES AND SUSAN TIE THE KNOT, SEPT. 23,1949

Another photo shows a heavier Susan holding a smiling baby on her lap. Then one shows an even larger Susan holding another baby. A thick wooden frame depicts a Little League baseball team with two young boys and Moses as coach.

SANDWICH LITTLE LEAGUE CHAMPS, 1961

A clock gongs ten times. The Stooges show ends and a film noir movie is announced. Susan switches the channel to a religious show—the preacher asking for donations.

Moses takes a final bite of a muffin, buttons up his jacket, pockets his cigarettes, plants a kiss on top of Susan’s head, and walks to the front door.

“Can’t you kiss any better than that?” his wife asks. “And do you have go to the Legion every Sunday? It is the Lord’s Day, you know.”

Moses turns. “I work my ass off all week so you can live in this luxury, so this is the one day I can let loose and enjoy my friends. Nothing personal, dear. Nothing personal.”

“And when’s the last time we made love?” she leans forward and asks. “I forget what it feels like. Some of my friends still do it—ya know?”

Moses forces a cough. “When I get home, dear. We’ll talk about it when I get home.”
His wife frowns and waves her hands—one holding a Bible, and the other giving her husband the finger.

Moses slams the door behind himself, walks across a frozen lawn, and climbs into his old two-door pick-up truck, starts it up, and pulls out of the driveway. A sign of the side door of the truck reads:

MOSES ARCHER EXPERT CARPENTER

Moses cracks open a can of Budweiser and switches on the radio to the sound of the Sunday football station. Every Sunday during football season Moses spends the day at the Legion with his buddies—drinks beer, plays cards, watches the game, and gambles—nickel/dime stuff. Harmless fun.

He turns up the radio station to hear the announcer. “So Steve Grogan will be leading the Pats against the Stealers in today’s game. Starting time is an hour away. Still a few choice seats remain.”

Moses lights up another cigarette, takes a deep drag, blows a ring, and then tries to blow a smaller one through it. Great trick if I can ever learn it, he thinks to himself. I caught that new waitress at the Hamburg Shop eyeing me. A cool trick like this would get her attention. But I don’t think I could ever cheat on Susan. Never have yet. Wish she’d lose some of that damn weight. Then we could have some fun like in the old days.

Moses travels down a small highway road dotted with an occasional cottage. The ocean and the wide beach is on his right, and the town up ahead is still a few miles away featuring the local Catholic Church, high school, legion, and stores surrounding a gazebo-centered park. His truck swings around several cranberry bogs, and then a large pond—in the Winter always bustling with skating activity. Some people wave at Moses as he slows down and drives by. He opens his window and waves back, recognizing several faces. A few are jumping up and down, and another few seem to be calling to him. He stops, and backs up. He cranks open his window all the way.

The hands waving at him appear frantic, rather than recognizing hellos, how’re doin? Several point to the ice, yelling for help.

Moses swerves off the road toward the pond, and stops next to the sand that leads to the frozen water. He hops out of his truck facing a bunch of frightened, out of control neighbors.

“Linda Cross, Linda Cross,” one elderly woman cries out. “She fell through the ice. She’s drowning.”

“Where? Where?” Moses asks, his breath coming out as cold steam.

Several people point to a large hole in the ice, maybe twenty yards off the cold, sandy beach. “There. There. She just disappeared a few minutes ago.”

Moses throws off his LL Bean jacket and kicks off his shoes. “Little kids can’t drown in this town,” he says, almost breathless. “Things like that don’t happen here. Only on TV.”

He runs across the sand, and then across the ice, slipping and sliding on his butt a few times about twenty yards out onto the frozen pond. He stops in front of a cracked ice hole—maybe six feet in diameter. He leans over, lays flat on his stomach, and reaches as deep as his arms will allow, hoping to feel the little girl’s body.

“Ouch. Damn.” Unfortunately, the frozen water, better known as ice, is surprisingly as sharp as glass, and carves a deep slit into his hand. He yells another ouch and damn, but continues, and reaches nothing.

Now he stands straight up, looks at his bloody hand, feeling the blood starting to freeze, takes a deep breath, and dives straight down—mentally praying that it isn’t too deep. He furiously feels around, reaching at least seven feet to the muddy bottom. He can’t see anything—only feel. He stretches out his arms, furiously groping—gropes more, kicks, and grabs.

He finds nothing solid.
Back to Altruism Costs a Life—or More
 
Jesus Returns

“Here I am. Rick Blade, Private Eye,” I said with a wide smile. “I’ll go for some of that coffee.”

Blinky poured a cup for me and indicated a seat at the table. I sat.

Johnson stumbled as he got up, grabbed a straight-backed wooden chair and sat down directly across from me. His hard life had done his features no favors. His bulbous red nose reminded me of old movie comic, W.C. Fields, who used to eat apples injected with vodka, and he’d be bombed after several scenes.

Johnson’s long days of smoking and boozing had taken their toll on his weight, which couldn’t have added up to more than a hundred and twenty bony pounds on his stooped frame, and a death mask of a face.

The janitor’s shaky hands almost dropped his coffee cup, but he gulped the drink and flashed a smile. “I found the answers,” he said.

I pondered the remark. “I don’t know the questions, friend. My calendar’s pretty full right now,” I lied.

“Are we alone?” Johnson placed his hand over his mouth and whispered. He glanced at Blinky, who nodded.

I nodded and peered out the window at the sun coming up. I drained my coffee, feeling it tingle all the way to my stomach. It was my first week as a full-fledged private eye, and April had run a small ad in some nearby local town newspaper, along with the expensive Herald ad.

Johnson’s problem will have to reveal itself in a hurry, I thought. I’m already half asleep.

“Yes sir, Johnson my man, we’re alone,” I said. “Why? What’s so secret? Did you finally murder your alimony-collecting ex-wife, or did you save money on your Geico Insurance?”

Johnson appeared perplexed at my levity. Apparently the visit was no laughing matter. “I think I got a j-job for you, Ricky.” He pulled his chair up in front of me, close enough to send a whiff of stale alcohol breath. “A detective job. Bodyguard, of sorts.”

“I only take cash jobs,” I said. “That’s how I got the trolley. It was a PI job. The yard manager hired me to get some information on his cheating wife. I shadowed her for a few days and took pictures, ones I actually could have sold to any adult website for more money than I was charging my client. The yard manager saved lots of alimony in the divorce, and paid me with the trolley.”

Johnson flipped his half-smoked butt into a coffee can.

“I could probably fit you into my engaged schedule,” I said. “Who’s cheating on who? Or is it whom?”

Johnson began quivering all over, and his voice trembled. “I don’t know how to start. You won’t believe me anyway. Maybe I should have a small alcoholic drink. Please?”

I glanced at Blinky. He shrugged. I walked over to the fridge, opened the door, and searched the shelves. I knew Blinky always kept a fifth of vodka there. I retrieved a cup of vodka for Johnson, and refilled my empty coffee cup with Pepsi. By the way, if you didn’t already figure it out, I don’t drink liquor or take any drugs. Why? If you had seen what a lot of soldiers do to stay brave, you wouldn’t drink or mess with drugs either.

Johnson studied his drink for a long moment, then swallowed it with one big guzzle, and he almost choked on his next words. “I met Jesus.”

I moved my chair closer to Johnson and studied the old man’s appearance. “You sure you’re okay?”

Johnson’s shoulders drooped. “I knew you wouldn’t believe me. But it’s the truth. I met the real Christ, and that’s why I’m here.”

I really didn’t know how to answer, knowing that Johnson was full of crap and hungover. But then why did Blinky call me? I threw my former boss a glance. He said nothing and shrugged his shoulders.

“What the hell do you want me to do?” I asked. “You should be talking to a minister, not me. I have a friend who may be able to help you.”

I sat in the wheelbearing desk chair and rolled it over to the window. I peered out into the parking lot, a place I had spent many a night freezing my butt off. The morning sun was hiding behind thick clouds, but I saw nothing there that resembled a Heavenly spirit. Johnson’s Jesus sighting meant nothing to me. I knew when a person drank as much as Johnson did, they saw things. My father was a good example.

Johnson coughed and began choking on his coffee. “I need your help. I mean—he wants your help.”

I looked over at Blinky, who was now smiling, and then shrugged again. I laced my fingers behind my neck, leaned back and nodded, my lips sealed.

Johnson mumbled, “You know that flophouse I live in? Right around the corner from what’s left of downtown Boston’s Combat Zone?”

I nodded. The Combat Zone was a place to stay away from, unless you wanted a punched jaw.

Johnson wheezed. “Last night, after playing poker with some friends, I’m walking into my room when I meet this guy who just moved into the next room, and he looks just like—like—oh damn, please help me.”

The poor old drunk’s shoulders hunched over. He seemed to wither into a small ball, his arms wrapped around his knees in a fetal position. When he looked up, his eyes were puffy, his face wet with tears. He barely whispered. “He looked just like Jesus—at least all the pictures I’ve seen—long hair, beard, kind eyes. You know, like in that Mel Gibson movie, The Passion of Christ.”

I felt a strange chill run down my spine. “You’d been drinking a lot, hadn’t you?” I seriously stated.

Johnson dropped his chin onto his sunken chest. “Of course, of course,” he said brusquely. “But trust me, this had nothing to do with how much I had to drink.”

“In what way?” I felt a rush of exhaustion, and for a moment I wished I was hardened enough to throw Johnson out the window. It would only postpone the day longer, I thought. Within five minutes I’d be out in the parking lot looking for the poor soul, making sure he got back safely to his flophouse. “So tell me what happened in as few words as possible,” I said. “I’m tired.”

The old man coughed and said, “This guy called me into his room, closed the door, and placed his hand on the top of my head. I could immediately feel energy surge through my entire body.” Johnson straightened up. “I swear I felt it, and suddenly I wasn’t drunk anymore. As a matter of fact, my arthritis pains even went away.”
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