Monday Sampler: A Ton of Gold by James R. Callan
November 30, 2015
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Monday’s Sampler is an excerpt from A Ton of Gold, a cozy mystery by James R. Callan.
As one reviewer said: James Callan is a master at understanding human conflict and the raw emotions… In A Ton of Gold, he magically weaves a story in the midst of folk tales and murder that are haunting, mysterious, and guaranteed to remain with you long after the final page is read
A 178 year-old folktale causes murder, kidnapping, and arson in 2012 Texas. A contemporary suspense novel, in which Crystal Moore, a young computer scientist, is dragged into danger when thugs set out to kill her only living relative, the 76 year-old grandmother who raised her.
Crystal has no idea who would want to harm her grandmother, or why. In the midst of murder, arson, and kidnapping, the man who nearly destroyed Crystal emotionally is coming back. This time, he can ruin her career.
She will need all the help she can get from a former bull rider, her street-wise housemate, and her feisty, straight talking grandmother.
Crystal Moore’s eyes shot wide open and she sat bolt upright. Disconnected pictures, all bleak, flashed in Crystal’s mind, as a chill descended over her. “Tried to kill you!” Her voice almost failed her. Her chest felt like something was crushing it. She could feel her blood pulsing in her veins. “Are you Okay?”
“Where are you?”
“Home. Where else would I be?”
In the hospital. “What happened?”
“Some fool tried to run me off the road.”
Crystal’s back relaxed slightly. “Nana, I don’t think he was trying to kill you.”
“Were you here?”
Crystal reminded herself that this was her grandmother, her only living relative. “Okay. Tell me what happened.”
“Well, I was going to town. And some redneck tried to run me off the road. Clear as could be. Meant to kill me!”
Crystal rolled her eyes toward the ceiling. She worried about her grandmother driving, or living alone, for that matter. At seventy-six, reactions slowed. Maybe her grandmother shouldn’t be driving at all.
“Every week somebody tries to run me off the road while I’m driving to work. He just wasn’t paying attention, that’s all.”
“That dog won’t hunt! I was paying attention. I saw him. He looked right at me, then pulled over in my lane. I could see it in his eyes. He intended to run me right off the road—or hit me head-on. He cotton-pickin’ meant to kill me.”
“Did you call the police?”
“What for? They’d give me the same routine you are.”
Crystal took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “What do you want me to do, Nana?”
“Nothing. Nothing you can do.”
Crystal struggled to keep her voice as neutral as possible. She dearly loved her grandmother but Nana could be difficult sometimes. She saw the world very clearly, with seldom a doubt on how to interpret it. “Then why did you call me? Just to worry me?”
“No.” Crystal detected a trace of hurt feelings in her grandmother’s voice. “Because I wanted you to know somebody’s trying to kill me. And if I die under questionable circumstances, I want you to tell the police it was murder. And make sure they do something. You know how old Billy Goat is. If you don’t stick his nose in it, he can’t find—”
“Nana!” Crystal cut her off. “Bill Glothe’s been the sheriff for ten years——and your friend a lot longer than that.”
“Ugly truck. One of those, ah, what-cha-ma-callits. Ah, four-by-fours. Big as a dump truck. Puce.”
“Puce? They don’t make puce-colored cars.”
“Well, maybe he painted it, I don’t know. Looked puce to me.”
“Are you Okay? Is there anything I can do for you?”
“Yes and no. I’m fine and there’s nothing you can do. Just remember what I told you. Anything happens, get Billy Goat on it.”