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The truck slid to a stop on the grass off the parkway's shoulder. A half-drained pint of gold tequila spilled out of the console. Krogan snatched the bottle off the floor with a gorilla-sized hand and drank the few remaining ounces. He then took another turn on the lobster claw as he revved the engine to the beat of the hard music. The metallic clack on his window went almost unheard.
"Oh, yeah. The cop," Krogan said, his voice deep and raspy. Never one for conversation, he lowered the window and heaved the empty bottle of tequila through the billowing smoke, glancing left just long enough to confirm the result: the puny cop was out cold on his back, blood oozing from a new and deep gash over his left eye.
Krogan hit the gas pedal and then the brake and shifted into reverse. He backed the rear tires to within inches of the cop's face and, laughing, shifted into first and punched the gas again, covering his fallen prey with a sticky gush of wet grass and mud.
"It's time," he said, flicking a nontwist beer-bottle cap off with his thumb.
The vehicle's owner nodded, staring blearily through slitted, bloodshot eyes.
"Ever ..." Krogan guzzled and belched. "... kill a whale.... on a Sunday?"
The passenger grinned. "It's been a while-maybe two hundred years. Don't know about Sunday."
"With a truck?" "Never tried with a truck." "Then it's the aquarium." Laughter. "Yeah. Fishing at the aquarium." With a roar, the truck was on its way.
Bubblegum. Detective Gavin Pierce didn't have to look down to know he'd just stepped on a chewed-and-spewed glob of fresh, sun-cooked bubblegum. Compliments of Coney Island.
On any other day of the week, such an irritant would normally result in a few choice words. But this was Sunday, a day steeped in tradition. Gavin set Sundays apart to be with the most important person he knew: his mother's father, Antonio Palermo. Grampa. Every Sunday morning, Gavin traveled back to his old neighborhood to pick up Grampa for church. Today was extra special. Today was Grampa's birthday. The old man was eighty-two. Gavin could hardly believe it.
Gavin stood watchfully behind Grampa as a young girl wearing a green-and-yellow concession hat handed the old immigrant two Coney Island hot dogs. Grampa nodded a thank you and received a warm smile in return. He had the knack for that-for eliciting smiles from complete strangers. Smiles just like hers had followed Grampa for as long as Gavin could remember. Upon occasion, Grampa could even crack Gavin's stone demeanor. Only Grampa.
Cradling the hot dogs with both hands, Grampa turned where he stood and paused before plotting out his way to the condiments counter just ten feet away. Gavin followed, allowing Grampa to fulfill the customary act of decorating the food. Gavin had switched from ketchup to mustard on his franks when he was a teen, but Grampa only remembered when Gavin had put ketchup on everything. Gavin was thirty-six, but today he would eat his hot dog with ketchup as he and Grampa took a walk down memory lane.
"You'd be having a dog for lunch even if I wasn't here, wouldn't you?" Gavin said as he received his. It looked and smelled enticing enough and for the sake of recapturing precious moments long past he would try to block out thoughts of the inevitable heartburn the deceptive little creature would surely bring. An antacid stand around here would be a gold mine, he thought as he watched someone pave a couple of hamburgers with mustard and onions. He briefly relocated himself protectively into the path of two laughing kids running toward them, then adjusted his position again when the threat to his fragile grandfather had passed.
Grampa had paused to answer Gavin's question, and Gavin reflexively leaned closer to hear over the popping balloons, game sirens, carnival music, and mechanical clatter of rides.
"I like," the old man replied decisively, his words punctuated with the lilting accent of his Italian homeland. He took a dangerously large bite of his hot dog, drenched in mustard and buried in sauerkraut and relish.
Gavin looked at his own ketchup-flooded food and sighed imperceptibly before biting. Grampa was waiting for the big mmmmmmm that always followed. Gavin obliged him. "They taste good, Grampa, but they're no good for you." Grampa laughed. "What do you eat that is so good for you?" Gavin thought. "Fish. Fish is good for you." "What? I eat plenty of the fish," Grampa said, shrugging his shoulders.
"Baccala? That dried-up, salty leather? It's terrible for you." Grampa shook his finger. "Only on holidays." "Then what? Anchovies on your pizza?" "Scungili," Grampa said with closed eyes and a smile, as if his hot dog had taken on a new flavor. "Scungili's not fish. It's a snail. A big snail. A scavenger. It eats junk. It's a living garbage can." "Like me," Grampa said, proudly tapping his chest, then winking at Gavin.
Gavin rolled his eyes and looked away, not wanting to encourage him. The old man did everything wrong. He never exercised, ate three eggs with sausage every morning and a liverwurst sandwich every night before bed, and drank coffee and wine like water. At least he'd given up those smelly, crooked cigars. "Here, you take another ride?" Grampa said, motioning toward a huge disk that held its occupants upright with centrifugal force as it rose from horizontal to vertical.
Gavin shook his head. "If I go on another ride I'll throw up. Especially that one."
The rides at Coney Island hadn't changed much since Gavin's childhood. The giant Ferris wheel was still there, as was the Cyclone, an all-wooden roller coaster that had once been the biggest and fastest of its kind. Now its questionable longevity made it scarier than when it had towered like the Swiss Alps in his little-boy eyes.
As they slowly walked past the Cyclone the ground vibrated and screams pierced the air, then were whipped away in a hairpin curve. Gavin's childhood ability to be tossed about in any direction and at any speed seemed to be long gone. Even the thought of another ride was making him queasy.
"I think it's time to go to the aquarium," he said. "Huh?" Grampa said, cupping his ear. "I said, let's go see the dolphins," Gavin yelled as the coaster rattled past again.
The New York Aquarium was in Coney Island, right next to the amusement park, and stopping by had always been tradition. The walruses and whales and other water creatures foreign to Gavin's everyday life had always intrigued him. Especially the dolphins, and there was a dolphin and sea lion show at four p.m., just an hour away. Gavin couldn't remember when he'd last seen a dolphin show with Grampa, but he did remember Grampa's astonished expression every time the dolphins had danced around on the water's surface with their tails. Gavin wanted to see that expression on Grampa's face again.
The walk to the aquarium was short in distance but long in time. Gavin didn't care. He had all day and was in no hurry for it to end, choosing instead to enjoy their stroll down the huge boardwalk that separated the business world from the beach world. It extended as far as he could see. The old decking had recently been replaced with new mahogany. After having had his own deck built with a much cheaper knotty cedar, Gavin wondered what it must have cost to redo the boardwalk.
Gavin was grateful for the overcast sky that kept the crowds away. There was, however, a small gathering around a middle-aged man handling a giant python. The man had a female assistant selling Polaroid pictures of anyone who would allow the man to arrange the snake on their shoulders.
"Grampa, are you afraid of snakes?" Gavin asked as they drew closer. The old man raised an eyebrow.
The circle of spectators opened to allow Gavin and Grampa in. Grampa's eyes widened; he said nothing but was obviously taken aback at the sight of the huge reptile, at least eight inches in diameter, draped over its master's shoulders. It didn't seem to mind the small top hat strapped to its brick-sized head.
The python's owner eyed Gavin. "What do you say, young man? Would you like to have a picture of Sinbad giving you a hug?" "I had something a little different in mind," Gavin said. By the time Gavin and Grampa continued on their way to the aquarium, they were each staring at their own Polaroid. Gavin shook his head, wondering if there was anything Grampa wouldn't do if Gavin asked. The old man always argued a bit, but in the end he was a great sport. Gavin hoped there was a way to get Polaroids enlarged. If so, he would frame the picture of him and Grampa, arms over shoulders with the giant serpent draped comfortably across them.
Gavin carefully examined the photo. The evolution of Grampa-Gavin photos had reached the late stages. Gavin's eyes were no longer belt height and Grampa's hand no longer reached down to rest on his shoulders. In fact, Gavin's hand was now resting low on Grampa's shoulder. His somber expression was in stark contrast to his grandfather's wide smile. People had always told Gavin he reminded them of Russell Crowe. He would take the comparison as a compliment, but couldn't see the resemblance.
With fifteen minutes to spare before the dolphin show, Gavin and Grampa walked over to the aquatheater holding tanks. The holding tanks were a complex of three adjoining tanks that flowed into each other. One of the tanks was where the dolphin show would take place, but the two others were used to house whatever other sea creatures the show featured. Before and after the show people gathered in front of several large, thick viewing windows, amazed at the size and beauty of some of the world's most exotic mammals. The dolphins in turn would swim over and stare at the people as if mutually interested in the strange creatures that waved and squished their faces against the glass.
"The window at the end isn't so crowded," Gavin said, pointing to the glass closest to the parking lot. As they walked over Gavin glanced through the nearby chain-link fence to see a traffic cop directing cars in and out of the parking lot entrance about one hundred yards away. A cop himself, he was glad not to be directing traffic in Brooklyn.
As Grampa walked up to the glass a dolphin greeted him. "They always are smiling, Gavin. Just like you used to when you were a boy. My boy." He patted his grandson.
"That's because you always gave me something to smile about," Gavin said, putting his arm around the old man's shoulders.
"Nah," Grampa said, shaking his head slowly. "It wasn't me. It was you. You were always playing games and make believe that you were everything under the sun: cowboys and Indians, Superman and Batman. Always playing the good guys and bad guys."
"I'm still playing good guys and bad guys." Grampa turned from his long-nosed admirer and looked at Gavin. "Except now you're not playing anymore. Your young dreams have come true."
Gavin hesitated before deciding not to correct the old man. He didn't want to soil their time with the realities of his world and how very little it resembled the dreams of his youth. If Grampa believed he was happy and fulfilled, Gavin would leave it that way. He would steer the conversation away from himself. "And your dreams, Grampa-have your dreams come true?"
"My dreams?" Grampa laughed, pointing at himself. "When you're young it's all dreams; when you're old it's all memories." Before Gavin could respond to Grampa's comment, a loudspeaker announced the dolphin show would begin in five minutes. "Let's go, Grampa. The show's about to start," Gavin said, just as he had when he was twelve.
"I'll see you later, Smiley," Grampa said to the dolphin. By the time they rounded the holding tanks they found all of the seats in the first few rows had been taken, mostly by what appeared to be a group on a field trip. No problem. Although Grampa's eyes weren't what they used to be, they were still good enough to enjoy the show from one of the upper rows of seating that rose on steel girders above the holding tanks. And from that distance Grampa probably wouldn't get splashed by the dolphins, a prank the playful mammals seemed to enjoy as much as the kids.
Gavin slowly led the way to an upper row, allowed Grampa to enter a row off to the left, then followed.
He followed the old man to the end of the row, where they sat. There really were no bad seats and these gave a good overall view. The sun had finally broken through the clouds and the solid, blue security wall next to them afforded some shade; the rest of the spectators would be fishing for their sunglasses. The wall also gave them privacy from the parking lot and disguised the fact that they were about thirty feet above the ground from where they had viewed the dolphins before the show.
When most of the seats were filled, a petite blonde woman wearing the staff uniform of dark-blue shorts and a light-blue shirt introduced herself to the crowd as Bonnie. Wearing a wireless headset microphone, she spoke briefly of the New York Aquarium's history. As she spoke, Gavin could see the dark figures of the dolphins and sea lions entering into the main pool. One of the dolphins shot out of the water and did a flip, to the immediate applause of the crowd.
"Oh! That's Darla," Bonnie said matter-of-factly. "As you can tell, she's very shy."
Gavin glanced at Grampa. When Gavin was a boy he had always been acutely aware of Grampa's watchful gaze-the clinical eye that determined whether or not Gavin was having fun. Now it was Gavin's turn. He was the one interested in Grampa's enjoyment. Fortunately, Grampa was obviously enjoying himself. He was watching the spirited dolphin with a boyishly wide smile and bright eyes, just as Gavin hoped he would. Just as Gavin had done some twenty-odd years earlier.
Suddenly Gavin's attention was caught by a voice yelling in the distance and the sound of a car skidding across pavement, followed by the loud roar of an engine with little or no muffler. Bonnie's eyes shifted in the direction of the obnoxious roar, but she continued her well-rehearsed repertoire without hesitation. Her smile remained as she kicked a beach ball into the water for the dolphins.
But the engine noise was getting louder. Closer. Bonnie's voice over the loudspeakers could no longer be clearly heard. Outmatched by the competition, she stopped and stared disdainfully in the direction of the disturbance. People turned their heads toward the parking lot, but couldn't see beyond the aquatheater walls.
Excerpted from Driven by W. G. Griffiths Copyright © 2002 by W. G. Griffiths. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted January 15, 2012
Krogan, an unpredictable, repulsive murdering maniac embarks on a vicious, headline-grabbing killing rampage. The evil killer is on the loose to hunt his next victim and nothing will stop him. He is determined to punish anyone who crosses his path, or makes him look bad. Unlike most serial killers, he may be a psychopath, but there's something different about him. His trademark and his motives are chilling, making you feel as if simply knowing about his existence will indeed cause many sleepless nights. Gavin, a homicide detective is so obsessed with catching Krogan in the act, that his 'motto' to shoot first and ask questions later would take effect immediately. Why was the detective bitter with Krogan, and what did the serial killer do to Gavin's grandfather? I highly recommend this gripping novel to all thriller and time-travel lovers, who enjoy high-speed action with intense suspense as well as Christian paranormal fiction. W.G. Griffiths weaves together an incredible, compelling story that moves like a speeding bullet. A Masterpiece, based on Spirituality, reincarnation, and past life experiences and that's only the beginning through this riveting story. After living in Long Island, New York, forty-five years, I am indeed a witness to the author's picture-perfect setting. W.G. Griffiths dives into the supernatural, creates intriguing characters and has the reader hooked in the first chapter. The reader not only becomes addictive and craves for more at the end, but this mesmerizing story will leave you to ponder on why these incidents happen. What did the Reverend do, and how does the villain survive all the car crashes? What does the turtle represent? What will it take to prevent ongoing brutal attacks against more innocent victims, does hypnosis help, and will justice be served? Who else will be drawn into the killers' explosive game in a race against time? "DRIVEN" is as exciting as CAPE FEAR, as bone-chilling as ALONG CAME A SPIDER, and as haunting as THE OMEN.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 9, 2009
The dust cover for this book (I have the hardback) did not do it justice. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though the boat chase towards the end was a little drawn out. Excellent storyline, highly different, it was not what I was expecting. Wonderful read!! ---K---Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 22, 2005
Posted October 2, 2011
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