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This fast-moving, unpredictable story asks the question, "Is it ever too late to redeem past mistakes?" ...
This fast-moving, unpredictable story asks the question, "Is it ever too late to redeem past mistakes?" Its central character, Tom, realistically represents the skepticism and doubt of many people today who simply don't buy into Christianity. Faced with a new opportunity and a chance to change, what will be his decision? Readers of all ages will enjoy the suspense of Tom's journey and its unexpected, dramatic conclusion.
The man in back of the cab tells the driver yes, then says take the next right. The road ends at a cul-de-sac.
"Right here is fine," says the passenger.
The driver turns and glares back at him, squinting at the light gray uniform and the badge that reads Mardell Services. "What're you gonna do here?"
"I'm meeting someone."
Twenty dollars takes care of the fare. Once the taxi purrs away, its orange glare fading into darkness, the uniformed man turns on a flashlight and begins to sprint through the woods that edge the dead-end road.
In fifteen minutes, he is standing on the north lawn of a sprawling six-story office building. The modern structure appears to be made entirely out of glass, as if a strategically hurled rock could shatter it. The lit parking lot is empty save a van parked at the front of the entrance.
He slows his breathing and takes off his cap, wiping the sweat from his forehead. He readjusts his glasses as he slips back on the cap and walks toward the entrance of the building.
He taps on the glass doors for a couple of minutes. A round man in his fifties finally moves behind the front desk and ambles over to open the door.
"Yeah?" he asks in a sluggish tone as the door slides open.
"Missed my ride," the uniformed man says, pointing to the van.
"With the cleaners?"
The man nods, showing him the photo badge he wears.
"They came in about fifteen minutes ago."
"I'll find them."
The uninterested security man lets him pass and takes his place back on his cushioned chair.
The uniformed man rubs his weekend's worth of dark beard and finds the elevator.
The metal doors open to darkness, and Tom Ledger steps out to commit a felony. He doesn't look around, doesn't hesitate, doesn't notice any irregularities in his breathing. His tennis shoes, wet from the damp grass outside, brush the office carpet without sound. It takes him just a couple of minutes to find the cubicle close to the men's room against the south side. Sitting in the chair, he reaches down and turns on the computer.
The monitor sheds light on the drab and tidy holding cell, illuminating the nameplate on the desk next to a Star Wars action figure: Calvin Morris. While the operating system loads, he locates Calvin's stash of high-capacity zip disks and slips one of the disks into the appropriate drive.
The computer asks for a password, and he types it in without thought.
He waits until the screen icons are all in place, ready for action. Then he accesses the file system and searches.
The files he wants are labeled Coverter 45-78, 79, 80, and 81. He saves them onto the disk as Vacations #1, 2, 3, and 4, then slips the disk into his shirt pocket.
He shuts down the computer and heads back for the elevator. He can hear the cleaning crew in the distance, but he ignores the voices as he presses the Up button once again.
The sixth floor is as dark as the fourth floor was, but Tom doesn't need a light. A thousand mornings he's walked this route and can do it blindfolded. With illuminated crimson exit boxes creating the only shadows, he skirts another maze of cubicles to enter the western corner office.
He reaches in his pants pocket and takes out a mint, finishing it in two quick bites.
A quick glance at his watch tells him it's quarter after two, three or four hours before the first morning brown-noser starts the first office pot of coffee. He himself generally arrives around nine, leaving anywhere from six to nine or ten, depending on how many stupid meetings kept him from doing any actual work.
He taps his shirt pocket as he crosses to the desk and opens his Sony laptop. No more meetings after tonight. This will be his last hour at Hammett-Korning Technologies.
The Sony flickers through its start-up ritual, and Tom glances around the office he hopes never to lay eyes on again. In the cold glow of the LCD's light, he surveys the surroundings of half a decade past and feels nothing. He sees the outline of his head and shoulders on the framed poster on the wall in front of him, a picture of a climber ascending a mountain with the slogan in glorious bold urging all to "Seize the Day!"
He hates this poster and the other fifty like it that litter the various floors of Hammett-Korning. To him, they've always symbolized a human resources department not doing its job. Motivating jingles don't compensate for corporate indifference and executive incompetence.
How's this for seizing the day? Tom thinks.
He gets into his email system and finds the carefully worded email he's already prepared. He rereads it before clicking to send it off. The message is satisfying and succinct:
"Dear Bob. I quit."
Tom scans the list of unread emails that have accumulated and feels a sense of relief at never having to read any more memos on testing standards and new procedures and endless, technological rhetoric he never wanted to have anything to do with in the first place. This job had always been about one thing: money. And he finally realized a while ago that there was no pot of gold at the end of the Hammett-Korning rainbow.
Except possibly on the disk in his pocket. He attaches an external drive to the laptop, slips in the disk from Calvin's office, and verifies that the vacation documents are still there. Still tucked away on the disk as Vacations 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Thank you, Calvin.
It doesn't take long to upload the files to the laptop, download them again to the tiny memory stick in his Sony's media slot, then wipe them from the disk and the laptop's hard drive.
He slips out the memory stick. It's a little over an inch long and almost half as wide. Tom tucks the slender device into his wallet like a memento and feels no difference when he slides the wallet back in his pants pocket. Then he unplugs the zip drive and powers down the laptop.
Glancing around, making sure he collects everything he needs, Tom notices the frame on the edge of his desk. He picks it up and stares at it, the picture hard to see in the dim light. He can picture it in his sleep, however. It's a photo of Allegra. For a while he kept it as a front, a picture to portray a life he didn't lead. He can admit to himself that he kept it for other reasons too. He is not one to wallow in the past or to get sentimental over could-have-beens. The photo is simply a reminder of a different time. Proof that a brighter day existed.
He slips the photo out of the frame and into his pocket. Then, without a further thought, he exits the office and heads for the stairs.
The first-floor lights are on and the cleaning crew noise is louder, but nobody sees Tom as he pushes open a door and steps out to the shipping area at the back of the Hammett-Korning building. This is where they send and receive mail, packages, shipments-anything that's coming or going. He was down here earlier in the day, looking around, scoping out the territory. As he walked around here in blue slacks and a yellow tie, looking corporate and professional, he wondered how many people even knew who he was. Just another suit, one employee out of a thousand.
More important, he wondered if anyone had a clue what he was going to do. He's pretty sure no one even noticed him.
The exit door next to the trucking bays has one of those push bars that let people out but not in. Tom has already checked that exiting here doesn't trigger an alarm. The door barely makes a noise as it closes behind him.
Emerging under the clear night sky, he realizes he's done it. Just as simple as he thought it would be. Nobody knows. Not even good ol' Bob.
He thinks of Hammett-Korning-the company he's leaving behind, the company he's stealing from-and feels nothing. How will a little corporate theft make any difference? The company has three more offices in the surrounding area. Tens of thousands of employees. A monstrous megacompany run by a CEO who's been showing up in the news. A CEO who might be in jail before too long.
He emerges from the building's shadow and walks down the street for about half a mile. In another deserted parking lot outside a two-story office building, a lone car waits for him. The black Porsche Boxster parked next to a streetlamp reflects his form as he nears.
Inside the car, he flips open a cell phone and makes a call. He knows it will go straight to voice mail.
"It's done. See you tonight at six sharp."
If you knew you were about to die and could call me, what would your final words be?"
Tom looks across the room at the lanky blonde who asked the question. Her short hair is wet from the shower. She's watching some sort of TV newscast.
He grins and goes back to reading the paper, standing at the island of the condo's kitchen.
"What was that look for?" she asks, no longer focusing on the television.
"That's a big assumption."
"What? That you'd die?"
"That I'd call you."
She makes a face at him but he just smiles, rubs his freshly shaven face, then finishes the glass of grapefruit juice and places it in the kitchen sink.
Janine turns back to the story about a man in California who called his wife from the scene of a bank robbery moments before he was shot to death.
"Isn't that awful?" she asks.
"So you wouldn't call me?"
"I don't think I'd want to draw attention to myself during a bank robbery."
"But what would you say if you could?"
Tom Ledger looks at the morning beauty in the white terry-cloth robe, shakes his head, and crosses the room to give her a good-bye kiss on the neck. She is used to his not answering questions such as this.
"Will you call?" she asks.
"Of course." He knows this is a lie.
"By the way ... where'd you go last night?"
A suitcase and matching briefcase rest by the door to Janine's one-bedroom condo.
"Just went out to get some air," he says. Another lie. "Air? At like two in the morning?"
"Sure. Couldn't sleep, so I went out."
"I heard the garage door open around three. Is everything okay?"
He nods. Everything's perfect.
"You've been kinda on the moody side the last couple days. Even last night-"
"The limo's here."
She pauses, and he knows that she knows better than to push it.
"Have a great trip."
He picks up his bags and walks out the door. He has known Janine for over two months. She's six years younger than his thirty-four years and around a dozen younger in terms of maturity. Some might question what he is doing with her in the first place and exactly how much maturity that shows, but Tom doesn't care.
He won't be seeing her again anyway.
He leans back in the leather seat of the Town Car as it heads for O'Hare International Airport. He thinks of Janine's question.
"What would your final words be?"
If he could call anyone, who would he call anyway? Not Janine. The obvious answer occurs to him. But he knows Allegra wouldn't accept a call from him or allow him to get out five words. And no one else comes to mind.
Vacations 1, 2, 3, and 4 echo in his head. He thinks of making the California trip a quick one, then maybe going down to Florida and finally getting to see the Keys and losing himself down there for a while. A month. A year. He's not entirely sure.
The landscape of suburbia blurs by him. Street upon street upon store upon subdivision. He passes the time by comparing this northern suburb of Chicago with what he knows of Key West. He knows the Keys are probably not that different from Wood Grove or any other location. It probably has its share of secrets, its ugly little realities. And it also has its share of people trying to ease the pain of living with their mistakes.
The difference is that, in a place like Key West, you have ocean sunsets to make it all a little easier.
Tom waits in an airport bar drinking a club soda with lime. Around him sit passengers who are either about to board or just getting off a plane, most of them laughing and drinking and having a good time. He finds locales such as this comforting. He can sit alone, and as long as he appears to be drinking something heavy and continues to tip the bartender enough, he can remain unbothered.
The phone at his side vibrates.
"Yeah," Tom says again, recognizing the male voice.
"That easy, huh?"
"Told you. Been there long enough to know what it's like."
"Are you sure no one knows?"
"Very few people would even have a clue as to what is really valuable inside. And how to get it."
"So you got everything?"
"You'll see it tonight."
"We'll have to celebrate. Dinner's on me."
"That won't be the only thing."
The man on the other end laughs, and Tom hangs up.
He sips his drink and stares to his right at the passengers shuffling between gates. A family of four meanders past, and he studies them. A man about his age with light-brown hair and a well-worn sports coat. A pretty but tired-looking wife in a conservative, flowing skirt and a jeans vest over a white T-shirt. The woman holds a baby against her shoulder while the man links hands with a little girl, perhaps four or five.
Soon they're out of view, and Tom resumes being invisible. His thoughts shift to pondering the type of yacht he'll be purchasing in the next few weeks. He has narrowed it down to three. The choice will be an important one.
Two aisles cut through the 767. Tom heads down the one on his right after stepping onto the plane and takes the aisle seat numbered 17B. He shoves his briefcase into the overhead bin along with his sports coat. The memory stick remains in his wallet. Looking through the oval window, he sees the long, sleek wing shining in the morning sunlight.
Normally Tom travels first class, but he normally travels on business and books well ahead of time. This was the only seat left on the 10:30 A.M. flight to San Francisco when he called a few days ago. He finds himself wishing for the space and privacy of the first-class seats ahead of him. As strangers pass, he wonders who will occupy the lone seat between him and the window.
A man laboring with a large suitcase stops next to Tom's row. He struggles with his piece of luggage as he tries to fit it in the overhead bin.
"Sorry," he says to the people behind him as he tries to jam it in.
Excerpted from THE SECOND THIEF by TRAVIS THRASHER Copyright © 2003 by Travis Thrasher
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted January 12, 2011
Seriously - this was just tedious and painful. After getting to the end I just thought that there went a few hours of my life I would never get back and I have pretty much felt the same way after the other two books of this author I have read. I LOVE good Christian fiction but this is NOT good fiction, Christian or otherwise. Try Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti, Tim Downs, Randy Singer, Brandilynn Collins, Terri Blackstock, Colleen Coble, James Scott Bell, Robert Whiltlow and so many others, I was REALLY sad that this author did not make the cut with ANY of the books I read!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 28, 2008
Well-paced, thought-provoking story with a moral, December 20, 2007 Travis Thrasher has won me over as an avid fan...Second Thief was Thrasher's third novel, yet the second I have read and have thoroughly enjoyed. Fast paced, easy to read, hard to put down....it catches you from the first line and coaxes you into the story, and as usual with Thrasher's stories it leaves you wanting more. He has a way of developing his characters to a point that, no matter how unsavory they may start out, you grow to care about them and hope the best for them. This tale starts with central character, Tom Ledger, leaving his job where he is bored with his ordinary boring life and has hijacked crucial company secrets from a computer which he plans to sell to a rather ominously dangerous bidder....Tom has been going no where in life, he has left the one woman that really loved him for what he thought was a better life. Boarding a plane to his proposed wealthy future,where he shall be set for life, Tom has no idea what fate has in store for him. Seated next to a minister with whom he wants little to do , Tom finds himself selfishly praying 'Please God, let me live' as the plane suddenly loses control and begins to plummet into a Nebraska cornfield. Tom incredibly does live and his choices and beliefs are questioned as he faces his second chance at correcting his mistakes in life and his chance at redemption through his journey of finding his beliefs...the story moves along at a good pace and the ending has a moral, a great double meaning for the title and a great plot twisting ending that you won't see coming. I LOVED this book and cannot wait to pick up Mr. Thrasher's next novel....I almost feel like I am dishonoring him by reading his novels out of order. I usually like to start at an author's first novel to see by the time I get to the end of his works, where their strengths lie and how they have grown...well, I have read Travis' third and last novel and both are excellent and although there may be signs of growth, he remains markedly consistant and his stories remain quite strong...my only question is....which story should I read next....thank you, Mr. Thrasher, for putting out great stories with a moral to the tale, without being preachy...while being entertaining and thought-provoking and spinning a great yarn.....A+++++++Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 23, 2003
Posted January 10, 2003
I had a lot of preconceived notions when I began this book, but I can honestly say that Travis Thrasher broke them all with this fast-paced story about second chances and what is truly important in life. The book twists and turns at a pace that propels the reader to its climactic and surprising ending. I thoroughly enjoyed the fictional aspects of this book while at the same time being able to apply some of the lessons learned to my own life. I can't wait to read his other works!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 19, 2010
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Posted August 13, 2011
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