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A drop of sweat slid off John Keller's brow and into his eye. It stung, and he rubbed it until it stopped. He smiled at his wife, and then kissed her forehead. He always did that when he knew she was scared or worried about something. This time, like so many others, she was worried for his safety.
John the daredevil was what she knew he was, and she called him Superman. He was always looking for exciting and dangerous ways to get his blood pumping faster, harder and today was the final day of John's latest blood pumping adventure. He'd built a vehicle he believed would break the land speed record. He stood next to his torpedo-shaped rocket with wheels, looking through the endless heat waves stretching out and dancing across the desert, blurring the horizon. His wife Kathleen and five trusted friends helped him haul the vehicle he'd named 'Lightspeed'--and Kathleen called the 'Bomb'--out to the Black Rock desert in Nevada. It was a hot day and the air was still; a perfect day to test the bomb.
Kathleen ordered John and his adrenaline-junkie buddies to pose next to their design while she focused her camera. She winked at John. "Everyone say 'dead meat'!" They all did, and she snapped the picture.
John stared at his wife. He truly loved her, everything about her. Her black hair falling just past her shoulders and shining like an onyx stone in the brilliant sunlight. Her bright crystal-blue eyes and white skin, which she protected from the sun. She'd stopped trying to tan because the result was always a burn. He even loved the scar on the back of her neck, extending from her right shoulder to just under her left arm pit. When she was seventeen, some friendshad talked her into jumping off a forty-foot cliff into a lake. She'd hit the water perfectly straight, like a dart being dropped--only to be cut open badly on an old sunken automobile that nobody knew was there. That squashed any desire she might have had to join Superman on one of his daredevil antics.
John was especially in love with her quick wit and humor, which kept family and friends on their toes, afraid that they might be the object of one of her harmless, but embarrassing pranks.
They'd met while John was in his last year of college. She was a freelance photographer getting pictures for a skydiving magazine. She'd zoomed in on an especially creative free faller, who turned out to be the man she would fall in love with and marry. That was eleven years and two children ago.
Shortly after they met, John started calling her Kat. For some reason it didn't bother her when he said it, but it was like fingernails on a chalkboard coming from anyone else.
John was a very intelligent kid. He'd graduated at age seventeen and went straight to college. With degrees in electrical engineering and computer programming, John didn't have any trouble finding work. But he didn't care to work for others, so he started a software company of his own. They struggled for several years, living on Kat's freelance photography until their company, which they named KELTEC, took off. The business grew quickly, and so did their family.
First born was Bryon, and at age twelve he was in some ways a carbon copy of his mother. He had her black hair and blue eyes--also her optimistic outlook and never-ending sense of humor. Next to come was Christine. Chris was nine and she too looked like her mother, though she had her father's personality. She was inquisitive to a fault and always looking for new excitement.