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Dancing on the Edge

Dancing on the Edge

by Shepard C. Wilbar


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This fictional story covers the life of Nick
Packard from his youth to becoming a wealthy real estate developer in Boston,Massachusetts.
After years of great success in one of the hottest real estate markets in America,
Nick runs into bad luck in the 1980's as his once dynamic business falls into serious trouble and is choked By mafia infiltration. On top of this the disastrous real estate market crash hits in the late 1980's. One calamity after another strikes making this a suspenseful thriller.
The places, real estate development details and economic events are real. The plot is fictional.
Baby boomers will love the details of the period.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781477271803
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 11/13/2012
Pages: 522
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.05(d)

Read an Excerpt

Dancing on the Edge

By Shepard C. Wilbar


Copyright © 2012 Shepard C. Wilbar
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4772-7180-3

Chapter One

November 1945

Two hours after the birth on November 2, Johnny entered the maternity ward. His excitement was high. "Franny, it's a boy. Just what we hoped for. It's exhilarating! Are you OK?"

Frances replied, "I'm fine, Johnny, but where have you been? They called you repeatedly from the front desk without any answer. Where have you been?" she repeated.

"I had a meeting tonight which couldn't be avoided." It was three a.m. "Honey, you know my schedule, and also know that I work crazy hours to support you and Chad. And now baby Nicholas Allen. That's what we named him, right?" He smelled of alcohol and his excitement seemed greater than just that. Earlier he had shot up with heroin!

"Nicholas is a fine name," Frances agreed. Frances had just gone through many hours of labor and given birth to an eight-pound boy who was now named Nicholas Allen Packard. A choice they had tentatively agreed upon months ago. Their older boy was named Shadrach after Johnny's great uncle. Chad, as he was nicknamed, was now a playful and happy two-year-old. Chad seemed very crafty at his young age, while Nick was showing extreme alertness upon birth and had a special quality. Both Frances and Johnny thought that Nick might be destined for something big!

John W. Packard, born the son of a war hero, followed a lifelong course of crime that began in childhood. As a small schoolboy he was running numbers as a delivery boy for "Lord" Barrington, a local bookie and criminal with a lucrative business. His Anglo-Saxon community had that typical English penchant for gambling.

Johnny was a quick mover and could run as fast as a jackrabbit, which saved him from trouble on many occasions. He had a knack for conning just about anyone. One time, in 1937, young Johnny convinced Guiseppi from the North End of Boston to purchase twenty-four cases of hijacked second-rate scotch, which he and his youthful clan had stolen from a truck after Johnny had held a gun to the driver's head. He charged Guiseppi a cut rate for this "high-quality" scotch and the North End crew sold it for many times its real value. This was successful because Johnny's clan had neatly changed the labels and resealed the cartons.

Guiseppi sold the scotch for a huge profit. It must have been halfway decent because no one knew the difference and no complaints were ever made! Johnny had turned a handsome profit for his clan and an even better one for the Mob. He now had an Italian paisano with whom he'd arrange other lucrative deals in the future. It was unusual talent for a thirteen-year-old. By age twenty-two Johnny Packard had attained an important position in the hierarchy of crime in America. The young Englishman had established a high level of respect from his clan and from the Italians in the North End. He holstered a .45 automatic at all times which he seldom used. It was more for effect. But if he did, his opponents suffered drastically.

The activities of his clan came to cross all lines, including hijacking, loan sharking, prostitution, and other robberies. He never worked a day in his life for anyone else, much less took orders. What stood out about Johnny, however, was the love and respect he had for his family and the pride taken in them.

Johnny hardly reflected his ancestral patterns and habits. His known ancestry had been traced forward from Thomas Packard I, who was born shortly after Columbus discovered America. Thomas was a Knight of the First Order in His Majesty's Court, and an extremely honorable man and great family protector. Thomas's son, Nicholas J. Packard, was a magistrate of the High Court in London. He lived on an estate in Sible Hedgingham, Essex, England, and lived a serene and long life to the ripe old age of ninety-two.

The first of the English Packards to sail to America was Samuel, who sailed on the Griffin in 1633. He landed and settled in Boston, but was banished from the colony to Portsmouth, Rhode Island, for being a follower of Ann Hutchinson, the religious zealot who was excommunicated from the Church of Boston by the Puritans and moved to Acquidineck Island, which Samuel had purchased from the Narragansett Indians. This island would one day include the famous Newport, Rhode Island—the area where the summer homes of the super wealthy such as the Astors and Vanderbilts were built.

Samuel became one of the richest men in America and opened the first ironworks there. He would have been listed in the Fortune 500 had it been in publication back then! The Packards made great inroads in America into politics and industrial development.

Johnny's father was named George Packard, and was a highly decorated World War I hero who had been awarded many medals, including a Purple Heart and a Congressional Medal of Honor. He lived with his wife and two children and worked in his later years as a recruiter, up until his untimely death at age forty-four, when an artillery shell inadvertently exploded at his Long Island base and instantly snuffed out his life.

In 1943, Johnny Packard tied the knot with his high school sweetheart, Frances O'Malley, an attractive Irish brunette, who was his only love ever. He had the ability to separate business and family. He never uttered a word to Frances about his business activities. Now he had two fine sons whom he vowed to steer away from crime.

In late November, after the birth of Nicholas, Johnny and his top two lieutenants went to a meeting in New York City with a crew there to divide the spoils of a major hijacking. They had done all the dirty work and were owed a major stake. When Johnny never returned Frances got paranoid, and rightfully so. They had all been taken out, and their bodies would allegedly show up years later in shallow graves located by the FBI!

Chapter Two

Summer 1957

The double doors below the EMERGENCY sign at Browning Memorial swung open. There first appeared a police officer, followed by a gurney being maneuvered by two EMTs. The boy on the stretcher lay motionless, his eyes staring in a deathlike gaze. The only sign of life he showed was a choking attempt to vomit. A nurse held the boy's head and shoulders up to prevent his choking. The scene was frantic as nurses and technicians rushed toward the gurney. A resident doctor took his vital signs. The boy was clinging to life.

His brother, Chad, followed the procession and seemed to be in a state of shock. His blond hair was matted against his forehead from a drenching sweat caused by the extreme humidity of the dog days of early August. His face was pale, and although Chad had celebrated his thirteenth birthday just last week, his drawn look made him appear to be well beyond his years.

An admitting secretary called to Chad, saying, "Son, please come here. We need the patient's information." Chad continued to stare off into the distance and didn't respond. He seemed almost catatonic, lost in space and time.

A third boy, Danny Levin, who was part of the group of kids bicycling back from the lake that afternoon and had been trailing Chad, stepped forward and sat in a metal chair beside the admitting desk. The secretary, a burly, middle-aged, and proper bitch with shiny brown hair pinned up in a bun, spoke in a harsh, seemingly indifferent tone.

"What's your name, young man?"

"Uh, Danny, ma'am. Levin. Danny Levin."

"Who's your friend?"

"Who? Chad or Nick?"

"The patient, son! The patient!"

"Oh, Nick. Packard. Nicholas."

"Is that Nicholas Packard, son?"

"Yes!" Danny bellowed.

The woman went on, "How old is Nicholas?"

"Eleven, ma'am."

"What's his address?"

"Pine Street. I don't know the number, but it's here in Braintree," said Danny, feeling embarrassed.

"What happened, son?" the nursed inquired.

"Well, we were riding our bikes on Pleasant Street and Nick fell off his bike while trying to show off for some girls watching from across the street. He smashed his head on the road!" Danny related with tears in his eyes.

"Thank you, Danny. Have a seat in the waiting room and we'll inform you of his condition as soon as the doctor examines him."

"Thanks, ma'am," said Danny.

Danny took Chad's arm. He was crying profusely. He knew that his brother was badly hurt. They went to the waiting room which was around a corner beyond the admitting area. After they were out of sight of the admitting desk, Danny said, "Chad, be cool. Clamming up won't help Nick now. Let's go find him. He needs us now. Be tough!"

"Yeah, OK," Chad answered. "But I just can't believe it. Poor Nick. He's such a good brother, and smart too! My brother. I love him."

He prayed out loud, begging God to please save Nick. Holding back more tears, Chad followed Danny down the corridor and they meandered beyond the waiting area. Danny stopped and asked a young candy striper for directions to the exam room where Nick was. They found the door ajar and could hear the drone of voices inside the exam room. Peeking around the corner they saw an intensive effort under way to keep little Nick alive. A doctor stood beside Nick's apparently lifeless body. A huge parabolic light hung over the exam table. A nurse constantly monitored Nick's blood pressure through a cuff on his thin little arm while another listened to his heart rhythm with a stethoscope. His labored breathing was slow and substantially restricted. Nick's mother, Frances, was holding his hand and sobbing. She had just arrived after receiving the fearsome call.

Chad whispered to Danny, "Do you think he's still alive?"

"Of course, ass wipe, do you think they'd be doing all that crap to him if he wasn't?"

Just then, a man walked into view from the corner of the room. He was a distinguished-looking man of about sixty, with a full head of white hair, and wearing a gray pinstriped suit. He was Dr. Rangely, a neurologist who happened to be at the hospital when Nick came in on the gurney.

The boys couldn't hear all the conversation over the drone from the room, but could hear "severe ... brain laceration ... coma ... twenty percent, maybe"!

Chapter Three

"Chad, you didn't take out the trash as you promised. Get away from the boob tube and do it. Now! The truck will be here soon!" Frances yelled.

"All right, Mom, give me a break. I'm watching Leave It to Beaver. It's funny. I'll do it right after it's over. I promise. Ma, can I go to see Peyton Place with Danny tonight?"

"Not a chance, Chad, we have enough misery now. You don't need to see more. I hear that movie is loaded with filth and is overdone, not real." She knew better, though. "Go see The Ten Commandments. Or, more important, visit your brother at the hospital." As she spoke, tears welled in her eyes.

"Mom, do you think Nick will be OK? It's been days and he's still unconscious. He seems to move around a lot more now, though."

"Chad, pray with me." And they did, together.

Chad eventually arose from the couch and disappeared for a while, taking the trash out, while Frances forlornly watched the news. President Eisenhower came on in a special broadcast about atomic proliferation. Great Britain had tested its first atomic explosion. What followed was Gein's arrest for his rash of brutal serial killings. Frances didn't know then, but this maniac would soon become the inspiration for Norman Bates in the movie Psycho.

She turned the TV off. She didn't want to hear any more of the world's misery. She lay back and shut her eyes, then drifted off for a bit.

She awoke when Chad returned from his trash chore, clicking his heels as he walked in. He sat down beside her and put his arm around her shoulders, kissing her cheek. "Mom, I just noticed out in the garage, a gun resting on one of the tool racks. A pistol. It looks like an old forty-five. I checked and it is empty. Did that belong to Dad?"

"Yes, Chad, I should have thrown it away years ago, but I didn't want to throw his things away. I loved him very much. He always said that the gun was used for target practice, but I sensed there was more to it. I never wanted to cast any shadows on Johnny and have never told you about his secret life. I think he was involved in criminal things, although he never gave me an inkling of it while he was alive.

He disappeared right after Nick was born, but didn't die of a heart attack, as I told you and Nick before. He never returned and I cried for days. He was a good husband and father. He loved us all.

In, I think it was 1951, I was contacted by the FBI. They had somehow located a mass grave and they thought Johnny had been identified by dental records. Although the science isn't always completely accurate. It appeared that he had been shot several times. The FBI had pieced together the premise that these murders had been related to hijacking in New York City. They were mobsters, according to the agent who called me!"

* * *

Day 16 – Browning Memorial Hospital

The dimly lit green-and-white-tiled corridor was quiet and a few staff members passed through during the lonely hours of the graveyard shift. This was the time when every hospital worker was isolated to his or her station, daydreaming—or night dreaming, as it were—watching the clock inch forward, and praying for no casualties to roll in and upset the serenity. They all prayed that the Grim Reaper would lay down his bloody scythe until another shift.

The ICU nurse, Judy, in a white dress and traditional Dutch-type nurse's cap, bent over adjusting the station knob on the new RCA Victor mahogany radio. The hospital had sprung $29.95 for this state-of-the-art gem just a few days earlier!

As she moved her slender body to the sound of "All Shook Up," her big tits bounced in unison with the rhythm of the song. That new guy from Memphis had a golden voice, but even he would have choked on his words if he could see Judy now!

Inside room 140, the boy lay still on the bed, his mind seemingly a tabula rasa. Nick's bodily functions were stabilized. His face was sweaty from the humidity, but the mild sweat was contained by the churning blades of the sleek, black steel floor fan.

Day 21 – Browning Memorial Hospital

"I'll take ninety even," said nurse Serina.

"And, I'll take eighty-three," mumbled the other nurse, Sally.

Nurse Judy stepped forward and said, "You're both way off base. We're in the full moon phase and it's at least ninety-four. You'll see I'm right!"

Serina smoothly grabbed the patient charts with the ten forty-five p.m. updates and tabulated the average pulse rate of the thirteen patients occupying the ICU on her Olivetti adding machine.

"What is it?" Judy asked impatiently.

"Yeah, right, it's ninety-five!" said Serina "How the hell did you know?"

Serina and Sally combed through their pocketbooks for cash. A two-dollar bill and two ones were slid across the desk to Judy. As she laughed, her large, round tits jiggled up and down.

The double doors of the ICU swung open and Frances walked in. She was wearing a pretty white and blue sundress with straps hanging over her soft feminine shoulders. At thirty-six she looked great. Her long black hair was perfectly curled in a cute pageboy style. The emotional agony took a backseat to her youthful beauty as she held in that dreadful anxiety.

The nurses said, "Good evening, Mrs. Packard."

Frances forced a smile with great anguish and said, "Hello." Johnny's widow silently walked toward room 140 with dreaded anticipation!

Inside, Nick was sprawled out on his back with his right hand in the air. His fingers were partially clutched. Frances approached the bed and circled little Nick's forefinger with her palm. Suddenly Nick's finger moved, grasping her hand with a squeeze. "Mama," Nick uttered. "Where am I?" He had spoken clearly and logically after twenty-one days of unconsciousness!

Tears flooded her eyes and she burst out crying uncontrollably. Astonished and overwhelmed with joy she hugged his little body, stroked his whiffled head, and kissed his cheeks incessantly. Frances said, "I love you so much, honey!"

Nick murmured, "I love you too, Mom."

Day 23 – Browning Memorial Hospital

First, Danny arrived in the hospital lobby, trailed by Chad, who had stopped to tie his black, ankle-high Keds sneakers. The mood seemed lighter today. Nick had miraculously talked after three weeks of silence! Chad sneezed and wiped his nose with his shirtsleeve. Fall allergies were back!

Danny was wearing pegged pink pants, neatly tapered, and blue suede snap jacks. He had matured that summer and looked like a young Gene Vincent. His wavy brown hair was combed straight back on the sides and parted in the back in the popular "duck's ass" style. His sideburns were cut even with the earlobes.


Excerpted from Dancing on the Edge by Shepard C. Wilbar Copyright © 2012 by Shepard C. Wilbar. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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