After suffering under her pious husband's dominance for 18 years, Sara kidnaps her five children leaving behind a wealthy dynasty.
Herring witnesses the destruction of this preacher, his devoted wife and their faithful Christian family. This legally entangled mess harms everyone who wants the money. Some people go to jail. Some lie and cheat, while others seek absolution in their faith.
The ramifications of their divorce causes pain and sorrow for future generations. The desire to get the Blake family's money becomes the root of all kinds of evil including murder, arson, infidelity and insurance fraud.
But like every mortal soul, the characters in this story have to survive the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
Even a respected 'Man of God' with a Master's Degree in Divinity will submit to the temptations of sin. His life, his family, his wealth and his inheritance are destroyed by a righteous indignation that repudiates the preacher's Sunday morning sermons.
Morgan Blake and his estranged wife, Sara Blake, must relent in their pursuit to surmount each other in their marriage dissolution, the custody of their five children and the division of marital assets.
All characters in this book should feel contrition for their sins and abjure for their sinful ways.
Is wanting money, evil? Or, is it the seed of the father that encourages his heirs to covet their inheritance which is lost in the legal battles to keep the family's wealth.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.57(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Escape from Freedom
By Redmond Herring
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 Redmond Herring
All rights reserved.
November 1, 1989 was a cold day in Illinois. The oak and elm leaves were blowing in the wind as two rental trucks and two cars drove off the family farm onto West Mine Road, heading east to Verona Road and then to North Grand Ridge Road and east again to Mazon. In Mazon they drove north on State Highway 47 to Morris, Illinois. Once they got into Morris, they pulled into the truck stop called 'R-Place' ... it was off I-80.
Leading the caravan was Sara Blake with her four kids in an old Ford station wagon, Sara's older brother Vincent was driving the first truck accompanied by Jim, Sara's oldest son. In the second truck was Grace's brother, Dan. Grace Blake and her daughter, Tracie, drove the last vehicle ... an old Ford Pinto.
Grace's son, Jeremiah, rode with his uncle in the truck ahead.
The rental trucks looked out of place as they traveled through the farmlands of Illinois. Local farmers were wondering whom these people might be ... and why were these vehicles driving so fast on the narrow tarmac roads?
The day had come ... after months of secret planning with out-of-state relatives; Sara's brother had flown into O'Hare Airport from Minnesota and Grace's brother, Dan, lived nearby in Joliet, Illinois. The men had rented two 14-foot moving trucks and drove two hours to the family farm that afternoon. Immediately, everyone was helping to pack and load the families' furniture and their clothing from the two farmhouses.
This was not an easy event but the mothers were certain that it was necessary for the safety of the seven kids. Their husbands, Morgan and Myron Blake, identical twin brothers, had become violent, abusive and irrational towards their wives' and the children. Even though Morgan was a well-spoken religious preacher at the local Baptist church, his behavior on the farm was eccentric, illogical and demonstrative. After living together for the last five years on the farm, the Blake brothers had gotten worse. They supported each other in their irrational thinking when arguing with their wives. Both men were going insane as they ruled the two families like a cult ... keeping their flock in fear and in desperate poverty.
The husbands did not have real jobs. Both wives had been working for a used printing equipment dealer in Joliet. The seven kids were responsible for feeding and caring for the 200 dogs the families were raising on the farm. On weekends, the women and children had to wash and nurture the dogs and clean up the cages. The children regretted Saturdays when Myron would yell out the orders to everyone. Morgan, five credits short of being ordained, spent his days preparing his sermons for preaching on Sunday in a nearby Baptist Church.
After church, Morgan spent his time on the families' finances while the kids had to work on the farm. Life was terrible, grueling and ungrateful. There were no family outings and certainly no free time to play. The women would work late into the nights trying to keep up to the families' laundry. Many times the old washers and dryers would breakdown for days while the men would try fixing 'em up, repeatedly. They would never consider buying new appliances.
The only relief for the women and children was when the men would leave the farm on the first of each month. Myron would drive to two western suburbs near Chicago and Morgan would travel to Minneapolis to collect the rents from their investment rental properties.
The Blake brothers had an 18-unit apartment building in Lemont and a house in Bolingbrook where Myron collected rents and performed needed maintenance. He usually returned to the farm later in the evening.
Morgan would drive to Minnesota and stay in their old print shop building they owned on Lowry Avenue North. Morgan, the older of the twins, was more responsible, more intelligent and the money manager. He managed two-single family houses, four-duplex houses, two four-unit houses and two eight-unit apartment buildings. Most of their tenants were on Welfare and AFDC or received Section 8 rent subsidies.
Almost every month, Morgan would have to take time to track down delinquent tenants and keep up the necessary repairs ... only those repairs the city inspectors required. The Blakes purchased the properties in North Minneapolis as an investment in the 1970's when the neighborhood culture was changing from Caucasian to Afro-American.
Monthly rents from Minneapolis and Illinois exceeded $50,000 per month. This was a $600,000 business and the Blake brothers were very secretive and parsimonious with their money. They would only keep enough money in their bank accounts to pay expenses and property taxes. The rest of their money was in a safe in the basement in their parents' farmhouse located outside Hartley, Iowa. Every couple of months, Morgan and Myron would travel to the Iowa farm to stash away more cash in their Dad's safe.
Sara estimated they had amassed a fortune of one to two million dollars in cash ... tucked away in that basement safe. She knew the properties were worth over $750,000 dollars with some underlying mortgages. In addition, the farm with its two houses was worth $300,000 with a $150,000 mortgage.
The Blake brothers were very wealthy men but kept their two families in poverty. Even the Blake parents lived as "poor dirt farmers." There was no extra money for vacations, clothing or gifts for children and they never purchased new cars or trucks.
The vehicles they owned were late model, worn out and used.
Three generations had hoarded money from their hog and cattle farming operations, rental properties, a religious publication business and their newest venture ... a Puppy Mill. Raising purebred puppies was a lucrative business. Selling the animals for cash ... no credit cards were accepted. All the cash receipts were undocumented and kept in Iowa.
As dog breeders, they would sell their new puppies through newspaper ads placed in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. They sold over 200 puppies each spring ... selling some for more then $500 each. It was a quarter-million dollar business with no labor costs, no warehousing costs; just food, water and heating costs with minimal expenses for advertising. They also received orders from five pet stores in Chicago.
Now the two families were splitting up. The men had no idea the wives were fleeing the farm leaving behind only two beds and few household goods. Sara had arranged with a neighbor man to care and feed the dogs every morning and evening until the men returned. She paid the farmer $100 and promised the Blake brothers would pay him more when they returned.
Sara and Grace had been saving as much money as they could for months in anticipation of this radical move. Both women had secretly received money from their out-of-state relatives, sent to a PO Box in Mazon. They both applied and received personal credit cards in their own names without their husbands knowing.
Sara estimated that she and the kids could live on her line of credit for 90 days with some additional financial assistance from her mother. It would be tough but it was worth the price to pay to escape from Freedom, Illinois.
Once the caravan left Morris on I-80, Sara and her brother, Vincent, would head west to I-39 and then north to Rockford and then north on I-90 to Minnesota. Grace and her brother, Dan, would begin their long journey east on I-80 towards Pennsylvania.
The two women had made previous arrangements with their relatives to have housing ready for each family at each destination. Sara and her five kids would live with her mother in New Hope, a small suburb of Minneapolis. Grace, with her two kids, would live in a townhouse in Sellersville, PA.
It was getting late as the caravan approached I-80. They stopped at the gas station to fuel up ... bought snacks and said their good-byes. The women did not want to stay long in fear that their husbands might, by chance, return from their travels early and recognize the families' cars at the exit.
The rental trucks left first ... Vincent and Jim heading west as Dan and Jeremiah drove off to the east. Sara got her two daughters tucked into the back of the station wagon for the long six-hour drive to Minnesota. The second oldest boy, Mitchell, rode in the front seat while the youngest boy, Tom, slept in the back seat.
Grace and Tracie said good-bye and drove east on I-80 to catch up to the men in the truck.
Sara and the four kids headed west. She was concerned about driving over the speed limit of 65 mph ... the last thing she needed was a State Trooper pulling her over and questioning them. It was easy for her to stay awake and alert ... with all that happened that day. "Wow ... they all got away and were safe!"
Finally, she was able to settle back to reflect on the events of the day while all her kids slept in the old Ford station wagon.CHAPTER 2
Sara began to reminisce ...
Her thoughts went back to 1967, her junior high school year in Waterville, Minnesota. After the family tragedy, her parents thought it would be best for Sara to get away from the homestead to attend Wade Hampton Baptist High School in South Carolina for her senior year.
Wade Hampton was a Christian boarding school where she could complete her GED and take some prep classes for college. Sara remembered how lonely she was living in South Carolina ... She really missed her family and her boy friend, Darrel. Darrel was her first love and intimate partner in 1966. He would drive Sara home after school in his old pickup truck and park in a back area of Darrel's family cornfield. Sara's family had a fishing-boat-rental business on Sakatah Lake near Waterville, Minnesota.
Darrel taught Sara a lot about sex ... especially how to give him pleasure without intercourse. Sara really enjoyed those moments without having to worry about getting pregnant. Her parents would have disowned her if she had. She knew her parents did not approve of Darrel because his family was Catholic and farmers. However, he was always there for her. She remembered how Darrel loved her and comforted her through the family's tragedy.
It was a terrible accident. Sara's younger brother, Curt, shot and killed their sister, Carla. The two siblings were arguing about how Curt had touched Carla inappropriately. Curt yelled for her silence and she did not relent. She headed out the door to tell their father. Curt, in his rage to quiet her, grabbed his dad's shotgun from the kitchen closet and told Carla to stop. She turned towards him before exiting ... Curt shot her in the chest. She died instantly from the shotgun blast.
When Sara came home after school that afternoon, she found Carla's body on the kitchen floor and then ran to tell their father ... who was working in the boathouse. Her father called the police after discovering what had happened to his beautiful young daughter. When the County Sheriff arrived, Mr. Harrison explained how it was an accident. Curt was under the age of 18, so he was not charged or arrested.
It devastated Sara who loved Carla more then any other family member. After the police took Carla's lifeless body away, Sara locked herself in her bedroom and did not come out for days ... crying, weeping and praying for God's mercy for her entire family. That day scarred her for life and she felt so alone without Carla, her favorite sister. If Sara would have taken the school bus home with Carla, instead of being with Darrel in his pickup, maybe she could have prevented the tragedy.
The older siblings secluded themselves in their desperation of trying to understand why God allowed this to happen to their faithful Christian Baptist family. The Harrison parents had been married in the Baptist Church. A Baptist minister had baptized all of their children. The entire family went to church weekly. Sara's older brother, Vincent, and her three older sisters were all married within the church and all their children were born into the Baptist faith. The entire extended family loved God. They all worshipped the Lord and prayed to God daily.
After Carla's death, Sara's father lost his joy for living and quit going to church while Sara's mother would not talk about the incident and insisted that no one else could. Back in the 1960's, grief counseling was not available to the Harrison family nor was there any state programs to help Curt deal with his anger issues. Only the church minister was available to comfort the family in their pain and suffering.
When Sara finally returned to the school, it was her boyfriend, Darrel Emerson, who helped Sara clean out Carla's locker. Sara could hardly bear the thought of never seeing her sister again. Carla would have graduated in June. Darrel shared memories of Carla to console Sara. He said ... "Call me if you ever need help ... and I'll come to you. I loved your sister and I will always love you, Sara!"
That summer Sara's parents decided to send her to South Carolina for her senior year. Her boyfriend Darrel was devastated and hurt. He wanted her to stay in Minnesota but Sara knew she needed to get away from the thoughts that haunted her. She needed to start a new life ... a new life with a new future.
After that year in South Carolina, she returned to Minnesota. Her parents sold the boat rental business and their homestead before moving into the Twin Cities. Her father found work at a toy factory and her mother got work at a local bakery. They freshly painted the upstairs bedroom and furnished it with Sara's old bedroom furniture. Nevertheless, she had no friends in Hopkins and spent most of that summer with her older sisters ... helping out with their children.
Curt had graduated from high school and moved away.CHAPTER 3
In July her parents suggested she should consider attending Seabury Divinity and Biblical Arts College in Faribault, MN. It would be good for her to be around other Christian students. The College was distinguished for its Fundamental Baptist teachings and she might meet a nice Christian man to marry.
Sara complied with her parents' wishes and started college in September. Again, she was alone, away from her family and sad ... missing her sister, Carla. It was not easy making friends because she wanted to keep her past private. It did not take long before the boys on campus began to notice this very attractive, shy young girl.
As a naive and sheltered girl, she was alone on campus until she met Morgan Blake. That was over some 21 years ago. Morgan had earned his Bachelor of Science and was working on his Master in Divinity as an assistant professor. He was also an outstanding basketball star for the small college. Mr. Blake was six years older then Sara ... tall with blue eyes, short blonde hair, muscular, educated and he loved God. He was studying to become a minister and a preacher.
Sara was impressed with his knowledge of the Old Testament as he quoted Bible verses. He could explain the meaning of every verse like no one else. Morgan noticed Sara the first day she came into his class.
She had beautiful dark hair, brown eyes with a shapely figure. He could tell that she was shy and secluded herself from all the boys on campus.
He was an upperclassman and knew he had to make his move before the younger guys on campus started pursuing her. He needed to capture her attention and take advantage of his stature at the college by offering to help her understand the Old Testament. Morgan had learned how to disarm an apprehensive person with pastoral methods of communication. Remembering those lessons from his first year in psychology, his mind was ready to take control of Sara and take advantage of her innocence. He wanted her for himself and possibly to marry her. The next day after Sara's morning class, Morgan suggested they meet in his office, later to review her chosen curriculum and her personal goals. He only had an hour to spend with her because of basketball practice so he suggested she read a passage from the Bible before they meet. He directed her to the book of Ruth 2:9. "I have told the other men not to touch you." He would explain the passage at their meeting.
Sara was taken by surprise ... she did not expect to meet a mature man who offered to help her better understand life. She knew that he would become a fine minister and have a church someday. Maybe ... this is God's plan for Sara. She was eager to meet with Assistant Professor Blake and discuss her place in the world. She had hopes that he could guide her and help her find her destiny in life.
Excerpted from Escape from Freedom by Redmond Herring. Copyright © 2014 Redmond Herring. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
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