As more people fi lled the packed church, Jack was forced to move down the wall toward the front, until he was very near the altar. From that vantage point, he could see the young mother’s face.He found himself staring at her, unable to look away. He didn’t know why. Perhaps it was the terrible sadness in her face. He watched her intently as she clutched a little brown teddy bear and a picture of her daughter, who now lay only feet away in a small casket. The size of it made him wince. Jack felt the anger rise within him.
At sixty years old, Jack Steele has long since retired from putting criminals—especially those that hurt children—in prison. Following his retirement from law enforcement, he built a successful multimilliondollar company, allowing him fi nancial freedom in his golden years. Following the unexpected loss of his wife, Sarah, however, he withdraws into himself. He becomes a loner whose only companion is his German shepherd dog.
Sick of a court system that lets monsters out of prison to torture and kill again and again, he decides there is only one way to stop them. Using his own resources, his credentials as a retired police officer, and his .380 Walther, he and his dog begin to hunt—bringing justice to those whom the system cannot control.
|Publisher:||Yorkshire Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.46(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Goodbye Man
By Chad Barton
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Chad Barton
All right reserved.
Chapter OneInto the Night
If men were angels, no government would be necessary. —James Madison
Jack didn't like killing. In fact, he abhorred it. As a small child, he would stop other little boys when they picked on animals. His mother had raised him to believe that all life was precious and therefore worth protecting.
His father, a decorated World War II veteran, had taught him that all killing was horrendous, no matter how honorable or justifiable it seemed at the time. His dad would have known, for he'd done his share of it in the skies over Germany.
Yet here he was, on the way to his first planned execution, one he would personally commit. He was sixty years old now, and his parents were long since gone.
He sat in the rear seat of his personal jet and stared out the window into the cold night sky. His German shepherd, Sadie, was asleep at his feet. The twin engine, eight-passenger Cessna was cruising at 41,000 feet somewhere between Orlando and Manhattan.
Jack was on his way to kill a monster named Ralph Jeffries, but he didn't seem concerned. In fact, the only thing that really bothered Jack at the moment was whether or not he'd brought the right clothes to keep warm.
Jack looked out the left window of the jet and thought about the lights below him. It was Christmas time, and he imagined the people in the towns that they were passing over getting ready for the holiday. It was a time he loved. Fond memories filled his mind as he looked down on the winter landscape. He thought of his mother cooking in the kitchen of his boyhood home in upstate New York. It was always bitter cold that time of year, but the smells coming from the kitchen warmed the whole house.
He remembered the Christmas tree in the living room and his father sitting on the couch in front of the fireplace. He could still hear the fire crackling. And the kitchen—what wonderful food came out of that kitchen! He could still hear his mom calling them to dinner. As he thought of these things he smiled. Those had been wonderful times.
"About forty-five minutes, sir!" the gruff voice of Frank, chief pilot, jolted Jack back to reality.
In deference to the cabin noise Jack nodded to Frank, who had been his air boss for years. Frank had retired from a major airline, and sometimes it seemed to Jack as though he were still a captain. He barked orders to his co-pilot and expected them to be followed, even in Jack's plane, which he considered his own even though Jack paid for it.
Sadie woke with a start at Frank's voice and put her front paws on the seat across from Jack to look out the window. She had flown long enough to know what Frank's commands meant. Soon she'd be on the ground.
Jack unlocked his black leather briefcase and removed the weapon, a gun he knew well. He picked it up and examined it carefully. Here, away from any prying eyes, would be the last time he would inspect the firearm. The four seats in front of him ensured the pilots could see nothing, unless they left the cockpit. But they were too close to Teterboro Airport, just outside of Manhattan, to leave their seats.
He heard Ralph, the co-pilot, on his headset talking to the air traffic controllers, who instructed the Citation jet downward through the cold night sky.
He removed the bullet clip from the .380 automatic weapon, ensured its chamber was empty, and checked its action. The weapon was a well- built machine. He had owned the Walther for over thirty-five years and as a policeman had carried it throughout most of his career. How ironic, he thought, that the same weapon I carried to protect people as a cop, I'll now use to kill monsters.
The weapon checked out fine. He inserted the clip and chambered a live round. He had never needed more than one clip and didn't expect that to change this trip.
"Fifteen minutes, sir!" announced Ralph, the co-pilot.
Jack put the Walther, now fully loaded and hot, back in his briefcase, alongside his credentials as a retired police officer. Security didn't check passengers at the private executive airports, which he had never understood. But if they did this time, he would simply say he forgot to leave the weapon at home and hope his badge helped him explain it all away.
He heard the landing gear drop down and lock in place. The wind became noisier as the cold air and landing gear rushed at each other. Their descent had begun.
They landed at Teterboro at 7:15 pm. A light snow was falling as they touched gently down at 120 miles per hour.
He had always loved New York City at Christmas time.
He put on his overcoat and hat and clipped the leash on Sadie.
At the doorway, he looked at Frank and said, "I'll call you, Frank. Shouldn't be but a couple days' business. I'll be at the Warwick, on Fifty-Fourth and Sixth."
"Roger that, sir," Frank said. "We'll be ready when you are."
Frank didn't like many people, but he liked Jack. He respected his twenty-year police career and the fact that he'd been smart enough to start and build a very successful multimillion dollar company after his law enforcement career.
Damn shame he lost his wife, though. What a tragedy, he thought to himself. She used to love New York this time of year. They all missed her.
Jack exited the jet with the big shepherd on her leash, held tightly to his side. Sadie wouldn't harm anyone unless he told her to, but she had the tendency to scare the hell out of people.
As they walked toward a waiting limo, an attendant, on his way to the jet to retrieve the rest of Jack's luggage, said hello.
Jack tipped his hat to him and said, "Merry Christmas."
Jack held Sadie with his right hand and the briefcase that carried the Walther with his left. At each side he held an instrument of death.
The crisp night air helped him refocus on the reason for his visit, and that was murder. It was killing time.
Chapter TwoOld Memories in an Old Hotel
While seeking revenge dig two graves—one for yourself. —Doug Worton
The private car pulled up at the Warwick Hotel, and Jack and Sadie got out.
At the entrance, the doorman, Walter, offered him a gentle salute and said, "Welcome back, sir!"
"Thank you, Walter," said Jack, tipping his hat to him.
"I see Sadie's joining you again, sir. We always enjoy seeing her, you know," said Walter, as he leaned down to stroke Sadie's back.
Sadie liked Walter. He always brought her treats from the kitchen. The entire staff at the Warwick loved her. Jack had stayed here so often on business trips and vacations over the years that management had pretty much given her the run of the place.
The Warwick Hotel was located at 65 West Fifty-Fourth St, in midtown Manhattan, square in the heart of New York City. Right around the corner from the Avenue of the Americas, it was a perfect place for any visitor: close to Broadway and almost next door to the NBC studios and Radio City Music Hall.
The Warwick, commissioned by William Randolph Hearst in 1926, had hosted the most famous of the famous, including the Beatles and Elvis Presley. Cary Grant had made the hotel his home for twelve years. It was a European-style hotel with over three hundred rooms and suites that overlooked Sixth Avenue.
The Warwick was known for its impeccable service. Jack Steel, raised in the mountains of upstate New York, had been coming here since he was a small child. The Warwick was his father's hotel of choice when he came to the city. Jack had carried on that tradition and had been coming here for more than fifty years. He cherished the happy memories in this old place. Over the years he had used the hotel to host his good friends and happy occasions and had brought his wife and daughters here for many a holiday visit. Now he just brought the dog. He used it as his New York City headquarters, to prey on those who came to prey on others.
Jack and Sadie walked into the lobby of the grand old hotel and approached the front desk. The desk manager, Sonya, called out to him.
"Mr. Steel, welcome!" Sonya, like Walter at the front door, was genuinely happy to see him.
It's probably the dog, he thought.
"Hello, Sonya. Merry Christmas to you!" said Jack, taking off his hat and gloves and looking around the lobby.
It was crowded with happy people enjoying the city at Christmas time. A beautiful large Christmas tree covered with ornaments stood in the center of the lobby. Boxes wrapped with Christmas paper surrounded the bottom of the tree. A young couple pulled their two young children away from the presents.
"They're not real, you guys," he heard the father say.
The little girl, probably four or five, looked up at her father and said, "Why aren't they real, Daddy?"
Jack smiled as he observed the exchange. A thousand questions, he thought to himself. As he looked at the young kids, he thought of his own—now married young women with children of their own.
Sonya interrupted his thoughts.
"I see you have your usual suite, Mr. Steel," she said as she looked at the computer.
Jack's attention was brought back to the pretty blond desk manager. All of the staff had their country of origin on their nameplate. Sonya's was Norway. How degrading, he thought. It was bad enough to have to wear your name on your chest, let alone where you came from.
Sonya looked at him as he looked down to attend to Sadie. She liked Mr. Steel. All the staff did. They thought he was a real gentleman, and he was kind to everyone. He was obviously wealthy, but he didn't force it on you, like so many guests did. He always made everyone feel good, and he did so sincerely. He meant it, and they knew he did. He was dignified in the way he carried himself, and he never missed anything.
"This place wouldn't be the same without you, Sonya," he said, handing her his American Express card. "In fact, I wouldn't come here if you weren't here." He smiled at her.
She knew it wasn't true, but she didn't mind hearing it.
"And why would that be, Mr. Steel?" she said, smiling back at him.
He leaned forward on the granite counter and looked straight into her eyes. "Because you're the prettiest girl in New York."
He's good, she thought. She knew damn well she wasn't the prettiest girl in New York, and he damn well did too, but you wouldn't know that to hear him, she thought. He delivered that line like it was the absolute truth. She'd had a bitch of a day. After all, it was Christmas in New York. The hotel was sold out, and the staff was running at a breakneck pace. But just for a moment, she felt wonderful.
"Thank you, Mr. Steel! You've made my night." And in fact, he had.
He looked at his watch. It was nine-thirty pm. Time to hustle.
Jack and the dog went to the staff elevators behind the main ones. These were the ones he and Sadie always took. She was a big German shepherd, almost one hundred pounds. He didn't want to frighten the guests, so he had made an arrangement with the staff to use the back elevators. Sadie liked them the best because there always seemed to be room service carts with trays on them coming down from the rooms. She could smell the leftovers, and Jack always gave her unopened packs of crackers left on the trays. Sadie knew right where they were and what was in them and pulled on her leash to get to the elevators from the lobby. As the elevator rose to his suite on the twenty-eighth floor, Jack gathered the crackers and fed them to Sadie. By the time they arrived at their floor she had eaten twenty-two of them.
They exited the service elevator and entered the main hallway. Jack went to suite 2801, swiped his card, and opened the door. As he did he let Sadie off her leash.
"Get 'em, Sadie!" he said as they entered the room.
She went in quickly and began her search. She knew when he was serious, and this was not one of those times. She spent the next five minutes sniffing and poking around the suite.
Jack threw his suitcase on the stand at end of the bed and unlocked it.
He checked his watch again. Where the hell does the time go? Then he thought of Ralph Jeffries, for whom time would soon stop forever.
Jack hung up his garment bag in the closet without removing clothing from either piece of luggage. If he had to leave New York in a hurry, he wouldn't have time to pack.
Next Jack opened his briefcase and reached for his Walther PPK .380 automatic, originally invented in Germany after World War I. PPK was an acronym meaning Polizeipistole Kriminellmodel, which translated to "police pistol, detective model." They were originally carried by the police and military in Hitler's Germany, and the all-steel construction meant they were durable, dependable, and suitable for use in the harshest conditions. Jack's was an older weapon, built sometime in 1937.
He had asked the firearms examiners at the police lab to trace its origin many years ago when he first got it. Interesting history, he thought, not for the first time, as he reached for it. The weapon had been taken off a dead German officer by the American GI who had killed him. The young soldier had smuggled it home. The years passed, and the by then old veteran had taken it to a pawn shop in Miami, where he had retired, and pawned it to buy food. That's where the Walther and Jack had met. It had been in perfect shape, and Jack bought it. The gun used by monsters of the German SS to kill was to be used by him to kill monsters who preyed on the young.
The gun was clean, and the action was fine. Jack chambered the first round. There was now one in the chamber and six in the clip. He had never needed more than one. He had never used more than three. Sometimes, he knew, when killing, you used more than you needed—when anger took over.
Jack placed the firearm on the dresser.
He went to his garment bag in the closet and reached in the zippered side pocket. He removed a small camera tripod, unscrewed one of the small round cylindrical legs, and removed it.
He held it up to the light and looked through the hollow interior. Jack held it to his lips and blew through it to make sure that nothing had gotten into it during transit. It was clear. Jack took great care of the piece. It had been made by an old friend who owed him a favor, an old friend who made things that weren't supposed to be made.
He screwed the small cylinder into the end of the Walther. The cylinder had become a silencer. He placed what was left of the tripod back into the garment bag and slid the weapon into the right front pocket of his long winter coat. It was almost ten-thirty.
"Time to go, Sadie," Jack said as he placed his scarf around his neck and donned his hat.
Sadie whimpered and began to dance around. She knew they were leaving. She could tell from his demeanor this was more than a walk. They were going hunting, and she loved hunting.
Jack leaned down to hook the leash to her collar and looked directly in her eyes.
"It's time to say good-bye to Mr. Jeffries, Sadie. Are you ready?"
Sadie barked once, and they left.
Chapter ThreeThe Creation of a Killer
The healthy man does not torture others—generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers. —Carl Jung
Ralph Jeffries had been a monster from a very young age.
Born to an alcoholic mother and raised with a sexually abusive stepfather, he soon found personal ways to alleviate his demons. At an early age he stole the neighborhood cats and then tortured and killed them. His methods of mayhem became quite inventive. He used fire to burn them and knives to cut them.
Eventually he was bored with cats, and other animals became the object of his deranged mind. Dogs, cows, and horses throughout the small county in South Georgia where he lived were subject to his terror. He cut horses' throats in pastures at night and watched them bleed to death. He beat cows in the head with sledgehammers and watched them die. He dissected dogs while they still breathed.
Excerpted from The Goodbye Man by Chad Barton Copyright © 2011 by Chad Barton. 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsChapter One: Into the Night....................1
Chapter Two: Old Memories in an Old Hotel....................5
Chapter Three: The Creation of a Killer....................11
Chapter Four: From One Monster to Another....................21
Chapter Five: A Drink Before Dying....................31
Chapter Six: A Breath of Fresh Air....................35
Chapter Seven: Hunting a Killer's Killer....................41
Chapter Eight: A Rising Storm....................43
Chapter Nine: A Monster Among Us....................49
Chapter Ten: An Island's Heartache....................55
Chapter Eleven: Death Before Dishonor....................61
Chapter Twelve: A Funeral for a Friend....................67
Chapter Thirteen: A Walk in the Park....................73
Chapter Fourteen: Of Rain and Thunder....................81
Chapter Fifteen: A Sunny Day....................87
Chapter Sixteen: A Midnight Ride....................91
Chapter Seventeen: Donuts and Coffee....................97
Chapter Eighteen: Research and Restitution....................101
Chapter Nineteen: A Devil on Park Avenue....................105
Chapter Twenty: The Second Time Around....................111
Chapter Twenty One: A Mourning in Church....................117
Chapter Twenty Two: Hunting the Devil....................121
Chapter Twenty-Three: Disturbing the Peace....................125
Chapter Twenty-Four: The Second Loss....................131
Chapter Twenty-Five: Back In Time....................135
Chapter Twenty-Six: For the Children....................145
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Loyalty and Love....................153
Chapter Twenty-Eight: A Southern Wind....................161
Chapter Twenty Nine: Time with Friends....................167
Chapter Thirty: Hell on High Water....................175
Chapter Thirty One: Returning the Favor....................185
Chapter Thirty Two: A Broken Heart....................189
Chapter Thirty Three: The Long Trip Home....................195
Chapter Thirty Four: Christmas in New York....................203