The Mark of Janus

The Mark of Janus

by Patrick David Daley

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Overview

The Mark of Janus by Patrick David Daley

Sean Kilgore, born with the same distinctive birthmark as his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, has no idea that he belongs to the world, not just his parents. Months later after a car accident robs him of his parents and his history, little Sean is adopted by his father's colleague. Sean Kilgore is now Sean Brennan. As Sean grows older and learns he is adopted, he cannot escape the belief that his triangular birthmark has significance. Yet his attempts at discovering what it means only deepen the mystery.


Years later, Sean feels like a stranger in his own life, encumbered by a restlessness that beckons him into the unknown. Seeking to escape a past marred with disappointment and tragedy, Sean leaves a life of certainty behind and travels from Toronto to Kabul to London and finally to Janus, an uncharted island in the North Atlantic, where he soon discovers a peaceful society, committed to remaining isolated from the world. As Sean immerses himself in a new life, he is unaware that beneath the peaceful charm lies a hidden truth: the island's enigmatic leader, a beautiful woman, and The Spirit know more about him than he does.


The Mark of Janus is the compelling tale of one man's journey to fulfill a purpose two centuries in the making as the future of the world waits.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781491746943
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/09/2014
Pages: 428
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.95(d)

About the Author

Patrick David Daley is a former journalist, columnist, publisher, and corporate speechwriter whose career has spanned more than four decades. He currently resides in Toronto, Canada, with his wife, Wendy, where he is writing the third book in the Janus Chronicles, The Hope of Janus.

The first book in the Chronicles, The Mark of Janus, is also available at all on-line booksellers.

Read an Excerpt

The Mark of Janus


By Patrick David Daley

iUniverse

Copyright © 2014 Patrick David Daley
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4917-4694-3


CHAPTER 1

He was born to be orphaned before his first birthday.

The bloody, wailing, seven-pound baby boy was immediately placed on his mother's stomach by the birthing-room doctor. Nora had wanted the birth to be natural. After eleven hours of labor, it had been a vaginal delivery. The nurse gently dried the baby and suctioned out his mouth and nose. She covered the infant with a blanket and placed a woolen cap on his head. The doctor clamped the umbilical cord in two places. He then snipped it between the two clamps. After waiting a couple of minutes, he collected a tube of blood from the severed cord, so the baby's blood type could be verified.

An Apgar assessment was done to evaluate the baby's heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflex response, and color. Everything was excellent.

Lucas Kilgore had been in the room during the delivery. It was the couple's first child, and he'd wanted to experience every moment of his son's birth. He knew it was something he'd remember for the rest of his life. Feelings of ecstasy, pride, and love flooded over him. He was amazed at how quickly the event had transformed his world. A mantle of responsibility, of having walked through the door to manhood seemed to settle easily on his shoulders.

Everything about Lucas, from the intensity of his dark brown eyes set in an angular face topped by well-coiffed dirty blond hair to his gym-maintained, lean, muscular body spoke of a man who strived for perfection. And now he had produced a son and heir who would one day follow him as a partner in his law firm. Lucas already had his son's life planned for him. But that would come later. Today was for enjoying his accomplishment.

The nurse had swaddled the baby in a blanket. She gently handed him to Nora, whose blonde hair was damp from sweat; dark circles rested under sapphire blue eyes. The new mother cradled the child in her arms.

"He's beautiful," she said, looking up at Lucas, who was leaning over the bed.

"Welcome to the world, Sean Jason Kilgore," he said, his cheeks glistening with tears.

The nurse left the room, giving the family some time alone.

"Our baby has the birthmark," Nora whispered. "It was one of the first things I checked after they handed him to me and said everything was perfect. It's on his left thigh and in the shape of a triangle. It looks exactly like the one you have."

"I know," agreed Lucas. "I saw it during the delivery. And so once again, it passes from father to son."

"When he gets older, he's going to ask what it means," said Nora.

"And I'll tell him what my father told me." Lucas sighed. "Still, there's plenty of time for that. We have a few years before he has to be burdened with something that seems impossible when all the implications are considered."

"The meaning behind the triangle didn't impact you the way it's supposed to guide Sean," said Nora. "I really didn't believe your father until I saw the birthmark on our baby's leg."

According to Lucas's father, their little boy belonged to the world and not just to his parents.

"When Sean asks," Nora added, "you'll have to be honest with him."

"Of course I will," said a slightly exasperated Lucas.

"Has that private investigator you hired found out anything?" she asked.

"We talked a few days ago, and so far, he's got little more than what my father told me. And we both know that's not much."

Lucas often wondered if his father hadn't gone senile when he talked about the birthmark. After being told Nora was pregnant, he was adamant it would be a boy and that he'd be the chosen one.

"My father said it would be our eldest son's duty to follow the path where it led, whatever that means. With Dad's death it's hard to make sense of it all."

"But it's such a distinctive birthmark," offered Nora. "It must represent something."

"All we know is that it goes back to my great-grandfather, Joshua Kilgore," Lucas reminded her. "It's carried by the eldest son and has been passed from generation to generation. But even that's a mystery."

"Was the investigator able to find anything about your family's history?"

"According to him, there's no record of our family past my great-grandfather."

"But that's impossible."

"Not really," concluded Lucas. "We don't know when he arrived in this country, where he was from, or even if his original name was Kilgore. He could have changed it for all we know. I'll give the investigator another couple of weeks, but if we don't find anything else, that'll be the end of it."

"I hope we find something," she said. "It's important to know your family's past."

Lucas wondered why Nora was choosing this moment to focus on his father's words. She'd just delivered their first child, and there was so much more the moment should hold. Did it have something to do with the mystery of giving birth? Or perhaps it was because she'd been put up for adoption at birth and had spent all of her early years in a foster home. Nora had been searching for her natural mother for years, without success.

Whatever the reason, Lucas wasn't going to have the conversation continue. His wife was tired. Her face was drawn and pale from the loss of blood.

The baby was getting restless. The nurse had returned and said it was time for feeding. Lucas slipped out of the room. He wanted to phone the office with the news.

CHAPTER 2

Lucas was a partner in the Toronto law firm, Brennan, Dolan, & Kilgore (BDK). Ten years after graduating with honors from the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law, the three—Tom Brennan, Brian Dolan, and Lucas—had built a law firm that was ranked twentieth in the country. The goal was to be among the top ten within the next decade.

All three were married. Dolan's wife had given birth a month before to their first child, a girl they'd named Hilary. Brennan and his wife had been trying to start a family for several years. Frustrated at the lack of results, Tom had undergone a variety of tests only to discover that he couldn't father a child. Undaunted, the couple had decided to adopt.

It was August, and despite the joy a new baby brought them, neither Lucas nor Nora was prepared to let Sean interrupt their work lives.

Taking time away from the office wasn't in Lucas's makeup. He was back at his desk the day after Sean's birth. Nora, a marketing executive for a large bank, was at her desk three weeks later. A nanny was hired. As the year moved into the fall and early winter, work demands steadily increased for both parents. Lucas was navigating a difficult takeover deal for one of the firm's largest clients. Nora was deeply involved in the introduction of a new customer-retention initiative.

Along with December's cold winds, the weather that year brought snow to much of eastern Canada.

Nora's foster mother was anxious to see the baby. Alzheimer's disease was quickly stealing her mind; she was to be confined to a nursing home in January. She lived in Montreal, and it was decided a perfect time to visit her would be over Christmas. It would only be for a couple of days. Both parents were busy, and Lucas, in particular, was on an early January deadline.

The plan was to fly, but at the last minute, Sean came down with a light cold. The doctor had advised against taking him on a plane, where the changing air pressure would cause problems for his ears. The train was fully booked, so their only choice was to drive. Lucas, as he did with everything, put a bright spin on the change and said it would give them a more relaxing time with the baby.


* * *

A cloudy, cold morning greeted their departure from Toronto, heading east toward Montreal on Highway 401. The highway was predominately a four-lane roadway separated into two lanes running east and west divided by a large center median. When they left, the weather was ideal for driving. However, as so often happens in that part of the country, the conditions soon changed. Two hours from the city, heavy snow, driven by a strong wind, began to fall, making driving difficult.

Just before Kingston, the freezing rain arrived as an unwelcome guest to the party. The roadway was slippery and getting more hazardous with each mile traveled. Lucas saw several cars up ahead, back ends fishtailing as their drivers applied brakes. Traffic was starting to bunch up, forming two conga lines of weaving metal, glass, and gas. Lucas's Cadillac was at the back of one line, hemmed in by a Greyhound bus in the other lane. The windshield wipers were beating a steady tattoo.

As the storm worsened, they entered a part of the highway that had been cut through a rocky outcropping. The Cadillac was boxed in by a wall of rock to its right, the Greyhound on its left, and a slow-moving Pontiac Le Mans in front.

Lucas looked in the rearview mirror. Everything was blocked by the front grill, headlights, and cab of a long-haul truck bearing down on them. Lucas realized instinctively that the truck was moving too fast to slow down. Acid churned in the pit of his stomach. Fear roared through his body. He swung the steering wheel hard to the right, hoping to lessen the impact.

The truck slammed into the Cadillac, crushing the car's passenger side and rupturing its gas tank. The car went airborne. Its trajectory took the already twisted hulk nose first into the rock face, driving the front end, including the engine, into the passenger compartment. The sound of anguished metal screaming as it twisted into shapes never intended was lost amid the unfolding chaos taking place on the highway. Sliding to the ground, the wreck came to rest on what was left of its four wheels. Gas leaked from the torn gas tank, staining the cold, windswept ground.

After ramming the Cadillac, the truck jackknifed. Its cab plowed forward into the Le Mans. The trailer, filled with twelve tons of steel cable, broke free. It gored the bus's side, peeling back metal and glass. The Greyhound careened off the road and into the ditch, disgorging several passengers as it rolled on its side. Like a pile driver, the truck cab kept going forward, hurling the Le Mans into the next car in line. A chain reaction ensued, spilling fifteen broken and bent cars along the highway. Blood, glass shards, and pieces of sheared metal were everywhere.

A lone Ontario Provincial Police officer was the first person to arrive at the scene. Before leaving his car, he radioed dispatch, asking for all emergency responders. Angling his car sideways across the highway, he got out and lit flares. All oncoming cars were stopped from entering the zone of chaos. The officer then went to help the bus passengers. He'd decided, correctly, that was where he could offer the most assistance.

A newspaper article the next day reported that, along with the nine injured bus travelers, two people had died at the scene.

The coroner later estimated that Nora was killed immediately upon the first impact. It was a year before the introduction of air bags, and Lucas died when the steering wheel was driven into his chest by the impact of the car hitting the rock wall. His chest cavity had been crushed, rupturing his heart and ripping apart his lungs.

Sean was found still secured in his car seat. Somehow he'd escaped the carnage. He was covered in broken glass and bits of ripped metal. The emergency team marveled that he wasn't crying. Sean soon fell asleep in the ambulance attendant's arms.

At less than five months old, Sean was an orphan with no place to go. Lucas had no siblings, and his parents were dead. Nora had never known a father, and her foster mother was incapable of caring for a baby. Sean was placed in foster care. The plan was to put him up for adoption in the new year.

The law firm was in disarray. One of its founding partners was gone, and in an instant, the death knell was sounding for the practice. As other legal firms prepared to sweep in and poach clients from what they believed was a mortally wounded partnership, Brennan and Dolan pulled all of the firm's employees together and asked for a concerted effort to save the floundering company. And they did. Everyone from the senior partners, to the junior associates, to the paralegals, to the law clerks, to the executive assistants pitched in to save the firm and keep its client base.

It was also agreed between Brennan and Dolan that the firm's name wouldn't change. The three had known each other since the first year of law school and had been in business together for more than a decade. Lucas Kilgore was a founding partner, and his name would remain.

The hours were long and difficult. During the first months, there were some defeats but many more victories. It would take at least a year for the firm to get back on solid footing, but the early results were encouraging. Dolan was out prospecting for new clients while Brennan ensured the firm retained the ones it had.

However, other changes were about to take place in Tom Brennan's life. He and his wife, Margaret, had spent hours researching adoption agencies and protocols, but now they focused their attention on adopting Sean.

One night in early March, Tom arrived home, as usual, just before midnight. He was weary and needed sleep. In his late thirties, he had a combination of graying black hair, soft brown eyes, and firm chin that radiated calm assurance, which his clients appreciated as much as his legal stewardship.

But Margaret, a tall, willowy redhead, had news for him that gave rise to laughter and happiness his coworkers would have been surprised to see. Despite his schedule, Tom had traveled with Margaret for meetings with social workers and the adoption agency. They'd participated in the adoption training classes and completed the home study program set by the province's Children's Aid Society. All they were waiting for was approval to have Sean join their lives and make them a true family.

And on this night, Margaret told her husband they could pick up Sean the next day. Papers needed to be signed, but it was merely a formality. For the couple, it was a life-altering moment, and they fed off each other's excitement. Neither slept, but it didn't matter. During his morning shave, Tom reveled in the knowledge that he was going to be a father. He felt better than he had since the accident had almost crippled the firm.

Later that day, with the flourish of a pen, Sean Jason Kilgore became Sean Jason Brennan. Sean was nine months old when Tom and Margaret brought him home.

CHAPTER 3

Sean had just turned fourteen years old when Tom decided it was time to tell his son he was adopted. He and Margaret shared this important news with their teenage boy. The conversation took place in Sean's bedroom—a place where Tom believed his son would feel safe and comfortable. Margaret sat on the side of the bed with Sean, while Tom took the room's only chair.

And there, amid the hockey posters, the autographed picture of Muhammad Ali, and his school books, Sean was told he was adopted. When Sean asked what had happened to his real parents, Margaret felt a tinge of sadness at his use of the word real. Tom explained about the accident. He told Sean as much as he remembered about Lucas and Nora. There was talk of a small inheritance that would be his when he turned eighteen. Throughout the session, Sean was told how much he was loved by Margaret and Tom.

Soon there wasn't anything more to say.

As he sat there absorbing everything he'd been told, Sean experienced a strange feeling of loss. To learn he was adopted didn't lessen his love for Tom and Margaret, but it did leave him with a sense that the life he was living wasn't his own.

Sean wanted to know about the mark on his left leg. He'd never asked because it hadn't seemed important. It was a part of his body just like his hands and feet. But now there was a need. He didn't understand why, but he wanted an explanation.

"It's a birthmark," explained Tom. "And while it's unusual, you don't have to worry that it's something bad. When you were younger, we had it examined by a doctor. He told us not to be concerned."

But Sean knew instinctively that the triangular mark represented something important. From somewhere deep inside his soul, he felt a stirring. If asked, he'd have found it impossible to describe the sensation. Within moments, the birthmark was pulsating and aching. That had never birthmark was pulsating and aching. That had never happened before. He sensed a connection to something outside himself. But what? Did it have anything to do with his real parents?


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Mark of Janus by Patrick David Daley. Copyright © 2014 Patrick David Daley. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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