Two young people, a brother and sister, die in a freak Lake Superior storm. Ricky Belisle, the accused murderer, is released from jail for lack of evidence. In shame he leaves his hometown to prove himself worthy; worthy of Marie Jeanne, 'M.J.', Charbonneau, his childhood 'buddy'; worthy of his family; worthy of his village. M.J. finds Ricky on a Colorado mountain where the nightmarish night repeats itself. Ricky and M.J. must overcome childhood terrors if they are to save one another.
Ricky Belisle travels across the south and west of America, a minor league baseball player, seeking redemption before his family, his people, his Marie Jeanne. It is 1960, the nuclear age. His forebears far into the mists of time––father, grandfathers, great-grandfathers and beyond––had been warriors, which the world no longer needs. He encounters temptation and corruption and injustice, a south of explosive rage and hypocrisy. Injury and death lurk under each friendly grin. Within the confines of the baseball stadium is safety and certainty. Baseball rules, if not just, are firm and clear. He suffers a concussion on a run down between third base and home plate.
Marie Jeanne finds him on a Colorado mountain, recovering, hardened, where Indifferent nature tests them, their love, their worth, yet again.
About the Author
Robert Townsend was born and raised on a farm in northern Wisconsin and writes of a life he has witnessed. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1969 at the height of the Vietnam protests, Townsend flew 135 combat missions in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In early 1972, he transferred to Berlin, Germany as a signals intelligence officer, then to the National Security Agency before returning as a war planner at HQ USAFE, Ramstein. From 1982-1989 he was deputy chief, Air Force Intelligence Agency, counter-deception directorate (housed at CIA). He is among some of the few men in America familiar with the war of ruse and stratagem between the US and the USSR. Slavic on his mother’s side, deep-south redneck on the paternal side, his parents managed money poorly and told stories well. Spare, pithy, lasting the duration of a Pall Mall cigarette, the tales were meant first to entertain while teaching. No one is completely useless, he was told. They can always serve as a bad example. His stories and novels arise from family history, fables and stories told around the kitchen table as well as his own experiences in America’s late 20th century ambiguous wars, deceptions and counter-deceptions. Townsend comes from a long line––father and grandfather, great-grandfather––of American soldiers. From his father the lesson was that his people were born fighting and women were mysterious creatures. He learned this lesson––storytellers are to be treasured; liars are vexing and exhausting, best avoided. But when liars are armed, crazed and planning Armageddon, ambiguity in matters of war and peace, life and death, are the vexation of his century. Fluent in Russian and German with a combat vocabulary in French, Townsend is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin (BA), studied at Freies Universitat Berlin (Certifikat), and received his MA from Georgetown University. After retirement he turned his attention back to writing, a passion waylaid by life and work. He has worked steadily since then on novels and essays.
Townsend comes from a long line––father, grandfathers and great-grandfathers––of soldiers, American and pre-American. Slavic on his mother’s, deep-south redneck on the father's side, his parents managed money poorly and told stories well. Spare, pithy, lasting the duration of a Pall Mall cigarette, the tales were to entertain while teaching. No one is completely useless, he was told. He can always serve as a bad example. He learned this lesson––storytellers are treasured, liars are vexing and both are so often one and the same. The craft is shared; the objectives differ. However, when the skilled liar is armed, crazed and planning Armageddon, ambiguity in matters of war and peace and life and death have vexed the earth. His stories and novels arise from family history, fables and stories told around the kitchen table as well as his own experiences in America’s late 20th century ambiguous wars, deceptions and counter-deceptions. Fluent in Russian and German with a combat vocabulary in French, Townsend is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin (BA), studied at Freies Universitat Berlin (Certifikat), and received and MA from Georgetown University. Since leaving the intelligence business, he has turned his attention to writing stories and essays, an early passion waylaid by life and work. The Long War is a novel series addressing deception, war and peace in the 20th century world of both contrived and actual moral ambiguity. In 1947, the Soviet security services named the United States as 'the main enemy.’ The Cold War was joined. Four teens, born half-worlds apart, children of their nations' greatest generation, come of age in the 1950s, each in their small-town Eden, cast out to encounter one another on the front lines in the war for control of the imagination. He follows four main characters: Two Russians; Danton Larionov and Ekaterina Soroka, one American; Richard Belisle, and a Canadian; Marie Jeanne Charbonneau. These four cross paths, destinies, and swords as they stalk, deceive and love across the world. They trust and double-cross one another, fast friends and bitter enemies, give faith and deceive while striving to live in accordance within their moral codes in an amoral world. Townsend and his wife, Patrice Naparstek, currently live in Semur-en-Auxios, Burgundy, France, but have lived comfortably many places––Rovinj, Croatia; Dresden, Germany; Dubai, UAE; Boulder, Colorado; Madison, Wisconsin.