At The Crossing Of Justice And Mercy: Excerpt Six

Another excerpt from At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy: In this scene, Andy Burden is considering buying a gun for protection on his journey to seek out the truth to the whereabouts of former cult leader, Peter Smith. Andy has a phone conversation with his friend John about guns.

At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy is available at Amazon.

* * *


“Hey, John. It’s Andy. I’m calling about that gun you were telling me about the other day. The one your friend is trying to sell. Is it still for sale?”

“Well, I’m not completely sure about that,” John replied. “But the last time I talked to him he still had it.” Why? Are you coming to your senses?”

“I don’t know, John. Maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe I’m losing my mind, thinking about getting a gun. Man, I don’t know if I could ever shoot anybody if I had to.”

John was silent for a moment, then he responded slowly. “Andy, if you’re going to carry a firearm, you have to be absolutely sure you can use it. You have to know, that if push comes to shove, you can shoot to kill. Otherwise it becomes more of a liability than an asset.”

“I know. I know,” I said. “Maybe I should just forget the whole gun idea.”

“Let’s take a step back for a moment, Andy. Let’s talk about your reasoning.  What are your reasons for getting a gun?”

“You know, this thing with Peter Smith?” I said…

…”Shit, Andy. Based on what you’ve told me about that guy, I wouldn’t put much of anything past him. If the guy faked his own death, I can guarantee you that he doesn’t want anybody to know. That means he could be dangerous,” John said. “But let’s go back another step. Why do you want to find this guy anyway? Maybe you should just let it go.”

“I don’t know, John. Maybe I’m just pissed off because he screwed my life up when I was younger. I don’t know.”

“Whoa. Wait a minute,” John snapped back. “First of all, that wasn’t much of an answer. You don’t sound very certain. And second, it sounds to me like you might be thinking about some kind of revenge. I hope you’re not thinking about taking the guy out. I don’t want to see you get locked up, man. Have you really thought this through, Andy?”

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Ten Tips For Better Public Speaking Delivery

Delivering the speech is the litmus test. If you’ve done all your research, organized your speech well, and practiced, you will do great. Check out these ten tips for great speech delivery.


This week the topic is delivery.  Last week we covered visual aids.  Check out the post and podcast: Choosing Visuals That Work.

Listen to todays audio for ten tips for better delivery:

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At The Crossing Of Justice And Mercy: Excerpt Five

This excerpt of At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy is an entire chapter. It’s short, experimental, and poetic. It’s the point in the story in which Andy Burden has an experience that leads him to believe that he’s destined to discover the truth. During a short trip to the ocean with his daughter, Annabelle, Andy realizes what he must do: he must start the journey.

* * *

I sat staring at the fire while Annabelle slept cozily in the tent. I listened.  

I listened to the sound of the ocean. I listened to the slow, gentle rushing sound of the surf reaching up the sandy shore. I listened to the trickling little pulls of water as the ocean sucked each drop back into its depths. I listened to the gentle splashing spray of water against the rugged rocky cliffs. I listened to whistling wind softly moaning its siren song to the sea. I listened to the endless rhythm of wind and waves. As I listened, I felt a powerful pull of something far greater than myself. Its greatness came in waves, and the waves swept over me. The waves swept into me, over me, through me, until my entire being was gently humming. I was humming with the vibrant energy that created the wind, the waves, the ocean, the earth, the universe. I stood up. And as I stood, humming with the energy of the universe, I looked to the sky. I gazed deep into the great expanse of sky and I fell into the stars. I spun and swirled and wept as I was swept into the Milky Way. I fell upward and onward through billions of brilliant little beams of light. Billions of little beams of light blended together and became one great shining radiance. I fell then into the center of the light.  And I landed in my father’s arms. And my father said, “I am with you. Go and do what I have destined you to do.”

It was at that moment that I knew. I knew Peter Smith was alive. I knew that I must follow the trail. I knew that I had been chosen to reveal the truth. I just didn’t know how. And I didn’t know what I’d do once I found him. In fact, I didn’t have a clue.

So I fell to my knees and I prayed.

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At The Crossing Of Justice And Mercy: Excerpt Four

In this excerpt of At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy, Andy Burden visits Sunnyvale, Arkansas, looking of clues as to whether Peter Smith is dead or alive. He’s met with an unfriendly tone by several of the people he visits in Sunnyvale who may have knowledge to Peter Smith’s whereabouts.

At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy is available at Amazon.

* * *

Next, I drove to Paradise Farms: Sunnyvale. The small spread sat a few miles west of town in a quiet rural setting. The stables looked large enough to board up to fifty horses. A patchwork of fenced pastures lent some country charm. In all, I’d guess the spread was sixty to eighty acres. A few horses peacefully grazed in the front section. A brown mare looked up as I pulled into the graveled parking lot.

A small office was connected to the near side of the largest barn. A few tools and old vehicles stood scattered about in the back pasture. The sign above the office door read: “Paradise Farms, Helping Kids, One at a Time.” Under my breath I mumbled, “That’s just great.” Peter Smith was a convicted pedophile, and he was able to start and run a business that worked with young, disabled, mentally and emotionally-challenged children. I took a deep breath and turned the handle. A string of bells jangled when I opened the door. They were loosely hanging on the inside door handle, just like the bells at The Silver Frame in Bonneveldt. It was the second deja vu that day.

A man wearing a Texas Rangers’ baseball cap, who looked like he hadn’t shaved for three days, glanced up from his work. He sat at a desk so cluttered with papers, note-pads, and fast-food coffee cups, there was barely enough room for the computer monitor and the keyboard he’d been tapping at.

“Howdy,” he said. “What might I do for ya?”

“Hi,” I said. “My name’s Andy Burden and I’m looking for someone named Russell Willis.”

“Well, Andy, I’m Lloyd. It’s a pleasure to meet yah,” he replied. He took a swig from a styrofoam coffee cup, scratched his head, and said, “There ain’t nobody here by the name ah Russell Willis. Sure y’all got the right place?”

“Yeah.  I think this is it.” I handed him a print-out from an attachment Simon had sent me. It listed Russell Willis as the manager of Paradise Farms. “It says he manages this place.”

“Yeah. Well he ain’t here no more.” Lloyd got up from his desk and looked me hard in the eye as he rubbed his stubbled face, and said, “I bought this place a couple ah years back from Russell Willis. Ever since, people been coming around asking ’bout him. Now, I don’t know what he done, but I got no connection to him or any of those crazies that followed him. Ya hear me?”

I looked around at the decor on the office walls. There were old calendars, old framed awards, a few pictures of horses, an aerial picture of the farm, and a couple of pictures of an old, abandoned, stone building. “Yeah, I hear you,” I replied. “Do you have any idea where Willis moved after you bought the place?”

“Nope. All I heard is that he moved Out West somewhere. Beyond that, I don’t really care where he went. Now, unless you’re a cop and you have a warrant, I don’t feel obliged to answer any more questions about him.” Lloyd turned back to his desk and sat down. He started tapping at his keyboard again. “Have a nice afternoon,” he said, without looking back up. “Sorry I couldn’t be ah more help.”

“It’s okay,” I said, as I walked toward the door. “I’m sorry to have bothered you.” The bells jangled as I walked out the door. The memory of The Silver Frame, my experience at the funeral home, and now this. It creeped me out.

Back in the parking lot, I sat in the car for a few minutes. I acted busy. I checked the messages on my iPhone and pretended to make a call as I glanced around the grounds. I was looking for something. Anything. I wanted to find some sort of clue. After a few minutes Lloyd came out and gave me a suspicious look as he lit a cigarette. I started the Versa, slowly backed up, turned around, and drove away. As I took a final check over my shoulder, stubble-faced Lloyd had his cell phone to his ear.

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