Paducah author Chris Skates was invited to the nation's capital recently following the publication of a novel which touched on the controversies surrounding the industrial involvement of climate change.
Read an excerpt here of Going Green.
Ashley Miller turned down the radio and cocked an ear as she speed shifted into fourth gear. She had just accelerated out of a sharp turn and now had the Mustang on her favorite straightaway. She was taking the opportunity to “blow out the carbon” as her Dad was fond of saying. As she made the shift from third and the engine RPM’s rose she had detected a slight ticking sound from the engines lifters.
“Hum,” she thought aloud, “better adjust those valves this weekend.”
It was nothing serious. In fact most mechanics would have advised her to leave the valves alone as long as the ticking was so subtle. But Ashley wasn’t most mechanics. She was a perfectionist, and her ’66 white Mustang with the powder blue trim was her passion. It looked perfect and she kept it running perfect. Now the 289 V8 engine showed its stuff as Ashley barreled down the straightaway, the speedometer needle passing through 95 miles per hour and headed for 100. She was as comfortable driving at these speeds as most people would have been puttering along at 50. Up ahead she saw a farmer drive a tractor pulling a hay wagon onto the highway. He had never looked in her direction.
“Probably used to this road being empty at this time of the morning,” Ashley thought. With that she expertly slid the toe of her right shoe over, applied the brakes lightly, downshifted into 3rd and accelerated around the farmer like a white blur, sliding the shift lever smoothly back to 4th as she returned to her lane.
“There go your darned lifters again,” Ashley spoke directly to the Mustang now. She would definitely make that a priority on Saturday. But for now any tweaking of the engine would have to wait. She glanced down at her watch. It was 6:30 AM and time to head for home. She would need time to swap to her little Chevy Pickup and head to work for her usual 7:00start. She certainly wasn’t going to subject the Mustang to the parking lot at the coal fired power plant where she worked.
Ashley braked hard and made an abrupt left onto highway 45 which would take her back towards home. The back end of the car broke loose a little and Ashley couldn’t help but smile as she lifted her foot from the accelerator to bring the car back under control. Fifteen minutes later she would be the picture of safe driving as she tooled along casually in her pickup on her way to the plant.
Muhammad Raschi, known in the west as Ian Flannery, tied the belt on his thick terry cloth robe, picked up his cup and saucer and stepped out onto the patio to enjoy his tea in the cool morning mist. He seated himself by the little table in the corner, smoothing the silk fabric of his lounge pants across his knee. He rested the fine china saucer on the table and slowly sipped from the cup. The hot tea felt good on the back of his throat, still scratchy from the desert sands. Ian hated the desert.
From his vantage point in the corner, Ian could watch the activity along the boulevard below as the Capital began to come to life. At the same time he could keep an eye on his sliding glass door as he awaited his guest. The morning was foggy but at least today the temperature had warmed somewhat. It had been a record breaking cold Fall already in Washington DCeven though it was only November 10th. Most people down at the street level had traded the heavy coats they wore only the day before for light jackets. Many looked up expectantly as rays from the morning sun peeked through the low clouds here and there. “Perhaps today we will see the sun,” Ian thought. His English was perfect; two years studying at Oxford had helped with that.
Ian was enjoying his time in Washington, almost as much as he had enjoyed New York.Atlanta had been pleasant as well. The southern women were the most beautiful by far. ButAtlanta had lacked the excitement, the “hustle and bustle” as it were of the other two. InNew York the activity was centered more on the night life. Here in D.C., the people projected an image of importance. Not self-importance or arrogance, but actual importance. It was apparent that most of them felt they were working in a field that was worthwhile. In their own way, the people now beginning to fill the sidewalks and board the trains were serving their country. Ian admired them for it despite the fact that he hated the country they served.
His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the sound of the opening front door of the suite. Ian smiled broadly, his perfect white teeth momentarily dazzling his guest. Though Earl Worthen had seen pictures of Ian Flannery, he had never had the pleasure of meeting him in person.
“Mr. Flannery,” the jaunty Brit spoke with enthusiasm as he stepped through the already opened glass door. “I’ve so been looking forward to our meeting.” Worthen had been a citizen of the United States for nearly a decade. He had found engineering work here after graduating from the Royal College of Engineers and he was quite good at it. Unfortunately, Mr. Worthen had also developed a passion for gambling. He was so far in debt that he was on the verge of losing everything. That was what Ian liked about him most. That made Earl Worthen useful.
“I have looked forward to it as well,” Ian replied joyfully, standing to shake the professor’s hand. He made a mental note to tone down the charm a bit. Worthen was already enthusiastic enough. No need to overdo it.
“Shall we sit and visit out here on the patio?” Worthen asked.
“Oh no, it’s still much too damp and cool out here. I’ve arranged for tea and biscuits inside” Ian replied waving an arm toward the tea service arranged on the table in front of the sofa. The two men took seats on either end of the sofa.
Worthen eyed the tea service for a moment, then said, “Lovely of you to have selected my favorite tea Mr. Flannery.”
“It was my pleasure to have my staff acquire it,” Ian replied, knowing full well that the tea had been provided by room service and that it was a complete coincidence that they had sent up Worthen’s favorite.
As Ian poured tea in a cup, Worthen, quickly entered the electronic combination, and popped his brief case open.
“I don’t mean to be rude, but shall we conduct our business first? I’ll enjoy tea with you afterwards but then I really mustn’t tarry. I have a flight at noon for the Caribbean you know.” Worthen was clearly delighted at that prospect.
“Well, if the documents you brought meet my expectations then I would say you have earned a nice holiday,” Ian said as he spread strawberry jam across one of the thin shortbread biscuits.
“Oh, I think you’ll be most pleased.” With that Worthen took out a folder, placed the case on the floor, and unfolded a large blueprint and spread it across his lap. “You may need to slide over here to see the level of detail present, but this technical drawing is an excellent example of others that I have with me.”
Ian scooted closer, sliding his right arm across the back of the couch and behind Worthen so that the two almost looked like a couple.
“You can see these drawings of the infrastructure are extremely detailed. There is a separate drawing for each subsection broken down by State,” Worthen continued.
With that he turned towards Ian to gage his reaction. He was certain that the rich Arab would feel that he was getting considerably more than he had hoped for. He had no idea why Flannery wanted these drawings but he was pretty sure that he did not have the best of intentions. However, Earl Worthen was not in a position to question anyone’s motives just now. He was desperate. He was not going to tell his wife that they were going to lose the house. He had been through too much to get to where he was. All he needed to know was that Ian Flannery seemed a gentleman and that he paid well. He paid very well.
Ian looked up and smiled proudly so that for a brief moment the two men’s faces were in uncomfortably close proximity, but only for a moment. With a lightning quick upward thrust of the hand Ian had across the back of the couch, he drove a stiletto into the soft tissue just at the base of Worthen’s skull. As the blade entered the man’s brain, Ian applied a leftward twisting motion to the blade’s handle. With no noise and little fuss, Worthen slumped over, his body resting against the arm of the couch.
Ian clutched the cuff of his own sleeve tightly in the hand that had held the knife and wrapped his arm tightly around Worthen’s neck. He allowed the warm blood to soak into the absorbent sleeve of the terry cloth. Then, rising slowly, he carefully pulled himself out of the robe and wrapped it around Worthen’s head, neck and shoulders. Standing bare cheasted before the coffee table, he reached over and picked up a small silver bell in one hand and his jam covered biscuit in the other. He rang the bell lightly as he stepped toward the desk phone, taking a bite from the biscuit as he moved.
In seconds two larger Arabic men entered the room with a neatly folded body bag. Ian, acting as though the two men and Worthen’s body were invisible, dialed room service.
“Yes, can you have someone bring another robe to my room? I plan on taking two of them home with me when I check out. Yes, of course, place it on my bill.”