Called to Arms Again
Sample # 2
by J. L. Salter
Grit doesn’t fade away ... it just becomes crusty. With harrowing elements right out of today’s headlines, this story reaches back into the sturdy heartbeat of people raised during the Depression and tested during World War II. Though the old uniforms haven’t fit in many decades, their resilient spirits still have that same intensity which helped save democracy.
Welcome to the second sample of my brand new novel, Called To Arms Again, just released on May 30 by Astraea Press.
The heroine is Kelly Randall and her boyfriend is Bill “Mitch” Mitchell. Through much of Chapter 1, she’s been fretful — she feels things closing in around her. These two short scenes are near the end of that chapter. The restaurant scene reveals a bit about both characters, but its imagery also comes up later in the novel in a meaningful manner.
Mitch stood and stretched. “What are you watching out there?”
Kelly motioned toward the glass upper half of her cabin’s back door. “Just looking at the
Mitch stood close behind Kelly, placed his large hands on her hips, and rested his chin lightly on the top of her head.
She wasn’t fussy about her honey brown hair, but washed it daily… then simply blew it dry and brushed.
“You seem unusually pensive this evening.” He bent his neck forward enough to kiss the side of her neck lightly. “You want to just stay in for a while? Maybe elbowing crowds in a hustle-bustle buffet line isn’t the best venue right now.”
“Yeah, let’s just hang out here for a bit. Maybe we’ll get a bite later, somewhere quiet.”
Mitch hugged her closely for a few more moments until she disengaged to get a sip of juice.
Kelly, in the kitchen, could hear his stomach grumbling.
* * * *
About an hour later, Kelly and Mitch sat at their favorite of the local Mexican restaurants. He’d quickly ordered his standard: enchilada dinner plate. Kelly wavered between one of the specials and the numerous possible taco, tamale, burrito, and enchilada combinations. She finally selected the components of a combo plate.
A different waiter, on his way to a nearby table, carried a steaming platter of grande fajitas with a plateful of flour tortillas and another dish with rice, beans, and salad. The fajitas sizzled audibly as they passed and Kelly inhaled as though she could capture
some of their aroma to savor later.
“Let me guess.” Mitch nodded toward the enormous tray as it was placed in front of a hungry diner two tables away. “You wish you’d ordered those fajitas.”
She nodded. “But nearly double the cost of my combo.”
“You do that every time — order this,” he said, pointing to the combo section on the menu’s back panel, “and wish for that.” Mitch aimed his chin toward the sizzling
“Well at least I vary my combos, Mister Eat-the-same-thing-every-single-time.”
He shrugged. “I like predictability. Sue me.”
Needing only a fresh angle to write her Veteran’s Day special, Kelly discovers first-hand that the Greatest Generation still has enough grit to fight back. While all the authorities are occupied during a massive Homeland Security drill, an urban gang of thieves targets an isolated retirement subdivision ... figuring the crippled geriatrics would offer no resistance.
Though Kelly’s widowed boyfriend came along only for a post-funeral luncheon,
Mitch soon finds himself leading a mis-matched flanking team. Kelly’s good friend Wade has his own assignment, with a home-made mortar and lots of illegal gunpowder.
Maybe it’s difficult to remember everyday things like taking pills, but these octogenarians have never forgotten it was up to them to defend family, home, community, and country. The outcome of their courageous stand depends on the resolve and resourcefulness of an unlikely ensemble of eccentric elderly neighbors, several American Legion members, and others spanning four generations.