A handful of potential suitors have showed some interest in turning Psychic Reprieve into a screenplay. If and when an offer actually materializes, I will pass along the details.
Over the past two months, I have been contacted by about two-dozen readers who have purchased and read Psychic Reprieve. It is important for authors to receive feedback from their audience. Knowing that people have busy lives, I do appreciate the time taken to critique the novel.
It seems that younger readers, especially those who live on Milwaukee’s eastside or are alumni of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, enjoyed Chapter Five, entitled, “Jokers to the Rite.” For your enjoyment, I have released an additional excerpt from this chapter. The scene involves a hazing prank pulled by three individuals on the Milwaukee State baseball team in an attempt to produce the team’s funniest video. In this segment of the chapter, a drone is used to frighten a member of the public. The scene occurs near E. North and N. Humboldt Avenues.
From: Psychic Reprieve
By: Mitchell Nevin
Chapter Five: Jokers to the Rite
With just four days left before the MSU baseball team headed south, outfielders Jake Patterson, Jeremy Brietlow and Ian Rourke had plans of their own. Breitlow’s girlfriend, Rachel Dunning, borrowed a Hammacher Schlemmer 9-1/2 foot remote-controlled bald eagle, from her father, who was conveniently out of state on business. The drone was controlled by a Gimbal-powered engine and propeller. A handheld transmitter enabled the user to command the bald eagle lookalike from a distance of over 300 yards away. The concept was simple: find an unsuspecting person walking alone in an urban environment, have the large bird hover near them, and then video the person’s response.
The team set-up a state-of-the-art digital video camera, also procured from Dunning’s father, inside Rourke’s dilapidated Ford Windstar. The van was parked facing southbound in front of a home that Patterson rented in the 2200 block of N. Humboldt Ave. Inside the van with Rourke, Breitlow would manipulate the eagle from the front passenger’s seat. Patterson—stationed inside a beat-up bread truck he had borrowed from his uncle under the guise of retrieving a couch from a nearby thrift store—stood-by in the parking lot of a grocery store a block to the south. Inside was the 9-1/2 foot drone. On cue, Patterson would open the bread truck’s rear compartment skylight and release the eagle.
Even with the temperature nearing 40 degrees—considered balmy for the 10th of February—foot traffic in the area was minimal. Just before noon, however, the crew caught a break. An older black man dressed in a filthy plaid work shirt and blue-jean overalls pushed a large shopping cart up the inclined sidewalk on the west side of Humboldt Avenue. The man, known throughout Patterson’s neighborhood as ‘Grady,’ eked-out an existence as a scrapper, scavenging through recycling bins and garbage receptacles in search of aluminum, copper, and used athletic equipment.
Jeremy Breitlow called Patterson’s cell phone. “Okay, Jake, I think we’ve got one.”
“Yeah,” added Patterson, “that’s Grady. He’s the neighborhood junk guy. Do you want me to deploy?”
“Release the eagle,” said Brietlow, whose mannerisms mimicked those of a NASA flight engineer.
Patterson removed the skylight cover in the rear of the bread truck. He gently placed the drone on the roof and carefully spread the wings. “Okay, ready for lift-off.”
Brietlow flipped a silver toggle switch to power the eagle’s electric motor. Using a plastic joy stick, he gradually took the drone airborne.
The prank’s target had stopped to rummage through a blue recycling bin just feet from the sidewalk. Grady removed two aluminum cans, placed them on the cement, and crushed them with his right foot. He then spit a chunk of chewing tobacco to the ground, some of which clung to his shabby gray beard. He then resumed pushing the shopping cart—filled with aluminum curtain rods, an older motor, a plastic bag of aluminum cans, and a sky blue bowling ball—towards the van occupied by Breitlow and Rourke. Out of the corner of his eye, Grady spotted a large object in the sky. He stopped, used his right hand to shield the sun from his eyes, and watched as it circled above. That’s one big-ass bird, he thought to himself.
Brietlow then maneuvered the eagle directly above its target. Forty-feet off the ground, the eagle did a flip and gracefully rolled to one side. Grady was getting a little nervous. He began pushing the shopping cart up the hill noticeably faster. Breitlow turned the eagle slightly south, increased the height 20-feet, and took the drone into a dive.
Looking over his shoulder, the man with the shopping cart realized that he was under attack. “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!” he screamed. “Good God almighty!” To increase his chances of escaping, Grady let go of the shopping cart, which tipped over onto a small section of grass between the sidewalk and the street. Brietlow once again sent the eagle upward as Grady dove headfirst to the ground covering his head with his arms.
Ian Rourke laughed hysterically.
With their attention and the video camera focused on Grady, the pranksters failed to notice that the bowling ball from the fallen shopping cart was now traveling down a hill southbound in the Humboldt Avenue roadway. As a passing motorist used a horn to warn others, the blue bowling ball gathered momentum as it approached the bottom of the hill. A man in a candy-apple red BMW, turning left from E. Kane Place, never saw the fast moving object, which, after striking a lip in the road, went airborne, before slamming into the BMW’s front driver’s side door.
“Damn it,” Rourke shouted, “make that eagle go away!”
Breitlow steered the drone back to the bread truck, where Jake Patterson quickly grabbed the bird, slammed its wings together, and pulled the robot inside. After replacing the truck’s skylight, Patterson drove the van out of the parking lot northbound on to Humboldt Avenue.
* * *
Sent to investigate a bowling ball versus car accident, Officer Felix Montes was skeptical, to say the least, of the statement given to him by the man whose actions allegedly caused the damage.
“Officer, I’m tellin’ ya the truth,” Grady insisted, as tears welled-up in his eyes. “I was just mindin’ my own business, walkin’ down the street, pickin’ up junk, when all of a sudden, this big-ass bird came swoopin’ down out of the sky right at me!”
“And what did this ‘big-ass’ bird look like?” asked Montes.
“The wings, man, they had to be ten-feet long,” Grady pleaded. “I know this sounds kind of crazy, but I’m thinkin’ it looked like one of them bald eagles.”
“Come on, man. How much have you had to drink? A bald eagle flying around the east side of Milwaukee? What’s next, Big Foot in Reservoir Park? ”
© Mitchell Nevin, Bloomington, MN, 2013.
Psychic Reprieve is available now at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. For more information, please visit www.authormitchellnevin.com