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Improbable .38, The

Synopsis

Rhett Sanders is a divorced father of a twelve-year-old daughter named Grace. Rhett is an ordinary man who strives for self respect, character, and courage in everything he does. As the owner of a research firm, his days are busy and demanding. A creature of habit, Rhett Sanders starts his mornings off reading the Houston Chronicle scanning the newspaper quickly. Index cards within reach, he is ready to jot down names of five people published in the news. He enjoys this investigative game and when he arrives at the office of AC Research, he plugs the names into a database of people who were part of the random samples of surveys he conducted in the past, just to see what he discovers. When he cross references the name of Bobby Joe Milstead, he is intrigued.

Information about the Author: A P Greenwood

Books by the Author:

Canyon Road

Clean Slate

Lakota Betrayal, A Novel

Navfac: The Final Tour of Duty

Random Sample: An Uncertain Suicide

Random Sample: The Improbable .38

Random Sample: Something Else In Common

What Every (New) Author Should Know: A Survey of American Readers (no information for this book was available)

 

Sample Chapter of book

Chapter 1

Linda Eckert and her fiancé walked into the Bluebonnet Café in Mason, Texas to have breakfast—just like they’d done every weekday morning for the past two months. It was 7:30, a Tuesday in late February, and from the moment that Carla, the Bluebonnet’s only waitress, heard the news from her first customer, she’d been on the lookout for Linda. She knew Linda was Bobby Joe’s ex-girlfriend, and she wanted to be the one to tell her --to see her reaction to the news. So when Linda walked in, the waitress quickly excused herself from a customer at the counter, snatched two menus from the stand, and rushed up to the booth against the window, just as these two regulars slid into their seats.

“Linda, have you heard?”

From the blank look on Linda’s face, Carla knew that she had not. The waitress bent over and placed two menus gently on the table. She felt as if she would burst with the news. The man seated across from Linda, her fiancé Charlie Porter, impatiently asked, “Well?”

Carla steadied herself and took a deep a breath, before delivering her news without embellishment. “Bobby Joe’s dead.”

 

###

 

That Tuesday morning in February began the same way every other weekday morning did for Rhett Sanders. At 6:00 A.M., he entered his four-digit code on the alarm system keypad, opened his front door, and unlocked the wrought iron gate protecting the entrance to his two-story townhouse. He leaned out his front door and checked Fairview Avenue in both directions. As always, there was nothing stirring at this hour, it was still dark and cool, about forty-five degrees. Quickly, he stepped away from the door, wearing only the boxers he’d slept in, and retrieved his Houston Chronicle. Being caught by a neighbor in his boxers was the biggest risk Rhett normally ever took. He glanced at the newspapers in front of the other townhouses and felt strangely proud to be first one up on his block

Rhett had moved into the townhouse after his divorce. He thought he would miss the yard work at his old house, but after a few months, he didn’t. He thought he would miss his dogs, and he was right—he still did. He thought he would stay in the townhouse for a year or so, and then find a house with a yard. But it had been four years since the split, and he was comfortable now and not interested in moving.

Rhett’s next task after retrieving the newspaper was to tiptoe back upstairs to his daughter’s bedroom and peek inside. He wanted to make sure she hadn’t been kidnapped. That’s just the way Rhett thought. Cute Grace was twelve years old, now asleep with the television on, her Walkman headset on the pillow beside her head. Rhett exhaled. She had taken the divorce hard. But eventually she’d forgiven Rhett and Sonia for tearing her world apart. February was Rhett’s month for Grace. March would be Sonia’s.

After making sure Grace was safe, Rhett grabbed an index card from his briefcase and went to the kitchen to read the paper. When Grace came downstairs he would once again try to coax her into eating something for breakfast. He had three unopened boxes of cereal: Honey Nut Cheerios, Raisin Bran, and Frosted Flakes. He had Pop Tarts in blueberry and strawberry. And he had eggs, bacon, and multi-grain bread for toast. Finally he had Eggo’s. One day he thought she would ask for something to eat for breakfast, and he would be prepared. But that wasn’t likely. Rhett never ate breakfast either.

Part of Rhett’s morning routine was to scan the newspaper and randomly pick out the names of five people without reading much of the articles. He wouldn’t look for the names of famous people or politicians, just everyday people living in Houston who had made the news. He did not pick names from the obituaries—that was too depressing; nor did he pick names from the business section -- that was too boring. Rhett thumbed through the City News section and the society pages looking for names that might match the names in the database at his office. He wrote the names on the index card. When he went to work, he’d look them up. It was an innocent game he played. But his game, on this day in late February, was going to result in surprising and dangerous consequences.

Rhett and his business associate, Paul Quinn, had started their marketing research company twelve years ago. Paul was about ten years older than Rhett. He had a serious case of the middle age crazies shortly after turning fifty, and took off for New Zealand with his personal trainer. Rhett never heard from him again. Before Paul left, Rhett bought his partner’s equity in the firm, so now AC Research was all his. AC stood for nothing, and had been chosen by the original owner, who retired before Rhett joined the company. That original owner picked AC Research so it would be the first company listed in that category in the Yellow Pages. Rhett and his partner used to amuse themselves when business was slow by ascribing meanings to AC. Always Credible. Amazingly Cheap. Accidentally Correct. Anyone Care? It was a joke between Paul and Rhett that they shared with nobody else.

Since converting the telephone room over to the Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing System or CATI, it was easy for the company to build and maintain a database of everyone ever interviewed by AC Research. They had over 150,000 names of individuals and their corresponding completed questionnaires on file.

When Rhett arrived at his office each morning, he accessed the database and searched for the five names written down on his index card, gleaned from the newspaper. Every once in a while, perhaps once a month, he would find a match. This game was how Rhett spent the first ten minutes of every day at the office. Before the database was created, he spent fifteen minutes with computer solitaire to get his mind in gear for work.

 

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