Angel Sefer's Free Readers Group

Angel Sefer's Free Readers Group

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Excerpt from the crime and romance thriller The Bridge to Caracas by Stephen Douglass


Mike glanced at his gasoline gauge as he threaded his XKE northward on Bayview Avenue through the heavy city traffic. The needle pointed precariously close to empty. “I’ve got to stop for gasoline. We’re running on fumes,” he said, then turned onto a Shell service station lot and stopped beside one of the three parallel gasoline islands. Karen immediately focused on the car parked beside the adjacent island. The sight of a long white Cadillac limousine shocked her and made her blood run cold. She jumped from the car and examined the license plate at the rear of the limo. “That’s it!” she shouted.
“That’s what?” Mike asked, then inserted a gasoline nozzle into the fill pipe of his XKE.
“It’s Jim’s!” she screamed, pointing frantically at the limousine. “I know it’s his!”
Mike stopped filling then scanned the limousine’s interior. “There’s no one in it,” he said, then continued to fill his gasoline tank while keeping his eye on the door of the station. “Get back in the car and hide!” he shouted. “I don’t want him to come out of that station and see you with me.”
Karen returned to her seat and lowered herself to the point where her eyes were parallel to the bottom of her side window.
Mike finished filling his tank and returned the gasoline nozzle to the pump. He glanced again at the station to see a large fat man emerging from the office. He carried a white canvas bag and was heading straight toward the limousine. Mike opened his car door and leaned in to face Karen. “Have you ever seen him before?” he asked.
Karen nodded, her face devoid of color. “His name is Jerry Allison. He works for Jim...He was also Jim’s best man at our wedding.”
“I’ve got to pay for the gasoline. Stay out of sight.” Mike hurried to the station, but in spite of his haste the limousine had begun to move when he emerged from the building. He raced to catch up with the vehicle and hit the driver’s side window with his fist. “Hey! I want to talk to you!” he shouted.
Allison looked up at Mike and recognized him immediately as the man with Servito’s wife in George Lanotti’s photographs. Refusing to acknowledge Mike’s demand, he looked straight ahead and kept the limousine rolling.
Mike continued to run with the limousine and pounded hard on the windshield. “Stop!” he demanded, his face no more than a foot from the glass.
Allison panicked and slammed his right foot against the accelerator. The limousine jerked forward with its rear wheels screeching against the pavement. The side mirror struck Mike’s ribs and hurled him to the pavement. He sprang to his feet and ran to his car. He fumbled with his keys while simultaneously trying to watch the limousine. He started his XKE and accelerated across the station lot in pursuit. “Why is he running?” he shouted.
“He knows we’re looking for Jim!” Karen replied.
Allison glanced at his rear-view mirror and now saw Karen. He looked at his watch. He had slightly less than an hour to make it to Servito’s farm. He did not want Mike and Karen to follow him to the farm but knew they would. If he took the time to lose his pursuers, he would likely be too late for Servito’s flight. Sweat covered his fat face and his heart beat faster. He accelerated to seventy, more than twice the speed limit, tires squealing each time he changed lanes. Again he looked in his rear-view mirror. Mike’s car was moving closer. He went faster.
“Damn!” Mike shouted. “He’s out of his mind!”
Allison glanced to his right and saw a large green and white sign, indicating the exit to Highway 401 was five hundred yards ahead. Making the turn onto Highway 401 was crucial. Taking the super highway would save at least thirty minutes. He decided to try to fool Mike into believing he was going to continue north on Bayview, then quickly turn onto the exit ramp at the last second. He swerved into the passing lane and accelerated to ninety. With less than a hundred yards between the limousine and the exit ramp, he veered sharply to his right, cutting across three traffic lanes.
The limousine missed the exit ramp by less than five feet. The front wheels hit the curb and exploded on impact. The jolt hurled Allison forward, slamming his forehead against the top of the steering wheel. The blow stunned him and opened a long and deep bloody gash. The limousine rocketed over the curb and flew thirty feet to the face of a concrete retaining wall. The violence of the impact pushed the engine into the front seat, crushing both of Allison’s legs. Allison’s forward momentum again carried his face into the steering wheel, breaking his neck.
Karen caught a glimpse of the crash as they raced by. “Oh, God!” she shouted, twisting her body in an effort to continue staring at the wreckage.
Mike missed seeing the collision, but heard the terrible sound of the crash. “Was that the limo?” he asked.
“He hit the concrete!” Karen shouted.
Mike slammed his foot on the break pedal and brought his car to a stop within inches of the steel guardrail dividing the north and south bound lanes making it impossible to open his door. The heavy traffic to the right made it too dangerous to open the door on Karen’s side. “I have to go back there,” he said, then opened the convertible roof.
“Do it fast. You don’t want the police to see you there,” Karen warned.
Mike stepped from the car onto the top of the guardrail, walked several paces along it, then jumped to the road surface behind his XKE. He waited for a break in the traffic, then darted across the three north bound traffic lanes to the far curb and raced toward the limousine. Smoke and steam slowly emerged from the compressed remains of the front of the limousine while Allison remained motionless and slumped against the twisted steering wheel. His bloodied face was pointed at the driver’s side window. His mouth was partially open and his hazel eyes were unblinking.
Mike tried in vain to open the driver’s side door, welded in place by the violence of the impact. Using a grapefruit-sized chunk of concrete, which had been split from the retaining wall, he carefully broke away the jagged edges shattered glass in the window. He leaned inside far enough to see that the fat man was still breathing. “Where’s Servito?” he shouted, hoping to elicit a response.
Allison stared silently at Mike, his eyes glazed, his pupils dilated.
“Come on, speak to me,” Mike pleaded. “Where’s Jim Servito?”
Seconds later, Allison blinked. “Help me,” he whispered faintly.
“What did you say?” Mike asked. He leaned further into the car and placed his right ear an inch from Allison’s mouth.
“Help me,” Allison whispered.
“I’ll help you if you tell me where Servito is.”
“...His farm.”
Mike pulled his head backward and saw that the fat man’s eyes had closed. “Don’t die now!” he pleaded, convinced that the fat man would never speak again. He reached inside Allison’s jacket pockets and found a passport. On the floor of the passenger’s side of the car he saw two large canvas bags. He put the passport in his pocket, picked up his chunk of concrete and raced to the far side of the limousine. He used the concrete to break the window and clear the glass, then reached in and extracted the bags. When he emerged from the window, he noticed a large number of people had left their cars to stare at the limousine. He raced to his car, jumped onto the guardrail, threw the canvas bags into the space behind his seat, then jumped in. He started the car and rocketed from the scene.
“Did he tell you anything?” Karen asked.
Mike nodded. “We were right. They went to the farm.”
“Did he say anything about Phillip?”
“No. He’s either unconscious or dead.” Mike stopped in the parking lot of a small plaza several miles away.
“I’m going to put the roof up. Take a look at this while you’re waiting,” he said, handing Allison’s passport to Karen.
Karen turned to look at the canvas bags behind Mike. “Why did you take those?” she asked.
“Curiosity. Look at the passport first. Maybe it’ll tell us something.”
Karen opened the passport. “It’s a fake. It says his name is name is John Smith,” she said, staring at the photograph of Allison. A small folded piece of paper fell from the passport onto her lap. She picked it up and stared at it in horror. Written by the hand of her own husband was an address in Caracas: No. 830 Av. Pral. de Mariperez, Caracas, Venezuela. Tel: 261-50-80. “This is Jim’s writing,” she said with a pensive frown.
“What does it say?” “It’s an address in Caracas, Venezuela.” Her lips tightened as she gave Mike a worried stare. “What do you think it means?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea...Why don’t you open the bags? Tell me what my curiosity found.”
Karen reached behind Mike and pulled one of the bags to her lap. After loosening the tiecord, she stared at the contents in stunned silence.
“What’s in it?” Mike asked.
“I can’t believe it! It’s full of money!” Karen gasped, then pulled the second bag to her lap. She opened it and looked inside. “This one’s full of cash too! Where do you think he got it?”

Book Description:


"There was more plot happening in the first quarter of this book than happens in the entirety of other books."

“Not only has Douglass created a suspenseful, intriguing crime fiction saga, he also wrote a beautiful love story.”

“Mr. Douglass has written a crime story that makes one ask serious questions about the reality of the oil business.”

“This book belongs in a class with "Unbroken", "Lost in Shangri-La", "In the Garden of the Beasts", other five star books that I have enjoyed this summer.”

“Stephen Douglass has given us a one of the best fiction books I have read recently. It's easily worth 10 times the price and is 10 times better than many books costing more than that.”

"This is a very good suspense novel. I never was totally prepared for what was going to come next."

“I worked in the oil industry for many years but as a geophysicist. I had no idea that these things that took place in this book were going on.”

THE ALL NEW, PROFESSIONALLY COPY-EDITED VERSION OF “THE BRIDGE TO CARACAS”, (Volume one of THE KING TRILOGY), a truly amazing and gut-wrenching story.

How was an incredible $325,000,000 theft achieved using The Peace Bridge as a fulcrum?

It was a piece of national history. The story had to be told.

One of the largest and most audacious gasoline tax evasion scams in Canadian and U.S. history.

The perpetrator used The Peace Bridge, spanning The Niagara River, to facilitate his crime, and his private Cessna to transport the enormous fruits of the theft to the “safety” of a Cayman Island bank.

The scam netted an amount “that makes The New York State Lottery look like a Sunday school collection.”

Cynical and remorselessly ruthless, the thief possesses a brilliant criminal mind, has enormous contempt for the law, police, governments, and the system in which they function. He assumes rules are for fools, and takes sadistic pleasure in breaking them.


The mechanics of the scam, ( i.e. how such a gigantic theft was achieved.)

The extent to which the lives of two star-crossed lovers were disrupted by this criminal.

The character of the criminal, an unscrupulous individual with an absolute contempt for rules, the law, authority and propriety.

Why and how the story ended in Caracas, Venezuela. What happened to the fruits of his crime, and why.

How much of the story in fiction, and how much is fact.

 About the Author:
Born and raised in Canada, Stephen spent the first half of his career working for the two largest oil companies in the world: Exxon and royal Dutch Shell. He spent the second half working for one of the smallest oil companies in the world; his own. Now retired, he spends his summers with his wife, Ann, at their Canadian home near Niagara Falls. He winters at their Florida home in Port St. Lucie. When he is not writing, he is reading, traveling, or playing bad golf. He plans to write until the day he dies, probably longer.

For Stephen, writing was an accident. When his friends in Muskoka and Florida became aware of the story of his incredible life in the Canadian oil business, they encouraged him to commit it to writing. They insisted it was a story that must be told. Reluctantly, he did, and after more than twenty years the story of AN ENDLESS AND CONFLICTED LOVE, A MAN WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE AND NEARLY LOST HIS LIFE DOING IT, and ONE OF THE LARGEST AND MOST AUDACIOUS THEFTS IN CANADIAN HISTORY, was finally made public. Stephen has entitled the book: The Bridge to Caracas, for reasons that will quickly be obvious to readers. The genre is romance crime fiction, if there is such a genre.

The sequels,The Tainted Trust, (the story of what happened to the $325,000,000 stolen from the Canadian and U.S. governments), the second in The King Trilogy, and Kerri's War, the third volume in The King Trilogy, are now live on Amazon KDP.

Stephen has said, "If readers have half as much fun reading The King Trilogy as I did writing it, they will be enriched."