COMING SOON: 🌠 TORN AND FRAYED 🌠(ANOTHER GABRIEL CHURCH TALE)#2 by Rodd Clark

COMING SOON

TORN AND FRAYED

ANOTHER GABRIEL CHURCH TALE

RODD CLARK

Torn and Frayed will be available soon for pre-order. To be notified of its release (and a member discount) sign up to become a member at Driven Press here: http ://www.drivenpress.net


“Conscience isn’t something all people are born with . . .”

Gabriel Church is a portrait in contrast. It would be easy to get lost in his pale-blue eyes, ache with the need to feel the strength of his masculine frame. He appears to be nothing but animal and instinct. The only people who know the full depth of that truth are dead, murdered, or two thousand miles away.

Gabe is a serial killer. For the first time in his life, he has more on his mind than his own survival. This time he is running from Seattle to protect the only person he thinks innocent in his laundry list of crime and murder: Christian Maxwell, his biographer and unexpected lover.

Drawn to a place he never thought to return, Gabe finds new and different realities. Realities that insist he let go of his tragic past, those incredible perceptions of God, and his own divinity. He must open his eyes to what the love of a good man can do to heal a broken soul.

But when the killer is confronted by his own willingness to love and sacrifice, he is forced to ultimately ask the question: Just how far will he go to save a life . . . when all he’s ever done is take them?

I wanted to offer an excerpt of the upcoming book as a glimpse into my mind, so here goes: Here we find Gabriel entering a Catholic church to seek atonement or answers where he encounters the kindly, empathetic Father Albert Kait.

Some words you hear during your lifetime can seem too unreal to be authentic, like a phone call in the night from someone informing you of a recent or unexpected death. A single long-distance conversation standing apart from all the others because it’s the one you know instantly that you’ll never fully shake from memory. It’s that awful sensation of standing inside a vacuum as every remaining molecule of oxygen is yanked from your lungs like a desperate thief. And that strain of your ears as you try to analyze every word or break down every syllable just to grasp the gravity and comprehend all of what you’re hearing.

It becomes a simple and yet inelegant reminder screaming decisively over the din; it tells you that you have lost a thing once held precious and while you hadn’t been paying attention close enough it had slipped away from the living like a vapor escaping through open cracks in the ceiling. The words might sound genuine enough as they ricochet inside your skull hitting one wall only to bounce to another, but they linger and reverberate there. Like an echo working through the hollows of your brain as each tiny pause between words becomes its own unbearable existence. You try to break down the information, to chew each word into smaller and more manageable bites, one that your intellect can ultimately consume…but it’s difficult.

Such was the case with Albert when at twenty-eight he received such a phone call from his sister back in the States. She’d called to say their beloved mother Carlotta had passed without a warning sometime in the previous night. And as he stood alone in the rectory hall frozen and silent, gripping that heavy black receiver in his viselike hands, he remembered picturing his mother’s face as she must’ve exited one life for the next. She would have been smiling because Albert knew how closely his mother guarded her own faith, and he suspected she would be at her happiest after finally being able to stand face-to-face with her maker.

Albert felt a wave of both compassion and sadness hit him hard as he recalled his sister sobbing hysterically in the background. She’d been crying for hours, he imagined, but her wailing made it appear as if she’d just heard the tragic news herself. But that was just Gisela’s way, he thought. Even from childhood she’d been a small and twitchy type of girl, one who learned to utilize those overly dramatic histrionics of hers. It was just her personality, Albert surmised, and the only way such a tiny girl might garner the attention she desperately craved while living in such a boisterous, large Italian household as theirs.

Although that conversation had been burned into his recollection, he could no longer visualize himself standing there in the rectory with his fog of disbelief plastered on his face and the first indication of a fraying around his edges like a worn out cotton shirt that had seen too many launderings. What he did recognize that day, just as he did the day Gabriel Church visited him, was that no matter how earthshattering the news might be, it was still nothing but a Polaroid reminder of someone’s past in the making. Whatever pain his visitor was carrying around his neck like a millstone, it wasn’t small enough that any of Albert’s platitudes might grant him the peace he needed or the penitence he might’ve been hoping for. Whatever guilt the man possessed was surely a heavy burden, and yet Father Kait was a believer in his faith. And just as he’d tell his congregation each and every Ash Wednesday, “Remember we are all born of dust, and it’s dust that we’re all returned to in the end.”

Behind the tiny screen in Gabe’s booth the air then was pregnant with new and unfamiliar emotions. He’d been unburdening himself in ways he’d never done before. Not even with Chris back in Seattle. They’d just assumed everything would be laid bare over time. But Church still had secrets he hadn’t disclosed yet, and having the opportunity of releasing and freeing them into the ether was giving him an autonomy he’d never felt before. Not in any of the interviews back in the hotel or any of the discussions they’d shared over dinner or drinks in a bar. This priest was becoming more important than any father confessor he’d ever known before.

“I’m here to ask a question,” he began in a slow methodical way, showing he’d played out this scenario somewhere previously in his mind. “I wanted to know if it’s possible that if you’d done some terrible things, even though you’d done them all in the name of God, you’d still be offered mercy, or any sanctuary and forgiveness, after the fact?”

A long pause dragged by while Kait considered what the man was asking.

“Any life…whatever life you desire anyway, will only happen after complete absolution. If you don’t ask for it, then you won’t get it. And whatever sins you think you’ve committed can only be forgiven after your honest confession before the Lord. If you don’t ask for help from anyone above, you just risk that those sins will scar over the soul and damage it in ways you couldn’t have fathomed.”

Seconds turned into minutes until the silence became a vast forge until finally whispered through the blackness, “Does that help young man? Does it offer you any guidance?”

The next sound he heard was a scraping of the confessional door as it opened abruptly, then a burst of daylight invaded Father Kait’s side of the partition. He realized his confessor had slipped out without responding, and as the priest stood up quickly in an effort to stop the man’s departure, he could only see the chapel doors behind drawn closed as the man left the church without a word. Alone in the cathedral he felt himself unnerved, like staring into a black void and expecting it to be God’s face looking back then surprised when you only felt a cold chill and dark emptiness staring back. Frightened without completely understanding the reason, he then noticed how his legs were trembling more than usual. It was getting difficult to stand, so Albert reached for the nearest pew for support. He knew if he hadn’t grabbed quickly enough his knees would’ve buckled under his own weight and sent him crashing to the polished hard floor of the chapel.”

Rodd lives in Dallas, TX at the moment but hails from the sticks of Oklahoma. Check out his web presence at RODDCLARK.COM. Interested in the M/M Mystery, Romance and Thriller genres but has a varied interest in many books. It has been written, that his writing has a very dark and distinctive voice with a need for deep exploration and analysis.   His latest work is the Romance Thriller Rubble and the Wreckage” and is currently working on the sequel which he hopes to have released in 2015.

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My review for Rubble and the Wreckage - Book 1

 

I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading Rubble and the Wreckage, by Rodd Clark. Even now, after reading the last page, I am unsure of what to think. The story is narrated giving insight from all angles and a much bigger picture. The story starts out with Gabriel Church, a small boy, who is afraid of his father, for many reasons. His mother, Sissy Church, seems to be under her husband’s firm control, afraid to speak out or stand up for her children.

This not only confuses a small Gabriel but also leaves him on his own to withstand the wrath of Bennett, his alcoholic and temperamental, father alone.

Not all moments held Bennett’s wrath, some days he was simply quiet and even tempered, but for Gabe it was like watching a hungry dog that wouldn’t eat… it was only then that you needed to worry.

As the narrator tells the story, he makes reference to a red Popsicle Gabe had forgotten about due to receiving his whipping and punishment.

He stared at the large red stain as it dissipated in the driveway and melted from the humidity. He couldn’t seem to pull his eyes away. It was as if the pooling red had somehow fractured his mind, and he found comfort with that. It may have been but a single moment in time, but it was moment that would have lasting effects.

As I read further, I couldn’t help but wonder if that particular moment wasn’t the start to something subconsciously taking over in Gabe’s mind.

At the earliest chance, Gabriel left home with a few clothes in the trunk of his car. No money, which led to stealing, or forcing him to sometimes take a job until he had enough money to get to the next town.

It wasn’t long into his journey that he made his first kill, although it wasn’t part of his, soon to become, logic for killing. It was an altercation gone badly, but Gabe didn’t regret it either. He never regretted killing because in his mind he had just cause.

This brings us to Christian Maxwell. A loner, by his own admission, and with a, more than once, observation, someone who considered himself the black sheep of the family. A college graduate with human psychology and creative writing as his passion, he begins to take notice of unsolved murders from newspapers.

With tons of research behind him, and many hours, he locates the serial killer. Something the FBI had not been able to do, giving Christian the upper hand. This also allows Christian to almost excuse himself from doing his moral duty and turning him in. He tells himself they would not believe him and only think he was loony.

He had picked the victim type because of what he suspected he knew about the killer, and this meant the two were thinking similarly. It seemed it had been a random guess but one that had inevitably become a reality. He had successfully crawled into the mind of a killer and could tell you, with some certainty, who would be murdered next. That insight was chilling.

We don’t know, until later in the story, how Gabe and Christian met, but we know that Gabriel wants his story told and he wants Christian to do it. And, Christian is more than thrilled to have this chance. He will write Gabe’s biography obtaining facts and circumstances straight from the killer himself. Something that has never been done, at least before the killer is captured.

Over many hours, days, and weeks, Gabe and Christian meet to discuss his story. What first starts out at a public location, soon turns into a hotel room for more privacy. Neither feel comfortable, at first, allowing the other to know where they live.

Christian admits, mainly to himself, he has become addicted with Gabe. He never allowed himself the comfort of another human being and he discovers he likes it. He had never categorized his sexuality because, until Gabe, he had never been with another man. It doesn’t bother him to realize he is a gay man, but he does wonder what his life would have been like had he let someone in prior to meeting Gabriel Church.

Regret’s a powerful word. I don’t regret it because I don’t have any feelings for it either way. I think it was stupid and rash, I could’ve got caught, but as it stands I have no regrets.
— Gabriel Church


Gabe is a heterosexual man, but he offers himself to Christian, thinking that’s what he wants from him. They, both, enjoy their carnal pleasures, and Gabe realizes he loves the control he has over Christian. Something he uses frequently when they are together. I believe Gabe likes the control because that is something he never had at home. Now, on his own, he will never be that scared little boy, anymore.

Christian grapples with his feelings constantly. He understands he should probably inform the police of what he knows. He admits his feelings for Gabe are getting too deep. He tries to reason with himself that Gabe is a good man, and he will change his ways because he, also, knows it’s wrong to kill.

Church was a riddle that was certain. Maybe it could be considered a functional form of schizophrenia, but Christian doubted the illness ran that deep. He could be a man of many faces but one never over-shadowed the other or blocked the other personalities from access. He was a sexual beast, and he was a child; he was clearly methodic and at times rational and lucid. He had love in his heart, a benefit few psychotics could offer.

Christian is always observing Gabe, trying to figure out how his mind works. I think, sub-consciously, Christian feels he can change him. He doesn’t understand how he can have no remorse for what he has done. When Christian pushes too hard for answers or when Gabe gives too much insight into his killings, they hit a wall, forcing them to separate and cool off. As you can imagine, emotions are running rampant and some things, Gabe realizes, are maybe better left unsaid. But, is it fair to leave out specifics and alter his story? This is his story to be told yet he doesn’t relish how Christian looks at him with fear or disgust.

He couldn’t help picture the expression on Gabriel’s face as he killed, he hadn’t seen it thankfully, but he imagined it twisted and grimacing as if he was a skilled predator who enjoyed sadistic games. He couldn’t balance the scales from killer to the man he’d made love with hours earlier. It seemed incalculable he could be both men.

I often wondered, as I was reading, if Gabe had visions from his victims. He admits to seeing some kind of white light/cloud around them and therefore he knows who to kill. He, also, accepts that this must be coming from a higher power, God’s will possibly, giving him free rein over his actions. And, a free conscience.

As the author takes me on this journey, I changed my feelings many times. At first, I was pretty sure I was not going to like Gabe, at all. I wasn’t even sure that I would like Christian because he didn’t seem to have any backbone when it came to Gabriel. As the story unfolds and I begin to understand on a different level, my thinking process would change.

Just like Christian, I felt compelled towards Gabriel and was hoping he would be able to feel remorse for his actions. I wanted Gabe and Christian to be able to live their lives together, happy and in love. What I did come to realize, however, I don’t think Gabe can change. I do believe, with the help of Christian, he is starting to question some of the horrible things he has done. Will it be enough to ever stop completely, I don’t know. I don’t think it will, at this time.

He had always questioned Gabriel’s sanity, but in the last couple of days he had learned to question his own, and he suspected if Gabriel took the electric chair or accepted his hanging, he would be sitting right there next to him... as guilty as he was.
— Christian Maxwell


I do believe that Christian is willing to overlook everything - no matter how unconceivable it may be - that Gabe has done and follow him to the ends of the earth. Without a doubt, Gabe is a deranged head-fuck, but is he worth loving? Will he ever get that chance? That’s another thing I’m unsure of as the story concludes before that happens.

Due to jealousy and rash behavior, Christian sets into motion an unfortunate and untimely event that will have longstanding repercussions. Not realizing, at the time, what level of destruction he created he will have no choice but to sit and wait for Gabe to return. If he ever does. Hopefully, the author has intentions of continuing this story because as it stands now there has not been any closure. Not for Christian, not for Gabe, nor myself.



This story, Rodd Clark has created, is very intense and complex. The author’s originality and creativity exude with skill and intelligence. Narrating the story, as he has done here, opened up a whole new level of imagination allowing us to see more clearly and more accurately the vision he portrayed. He gives new meaning to the descriptive writing process. He writes with a lyrical prose that literally pulls you into the story and demands your full attention.

The execution of the plot was handled brilliantly, bringing the reader in at the right moment, highlighting details of the story, when we could see more clearly his intent. There are many facets to both characters and I think we have only touched on a few. Rodd Clark’s ingenuity and resourcefulness are mind-boggling, and an author definitely worth following.

Christian was infatuated with Gabe starting out and soon realized that he may even love him. In his own way, I believe Gabe loves Christian as well but what significance that will play in the future I’m not sure. I would not consider this a romance, although, they were affectionate to each other and craved intimate touches. Their sexual encounters were more off page than on, but you get the feeling that they were also more one-sided with Gabe taking the controls.

I don’t think this story is for the faint at heart as the author doesn’t sugarcoat Gabe’s transactions. However, if you like your mind to be broadened, like to have your own thought process questioned, and whether it was intended or not, I do believe you will love the characters and want the best for them, then I would definitely recommend this story. I would like to thank the author for taking me on the journey, one I hope is not over and we will see more of in the future.

…and in the end everything crumbles away!

KathyMac1 Comment