The Long Journey To Jake Palmer
by Jim Rubart
INTRODUCTION—THE LONG JOURNEY TO JAKE PALMER
What if there was a place where everything wrong in your life could be fixed?
Corporate trainer Jake Palmer coaches people to see deeper into themselves—yet he barely knows himself anymore. Recently divorced and weary of the business life, Jake reluctantly agrees to a lake-house vacation with friends, hoping to escape for ten days.
When he arrives, Jake hears the legend of Willow Lake—about a lost corridor that leads to a place where one’s deepest longings will be fulfilled.
Jake scoffs at the idea, but can’t shake a sliver of hope that the corridor is real. And when he meets a man who mutters cryptic speculations about the corridor, Jake is determined to find the path, find himself, and fix his crumbling life.
But the journey will become more treacherous with each step Jake takes.
THE LONG JOURNEY TO JAKE PALMER — EXCERPT
If Jake Palmer had only kept the mundane promise he’d made to himself, his life wouldn’t be headed down a dead-end road at the speed of light. He’d vowed there’d be no more late-night flights. No more trips stacked on top of each other. No more landings at Seattle’s Sea-Tac Airport after midnight, which pushed him to physical and emotional exhaustion. But there he’d been for the third time in eight days.
His phone rang as he pulled out of the parking garage, and Jake glanced at the time before he picked up. Twelve thirty-five a.m. Sienna should be asleep.
“What are you still doing up?”
“I miss you. I’ve hardly seen you for the past three months.”
“I know. Not fun. But Italy will be here in six short weeks. Then fourteen days of cruising where you’ll have to put up with me 24/7.”
“Maybe I should get some rest.”
“How far away are you, Adonis?” Sienna asked.
He smiled at her pet name for him. “Forty minutes.”
“Get here now. I’ll wait up.”
“And sacrifice your beauty rest?” Jake tapped on his steering wheel and grinned.
“Yes, even though it’ll make me look horrible tomorrow.”
“Impossible. You’d win every beauty contest known to man even if you stayed up for a month.”
“If I’m asleep when you get home, wake me up. Promise.”
Sienna blew a kiss through the phone and hung up.
Jake glanced at his gas gauge as he headed up I-5. The yellow warning light glared at him, red needle on the wrong side of the empty line. Problem. Wouldn’t be good to run out before getting back to Bothell. He glanced at the exits coming up. Probably not the greatest section of Seattle to get gas this late at night, but running out here would be worse. Why hadn’t he filled up before the trip? Because his schedule was insane and there hadn’t been time.
Jake pulled off I-5 at the next exit. Quick fill and he’d be back on the asphalt river, home to Sienna before one twenty. He pulled up to the outside gas island and snatched his wallet out of his coat at the same time. As he stepped outside into the October chill, odors of pot and gas filled his nose.
As he stepped to the pump, a battered Honda Civic with peeling dark blue paint lurched into the station and stopped behind his Jeep. A young woman got out, her black hair streaked with red and purple, her denim coat marred with grime and amateur images of dragons drawn with blue and red Sharpies.
She swiped a credit card and as she pumped her gas glanced furtively past Jake at the street to his back, then at the street in front of them. She jiggled her nozzle up and down as if to try to make the gas flow faster.
She flinched and glanced at Jake as if she hadn’t seen him during her scans of the street and was shocked to find someone standing nearby. “No, I’m . . . yeah, I’m fine.”
“I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“No, I . . . uh . . . just thinking about . . . stuff.”
Her eyes continued to dart in a quick circle, and before her gaze had made it back to the starting point, the screech of tires filled the night air. The agitation on her face turned to fear as a gray Dodge Neon with a spoiler and white racing stripes sped into the station, then skidded to a stop behind the girl’s car, brakes squealing.
She dropped the nozzle and turned to run past Jake, but a beat-up Toyota appeared in front of Jake’s jeep and she froze.
The passenger window of the Neon came down and a kid, couldn’t be more than twenty, adjusted his unneeded sunglasses and called out to her.
“Hey, sugar. We gotta talk. We’re running a business and you’re the product, see. And when the product goes missing, our clients aren’t happy. So we’re not happy. And it’s a trickle-down economy, which means you’re not going to be happy.”
The girl held out her palms as if they could keep the cars and the men inside them at bay. “I told you, I’m out of the game. You promised you’d leave me alone. You promised!”
“Don’t jam me.” The man swore, then flicked a cigarette toward the garbage can that sat between Jake’s pump and the girl’s. “Five more. That was the deal. Five. More. Don’t test me, girl.”
“No. I’m out now. Please!”
“You will be, baby. All the way out. Just five more. But right now, we gotta getcha all cleaned up. Nice and fresh, then we can start again, get it done, a week tops, then you’re free.” The man climbed out of his car and extended a completely tattooed arm toward her and wiggled his fingers. “Now come here, sugar. Now!”
Jake debated whether to move away or stay. But only a moment. He left the nozzle stuck in the gas line and eased over next to the girl, his palms raised.
“What do you think you’re doing?” The man sneered at Jake. “You looking for a party? Or to get yourself totally messed up?”
“Then bounce!” The kid took a step toward Jake and swore so hard spittle flew out of his mouth.
James L. Rubart is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons, and loves to send readers on journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories.
He’s the best-selling, Christy, Carol, INSPY, and RT Book Reviews award winning author of eight novels as well as a professional speaker. During the day he runs his marketing company which helps businesses, authors, and publishers make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington.
More at www.jameslrubart.com More at http://jameslrubart.com/ and on Facebook— https://www.facebook.com/JamesLRubart