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Caught in the Middle of a Mafia War “Not My Time to Go” by Thornton Cline

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Thornton Cline, author of “Not My Time to Go”

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00008]

Chapter Seven

       If you’ve been following my monthly Indigo Sea Press blog, you’ll know that I have been focusing on stories of my angelic protection from my new ISP book, “Not My Time to Go”. In this blog I will be sharing with you of how I was caught in the middle of an ongoing Mafia war.

       It would be eight years before any more near-fatal experiences occurred in my life. I was accepted into the Ph.D program in music education at the acclaimed, legendary music conservatory, Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. I arrived in Rochester in August 1977 on a Greyhound bus. Rochester, New York was a wonderful cultural arts city and offered me many exciting opportunities in music. But while it was an amazing place to live, there was a downside–crime.  The administration at Eastman School of Music warned the students about the dangers of the downtown area.  They told stories of students being held at gunpoint and robbed in broad daylight. They warned of beatings, murders, rapes and kidnappings that occurred even during the daylight hours. The school advised students to walk together in parties or use a form of transportation other than walking. Most of the students, including me, ignored the warnings and didn’t take them seriously.

Late one night in November of 1977, I was camped out in a practice room, frantically preparing for a violin jury, where I would perform a difficult classical piece memory in front of an entire panel of distinguished judges. I thought that night would never end.  By three a.m. I was exhausted. I had to call it a night and headed home for a few hours of sleep.

         1977 was particularly violent for Rochester. Crime and murders had risen sharply due to a major Mafia war sweeping the city. The war was fought between two Mafia-associated families the Pistilli clan and the Giovanni family. There were numerous reports of deadly drive-by shootings, car bombings and families being sprayed with roofing nails placed inside homemade bombs rigged to front doors of the Mafia family homes. 

       That night in November, I was so exhausted after hours of practicing that I couldn’t keep my head up or my eyes open. I packed up my violin and walked the six flights of stairs to the ground floor.

      “I’m leaving for the night,” I said to the security guard.

     “Be careful,” he replied.

      As I left the school building, I could feel the gentle breeze of the early morning air. It left a cooling mist of dew on my tired face, promising to keep me awake on my long walk home. I was completely alone, with not a single person or car anywhere in sight. The morning was calm and peaceful. I was numb and basically walking in my sleep. As I crossed Elm Street, I passed one of those parking lots where you pay to park for a certain amount of time. Then I saw a lone man walking to his car. It seemed very late for a man to be out doing business. But I reassured myself that the man was probably drunk and had just left one of the nearby bars. As I passed the nearby lot, the lone man went to unlock his car door. Unexpectedly, a colossal, thunderous explosion rocked the streets, forcing me to the ground. A massive ball of fire billowed from the car and engulfed the man, lighting up the dark, peaceful night. I felt glass and shrapnel fall all around me on the sidewalk. I lay there shaking for the longest time, in a state of shock, scared to the death. 

       After awhile, I carefully and slowly crawled on the sidewalk, away from the fire. I felt my entire body to see if I was still alive. The police, firefighters and paramedics arrived shortly after that and began asking me a million questions.

       Needless to say, I completely forgot about getting any sleep. The paramedics checked my vital signs, but couldn’t find a scratch or cut on me. Despite my close proximity to the explosion, I wasn’t injured in any way.

      Some declared that night a miracle. Others said I was lucky to be alive. I knew better than that.  I was definitely protected by angels and the hand of God. Again. it was not my time to go.

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PURPOSE by Thornton Cline

PURPOSE
by Thornton Cline

In my debut non-fiction book, “Not My Time to Go” on Indigo Sea Press I devote chapter seventeen to the purpose of living on Earth. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines purpose as the reason something is done or used or the aim or intention of something.
Throughout my true compelling close-call, near-misses with death I gradually discovered my purpose for living on Earth. I once believed that I existed just to eat, drink, and be happy. I didn’t think too much about other people’s lives, but put high value on indulging in worldly pleasures. I didn’t have much concern for my fellow brothers and sisters. Life was all about me. And while I played the violin and piano growing up, I used those talents and gifts for my own self-seeking purposes, not for a higher purpose.
Through all of my self-seeking, I gradually became reckless, taking foolish changes with my life. Many times I felt immortal. I depended only on myself for everything. The Lord was far removed from my life, despite my childhood spent attending church. I had forgotten how to pray, and, in fact, I didn’t feel like I needed to pray at all.
Of course, that was far from the truth. My guardian angel, other angels, and my Lord and Savior have always been by my side. I just haven’t come to that realization yet. All that time when I thought I was doing it on my own, my angel and the Lord were there helping me through everything in my life.
While I was depending on myself, they were what I needed. But no one could tell me. No one could preach that message to me. I had to learn it the hard way.
Slowly but surely, I came to the realization that I wasn’t here on Earth only to take up space and to exist. I also realized that life wasn’t about partying and pleasing myself with selfish ambitions.
Through the near-tragedies that I experienced, I began to conclude that life on Earth was a testing ground for my everlasting life in Heaven. Life was about storing up treasures for the hereafter. It was not about pleasing myself in partying and living it up, nor was it about accumulating riches and wealth while on Earth. I realized that I was constantly being tempted and torn between the invincible greatness and goodness of the Lord Almighty and the dark, evil forces of Satan. I discovered that every decision I made in my life had its consequences.
Life, I finally saw, was about God’s kingdom on Earth, serving God faithfully, and planting seeds by helping others so that the fruits of my labor could be reaped later. My mission was to reach others with my gifts and bring them into God’s fold.
Finally, life makes sense knowing why I am here on Earth and what my purpose is. It took those 11 close-call, near death experiences to help me to discover my purpose and the meaning of life.

Thornton Cline, author of "Not My Time to Go"

Thornton Cline, author of “Not My Time to Go”

Recent discussion about "Purpose" with the Richmond, VA writers group

Recent discussion about “Purpose” with the Richmond, VA writers group

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Not My Time to Go by Thornton Cline

There is a side of me that most of my friends don’t know. I have rarely shared this side with anyone until now. I am a survivor. My life has been spared. I am not talking about surviving cancer, heart disease or some life-threatening disease. I am referring to the eleven true compelling near-death experiences I have survived since I was toddler.
Long before I lived in Tennessee, my first encounter with death occurred when I was two-years old. I should have died and I should have died many times. But, it wasn’t my time to go.
What I am describing has been experienced by between four and 15 percent of humans, according to the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation. This segment of the population will have experienced a close call with death sometime in their lives.
It never occurred to me until later in my life that there was a possibility that someone or something was watching over me and protecting me from the dangers and close-call brushes with death. Later I came to the realization that there were angels watching over me. They have known me before I was born. They have watched me come into this world. They are looking out for me, watching and protecting me 24/7.
Skeptical? I can certainly understand. I was very skeptical for a very long time until I ran out of reasons and explanations for how my life was spared over and over again—11 times! I am not talking about situations where I was flirting with death, I am referring to miracles where there was no scientific or medical explanation as to why I had survived.
It takes a certain amount of faith to even consider the possibility of the existence of angels, especially for those who have no religious background or do not practice any sort of religion. And without trying to get religious with you all, I did some research from the King James Version of the Bible and discovered that the Book of Daniel (chapters 7-12) lists the names of our guardian angels here on Earth: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael. The Book of Revelation (7:1) describes how the four guardian angels protect and watch over the four corners of the Earth.
My eleven near-death experiences read like an Academy Award winner thriller film or a New York Times bestselling book. I have experienced grave illness as a toddler; was nearly decapitated along with my family; was almost killed by a bomb explosion during a Mafia War, was involved in two devastating car accidents, escaped from fire and explosion when my car malfunctioned on the Interstate, was the victim of an attempted abduction at gunpoint when I was a child, faced the near-death of my young 10-year old daughter, was involved in a close-call brush with death on an airplane, and was a victim of a failed car-jacking as an adult.
After much prayer, research and soul-searching, I came to the conclusion that I was protected and spared by guardian angels. Each time a close-call brush with death occurred, it was not my time to go. I concluded that there were reasons why I was spared here on Earth. I now realize that I am living on Earth for a purpose. Every day is truly mission and I am here to help leave the Earth a better place than it was before.

Debut book on Indigo Sea Press

Debut book on Indigo Sea Press

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The Man Who Entered My Room by Calvin Davis

hoodie The stranger came into my room and stood at the foot of my bed. He wore dark clothes. His head was covered with a hood. I could not make out his facial features. However, I could see that they were as white as granite.

“Who…who are you? How did you get into the house? All the doors are locked.”

“Locks do not faze me. Deadbolts are a joke and chains make me laugh.”

“But why, why are you here? You must be in the wrong house. You got the numbers mixed up some way, I expect.”

“I never get the time, the date or the house numbers confused. At any rate, you must go with me.”

“Go with you, you say? Go with you? Me…go with you…a…a total stranger?”

“But I am not a stranger. I have been with you all your life. I was there when you were born. In moments of peril I have always been by your side…always.”

“And you say I’m to go with you? Where to?”

spaceHe paused, cleared his throat. When he spoke again his voice sounded like the sudden wintry gust of wind hissing through a long tunnel. “I think you know where I’ll take you. Our journey is long, far beyond where manmade telescopes can see, where time and space are one and the same, where not only do objects travel faster than the speed of light, but such speed is common and looked upon as being slow, a place where yesterday is tomorrow, where dreams are not insubstantial products of the mind as they are on earth, but where they are as solid as rocks and numerous as grains of sand.”

“This is so confusing to me, so…” There was a sudden flicker of light in the room, and outside the deafening clap of thunder, though there had been no rain. Then…the stranger was gone. Vanished. There was no one in the room now…except me…and silence. It was as if he dematerialized. Disappeared in the blink of an eye.

Who was he? I don’t know. But I do remember what he said: that he’s always with me. Always. Waiting. I wonder if he’s waiting on others also. Waiting for those who write…those who read…waiting for us all. Waiting to escort us to lands beyond the galaxies, to principalities where all dreams are real, where they are more real than earthly realities. To an enchanted place…where dreamers are applauded, not assassinated.

*** Calvin Davis is the author of THE PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS.

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Isabella’s Smile and the Miracle in Dakota Park — by Calvin Davis, author of “The Phantom Lady of Paris”

For several days I noticed her sitting in Dakota Park, not far from the bench where I customarily sat. Usually, upon viewing each other, we smiled and nodded. Then, one day she came over and joined me.

“Hello, Calvin,” she smiled.

“You…you know my name?”

“Yes, the last and the first. Your surname is Davis.”

“Ah, tell me, have we…have we met before?”

She smiled, and then cleared her throat. “It’s certainly a
lovely day, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, very.”

“Weather man said the temperature would be around
seventy-five. It feels at about that now, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, it does. Now as I was say… How do you know my name? Have we…met?”

“The answer to the last question is yes and no.”

“So you’re saying we…we havemet?”

“Correct.”

“Look, if there is one thing I know with absolute certainty: it’s that I’ve never met you before.”

“You’re wrong. At least, partially so. You’ve met me often, though you don’t know it.”

“Oh? Where? When?”

“Do you recall the countless times your brain log jammed and the next line of your novel, the Phantom Lady of Paris, wouldn’t come? Dumbfounded, you sat and stared at your computer monitor and on it you saw a hazy image of a smiling face. That face was mine. And soon after seeing it, you began typing.  Words then streamed from your fingertips like water swishing down a mountain side. And remember, often you didn’t know what would happen next to your central character The Lady. It was then I’d visit you in a dream and I detailed exactly what she’d do…how and where.”

“You? In my dream? On my computer monitor? Look, all…all of this is so confusing, so, you say you—“

“I don’t mean to be rude, but I really must go now. You see, I have many others I must service.”

“But can’t you stay…just a minute or two longer? I’ve got so many quest…”

“I want to stay, believe me, but no, I can’t.”

“Oh, I see…I see….”

I watched as she, smiling, walked away.

******

Two days later I saw the mysterious female standing at the far end of Dakota Park. She held what, from where I stood, looked like a sheet of paper which she handed to a nearby youngster and motioned him towards me.

The lad rushed over and gave me her note. I read it.

“To all concerned. Be advised, an angel is missing from heaven. She may be difficult to recognize, for – contrary to paradise policy – she often removes her wings. However, she may be identified by her smile, which is motherly, warm and angelic. Those who see it are instantly transformed, convinced they can do the impossible, and after viewing the smile, they do just that…with indescribable ease. If spotted, do not report her to authorities, for she has much work to do on earth, specializing in servicing poets, visionaries and prophets, especially those spurned by their contemporaries – sometimes even assassinated or executed — but later  acclaimed worldwide. If you run across her, do not chide her for not wearing her wings. She hates those things: says they’re too pretentious and definitely not her style. Incidentally, her name is Isabella.
With heavenly love, Isabella.”

I looked up from the note. The enigmatic woman was gone. I never saw her again. At least, never saw her in Dakota Park. However, often in the wee hours of morning while writing, I glimpse her image in my computer monitor or later she visits in my dreams. And always, she smiles.

Don’t misunderstand: I don’t grieve because she no longer comes to Dakota Park, for no doubt she is busy working with other writers, and in her magical way – and through her magical smile — convincing them that the impossible is indeed possible. Writers, especially beginning ones, must believe this truth, and Isabella, the Angel of Dakota Park, through her smile, is able
to convert the most cynical disbeliever into a believer.

This blog is dedicated to those writers who, discouraged from time to time, doubt they can complete their literary mission and require the intervention of an angel. Just remember, if you come across Isabella, don’t chide her for not wearing her wings. For she knows, and you will soon discover, that angels are best identified not by wings, but by works.  

Also, the blog is dedicated to the misinformed who tell beginning author it is impossible to do the impossible. Pay them no mind. Doing the undoable merely requires the presence of the type benevolence found in the eyes of a Mona Lisa and/or the inspiration of an angel’s smile, an angel who, incidentally, may or may not be wearing wings.

 

And remember, not only are wingless cherubs in Dakota Park, they’re everywhere.  You may have seen one today: a mother, a girlfriend, the lady next door, a panhandler. Or perhaps she’ll be the next stranger you pass on a busy city sidewalk. That stranger may be Isabella. You’ll recognize her by her nuclear smile. After seeing it, you’ll begin believing that doing
the “impossible” (writing your novel, for example) is indeed possible. Then, you’ll recommence penning your manuscript, going back to where you stopped before giving up. All thanks to Isabella’s smile – or maybe that of some other angel who, like her, is AWOL from heaven and refuses to wear her wings.

Calvin is author of The Phantom Lady of Paris. Allow him to take you to Paris of 1968 on a magic carpet ride of words. Available in paperback and eBook formats.

 

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Nora’s Soul Excerpt

“I don’t want there to be any misconceptions or hurt feelings between us, Nora.”
The sound of his harsh voice snapped her attention back to him. “Misconceptions?” she repeated, confused. “About what?”
“About what you and my sister expect is going to happen here.”
“I don’t – “ Her protest died on her lips when he placed a fingertip over them, silencing her. She nearly choked on a shallow breath at the fireball of sensation that roared down to the pit of her stomach at that minute touch. Thankfully, he withdrew the finger before she could do anything really damaging to her pride – like suck it into her mouth – but the fiery sensation lingered in her stomach, quietly banking a fire of old sensations into full life.
“I don’t need a social secretary,” he said, seemingly unaware of her reaction to him. “If I did need a secretary, I’d find one through a headhunter, not my sister.”
“Okay.”
“And I certainly wouldn’t take one whose background is in social services.”
“Well, then, it’s a good thing I’m not here to be your secretary.”
“Good. Now that we’ve got that established, let’s move on.”
“Please do.”
Kyle ignored that last comment as he launched into his speech. As he spoke, he made a leisurely circle about Nora, pausing to lean toward her in punctuation of each sentence.
“I’m not looking for a wife or a new mother for my children – “
“I’m not – “
“ – so if that’s the little scheme you’ve got going with my sister, you can just forget about it now.”
“I don’t have any ‘little scheme’ going with Joelle – or anyone else, for that matter!”
“Glad to hear it,” Kyle said, his tone belying his words. “Let’s move on, shall we?”
“Oh, please do.”
“I live alone. I like that.”
His breath skimmed her right ear as he leaned in close to her, front to front. She tried not to shudder at the pleasurable sensation it sent shimmering down her neck and into her stomach, where it joined the fire still banked there. She feared that she failed miserably. She almost didn’t hear his next words in the aftermath of the sensations he aroused in her.
“I throw my clothes on the floor when I undress.” He slipped around her right shoulder, but circled close to it – too close. “I leave the toilet seat up. I squeeze toothpaste from the middle. I sleep in the nude.” He leaned over her shoulder. His lips pressed to her ear, his breath searing a path down the left side of her neck now that, oddly enough, brought chills to her spine. “I like that.”
As the chills rippled through her, Nora swayed, slightly off-balance. Kyle righted her equilibrium with a quick, painless jab of his knees to the backs of hers. Then he pulled back, abruptly, completed his circle as he drilled home his point. “I don’t want anyone picking up my clothes. I don’t want anyone putting down the toilet seat or telling me where to squeeze my toothpaste.” He paused to quirk his lips in what could almost pass for a smile at the suggestive statement. “And I don’t want anyone buying me silk pajamas. I don’t want to be reformed.” He leaned his face so close to Nora’s then that his features filled her entire realm of vision. “Got that?”
Well, of all the arrogant, insufferable – !  Nora was trembling with rage by the conclusion of Kyle’s little speech. Just who the hell did he think he was, anyway, making demands like that?
“That’s what I missed about you all these years, Kyle,” she said with hard-won calm. “That charming personality.”
Kyle smiled then, but it was just a flexing of the muscles; there was no warmth to it. He leaned nearer to Nora, the tip of his nose in a position to touch hers should either of them make the slightest movement. It was an oddly intimate pose; a slight twist to the left, or a slight twist to the right, and their lips would be touching, even if no other parts of their bodies were. But the heat of his body – emanating from his skin in a wonderfully male scent that reminded her of warm summer days at the beach – did touch her; like a brand, searing another impression of him on her heart. The urge to melt into him wasn’t as hard as the urge to pull away; it took all of her strength to resist it. Oh, no, she wouldn’t give him that.
“Oh, I can be very charming.” He dropped the smile. “Or not.” Withdrawing, he stared down his nose at her, pointed a finger toward her collarbone. “Your choice. Just remember this – I don’t want to be seduced.”
“Oh, I don’t think there’s any chance of that,” Nora said, her voice so thick with sarcasm she nearly choked on it. She thought she detected a flicker of something – admiration, perhaps – in his eyes when she stated, “I’m here to take care of your children’s needs, not yours.” But whatever she thought she saw in his eyes was gone before she could name it. Must be my imagination, she decided.
“See that you remember that.”
“Oh, I will.”
They faced off for an eternal moment, two battle-scarred warriors at an emotional impasse. Each waiting for the other to flinch first. When that didn’t happen, they simultaneously relaxed their stances, as if by some silent agreement.
Kyle took a wary step backward. His eyes never left her face. “Good. Then there’s nothing left to discuss. Is there?”
“Just one thing,” she said when he would’ve turned away. She ignored the annoyed look he cast over his shoulder as he paused on his flight up the stairs. She started down the hall toward the sounds of merriment emanating from the kitchen, but paused when she came abreast of Kyle on the stairs. “I take my responsibilities very seriously.” She hesitated, for effect, then drove the statement home with, “All of them.” And then she was gone, leaving Kyle to stare after her in wonder.

Coming Soon from Second Wind Publishing, LLC
http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/

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An Interview with Dante

Bertram: Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Dante.

Dante: Just Dante.

Bertram: Okay. Dante. I’m pleased you consented to this interview. We are all interested in your story.

Dante: I am my story. I am the hero of every story.

Bertram: I’m not sure I understand. Let’s start with a simple question. Where you live?

Dante: I live everywhere.

Bertram: Everywhere? What are you, some kind of god?

Dante: I am immortal, but I take what I can, where I can, and live it up like a mortal. I control my own destiny. I am what I want to be.

Bertram: Aren’t you what Margay Leah Justice wants you to be?

Dante: She might think so. She’s made a good start, but there is so much about me that she doesn’t know, so much more that still I have to tell her. But I have every confidence that when I do, she will do a fine job of portraying me the way I want to be. She is such a stickler for accurate portrayals, after all. And she loves me. She just doesn’t know it yet. But I’m working on her. I’ve already convinced her to keep me around for a while.

Bertram: Do you love her?

Dante: I love only Lyric. She was all that mattered to me. My life was damned after I lost her. Now I live in the moment.

Bertram: Living in the moment must be adventurous.

Dante: My existence is an adventure.

Bertram: We don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Maybe it would be better if you just told me a little about yourself.

Dante: I like myself. I like everything about me. What’s not to love?

Bertram: Have you ever failed at anything?

Dante: Of course.

Bertram: Has anyone ever failed you?

Dante: I’d rather not get into that.

Bertram: Have you ever failed anyone?

Dante: You are obsessed with questions of failure. Why is that, I wonder?

Bertram: Perhaps if you’d just answer my questions we could get this interview over with. You don’t seem to be enjoying it any more than I am. And Margay promised you would cooperate.

Dante: It wasn’t for Margay to promise, but you’re right. Let’s get this over with. What do you want to know?

Bertram: Your achievements, fears, hopes, sadnesses, regrets, disappointments.

Dante: Those are all questions for mortals. I don’t bog myself down with petty human emotions. Disappointments? Not on my radar.

Bertram: What about favorites? Food? Drink? Music? Scent? Item of clothing. Prized possession? Favorite book?

Dante: I don’t need to eat or drink. I like classical music because it reminds me of heaven, and I love lavender because it reminds me of Lyric. I have no favorite clothes-they all look good on me. I don’t need possessions. And I have no time for reading. Anything else?

Bertram: You must do something. Do you have any special skills?

Dante: Oh, I am very skillful, but I don’t like to brag . . . Let’s just say the ladies love me.

Bertram: Do you have any distinguishing marks?

Dante: Careful. I think that could fall in the unmentionables category.

Bertram: Look. Just give me something, and I’ll tell Margay everything went fine.

Dante: Peter. I’ll give you Peter. He’s my only real problem. Why won’t he just step away and let me have a little fun, already? It’s a good thing I love to create conflict. And where better to be than right in the thick of it? Run from conflict? Ha!

Bertram: What is your most closely guarded secret?

Dante: If I told you, it would no longer be a secret. I’m no fool. But I’ll tell you one thing, life is made for living. Now I have to go see what I can do about stirring up a little conflict.

Bertram: Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to reading your story.

Dante: I’m sure that’s true. All you mortals want to live like me, you’re just too afraid to take the chance. So you’ll have to make do with the book. It will be availabe in November by Second Wind Publishing.

Norah’s Soul (Volume One in the Dante Chronicles) by Margay Leah Justice.

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