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The Sword: A Murder Mystery

James Frishkey

Return To Forever

Synopsis: 

Joe and Mary, high school sweethearts flush with the innocence and blossoming freedom of the ‘60’s, see their lives torn apart and dreams of a life together disintegrate into the dust of reality.

Joe’s determination to locate his lost love takes him across the country and into the path of hardened criminals seeking retribution for the betrayal that almost crumpled their empire.

He must ask himself if the prize is worth the quest which may just cost him his life.







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CHAPTER 1

Summer – 1963

Joey Fedorsio’s father walked a fine line between major prick and stalwart male role model.  Joey was an only child but his father, an orphan, made sure Joey would know the merits of hard labor…even at 15 which was when he started work in the local Food Giant for $.75 an hour.

Joey was a bright, almost brilliant student when he chose to be.  He was a natural artist and draftsman and was offered scholarships to the Art Institute and later the prestigious Wilson Academy.  Both of these opportunities had to take a back seat to the family’s penchant for moving every two years until they finally had enough money for a down payment on their first home in 1962.  At last Joey would be able to develop friendships that would take root.

The township where their home was being built had a modest tax base and, as a result, kids ready for Junior High and High School had to migrate to nearby Lansdale, a growing community with a new high school due to open in the fall.  Joey would be a member of its first graduating class.

Joey was also a natural athlete, playing organized baseball every summer and pickup football and hockey games in the fall and winter.  One of his goals was to try out for the varsity baseball team but juggling work and study time made this virtually impossible.  His baseball future would be relegated to sandlot games after school when he wasn’t working.

The Food Giant was very close to where the new high school was being built but far enough from home that Joey’s mom had to drive him and pick him up…until he got his permit!  Mom’s 1957 Chevy 210 was his to use for work when allowed and eventually became his project to convert from 4 door sedan to street rod of distinction.  Every spare dime went into the J.C. Whitney catalog…seat covers, baby moons, cut outs and whatever else he could find that would release the “beast” hiding in that 283 Power Glide grandma car.

By summers end the red and white Chevy looked and sounded like a rocket ship…but ran like the slow tortoise it really was.  The transformation was dramatic and his persona changed the minute he got behind the wheel.  The nerdy grocery store bag boy became Brando in the “Wild One”.  Joey would back the Chevy into the street and, at the end of the block, climb under the car with a monkey wrench to remove the cap from his cut-out.  The roar was almost deafening and gave Joey an instant hard-on.

Rumbling to and from work with the occasional detour through the local drive-in burger joint, Joey was often the target for a drag race with an opponent who was driving a car with real speed…not the faux muscle Joey was driving.  These confrontations usually ended with Joey watching the other guy pull away or simply declining the challenge with a laugh, feigning disinterest.

The Food Giant became Joey’s home away from home.  As time went on his hours increased as did his job responsibility.  From bagger to stock boy to stock boy/cashier, he earned a reputation of reliability and budding leadership among his co-workers, one of whom was Johnny Vincent in the produce department.

Johnny was also a classmate and lived within a long walk from Joey’s house.  His mom was the prototypical Italian home maker who could whip up a delicious meal from scratch in minutes.  His family and Joey’s became good friends and the boys and their fathers often played golf together at the local public nine hole course.  As is often the case, good friends can become intense competitors and the two boys were always trying to get a leg up be it sports, work, cars or girls.

Johnny was clearly the better athlete and his long and lanky looks appealed to the girls more than Joey’s glasses and exploding acne.  Joey, on the other hand, was a superior student and his years in Catholic school put him ahead of his sophomore classmates in almost every subject.  As a result, he had friends on every side of the spectrum…nerds, jocks, and greasers.

Phil Sherman was the all-American nice guy.  He was enrolled in Advance Placement English, Math, and Science and destined to receive an appointment to Annapolis if he could excel at just one varsity sport…wrestling.  His father was a Navy vet with contacts at the academy and he leaned hard on Phil to get the grades necessary to be selected.  To do so also required the sponsorship of a political big shit, like Congressman, Senator, Mayor or the like and when that time came, Phil was confident he could attract just such a heavyweight.

Joey first met Phil in Latin class and an immediate friendship was formed.  They both had skills in creative writing that served them well in the legendary Gladys Mason’s A.P. English class.  She was an aging spinster who inspired her students to tackle the loftiest literature with zeal and creativity.  She knew Joey had the ability but lacked the work ethic but she liked him and cut him more slack than he deserved.  Late assignments were the norm but she gave the content more weight than meeting the deadline and the C minus became the bedrock of Joey’s scholastic achievements.

Larry Knoblauch was the total opposite of Phil and the fuse that detonated the bad boy in Joey.  He was a co-op student, earning credit towards graduation by working full-time and attending only those classes required to meet the minimum for graduation.  He also worked at Food Giant but at a different store in the meat department.   He had a different circle of friends outside of high school and Joey was welcomed into that group of shit-stirrers.

And so Joey entered his junior year at the newly named Lansdale Senior High School with a small but loyal circle of friends… Johnny, Phil and Larry plus others that he would meet along the way.