The Chameleon's Shadow
The Chameleon's Shadow
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Two buddies met in army training, eventually serving in Vietnam together. This adventuresome duo through their Vietnam experiences together form a friendship that continues back in the States. Though they both forge ahead in wildly different careers, they find many reasons to use each others talents. Dr Bruce Conwell (Brew) is serving a large church in Still Acres, Iowa, while Chip McIntosh becomes a wealthy businessman with a private jet at his disposal. Adventures precipitated by their old friend, Nancy Springs, a CIA agent, land them in the waters around Gitmo while later the Arch in St. Louis is a target. All the while Brew's church is unaware of his entanglement with Chip. Then there is "Bulldog", a disreputable reporter, mysteriously bugging this pastor at odd times and places.

Chapter 1

Jeanie was doing her morning cleaning. She turned off the vacuum cleaner and answered the home phone. "Good morning," her pleasant voice purred., "This is the Community Church parsonage."

A husky, raspy voice responded, "I gotta speak to the Rev. Doctor Cornwall."

She answered, "There's no one here by that name. Pastor Conwell lives here."

"Yea, whatever. I gotta speak to him!"

"May I tell him who is calling?" she asked, trying to keep her voice as friendly as possible.

"What difference does that make? I need to speak to him. Who are you? Just let me talk to da guy."

By now, Bruce reached for the extension phone in his study.

The raspy voice continued, "I gotta talk to him about his FBI lover."

Jeanie gasped and shrieked. "What are you talking about? WHO ARE you?"

Bruce interrupted, "This is Pastor Conwell. As my wife asked, ‘Who Are You?'"

The raspy voice laughed. "So you are there, hiding behind your wife's skirts?"

Bruce was ready to explode. "I'm not hiding. I'm working on my sermon for Sunday, tho it's none of your business. What kind of slander are you spouting? If you don't identify yourself, I'm going to hang up."

"I'll give you my name when I'm good and ready. You give me the info I want and we'll get along fine. Now give me the truth, ‘Mr. Big Religious Leader.' If you don't, you'll soon be just another guy looking for a job when I get through with you."

Bruce controlled himself with great difficulty. "Good bye."

He hung up and walked to Jeanie and hung up her phone.

She looked at Bruce with wide eyes, on the verge of tears as he hugged her close to him. She asked, "What was that all about? He didn't even have your right name at first."

"Hon, I have no idea who it was – or what it was all about. What did he say before I picked up the extension?"

She spread her hands. "He said he wanted to talk to you about your FBI lover."

"Jeanie, I heard that. But I don't even know a female FBI agent. Oh – maybe he thinks I'm homosexual."

She smiled and hugged him tightly. "He certainly would be wrong on that count. He didn't have your name right. He first asked for Cornwall."

Before Bruce could think of a clever remark, the phone rang again. She held up her hands. "You answer it. I don't want to talk to that horrible person again."

Bruce nodded. "It could be someone from the church."

He took a deep breath and answered, "Parsonage. May I help you?"

"Well, you do answer your own phone," the raspy voice sneered.

"Who are you? What's your problem?"

"I'm a reporter – and you have the problem."

"You're a reporter? You didn't even have my name right when you first called. And you are making a totally baseless accusation. You've already talked to my only lover, my wife."

"You've been seeing a woman who's an FBI operative since you served in Vietnam."

"Since ‘Nam? That's more than 30 years ago."

"So your affair has lasted more than three decades."

Bruce was ready to explode. "I don't know who you're a reporter for – or if you really are a reporter. But I don't care. Your info is totally false. Since we've been married, I never had sex with any one but my wife – to be perfectly blunt about it."

"That's hog wash – and you know it is, preacher. No one is faithful that long!"

"I'm through talking to you. Now hang up and go harass someone else."

"I'll hang up, but you'll hear more from me – a lot more. You can count on it. They call me ‘The Bulldog.' When I get the whiff of a story, I never let go until the story is printed."

As Bruce replied, "There's no story in what you said," he realized the raspy voice had hung up.

The Rev. Dr. Bruce Conwell III, pastor of the thousand member Community Church of Still Acres, Iowa, looked at his wife of almost three decades, then paced the floor in the large living room. The furniture was a collection of comfortable sofas, chairs and end tables. Neither Bruce nor Jeanie were concerned about keeping the furniture up-to-date or replacing it after it had become just a bit worn appearing.

The walls showcased family pictures: more of Jeanie's parents and her sisters with all their kids than of Bruce's family. Bruce preferred to have his family's pictures on his desk and credenza. A few copies of "starving artists seascapes" broke up the large walls of the old but well cared for house.

Though they could have afforded a more modern home, Bruce and Jeanie were very comfortable in the house they'd lived in since they were called to Still Acres. Some of the furniture and wall paper indicated the New England influence that had affected Jeanie while they served in Massachusetts. But as Bruce paced the floor and prayed, he didn't notice the surroundings.

Donald R.Brown served our Country as an Army Chaplain both on Active Duty and Active Reserves for thirty years. He edited magazines for both the National Association of Evangelicals and Wheaton College College Alumni. He authored/coauthored five books. He obtained a BA and MA from Wheaton College and a BD from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Shirley, have had two daughters, four grandkids and eleven great-grands. He passed away before this second novel could be published. So in loving memory of Don, his wife prays you will enjoy his love of writing.


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