Hidden Talents Chapter 2

Below is a sneak peek of this content!

  Hidden Talents by Edward Branley CHAPTER TWO Coffee and Donuts “I don’t like doing business in such a public place, any casual observer of this conversation would conclude that you’re from out of town. Locals don’t wear dark clothes when they eat beignets at Café du Monde. Most ladies don’t like powdered sugar all over an expensive suit,” sniffed the twenty-something man to the woman seated across from him. William Ryan was talking to Anita Delatorre, who had arrived in New Orleans the night before. “I seriously doubt you have to worry about being seen in public with me at a coffee stand. Besides, my reputation would be in greater jeopardy if I were to be seen in...
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Chapter 2 of Hidden Talents Drops Today!

Chapter 2 of Hidden Talents Drops Today!

Hidden Talents online continues today with Chapter 2.

Hidden Talents

Hidden Talents makes awesome coffee shop reading!

Hidden Talents

The second chapter of Edward Branley’s first novel is available here on Eloquent Profanity! The story of Ren Alciatore’s challenges to radio preacher Jay Hadley.

If you become a Patron of Eloquent Profanity at the $1 level, you’ll receive access to the chapters as they become available here. Additionally, we’re publishing short stories and snippets from various works each month. So, come check us out. The prologue and Chapter 1 of Hidden Talents are available for everyone to read. If you like, become a patron.

Of course, if you read the first chapter and want the whole thing now, go to one of the usual suspects and buy the novel. It’s available in paperback and e-book. Even if you buy the book, we urge you to consider supporting the work by becoming a patron. We’ll offer content to keep you busy.

Talents Stories

This month, we’ll publish a story that’s in the Talents universe but not in one of the two novels, Hidden and Trusted. Who knows, it may make its way into a future long project, but in the meantime, if you like the characters and universe, we’ll do our best to keep you there.

Other Stories

While we’re starting the focus on Talents, there’s also lots of content from the Dragons stories we’ll drop here. Edward’s first romance story, “Trivial Tacos” is in final production, so look for stories and snippets exploring romance writing. It’s fun and a real challenge for a SF-F nerd writer. Stick with us and help us build the following here. We know it will pay off in terms of entertainment as we grow. While independent forum/discussion sites aren’t as popular as they used to be, the implosion of the artist formerly known as Twitter may speed this up a bit. We’ll encourage folks to join in chats here.

Trains and Tinder

Trains and Tinder

Below is a sneak peek of this content!

Trains and Tinder is a short coffee shop snippet. Trains and Tinder “Are you Renee?” The man asked. “No, Bess. Tinder?” Bess Murray said. Chris Marinello rolled his eyes. “Yeah. Sorry, I’m Chris. Meeting someone for coffee.” “Well, so am I! Good luck,” Bess replied. She was about to turn when the horn of a train engine sounded, startling her. “It’s the Amtrak Crescent train, headed to New York, and one of the special engines is in the lead,” Chris explained. Bess paused to watch the train pass. Just as the train started crossing the underpass over Canal Boulevard, she heard a car horn, honking incessantly. After about thirty seconds the driver, a woman, put the car in park and...
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Hidden Talents Chapter 1

Hidden Talents Chapter 1

Below is a sneak peek of this content!

  Hidden Talents by Edward Branley CHAPTER ONE Beer on the Lakefront Janet frowned as her friend pulled only one of the earbuds from his ears. "You're listening to that kook on the radio while we were hanging out, instead of me. Is his ass cuter than mine?" Renard Alciatore smiled, leaned over, and grabbed two fresh beers from the cooler. Tossing one to his friend, he sat back on the sea wall and gazed out over Lake Pontchartrain. At a quarter-to-five, the New Orleans air was crisp and cool this sunny April afternoon. Renard (Ren to his friends) had been listening to Talk Now! With Jay Hadley in the car on the way to his bi-weekly stress break...
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Hidden Talents – Prologue

Hidden Talents – Prologue

Prologue to the novel, Hidden Talents by Edward Branley.

Hidden Talents

COPYRIGHT

Copyright © 2015, 2016 Edward Branley

Cover art by Wendy Warrelmann

ISBN: 978-0-9967640-2-5

Second Paperback Edition

To the reader:

As much as the author would like to believe Magic and the Talents are real, this is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

For Helen

Prologue

Five minutes to air is always hectic at Jay Hadley Ministries. Cecilia McIntyre, producer of the radio show, Talk Now! With Jay Hadley, settled into her chair adjacent to the studio. Cecilia’s engineer and right-hand-woman, Annie, was already in position, manipulating the dials and switches on the control board. Cecilia hooked up the telephone headset and double-checked her computer. While her boss was on the air, she would screen the calls, Tweets, and Facebook comments, while pulling up sound files of past shows needed today. All hooked in now, Cecilia turned and smiled at Annie, who gave her a thumbs-up and continued her pre-show checklist.

Two minutes to air. The star of the show hurries from his office at one end of the suite to the studio at the other, all but ignoring the beautiful view of Lake Pontchartrain his suburban New Orleans location offered. The rent had to be paid, and that didn’t happen if Hadley didn’t get on the radio and ask for it. With a quick wave for the women preparing in the control room, Hadley took his place in the studio behind the microphone. Even though Hadley had a strong, radio-preacher’s voice, he did not cut an imposing figure in person. At 5’7” and 160 pounds, he might still be able to run five miles a day at the age of 47, but he’d never be mistaken for the corporate CEO he was. This bothered Hadley during the few times he spent in quiet reflection, but not now. He was in his domain, in control, and ready for the world.

One minute to air. Hadley reviewed the various bullet points Cecilia left on his desk. These outlines covered the topics he should use when doing the many off-the-cuff requests for donations he would make during the two-hour show. Chuckling at one particular line of attack listed, he looked up and waved at his producer and chief-of-staff, who beamed.

3:00pm CST. The satellite links are all on-line and the red “On Air” light above the door in Hadley’s studio goes on. As the theme music and voice-over finish, the star begins his opening monologue.

Good afternoon and welcome to ‘Talk Now!’ I’m Jay Hadley, and I’ll be here for the next two hours to say what I have to say and listen to what you have to say. My topic for today is ‘Sharpshooting Sub-teens.’ What’s going on in our schools? We’ve got kids as young as eleven years old bringing guns to class and shooting down other students. The breakdown of the moral fiber of this nation is happening at an accelerated rate in these last days. I’ve got a lot to say about this, and I’m sure you do as well…”

As Hadley dug into the topic du jour, things got more active in the control room. Annie busied herself with level adjustments and verifying the links to the outside world. Cecilia’s phone lines were already ringing off the hook, with both supporters and detractors alike trying to get through to Hadley. She received regular activity updates from the telemarketing center down the hall, letting her know phone activity and the dollar amount of pledges to the Ministry. She then passed this information to her boss’ computer in the studio when she felt it appropriate. Grabbing a quick sip of her Diet Pepsi, she flipped the switch for an outside line.

Talk Now! With Jay Hadley.

Yeah, I want to talk to the holy man!” The voice was male, late teens, and trying to growl like his favorite heavy-metal lead singer.

Cecilia sighed. She knew this one well. “Hi, Lonny. I thought I told you I wasn’t going to let you on more than once every couple of weeks. You’re calling back waayyy too early.”

Lonny is no longer. Only Destructor exists.”

Oh, sorry, that’s right. I forgot that you only use your stage name these days. Still, “Destructor”, I’m not ready for you today.”

I want to talk to the holy man today! Kids who kill is perfect for Deeee-struc-tttttor!!!” The young man’s attempts to sound demonic were truly amusing Cecilia.

OK, Lonny, stay on the line and I’ll see what I can do.” She hit the hold button on the console and looked up into the studio. The kid was entertaining and usually generated good donor response. A quick review of her “regular callers” file indicated that Lonny/Destructor not only generated response, but the response was of the immediate impact kind—credit card donations. Smiling inwardly, she turned up Hadley in her earphones to see where to work in the caller.

“…nothing but dope-smoking death-dealing Democrats poisoning the minds of our youth and leading us to situations like we saw on CNN yesterday. We’re taking back the country, brothers and sisters, but it’s not happening fast enough! I need your help, friends, to keep this Ministry on the air, fighting the fight for our youth!” Jay was on a roll today, Cecilia thought. She watched as he flipped the switch to run the theme music for the bottom half of the first hour, then keyed her intercom.

Boss, do you want Lonny today?”

Hadley looked up from his notes. “Wasn’t he just on day before yesterday?”

Cecilia frowned a bit through the glass. “Yeah, but he’s got the right shtick for this topic, and he’s hot to trot on line six.”

Hold him for just about the end of the show. If he’s still there around 4:45, we’ll do it. That’ll be a great follow-through to the daily offer summary. If he hangs up, he loses his chance at fame. This show is a path to better things, even for the wannabe devil-worshipers who harass us.” He smiled.

OK, then, 4:45 it is.” She killed the intercom and went back to the phone. “Lonny, sit tight for a while and we’ll work you in.”

Very well. Destructor will consent to wait for the holy man…”

Sure thing.” She put him back on hold, gave Hadley a thumbs-up and went to the phones again. The callers were the usual mix of true believers, kids who objected to Hadley’s opposition to heavy-metal music, non-Christians who felt the Ministry preached intolerance, and just plain crazies. The calls usually worked themselves out—put on an “anti” call, fire up the phone lines, then a few true believer calls to get Hadley psyched up for the next crazy on the line.

The cycle ran true through the first hour, and into the second. There was no guest today, either in-studio or on the phone. Hadley continued on-message, and the phones were lighting up.

4:30 PM CST: Hadley clicks the intercom switch.

Is Lonny still on hold?”

Yup, he’s on line six.”

OK, let’s shift the live solicitation up, then I’ll take him right after that.”

OK, boss.” Cecilia popped the phone button, double-checked on Lonny, and then went back to the other phone lines. She needed to get some solid true believers on right after Lonny to keep the faithful pulling out their wallets. After she got a third caller on hold, she took a deep breath and listened as Hadley wound up the donation pitch.

Brothers and Sisters, I must have your help for this Ministry to survive. I need you to give that $20 a month, or better yet, be that $1000 soldier for Christ we need to underwrite today’s broadcast. If that’s just something you can’t do, then let’s have two of you giving $500. I need to know you’re backing me. These kids need to know you are there. We have to get the message of the Lord out before we have more children killing children!

OK, speaking of out of control teenagers, we’ve got Destructor on the phone. Hello, Destructor, are you still there?”

Hooollllyyyy Maaannnn.” Lonny was pretty good at the evil voice bit. Hadley wasn’t all that impressed, though.

I’m not a ‘holy man,’ just a man doing Jesus’ work on the radio.”

Hooollllyyyy Maaannnn, you do not know us. We will defeat your so-called ‘God’ and crush your religion!”

Not a chance, Destructor. The only thing that’s going to ‘destruct’ is your belief that you will succeed. I have the authority of the blood of Jesus Christ, and that gives me and all who believe in Him the power to bind you and yours and condemn your masters to the eternal pit!” Hadley’s finger was poised right next to the ‘panic button,’ the switch that shuts off the signal in case a caller gets obscene. Lonny’s file indicated that he never used improper radio language, but you never know with kids.

Hooollllyyyy Maaaaannnnn, your God is worthless. Your life is worthless. You will be crushed like the sheep that you are. My master will be victorious. My master will come for you and destroy all you love and hold precious. My master will put bullets in the brains of your followers. My master…”

Hadley cut off the litany: “Destructor, I bind your threats and wash them away with the Blood of Jesus Christ. You and your master have no power here. The Risen Lord is forever!”

Almost as if it was rehearsed, Destructor began coughing when Hadley cut him off and began his counter-claims. Lonny regained his composure and snarled into the phone. “I would like to ask a question of the Holy Man.”

Ask away.”

The question came, not in the “Destructor” voice, but Lonny’s post-adolescent whine. “Why is it that you like to take vacations with married women who work for you???”

Hadley slammed his hand down on the “panic button” that controlled the seven-second-delay system. The public did not hear anything Lonny said past the word “vacations.” Red-faced with rage, he turned and glared at Cecilia.

Cecilia was stunned. Lonny’s profile had no record of being a Challenger to the Ministry. He never would have made it on the air in that case. No, something went terribly wrong just now. She was set up, and Hadley was furious. Ministry statistics showed that contributions regularly drop 20%-30% for half an hour after someone questions the Rev. Hadley’s personal lifestyle or the way he handles Ministry money. Sure, some of the callers get through, but that’s why Cecilia developed the caller profile database. The more “safe” calls she let flow through, the less the chances of something uncontrolled happening. Something like Lonny’s question, generated ten seconds of dead air, and that was something that could not happen regularly.

Hadley recovered quickly, and began damage control. “Destructor, you are history. You just can’t use language like that on the radio. This is a family program with a family audience, and we just can’t have that here.” He glanced over at the computer monitor and hit a button.

Joanne is on the line from Dallas. Go ahead, Joanne!”

A positive call from a true believer would pick things up, but Cecilia still saw the smoldering anger in Hadley’s eyes. It was going to be a tough twenty minutes, but she had to keep the callers moving. She could figure out what went wrong later.