Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Killer Ride: Sample Chapter+Biscotti Recipe Bonus

Happy New Year, one and all! Here's a little something to chase away those winter blues: a sample chapter from my adventure book for young people (and the young-at-heart), Killer Ride. To further sweeten things, I have gotten a hold of an authentic Italian recipe from Mrs. Martini, the Stone family's housekeeper. The recipe appears at the end of this post (and it's fat-free).

Justin Makes a Deal

   When Justin reached the still figure on the grass at the foot of the old oak tree, the youth bent quickly over the man. There was an ugly cut on his head, and blood was flowing from it; but Justin quickly noticed that the stranger was breathing steadily.
   "Well, he's not dead...just yet!" exclaimed the youth with a sigh of relief. "But I guess he's pretty badly hurt. I'd better get, I'll take him into our house. It's not far. I'll call Dad."
   Leaning his wheel against the tree Justin started for his home, about three hundred feet away, and then he noticed that the stranger's motorcycle was running at full speed on the ground.
   "Guess I'd better shut off the power!" he exclaimed. "No use letting the machine be ruined." Justin had a natural love for machinery, and it hurt him almost as much to see a piece of fine apparatus abused, as it did to see an animal mistreated. It only took a moment to shut it off, and then the youth raced on toward his house.
   "Where's Dad?" he called to Mrs. Martini, who was washing the dishes.
    "Out in one of the shops," replied the housekeeper. "Tutto bene, Justin," she went on hurriedly, as she saw how upset he was, "what has happened?"
   "Man hurt...out in front...motorcycle smash...I'm going to bring him in here...get some things ready...I'll find Dad!"
   "Mamma mia!" cried Mrs. Martini. "Ma che dici? Who's hurt? How did it happen, Zhustino? Is he dead?"
   "No time to talk now!" answered Justin, rushing from the house. "Dad and I will bring him in here."
Justin found his father in one of the three small workshops on the grounds of the Stone property. The youth quickly told what had happened.
   "Of course, we'll bring him right in here!" assented Mr. Stone, putting aside his work. "Did you tell Mrs. Martini?"
   "Yes, and she's all upset."
   "Well, she gets that way. Has she lapsed into Italian yet?"
   "Not completely."
   "Then I suppose we'll manage. Do you know the man?"
   "Never saw him before today, when he almost ran me down. Guess he doesn't know much about motorcycles...but come on, Dad. He could bleed to death."
   Father and son hurried to where the stranger lay. As they bent over him, he opened his eyes and asked faintly, "Where am I? What happened?"
   "You're all good hands," said Mr. Stone. "Are you hurt badly?"
   "Not much...mostly stunned, I guess. What happened?" he repeated.
   "You and your motorcycle tried to climb a tree," remarked Justin with grim humor.
   "Oh, right, I remember now. I couldn't seem to steer out of the way, and I couldn't shut off the power in time. Is the motorcycle damaged much?"
   "The front wheel is," reported Justin, after an inspection, "and there are some other breaks, but I guess..."
   "I wish it was all smashed!" exclaimed the man vigorously. "I never want to see it again!"
   "Why, don't you like it?" asked Justin disbelievingly. He bent over to get a closer look at the beautiful Yamaha custom motorcycle, that was now laying silent on the ground. It must've cost the guy a bundle, and didn't even have any wear on the tires.
   "No, and I never will," the man spoke faintly but determinedly.
   "Never mind, now," interposed Mr. Stone. "Don't excite yourself. My son and I will take you to our house and call ahead to your doctor."
   "I'll bring the motorcycle, after we've carried you in," added Justin.
   "Don't worry about the machine. I never want to see it again!" went on the man, rising to a sitting position.                      "It nearly killed me twice to day. I'll never ride again."
   "You'll feel differently after the doctor fixes you up," said Mr. Stone with a smile.
   "Doctor! I don't need a doctor," cried the stranger. "I am only bruised and shaken up."
   "You have a bad cut on your head," said Justin.
   "It isn't very deep," went on the injured man, placing his fingers on it. "Fortunately, I only struck the tree a glancing blow. If you will allow me to rest in your house a little while and give me some First Aid for the cut, I'll be all right again."
   "Can you walk, or should we carry you?" asked Justin's father.
   "Oh, I can walk, if you'll support me a little." The stranger proved that he could do this by getting to his feet and taking a few steps. Mr. Stone and his son took hold of his arms and led him to the house. There, he was placed on a lounge and given some basic First Aid by Mrs. Martini, who, when she found the accident was not serious, recovered her composure.
   "I must have been unconscious for a few minutes," went on the man.
   "You were," explained Justin. "When I got to you, I thought you were dead, until I saw you breathe. Then, I shut off the power on your machine and ran in for Dad. I've got the motorcycle outside. You can't ride it for some time, I'm afraid," and Justin stopped in some confusion, for he realized that he did not know the man's name.
   "Oh, excuse me for not introducing myself before," went on the stranger. "I'm Carl Watson, of Sugarcreek. Don't worry about me riding that machine again. Never again."
   "Oh, you might feel differently later..." began Mr. Stone.
   "No, I never will," went on Mr. Watson positively. "My doctor told me to get it; he thought riding around the country would improve my health. Just wait 'til I tell him his prescription nearly killed me."
   "And me too," added Justin with a laugh.
   "How...why...are you the same young man I nearly ran down this morning?" asked Mr. Watson, suddenly sitting up and looking at the youth.
   "I am," answered our hero.
   "For Pete's sake! So you are!" cried Mr. Watson. "I was wondering who it could be. It's quite a coincidence. Boy, I was in such a cloud of dust I couldn't tell who it was."
   "You had your muffler open, and that raised some big dust," explained Justin.
   "Was that what did it? Good grief! I thought something was wrong, but I couldn't tell what. I went over all the instructions in the book and those the salesman told me, but I couldn't think of the right one. I tried all sorts of things to make less dust, but I couldn't. Then, the machine quit just after I nearly ran into you. I tinkered over it for an hour or more before I could get it to going again. Then, that darned tree jumped out in front of me. My doctor told me the machine would do my liver good, but, fiddlesticks, I'd rather be without a liver than do anymore of what I've done today. I am done with motorcycling!"
A hopeful look came over Justin's face, but he said nothing; that is, not just then. In a little while, Mr. Watson felt so much better, he said he would start for home. "I'm afraid you'll have to leave your machine here," said Justin.
   "You can send for it anytime you want to," added Mr. Stone.
   "Crikey!" exclaimed Mr. Watson, who appeared to be very fond of strange exclamations. "Bust my buttons! I never want to see it again! If you will be so kind as to keep it for me, I will send a junk man after it. I will never spend anything on having it repaired. I am done with that form of exercise...liver or no or no doctor."
   He appeared very determined. Justin quickly made up his mind. Mr. Watson had gone to the bathroom to get rid of some of the mud on his hands and face.
   "Dad," said Justin earnestly, "would you let me make him an offer on that machine of his?"
   "What? Buy a broken motorcycle?"
   "I can easily fix it. It is a great make, and in good condition. I can repair it. I've wanted a motorcycle for some time, and here's a chance to get a good one cheap."
   "You don't need to do that," replied Mr. Stone. "You have money enough to buy a new one if you want it. I never knew you cared for them."
   "I didn't, until lately. I'd rather buy this one and fix it up, than get a new one. Besides, I have an idea for a new kind of transmission, and maybe I can try it out on this machine."
   "Oh, well, if you want it for experimental purposes, I suppose it will be as good as any. Go ahead, get it if you want, but don't give him too much for it."
   "No problem, Dad. I bet I can get it for cheap."
   Mr. Watson returned to the living-room, where he had first been carried. "I cannot thank you enough for what you have done for me," he said. "I might have been there for hours. Jeepers creepers! I have had a very narrow escape. From now on, when I see anyone on a motorcycle, I don't think I can even look. The memory will be too painful," and he touched the bandage that covered a cut on his head.
   "Mr. Watson," said Justin quickly, "will you sell me that motorcycle?"
   "Zoinks! Sell you that mass of junk?"
   "It isn't all junk," went on the young inventor. "I can easily fix it; though, of course," he added carefully, "it will cost something. How much would you want for it?"
   "Well," replied Mr. Watson, "I paid over $16,000 for it last week. I have ridden a hundred miles on it. That is at the rate of 160 dollars a mile...pretty expensive riding. As an insurance man, I can tell you that the salvage value alone would probably be $2,000. Even that price would make me feel like I'm taking advantage of you."
   "I'll give you $2,000," said Justin quickly, and Mr. Watson exclaimed,
   "Bless my liver...that is, if I have one. Do you mean it? I could fix it up with the home office- It'll save us the trouble of selling it at the auction. You can keep it here and work on it while I'm putting through the paperwork."
   Justin nodded. "I'll get you the money right away," he said, starting for his room. He got the cash from a small safe he had arranged, which was fitted up with an ingenious burglar alarm, and was on his way downstairs when he heard his father call out, "Hey! What do you want? Get away from that shop! No one is allowed in there!"
   Looking from an upper window, Justin saw his father running toward a stranger, who was just stepping inside the shop where Mr. Stone was constructing his hydrogen motor. Justin jumped as he saw that the stranger was the same black-mustached man whom he had noticed in the post office, and, later, in the diner at Unionville.

Mrs. Martini's Easiest Biscotti

2 eggs
2/3 c. white sugar
1t. anise extract
1t. anise seed
1c. flour, sift
1/2 t. salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease loaf pan.
2. Cream the eggs, extract, and sugar in mixer, medium speed, 4 minutes. 
3. Blend last 3 ingredients together, and add to egg mixture. Scrape dough into the pan. It will be thin and only fill 1/3 or 1/2 of the pan .
3. Bake about 20 minutes, or until it passes toothpick test. Remove from pan and slice into half-inch slices. Place sliced cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes until bottom is browned, turn and bake for another 5 minutes until the other side is browned. Yield: 16 cookies.

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