Another Sneak Peek at “The Illusion of Certainty”–my third novel

I’m excited to announce that I’m very close to publishing my third novel “The Illusion of Certainty.” The story is the parrallel stories of two people who are forced to cope with the uncertainty of life. Below is a sneak preview of the introduction to the story which occurs in Portland, Seattle, London and Paris.
It has been six months in the making and I’m very excited to roll out my new novel this summer. I hope you enjoy the sample. Watch my web site for other new about “The Illusion of Certainty” and my two other novels.
The first thing Marc Wilson saw as his plane descended through the clouds was a spectacular view of the historic Thames River. He immediately recognized Big Ben and the Parliament Building looming over downtown London which was now coming into view through the parting clouds. Everywhere he looked there were iconic images he had seen all of his life but now he was seeing them with his own eyes.
This spur-of-the-moment trip to England would be historic for Marc in ways he could not imagine. His life became a train wreck a few years ago. Since that time he had essentially disconnected from all of the parts of his life that he had previously loved.
In an effort to push the reset button on his tattered life, Marc had taken a chance. He was coming to London to clear his head and hopefully get his bearings again. Marc’s life had been ravaged by unexpected events. Uncertainty. Some “worst case” scenarios had become reality. Now something quite unexpected awaited him in London.
But this time the surprising turn of events would help heal him. Uncertainty can produce good things. Children generally get excited when you ask them if they would like a surprise. Innocent children expect a gift wrapped in a package, some candy or a birthday cake.
As adults, most dread “surprises.” Surprises in adult life don’t come wrapped in pretty paper. The uncertainty of life produces surprises for adults like sudden illness, wrecked automobiles, loss of employment and unwanted changes in relationships.
However, today Marc had no expectations at all as he touched down at Heathrow Airport. He grabbed his meager luggage and caught one of London’s iconic black taxis. He gave the cabbie the address of the hotel which was in “English” but the address seemed very foreign. If the driver had any questions Marc had no answers.
“115 Templeton Place, Kensington. The Hotel George,” Marc said confidently.
“Sure enough,” the cab driver said in a classic clipped English accent. Then the adventure began. Where ever the heck Marc was going the driver seemed to instantly understand his instructions.
Marc smiled to himself as the cab proceeded in traffic—on the “wrong” side of the road and with the driver on the “wrong” side of the car. He started seeing signs with familiar names like “Kensington,” “Notting Hill,” Paddington Station.”
“Excuse me,” Marc said leaning forward in the roomy back seat of the London taxi. “Is the Hotel George in the middle of the city or what part of London…” he stumbled along realizing that he didn’t actually know enough to even ask a good question.
The cabbie thought he was bailing him out saying, “Yes sir, its right by Earl’s Court, just off Kensington.”
He might as well tell Marc that his hotel was on the third moon of Neptune. He tried again.
“What is it near?”
“You’ll be in walking distance to Hyde Park actually. You’re American?”
Marc recognized Hyde Park but still was getting his bearings. “Yes, I’m an American coming to spend a week or so in London and surrounding areas.”
“Very good. I hope you enjoy it. London has wonderful weather this time of year. Where do you live in the states?”
“Washington.”
“Oh, so you live near Obama and the White House.”
“Oh, no,no,no…wrong Washington.”
“Sorry,” said the puzzled cabbie.
“My fault. I actually live in Seattle. At the other end of America from where Obama lives.”
“Oh yes, Seattle. Very good.”
“I had a cousin who moved to Arizona,” the cab driver said, “that’s in your direction in the western U.S. right?”
Marc smiled and nodded, “Yeah, kind of the same direction.” All of this miscommunication about geography made his sleep-deprived mind hurt, so he decided to try to change the subject.
“We are almost there, just over in that direction is Earl’s Court,” the cabbie offered trying to be helpful.
“Oh,” Marc said blankly. His thoughts now turned to what he should do when the cab stops. He had a wallet full of British pounds. He hoped the cab driver wouldn’t tell him some English thing like “that’ll be 8 and 3” or whatever they said in British movies. The driver helped him when he pulled in front of the Hotel George, to sort out the pounds he had crammed into his pocket.
Marc got checked in and loved the hotel. It looked British. Whatever that means.
It was now just before noon in London. His body certainly did not feel like 11 a.m. The long trans-Atlantic flight had really disoriented Marc. The strategy today was to stay awake and go to bed at London bedtime to get your body in synch with the UK clock.
Marc had no idea what he would do the rest of the week. Today he had his pass for the London Underground and tickets for the Tower of London. That would be how he jumped into his English adventure. Marc perused the map of the all the tube stations and lines. This was going to be his mode of getting himself around London for the next week. By this time next week he would be a confident user of the famed Underground subway system.
He discovered there was an Earl’s Court underground station just blocks from the hotel. Marc would catch the “green line” there and take it to Westminster station. If he continued on the green line he could get pretty close to Parliament and Big Ben. From there he could walk along the Thames near the London Eye until he got to the Tower of London and London Bridge. That’d be cool. He could walk across the bridge to the Tower of London on the other side of the Thames to begin his afternoon. Thus Marc’s solo adventure began.
It worked out just as he had outlined it with his finger on the map as he sat in the lobby. He was drinking in the great atmosphere. Marc couldn’t believe he was really here.
Marc took a “Beefeater” tour of the Tower of London from a historically-dressed Yeoman Warders, who had guarded the tour for centuries. The Warders filled the visitors in on the grim history of the tower. Clearly, this was where you went when you screwed up or become overly ambitious. At least “overly ambitious” politically as defined by the king or queen.
It was amazing. He also viewed the priceless Crown Jewels in another building on the complex. Marc felt himself fading a little. There was much more to see. He decided to take a break and sit on a bench on the cobblestone walkway for a bit and take in the view of the Thames.
Then he saw her for the first time.

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About gregmessel

I've written six novels and am working on a seventh. My first three novels were "Expiation," "Sunbreaks" and "The Illusion of Certainty." I'm now working on a series of mysteries set in San Francisco in the 1950s. In 2008, I retired from corporate life and so I can spend more time writing. I spent over ten years in the newspaper business. I now live on Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, just north of downtown Seattle.
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