Arch Patton Thriller
About The Book
Arch Patton, middle-aged CIA operative, finds himself associated with his unrequited love, Virginia and a band of Hawaiians Natives, active in the Sovereignty Movement, dedicated to protesting the possible nuclear contamination of the Islands.
he action takes place on Ohau and Bellows Air Force Base, now a United States Marine Corps facility. Arch becomes conflicted with his “love life” and helping those in need.
What is the Military hiding on the old Bellows Air Station?
“He’d retired ten years ago before coming to be lying alone in the mud. Retired from being a field operations specialist. A real spy. A spy who had to get in and get out with almost no help, and accomplish missions which were too bizarre to be written into movie or television scripts. Spying wasn’t a believable occupation. Not in the culture of modern America. So he portrayed himself as a retired professor, which he resembled much more than the public’s idea of a spy.”
How in hell he came to be lying in cloying dismal mud at the base of an extinct Hawaiian volcano eluded Arch. He just lay there, trying to catch his breath, knowing that the softness of the deep red earth was a death trap but not really having the energy to do much about it. He was sixty. Just days south of it. He didn’t look sixty. That thought made him laugh, nearly aloud. If anyone were to see him in his current condition then looking sixty would be a major compliment.
The stream running right by him was clear and sparkling bright. Arch diverted some of it with one hand, letting the water cascade over his upturned face, while he tried to rub what he could of himself clean with the other. Very gently he rolled out into the main current, the water running about six inches deep. He realized that his fall had not injured him badly. The soft mud had saved him, but it was nearly impossible to get it off once it attached itself to you. Red dirt, they called the stuff on Oahu. Some company even made clothing with the mud being used as a dye. “Awful red,” Arch had called the pieces on display at a retail outlet across the island on Kalakaua Avenue.
He’d retired ten years ago before coming to be lying alone in the mud. Retired from being a field operations specialist. A real spy. A spy who had to get in and get out with almost no help, and accomplish missions which were too bizarre to be written into movie or television scripts. Spying wasn’t a believable occupation. Not in the culture of modern America. So he portrayed himself as a retired professor, which he resembled much more than the public’s idea of a spy.
He had nothing to show for his work. A small retirement from the Agency. A family, strewn across the landscape of his life, broken and dysfunctional. It didn’t often bother him. But laying in the flowing stream, with cool mountain water washing over him for some reason caused him to think of his entire life and feel a deep sense of regret. In the words of some kid he’d overheard at an airport talking to another kid: “You have no life.” Arch was left with no real life, and he knew it.
Agonizing a bit, he slowly sat up in the middle of the stream. The water was infusing him with life. He tried parts of his body. No broken bones. No cartilage not working, that he could tell. Only a feeling of immense fatigue. He’d been walking on the trail above only moments before, and now he was stuck in the stream at the bottom of a deep ravine.
“With not a friend in the world,” he murmured to himself while twisting back to look upstream for the first time. What he saw surprised him to the point of working to breaking himself loose from the muddy bottom of the stream. With a long sucking sound, he pried himself out. A brown streak flowed downstream, as the water began to fill in the depression he vacated.
There was a body in the stream, not twenty yards from where Arch came to crouch, with his hands and knees still plunged into the wet red dirt of the bank. With deep rattling breaths coming from his lungs, he began to crawl on hands and knees, moving away from the bank again and out into the center of the gurgling water. There was no mud in the clear water coming down from the mountain, but the current worked against making rapid forward progress. It took him ten long minutes to reach the unmoving body.Arch rose up to his feet, the water knee deep. He shakily gazed down at the prone form. A man lay before him on his back in the cocooning mud near the bank totally wrapped in gray duct tape. Even the man’s eyes and mouth were taped over. The only way to tell that the body was of a male at all was by the lack of any swelling on its chest area. Arch couldn’t judge if the body was alive or dead. He reached down with his right hand, dropping to one knee and went to work on one small corner of tape covering the body’s mouth before pulling back sharply.
A plaintive croak came through the small hole the removal of the tape had allowed, and then some weak words.
“Help me,” a male voice pleaded, the voice almost too raspy to understand.
Arch instantly recognized the voice. It had a distinctive nasal twang to it. Irritating. Just like the man it belonged to. Nathan Makaha Matisse. A man who’d almost written out his own death warrant by attempting to extort money from the United States Government for information that would have damaged that same government.
Moments earlier, in a clearing located somewhere above them, and following a very unsatisfactory conversation, Arch had told his associates to simply shoot the offensive idiot and leave his body in the brush for his relatives, or whomever, to find. But here was Matisse, lying in the same streambed as Arch, and begging for help.
Slowly, Arch peeled the tape from the man’s eyes and ears.
“You’re supposed to up there with a few bullet holes in you, so what are you doing down here?” Patton asked, tossing the small ball of used tape and watching it bob and float as it made its way downstream.
“Your friends thought it would be better to roll me down here to die slowly. Help me.” Matisse struggled against the tape securing the rest of his body.
“Why should I help you?” Arch asked, trying to clean the red mud from his coated limbs. He noted that one of his Teva sandals was missing.
“Because you don’t have a friend in this world. I’ll be your friend,” Matisse responded.
Arch stared at the man in surprise, and then was overcome by a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Finally, after more than half a minute he regained his aplomb.
“ Just what makes you think that some lowlife scum like you, threatening the same government I’ve worked for so long and well, could ever be a friend of mine? I told those guys to shoot you,” Arch finished.
“I forgive you,” Matisse responded, “and besides, that was before we ended up in this mess. Why are you down here?”
Patton looked down at the wriggling creature before him, and then came to a decision. He began to pull the tape from the man’s body one strip after another. He said nothing until the sticky cloying operation was complete.
“I don’t know what happened,” he admitted to Matisse in a low voice, before pulling himself back up and out of the water. He waded over to sit on a nearby rock.
“You’ve got blood on the side of your head,” Matisse said, pointing, as he struggled in the current to bring feeling back into his limbs. Patton touched the spot Matisse had pointed at, and then jerked his head back in pain.“Maybe your friends hit you over the head and dumped you down here with me,” Matisse offered, wading through the shallow flow of water and settling atop a different rock not far away.
“Not bloody likely,” Arch mused, more to himself than to Matisse. Patton’s partner had stayed at the bottom of the trail, to await his return. A strike team of pro operatives had preceded him onsite to handle the rough work when Arch got to the location. They had all been strangers to him. But they were Agency operations people. There was absolutely no chance that a whole strike team, on American soil, was going to go rogue enough to do in a fellow agent, retired or otherwise. It just didn’t happen that way no matter how Hollywood loved to portray it.
“Then what are you doing here?” Matisse wheedled, in his irritating nasal tone.
“What I’m doing here is why you’re out of that tape, and likely to live. I don’t know. Maybe I fell up there, hit my head, and rolled down the hill. I can’t remember a damn thing.”
“Not bloody likely,” Matisse repeated Arch’s words, trying to imitate his voice. He waited for a brief moment before inquiring further, “You’d remember falling at the very least. Do you?”
Arch thought about his last memory from above. He’d walked away to leave the wet work to the team. His job was done. He’d made the decision, and then given the orders. The last thing he recalled was beginning the return trip back down to where Frank, his partner, waited.
“No,” Arch replied. “Something hit me on the head I guess, and then down I came.”
“Ah, the cold-blooded killer gets taken out,” Matisse concluded, betting to his feet.
“Not in your case,” Arch cut him off. “I told them to shoot you a few times, not kill you. Those are two different things. Bleeding, with a few holes added to your ugly local carcass, would have been convincing enough. I wouldn’t have told you to leave that Bellow’s thing alone if I was going to order you dead if you recall.”
Without further comment, both men moved and began working their way down the streambed, staying in the current to avoid becoming trapped in the mud that lined both sides of the moving water.
“Where we going?” Matisse asked, after a while.
“Down in the Valley. My partner’s waiting with a car,” Arch replied.
“Down in the valley, the valley so low, hang your head over, hear the wind blow…” sang Matisse, in a voice that was so deep and pure that Patton stopped in his tracks.
“What?” Matisse asked, stopping his performance. They stood looking at one another.
“That was beautiful. You have a great voice,” Arch said, his tone one of complete surprise.
“Nah, all Hawaiian’s can sing. Haole’s, like you, have no voice,” Matisse responded.
They continued working their way down the valley together.
“Madonna’s a Haole, and she can sing,” Arch noted, after a few minutes.
“Life is a mystery,” Matisse sang the beginning words to Madonna’s song, Like a Prayer, but then stopped and went back to singing “Down in the Valley”, while they waded on. Arch said nothing further until they reached an old concrete bridge running over the stream.
With Arch in the lead, both climbed the steep slope up to the road.
“What those Marines are doing in Sherwood Forest can’t go on. People are going to die. My people,” Matisse said, behind him.
Great read. Such a good storyteller. You are there. I have read other things he has written and am always ready for more.
I am spoiled. Reading this adventure thriller by James Strauss has ruined me. I no longer enjoy reading
boring books of this genre. It was a privilege to live life in the author’s shoes for 245 pages, although it ended too soon. He wrote about Hawaii as no tourist would ever see it, descriptions of scenic beauty, and tiny places on
the map like Rabbit Island. His characters seemed real, very real. Arch Patton was the most interesting. I have a feeling that the author is just as intelligent, savvy, and world-wise as Arch or how else could he write about him?
If you temporarily want to escape your mundane world, have a great adventure, and safely re-enter your own reality
again, this book is for you.
Read Online Below
Down In The Valley
Down In The Valley
An Arch Patton Adventure
Arch Patton, slightly aging CIA operative, finds himself embroiled in a secret mission, rekindling a relationship with an old "friend" Virginia and allying with members of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement.
The action takes place on Ohau and Bellows Air Force Base, now a United States Marine Corps facility. Arch becomes conflicted with his "love life" and helping those in need.
What is the Military hiding on the old Bellows Air Station?
"He’d retired ten years ago before coming to be lying alone in the mud. Retired from being a field operations specialist. A real spy. A spy who had to get in and get out with almost no help, and accomplish missions which were too bizarre to be written into movie or television scripts. Spying wasn’t a believable occupation. Not in the culture of modern America. So he portrayed himself as a retired professor, which he resembled much more than the public’s idea of a spy."
Arch Patton, Down In The Valley, now available in Kindle or Paperback.
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How in hell he came to be lying in cloying dismal mud at the base of an extinct Hawaiian volcano eluded Arch Patton. He just lay there, trying to catch his breath…..
Arch Patton DOWN IN THE VALLEY Short Story, Chapter 2 By J. Strauss Kaneohe Marine Base on the Windward Side of Oahu is among the best kept and most squared-away of all Marine bases. Nothing is out of place. Absolutely nothing out of place. Lawns are...
Arch completely understood Virginia’s need to toss him from the room and get on her cell phone. The active career he’d only recently retired from demanded he understand and leave immediately after the short dinner and even shorter get together in her room……
Arch Patton Down in the Valley Chapter 4 by James Strauss Arch fought the chair, sounds of pain emanating from deep down in his chest. His left arm finally came loose but a three-foot section of wood remained attached to his hand by the hard driven nails....
Arch Patton DOWN IN THE VALLEY Chapter 5 By J. Strauss “What do you want?” the formerly dangerous man on the bed said, his voice imploring, extending his arms out before him with both palms turned upward in question. “You forgot to ask a few questions you...
Arch Patton DOWN IN THE VALLEY Chapter 6 By J. Strauss “Where we goin’ boss?” Matisse yelled from the drivers seat, as Arch got into the old battered convertible. Matisse accelerated away so fast the huge single door on the passenger side slammed with the sound of...
The Hertz counter was empty when Arch went in to get a car more fitting than Matisse’s Pontiac convertible. There were plenty of cars and Arch didn’t bother to try to negotiate rates. A hundred dollars a day for a Cadillac……
The rash guards weren’t so bad, Arch decided, wishing he had a vanity mirror to check himself out in. Like a wetsuit, but better because the thin elastic long sleeve top and bottoms held everything in without giving him a feeling of being compressed……..
Arch Patton DOWN IN THE VALLEY Chapter 9 By James Strauss The Humvee proved to be empty, an enlisted Marine wearing no rank exiting the vehicle as Matisse and Arch got in. The heavy armored door slammed shut and the driver took off. There was nobody else in the...
“Stairway to Heaven?” Arch said, looking intently into Matisse’s eyes. “I don’t like the way you said that. What heaven or what hell are you talking about and what does it have to do with the word Haiku, General DeWare mentioned…..
Arch and Matisse hiked the quarter mile back past Sunset Beach until they came to Ted’s Bakery. Ted Nakamura ran the place and he knew Matisse from way back, or so Matisse claimed………..
Peeling the duct tape from Virginia’s face was like peeling skin from the surface of a Kiwi fruit. Virginia said nothing. Her eyes spoke for her and there was as much warmth in them as there is warmth emanating from the bottom of blue glacier ice……
Arch took a seat next to Virginia who acted like he wasn’t there, staring at her upraised menu, as if it offered something other than common island fare. Ahi and Matisse sat across with General DeWare ……
Matisse drove the Bonneville with less than his usual abandon. The Sunday afternoon traffic on Kam Highway was simply overwhelming and there was no place to pass, illegally or otherwise, along the entire length of the two-lane highway……..
Arch Patton DOWN IN THE VALLEY Chapter 15 By James Strauss Matisse drove the Pontiac at breakneck speed. The traffic moving away from Haiku, back on Kam Highway, was spotty and moving faster than the speed limit, as well. "I don't think it's a good idea to stay...
Arch scrapped the idea of hiking in through the Waialua Forest. The topography was just too difficult. By the time he and Matisse were anywhere near the base of the stairs……..
They climbed the steps to an area just below the third platform. The climb wasn’t a challenge for either of them, but looking beyond that platform they could see that the final stretch would be more difficult.
Matisse and Ahi drop Arch Patton off at Kaneohe Marine Base. Arch starts to understand this strange assignment and who his true friends and allies might be….