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Ultimate Suggestions
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-364-6
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Suspense/Thriller/Science Fiction
eBook Length: 250 Pages
Published: June 2006
OUT OF PRINT

From inside the flap

A renegade chemist discovers a drug which can be given quickly and surreptitiously and which will convert anyone almost instantly to a state of mind where the merest suggestion becomes an imperative need to obey. While the chemist is selling the drug to child molesters and rapists and robbers and using it himself to suborn women for the foulest of purposes, a team of detectives are in a desperate search for the source of the drug. They must find it before the formula becomes common knowledge -- and changes the very nature of society. What David O?Neal, the lead detective, doesn?t know is that others in the department and from government agencies are working just as hard to secure the drug for their own use.

Reviews and Awards

"Darrell Bain once again shows us his imaginative side in this exciting mystery novel! A brilliant chemist with a dark past discovers a drug that could change the world. Imagine being able to get what you want, when you want it, nothing stopping you? This drug is the answer. One whiff and you?re under its spell."
LOUISE KLEMENT

Ultimate Suggestions (Excerpt)


Chapter One

The house was old and creaky and was badly in need of painting, as was every other house in the almost abandoned neighborhood. The once verdant lawn was overgrown with weeds and bushes and the swimming pool, located in what was once a well-tended back yard, was covered with a green scum. The place had been easy to rent. Several years ago an oily, toxic mess had begun bubbling up from underground, residue from an abandoned industrial disposal site which the development had unknowingly been built upon. Most of the homes were now in receivership, tangled up in a mess of legal maneuvering. Destitute squatters and a few unlucky families who had nowhere else to go occupied those few which weren?t. It was an ideal location for the manufacture of illegal drugs, which was what the two men inside were occupied with.

The older of the two men, Benjamin Worthington, was clearly in charge.

He sat at a worn card table, rubbing his bald forehead while splitting his attention between a chemistry text open before him and a tangle of glass tubing, retorts and mixing vats against the opposite wall. A half-full bottle of cheap whiskey and a glass occupied a spot on the table by his left elbow. An overflowing ashtray by his right, containing a forgotten cigarette, smoldered and threatened to ignite the pile of butts. He watched as an oily yellow liquid swirled through one section of the tubing and dripped into a shakily assembled retort holding another liquid substance, this one murky with suspended particles. He didn?t like the look of the way the reaction was going. The oily liquid had a faint off-color tinge, different from the appearance of previous batches and the reaction in the retort seemed to be proceeding slower than it should have--and the suspended particles weren?t precipitating; they were going into solution.

"It doesn?t look right to me," the other man said, for the second time.

The words were spit out with the jerky quickness of a person on an amphetamine high. A nervous tic twitched below his left eye and he constantly fingered his thin mustache, as if urging it to grow.

"I know it damn it," Worthington said, trying to read the chemistry text and pay attention to the reaction at the same time.

"It’s leaking, too," Worthington’s subordinate said, pointing at a joint in the tubing above the retort where a thin, almost inaudible hissing had begun.

Bubbles of a clear liquid were forming and breaking along the joint, disappearing into an almost colorless vapor immediately afterward.

"It will hold," Worthington said. "The reaction is almost over."

"No it won?t," the other man said. He paced frenetically around the leaking joint then leaned down to sniff the escaping concoction.

"Goddamnit, I said it’s okay."

"No it’s not. It’s fucked up."

Worthington watched him sniff again, like the idiot he was, good only for distribution once the product was ready. He was irritated, knowing his dealer was right; the reaction had gone wrong somewhere, but carping at him wasn?t going to solve the problem. He looked up from his text, feeling anger bubble up inside him. Pushers shouldn?t use their own product. He stared balefully at the man then said, "Listen, why don?t you go jump in that fucking swimming pool out there and drown your fucking self? I don?t need your fucking comments."

He went back to reading his text, trying to figure out what had gone wrong, then cursed. There! Sonofabitch! Reading from the water-spotted pages of the old textbook, he had misplaced a decimal point. No wonder! He looked back up. The second man had disappeared. Good. He read back over the pertinent section of the text, taking his time. This whole batch would have to be discarded, leaving only enough reagents for one more run--and money was getting low. Only after he closed the text did he become aware that he had heard splashing noises in the background, long minutes ago.

The renegade chemist wondered what was going on, then got up to go look.

He unlatched the back door and went out through the weeds to the edge of the abandoned swimming pool. The body of his dealer floated lifelessly, splayed-face down in the green scum, supported by the heavy growth just enough to keep it from sinking.

"Goddamn," Worthington breathed to himself. "I will be goddamned."

Excitement raced through his body like a jolt of electricity. His brilliant mind made the connection immediately. There was nothing wrong with his brain; he had once been a first-class chemist at the University of Houston until a series of sexual escapades, compounded with clandestine manufacturing of illegal substances in order to pay off his ex-wife to avoid having her press child-molesting charges against him, had lost him his tenure. His life had gone downhill ever since. But now-- Now. What would customers pay for a substance so hypnotic that a simple suggestion could induce suicide? And what else could he use it for? A series of sexual fantasies raced through his mind like a speeded up pornographic film. He smiled gloatingly to himself, went back inside and began dismantling the chemistry apparatus. There was just enough money to rent another place. Then another thought occurred to him: soon, he wouldn?t need money, nor anything else, not if the drug worked as well on other people as it had on his subordinate--and he knew just who had an excess of cash and would like to try it.

"But why not?" Gene Wilson asked, having to raise his voice over that of the lead singer, who was belting out a jazzed up rendition of The Tennessee Waltz. Gene didn?t care much for it; he preferred the original. It had been one of his favorite songs ever since hearing it played as a child, on the old stereo his parents still kept even though it no longer worked. They used it as a wall table now, next to the big easy chair where the answer phone lived.

Francis Stafford didn?t answer for a moment, trying to phrase a reply in her mind that wouldn?t offend Gene. She hated having to do that but it was becoming more and more of a habit the longer she lived with him. In the three months since she had moved in with Gene it had become apparent that he was a controller, always wanting his own way. And he was jealous, inordinately so. A little jealousy was flattering, Francis thought, but he carried it to extremes.

Finally framing her answer, she leaned across the table so that she didn?t have to shout.

"It’s too soon to think about marriage. Ask me again in a month or two."

That answer was simply putting off the inevitable, Francis knew. She wasn?t going to marry him, and in fact intended to move out sometime soon, but she didn?t feel like getting into an argument now.

Gene’s face clouded up into a petulant frown before he forced a grin. He took her hand and used it to hold her in position for a moment, head and shoulders leaned forward, the gentle, slightly mischievous smile that he loved so much lingering on her face. She looked beautiful to him, with her mop of curly auburn hair and bright hazel eyes, along with a sprinkling of freckles across her nose, which he liked and she hated and tried to conceal with makeup.

It wasn?t just her beauty which held him, though. Any man is attracted to beauty, he thought, but he was really in love with her personality. Francis was so caring, yet so at ease with herself and who she was that it wasn?t immediately obvious. And she was thoughtful, always doing little things to please others, especially him. One day she would surprise him with a small gift.

On another day she might spend the whole of one of her days off shopping for just the right consumables then cook a gourmet meal just for him. Her beauty, though, was a two-edged sword. He couldn?t stand the thought that other men might have possessed her or might still want to. It drove him to questioning her about her previous lovers and her activities outside their home past the point of curiosity, especially since her job as an Emergency Room nurse frequently had her working unanticipated overtime and unexpected odd shifts. Maybe I?ve been a policeman too long, he thought. I?m always suspicious. He knew it was a failing, but seemed unable to do anything about it.

When Gene failed to reply, Francis withdrew her hand, picked up her wineglass and drank the last little bit.

Gene sipped his own wine, a house Chablis which really wasn?t bad at all. He lifted the bottle from the table and made pouring motions rather than having to shout across the table.

Francis shook her head and pushed back her chair. She came over to his side of the table and leaned over him. "Be back in a minute," she said.

Gene nodded and watched as she walked toward the alcove hiding the entrances to the restrooms. As always, he couldn?t help but notice how other males--and some few females--looked at her. She was tall and slim, yet carried a figure which had all the necessary curves and then some. When she walked, her hips swayed with a motion that evoked a sense of sensual grace rather than overt sexuality. Gene watched her until she turned into the alcove, thinking of how lucky he was to have found her--and how close he might be to losing her. Almost daily now, he sensed a distancing in their relationship by Fran and it made him sick. He could hardly bear the thought of losing her. He felt a surge of jealous animosity as he watched admiring eyes tracking her movements. He tried to dispel it by thinking of how his college marriage had fallen apart soon after he went to work for the Houston Police department, mostly, he thought, because of his ex-wife’s liberal attitude toward the role of the police in contemporary society. He was unable to admit to himself that his present attitude toward Francis was the same as it had been with his wife.

They had met while he was a patient at St. Luke’s Hospital in the huge medical center which took up a goodly portion of southwest Houston. A bullet wound in his leg from an encounter with a teenage hoodlum had put him there, which in retrospect he had considered the best thing which ever happened to him.

That was when he met Fran, a nurse in the emergency room trauma center. She had seen enough of the malignant effect of drugs in her own line of work for her attitude toward the perpetuators to jibe pretty well with his own. And she was a caring individual, which he had played on. They began dating and within a couple of months were living together. He had cooked up this night out to again ask her to marry him. He was puzzled and resentful that she still wouldn?t accept his proposal. He poured more wine and idly brooded while he waited on her to return.

Francis saw with relief that there was no one waiting in the alcove other than a middle-aged man with a bald forehead and thin, humorless lips standing near the entrance to the restrooms. He was dressed in slacks and a mismatched sports coat. For just an instant Francis wondered what he was waiting for but the thought flitted away. The wine was imparting a sense of urgency to her bladder. She turned right and pushed through the door to the women’s room.

There was a stall open and she finished her business quickly.

While she was washing her hands, she decided to suggest that she and Gene call it a night. Poor Gene. He tried so hard to please her that she would never tell him that she would rather have stayed home to talk rather than go out. Not that it would have made a difference. The dinner had been fine, but she could have done as well or better and the little band was playing bad music too loud and too frequently for the intimacy she preferred when dining out. Between the loud music and the wine, she was beginning to get a dull headache. She wondered if Gene would get mad if she suggested that they leave now? He’s probably already mad, she thought, after me turning him down again. But she wasn?t comfortable with the thought of living with him for the rest of her life.