WINDOW BEYOND THE WORLD, CHAPTER 1, FIRST GLANCE

Enjoy “Window Beyond the World,” a supernatural thriller set in the Southern California mountains. The novel is being serialized here in weekly installments. The co-authors are Sun columnist John Weeks, writing under his full name John Howard Weeks, and William S. Thomas, former Sunday Editor of The Sun.

A new chapter will be posted each Friday. There are 37 chapters in all. This free online edition is somewhat abridged for language and adult situations. For those who wish to read ahead, and enjoy the entire unabridged novel, it is available now in book form.

“Window Beyond the World” (iUniverse, $14.95), by John Howard Weeks and William S. Thomas, can be ordered from local bookstores or from online book sellers including Amazon.com.

WINDOW BEYOND THE WORLD, CHAPTER 1, FIRST GLANCE

The first time Lance Segundo saw his brother, and his brother’s long-dead wife, he was able to dismiss it as a trick of the eye. He was driving down the mountain and suddenly, around a sharp curve of the road, there was his brother’s car, coming the other way.

It was his brother’s car, all right. Pontiac Firebird, gold and dirty, early ’70s, with that gaudy bird decal emblazoned on the hood. It was a pretty hard car to miss, especially in the year 2003.

The car was the first thing he saw. The second thing was that his brother Art was behind the wheel, and Art’s wife Gwen was in the passenger seat. It was only a glimpse, but it was startling, thrilling, and it sent a wave of gooseflesh across his arms. In fact, his brother was only two years younger than he was, almost a copy of himself, but this was the bushy-haired kid of 25 years ago. And the girl at his side was unmistakably Gwen, with her wide smile and all that curly blond hair pulled back loosely in a ponytail.

But of course it wasn’t really them. He hadn’t seen Art for years. They had been thoroughly estranged. Lance couldn’t remember why. There were a lot of things Lance couldn’t remember. He knew Art didn’t have that car anymore, though. And Art didn’t live around here anymore. And he wasn’t 20 anymore. And that sure wasn’t Gwen. Gwen had killed herself in 1985.

The third thing he saw, only it didn’t register for a few moments, was that the Firebird’s turn signal was on, indicating that the driver was intending to pull into the turnout at that curve.

Briefly, Lance thought about looking for the next turnout himself, and going back to investigate, to reassure himself that he hadn’t been seeing things. Or, rather, that he had been seeing things.

It would just be some young couple in an old Firebird. Big deal. There probably were thousands of old Firebirds still on the road, and probably hundreds of gold ones. And how many black-haired guys and blond-haired women? Millions? Billions? He had seen them only for a second. If he went back, he’d see two strangers getting out of their car. They wouldn’t look a thing like Art and Gwen. Not up close.

It might be worth a chuckle.

He didn’t turn around, though. There was no convenient turnout. And he was running late.

The moment passed. But he enjoyed the chuckle anyway, without the bother of checking it out. What was there to check out? It was just one of those weird things. You think you see a familiar face, you get all charged up, maybe you even shout, wave, make a fool of yourself, and then it turns out to be an “Oops, sorry, thought you were someone else.” Happens all the time.

Lance forgot all about it.

NEXT: CHAPTER 2, RIM OF THE WORLD.

“Window Beyond the World” (iUniverse, $14.95), by John Howard Weeks and William S. Thomas, can be ordered from local bookstores or from online booksellers including Amazon.com.

NOT EXACTLY THE LORD OF THE RINGS

In my Jan. 18 column for the newspaper, I told the story of my long and troubled relationship with jewelry in general, and rings in particular. It’s a story of stolen rings, rings flushed down toilets, lost rings, forgotten rings. The fact is, while I like rings, and buy rings, I almost never wear rings.

I do have one ring, though, that I call my lucky ring. I actually wear it on occasion, especially when traveling. I suppose it has become a habit, and now I would consider it bad luck to go on a trip without it.

It’s a trippy ring, in fact. I bought it at a psychedelic shop on Sunset Boulevard in the ’60s. Obviously, I was out of my mind.

’60s? Out of my mind? Is that redundant to say?

When I bought it I thought it was an exquisite piece of jewelry. Sterling silver. Elaborate carvings. A caravan of elephants marching single-file around the ring’s circumference.

The next day, when the party was over, and the light was better, I realized that the ring was made of the cheapest kind of copper. The kind that turns your finger black.

And the carvings were crude.

And there was only one elephant.

Honestly, it’s junk. But I’m fond of it. I wouldn’t part with it.

I lost it once. I drove home from Carmel and realized, in a panic, that I had left it behind at the motel. I called, without much hope, but was overjoyed to learn that the ring had been found and turned in at the desk. Anyone could tell it wasn’t worth stealing.

The motel proprietors returned it to me, in a regular letter-size envelope.

It got bent in transit, but that was OK. I was able to bend it back.

Like I said, I still wear my lucky ring from time to time. It still turns my finger black. And there’s still only one elephant.

THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR’S HOUSE, NOR HIS WIFE, NOR HIS MANSERVANT, NOR HIS MAIDSERVANT, NOR ANYTHING THAT IS THY NEIGHBOR’S, EXCEPT MAYBE HIS LAMBORGHINI

It bugs me that other people have better cars than I do. There was an ad in The Sun’s Classifieds the other day. Some guy was selling his 2002 Lamborghini for $179,000. My first reaction was astonishment. Some guy in San Bernardino has a Lamborghini? I was filled with envy. I felt bad. But then I felt good again. Hey, the guy had to sell it, right? But then I felt bad again. Some other person would buy it. Then I felt really, really bad. That other person wasn’t going to be me.

FRIES WITH THAT?

I’m sorry, but I giggled when I read about the recent meeting at the Norco Sizzler. A group called Residents of Norco Urging Animal-Keeping Lifestyles (RENUAL) discussed methods of utilizing horse manure as an energy resource. I’m very fond of Norco. Its nickname is “Horsetown” because there are so many horses there. I’m very fond of horses, too. I’m fond of Sizzler restaurants, and I’m sure the one in Norco is an excellent one. I’m fond of the idea of alternative energy resources. And I’m fond of dinner meetings. But horse manure as a dinner table topic … I’m not so fond of.

DAVID COPPERFIELD WORKS MAGIC, MAKES COLUMNIST EAT HUMBLE PIE

In a Dec. 28 column for Go! magazine, titled “New Year’s Resolutions for the stars,” I made a joking reference to magician David Copperfield, in which I erroneously stated that he had been arrested in October on rape charges. My punchline was that Copperfield now “resolves to use only volunteers in his act.”

Copperfield was not arrested in October. He was accused of rape, and authorities opened an investigation, but they did not arrest the famed illusionist.

Sloppy fact checking on my part, and I am sorry for it. Sloppy fact checking is sloppy fact checking, even in a humor column. Jokes work better if they do not contain glaring errors of fact.

Two readers with sharp eyes complained about the item. Here are their emails, followed by my response to them. That is followed, in turn, by a reprinting of the entire column as it should have appeared in the first place.

By the way, I am a longtime admirer of David Copperfield and his amazing talents as an illusionist. I’m looking forward to his next show in Southern California, whenever and wherever it might be. I’ll buy tickets. And I’ll be the first to stand on my feet and cheer.

Here are the emails, followed by my response, followed by the corrected column.

First email: Copperfield was not arrested……this may be an attempt at comedy but you still have a responsibility to get your facts straight.

Second email: I am amazed that John Weeks’ erroneous blurb on David Copperfield in his 12-27 column about New Year’s Resolutions for celebrities made it within 300 yards of the (newspaper’s online) server. Copperfield has not been arrested. Mr. Weeks is clearly confusing a federal raid on Copperfield’s Las Vegas warehouse with an arrest, which would come after a grand jury chooses to indict, and that has yet to happen in this case. Evidence was still being reviewed when the story dropped out of the headlines. As a retired news anchor, I am particularly offended by such irresponsibility in your organization’s reporting.

My response: You’re right. That’s a good catch, and I’m glad you brought it to my
attention. My memory of the incident was faulty. I thought he had been arrested. When I wrote the item I went online to check on the time of year when the incident
took place. I googled “David Copperfield arrested” and got
100,000-plus hits, including items like this from Newsweek:
“Illusionist David Copperfield cancels shows after being accused of
rape …” But after receiving your note I did additional research
online and realized that “accused” is indeed the word I should have
used, not “arrested.” A correction has been published in the
newspaper, and I am planning to eat a slice of humble
pie on my blog at www.sbsun.com. Thanks again for your role in
helping me correct this error. John Weeks.

The corrected column:

New Years Resolutions for the stars

Once again, I am unable to make New Years Resolutions for myself, being perfect and all, so I must make resolutions for others.
Once again, Ill lend my efforts to celebrities and politicians, because they are so very, very far from being perfect.
Olympic track star Marion Jones, disgraced in a steroids scandal in October, resolves to run on unleaded from now on.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, heavy users of steroids, according to this months Mitchell Report, and yet winless in the championships for almost 20 years, resolve to try and get their money back.
Actress Lindsay Lohan, who spent most of the summer in rehab, resolves to get more involved in movie smashes, and less involved in car smashes.
Magician David Copperfield, accused of rape by a woman in October, resolves to use only volunteers in his act from now on.
Actor Kiefer Sutherland, jailed earlier this month for his second DUI conviction in three years, resolves to be more like Jack Bauer, his character on TV. Absolutely no drinking until the world has been saved.
Singer Britney Spears resolves to have a better year. It shouldnt be too difficult.
Idaho lawmaker Larry Craig, arrested in August for lewd conduct in an airport mens room, resolves to give up his seat in the Senate. And his seat in the bathroom.
Football star Michael Vick, arrested in April on felony dogfighting charges, resolves to keep his paws clean from now on.
Singer Paul McCartney resolves to insist on a prenuptial agreement the next time around.
Socialite Paris Hilton, jailed in June for violating parole in a DUI case, resolves to limit her parties to two or three per night.
Ty Pennington, host of TVs Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, who was arrested for drunk driving in May, resolves to spend more time hammering and less time getting hammered.
Combative talk show host Rosie ODonnell resolves to get along with more people. Maybe one or two, to start with.
Americas Got Talent judge David Hasselhoff, embarrassed when his drunk-eating-a-burger video surfaced in May, resolves to start a new TV reality show: Americas Got the Shakes.
Actor Alec Baldwin, embarrassed in April when he was taped berating his daughter, resolves to withdraw his name from consideration for Father of the Year.
Actress Nicole Richie, sentenced to an hour in jail for drunk driving, resolves to write a book about prison life. A short book.
Football coach Bill Belichick, who was caught stealing signs in September before leading his New England Patriots to a so-far-unbeaten season, resolves to hang a new plaque in his office: Cheaters Always Prosper.

READERS WRITE: INLAND EMPIRE YACHT RACES

One of the most entertaining letters I’ve received in a long time comes from Bob Edwards, of San Bernardino. He writes in response to my Dec. 30 column, in which I proposed the establishment of Inland Empire yacht races, Inland Empire surfing championships and a Queen Mary-style boat attraction in the Inland Empire. I was inspired by the annual Chino Hills Christmas Boat Parade, in which boats are paraded down the street on boat trailers, hauled by trucks and cars. Who needs water to have water fun?

Here’s Bob’s letter.

YOUR VOTE IS NEED TO SELECT THE KING OF THE INLAND EMPIRE

Background:
The world has the Americas Cup Race held every four years, down the road is the Newport Christmas Boat Armada, nearby is the Chino Hills Christmas Boat Parade. All lacking charisma, style, elegance that only a YACHT can provide. And not to be out done by these trivial events, the Inland Empire needs something of grand and epic proportions. Something that everyone in the community can get behind and become a contributor. Where all the local and recognized major ship builders and boat makers will beg to sponsor part of this event. Where only the crazy, insane or the Captain Davy Jones will not want to be included. It is an idea whose time has come or is really overdue!

Mr. John Weeks of The San Bernardino Sun can now be known as Father Yacht. His steel trap mind has been shaped into a navigator’s sextant as he witnessed a local community event and felt the Inland Empire could go one grander or just better if provided trustworthy direction. In the true American fashion of healthy competitiveness he cast off the challenge to the community to take an idea and, yes, sail with it.

Job Description:
Take a sleepy midsized community like the Inland Empire with a less than desirable reputation and turn a creative idea into a world-class event of classic proportions. Where an outpouring of positive yeomanship is demonstrated in classic nautical fashion, leading seasoned salts and landlubbers alike in demonstrating that the Inland Empire will not be hampered by small and insignificant issues of no available bodies of water to imaginatively stage and host an inland regatta known as the Annual Classic Yacht Races of the Inland Empire. An event, like the ocean currents, will travel to the various Inland Harbor-less cities yearly, each vying for the coveted Admirals Chipped Cup cup. Not to be mistook for the Pasadenas Doo Dahs Parade but often will be confused with the Rose Parade.

Job Qualifications:
Needed, a person with creative limitless vision. A person with the ability to see what it could be, not what it once was. A person who sees potential, recognizes ability. An individual who can throw out a challenge and lead the community to meet and surpass the challenge. An individual who does not get stymied easily. Someone who has a hard time with I cant yet champions Ill try. Someone who knows it can be done and can and will interject that positive attitude to all interested parties as well as many disinterested parties. A mentor, a leader, a risk taker, a doer, and an achiever. Someone who accepts only a sense of pride for services rendered. Someone who diverts kudos to all those involved. Someone that will be known as The King of The Inland Empire. (A yearly position appointed by the community hosting this classic event.)

I strongly feel that Mr. John Weeks has earned the honor of being the first King of The Inland Empire and I look to the San Bernardino community to concur as we have but only a few and fleeting months to turn this navel idea into a living breathing regatta.