Atlanta X-Men Homicide Squad #1
"An interesting page turner harping back to crime TV shows, this book is a great addition to anyone who enjoys suspense/thriller novels..."
Indie Christian Book Reviews
"'Kremlin Tide' is a suspenseful drama that will test the tenants of faith and redemption of all in its path..."
African-Americans on the Move Book Club
"...I will say that all of these characters were simply off the chart good, well developed, defined, characterized, real and oh so believable..."
Living Stones Pentecostal Church
1151 North Highland Avenue, NE
Anastasiya imagined the congregational roar “as the sound of many waters” from the Book of Revelation and the millions who died in Stalin’s Great Purge in 1930’s Soviet Union. Not that she knew about the latter. She was not in mother's thoughts yet. Her grandmother, Natalia Prinkolova, God rested her soul, told tales of horror from pre-World War II dictator’s reign as ‘Man of Steel.’ She imagined countless families who wept and could do little else to help loved ones. She recently came to know Jehovah as God of love and mercy. She long since knew no such thing existed in former Soviet Union.
The predominately Caucasian mass choir of about sixty men and mostly women arrayed themselves in silk red robes with black and white trim along the sleeves. Amidst the wooden pews, the choir led sitting and standing worshipers to fill the upper and lower level sanctuary with vocals and hands lifted in praises to God. Those hands included her French Manicured ones. She was amongst an estimated 5,000 in attendance at one of Metro Atlanta’s Mega-Churches during the first Sunday service of the month, which designated the Holy Communion ceremonies. That was morning service.
Due to Georgia’s summer swelter her tanned winter, soft, smooth and light bronze skin often prompted members to remark she should be in pictures. Hollywood or Madison Avenue? Both far cry from Mother Russia and the winter winds that whistled Siberian Dixie.
She wore a vanilla silk scarf over her straight and thick shoulder length brunette hair, a silk yellow button-down blouse, blue slacks with a whip-thin blue leather belt to keep them up and strapped, yellow open-toed Donna Karan’s exposed her French Pedicure. At times, she felt the lusty eyes of men and jealous eyes of women. If they had a problem with her, it was their problem. God loved her as she was, He loved them as they were and that she learned was unconditional love.
Services ended, she was not ready for home. What opportunities America had to offer the world! When she was adolescent in Soviet Union, she hid with others in basements or the woods to pray and to worship God. If the government knew, jail soon followed. Like Martin Luther King said, “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we’re free at last!” She praised God for freedom and shouted at the top of voice. Many other Russian Pentecostal immigrants rushed into America before and after Soviet Union fell and left with all but clothes on back. Oh, and the children! There was no American law that forbade children under eighteen to attend church! She knew of several families threatened by government phone calls not to take adolescent to church but here much adolescent everywhere at Pentecostal Church. One day she delivered a baby who was free to worship God and him or her too everywhere at Living Stones Pentecostal Church.
She smiled through tears that flowed over her eyes’ rims, onto her cheeks and down each side of her chin. With bowed head and interlocked fingers and hands, she thanked God for her new life in America and even Atlanta’s cool December winter air.
Out in lobby areas after services, she still had not decided where to finish the night before she went home. Then she remembered a small all-night diner on Virginia Avenue or was it Ponce De Leon Avenue? Well, but one way to know for sure. The only disappointment about tonight, if she were so bold before God, was no one to share His presence with her...not yet. Like movie trailers said, “Coming Soon.”
She greeted those who looked her way and asked God to enable her to greet those who did not look her way too. She missed Svetlana, one of her best friends. They usually sat together to worship when she was not busy, but she decided to be homebody tonight. However, she saw other Russian immigrants. She engaged in small talk with them. They talked mostly about God and new opportunity in this country. After some hour and a half passed, she decided time to go too.
She stepped through the multiple glass double doors with church address, phone number, cross, dove insignias on all of them, and out into the night. This was Georgia winter, but not Russian Georgia winter, she chuckled to self.
The last congregate in the church parking lot, she deep breathed the night air, closed her eyes and smiled. She entered her pearl white Jaguar XJ8 in a far corner space immersed in darkness, gripped the steering wheel and again and again thanked God for a new life. She promised God to be as the Bible said, “a vessel unto honour...” and “meet for the master’s use.” She devoted herself to America’s Christianity as she had to Soviet Union’s Communism. Like professional sports, she was traded to a new team; a better team too. She vowed to help whomever she could help, whenever she could help and in any way she could help.
She inserted the key and started the Jaguar when a hand pounded on her driver side window. Wide-eyed with mouth agape, she jerked her upper body sideways toward the passenger seat with hands before her face in a defensive posture. She viewed an elderly white woman who smiled through tar and nicotine-stained teeth. Anastasiya saw she held an unlit cigarette in one hand and looked for her to fill the other one. The elderly woman motioned for her to roll the window down. Still a bit shaky, Anastasiya acquiesced. The mature woman stuck her face inside the car close enough to bang heads. That forced Anastasiya to revert in defense once more.
“Be a dear and gimme some cigarettes.”
“I do not have a cigarette, and you now have one in hand.”
“This ol’ thing? Yeah, but I ain’t got no more, and a pretty girl like you in this car can get whatever you want. I think it’s called sophistication.”
That butter teeth stained smile beamed as she stroked her stringy and unkempt blonde hair that simultaneously pointed in all directions.
Anastasiya frowned from the repulsive smoker’s breath. Had not thought even been one minute from her head when this woman appeared? God tested her or the devil himself. She made a vow and had to fulfill it. She knew smoking killed body, it was the temple of the Lord. But she vowed to help whomever she could help though peace left if she gave her money for cigarettes. As preacher taught people, her heart was umpire of peace, and she called this vow of help, out, not safe. She had idea much better—
“C’mon, sweetie, mama’s got withdrawals to calm down! I can smoke ‘em out or trade ‘em in for a little rustle in the hay with a boy toy if ya’ know what I mean.”
The old woman thrust both arms into the car for Anastasiya’s purse. The Jaguar owner fought off one hand and arm, which found her change purse but used her own hand and arm to grasp a Walther P22 pistol. The beggar’s fear-filled brown eyes said as much as her retracted arms and hands positioned in defense before her haggard face.
“Oh God, if you’re in the parkin’ lot, help me!”
Just then, from the church’s parking lot shadows to the left of the scene, a silver-blue Chevrolet Astro van slowed its actions as silhouetted figures watched. The passenger side window powered down, and a man yelled.
“Hey, you all right?”
Anastasiya’s other hand clutched some folded paper she extended to the woman, grabbed one of the beggar’s hands and pulled her toward the car.
“Help me, somebody! She got a gun!”
With that, the passenger side man flung his door open. His curiosity energized every cautious step toward the pair.
“Stop! We end this now. Take this! It is money!”
She lied and asked God for forgiveness at the same time. The next instant two bangs echoed, and the elderly woman fell at the Jaguar’s driver side door. The spectator hit the pavement and covered his head. Terrified, Anastasiya wondered what just happened. How did this come to this? She strived to open her door to check for life, but the weight of the woman blocked her inside. No! She needed to go! God will bless this woman as He saw fit. She did not want to be recognized. She trembled to think...no, no, she was safe here in America, but she must go home now!
She attempted to slam the luxury vehicle in to drive to speed out of the parking lot. The man picked himself up off the pavement as the van sped and stopped in front of the Jaguar. Her getaway was blocked. Her panic heightened further when the man pointed at her through the front windshield and yelled:
“Don’t shoot!” Man One said.
The driver side door flew open and out popped Man Two. The passenger side man checked on the old woman.
“Yeah, we just want to help you!” Man Two said. “Where’s the gun?”
“She’s dead. I ain’t never seen a dead...”
Man Two jerked the driver side door open while Man One did the same to the passenger side. Man Two pulled her out of the car as Anastasiya screamed. She reached for her P22 when Man One sat in the passenger seat, turned off the car, grasped her purse and keys and exited the opposite side. Man Two continued his verbal assault:
“We both saw you, lady! Where’s the gun?”
“I my eye.”
“I got the gun!” Man One said.
“Where do I go with you?”
“To the police,” Man Two said.
“No, no, I cannot go to the police—”
“Sweetheart, you don’t have a choice.”
Man Two dragged her to the late nineties model van. They slid the door open, and Man Two flung her inside. Man One ran around to the driver side of the van.
“What about the old lady?” Man One asked.
Man Two, seated next to her in the back seats, whipped out a cell phone and dialed.
“We leave her where she is as proof of the murder—yes ma’am, I’d like to report a shooting, and I have the shooter...Yes, ma’am, I’m making a citizen’s arrest—”
“Arrest! Oh, no! You do not understand—”
“I have the shooter...Yes, I repeat, I have the shooter next to me right now. I’ll bring her to police headquarters now—”
“Jesus! No, please let me go—”
“We’re only minutes away on North Highland Avenue. Okay...No, thank you.”
“You do not understand. I cannot go to prison—”
Man One addressed her. “I can tell by your accent you’re not from this country, but you can’t shoot someone and drive off, miss!”
The van cranked, Man One pulled out, checked the traffic flow and prepared to turn right onto North Highland Avenue. Anastasiya caught a quick glimpse through the van’s back door windows at the shadowy outlines of her car and the still body of the old woman. She was... Then that same vision caught something else: Someone stepped out of the church’s rear doors. She recognized him as Senior Pastor James Rowdington. Her last and sole hope never saw her.