Sunday Sampler: Dragon Sutra by Richard Marranca

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In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Sunday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Dragon Sutra, romantic suspense from Richard Marranca.

As one reviewer said: Dragon Sutra is a story about a young man named Jason who is trying to find himself. He feels that if he travels he will be able to find what he is looking for, which is a sense of who he truly is. “I was either escaping my future or searching for one; either way it didn’t matter, they both seemed the same. I was a classic lost soul.”

The Story

The beauty and luster of passion and love counterpointed by the darkness of the criminal underworld and the Cambodian holocaust taunt Jason, a young American college grad.

He and Rachany, a beautiful woman who works at the Russian Market, are pursued by a mysterious foe, and they flee across Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. They see elephants in misty forests, exotic tribes, ancient cities…

They end up in Burma’s rebellion, where they are pulled into the violence, into the core of journeys – the adventure of life tinged with the search for meaning, purpose and love. It’s a coming-of-age story that shows we all should be careful what we wish for.

The Sampler

Richard Marranca
Richard Marranca

The taller one in black leather must have understood because he held up his club and laughed in a sinister way, like in a bad movie when you know that the stock character is demented.

It was surreal, except for the blood.

While we had moments of respite, I realized they wanted to kill me. I wasn’t on the ground crunched up like a bag of chips only because Rachany stood next to me. Harm to me would elicit hate from her. They could not let us go. They could not go.

Silently, we backed away from their presence. I looked for others but the street held no footsteps and the buildings slept – no light in any window. A few blocks away emanated the ruckus of street culture. Dirigibles of speckled light hovered over the panorama. I thought: this sky is like the brain opened up and this is where it ends.

We skulked toward the sidewalk. Rachany slipped the cell phone from her purse and began to dial. Its night-glow was terrifically dangerous.

They gassed the engines and pulled up closer.

The leather vest pointed a finger at me, while the other crossed his arms. Rachany fell silent and put the phone away. I was in an elevator falling, my heart dropped, my stomach was a twist of knots and cortisol.

“K’nyom s’dup meun baan dtay,” she said and then screamed out, “Joo-ay k’nyom baan dtay?”

It was very bad. If they killed me, they would take her away, to rape and bury her in some woods. I wondered how to fight them. All I could think of was to avoid getting between them.

Casually, the lady boy pulled a gun from his belt and handed it to the taller guy. He pointed it at me with the side of the gun parallel to the ground, the new style punks used in movies.

I gulped at fate. I focused on the gun.

We stood in frightful awe. He could waste bullets.

For a millisecond, I had a vision of the Killing Fields: dead bodies kicked into holes, disintegration, clothes on bones. I pushed her away with a sweep of my arm. I was on auto pilot and blood streaked my sight.

“Tell them your parents need you. Walk away, then run.” She stared at me, her face crisscrossed with fear.

As the situation turned bleakest, we heard yelling. A motorcycle sped toward us, its light tunneling through miasmic air. But they didn’t look like police. They were all flailing arms and legs – and robes.

Rachany gasped in astonishment and tears rushed down her face. “Monks.”

They had followed us all evening (we learned later), losing us in a crowd. It seemed unlikely to be killed this way, with two monks and Rachany as witnesses. They dropped the scooter and ran to us.

But the two attackers were seduced by the rotten glamour of death. They could not release from it. They realized the weakness of their position because the leather vest had a sniffing kind of laugh, while the other held his gaze in caustic amusement. He was furious and smacked his hand against the wall. His oversized watch broke into pieces.

Arun and the other monk stood in front. I whispered “Rachany” to him a few times, not to forget her. Arun corralled us behind his arms. If I stepped out, I’d be shot.

Suddenly the cousin pointed the gun at me, I shuddered.

I thought to jump away from the group, to sacrifice myself, but courage – the ability to dismiss the ghosts — failed me. I stayed behind the monk.

The killers respected Rachany and the monks. She yelled and they did not yell back. She acted like a warrior woman and heaped scorn on her cousin. She was superior to him, the crazy older cousin.

“Nothing in the world gives you the right to harm them,” Arun said.

Rachany’s eyes came to life on her catatonic face.

The monks brokered a deal, to get us out of the situation without more harm.

Suddenly, the cousin raised the gun at me and scurried forward. Arun blocked me as best he could, stretching out and yelling.

“Dtay, dtay,” the other monk said.

The monks yelled out in unison. Arun turned and forced my head down, robes flapping around me. This was it. No way to block bullets.

Rachany screamed in night-piercing exotic tongue, jumping toward the gun, falling over the monks’ scooter, sprawled out yet flailing, drowning on asphalt – as the cousin lifted up his hand and took three shots. I put my hands in front of my face and told her to fall to the ground.

A few bullets sank into an awning overhead, triple ping.

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