What if you could see the state of someone’s soul, know their inner truth and detect their every lie? Zeke Jackson is a young, mild-mannered reporter with a checkered past who discovers he has such an ability. Is it demonic or divine? The CIA classifies him as a touch-enabled psychometric. Zeke doesn’t do psychic. The CIA doesn’t care where he gets the power. They’ve been experimenting with psychics for decades. Zeke has choices: he can ignore his power and live a normal life, milk it for fame and fortune, or risk everything and use his ability to uncover assassination and terror plots for God and country. A Christian suspense, thriller with a little bit of Stephen King, a splash of Jack Ryan, a dash of Frank Peretti and a hint of Ted Dekker.
Targeted Age Group:: New Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I'm intrigued by the idea that the world we see and live in is not the whole picture. There's an entire sub-plot or under current that exists which is the real world. There is so much going on that we cannot access. Zeke Jackson gets access and influence into this world through his supernatural ability and he uses it for good. Zeke affects the physical world by operating in the unseen world of the supernatural.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I 'm a fan of the reluctant hero. Zeke Jackson, the main character, starts out as a reluctant hero who, when he discovers his purpose, embraces it wholly. At first, he is tentative and skeptical not wanting to draw attention to himself. Then, when he realizes that this supernatural gift has been given to him by God, he grows in confidence and exercises the gift in his service to his God. Zeke, in a way, represents a young man leaving home and launching out into the world, finding his way, figuring things out. In Zeke's case he discovers that he is in possession of an unusual gift.
I needed a good compliment to Zeke. Abby, Zeke's main love interest, does just that. I remember meeting a couple who when asked how they met, the wife told how she met her husband as a security investigator. She was assigned to do an FBI security investigation on him. Later on they started dating. She already new everything about him.
When the cherry blossoms of spring gave way to the sweltering heat of summer, the nation’s capital transformed from a winsome southern plantation into the nation’s armpit. The manicured lawns and stately white buildings visited by adoring crowds seemed less attractive when shrouded in humidity.
As Zeke Jackson packed for his long trip from Lincoln, Nebraska, to Washington, DC, to start a new job at WJOP, his father looked at the showcase he had built to house his son’s awards and trophies for news reporting. He pulled out the statue of a reporter with his sleeves rolled up, pen in hand, writing on a tablet.
“Ah,” said Zeke, “KOLN’s On the Beat Award. My first in 2016.”
Zeke’s dad put it back and pulled out another. Zeke’s eyes teared up. The Lincoln Community Award, 2018. Zeke won it for his coverage of a local church’s outreach to the homeless.
“Should I continue?” asked Zeke’s dad.
“No…no…,” said Zeke. “I…I…don’t want to reminisce right now. I’ll nev…never be able to leave.”
“That’s the idea, son. Your mother and I don’t want you to go. You have everything you need right here in Lincoln: a family that loves you, a good job where you’re doing great without a lot of stress, a community that loves you, a fifteen-minute commute to work. What more could you ask for?”
“A chal…chal…challenge,” said Zeke. “I need a challenge. Washington, DC, is one of the top news markets in the country. No…no…self-respecting reporter would pass up a chance to work for the top news station in one of the top markets like DC.” WJOP’s news director Harvey Schmidt, a hard-shelled man with a soft center, had seen potential in Zeke and hired him to shore up his news department.
When Zeke finished packing, he put his luggage in his red Toyota pickup and came back inside the house to say his goodbyes. First, he embraced his mom, squeezing her tight. “I la…la…love you, Mom. I’ll be home for Christmas.”
“You better be,” she said as she handed him a tin of cookies for the long ride.
Then he embraced his dad. “I la…la…love you, too, Pops,” said Zeke.
“Well, if I can’t change your mind, I might as well cheer you on,” said his dad. “Godspeed, son.”
“Oo…oops, I almost forgot. Where’s Cucho?” asked Zeke. His dad yelled the dog’s name, and Cucho came running. Zeke went down on one knee, and the big golden Lab jumped into his arms. Zeke wrapped his arms around the big dog as Cucho licked his face.
“I think he’s gonna miss the dog more than us,” said his mom.
“I think you’re right, Joan,” replied his father, Rodger.
“I’ll call you when I get there,” Zeke called out as he waved goodbye.
And with that Zeke walked out to his truck for the thousand-mile drive to Silver Spring, Maryland. He drove for ten hours before stopping at a Holiday Inn for the night. He got a sub from the Subway next door. That tided him over until the next morning.
He arose at 6:00 am, ate the free breakfast, and got back on the road. He arrived at the house he rented in Silver Spring at 1:00 pm.
The next morning, he reported for work.
Zeke stepped quickly along the sticky August sidewalk and up the long set of white stone steps toward the arched entrance of the white stone building. He clenched his right fist and punched the air. With a solid sense of confirmation, he shouted, “Yes!”
Zeke entered the building and stepped up to the receptionist. “I…I…I’m Zeke Ja—”
The pert redhead glanced up with a smile and interrupted him. “Harvey’s expecting you,” she said. “I’ll show you to his office.”
Zeke nodded. He cringed that his first words at his new job had already branded him. But he reminded himself that his reporting at CBS affiliate KOLN had won him several awards for investigative reporting and community affairs. Maybe he’d just been the reporter behind the anchor. They kept him off the air most of the time, but everyone knew the talking heads were reading Zeke’s copy. People trusted Zeke. They believed what he wrote, and he’d built quite a following over the years.
“I’m Julie, Julie Stokes,” she spoke over her shoulder as she led the way. “Harvey hired me a couple of years ago. He’s a good boss. No nonsense, though.” They climbed a flight of stairs. Zeke noticed her long shapely legs and the graceful way she navigated the steps in heels. They walked down a long well-lit corridor. Upon the walls hung plaques attesting to the solid reputation the station had earned over the years. One plaque in particular caught Zeke’s eye. Embossed with an image of the Pentagon and the World War II statue of marines raising the flag, it read:
The Pentagon recognizes WJOP’s accurate, heroic 9/11 coverage in the face of harm’s way.
Zeke stopped to read another plaque, but Julie motioned with her right hand and said, “Come on. You can read those later.”
When they arrived at the news director’s office at the end of the corridor, Julie entered without hesitation. “Good morning, Harvey. Here’s your new hire.” Looking at Zeke, she said, “Let me know if you need anything. Welcome aboard the top news station in DC.”
“Well, like the lady said, welcome to the top news station in DC,” Harvey said. “And I mean to keep it that way.” He reached into the top drawer of his desk, pulled out a cigar, and proceeded to light it without any concern. Smoke billowed above his desk and slowly drifted into the bullpen outside his office. “You don’t smoke, do you, kid?”
“No…no, sir,” said Zeke.
“Good. It’s a nasty habit. The management tolerates my occasional indulgence, and nobody dares complain. Zeke, news has gone soft in the DC area. People are starting to mock the whole industry. We built our rep on truth-telling and integrity. I’m not going to listen to someone call us fake news after I spent twenty years building this department. I think you can help us, here.”
“Ye…ye…ye…yes, sir,” Zeke replied.
Harvey squinted at his new hire, shuffled some files, and opened one with a story Zeke had submitted with his application.
“I followed some of the stuff you did back in Lincoln. Not bad, kid, but this town is not for the weak of heart. Don’t worry, though. We’ll toughen you up. This stuttering thing. You get rid of it, and we’ll talk about going on the air like you told me you wanted. Zeke swallowed and nodded. Like he hadn’t tried to kick it before? Like it hadn’t been a problem all his life? But Zeke wanted to go on the air. The possibility of it was one of the reasons he took this job.
“Look, kid,” Harvey replied, “I’ve got an idea for your first assignment. This famous faith healer Fernando Dollar lives in DC. There’s been a lot of controversy about this guy. Some think he’s preying on the community. Some think he’s legit. Let’s see if he can cure your stuttering on camera. I want you to get him to try to heal your stuttering. I’m not expecting you to be healed, mind you, but if he does, great. And if he doesn’t, we will have exposed a fraud. Either way, it’s a win-win. Why don’t you take a camera crew over there and interview the guy? I’ll have Sly go with you to do the on-air interview. You give him the questions.”
“Real nice,” Zeke whispered under his breath.
“I heard that,” replied Harvey, “and there was no stuttering.”
“S…s…s…sorry, sir,” said Zeke, “but…but…but tha…tha…tha…that’s definitely ex…ex…exploiting my disability.
“We use what we can, kid. Anyway, it’s a win-win. By the way, Zeke, did you fill out the paperwork for your security clearance and White House press pass?”
“Ye…ye…yes, sir,” replied Zeke.
“Stop with the sir stuff,” Harvey replied. “If you want to impress me, write some good copy.”
“No…no…no…no problem, Boss,” Zeke replied.
“Look, kid, this is a fifty-thousand-watt, class-A all-news station. We blast the night skies, and people hear us down on the Mexican border. Furthermore, what’s local news for DC is national news for the rest of the country. You made it to the big leagues, kid. Now, get out there and hit your first home run.” Harvey sat at his desk and yelled for one of the other reporters in the bullpen. “Sly, get in here. I want you meet Zeke.” As Sly moseyed in, Zeke loosened his tie. “Sly, meet Zeke Jackson. We’re expecting big things from him. Show him around the station and then take him downstairs and help him put together a camera crew for an interview.”
“Welcome aboard,” Sly replied. “I’ll show you around.”
“Wha…wha…what did you say your last name was?” asked Zeke.
“McDonald, Sly McDonald.” After they left Harvey’s office, Sly looked at Zeke and said, “So not even here an hour and you already got an interview. That’s hitting the ground running.” Zeke couldn’t tell if that was a compliment or a warning. Before leaving the bullpen, Sly showed Zeke his cubicle. “You’ll be sitting in this cubicle, right next to me,” Sly told him. As they walked down the hall, Sly pointed out the bathroom, the break room, and the copy room.
“When do we…we…we get to see the on-air studios?” Zeke asked.
“What’s the difference, kid? Harvey’s not gonna let you on air with that stuttering problem.” Zeke clenched at the nasty comment but tried to overlook it. “Listen, kid. I don’t mean to get off on the wrong foot,” Sly said. “It’s just that around here we don’t mince words. People just say what’s on their mind. No offense.”
“N…n…none taken,” replied Zeke, “but that’s why I need to do this interview. This guy, Fer-Fer-Fernando Dollar, is a famous fai…fai…faith healer who liv…liv…lives in DC. Ma…ma…maybe he can heal me of this stut…stut…stut…stuttering problem.”
“You really think so, kid?” Sly asked.
“I…I…I…I don’t really believe it, but my m…m…m…mom totally believes this stuff. Harvey th…th…thinks it’s worth a shot. Anyway, if…if he doesn’t, then we…we…we…we…we’ve exposed him on camera.”
“Well, everyone knows about Fernando Dollar,” said Sly. “He’s made a business out of fleecing the flock. Let’s go get this fraud.”
They walked down two flights of stairs to the basement.
“The camera crews stay downstairs with the equipment and the studios. They like to keep the equipment and studios in the basement because it’s cooler,” Sly said.
They walked over to a room where the video and audio guys hung out cleaning their equipment and prepping for the next mission when not supporting the live in-station broadcasts. Sly introduced Zeke to the engineering supervisor.
“John, this is Zeke. He’s a newbie, and Harvey has asked him to interview televangelist Fernando Dollar. Can you guys be ready tomorrow morning if Zeke lines up an interview?”
“Sure, I can spare two guys,” John replied. “Are we gonna trap this fraud? My mom has been sending this guy money every month for the last five years. I’d sure like to bring him down.”
“Sounds like you guys got a mission,” said Sly. “Go get em, kid.”
Suddenly, Sly’s phone rang. It was Harvey. “Are you guys done down there? What’s taking you so long?”
“We were just talking to John. We’ll wrap it up”.
“Get back up here. I want to talk to you.”
“OK, Boss,” said Sly.
They both went back up to Harvey’s office. “What’s up, Boss?” Sly asked.
“Sly, I want to talk to you alone,” said Harvey. After Zeke left Harvey’s office, Sly closed the door, but Zeke’s cubical was close enough to overhear the conversation, especially with Harvey’s boisterous voice.
“Watch him,” he overheard Harvey say. “Go with him. He’s going to give you some questions to ask Dollar on air, but I want you to do the on-camera interview. We can’t risk someone stammering and stuttering all over the air.”
“Sure thing, Boss,” replied Sly.
Meanwhile, Zeke called the office of the Apostolic Reformed Church of which Fernando Dollar was the local pastor. The church secretary/assistant answered and listened to Zeke’s request for healing from stuttering and an interview.
“Actually, Pastor Dollar has a healing session tomorrow morning with a small group of people,” said the secretary. “I’ll include you and let Pastor Dollar know. I’m sure it won’t be a problem. Be here by ten am.”
Links to Purchase Print Books
Link to Buy Soul Reader Series : Book 1: Touch Enabled Print Edition at Amazon
Links to Purchase eBooks
Link To Buy Soul Reader Series : Book 1: Touch Enabled On Amazon
Dante F. Lupinetti has lived in the greater Washington D.C. area for 50 years. Married with 5 grown children and 9 grandchildren, Dante retired from a Software Engineering career after spending 45 yrs. commuting around the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) as he worked for various commercial companies and defense contractors. Dante has been an elder in his church and he and his wife, Sue, lead a small group bible study.