Ready for an adventure?
Operation: Midnight by Rick Simonds released in September last year in the Political, technothriller genre.
Imagine leading an idyllic life as a waiter in New Orleans only to be told by a stranger that your life is in danger and your parents are not truly yours. Lonnie Clifford, a highly gifted young man, soon learns that nothing in his life is as it seems and he is confronted with the challenges of finding who are his real parents and avoiding capture by government agents trying to bring him into the evil experimentation called OPERATION: MIDNIGHT.
As those around him are killed, he discovers letters comprised of seemingly random words and numbers and only by solving the mystifying clues can he hope to get the answers he desperately needs. Every bit of Lonnie’s genius is challenged In this thrilling tale of betrayal and intrigue as he attempts to outwit the head of the rogue scientific operation and determine who in his life is genuinely who they say they are.
I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do or say so I just handed the cube back to the man on the couch. “Actually it’s 4.22 seconds,” was my response.
” Jesus Christ, Lonnie!” said Fey, “I don’t care what the record is, that was unbelievable.”
I didn’t share Fey’s sense of adulation and was, quite frankly, disappointed that I hadn’t gone a second and a half faster but I sure as hell wasn’t going to say that now. Especially in front of this man who not only didn’t I know, but who I still had no understanding of why he was here.
The man put the Rubik’s cube back in his brief case and removed a handkerchief from his pocket. He dabbed at his brow which was noticeably marked with beads of sweat. “Would you mind if I had a glass of water,” he asked as he removed his glasses and wiped the perspiration from both sides of his nose.
“I’ll get it,” said Dalton rising. “I need to use the bathroom anyway.”
“Okay, now it’s time for some answers on your part. First of all, what is your name and what exactly do you want from me?”
The man moved forward on the couch and put his handkerchief back in his pocket. “All right, I’ll tell you why I’m here but please understand that what I’m about to say might be hard for you to understand…or believe.”
“Leave that up to me.”
“Of course. My name is Gordon Wormwood and I came here to find out more about you and, as I said earlier, to warn you that your life may be in danger.”
Dalton returned with a glass of water, handed it to the man and sat back down. “Why would anyone want to hurt Lonnie? He sure as hell hasn’t hurt anyone working as a waiter at the Bon Vivant.“
“No, of course not. It is much deeper than that. It goes back long before he began working at the restaurant.”
“Before that I was just a kid in Leesville, Louisiana. I had few friends, did little beside go to school, come home, do a few chores on the farm, and mind my own business. Who on earth would care about me.?”
“Lonnie,” began the man who identified himself as Gordon Wormwood, ” how many foreign languages can you speak?”
I thought back to my high school years when I would lie on my bed and play Berlitz tapes that I got from the school library. I would listen for several hours, commit the conversational vocabulary and grammar to memory, and effectively learn a language in less than a day. Since I could remember everything that I heard, I found it quite easy. I have never actually spoken Russian or German in the restaurant, I never found the need to, but speaking and understanding French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese have come in handy on several occasions when waiting on the many tourists we attract at Bon Vivant. “A few,” I responded.
Fey was taking all of this in with a wide-eyed innocence. I had almost forgotten that she was in the room…almost. “A few? How many is a few?” she asked.
“I don’t know, several I guess. I went through a period where I thought it would be fun to know how to speak different languages.”
“That’s funny ’cause I’ve never heard you speak anything but English,” said Dalton.
“No, and you probably never will.”
“But,” said the man, “you could if you want to. As a hyper polyglot you possess yet another special skill that many would find highly valuable.”
“What’s a hyper polyglot?” asked Fey.
“It is generally defined as an individual who can speak six or more languages,” replied Wormwood. “This is different than being multilingual in that a polyglot learns languages just for fun and it is intrinsic rather than for external reasons. Noah Webster, famous for creating a dictionary, is said to have mastered twenty-three languages, but there are others who can speak far more.”
“And why is this important to Lonnie?” asked Dalton.
“It isn’t really,” said the man, “but what is important is that he has the capacity to learn, and remember, as many languages as he wants to learn.”
Dalton followed up by asking, Was it fun studying those languages? What was the hardest to learn?”
I thought back to the days I spent sequestered in my room with the tapes playing. Like many teens, it became a challenge and was almost addictive like playing video games. “I didn’t think it was difficult. I just lied on my bed with my eyes closed and absorbed the sounds. They say that the toughest language to learn, which ironically is spoken by more people than any other language, is Mandarin Chinese. Our high school library didn’t have those tapes or I might have tried it.”
“That would’ve shot an afternoon,” said Dalton with a big smile.
Fey ran her hand through her blonde hair as she leaned forward. “Do your parents speak a lot if languages, Lonnie? Do they have a fantastic memory like you do?”
It didn’t take a long time for me to respond as I recalled my Dad working on the farm and my Mom creating lesson plans or correcting papers. “No, neither of them can speak anything but English and their memories are nothing like mine.”
Wormwood paused and looked directly into my eyes. “That’s because, if I’m correct, they are not your real parents, Lonnie.”
RICK SIMONDS, in addition to writing the thrilling new novel OPERATION: MIDNIGHT, is the author of the highly acclaimed murder mysteries BLOOD CODE and BLOOD SPORT. He has been a columnist for both the Maine Sunday Telegram and the Rockland Courier Gazette and written both columns and feature articles for national trade magazines.
He has spent much of his life coaching basketball including two years in the professional ranks, two decades at St. Joseph’s College of Maine and one in NCAA Division I at Davidson College. He has been inducted into 5 basketball Halls of Fame. He continues to live and write in Maine.
Many years ago I was coaching a college basketball team and we went to ‘Breakfast at Brennans’ in New Orleans. There were 24 of us in the party and I was stunned that the waiter wrote nothing down. I decided to use that in a character. I have also always been interested in government conspiracies and felt it was a natural to have my protagonist, Lonnie, being hunted due to his brilliant mind and memory. The working title was GIFTED but then I found a clandestine project by our government called OPERATION: MIDNIGHT and the rest is history. I hope you love reading it, I loved researching and writing it. It has been turned into a screenplay and hopefully you’ll see it sometime soon on Netflix.