Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

The Last Man Standing

The Last Man Standing

The Last Man Standing
by George Chambers

Hardcover
1990. 142 pp.
ISBN 978-0-932511-19-5
Price: $18.95

Paperback
1990. 142 pp.
ISBN 978-0-932511-20-1
Price: $12.50

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Last Man Standing has the essential elements of a terrific David Baldacci novel: a tough but tender-hearted hero, dirty dealings in the nation's bureaucracy, and a roller-coaster plot. Web London, a member of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team, froze up on a drug raid and thus became the sole survivor of a remote-controlled ambush that killed six of his compatriots. Now the only witness has disappeared and the inside man on the botched raid has gone underground.


"As a pretty psychiatrist puzzles over the corners of Web's brain that kept him alive, Web himself stays on the move. He's certain that the ambush is connected to the prison escape of a neofascist leader, Ernest B. Free, whom he helped arrest five years earlier, and a series of new murders leads him to a Virginia horse farm and the driving force behind all the carnage. It may seem as though Baldacci gives away the mastermind too soon, but both the bad guys and the good guys are complex enough that there's plenty of punch all the way to the last page." —Barrie Trinkle

Excerpt


First, the voice of my father. First, the rasping death rattle of his voice calling me. His voice everywhere, surrounding. Each way I turn, his voice equally there, calling my name. Boy, rattled the voice. Boy. I start in each direction to go to him, but I hear the voice everywhere so I stand still. Boy, says the voice, its rattle thinning, hollowing. A thick fogbank rolling in over the water, father's figure rising from it. Father's figure draped in blue, a blue gown, his face swollen and bruised. A smear of yellow on his chest, a badge of yellow pulsing in the blue fabric. I rush into the water, shouting his name. Father! Just as I am about to dive and swim to him, he holds up his hand, commanding me to stop. I stand waist-deep in the freezing water. Murder, he says. I am murder. Is he saying murder, or mother? I can't be sure. Boy, Father says. I am put to death. No, I shout. No! The figure continues to rise, to swell as a corpse might after days in the water. It points at me. Boy, it commands. Find the one. Punish. Father! I shout, as the figure loses its structure, collapses into the rolling fogbank. Above the whispering I hear one last word. Sign, the deathsound says. Sign.



Brother When the telephone rings, I know. He is gone, Brother says. I held a mirror to the mouth. Will you come on?

Sister I call Sister. He has passed, she says. I ask, How do you feel about your father's death? That, she replies, is a question I do not accept. I do not wish to answer that, says Sister.

Agnes As I speak with Agnes, she tells me that the undertakers have arrived for the body. Agnes orders her door shut. I don't want to see him, she says. Although Agnes has been blind for a decade, there has never been a problem seeing him.

Family As I speak on the telephone, my wife and infant daughter watch me from the living room. I gesture a thumbs down. My wife nods. When I join them, they wait for me to speak. I say nothing, my chest tight. Shall I arrange a ticket for you? She asks. The old guy is dead, I say.

Father Betty serves Father a side dish of fresh asparagus. Father orders her to take it back to the kitchen and warm the plate she has served it on. ON the third try, Father is satisfied that both the fresh, thin stalks of asparagus and the plate are of the correct temperature.