Bill Petrocelli

The Circle of Thirteen – Short Excerpts

A few short Excerpts from The Circle of Thirteen

Bay of Naples

This brief excerpt is taken from Page 58 of the novel. Julia is speaking about her home in Tarrytown, New York, which she shares with Dhanye. The pool on the lower floor is their place of refuge and solitude:

The pool was my favorite place, nestled, as it was, in a room on the lower floor. The house was Dhanye’s when we met, but it was my home now as well. The wall at one end was dominated by the softly lit image of the Woman of Thera – a figure of delightful, insouciant charm. She shimmered over the tiles, reaching out to harvest the ancient plants in front of her. Her long hair, striped pants, and open bodice set the tone for her pose. She looked as supremely confident as she must have felt when some unknown Minoan artist painted her 4,500 years earlier. At the other end of the pool, water flowed from an opening in the ceiling; it was a soft drop that seemed more like a mist than a waterfall. The pool itself was one stop in a continuous, solar-powered flow of water. It was part of a loop that pumped and filtered the water up to the vegetable trellises on the side of the house before allowing it to flow back down. The light in the room responded to our moods, increasing in brightness if we were swimming and lowering itself to a soft glow when we just wanted to be close to each other. This was the pool where we fell in love.

In this excerpt on page 86 Julia, the United Nations Security Director, has just received word of a bomb threat against the large food market in Grand Central Terminal. :

The Rebecca Meyer Food Market is huge – a major shopping hub for the city. Visitors to New York are sometimes surprised at how big it really is. The market opens into Grand Central Terminal and wraps around for several blocks to the east, past Lexington Avenue and over towards Third Ave. The bakeries, delis, and cafes are mainly near the west entrance. The fruit and vegetable dealers are mostly congregated on the other side, closer to the tunnels and docks for the barges that carry produce down the East River. You could find almost anything there. Ethnic food specialists were squeezed in among herbalists, soil mixers, insect farms, hydroponic growers, flower vendors, seed specialists, vitamin re-processors, manure blenders, and urban gardens. Dhanye and I have always loved wandering through the Market on weekends, poking through the food stalls. It’s a place where you can see a lot of people.

Or, if you were a maniac, it’s a place where you could kill a lot of them.

The thought of the carnage that a bomb could do in the food market gave me the shudders. This market was much larger than the earlier market that closed down in the 2030s during the food shortages. When it reopened, it was named for Rebecca Meyer, a Rabbi who had presided over a congregation in New York for several years, and the only New Yorker among The Thirteen. She was an inspirational leader of Women for Peace, and she worked constantly for the break-up the Uniworld food cartel. Without her and the others, the market might never have reopened.

In this except on page 206 Julia recalls when she was fifteen years old. Like everyone else at that moment she was reacting to the news that the thirteen leaders of Women For Peace had been taken captive and were now facing possible death. She pushed her way out the door of the community room where she had been watching the events on the vid-screen, and she began running down the main street of her small town of Larkspur, California.

I turned south down Magnolia Avenue. I was trying to get as far from the scenes on those vid-screens as I could, but I was still carrying them around in my head. Activity on the street \had almost stopped. People were crowded into the café, staring at a wide screen behind the counter. The whole town, maybe the whole world, was caught up in the same awful news about the Women for Peace. I ran past everything, using my long strides to get through the middle of town, away from anyone I didn’t want to see.

I turned right on Madrone Avenue, racing past a grove of redwood trees in the direction of Mt. Tamalpais. After a couple of kilometers, the street dead-ended against the foot of Mt. Tam, and I veered to my left, breaking stride for a second as I hit the dirt trail. After another kilometer of hard running, I reached the Southern Marin Line Road and turned left. The trail got more difficult. By the time I reached Old Railroad Grade and turned west up the mountain, my pace had slowed. I dodged branches and rocks and leaped over small rivulets from a recent rainfall. I didn’t mind any of that. At that moment I felt I could deal with almost anything but people.

After about thirty minutes of hard running, I reached my favorite spot. It was a small clearing with a couple of large logs. When I hoisted myself to the top, I could see the whole expanse of San Francisco Bay. I liked Mt. Tam because of its odd shape and the story behind it – the “sleeping maiden” of Miwok tradition. I remember thinking that maybe that was me. I’d been sleeping too long, and it was time to wake up.