BY: BRENT ASYCOUGH
Ernie, an experienced logger from rural Washington State, loses his job when the logging operation he works for is shut down due to the spotted owl. When he goes in to apply for unemployment, Ernie is persuaded to take a job out of state as a temporary insurance adjuster in Los Angeles. While he knows that Los Angeles will be a lot different than Sedro Woolley, Washington, and insurance adjusting a lot different than logging, really, how hard can it be? And there are lots of downed trees in Southern California after the recent earthquake and storms they had there. So packing up his trusty chainsaw in his saddlebags, Ernie hops on his motorcycle and heads south. But to his dismay, Ernie discovers that LA is a lot farther from Washington in more than just miles. Unprepared for the corruption and callousness rampant in the insurance industry, Ernie soon finds himself not only in trouble with his job, but on the top of an assassin’s hit list. Still, although Ernie might be a hick from the sticks, he’s far from stupid. Blessed with an innate intelligence, an abundance of common sense, and a redneck sense of humor, Ernie will give his enemies a hilarious run for their money…if he can just survive long enough.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Ernie and the Evils of Insurance by Brent Ayscough, Ernie is an unemployed logger who takes a temporary job with an insurance company as an adjuster. With few options when his logging job in Washington is canceled due to an alleged spotted owl sighting, Ernie leaves his home in rural Washington and heads for Los Angeles. When he gets there, he is shocked at how the insurance company handles claims and is unprepared for the corruption in the insurance industry. When he accidentally saves the life of a gubernatorial candidate the insurance company is trying to kill, he paints a target on his back for both the insurance company and the mob. But Ernie seems more than up to the challenge.
The book is well written, fast paced, and intense, with flashes of humor at the most unexpected times.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Ernie and the Evils of Insurance by Brent Ayscough is an interesting tale. Our hero Ernie, naturally, is a logger by trade and happy with it, until a spotted owl sighting closes down the logging operation and puts him out of work. The unemployment office convinces him to take a ninety-day job as an insurance adjuster in Los Angeles, so Ernie hops on his motorcycle and heads for California with his trusty chainsaw as he assumes he has been hired because of all the downed trees from the recent storms. But he’s in for a big surprise. His smarts and common sense make him an extremely effective claims adjuster, but it isn’t to be. Ernie soon screws up everyone’s plans by savings a man’s life, and now everyone is trying to kill him. The insurance company fires him, but he doesn’t stay unemployed for long. No, the FBI wants to hire him as bait to draw out a mob assassin, and all he has to do is survive.
Ernie is a fun and fascinating tale about a strong, smart, and clever man a little out of his element. I found it very hard to put down.
On Saturday afternoon in Southern California, Lisa Doty prepared a barbecue. From the doorway she called to her husband, Dave, “Honey, we need dried cranberries for the Waldorf Cole Slaw. Will you zip up to the local market?”
The guests soon to arrive were her husband’s brother and wife and two other couples.
Dave was pleased, as he’d just finished waxing his most prized possession, a very low mileage, supercharged, Mustang Shelby GT500, black in color. A recent acquisition, bought second hand, it was like new, and the interior still had the odor of a new car. The prior owner had found himself in a divorce, perhaps due in part to the Mustang itself, and so Dave was lucky to get it for a distressed price. He had always wanted a Mustang, ever since he saw Steve McQueen in the quintessential chase in the 1968 Ford Mustang GT in the classic movie Bullitt.
Tossing the last of the polish rags in a pile, he shifted his focus from detailing to actually driving the essence of a perfect car. Conveniently, he concluded, the Mustang would be perfect for the mission to the market several blocks away. A nice day, he put the windows down, leaving the air conditioning off, which would help orchestrate the sensuous exhaust.
The supercharged V-8 bellowed and the car rocked from its torque, the sound mesmerizing. Once in gear, the perfect mix of man and machine rumbled down the street toward the grocery store.
Typical in older, upper-middle class Los Angeles neighborhoods, the houses were on small lots designed and built years ago at a time when the lots were smaller, and the homes cheaper when homeowners had less income and fewer possessions. The current owners, flush with greater income, many with both spouses working, squeezed around their homes a variety of things that they had no place to house. These included jet skis on trailers, quad off-the-road vehicles, dirt bikes, ski boats, and motor homes. Most of the larger things were kept outside next to the garage, many in canvas covers. The already-over-stuffed, two-stall garages usually housed the best two of the owner’s three cars, an extra refrigerator, excess furniture, tools, gardening items, boxed decorations for Christmas, hobby items, and workout equipment that never got used after a few months from purchase.
Dave’s garage was one, too, but he lacked the motor home.
A man hiding behind one of the motor homes several houses down the street, atop a Japanese crotch rocket motorcycle, fired up the four-cylinder, high-revving motor. He leaned over into the contest-position and let lose the clutch, pulling out to follow. Everything he wore was black–the pants, boots, jacket, and full-cover helmet with dark tinted face shield. His identity was completely cloaked.
Dave turned left on a side street to avoid the traffic of the major street ahead.
When the Mustang stopped at a stop sign, the motorcyclist quickly pulled up right next to the driver’s side and stopped. He turned his helmeted head toward Dave as though he wanted something. David turned to him, his window open.
The motorcyclist, in a swift movement, drew from inside his jacket a .357 magnum, eight-shot Smith &Wesson revolver.
The first bullet entered his forehead, then three went into his chest over his heart, a kill certain. Dave’s foot came off the manual clutch pedal causing the stick-shift Mustang to jump and stall.
The last thing Dave Doty saw at that last instant of his life was a flash of light that some would like to believe is the start of a journey to a better place.
In barely an instant, the black-leather-clothed rider returned the revolver to his inside jacket pocket and sped off.
A housewife, washing dishes in her kitchen, peered through the small garden window above her kitchen sink and would later report, as the sole witness, that she saw a motorcyclist in black leaving the intersection.
The massive turnout at the funeral underscored Dave’s popularity. The entire extended family, neighbors, school friends, as well as friends from the Los Angeles office of the FBI, all attended. Inside the small church, the pews filled to capacity and people stood tightly together in the rear and along the sides of the pews as the pastor lamented as well as celebrated Dave’s life.
“A federal agent, David Doty, was more than just an honorable man and asset to the community,” the pastor began. “He was an asset to life itself. He was one of two siblings, both of whom became FBI agents. His younger brother, Dan, was recently transferred to the same office here in Los Angeles. Dave is survived by his lovely wife Lisa and their two children, Brian and Brandy.”
From there it got very personal, and the family began to sob, so much so that the crying became infectious. After the ceremony, most people lined up to hug and kiss the family, tears streaming down their cheeks. Even some of the FBI agents who knew him joined in the tears.
When everyone was dissipating, Dan, Dave’s brother, walked over to Lisa, leaned over to speak softly in her ear, and, squeezing her hand smartly to emphasize his words, vowed, “I’ll never rest until I get the guy who did this.”
© 2016 by Brent Ayscough