UPDATE 2: Since the newly published FREE PDF The Prodigal Band has been revised (again, with the mostly same version revised for inclusion into the three-books-in-one The Prodigal Band Trilogy published by Lulu Publishing), the “Prologue” has been removed and incorporated into Chapter One. This revised version is the final version!
UPDATE! The FREE The Prodigal Band PDF file has been uploaded!
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NOTICE: This book has been copyrighted and has been submitted to and registered with the Library of Congress. While the e-book is free, ANY editing using Adobe Acrobat or any other PDF-creation software, or any theft of any manuscript for the purposes of violating this copyright or using anything in this manuscript for the purposes of piracy or changing any word or artwork in this e-book is strictly prohibited! Taking materials out of this e-book for the purposes of creating any manuscript WITHOUT PERMISSION by the copyright owner will be subject to copyright violation and subsequent litigation. Violators will face litigation under the rules of the Library of Congress or the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
The Prodigal Band is © Deborah Lagarde, 2018 and revised, 2019. Rights Reserved.
Notice to citizens of European Union nations:
July 8, 2001
“If dead rock stars could talk,” a man in a trench coat muttered.
A private 747 jet began its descent into Heathrow Airport, originally from Dallas, Texas. Six male passengers—members of Sound Unltd, ‘the greatest rock band ever’—sat aboard. Twenty minutes later, the plane landed.
The passengers were missing.
Trenchcoat, standing behind an aluminum wire mesh fence close by, didn’t know that.
Kaboom! The jet’s passengers cabin burned—outside the jet it sounded like some small explosion—less than a minute later. He snorted and said to himself, “Sound Unltd? Not anymore, you’re not.” But dammit, he thought, that jet should have exploded in mid-air over the Irish Sea!
When police, fire fighters, ambulance crews and the news-and-gossip-hungry media arrived several minutes later, Trenchcoat was safely behind the wheel of his Austin-Healey driving toward the airport’s exit.
Through a white void up a long walkway to a heaven-like realm walked the six. Unaware their jet spewed smoke and debris, the sextet knew they were still alive. Bewildered, the young men surveyed the soft, endless whiteness. Barefoot, in white robes.
A lead singer with dark brown shoulder-length hair accentuated by sensuous bangs on a baby-face was slender, thin-lipped and of medium height. Voice a Godly gift. Yet, some said, the devil’s tool.
The tall, angular-faced guitarist possessed dirty-blond hair now growing on once-shaved sides of his head. Now without the screaming instrument he fired into immortality.
The dark, strapping bass guitar player with bushy black hair and dark-coal eyes walked without his trademark gold chains.
The tall, lanky, beak-nosed, ringlet-haired album producer and master of many guitars worried over his past perversions.
The pot bellied, biker-esque keyboard-synthesizer player famed for red hair wild as the wind, fiery as his brew, bore a downcast of regret.
A short, curly-blond percussionist once angered by lost love approached with the others to an unknown destination, glad with a full life behind him.
For they knew Who sat ahead. But how would He judge them?
After a time, they were dismissed from that heavenly realm, back to the furnace consuming the jet. Back in their casual clothing and shoes. As emergency people entered the once-plush, burning cabin, the fully-conscious band, coughing from sudden surprise smoke, jerked about in their seats, dazed but confused and unhurt, then yelling for help.
A short time later the six found themselves literally tossed out of the jet onto foam escape mattresses.
Then, disregarding authorities, the reporters and photographers engulfed them.
Jack Lubin, guitarist and band leader-spokesman, stood upright aside the mattress and answered, while coughing, six questions at once. “Yeh, we’re fine. No, we had no idea the jet was having problems, and no, we don’t know why it caught fire, and no, we don’t know how it happened, and yes, we happy to be alive, and I have no idea if it was an accident or not. We’ll look into it.”
As medics led the sextet toward ambulances, Jack thought. We were on the jet, then we were taken somewhere for I don’t know how long. Then we were back on the jet. Which was burning. Like I’m really going to tell them that. Like they’d really believe God got us outta there in time, took us to some safe place, and, when it was safe enough on the plane, He sent us back here. But I believe it, and, soon enough, the bastards that did this will believe it, too. Torquay will believe it!
Lead singer Erik Manning trotted past the medic accompanying him and sneaked up to Jack. “Did you tell anyone this was no accident?”
“No way was I telling press monkeys the truth! They wouldn’t believe it anyway!”
Drummer Tom Cornsby walked alongside Jack and said so the medics couldn’t hear, “Either the Novordo Club or the suits ordered this hit. I guarantee it.”
Jack leaned to him. “It was Torquay and the Novordos. The suits? Maybe, but Rodney Davis wouldn’t be this open about it. No, the power elites want to scare us.”
“They want to kill us, you mean!”
That evening Trenchcoat figured he’d give the varied news media time to coordinate their spin machines before he turned on his television and checked in to what he knew would be the major story of the evening—the mysterious explosion that engulfed Sound Unltd’s private 747 jet, killing the six. After all, he’d placed the bomb inside a compartment under a cushion of one of the cabin seats while the aircraft was refueling in Philadelphia. One of the band, synthist Bryan McClellan, sat five inches away from the bomb most of the way across the Atlantic and didn’t suspect a thing.
“Six o’clock. Time for the show.” Smiled. Short laugh.
The dark-skinned man sat in an easy chair in the living room of his mews apartment, got the remote control off a lamp table and punched the play button. BBC-1 came on with a well-known newscaster, the main event in progress.
A jumbo-looking jet in flames filled the screen as the newscaster reported, “The band’s jet was on the ground when it exploded and, while all the crew members suffered minor injuries, all six members of Sound Unltd were miraculously unharmed. Investigators have as yet found—”
Total, unmitigated shock struck his being.
“What—unharmed? But how can that be! I put that bloody bomb right under their seats! Right under their noses!”
That easy chair shot forward. His heart pounded, matching the beating he gave the arm of his chair.
The phone rang.
His heart leaped. Picked up the phone knowing who it was. “Yes,” the bomber answered, trying to sound cool and collected.
“They’re alive. Did you put the device inside one of their seats like I told you?”
“Yes. Exactly where you told me. Beats me why they survived.”
“Shut up, idiot, we’re being monitored. That’s okay. It’s good they’re scared. It’s good they know their time on earth is short. I’ll ring you again soon.”
Hung up. But he had no time to think about that call.
He sat back in the chair again, viewing with disbelief the site of Jack Lubin in front of him on the TV screen, saying, “Right now we’re sure the fire was caused by a fuel leak or something mechanical. An accident. Just like Buddy Holly. Only we survived.”
Surrounded by the rest of the band and management personnel, Jack spoke the same live from the airport’s medical clinic.
The media circus over, Sound Unltd met privately outside the clinic with their manager, Joe Phillips, in Phillips’ limo.
“Your father’s behind it, Joe!” Jack didn’t even wait to sit down before his pronouncement. “We know he is, and we know you know it too.”
For Phillips’ real name was Joseph Phillip Torquay-Lambourgeau, son of Baron Torquay-Lambourgeau of the same international banking cartel and the power behind many thrones, presidents and premiers, as well as the Novordo Club, the international elite that wanted to rule the world with impunity.
Phillips, who sported the Laurence Olivier look with pony-tail down his back, reiterated what the band and most others believed—he wanted no part of his father’s designs. “You’re right, I’m sure. And I’m sure you’re not the first ones they’ve tried to assassinate.”
“But we may be the first to survive an assassination, yeh?” bass player Keith Mullock shot out. “My dad warned me about folks like your dad a long time ago. But I thought it would never happen to us—that we were above it.”
“No one’s above my father’s evil plots. No one.”
The others snorted in agreement.
“No one except God,” Jack said, perking up. “It was God who saved us, Joe. Like, He got us out of there in time, then put us back when it was safe. He knows, Joe, He knows!”
“You mean God? Actually lifted you up to heaven? You’re not serious.” Joe tried to keep the scorn off his face. Phillips was a confirmed agnostic.
“We are, Joe. He saved us. Believe me. How else could we have survived?”
Joe looked at the sextet as they all nodded their agreement with Jack. Then he gave a short “huh”, cocked his head and blurted out, “But did you—see Him? Did He talk to you?”
The others smiled and shook heads. “No,” Jack said, “we didn’t see Him. But we heard a voice tell us our plane was on fire and when it was safe we’d be returned to it.”
They then described the whiteness, the calmness, the heavenliness.
“Are you sure it was heaven and not a UFO?” Joe asked sincerely.
“It seemed like heaven, right? It was huge, without end. No UFO in history could be that big.”
Joe still had doubts, but he conceded they weren’t lying about what they saw and heard.
“Okay, I hear you. And, if it was God who saved you, maybe there’s hope for the rest of us.”
Richmont, California, the same night
While eating dinner at the living room table, I sat transfixed on the event broadcast on television that night. “The band’s jet was on the ground when it exploded and, while all the crew members suffered minor injuries, all six members of Sound Unltd were miraculously unharmed. Investigators have as yet found no evidence of foul play involved.”
No foul play? I thought. Why would anyone even conjecture that, except to make the news more entertaining? But one thing that I, Lloyd Denholm, Rolling Stone’s lead freelancer, had come to believe was that in these crazy times where there were zillions of pop recording artists, and industry power was concentrating in as few hands as possible, that nasty play against the world’s leading per- unit-sales recording act, who were music moguls themselves, was close to a hundred percent likely. No foul play? I smelled a cover up.
Since the band trusted me, Rolling Stone assigned me to investigate this event. Which would turn into a series of events. Foul play, indeed.