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Gerstl: Standoff

Gerstl: Standoff

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Published by Hugo Gerstl
America's South. Fifty years ago, Libertyville had a population of 2,000 and its citizens thought it would be the next Atlanta. But today, the population is down to 278 and falling. The town's one remaining employer, the outdated, money-losing Libertyville Cotton Works, owned by Holocaust survivor Moses Mendelssohn, has been sold to a conglomerate that intends to declare the site a toxic waste dump and reap huge tax and political benefits.

Bishop William Wyatt Walker, spellbinding African-American televangelist whose church takes in five hundred million dollars a year from contributions of the poorest of the poor, decides that the church has "lost touch with the common man" and needs a new symbol of salvation - the Libertyville Cotton Works and the forty acres that surround it. He'll create "God's County," a Disneyland for the Faithful, and he'll do whatever it takes, by means fair or foul, to make sure the church gets the property.

But meanwhile, a brilliant, half-crazed Mexican-American lawyer and his militant contingent take armed control of the cotton works, holding everyone connected with it hostage until the factory and its acreage are deeded to his "army" as the first truly Mexican town in the Southeast.

Thus the stage is set for a STANDOFF of epic proportions. Like James Dickey's Deliverance, this powerful, suspenseful novel explores the best - and the worst - in human spirit as it thunders to a spine-chilling climax. A must-read book that you won't be able to put down - and one you'll long remember.

(Originally published by Dekel Publishing House, www.dekelpublishing.com).
America's South. Fifty years ago, Libertyville had a population of 2,000 and its citizens thought it would be the next Atlanta. But today, the population is down to 278 and falling. The town's one remaining employer, the outdated, money-losing Libertyville Cotton Works, owned by Holocaust survivor Moses Mendelssohn, has been sold to a conglomerate that intends to declare the site a toxic waste dump and reap huge tax and political benefits.

Bishop William Wyatt Walker, spellbinding African-American televangelist whose church takes in five hundred million dollars a year from contributions of the poorest of the poor, decides that the church has "lost touch with the common man" and needs a new symbol of salvation - the Libertyville Cotton Works and the forty acres that surround it. He'll create "God's County," a Disneyland for the Faithful, and he'll do whatever it takes, by means fair or foul, to make sure the church gets the property.

But meanwhile, a brilliant, half-crazed Mexican-American lawyer and his militant contingent take armed control of the cotton works, holding everyone connected with it hostage until the factory and its acreage are deeded to his "army" as the first truly Mexican town in the Southeast.

Thus the stage is set for a STANDOFF of epic proportions. Like James Dickey's Deliverance, this powerful, suspenseful novel explores the best - and the worst - in human spirit as it thunders to a spine-chilling climax. A must-read book that you won't be able to put down - and one you'll long remember.

(Originally published by Dekel Publishing House, www.dekelpublishing.com).

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Published by: Hugo Gerstl on Sep 27, 2009
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GERSTL: STANDOFF
60,362 words
STANDOFF
A Novel
By Hugo N. Gerstl
©2007 By Hugo N. Gerstl
DEKEL PUBLISHING HOUSE
P.O. Box 45094 Tel Aviv, ISRAEL
 1
 
GERSTL: STANDOFF
1It had been fourteen years since the last really big rains had come, but this year you could tell they were coming. Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, but they were comingall right. As the high ground descended toward town, the trees and roots gave way tohardpack red clay, pretty-looking soil that was so danged poor, so leached of all nutrientsthat you couldn’t grow anything in it except rocks. That meant only one thing. When therains came, bigger and bigger chunks of those hills would slide down into the middle of town. The main road through town, nothing more than a dusty, fourteen-foot-wide,tamped gravel trail at the best of times, would be overrun by the clay soil, rocks, andwater. Most times, the roadway would only be ankle-high in the water and red muck.Some years the stuff would be knee-high, and that’s knee-high to a man, not knee-high toa duck. And sometimes, once every ten or fifteen years or so, like what portended tohappen in the next day or so, there’d be days on end when, as the locals said, “You’d beup to yer ass in alligators or at least up to yer ass in water full of alligator shit.”Last time that had happened, people had left town for good, and not just becauseof the high water. Each year, times had gotten a little tougher and more folks had movedout. Twenty years ago, they closed down the lumber mill and killed off two-hundred jobs,mostly low-paying manual jobs – Nigger jobs they’d called them sixty years ago, but if 
they
couldn’t work, they couldn’t eat, and if they couldn’t eat, it made no sense to stay.Then the county decided to reroute County Road 3581 through Tomkinsville, ten milesnorth, and they stopped paying for the maintenance of the main road into and out of town.A decade later, the granddaddy of all storms – they didn’t get hurricanes this far from thecoast, but this was as close as one could come to calling it a hurricane – had upended the2
 
GERSTL: STANDOFF
south end of town, taking down a hundred residences, maybe more – mostly the lean-toshacks occupied by the poorest of the poor. Then there was poison in the water system.The fellas in suits, who came down from the state capital, said it was all them minerals inthe red clay soil or that the leach fields were overfull. Didn’t matter what caused it.Scratch another seventy-five people from town. This time a lot of ‘em were Whites – thefolks that owned the businesses that provided work for the rest.The Dairy Queen closed down, the Freedom Movie House shut its doors, theKresge store sold its last dry goods, and one morning the remaining inhabitants of thetown woke up to find out that the Sears and Roebuck catalogue store had moved outduring the night. There weren’t enough kids left in town to keep the high school open.The parking meters on what was optimistically called “Broadway” got rusty and stoppedworking, ‘cause nobody put any money in ‘em, and after awhile, the town couldn’t evenafford to pay a cop to go out and check ‘em. Every year, the signs at each end of town,the signs proclaiming, “
 Libertyville – Tomorrow Starts Here!
” got a little more decrepitlooking. At first, when the population slipped from 1,187 to 900, the Town Council hadvoted to spend a few bucks to have the town’s only sign painter, Dan Alter, do a professional job on the signs’ population count. Dan had died four years ago. By that time900 had become 650, then 650 had slipped to 500. At last count, at the beginning of thisyear, the population of Libertyville was 278. Those people under the age of seventy whoremained were moving out or trying to move their assets – and their 
asses
and what little
assets
they had
 
 – out as soon as the breadwinner found a job anywhere else. Now thatDoctor Lyle, the town’s only White doctor, had moved away and Doctor Natchum, the3

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