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Book/Author Spotlight: Art of Raising Hell by Thomas Lopinski

SYNOPSIS
The Art of Raising Hell
by Thomas Lopinski


“There are some people that walk around on two feet and others like me that run on all four.” Newbie Johnson tries to understand the meaning of this statement while learning about friendship, loss, and love as a small town teenager. 

“The Art Of Raising Hell” is a coming of age story set in the 1970s that centers around four teenagers and their involvement with a larger-than-life character named Lonny Nack.

Newbie had recently moved to Bunsen Creek, when his mother is killed in a devastating car crash. Nursing a broken soul, he soon hooks up with the three best friends a guy could ever ask for and meets the love of his life, Sally Nack.

Sally’s brother, Lonny, fears no one, including The Law, and soon takes his peculiar sense of justice, along with his love of practical jokes, to new heights while entertaining the colorful characters of Kickapoo County. 

When Officer Hightower and Lonny collide with deadly results, Newbie becomes the only one who can make things right. Somewhere along the way, he learns an important lesson about how to chase after life instead being chased by it.
Thomas Lopinski - The Art of Raising Hell  - excerpt

Then Lonny looked at each of us. “So what in tarnation are you boys doing out here?”
“We were playing hockey,” griped Skeeter.  
Lonny looked around at the hockey sticks. “So you guys quit already?”
Skeeter waved an arm. “Not by our choice. Old dipshit here shot the puck out on the lake.”  
“Hey, it was an accident.”
“Who cares? The game is over.” I added.
“Not necessarily,” hummed Lonny. “I hear it’s been below zero for a good two

weeks now, right?”
“Yeah, but—”
“Yeah, but what?” he interrupted as he walked over to the river’s edge and jumped down on the ice. Then he stomped on it a few more times. “Looks solid enough.”
“You going to walk out there?” asked T.J.
“Hell no, I’m gonna drive. How else can I see the puck?” He ran back to the truck, opened the door, and shouted, “Anyone want to come along?”
He took our silence as a no and fired up his old Chevy. Without hesitation, Lonny backed up and drove down to the loading ramp. Then he slowly placed the front tires on the ice and listened. “Here goes nothin’,” he yelled as a shot of gray smoke plumed out of the tailpipe. He drove over the snowbank onto
 the middle of the cove and carefully climbed the other snow bank at the edge. His headlights were lighting up the rest of the lake now, and we heard him shout, “There it is.”
The truck shifted into second gear and rolled out onto the middle of the lake as the tires spun on the slick ice. While his beat-up, old pickup spun figure eights and circles around the puck, he let out a holler that echoed for miles downriver. A few minutes later, he opened the door and swooped up the puck, causing us all to cheer.
Then we heard a siren blast so loud that it nearly knocked us into the fire. “Come off the ice immediately,” the cop ordered over the loudspeaker as his car slowly made its way up to the cove. When we looked back, Lonny had turned the lights off on his truck and was sitting in the middle of the lake. The cop car shined his spotlight on it as the snow started to
fall. The naked trees surrounding the lake were now laced in white but did little to stop the wind from blowing and soon Lonny’s truck was a pale image of itself.
“You have sixty seconds,” the speaker commanded.
Sixty seconds or what? I thought. I’m pretty sure Officer Hightower had no intention of putting his life in danger and going out on the ice after the truck. What was he going to do when the time was up? He climbed out of the car and shined his flashlight over the lake. All he saw was the silhouette of a man in the driver’s seat. The window was down, and the snow was still swirling around the truck like a cotton candy machine. Lonny adjusted his rear view mirror to get a better look but kept his back toward the light. During the brief moments when the air stood still and allowed the swirling snow to take a breather, their eyes
met in the reflection of that mirror. This only confirmed what they both already knew.
At this point, it was more an issue of pride than anything to do with law and order. Lonny stared back in defiance, just daring Hightower to come after him. Hightower glared back just waiting for Lonny to make a wrong move. What had started out years ago as a scuffle between a rebel child bending the laws and an officer sworn to uphold them, had grown into a high stakes game of chicken. Unfortunately, both sides were so damn stubborn that neither one would blink.  
They faced off for a few minutes until the snow started to really come down. The skies were now glowing white while the moon hid behind layers of clouds. An army of snowflakes silently parachuted to the ground. Lonny revved up the engine and signaled that he was tired of this game by saluting
 Hightower with a thumbs up. We barely heard his screams over the engine noise as the truck sped away down the river a half a mile to the Lakeview Leisure Club boat dock. The ice shifted and croaked out new surface cracks along the trail following his tire marks. Air bubbles sprung up to the top and recoiled like a Slinky being tossed down the stairs. Lonny still had his lights off, but we caught glimpses of the red glow coming from his breaks as he pulled up onto land.  
Then it happened. One of those rare moments when your faith in the Almighty is reaffirmed and you realize that a chapter in a person’s life has just been punctuated with a comma instead of a period. As soon as his truck drove up on the concrete ramp down at the Leisure Club, the ice behind him collapsed and sank into the water. There was no mistaking that sound of rushing water flowing
 on the top, and we all heard it. Hightower rushed back to his car and aimed his spotlight into the distance. A dark blue hole the size of a large yacht was belching up water onto the surface. Lonny’s brake lights glistened off the reflection, confirming that he was indeed safe. Then they disappeared up the road.
The Chief just banged his flashlight against his palm and growled, “Someday that boy’s gonna push me too far.” And with that, he got back in the car, turned on the siren, and tore off in pursuit. Of course, by the time he’d made it around the lake using a loosely connected rectangular grid of country roads, Lonny was long gone.
But Hightower’s anger remained.

BIOGRAPHY

Thomas Lopinski grew up in a quaint small town in Illinois called Georgetown with one stoplight, one high school, one square, one lake, one police car and one hundred ways to get into trouble. It was a wonderful place to be a child. He studied at the University of Illinois and later moved to Southern California with his wife and daughters to work in the music industry. "Document 512" was his first published novel in 2012 and won awards from Reader Views, Foreword Review, National Indie Excellence Awards and BestIndieBooks.com. His second novel "The Art of Raising Hell" will be published through Dark Alley Press on May 19, 2015. Thomas is also a member of the Independent Writers of Southern California (IWOSC). Visit: www.ThomasLopinski.com

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