The Darkness behind Me pursues Jack Bishop, a young professional consumed with the notion that his life could be better. From a broken home, he’s been a scholarship athlete with high marks thrust into a high-profile job. His marriage isn’t enough for him, and his involvement with a beautiful assistant finds him caught up in corporate espionage and murder. Unaware of his mistress’s secret life, he begins an affair that leads the police to suspect him of his boss’s murder and being complicit in the death of one of his colleagues. In pursuit of the evil that hides within the company, Jack risks his life to bring some of the most powerful people to justice. But privilege has a long reach. Fired and living with someone else’s wife, he soon learns that she is not what she seems. Involved in a far-reaching plot that affects the US Navy and the Chinese, she breaks off the affair. His fall from grace leads him into back rooms and pool halls, where he begins a life away from the corporate glare only to be used by his former assistant to deliver a deadly message. The message results in Jack and his friends becoming the killer’s targets and suspects of murder. Given a second chance, Jack tries to rebuild his life only to be denied by the one person he actually loves. In a plethora of bad choices, Jack leaves for the riot-torn city of Detroit on July 23, 1967. In the end, he is left listening to the sobbing in the darkness behind him.
Kayne looked at me for a long time in total silence while I clenched my hands and shuffled my feet. It was hard to imagine how my own circumstance was now worse than the problem I had tried to solve. Because Mason had kept his activity under wraps, no one except me, Lora, maybe her father and Karl had any idea how all of this came together. And I wasn’t sure about Karl in any event.
Kayne’s voice cut through the silence.
“Son, do you have any idea what this situation suggests? A few days ago you were involved in a beating. The man you guys tore up may die. For your information, he’s still in critical condition.” Kayne got up and started to pace around the small room. “You’re going before the judge on that charge in a few days. Now the guy you used to work for goes off the road with you in hot pursuit and gets himself killed, and you leave the scene. There’s definitely something missing, wouldn’t you say? Your friend, Karl, says he doesn’t have a clue as to why you were following them. Says he saw you earlier and you were on your way home, wherever that is. Your friend, Karl, suggests that you were pissed off at the deceased, since he was the one that fired you for screwing around with the pilot’s married girlfriend. As I understand it, said girlfriend has now told you to take a hike. Am I making an impression on you at this point? Absent some way to place a different perspective on the events, it looks like you couldn’t handle the woman leaving you and your firing was the tipping point.”
Tired and confused, I heard the words, and a numbing sensation began to take me over. I felt trapped. All I had was the truth. Hopefully Kayne would understand, but clearly a new problem had emerged in the form of Karl. Had Mason not disclosed to Karl the reason for his run to the Old Mill? Karl must have known that Lora was working with Mason. Certainly he would guess that Lora had shared information with me. That made me one of the good guys, from where I sat. Karl surely knew that no one had driven them off the road. So Karl had his own agenda hidden from Kayne, and apparently me.
I began hesitatingly as I tried to remember the details of my journey.
“I was employed at Laughton several months ago to head the labor relations department. Sometime during the second month of my tenure, Mason asked me to consider an assistant position to help with the coming negotiations. Lora was one of several candidates, but she was not only qualified, or so it seemed, she was the daughter of a long-term manager at the firm. I hired her, and she turned out great. I also got too close. We had an affair. I didn’t realize she was working for Mason on another project quite apart from labor relations. This project called for her involvement with the company pilot, Bill Terry. Seems that Mason suspected commercial espionage on the part of one of the vice presidents, George Branston. He was making off-log flights on the company plane with Terry. My involvement with Lora caused all kinds of problems for Mason, so he finally had to tell me to leave. At that point, Lora and I started living together. Mason reassigned her, and she broke up with me, finally telling me what was going on. At the bar, they were arguing over her going with Terry on his next trip. Lora was trying to break it off because she had Mason’s information and she was pregnant. As you now know, the situation became heated, and Lora passed the information to me to get to Mason. Terry took it that she was still hanging out with me, and the fight happened outside of the bar. Branston’s meet was last night in Arlington, Virginia. Mason was on his way to lay the whole thing out for Peterson. I know that because I delivered the message to him at the plant minutes before he and Karl took off for the Old Mill. When they left me, I got concerned, and I followed them up the road because I wanted to make sure Peterson got the message. That’s why I left the scene. I was trying to get to Peterson before those guys took off. I missed Peterson, as he was back at the scene while I was riding around in circles. Karl’s version of the events, based on what he said, is just dead wrong.”
Kayne interrupted. “Bad choice of words.”
His humor notwithstanding, I gave it my final shot.
“I swear when I lost sight of their car, I went sliding around the curve and up the embankment just the way they did. I was lucky, because the car fishtailed and slowed down as I hit what was left of the guardrail.”
I was exhausted. Kayne, on the other hand, seemed energized, as if these new wrinkles gave him something new to consider.
“That’s quite a story, Jack,” mused Kayne aloud.
“So now I’m supposed to believe you’re a good guy trying to save a company’s reputation that just fired you. More than that, the only person other than this Lora who knows anything about all of this is dead, possibly murdered.” Kayne thought a moment. “Strange as it seems, the dead man may be your only vindication, assuming you didn’t run him off the road in a fit of anger. Stay put, little man. I’ll be back.”
Kayne disappeared out of the door. In a minute he was back.
“I have a question for you. Did your ex-boss wear glasses?”
My face must have betrayed my curiosity.
“Yeah, so what?”
Kayne started to shut down.
“I’m letting you out of here pending the coroner’s report. If there is something there, plan on coming back. By the way, Jack, worst case, you could be in danger. Stay in touch.”
Of Welsh and Irish descent, T. J. Shannon was influenced in his early years by the multicultural French- and English- speaking people of eastern Canada. Born in Toronto, the son of a Canadian naval officer, he immigrated to the United States in the 1950s and experienced the cultural and social turmoil of the ’60s. Educated in both countries, he received his MBA from a Mid-western university and was the president of several major corporations in the United States and the Cayman Islands.
As a witness to the emotionally charged issues of the ’60s, he saw firsthand the impact of corporate abuse and unreasoned government control. From virtually every corner of society, there was a universal sense of injustice, spawning the Black Panthers; the Weathermen Underground; and the counterculture movement articulated by free love, squalid communes, and drugs. Mass demonstrations against the war and civil disobedience, born of the civil rights movement, were the order of the day. The imprint of these events left a generation scarred, struggling to find a way back into society. Many didn’t make it, falling victim to their circumstances.
Visited with early professional success in the aerospace industry, the author’s affair with a beautiful assistant resulted in divorce and tragedy. Estranged from his family, the next few years were spent drifting in and out of relationships, looking for comfort in pool halls and drinking establishments. Shannon battled on, finding work in the auto industry and never looking back. Having embraced both success and failure, Shannon’s life has been based on determination and perseverance. His principle character, Jack Bishop, relentlessly seeks a better place, but bad choices and circumstances he eventually can’t control dictate his ultimate failure.
In the end, Shannon rose through the ranks dedicated to the welfare of the people around him. Recognized by the governor of the state that he and his family reside in, T. J. Shannon has been privileged to bring the ’60s to life as he saw it. This book reflects the gravity of unintended consequences and the cumulative effect of the choices we make.