Aim At The Heart

Miller Townson has left behind would-be killers in Vietnam and Germany who, fortunately, missed. Having moved with his wife back to the States, he attends graduate school at the University of Texas where he writes no articles in his field, plays too much tennis, but does get his Irish Setter, Morgan, crowned the Texas Hill Country “Champeen  T. B. Retriever.”

He continues to read ancestor letters and becomes fascinated by William Martin who worked for the richest Cherokee Indian in Georgia. Through his ancestor, Miller learns about gold “tracers,” Cherokee war women, and a deadly Indian game called anetsa. William meets Dexter, a white man working for Templeton Reid creating private mint gold coins in Gainesville from Dahlonega gold. After delivering a large bag of gold coins to Miller, Dexter changes clothes and becomes Running Bear, Brigadier General of the Philadelphia Society of Red Men. Dexter wants to meet “real Indians,” not “Rich Joe” Vann, who owns a large plantation and the fastest racehorses in Georgia. The two “Indians” have a tomahawk throwing contest.

Denise gets tired of her husband’s lack of drive to finish his degree and start a career. She divorces him.  However, she moves no farther than from the master bedroom to the guest room.  Realizing that he has a one-off outlook on intimacy, Miller is ecstatic when he finds Elizabeth, who shares his views.  After one date, they bond deeply.  Elizabeth moves in with Miller; Denise, Miller, and Elizabeth live amicably (for awhile) under one roof.

Miller accepts a job in the business world.  The work makes him miserable, but he no longer worries about being shot at until a good friend is killed in a road rage incident. Miller finds out that an Austin stripper’s jealous boyfriend may have murdered his “Little Brother.” He refreshes his shooting skills and goes to the Wobbly Top Gentleman’s Club to confront the killer. Yorby, his blue oracle owl (you will find Yorby on the cover of all four novels), gives him no clue that an Austin redneck will punch him in the jaw, and in a later confrontation, reach for a pistol.

AROUND THE NEXT BEND, a Coming of Age, Adventure, and Historical Fiction novel took Miller through his youth, into, and out of the army. Book II, AIM AT THE HEART, (he is still trying to come of age) follows Miller through his graduate school and career years, which are far more violent than he would like them to be, but he does enjoy the sexual revolution.


Author’s Anheuser house in St. Louis


As a volunteer in North Atlanta at St. Joseph’s Hospital interacting between family members of people undergoing serious heart surgery, the surgeons, and nurses, I come into contact with various, fascinating people.  One of them was Addison Young, who turned out to be a really good, local artist.  He was visiting his brother who had heart problems.  We bonded very quickly.  At his request, I sent him a photo, see above, of my favorite home.   From that photo he came up with the drawing above.

It was my wife’s favorite home also, since she told me when we had to move from St. Louis to San Antonio to follow my job, “John, you do realize that we are leaving my dream home.”  Ouch!!!  BUT unless I moved with my company, I would have been out of a job and unable to make the mortgage payments.  We both still miss this house.  When my wife saw this drawing, she laid her cheek on it and then kissed it.  It’s that good.

Addison Young tells me he will have an exhibition of his artwork at the Swan House within the Atlanta History Center complex.   Go see it if you are in the Atlanta area.

In AROUND THE NEXT BEND, Miller has Pod buy him a .44 revolver.  The author went to a gun show and picked up a .44 with a long barrel and aimed it.  Although he had a very strong shooting arm/ wrist because of all the tennis he had played, after a short while, he could not stop the barrel of the .44 from drooping.  The author ended up buying this .357 which he could hold up for a long time, point, shoot, and hit what he was aiming at.  In this photo, two things should be noted – a) there are no rounds in the cylinder (unverifiable)  and b) the author’s shooting forefinger is not on the trigger.  Except for serious target shooters, pistols are for shooting home invaders, rapists, murderers, etc.   No one should put his/her finger on the trigger of a pistol unless he/she intends to kill/knock down someone who richly deserves shooting OR to put a hole in a target’s bullseye.


However, the author, channeling Miller Townson, also wishes to show his love, peace, and flower power side as long as others agree that their rights stop where his nose begins.


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Read an excerpt from Aim At The Heart

William Martin was now in charge of “Rich Joe” Vann’s tavern and general store. “Lots of prospectors coming into the store needing provisions,” he told Joseph. “I’m learning how to assay gold so they can give me ‘tracers’ for what they need.”

“Damn prospectors are trespassing everywhere on our land.” The Cherokee was silent for a moment, before asking, “Tracers are gold dust and nuggets, right?” William nodded. “How do you know how much the tracers are worth?”

“All the other traders around here shy away from the prospectors’ gold because they don’t know how much it’s worth, but I’ve worked with enough gold miners to learn its value. We get extra business because I accept their tracers.”

“What are you doing with the gold?”

“Buying more provisions. A few Tennessee merchants in Ross’s Landing accept gold as payment. If we ever get enough of it, I’ll send it up to the US Mint in Philadelphia where they’ll turn our gold into gold coins.”

“How long does that take?” Joseph asked.

“Several months.”

“Why can’t someone mint gold coins down here?”

“There’s a guy named Templeton Reid who used to mint private gold coins in Milledgeville. He’s moved to Dahlonega and opened a private mint there,” William said.

“Dahlonega’s not far. Go talk to him.”

“I will.”

A couple weeks later, William rode over to Dahlonega which had become the gold mining capital of the north Georgia Gold Rush. Mines were opening up all around the town.  One of them, the Calhoun Mine, was funded by John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, then Vice President of the United States.

William brought two canvas sacks filled with nuggets and gold dust. Templeton Reid was minting ten dollar, five dollar and two-dollar and fifty cent gold coins. Mr. Reid was not in his shop, but his assistant was there.

“May I help you, sir?” he asked when William walked in.

“Are you Mr. Templeton Reid?”

“No, Dexter Wilmington, Mr. Reid’s assistant.” Dexter was well-dressed and had glasses on his nose like William’s.

“Mr. Wilmington, I have tracers in these sacks. Can you mint me gold coins from what I’ve brought?”

“Certainly, sir. For a small percentage of your gold, we will mint coins that can be used anywhere in the country.”


“Well, anywhere in Georgia. Everyone accepts Templeton Reid coins in this state.” Dexter promised to have William’s coins ready in a week.

When William came back to the private mint, he was pleased with the quantity of gold coins he received. “What brought you to Georgia, Mr. Wilmington?” he asked.

“I learned my trade at the Philadelphia Mint. When I heard that Mr. Reid wanted to mint private coins near the Dahlonega gold mines, I contacted him and he invited me to come work for him. We hope to produce coins like the Bechtler family does in North Carolina. Did you know the Bechtlers were minting gold coins up there?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“I also hope to found a new chapter of the Society of Red Men.”

“Sorry, Mr. Wilmington, I’m not familiar with the Society of Red Men.”

“It’s an organization dedicated to protecting the noble ideals of this country’s natives.”

“You mean Indians?”

“Precisely, sir. There aren’t any more Indians in Philadelphia. At least none who haven’t been corrupted by our European ways.”

“We still have Indians here, mostly Cherokee, a few Creek, but Georgia is trying hard to throw them out of the state.”

“A tragedy, Mr. Martin.”

“Particularly for the Indians. If you care to come visit me sometime, I can introduce you to some Cherokees.”

“That would be my pleasure. When would be convenient?”

“I’ve brought some more ‘tracers.’ Why don’t you bring the coins to me after you mint them? Before you reach Gainesville, ask for Rich Joe’s Tavern. That’s where I work.”

Dexter shook his hand. “Look for me within the week, Mr. Martin.”

Four days later Dexter Wilmington showed up driving a small cart. William had one of Joseph’s slaves put the horse away and invited Dexter out onto the narrow back porch of the tavern. One of the five dollar gold pieces in the leather bag Dexter had brought caught his fancy, so William stuck it in his pocket. He grabbed a jug of corn whiskey plus two glasses and went out onto the back porch.

As they drank, William was trying to think of Cherokees who would make the right impression before he spotted Joseph Vann riding up. Joseph was not a good choice. He waved at William as he tied up his horse. On his way through the tavern, he grabbed another glass. When he got to the porch, William handed Joseph the sack of coins. The Cherokee hefted the bag and smiled. “Afternoon, William.  I like this.”

“Joseph,” William said as he poured whiskey for his friend. “This is Mr. Dexter Wilmington. He helps Templeton Reid mint gold coins over in Dahlonega and he’s brought these to us today. Oh, I kept one of the five dollar coins. You can deduct that from my pay. Mr. Wilmington, this is Mr. Joseph Vann. He’s a Cherokee Indian.”

“Glad to meet you Mr. Wilmington. I’m pleased we won’t have to send our tracers all the way to Philadelphia if we want them turned into gold coins.”

Dexter inclined his head without standing up. “Mr. Martin invited me here to meet real Indians. I so admire savages who live a pure existence, untainted by white men.”

Joseph, dressed in sturdy trousers, a wool shirt, and boots, looked over at his friend. William said, “Mr. Wilmington wants to meet Indians who dress in buckskin pants and moccasins.”

“Not one like me who owns two thousand acres of land, over a hundred slaves, and the fastest race horses in Georgia.”

“Joseph breeds horses,” William told Dexter. “He’s made a lot of money betting on them.”

“How nice,” Dexter replied, and stood up. “Excuse me a moment. I need to change clothes. Then perhaps you could introduce me to real Indians.” He fetched a bag out of his cart and allowed William to lead him to a room above the tavern.

“I have buckskin pants.” Joseph said when William came back downstairs.

“Never seen you wear them.”

“Because they don’t fit these days. My wives feed me too well.”

“Speaking of fit, you don’t fit his idea of what an Indian looks like.”

“What does he think I am?”

“Overweight for one thing. Indians aren’t supposed to be overweight.”

“I’ve added a few pounds to help me play anetsa better.”

A few minutes later, Dexter came back outside. He was wearing moccasins, fringed leather pants, and a leather vest open over his pale, round belly. His face was painted and he was carrying a tomahawk.

“Mr. Wilmington?” Joseph asked.

“Please address me now as Running Bear, Brigadier General of the Society of Red Men.”

Joseph turned to William, “You know of an Indian tribe that has generals?”  William shook his head. “And what’s that in your hand, General Running Bear?”

“A real Indian would recognize this instrument of death as a tomahawk.”

“May I see it?” Reluctantly, Dexter handed it over to Joseph. He examined the fat iron head and thin wooden shaft. “Where’d you get it?”

“Philadelphia. The Society purchases our weapons from Indians who come there to trade.”

“What do you use this tomahawk for?”

“To split an enemy’s skull, of course,” Dexter replied.

“I’d rather throw a tomahawk at my enemy before he gets close enough to try and split my skull with his tomahawk.”

“Throw it?”

“Cherokee boys learn to throw a tomahawk before we learn to walk.” Joseph paused for a moment. “This weapon has no balance.”

“It is the official tomahawk of the Philadelphia Society of Red Men.”

“Do we sell tomahawks, William?” Joseph asked.

“No, but let me see if I can find one.” William returned shortly with a tomahawk that had a thin head and a slender, but sturdy oak handle. Joseph hefted it for a moment, turned, and hurled it at a tree ten paces away. The blade bit into the center of the tree trunk.

“Your turn, Mr. Wilmington. I want to see how well you throw an official instrument of death.”

Dexter looked at Joseph for a moment, and then at the tomahawk buried in the tree. He tested his own weapon as he had seen Joseph do, drew back his arm, and gave a mighty heave. As his arm snapped forward, the weak shaft broke, and the heavy head spun to the ground just beyond the porch. The shaft clattered against the tree.

Joseph looked at it quivering on the ground. “General Running Bear, we can sell real tomahawks to you Red Men cheap.”

Dexter didn’t bother to retrieve the metal head and shaft. He hitched up his cart, and before he drove away, they heard him mutter, “Throw it indeed.”

Read reviews on Aim At The Heart

By MO/IL Cuz

Aim at the Heart is the second book of a series of four books written by this author. I found this book to be as gripping as the first. It has a little of everything, suspense, sex, family values, genealogy, history, sports and you want to continue reading even though you know you should put it down and do other things. It flows well and does not have a slow start like some books would have. Miller certainly has had his share of adventures already and he hasn’t reached 50 yet. I’m looking forward to the next book to see what Miller can manage to get into in retirement.

Brenda White has also written a review of AIM.  As I mentioned in the Review section of AROUND THE NEXT BEND, she and I have never met, but she encouraged me to keep writing through some discouraging times.  I appreciate that.  Full disclosure:  I did send her a freebie copy of the novel.

After reading the first book of this series by Dr. John Turman I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the next book to come out. Once again I was captivated by the story of Miller Townson’s life, as well as the life of his ancestors. The book flows nicely between storylines as several are going at once and keeps you turning pages just to see what happens next. I am amazed at everything Miller Townson has seen and accomplished before he turns 50. He has definitely been busy with travel, sports, career, family life and makingfriends

I found Elizabeth to be a very modern woman and in touch with her sexual side as well as her feelings with regard to her spouse and her confidence that they do well together.  I just wish more women were like Elizabeth and realize that sex can be enjoyed without jealousy.  Most women have a territorial thing going on and it doesn’t have to be that way.  It is refreshing to see a woman even if it is in a book being liberated and open. 

I look forward to the next book of this series where Miller moves to Atlanta and his retirement years.

Please send me your opinion of AIM AT THE HEART using “Contact the Author.”


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