When John Caine, an obscure midlevel banker from Detroit, accepts the opportunity of a lifetime to manage the backroom business functions of an important National Institutes of Health research lab in Bethesda, he believes his ship has finally come in. But his quirky penchant for illicit tinkering results in the creation and accidental release of a powerful new virus with effects no one could have imagined. Only he holds the answer to how it can be stopped, and he's not telling. Caine finds himself confronted with a desperate White House and an onslaught of rage from all quarters of the world's bureaucracies.

Fast paced, provocative, and offbeat, this cautionary story is thick with political satire and intrigue. It occurs in a world of government turned upside down, where Nancy Pelosi is president of a dysfunctional United States under her ultraliberal regime, while George Bush is a convicted felon and Rush Limbaugh a fugitive. Caine's Pestilence brings together present and former U.S. presidents, would-be assassins, two Supreme Court chief justices, familiar national media political commentators, and the infamous prison at Guantanamo Bay, all in a story readers will find engaging and controversial.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Copyright ©2015 John G. Bascom

-Part 2 E X C E R P T-

"In war there are no unwounded soldiers"
José Narosky, Argentine author

From Part 1

...“Yes, we just stopped by the church for a few last minute arrangements on our way
back from the airport,” she said into her phone.  “His flight got in from Baltimore only an hour ago. It’s wonderful to have him back with us.  He had to be checked over at Walter Reed briefly before coming home, just as a formality.  He saw a lot of action in Afghanistan.”
"It was the psych ward, not a physical exam."  Rory said it to me in a loud voice, but it was clear it was intended for Mother.  "And I was treated, not checked."
"It's The Church of the Epiphany," Mother said into the phone.  "One-one-five Alexander, the corner of Madison and Alexander.  Peoria, Illinois.  Right near downtown.  We'll certainly look forward to seeing you there."  She disconnected the call and put the phone in her purse. 
"You know Walter Reed was just so much bureaucratic procedure."  She had turned her head and was facing Rory in the back.  "There's absolutely nothing wrong with you at all.  I'm sure it's simply a precaution they take with just about everyone.  We're so very proud and just glad to have you home."
" 'f you say so," Rory mumbled...

I turned left on Glendale to intercept the entrance to the expressway.  As we passed the dilapidated old St. Anne's Catholic church, Mawmaw pointed to it.
"Oh, my, there's John's church," she said.  "I haven't seen that for ages."
"John goes to Epiphany now," Mother said as if I weren't sitting right there next to her.  "You know that.  He hasn't gone to that horrible Catholic church for years.  Since we were married."
"I always liked the Catholics," Mawmaw said.  "Their services have so much more character, with the incense and Latin and fancy robes."
"Why, they pray to statues.  And charge money to light candles so prayers will reach up to heaven.  They believe priests, not God, can forgive sins.  It's little short of black magic or witchdoctory.  John is so glad he saw the light and got out of that."  She looked over at me.  I didn't react.  No sense stirring up a hornets' nest.
"I've always wanted to confess to a priest," Mawmaw said.  "I believe I'll try it sometime.  Maybe you should do it too, Daughter.  Cleans the soul.  Perhaps I'll convert to Catholicism.  John, you can go with me on Sundays.  Would you?"
I suppressed a smile.  I always enjoyed Mawmaw.  "I'm at Epiphany now."
"And he loves everything about it," Mother said, answering for me as she did on all important questions.  "No more of the Catholic nonsense.  He's completely devoted to Epiphany.  Involved in every aspect.  He even makes his own unscheduled visits to meditate or pray, like when he can't sleep at night.  He's one of the most devout and active members of the church."
"Are you, now?" Mawmaw said.  She raised an eyebrow........(continued in Part 2)... 
Part 2
I saw the heavy steel sewer cover in the street off-center and tilted up above the manhole slightly at one edge too late to avoid it.  The left front wheel must have caught the raised side, because it banged suddenly and loudly as I drove over it.
Everyone jumped at the sharp clang, even me although I had seen it coming an instant before.
"Jesus-crise!" Rory screamed from the backseat.  I could see him punch the ceiling with a clenched fist in the rearview mirror.  "Gah-dam summva-bitch!"  His face was contorted in what looked like both rage and pain.
"I told you not to go this way," Mother said.
"You have no idea," Rory buried his face in his hands and began to sob.  He cried softly for what seemed a long time but could only have been thirty seconds or so.  
"Are ya a cryin'," Mawmaw said again in her put-on accent, "about what they done ta you-all…?"  She paused for a long time.  "Or about what you done to them."...

I slowed for the exit ramp onto Charter Oaks Road.  There had been an awkward silence for the past fifteen minutes.  Mother broke it.
"You know, your father here saw and did things in Vietnam," she said to Rory in a soothing voice.  "Everything, the uncomfortable things, they all pass eventually.  You just have to be patient."
No one else spoke...
 "Your father saw lots of combat, too, like you.  He even won decorations.  But eventually he was able to put all the ugliness behind him."
"Like you do the turned neighborhoods in the city?" Mawmaw said.
"You will, too.  In time," Mother said to Rory, ignoring Mawmaw...

..."When you think about it, it's a funny name for a church," Rory commented to Mawmaw and me, Mother distracted with her phone conversation.  "Epiphany.  I wonder why they call it that."
"The Bible story of the epiphany," Mawmaw said in her precise and eloquent way of speaking, with Mother temporarily not part of the conversation.  In her beautiful manner of speaking, intelligent and perfectly crafted without sounding pretentious in the least.  Her distinctive and thoughtful use of words, as I knew and remembered for the forty plus years I had known her.
"Story of the epiphany?" Rory said.
"When the three Magi visited the infant Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem, and all at once realized he was more than a prince.  That he was indeed divine.  A realization of the true nature of a previously obscured reality.  That's what an epiphany is."
Mother had put down her phone at last.  "I'm going to run up to the florist and pick up the flowers, then a few other things for Rory's party tomorrow."  She pulled her car keys from her purse.  "I'll be back in an hour.  I'll fix something special for dinner."  She smiled as Rory.

Mawmaw rose haltingly from the big chair and staggered behind her walker down the hall toward her bedroom.  Rory and I remained alone in the living room. 
"Honestly, Dad, it's good to be home."
"We're glad to have you back.  I'm really sorry it was rough."
"I'll be fine.  It's just an adjustment.  You must know, with Vietnam and all."
"It's so long ago."
"I never knew much about you being over there.  About your medals and all.  What happened?"
I took his question as a positive sign.  That he was ready to talk about things.
"The medals?  Not much, really.  The Commendation one was for some of the close support we flew for our grunts.  There was a lot of rough terrain and ground fire.  I guess someone thought it was a big deal."
"And the Bronze Star?"
"That one…one of our units was being hit by the gooches.  We had to maneuver our Phantoms in between some hills held by Charlie.  After we dumped our two-hundred fifty pounders on 'em and emptied our twenty-millimeters, they were still coming so we flew into them at treetop kicking in our burners right over them to disrupt things.  Later the Marine ground commander claimed we kept his battalion from being overrun.  Like I said, not much, really."
Rory looked at me expectantly without saying anything.  It seemed like he still wanted to talk.
"I made it back, but all shot up.  One engine out, a fuel leak, and the hydraulics just about gone.  No way I could make it all the way to the ship.  Had to dead stick in and land on a foamed runway at Da Nang, gear stuck up.  I guess they thought it was bronze-worthy."...

..."Honestly, I only flew ninety-nine.  A hundred missions was a tour.  And that last one, the ninety-ninth, was the roughest in its own way."
Rory had slumped back in his chair looking relaxed.  Hearing me talk about what I experienced seemed somehow cathartic for him.
"How so, that last one being the worst after the others?"
"It was routine enough to start, like dozens of others before it.  We were assigned to hit a Viet Cong concentration in a little village in the sector we were assigned to cover that day, Binh Long Province.  I still remember the name of the village, Tan Loi.  The maps we carried had a number for each sector, and a series of left-right, up-down coordinates on a grid to guide us to a precise spot.  For some odd reason, I can still remember the forward control guy's exact words over the radio: 'Sector 173, Binh Long, C-13 East, V-27 South, Tan Loi.' "
"Why was it the roughest?"
"It wasn't, at first.  We rolled in on the village a few miles out, dropping down to five thousand like always.  I picked it up at about a mile with a unit of Charlies around a little pagoda off a few dozen meters from the collection of hootches that was Tan Loi.  But as I got ready to release, something looked odd.  Familiar.  Out of place.  It made me hesitate.  I dropped my ordinance, though, and pulled up.  After my wingman unloaded, we came back around for damage assessment.  The pagoda was wrecked and there were bodies all over the place.  Like clockwork.  Another day at the office, I thought.  Then we headed back to the carrier for debrief and downtime.  That was pretty much it."
"It doesn't sound that bad.  Compared to the others."
"It wasn't.  Not until that night.  I had felt funny all evening but couldn't put my finger on anything.  I stayed up late and had trouble falling asleep.  I remember the dull, rumbling throb of the carrier's engines before I drifted off.  And the rolling and pitching from the wave action of the sea. 
"Then I dreamed about that mission, about coming in on Tan Loi, the people and the pagoda.  But it wasn't a pagoda in the dream...  

...I felt upset all over again just telling it.  And awkward having said it to Rory.  I didn't want him to think less of me, I suppose, and was afraid it would drag him down.  But he only wanted to hear more.

"How do you process, deal with something like that?" he remarked more than asked.
"We were scheduled to fly the next morning.  It would have been the final mission of my tour.  But I checked into sickbay complaining of dizziness.  To this day I don't know if it was true or I made it up.  My heart just wasn't in it anymore.  But I was given an 'unfit to fly' medical report and sent home with my unit.  I mustered out and came straight back to Peoria and your mother."
"Did you ever talk to anyone about it, like one of the docs at Reed?"
"We didn't do that back then.  I've never told anyone about it, ever.  Not a doctor, my priest, your mother.  No one.  Until now."...

My story seemed to trigger something in Rory, opened a floodgate.  By the time Mother pulled into the garage our conversation had already begun to slow.

That evening after everyone else had gone to bed I made a final check of the doors before turning in.  As I passed the hall that led to the guest room, Mawmaw called out to me.
"John, would you mind terribly bringing me a glass of water.  I'm in bed and it's such a chore to get up again, with my aches and pains and unsteadiness."
I brought the water to her bedside.  "Here you are, Lelia, I'm glad to do it.  I was just going back through the kitchen anyway."
She took a long, careful drink.  "I know where you go," she said.  "On your visits at night."
"I know you do," I said.
"I wish I could go with you."
"You wouldn't like it."
"It's better than this hellhole," she said.  "But I suppose you wouldn't want a crazy old lady along."
"You're the sanest one in the family," I said.  "Sometimes I wish you wouldn't bait her like that, though."  I rested my hand on her scrawny arm, skin draped like discolored, blotched cellophane over brittle, protruding bones and raised, thick blue-green veins.
"It's the only way to get noticed.  To be part of the conversation.  Lately she's been threatening to take me to the home."
"She won't do it."
"It would be better than here.  Dying would be better.  It can't come soon enough."
"You're too tough to die," I smiled.  "Anyway, what would I do without you?"
"I do wish you'd take me."
"Goodnight, Lelia." 
She began humming, then softly singing "Ah's a lil' picaninny, worken' at the cotton-ginny…"
"Don't let her hear you," I looked back over my shoulder as I left the room.  "She will ship you to the home…"

In my makeshift bedroom I undressed for bed.  The doors into the living room were thin double wooden affairs with slots in the upper half of each side to allow air circulation and some light to pass through.  Even with the house dark, I could see the glow of ambient light from outside through the louvered slits, the light from cars driving by or neighbors' porch lamps across the street filtering through the living room window, through the slotted doors.  And if she was standing outside, listening or peering through the slots, I could sometimes see her shadow, her form traced by the interrupted glow of the light.
"A 'lil picaninny…" I sang softly.  I didn't give a damn if she heard or not.  To hell with Mother, at least for tonight.  Still, I glanced at the door slits just to check.  "Working on a cotton-ginny—jes a'lil color girl—ain't got blond curls—five, six, seven, eight—love is better instead of…"
I laid on the bed in the dark and checked the door one more time.  I made the sign of the cross—In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost—and began to pray.  I believe in God the Father almighty—creatorem caeli et terrae—et in Iesum Christum, Filium eius unicum—I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.  
I closed my eyes and began to feel drowsy.  I knew it almost immediately...  

The Church of the Epiphany tells a story of a family whose members, at several levels, were terribly wounded, traumatized, and forever changed by war.  It is a tribute to the service and sacrifice of our veterans.

Check out the full The Church of the Epiphany and other short fiction of action, adventure, the outdoors, hunting and fishing in Bascom's upcoming volume of stories, Beneath a Hunter's Sky, to be published later in 2015

Friday, November 7, 2014

John Bascom Biography

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Praise for Caine's Pestilence
from readers and reviewers 

Wyblog US

I could summarize my review in three words: Read. This. Book… Caine's Pestilence is a masterstroke of satirical genius…I couldn't put it down. (Chris Wysocki August 21, 2011 www.wyblog.us) 



One of the most compelling and unusual books I have ever had the pleasure of reading...totally original and both comedic and horrifying at the same time.  From the time I opened the first page, it made me want to read it straight through…if you decide to read only one book this year, it should be Caine’s Pestilence.  (LD Jackson Oct. 2, 2011 www.ldjackson.net 


Free Republic

(H)ighly recommend, but …more scary than Stephen King's "IT" which, to this day, still causes goosebumples when I think of the clown-monster.  I will not even try to offer up a glimpse of the terror and horrible events that are part of the plot, and I do mean PLOT!!  Get it and set aside an evening to read it. Make sure the doors and windows are locked and unplug the phone! (GRRR…Free Republic, Sept. 7, 2011,


By Melinda Le Baron—October 30—Goodreads...very tightly plotted... dialogue is priceless...pacing lickety-split quick...ending so surprising you could have knocked me over...perfect for people who like finishing novels with a smile...by far this book is singular in its execution.


BGabby--January 20--Goodreads...I loved this book! Nancy Pelosi as president? G W Bush imprisoned for war crimes? The hopelessly politically correct doublespeak? I haven't laughed this hard at a political novel since Tricky Dicky and Good As Gold...All I know is that I'm keeping this one to enjoy again.


Amazon.com Reader Reviews 

NEW  5.0 out of 5 stars By  Joyce Metzger--July 4--Savage Satire Coupled With Dark Intrigue...excellent...A thought-provoking story...(author) writes from dedicated research and true life experience

By Psychonate--Sept 1--awesome book! Amazingly entertaining...down right scary! Should be a requirement for students.  Finished in two days and that's only because I had to sleep and work.

By Dannette—March 26… rides the fence of politics beautifully, with a spot-on sense of timing and humor.  I found myself laughing countless times at the irony 


By "cobweb"—October 9…Spellbinding with an edgy awareness that the ridiculous situation inching Caine to his death is uncannily possible… Caine's observations, inappropriate humor and irreverent satire bind this twisted plot into an intriguing read and a wakeful night… Totally great reading and we want more. 


By Daune Robinson—April 14…can't remember the last time I enjoyed finding a new author this much - well, yes, I can - it was when I read Watchers and fell in love with Dean Koontz! This book was a pleasure to read. I laughed, cried, screamed and could not put it down. Read it! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

CNBC Comments on Caine's Pestilence


Political Satire Novel Lampoons Nancy Pelosi, Liberals

"One of the most compelling and unusual books ...ever"  Political Realities


GLADWIN, Mich., -- Caine's Pestilence, a novel melding biotech mystery and political satire, has been released by Canniche Cove Publishing. Written by new author John Bascom, the fictional work unfolds in a surreal 2015  where Nancy Pelosi is president and the ultra-liberal wing of the Democratic Party firmly controls America.

The novel is distinctive in that it defies standard classifications of literary genre, containing elements of action-adventure, biotech science fiction, humor, and political parody. Bascom uses actual public figures as characters. In addition to Pelosi, Minnesota Senator Al Franken is the chief justice of the Supreme Court, while Rush Limbaugh is a fugitive beaming bootleg broadcasts into the US from Canada.

John Bascom, author
"I wanted to write something absolutely unique," Bascom says, "something that would give voice to my concerns about the destructiveness of the liberal agenda taking hold in our country, but in a way that avoids rants or preaching and is delivered in an entertaining, engaging way." Bascom's story unfolds from the pen of the simple, hapless central character, John Caine, writing his memoirs from his death-row cell. An obscure administrator at the National Institutes of Health, Caine fortuitously creates a biological agent that, accidentally released into the population, changes the perceptions of ordinary people about the liberal agenda. The Pelosi administration then goes crazy and Caine is persecuted mercilessly in their efforts to stop it.

The author's mission of entertaining and engaging has met with success according to the conservative Wyblog.us, who calls Caine's Pestilence "...a masterstroke of satirical genius" and tells the blog's fans to Read. This. Book. Today! And the blog Political Realities says it's "...one of the most compelling and unusual books I have ever had the pleasure of reading." Individual Amazon reader-reviewers awarded the maximum 5 stars on average overall.

Caine's Pestilence is available in softcover or Kindle at Amazon.com and as a Nook eBook from Barnes & Noble.