About a month ago, I wandered into the cafeteria and found a young man, a new ninth grade student, on his cellphone. He saw me and panicked, because we have a no cellphone policy during class time. He quickly explained that he was trying to contact his mom or grandmother to have one or the other come to school and bring him $5 to pay a bill. I smiled and told him not to worry.
I had a couple of decisions to make. I could have busted him for a cellphone violation. I could have allowed him to make the call, have his mom or grandmother fly up to school and hand him a five dollar bill, which would have inconvenienced mom or grandma, and would have made the boy miss more time out of class.
Or, I could loan . . . give . . . him a five dollar bill I knew I had in my wallet.
I did the latter.
The boy was stunned. Not sure why, really. He at first rejected it, but I told him it was okay, no worry. He asked if I was sure, and I said I was, and that I trusted him. He asked if I wanted his name, and I said I did. He introduced himself, and I introduced myself, I shook his hand, and I walked away.
I knew nothing about the boy. I don’t know if he was rich or poor, a great student or one who struggled. I don’t know if he was a “labeled” student: 504, IEP, FBI, or CIA. Okay, I think we can rule out the FBI and CIA. The point is, that this young man was friendly and polite, if not a bit embarrassed, and I did what I thought needed to be done.
I had and have no expectations. I didn’t know if I would ever see that $5 again. I’ve done that sort of thing before, though usually it amounts to a quarter here or a dollar there. Sometimes I get it back, sometimes not. I think many of us do the same thing.
We have expectations, don’t we?
We like to be paid back. We’d like our kindness returned. It hurts a little, when our gift or kindness or the money we loaned isn’t reciprocated.
But then I wonder about our expectations . . .
I didn’t give that young man $5 without considering whether or not I might see it again. But in the end, I know I did the right thing. The young man didn’t miss class, his mom and grandmother weren’t inconvenienced, and life went on.
I think, sometimes, we get too caught up in expectation. We want a return. We want reciprocation. But honestly, expectation taints the giving and it taints the giver.
Mother Teresa is one of my heroes. Her Missionaries of Charity manage homes for people who are dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. These missionaries run soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, children's and family counseling programs, as well as orphanages and schools.
What can a man or woman, a young boy or girl dying of aids possibly give her in return? What can an orphan give back to her?
Mother Teresa didn’t have a lot of expectation as she went about serving others. Quite the opposite. She is quoted as saying, “Intense love does not measure, it just gives.”
Love just gives. No expectation. Not needing or expecting anything in return. I think we can all manage that. Life, ours and theirs, might be a little better off, don’t you think? To give without expectation. Love gives. We might try it. Oh, and that $5 I gave that young man? Haven’t seen it yet. Don’t think I will, either. Doesn’t matter. I know I did the right thing. Something to think about . . .
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!
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Spiral Into Darkness has been nominated for Top Shelf Book Awards! That is quite an honor! I’ll find out more in late November or early December.
Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer for Midwest Review had some wonderful things to say about Spiral Into Darkness:
“Joseph Lewis excels in building more than just a 'whodunnit' mystery. His is a novel of psychological suspense that weaves a 'cat-and-mouse' game into the equation of dealing with a killer who is much cleverer than anyone he's run up against in his career as a detective. Tension builds in an excellent, methodical manner as Lewis creates a scenario that rests firmly on not just the actions of all involved, but their psychological foundations. The result is a powerfully written work of psychological fiction that is highly recommended not just for mystery and police procedural readers, but for those who appreciate literary works well grounded in strong characters, plot development, and emotional tension. Great buildup, great insights, great reading!”
Readers Favorites wrote:
“If you enjoy thrillers, especially psychological ones, Spiral Into Darkness by Joseph Lewis will grab you good and proper in the opening two chapters. You will find yourself avidly turning pages as a serial killer accosts his victims, confirms their identities and blasts away their faces with a .38 pistol. If you are interested in both the good and bad sides of humanity and why we each turn out as we do, Spiral Into Darkness won’t disappoint.”
Best Thrillers wrote:
“The Bottom Line: A thoroughly compulsive police procedural by one of America’s most promising new writers. Joseph Lewis, author of our Best of 2018 pick Caught in a Web, is back with another crime thriller featuring world-weary Milwaukee detective Jamie Graff . . . While Lewis savagely explores romance, drama, and sexuality with his wider cast of characters, Jamie’s interpersonal life is refreshingly free of drama for a cop, enabling him to be the determined, resourceful rock capable of cracking the case. The result is a thoroughly compulsive crime thriller.”
And, Spiral Into Darkness has made it into the Top 50 Indie Books by Reader’s Choice!
You can find Spiral Into Darkness on Amazon at and on Barnes and Noble at
Best Thrillers had previously reviewed my book, Caught in a Web. It was named as a PenCraft Literary Award Winner for Thriller Fiction! Best Thrillers called it “one of the best crime thriller books of the year!” I am both proud and humbled.
You can find Caught in a Web on Amazon or on Barnes and Noble
Caught in a Web is now available in Audio format. You can find it at
If you do read Caught in a Web, Spiral Into Darkness, or any of my other books, please leave a rating and a review. I would appreciate it. Thanks for this consideration!
Spiral Into Darkness:
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. He has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.
Caught in a Web:
The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.
Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. The three detectives discover the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff.
Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen year old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved.
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them.
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
A 14 year old boy knows the end is coming. What he doesn’t know is when, where or by whom. Without that knowledge, neither he nor the FBI can protect him or his family.
The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11 year old Brett McGovern, and 11 year old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out.
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