The Quintessence of Quick

ABOUT Stan Hayes

Stan Hayes
Howdy, your dedicated, onetime, would-be Commie-killer, at your service. Quit college, mothballed my precious Snap-On tools, bade the affable motorcycle dealer, my erstwhile employer, a fond farewell, and took off for Pensacola to cast my lot with Naval Aviation. Saw a nice chunk of the wo More...


The Quintessence of Quick continues the Saga of Jack Mason, which began with 2002’s The Rough English Equivalent. The saga unfolds from 1946, but its beginning is in the year 4231. Jack, age 2285, is truly bored. Earth’s population is less than a million, and there are very few challenges left on humanity's home planet. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1957, he’s been a motorcyclist, a carrier pilot, a hurricane hunter, owner of a jet charter service, a hugely successful investor, a galactic explorer and a felon. A lifelong risk-taker, he was an accessory to fraud and murder in support of Moses, his boyhood mentor and ex-Luftwaffe pilot. Investing millions left to him through Moses’ faked-death plot, Jack was rich by the end of the 20th century. He’s much more so by the 43rd.

Migrating in stages over two centuries from human to a fully-synthetic entity, Jack succeeds in becoming an essentially massless life form, the first to be produced by a superset of teleportation. Testing his new capabilities, he finds that he can move freely in spacetime, and decides to intervene in the crucifixion of Jesus. Succeeding in that, Jack then explores his youth, taking the form of a Northern Goshawk. Jack dubs the bird Flx, after the FLXible bus in which he and his mother Serena flee Los Alamos, where his father was working on the Manhattan Project. Scorning the suburbia of her peers, Serena elects to manage the Bisque Hotel, the property of her father, Lawton J. "Pap" Redding, a cotton broker and real estate investor. Flx lingers to observe Jack's growth to young manhood in Bisque, her Georgia hometown, pronounced BIS-kew by its natives.

In 1946, nine-year-old Jack and his friend Ricky meet stranded traveler Moses Kubielski in Ricky's granddad's radiator repair shop. His Buick limousine has blown its radiator, and the boys volunteer to walk to the hotel with him. Seeing Serena convinces Moses, a former member of the Abwehr, the Nazi intelligence organization, that he should stay on in Bisque for awhile. He can afford it, having taken flight in mid-1941 with $3 million earmarked as a down payment to the Irish Republican Army for the assassination of President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. His Bisque sojourn lasts for several years, during which time he becomes Serena's lover, Jack's mentor and Pap Redding's partner in a beer distributorship that prospers under his direction. The appearance of an old Abwehr associate, now with the Soviet KGB, makes an immediate exit from Bisque necessary. Sharing his plan to have himself and the KGB man picked up at sea after a faked crash, he wills the beer distributorship, in which he has since acquired 100% ownership, to Jack. Moses will contact him, he promises, when it's safe to do so.

When Jack enters college, Serena returns to New York, where they'd lived before Los Alamos, to pursue her career as a sculptor. Visiting her, he meets her new client, Clare Boothe Luce, noted writer, editor, Congresswoman and Ambassador. Their affair begins the same day in the Luces' Waldorf-Astoria suite. Her penchant for powerful men attracts her to Jack as if she foresees his incredible destiny. Later, Jack introduces her to his sometime partners in crime, Moses and Linda, the woman who's been both his and Moses' lover. The three are now partners in a Miami-based air taxi service. Intrigued, Mrs. Luce calls her friend William Pawley, an Allen Dulles crony, and soon Moses and Linda are flying CIA-directed missions into Castro's Cuba.

Jack, now in the Navy, is caught up in the maelstrom of the JFK assassination. Both Moses and his old friend Rick, a Special Forces officer, kill figures in the plot. Jack's primary reason for wanting to relive this crucial part of his early life was to save them from the plotters' retribution. Jack flies the men to refuge on an offshore starship, where they join Jesus ("Call me Naz.") over breakfast pork chops...

The Quintessence of Quick is the continuation of the story that begins with The Rough English Equivalent, with small-town Southern boy Jack Mason evolving over twenty centuries from run-of-the-mill human to time-traveling posthuman. He returns from 4321 a.d. to the locale of his youth, where Jack's made friends with a former Nazi spy and the daughter of his lover...

Take this to the bank; this is a compelling summer read that you'll talk about all year! The combination of urban sophistication, freewheeling sex, humor, down-home color, undercover military action and science fiction picks up a full head of steam in Stan Hayes's The Quintessence of Quick. All these facets were there in its predecessor, The Rough English Equivalent (which I plan to reread), but now Jack Mason, the book's main character, has achieved what people back then called "man's estate," the term wielding a double-aged sword in his case. Jack, an impressively well-endowed(!) young man, inherits the entire estate of his boyhood mentor, Moses Kubielski (a.k.a. Pete Weller), the bulk of which consists of a beer distributorship in his hometown of Bisque, (BIS-kew) Georgia. Receiving a buyout offer of some $8 million from the business's closest competitor, Jack will closethe deal, on behalf of both himself and Moses, who's now languishing in Cuba after his successful "death" in a phony plane crash. He's by no means destitute, however, disappearing with $3 million in Nazi-owned American currency in 1941 and dropping it into a Swiss bank branch in Baltimore before hiding out for the duration of WWII.

The two pals reunite in the Miami suburb of Coconut Grove, along with the daughter of Moses' Baltimore lover, Linda, who Moses put through Johns Hopkins. She and Jack met on a trip to New York that Moses organized around a brewer convention and 16-year-old Jack's regular Summer visit to his dad. Having a married lover who owns a fair-sized boat, she's pursued all the necessary licensing from the Coast Guard to qualify as its skipper. The sexually-precocious Jack visits her on the day after a cruise around Manhattan, and they become periodic lovers during his Summer and Christmas visits to his dad. By the time Moses decides that he must get out of Bisque, she's had it with New York, too. Bringing her into his plot, he gives her the money to buy a big boat, a sportfisherman, and rendezvous with him and a former Nazi colleague as they ditch their plane in the Atlantic, blow it up and motor away.

Things happen fast after Castro takes over Cuba, and Moses (now back to his Pete Weller identity) and Linda contact Jack from a Coconut Grove house. He joins them there, but must get back to Bisque to close the deal on the beer distributorship. Returning up the Intracoastal Waterway in Linda's boat, they continue their fitful love affair as they journey to Bisque via Augusta, Georgia and the Savannah River. While they're there, Jack gets his draft notice, a setback to the trio's plans to set up a Miami-based air taxi service. They decide to pursue the plan anyway, Jack's service time seen as a minor problem. One complication: Jack decides to take the advice of his uncle, a retired Naval Aviator, and join the Navy's flight program, which will take him away from the new business for five years instead of two. On the plus side, he'll be the best-qualified pilot of the three when he returns.

Before reporting to the Navy, Jack visits his mother, Serena, who's returned to New York, their home before Jack's father joined the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. Giving two Tiffany ladies a hand with delivering her just-completed bust of the celebrated Clare Boothe Luce, he's introduced to his mother's new client. They begin an affair that afternoon in the Luces' Waldorf-Astoria suite. After that, things really take off, Clare arranging a meeting with a CIA bigwig that gives the new air taxi business a major boost. It also leads to Jack's partners getting swept up in the JFK assassination, and here's where the science fiction kicks in. Turns out Jack's boyhood "imaginary friend," Flx, turns out to be his (much) older self, having lived for more than 2,000 years by dint of a long series of swapping out body parts and other elements, capping the process by achieving a massless state through quantum teleportation. His first exercise is rescuing Jesus from crucifixion and finding him a berth in a vintage galaxy cruiser, which also becomes Pete's and Linda's refuge after Pete's forced to kill three JFK assassins.

There's so much more. Flx, now called Nick (don't let's go there) alerts Jack, a hurricane hunter pilot in 1963, to the upcoming JFK assassination. I won't ruin the ending for you, just suffice it to say that Hayes is master of his material. Can't imagine where the Jack Mason Saga will go from here, but I expect I'll be on board; you'll absolutely LOVE this guy!