Meet Walter Baker

Recently divorced and down-sized out of his airline pilot job, forty-five-year-old Walter Baker has elected to enter ‘the wilderness,’ physically and metaphorically, to re-invent his life. He rents an isolated cabin just outside Bonanza, Oregon, near Klamath Falls, with the intention of spending six months to a year in intensive self-examination and medi-tation. But even before he can move in, he meets an attractive widow with a troubled past and a mental health counselor masquerading as an Odell Lake fishing guide. Both of them soon insinuate themselves into his life, put-ting their agendas into competition with his. Moreover, he finds that he has some ‘old baggage’ to deal with as well — for example, his kids and his career.

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He Has Neighbors

As if that isn’t enough distraction, Walter discovers that (1) his landlord neighbors have some nasty secrets that have led them to hide out in the U.S. Federal Witness Security Program; (2) a new group of Muslims has taken up residence less than an hour away, at a ranch near Bly, Oregon, where there had been a jihad training center in 1999; and (3) a contingent from the local ‘Jefferson State Militia’ is preparing to engage the Muslims at a moment’s notice. This diverse cast, plus a few US Marshalls, eventually converges at Walter’s hideaway, thrusting him into the unwelcome role of peacemaker. The outcome is a surprise for all parties concerned.

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He Becomes A Peacemaker

Not that Walter isn’t prepared. In the nearly six-month run-up to this Great Confrontation, Walter has learned quite a lot about the world, these local folk, and, most of all, himself. Among his teachers are a fiery funda-mentalist preacher, a congenial Sufi, an aggressive nymphomaniac, and a psychic duck. The ‘lessons’ include fly fishing, Islam, New Thought, mid-life transitions, non-violence, vipassana meditation, and the local history of Klamath County, Oregon. Some of those lessons may be of benefit to readers as well. At least, that’s the whole idea.

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