My Bookshelf

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"The Break" - A Sneak Preview!!!

(Setting: Angelo's Bar and Restaurant, Red Hook Brooklyn, 1960s)

Johnny London was flanked by a couple of soldiers. His icy blue eyes bored into Billy, who stared back unflinchingly.

“That job you pulled was a major fuckup.”

“Who says it was me? I haven’t heard a word from the cops about anything.”

“That’s because we sent word we’d take care of it,” Johnny growled. “Don’t you see the people who go to that place every day? Did you ever stop and think that there might be a special interest in that place?”

“C’mon, Johnny,” Billy reasoned. “I’m in here every other day and I’ve never heard mention about that place being mobbed up.”

“Well, we don’t talk about a lot of things, especially in front of people who are not mobbed up! Did you ever tell Dee Dee what you were planning?”

“Why would I tell Dee Dee? That would implicate him.”

“That’s the problem with smart guys,” Johnny pointed his cigar at Billy. “You think you got all the answers. That’s why smart guys don’t go into this lifestyle. This is like the police force, you don’t ask what assignments you get, you just go out and do your job. Maybe you should go be a cop and learn how to take orders.”

“They don’t take guys who did five years for armed robbery.”

“You think you’re the only one around here who’s ever done time?” Johnny smirked as the wiseguys alongside him shook their heads. “It gives you credentials, but it doesn’t mean shit to anyone besides whoever you did the time for. Think about that.”

“I’d like to speak to Mimi about this.”

“I speak for Mimi,” Johnny said flatly. “You know, if they linked you guys to this you’d be flushed down the same toilet. You know that spic friend of yours paid off his Mom’s rent for the year? What makes you think they wouldn’t pull a rerun on this? They pick him up, kick his ass, then you’re back in the can.”

“So there’s no way I can talk to Mimi.”

“Mimi told me to talk to you. What makes you think you can talk to Mimi whenever you feel like it?”

“I’m asking your permission.”

“Permission denied. You tell me what you want and I’ll tell Mimi.”

Billy reached inside his jacket, causing the wiseguys to rise in their seats. Billy’s hand stopped short and Johnny signaled them to back down.

“I know you’re supposed to pay tribute, it’s a tradition,” Billy laid a stuffed envelope in front of Johnny. “If there’s a special interest, then that should confirm it’s ten percent in there.”

“Smart kid,” Johnny grunted as he picked the envelope off the table and shoved it in his pocket.

“Real smart kid,” one of the wiseguys smiled.

“You lay low until we send for you, don’t come around here until then,” Johnny told him. “We know you and your friends hang out at O’Keefe’s, and we know where you live. We could make you bring the whole score back, but we know you made a mistake. Do you know you made a mistake?”

“I guess I did.”

“The place is insured, lucky for you. Like I said, you don’t do anything until we send for you.”

“Got it.”

He lay in his hotel room that night, swigging from a bottle of Bushmill’s and watching TV until the station shut down for the night. He continued staring at the test pattern on the screen long after the National Anthem had concluded the evening’s programming. He relived the events of the last couple of weeks over and over again, wondering if he was maintaining control over his life or losing it without realizing.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Vampir" by JRD --- A Sneak Preview!

---(AP)  New York attorney Celeste Maher was arrested this morning in yet another strange twist in the most controversial trial in recent history. Ms. Maher was charged as an accomplice in the jailbreak of her client, though the DA’s Office indicated that DNA testing may result in a charge of first degree murder.
        Count Velimir Radojka of Peja, Kosovo, presumed to be in his 60’s, was arrested last week as the prime suspect in a series of ritual murders that resulted in the biggest manhunt in New York history. Radojka was accused of slitting the throats of his victims, then draining their blood in a Satanic ceremony. Twenty people were identified among the missing, and police speculate the numbers may rise as the investigation continues.
    Maher was accused of smuggling tools into Radojka’s cell as officials at the Metropolitan Correctional Center reported the inmate missing early this morning. Police investigators discovered Radojka’s uniform strewn with ashes that may be of human origin. Though sources declined to comment further, Maher could be charged with the murder of her client in a case the DA’s Office is calling ‘surrealistic’.

            Homicide Detective Shea Tyrone arrived at the MCC hours after the story broke. He was met at the front entrance by a delegation of fellow officers before being led to an interview room where Celeste Maher was being held. Lieutenant Dwight Shreve was on hand at the behest of Captain Willard and Chief Madden, and he was the one who caught the fury of Shea’s wrath.
            “Dammit, Dwight, I’m not going in there to interrogate Celeste!” he thundered. “I want you to have her returned to her cell so I can talk to her in private!”
            “Don’t you realize what’s going on here?” Shreve squinted at him. “The most hunted killer in the City’s history is missing from his cell, and your girlfriend was caught on the scene red-handed. We’ve got her sedated but we need some answers. The Mayor’s Office is on the Chief like flies on shit. She hasn’t given us anything, and there’s no way I call the Captain and tell him that’s my final answer.”
            “Look, Dwight,” Shea managed, “you owe me. This Department owes me. I’ve risked my life time and again in the line of duty. All I want is ten minutes with my girlfriend. You do whatever you have to when I’m outta here, but I need to talk to her. Please.”
            “Dammit, Shea,” he hissed angrily. “Okay. Ten minutes, then she goes right back inside.”
            “I owe you, man.”
            “You got that right. Now, if she gives you some good intel, you gotta bring it to me. I’ll have your ass if you don’t, I can promise you that.”
            “No problem. I want her out of here as bad as you want to bring that old bastard back in.”
            “That’s my problem. There’s no way in hell he could have gotten out of here. We found a pile of ashes in there, and if she hasn’t found a way to do a smokeless cremation, then that son of a bitch walked right through the walls of that cell.”
            Shreve turned to the MCC officers on hand, and they reluctantly escorted Celeste back to her cell. Shea noticed she appeared to be drugged, and did not even notice his presence.
He waited about five minutes before the officers indicated he could go in and visit.
            He walked down the narrow corridor as the guards allowed him entry to the cell. They were slow to back away from the door, having been humiliated by Radojka’s disappearance just hours ago. He stared through the Plexiglas window at the guards before they retreated a few yards further down the hall.
            “Shea?” the beautiful woman managed, appearing disheveled with strands of her chestnut locks hanging over her face.
            “Celeste,” he came over as she rose from her cot to meet him. He embraced her as she wept against his chest, then sat her down as he dropped into the chair at the table alongside her.
            “They gave me some Valium,” she mumbled. “You know they’re going to try and make me say something they can get on tape."
            “Okay, baby, you know the drill,” he insisted. “You just keep pleading the Fifth until they get a lawyer in here. I’m sure lots of your friends will be down here trying to help you out.”
            “If they think I busted Radojka out, they’ll be avoiding me like the plague. You know that.”
            “So what happened?” he stared intently.
            “It was Father Malloy. He told me there was only one way to get Radojka out of there. He gave me a package and made me swear not to open it. Radojka must have bribed someone. They passed it right over the metal detector.”
            “What was in the package?”
            “It was a huge stake, like the kind they use on carnival tents, and a mallet. I had no idea, Shea, I swear. You know me. You know I couldn’t kill anything or anybody."
            “I know, darling, I know. Then what happened?”
            “He just got up and fell on the stake, like one of those Roman soldiers in the movies,” her voice began trembling.
            “Then what?”
            “He…he burst into flames,” she began weeping uncontrollably. “It happened so quickly, I can’t even remember any details. I don’t remember if there was a particular smell, or if there was any smoke, or a flash, like an incendiary device. I just know that he didn’t scream or anything. It was almost like spontaneous combustion, like in those Internet clips. He was almost like Obi-Wan Kenobi, he just fell on the stake and disintegrated.”
            “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Shea said absently, staring at the wall.
            “Shea, you’ve got to help me. They’re going to indict me for manslaughter if I can’t figure out what happened. You’ve got to get someone in the Evidence Room to see what was in that stake. You know the kinds of things the Government’s coming up with these days. I saw what happened here before my very eyes. I don’t know what kind of things Radojka was involved with back in Kosovo. All I know is that a lot of people wanted him dead. That’s why he came over here. They accused him of war crimes and worse. They said he was a mass murderer, a serial killer. I don’t believe it, but somebody else did. Someone set him up to kill himself and is trying to make me take the rap.”
            “Somebody gave the package to Malloy. I’m gonna go talk at him. Whoever it was used him as the mule. It all makes more sense now. No one would suspect a Catholic priest of being involved in a suicide. Do you know of anyone who had words with Radojka, any strangers, anyone outside his normal routine?”
            “My boyfriend’s a homicide detective,” she forced a smile. “I’m pretty sure I would’ve thought of all that.”
            “What went down when Malloy gave you the package?”
            “He was very distracted. I told you how he’d been over the past few weeks. He just told me that Radojka called him and asked him to give me that package. I have no way of knowing if he knew what was in it.”
            “Geez, Cele, how did you know it wasn’t a gun or a bomb?”
            “They’ve got metal detectors up the wazoo here, remember? I was expecting them to send it up the pipeline. I was stunned when they passed it over the scanner and handed it back to me.”
            “All right,” he got up and hugged her as she rose from the cot. “I’ll go see Malloy before I go to the precinct and check out that stake. Don’t forget, you plead the Fifth until your lawyer gets here, don’t give them anything. I’ll have Luann call Willard and see if they’ll let us work the case. We’ll be on it even without a green light.”
            “I love you, Shea,” she buried her face in his jacket.
            “Love you too, babe,” he kissed her lips before rapping on the Plexiglas window.
            He could hardly believe that, after months of this insanity, Radojka was finally gone and he left Celeste holding the bag.

            Father Joseph Malloy was one of the priests faithfully serving at St. Paul Church on Broadway for over twenty years. He took the confessions of guilt-ridden Wall Street brokers on a regular basis, gave communion to office workers seven days a week, and marked crosses on the foreheads of thousands once a year on Ash Wednesday. He presided at the weddings and funerals of those who could afford it, and was a rock of encouragement to all those who sought him after 9/11. Only Velimir Radojka had come into his world as a tempest that wrecked his reputation and his career, and nearly cost him his very life. Now within a matter of hours, Radojka, Celeste and Shea had been shipwrecked alongside him.
            Everyone knew where to find him these days. He had given place to the other priests at the daily services, and spent his days in prayer before the dimly-lit altar at the front pew once everyone else  had gone. His rosary was as the chain that bound him before the altar rail, and those who did not know better would have sworn his parents had just died. Everyone else knew it was the death of Father Savic that had trampled his spirit into the dust.
            “Father Malloy,” Shea greeted him quietly, patting his shoulder as he slipped into the pew behind the elderly priest. Malloy rose up from his hunched position and sat upright without responding, as if finishing his prayer.
            “Did you hear about Celeste?” He never called her by her pet name before others because people thought he was calling her a seal. She didn’t care, but he did.
            “Yes, I did,” Malloy exhaled hoarsely. “When is this going to end?”
            “Did you know what was in the package?”
            “It’s a priest-penitent privilege, you know that.”
            “People vs. Phillips, New York 1813,” Shea grunted. “I can still take you downtown.”
            “We are downtown,” Malloy’s old spirit resurfaced for a brief moment.
            “C’mon, Father, help me out here. Celeste is behind bars right now. Who gave you the package? At least tell me that.”
            “It was Radojka,” Malloy revealed softly.
            “Hold on, wait a second. You mean Radojka came to see you, even though you accused him of killing Miroslav Savic?”
            “Who told you that, Celeste?”
            “She’s my girlfriend, you know that. We’ve been living in sin together.”
            “Not quite. I know you have separate addresses.”
            “Word gets around. C’mon, Father. Why would you hold a package for Radojka, and give it to Celeste to bring to him in the event he went inside?"
            “I’m a Catholic priest, Detective. We forgive sins just as Christ forgives all men, regardless of the nature of their sins. Christ forgave the apostle Paul, who this church is named after, despite having sent dozens of Christians to their death. Why would you think I would reject a man who caused the death of just one priest?”
            “You’re just a man, you’re not Jesus Christ. Did you tell Celeste what really happened that night?”
            “If she wanted you to know, you wouldn’t be asking.”
            “Okay, we’re beating around the bush here,” Shea sighed, reaching down and affectionately patting Malloy’s chest. “You know they’re gonna make Celeste tell them where she got the
package. If she doesn’t, she’ll be disbarred and probably face jail time. That means the cops’ll be coming by to ask questions, and they won’t give a damn about People vs. Phillips.”
            “I guess I’ll have to take my chances.”
            “Okay,” Shea dropped a business card on the bench beside Malloy. “You need anything, give me a call.”
            Shea walked down the aisle on the way out of the church, hard to believe the clock was ticking again after they all thought it was over at last less than twenty-four hours ago.

            Luann Pellegrino was a sexy Italian woman with a slender figure, a modest bosom, and an impish face that inexplicably created hard-ons whenever she was around alpha males. She and Shea had tried and failed in a relationship long before Shea met Celeste. They both knew that a cop-cop romance was never going to work for either of them, and it was the reason why Luann was still single. She and Shea were still close friends and made a solid team, and in situations like this, having her in his corner was priceless.
            “So what do you think Malloy’s hiding?” Luann sipped her espresso as they sat in their usual booth at Starbucks near New York University in Greenwich Village. Luann had been a regular in the cop bars after hours but gave up drinking after her relationship with Shea had ended. He always teased her that it was the best thing she walked away with.                                     
            “I’m thinking the DA might accuse him of complicity,” Shea shook his head. “If he knew Radojka was going to kill himself in jail and sent him what he needed to get it done, priest-penitent privilege won’t be worth jack shit.”
            “Why would Radojka kill himself without giving Celeste a fighting chance?” she wondered. “The guy’s a multi-millionaire. He could’ve kept it going all the way to the Supreme Court. Plus I don’t think they had much of a case against him in the first place.”
            “Means, motive and opportunity, that’s what they teach us at the Academy,” he mused. “Only motive takes you to the psychiatrist’s couch. According to what EUROPOL came back with, he was being accused of war crimes and mass murder going back to the Serbian War. That’s how he got involved with Celeste in the first place. Means and opportunity, that’s the tricky part. None of his victims fit the DSM-IV. He took rich men, poor men, beggar men and thieves. That is, of course, if the DA can make a case stick on circumstantial evidence.”                          
            “Could,” Luann corrected him. “He’s gone in a puff of smoke, or so they say.”                               
            “Know anybody in Washington who has Pentagon connections? Someone who might have the latest on covert ops weapons, something that might’ve turned the old man into a smokeless barbecue?”
            “I know Mob guys. Some of the old timers may still have some White House connections. I’ll ask around.”
            “Atta girl,” Shea was grateful. “I’m running and gunning at this point. I’m not sure what to do next.”
            “You try the Serbian Embassy?”
            “You mentioned the guy was a Count. Serbia can’t be much bigger than Texas. If he was nobility, the Embassy would have some knowledge of him. They’ve got to be aware of the criminal case. They should at least be able to give you some numbers to call to find out more about Radojka. Don’t forget, if they can’t prove that Celeste had no idea what was in the package, they’ll have to let her go. If you can set up a case proving that Radojka never planned to spend a day in court, I’m pretty sure it’ll put the matter to rest.”
            “All right,” Shea shrugged. “My girlfriend won’t be home anyway.”                                       
            Shea arrived at the Consulate General of the Republic of Serbia on West 45th Street later that afternoon. He took the elevator to the 7th floor to meet with Joachim Milosova, who was eager to offer any advice or help that he might provide.
            “There was quite a bit of controversy surrounding Radojka’s visa application,” Miloseva, a stocky man with well-trimmed gray hair, folded his hands on his mahogany desk as Shea took a seat before him. “EUROPOL actually had a warrant out for his arrest. As it turned out, the Serdar (*Count) had powerful friends who interceded on his behalf. It appeared that Radojka had been a strong supporter of the Serbian Army under General Ratko Mladic. The rumor was that the Army had taken prisoners to Radojka’s castle during the war on numerous occasions. The prisoners were never heard from again. The Serdar claimed that he freed them after the Army left the area, assuming they would be recaptured or killed if they rejoined the fight. Only the villagers of Peja swear that no one who ever ascended Devil’s Mountain ever returned from Castle Radojka.”
            “What about the Army guys?” Shea asked, leery of where this was going. “They were able to come back down after they dropped off the prisoners, weren’t they?”
            “According to reports, the Serdar’s servants would take custody of the prisoners at the bottom of the mountain. You see, since Radojka is nobility, according to ancient law, he did have the authority to detain enemies of the people in time of war. There was nothing illegal in what he did. This is why he escaped prosecution along with Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic for war crimes. There is a warrant for his arrest, but it carries about as much weight as one here in New York for failing to appear in court over a ticket.”
            “So, in essence, he got a ticket for making prisoners of war disappear in Serbia. There’s a new regime in power. Why don’t people in authority just reopen the investigations?”
            “Things in Serbia are not so much different than here in America. You just look upon it differently,” Miloseva sat back in his chair. “In mountainous regions such as Peja, conditions are similar to those you have here in places such as Appalachia and the Ozarks. The local authorities simply do not have the resources to enforce standard ordinances up in the mountains. There is a higher rate of illiteracy as children are not forced to attend school, and it is easier for people to engage in illegal activity. As a result, there is a higher rate of vigilante justice whereby citizens take the law into their own hands. People have their own interpretations of right and wrong, and they often back up their opinions with violence. This is why so many criminals are never brought to justice. They simply disappear into the mountains.”
            “So this is how Radojka managed to avoid prosecution and migrate to America.”
            “Actually, one thing was quite different than the other as regards his recent vicissitude. He was able to avoid being indicted for war crimes because no one would dare testify against him. Moreover, no law enforcement agencies in the area would trespass upon the castle grounds. Not only was it protected by law as property of the Serdar, but there was also the local superstitions surrounding the mountain. As I mentioned, ignorance and lack of education can be the source of many social problems. In this case, people believe the superstitions as absolute truth in many places.”
            “So why did he leave? Wouldn’t that be the safest place in the country for him?”
            “As times change, so do the regional populations. The atrocities committed during the war made people believe that things could change, and those in power could be held responsible. When the Serbians saw that those who had slaughtered the Muslims were being held accountable, their thoughts turned towards the centuries of evil that surrounded Devil’s Mountain. They thought they could write a new chapter in their history, but when they sent people up to investigate, those individuals also disappeared. Eventually a furor  arose so that groups were preparing to storm the castle and arrest the Serdar. I believe this is why he took steps to sell the castle and move here to America. Unfortunately, things did not turn out for him as planned.”
            “Do you think there might have been a conspiracy to have him killed?"
            “It is entirely possible. Many people blamed the deaths of family members in Peja on him, especially after the war. Keep in mind, however, the Mountain is located in an extremely untamed and hostile area of the country. People can be killed by bears, wolves, wild boar and wildcats just as easily as other human beings. Plus the fact that the Serdar would have been well within his rights to have remains such as human bones disposed of on his property. Those who wandered up there and vanished may well have met with tragic accidents. Those same accidents may have reinforced local superstitions and ignorant beliefs.”
            “What kind of beliefs?”
            “Did you not know that people accused Radojka of being a vampire?” Miloseva suppressed a wry grin.
            “Yeah, well,” Shea tried not to laugh himself, though his own was more of incredulousness. This was rapidly going to where he had no intention of exploring. Yet it was along a road that both Celeste and Father Malloy had set out on long ago. “I know you’re probably aware that his lawyer is being held on suspicion of complicity in his rumored suicide. The NYPD’s investigating the possibility that someone had him killed. Anything you can contribute will be greatly appreciated.”
            “Certainly, Detective,” Miloseva rose to shake his hand, escorting him to the door.
            Shea already knew he was racing against time. Now he was beginning to realize this was going to become one of the most harrowing experiences of his career.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Excerpt From "The Kingdom" - On Sale at Amazon!!!

The Einsatzgruppen agents had taken control of the local police station and were rounding up citizens in the town square. After hours of processing, the men were separated from the women and children and taken to a nearby gymnasium. The women and children, frightened, hungry and exhausted, were herded into an enclosed parking area awaiting further instructions.

Carl and Gunter trudged up to the front desk, where the senior officer stood and gave them the Nazi salute.

“We’re here to take possession of the female and underage detainees,” Gunter informed him.

“I don’t understand,” the officer was bemused. “You’ve already sent them back here. Why would you want them up front again?”

“We believe that if we place these people at the front of our convoy as human shields, the insurgents would think twice before they try and attack our soldiers,” Gunter explained.

“Excellent idea!” the officer said admiringly. “Maybe that’ll keep these frogs out of the way so we can kick the limeys and the Yanks off the beach!”

Carl and Gunter entered the enclosure and confronted the terrified civilians. Children hid in fright behind their mothers’ skirts at the sight of Gunter’s SS uniform.

“You know, you might avoid going around like it’s Seleenwoche (*All Souls’ Week, or Halloween Week),” Carl taunted him.

“What’s she saying?” Gunter squinted as a slim young woman spoke French with Carl, glancing furtively towards Gunter.

“She says that the word has spread across the region about the men in black, that they kill all the men and take the women and children away to labor camps. I assured her that you were just a clerk who doesn’t know his ass from his elbow.”

“Nice, Carl,” Gunter looked away.

“Okay, let’s go,” Carl led him back towards the main building. “Looks like we’ll need about three or four trucks.”

“Where on earth do you think we’ll take them?” Gunter hissed furtively, eyes darting around for eavesdroppers.

“Anywhere but a labor camp or an execution pit,” Carl snapped. “I’m doing you a favor. It’s bad luck to kill women and children, not to mention the possibility that the Allies could win and charge you for a war crime.”

“You’re just brimming with optimism, aren’t you?”

 “I’m a realist, and I just came back from Russia. It’s not looking good for the home team.”

At length Gunter was on the phone with the local Gestapo HQ, and three trucks arrived in order to transport the civilians to a military interrogation center for debriefing. Gunter and Carl commandeered two of the trucks, dismissing the drivers in doing so. Upon returning to the compound, they recruited an able-bodied matron as a driver in relieving the third Gestapo man. She was instructed by Carl to follow the lead truck, with the other following behind her. She was also warned of the consequences should she attempt to deviate from their course. The civilians boarded the trucks and were delighted to find the baskets of bread and milk that were loaded at Carl’s request.

“Where to?” Gunter called over.

“Follow me,” Carl climbed into the cab of the lead truck.

They drove for a short distance until arriving at the village of Sussac, about eight kilometers southeast of Limoges. The trucks rumbled into town and idled in the town square until a group of officials from the mayor’s office arrived to inquire.

“These people have been evacuated from Limoges by police and military personnel,” Carl announced as he hopped down from the truck. “They will need temporary lodging for a couple of days until the emergency is under control. We urge you not to attempt to contact their next of kin until the situation returns to normal. They have been evacuated without notice and their disappearance may be regarded with suspicion by law enforcement officials.”

“Are you…SS?” the mayor glanced over at Gunter by the rear truck.

“He’s full time, I work weekends,” Carl replied. “We’ll take two of the trucks, see if you can service the other one, we’ll send someone for it in a couple of days.”

“Certainly, monsieur,” the mayor beamed happily as Carl and Gunter reentered their trucks and proceeded back to Limoges, the women and children cheering and waving as they drove away.

Shortly after the trucks disappeared from view, two figures emerged from the shadows and came to where the mayor and his entourage stood. Commander Staunton of SOE was accompanied by Violette Szabo, who had recently joined his unit. They had been frustrated by the ineptitude of the local FFI forces and were doing the best to coordinate attacks on nearby railways and telephone lines that were days behind schedule.

“Talk about a stroke of luck,” Staunton was relieved as they watched the women and children led away to a nearby church. “Thank God that not all the Nazis are murdering devils.”

“I think we will have exhausted their patience by tomorrow,” Violette replied as they walked with the mayor back to the town hall. “Let’s hope that F Section gets our logistics sorted out so we can equip our reinforcements properly.”

“Blackburn and Geronimo should be here in the morning,” Staunton assured her. “I’m pretty sure that those cash cows will have these farmers lined up with their stools and buckets in short order.”

Saturday, February 15, 2014

"Momia (The Mummy)" Coming Soon at Black Bed Sheet Books!!!

As they say, never say never again.

Just when we thought there wouldn't be another JRD book going through the small pub wringer, Black Bed Sheet Books put out a contract on Momia (The Mummy). It's not scheduled for release until summertime, but we've still got Generations and Both Sides Now on the way, not to mention Transplant, though that deal may hit the rocks before launch date. Those people are under the impression that I'm going to buy a hundred copies of my book and stand out on a street corner. When that check is not cut, chances are that it'll go back into the Tales To Astonish trilogy and end up as a Spoiler self-pub. If not, well, that's four more JRD books in the next few months. 

Hell's bells, now if only some of these publishers'll help sell some of these damn things...

...I could afford to take the ladies up to the Plaza for $5 beers. That'd be a fun way to start Spring 2014!

Friday, February 14, 2014

"Vampir" --- Coming Soon on Amazon!!!

Vampir is a thriller/suspense novel centered on the exploits of Shea Tyrone, a NYPD Homicide Detective trying to solve the mystery surrounding the suicide of Count Velimir Radojka. Shea’s girlfriend, Celeste Maher, is out on bail for complicity in the incident, and is subsequently stricken by a psychosomatic illness. Shea finds himself entangled in a web of intrigue, taking him through a maze of Serbian military investigations, European vampire superstitions and folklore, and a trail of ritual murder across two continents. The tale reaches its climax as a Catholic priest is called in to resolve his conflict with Radojka in freeing Celeste from an ancient curse in this spellbinding, suspense-filled tale.

The story unfolds as Celeste is arrested at the MCC in Manhattan after the guards learn of Radojka’s suicide. They find his ashes in the cell though incineration appears impossible due to the absence of smoke or flames. They arrest Celeste by default, and she slips into a semi-coma upon making bail. Shea casts his net over murky waters in an attempt to exonerate Celeste. He visits the Serbian Embassy to get more information about Radojka, and finds that there are outstanding warrants in Europe for his arrest for war crimes. It is here that he learns that the Count ‘s family castle on Devil’s Mountain is shrouded by superstitious terror. Only his complicity in the Serbian War inspires villagers to trespass upon the grounds, resulting in Radojka’s migration to America.  

Celeste has contacted Radojka over the Internet, and has taken on the position of his solicitor in expediting the sale of the castle to the Serbian Government. She then oversees the purchase of a mansion in upstate New York, and flies to his village on the outskirts of Peja near the Accursed Mountains to escort Radojka to the USA. It is here where she learns of the background history of her client. She finds that the nearby village is held in a grip of terror by the ancient curse of Castle Radojka, and that evidence of Satanic worship can be seen everywhere along the ancestral grounds. Celeste overcomes her fear and returns to America with Radojka, where she finds herself drawn into his affairs ever deeper.

Father Ivan Savic learns of Radojka’s arrival, and confides in Father Joseph Malloy as he plans to prevent Radojka from spreading his evil influence throughout New York. Malloy contacts Celeste, and both of them are highly skeptical but affected by what they have both seen and heard. Celeste is greatly concerned by Radojka’s psychological state, negatively affected by heliophobia and his Satanic beliefs. She explains the situation to Shea, who brings a police psychologist in to confirm Radojka’s acute case of paranoid schizophrenia.

It is a rash of serial murders in Manhattan that cause Celeste to believe that Radojka may be behind the killings. Her discussion with Father Malloy leads the priests to accompany her to Radojka’s mansion, where Savic is killed in a bizarre accident. Both Malloy and Celeste are traumatized by the incident, and it appears that Radojka will be able to continue his nocturnal activities unhampered. Only the Count is arrested during a weird turn of events in East Harlem, and his death at the MCC makes Celeste a prime suspect. Malloy realizes that Radojka sacrificed his physical life in order to take spiritual possession of hers. He convinces Shea that an exorcism will be the only way to save the comatose Celeste from death, and the harrowing rite leads to the spine-tingling conclusion of this horror classic.

For fans of the supernatural and suspense/thriller fans alike, Vampir is a novel not to be forgotten.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"The Kingdom" --- Sneak Preview!!!

Jacques Tremblay ran.

He and his gang pulled up along the outskirts of Tulle slowly after dark that evening and were mystified by the deathly silence. Gone were the patriotic banners, the French tricolor, the anti-Nazi signs and placards. Gone were the reveling crowds and blaring music. All that remained was shadows and the whistling wind. Jacques told them to park along the treeline so that he could sneak into the village to investigate. He crept along the bushes and eventually slipped into the shadows in making his way into an alleyway leading towards the thoroughfare.

He splashed softly through the mud and kicked something that had a weird feel to it. He looked down and was startled by the sight of the outstretched arm of a dead man in a dark suit. He stared hard into the shadows and realized that it was one of a stack of bodies piled against the brick wall like cordwood.

The vein in his temple began throbbing as he realized that the Nazis had hit Tulle and went on a killing spree. He crept towards the alley entrance and peered out slowly, ensuring that the street was deserted. As he stepped out into the darkness, he was astonished and enraged by the sight.

He saw the figures dangling from the lampposts and realized they were people who had been lynched by the SS. He rushed into the street and nearly stumbled on objects strewn across the cobblestones. He realized that the streets were covered by dead crows that had been killed by grieving relatives of the victims, hurling stones to prevent the scavengers from defacing the corpses.

He soon became overwhelmed by an uncontrollable fury that caused the blood in his head to pound his temples like triphammers. He clenched his fists against his temples and ran wildly down the street, his intermittent explosive disorder threatening to drive him berserk. He ran until he could run no more, and eventually realized that the rows of hanged men on lampposts stretched as far as the eye could see.

“You!” a voice called from the darkness. “Stop right there!”

A flashlight beamed on him as a GMR soldier came forth from the darkness, pointing a pistol at him.

“You can be killed for breaking curfew! What are you doing out here! Let me see your papers!”

“I’m looking for my…father,” Jacques replied, reaching into his jacket. “Don’t shoot.”

The GMR trooper came closer, and Jacques whipped out his Beretta and shot the man five times in the head and chest. He stripped the man of his Luger pistol and an ammo clip before bolting and running in the direction of the sound of squealing tires along the opposite side of the street.

“What happened?” Lucien yelled from behind the wheel.

“They hung everybody,” Jacques breathed heavily as he jumped into the passenger seat. “There are bodies hanging from every lamppost on the street. I just shot one of those GMR rats. They’re back in control. We got to get out of here.”

“Where to?” Lucien gunned the engine.

“Limoges,” Jacques accepted a flask of whiskey from Jean-Paul. “I need to make contact with the Resistance. The Nazis are through playing games. We need to make this deal, sell this shit and get the hell out of France.”

“Get out of France?” Lucien was dubious. “We need to talk.”

“You stay here and talk to the Nazis, or Bony and Lafont, or whoever’s left to talk to,” Jacques took a large swig of whiskey. “I don’t care where I go, but I’ve had my fill of this.”

“What about the gang, Jacques?” Marcel was panicky. “We’ve
been together since we were kids! We always said we’d always be
together! We’ve made it through thick and thin, why all of a sudden
are we talking like this!”

“Take it easy,” Lucien assured him. “We said we’d talk.”

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hezbollah (Part Two) - A Sneak Preview!!!

“So what’s wrong now?” Johnny grunted as he cut into his sirloin steak that evening.

“Frank has AIDS.”

Johnny set his fork and knife down softly on his plate and stared down at it for a long time. Isabel watched tearfully as he dealt with the impact.

"When did you find out?" he asked tersely.

"This afternoon."

Johnny clenched his fists, then suddenly grabbed the plate on both sides.

“Please. Don’t.”

He eventually released the plate and returned his fists to either side of the plate, staring at a spot somewhere between his water glass and infinity.

“So what happens now?” he managed.

“We have an appointment with a specialist Monday,” Isabel managed. “There’s some different therapies they want to discuss with us. They want us to consider our options before we decide what’s best for him.”

“What’s best?” Johnny demanded, tears welling in his eyes. “Best for who? There’s no cure for that shit. They’re gonna take all your money so you don’t got a dime for the funeral.”

“So what now?” she flared. “Are you going to give up on our son? Again?”

“Don’t you try and dump that shit on me, Issy!” he yelled as she dissolved into tears.

“Okay,” he came up behind her, wrapping his arms gently around her waist before turning her so she could bury her face against his chest. “Okay. We got to clear the table, put everything aside and take care of this. I’ll tell Roth, he can mind the gym while I deal with this.”

“You don’t have to do that,” she hugged him back. “All I want you to do is make peace with your son. Don’t end up thinking there was something left unsaid one day.”

“What should I do? Take him on a trip? Hang out with him? After all these years, where do I start?” Johnny gently released her and wandered towards the window.

“Why don’t you buy him a beer?”

Johnny took the short drive down to Tampa Beach where he met Frank at a small lounge overlooking the shore. He made sure that it was a college hangout that would be less discerning of their clientele. He did not want to wind up in a bar brawl and expose Frank to any more danger.

“Frank,” Johnny spotted him at the end of the bar. He walked over to him and hugged him for a long moment. “How you feeling?”


“What’re you drinking?”

“Whatever you’re having.”

Johnny ordered two Crown Royals on the rocks. He felt like Frank was testing him to see if he remembered Frank’s drink. It began to irritate him but he checked himself. At once he began to realize how testy he got around the kid, and it loosened him up somewhat. He liked to sit at the bar by the jukebox but decided it would be best if they got a booth.

“Want anything to eat?”

“Nah, I’m okay.”

He searched the kid’s face as he had not for a long time. He could see his own rugged jawline, his piercing eyes and his pouting lips. He had more of Isabel’s smooth tawny skin and her thick mane. He also had the slight Cabales build that precluded him from indulging in contact sports. Not that it mattered now. Not that anything mattered now.

 “So what do you got going?”     
“What, with the doctor?”

“Yeah, you know,” Johnny shrugged.

“They’re doing tests, you know how that goes. Kinda like curing a cold. Once you got it, you got it.”

“You need anything?”

“Yeah,” Frank leaned forward slightly. “I need you to know something.”

“What’s that, Frank?”

“Suppose like, before I was born, you went into a fight and did the Million Dollar Baby thing,” Frank narrowed his eyes. “Suppose you took a cheap shot and fell and bumped your head, and you wound up in a wheelchair. Suppose you and Mom weren’t able to have kids. Do you think she would’ve blamed you for the path you chose instead of being a rock star?”

“Rock star? Hah!” Johnny snorted, looking away scornfully. “Rock star. David Diamond got me in the band to cover his ass. Neither one of us could carry a tune in a bucket. I’m a fighter, kid, that’s all I’m good for. Was good for. Did your Mom ever tell you how we ended up in Palestine?”   

“Not everything,” Frank tapped his fingers on his glass. “She has problems talking about it, just like you.”

“Smart kid,” Johnny sniggered. “Well, then. I had problems with the Mob. They controlled the game then, always have, always will. I owed them money, and when James Lincoln and Stu put the project together, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. They tied a boxing promo on my tail and stuck a couple of wiseguys in the entourage. I got my career back together and a good friend got killed.”

“Why are you telling me all this?”

“I don’t know,” Johnny cleared his throat. “So, what’s your point with the alternate ending? I crack my head, I can’t have kids, stuff happens. It didn’t happen like that.”

“Suppose it did,” Frank probed.

“What’s your point?” Johnny snapped.

“You chose your path through life,” Frank stared at him. “You knew there were risks, but you followed your heart. You did what you had to do.”

“Yeah, so?”

“Well, then,” Frank stirred his drink, then dropped the straw. “So did I.”

There was a deathly silence as Johnny struggled to control his emotions.

“Okay,” he relented. “No use in crying over spilled milk.”

“Do you think you would’ve been happier? Not to have wound up crippled, but…” his voice trailed off.

“That’s stupid,” Johnny scowled at him. “You’re my son. I don’t care what you’ve done. It doesn’t change that.”

“It’s not what I’ve done, Dad. It’s who I am.”

“Okay,” Johnny said huskily. “Fuck that. You’re my son. That’s all that matters.”                          

“I know this has been hard for you. It wasn’t about hurting you. It was about being who I am,” Frank said quietly. He always resented his father not being able to accept that part of him. Yet at the same time he knew what a dagger in the heart it was for this man.                                               

“Yeah, well. It is what it is. So what’s the story with this thing? How are you feeling? What are we gonna be looking at?”  
                                                                                                                           “I think Mom’s probably got literature on it. It knocks out your immune system so your body can’t fight infections and diseases. You end up dealing with everything that comes your way, basically. A common cold can turn into pneumonia.”

“But they’re working on cures, aren’t they?” Johnny insisted. “How much does it cost?”

“There is nothing right now. People around the world are contributing to research. Movie stars have put up millions. Elton John’s put up millions.”     
“Yeah, that…” Johnny began, then checked himself as his voice trailed off. “I’m sorry.”                

“It’s who you are,” Frank grew bitter, his emotions surging. “You’ll never change.”                 

“Look, no more bullshit. No more gay, anti-gay, political, philosophy, whatever kind of bullshit,” Johnny wiped a tear from his eye. “It’s you and me and your mother. We can’t change the past but we can face this thing together, as a family. We can’t let any differences steal what time we have to change this thing, to turn this thing around.”                                                                      

“I don’t believe in miracles. But I love my mother, and I love you. I agree, we’ll spend a lot more time together, we’ll share what’s left. I want you two to have a lot of happy memories.”                       

At once Johnny’s head dropped and his shoulders began shaking. Frank watched with a small sense of satisfaction before his heart went out to his grieving father.                                                

He got up from his seat and slid into the booth alongside him, putting his arm around him and hugging him close. He considered the irony of being able to do what he wished his father had done for him throughout the course of his soon-to-be-shortened life.