Wednesday, February 7, 2007

A Sample of My First Book - "Squeeze Play"

I'm still getting my sea legs with this 'blog' thing. Technology is wonderful, isn't it? Yesterday I gave you my two cents about the current state of the radio business (It's a good piece, if I do say so myself.). My opinions were based on my three decades in and around that industry. Of course I'll have more to say on that subject later, but not today.
Today, I'm going to chill a bit (an appropriate word on a day when it's 8 degrees outside) and offer you something a little different. You see, this radio guy (meaning me) is also a writer of fiction. Ah, I can see those of you who know me are smiling. I'm a long way from being a Jack Higgins or Tom Clancy but never know. What I'd like to do, in todays post. is give you a sample chapter of my published book, Squeeze Play. It's free and it will give you a taste of what and how I write. If you like it...I'll add more later. Enjoy...and if you're in the Northeastern United States...stay warm.

Chapter One

The executioner glanced at his watch. If it was going to go down, it had to be soon—in a matter of minutes. Any longer and he’d miss his next “appointment.” Then the victim appeared. The killer took a moment to size up his target. The man didn’t seem special. He looked short, overweight, balding and either middle-aged or rapidly approaching that time in life. He seemed nervous and moved as though he expected something to happen. Of course, he was right.

He watched his victim walk down the opposite side of the street, stop at the corner, cross at the light and then walk to a newspaper stand. The killer crossed the street and stopped. His unsuspecting prey took a moment to buy a horse racing newspaper.

Don’t waste your money,” the killer thought. “You’re not gonna be around to read the first page.”

He always fulfilled his contracts. He never missed. Never. He was the king of contract killing, a genuine superstar, the best in the business. Of course, the money was great, but it was the thrill that turned him on. The power, the danger, the hunt—these were the reasons he excelled in this deadly occupation.

He slid his right hand into his coat pocket and gripped the handle of a small revolver. Adrenaline pumped into his system. His eyes darted back and forth, taking in the whole scene. He settled into a fast walk; anything quicker would attract attention. Was he being watched? Had someone zeroed in on him? Another quick look. There were several other people on the street, but no one cared about him. He was just another face in the crowd.

Five steps away, he tightened his grip on the gun.

Four steps, he pulled it from his pocket.

At three steps, he cocked the hammer.

Two steps left, he raised the barrel to the back of the man’s head.

And from a step behind, he fired.

The man dropped to the ground, much like a heavy sack of potatoes would fall if you lost your grip. There was no stumbling, no preliminary weakening of the knees. Nothing like you’d see in the movies. Everything gave, and he was down. The bullet had crashed through his skull and raced into his brain. It was as if the victim had thrown a switch and turned off the lights. He was dead in a heartbeat.

The killer didn’t miss a step. He just kept walking. Half a block away, he stepped into a busy department store and blended with the customers. He knew the layout of the store and walked directly through the men’s department to a rest room in the back of the building. He tossed the gun into a trash container. Then, he moved to the sink and peeled off the fake mustache. He wrapped it in paper, dropped it into the toilet and flushed. He disposed of the Pirates baseball cap and driving gloves, combed his hair and reversed his jacket.

On his way out of the store, he stopped and bought a couple of dress shirts, a pair of Dockers and some aftershave. He had walked into the store an escaping murderer looking for a place to hide, and left, an average, run-of-the-mill customer.

Down the street a crowd had gathered around the dead man. In the distance could be heard the scream of an approaching siren. “An ambulance,” the killer thought. There was already more than the normal number of police cars at the scene.

He was overcome by a morbid curiosity. He walked back to the crowd. An attractive young woman stood off to one side, surveying the situation.

The killer smiled and she politely smiled back.

“What’s all the commotion?” he asked.

“I’m not really sure,” she answered. “There’s a man on the ground over there, in the middle of the sidewalk. I think he’s hurt pretty bad.”

“How’d it happen?”

“I don’t know!”

There was a pause in the conversation and then he continued, “Why don’t we just go over there and find out.”

The killer and the bystander walked closer, as if they were old friends. They maneuvered through the crowd of people until they were just a few feet from the body. The victim was lying face down, in a pool of dark red blood.

“My God! Is he dead?” the young woman asked.

“I don’t think so. I think I saw him move,” a spectator volunteered.

The response startled the assassin. “He looks dead to me,” he said.

“With that much of his head missing, he’s dead.” It was the voice of a policeman, standing just to the other side of the killer.

The murderer tried not to look relieved. “Wow! How’d it happen?”

The policeman took out handkerchief and wiped his mouth. “Damned if I know. He sure pissed off somebody, and from the looks of it, that somebody hired a professional.”

The young woman seemed genuinely surprised. “You mean this is a gangland hit?”

The cop shrugged his shoulders. “Gangland, shmangland. Hell, just about anybody can hire a hit man these days. You don’t have to be in the mob. You just have to know the right—or should I say, the wrong people.”

The killer shook his head. “Too bad.” If you were looking for it, you could detect a slight smile on his face.

The policeman shook open a plastic bag. “Given the choice, I’d rather slip away quietly, in my sleep.”

And with that he went on his way, in search of evidence.

An ambulance screeched to a stop and the attendants hurried from the cab. They were greeted by an older detective, obviously the man in charge. “Relax guys! This one’s long gone.”

The driver was taking some equipment from a storage compartment. “Well, if you don’t mind, we’ll check anyway. We get paid to do this.”

The two medics hurried past the detective.

“Hey, I was just trying to help.”

The murderer was now standing near the detective. After a moment, the investigator realized that this stranger was staring at him, sizing him up.

“What’s your problem?” he asked.

The killer smiled. “I was just thinking—I’m glad I’m not in your shoes.”

“Why’s that?” the detective asked defensively.

“Because I’d hate to have to pick up after this mess.”

The assassin tucked his package under his arm and walked away.

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