Publishing your first book is a scary proposition. The only thing that might be more scary is publishing your second. When I wrote Frankly Speaking, I set it up as the first book in what would be at least a trilogy. That forced me to begin writing the 2nd book.
I Let Me Be Frank, I tried a new technique at the suggestion of my friend and editor, Catherine Violando. It’s what I like to call the Columbo technique. On the American detective show, Columbo, the episode often started with the crime and sometimes even revealed the killer to the audience. The rest of the show was centered around how the seemingly bumbling Columbo would trick the brilliant criminal into revealing their crime.
Let Me Be Frank starts with a seemingly senseless murder and then spends the rest of the book following Frank and Jonesy around the southeastern United States as they piece together the motivation for the crime. I used New Orleans as a setting for a good portion of the book because of it’s colorful culture and to tie it to one of my short stories, Play it again Des, from my short story book, Random Tales, as I continue to have all of my books and stories exist in the same universe.
It’s a transformative book for some of the characters and advances the development of the Frank and Jonesy relationship.
I’m sharing the first chapter and, for a limited of time, I’m offering the book at $.99 from Tuesday, 1/31 until Saturday, 2/5. Please enjoy this first chapter of Let Me Be Frank.
Things were turning around. Since coming to Jacksonville six months ago, Dani was finally starting to feel like life might turn out okay. Thanks to Uncle Sam she had a place to live and money for food and to buy a few things. She was so lucky that Sam Monreaux remembered her family and had taken her in. For the first time in a very long time, she felt like there was some hope. She could feel the bills from the tips she earned in her pocket. She might be able to buy a television for her apartment with the money she had saved.
As she walked home after closing time at the Sun Dog, she thought of all the possibilities. She turned down the dark alley that was a shortcut to her apartment building. Sam owned the building and many of its occupants worked at the Sun Dog. Rent was paid based on what she thought she could afford. Sam never asked for more. She thought about how fortunate she was to have this second chance. As she walked she listened to Lorde on the second-hand iPhone that someone had given her. She enjoyed walking home. It was late. The Sun Dog closed at 2AM and she had worked serving drinks and bar food until then. Frank Rozzani’s trio was playing tonight and the drummer had offered her a ride home. The walk was short, though, and she enjoyed walking in the humid air with the smell of the saltwater in her nostrils. The area was safe, and, even though he seemed nice, she didn’t want to accept a ride from a man this late. She just couldn’t do it.
She didn’t hear the white panel van stop at the end of the alley or the approaching sound of footsteps. The two men pursuing her were surprisingly quiet considering their size. One man carried a pistol and the other a tarp. They were cold and calculating in their mission. Their boss had been very clear. There was to be no mercy. The girl must die to deliver a message.
She didn’t hear them coming until it was too late and there was no escape. She started to run, but tripped and fell forward in the alley, catching herself with her hands. Her iPhone screen was smashed as it flew from her hands and skidded under a dumpster. She could feel the gravel bite into the skin on her palms. She tried to get up and run again when one of the men chasing her wrapped his arm around her neck and held a pistol to the back of her head. He pulled the trigger. The small caliber pistol caused little immediate mess as the bullet careened around in her skull, but did not exit.
The two men quickly rolled her into the tarp and carried her back to the van at the end of the alley. They threw her body into the van and drove off to dump it somewhere where they knew it would be discovered quickly.
The white van pulled into the park entrance. It was dark. Not city dark where the illumination of the streetlights, storefronts, and houses give off a dull glow. This was pitch dark where you couldn’t see your hand in front of you. The van backed into its assigned spot and the two occupants exited the vehicle. They grabbed the tarp with its lifeless cargo wrapped inside and trudged off through the moist undergrowth toward the short stretch of woods that separated their assigned parking spot from the mountain bike trails.
“Tony, I didn’t know we were going to kill her.”
“What did you think it meant, Joey? I told you we were being paid to take care of her, take her out to dinner?”
“I thought we were going to scare her. I just didn’t know. What did she do anyway?”
“You ask too many questions bro. She didn’t do anything. Somebody wanted to send a message. When uncle says take care of her, you’ve got to know what he means.”
“I’m not sure I want to be part of this.”
“Well, that’s a problem. First, you were already a part of it. Second, you want to be part of this family business then what’s good for the business comes first. If you want out, there’s only one way out.”
“Hey. I didn’t mean it. I’m just… I’ve never…”
“I know bro. It was your first time. I was nervous when I had my first job. Hopefully, if we do a good job on the next few, we can work our way out of the front-line work and into something more lucrative.”
“How long do you think it will be before they find her?”
“Pretty soon. After the sun comes up. We left her right next to that bike trail. Somebody passing by that log wouldn’t be able to miss her. That was the whole point. She’ll be found. The message will get back to Monreaux and her family.”
“After the message is delivered, do you think we’ll get caught?”
“I doubt it. We’ve got no ties to her or her family.”
“It just seems senseless because she was innocent.”
“She wasn’t as innocent as you think. She’s had a past and her family is what got her killed. Right now, we’ve gotta ditch this ride and pick up a new one. That’ll help you get this behind you.”
“How are we gonna ditch it?”
“Joey, I’ll show you. Just like everything else on this job, we’ve got to be careful.”