Manuscript sample of the sequel:



Miami Beach, Miami, FL

“Wait a second,” I said, pressing the cellphone to my ear.

Beachside bars were preferable to the cold vertical bars of a northern jail, so I had to clear this up.

“You told me they revoked my bail,” I said, “but you didn’t say anything about bail conditions.”

        “Again, Dax, they let you out, but they can put you back in for violating a bail condition,” Attorney Garfunkel said. “Like before, when additional charges were brought and the D.A. had your bail revoked-”

“I know all that.” I dug my feet into the sand.

I’d been arrested in Boston twice last month. First, for crimes associated with my “alleged” vigilantism. My wife had bailed me out; although, she happened to be out on bail herself, at the time, for murder. The second time I was arrested, it for the same murder as my wife. I fled to catch the real murderer, successfully, and they dropped the charges against us. I was back out on bail for the vigilante stuff.

“Well,” he said, ‘all that’ now comes down to this: what are you doing in Miami?”

         “Using solar power to augment my complexion,” I said. “What do you think?” I brushed sand off my ankle. “Relaxing. Something I didn’t get enough of up there, running from cops and criminals.” I’d stayed on Key West, and then drove the rental car back up to Miami yesterday.
“Fine, I get it,” Attorney Garfunkel said. “You need R & R, but a condition of bail was to not leave the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It’s standard.”

        “Don’t you think that’s something I should’ve known?”

      “Yes,” Garfunkel said, “and that’s why I so informed you. You apparently forgot, which I understand, but you have to get back to Massachusetts ASAP.”

I had forgotten. There’d been too much turmoil, and I’d thought I was free and clear of the high-profile deaths, especially having found an alibi—rather, an alibi had found me.

“And without so much as jaywalking, Dax, all right?”

         “Don’t worry. I plan to fly.” As I hung up, I caught that young woman glancing my way again. I adjusted my sunglasses. She was a knock-out in her red bikini.
Boston. All that trouble I had in September: pursued by police, multiple charges, bombarded by my colleagues in the press, weeks of looming indictments—all the more reason to get out of Dodge in a hurry. Or out of New England, as the warm weather there had waned. So I landed in Miami, alone, trading multicolored foliage for the blues and tans of southern beaches.

I tucked my cell phone under my T-shirt, stood, and stretched. There was so much skin displayed here, standing, laying, cruising the beach, and playing. Skimpy bikinis formed tan lines like island coastlines grouped in threes—two up north, one down south.

Yeah, I needed R&R&R—adding an R for rumination, because I had a globe-full to do. God may as well have divided human DNA into its four constituent parts, and said, “There you go, my son, you put it back together.” But that was not entirely accurate. I had pieced together some things in my life, to make sense of them. Like my only brother, Tommy, lost long ago to a closed adoption, but just found, and in time to be my alibi. Another R was retribution, but I’d already gotten me some of that up north.

I left my towel, waded into the ocean, and stared into the offing. I eased in up to my waist, half in saltwater and half in air. I focused on the horizon and, with peripheral vision, expanded my purview to take in the immense masses of water and sky. I imagined my troubles dissipating, floating into the water, into the air, my mind untangling.

Earlier this year I got in great shape; then life exploded, and eating became secondary to running, hiding, and avoiding death—not the best way to get a six-pack, which I hadn’t appreciated until an hour ago on the main drag, seeing that bikini-clad woman reflected in a store window, checking me out.

I dove into a wave and swam out beyond the breaking waves. Sharks didn’t concern me, having escaped multiple encounters with the most deadly animals on Earth—armed men with things to hide. Rip tides and cramps were bigger worries now. My strokes were smooth but my kicking was off. I treaded water. The bullet wound in my thigh had healed well, but I’d hidden it from the world by claiming a pulled muscle. The gunpowder residue on me and the dog bites I’d sustained, however, could’ve easily landed me a life sentence. No one would’ve bought my claim of self-defense against Paul Grasso, Mayor of Boston, who was my renewed but now departed nemesis. Fortunately, I hadn’t been connected to his death.

Not yet, anyway.

          On my back, I floated, a thin swab of cloth between me and earth’s ample fluid, unencumbered by my old-man disguise that I’d used for my vigilante activities against street criminals. That was all over. I focused on letting it all wash away as my body drifted.

Debbie’s face to my mind, her saying goodbye as I left for Florida. A half dozen years of marriage, then certain things came to a head last month; we’d suffered personal and criminal accusations, fleeing, hiding, jailing, and more. Emotional fractures projected backward and forward in time. She declined to come to Miami to give me—or us—space and time. She had stuff to take care of, too, she’d said, like referring out the last of her psychology patients from her private practice.

I side-stroked back to the shore then plopped down on my towel. More bathers arrived, but that hot red bikini was gone, and the woman with it. I took up my phone to check messages but put it back down. I was feeling better, so why upload my numerous troubles into my mind’s RAM?

Debbie and I had reconciled, essentially. I was happy, relieved. And I’d see her soon. My flight back to Boston was tonight. She was starting a new job as director of a youth counseling center. I would be her favorite project, she’d said. I objected because I didn’t qualify no matter how childish she claimed I could be, or how innocently youthful I counterclaimed to be. The truth was, neither one of us was entirely innocent. Lately, though, tensions tended to evaporate into amusement. “Innocently youthful? Bad boy,” she’d say, then slap my ass. I’d respond, “Thank you miss may I have another,” or, “I think you enjoyed that a little too much; you should see a shrink.”

          Maybe she’d texted me. I checked, but my smart phone reflected that red-bikini woman close behind; mid-twenties, rich red hair topping a steamy body, sitting on a red and green sarong, reading something, a People magazine. I ran my eyes over her reflection, seeking more details.

Journalists do that.

Then she pulled out a camera from behind the magazine and I heard its zoom activate. I figured the angle—what? It was my legs. No click sounded when she pushed the button. After a moment, I turned to face her. She looked away and tucked the camera behind her.

“Hi,” I said. “Watcha doing?”

Big sunglasses hid her eyes and brows. “Excuse me?”

“I said hi, what are you doing?”

“Oh. Enjoying the day, the beautiful day.”

Odd. Must be one of those things; one of those things that meant trouble, perhaps a journalist, but I didn’t recognize her from home. Then again, I had gained national attention lately.

“I meant with the camera,” I said.

“Well, taking photos, of course. Here and there.”

“Uh huh. So what about here?” I pointed to my leg.

She looked confident, taking her time. Her face was smooth and pale. “OK,” she said, her shoulders slumping forward. “It’s for my photography class.” She smiled, bright and white.

“Ah.” I nodded. “That’s cool.”

She tilted her head, though her dangling earrings staying vertical. “So, how did you get the scars on your calf and shin?”

I paused, and shrugged. “It’s nothing. Motorcycle accident, a minor one.” That was not exactly true. The cops had me in in hot pursuit and I’d hit a curb and flew over a bush. Needn’t mention that, though.

“Really?” She leaned forward onto her hands and her knees. Her rump rose nice and curvy—a deliberate move, if I had to guess. “It doesn’t look like road rash. Is it-” She removed her sunglasses and glanced up at me.

I kept my eyes on hers to avoid her bikini top and environs.

“Are they . . . dog bites?”

I stifled any change of expression. “I landed in a bush.”


“Well, I’m sure I didn’t see any dogs there, if that’s what you mean. But you never know.”

She smiled then put away her camera and left, oddly abrupt. There was nothing abrupt about the sway of her hips, though. She looked back as if she’d known I was watching. Of course I was watching, for both reasons—left and right. She wiggled her finger, calling me to her.

        I glanced around, stupidly, and stood.

        She twisted her smile. “Why don’t you come with me? I need to shoot some photos.”


        “You know, really good photos. Can’t do that out on the beach, at this time of day.”

        “Must be an important class.”

        “Very,” she said with exaggeration, wrapping her sarong around her waist. “Seriously, I won’t bite.” She bared her teeth. No fangs.
“Intriguing,” I said, “but I’ve got to catch a flight soon.” “Oh, come on. I don’t know anyone here, and I have a deadline, too, you know. Don’t you care? In support of the arts and all that? It won’t take long, I promise. My place is one block over.”
“But I-”
“And today is my last day here. Pleeease!” She clasped her hands together, her camera looped on a finger. This was different, and interesting. Shouldn’t hurt. “Sure, why not. The arts.”

        I grabbed my stuff, followed her to the boardwalk, and there stepped into my sandals and put on my T-shirt. Ahead, she took long strides. A guy entering the beach nearly bumped into her and she stiff armed him. He looked shocked, but with her dirty look the guy clammed up. This might make a good story for Debbie.

I caught up to her. “So where-”

“This street.” She turned and I followed. “Come on, come on, it’ll be fun. And I know you’re pressed for time.”

I nodded and walked faster, regretting this already. We arrived at a motel, and she opened a door to a room—without using a key.

“A bit over-trusting aren’t you, leaving your room unlocked?”

“Trust is important,” she said, with an opened-eyed, naïve expression, perhaps facetious. I followed her inside. And I saw a man; an unsmiling, dark-haired, bulked-up man.
        Unsure whether to move within striking range or move out of it, I edged between him and the red-headed woman. He waved a pistol at me, toward the bed. I nodded and moved closer to her. She sat on the edge of the bed. “Stay cool,” I told her softly.

He closed the door, locked it, and then nodded at her.

She stood, apart from me, and looked more than cool. With a wicked smile, she said to me, “OK, now. Take off your clothes.”