I am really pleased to be able to feature the beginnings of a novel from a brand new author. I think its BRILLIANT. But I am biased as I have known the author for many years and always loved his non fiction work too.

You’ll enjoy this very much – as always, please share, and share the word, lets get more new authors on here!


David W. Gifford

Chapter 1

           For now, forget the author’s name on the book jacket, I’m the author, Hawk Hawkins. How so? Someone is out to kill me—that’s how so. I get killed, he takes over, simple as that. No joke!

           That’s where you come in—I need a reader to help me get through this, alive, and you’re it. As long as we’re on the same page, I’m going to be chatting with you just like this. You okay with that? Cool. More on my predicament later. Oh, one more thing, as you can tell already, this is not a typical suspense nove. Buckle up!

To get you involved on this mid June, rainy morning, you and I are waiting for an old friend of mine, Joe Cervie, at The Hilltop Family Restaurant in Erie, Pennsylvania, both here celebrating the thirtieth reunion of our high school graduating class, my first ever class reunion.

Yesterday morning, standing in line at hotel registration, Joe came up and reintroduced himself, the first time he and I talked or laid eyes on each other since  graduation.

“Hey, John Hawkins, good to see you, it’s been a law-u-n-g time.”

John? John who? Back in high school everybody called me Hawk. Weird. Amnesia?

We shake hands. Pain. Joe’s a knuckle buster. Insecurity problems, right?

“It sure has been, Joe, a very long time, but you look the same,” I lied jokingly.

“Yeah, who you kidding?”, said Joe. Read my mind.

Truth told, I wouldn’t have recognized Joe Cervi in a Police Lineup. Changed almost beyond recognition? You think I’m showing some age? Joe is the Dorian Gray of our high school yearbook. First, it was his eyes: dark, film covered, corpse like, eyes. No exaggeration. Worse, from the top of his head to the bottom of his chin, Joe has more wrinkles and lines in his face than a GPS map of New York City. A bit shorter than I remember him, too, and much heavier.

“But oh so prosperously attired and accessorized: gray, lightweight, fine Italian wool suit, burgundy red tie on a windsor spread, white shirt collar; black alligator shoes; thick, black framed glasses; what looks like a Rolex; and a toupee convincing enough to look almost real. Dressed like that, if he sticks around here too long he’ll

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miss the opening race at Royal Ascot.”

“How about dinner tonight?”, asked Joe.

“Sure, sure, Joe, where and when?” I don’t know why, but straightaway I had an uneasy feeling about this. Make a note of that, will you?”

“There’s a classy looking steak joint three blocks up next door to the Renaissance Suites Hotel”, said Joe, pointing in which direction, “you like a good steak, don’t you, John?”

“Hell, yes, I like a good steak, but if you’re the invitee, Joe, then you’re the payee, fair enough? How does 7:30 work for you?” Without well practiced negotiating skills I wouldn’t be alive today.

“Meet you there.”, said Joe, spinning around, hand waving bye-by, and heading toward the lobby door.

Now, there’s a guy in a hurry, am I right? How long did that take, less than a minute? Nobody behaves like that. Weird. So weird I did a little snooping—once an investigative reporter, always an investigative reporter. Not only is Joe not registered at this hotel, Joe’s not registered for the reunion, either. What gives? Apparently, God isn’t the only one who works in mysterious ways.

I’ll tell you about dinner later, but first I’ll bring you up to speed with Joe and me.

At age 10 my family moved to Erie from Rochester, NY. Kismet. Joe’s house was opposite mine, and from fourth grade through high school we were best pals. I mean we did everything together: sports, getting into fights, double-dating, sweating out missed periods, peeling rubber from stop light to stop light up and down State Street—I got arrested for Reckless Driving on a Drivers Permit; no joke!—everything we did, we did together. Crazy, funny guy; broke me up all the time. But until yesterday, I didn’t know if Joe was dead or alive. Why we lost contact after high school I’m still trying to sort out.

Anyway, last night we did have dinner together. WHAT an asshole. Trust me, you had to be there. Here I am one of the truly great guys of our time, as you will soon discover, and Joe turns out to be the best argument yet for Pro Choice. Good line, huh? No? True. Wasn’t thinking.

After ordering drinks I reminded Joe he used to call me Hawk, for which he quickly apologized, explaining I’m listed in our high school yearbook as John Hawkins,

and he didn’t want to offend me. I didn’t forget his name. Weird.

Actually, it started off well enough with Joe taking my picture on his cell phone,

Dave Gifford/DGI © 2013


and the two of us reminiscing, if you can call it that. I’ve got the memory of a sieve,

but one escapade after another leaked through Joe’s brain like water through a fish

net. I can’t get over it. How is it possible to forget the time we skipped school, drove

across the Ohio state line to check out the girls at Ashtabula High, and driving home in a pouring down rain, without warning Joe tries to pass a car off the right hand shoulder of the road, loses control of the wheel, the car veers right, jackknifes left, ploughs straight through the front lawns of four or five houses—and then in trying to get back on the pavement—the car spins out, rolls over twice . . . finally coming to a thudding stop in the opposite lane of traffic. How does one forget that? Amnesia or Alzheimer’s? Weird. After awhile I felt like a script prompter, center-front stage at the Metropolitan Opera. Ah, but I will say this for Joe—once the penny finally dropped in his head, s-l-o-w-l-y grasping cognitive recall—I never heard anyone laugh so hard, so long, or so full of joy in all my life.

During dinner, Joe began by telling me everything I didn’t want to know about how rich he got in the stock market—in explicit, agonizing, torturous detail. Damn near talked me into becoming a stock broker. After which I felt like I was being interrogated by the FBI. What did I do after graduation? Where did I go to college? What did I major in?  What was my first job? What happened next? Go on. And? Then what? What then? Good grief, who the hell wants to hear someone’s life story over dinner? Weird.

Faking politeness as best I could, I told him to check out my website, it’s all there. He said he already did that; said he was impressed. Still not deterred, now Joe wanted to know what my investment philosophy is. This time, impolitely, I told him I didn’t have an investment philosophy. And then Joe went too far: Joe got personal—asking me if I married rich, and if I was loaded. I shut it down, fast.

“None of your damn business, Joe!”

“You should have seen the look on Joe’s face—my Adam’s apple now in the crosshairs of a pissed off Pit Bull. Bang! Joe unhinged. Seriously. Joe unleashed the most wacko, out-of-orbit political rant you ever heard—one nutso declaration after another, each delivered with a balled fist: the president is part of a Muslim conspiracy to take over the country; America is in desperate need of a volunteer national militia; the pinko media kills unborn babies, messing with his right to bear arms and we’re asking for a revolution; and on and on and on. Where oh where was this coming from, something he read on my website? Politically, I’m a TR & FDR Progressive, but you’d never know it from my website. Weird. Yes, reader, I should have gone with my instincts before we had dinner. What are you, a critic?

“Initially, I was so taken back I just sat there, my mouth agape. But not for long. Having correctly diagnosed Joe’s politics a tad right of Ghengis Kahn, and now fully aware our once-and-never-again-friendship was in the early stages of rigor mortis—no

Dave Gifford/DGI © 2013


way was I going to listen to any more of his crap. My turn, and that’s when he and I really got into it. How bad? Let’s just say it got a little “pusy” between Joe and me.

Pus filled, know what I mean? What’s that? A bit too graphic? Too late.

What follows, reader, is the only double entendre you will find in this book—we went our separate ways. Joe one way—where to, no clue—me the other way, back to my hotel. Separate politics, separate ways. Why, at the last second before leaving I agreed to meet him for coffee this early in the morning I cannot explain.

Back in my room, I flipped through my high school yearbook to once again review what I remembered about Joe, beginning with the obligatory write up under his picture. Nothing checks. I just can’t believe how much he’s changed. And how is it possible for Joe to look a dozen or more years older than me at the same age? Mummified the way he looks today, somebody should put a tag on his toe and blow taps.

By the way, reader, what do I call you? Hold that, we haven’t got time, Joe just showed up. Amazing, he doesn’t look hung over.

“Hey, Joe, what do you know?”, I asked as he approaches our table. As a kid, he always hated that.

In proper receipt of my still simmering hostility, but still in denial for his behavior last night, Joe answered, “What do I know, Hawk? Hawk—I know everything—ask me something.”

Whoa! That’s a heck of a line! “What do I know? Everything, ask me something.” I can use that as part . You call it plagiarizing, I call it taking out a loan.

Nonetheless, not about to be out-dueled by the new and deteriorating Joe, I parried with, “How am I, Joe? Joe—I’m damn near perfect! How are you?” Good comeback, huh? Huh? I never know with you.

“Hawk, I believe I made it unmistakably clear last night, but thank you for asking, anyway. I am doing quite well, Hawk, q-u-u-u-ite well.” Plutocratic, pompous bastard.

                 “Well, Joe, handcuffed to a Rolex as you are, I’m not the least bit surprised. Tell me, how much does that thing weigh?” Uh-oh, he winced.

“Hawk”, Joe said ominously, “last night I took all the insults I’m going to take from you—high school stiff, sand box stuff.”

Ratcheting it up again—I can’t help myself—I said, “Joe, you’re spot on. Not counting the ten different people inside me you never met since high school, I’m the same guy you remember the night we graduated.”

          Dave Gifford/DGI © 2013


“Ahhh-so”, Joe rebutted, “multiple personality problem is it, Hawk?”

How about that? Joe just put two quick witted lines together. Maybe he’s smarter than I thought he was. A lot smarter.

“No, Joe. it’s just that in growing up, most people transcend intellectually.”

Finally a waitress came over and took our order, two coffees. First time I noticed a growing annoyance among customers nearest us.

“Come on, Hawk, I thought we put all that nastiness to bed last night.”

“You’re right, Joe, I can’t argue with ignorance. So, this morning, just for you old pal, politics are officially off the table. Let’s talk about something less combative, okay? I mean, seeing as nobody is going to take your Second Amendment rights away, you must be a deer hunter, right Joe?”

Joe didn’t like that remark, either … not at all.

“Back off, Hawk. I live hunting. My granddaddy taught my dad how to hunt, my dad taught me how to hunt, and with only three more trophies to go, my living room walls will soon be lined, corner-to-corner, with the mounted heads of all twenty-seven hunting game in North America. So, yes Hawk, I’m a deer hunter. So what? Overpopulated deer herds need to be thinned out every now and then, or is that somehow news to you? And don’t give me any flap about hunters using fully automatic assault rifles to shoot deer! Shoot a deer with that kind of fire power and you’d blow venison clear into the next county.”

“Joe, just answer one simple question, will you? When you go deer hunting, who shoot firsts, you or the deer? Where is the sportsmanship in that? They’re standing there, motionless, staring back at you—waiting for you to shoot?”

“You’re a real wise guy, aren’t you, Hawk. Look, I didn’t come here this morning to argue with you.”

“Then why did you ask me to meet you here?”

“Because” Joe bellowed, I thought you might be interested in becoming a multi-millionaire, that’s why!”

           I was staggered. Silence. Something is very wrong here.

“You mean to tell me, Joe … after last night … you still thought I might be interested in partnering up with you on some kind of investment?”

Joe looked at me just like a deer in headlights. More silence. Weird. Come on,

reader, you and I are out of here.

Dave Gifford/DGI © 2013


Maybe class reunions are where friendships go to die, whadaya think? Yeah, thanks, that is a good line.

Later at my hotel, I didn’t see Joe at breakfast, lunch, or at the big closing dinner. Figures, right?

Early Monday morning I cancelled my 10AM flight home, had brunch with some old classmates—two of whom I didn’t remember, or recognize, same difference—followed by lunch and 18 holes with my old golfing partner, Frank Vaught, and later dinner with he and his wonderful wife, Carroll. Great friends. In driving back, day dreaming at night on my way back to the hotel, I couldn’t help wonder if my late wife and I should have stayed in Erie.

The next afternoon, finally back home in Santa Fe, NM, I discovered my answering machine stuffed with calls from my bank—each message telling me it was important to call them. I did.

“Mr. Hawkins, thank you for calling. As a precaution, Mr. Hawkins, we’re checking to see if sometime today you withdrew $30,000 from your online, business checking account.”

“No, of course not, I’ve been traveling all day—what the hell are you talking about?”

She told me. $30,000 had been withdrawn from my business checking account, the FBI and all three major credit rating agencies had been informed, an investigation was currently underway, and her company would be in touch with me soon. End. STOP.

Cold stone sobering. Why me? Who? How? How pissed off would you be?

Weird. Just that morning back at the Erie airport waiting for my flight to be called, I read about an identity theft ring preying on the elderly in Florida.

No, it’s not as if my house burned down; this was the second time this identity

theft thing happened to me. Just over a year ago another credit card company took

me through the same drill—ticking off nine bogus charges, among which was a $46

charge at a Pizza Hut in England. The good news? Owing to a New Mexico state law

protecting  bank fraud victims from financial liability, zero $ liability. Ditto for this latest heist.

The last time this happened I didn’t find out how it came down. This time?  This time—the snooper within me reawakened—I’m going to find out who did it, why me again, and how they did it, you dig? Not that that is my only motivation.

Dave GIFFORD/DGI © 2013


          Then, in the middle of unpacking, it finally struck me. What if my friend, Joe, is somehow involved with this? Out the door I went, straight to police headquarters where I was passed on to Detective Captain Garcia. No, it wasn’t his beat; hacking into a bank account is a federal crime—that’s the FBI’s territory. Didn’t stop him. Immediately called the FBI office in Albuquerque. Yes, the bank did advise them,  but in the interest of time—police at all levels; city, state, federal—exchange information all the time—ask if he would provide them a preliminary report. After which I took him through Friday and Saturday step-by–step. He didn’t miss anything. I was then told the FBI would be in contact with me.

Wednesday and Thursday passed without a call from the FBI or my bank. Weird.

On Friday morning the FBI called to schedule a Monday morning appointment at 9AM at its Albuquerque office, adding that, “Given how much ground Special Agent Downing has to cover, he thought it wise not to make any plans for the rest of the morning.” Like what? This stuff happens every day. What’s so different about this rip off? Weird.

Chapter 2


          In case you’re wondering, reader, I’m not the nervous type. But this test of nervousness seems a little different: the possible connection with Joe, the sixty mile drive, the long walk up to the FBI’s City of Oz frontage, getting lassoed by a lanyard security ID—passing through a metal detector of a configuration I’ve never seen before, escorted to an elevator by a living statue of Arnold Schwarzenegger, entering alone, pressing the UP button for the top floor, and—as the elevator doors finally swing open—there waiting for me stands Special Agent Mathew Downing. How’s that for FBI efficiency?

Okay, reader, you’re in.

“Good morning, Mister Hawkins.” We shake hands. Pain. I don’t get it.

“My father was Mister Hawkins, call me, Hawk.”  (part of my vast repertoire; but

to be honest, a concealment of emotions I was feeling unrelated to Joe— I’ve had dealings with the FBI before.

“Good, my friends and colleagues call me, Mat. Cup of coffee? Glass of water?”

“Glass of water would be great, thanks! Coffee puts me to sleep.”

“Seriously? Insomnia?”

“Worse, the Mayo Clinic and John Hopkins Hospital are in a bidding war for my brain—insomnia being the least of my problems.

Dave Gifford/DGI © 2013


Retort? None. Just a warm, smiling, Irish, grin. We’re off to a good start.

What’s a Downing, you ask? Official? Suspicious? Government issue Superior? Maybe. All I know is what I see: looks like he’s in his mid thirties, looks like he’s athletic, looks FBI-well-scrubbed. Most obvious, however, he’s wall-eyed—the opposite of cross eyed with one eye looking at you, the other eye slightly off center. Still, a good looking guy. His office? Must be an FBI decorating code: “Early  Sterility”.

Interesting. Rather than taking the “power seat” behind his desk, then gazing down at me in the designated “children’s” chair, Downing invites me to sit comfortably on a nearby couch, pulling up a regular chair for himself—each of us at eye to eye level. Good people skills.

“Mister Hawkins”, apparently said out of respect for his elders, right?, “forgive

me for appearing to rush things, but considering how much ground we need to cover

this morning, if it is alright with you I’d like to get right into it.”

I nodded, affirmatively. Add “business like”, reader.

“Based on your report to Santa Fe police and our follow-up with Erie and Youngstown, Ohio police, here is what we know so far. First, the Joe Cervi you met in Erie, is not Joe Cervi, he is an imposter. The real Joe Cervi, with a Youngstown address, was murdered ten days ago, his body found face side up in a loading zone behind Walmart—listed until Friday as a John Doe.”

Downing continued, now reading directly from what looks like an official document, and I quote: “According to the Coroner’s report, ‘Death was caused by a sharp instrument cutting upward through the lower neck, front-to-back, to the bone. Both hands were chopped off at the wrists. His open palms, each deeply punctured through the life lines—probably an ice pick—were found, side-by-side, purposely placed over the victim’s eyes. It’s what the mob references as a “message job”. According to Youngstown police, Mr. Cervi was likely killed for being sideways on his lonesharking payments. It appears the deceased had a gambling addiction.”

“Having lived in Erie, I’m sure you’re aware of Youngstown’s mafia history: murder-for-hire and car bombings dating back for decades—not that Erie doesn’t have a mafia history of its own.”

“Joe was killed by the mafia?”

“Yes, no question, probably by en enforce; too small for contract work. To continue in the interest of maximizing our time, Mr. Hawkins, Erie police checked out the Renaissance Suites Hotel you suggested Cervi might have checked into, but no one under that name registered there on the nights in question. However, a man fitting the description you provided, did register as an Arthur Sunderland. And, as we

Dave Gifford/DGI © 2013


expected, Sunderland—an alias the FBI has no record of—paid for his accommodations and meals with cash. Foolishly, however, he left a book in his room—a high school yearbook—inside which was a letter from Mr. Cervi addressed to you but returned to him, marked wrong address/return to sender.”

“The letter expresses how much Mr. Cervi was looking forward to the two of you getting together at a high school reunion—probably to relieve you of some badly needed cash. Parenthetically, said yearbook is believed to have been found in a  Dumpster directly behind Mr. Cervi’s apartment building.”

“Can I see the letter?”

“Right now it’s in the hands of Forensics, but I’ll get a copy to you as soon as I can. Any more questions before I go on?”

“No, I’m knocked out by all this, that’s all. If you knew what a great kid he was,  you would be as confused as I.  Any idea who this masquerader is?”

“No, but it is only a matter of time. To continue, Mr. Hawkins, so you fully understand your situation, most bank frauds are faceless crimes—done by replicating a computer’s IPv4 address or by using malware to take over partial control of the victim’s computer without them knowing it. That’s why it’s impossible for the FBI to go any further without your cooperation.”

“Is this imposter mafia or a lone entrepreneur? If it’s the former, we have crime mapping software capable of matching your data against the MO’s of all variety of hackers. But if it’s the latter, then you’re at some risk. Just out of curiosity, Mr. Hawkins, our investigation indicates you postponed your original flight from Erie to LaGuardia. What prompted you to do that?”

“Nothing, really, I just wanted to play golf and have dinner with a good friend of mine.”

“The reason I ask, Mr. Hawkins, is simple—you may be lucky to be alive today. If there is a connection between Mr. Cervi’s killing, and you being the only person able to recognize his imposter—changing your travel plans last week might have saved your life! Criminals suspected of murder and federal bank fraud will track you around the clock. You’re a witness . . . they want you dead.”

Good grief, I’m thinking to myself, where the hell is this thing going? For your safety, reader, there could be a time when I have to go it alone. Understand?

“Here is our dilemma, Mr. Hawkins. By happenstance, it appears someone may have stumbled onto a scheme targeting wealthy elderly people via high school and college yearbooks, fund raising letters from colleges and universities, fraternity and sorority newsletters, social media postings, etc. On the face of it, the mathematical

Dave Gifford/DGI © 2013


improbability of such a scheme seems highly doubtful—too labor intensive for the likely ROI. Until we did the math.”

“Calculating how many graduation reunions there must be every year in every community in this country, the FBI would be derelict in its duty in not considering the potential of such a scheme. Personally, over the years I have seen a number of high school and college yearbooks in Goodwill stores. Moore puzzling to the FBI, however, is why anyone at this imposter’s level—clearly a player in some capacity and not a minion—would test the veracity of this scheme himself, thereby exposing him to the possibility of being identified. Not normal behavior. Save for John Gotti, players like to keep in the shadows. If this guy really is a player…well…that’s where you come in. So let’s hear what you can tell us this morning, shall we?”

“How can I help you?”

At this point I’m just sitting here, amazed at what the FBI came up with so

quickly, and how instantly it all added up for me: this guy looking so much older

because he is older; failing to register for the reunion; his quick exit from the hotel lobby after introducing himself; staying at another hotel; picking a restaurant three blocks away from the reunion venue; paying for everything in cash; taking my picture at dinner . . . all a precaution to avoid anyone else being able to identify him. Then there is his failed memory; and why he seemed to be a totally different person than the Joe Cervi remembered as a kid—mostly because of his explosive temper. More diabolical, why all those questions, and why—in pre-qualifying me as a possible mark for his scheme—the real purpose of breakfast was an exercise in due diligence: quantifying my interest level in speculative, deep pocket investments most likely requiring large amounts of cash up front. Man, he played me like a kazoo. Oh how much faster this investigation would go if I had taken this guy’s picture at dinner as well. I can still see my cell phone strategically placed in the center of my office desk so I couldn’t forget bringing it. Idiot, you’re a bull’s eye. Weird.

Now entering the room walks an attractive looking young woman carrying a laptop and introduced to me as Jackie, a forensic sculptor/artist. Nice warm smile and a handshake with feeling. Good people skills.

With Downing taking notes and studying me, microscopically like an Entomologist, and Jackie providing multiple choice responses for the following descriptive categories, the next two hours were all about Joe’s impersonator.

Get ready, reader, you’re about find out how the FBI works from the inside-out. Fascinating.

Race: Caucasian; Lineage: Italian; Age: looks sixtyish. Height: 6’; Weight: 230; Body Type: thin neck, large chest/sloping shoulders/long arms & legs/tapered

Dave Gifford/DGI © 2013


fingers with manicured nails; Posture: standing-stooped over/sitting-leaning forward; Hair: black toupee, swept back; Face: big face fronts a small head (to body mass)/unremarkable looks/large, noticeably protruding ears/narrow, forward sloping forehead/high cheek bones/strong jaw line/olive skin tone/bumpy, heavily wrinkled skin with deep vertical line; Eyes: large eye sockets/ deep-set, squinty, dark, bleary (film covered), darting eyes/dark bushy eyebrows; Glasses: thick black frames; Nose: normal size/beaked; Mouth: thin upper lip/fleshy lower lip; Teeth: upper-large incisors/lower-crooked; Dress: Custom fit Italian designer suit, black alligator shoes/suspenders; Feet: large; Gate: walks with head down; Accessories: gold Rolex on left wrist/ shiny, black stone ring on right ring finger; Interests: money; Politics: Tea Partyer?/militia extremist?; Religion: likely Catholic-Pro Life; Opinions: kept conversation on me; Intelligence: street smart;

Verbal skills: talker, with hands; Speech Pattern: full octave range, including volume; Body Language: animated; Drinker: heavy/Scotch; Smoker: yellow, right finger tips/gritty voice; Scars: small horizontal across nose; Tattoo: snake intertwined with a cross immediately behind his watch.

Trust me, reader, if the description above fits, it’s him. That is how the FBI is able to distribute a recognizable likeness of this guy. Me, I had the aid of multiple-choice options. You? See if you can put him all together. What’s that? What do I look like? Who’s your favorite 007. Nice pick. It’s like we’re twins. Weird.

Next up, from dozens of clinically recognized personality types listed, Jackie asked that I select up to fifteen descriptions closest to identifying the makeup of this dude: haughty, impatient, angry, belligerent, obsessive, unforgiving, volatile, greedy, malicious, fearful, risk taker, opportunistic, scheming, shifty. And two of my own.  Las Vegas casino greeter straight from Central Casting, and nobody I want to share a foxhole with.

Now what, I wonder. I didn’t take long to find out.

“Mister Hawkins, before you leave, let’s take care of some new business, shall we?”

“New business, what new business?” I’m naturally suspicious.

“Let’s start with what you do for a living. My report lists you separately as a journalist, an investigative reporter, or a photojournalist? Which is it?”

“Depends on the gig, including all three at times.”

“I have here a précis on you, Mr. Hawkins,”—I have been expecting this, reader—  “and it appears—in whatever role you’re engaged in—you have quite a reputation for becoming the story rather than reporting the story, beginning with chasing down,

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tackling, and disarming a suspect only minutes after he stabbed his wife’s boyfriend; getting shot at by a funeral director, of all professions, only seconds after he shot to death his estranged girlfriend to death; while on patrol with two plain clothes cops in the 41st precinct of the South Bronx—Fort Apache as NYC police call it—taking photos of a gang member chained head and foot to a radiator in an abandoned building—the back of his leather jacket slashed open diagonally like chefs slice London Broil steaks—so much blood in that photo it’s impossible to identify the victim’s race.”

“I’m not done, Mr. Hawkins. To continue, after reporting a mob threat on your life to NYC police, it seems that an unidentified source “vouched” for you just in time to save you from getting wacked. The bigger mystery, to me at least, is how the FBI found that out. Finally, not that there isn’t more on you, somewhere in that mix you got accepted to the Police Academy only to get discharged for insubordination. How do you manage to put yourself in situations like these?”

“I have a Police radio.”, I said flippantly. “Are you done?”

“No, Mister Hawkins,” responded my short-lived new best friend, “you’re a worry to me. Software created to construct a determinative, composite profile of people with histories, behaviors and backgrounds, similar to yours, revealed 125 personality types that might be a match for you, eleven of which would disqualify me from working for the FBI. In alphabetical order: aggressive, angry, headstrong, impatient, loner, non-conformist, revengeful, risk taker, and tenacious. Bottom line, Mr. Hawkins, with respect to this investigation—in words as clear as I know how to put them—I’m telling you right now to stay out of this. Can I have your word on that?”

“You decide, Mat. Yes if the FBI is obsessive about keeping my windpipe open, and no if I end up having to protect myself. That’s a call only you can make. As for your personality trait analysis software, without the participation of the person being analyzed, that’s horseshit! Besides, 125 personality traits minus 11 personality traits you find personally offensive, equals 114 positive personality traits qualifying me to be your boss.” (I can’t help myself!)

Is Special Agent Mathew Downing pissed, you ask? Special Agent Mathew Downing is very pissed. Jackie, on the other hand, is grinning like a party clown. Interesting.

“It is seditious remarks like that, Mr. Hawkins, that worry me all the more. Get between the FBI and people wishing you harm . . . and you could end up dead.”

“With or without the FBI’s help, I could end up dead either way, what’s the difference?”

Dave Gifford/DGI © 2013

(to be continued)

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