NOTE: My novel "Key West" - which by the way has been selling more each month than it did the month before - will soon have company. The publisher, Wheelman Press, has requested that I write "Companion Episodes" - short novellas (60-ish pages long) which will at first be published only for Kindle, as we work to turn the whole Key West concept into an HBO-style series (are you listening HBO?)
There will be three companion episodes published later this year. The following is an abbreviated sample from the first, titled "One-Way Ticket."
If you haven't read the novel yet, what you need to know before reading this sample is that it is set in 1951, Key West, Florida. Papy is the local State Representative, and Trumbull the "Dear Cuz" columnist for the Miami Herald who is exposing all of Papy's corruption. These guys really existed. These are fictionalized adaptations of events that took place. Thanks again to Robert Silk, and now also to Tim O'hara for their research and support.
"Have you looked at the brief for Papy's case?" Davis asked, motioning toward the stack of papers on Judge McCarthur's desk.
"I have," McCarthur said. "Good read. It has a lot of plot twists."
"Have you given any thought to how it ends?"
"Davis, let's get one thing straight," said McCathur. "I don't like your boss, Bernie Papy. I think it would be poetic justice, after everything he's done, if he went down for puting a damn bill in some milk-toasts palm in the State Assembly building."
"Careful, your honor," Davis said soberly. "You're in danger of passing judgement before the trial begins."
"I'm not passing any kind of judgement. I'm sitting here having a bowl of soup, chatting informally with you. Passing judgement is what I do when I'm wearing a robe."
"Your honor," Davis said, shifting forward in his seat. "This is all a horrible misunderstanding. This trial is a sham."
"Not yet it isn't," McCarthur said. "But you'd better hope it becomes one. Judging from the mysterious disappearance of the FBI's star witness, this uh, this uh, Police Chief, Martins, it would seem maybe we are headed in that direction."
Davis was quiet for a moment, looking at the judge contemplatively.
"Dismiss the case," Davis said.
The judge did not respond right away. He picked up the bottle of wine from his desk and read the label again. "This is nice wine, Davis," he said. "I know Papy paid well for it." He set the bottle down and looked at Davis. "The case will move forward. Papy will have to make things look better than they do right now."
"Meaning what?" Davis asked.
"I want to retire well," the judge said. "Next year. Papy is guilty, sure as the nose on your face. Now I don't know what happened to this vanishing police chief. I don't want to know. What I'm saying is, Papy has to win in court, or at least appear to win in court. It has to look good."
The faintest trace of a smile played across Davis's mouth. He stood up.
"Thanks for your time, your Honor," he said.
"And don't draw attention to yourself," McCarthur said. "The last thing I need is some damn reporter letting everyone know you visited me."
Sometimes there is a diference between what you know and what you can prove.
Papy lives somewhere in the dark corners of that difference.
I might know that Papy is as rotten as a week-old fish carcass, but if I can't prove it, Papy wins.
So, there are some things I know that I cannot say.
I would just like Papy to know that, from where I sit, the stench of rotten fish is wafting wind-ward. The fish carcass smells old, putrid, and no amount of cash, no backroom deals, no strong-arm tactics, can make a rotten fish smell sweet.
So far, I cannot say exactly where the rotten fish smell is coming from, but I intend to sniff it out.
-Peter Wick, June 15, 2013