A Crowdsourced Novel
Read it here – Say what comes next.
Tony read the tail number on the Cessna as it took off—November-9-6-3-6-Victor. A fixed-gear 182—a little utility plane that he particularly liked. It hauled whatever you could fit inside and landed on short, rough strips—perfect for running drugs. That big shed must be a hangar. He looked inside and saw the stolen gravel truck.
Although Tony grew up in the ‘hood, his two years as a grunt in the Air Force taught him a few things. He still knew a contact at the FAA he could squeeze. If they’d filed a flight plan, he’d get their destination.
Driving back to the highway, he considered whether to retrieve Luigi’s gun. He’d watched the older goon wipe it clean and press it into Frank Smith’s bound palm then toss it to the pavement. No, he’d leave it. That way the real Frank Smith would be in trouble with the Feds as well as the Mob. Nowhere to turn. After Uomo Grasso made him a corpse, the killing of the truck driver would seal his identity as alias Frank Speck, alias Tony Ferragamo. Even if the Feds dug deeper and compared prints, it bought Tony time. The important thing was to fool Grasso, not the Feds.
* * *
Frank and Roya lay in a heap in the back of the plane, both securely bound. Pain shot from Frank’s knees, elbows and hips after landing on the gravel in that truck. Blood clotted at Roya’s hairline and ran down her arm from a wound at her shoulder, her skin and clothes dusty from the gravel truck. Frank looked down at his suit. Streaked with filth. A blood stain spread across his trousers at the knee. He couldn’t see his hands and feet but felt sticky blood between his fingers. The roar of the airplane deafened him.
Roya twisted position and her lips brushed his ear. “My hands tingle. That’s a good sign. Thanks for freeing my elbows—that tape felt like a tourniquet.”
Frank wondered again about Roya. Could he trust her? She wasn’t some random motorist whose car broke down. She knew his name. Her identification was forged. She’d been hauling weapons in her vehicle. Whatever she wanted must be big—she was going through hell to get it. One thing—she must see a way out of this mess or she’d never have let herself get trapped.
* * *
Agent Stan Harris sat at his desk in the FBI Chicago Bureau working through a stack of reports. A snitch looking for favors had given a lead on Tony Ferragamo alias Frank Speck. Tony had now slipped away from the witness protection program and assumed the name of Frank Smith. Harris didn’t much care what happened to Tony but he was in charge of the case and a witness gone missing didn’t help his career.
One report was about the shooting of a truck driver outside St. Louis. Something for the local police. He noted that ballistics confirmed the gun at the scene as the murder weapon. But then something peculiar. A search of the prints turned up the name Frank Smith and that brought it to Harris’ desk. That was interesting—those prints came from Census duty. Ferragamo must’ve used that alias a lot of times. Harris pulled out the proper form and filled out a request for the prints of a protected witness. Might as well cover all the bases.
What happens next? TAKE YOUR TURN [click here]
HOW TO PLAY–This is an interactive story based on Nate’s game in my novel. You get to say what comes next:
1.) KEEP IT SHORT – It’s easy to play Nate’s game. Just enter your idea as a comment like, “their jeep drives off a cliff.” Don’t worry about form—just suggest the next step in the story. I’ll pick one, write it, and post it as a scene in serial form.
2.) KEEP IT CLEAN – I hold the veto pen. Since this is an experiment, I get to add rules as we go along.
3.) SHARE – Your posts are a precious gift to me. Maybe you’ll help write my next novel. Maybe we’ll just have a great time. I take you at your word that all ideas are your original thoughts. No criticism. No arguments. No lawsuits allowed. Let’s have some fun.
20 responses to “ROYA FETOVA – 5”
Okay, let’s see if I’ve got this right:
1.) Frank Smith, our hero, is an ordinary insurance salesman who has been mistaken for Frank Speck, the identity given an informer in the witness protection program.
2.) Tony Ferragamo alias Frank Speck alias Frank Smith, about to be alias something else, is some kind of hit man who turned informer to the FBI and also kept the money. The mob found him in the witness protection program and he stole the name Frank Smith and let himself be trailed to St. Louis, where he set up the real Frank Smith to take his place. He wants the mob to kill Frank, thinking it’s him.
3.) Two mob goons have abducted Frank, implicated him in a murder, and are taking him to a crime boss, Uomo Grasso by private plane. These two think he’s really Frank Speck. Their knowledge doesn’t go further back than that.
4.) Roya Fetova let herself get captured along with Frank for reasons we don’t yet know. She’s not what she appears to be–that much is for sure.
5.) FBI agent Stan Harris is following the events and needs to find Tony Ferragamo.
Have I got that straight?
Nancy Smith was worried when her husband, Frank, had not come home from his nightly walk. He was rarely gone more than 45 minutes. She had driven through the neighborhood, but saw nothing. Finally, at 11 p.m. she had called the police. They told her the policy for filing a missing person report was to wait 24 hours.
Frank and Nancy’s son, James, drove through the night from Kansas City and arrived around 6 a.m. He and Nancy continued searching, contacting emergency rooms, and calling friends all day. In late afternoon, they entered the police station in the suburb of Kirkwood and demanded to be helped.
Frank Smith had been a mid-level manager at a mortgage company and lost his job when real estate market collapsed during the recession. He had worked hard at seeking a new job. If he had been 20 years younger and willing to work at an entry level job, he might have found something. At age 54, he soon became depressed. He had taken a job with the U.S. Census to earn a few dollars and get out of the house. It was clear the mortgage industry was in for a long-term recovery, and would not be an employment option for years to come. He made the decision to seriously look into the financial services industry. A well respected life insurance company was willing to provide him a base pay while he took the training and passed the exams to become a licensed agent. Frank discovered he was pretty good at helping people and started building a book of clients. Now after eighteen months, he was established and life seemed to be getting back to normal. And then everything changed 36 hours ago on a quiet street near his home.
Roya Fetova spoke Russian fluently. This was part of her cover as a special agent with the FBI. She was part of a small task force with the mission of disrupting the Russian Mob that had grown significantly in parts of the U.S. since the breakup of the former Soviet Union. Her FBI partner, Sergey (who was a Russian émigré) had been personally killed by Uomo Grasso in a turf war between the Russian Mob and the Italian Mob. Sergey had also been her lover. When the FBI pulled her off the case, Roya resigned and decided to deliver her own brand of justice.
Lying in the back of the crowded plane, both Frank and Roya reflected on their circumstances. Frank was praying for a miracle of God’s intervention. Roya was exploring different scenarios in her mind of how she could take out each her captors.
Good stuff about Roya’s background. Since we’re looking through Frank’s eyes rather than hers, I might not be able to bring it out till a later chapter, and I can’t tell what changes will happen between now and then.
He could be married. I hadn’t thought about it like that but it could be. Of course it would make the case of mistaken identity hard to believe. Frank did claim to be married but on the other hand that might have been a bluff. His abductor immediately contradicted his story as if he had been watching him. So I now see it two different ways. If he’s single, then he’s really alone and cut off–vulnerable. If he’s married, then he’s got other people to worry about–not just himself. Both ways could work.
Right now, we see the story through three distinct points of view–Frank’s, Tony’s, and the FBI guy. Another set of eyes–the wife–will make things more complex. Is a wife important to the story or should we build a love interest with Roya? Frank doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy to mess around on the side, so we probably want to go full-bore one way or the other. Your comments?
As the aircraft entered a steep bank, Roya slid back against the bulkhead. A bent piece of metal flashing cut her left hand, passing cleanly through the bindings. She was free!
Dave, I realize you’re knowlegeable about these things. What kind of bare metal would be likely in the back of a Cessna 182 with the seat removed, (as mentioned below by another writer)?
I changed the airplane tail number to one with permission.
Glad you are looking after details. Did you find a website with registration info?
So, maybe Roya is an anti-heroine. I was trying to figure out who she was and what made her tick.
Actually, I didn’t look it up. An old friend brought it to my attention.
I think Franks in his 30’s. Thats probably how old the hit man is. I dont think he’s married. That Italian guy said he lived alone. A wife and kids would tip him off that he had the wrong guy, right? Unless it was a real quick grab, then could be. This is the stuff I read.
Good point. I hate to lose the backstory Lee gave us. Sorry for the delay. I’m lost in taxes right now and will have to figure out this plot point later. I try to use everything people write in if I can–if not now, then later.
I don’t read or write this kind of thing, but maybe I should. This story is, as you said, a lot of fun. I agree with Bill’s points–30’s and single–but you could go either way. Lee may have a master plan–I don’t know. If you make him younger and single, that leaves a better opening for a relationship with Roya. I guess it’s your call, John.
My husband is a private pilot and he tells me the back seat of that Cessna has probably been removed to make more room for smuggling. If Roya gets her hands free, like Dave says, maybe she can strangle Gort before that slimy Italian fellow can do anything about it. He’s got his hands full flying the plane. Oops, my husband tells me he’s got an autopilot so maybe they fly into a thunderstorm and he’s too busy to interfere. Ah, yes, that means they’re on a flight plan and Tony will be able to trace them.
Roya doesn’t have a weapon. She could be wearing a sports bra and strangle him with that, but I don’t know if you want it to get that sexy. Also, I can’t wait to see Uomo Grasso and that’s where they’re going. I’m not sure. Think it over, John. I know you can’t use every idea.
I would appreciate comments on the points that Janet brought up.
I do try to use every idea. If I can’t use it now, I try to use it later. If it conflicts or there is a really good reason, I may go in the opposite direction. To my way of thinking, that’s a fair way to use an idea. I believe that, in brainstorming, no idea is a bad idea.
On the other hand, your idea is just what Roya would do. But it’s not the kind of stuff I write.
Lee has shown Roya to be a pro. Remember, she left two pistols and some other hardware in her car (the twins and the Beagle) and she knew what she was getting into. She believes she can handle herself. I take that as a given.
Back to taxes.
O.K. I have read the feedback on who Frank might be, so I will offer another possible scenario.
After one tour of duty in Iraq and two tours fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, Frank Smith had left the army with an honorable discharge, plus a number of citations for service above and beyond the call of duty. Frank had always planned to make the army his career, but he had witnessed the horrors of war up close and personal. He didn’t want to become so callous that he lost the ability to enjoy life.
He never planned to leave his chosen profession in the midst of the worst economic downturn in a generation. After a few months of working the census, he decided to try insurance sales for awhile. If he disliked insurance he could use his GI benefits to attend college. Although Frank had been married for a few years to his high school sweetheart, she didn’t like his long deployments and small salary. He was 30 years old and had been single almost ten years.
Frank had tried hard to put the military behind him. He didn’t hang out with veterans and had learned to ignore politicians and the 24/7 news cycle.
He had tried to remain calm and rational, when he was grabbed off the street by these thugs. Now as he lay in the back of this small airplane his military survival skills and warrior instinct began surfacing after being suppressed for the past 16 months. He thought to himself, “O.K. I am in a tight spot. The first thing to do is do a quick check of what assets are at my disposal. First, I am skilled at killing in a variety of ways. Second, this Roya gal appears to know how to fight and think on her feet. Third, they didn’t kill me right away, so they must think I have information they want, which buys a little time.
Okay! I think I’ve got what I need to write the next episode. This was a fork in the road and I appreciate all the input. I’m still finishing up taxes and tied up with some urgent tasks. I’ll get this episode up ASAP. Please forgive the delay.
Just a few more sentences to my last post.
Even though Frank wished he knew who this Roya (or whatever her name is) really was, he decided he must take a chance and trust her. The drone of the engine was quite loud, but he scooted a few inches closer to her to whisper in her ear. The dry cabin air and friction from the carpet caused a bit of static electricity to spark as his lips touched her skin. It had been a good while since he was this close to a woman, and static or not, he felt a tingle of excitement.
Nice! All this great feedback makes me almost glad I had to stop to do taxes. I’ll try to get the next episode up tonight.