Roya FetovaRoya Fetova

A Crowdsourced Novel

Read it here – Say what comes next.

Stan Harris checked his service revolver and slipped his arms into his suit coat on the way out the building. The back seat of the Crown Vic made almost enough room for his big frame and he settled back while Special Agent Paul Schneider steered the car into traffic, then handed back a phone. Harris still refused to carry one. “St. Louis on the line, Stan.”

Harris took a deep breath before raising the phone to his face. “Sammy? Stan. No, I’m on my way to Joliet Airport to check on some dead mobsters. You got that St. Louis gravel truck shooting covered?”

“Missouri State Police are on it. On my way to talk to them now. Get back to you, soon as I know something.”

“I’m following up a lead. Give me whatever you know now.”

A pause on the line then Sammy’s voice, less jovial.  “Prints on the gun belong to Frank Smith, a local insurance agent, but I got to check it out.”

“Okay, keep me in the loop, Sammy. It may connect up with something at my end.” Harris cut the connection and the phone chimed immediately. “Harris. Talk to me.”

“Mahoney here.” Harris recognized the voice from the organized-crime task force in Washington. The guy’s nasal accent always irritated him. “Your mystery woman is Roya Fetova, one of our best undercover assets till about six months ago. She and her partner worked up some good intel on the Russian Mob in Chicago and connections in Boston and New York. I’m sending her picture now.”

Harris quickly looked at the photo on his phone. “Nice face. Still blonde?”

“As far as we know.”

Harris frowned at that. “Something slip at your end, Mahoney?”

“You might say that. Sergey went down in a turf war with the Italian mob. Ugly killing. Execution style, you know. Roya was convinced Don Grasso pulled the trigger himself. Oh by the way, we caught Sergey and Roya expanding on the department’s definition of watching your partner’s back. We had to pull her in.”

“Wanna spell that out, Mahoney?”

“Let’s say her professional conduct was compromised. Officially, she’s on leave of absence. She dropped out of sight and might be looking for some…” He paused. “Some personal justice.”

Harris winced. A federal agent gone rogue made for trouble. One bent on revenge made a mess. Stupid—pulling a trained agent off a case, just because she cared. Sometimes the department made no sense at all.

Again the nasal voice. “The photo of the male suspect checked out as one Tony Ferragamo, known hit man.”

Harris paused to consider what he wanted to reveal about his runaway witness under protection. “I think the guy in the photo is a lookalike. Last known name for Ferragamo is Frank Smith. He used that in St. Louis and then got lost. There’s a real Frank Smith in this with his prints on a gun that killed a truck driver. That give you any ideas?”

“Something slip at your end too, Stan?”

Harris didn’t immediately answer. Losing a protected witness didn’t look so good. “I’m trying to figure out if Ferragamo, Smith, and your suspended agent have anything in common.”

“I’ll run a check on that name and get back to you. Smith did you say?” He chuckled.

“You do that.” Harris handed the phone back to Paul then slammed his fist against the door. That Washington bastard just laughed in his face. Paul offered no comment, just inched the car forward in traffic.

Half way to Joliet, the phone rang again and Paul handed it back to him. “Harris. Talk to me.”

“Sammy again. Re-ran the prints of the gravel truck shooter. One Frank Smith. Ran his driver’s license photo. Came up with Tony Ferragamo, but the prints don’t match Ferragamo. What I got shows Smith about a year older, an inch shorter and about ten pounds lighter. The guy’s clean—not even a speeding ticket. Insurance agent. Census duty. Service record. Air Force pilot. But he’s definitely our shooter—not Ferragamo.”

“What about the car?”


Harris ran a hand across his chin. How did Smith kill a truck driver in St. Louis, then end up in a Joliet hotel with a loose-cannon FBI agent and a credit card in the name of Luigi Gastroni? “You’re sure this Smith whacked the truck driver?”

“Looks that way, yeah.”

“Okay, keep me posted.” Harris leaned back and closed his eyes. So the rogue FBI agent hired some new muscle. But an insurance agent? And what about the connection with Ferragamo?

They turned in at Joliet Municipal. Paul drove past the FBO and pulled up to a roped-off crime scene, lit with halogen lights. A tied-down Cessna and a handful of agents looking busy. The flashing lights of an ambulance. The driver turned to Harris. “Like I said, you gotta see this for yourself.”

“Okay, Paul.” He climbed out of the back seat, ducked under the yellow tape and pointed his flashlight at a stretcher, then at the coroner.

“O’Reilly. What you doing this far from the loop? It’s enough I have to deal with you back there.”

“I might ask you the same.” He unzipped the body bag. Harris immediately recognized the face of Luigi Gastroni. “You know him, right?”

“Yeah. What’s the story?”

Somebody snapped his neck. Martial arts move. Pro, I imagine.”

“How long?”

O’Reilly stiffened. “You’ll have my complete report in the morning.” He closed the bag.

Paul steered Harris away by the arm. “Stan, c’mere a minute. There’s more I want you to see before they bag the other body.” He pointed his flash at the open passenger door of the Cessna. “Ever see anything like that?”

Harris immediately recognized the huge awkward form and ugly features of Giovanni Ragliani, all the more hideous after strangulation. He stepped closer and fingered the material that bound the giant’s neck to the headrest. “A brassier? What’s up with that?”

“You tell me.”

“Gort caused me a lot of trouble over the years. Nobody ever messed with him—not ever. Oumo Grasso is gonna be pissed when he hears his two top enforcers got snuffed. What do we know about it?”

“We found gags and duct tape in the back of the plane. Waiting on prints. I’d like to get some skin samples for DNA.”

Harris flashed his light in back. “Seat’s gone. You check the frame for traces of drugs? Good.” He looked closer at Gort. “No woman did this—except the strong lady at the circus, maybe.” He snorted a short laugh. “What kinda martial arts pro goes up against a giant armed with woman’s underwear? Both these guys have guns?”

“Not Luigi.”

“That’s odd. Maybe caught by surprise. Tell O’Reilly to check for any sign Gort was unconscious before he got strangled. Luigi flying?”

“We found him in back.”

“That’s strange, too. Maybe killed on the ground?” Harris inserted a finger behind the wrapped brassier and tested the tension. “Anybody see this plane land?”

“Nobody. Airport closed during the storm.” Paul answered his phone. “Okay, thanks.” He pocketed the device. “Frank Smith’s prints are all over the plane.”

Harris nodded. “So Smith flew here from St. Louis. Then he used Luigi’s credit card. Smith looks like our man. We got some new muscle in town, maybe a new mob.”

* * *

Tony Ferragamo leaped onto the train just as the doors slid closed and moved slowly through the rear half of the car, scanning for his two targets. He opened the lavatory. He moved to the front half of the car. Nothing. He passed through to the next car. Frank and that arrogant blond could be anywhere along the line, but there was no place to hide. He’d just go from car to car until he found them.

Frank heard the door bang open but didn’t dare peer over the edge to the lower floor. He and Roya lay prone in front of the upper-deck seats, arms stretched forward to fit flat to the narrow aisle, invisible to anybody below. A man closed his computer lid and glared at them. Other people glanced, then glanced away. Frank heard the lavatory door open and slam shut. Then nothing but the noise of the train.

Would the guy climb to the upper deck?

The recording announced the next stop. The door to the entryway opened and shut. Frank peeked over the edge at the floor “He’s gone.”

“Don’t get so cocky, Frank. He might come back. He might be sitting below us.” Roya dusted off her jeans and grinned. “On the other hand, he might not.”

Frank didn’t like being hunted. At the next stop, he caught sight of the guy moving along the platform. “Roya.” He signaled her to get low. “He’s scanning windows. We’re lit up like a store display.”

The train jostled into motion again and Frank wondered whether Speck, or whatever his name was, got back onboard or stayed behind.

The PA announced Union station. “Frank, I want to split up. We’ll be less conspicuous. Meet me at Ogilvie Station in 10 minutes. Get on the train for Crystal Lake—fourth car, upper right deck. I’ll find you there.

At Union Station, Tony got off the first car in the midst of a sea of people and quickly moved to the head of the pack, then found a corner to watch every passenger as they passed.

There was Frank Smith. Alone.

Tony held his breath, not wanting to lose Frank, not daring to put himself ahead of that bitch.

There she was. Hair pulled back in a ponytail. Not much of a disguise. Probably hanging back to see if Frank picked up a tail. He dropped in behind her, letting her lead him to Frank.

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. In general, if it wouldn’t fly in an old 60’s Bond movie, then it’s out. 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. If so, I’ll list your name prominently as a contributor. If not, then 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.


Filed under Interactive Story, Living Novel

7 responses to “ROYA FETOVA – 12

  1. Lee Jantzen

    Uomo Grassi was in a vert foul mood. He not only did he not have Tony Ferragamo; he lost two men and no doubt an airplane. The airplane belonged to a fake corporation and could not be traced back to him. He did not much care that Gort was dead. Muscle could be replaced without much trouble. He would miss his friend Luigi—who was not only smart but loyal like a brother. He blamed all this on Tony and he wished it was possible to kill someone more than once. He put word out on the street to let him know immediately if anyone spotted Ferragamo. Uomo was not a patient man, but all he could do for now is wait.
    Agent Harris called Mahoney at organized crime. Dan, Harris here. Do you think your suspended agent is capable of strangling a 275 pound thug with her bra? Dan chuckled and responded. “Even for Roya that’s a bit unconventional—but yes, she is quite resourceful and does what it takes to get the job done. Don’t let her petite frame fool you. Pound for pound she is physically very strong.”

    Since she is technically still my responsibility, I would like to be kept in the loop. Plus, there are some ongoing undercover operations that could be easily compromised if we don’t handle this all correctly. “Will do,” said Harris.
    Roya had formulated a hasty plan and hoped she could pull it off. She ducked into the women’s restroom and counted to 100 and then returned to the foyer. She saw the guy half hidden behind a kiosk selling sunglasses. She thought he had enough street smarts to pick up their trail. She also guessed this guy was carrying and she knew this was frowned on in the city of Chicago—no matter what the U.S. Supreme Court said about the 2nd Amendment. She went right up to a beat cop in the train station and said, “Sir, I don’t know much about rules and stuff, and maybe I watch too much TV, but there is a guy I think is stocking me. He is over there by sunglasses hut. He has been acting suspicious and I think he might have a gun in his jacket. That’s him in the Cubs hat.

    The cop walked over to Tony and Roya stepped onto the escalator. She just needed the cop to detain him a few minutes. She found Frank and told his look alike was busy talking to one of Chicago’s finest. She gave a sigh of relief as the train began to move.


    • Lee, you brightened my day! You saved me from separating Roya from Frank. I figured that she’d lead Tony on a wild goose chase. Your solution is much better. You also made me laugh. A memory came up of a favorite comic relief scene in one of my all-time favorite movies, THE MALTESE FALCON. Anyway, it has a similar encounter when Bogart is shadowed by “The Gunzel.” In a hotel lobby, he brings his friend, the hotel dick, right up to the guy and says, “Why do you let these cheap hoods hang around your hotel with their heaters bulging in their coats?” or something like that. This novel needs some of that. Thanks!

  2. Lee Jantzen

    Glad it gave you a chuckle. I am sure Tony will show up again soon. I have been thinking Tony and Roya have a common foe and perhaps they end up as partners in bringing down Uomo????

    Stayed tuned nascent novelists.

  3. Lee Jantzen

    How is this for #13:

    Roya sat quietly on the Metra ride to Crystal Lake and reflected on what they knew and what she could surmise about the past 3 days. She finally shared her thoughts with Frank. We know that the guy chasing us looks like you, and we know Uomo’s toughs thought you were someone else. So, this all must be a case of mistaken identity. Plus, Don Grassi could have told the goons to make you disappear in Missouri instead of bringing you to Chicago. So, it must be personal with him. If this Mr. X is wanted so badly by Uomo, it might help us to have him on our side. We just need to make sure it is not a trap of some kind. Frank responded, “I am not sure it’s a good idea, and besides we have lost him. Either he needs to find us again—or we need to find him.” Exactly Roya said.

    Roya had a friend named Calvin back at the organized crime division. Calvin and Sergey had been tight, and she knew she could trust him to be discreet and helpful. There must be some updates floating around by now about two dead gangsters in a plane at the Joliet airfield. Maybe even something on mysterious Mr. X.

    She called Calvin and let him know what she needed and stressed it must be all kept quiet. Calvin knew that Roya was not on the best of terms with the chief, Dan Mahoney. He told her to give him a couple of hours to see what information might be of interest and he would call her back.

    Roya’s sister was waiting for them as they stepped off the train. Frank looked around at the quaint, small town a good hour train ride outside of downtown Chicago. He thought it looked like a good place to hide from the mob.

    Tatiana led them to her SUV and they drove the 10 miles to her large home set on 5 acres outside of town. There was a bonus room above the garage where Frank could stay and Roya would get the guest room. Frank excused himself to take a shower and allow Roya and Tatiana some sister time.

    When he rejoined them an hour later, Roya had just finished talking with her friend Calvin. Roya told Tatiana that she and Frank were going for a walk and led Frank out the door. “What’s up?”. Frank asked, “Or did you just miss me?” The guy that was following us is named Tony Ferragamo—a low-level gang-banger with a bunch of misdemeanors and a couple of felonies. He hasn’t done much jail time. About 18 months ago he was placed in the witness protection program for squealing on the mob. He got antsy sitting around and decided to assume a new identity. You can guess who—Frank Smith. Nobody at the agency has seen Tony for quite awhile and would like to locate him. Calvin gave me an address for Tony’s sister, Delores, in Berwyn. I think we might want to do a little stake-out to see if Tony might be hangin’ out there.


  4. Jim Kren

    A little error. Harris knows that Smith’s prints are on the gun while he’s talking to Mahoney. Sammy doesn’t tell him about that until after.

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