A Crowdsourced Novel
Read it here – Say what comes next.
Tony Ferragamo parked his stolen car out front of the matchbox ranch and pushed the door bell. He peered down the block hoping he’d picked the right house. Rows of identical units, all different colors, most needing fresh paint. Houses of Nines—$9,999 in the 40s—built after WWII for the big glut of GIs coming home from the war.
He didn’t hear a buzz and he pounded on the door. When it opened, Mario stood there gaping at him.
“You gonna let me in or don’t you got no room for an old high school buddy?”
“Sure, Tony. Surprised me is all.” Mario stepped back and let Ferragamo slip inside. “Must be years. Where you been? You disappeared after that big mob case.”
Tony walked straight to the refrigerator and pulled out a beer. “I need a place to lay low till some plans come together.”
“Sure, you can have the couch—but only a few days. Elsa’s pregnant and she’s fussy about things lately. Gotta sneak my joints out back of the garage ‘cause she’s worried about the smoke hurtin’ the baby. Hey Elsa! We got company.”
After a minute, Elsa stepped into the kitchen. She looked six months along. Stared Tony up and down. “Need a place to hide like usual? Mario, get him a clean set of clothes. I’ll find a pillow and blanket. You need something to eat?”
Tony grinned. “Yeah, that’d be nice. You always could cook, Elsa. Mario, a clean T-shirt and underwear is all.” He turned back to Elsa. “I won’t cause no trouble.”
Elsa looked at him without a smile. “When did you not cause trouble, Mr. Bigshot?”
Tony grabbed an aluminum chair and sat at the red Formica kitchen table. Soon the room smelled of sizzling peppers and Tony and Mario talked about raising hell as high school kids while they downed beer after beer.
Around midnight, Tony flopped on the couch and drifted off immediately.
* * *
The sun woke Tony to a headache and a silent house.
He checked all four rooms and the bath. Nobody.
He stepped outside and called to a kid with a skateboard, maybe sixteen, wearing a ball cap sideways. “You seen Mario around?”
The kid nodded down the street.
Tony frowned. “Maybe you could get more specific?” He held up a twenty dollar bill.
The kid grabbed the bill and stuffed it in his baggy pants and mumbled, “Renaldo’s house—502.” He gestured down the street again then rolled away on his skateboard.
Tony walked a block to another matchbox ranch and rounded the structure till he heard voices through an open window. He crouched and listened.
“…just be ready with your car.” Mario’s voice. Something inaudible, then Mario again: “I told you, don’t worry about that. I’ll get him good and wasted this afternoon. Help me make a quick delivery and the cash’ll be quick, too.”
Tony moved away from the house, wondering how much of a bounty Uomo Grasso put on his head. He reached his car and climbed behind the wheel. Better steal another one, just to be safe—but not in this neighborhood. Some place where nobody watched what was happening.
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.