A Crowdsourced Novel
Read it here – Say what comes next.
Tony Ferragamo drove north along the Fox River to Batavia. He spotted a pickup truck idling outside a busy convenience store, parked his stolen car, jumped in the truck and took off. He glanced in the rear-view mirror. Nobody. Tony grinned. He couldn’t keep this ride for long but such a sweet truck. F-150. All the perks. Clean.
He’d take it as far as Lake Geneva—not far past the border in Wisconsin. Used to be a popular hideout for legends like Dillinger. Why not him; why not now? Should be far enough from Uomo’s territory to stay away from informers. He’d have just enough time to get there and ditch the truck before the owner could fill out a police report.
Tony turned west, heading for old Rt. 47. Nobody would look for him there. He’d travel invisible on a road loaded with other trucks and make a straight run to his destination. Find a cheap hotel. Lay low a couple days.
* * *
Frank and Roya sat at the breakfast table with Tatiana. While the girls talked, Frank sipped his second cup of coffee and tried to clear his head, thinking about Roya’s advances the previous night, the flaming wreck with the two dead men, the men they killed on the plane, the man hunt underway by the FBI, the Mob, and a hit man—all gunning for him.
He didn’t respond, just looked at his hands.
He jerked his head up toward Roya.
“You haven’t had a chance to get to know my sister.”
For the first time, Frank studied Tatiana. Taller than Roya. Older. Smiling wrinkles at the corners of her eyes. Tennis muscles. Dark hair. Then he realized he hadn’t met Mr. Tatiana. He didn’t even know her last name. He’d barely talked to her. He stumbled out an apology.
Roya laughed. “I was about to say, ‘And you’re not going to.’ I want to keep her out of our trouble.”
He nodded. His hostess reminded him of his ex-wife. Now his mind swarmed with conflicting thoughts and he slurped more hot coffee, burning his mouth, spilling it down his shirt.
Tatiana dabbed him with a kitchen towel. “No matter. I have plans for the day. Roya, why don’t you take Frank for a country drive up to Lake Geneva? You can walk around the lake and have a nice meal at one of those quaint restaurants. The change will do you good.”
Frank thought about the surreal life he’d lived the past few days. Now this gal suggested taking a vacation? Yeah, she sure sounded like Peggy. It was all he could do to hang onto reality while Tatiana poured him a fresh cup of coffee.
Roya: “Yes. It’ll be safe there. Some relaxation—that’s just what we need to stay sharp.”
Frank finally found his tongue. “I thought you wanted to find Ferragamo and make a deal. Why’d we break away and follow those thugs?”
She cocked her head and looked at him. “The guy wasn’t there, right? Another opportunity came up. That’s how it works, Frank. Anyway, there’s no hurry and I’d rather not discuss it in front of my sister.”
Tatiana: “Take the Mercedes. I need the boat for a shopping trip.”
Roya kissed her on the cheek.
In his dazed state, it took Frank a minute to register that “the boat” meant her SUV.
* * *
With Roya at the wheel, they arrived in Lake Geneva late morning and parked the white Mercedes close to the lake. They decided to take a walk before looking for a place to eat. Both of them steered around the events of the past few days and what Roya planned to do next. Just small talk. Learning a little more about each other. But questions about Roya’s past brought out evasive responses.
They found a small café, sat next to the window and continued their small talk over a meal. As they enjoyed a glass of wine with dessert, Roya stared out the window. “Frank, I think we just found your double. Look.”
Frank glanced casually outside, then looked again hard. A man sat on a bench across the street. It was like seeing a tough version of himself.
Roya placed a small hand on Frank’s clenched fist. “Relax, he didn’t follow us, I’m sure. Just one of those things.” Then she went silent for a long time.
Frank turned and saw her in a state of concentration. “You’re thinking about how to take advantage of this, aren’t you? How to move forward with your crazy goal to kill that mob boss.”
She broke her concentration and smiled.
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.