Roya FetovaA Crowdsourced Novel

Read it here – Say what comes next.

Read it here. Write what comes next.

“Yes Paul?” Agent Stan Harris put down a report on his battered desk and looked up at the younger man.

Paul handed him a printout. “Positive ID on Frank Smith. Lake Geneva. Restaurant owner spotted him and watched him drive off in a white Mercedes. And Stan—we got the tags. Traced it to an address in Crystal Lake. Local police already staked out the area.

Harris looked at the time stamp on the initial report. “How’d you trace the tags so fast?”

“Stan, we got computers, right?”

“Lousy computers. The restaurant guy should get the credit—not some machine.” Harris hated anything digital—wouldn’t have it on his desk. To him software sounded like a dirty word. These days, everything ran on the little parasites—even cars. He checked the hands on his watch.  10:30.  His stomach growled.

“You’re a real Luddite, Stan, y’know that?”

“Maybe I am—so what? Wait till the Chinese launch a major cyber-attack and your precious Internet fries. When the crazy Arabs explode a nuke in the stratosphere, nothing’s gonna work and we’ll all be helpless. Problem is, people forget how to do things. We lean on these electronic contraptions. We’re letting ‘em rule our thinking.”

“C’mon, Stan.”

“They’re crutches and we’re only crippled because we use ‘em. People can’t add numbers without a calculator. Can’t spell without a word processor. A simple power outage and everybody thinks it’s a disaster. You wait and see. When the lights go out for good it’s gonna get ugly.”

Paul grinned and shook his head.

Harris stood. Slid back his chair. “Paul, the windows on this building don’t open. What’ll we do when the AC goes dead? Let’s get out there. I want two of our own cars for backup. Keep the locals for the perimeter. Yeah, I know—the phones are digital, too. You make the call.”

They stepped into the elevator and Stan glared at the array of glowing buttons. Paul punched the one for the garage. “Something more, Stan. We spotted the Gionelli family in town. Doesn’t make sense that Grasso allows that. What do you think it means?”

Stan thought about that as the elevator descended to the basement. “Uomo lost four top men—not troops but close lieutenants. How many guys like that you think he’s got—guys he can trust with his life? Most of the rest are family. He knows this Smith is getting close. Could be he’s running scared. You think he wants his family on the front lines? He saves the cush jobs for those guys.” Harris squeezed in the back of the Crown Vic. “Make me more legroom, will you Paul?”

Paul slid the front passenger seat forward. “This is a full-sized car, Stan.”

“Not like they used to be.”

Paul cranked the ignition and pulled out of the garage. Two identical cars lined up behind them. “So you think he called in Gionelli himself?”

“Could be. He flew out to Vegas. Just stayed a day. He needs more muscle but he’s gonna want ‘em gone when the threat’s gone and that could be a problem.” Harris went silent. That made seven major mobs in town. Uomo Grasso ran the bulk of it. The Irish, the Blacks, the Chinese—they pretty much stayed strong on their own turf. The Russians in the background, waiting their turn. Now this Fetova-Smith group was killing off Uomo’s top men—the FBI knew next to nothing about that organization and the Gionelli mob was setting up to make a move on the same guy. Didn’t look good for the Fat Man. Were Fetova and Smith really a new organization or running front for the Russians or even Gionelli? It’d be a good strategy for Giuseppe. When it shook out, which group was gonna grab the top spot?

“You’re convinced Gionelli will stick?”

“Ever try to get a leach off your hide? Put yourself in the place of old Giuseppe. He’s been working Las Vegas forever and can’t get a foot in Chicago. I’m thinking he’ll dig in here. Then if the Russians make a move, we won’t know who we’re fighting any more. Lot’s more body bags.” Harris scowled. He didn’t care much when they killed each other but then there were innocent bystanders and terrorized neighborhoods. People shouldn’t live in a war zone. How was he gonna keep tabs on who’s who? At least he left the gangs to the local police for the most part. “For now, we stick to what we know. We nab this Frank Smith. Maybe the Russian gal. Take the head off that organization. See where that leads.”

* * *

Frank peered out from a upstairs window into the sunlight. “That’s six police cars so far. No, Tatiana, you stay down behind that bed. They might open fire or something—I don’t know. Do they have a boat patrol?”

“Sorry Frank—they do.”

Frank wished he hadn’t gotten her into this. His problem—not hers. Somehow they found him—probably traced the car. Didn’t matter how. Either he got out of there or he went to prison that day. Or got shot. He wondered what they were waiting for. “Tatiana, you don’t happen to have a secret tunnel or something?” He grinned to himself. Strange to find it funny. Just a few days back he was sweating hard to make it as an insurance salesman.

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

6 responses to “ROYA FETOVA – 21

  1. Lee Jantzen

    Wow, sounds like Frank is in a jam. Let’s see if this helps him out any:

    Episode 21b

    Roya was pleased with how quickly her interrogation of Tony Ferragamo transpired. He had lots of muscle—but not too much will power. This was a character flaw she had discovered true with most criminals.

    She thought she better call Frank to make sure he was exercising patience. She dialed his cell phone and he answered on the first ring. Frank apparently wasn’t being very patient after all. His words were fast and furious and she had to tell him stop, start over, and slow down. What he said left her chilled. A swat team had assembled on Tatiana’s property. It seemed they were waiting for brass to give them the approval to burn down the place ala The Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, TX. Frank exclaimed several times that she better help him come up with a plan and fast.

    Roya told Frank to put Tatiana on the phone. After a brief conversation she handed the phone back to Frank. Roya told Frank to do as Tatiana instructed and she would be back in touch soon. As Frank started to complain he heard the line go dead. Tatiana assumed a new demeanor and became much more commanding. She told Frank that she cared much for her sister and knew she was often exposed to danger. When she remodeled this house several years ago she did include a small, but well concealed space in the basement. In fact their childhood home in Leningrad had a similar space to hide her father’s dissident friends from the KGB. There was a false wall in the furnace room that provided enough room for two people to sit uncomfortably. She gave him a bottle of water and a blanket. She gave him a weary smile and said I hope you do not have claustrophobia—please be very quiet.

    As soon as Roya disconnected with Frank she put in a call to her contact at the Bureau. She told her contact that it was an emergency and that she needed immediate access to Agent Harris. After a few minutes of waiting she was told he was on his way to a potential bust in Crystal Lake. She gave them the number of Tony’s track-phone and said that she needed Agent Harris to call her back ASAP. She said his intel on the Crystal Lake location was mistaken and she had the man he was hunting for with her. She hoped he would call.

    Knowing how cell towers helped pinpoint a person’s location, Roya knew she needed to move. She asked Nicki to babysit Tony for her and also asked for his car keys. Nicki was a big man and so was the rather large vintage Cadillac he drove. Within five minutes Roya was on the expressway heading west. She picked an exit and pulled into a parking lot of a mostly vacant motel. Just as she turned off the engine the cell phone signaled the return call from Stan Harris.

    Agent Harris sounded quite impatient and asked who he was speaking with and what was so important. Roya responded that she was a concerned citizen and that she believed the FBI was hunting a man based on a false identity. The person you really want is one Tony Ferragamo—and I know where he is right now. In fact, he confessed to me that he has been a bad boy the past week. You know Tony’s history of a hit man for Don Uomo Grassi and his fondness of using a knife for his dirty work. A smart Agent like you must have thought of Tony when that beat cop ended up dead at Ogilvie Station.

    Agent Harris surprised her a bit when he responded. Yes I know Tony Ferragamo, but I also know your name is Roya Fetova and that you too have a violent streak. I also know you have been working with a new partner. Yes, but remember I too know how an FBI agent works, Roya responded. You take what you know and fill in the blanks with educated guesses. Believe me when I say your guesses in this case are wrong.

    My sister in Crystal Lake called me a few minutes ago and told me there were a lot of police in her yard. She was quite frightened and I don’t blame her. I know you won’t take my word for it, but the man you are looking for is not there. Tell your men to be polite and treat Tatiana with respect. She will cooperate and let you search her house—but be brief and don’t break anything. When you don’t find what you want give me a call back and I will fill you in on some more details that will help you do your detective work with more facts and less guesses.


  2. Lee,

    Your solution is full of imagination as always. I have an alternate idea that can use elements of your post. See what you think of this:

    What if Tatiana’s late husband was a police officer and she still has the uniform? Frank could wear it and slip out into the yard. Maybe Agent Harris will ask him what he’s doing so close to the the house. Here are the advantages:

    1.) We get to keep Tony Ferragamo. There’s a whole lot of interesting interplay waiting to be written between him and Frank and a lot of conflict between them over Roya. That’s good material.

    2.) We solve the problem of point of view. Our only point of view characters are Frank, Tony, Harris, and Desi. We can’t see Roya’s thoughts. That’s as it should be to keep her mysterious and unpredictable.

    3.) Roya doesn’t have to tip her hand to the FBI and the reader. Our options remain open.

    Maybe the police fire tear gas, search Tatiana’s house and impound her Mercedes and take her downtown for questioning, but that’s all the trouble she gets. Maybe she says the car was missing and then turned up again in her garage. She admits that Roya is her sister, so the inuendo is clear.

    I actually meant to get this out before you commented. If we go this way, we need to make some tough decisions:

    1.) Just how far does Roya go with Tony. What do they acutally do?

    2.) Does she use Tony to continue bumping off mobsters? To me, that seems the logical path, but I want your help on those issues.

    Please give me the benefit of your thoughts.

  3. Lee

    How about this alternative?

    Agent Harris wants to show up the DC Organized Crime Division by snaring their rogue agent. He arrests Frank and gives him a choice: 1) sit in a jail cell with the knowlege that his location will be leaked to Uomo Grassi; or 2) he becomes an informant helping trap Roya.

  4. Lee Jantzen

    Episode Roya and Tony

    Roya was pleased with how quickly her interrogation of Tony Ferragamo transpired. He had lots of muscle—but not too much will power. This was a character flaw she had discovered true with most criminals. Now that she had convinced Tony it was in his best interest to work with her, she did not want to lose any momentum. She did not have time to check on Frank and Tatiana—but she had no reason to worry. Tatiana had chosen a more domestic lifestyle, but she was a Fetova and had plenty of street smarts.

    She knew Uomo’s goons would be looking for both Tony and her if they returned to Chicago. But that was exactly her plans. One of Nicki’s specialties was disguises. He had already picked up some red hair dye for Roya and some changes of clothes for her and Tony both. Tony complained some. He had a certain fashion sense and liked to dress sharp—in a sleazy kind of way. Nicki had other plans. Since Tony had been on the run for a number of days, he already had a few days growth of beard. Nicki explained to Tony that he was going to become a beatnik poet out of the 1950s. He would have a small goatee, a shaved head, horned-rimmed black glasses, a beret, and dress in all black. The black didn’t hurt with some of the night surveillance they would be doing.

    Roya already knew from Tony’s flood of truth telling about Uomo’s nephew Desi. Tony had shared that Uomo didn’t much like Desi, but he was the closest family he had left. Desi didn’t care all the much for his uncle and so the feeling were mutual. It seemed Desi had ambitions to take over the operation and so he tried to keep the peace. Roya thought Desi might be weasel enough to betray his uncle for the right reason.

    It was decided Nicki would be their driver since his car was not wanted by the police, plus it would not hurt to have a little extra muscle in the event they needed a third person. They left Milwaukee late afternoon and this allowed them to arrive in Chicago after the worst part of the evening rush hour. Tony convinced them to stop at one of his favorite chains of greasy spoons that serve Chicago Style Hotdogs and Italian Beef sandwiches. Both Nicki and Tony seemed to really enjoy the juicy and messy Italian Beef with a large helping of fries.

    They arrived in Oak Park around dusk and parked across from Desi’s computer repair shop. Tony knew the second floor of the business was used by Desi for all kinds of cyber fraud and electronic spying activity. They wanted to see if Uomo had assigned any bodyguards to look after his dear nephew. If so, these poor slobs would be the latest of Uomo’s goons to face Roya’s wrath.


  5. Great stuff, Lee. I think we’ve got enough material now for two, maybe more chapters. I’ll try to work it up this weekend.

  6. Pingback: CHAPTER 21 « The Gamemaker's Father

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