A warehouse in Japan used as an emergency shelter in the aftermath of the 2011 Tsunami. A distraught, young Japanese woman in disheveled clothes sits on a box, holding her infant daughter. Ben, a US rescue volunteer, kneels in front of her offering comfort. They hug, the baby between them. The moment turns into an hour as the woman sobs into his shoulder; mourning the loss of her husband, her home, the life she knew. A picture is taken, capturing the moment. It becomes a symbol; of help freely given and of the hope of the survivors. The faces in the picture cannot be recognised, and that is how Ben likes it. No celebrity, thanks not required.
But others believe that being identified as the person in the picture is their path to fame and fortune. Ben stands, unknowingly, in their way, but nothing a contract killing cannot fix.
Context: Vince Brown is a key protagonist in the story, he hits on the idea of a reality TV show focusing on natural disasters. He thought of the idea after seeing how much money was donated after the Japanese Tsunami. In a chance meeting in a bar with a TV producer he lets the other man think that Vince is the key figure in an iconic picture taken during the Tsunami relief effort, which he is not. As a throwaway line he thought it unimportant but it takes on primary importance when the idea of a reality TV show is closer. Vince’s celebrity has begun to grow and he is being introduced as the ‘guy in the picture’. Vince is starting to reap the rewards he believes he deserves and won’t give up easily.
Lying naked on the big bed, with both hands behind his head, Vince smiled to himself as he watched the girl, equally naked except for a big, floppy and overly fluffy Santa hat, pour two flutes of champagne and then come back to the bed, passing one of the glasses to him.
Vince reached out and took the offered glass as the girl knelt on the bed next to him and raised her glass.
“Happy Christmas, Vince, I hope there will be a lot more like this one.”
Vince held his glass up.
“Happy Christmas, and I’m sure that there will be plenty more to come,” he said before thinking, but probably not with you, darlin’.
Their last seminar had pulled them in over a hundred and fifty thousand dollars profit, and sixty thousand in voluntary donations, which is how they intended to disguise the overflowing buckets that had multiplied since the one first mayo tub. After they had divided the cash, they had separated for the holidays with Vince heading for Vegas and Beck for … well, Vince didn’t actually care. They had organized to meet up in Boise in the New Year.
Beck had already put out some feelers with a couple of local stations for a chat show spot, Vince wasn’t sure which station, CBS or NBC, one of those, whichever, it didn’t matter, one of those gigs and maybe a couple of radio spots as well, and their advertising would be pretty much done for them.
By Easter, if it all worked out, Vince knew he would have more cash than he knew what to do with, and then the real work would start. That was where Beck would come into his own.
Vince had to admit that Beck was good at setting up the TV spots; he had a way about him, trust even. He could sell an idea, and that idea was Vince the winner, Vince the savior of small communities, Vince the good guy that people could believe in.
Everyone liked to be associated with a winner and with a peoples’ champion, and Beck was selling that to the networks. And if Vince was a winner, well next time round people would tune into them, viewers meant numbers and numbers meant advertising which meant more cash for the network. And all because, Beck impressed upon them, they had taken a small chance on someone who was a sure fired goddamned American hero in the making.
But the real reason Beck was on board was his skill at tax avoidance schemes or of blatantly spiriting the money away where only Vince would know where to look.
In the meantime, they had cash, and lots of it. Expenses Beck had dismissed as trivial, but Vince wasn’t so sure he knew, he’d seen how these things could so easily blow up in someone’s face. Get pulled over by the cops on a routine check, no problem except for the few hundred thousand in the glove box.
“Can you explain this, sir? No?”
And suddenly they were all over you like sweat on a fat girl, and the IRS would come on in like an uninvited and unwanted guest at a family funeral.
Vince didn’t want to leave that to chance; he didn’t want to leave anything to chance, not now, not with this. This was his big score, played right this could set him up, played badly and … well, he didn’t want to even think about that.
What Vince needed was a way to launder his cash for now and do it in a way that was foolproof and that even Beck didn’t know about and where better to hide that money away and scrub it clean than a casino.
Vince had played the tables for twelve hours straight when he had first arrived three days before. His play money carefully separated, he had started with an even sixty thousand and had doubled it on the night and doubled that again at this and two other casinos on the second day.
He was on fire. On. Fucking. Fire, man.
A professional sycophant in the employ of the casino had seen the pile of chips that Vince had won on the first night and had insisted he accept a room upgrade with an open invitation to eat for free at any of the casino’s restaurants, buffets, or room service, a seemingly endless supply of De Margerie Grand Cru Cuvee, and an introduction to the naked girl next to him, whose name was …
Something beginning with … S, no, sounds like an S but it was … Cynthia, Cyn for short. How apt.
Vince smiled and put his glass down and reached out and cupped his hand over her closest breast. Cyn threw her leg across him and moved until she was squatting over his waist.
Oh yeah, Vince thought putting his hands back behind his head and looking up at the girl, this is going to be a fucking excellent Christmas, and this was only the beginning of his plans.
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Author Bio – I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops.
My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider.
Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing.
Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school.
So here we are, two books published and another on track.
Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.
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