My goal for the new year is to find an agent and publish my second novel, A Reckoning in Brooklyn. With that in mind, here is my re-worked opening of Chapter One. Trying to hook the reader(agents and publishers too). Let me know what you think.
July 12, 1979
The numbness washing over Butchie was perplexing to him. He had relished this moment in his mind for years. He expected to be elated, celebrating his triumph over a hated and vile enemy. Instead, he felt nothing, save for the brief instant of exhilaration when he realized the opportunity as it lay before him. Now that the deed was done, all he was left with was a vaguely tired ambivalence and a wave of involuntary nausea. Butchie wrote the urge to vomit off as an artifact of the rich coppery, metallic taste from all the blood spilled, mixed with the acrid chemical smoke from the expended gunpowder, hanging in the air like a malevolent cloud. It lingered on Butchie’s tongue, and in the back of his throat, invading his nostrils and staying there—a vagrant accusation. At least, that’s what he pretended to believe. He also chose to ignore the slight tremors in his hands and the aching in his joints. Surely, he thought, they weren’t anything like a sign of regret.
There were three dead men on the ground, scattered about the rear courtyard, which served as an extra private dining room for the small, Italian eatery on Knickerbocker Avenue. Butchie knew all of them. Two were associates of Carmine Lilo Gigante, the head of the Bonanno Crime Family. The third man, at Butchie’s feet, was the Don himself. Butchie didn’t know who killed the associates, and frankly didn’t care. He knew they were criminal scumbags who deserved every bullet—in this case, shotgun blasts. But he knew who killed Lilo. He understood he would have to look that murderer in the face every morning for the rest of his life when he shaved. He was surprised when the realization didn’t seem to bother him, struggling right now to feel something…anything.
As he stood over Gigante, Butchie could feel the residue of fear-sweat (not his own) on the fingertips of his right hand. He wiped them absently on the leg of his uniform duty pants, considering what he had just done; killing the last living witness to a mob rub-out with his bare hands—well, one of them. It certainly didn’t sort well with the vows he took when he was sworn in as a police officer almost a dozen years ago. But, Butchie reasoned, the mob boss was already dying when he came into the courtyard. Lilo wouldn’t have ratted on his killers even if he had lived. So, the final squeeze was of little consequence to anyone, save his conscience, which was surprisingly untroubled.
Surveying the image of the mobster he had just dispatched, Butchie saw Lilo had been struck twice by shotgun blasts, once in the lower abdomen, and a glancing blow to the right side of his face. But, he mused, glancing is a relative term with shotguns. Like hand grenades, it’s hard to miss, and they do fearsome damage just the same when you do. It had torn up the right side of Lilo’s face and took the eye. Butchie knew both wounds would have ultimately killed the Don, irrespective of even a herculean effort to save him. If by some miracle, Lilo made it to the hospital, he would have been brought to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. Everyone knew there were only hacks, quacks and witchdoctors at that particular temple of medical malpractice.
Gigante was a dead man, with or without Butchie’s help. It was not a matter of necessity, but principle that prompted his hand. He had predicted, even promised to be the one to usher Lilo out of this world. Now he had.
Butchie wasn’t sure what he expected to feel after fulfilling this promise, but it hadn’t been nothing. He had just rid the world of the most wicked man he had ever encountered, in a short life chock-full of evil men. He thought he might derive some satisfaction from the act—even an epiphany of sorts. Instead, there was only the maddening numbness.
He had ever so briefly enjoyed seeing the fear in Lilo’s eyes when the Don recognized him, The last spasms and final helpless kicks as the helpless mobster died with Butchie’s hand clamped like a vise around his throat should have elicited some sort of satisfaction. But all he felt after was a nagging sense of hopelessness, and the urge to puke. He had slain a monster, but Butchie knew instinctively, in that moment, there would be more monsters, and they would be far worse.
Strangely, Gigante’s broken eyeglasses remained propped, however askew on his badly mistreated head. Butchie thought the only thing missing from this picture was the little Cuban cigar Lilo always had sticking out of his sneering maw. He had looked for it, but it was nowhere to be found. He spied its replacement when his partner for the day, Ernie Whelan, returned to the courtyard from the street with a lit anisette cheroot sticking out of his fat face.
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In the meantime, I want to give a shout out to my friend and fellow Author, Retired Detective Bob Martin. His debut novel Bronx Justice is a must-read for fans of the genre. I loved it! Authentic and entertaining. Check out Bob's link. You wont be disappointed!