When Lew Fonesca's wife died in a senseless auto wreck, he got up and left his old life, and ended up in sunny Sarasota, Florida. He takes small process-serving gigs and various odd jobs helping people out, and he tries, although maybe not as hard as he should, to fix the gaping hole in his heart. But for a man who just wants to ease through life without any complications, Lew has a pretty full plate. Lew's shrink wants him to finally dump all the grief that he's carrying around so he can have more than a half-life, and Sally, the pretty social worker who has helped Lew out in the past, wants to deepen their friendship. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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December 01, 2003
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Excerpt from Midnight Pass by Stuart M. Kaminsky
NO AMOUNT OF SUNSCREEN will save her," Dave said, shaking his head.
I nodded and looked up at the jogger passing in front of the DQ, headed downtown. She wore shorts and a tank top, a Walkman singing in her ear, a serious look on her pretty face, her sun-bleached blond hair bouncing against her back in a long ponytail.
She made a left turn and headed out of sight toward Towles Court, a collection of small shops and homes owned by painters, sculptors, jewelry makers... people who had once been successful in business or raising a family and now were retired and wanted to change the label they wore from no one in particular to Artist. Few of the community in Towles Court, mostly women, had illusions about breaking out and getting famous and wealthy. They enjoyed what they now were and what they were doing. They had peace, time, and identity.
I cannot paint, sketch, sculpt, or draw, and I have no urge to try. Unlike the artists of Towles Court in their brightly painted houses, I have as little identity as possible.
Dave owns the Dairy Queen franchise across the parking lot from where I live and work in a walk-up office building with peeling paint and crumbling corners of concrete. The building had begun life as a two-story, 1950s motel and had gradually gone downhill till it was ready for me. I'm not supposed to live in the back room of my office, but the landlord doesn't care as long as I pay my rent on time and don't complain. I don't complain.
Dave looks like a dark, deeply weathered mariner, which he is when he's not handing out Dilly Bars, Blizzards, and burgers. He owns a boat and is out in Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico whenever possible. The sun has leathered him. The boat has given him muscles and kept him trim.
Dave is about my age, early forties. I like to think that with his face and bleached-out hair he looks older than I do, but I'm dark with a rapidly receding hairline that makes me look every minute of my age.
My name is Lew Fonesca. I live in Sarasota, Florida, where I drove a little over three years ago when my wife was killed in a hit-and-run "accident." "Accident" is in quotes because the police couldn't find out who the driver was. My wife was a lawyer in the Cook County State Attorney's office, where I worked as the head of legal research. She had prosecuted a lot of people, made a lot of them and their relatives angry. Maybe it wasn't an accident, a drunken driver, a panicked kid who had just gotten his or her license, someone on a cell phone not paying attention.
When the funeral was over and I had nothing left to weep, I got in my 1989 Toyota in the cemetery parking lot and started to drive. I headed south, in the general direction of oblivion and the tip of Florida. I had no idea of what I would do when I got there. I wasn't sure where "there" was. In those four days, I listened to the voices of conservative talk-show hosts, Don Imus, Rush Limbaugh, Neal Boortz, Michael Savage, and the advocates of the unknown like Art Bell and Whitley Streiber, anybody who was talking. I didn't want music. I wanted company, a voice, anyone speaking whom I didn't have to answer. I listened but I heard nothing.