Four Kinds of Rain

Four Kinds of Rain

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by Robert Ward

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Broke, recently divorced, and a total deadbeat, Bob Wells has spent his life as a psychiatrist only doing good in the world. When one of his patients with clear paranoid delusions starts to lose a grip, Bob has no choice but to intervene. Emile Bardan is haunted by demons, and he believes that someone is trying to steal his most prized possesion, the legendeary

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Broke, recently divorced, and a total deadbeat, Bob Wells has spent his life as a psychiatrist only doing good in the world. When one of his patients with clear paranoid delusions starts to lose a grip, Bob has no choice but to intervene. Emile Bardan is haunted by demons, and he believes that someone is trying to steal his most prized possesion, the legendeary Mask of Utu. Bob thinks it’s all part of Emile’s imagination until he discovers that Emile is telling the truth and that the mask is worth millions. It’s Bob who may actually be the one losing his grip. He’s tired of helping people for nothing, tired of being treated like dirt—and while he may have met the girl of his dreams, he doesn’t want to lose her because he can’t take care of her. There is only one thing to do: Bob is going to steal the mask himself: But doing so may mean making the biggest mistake of all—as he proceeds down a path into a dark abyss from which there is no return.

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Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
Ward shows no mercy for his worn-out hero, unhappily divorced and sunk so deep in debt and despair that he comes up with a desperate scheme to rob a patient of a Sumerian sun god mask said to be worth millions. But once Bob pulls off this noir crime caper, his unleashed greed takes on gargantuan proportions: “He wanted glory, excess, self-indulgence. ... He wanted revenge.” Writing in a style as sharp and nasty as a paper cut, Ward slices up Bob without pity, but with such understanding that the story of his decline and fall becomes a nostalgic elegy for an entire generation of doomed and disillusioned idealists.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Robert Wells, the hapless psychiatrist hero of Ward's superior noir novel, has spent many thousands of hours helping people at his free clinic in Baltimore. While treating art dealer Emile Bardan, who's suffering from paranoid delusions, Wells learns that Bardan owns a priceless Sumerian mask representing Utu, the "god of justice and vengeance." The no-longer-altruistic Dr. Wells starts to scheme to steal the mask and sell it to his patient's worst enemy and rival, Colin Edwards. But things don't go quite as expected, and the twists come fast and furious as Wells discovers that crime, like psychiatry, has its own peculiar bylaws. At once admirable and devious, Wells unsettles as much as he compels our sympathy. Ward (Red Baker, winner of the PEN West prize for Best Novel of 1985) has been a writer and producer on such TV shows as Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice. Regional author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A down-and-out psychiatrist puts together a ragtag gang to rob one of his clients in this comic caper. Bob Wells finds himself trapped in a mind-numbing routine and sliding into financial ruin. His marriage recently broke up after 22 years, thanks to his excessive gambling, exacerbated by drink. Suddenly, he's alone in his mid-50s, living in a dumpy house in a shabby Baltimore neighborhood and scraping together a living as a freelance psychiatric social worker. Both the stream of new clients and the options for obtaining research grants are evaporating. Drinking has become a habit again, and Bob finds himself tempted to gamble. His only pleasure comes on Thursday nights, when he plays with his oldies band, the Rockaholics. They hire a young blonde singer named Jesse Reardon and, for Bob, it's love at first sight. He fights the attraction for weeks, but when Jesse confesses her love for him, Bob surrenders to his bliss, which soon gives way to doubt and desperation. Jesse declares that she loves his success, but could never care for a guy who was broke. Bob has one wealthy client, the pampered and highly neurotic Emile Bardan, an antiquities dealer whose latest obsession is a priceless Sumerian sun-god mask. Emile is convinced that his archenemy, Colin Edwards, whom he's convinced murdered his friend Peter, is scheming to steal the mask. Bob puts together a scheme of his own, to improve his financial position by stealing the mask himself and selling it to Edwards. What begins as a simple plan, however, balloons into a complicated challenge. The heist goes not at all as planned, changing Bob's life forever. A mixed bag from veteran novelist (Grace, 1998, etc.) and TV writer (Hill StreetBlues, etc.) Ward. There are several funny setups and quirky characters, but the prose often strains for humor and edge.

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Four Kinds of Rain

By Ward, Robert

St. Martin's Minotaur

Copyright © 2006 Ward, Robert
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312357801

Chapter One 
Even after three vodkas and an Ambien, it had taken Bob Wells two hours to fall asleep. Now he lay in his bed dreaming that he was running through a maze of dark city streets, while sharp little stilettos of ice stuck in his chest. Somewhere ahead of him in the gathering dark, a voice screamed, “Terrorists. Terrorists . . . they’re coming! The terrorists!” He knew that panicky voice so well, knew it nearly as well as he knew his own. He turned a dream corner and saw the screamer lying there, near a battered old phone booth, his sore-covered head hanging in the gutter.
Bob Wells woke up with a start. There it was again. The panic dream of ice rain. A lethal injection that fell from the night sky, accompanied by a high-pitched scream, the same scream he could hear for real now, somewhere out there on the wet city streets.
He got out of bed, went to his bedroom window, and with some effort pushed it open. The cold wind and sleet blew in from the harbor. Bob stuck his head out into the night and looked down the far end of Aliceanna Street. The homeless guy was there, just as he’d been the night before, the guy everybody called 911, lying in the gutter, right next to the battered and windowless telephone booth. Loaded on rotgut and crack, he held his wine bottle inthe air and screamed: “Here they come! The terrorists! They’re in the air! They’re here! Terrorists! Terrorists!”
Bob listened to 911 rave, his hysterical voice cutting through his rapidly beating heart. Finally, he shut the window, sighed, took off his sweat-soaked pajama top, quickly threw on his old wool crewneck sweater, and reached for his black Levi’s.
Bob buttoned his old navy pea jacket against the sleet as he headed down the slippery street. He was ten feet away when the terrified, wide-eyed, filthy man looked up at him.
“I know you,” he said. “The fucking terrorist.”
“Nah, Nine,” Bob said. “No terrorists, man. It’s just me. Bob.”
The drunken, panicked wreck looked at him through rheumy eyes.
“Dr. Bobby?” he said. “Dr. Bobby, that you?”
“Yeah,” Bob said. “That’s me. What’s up, Nine?”
“They’re coming,” 911 whispered. “They’re coming. I heard it from my people.”
“Right,” Bob said. “So, if they are coming, maybe the smart thing to do would be to get off the street?”
911 bit his scabby lower lip and looked at Bob in a cagey way.
“So you might think,” he said. “But then again, maybe that’s exactly what they want me to do. After I get to the shelter, boom, the death strike hits there.”
“I don’t think so,” Bob said, moving even closer. “You know why?”
“’Cause I talked to your people just a few minutes ago and they told me that tonight is just a street action. Anybody in the shelter is safe, Nine. Okay?”
911 looked frantically around like a frightened gerbil.
“Also it’s cold and wet out here,” Bob said, looking up at the sky. “You could get real sick and then you’d be playing right into their hands.”
From beneath the street grime, 911 assumed a thoughtful stare.
“You’re right,” he said. “They would just love that, bro.”
“Of course they would,” Bob said. “Hey, the thing is, I gotta go to St. Mary’s shelter right down on Broadway, so maybe you’d like to keep me company, huh?”
“Like riding shotgun on the stagecoach to Dodge,” 911 said.
“Just like that,” Bob said.
“Maybe we should go now, before they come,” 911 said. Like he’d just thought of it. Like he was taking care of Bob.
“Let’s do it,” Bob said.
As 911 tried to unfold his bones from the street, Bob gently took his arm, a mistake he wouldn’t have made earlier in the night, when he was less wasted.
911 pulled away quickly and kicked Bob squarely in the balls. Stunned, Bob went down on his knees, groaning and holding his crotch, as the homeless man scuttled away.
“Oh no, man. You can’t fool me,” 911 screamed. “You almost had me, dude, but I saw through you! You fucking terrorist son of a bitch!”
Bob fell over on his side as the pain shot through his stomach and lodged somewhere near his Adam’s apple. He lay there and it occurred to him, for maybe the hundredth time that day, that he seriously needed out of this shit. Up, up, and away, like forever, for good. No more, baby. No more friend of the friendless. No more poor folks. No more 911s.
As the burning pain subsided, Bob Wells entertained a small, almost funny thought. If any of his neighbors looked out their windows just now, they’d see him there and think, Look at the poor, homeless son of a bitch out in this shit. Pathetic.
And they’d be right, Bob thought, dead right. Because this was it. This was his life. The grand and once near-glorious Bob Wells was lying in the street after being kicked in the balls by a madman. Not only that, but the madman was one of his own patients, a wretch he’d helped get off the streets time and time again.
Cold winter sleet raining down on his face, Bob began to laugh. It was perfect really, just fucking perfect. Slowly and with great delicacy, Bob picked himself up and limped up the dark wet street toward home.
Copyright © 2006 by Robert Ward. All rights reserved.


Excerpted from Four Kinds of Rain by Ward, Robert Copyright © 2006 by Ward, Robert. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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