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WEB EXCERPT - Letters in Blood - # 40739
Tom Larkin paid fifty grand for his brilliant red casket months
before they planned a sailor's funeral for him that night. His coffin cruised
at 120 mph with its dash lit like a jet's cockpit, where the most-important
reading to Larkin glowed on his Porsche's digital clock--4:00 AM. Perhaps
it was his darkest moment before dawn, but he had other plans. He
drove recklessly, hydroplaning northbound on Manhattan's flooded FDR
Drive through sheets of pouring rain.
The drive home took an hour, but, with minimal visibility in a torrent-
ial downpour, the flooded Harlem River Drive leading to the George
Washington Bridge concealed potholes rattling the fine suspension of his
German-made wet dream. Larkin's greater problem-DWI-was a given
they had counted on. Still, they drugged his last sour mash at Rao's, just to
up the prelude's tempo to an evening dirge. With the bad weather, his inebri-
ation, and hallucinations from a subtle drug taking hold of his senses, the
distance between Larkin and home lengthened as time became his enemy.
Vera, his wife, told him she'd kill him the next time he stumbled in
after daybreak. It was no idle threat. He knew she could kill in a crime of
passion, especially him. Death lurked at the start and finish of his race
homeward, but, with two strikes against him, only he could fathom the third
--his bent to self destruction.
If all went as planned, Harbor Police would find Tom Larkin dead
behind the wheel after hitting the muddy bottom of the East River, or any
other river. They just wanted him gone, stateside or overseas, no matter
Larkin still felt sharp an hour after downing his third double Jack
Daniels. In his mind, past, present, and future were clear. Remembering
his hat size, Social Security number, and the measurements of a dozen
bimbos was no problem. He could read his driver's license number from
three paces, backward, upside down, with either eye or both-without
He'd been sharp for two hours before he started driving, but an
hour after his last belt, the one first kicked in with the drugs and
compounded his usual buzz. Seeing Vera as more dangerous than the road,
he sped recklessly despite the hazardous conditions. He had no idea anyone
wanted to kill him for anything other than his flagrant infidelities.
To his right, the black depths of the East River was a fatal attraction.
He could be a loser on two counts, but there was a third alternative, the
loser's hat trick--call strike-three without a swat to stay alive. His own
worst enemy, he knew they might find him dead before dawn on all three
"Bastards," he grumbled, cursing his so called buddies who let
him get behind the wheel after he had been pumping drinks for hours. Their
names escaped him. So much for clarity. Sharp as a rose thorn? he
wondered. My ass.
Where were those faceless nonentities? They were friends enough to
buy his fourth drink in a dingy saloon, yet, they had turned their backs when
he squinted to read the address on his parking stub. Had they callously
watched him stumbling to his Porsche trying to get the himself home?
So much for twenty-twenty fucking vision, he thought. Vera will kill
me if I'm not out of here. What time you got, Pal? I can't read my damn
His mind and car sped out of control at a mile a minute. The East
River beckoned. Who could ever see clearly in a dim twilight between
happy hour and an untimely death?
He shrugged and imagined seeing his own hands clutching the
steering wheel but saw no flesh, only bone. In the rearview mirror, he caught
the malicious grins of three Mexican capungos, bandits
who'd kill as soon as spit.
"Fuck off!" he shouted, shaking their image from his mind. Adjusting
the mirror to be sure they were gone, he saw his own reflection as a skeleton
and swerved toward the rive