In the summer of 1978, the Chicago mob is struggling. As an up-and coming cartel prepares to unleash a blizzard of cocaine and challenge the reeling Mafia for dominance of the second city streets, there is only one man who can stop them-Max Walsh, a thirty-something Vietnam veteran and narcotics detective with a bad drug habit.
When FBI agent and family friend Tom Callahan asks Max to keep an eye on his problematic, bombshell daughter who has just made the unfortunate mistake of falling for Tony Delvechio, the head of the cartel, Max goes undercover with the goal of removing Therese from Tony's life and taking down the cartel in the process. But Max is about to get more than he bargained for. Instead of focusing on fighting his own demons, Max falls for Theresa-before he discovers she has already married the crazy, blood thirsty creep.
In this intriguing story of drug deals, Mafia crime, and the seamy side of life gone wrong, a seasoned detective's spontaneous choices are about to lead him down a very unpredictable and dangerous path.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.84(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Fearless AND The Feared
By Pete Thanos
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Pete Thanos
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe summer of 1978, Ron Mahalovich's polka dot boxers stuck to his thighs like cellophane, while his T-shirt collected perspiration from his neck and back. Ron kicked the sweat-laden sheet from his feet as he rooted around to find a comfortable niche on the lumpy mattress. Sitting up, he turned and pounded the goose down pillow with his meat hook of a fist. He took in a long, hard breath that was laced with frustration, gritted his teeth, and plopped his head into the tenderized pillow, only to find himself staring at the ceiling. After two years in this hellhole, he'd developed his own coping rituals, and he used one now. Ron's brown eyes followed their familiar route to study the cracks in the ceiling, focusing, blocking out all thoughts except the way one crack led to another, splitting the paint in an expanding network of chips that he knew would eventually wind up on his bed. And there they'd lay—a physical manifestation of his boredom. Two years of studying the ceiling had turned his bed into a confessional; it was a painful reminder of what led him here, to the federal penitentiary at Galesburg, Illinois.
The heck with coping mechanisms, nothing seemed to work; he needed relief and now. June unleashed a heat wave in the nineties, but it was the humidity that made it feel like a hundred. Slowly, Ron sat up; his nose flared and was overtaken by the blanketing humid breeze that had the smell of rotting male stench. He slid his feet off the bed and went up to the drapes that rolled in the gentle, putrid breeze. Looking out the window, he saw why his nose was displeased. Across the yard, the inmates were out amid the razor wire, playing ball or sitting in the shade. Snapping the window shut, he flipped the window air conditioner on to high.
"Fucking animals," he mumbled. Ron was lucky the Mob still had contacts in the joint. How they managed to land him in a quasi apartment in this hellhole beat him. If nothing else, he'd gotten privacy, air conditioning, and an Oriental rug (albeit threadbare)! He plodded down the worn path toward his bathroom. "Where's the honor?" he mumbled, opening the medicine cabinet.
He picked through the prescription bottles of Valium, Black Beauties, and quaaludes. Fucking paint chips. I got something right here that will get me by. As he plucked the bottle of Valium from the cabinet, he shook it. Only a few pills rattled inside the bottle. He made a mental note to see the doc, another one of the Mob's perks. After twisting the top and throwing one of the blue pills down his throat, he spun the spigot and filled up a Dixie cup with the rotten egg–smelling water. Begrudgingly, he drank it, washing the pill down. He crushed the cup and tossed it in the empty wastebasket and wiped the remnants of the smelly water from his long, looping, sandy-blond Viking mustache.
Placing the bottle back, he closed the medicine cabinet, looked into the mirror, and studied his large, sagging eyes as he pulled at them with his fingers and watched them wrinkle back into place. Then he looked down and slapped his protruding belly, watching it jiggle. I was never in this bad of shape.
He rubbed his raspy sandpaper hands and looked at them, remembering when he would have a new gash, or grease imbedded under his nails from working in the shop. A ton of soap and a good scrub brush couldn't get to the compacted grease. Yet he yearned for those days—the camaraderie, the laughs—it was work, but it was his kind of work. With his wide, six-foot, three-inch frame, he had enough strength to pull a transmission out of any box truck; he wasn't a strong man, just a hard one.
I sit here counting the minutes, the hours, the days, and I come up with the same thing, nothing, because in here that's all I have—nothing. My thoughts become blurs, fading like memories of a life I used to have. But the drugs and alcohol make it that much easier to melt away, to forget what I earned but most importantly what I've lost.
Recrossing the worn, wool path and faded floral configurations of the Oriental rug, he stopped and looked at his armoire and the idle black picture tube of his twenty-seven-inch television. His glazy Valium orbs perused the shelves that covered the walls next to the armoire with books, ranging from law to fiction to biographies. He wasn't a reader when he first arrived; however, he surprised himself. Reading was a good way to take his brain off hold and run it around the track.
Next to the bookshelves was his videotape collection, his alternative to network programming. He scanned the titles; they ranged from Jaws to Caddyshack to The Shining. But his pride and joy was his porno collection. Sure, he'd get a whore now and then, but sometimes they weren't there when his urge was. So, he'd take it upon himself to pop off a round. It could be worse—he could be punking some guy in population, but anal sex with any sex wasn't his style. He was as straight as they came, and being out of population had its benefits.
Noticing a movie was out of place, he removed it from the flesh section, tapped it in his hand, and wiped the dust from the thin, cardboard jacket. He squinted at its title, The Wild Bunch. He loved the cover: rustlers with long, flowing dusters, tight leather gloves, and big Stetson hats. Westerns had a style all to themselves. He remembered how determined the characters were to get back at the Mexican general to avenge their friend's murder, even if it meant sacrificing their own lives. That loyalty doesn't exist in my world, he thought.
Ron licked his dry lips and walked into his kitchen area.
He grabbed the handle of the fridge and was caught off guard by the magnets that held papers to the refrigerator door—colorful crayon stick figures of Mommy and Daddy and the kids, names identifying each one. He shifted to the counter and took in a deep breath. He looked over at the table and chairs and recalled when his little wonders drew those pictures.
He could still see the house; it had yet to fade from his memories, and neither had the smell of bacon from his wife's breakfast. More memories rushed him—his two daughters running down the stairs, planting morning dew kisses on his cheek, and Jill, his youngest, asking him to shave his long Viking mustache.
He held onto the counter until his knuckles turned white. His eyes stung from his loneliness, taking him by surprise. A lone tear escaped his eyelid and trickled down his cheek. Pushing the tear to the side, he sucked in some air through his flared nostrils and tried to clear his mind of what his little girls might be up to.
Patti and Jill both made him smile. They could do no wrong. Recalling the first word that Rose was pregnant helped him want to live again. He had a renewed purpose for being; he was excited that his life had taken on new meaning. It was no longer just the two of them. Patti, his oldest, was six. Jill was five. Patti was starting to lose her baby teeth, and her auburn hair had begun to curl much like her mother's. Jill's blonde hair took well to pigtails, and they both loved candy fishes, pixie sticks, and licorice whips. Ron made sure to stock up on all their favorites. Rose didn't like bringing the girls to the prison or the impression it gave her children. Besides, the girls were more than a handful for Rose; but like every mother, she managed. Until his daughters found Ron's porn collection; that was the last straw for Rose, and she hadn't been back in two months. "Isn't that punishment enough?" he said into thin air in a futile attempt to push back the empty void of his loneliness.
Rose was from good stock. He'd married her when they turned twenty-one, but the two little ones ravaged her body. His wife was no longer appealing to his taste like she used to be; everything seemed to be sagging. Ron loved her but not the way he used to. Now she was his children's mother, no longer his lover or friend.
He opened the freezer door, pulled out a frosted mug, and swung the door closed. He yanked the fridge open, grabbed a beer, and poured it into the glass. Foam rose to the top of the mug. He drank it down in one series of jugular motions; it took his mind off the heat. Wiping the corners of his beer-laden lips, he pressed his eyes back into their sockets, hoping that would help him forget. He put the empty mug in the sink, let out a belch, and walked to the bed.
Instead of studying the cracks in the ceiling, he picked up a six- year-old copy of Time from 1972 that was about the debacle of Richard Nixon; it sat on the end table next to his bed. Stretching out on the lumpy bed, he propped it on his chest and started to read. His affiliation with the Mob had made him rich, but he was a marked man. It was just a matter of time before they'd make their move. He was hoping it was just his paranoia, but killers were just a cellblock away.
* * *
Tony Delvechio slung the wet mop along the rows of tile. Some rehabilitation process this is. Whether it's getting to mop, cook, sell drugs, or kill fellow prisoners, doing time is all about making time go by.
Tony dug his finger under the spongy headphones of the Walkman he'd bought from the commissary and wiped his sweaty earlobe. He wrung the mop out in the stainless steel wringer, dirty water darkening the bucket.
"Sweet Home Alabama" belted away. Good thing he'd cut the sleeves off his tan-colored issued jumpsuit. He figured whoever designed them had stick figures in mind; they just weren't made to fit wide shoulders!
At five-foot-nine, he was a small twenty-five-year-old, but his time in the weight room made up for it. His blue eyes glanced down the hall at the trails of dirt. He danced with the mop, row after row, and then noticed a door. Tony remembered that when he first started this job, he'd asked one of the guards about that room. The guard told him it was some wise guy from Chicago. Must be pretty powerful, Tony had thought to himself.
Tony dragged a dry rag over his brow, then stuffed it into the back pocket of his jumpsuit. The heat must have been getting to him. Oddly enough, though, he felt a presence. Something was eating at him. Great. Now he was imagining things. He stood there mashing the mop up and down in the bucket, his oversized biceps flexing with every stroke. Nothing but barren hall filled his eyes. The Plexiglas double doors didn't have a guard, and the other end of the hall didn't have one either. Tony wrung out the mop and finished a few more rows.
He felt something behind him and turned around. Two dark figures were entering the wise guy's room. That eating feeling turned into a gnawing and then a tearing. Tony leaned on the mop and smiled. He set the mop in the bucket and grabbed the stainless steel wringer. "Time to fuck someone's shit."
He sprinted across the drying floor toward the doorway. He stuck his head in the cracked-open door and then pulled back, having verified his suspicions. He looked over his shoulder and entered the room.
* * *
Ron was reading about Nixon's debacle and felt no sympathy for the ex-president, figuring he'd gotten off lightly since he hadn't served jail time. A cold wave washed over Ron's body. At first he believed it was the air conditioner catching up to the heat, but the smell of sweaty inmates seemed to get stronger, and he remembered closing the window. Then the hair on his neck rose. Something told him to look over the magazine.
Ron saw two black men towering over him, one big and bald and the other thin with an Afro. Both had wicked glints in their eyes; both charged up to the foot of his bed. He wanted to ask them if he could help them, like they were lost or something. A gear inside Ron's head shifted; he knew why they were there.
"Ah, look man, whatever they're paying you, I can double it," he said, the magazine growing limp in his hands.
"Shut up, honky. C'mon, let's get after it," the thin one said to the large inmate. They shuffled toward the head of the bed.
"No, really," said Ron. "I can get whatever you want! Chicks, anything, name it; come on man." His voice faded in and out of decibels so uneven that he didn't recognize it as his own. His body vibrated with desperation; sweat beaded on his forehead while the men encircled him. He began to sit up.
"I got this motha fucka," the big bald one spat, and he lunged at Ron, latching onto Ron's feet, then jumping on his legs.
Ron flailed, trying to get off the bed like a fish on a hook, but the smaller gangbanger socked him in the mouth. Ron's eyes rolled back. The thin man jumped on top of his chest, stuffing a balled-up rag in his bleeding mouth, while the bald one clenched down on Ron's ankles. Though the man's weight wasn't suffocating, it was enough to knock the wind out of him, sending him into further panic. Ron continued to try and free himself, but their grip paralyzed him.
The small man, still on Ron's chest, pulled a shank from under his shirt. The flattened and sharpened spoon gleamed in the light. Ron saw it in his attacker's dark hand, and his eyes widened; he had never known what it was like to be stabbed, let alone bludgeoned to death. Sweat poured off his forehead now; his efforts to escape were futile. Ron saw the flat, deadly sharp spoon readied in the fist of his attacker; he thrashed, trying to escape the dead weight holding him down. His eyes grew wider as he struggled to breathe. Ron writhed, sweat pouring off his forehead. He was trapped! As in slow motion, he followed the shank's gleaming arc at the tip of the raised arm, his eyes locking on the man's. The intent he saw turned his blood to ice.
* * *
Tony tried the door. The magnetic lock disengaged. It had no power; they thought of everything, Tony thought. He pushed it farther; while standing in the doorway, Tony saw the violent entanglement of humanity on the bunk. He recalled seeing the large bald gangbanger in the gym. The smaller guy had that kill-for-a-thrill look in his eyes.
The skinny one raised the shank; it glimmered as he appeared ready to strike. From the doorway, Tony ran and swung his metal mop wringer with all his might at the Afro. The stainless steel caused such a clank that it must've shocked the large man holding Ron's feet. The shank bounced off the floor, hit the carpet, and then slid under the bed. Tony was surprised he had connected that well. The wringer had caved in the rear of the man's head!
Wasting no time, Tony spun and swung the wringer one more time to deal a decisive strike to the remaining intruder. The gangbanger lifted his hands as in self-defense. Too late. Tony struck the man square in the jaw with a crunch.
Ron spat the gag from his mouth. He got up and pushed Tony off the large, motionless man.
"Stop, if you kill them, it's murder! Right now it's self-defense!"
But Tony continued to batter the man with his prison-issued gym shoe, craving more; he continued to connect. Ron ran at Tony and bumped him backward, away from the two men; blood began to pool around the smaller man's head. Tony looked up at Ron; as the guards rushed in, their eyes were quickly drawn to the pool of blood on the floor. One guard quickly kneeled down and checked for pulses on the motionless men. "How much they pay you? Huh?!" Ron screamed, pointing at the two guards. One of them smashed Ron on the side of the face. He went down, grabbing his already swollen cheek.
"Shut up!" the other guard barked in a deep baritone voice. "What are you doing here? This isn't the hallway!" The guard said, approaching Tony.
"Fuck you!" Tony said with a snarl, and pushed the guard backward. He careened off his partner, his black cap falling to the floor. Both guards turned on Tony. Their weight forced Tony to the ground, where they yanked his arms behind his back and snapped chrome bracelets around his wrists; they lifted him by his arms. Huffing and puffing, one of the guards pulled out his radio, relaying for help. Now shackled, Tony stood over the two motionless men like a wolf, seemingly watching for any movement; he then smiled, revealing a large dimple on his right cheek.
Excerpted from The Fearless AND The Feared by Pete Thanos Copyright © 2011 by Pete Thanos. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Suspense from beginning to end. I was not expecting it to end that way. What a twist! Will there be a part II? AWESOME!!
My favorite genre and the author delivers -- BIG TIME! Well written and filled with interesting and devious twists and turns. A refreshing change from the tired formula used by most of today's popular authors where it's easy to figure out how it will end. This has many surprises throughout the story. Can't wait to see what's next.
The author of this book is a good freind of my fathers. this is a great novel that expresses ones being and the way a person can show his knowledge about his home turf chicago and to put out such an amazing book. In my opinion anyone who likes crime/suspense/semi-history genre of books this is the book for you. I personal finished this book in two days and re read it to get the full meaning of it because when you read a book over after you read it you get the full meaning of what the author is trying to say thru the words of the story. Thank you Pete Thanos for such a good book :D
I've been reading crime novels/stories for as long as I can remember, and the last couple of years I'd all but given up on the notion of coming across one worth the read. Well, this here book is proof that creative writing for this genre isn't extinct after all. A refreshing departure from the tired and worn out mystery serials of the last two decades, it takes us back to a time when crime was a viable business and family meant more than "next of kin". No convoluted intrigue, no fancy Shyamalan zig-zagging. Just booze, broads and bullets, done the way its supposed to be. THE STORY Max is a man lost in time. His life took a turn during the [Vietnam] War that killed the few remnants of humanity he had left and what remained was a creature of the night. Dedicated and obsessed with bringing down anything that threatens Chi-Town, he brands himself the epitome of the anti-hero and embarks on a quest to cleanse the city. Armed with nothing more than a badge and an M1911 Colt. 45, he will become the only thing standing between Chicago's crime syndicate and the rising demand for Cocaine. If you like solid writing with real charisma, pick up this gem. You won't put it down until you reach that last page - which will only leave you wanting more. 4 stars, a tour de force.