by Bill Mesce, Jr.
New York City, Summer 1963
Rookie beat cop Jack Meara is bleeding out on the dirty floor of a tenement hallway - next to the body of another cop. The eyes of the shooter burned into his memory. Meara watches and waits to see the shooter brought to justice, but, instead, "Tony Boy" Maiella climbs up the Mob ranks, slipping off indictments as easily as his designer overcoat. But on the eve of his retirement, Meara decides on one last kamikaze-like try to even the scales of justice.
New York City, 1983
Rookie detective Ronnie Valerio finds himself unknowingly pulled into the wake of Meara's quest. A go-go palace bartender is being stalked, a body turns up in a neighborhood dumpster, machine guns blaze in the night, a New York bookie turns up dead in the Jersey Pinelands and the only thing they all have in common is, in one way or another, they all tie back to Jack Meara.
How far does a cop go to even a score? How far does a brother cop go to shield him? Is justice worth any price when the line between right and wrong blurs?
The two submachine guns that tore into the night together from a roof across from Lourdes’ building made a continuous roar echoing up and down the street.
Big Sid popped his door open even as he was scooping up the radio mic and calling in the back-up units. “10-13 forthwith!” he yelled.
“You stay here!” Ronnie said to Lourdes, only afterward aware he was shouting. “Lock the doors and get behind the wheel! Anybody but us comes for you, take off!”
Big Sid was already out of the car and bouncing down the street, revolver out and moving faster than Ronnie thought possible. “Up there!” Sid called out, pointing at one of the roofs. “I saw the flashes!”
Ronnie was running for Lourdes’ building. She called after him from the car, but he didn’t hear it, then he was in the foyer, punching buzzers and banging on the inside door, shouting that he was the police and for somebody to open the goddamn door, and then, Fuck it, and he drove his parka-cushioned elbow through the door glass, reached in, unlocked the door and bolted for the stairs screaming “Police! Police! Stand clear!” as he charged past bathrobes and wide eyes.
About the Author:
Bill Mesce, Jr. Is an award-winning author and playwright as well as a screenwriter. He is an adjunct instructor at several colleges in his native New Jersey.
Q&A with the Author:
Are you a Plotter (one who plans or plots out every detail of the writing process) or Pantser (one who writes by the seat of his/her pants)?
Kind of both and neither. I don’t outline, I don’t map out plots. In fact, I tend to keep my plots fairly lean. I’m not into complex plots; I don’t have that facility. But, when I sit down to write, I do so with a fairly good idea of the overall outlines of the plot, and then as I go forward, I discover a lot or realize I have to change direction.
What advice do you have for a new writer?
My first instinct is to say, “Are you out of your freaking mind?” Look, this is a rough business (and, yes, once you’re getting published, it’s a business, it’s a job). You need a very thick skin to put up with rejection, a lot of patience to deal with editor-requested (although it’s often kinda/sorta a demand) revisions. It is not for the weak of heart.
That said, the best advice I can give comes from Faulkner: read everything, good and bad. You’re best teacher will be what’s already made it to the page. Learn to read analytically and figure out how and why something works/fails to work. No workshop, no seminar, no how-to book will ever be as good a teacher the writings of other writers.
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
Oh, wow, so much of it is a pain in the ass! Dialogue is the thing that seems to come to me most easily. At the risk of sounding immodest, I do have an ear for dialogue, and I have a lot of fun trying to get it right.
What is your favorite part of this story?
I hope this doesn’t scare anybody off, but the moral ambiguity. That’s a sensibility that always hooks me; the idea that there can be a set of circumstances where a character isn’t having to choose between right and wrong, but trying to find the least wrong thing to do. Life is messy and that’s something I’ve always tried to capture in almost everything I’ve written.
Which Character was the most fun to write about? Why?
Ronnie Valerio, the young cop, because he was the vehicle into which I could pour all those sensations I had as a young guy in a big, insane city. I won’t say he’s autobiographical, but he and I experienced a lot of the same things.
Which Character was the hardest to write about? Why?
This is going to sound a bit arrogant, but none of them. I keep my plots simple because I spend a lot of time with character because for me, that’s where the fun is; building characters, watching the dynamic between characters develop, nailing down their respective voices. I may get stumped trying to iron out plot points, but I can’t recall ever coming up dry about a character.
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