FIC­TION

De­but novel; greed and re­venge in the news­pa­per in­dus­try

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Grab­more

In this ex­cerpt from Grab­more, four men who have kid­napped the CEO of a news­pa­per com­pany where they work are meet­ing at the his­toric Rod & Gun Club in Ever­glades City when their lunch is in­ter­rupted.

We were look­ing over the menu when a blond woman wear­ing flipflops, pink shorts and an or­ange tank top with a flamingo on the front stopped at our ta­ble. She was 40 or so but trim and fit look­ing with blue eyes and she wore a baseball cap with a Tampa Bay Rays logo. Her pale blond hair tum­bled out the back of the cap. “Hi, guys,” she said. I re­sponded with my usual bril­liant wit. “Ah, hi.” “What are you guys do­ing?” “About to or­der lunch,” I ex­plained. “Any­thing else?” Pick­ing up my Corona, I said, “I be­lieve we’re also go­ing to drink some beer. Maybe a lot. But not our friend here, the one with the water glass. His re­li­gious con­vic­tions don’t per­mit al­co­hol. I, on the other hand, have no con­vic­tions. Re­li­gious or oth­er­wise.” My at­tempt at hu­mor eluded this med­dle­some woman, this in­truder who re­minded me of Judy Hol­l­i­day in the clas­sic 1950 film Born Yes­ter­day. “What else you guys do­ing?” I tried ex­plain­ing this was a busi­ness meet­ing. “What kind of busi­ness you fel­lows in?” she asked. I didn’t think it wise to say kid­nap­ping was our busi­ness and busi­ness was boom­ing. So she sensed an open­ing, grabbed a chair and slid it over by the end of our ta­ble. “What are your names?” I in­tro­duced the fel­lows. Sal was in­tro­duced as Lee Child. Nigel be­came Dennis Le­hane and Ah­mad was dubbed El­more Leonard. “Funny,” the woman said. “You don’t look like an El­more.” “Well,” Ah­mad said. “I’m El­more. Very El­more. Almost El­more to a fault.” She let that sink in for a mo­ment. “Hi, my name is Troxie,’ she said. “Roxie?” I said. “Like Roxie Hart in Chicago.” “No, Troxie.” I still didn’t get it. “Trixie?” I asked. “No, Troxie. T-R-O-X-I-E.” “Oh, that’s an un­usual name.” “Well, I’m an un­usual per­son,” she said. There was no dis­put­ing that. “So, what are you guys hav­ing for lunch? I rec­om­mend the cap­tain’s plat­ter. $19.95. You get fish and shrimp and oys­ters and scal­lops and more. I think a Ken­dall Jack­son pinot gri­gio goes re­ally with this. Two of those pinot gri­gios go even bet­ter. So I’ll have two. “Oh, do you guys mind if I join you? Thanks. Don’t mind if I do.” She turned to me. What’s your name? I told her it was Dashiell. Dashiell Ham­mett. “You know, Dashiell, your friends are kind of cute,” Troxie said. “What about me?” I asked. “You know, you seem pretty smart,” she said. We didn’t have the nerve to ask Troxie to leave. … She came from St. Peters­burg for a shuf­fle­board tour­na­ment at the Rod & Gun Club. … Her goal was to some­day be en­shrined in the Shuf­fle­board Hall of Fame along­side leg­ends of the sport such as Mae Hall. She then pulled out of her purse a pho­to­copy of a 1964

Sports Il­lus­trated fea­ture on Mae Hall. I asked Troxie her last name and again wasn’t sure what she said.…Lit­tle did we know that af­ter­noon as we sat on the veranda un­der those fans that we had not seen the last of this med­dle­some, in­tru­sive, shuf­fle­board-ob­sessed, pinot-gri­gio drink­ing woman. And our kid­nap­ping vic­tim Chesterfield Ebenezer O’Ri­ley IV had yet to see the first of her.

Grab­more is the de­but novel of vet­eran Fort My­ers writer Glenn Miller. It is pub­lished by Martin Sis­ters Pub­lish­ing and is avail­able at Ama­zon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Mil­lion and oth­ers.

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