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About the Author

Copyright Page

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FOR

RENÉE MARIE VALOIS

I wish to acknowledge my debt to the late India Cooper, Vienna Crosby, Kayla Janas, Keith Kahla, Jim Mullin, Alison Picard, Alice Pfeifer, Emily Polachek, Sabrina Soares Roberts, and Renée Valois.

JUST SO YOU KNOW

I was shot in the back at close range by a .32-caliber handgun yet did not die, at least not permanently. Dr. Lillian Linder, the emergency medical specialist who saved my life, said it was a miracle. Lilly had patched me up on numerous occasions over the past decade, though, and I knew that she was prone to hyperbole. The cops, of course, were anxious to interview me but Lil had placed me in a coma. Apparently, I had coded twice while she was doing her thing. The second time I suffered cardiac arrest, I was dead for four minutes and ten seconds. To bring me back, Lilly zapped my heart with a defibrillator. That got it pumping again, although erratically. At least, that’s what I was told. I wish I could tell you that I saw Jesus while I was gone, but I didn’t. I didn’t see anything. There was no bright light for me to go to; my mom and dad weren’t waiting for me on the other side. I didn’t even know that I had died until three days later. Anyway, during those four minutes and ten seconds there was no electrical activity in my brain and no blood circulating. Lilly was concerned that I might suffer brain damage, if I hadn’t already (insert your own joke here). Thus the induced coma. In any case, there was nothing I could have told the cops. I did not see who shot me. I did not know why I was shot. Hell, I was as surprised at being shot as the woman who screamed when the bullet spun my body against hers. Eventually, I would piece the entire story together; my friends related bits and pieces to me while I was recovering. Apparently, I have more friends than you can shake a stick at. Who knew? Their stories began where mine ended, so to speak. They began with the scream …

ONE

I had been standing outside the club, looking first right and then left. I saw her when I looked left, a middle-aged woman who was walking toward me in three-inch heels. I found out later that her name was Nancy Moosbrugger. Her hair was brown and her eyes were brown and her body—if I had a body like that I would wear skintight clothes, too. She smiled at me and I smiled at her. I thought she was a working girl, especially after she said, “Hello,” with a voice that suggested that all things were possible.

“Good evening,” I replied.

She nodded her head and smiled some more and reached past me for the handle of the club’s door, moving slowly as if she expected me to stop her.

That’s when I felt the hard punch in my back and I tumbled forward. I didn’t feel the pain at first, and then I did. I reached for Nancy in a futile attempt to remain upright. She screamed and everything went black.

Someone called 911, I never learned who. Officer Jeremiah Healy arrived five minutes and twenty-seven seconds later, which was an excellent response time. He saw a woman in a skintight dress that was cut low on the top and high on the bottom and splattered with blood. She was sitting on the sidewalk and cradling my head in her lap.

“Someone shot him,” Nancy said.

“What?”

“Someone shot him. I heard a shot and he fell against me.”

The way Nancy held me in her lap, my back was to the sidewalk, the officer didn’t become fully aware of how seriously injured I was until he knelt next to us and the blood pooling beneath me wetted his knee. The bullet that had entered my back and lodged itself in my chest had ruptured at least one major vessel and I was in danger of bleeding to death.

The officer activated the radio microphone attached to his shoulder.

He carefully explained that he was on the scene, that shots had been fired as the 911 caller had reported, and that he found a white male who was badly in need of immediate medical attention. The SPPD was big on what it called “plain speak.” For example, Healy was very clear when he said, “Officer requires assistance.”

He interviewed Nancy while he waited for it to arrive.

“Who is he?” the officer asked.

“I don’t know. I never saw him before.”

“Is he a john you picked up?”

“What the hell?”

“It’s okay. I’m not judging.”

Only Nancy felt as if she was being judged.

“I was walking down the street…”

The officer smirked.

“I was walking down the street and I saw him standing in front of the door and I heard the gunshot and he fell against me, and somehow we both ended up on the sidewalk.”

“Were you the one who called 911?” Healy asked.

“No.”

Her cell phone was in her small handbag. The bag was resting on the other side of the sidewalk where it came to rest after flying out of her hand. Nancy would have had to lay my head on the concrete and crawl over to reach it. The fact that she didn’t, that she continued to cradle me in her arms, a complete stranger—well, let’s not get emotional. We have a long way to go yet.

Healy asked

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