An excerpt of Lexus Sam, the psychological thriller out now:
He slid the chain out of the way, opened his front door, and stepped out into the hall. The paper waited a foot away, folded in half and secured with a fat blue elastic.
As he bent to pick it up, he caught the headline above the fold — “Governor MacTeague Pledges to ‘Correct Our Mistakes’” — and thought of sun showers, sunlight refracting in the rain and creating a rainbow, painting the world in its bright colors. Blinded, he stumbled —
— as his foot caught the lip of the next step. He steadied himself on the railing to the right. And slowed. A stream of people walked beside him, passing in either direction, hurrying, sauntering, hands on the railing, in pockets. A tall, lean man in a wool trench coat glanced down at him as he passed. Lexus blinked. Ahead of him, a kid in a puffy bomber jacket hopped up the steps two at a time. A lanky redhead walking in heels with loud strides put up her faux-fur lined hood. Her pale face disappeared within.
He stopped midway up the staircase. The crowd kept going.
“Watch it, buddy,” a voice barked in his ear. They streamed, pushed, sidled, side-stepped—
— What am I —
— like salmon swimming upstream. He noticed the man’s reflection, a few bodies back, in the jeweler’s glass storefront: an average looking guy, not too tall, square shoulders without being bulky, a narrow, dimpled chin. Only the hair stuck out — red and thin, his hairline like saplings planted to reforest a swath of clear-cutting. Just a face in the big city — someone out walking — but he was too familiar to be anonymous. He recognized this man —
— Wait, I do? How? It’s just —
— with the thinning red hair. Not who he was or what he wanted, really, he just had an alias to go on —
— a stranger, familiar maybe, haunting, whispers from a dream, but nothing so concrete as knowing —
— Detective Rose.
It had to be.
He’s following me.
Lexus looked away, hunched his shoulders —
— Why? Why does any of this —
— and ducked into the flow of people. The noise of the crowd drew him on more than anything. For a moment, he didn’t know where he was heading. He stopped and looked around him, a lost tourist.
The rally was outside the public library. They’d set up a podium on the steps between the two lion statues. The backdrop seemed suited for a caesar addressing his army.
He wouldn’t be able to talk to him. Not with the crowds, all the fanfare, but he’d be able to see him in the flesh and up close and hopefully feel a moment of recognition.
He would. He knew it. The governor was another piece to his puzzle, another footprint in the drifting snow leading back to his forgotten, lost life.
The rally was close. He could hear the crowd’s jabbering commotion — a rising and falling tide of individual conversations that flowed like sewage down the streets.
The police had shut down 5th Avenue between 40th and 42nd with dull gray barricades. The crowd was penned in between them like cattle, shifting and swaying like visitors to a faith healer, cautious but expectant.
Lexus turned up the collar on his coat and trudged through the wind.
The noise of the first gunshot was almost lost, not in the wild cheering — gunshots were loud, even in Manhattan — but in a moment of shock and disbelief — the mind’s refusal to register and accept, at first, that what the eyes saw and the ears heard was real. That shock and disbelief was shattered as cleanly, as absolutely, as Governor MacTeague’s skull by the second shot.
One moment the governor was falling down and to the left, his head and shoulders clear of the podium and in plain sight, his eyes shut tight, his mouth open in a round gape of surprise.
And in the next, his head burst.
Blood. Bright, ruby-red blood flowed down the freshly washed and swept steps.
Then Lexus —
— woke with a sharp pang of pain.
Flowing down the steps.
“Easy, boss. Easy.”
He thrashed, fists clenched, kicking. His body jerked in mindless spasms. But they passed. He exhaled. He opened his eyes on the white stuccoed ceiling of the hallway outside his apartment.
The pizza delivery boy, some kid wearing a mesh-backed hat with a faded picture of two green olives on the front, hovered nearby, holding a stack of pizza boxes.
His heart throbbed behind his ribcage. It skipped a beat. And another. His breath caught with each murmur. It felt like he was drowning in open air.
His cheeks and tongue ached. He’d bit them, hard. He swallowed blood, gagged, and sat up coughing. His vision swam. He wretched and gagged and cupped his hand over his mouth. It filled with bile and blood and whatever else was coming up from his stomach and throat. Some leaked through his fingers and flowed down his wrist.
And at the edges of his vision, he saw today’s paper, crumpled, folded and held with a blue elastic, the headline above the fold.