After it Rains (Print)

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224 pages | Trade Paperback | 6x9"
Date of publication: 06/21/2016
  • ISBN: 978-1-943528-89-9
  • Model: 51800 words

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Heat Rating: 1 Flame

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When Sean Cody finds his partner, Alexa, dead from a suspicious heroin overdose, it derails his plan to escape a life of addiction and petty crime. Struggling to make sense of Alexa's death, Sean finds himself trapped in a turf war raging over a lucrative, new suburban drug market.

For law abiding New Jersey citizens, Hurricane Sandy caused billions in property damage. For heroin junkie and college dropout Sean Cody, the night of the storm destroyed everything.

Returning home from a last minute drug run, Sean finds his lover, Alexa Castiglione, dead from an apparent overdose. But where did she get the dope that killed her? As Sean searches for answers, he finds himself trapped between unlikely allies on both sides of the resurgent East Coast heroin epidemic.

Chris Anders is a local detective obsessed with the deadly brand of dope that killed Alexa. FBI Special Agent Vanessa Coleridge has Anders pegged as her prime suspect in a series of bizarre gangland slayings. Meanwhile, the Castiglione crime family, led by Alexa's father, operates in the shadows to capitalize on the chaos. Will Sean discover the truth behind Alexa's death, or will he become another casualty of America's newest drug war?

There is a truth hidden behind the manicured lawns, carbon-copy strip malls, and million dollar McMansions of contemporary suburbia. Not even a hurricane can wipe the slate clean.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Sean Cody woke from his first sleep in days. He couldn't tell how many. Pain shot through his muscles. His stomach clenched without warning and left him sobbing, knees drawn up against his chest. Waiting for it to return was almost as bad as the pain itself, because he knew it would come back. It was just a question of when.

He shivered on a sweat-stained cot wedged inside the bathtub and pulled his threadbare coat around his body. Sharp points in the stucco ceiling hung above him like stalactites that shifted as his eyes lost and regained focus. When the cramps faded, he groped for something underneath the cot. The granola bar tasted stale and sickly sweet. Better than vomit and stomach bile, at least. He took careful bites then hobbled over to the sink and drank from the faucet. Yesterday he'd thrown up almost immediately. He waited for the nausea, but it didn't come. He drank more water.

He adjusted his legs underneath him and settled a yellow legal notepad on his knee. He sketched her from memory. Alexa sleeping; Alexa reading; Alexa naked on their bed drying her hair with a towel; Alexa crying when she couldn't find a vein; Alexa emptying the syringe into a bottle cap and scraping a blood clot from the needle; Alexa sucking out any heroin left inside.

He wanted to sketch something happier, an escape--the reservoir, the day the hail came in June and steam rose off the water and covered everything for miles; the blanket that he wrapped around them to keep the thick stones of ice from stinging their bare skin; the same blanket he laid down in the woods, their first time together; her asking if it was okay; him trying to explain; her understanding...no matter how clumsy his response.

The pain returned before he could finish. No room for anything else.

*****

A scraping sound woke him. The door opened and a figure emerged.

"It smells like shit in here," Bill said. He held a denim sleeve across his face, covering his short gray beard.

Sean climbed out of the tub and shrugged into his coat. Bill walked into the kitchen. The gunshot of an open beer can echoed through the house. Sean followed the sound of his stepfather guzzling breakfast. They'd been frequent roommates in the years since Sean's mother had passed. Sean had never seen the man eat anything solid before lunch.

He paused outside the kitchen window. The yard looked as if it had been shelled by artillery fire. Bare pitted earth and sand piles covered up lifeless sprigs of grass. Shingles, wet leaves, tree branches and wayward garbage blew neglected from lawn to lawn. Concrete traffic barriers blocked off the street. Most of the neighbors still had a generator running. The chainsaw whine, like mechanized cicadas, filled the background so fully that Sean didn't even notice it at first--and over everything, the steady crash and hiss of the ocean and the crying gulls that stayed all winter.

Home.

Bill removed another tallboy from the six pack. He clipped coupons for roast beef and white bread and canned stew. Sean sat across from him at the kitchen table.

"How long?" Sean asked.

"Five days. Like you said."

The closest generator must have cut out. The ocean sounded closer, the birds louder.

"You good now or what?" Bill asked. This time of morning, the words tumbled out like a mouthful of gravel.

"Getting there."

He grunted. "Are you good to work? I've got people asking."

Sean leaned back in his chair. "I'm done with that."

Bill kept his eyes on the coupons. He took a pull from the tallboy, set it down on napkin then spun the can between his thumb and index finger. "That a fact?"

"Yeah," Sean said. "I'm not doing any more."

"Hmm."

"I'll be out of your hair in a few days. I just need to call some people, figure out the details."

"Hmm."

"Look. You won't see me again. Okay? I'm not making trouble for anyone. A few days...then I'm gone."

Bill looked at him for the first time. "Well, here's the thing, kid. You've already made trouble for me. Had the goon squad here the other day, looking for product they already paid for."

"I thought we had an understanding. With the storm and all--"

"They understand that they paid for something and didn't get it. See? To them, that kinda seems like they got ripped off. Okay, so you want to go? Great. Fine. That means when they come back looking for their money, they're going to find me instead."

"I'm sorry," Sean said.

"You're sorry. Well, that's great to hear, Sean. Really. Thing is, Mommy ain't here to kiss your boo-boo and make it right. I don't give a shit if you're sorry. All I care about is five grand that I should've had two weeks ago, and that I don't have now. And you're telling me you're not working. Well, I hate to break this to you, kid, but the world doesn't revolve around you. You pay what you owe, and you can go to fucking Tibet for all I care."

"Where am I supposed to get five grand?" Sean asked.

"Maybe you should check up your arm, I'm sure you've shot more than a few G's up there lately."

Sean felt too tired for anger. Besides, Bill was right. If he hadn't blown all the cash from the last sale on dope, he wouldn't be in this spot.

"No?" Bill continued. "Well, it looks like I'm denying your vacation request. I got an extension to mid-week. Should be enough time."

Sean had to tell him. He couldn't go back, not after everything.

"Wait," Sean said. "There's something else."

Bill snorted. "Don't waste my time."

"Alexa... We had something going--on the side, like."

"You what?"

"We...stashed some numbers. More than five grand worth, man. Enough to settle. We can split it."

"And I guess that just slipped your mind before, huh?"

Sean shrugged half an apology, as if to say "it is what it is."

Bill took another sip. "The five grand comes out of your end," he said.

"Fine. Deal. But after that, I'm leaving."

Sean stood up.

"Where the fuck you going?" Bill said.

"I'm taking a shower. That gonna be an issue?"

"Then you're getting my money?"

"Yeah, then I'm getting your fucking money."

Authors:

About Daniel James Zampini:
Fireborn Publishing Main Page

Daniel James Zampini spent his formative years devouring mafia movies, overdue library books, and 33 rpm vinyl records. After college, he traded a guitar amplifier for a typewriter and hasn't looked back. New Jersey, born and raised.

Twitter: @ZampiniWrites

Website: www.zampiniwrites.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zampiniwrites/

Instagram: @ZampiniWrites

Email: zampini.writes@gmail.com

For more information, please visit the author's webpage.

Other books by Jamie D. Rose- EDITOR:

About Ryan Curtis- COVER ARTIST:
URL- www.rcurtisdesign.com/
For more information, please visit the author's webpage.

Other books by Daniel James Zampini, Jamie D. Rose- EDITOR and Ryan Curtis- COVER ARTIST:


This book was added to our catalog on Wednesday 15 June, 2016.

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