Friday, 18 February 2011
Author Spotlight week - Excerpt from Unwilling Accomplice
The steady pounding in Joe Riso's head beat in time with his aching heart. Sharp pangs stabbed his temples. He groaned and rolled onto his back. No way was he opening his eyes. He never slept anymore unless he was exhausted or on a bender, and it might be morning already -- which meant the shock of light would simply hurt too much.
He scrubbed his hands over his face. Why was the pounding getting louder? Usually it ebbed once he woke up. With a bitter curse, he rocked onto his side and cracked his eyelids. The living room was still dark, except for the milky gray light from the TV.
It was the middle of the night, and the infernal pounding continued. His stomach swirled. He put his hand flat on the carpet and tried to focus on the monotone murmur of the World Poker Tour announcer, but it was impossible to hear over the cacophony inside his head.
"Joe?" a woman's voice called from far away.
He lifted his head. Was he hallucinating?
"Joe, please open the door. It's an emergency."
He frowned and groggily sat up. The light hurt his eyes. With a wince, he tried to shake the cobwebs out of his brain. After a few slow shakes, he finally registered the voice's cryptic words. Open the door. Emergency.
So the pounding wasn't inside his head after all, but was caused by a woman standing on his front porch beating the heck out of his front door. He cranked his eyes open again and peered hard at the clock over the TV. Two a.m. Son of a--
"Joe, please!" The woman hesitated. "I know you're in there. Wake up!"
With great effort, he hoisted himself off the floor. The room tilted. He lurched into the side of the recliner and hung onto it for dear life until the floor leveled out.
Another series of knocks pounded dull nails into his temples.
"Cut it out," he snarled, half to himself. "For just one freaking minute."
No luck. The only way to make the noise stop was for him to open the door. He took a deep breath, let go of the recliner, and caught sight of himself in the mirror on the foyer wall. His hair stood on end, his chin was dark with stubble, and his wrinkled white tee shirt rode up his flat stomach. He yanked it down and lumbered across the sea of carpet. His fingers fumbled with the chain, but he finally got it off and unlocked the deadbolt.
He opened the door and reeled backwards. His former sister-in-law, Marcy Moretti, and her little beanpole of a kid stood on the mat.
"Whoa," he said, meeting Marcy's frantic eyes in startled shock. "It's two a.m. What do you guys want?"
"We need to come inside. Right now." She whirled and raked the street with her terrified gaze. Turned back. "Please, Joe. I'll explain once we're in and the door is locked."