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First pages

1

It was September, late at night, in Manhattan. I was walking up Madison Avenue after having met my friend Arnie for a drink in East Midtown. I was a little drunk. Although there were cars, for New York City it was deserted. It was hot, maybe unusually hot, but not oppressive. At Fifty-seventh Street I saw a bright light coming from a storefront. This is a choice part of Fifty-seventh and the shops are very high end, but at this time of the night they’re all shuttered and dark. Except this one. The light from it, in contrast to the dark street, was piercing. It intrigued me for some reason.

There were two big black SUVs with tinted windows parked outside the store and people on the sidewalk in suits. This is the time of year when the United Nations is in session and about ninety percent of the world’s dictators, tyrants, and presidents-for-life were in town with their entourages and mistresses and wives. I got my phone out and was ready to take some video. I figured if it’s one of the bigger genocidal maniacs, I might get three or four hundred for a photograph from one of the NYC tabloids or maybe a little more for the whole video from an online site.

A group of men gathered outside the store. Right outside the entrance a couple of them were smoking and talking and laughing in hushed tones. I was too far away to even hear the sounds of their voices, never mind make out what they were saying or even what language. One was a white guy, the other black. Both wore expensive charcoal gray suits, white shirts, dark black ties. Two other men stood farther out from the entrance, one on each side, at the farthest boundary of the store’s property on the border between the light from the store and the night. Like a cordon.

The one closest to me wore black slacks and a black t-shirt that glistened like silk, and a black sports coat. No tie. He had a shoulder holster with a handgun of some sort in the holster. Probably a .45 automatic, but I don’t know anything about guns. I've never even held a gun in my hand, though I’ve wanted to for some time, but it’s impossible in New York City to get a handgun permit unless you’re a celebrity or you’re guarding cash all day, or you know someone who knows someone who works at the permit office. I’ve fantasized about using a handgun, maybe purchasing one under the table from a club owner or a has-been celebrity’s manager or someone else I've met on the job. I've never asked, of course, because most of those people despise me. Or I could just go down to North Carolina or Virginia or somewhere you can buy a gun, and then bring it back to New York, but I've never gotten around to it. Once I tried to use a public rifle range in Manhattan. You rent a rifle just for that one hour and shoot it at the range right there and for extra they even give you a little shooting lesson, but I’d shown up after dinner and I’d had one beer with dinner, so they wouldn’t let me in because of the beer on my breath.

There was no one else on Fifty-seventh Street that evening but the entourage in front of the store and me, and I walked closer. The store sold jewelry, $275,000 watches, $400,000 rings and earrings, diamonds mostly and platinum, some white gold, and as a joke I imagined those stones and metals contributed to the glare emanating from the store. The SUVs were parked one in front of the other and the one I could make out had diplomatic plates, so I was right, it was some corrupt world leader on a shopping trip.

The national flag was a small decal someone had pasted on the rear window of the passenger side of each SUV. I was an expert on the flags of the world since I was a kid, but I didn’t know this one, so I used my phone to look it up, just typed the colors into the search engine, with the question which country’s flag has red, black, and gold horizontal stripes with a green flower in the center, the totality of human knowledge right there in a small device in my hand once known in the old days as a cell phone. Up popped the Republic of Eastern Congo, one of Africa’s brand new shitholes. Its president-for-life, Joseph Muamba, was here in New York City in that store spending half his country’s wealth on a diamond-encrusted Swiss watch for himself, and maybe a white gold ring and a pair of diamond earrings and a brooch for his wife and something for one of his concubines as well.

Muamba, it seems, was the son of one of the army officers who served under the previous president-for-life, and when Dad was arrested and then executed in a fit of paranoia along with a group of other soldiers who may or may not have been a political threat, the family fled while he was still young across the border to Rwanda. He grew up there and joined the army himself in his new country, and then was stationed near the border and took some of his men across one day to the Congo on some pretext of chasing down a group of insurgents who’d blown up a village police station and fled to their base in the Congo. Over there, Muamba wound up taking over a couple of villages, and then more territory until he and his men had captured a moderate chunk of the eastern part of the country, not on behalf of Rwanda, but on behalf of himself. Now he was an insurgent in his own homeland. And the movement grew until it became a pain in the ass to the Congolese dictator. There were some engagements between forces, and slaughters and genocides, because the dictator was the member of one ethnic group and Muamba was the member of another ethnic group, and the time for the dictator's group to get all the wealth and privileges was coming to an end. And there were other rebel factions from other groups, and they came to an agreement, and when the government’s troops were thrown out of the eastern chunk of the country, Muamba called his territory the Republic of Eastern Congo and anointed himself the president pending elections. Election time was busy for Muamba as he planned the assassinations and arrests and public impalements of the opposition leaders, his former colleagues. He was elected, of course, but with such blatant corruption that even the U.N. committee that was sent to monitor the election wrote a scathing report before they were kicked out of the country.

And now president-for life Muamba, having ensconced himself in power and dealing with his own insurgency led by his former allies, was here in New York City buying jewelry at a price that would procure enough rice to feed everyone in his country for half a year or put a hospital within reasonable access of every village or purify the country’s drinking water or build some schools. But instead he was buying rocks and metals that probably came from another part of Africa. I suppose it’s better to buy while the buying is good, because who knows, in six months it might be Muamba’s head on a pike.

As I was looking this stuff up on my phone, the light from the screen sparkled in the face of the bodyguard on my side of the sidewalk. He grunted something. I was close enough at this point to hear the voice, but not close enough make out what was said, and after he grunted, the two inside the cordon near the entrance to the store, the white and the black man, looked up from their conversation, peered in my direction, and the white man stepped forward. The bodyguard didn’t exactly reach for his holstered gun but he moved his arm and hand just a fraction, touched the flap from his sports jacket a little bit, just to make it slightly easier and faster to gain access to the weapon. But so what? This wasn’t his crummy, lawless backwater, but America, New York City, where people were free to walk the streets even late at night on a Monday and there was nothing some dictator’s toadies could do about it.

I wasn’t exactly dressed in a threatening manner. I had on a pair of crap jeans that were frayed on the bottom of the pant legs and a dark green short-sleeve button-down shirt with a flower pattern on it in off-white, and a pair of sneakers without socks. I just had a birthday last week, and it was only two weeks ago that I observed a couple of gray strands of hair in the mirror. What I kind of looked like was some retired security chief of the rural district of a third-world country who’d fled to the United States when his government fell but was now living in Queens where he ran a crummy, almost always empty restaurant that catered to the expatriates of the losing faction in his country and whose biggest concern these days was whether the restaurant would be closed by the NYC Department of Mental Health and Hygiene on the grounds that there was evidence of live rodents and vermin on the premises.

Despite their movements, I kept walking toward them and they certainly didn’t take their eyes off of me. As I approached, the white guy strolled up but not past the outer bodyguard. He looked European with his slicked-back blond hair and protruding chin, maybe a German or Dane. He was probably the guy who spoke English the best. I knew when I got close enough he would ask me to please cross the street and the tone would be polite but at the same time no-nonsense, and he wouldn’t bother explaining why unless I asked why, but he’d already anticipated that I’d ask why because it was typical for an American to ask why to even the most reasonable and trivial requests, at which point he would then say something like “for security purposes,” which usually would be enough for the average citizen who just happened to be walking this way on no other particular business. But if the pedestrian had an ulterior agenda, the phrase “for security purposes” would be a test, because it wouldn’t be enough to deter someone who had a nefarious reason for being there, so if I didn’t immediately obey, that would pique the interest of everyone in Muamba’s security team.

But I planned to stop right in front of the outer bodyguard and wait for Muamba to emerge from the store so I could get his photo and a good thirty seconds of video, and there was nothing these people could do about it because this is America. I was used to dealing with bodyguards, because as a paparazzi that’s how I make my living, taking pictures of the famous and they almost always have bodyguards and you just place yourself as close as possible to the bodyguard but not beyond him through the cordon and you wait and you take your picture. And I’m never intimidated, because I believe in what I do. The way I see it, I’m like a new American revolutionary, crusading against the aristocracy and the elite, except nowadays it’s the celebrities and the famous who are the ruling class and it’s my job to keep them honest, bring them down a peg, make sure they understand that they aren’t any better than anyone else, expose them to the light. Maybe the other paparazzi have fallen down on the job, become too enthralled with the celebrity industrial complex, as one columnist called it, become more like publicists or courtiers. But not me.

On the other hand, maybe I’m just kidding myself, trying to rationalize why I’m in this business and how far I’ve fallen to get here. Going after some genocidal murderer kind of makes it all worthwhile.

I had my phone out and I was almost right up to the outer bodyguard, who by this time had his hand on his chest just inches away from his gun, and the white guy in the charcoal suit put out his cigarette on the sidewalk, the litterbug, throwing his garbage on our streets, and he was looking right at me and he raised his hand and pointed at me in an admonishing way and he’s about to give the spiel, and I’m getting ready to tell him too bad, when all of a sudden Muamba emerges from the store. A dark black man, round faced, not nearly as tall as one would expect, stubby and big with a big gut. His head was very round and a little small for his body. He had short hair. He wore a lime green silk t-shirt designed in Japan, untucked over black slacks. No shoes, just brown sandals. And he’s smiling broadly, his mouth parted, like this is the greatest time of his life, but there’s just a little nervousness in the smile and in his eyes, an anxiety that you might expect on the face of a dictator, especially one surrounded by his own people, even though he was out of his country and in New York City of all places.

He glanced in my direction and caught just the briefest glimpse of me though it was unintended, like he perceived some insignificant movement at the periphery of his vision and looked out of instinct, and his head swung immediately in the opposite direction to his right and he wrapped his arm around someone next to him on the right who was hidden by his girth. They were headed straight to one of the SUVs, but Muamba stops suddenly and the person to his right, considerably shorter and thinner, steps forward. A stunningly beautiful white woman in a red dress, one of those short, form-fitting things that barely extend an inch below the buttocks, and high heels and jewelry herself, a pearl necklace with black pearls.

I recognized her immediately, of course, because that was my job. She calls herself Maisy Day, a fake name that she probably thinks is cute. I haven't the slightest idea what her real name was or what her parents did or how many siblings she had or what they did. All I knew was that she was twenty-four years old, from Australia, and in the last two years had made herself famous in America by breaking up with and dating celebrities, a professional girlfriend and ex-girlfriend to the glitterati. She’d dated rappers, hip-hop artists, a superstar athlete, and in the last year even a former rock star, Jimmy Flint, old enough to be her grandpa, a guy who had, not long ago, in a weird coincidence given a concert to raise money for food and medical supplies for the world’s poor, and that included the impoverished of the Republic of Eastern Congo. Maybe Muamba himself was at the concert. There were a number of leaders who made an appearance with their hands out and their fingers wagging at Western guilt. There was a chance that Muamba had been there and had met Jimmy Flint and then stole his girl. Wouldn’t that be hilarious? It was almost too much.

The look on her face as she strode arm in arm with a murderer was this smug smile, which was the look she always has on her face in public, and it was interesting to see that she wore it no matter who she was with, as if it was something to be proud of, sleeping with the famous. She reveled in the melodrama and the gossip. And like everyone else these days, she insisted the media refer to her as an activist, which had become an absolutely meaningless term because it was nothing more than a pose. She’d hired her own publicist, probably paid for by whoever the boyfriend was when the bill came due, and once every three months the publicist would arrange for her to spend a half hour handing out prepackaged sandwiches to the homeless at a shelter in downtown Los Angeles, accompanied by a film crew, and that was her idea of being an activist.

The whole thing was a paparazzi’s dream come true. I was genuinely stunned. I must’ve done something right today. I paid for Arnie’s drinks, so maybe this was karma paying me back. A shot of Maisy Day and Muamba would get me a thousand dollars minimum. A thousand? Three thousand. Five thousand. The concubine with the dictator? The professional starfucker and the mass murderer? This was actually breaking news; newsworthy. My phone was already recording video. I’d turned it on just after I’d finished searching for the identity of the flag, because I wanted to be ready, and all I had to do was point it and catch the two of them crossing five feet of sidewalk and getting into the SUV. And I raised my hand, almost there, and her dress was just spectacular and her breasts squeezed into the outfit so perfectly, and her beautiful red hair, just stunning.

Then, unexpectedly, another man emerged from the store a few paces behind them, part of the entourage in some unclear way, and his beady green eyes were fixed right on me. The green glowed in the artificial light. He was much taller than Muamba, much taller than many people, very tall. Not a freak, not like a being from another planet, not an extraterrestrial, but more than human. Maybe six foot nine. And he wasn’t thick like Muamba, but gaunt and thin, not athletic, not like a basketball player or a track star. His skin was sickly pale in the light, almost blue in complexion, with dark purple veins in his cheekbones. I shuddered involuntarily. His age seemed to change as he moved. His hair was dark black with gray streaks in it but a step later as the light changed the gray disappeared. Was he fifty or forty or sixty? It was hard to tell, but he wasn’t a young man, not in his twenties or thirties. One of those people who had aged very well, physically fit but not buff, not overboard.

I couldn’t take my eyes off him. There was something hypnotic about him, mesmerizing. I don’t believe in charisma. I’ve never met anyone I thought was charismatic in any way in my entire life, not even rock ‘n’ roll idols I’d seen at a club or celebrities I’d run into on the street. They were ordinary, familiar, but not charismatic. No one impressed me all that much, which was probably part of my problem, because I’ve yearned for someone I could be impressed by, someone who could captivate me, draw me in, inspire me, a true mentor. Of course there were people I respected, people who had achieved things, things better than I had achieved. That wasn’t saying much. That was half the population. But no one I couldn’t take my eyes off of, no one I drooled over like a teenage girl at a pop concert or a so-called journalist in the presence of the presidential candidate of his choice.

I couldn’t take my eyes off this tall, gaunt specter of a man, and the experience wasn’t entirely pleasant. The phenomenon itself fascinated me and at the same time frightened me. The man was mesmerizing but also creepy. He glanced at me only for an instant and turned away as he followed Muamba toward the SUV. But as he turned away, for a split second, a nanosecond, I got the feeling that he recognized me and I recognized him. It was impossible. I have a great facility for remembering faces. I never forget a face. Never. When I see people from my own past, I might assume they have forgotten me, but I never forget them. Not even people from the distant past. And as far as celebrities and their hangers-on, I have instant recognition. It’s my job, knowing the celebrity when I see him or her, no matter how long they've been out of the limelight. And also knowing the members of the entourage, the starfuckers, the leeches, the nothings, because these people were not just the harbingers of the presence of a celebrity, but could also be mined, for a fee, sometimes a regular retainer, for information. But this gaunt man’s face I had clearly not identified at the first instant and only now felt a vague feeling of familiarity that I could not explain. I still couldn’t place the face, wasn’t even sure where I’d seen him or in what decade, whether it was during work at a club or restaurant stalking celebrities or whether it was a part of my personal life, like someone I couldn’t quite remember from high school.

All this ran through my mind, and it was as if I were having one of those dreams that seem to go on for a long time in the dream world, where you walk into a room and have a conversation with someone in the dream and think about things and walk into another room and it all takes place in the dream over fifteen or twenty minutes but when you wake up you’re on an airplane or in a taxi or on a bus or sitting in a chair in your living room and you realize you’ve only been asleep for fifteen seconds. So it was only so very briefly but my attention was distracted for long enough that Muamba and Maisy were already climbing into the SUV and I had only gotten them on video for a brief instant, not enough, not nearly enough, and I was about to lose them completely, because the windows of the SUV were tinted, and I moved closer to get the angle and I raised the phone, but there was a big black hand obstructing the screen and it got bigger and closer until it slammed right onto my forehead between the eyes.

It was more shock than pain, a bright light and I was out before I hit the pavement. I came to only a few seconds later and tried to get up, because I didn’t have my phone anymore, and I needed to get my phone. The bodyguard was passing it to the white guy in the charcoal suit and I lunged to grab it but was stopped with a fist in the stomach. The air just rushed out of my lungs, up my throat, out my mouth, and I doubled over gasping. Through watery eyes I watched the SUV drive off. The white guy is now fiddling with my phone, and when he finishes, he tosses it at me. It bounced off my head onto the pavement. The guard kicked me in the shin, which tripped me up and I fell face first onto the sidewalk. I blacked out, this time for more than a few seconds. When I woke up, I was alone on the sidewalk, the SUVs all gone, the lights turned out in the store, the metal shutters down, my phone on the ground beside me. At least its screen wasn’t cracked, because I can’t afford a new phone.

I sat up and stayed that way for a while, because I was dizzy and nauseous and there was a bad taste in my mouth, not just the metallic taste of my own blood, but something else, a piece of raw hamburger I’d eaten earlier in the day that was lingering in my mouth all over my tongue in the back of my throat like something that had died. Except I hadn’t eaten any hamburger.

2

Next morning, I woke in my apartment on Tenth Avenue in Manhattan. It was 7:30 and the noise that wakes me is the air conditioner, which is one of those units in the window, except it’s an old apartment and the window sits in a cheap wood frame that is starting to rot and the windowpane is coming loose from the wood that holds it in, so that the air conditioner rattles the loose windowpane and the rotting wood, producing a loud, unbearable clatter, which I was able to ignore last night because I was so exhausted I just collapsed. But in the morning it woke me.

The apartment is a street-facing one-bedroom on the second floor of a five-floor low-rise next to a dry cleaner on one side and a Chinese food restaurant with poor ventilation on the other, so that at night, when they close down and burn off their grease, the stench travels upwards into my apartment and coats the outside of the windows, and in the morning the grease smell is still lingering. The air conditioner doesn’t work very well anyway and it’s still not very cool inside the apartment. The sun is bright and the day before was a hot one for September, and it’s obvious this day will be another scorcher, so I’m reluctant to turn off the air conditioner and open the window and let in the heat, but I did it anyway, and when I do, about ten seconds later, construction workers on the building two addresses north on Tenth, where there’s a scaffold, start drilling into the brick façade. These are old buildings and the drilling is loud and constant, stopping only every ten minutes or so for about fifteen seconds before starting up again, and the sound of the drilling and the vibrations penetrate my body, travel up my spine and reverberate in my brain. I’m already getting a headache. I’ve never figured out what this drilling accomplishes, but they do it until the entire façade is completed, inch by inch, forever.

Just as my headache is taking root, across the street and about twenty yards away, construction workers on the street, city workers, not a private company like the drillers on the façade, start a jackhammer to dig up a patch of concrete. This noise is twenty times as loud as the façade drilling, unbearable, shaking not just my cranium but the entire apartment, so I couldn’t even conduct a conversation if there were someone here, couldn’t even converse on the phone, couldn’t hear the TV, couldn’t hear my own thoughts. Nothing can go through my mind now, no idea or contemplation, nothing but the cacophonous roar of the jackhammer slowly ripping up the street twelve-inch-thick piece by twelve-inch-thick piece. It’s not like a construction site. It is in fact a construction site. I have no choice but to close the window and turn on the air conditioner again to try to drown out the outside noise with the rattling of the air conditioner, but it’s all a waste of time. A thin mist of ground concrete particles from the jackhammering is now floating across the street heading right for my window.

It’s not like I was going to be able to sleep any longer. I was beyond dead, and my face ached from the beating last night, and I was wondering if I had a black eye or maybe two black eyes, so I looked in the bedroom mirror attached to the back of the door. No black eye, no broken nose, just a little red mark and a bit of swelling. I stood in the bedroom doorway taking in the rest of my apartment. It was so small you could see everything from that vantage point. I hadn’t cleaned the place in months: dust, hair, grime, clothes, old plastic dishes piled on the coffee table in front of the TV. It wasn’t really a coffee table, just a cheap, square table that passed for a dining table and a kitchen table and a coffee table.

There were only two windows in the entire place, the one with the air conditioner in it and the one next to it, and they were in the bedroom. The bedroom windows were so small even on a morning like this with such bright sunshine that hardly any light reached the rest of the apartment, so it was permanently dark in there, like a dank cave, and I always had to turn on a light even in the middle of the day. The light was a floor lamp. There had once been an overhead light sometime in the history of this room, but it was not there when I arrived, just a switch on the wall that activated nothing and a metal plate covering up the hole where the overhead light used to be. The place smelled like stale food on unwashed plastic plates, microwavable plastic even though I had no microwave. It also smelled like empty beer bottles and the dregs left in a couple bottles of vodka and cheap Irish whiskey, and the reek of the ancient carpet that may have once been a color other than the dark gray color of a corpse.

As I emerged from the bedroom, something moved suddenly in the corner next to the file cabinet. The file cabinet was where I kept my notes and important documents, both personal and related to my work like income-tax returns and contracts and copies of unpublished photographs I’d printed out.

A crouching figure with its back to me turned. It looked right at me. I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman or what race it was even. And it wasn’t because of the dimness of the room or the fact that I was still groggy. The figure wore a balaclava, in this heat, and only the eyes were revealed. It stared at me for a brief second, and I froze. I don’t know why, but I got the impression it was a woman. I’d like to think it was the eyes, something delicate, something strange about them, though it was really too dim to see them clearly. Maybe I had a heightened ability to perceive gender in the subtlest movements. More likely I watch too many TV shows where the masked intruder always turns out to be a woman to throw the audience off. It wasn’t panic exactly but surprise, shock really, that kept me standing there stupidly. Someone was actually in my apartment, an intruder. This was a first for me, and I’ve lived in some pretty marginal neighborhoods. I was having trouble accepting it as a reality.

I stepped forward to say something, sort of an instinctive response, when the figure sprang up and darted for the door. I watched her open the door and leave. But I was still delayed. I finally realized I should go after her even though she’d left empty-handed. I sprang into the hall in my underwear. She moved fast. She was down the stairs and out the building before I reached the main entrance. When I got outside, she was gone. I didn't have my keys so I just stood there, holding the door open, reluctant to go farther out on the street in my underwear and be trapped out there.

Now that the she was gone, I was pretty shook up, nervous, angry, creeped out. Back in the apartment, I sat down on my faux-leather couch that was so old and used by this time that small little black strips of the plastic that stood in for leather were peeling off everywhere. I sat for a while trying to process what had happened, and then finally checked out the file cabinet. Nothing missing, not even my passport or birth certificate, though it was obvious almost all the files had been rifled through. My thoughts were a little disorganized. If it had been the afternoon, I would have had a drink. A burglary. I didn’t even remember leaving the door unlocked.

There were two text messages on my phone. I’d managed to get out a couple of texts last night after the incident, one to a guy I knew who ran an app that provided minute-to-minute updates on celebrities, including not just news but their location at any given time of day, so he relied a lot on people like me, though he paid pretty piss poor. As a bonus with the app you could get videos of celebrities on the street, coming out of restaurants and clubs and that sort of thing. I wondered if he wanted to pay for the less than five seconds of video I had of Muamba and Maisy Day. He must’ve gotten back to me after I fell asleep.

The other text was a reply from someone I’d also contacted last night, the editor of a moderately successful celebrity magazine who might want my video for her online site. Muamba’s stooges had tried to erase my footage, probably thought they had, but everything I shot was automatically backed up, so even if they'd destroyed the phone I could have recovered the video on another device, though at this stage I didn't have another device or the financial means to buy one. I’d managed to send both of my contacts what I’d shot, though I made it sound like what they were getting was just an excerpt of something much longer, just to whet their appetites, when it really was the entirety. The magazine editor would pay ten times more for a longer video, and in fact probably, maybe even certainly, wouldn’t pay a cent for what little I actually had. Her text said she wanted to see the rest of it, and I didn’t feel like telling her there was no rest of it.

Of course, I could try to track down Muamba, and get more video. He’d be in New York for the U.N. a couple more days, and Maisy Day would probably be there too. I could plan it better and get a longer shot. But I’d arrived home last night at three in the morning, still rattled by what had happened, and it took me awhile to get to sleep, and now a wave of fatigue was hitting me. And I’d just been burglarized, so I didn’t really feel like calling up my sources to find out where Maisy Day might be, and I wasn’t sure if I even knew anyone who would be abreast of the whereabouts of an African dictator. I was not thinking straight, and I didn’t feel like talking to anyone or doing anything. My motivation was starting to flag. It was a common problem. I often found it difficult to spring out of bed in the morning and rush out to get a shot of some celebrity. It’s not as if I’m curing cancer here. I mean, I still believe in going after the celebrity class, but the battle is uphill. Sometimes, especially mornings after I've just awoken, I think it's a futile, useless waste of time, and at the very best nothing more than a temporary Band-Aid in the fight for freedom, and a measly one at that. I had been important once, or at least more important, and now this is what I was reduced to and I didn’t want to have to beg some guy at an app or some bottom-feeding editor at a celebrity magazine, who was more into the celebrity aura than I was, for a measly amount of money by convincing them that I could get the footage even though I hadn’t gotten the footage and had misled them, not lied outright, but suggested disingenuously that I had more than I did. I didn’t want to deal with any of it. I wouldn’t have minded going back to bed, though with the jackhammer and the drilling, it would be easier to sleep with an alarm clock going off without stop.

So I remained on the couch and my mind wandered to that tall, gaunt man with the green eyes last night. I couldn't figure out who he was. I tried to picture him with every one of the celebrities I’d ever seen, as maybe an agent or a manager or a financial adviser or a studio head or a record producer or just a hanger-on. I took a look at the video I'd recorded last night. There he was, looking as creepy as ever.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

I’m not a member of the paparazzi, but the main character in my book is. He’s also a New York City lawyer, which I am too.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
On the streets of Manhattan, I’ve seen actors, rock stars, and even political figures. I may have unavoidably made eye contact, and the look of horror on their faces convinced me that, if worst came to worst, I might have a future as a paparazzo. This novel is a chronicle of that imaginary life.
Q. Which writers inspire you?
A.
Raymond Chandler, Len Deighton, Alexandre Dumas, Ross MacDonald, George Orwell.
Q. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from this book?
A.
Luke Wilson.

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