Prologue (from “The Disappearist”)


“A Storm”

from The Disappearist

The incoming thunderstorm made it seem especially dark for this time of day – it was 3:10PM. The rain started falling onto the windshield of Wil’s car, slowly and sporadically, in giant drops that hit the glass with a splat, not unlike the final sound a bug makes when it attempts an unsuccessful crossing of a busy highway. Lightning flashed in the distance, blinking without pattern or consistency like a broken strobe light.  Late-afternoon storms were common during the summer, but this wasn’t summer – it was the second day of November. And all though it had been unseasonably-warm during the previous weeks, the incoming storm carried with it a noticeable chill. The weather in Dallas can be a bit schizophrenic sometimes.

Wil’s breathing was beginning to slightly fog-up the glass. He was trying to breathe through his nose; but some of his breath escaped from his mouth, sneaking through the small openings between the warm soft edges of his lips and the cold hard barrel of the gun in his mouth.

The antique .38 revolver, given to him by his wife as a gift, was purchased at an antique auction as an anniversary present. According to the gun’s Certificate of Authenticity, it was one of several service revolvers used regularly by Elliot Ness during his hunt for Al Capone. The Untouchables was one of Wil’s favorite films, though it was originally released before he was old enough to truly enjoy it – he saw it for the first time on an old VHS tape he’d unearthed with a VCR from a musty box in the basement of his house as he packed for college, years ago.

And years ago it was – the 37 years Wil had lived felt like 60, or more.

An unusually-loud smash of thunder shook the ground, but Wil barely noticed. As he sat in his running car, parked in the giant empty church parking lot, he could see the darkening clouds as the thunderstorm seems to stare at him, face-to-face, not backing down. The thunder wasn’t the typical low rumbling thunder, it was full of pounding and loud bangs and high-pitched crackles. The bangs, Wil estimated, were lightning strikes; the crackles were low-claps of thunder; the pounding was Wil’s heart.

He could feel a very slight layer of moist clammy sweat under his thumb as it pressed against the curved iron trigger. With the hammer of the revolver cocked-back, Wil knew that freedom was only a squeeze away. The taps on his windshield began to slowly increase in frequency as the rain slightly sped. They say a hanging man hears glorious music. Wil wondered momentarily if his ears would continue to ring after he pulled the trigger.

From across the colossal parking lot of the mega-church where he sat in his car, Wil could literally see the wall of torrential rain approaching. It lurched toward him like a heavy rolling mist, swallowing anything in its path. There was a defined difference in the pavement at the base of this wall of rain; the clear difference between saturated and sprinkled, which defined the edge of this moving precipitous barrier. Wil could see everything in front of this wall, but nothing behind it.

Another loud bang rattled Wil’s car, then a long crackle of thunder that sounded to Wil like the cracking of a massive tree limb as it unwillingly detached and crashed to the ground. The cluttered soundscape had grown so loud that Wil could no longer hear what was playing on his car’s stereo, but he knew what it was: “Fix You” by Coldplay, set on repeat.

With his left hand, Wil reached across his body to the radio’s volume knob, not willing to relinquish the position of his right hand as it steadied the revolver in his mouth. He turned up the music just as the lone guitar in the song began to accelerate with its unique melody and melancholy; and then the heaviness of the drums began, and then the lyrics, “Tears stream, down your face, when you lose something you cannot replace.” Wil’s breathing matched the intensity of the music. He could feel a single solitary tear form on the corner of his left eye. The wall of rain was approaching faster now. It was nearly upon him; the storm was about to consume him. “Tears stream, down your face and I–” the song sang. Wil closed his eyes tightly – tighter than he ever had before. His lone tear fell tragically down his left cheek. He kept listening. The song played on. The storm raged on.

“Lights will guide you home,” the song sang in its penultimate sentence, “and ignite your bones.”

Another loud bang rattled Wil’s car.

COVER COPY (Synopsis):

As a subtle yet well-known contract killer, Wilson Giamatti makes a solid living making people disappear. With a flawless reputation among the people of his industry, he has a very unique niche among the underground community of killers-for-hire: He never kills in public, there are never any witnesses, and the authorities have never – ever – found a body. But the secret to Wil’s flawless reputation is much more complex than anyone could have ever imagined.