Death in the Family
by Lanny Larcinese
GENRE: Crime thriller
Donny Lentini is a talented young man hungry for his mother's love. To please her, he becomes guardian angel to his mob-wannabe father. When the father is murdered and found with his hands hacked off, Donny is dealt a set of cards in a game called vengeance. The pot is stacked high with chips; the ante, his soul and the lives of loved-ones. With the help of friends—ex-con, defrocked Jesuit Bill Conlon along with former high-school nemesis, Antwyne Claxton—he digs for whether the murder had anything to do with the mob's lust for a real estate parcel owned by the family of Donny's lover. He's new at this game. He doesn't cheat, but plays his cards well. And he gets what he wants.
There is a purity to poker, moments of truth untethered to motive or morals, moments philosophers never examine—clean moments, as when a Great White draws back its lips and embraces a neck in its four-inch serrated teeth—moments neither Dad nor German Kruger understood.
One by one I looked them in the eye. Everybody dropped except German who raised and called. I flipped my hole cards. “Three cowboys.” Moans from around the table.
I raked in the seven-hundred-dollar pot. Any day I stuck a pencil in German’s eye was a good day.
“What the fuck is it with you?” he said. “You win four, five pots every Friday.”
Dad kicked my shin under the table.
“I know what I’m doing,” I said, clacking chips from one hand to the other. The other guys pushed out their chairs. Dad kept a straight face. In the millisecond his eyes met mine they became beacons warning of dangerous shoals.
German’s pallor couldn’t compete against the crimson flush ringing his flabby neck. He pointed to my father. “You, Carlo, get your ass into my office. And you,” he said, pointing to me, “you need to hear this too.”
He had that same twisted look on his face, the one I first saw two years before when I took him for a thousand fazools over the Superbowl.
He collapsed into his huge leather chair.
The red on his neck and ears turned a deeper shade as if a chameleon lit onto a cranberry bog. “I’m talkin’ about how you let that fucking union get aholt of office cleaners before you brought ’em to us. You get a piece of that, Carlo? You doin’ shit on the side?”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Lanny Larcinese ‘s short work has appeared in magazines and has won a handful of local prizes. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He’s a native mid-westerner transplanted to the City of Brotherly Love where he has been writing fiction for seven years. When not writing, he lets his daughter, Amanda, charm him out of his socks, and works at impressing Jackie, his long-time companion who keeps him honest and laughing—in addition to being his first-line writing critic. He also spends more time than he should on Facebook but feels suitably guilty for it.
Who inspires you most?
This is the simplest question yet the most perplexing. I really needed to sit back and think about it. My answer: No one person, but artists in general. They are people dedicated, indeed compelled, to sift their experience through their aspiration for beauty and wisdom, reconfigure physical stuff or words or images or other display in astonishing ways, and present it to the world. Though undervalued, at least in our society, it is their imagination, their selfless persistence that makes our lives worth living. It is not merely “entertainment” (though it can be that), it is wisdom presented in an aesthetic way, a uniquely human search for beauty that informs us all as to what and how we should be and relate to the world. Art, is, indeed, the highest parts of ourselves.
My long-time mate is an accomplished painter, currently interested in ceramics (she likes to paint “big” and her house can’t accommodate the size canvasses she prefers.) As a mostly abstract painter, it came as no surprise to see her ceramics work: no pots or dishes for her, rather strange configurations of multiple hands clasping, or a forest of sticks the size of rulers all glazed differently, some like twisted pretzels ascending out of a base like frozen, colored lightning strikes. Who thinks that way? Who looks at lumps of clay and sees those shapes? But her work meets my simple definition of art: if you want to keep looking at it, hearing it, or reading it and it resonates with both mind and heart, it’s art.
As a writer, to be sure, good story-telling demands a mastery of craft; yet, sometimes after writing a sentence or paragraph, I revel in front of my keyboard that in the entire history of people on earth, nobody, not once, ever, configured that sequence of words or images or rhythm as I just did.
So yeah, art. It inspires me. And the people who do it are gifts to my life.
What do you do in your spare time?
I am totally fulfilled by writing (see above: can’t not do it), so even time away from the keyboard is spent thinking of story, language, composition. I may have news on in the background, or sports, or the Sunday Times crossword, but they all tend to meld. The NYT Magazine will have notes scrawled in open space on ad pages; something on the news will spawn an idea about story or character or a scene; a football game may inspire a thought such as superlative training or domination or camaraderie—again fodder for writing.
You’re talking to a guy who will jump out of bed at midnight and run to his manuscript because he thought of just the right adjective.
Did you always want to be an author?
Nope. From boyhood into my sixties, I wanted to be a businessman, which I was in various iterations. I am a man of serial obsessions, some of which lasted for years, e.g. reading biography, sports, toys like motorcycles & boats, politics, etc. all in the background of my business life.
However, throughout, I had a propensity to express myself verbally and in writing and sought ways to do it effectively which sometimes entailed cultivating eloquence. So, much of my writing was business correspondence (with which I broke rules), but also was an avid letter-writer. No newsy letters from me—but introspective, sharing my inner landscape, delving into others’, pages and pages long.
In my mid-sixties, having attained financial security, a simple image popped into my head, a scene that would become the basis of my first attempt at a novel. I was bad at it; the book was eviscerated by a developmental editor and I learned quickly that a facility with language, even eloquence, was not to be conflated with story-telling. Yet, buried in her twenty-page, single spaced analysis was a simple sentence, “You have good writing chops.”
So I wrote shorter work, submitted it to contests and won some first prizes. Concurrently, I set about to learn craft, became part of the local writing community and concluded, “I can do this.” Yet, it never gets easier…because we keep raising our own bar.
I often go to sleep with a thank-you prayer: that I have been blessed with this gift, not necessarily of talent, but of artistic pursuit.
What does your writing space look like?
It makes a cyclone look like a center of high pressure; a tornado look like a Bermuda breeze; or fifty two-year olds and ninety puppies with free rein for the day. Other than that, you don’t wanna know.
Lanny Larcinese will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DON'T FORGET TO FOLLOW THE TOUR AND COMMENT
ON EACH STOP TO EARN MORE ENTRIES TO WIN!
December 30: Christine Young
December 31: All the Ups and Downs
January 1: Mythical Books
January 2: Fabulous and Brunette
January 3: Candrel's Crafts, Cooks, and Characters\
January 6: Danita Minnis
January 7: Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
January 8: Two Ends of the Pen
January 9: Hurn Publications - review
January 10: Our Town Book Reviews
January 13: The Phantom Paragrapher
January 13: Iron Canuck Reviews and More - review only
January 14: Locks, Hooks and Books
January 14: Ascroft, eh?
January 15: It's Raining Books
January 16: BookNook2020
January 17: Dog-Eared Days of Summer - review only
January 17: Long and Short Reviews
January 20: Wake Up Your Wild Side
January 21: Nickie's Views and Interviews
January 22: Hope. Dreams. Life... Love
January 23: Edgar's Books
January 24: Jazzy Book Reviews