CHAPTER 1
Unchain my heart

Pete was hauling ass. He was driving a blood red Dodge Viper with a four-hundred fifty horsepower V-10. In his rearview Pete could see LAPD chasing as if he’d killed a cop.

It was daybreak. The sun warmed the particulates in the air above Los Angeles. Another tequila sunrise. They were in the hills of Encino. The roads were narrow and winding like a snake but the Viper hung tight. After a series of daring turns Pete assumed the confident look of a man who believed he had gotten away. He started to laugh until he fish-tailed around a corner and saw ten police cars blocking the road.

There was only one way out and it was a long shot. The sort of thing to make even a stunt driver hesitate. But Pete accelerated. There was a splinter of space between one end of the police barricade and a house on the corner lot. At the last second, with police firing like an anti-aircraft battery, Pete cut the wheels. He slipped the Viper through the tiny space in a blister of sparks, shearing off both side mirrors. Pete saw a flash of Looney Tunes as he raced past a big screen television in the living room. He crashed out the bay window on the other side and went airborne. When Pete landed, he lost control. His seat belt tore loose as the Viper rolled violently down the hill. It finally slammed to a stop against a huge metal light pole and burst into flames.

Almost immediately, a dozen men and women with chemical extinguishers were putting out the fire. A woman raced over, dropping to her hands and knees. She leaned into the overturned car. She saw the roll-cage had buckled. “Hey! Mardell! You okay?” There was no reply.

His real name was Mardell Coleman. Pete was just a character in another over-budget action movie. Mardell was a stunt driver — ‘was’ being the operative word. His helmet had cracked like a three-minute egg and he was slipping into a coma. “Get an ambulance,” the woman yelled.

As they dragged Mardell from the car, a Shotmaker camera-truck pulled up. From his elevated seat, the film’s director looked down at the carnage, deeply saddened. He considered the trouble of finding a new driver then turned to his director of photography. “I think that’s a keeper, don’t you?”

*

Spence Tailor didn’t really have a suit personality. There were only three occasions for which he would wear one: funerals, court appearances, weddings. At thirty-nine, most of his friends were already married so he rarely got invited to weddings any more. Like most people, Spence did his best to stay out of court but he was a litigator so it was hard to avoid altogether. Standing in the halls of the courthouse with shaggy blond hair and his coat buttoned against his trim build, Spence could have been an older surfer going to trial for holding a little weed. He had a compassionate bearing and soothing brown eyes, but they weren’t looking at a court room today.

Spence stood at the back of the crowd with hands folded as they lowered Alan Caplan’s casket into the ground. Respectful and unobtrusive. He wasn’t family and he’d met the deceased only a couple of times, briefly. Still, he couldn’t help but cry. The boy was just fifteen, a real sweet kid. Never even got his driver’s license. How crappy is that, Spence thought.

It happened like this. Alan’s father came to Spence for help late one afternoon, just walked in and sat down, unannounced. In his work Spence saw a lot of people in hard circumstances. Mr. Caplan looked exhausted and overwhelmed, unsure where to start. After a moment he got the words out. “Do you know how painful bone cancer is, Mr. Tailor?”

Spence looked at the weary older man and shook his head. “No, sir, I don’t.”

Mr. Caplan told the sort of story Spence had heard too many times. Fifteen year old with bone cancer in his femur and his scapula. Osteosarcoma. Unremitting pain. Expensive treatment the HMO deemed inappropriate and refused to pay for, knowing the patient would die long before a lawsuit might force them to change policy. Good way to keep costs down. “You can see how much he hurts.” The words came hard. “It’s awful being so close, standing right there, not being able to help your own child.”

“How long did the doctors say he had, Mr. Caplan?”

“Long enough to suffer more than anyone should have to.” He couldn’t seem to look Spence in the eye. Too ashamed he couldn’t do more. “I spent all I had for some treatments but they weren’t enough.” Mr. Caplan put a hand over his eyes. “All he wants now is to die, with some dignity, you know?”

“Yes, sir. I understand.” Spence knew he’d take the case. Man’s institutional inhumanity to his fellow man was the sort of thing that triggered a switch inside. Spence lived to fight for causes. But it wouldn’t be easy. A lot of things working against them. He wished he could give Mr. Caplan assurances but he knew the truth was better. “I assume you know that, uh, euthanasia is illegal in California?”

Mr. Caplan wiped his eyes and looked at Spence. “What I know is it’s his life and nobody, not me, not the government, not some church group, nobody gets to decide what he can and can’t do with it at this point. Not now. He’s going to die soon. He just wants to take control of the process instead of having it control him. He wants to make the last decision of his life, you know?”

Spence nodded respectfully. “Have you contacted any organizations–”

Mr. Caplan reached into his coat and pulled out a document. “Yes, sir. I went on-line to get information, you know? I found a site that seemed real good, like they supported a person’s right to choose. Like they’d help. I gave them all the details of the prognosis, the hospital where my son is, problem with the HMO, all that. Next thing I know, I got this.” He held up the document. “Turns out that site was run by the Church of the Consecrated Few. They filed suit against the hospital to keep them from interfering with my son’s. . . how’d they say it?” Mr. Caplan read from the document, “. . .glorious opportunity to suffer unto death as did our Savior.” He handed the document to Spence.

The lawsuit attempted to enjoin the hospital from giving any pain medication or any other sort of treatment to the boy since the Church of the Consecrated Few didn’t believe in medical intervention in the case of illness or disease. They said ‘quality of life’ was an unchristian concept. Suffering was saintly.

“Well, first of all,” Spence said, “these people don’t have any standing in the case. This lawsuit is moot on its face.”

“That may be,” Mr. Caplan said, “but it’s got the hospital running scared. They’re refusing to give anything stronger than Tylenol 3.” He shook his head. “Hell, that doesn’t work for a toothache, Mr. Tailor. It’s like trying to kill a bear with a paperclip. He’s being brave, trying to make it easier for me, but if we can’t do something fast I swear I’ll go in there and put a pillow over his face. I don’t care what happens to me. I can’t let him suffer like this.”

“Yes, sir, I understand.”

Until Mr. Caplan had walked into his office, it had been a typical day for Spence. He’d spent a few hours working on briefs, made a few dozen phone calls, and attended a preliminary hearing. His clients included an abused womens’ shelter being harassed by the city’s zoning board, some sweat-shop workers owed several thousand dollars by a multi-billion-dollar clothes manufacturer, and the family of a poor Black kid, an honor student at Kennedy High, on whom a couple of LAPD officers had planted a gun to justify shooting him five times.

“I can’t pay you, Mr. Tailor, and I know this is a terrible thing to ask, but will you do it?”

Spence couldn’t hide his surprise. He was willing to do a lot for his clients, and for very little in return, but this was, well, he didn’t think he could do this. “You want me to. . . do it? You mean like, pull the plug? I don’t–”

Mr. Caplan waved him off. “No, sir, I don’t mean that. I want you to help me stop his suffering. Help me get him to some state where it’s not illegal. Get these damn Christians — and I use that term loosely — but get them off his back, help me get him some morphine, something. Anything.” He was crying now, drying his eyes on his sleeve.

Spence glanced out the window at the towers of Century City where he had worked for a year as a high priced litigator. That was all it took. One year convinced the young lawyer he was destined to fight for the toiler as against the main squeeze, or whatever that quote was. So he rented an office on the second floor of a shabby building on Santa Monica Boulevard and hung out his shingle. It wasn’t exactly the Southern Poverty Law Center but it served his purpose. He charged clients on a sliding scale, depending on ability to pay. Ten years later Spence was still doing more pro bono work than a well-planned financial future called for. He reached out and shook Mr. Caplan’s hand. “All right. Let’s see what we can do.”

Two weeks later, Alan died. He hadn’t suffered much thanks to the morphine. Thanks to Spence. As the cancer grew worse and they had to increase the dosage to the point of incoherence, Alan asked a sympathetic nurse for help. The autopsy indicated overdose, but Spence convinced the hospital to let it go. No point in having the word compassion on hospital letterhead if they didn’t mean it.

When the funeral was over and the mourners were drifting back to their cars a man came over and tapped Spence on the shoulder, his hand held out not-too-subtly below. Funeral director. Spence reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a personal check. He didn’t have to, couldn’t really afford to, but at the same time it struck him as the only right thing to do.

*

Spence was glad to have a date that night. Something more life affirming than funerals and the parade of human callousness that was his work week. He went back to his office and changed out of his suit and into his typical office attire, jeans and a t-shirt. He had a couple of hours to kill before he picked Suzanne up for their date. He was taking her to meet his family. A casual dinner at Boyd’s with Connie, the kids, Aunt Daisy, and, most importantly, Mom. Spence hoped Suzanne — a Hollywood wardrobe designer — wouldn’t be put off by such a provincial gathering but his mother wasn’t well. Spence wanted to see her as often as possible in what were likely her last days. Having just attended Alan Caplan’s funeral drove that point home. And who could tell about things? If it worked out with Suzanne, he’d want them to have met before his mom was gone.

Spence was reviewing a deposition in the LAPD case when the door opened and Suzanne stepped into the office. She was wearing gauzy black Armani pants and a less-is-more halter top of her own design. Raised to over six feet by a pair of t-strap Manolo Blahniks with four inch heels, she looked like the goddess Vissionaire. Spence gawked, as surprised at seeing one of Suzanne’s perfect nipples as he was to see her standing in his office. “I thought I was picking you up,” he said, glancing at his watch, genuinely confused.

“Spence, I’m sorry,” she said, “change of plans.”

“Uhhh, okay. You’re driving?”

A handsome black man in a Prada suit and a James Coviello hat stepped into the office behind Suzanne. He tipped his hat and smiled but didn’t speak. “I don’t think we should see each other any more,” Suzanne said. “We’ve sort of run our course. I just wanted to tell you in person, okay? No hard feelings?”

“Well, I . . .” Spence stammered as Suzanne turned and disappeared into the hallway. “I take it that’s a rhetorical question, then.” The guy in the suit flashed a peace sign and left, closing the door behind him. Spence stared at the door as the discouraging sense of being dumped pressed down on him. “You’re overdressed anyway,” he called out. “I said casual!”

Spence tried to look at the bright side; at least he’d been humiliated in the comfort of his own office. So much more convenient than having to go out for it. He beat himself up briefly for not seeing the breakup coming and even took a few moments to feel sorry for himself, wondering if he’d ever find the perfect woman. Not perfect in the flawless sense, of course, but perfect for him. Was that too much to ask? Probably. Just be glad you don’t have bone cancer and stop whining.

Spence had two choices. He could obsess on his crappy love life or get lost in his work. He opted for the latter, dumping his hostility and humiliation into a strongly worded draft of a complaint. When he finally looked up it was nearly seven. He was going to be late. He tossed the dust covers over the computer, killed the lights, and raced out the door.

*

Spence’s brother lived in West Los Angeles with his wife and their two children. Boyd and Connie were in pursuit of perfection. Their organizing principals were planning, tight schedules, and low risk behavior. Their kids were smart and, for the most part, respectful. The house and lawn looked like items ordered from a Pottery Barn catalogue.

Only forty, Boyd was already doughy in the middle, exercise being the sort of thing he felt was best left to those with fewer responsibilities. He had the soft face of a man who had never been hit there. One of fifty vice-presidents for First Santa Monica National Bank, Boyd dressed and behaved as if auditioning for a part in the Old Boys’ network. His hair was sculpted into a short visor over his forehead in a style that seemed a cartoonish homage to either a bygone era or Trent Lott, or perhaps both. He was making a headlong climb up the ladder of least resistance.

Connie was a compact brunette with bright eyes and a vibrant smile. Optimistic and extravagantly organized, Connie’s life was a juggle of schedules, calendars, and timetables. The kids were involved in a dozen extra-curricular activities. Boyd liked to entertain, so there were frequent dinner parties. Connie kept up the household, chauffeured the kids around, and somehow managed to find time for volunteer work.

She had an array of causes. Unable to support them equally, Connie developed a three-tiered priority system. She gave her time for the cause she held most dear, her kids’ education. She gave money to causes for which she lacked time, including a local faith-based charity group that fed the homeless. And she voted for causes for which she had neither time nor money, like second amendment issues.

Connie came from the kitchen with a large roast on a serving platter. She placed it in front of Boyd at the head of the dining room table. Boyd closed his eyes and waved the aroma toward his face. “Smells wonderful, honey,” he said. “You’ve done it again.”

“I hope it’s okay,” she said as she took her seat. “It may be slightly over-cooked.”

Elsewhere on the table were serving bowls loaded with new potatoes and peas and a gravy boat filled with a quivering brown substance. To Boyd’s left were his children, Boyd, Jr., a curious nine year old, and Erica, his eleven year old sister. Sitting on Boyd’s right was his mother, Rose. Frail and in her sixties, Rose was the sweet-natured matriarch of the clan. But she wasn’t well, as evidenced by the vast array of amber-colored prescription bottles lined up by her silverware.

Rose had a big heart. Metaphorically that’s fine. Literally it’s not. Rose suffered from advanced dilated cardiomyopathy. Her heart muscle was distended to nearly twice its normal size. With heart muscle, bigger isn’t better. The same amount of myocardium stretched over a wider area diminished the muscle’s ability to contract. Depending on conditions, Rose’s heart functioned somewhere between forty-five and sixty percent of its capacity. Her hands and feet were often cold as her heart wasn’t strong enough to pump blood to her extremities.

Rose had been waiting for a new heart for six months. According to the people at the United Network for Organ Sharing, she was still a ‘Status 2’ candidate, meaning she was sick enough to need a new heart but still healthy enough to wait outside the hospital for it. Thanks to her rare blood type, AB negative, there was only one person ahead of Rose to receive the next appropriate heart. So there was hope.

Sitting next to Rose was her sister, Daisy. Despite the fact that she and Rose were twins, Daisy looked ten years older. Her gristly face said she had played hard all her life and whatever beauty she may once have possessed was long ago spent. She applied make-up with a heavy hand and her honest-to-God blue hair suggested she needed either a new beautician or an eye exam.

As they waited for Spence, Connie made a polite inquiry about Rose’s failing health, Erica complained about the sorry state of fourth grade male-female relationships, and Boyd, Jr., told a knock-knock joke involving boogers. Daisy remained uncharacteristically quiet, sitting there like a bourbon-sipping vulture, watching her sister with a covetous eye, a patient thief waiting for the perfect moment to steal something.

At seven-twenty, hungry and out of patience, Boyd calmly laid his hands on the table and said, “I think we’ve waited long enough. Let’s just start without them.” He took Rose’s hand and bowed his head. “Heavenly Father–”

A sudden commotion in the foyer brought the blessing to a halt. The front door slammed and a moment later Spence rushed into the dining room. He kissed Rose and Daisy, took his seat between his niece and nephew, and assumed the position. Boyd picked up where he left off. “We thank you for this wondrous bounty and we ask you to watch over Your humble servant, Rose Tailor who is in need of a new heart.”

Rose nodded slightly at this while Daisy, finding more salvation in alcohol than in prayer, picked up her bourbon and took another gulp.

Boyd continued in earnest. “We also pray that you will hasten delivery of this precious gift. In Your name we humbly ask these things. Amen.”

Rose gave Boyd’s hand a pat. “That was lovely, dear.”

“Thank you, mother.” Boyd picked up the carving set and gestured at his brother. “And, on a personal note, I’d like to thank Spence for dressing as if he were attending a lesbian folk music festival.”

Connie tensed the way she sometimes did where there was company. “Boyd! Honestly, I don’t believe we need to use the ‘L’ word in front of the children.” The words squeezed out between perfect, clenched teeth.

Boyd poked at the roast with his carving knife. “Oh, right,” he said. “Sorry.”

Spence glanced at his Lilith Fair t-shirt, then at Boyd. “You said casual.”

Connie smiled like a saint and said, “You look fine.” Then she planted an elbow on the table and pointed at Spence. “But you look so nice in a suit. I wish you dressed up more often, that’s all.” She wished Boyd had stayed in shape like Spence.

“All righty then,” Boyd said as he began carving the roast. “Who wants theirs rare?”

The kids grabbed the serving bowls and piled potatoes and peas onto their plates. Connie started the dinner rolls around the table. Daisy finished her bourbon and reached for the wine while Rose began to fumble pills out of the amber vials. “Spencer, dear,” Rose said. “Where’s Suzanne? We were so looking forward to meeting her.”

“Oh, uhhhhh.” Spence took his time selecting a roll. “Oh, she had a last minute thing come up with work. Called from the airport, on her way to New York, said she was sorry. Asked for a rain check.”

“That’s a shame,” Rose said.

“Yeah, well,” Spence said, without much conviction. “Tell you the truth, I’m not sure things were working out between us, so it’s no big deal.” He took the peas from Erica in exchange for the rolls.

Connie was looking at him sweetly thinking, Poor Spence, disheveled and disorganized. Out there flailing around, putting all his energy into his crusades instead of into a committed relationship. It’s such a shame.

Boyd, Jr., turned to Spence. “Dad says you never bring a date ‘cause you’re a cake boy.”

Connie nearly dropped a serving spoon. “A what? What did you say?”

Boyd rolled his eyes. “I was kidding!” He turned to his son. “I told you not to repeat that.”

Connie made corrosive eye contact with her husband then drank half a glass of wine. She always seemed edgiest when entertaining, even if it was just family.

Spence smiled and said, “I’m just waiting for the right girl.”

“The right girl?” Boyd dealt a slab of meat onto a plate. “From what I can see, you’re looking for some sort of Nobel Prize winning super-model. And good luck finding her, by the way. But let me tell you, with standards like that, you’ll spend the rest of your life alone.” He gestured at Connie with the carving knife.

Connie looked up from topping off her wine. “Excuse me?”

Daisy stretched a leathery hand toward Connie. “Pass me that gravy, would ya?”

Boyd scooped some peas onto his plate then looked at Spence. “Where do you go to meet girls these day, anyway? The gym? Bars? Court? What’s your strategy?”

“My strategy?” Spence ground some pepper over his potatoes. “I wasn’t approaching it like war.”

“There’s your problem,” Boyd said. “You need a plan. Make a plan and stick to it, you’ll find the right girl. It’s the same as everything else. Be organized, be prepared, have a plan.”

“I’ve seen your plan,” Spence said. “It prohibits spontaneity. You’ll never have a surprise in your life. How much fun is that?”

“I hate surprises,” Boyd said. “There’s no planning for them.”

The conversation stopped as all eyes turn to Boyd, Jr. He looked back, feeling accused. “What’d I do?”

Boyd smiled weakly. “Nothing, son. We love you.”

Aunt Daisy smeared some gravy onto her meat then passed the gravy boat to Rose. Daisy then produced a pack of cigarettes, tapped one out, stuck it between her puckered lips and lit it up.

Connie was so astounded all she could say was, “Boyd?”

Boyd shook his head. “Aunt Daisy? Please put that out,” he said.

Daisy took a deep draw before letting the thick blue smoke pour out of her withering nostrils. “Hey, speaking of plans, I got one too.” She held up the cigarette. “I plan to finish this.”

Rose ladled a generous portion of gravy onto her plate.

Spence gently touched his mother’s cold arm. “Uh, Mom?”

“It’s okay,” Boyd said proudly, “that’s my low-fat gravy.”

Spence stuck his finger into the brown muck then tasted it. “Maybe, but how about the sodium? It tastes like a salt lick.”

The kids giggled.

Boyd tensed at the accusation. “What?!” He dipped his finger into the gravy, then tasted it. “It’s fine,” he said. “Go ahead, Mom, help yourself.”

“It’s fine if you’re a horse,” Spence said. “Mom, that’s enough.” Rose reluctantly put the ladle down.

“Hey, I don’t insult your cooking,” Boyd said.

“I don’t cook.”

“Let her enjoy,” Daisy said. “A little gravy’s not going to kill her. Load it up, sis.”

Spence passed the gravy boat to Connie. “The doctor said low sodium diet.”

Rose dabbed her finger into the gravy and tasted it. She made little clucking sounds with her tongue against the roof of her mouth. “The gravy is a little salty, dear.”

Spence raised his eyebrows. “A little?”

“A lot!” Boyd, Jr., said, smiling at his uncle for approval.

Spence winked at his nephew. “Admit it,” he said, turning to Boyd. “Your famous low fat gravy tastes like salty floor wax.”

Erica and Boyd, Jr., giggled again. They’d been eating the same floor wax for years but were never able to say anything about it.

“Get off her back,” Daisy said. “It’s a free country.”

“Oh, that reminds me,’ Connie said, hoping to steer the conversation away from the sodium debate. “I was listening to Winston Archer today when he read this very clever piece called ‘The Bill of ‘No’ Rights’ by Lewis Napper, I think he said was his name. It was a take-off on the Bill of Rights, but it was a list of things to which no one has an inalienable right.”

“Like what?” Erica asked.

“Well, let’s see if I can remember.” Connie tilted her head and squinted. “Oh, yeah. You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful, don’t expect the tool company to make you independently wealthy. Uh, you do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we’re just not interested in public health care. Stuff like that. It was very clever.”

“That’s great,” Spence said. “Except for the forty million Americans who can’t afford insurance.”

“Yeah,” Daisy interrupted. “And what’s all this crap about prescription drug prices going up again?”

“Aunt Daisy?” Connie wanted to stab her with a fork but instead she sort of whispered in a sing-songy way. “Language.”

“Can we please not talk about politics,” Boyd said.

“Hey, I didn’t bring it up.” Daisy took a final drag off her cigarette before plunging it into the pool of beef blood that had collected near her potatoes. Sssssssss. “All I’m sayin’ is, life’s too short for skipping gravy.”

Boyd, Jr., turned to Rose and spoke politely. “Gramma, can I get your heart in a jar when you get a new one? Like my appendix?”

“We’ll see, sweetie,” Rose said, “but we don’t discuss our internal organs at the dinner table, all right?”

“Well not so fast there, Rosie.” Daisy seized the moment with a wave of her fork. “You know we’re praying for you and all, but I went to my doctor last week and he says my nephrons are shot to hell.” Daisy washed down the roast beef with a gulp of wine. “Upshot is I’ll be on dialysis this time next year if I don’t. . . well what I’m getting at is, I mean, God forbid things don’t pan out for you, sis, but I was reading about what they call a ‘directed donation’ and it got me thinking about, well, about what you’ll be doing with your, uh, kidneys. . .”

Connie’s reflex action was too strong to control and before she could get a hand to her mouth she spewed white zinfandel across the table in a pale pink mist, with just a hint of peach. The kids, naturally, flew into hysterics. Erica reached into a serving bowl and grabbed a new potato. She reared back to throw it when Boyd shot to his feet, knocking his chair to the ground behind him. He pointed at Erica. “Young lady! I will harvest your organs with my spoon!”

A tense moment passed before Erica quietly lowered the potato onto her plate and all eyes came to rest on Daisy. “What?” she said. “Can’t hurt to ask.”

Boyd, Jr., shifted in his seat. “Uncle Spence, what’s a cake boy?”

Erica turned to him and said, “I think it’s like a guy who’s a lesbian.”

*

After dinner, Spence and Boyd walked Daisy to her car. “You okay to drive?” Spence asked.

“Don’t worry ‘bout me, kid,” she said. “Ten Manhattans and I could still win the goddamn Indy 500.” They reached Daisy’s 1985 Cadillac. Spence opened the door and Daisy got in, disappearing behind the wheel. “I still don’t see why you people got so bent out of shape about the kidney thing. It’s not like she’s going to need ‘em. I mean if, well. . . oh the hell with it.” Daisy cranked the engine and threw it into reverse without so much as a backwards glance. Spence and Boyd jumped back as she sent garbage cans flying. “Shit.” Daisy threw it into drive and the Cadillac lurched forward into the night.

Spence cupped his hands together and yelled. “Headlights!” They came on halfway down the street and a moment later the Cadillac disappeared around a turn.

“You sure you want to be on the road at the same time she’s out there?”

“I’ll give her a head start,” Spence said.

“Give me a hand with my car cover.” The brothers turned and walked back up the driveway, passing Spence’s beat up old Chevy pickup. They came to Boyd’s pristine 1965 poppy red Mustang Coupe with the Wimbledon white roof. Mint condition with only a few after-market modifications. Boyd’s pride and joy. After covering it, they walked back to Spence’s truck.

Boyd patted Spence on the back. “Dress up next time.”

“Learn how to cook.”

They both smiled as Spence got in the truck. Boyd leaned against the door. A moment passed before Boyd said, “Mom’s not looking too good.”

“Yeah, I can see the difference since last week.”

“Too bad she’s second in line.” Boyd brushed something from his sleeve. “At least if she was first I might be able to hold out some hope.”

“Well at least we can cling to the notion that the guy at the head of the line is in worse shape than she is.”

Boyd thought about that, then nodded. “Tacky but Darwinian.”

“That about sums it up,” Spence said. “Thanks for dinner.” Spence keyed the ignition of his old truck but all he got was a loud metallic clicking noise.

Boyd laughed scornfully. “Thing needs an engine transplant.”

“I got an idea,” Spence said. “Let’s harvest the Mustang’s.” He tried the engine again. Clickclickclick clickclickclickclickclickclickclick.

“Here’s a better idea,” Boyd said. “Stop dicking around with all that pro-bono crap and use your law degree the way God intended. Then you can buy a whole new car.”

Spence turned the key again and the engine roared to life. “There, I get to keep my soul one more day.” He smiled, put the truck in reverse, and was set to pull out when he felt Boyd’s hand on his arm.

“The truth,” Boyd said. “There was no business trip, right? Suzanne just dumped you?”

Chagrined, Spence nodded. “Big time.”

Copyright © 2007 by Reduviidae, Inc.

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