Today I'd like to present the concept for a new series I am developing...Michael Montana ~ The Consultant
It is still a long way off, but I would love to hear any feedback that you as a reader or an author may have on the story or the concept.
I personally think its pretty exciting!
Here's the premise:
Here's the premise:
Michael Montana is a fixer, working under the radar to solve people’s problems.
Wasting most of his first 23 years on this earth, his experiences and an amazing mind drive him daily as he takes on jobs that nobody can or wants to do...all at a magnificent profit.
So please, do not hesitate to leave feedback here, or even email me at: JT.Lewis.Books
Thank you for your time, and enjoy your weekend! :)
The day seemed different somehow, like the feeling in the air before a storm. Or maybe it was just what you felt before falling off of a tall building to your death.
Shaking his head at the thought, the man wiped his wet hands on the dirty white apron, his greasy dark hair falling into his face as he moved. Reaching down to grasp the rubber tub of dirty dishes, he saw the paper stuffed into the corner of the booth’s grimy cushion.
“Bastards,” he mumbled as he reached across the table to retrieve the wadded napkin. As he was about to add it to the pile in his tub, he noticed the writing.
It was a phone number,
Montana area code.
He wasn’t sure why he knew that of course, but he assumed he had run across that tidbit of information at sometime in his hazy past. People had described him as having an eidetic memory, at least they used to, before…
Something about the napkin kept him from tossing it into the swill of his tub however, so he hastily shoved it into the pocket of his apron and went on about his work. Bussing tables and doing dishes at the diner wasn’t hard enough work, but it kept his body busy, and the income kept him in rent money for the room at the flop house.
What the job didn’t do however was keep his mind occupied sufficiently.
The demons that had ruled his life for the previous twelve years were still there constantly, back in the recesses of his mind, knocking at the thin door of his determination. If he let his mind relax, they would once again come flooding back into the control center of his life.
He couldn’t afford that.
He was a junky. Drugs and alcohol had ruled his life since he was fifteen, more to the point they had ruined his life.
Waking up in a jail cell six months before had finally forced him to evaluate what was left of his life. At 27, his body had wasted away to a jaundiced sack covering a slightly built skeleton.
The potential he had shown in high school had been wasted chasing down his next fix or drink. He couldn’t pinpoint exactly when the need for a buzz had turned into the obsession that had ended up ruling his life, but it really didn’t matter.
To keep his mind busy, he would observe the customers that flowed through the diner, making mental observations and even trying to imagine where they were headed next. It was a fairly easy thing to do, since none of them paid him any notice at all. To them, he was invisible.
Actually, he was ok with that part.
Having a minute, his mind went back to the napkin in his pocket. Sitting on one of the stools at the counter, he pulled out the crumbled paper and stared at the numbers. Rubbing his hand through the ruff of a scraggly beard as he stared down at the scribbled message, he didn’t know whether to dismiss it or not. He couldn’t put it into words, but this seemed important.
“Pedro! I’m taking a break.”
The dark-skinned cook visible through the order window looked up from his newspaper, the cigarette dangling from his mouth dropping ash on the floor as he waved him away with disinterest.
Jumping up from his seat, he went out the door and made his way the three blocks to Union Station. Picking up a phone at the long bank of payphones, he placed a collect call to the number on the napkin. When the operator asked his name for the notification, he stated simply, “Bill.”
The lady on the other end of the call was initially reluctant, but finally accepted the charges. When the operator left the line, both ends of the call were silent.
“Is this about the money,” the lady asked with what sounded like a Canadian accent.
“Money?” the man repeated, then, “My name is Bill.”
“How did you get my private cell number?”
Explaining how he had found the number on a napkin at a diner, the lady on the phone burst into sobbing.
“Did you see the man that left it? Was he ok?”
Bill looked into his memory at the two men that had sat at the booth before he had cleaned it. The one that had sat on the side that the napkin was on had to be the one she was asking about.
“Short red hair, three day’s growth of beard, I’d say about 5’8”, slight of build.”
Closing his eyes, he looked closely at the memory in his head, the man appearing as a picture in his mind.
“Also,” he added as another detail came to the fore, “He had a small blue birthmark on his left cheekbone.”
“Oh my God, that’s him!”
Another bout of sobbing ensued but ended quickly as a determined voice took over the lady’s attitude.
“I don’t know who you are, but listen carefully. The man you saw is my husband. He has been abducted, and they are holding him for a million dollar ransom.”
Bill was shocked at her pronouncement, his mind quickly processing the story.
“They told us no cops, but I have hired a Hostage Recovery team. It’s worth $10,000 to me if you tell me where you saw him. I can send the team there; maybe they can find him with your help.
Bill’s mind was really swirling then, the pieces of her story falling into place quickly in his mind. Simultaneously factoring in everything she had said with everything he already knew, he was as surprised as the woman with what came out of his mouth next.
“How much do they make?”
“How much does the Hostage Recovery team make?”
“That’s none of your business!” the lady yelled into the phone. “Who the hell do you think you are?”
A confident smile crossed Bill’s lips at that moment, the first one he could remember ever having in his adult life.
“I’m the man that knows where your husband is. The best I can tell, I’m probably the only one.”
“Are you trying to blackmail me?” the lady asked with indignation.
“No m’am, I’m trying to help. I can get your husband back; I just need to know how much to charge.”
The line was silent for a long time as the woman digested Bill’s sudden proclamation.
“You are either the dumbest man I’ve ever met, or the boldest. Do you even have any qualifications for something like this? How in the world do you expect me to trust a voice on the phone?”
Bill was ready for her questions, spilling out a string of lies masked as qualifications.
Starting with a stint as an Army Ranger and ending with a five-year stretch as an NYPD detective, Bill added as a final flourish that his corporation had never lost a hostage.
“Why wouldn’t I just back trace this call and send my team in anyway?”
“Two reasons,” Bill came back confidently. If you traced this call, it would come back as a pay phone at Union Station in
pretty big town; you won’t get anywhere that way.”
Silence for thirty seconds. “And the second reason?”
Bill hung up the receiver, his hands trembling with the realization that he may have just given up an easy $10,000.
Five long nerve-wracking minutes passed before the phone in front of him rang. Picking up the receiver, “$500,000, half of the ransom amount.”
“We’ll do it for half that in cash, and we only collect if we get your husband back.”
“I want the bastards arrested and prosecuted too.”
Taking only a moment’s thought, he agreed to the added stipulation.
“We’ll be in touch.”
Starting to hang up the phone, he thought of one more question.
“One more thing, is the million dollar ransom the extent of your wealth?”
“No,” the lady said matter-of-factly. “We could have easily come up with ten times that amount.”
“Ok, keep an eye on the news later.”
With that said, he hung up the phone. Turning on his heel, he quickly started making his way back to the diner, letting out a nervous breath as he walked.
Still wearing a smile, it wasn’t quite as confident as it had once been.
As a large part of his mind spun on automatic working out the details of his plan, the rest of it was anxious. He had never given a thought to anything such as this before, and the fact that the bold plan had spewed out of his mouth on the phone amazed him.
Pulling his shoulders back, he picked up his pace a little more, thinking of his next step. Reaching the door to the diner, he hesitated but a moment before pushing through it. As he saw the target of the next stage of the plan, he let his smile broaden as he took the first steps toward the man, muttering to himself, “You’re on.”
Sliding into the booth across from the sloppy looking man, Bill smiled confidently.
“You’re a detective, right? Or you used to be?”
Blowing smoke out his nose in reply, the man glared at Bill through bushy eyebrows.
“That’s what you think, eh?”
Bill had been seeing this man every day for weeks. He would come in after lunch, and order a cup of coffee. He would then spend the rest of the afternoon there, drinking free refills of coffee and smoking cigarettes.
The bulge under his coat, though slight, had alerted Bill to the fact that he was armed. Further observation over the weeks had led Bill to believe that he was at the very least, an ex cop. The intense attention that the man paid to the people walking by the diner had Bill believing that he was indeed a detective. That he no longer worked actively at it was apparent from the time he spent in the diner, as well his constant irritable mood.
He believed that the man had been forced out of the only job he had ever known. He wasn’t sure yet of the reason. It could have been forced retirement Bill conceded, but he was betting the man didn’t like playing by the rules.
“That’s what I believe, yes,” said Bill with confidence.
“So what?” the man said before bringing the menthol cigarette’s filter to his mouth and taking a drag through his dark bushy mustache.
“So do you have any pressing cases at the moment?”
Shoving his cigarette into the ashtray like he was trying to force it through the table, he looked at Bill with anger in his eyes.
“You got a point to this interrogation smartass?”
“Yeah, I do. You need something to do, and I need help.”
Looking over Bill with disgust, “Why would I want to help you?”
“Hey, breaks over!” Pedro calls from the kitchen, “Get to work!”
Bill raised his hand indicating that he had heard Pedro, but his eyes never left the detective’s.
“Maybe to get a little of your pride back,” Bill answered in a low voice.
“You little prick!” the detective said loudly, his two meaty fists pounding the table.
“Hey!” Pedro shouted over the commotion, “Start bussing the tables or get out!”
“Plus I’ll pay you $75, 000,” Bill said evenly, “And you’ll get credit for the collar.”
The detective was half way to standing up when he heard this; staying in that position for several moments before slowly letting himself back down into his seat. Another angry look, “Where would you get 75K?”
“That’s it! You’re fired!” Pedro yelled from his window. “Get your ass out of here!”
“From my client,” Bill told the detective, still looking at him confidently. “We get paid when the job’s done, you’ll just have to trust me until then.”
Suddenly, Bill was being jerked out of his seat. “I told you to get your ass out of here!”
Pedro was about to drag Bill out of the diner when he heard the distinctive “click” of a gun.
“Let him go,” The detective said quietly, “We were just leaving.”
Pedro’s hands sprung open as he released Bill’s shirt.
“Ok, ok,” Pedro uttered quickly as he raised his open hands over his shoulders. “I don’t want any trouble mister.”
“Humph,” the detective grumbled as he holstered the gun, “Thought so.”
Nodding at the detective, Bill turned to exit the diner, the detective following him out of the door. Once out on the sidewalk, Bill offered his hand.
“What’s your name?”
Ignoring the hand, the detective mumbled, “Joe, what do I call you?”
“You can call me Bill,” he said with a sly smile, “At least for now. You got any money?”
A look of anger crossed Joe’s face once more, his hand moving toward his holster.
“What kind of scam do you think you are running here…Bill?”
Bill raised his hands in mock surrender. “Hey, relax, I’ll pay you back. We just may need to bribe a hotel clerk is all.”
Standing outside the room in the dimly lit hallway, Joe had his gun at the ready.
Bill had remembered seeing a room key on the table when the kidnapper had been eating at the diner. Extracting the name of the hotel and the room number from his memory, he and Joe had made their way over to the hotel. $75 had bought them the hotel clerk’s cooperation, who had agreed to make a call to the room to tell the man he was behind on his bill.
The Clerk had told them that the bill was actually paid until Saturday, so this should sufficiently anger the kidnapper. The clerk had also informed them that there were just the two men in the room, confirming Bill’s theory that it was a smalltime operation.
“How did you know there would only be one kidnapper?” Joe had asked on the elevator ride up to the eighth floor.
“Because, my client could pay much more, asking for only one million seemed the act of a single man, or maybe two at the most. The kidnapper probably also theorized that they would be less likely to track him down for that amount than if he had asked for a lot more.”
Nodding his head at Bill’s thinking, Joe seemed a little less on edge as they got off the elevator.
Making their way to the room, they waited for the prearranged phone call. The ring of the phone in the room was followed seconds later by an angry outcry. After a minute of arguing with the clerk, he loudly stated that he was on his way down to ‘straighten the stupid’ out of his skinny ass.
Moments later, the door slammed open as the kidnapper angrily exited the room, the muzzle of Joe’s gun immediately on his temple.
“Freeze slime ball!”
Shaking his head at Joe, Bill looked at his partner in disbelief.
“Really? Slime ball?”
“It worked didn’t it?” Joe countered, disarming the man and pushing him gruffly into the room.
The redheaded man sat tied to a chair in the middle of the room. Bill made his way quickly to him.
“Mr. Gunderson I presume?” he asked as he untied the man.
A relieved look was on the face of the victim. “Thank you! Did my wife send you? How did you find me?”
“Your wife did send us, but I found your napkin at the diner. That was a pretty smart move Mr. Gunderson.”
“Hey! I recognize you now! You’re the busboy! I’ve been saved by a busboy?”
Smiling, Bill worked up a convenient lie.
“My partner here and I are part of a private firm, and were working undercover on another case. I called your wife, and she gave us the go ahead to recover you. We tracked down your location from there.”
“That’s amazing! I wasn’t sure anyone would find my note, I only had a second to scribble it out.”
“We are trained to be highly observant Mr. Gunderson. Now, you’ll excuse me, but we have some business to take care of. Call your wife and let her know you are ok. Ask her to bring the money here if you would. After payment, we’ll call the police and get this man arrested.”
“Who do I say rescued me when they ask?”
Nodding toward Joe, “Joe over there will take full credit for finding you and apprehending the kidnapper. He is a former police detective, and knows how to handle these situations. Our corporation needs to keep our anonymity, so we can’t take any credit for the operation. I’m sure you understand.”
“Sure, sure,” Gunderson nodded gratefully. “How can I ever repay you?”
“Your wife and I already have an arrangement made Mr. Gunderson. But now that you ask, have her bring an extra $75 with her. You see, Joe had to bribe the clerk, and I promised I’d pay him back.”