STONE 2: The Saint of Seven Mile
“Detective, we’ve got him on camera. The bank manager’s got the tape cued up right now.”
Inside the security room of Detroit First National, the small group of patrolmen and detectives huddle around the black and white monitor. Blurry, grainy, and without color, it’s as surreal a view of the world as the scene they were about to watch. “Wait until you see this, Detective. This guy’s fucking nuts.”
The first view is from the overhead camera of the drive-thru lane. A pale gray Bronco pulls up slowly to the ATM. The camera angle is wide, enough to see the entire vehicle, but not much of the occupants. The window rolls down, and a woman reaches over and begins a transaction.
“Did you run those plates yet?”
“Yeah. New York tags. Comes back to a Sue Peterson. No known address in Detroit, but we’re out looking for the vehicle right now.”
“Can we get a close up? How about the ATM cam? Can we see their faces?”
“Yeah, hang on.” A click of a mouse and the screen changes to a fish-eye view from the ATM itself. The woman is beautiful, even behind large and dark sunglasses. As she leans forward to insert her bank card, the passenger becomes visible over her shoulder.
“That’s our guy, in the passenger seat.”
Suddenly the calmness of the scene becomes something else entirely.
“Yeah, this is where it starts.”
A third figure runs up between the woman and the ATM, putting a gun in her face and pointing at the ATM. For a few brief seconds he waves his arms around frantically, then suddenly he hits the woman in the mouth with the gun.
“He hit her, right? Did he just hit her right there?”
“Yeah. Watch the passenger.”
The man in the passenger seat shifts towards the driver as he grabs the steering wheel and turns it sharply towards the ATM. The car abruptly lunges forward, pinning the robber between the wall and the car. The detective watches intently, chewing gum with loud smacks. “That was slick.” The rhythm of the gum suddenly changes as the passenger exits the car. “What’s he doing now?”
“Go back to the overhead camera.”
“Damn…that’s a big dude.”
At the ATM the robber is still clutching his gun with one hand, and his crushed hip with the other. As the male passenger walks around the rear of the car, the injured thug raises the weapon and points it directly at him. “Look at him. He’s walking right up on the gun like he doesn’t care.”
Then the retribution begins.
“Whoa..damn.” As the detectives watch, the passenger walks up to the robber, grabs the hand with the gun, and violently forces the thug to hit himself in his own face with it. Once, twice, and on the third time the gun goes off. There is no sound from the monitor, but the bright flash of the muzzle is clear as the gun fires straight up into the ceiling of the drive-thru.
“Make sure we get that bullet. Do we have the gun?”
“No. He tosses it into the… right there…”
The man pulls the gun from the thug’s hand and tosses it through the window into the Bronco. The robber is now holding his face with both hands, seemingly trying to cower back, leaning away from the passenger as far as he can. The intended victim, now the aggressor, grabs the thug by the throat with both hands. Looking over his shoulder to the woman driver, they exchange a few words, and the Bronco suddenly backs up, releasing its prisoner from the wall.
“What the hell is this guy doing? Can we go back to the ATM camera?”
“Yeah, but you won’t see much.”
Another click of a button and the fish-eye cam comes into view again. At first all that can be seen is the back of the robber until he is suddenly spun around to face the camera and thrust forward into it, making his face appear to slam into the monitor. The detective’s gum falls from his open mouth.
Again and again the thug’s face is thrust forward into the TV screen. Each time the camera becomes a little more fogged with blood and snot, but each impact makes a clear and visceral impression on those watching. The camera shifts violently with every blow, the entire ATM moving from the force. After several moments the monitor screen is nothing but a smear of DNA.
“Yeah. We found teeth in the deposit slot.”
“We found teeth in the deposit slot.”
The detective stared blankly at the officer for a moment, trying to chew gum that was no longer there, before sighing deeply and turning back to the screen. “Go back to the overhead.”
From above, the officers watch the man drop the thug to the ground, then step away towards the Bronco; but he doesn’t leave. “What’s he doing?”
“Watch. He’s asking her for the ATM card.”
As they watch the woman hands the man her card through the car window. He pauses there for a moment, reaching out to caress the woman’s face. He kisses her, then walks back to the ATM, casually inserting the card while standing over the crumpled body as if it wasn’t there. He makes his withdrawal, and then begins walking back to the Bronco. As he crosses the drive lane, he looks directly up at the camera.
“Freeze that, right there. Can you zoom in on that?”
Seconds later the screen is filled with the face of Mason Stone. His steel gaze meets the detective’s eyes; his face expressionless, emotionless, unaffected by the brutal events that occurred just moments ago.
“That’s a cold son of a bitch right there. Let’s make sure we get this guy.”
The Saint of Seven Mile
“Powerful follow up to the first one, hands down.”
“The book held me in its grips to the very last word and left me wanting more.”
“Once again, Tom Reinhart shoots a goal with the second installment of his gritty ‘study-in-noir’ drama of Mason Stone!”
“Tom Reinhart has a special gift. He is able to weave a story that is intense, intriguing, and incredible! Saint of the Seven Mile is the second book in the Saint Monolith series and it will make you stay up way too late like all of his other books do. Tom makes you cheer for a killer.”
“WOW…!!! Exceptional writing…Tom is a fantastic writer! This book held my attention so much I could not stop.”
“I am a new fan of Tom Reinhart…. Fantastic Author, looking forward to reading more of Tom’s books.”
“Not every writer can bring up these kinds of emotions when you read their books, and Tom managed to do that so well that you end up finishing his book with tears in your eyes and your hands shaking with rage.”
“Chapter after chapter I was hooked and wanting more, a feeling I usually never have. I did not want to stop reading, and when I finally got to the end, it wasn’t enough. Truly something special where you find yourself lost in the story.”
See what everyone is talking about at AMAZON BOOKS
A couple years ago when the first SAINT MONOLITH came out, I met this awesome guy Dino Maddalone. He was kind and supportive, and nice enough to mention me on his show. I promised him I would write him into the sequel. I’ve kept that promise, and am proud to call him a friend. Below is his show from two years ago, and below that is his chapter in The Saint of Seven Mile, releasing February 14th.
Dino Maddalone was a high school friend of Mason’s. An old-school record producer, he carried with him a class and charm that would have made him more at home in the Rat Pack days of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra than the classless mess the industry had become today. Remaining an icon in the industry even though the years were wearing on, Dino was drumming for R&B groups in Vegas and doing appearances in films. Back in California he ran a small music studio, but these were new times, tough times, and money didn’t flow into the studio the way it had decades before. Even good people find themselves struggling sometimes, and when money was tight in the studio, Dino had found himself seeking the help of another friend, Nicky Romano.
Nicky had a new business too, one that thrived in tough times, known by most as loan sharking. His shithole of a shop had a big ‘Pawn’ sign over the door, but his real money was made through illegal loans with fatal interest rates. Dino, Mason and Nicky had all been friends back in the day, but those days were long gone, and Nicky was all about business, not friends.
Mason’s phone had gone off at 2am. There was the usual chatter that goes on between friends who haven’t spoken in several years, fifteen minutes of talking about the real issue, ten more minutes of explaining things to Sue, and by 6:45am Mason was on a flight from Detroit to LA.
Nicky had turned on Dino pretty hard. Threatened his family, torched a car. Now the offer was to sign over the studio property or they would take Dino’s soul next. Old friendships die hard, but Dino might die first. Dino was a tough man, cut from the same cloth as the Clint Eastwood and John Wayne sort; but he was also smart, and taking on a mafia thug by himself wasn’t.
READ THE FULL CHAPTER HERE ~ Dino’s Chapter
This one took a long hard road to get here, but I’m happy to announce The Saint of Seven Mile released worldwide today. This is the shorter edited version of the promo video.
As soon as Mason enters the hallway of their building he can hear the sounds of abuse from apartment 116. He stands alone in the hallway listening to it all, minutes drifting by like small lifetimes. A slap on a face, a threat to leave, a broken dish upon the floor; the corridor fills with the sounds of misery and despair, of anger and regret. A woman crying, a child pleading in defiance and fear to protect her, all from a monster that was supposed to love and nurture them.
An old light fixture on the ceiling flickers, its bulb nearing the end of its life. A moth flits about, desperate to get to the warm glow that teases it from behind a dirty glass globe, not realizing the heat of the bulb will kill it. Mason ponders the similarity of the moth and light to the sounds of cruelty coming from the apartment. People, attracted to the lure of a relationship, desperate to have one, needing one; never realizing that actually getting into one might destroy them.
Mason’s gaze drifts to the stairs, looking upward to the apartment that was his and Sue’s just days earlier. He wonders if that relationship, no matter how desirable, may have destroyed them both. He stands here now, alone in a dim and dirty hallway somewhere in Detroit, a broken soul. Even a beautiful relationship can be the catalyst that destroys lives. The most magnificent of fireworks are but fleeting moments that leave behind only dirty ash when they are gone.
There’s a sudden powerful thump on the corridor wall. A door slams, angrily and forcefully. Voices are raised and things are breaking; things like dishes, chairs, and human spirits. The crescendo of madness emanating from behind the apartment door grows until Mason cannot endure the burden of witness any longer. Behind his psychological wall his demons, weeping in the darkness moments earlier, are shifting to rage. He takes one last glance up the stairs, some deep corner of his wounded mind hoping somehow he might see Sue standing there, to stop him. She isn’t, and Mason’s boots carry 240lbs of angry broken soul to the door of apartment 116.
He knocks on the door, and with no answer knocks again, a greater tone of insistence bearing down upon it.
Faint sounds drift from behind the door. Whispers of muffled aggression; a woman told to shut up, a child ordered to his room. Inside is a struggle of indecision, to answer the door and weave a façade of normalcy, or to hide in defiance and shame. Moments pass, but Mason’s demons will not be denied. A fist pounds the door, monsters of different breeds standing on either side of it. The portal opens, and an angel of justice and liberation locks eyes with a demon of betrayal and oppression.
“What the fuck do you want,” speaks one demon to the other.
Mason’s stare is cold and steady, his intentions unwavering in spite of any resistance that might come. “Let me see your wife.”
There are split seconds in life when an entire story is told in a moment of changing facial expressions, if you look hard enough and have the insight to interpret it. In just a few fleeting moments, the demon of apartment 116’s entire story is revealed there in the flesh of his face; the guilt, the fear and the shame. The facade of defensive defiance comes anyway.
“Go fuck yourself. Mind your own business.” The door quickly begins to close, the portal between liberation and subjugation trying to seal shut, to keep the status quo just a while longer. But the time of apathy has passed, blind eyes will not be turned, and Mason’s demons, unrestrained by a keeper no longer alive, are stampeding over the wall.
Mason rears back and kicks the door with all of his unbridled rage. The gateway to emotional imprisonment gives way to an angel of salvation as the wooden barrier strikes its guard in the face, knocking him back hard against a wall. Mason rushes in and grips the man by his Adam’s apple, powerful fingers wrapping around the ball of his throat, threatening to rip it from its moorings.
Mason holds the man firmly against the wall, the door closing behind him, two monsters now locked in the same cage. The man struggles and fights at first, thinking he can overpower the intruder of his lair. Mason easily contains his efforts, the iron grip on his Adam’s apple causing the man to choke and gag as he struggles. Mason, shoving the man down to his knees by the throat, leans into his face. Momentarily they share the same air, with far different intentions. “I said I want to see your wife.”
The angel of retribution drags the demon of isolation around the corner of the foyer and into the living room, where the woman stands staring in his direction. Her eyes are open wide, a look of fear in her face. Mason raises an empty palm, holding it out to her, trying to tell her to be still, to be quiet, to not be afraid.
The man’s vocal chords vibrate against Mason’s fingertips as he calls out to his wife. “Dial 911. Call the police.” Her phone is in her hand, the light of the screen illuminating her face, contrasting it against the darkened room. Before she can press a number, she sees Mason’s changing expression as he stares at her. His shoulders seem to drop, his demeanor softening. She doesn’t understand, until she catches her own reflection in the mirror behind him.
Both hand and phone lower to her side; the light twisting around with the motion but still reflecting against her face. She begins to cry, each tear weaving a path among the bruises and scars in the mirror. They mix with the blood as they pass her nostrils, the combination stinging the split in her lip.
In our own minds we all see a vision of the person we believe ourselves to be. In the mirror the woman finally puts denial aside, to face the woman she had actually become.
For long moments, she faces the reflection that for years she had refused to make eye contact with. Her eye is so black and swollen it reminds her of the eye patch from a pirate costume she had worn last Halloween. She suddenly remembers that a black eye a year ago was why she chose that costume in the first place. She’s had black eyes for so long they have become normal, almost unnoticed, except to cover them with makeup so no one else will see.
Her captor struggles in the grip of her liberator, drawing her attention away from herself. He is on his knees, the intruder still holding a death grip into his throat. “Call the police,” he commands again. Mason punches him in the face with such force one of his fingers breaks and a tooth flies across the room. Mason releases him and pulls his .45 from behind his back, telling the man not to move as he approaches the woman. Her fear returns and she hits the three numbers that will bring the police. She backs away slowly while the call connects. Mason shoves the .45 back into his waistband, lifts his hands slowly out to his sides, palms out.
He tries to make her understand, to awaken her. “It doesn’t have to be like this. This is not a life, and you can be free.”
Behind Mason the demon of apartment 116 calls out, his grasp on the woman’s soul in jeopardy. “You stay away from her. Baby, get the cops.”
The call connects, the dispatch operator’s voice trickles from the small phone speaker for all in the room to hear. Mason and the woman’s eyes linger in each other for several more seconds, Mason gently shaking his head from side to side. “No more.”
“Hello? This is 911 dispatch, is anyone there?”
A child comes from the side hallway and stands at the entrance to the room. The woman’s eyes break away from Mason’s as she turns to her son. Even in the dim light of the room she can see his swollen lip and the bruises on his arms. The child is crying, as he often does. “Mom?”
“911. Is anyone there? Do you need help?”
The woman turns back towards Mason, who stands there waiting for the decision she is making. She looks down at the phone, and as she slowly raises it, presses the red button to freedom. As the call disconnects, she sees her reflection again in the mirror. There beyond the years of beatings, beyond the black eyes and the emotional scars, a glint reflects in her eyes; a spark of life.
Behind Mason the demon roars, his power fading. “What the fuck are you doing?”
Her eyes meet Mason’s, and they speak without words. She nods, just slightly, the decision made, the approval granted, as she turns to grab her son by the hand and lead him out the front door. Behind her she closes the exit of her former prison, now a tomb that her former keeper will never leave again.
The sounds of madness emanate once more from the apartment. The retribution and reckoning is swift, merciless, and brutal. The corridor fills with the sounds of things being broken; things like emotional shackles, control, and human bones.
“Please, I’ll never touch her again, I swear to God.”
“God isn’t here.”
When the police arrive, only fingerprints will positively identify the demon of apartment 116.
“Mason refused to move. Not an inch, not a muscle. He held Sue in his arms as the light faded from her eyes. He could feel her heart beat in rhythm with his own, until it gradually slowed and eventually stopped. Her last exhale whispered into his ears, just like her breathing had from her pillow in the middle of the night when he would watch her sleep; a sound he would never forget, especially now.
An hour later, as her skin cooled to his touch, he still hadn’t moved. They huddled there together by the side of the road, the widening gap between life and death trying to pull them apart, but Mason refused to let go. The street lamp above him flickered sporadically as the cold winter breeze bit and clawed at his face, the blood beneath them already frozen. He had vowed to protect her, to keep her safe. At the moment this was all he knew to do; to hold her here, to keep the world away, even in death.
In the dark quiet places of his mind the demons stirred, slowly at first, then more vigorously as they realized the gatekeeper was gone. For months she had kept them in check, pushed them back, keeping them tamed with logic and love. He kissed her cold blue lips, bits of blood slipping into his mouth; pieces of her to remain within him forever. His tears fell, the warm salty stream burning against his frozen cheeks. Like an old friend, this sort of pain and sorrow had followed him all his life, always seeming to manifest itself the same way. Now as his broken heart bled into rage, the demons crept forward. The wall that locked away his secrets, the barrier that held back the unique way he perceived the world, shook and cracked as the monsters pounded from within. Unguarded, unchecked, the floodgates opened, and he surrendered to the madness and rage.”
~ Saint Monolith 2