CHAPTER ONE, Excerpt Two
It was one in the afternoon, and Coletti had spent most of the day just like he’d spent the past twenty years—alone. Of course, twenty years ago, things were different. Back then, he had his job to fulfill him, and for a time, he had a woman to do the same.
Now he was fifty-eight-years-old, and on most days, his work as a homicide detective still drove him, but after the demise of the killer known as the Gravedigger, Coletti was out of crimes to investigate, and he was taking a step back from the job.
He’d barely lived through the betrayal of a fellow cop named Mary Smithson, whose love for him turned out to be hate, and when he tried to deal with the pain of her lies, another murder interrupted him. Another woman told lies to him. Another case unfolded. Another killer was caught.
Despite all that had happened over the past few months, Coletti tried to carry on business as usual, but everyone knew he was still hurting, because they’d watched his relationship with Mary crash and burn.
Commissioner Kevin Lynch ordered him to take a couple days off to clear his head, but on this, the first day of his involuntary vacation, Coletti only wanted to sleep, and he couldn’t even do that, because at 4 o’ clock, the phone on his nightstand rang.
Coletti got out of bed, picked up a pair of striped boxers from the floor, and slipped them on. Then he yawned, and walked to the kitchen, where he took a beer from his refrigerator. He took his time getting back to the bedroom. On the tenth ring, he answered the phone.
“What is it, Mann?” he asked, sounding annoyed.
“How did you know it was me?”
“Nobody else calls me at home,” he said while snatching a lighter and a rumpled pack of Marlboros from the nightstand. Shaking a cigarette loose, he lit it and inhaled deeply.
“Those smokes are gonna kill you,” Charlie Mann said.
Coletti exhaled into the receiver. “I smoke one a day. That oughta hold off the cancer for at least twenty years. But that’s not why you called, is it?”
“No, it’s not,” Mann said. “I called to invite you to dinner with Sandy and me.”
“Three’s a crowd. Besides, you don’t eat Italian and I don’t eat soul food.”
“That slop you make on hotplates ain’t food. It’s an insult to Italians everywhere.”
“Don’t knock it ‘til you try it,” Coletti said, puffing his cigarette once again.
Mann chuckled, but when the laughter faded there was a moment of awkward silence. “I never got a chance to thank you for saving my life when we got the Gravedigger. If it weren’t for you, I probably would’ve died in that cemetery.”
“You saved my life once, too. Now we’re even.”
“Yeah, but ...” Mann paused, struggling to find a way to say what he was thinking.
Newshounds-turned-novelists Solomon Jones and Karen Quinones Miller encompass the light and darkness of life in the city. Days before their joint book-signing and reading at the Free Library on Nov. 1, Miller and Jones sat down to talk to each other about their lives, their books and the amazing journeys that shaped two of Philadelphia’s most distinctive storytelling voices.
In the first excerpt of Chapter One of Jones' eighth novel, a former figure in Detective Mike Coletti's past makes some interesting moves—in and out of the courtroom.
Gabriel García Márquez, 1927-2014