Set in the 1990s, a time when New York City was struggling to re-invent itself, Satan’s Treasure is a dark thriller that follows the lives of four individuals who have one thing in common: an obsessive desire to succeed in their chosen fields.
* Lionel Jackson is an African-American detective sergeant with the NYPD. His involvement in a botched hostage incident has saddled him with a guilty conscience, the loss of his family, and a transfer to another precinct, where he meets with hostility from his new colleagues.
* Robert Molinaro is a womanizing talk show host who works for a small New York radio station. He’s dissatisfied with his marriage and hates the fact that he’s a little fish in a big pond.
* Rachel Curran is a struggling fashion model/part-time waitress. She realizes she’s fighting a losing battle against time so she decides to enter a state beauty pageant in an attempt to gain exposure.
* Frank Ryman is an accountant who spent his youth in a Louisiana psychiatric hospital because of trauma suffered at the hands of his mother, a junkie whore. As a result, he has a psychotic hatred of women who have abandoned their “natural” role and make their living by flaunting their sexuality.
A brutal murder in midtown Manhattan triggers a chain of events that draws these four strangers together, with catastrophic results.
Here’s a short excerpt:
The Guardian heard a noise near the gate of the citadel. Holding his breath, he leaned out of his sentry box and peered intently into the murky darkness. He had little difficulty in pinpointing the location of the disturbance, for his formidable powers not only included the strength of a grizzly and the cunning of a fox, but also the visual and auditory acuity of a panther. No obstacle could prevent him from carrying out his sacred duty.
The intruder was an incubus, a creature of the night whose evil heart was hidden beneath a veneer of physical beauty. She slipped past the gate and paused, a vial of deadly poison clutched to her breast. She was tentative, frightened. She felt His presence, but her predatory instincts compelled her forward, toward the inner sanctum. She advanced slowly, her breathing ragged, her right hand groping blindly in the darkness.
Stepping out of his sentry box, the Guardian crept to the center of the passageway, planted his feet firmly on the cobblestones, and uncoiled his sleek, sculptured body to its full, magnificent height. His muscles rippled. His nostrils flared. Narrowing his eyes, he extended his arms and waited for the intruder to fall into his deadly embrace.
The incubus stopped abruptly, sensing His proximity. She gasped. Her heart began to pound, partly from fear, partly from sexual agitation. Trembling, she dropped the vial of poison to the ground and unbuttoned the top of her bodice. She bent her head to one side and offered up her slender neck.
Enveloping the creature in his powerful arms, the Guardian lowered his mouth to the soft, smooth flesh. He snorted sharply as her scent – a commingling of sweat and perfume, desire and dread – assailed his nostrils. Baring his razor-sharp teeth, he snarled and sank–
“Frank. Hey, Frank! Are you getting in, or what?”
Frank Ryman clenched his hands as he stepped into the elevator and turned to face the door. Behind him, a trio of smirking co-workers began to exchange hushed whispers. Ryman pictured their mangled bodies under the wheels of a speeding subway train.
The door closed and the elevator began its 22-storey descent. Ryman overheard his co-workers discussing their plans for the weekend – a family barbecue, a baseball game at Yankee Stadium, an afternoon at Jones Beach. Mundane pleasures for insignificant little men, he mused, sneering.
After what seemed an eternity, the elevator finally jerked to a stop in the crowded lobby of the Bell Liberty Bank Building, home to the accounting firm of Roswell, Adams & Dickerson, Ryman’s employer. His colleagues rushed past, tossing off a series of mumbled goodbyes. Ryman knew they were going for drinks, a Friday night ritual; he also knew they didn’t want him along. The sentiment was mutual. Shoptalk was irritating enough, but attempts at being “one of the boys” – especially the endless blathering about sports and sex – made his head throb.
The door closed and the elevator continued its descent to the underground garage. Ryman stepped out into the cool, dank air and hurried to his blue Volvo. Tossing his briefcase onto the passenger seat, he climbed behind the wheel, started the engine, and steered the car up the ramp to join the traffic jam wending its way along Pearl Street, in Manhattan’s financial district. The drive home always took an eternity, but it was better than being squeezed into a subway car with a horde of surly, sweat-stained commuters.
Ryman lived alone in a two-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side. Housed in a recently sand-blasted brick building near the intersection of Lexington Avenue and East 90th Street, the unit faced west, offering up spectacular sunsets and a panoramic view of the area’s diverse mix of Beaux Arts, Art Deco, Modernist, and Postmodernist architecture. Normally, such an apartment would’ve been beyond the reach of someone earning a CPA’s salary, but a string of astute stock acquisitions in the early nineties had provided him with a considerable nest egg.
Ryman parked the car, stopped to pick up his mail in the lobby, and rode the elevator up to the 10th floor. The day’s tensions began to melt away as soon as he stepped through his front door. This was his refuge, an oasis in an increasingly frenetic and incomprehensible world. Setting down his briefcase, he strode into the kitchen and poured a glass of grapefruit juice, which he sipped while flipping through the mail. He then entered the bedroom and changed into his swimming trunks. Tossing a wool robe over his shoulders, he grabbed his goggles and a bath towel, and went down to the pool for his evening swim.
Since it was the supper hour on a Friday evening, and unseasonably cool for mid-June, he had the pool to himself. He felt relieved; swimming with others made him feel inhibited. Disrobing, he put on his goggles, plunged into the cool, clear water and with a couple of powerful strokes churned his way to the bottom. Twisting around, he gently settled onto his back and stared up at the surface. Beyond the point where air met water, reality seemed distant and tenuous.
These quiet moments, insulated from the harsh and ugly sights and sounds of scrabbling humanity, filled him with rare contentment.
The unpublished manuscript of Satan’s Treasure won an Honorable Mention in the 2000 Opus Magnum Discovery Awards, in affiliation with the Hollywood Film Festival.
The primary advantage of a traditional publishing deal is money up front, known as an advance. This leaves you free to do what you do best: write. The other advantage is that you don’t have any out-of-pocket expenses to get your book published. Editing, proofing, cover design, formatting – it’s all taken care of. But that only happens if you can get a traditional publishing deal. In truth, it is becoming more and more difficult for an unknown writer to get his or her foot in the door.
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My name is Lou Volpentesta. I was born in Italy in 1950, migrated to Canada with my parents in 1953, and have resided quite happily in Toronto ever since. I’m a graduate of the Humber College Journalism program and have been writing fiction, off and on, since 1985.
Before that I spent eight years with a Canadian trade magazine, including five as editor. This was followed by four and a half years as PR director for a local health care union. I also had a short stint as an Audio/Visual equipment installer, mostly in the U.S.
My short fiction has appeared in several publications in Canada and the U.S. including White Wall Review, Canadian Stories, New Orphic Review, Writer’s Block, Green’s Magazine, Midnight Zoo, Crossroads, Kracked Mirror Mysteries, Dogwood Tales, Tapestry, and Blue Murder.Com. I’ve also written three novels and three film scripts. My other passions include travel, hiking, photography, opera, and haunting movie theatres.