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summer 2010

Howdy Folks,

Seems rather optimistic to call this a “spring” newsletter when I am looking out the window at snow-covered ground. This has been the rottenest winter that I can remember in a long, long time. And the lonnngest holiday season in my feeble memory. Oh lord, the gluttony and general debauchery (without the really good stuff) began in early November with the visit of our friends the Voits and then slogged on through a Thanksgiving meal for the Hessian army and then numerous dinners for family, extended family, our son’s visiting girlfriend, and sundry indigent people that Shirl met on street corners and alleys. Frankly, I was sick to death of rich food, fountains of wine, and rivers of booze. I was exhausted.

That’s when the Redhead sprang her surprise on me. “Honey, we are going to Miami to do research for Heartstopper in January! Won’t that be fun?” My heart almost stopped. Here we are doing a series of novels for Dorchester Publishing set in Regency London and the woman wants to go to Florida to research a modern day mystery-thriller! Now do you understand why I spend a great deal of my time sobbing?

And we stayed in South Beach no less. That place is an asylum run by the inmates. One morning we got up late and walked down to Jerry’s Famous Deli, about two short blocks from our hotel. There was a big crowd standing in the middle of Collins Avenue looking up at the roof of this parking garage. There were also a half dozen cops cars pulled up on the sidewalk. I couldn’t see anything, so we walked inside to our usual table and I asked the waitress what was up. “You should have seen it! There were two of the most beautiful naked girls up on the roof of the garage, striking all sorts of suggestive poses. My those girls were beautiful, perfectly proportioned, exquisite!” I grunted, “Yeah, you got any gruel and ashes on the menu?” The most scenic part of the research trip and I missed it. I even had my digital camera with me.

What I didn’t miss was driving all over Dade county, interviewing some very helpful homicide detectives (none of whom could be called “exquisite”), talking with the administrator of the Medical Examiner’s Office (while trying not to look at the sheet-covered lady with tag on her toe—definitely not “exquisite”), checking out a CSI lab, motoring all the way across the county to the glades looking for a place to unload fictional corpses, stopping on the way back to civilization at an Indian casino (a likely meeting place for a witness and the homicide detective hero of Shirl’s proposed book—oh by the way, the casino had more glaring lights than one of those space ships from “Close Encounters”), and finally getting into one of the ritzier gated communities where the obscenely rich have their mansions. This was after the snarling gate guard, with the personality of a Doberman and the brain of an amoeba, interrogated us for ten minutes.

The last afternoon of the trip I waited for Shirl to come down from the room so that we could take off for the airport. I was watching this really large gal riding a unicycle up and down the walk across the street. Like I said, an asylum. Shirl came out and stood alongside of me, tugging on my sleeve. She said, “Boy, isn’t she something.” I replied, “Yeah, she ought to be in the circus or in a cackle factory.” Shirl said, “What are you talking about?” I said, “That big chick on the unicycle.” Shirl said, “I wasn’t referring to her. Good grief! Didn’t you see that lovely redhead who just walked past? She was wearing a thong and a top she was about to overflow. You’re slipping, Henke. How could you have missed her? She was exquisite!”

I just stood there with my hands in my pocket and tears running down my cheeks. Yeah, guess I am slipping.

Take care,


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