Pony Express 140I took a little time off the other day from promoting my second Frank Adversego thriller to write the first chapter of the third. Needless to say, it was a lot more fun than lining up promotional discount sales and sending out more mindless Tweets.

The plot has been kicking around in my mind for several years, and I’ve even written up the central scenario before, as it focuses on what I believe is the most serious threat to its own existence that humanity has come up with since the atomic bomb. You’ll have to wait until I finish the book to find out what that is, but here’s a little something to hold you over until then.

*  *  *

Frank’s phone was not ringing. Neither was his email registering any activity. Even his much-despised Facebook page was devoid of likes and visits, not just recently, but ever. After three weeks of waiting, there was no way to avoid the conclusion: his new enterprise, Frank Adversego, Cyber Eye, was a failure.

He stared at the home page of his website with regret. He still thought it was pretty cool – very retro, with a clear Raymond Chandler/Dashielle Hammett vibe. And if forced to admit it, he thought he looked pretty sharp in a fedora and trench coat. But a pretty page design does not a business make, and he had not yet landed a single paying customer. That might have something to do with the fact that he didn’t have a clue about how to advertise, and recoiled in horror from the concept of engaging in normal business-getting activities, like networking.

But there it was. There seemed to be no alternative to doing what appealed to him least of all: he’d have to eat dirt and ask for George for work.

So he did.

“Hey Frank, good to hear from you. How’s the new business coming along?”

“Great! Having the time of my life! I can’t believe I waited so long to go into business for myself.”

George Marchand smiled. He was surprised it had taken this long for Frank to call.

“Wonderful to hear, Frank. I couldn’t be happier for you. Of course, we’re sorry we won’t be able to call on you anymore over here at the CIA. New threats are always coming down the line, and the challenges keep getting tougher….”

Frank cut him off. “Oh, well, I wouldn’t say that! I can always take on a little more work if it would help you out. You know, fill in the gaps between the really big, interesting projects. Sometimes they go cold for a little while.”

“Really? Well, that’s good to know.” He was positively grinning now.

There was a brief silence.

“Uh, George, you got anything right now?”

“Hmm. Maybe. But I don’t know if we have anything small enough to fit in between your really big, interesting projects.”

There was another pause. “Okay, George. Have it your way. Do you want me to beg?”

George laughed out loud. “Of course not. I was just jerking your chain. Every new business gets off to a slow start, so I’ve been keeping my eye out for something we could send your way. You want to hear what I have in mind?”

Frank uttered a silent thanks to the patron saint of small businesses. “Yes, George. I’d like that very much.”

“Great. Do you have time to get together tomorrow?”

“Today, tomorrow, the next day, you name it. I’m not exactly over booked.”

“Good deal. How about you meet me at 10:00 tomorrow. You know that donut shop in Dupont Circle?”

“Sure, but what’s wrong with our usual coffee place?”

“That’s enough for over the phone. I’ll see you there tomorrow.”

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