'NEEDLES' (98,000 words, fiction, adult/crime)
Dr. Dominic Martinez, a divorced plastic surgeon in Hollywood, watches his son commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. This tragedy sends Dr. Martinez into a cocaine tailspin, and the doctor channels his grief into ratcheting up writing prescriptions for his Hollywood Hills’ poolside glitterati.
When Dr. Martinez is caught for his illicit prescriptions, the authorities offer him a deal. He can avoid jail time if he works with them by handling facial reconstructs on some “off the record” Russian gangsters with whom the authorities have a certain quid pro quid understanding.
When the wife of a heavyweight Russian mobster ends up dead on his operating table, Dr. Martinez finds himself in serious danger. His federal contact, Jack Murphey, isn’t sold on Doc’s relocation plan, and only later finds that Doc is in Needles, California, in the Mojave Desert, still under the Witness Protection Program. Doc’s also left behind a young Russian girlfriend Helena, although when he calls, she finds this patch of desert perfect for hiding from her own past, and joins Doc in the desert.
Doc’s 1965 cream colored Porsche Speedster, his gold Patek Philippe and his twice-weekly visits to the local liquor store catch the attention of Chet, a phlegmatic 70-year-old proprietor and retired, dirty Needles cop. With the help of Detective Donovan Casey, a friend in the Needles police department, Chet digs up Doc’s past. Chet uses the information to make Doc an offer he can’t refuse. Doc resumes writing illegal prescriptions which are distributed throughout the southwest by Chet and his family. Chet assures Doc that his secret’s safe with him as long as Doc keeps writing. Doc’s script pad coupled with Chet’s family of heavies deposit big dough in his pocket.
Then the situation gets even more complicated: the Russians have uncovered Doc’s location; the family of cops are demanding more of their share; even Doc’s personal Fed, Jack, wants a slice of the action, and Doc’s girlfriend Helena also has demands: notably his ampules of liquid cocaine. It seems the only person who doesn’t want a piece of the Doc is his friend Ivan, a sober Russian with the temperament of a terrier who packs a .357 Python.
In a final lethal encounter, Doc, Helena, Jack, and Ivan enlist the mystical powers of an aging Brujo who channels pit vipers and carries a rusty canteen containing a mind-bending concoction of plant-based psycho-tropics that take the Russian gangsters on a deadly trip though the desert.
The mobsters dead in the Mojave, Doc has black leather bags packed with cash, and a new BFF, Jack Murphey, the Federal Agent who has his back. Doc fakes his own death and with Helena sitting shotgun, he guns his Speedster toward a new future.