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No one was talking, and that pissed Jefferson off.

Torture was needed.

He was already being tortured, torn asunder by love and duty. He dialed O’Grady, to pass it on.

“You wanted to dust those bills? Where do I go?”

“Forget that. Something’s happened. Hang on,” O’Grady said. She put the phone down on her desk and began speaking to those around her.

“When was this supposed to have happened? Police radio, right? Let’s make sure we get an accurate report log time. We need a copy of that call,” she said, picking up the phone.

“Your buddy got shot and killed.”


“Edgar Smith Wilson. That’s right, that’s the photo I want,” she said to someone else on her end.

“Okay,” a voice in the background said.

“Now. Yeah, what’s her name’s Dad. He was coming out of a restaurant Downtown. Got killed a few minutes ago in a drive-by. Broad daylight, right on the sidewalk.”

“Damn! Anybody else get killed?” Jefferson said.

“Nope. Turn on channel 6, they got a news break. I gotta go,” and she hung up.

Jefferson dropped his phone and turned on the television in time to see a previously aired news segment, showing Kate and Isabel, consoling each other as their father was carted to the morgue.

He dialed Isabel's cell, but it went to voice mail.

Sitting in his office, Jack Barns watched the same newsbreak on his giant video wall. Louise walked in and began watching.

When it was over, Barns tapped his desk and the monitor went dark.

Darkness lay ahead, that much we can see, he thought. It was a profound thought, but he laughed to himself.

“Isabel and Kate are here,” she said.

“Okay,” he said, and seconds later, they were in the room.

Barns came from behind his desk, something he rarely did during the day, and hugged the girls warmly.

“Please sit down over here,” he motioned to the chairs by the window.

It was a fine, soft day, Barns thought. That’s what his Irish granddaddy used to say. But that didn't matter.

“I talked to the detective in charge of the investigation, and the captain. They moved it to Major Crimes. I think we'll see something soon,” Barns said.

“Thanks,” Kate said, sitting down. Isabel had not seated herself and she stared out of the window. Isabel turned to face Barns, Kate and Louise.

“Did you have anything to do with Dad’s death?” she asked Barns.

“No. No! You serious?” he asked.

“We were trying to think of who or what had the most to gain from his death,” Kate said.

“It’s not us,” Isabel said.

“Wait, it is us,” she said, absent-mindedly.

“The insurance,” Kate said, affirming.

“Okay, besides us, who or what had the most to gain?” Isabel said.

Barns also had not sat down. Only Kate sat. She sometimes felt like a queen, when she alone would sit as others strode around with purpose. Things seemed clearer when she sat down.

“What I meant to say is, no, I didn’t have anything to do with his killing,” Barns said, plain enough to be convincing.

“So, who did?” Isabel said.

“A contractor … I suspect,” he said. “I’m looking into it myself. PPD might be overmatched.”

“And the other thing?” Isabel said.

Barns stopped his ambling back and forth in front of the window, but didn’t turn to face the three women.

“Edgar Smith Wilson was, and still is, a hero, as far as I’m concerned. That’s your legacy,” Barns said.


The Bugle newsroom was a blur of activity. Smith Wilson’s death was a big story, and O’Grady's first byline in years.

O'Grady sat in her chair, took a long, deep breath, and leaned back. Her desk phone rang. She hit the speakerphone button.

“I’m here,” she said, almost too tired to talk.

It felt good.

“Miss O’Grady, it’s Charlie,” a voice said.

“Yes, what can I do for you?” she said.

“We got your story made up. It’s in your e-hopper, but I thought you’d like to see it on the big screen. We’re also cued in 15 minutes for the stream, so …” he said.

“So, I got 14 minutes to approve. Be right out,” she said.

She walked quickly out into the newsroom. The front page mockup had one photo: Smith Wilson, horizontal, in a body bag on the ground. The ground-level, photo was a close-up profile of his face, just before being zipped up for transport to the morgue.


“Anyone care to comment on the photo?” she asked. There was a definite murmur.

“Lynette, your story and the photo didn’t quite match up, so we … I … moved a few things around. The photo is right,” said Managing Editor Tom Katz.

“D’you keep my lead?” she asked.

“Definitely,” he said.

O’Grady read her reworked story.

“We get comments from both political parties?” O’Grady asked.

“PP officials were no problem, but the NP declined to comment. I love that,” Katz said.

“Okay, we have 10 minutes? Tom, call the NP back and try to get something out of them, even if they say they’re glad the bastard is gone,” O’Grady said.

“If we don’t get any NP comment in five minutes, call me back first for one last look, then we’ll hit the stream,” she said.

Five minutes later, it was done, without an NP comment in a sentence noting as much to close the story.

Lynette O'Grady's story about Smith Wilson getting gunned down read well, Jefferson thought, as he read it online at his apartment. The story, and the people, were well-served.


Later that afternoon, Jefferson stood behind some trees, just up the bank from the dock where he had observed Willingham, who wasn't there. The decision to go there to look for Willingham seemed like a good idea, when he first had it.

Then, he saw Fletcher drive up, get out, and retrieve a chair and some fishing gear from his trunk. Jefferson stayed hidden.

Fletcher set up in Willingham's spot on the dock.

Then, Willingham drove up and parked. He retrieved his chair and fishing gear from his trunk and walked down onto the dock.

“Hey, squatter!” Willingham said, encountering Fletcher taking up his space. He put down his chair, opened it and sat down.

“Yeah, I guess, maybe I am,” he said, jerking up his rod to reveal a pretty good-sized river catfish.

He reeled him in and lifted him gently onto the dock. It was fat enough to eat, but only a meal for one.

Fletcher hadn’t intended to stay, if Willingham arrived. He quickly pulled the fish off the hook and tossed him back into the river.

“Not big enough,” Fletcher said.

“Big enough, for one,” Willingham said.

“I thought you didn’t like to eat fish?” Fletcher queried.

“I do like the thrill of the catch better,” Willingham said, fixing his rod and line to ready a cast.

“This seating arrangement is messing with my feng shui. Do you mind switching places?” Willingham asked.

“I was wondering how long it was gonna take you,” Fletcher said with a smile as he stood.

Willingham put down his rod on the dock and stood up from his chair.

A bullet from a high-powered but silent rifle suddenly penetrated Willingham in the back, spewing innards out a hole in his chest.

Willingham dropped to his knees, and fell into the river, the current taking him away.

Jefferson saw Willingham fall into the river and made a beeline to the shore, diving in after him.

Jefferson didn't dive too deep, because the water had no visibility, even a few inches down; no telling what might be down there.

Fletcher grabbed his chair and gear and headed to his car, not the sweet Camaro. After stashing his gear in the trunk, he watched Jefferson swim after Willingham, then dialed 911 and left the scene.

Jefferson swam up to Willingham, face down and trailing red. He grabbed the back of Willingham's jacket, flipped him over and kicked for the bank.

Up on the bank, Jefferson rolled Willingham onto his back. He listened to Willingham’s chest for a heartbeat, then placed a hand over the bullet hole, pressing down.

Willingham coughed suddenly, sending a stream of river water, vomit and blood up into an arc, and down onto Jefferson’s head.

Jefferson rolled him onto his left side, and Willingham spewed out the rest of his Schuylkill cocktail.

Back on his back, Willingham began to breathe, quickly.

“What the fuck happened?” Willingham said.

“You got shot and fell into the river. I dove in and got you out.”

“Shoulda let me go,” Willingham coughed. “Who are you?”

“My name is Chandler Jefferson. I’m a, or was …”

“You’re that reporter who worked for the party,” Willingham said.

“What the hell are you doing here? Kind of lucky, I guess. I only have a little time,” he said, coughing again.

“I want to tell you a story. Got something to write with?” Just then, an ambulance pulled up and the crew got out.

“Hey, one of you got something to write with, and some paper?” he said, trying to hold his hand over the exit wound. The driver handed Jefferson a steno pad and pen.

As the paramedics assessed Willingham and placed him a stretcher, he told Jefferson about The Exercise.

Jefferson wiped the blood from his writing hand and began writing Willingham's deathbed confession.

The minute she pulled the trigger, May Evers realized she had shot the wrong man.

“Shit,” she said, high-tailing it into the brush.

Back on the bank, Jefferson reread the notes he took from Willingham, who was near death’s door.

“Did … you … get …” Willingham gasped.

“Every word,” Jefferson said.

“Anyone you want me to contact? Family?” Jefferson said, gently grasping the dying man’s hand.

Willingham coughed a small laugh.

“Mama, I’ll be home soon,” he said, letting death rattle up from within him.

Jefferson looked down at his cell phone. It was wet but still recording.

Jefferson took a photo as the paramedics closed Willingham into his body bag.

As the ambulance took Willingham’s body away, Jefferson dictated his story into his phone. He then sent Willingham's confession, the photo and his dictated story to O’Grady.

The subject: “Cornell Willingham deathbed confession.” His phone rang almost immediately.

“Yeah?” he said somberly.

“Are you all right?” O’Grady asked.

“Yeah, I’m okay.”

O’Grady turned back to the keyboard on her desk and within 15 or 20 seconds, found Jefferson’s cell signal in a small park along the Schuylkill River.

“It’s pretty graphic, your story,” she said.

“Deathbed confessions usually are, aren’t they? We need to call the parties for quotes. Can someone else do that?”

“I’ll do it in a sidebar next to the story,” O’Grady said.

“I took one photo, of him on the gurney. You should have it,” he said, and hung up.


Mara Trent sat in her Philadelphia apartment, staring at a large video monitor, a big one. It displayed the front page of the Bugle, with the photo of Smith Wilson on the ground, in a body bag, face visible from the side.

Her phone rang. It was Jim Wallace. She let it go to voicemail, but she retrieved it the minute it was complete.

“Mara? It’s Jim, Jim Wallace? I know, it’s been a while, but I wanted to … hear your voice. See, I’m not a stalker if I don’t leave weird messages all the time, or call and hang up, which I haven’t. Anyway, I was just wondering how you were, or are. Call me back if you like.”

“If I like, eh?” she said to herself.

“Who’s your stalker?” she said, to herself, opening a folder with surveillance photos of Wallace.

Willingham mentioned neither Mara nor Marilyn in his deathbed confession to Jefferson.

Who, then?


Sgt. Tommy Haskins shuffled some papers on his desk, and dialed a number.


“Whadda ya got?” she said.

“You are gonna love this,” Haskins said. “Guess who’s a hero now?”

“Who?” May asked.

“Chandler Jefferson, the reporter guy? That’s who. Turns out, he says he was down along the Schuylkill, and he sees this guy fall into the river, so he dives in, catches up to the body and pulls the guy out. Guy dies on him, though,” Haskins said.

“No shit. Who was the dead guy?”

“Some guy named Cornell Willingham, a local political consultant, is all we got so far. We found his car along the river in one of the small parks,” he said.

“Where’s Jefferson now?”

“He gave a statement to the uniforms who responded, and we have his details,” Haskins said.

“Reason I called is, I ran the phone number that made the 911 call. Guess who it belongs to?"


May already knew.

“Our boy Fletcher,” Haskins said.

“There’s a team down there now."

“Let me know if you find anything,” she said.

May hung up and went over in her mind the few seconds after she pulled the trigger and left the scene.

Had she remembered to police her brass?

The cartridge could be her undoing. She felt in her coat pocket for the lone spent cartridge.

It was there.


Sharon Steele sat, looking at the photo of Edgar Smith Wilson on the front page of the Bugle.


Her phone buzzed.

“Miss O’Grady and Mr. Jefferson are here,” said her secretary, Megan.

“Send them in, please Megan,” Steel said.

O’Grady walked in first. Steel was at the door to greet and shake hands.

“Come on in,” Steel said after shaking hands with Jefferson. O’Grady sat cautiously.

“The last time you met me at the door of your office with a handshake was when I got hired. Since I already had the job when I walked in, the only other explanation must be that this is my exit interview,” O’Grady said with a laugh.

“Funny,” Steel said.

“Well, considering this excellent front page and story, you might want to reconsider leaving,” Steel said, pointing to the copy of the Bugle on her desk. They sat.

“Well, Jefferson, you ready to get back to work? You told Lynette we three needed a meeting. Okay, here we are,” Steel said.

Jefferson then told the story of Willingham’s river-bank confession. Steel’s intercom buzzed.

“Turn on channel 6,” Megan said. Steel turned on her wall screen as channel 6 aired the story of Willingham from the county morgue.

“PPD detectives are continuing this investigation,” said newsface 6.

Steel switched the screen off.

“Okay, get a story together, your old political column heading -- which we still have, thanks to your boss -- for the front page. Make a lead that combines Willingham’s confession and the death of Smith Wilson and wrap it up with The Exercise.

“I want to see attempts to contact everyone Willingham named,” Steel said.

“Okay, Sharon. Jefferson has something else he wants to talk with you about,” O’Grady said.

“What is it?”

Jefferson told the story of Kate and Isabel, his involvement with Isabel, and also that Willingham’s tale did not include their names, or Mara or Marilyn.

Willingham revealed just two names: his and Jack Barns.

Jefferson hoped to keep out Isabel of the mix, Isabel and Kate both. They were the go-betweens, though.

How did Willingham manage to leave their names out?

“As long as Isabel and Kate are not part of the story, the main story, they can stay out. But the minute someone points a finger at them, you need to get a quote, and they’re back in. Why couldn’t you deal with Lynette with this?” Steel asked.

“She said I couldn’t do it unless I asked you,” Jefferson said.  

“Unbelievable,” Steel said.

O’Grady rolled her eyes.

Jefferson finished his story to go with Willingham’s confession, with quotes of denial from both parties. He shipped it off to the editing chain and dialed O’Grady.

“You got it. What do you think’s gonna happen?”

“Was anything they did actually illegal? Inciting unrest? If I were a lawyer, I’d pass it off as cut-throat marketing from political ads,” O’Grady said.

“So, do I get my job back? A raise would be nice,” Jefferson said sweetly into the phone.

“This thing has to be hit, every day now. You heard Sharon. She wants us to stay at the forefront, and you can’t take a vacation at the same time, except maybe a 24-hour one, say, in a place you might spend 24 hours at, I dunno, someplace close to the city, yet …” O’Grady said.

“Off the beaten path,” Jefferson said.


The news of the next 24 hours was filled with other media outlets playing catch-up with the Bugle.

Jefferson sat on Willingham’s dock, Isabel and Kate seated beside him. All three had fishing rigs, with lines in the water.

The sounds of the city were in the distance, not exactly the far distance, but far-enough distance.

“How did you find this place again?” Kate asked.

“Yeah, how did you find it?” Isabel said.

“This is where I ...” he said to Isabel, his voice trailing off.

“This is where I jumped in to get that guy out of the water. Pretty quiet here, now,” he said. Just then, a fish struck Jefferson’s line.

“Hey looky here, I got a fish. Wonder if it will be a tasty dish,” he said, flipping the fish up onto the dock.

It flopped toward Kate, who trapped its tail with her shoe heel. She reached down, grabbed the fish, unhooked it and tossed it back into the river, unceremoniously.


Louise and Marilyn sat in Jack Barns’ office, sipping something brown from glasses. They watched the TV wall, as channel 6 showed Barns at a press conference, trying to answer questions by not saying anything.

“It’s over, thank God,” Louise said, switching off the monitor.

“No, it’s not,” Marilyn said, rising.

“Do you think it will ever be over?”

Marilyn said, looking out the window onto the city below. Louise walked up next to her.

“You mean America, divided?” Louise said.

“We never needed to do The Exercise. And now, now that the people know …” Marilyn said.

“I wonder what will happen … next time,” Louise said with a high note of caution in her voice.


In prison, doing life, Tick had all the time in the world to think about all the time he wasted, being in a gang.

In prison, doing life, he would get all that time back.

But instead of time to live, it would be time to think.

Most of the time, Tick thought about how to stay alive, out of the way from everyone, his fellow gang members, the others in the yard, and the Russians.

He’d made a friend of the warden, but he kind of screwed that up, when he had to be handcuffed after resisting going to the warden’s office one day.

Tick didn’t want to appear to be the warden’s bitch, and it cost him a beating, but it was worth it, because of what he found out.

The warden had good news. Usually, the worst thing a con can get from the outside is good news. The news was that Father Fancy was out of the hospital, and due for a visit in a week or so.

He got that from a guard, who gave him a shotgun butt in the stomach as the period in the one line of news.

Back in his cell, Tick began to think of life on the outside. It put some resolve in his backbone, and he sat up. That tweaked the stomach muscles still recovering from the meeting with a shotgun butt.

Mornings in the yard consisted of general malingering. Except for constant attempts to brainwash prisoners to the opposite (rehabilitation of some sort), time in prison does little more than reinforce criminal attitudes, behaviors, and tendencies.

Nowhere else is this on better display than within the general population in the yard for “exercise” period.

Yeah, even in prison, there’s The Exercise.

Tick never saw or even heard of the Jim and Anton's letters. All he knew was what he’d learned from the guards and the warden, and one of the Front Street Boyz, whose name is unspeakable for what he did to go to prison.

Tick learned about B-drop from a gang brother inside. Again, just one sentence in passing.

Hanging out with known associates in the joint gets the attention of the guards, and Tick had quite enough of that.

A few days, then weeks went by, and no Father Fancy. Tick got a card from his mom, who was too poor to pay for a trip to the prison.

She told him she saved $5 a week for Tick and when he got out, he’d have some money, to get some clothes, and something to eat, and look for a job. Beyond that, Ellen Walters could no longer help her son.

So, he helped himself.

One day in the yard, one of the Russians -- the permanent resident Russians -- went to stick another Russian with a prison shank. Tick saw it about to happen and pretended to clumsily trip in front of the guy about to get stabbed.

Tick slapped the shank out of the stabber’s hand, pretending to lose his balance.

He regained his feet and walked away calmly, waving and saying “Sorry, man,” like nothing had happened.

The stabber became Moses. The sea of those standing around him parted suddenly, leaving the stabber standing alone, looking down at the shank.

The guards were on him immediately, despite the warden’s claim of a guard shortage.

They tackled the Russian, hand-cuffed him and led him away.

Tick walked in the opposite direction.

That night, two guards came to his cell.

“You got a visitor,” one said.

“What am I, a fucking celebrity?” he said.

“It’s your mother,” the other guard said.

“Get your ass up.”

He didn’t have to be told twice.

Seated in a room he’d never been in, Tick was alone until the door opened and a guard led his Mom in.

“Here you go, ma’am,” the guard said respectfully.

“Thank you, Mr. Mooney,” his mom said.

“Ma, what are you doing here?”

“What, I can’t come and see my only son in prison?”

“I’m glad to see you,” hugging her under the watchful eyes of Mr. Mooney.

“How’d you get here?”

“Father Fancy. He said he was going to come and see you, but considering what happened last time,” she said with a dark, nervous laugh.

“No, he actually said that he was going to come and see you, but right now, he thought it would be better for me to come.”

“Where’d you get the money?” Tick said.

“The church paid for my bus ticket, and I’m staying tonight with one of Father Fancy’s friends, a very nice lady in the church up here. I go home tomorrow.”

“You and Fancy been my only visitors,” Tick said, looking down.

Ellen Walters sat and looked directly at her son, holding both of his hands.

“Ronald, I’m not gonna ask you stupid stuff, like how’d you get here, or didn’t you think about what would happen when you killed that boy,” she said.


“You know, Father Fancy told me what he told you, about having control over one part of your life, while you’re in here: choosing not to do bad,” she said.

Her frail hands squeezed Tick's hands.

“I been good so far. I’m surrounded by evil. Thinking about you and Fancy keeps me straight. I stopped a stabbing the other day.”

“That’s right, ma’am, boy did a real fine job of it. No one suspected a thing,” Mr. Mooney said.

“What does that mean?” Ellen asked.

“I sorta tripped in front of this one guy on purpose, and slapped a shank out of his hand. Then, I just walked off. I didn’t think anyone saw me do it,” looking at the guard.

“Nobody saw nothin',” Mr. Mooney said with a grin.

“I better get back before they’re thinking I’m sucking the warden’s …”

Tick stopped himself before painting a prison picture.

“I’ll see you out, ma’am,” Mr. Mooney said.

“Now, Ronald, protect yourself, son. God is in my prayers for you. I love you, boy,” hugging Tick.

“Wait here, convict,” the guard said sternly.

A few minutes later, Tick was back in his cell. Days later, after lunch, Tick returned to his cell and saw a letter on his cot. It came from the court that convicted Tick.

An appeals court struck down the extension of his original sentence. For stopping the knifing, the warden recommended that Tick be paroled to his mom. And the powers that be agreed.

He’d have to get a job, and stop hanging around the gang all together. He’d have to stop committing any crimes, or he would go back to prison to serve out his original, 10-year sentence.

The court session where this occurred was a doozy.

“Your honor, you can’t be serious about this,” said prosecutor Swenson.

“Mr. Swenson, what can I tell you? The warden recommended Mr. Walters move in with his mom.

“I couldn’t do that, could you? Move back in with your mom? If he can do it, and not get into trouble, more power to him,” the judge said.

“You got anything to say?” the judge said to Karl Nungesser.

“Geez, your honor, the voices of my law school professors are yelling at me, in my head, to shut up, but I do have one question: What happens to Mr. Walter’s original punishment and sentence of 10 years?”

“You see this piece of paper right here?” the judge said, waving a single sheet.

“Yes, your honor. I’m guessing that’s the sentencing report and recommendation from the warden.”

“Ya see this little line, right down here?” the judge said, holding the paper so Nun-G could see.

“Yes, your honor. It’s the district attorney’s signature, affirming Mr. Walter’s deal,” stepping back.

“And where is Mr. Walters, right now?” the judge asked.

“He’s upstate, your honor, and for the record, I disagree with this disposition,” prosecutor Swenson said.

“Mr. Walters committed first-degree murder and he’s being let go to his mother, without even serving out his original sentence,” Swenson retorted.

“That’s the story,” the judge said. “Anything else? Got a full docket today. Nothing further here? The warden’s recommendation is so ordered. Next case,” he said, gaveling Tick to freedom, if a former gang-banger living with his mother can be called that.


Were it not for a former paramour of that dogged pursuer of truth, Chandler Jefferson, Tick’s court action would have gone unnoticed.

The former paramour, now in the DA’s office, called Jefferson.

“Didn’t you have something to do with Ronald ‘Tick’ Walters?” asked Penny Benjamin, clerk.

“I did, why?”

“You need to come down here and get a copy of this filing. I got to go,” she said, and hung up.

Jefferson hurried out of work to the D.A.'s office. Minutes later, he read the court papers with Tick’s deal.

He’d seen the police reports, and kept copies of them at his apartment, against the newspaper’s rules. This file, however, gave him a new perspective of Tick. Penny leaned on the counter that separates the public from the public servants.

“That what you wanted?” she said.

“Yes, and thank you, very much, miss lady,” he said, grinning.

“Now what? This whole mess started with this guy killing someone,” she said, pointing to the papers on the counter.

“Maybe not. There may have been other Exercises.”

“But is there a connection?” she said.

“You mean, did Walters do the killing for one of the parties? No, he didn’t. He admitted it was because the other guy drove down one of the border streets, the wrong border street,” Jefferson said.

“But the way you laid it all out, with the two letter writers, and that guy’s deathbed confession, it really told the whole story, but it also made me think of something else,” she said.

“What happens, the next time the parties want to justify their existence?”

Jefferson thought for a few seconds.

“We’ll do the only thing we can do,” he said.

“We’ll go back to the polls.”

The End


Sometimes, writers run ideas past other writers. A few fellow writers I ran the idea of this book past told me to keep running. I took that to mean keep going, so I did.

Josh North of Columbus edited the initial manuscript. Submitting my creation to the scrutiny of a virtual stranger – just like when someone reads the book, it turns out – is, for me, exhilarating, apprehensive and hopeful. North’s edit paved the way for significant changes that contributed heavily, in my opinion, to a better telling of the story. Thanks.

A second draft with edits went to my pre-press readers: the Hon. Kim A. Browne, Franklin Co. (Ohio) Domestic Relations and Juvenile Court judge, and veteran history professor and author Dr. James L. Burke, Ph.D., also from Ohio.

Judge Browne provided a number of specific and valuable perspectives on themes that run throughout the story. Her personal takes on several pieces of dialogue were ones that I hadn’t imagined, or forgot that I once knew. To a writer, that’s a gift, plain and simple. Thanks.

Dr. Burke’s biggest contribution amounted to a second edit of the book. That’s journalist-talk for “I read every word and there are some changes that could be made,” almost all of which I made. His comments were insightful and well-appreciated. Thanks.

The Exercisethen went to the mechanics: wife Susan Benedetti, photographer Randy Martinez and graphics designer Sergei Itomlenskis, all from Columbus.

Dr. Burke suggested adding a reference list of names for party association or not, so I created the box madness titled “And you are …”

The best editor who money can’t buy, Susan then refined the layout, visually and conceptually. Thanks.

I worked with Martinez on my last publication, The Hundred Year Road Trip, and he consistently provides top-notch photography services on a variety of my projects. Thanks for the author photo.

Itomlenskis has been a graphics instructor and designer for decades in a variety of markets and media. He designed the page layouts for my first two books, Rosemary’s Taken Over My Potatoes (1999), and The Cactus that Saved Ashleyville (2009).

For The Exercise, Itomlenskis took my initial cover idea and, with little more than suggested text, designed the layout for the dramatic front cover – and the all-important back cover – that should pique the interest of someone who wants to read about political intrigue (fictional, that is) in these United States. Thanks.

My grateful appreciation to you all.