Thursday, January 12, 2023

Read an Excerpt from Morrow's Con: Opening Gambit by Earl James

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People call him Morrow.

They aren’t sure if Morrow is his first name or last, and they don’t care. They call him when they're in trouble. They call him when conventional methods don’t work. They call him when they needed a solution that no one else can offer.

Morrow is a product of the streets. At an early age, he learned to anticipate what people would do given a few choices. He became a self-educated student of human nature, and later in life, he became a con man. Morrow isn’t tougher or more experienced than his opposition. He’s an average man who blends in and earns his living by out-planning and out-thinking his adversaries.

Now, he’s about to launch his first-ever full-fledged con. He knows his objective, he’s designed his plan, he’s selected his team, and he knows he’s ready to act. 

It’s what he doesn’t know that could be his downfall.




ay twenty before the deadline was spent in meetings. Morrow met with each player individually to discuss their roles and the timing of each action. The other team members didn’t know that the exercise was Morrow’s way of fleshing out the plot in his own mind. He still didn’t have a good scheme for breaking into the safe, but it was getting to that point that he still had to plan. He trusted that he and Lou would come up with a good safecracking strategy soon.

The next morning found Morrow knocking on the LeBlanc mansion door. Once again, it was the Ice Queen herself, Ms. Velloitte, who responded.

“What do you want now, Mr. Dawes?”

“Well, I’d like to see the repairs you’ve made to my frame, and I need to talk to Conrad too.”

“Mister LeBlanc is out right now,” she replied, putting heavy emphasis on the word mister.

“Oh, shoot. I had a lead for him. When can I catch him here?”

Ms. Velloitte angled her head to the right and said, “That sounds suspiciously like an appointment. I don’t schedule appointments in person. You’ll have to call in.”

“You’re kidding, right? I’m a client now. Clients have privileges, right? And why am I still standing on the porch? Can’t you invite me in?”

“I’ll tell him you stopped by,” she said. “Call me when you want to set up an appointment.”

“Now, just a—”

She closed the door in his face.

Morrow turned and walked back to his car, talking to himself every step of the way. “What in the name of Wally Pipp is going on? This is fuckin’ nuts! Nothing is going right here. How am I supposed to get to know LeBlanc if I never get to see him? Who would’ve expected I would run into the Teutonic Bitch from Hell as his receptionist-guard? She’s killing me. I’ve gotta figure out a way around her—and fast!”

Driving away from this latest humiliating scene, Morrow headed to Sadie’s place for some lunch and a quiet thinking booth. He needed time to logic out this newest problem. Parking a half block away in a free spot, Morrow locked up his Toyota and walked to the entrance. Deep in thought, he paid no attention to the two goons walking directly at him. As they got closer, Morrow looked up and instantly knew he was in trouble.

The two Barger musclemen were easy to recognize. He’d last seen them when they were pointing a bazooka at him and Mr. Westcott. They wasted no time picking him up off the ground, each with a hand under his armpits. They escorted him into an alley next to the pub, threw him against the wall, and smiled. They weren’t friendly smiles. It was more like the smile you show when you know you’re going to win and the other guy isn’t.

Without another word, the goon on the right slugged Morrow on the chin. The one on the left gave him a blow to his midsection. Morrow doubled over and coughed out, “What’s all this for?”

“Mr. Barger doesn’t like you,” the goon on the right said. “You’re the fancy driver who got Westcott away from us the other day. He wants to let you know we know who you are. It’s like a helpful hint. We think you should not be working there anymore. Maybe even get out of town. Think of it as a health tip.”

“I take vitamins every morning. I had no idea that Barger was so concerned about my well-being.”

The other goon replied, “You got a smart mouth. We don’t like smart talkers. Wanna see what we do when we find one?”

“Nah, thanks. I think I saw it already.”

“Think of it as our way of saying goodbye.” Both goons unleashed on Morrow, landing a series of blows that left him lying on the ground, conscious but wishing he weren’t.


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