Mark Tanner, a wise-cracking, disillusioned U.S. veteran and casualty of the War on Terror in Afghanistan, whiles his time away in a sleazy trailer park surrounded by eccentric misfits. After losing a bet with his long time Army buddy, Bear, Mark begrudgingly agrees to be the personal trainer of the young tennis prodigy, Brooke Wentworth.
When Brooke mysteriously disappears, apparently because of something in her past, Mark spares no effort and no person in his endeavors to find her. Mark must try to put aside his own demons while he tries to navigate his way through the lies and deceit to the awful and tragic truth behind her kidnapping.
Ably assisted by Bear, he cuts a swathe through both the criminal and tennis worlds. Mark, with acerbic wit and devil-may-care attitude, treats tennis players, white-supremacists, cops and crime bosses with equal amounts of disdain and disregard. And then his tortured past catches up with him.
Tanner is also the protagonist in PUMP FAKE, due out by the end of 2013.
By Michael Beck
Anna Gilliam was thirteen years old, had long blonde hair, loved chocolate chip ice cream and disappeared eighty yards from home on a sunny, New York summer’s day.
Her mom had sent Anna and her fifteen year old sister, Nicole, off to the local corner store in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to buy ice cream as a treat. The shop was only a block away but that was all it took.
As they normally did, Anna and Nicole took their Rottweiler, Sheba, with them. They were laughing as Sheba, who weighed one hundred and thirty pounds, nearly pulled Anna off her feet, such was his excitement at the scent of a walk. As their mom, Shirley, watched them disappear up the nice, middle class street, inhabited by nice, friendly neighbours she couldn’t help but think how lucky she was. Two perfect golden girls with their whole lives in front of them.
Sheba, as was his want, did his business on Mrs McKay’s front lawn. The girls said hello to Mrs McKay who, as she did most days, was sweeping the leaves, dropped by the huge sycamores that lined the street, off her lawn. Mrs McKay smiled at the girls as they held their noses and played rock, paper, scissors to see who would pick up after Sheba with the plastic bag they carried. They did this five times because, each time Nicole lost, she would laughingly accuse Anna of cheating. Anna won every time. Anna had always been the lucky one.
They swept past the house on the corner where Mr Mann worked under the bonnet of his much loved 68 Ford Mustang. He never saw the girls but heard their footsteps and laughter as they ran by. Sheba barked loudly causing Sally, (Mustang Sally), his ginger striped cat, to jump onto the bonnet. Startled, he reared up, and struck his head.
Mrs Ving, a thirty eight year old Thai immigrant and mother of four troublesome boys and one patient daughter, served the girls at three pm in Mal’s drug store. Mal had sold out to the Thai family two years ago but the sign still remained above the door. Nicole had honeycomb and Anna chocolate chip. In the two years Mrs Ving had owned the store with her husband, Han, that was the only flavour Anna had ever tried on her weekly trips. Anna loved the crunchy chocolate bits. At home she swore by chocolate flavoured milk, hot chocolate drinks and Nutella sandwiches. She was also prone to hiding the odd chocolate bar in her bedside drawer for when she got hungry late at night. Her mom had no idea how she stayed so slim with white, perfect skin. Just lucky, she guessed.
Mrs Ving’s daughter, Afre, chatted to Anna. They both were in 7th Grade at Edison Elementary and were taught by Mrs Dawson, who they adored because she was young, pretty and told them funny stories about her time teaching in Tanzania. Anna thought the boys in her class were silly because they only thought about playing basketball at lunchtime and never tried to do well in class. Anna loved all of her classes.
|Australian author Michael Beck's Website|
Anna waved goodbye to Afre at 3.25pm. Afre watched from the doorway as Sheba catapulted Anna down the footpath towards home. A strong wind swept through the open door and under her dress, so she quickly shut the door. Afre couldn’t be sure but she didn’t think there were any cars or pedestrians. Through the frosted glass, she could see a blurry Anna running behind Sheba towards home.
And that was the last time anyone saw thirteen year old Anna Gilliam.