Dear Friends of The Wordspinner’s Place

Today I am printing the Prologue to my latest thriller Fatal Dose. It’ll blow youre socks off.

If you want to read the rest, visit: If you read the book and like what you read, share it with a review on Amazon. I’ll really appreciate that.

Okay, here it is:


                                                             FATAL DOSE

                                              (A MARK MATTHEWS MYSTERY)


                                                           K. J. Janssen


 Marco Vennuti’s reputation a “tough guy” did not have a natural origin. His biological father was a gentle man; an insurance company accountant until his untimely death in a car accident, when Marco was only nine years old. To assure that there was food on the table and a roof over their heads, his mother married a family friend, Guido DeAngelo within a year; a marriage of necessity, not of love.

At the age of eleven Marco began coming home battered and bruised from street fights with neighborhood kids. One day he arrived home with his clothes torn and sporting a shiner. That was the final straw for his step-father. DeAngelo was determined that there would be no sissy-boy living under his roof.  He decided that it was time to toughen-up the boy.

Over the objections of his mother, who wanted her son to be “soft and gentle” like his grandfather Antonio D’Annunzio, a published poet of some repute in the old country, Janssen/Fatal Dose/2

Guido had been planning how he could accomplish his goal with this frail child.

His wife was out shopping for several hours so he would not be interrupted. He took Marco down to the cellar. “You pathetic little piece of shit,” he began, “I’m going to toughen you up for your own good.” He proceeded to give Marco a methodical beating including numerous punches to his face and body, kicks to his head and ribs and knocking him into all four walls of the basement. Marco begged him to stop, but he ignored the pleas. When Guido was finished he left the boy unconscious on the cellar floor while he went upstairs for a beer and to catch a little of the Indians game on TV.

Twenty minutes later, when he returned to the basement, he found a terrified Marco sitting up against a wall, whimpering. Guido walked over to Marco, grabbed him by the shoulders and screamed at him, “You little wimp. If you don’t stop that crying right now, I’ll give you more of the same.” The crying ceased immediately. “Boy, if you’re going to learn one thing today, it’s that this is the very last time anyone will ever get the best of you. I’m going to teach you how to take care of yourself. You’re going to learn to take out anyone who tries to lay a hand on you, but you’ve got to want that for yourself.” Guido saw a hint of interest through the swollen lids. “Do you understand what I’m saying to you?,” Guido asked with tears building in his eyes.

The little head bobbed up and down. Marco was face-to-face with his step-father. He looked into Guido’s tearing eyes and at that moment, through the fear and intense pain, he realized that DeAngelo was really trying to help him; that he really cared about his well being.

Later that afternoon, when his mother returned, she broke into uncontrollable sobs at the sight of Marco. She knew better than to confront her husband over what he had done. Instead, she suffered in silence. Over time she would grow to appreciate the training that

Guido gave Marco, even though the soft side, she had been nurturing for years, was slowly disappearing. The change brought in its wake a new concern and that was that Marco, with his new-found strength, might turn into a bully, like so many of the other boys in the neighborhood.

Over her objections, Guido kept the boy home from school for the next two weeks. It was a credit to his skill that his punches and kicks were so carefully placed that no bones had been broken. As Marco recovered from the pain and bruises, his resolve never to lose another fight, grew stronger. He learned the fine art of fighting, both fair and dirty. Guido was an excellent teacher; his years of surviving on the streets were being put to good use.

When Marco eventually returned to school it only took two street brawls for him to establish respect; a respect that was well earned. The boys he fought required extensive medical attention. At the age of eleven, Marco suddenly had the reputation of being someone you didn’t want to mess with. Boys, often several years older than he, had the good sense to stay clear of him, sometimes crossing the street to avoid any possibility of contact. This amused Marco because he wasn’t looking for fights. In fact he mostly went out of his way to avoid them. What everyone thought they saw when they came in contact with him, that he was a bully waiting to beat up on the next unsuspecting victim, was far from the truth. Actually, he was just trying to get by. If you didn’t bother him, you had nothing to fear from Marco Vennuti.

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