Title: The Henchman
Entry Nickname: Stands By Until He Doesn't
Word count: 97,700
Genre: Literary Thriller
Rye wants to get through the night without getting his ass kicked, arrested, or shot—after all, he’s in his good suit. As a henchman in a ruthless gang, Rye isn’t optimistic. Contending with bent cops, hitmen, vigilantes, and even the occasional hero usually puts a guy in in the hospital or worse. His best hope of survival is looking the other way and not getting attached.
Gwen lives in an apartment full of unpacked boxes—the remnants of the normal life she abandoned to search for her missing sister. Spending her nights in bars canvassing for information, Gwen stumbles into Rye at his favorite dive. Despite his doubts, Gwen draws him into her hunt.
As Rye helps Gwen, he sinks deeper into the New York City underworld, where his boss, Brian King, jockeys for power and pursues a troublesome young hero. With each body Rye helps King bury, Rye puts another piece of his humanity into the ground.
When Gwen’s quest puts her in King’s sights, he abducts her. But before Rye can act, he’s confronted with the gang’s darkest scheme—a crime so heinous, he can’t look away. Now Rye must choose between saving innocent lives or the woman he’s come to love.
I should’ve worn a different suit. But it was an important meeting, so I wore my best one. Now I was standing in a drizzle, among the dumpsters in a dark alley strewn with trash, hoping it wasn’t getting ruined. If they had told me that I’d be out there with the garbage, I would’ve worn something that would blend in. Maybe something off the rack. But there I was in a thousand-dollar suit. So were Vlad and the two Korean guys that Ko had out there with us. Four guys, in a back alley, in thousand-dollar suits. If a cop looked down that alley, he’d have all kinds of probable cause. Probably because one of the Korean guys was carrying a submachine gun. And wearing sunglasses. At night. In the rain. Then again, any cop who passed this alley was probably on the take. Maybe he’d even have an umbrella he could lend us.
Vlad lit a cigarette, then held it in his cupped hand so it wouldn’t get wet. Water beaded on his shaved head. He held the pack out to the rest of us, but I waved him off. The guy with the sunglasses took one.
“You guys know how long this is going to go on for?” I asked.
Nobody answered. Sunglasses took a drag.
“If this is going to be a while,” I said, “we should put someone at the street end of the alley. Right now, an entire SWAT team could be down there and we wouldn’t know.”