Jody Zimmerman‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:
Description of Blood Brothers:
Thirty-three year old Philip Hampton is an award winning freelance writer and investigative journalist. His younger brother, Billy, an A-list New Yorker, is on the brink of stardom in the international art market.
Orphaned as children, the two brothers are the only family either has until Billy is murdered. Shattered by his brother’s death, Philip vows revenge.
During a visit to Billy’s studio, Philip discovers Billy’s final painting. Certain that the painting somehow holds clues to Billy’s murder, Philip begins to unlock the painting’s secrets.
He finds himself drawn into a frantic search for the treasures from the largest art theft in history—the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist of 1990. Discovery of the treasure is Philip’s only hope of solving the murder, attaining retribution, and healing from emotional and sexual trauma from his childhood.
Blood Brothers is filled with fantastic writing, an utterly enthralling plot line and some of the best written characters I have read. D.P. Whitehead
Brilliantly dark and edgy….Dii
Breathtaking Lauren R. Alumbaugh
Blood Brothers currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 3.9 stars from 23 reviews. Read the reviews here.
An excerpt from Blood Brothers:
Billy is so much like Mother—the smile; the green eyes; the long, thick, auburn-brown hair; the flawless, warm-olive skin; the chaotic, anxious, angry moods; but most of all, the gift with canvas.
I pick up his limp, warm, right hand to kiss it tenderly. My tears fall on his fingers, rolling off onto the harsh, crisp-white linens. I study his hand—the slender, long fingers; pink nails topped with white crescents, speckled with bits of dried red and yellow oil paint underneath them; the faintly green veins on the back of his hand; the downy covering of brown hair on the tops of his fingers and hand, becoming thicker and slightly curled on his wrist and forearm; and the thumb he sucked until he was four years old. There is no expression on his face. Stubble sticks out in sharp contrast to the etiolated complexion.
“Please God, please God, let this hand paint again,” I beg.
“Oh please, let my brother wake, pick up his brushes and paint again,” I plead.
“Mother, I’m so sorry, forgive me,” I rub Billy’s hand all over my wet face.
“I’ve tried my best to look after him. You know I have. Dammit, Goddammit, don’t you Mother? I miss you so much. I miss you so, so much.” Futile queries spark through my mind. How would she react if she were to see her baby boy lying here in a coma? How would age have affected her beautiful face? Would I have turned out the same? Would she and Dad have stayed together? Would Billy be lying here now?
“Please don’t leave me, Billy,” I whimper, hands trembling, nose dripping. I rub my nose on my right shoulder. Fear hammers through my soul with each beat of my heart. My connection with Billy began the day Dad brought Mother home from the hospital with a tiny, pink creature, eyes shut tight with a head full of dark brown hair, squirming, reeking of sweet, silky Johnson’s Baby Powder, his tiny little fingers grabbing tightly around mine, leaving me breathless—the first vivid memory I recall, though I was only two years old.
I’ve been sitting for hours willing that my touch and voice might get through to him, that his fingers might once again grab mine. I visualize my love for him to be a life-giving force emerging from my body through my hands, permeating his body, repairing all the damaged cells, nerves, and tissue in his brain. I focus all my consciousness into him, communicating to him that I am here with him, that together we will make him well. I imagine that he opens his eyes—imploring God to make it happen. I remember my lucky rabbit’s foot. I fish it out of my left pants pocket, put it in his hand and fold my hands over his.
“How could this be?” I ask myself over and over. “How could you have overdosed, Billy? You’ve gotten your life so together the past few years. What were you doing taking GHB? You never mentioned that drug to me before.”
My brother is attached to life through an array of plastic tubes. Electrodes monitor all the electrochemical pulses emanating from his heart and brain. Machines surround him. The metronomic sound of a ventilator pumping oxygen through a white, plastic tube inserted into his trachea through his mouth sends stinging waves of adrenaline-laced fear through my body. This high tech cubicle in the neurological intensive care unit at St. Vincent’s Hospital is one of several fanned out in a circle around a central operations post manned by technicians and nurses overseeing dozens of panels, monitors, and computers. The area looks like mission control, and I think about how Billy loved to play space travel when we were kids.
Armed with a walkie-talkie and a laser firing cap gun, he would set out from my bedroom—mission control—to explore outer space—our back yard. I would direct him on his journey and he would report back his findings. We were careful to steer clear of Planet X—Mother’s cottage studio, whenever she had shut herself in to paint.
“Mr. Hampton, Mr. Hampton,” a soft, high pitched female voice interrupts my thoughts. I look up to see a short, obese, middle-aged woman in a large blue and green flowery smock looking down at me, her brown eyes full of compassion.
She bends over, gently takes Billy’s hand from mine, gently placing his hand on the bed. She smiles when she sees the rabbit’s foot as it rolls from Billy’s hand onto the bed. Her bosom is huge, so I am unable to read her nametag that faces upward. She takes both my hands in her right hand and puts her left arm around my shoulders pulling me into her large body. I collapse into the warmth, sobbing like a lost, frightened child. The scent of fabric softener crawls through my swollen nasal passages, my eyes fix on her perfectly manicured red nails, dwarfed by the circumference of her fingers. Her breathing is labored. After a while, she slowly releases me.
“Mr. Hampton, they tell me you’ve been sitting here since noon yesterday,” she informs me as she hands me a wad of tissue.
“You should go get some rest. We’ll notify you the second there is any change in your brother’s condition. I promise you,” she says. I stare into her eyes that tenderly acknowledge the desperation in mine, yet reflect no solid hope for me to grab.
I try to speak; nothing comes out. I blow my nose into the tissue and try to clear my throat but it clenches shut emitting a raspy dry cough.
“We have a nice lounge where you could rest. We can also offer you something to eat if you are hungry,” she says. “If you prefer, you can go home and get some rest there. Do you live here in town?”
I shake my head back and forth.
“I see,” she says. “Well, we have a family coordinator who can help you make arrangements,” she adds in muffed, gentle soprano tones. Her face is full and round, framed by cropped brown hair, with penciled in crescent eye brows, and red lips stretched into a slight smile over large jowls, resting under ample earlobes, hanging like beagle ears over her neck. She exudes compassion, and I wonder if she is a hand picked harbinger carefully groomed and trained in the skill of gently relaying devastating news.
“Where’s the restroom?” I ask.
“This way.” She pulls me up, and I look down to read her nametag—Janet Ostro, RN.
My knees lock, my lower back hurts, and my bladder aches. I bend over to gently kiss Billy’s face.
“I love you,” I whisper into his right ear.
She picks up the rabbit’s foot and hands it to me. “It’s beautiful. I’ve never seen one with a gold cap and chain. Are these your initials, Mr. Hampton?”
“Yes. My grandmother gave us each one for Christmas when we were kids,” I struggle to get the words out as I stuff the rabbit’s foot in my pocket, desperate for its magic to work.
Slowly, we walk out of the intensive care unit and down a corridor. She leads me by my right elbow. We come to a men’s room, and I go in. It is dark. She reaches her right hand in and turns on the light. I go to the urinal and begin to pee. My concentrated urine splashes my hands, overpowering the pink urinal cake, its odor illuminating the memories of Billy and me engaging in pee contests in grade school to see who could back away farthest from the urinals without hitting the floor. I feel tears running down my face again. If his brain is damaged beyond repair, how can I let him live that way? How could I ever let him not live? Dear God, how could I make such a decision? I finish peeing, move to the sink, turn on the cold water, soap my hands, rinse them, then bend over splashing water on my face several times. I stand up, water dripping down my face and neck onto my green Polo shirt, and look at myself in the mirror—swollen face thick with stubble and stinging r ed tear trails, dark semicircles under blue-grey eyes, my curly, dark blonde hair in disarray. I gaze at my face distinguishing Mother’s features, Dad’s features—the genetic commingling producing indisputably recognizable brothers. I grab my neck with my left hand, apply pressure on my carotid arteries until I feel the thump of my heart in my throat, startled by a feeling of déjà vu that sends rings of shivers over my skin like the iridescent rings of color accelerating from a drop of gasoline on a sunlit mud puddle.
“My God, I’ve got to get out of here,” I mumble. I release the grip on my throat, grab some paper towels, wipe my face and hands and emerge to find Janet waiting.
“I’ll, I’ll stay at my brother’s, at Billy’s,” I hear myself say.
“He lives in Tribeca. Could you find out where they put my duffle bag and please call me a cab? I have to get out of here now.”
Puzzled, she says “Why certainly.”
I follow her to a closet. She takes out a set of keys from a pocket in her smock, unlocks the door, reaches in and pulls out my black duffle. I grab it.
“Wait a second Mr. Hampton. I also need to give you your brother’s personal items. They are locked up in an office. Please wait here, I’ll be right back.”
“Yes, thank you.”
“Oh, I almost forgot. The man who accompanied your brother in the ambulance left this note for you,” she says, almost in a whisper and pulls a small, white envelop from her smock pocket and hands it to me.
“Thank you, thank you very much,” I say looking down into her eyes. She hesitates a moment and looks at the note. I look at the note and look back at her.
“Yes, well, I’ll be back in a minute,” she turns, breathing heavily. Stride induced echoes of rubbing fabric resound and slowly fade.
I tear open the sealed envelope to find extraordinary penmanship: consistent, uniform letters and numbers printed by a steady hand with a black felt tipped pen.
7 April 2006, 8:00 am
I am the friend of Billy’s who called you this morning. As you may know, we’ve been dating for the past couple of months. I am so sorry this happened. I really don’t understand it and cannot explain how this happened. He went looking for some coke and that was the last time I saw him. I think someone must have slipped him something. I’m sorry I can’t meet you here, but I have to fly to Bermuda in a couple of hours for an important shoot. I feel like a bastard for leaving him, but I know you’re on the way. This is the biggest shoot of my career. Billy would want me to go, I believe. He is getting the best medical care in the city and they tell me there’s nothing we can do now but wait. I’m afraid his situation is not good at all. My cell phone number is 212-555-1432. Please call me if there is any change at all in his condition. I’ll be back in town on Wednesday.
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