Mike Cotter's son, Keith, hasn't just moved out -- he's vanished. Fatherly concern becomes alarm: this is not like the son Mike knows and loves. Soon he looks up an old friend, ex-cop Stan Backus, to help find his boy. Stan suspects Keith wants peace of mind and independence, like most kids who disconnect. But there's a deeper, darker pain than Stan can see. A space perhaps impossible to fill. The journey winds its way from seediest Hollywood to the wide streets of downtown Los Angeles, crossing paths with opportunists, victims, and desperate characters. Each is looking for an answer, a payday, a little something to fill their own space, their own need, so that for once in their lives they wouldn't be a fool. For once they'd grab an opportunity when it slapped them in the face, or make one helluva splash trying.
I've been writing professionally since 1976, in TV, film, journalism and fiction. My novels have become my passion, and so far have been in the mystery-thriller areas. I love deeply compromised characters fighting their inner demons as intensely as their real world adversaries. I like to look deeply into those adversaries, as well, because, like me, they're all the heroes in their own stories.
The feeling of abandonment I'm writing about here is definitely autobiographical. My own son left home and went incommunicado for months. I didn't go looking for him quite like Mike does, but it hurt, no question about it. The anecdote about the bicycle moment in preschool is exactly what happened in my son's case, and so is the feeling that I'd been robbed of a father-son moment.
The Space He Filled
Where had Keith gone? And what was that crap he’d given her about how this wasn’t like him? He sagged at the realization: it could be exactly like him. Even in the earliest years, when Keith had been little and learned to ride a two-wheeler, it wasn’t the usual dad-runs-alongside-and-keeps-him-from-falling-over bit. Not at all. One morning, when Mike dropped Keith off at the Little Flowers Pre-School, Keith piped up in his scratchy voice: “Watch this, Dad!” Then he hopped on one of the little two-wheelers the school kept in the play-yard and took off like a shot. Mike stood watching, stunned, feeling like he’d just been robbed of a classic father and son moment, yet delighted at how amazingly capable the little guy was. He’d just figured it out himself and zoomed all over the place.