Miami Beach, Fl 11/19/1999

Ah, there you are! I've been waiting for you. What took you so long? Oh well, no matter you're here now. Here, have a seat. Can I get you a beer or something?

Waiter! A beer for my friend here, thanks!

What am I doing? I was hoping you'd ask. I want to introduce you to someone I didn't think I was going to like. Well, that's not quite right. Let me say, I didn't think I would like him as much as I do now.

Where is he? Why, right here in this stack of papers on the table before us.His name is Mike Vello, say hello.

I have discovered that Mike Vello, the focus of this tale, has become the character of my own invention that I like the most. Each story I read has a character I seem to connect with more than all the others. Like Stewart Redman in Stephen King's The Stand or Big Wig in Richard Adams' Watership Down. There is always one character, no matter how far removed from us they may seem that I seem to pull for or rally around. I suspect it's that way with you too, eh?

I had a hard time with this story. It's one I never thought I'd ever write. The problems with telling it were many. When faced with seemingly insurmountable story line problems for such a simple concept, the tale sometimes becomes too much to attempt to tell and still make it believable in the eyes of the reader. Fortunately for most authors, amateur (like myself) or professional, the reader seeks his or her own level, like water. The reader wants to be convinced of the reality of the situation so is more easily lead down the primrose path by the storyteller. You came here looking to be told a particular tale so you are already more than halfway to believing, right?

But as the idea for Mike's adventure began to develop, I realized Mike had to have qualities that I wanted for myself. Unlike me, Mike is highly educated, trained in the musical arts, entirely self-motivated. I made him tall, trim and a fit, athletic and good looking, not shy in the least. I can see him in my mind's eye as being very popular with women.

In creating him, however, I did decide share some of myself with Mike. His singing ability comes from me. Don't laugh, growing up in Jacksonville, Fl in the mid-seventies with the influence of bands such as Lynyard Skynyard, Thirty-eight Special, Molly Hatchet and the Allman Brothers Band (Yes, I know they're from Macon, Ga but they formed in Jacksonville), everyone had a band with the hopes of being discovered and I was no exception.

Mike is a natural at persevering over adversity, although he can't see it in himself and would never have the confidence to believe it if he had been left to his own devices. He has an indomitable sprit and has no idea that it is there. It is this sprit that has secretly and quietly gotten him through the toughest times of his life. And although he always gives the credit to the people around him, make no mistake, it Mike's will to survive that keeps him going.

Gary Shipley, Mikes best friend from childhood, and I have much more in common than I do with Mike. I gave Gary my talent and great joy of cooking and my wit, even if I don't show it much in this story. I also gave him my laziness and my talent for doing stupid things and only afterwards recognizing them for what they truly are. Gary acts and never sees the implications of his actions until after it's too late and in the course of this story I try to change that as I'm trying to change that trait in myself.

I really thought it was Gary that I was going to bond with in a kind of fellow ship or brotherhood. But it turned out it was Mike that I like best. Go figure.

On the table before me is my lap top, a printed hard copy of the first draft of this story and frosted glass of Corona with a hefty wedge of lime floating in the golden, frothy brew (Oh yeah, didn't I mention that, I also shared with Mike my intense love of beer!) It's about 12:00am and I'm sitting in the lobby of the Wyndham Hotel on Biscayne Blvd in Downtown Miami trying to finish the edits and get this story out to you.

I don't know if you'll like it. It's my first work that I have allowed out for public view. It's rough even for a first work, so I hope you won't be too harsh. I'll get better at this as time goes by. Soon I'll be back in my home state of Georgia. Well, that's where I currently live anyway. My home state is really Florida, which is why I chose to write this note to you now, while I was here, at home and feeling comfortable. I said earlier that this was a first work. That's not really true. There are more. Several more in fact!But as the story developed, this is the one that I put my best foot forward on and was compelled to finish first.

Well, I'm glad you stopped by. It's late so I'm going to have to excuse myself. But please enjoy the beer. Stay and have another one if you like. I hope you enjoy what you read here. I'd love to hear about it when you're done. I'm going back up to my room and finish these edits.

Take care,

Mark McDonald