Deleted Scenes: (Warning - Spoilers)
When writing a book, there are often ideas that are considered and rejected for a variety of reasons. Most of those ideas never make it past the discussion phase, but some actually make it into drafts, only to be cut later. Here are some of the drafts that made it all the way to a completed scene before being edited out.
For example, the papal coat of arms on the right was the original concept, in color, which referenced the colors of the Ukrainian flag, and mention was made in Chapter 40 of the massing of Russian troops on the boarder, but since we did not know what was going to happen, we decided to remove the references to Ukraine.
I hope you enjoy seeing what else might have been, below.
Chapter 28: The Blood of the Phoenix
In Chapter 28, when Michael goes up to the bar in the Phoenix restaurant, the bartender does not know what a “Keystone” is, and Michael heads back downstairs. In my early draft of that chapter, the bartender then offers to make Michael a “Blood of the Phoenix” instead. A “Blood of the Phoenix” is a shot of Kinnie Bold (a Maltese soda made from bitter oranges and extracts of wormwood) with a float of 100 proof vodka, ignited by the flames from the Phoenix at the center of the bar. It doesn’t actually exist, but the Maltese use Kinnie as a drink mixer, so I think it certainly could if the Phoenix restaurant had a bar, and the bar had a flaming phoenix in the middle!
Epilogue: Scene 1
In an early draft of the epilogue, there were two additional scenes that ultimately were cut. The first scene was about the Knight of Swords and one of his BlackCloud minions taking care of the Knight of the Purse. The scene takes place on Grand Cayman island in the Caribbean, and the locations are accurate. I’ve been there:
“Nimbus sat in the courtyard of the four story bank building at Harbour Drive and Fort Street in Georgetown, Grand Cayman. The benches were highly varnished to protect the wood from the ocean across the street, and the metal frames on the end took on a turquoise patina. He was enjoying a small cup of ice cream from the Häagen-Dazs store while he waited under the stairs. The man he was meeting would be along soon.
A few minutes later, he saw the valet bring the man’s car around to the side of the building, past the Flagship Duty Free store that attracted the cruise ship passengers who came in from their ships via water taxi to the docks at the water’s edge. He heard footsteps coming down the stairs and rose. The man he was meeting was walking off the last stair and turning left to go towards his car. The man didn’t know about the meeting, but he would momentarily. The man, Succulus, by code name, and Edmond Ebanks according to the gold Lettering on his door, slid into the open driver’s door as the Valet held it open. Nimbus quickly approached from the passenger side, opened the door, and sat down. He slid a pistol from under his coat and stuck it in the ribs of Mr. Ebanks.
NIMBUS: Say goodbye and drive away. Let’s not make this messy.
SUCCULUS: I was wondering if I’d be seeing you. What do you want?
NIMBUS: You know where the Turtle Center is, out on the North end of the island?
SUCCULUS: Yes, I know it.
NIMBUS: There is a bar down the street from it called Macabuca. We are meeting somebody there. Get moving. And be quiet.
It took about 20 minutes to get to the bar. Succulus obeyed and stayed quiet. The sun was setting, and it would be dark soon. As he droven into the parking lot, he thought about running, but as soon as he pulled in, another man was at his door. The man was dressed all in black, not tactical, but black dockers, a black long-sleeved t-shirt, and dress boots. Still, on this man, they looked tactical. The man opened the driver’s door, reached down and hit the trunk release, and then pulled Ebanks from the seat. Edmond was quickly marched to the back of the car and unceremoniously stuffed into the trunk. Nimbus had screwed a suppressor on the barrel of his pistol. He placed the suppressor over Ebanks heart and pulled the trigger. Then he shut the trunk.
The other man said: Well, that was certainly easier than the astronomer. That one really put up a fight. I almost didn’t have him down before the jail guard came in. Of course those two old men didn’t put up a fight. I don’t think the guy in Chicago ever saw me. He might have felt the breeze from the window I opened to get in, but that was it. Took the book he was writing and got out. What are we going to do with this one?
NIMBUS: About a mile from here is a black limestone formation they call Hell. Has its own gift shop and post office. We’re going to dump his body there. The symbolism won’t be missed. Then we wipe down the car, and leave. Bring your car and follow me over. One less loose end to tie off. Next, we have to find that mole.
Epilogue: Scene 2
The second scene in the Epilogue was also cut, and elements of it are making their way into the next book. Stay tuned:
The body of Detective Rebecca Lancaster was brought from the morgue to the airport with a full police escort. As the casket was removed from the hearse, two rows of officers, in dress uniforms and white gloves, saluted. The casket was draped with the flags of both Malta and the United States. The government of Malta had made Detective Lancaster a citizen of Malta, albeit posthumously. The casket was loaded into the cargo area, and the officers complete d their salute, then marched away in formation. The only officer left was Commander Eliza Spiteri. She watched from the tarmac as they closed up the hatch, a lump in her throat. She hadn’t known Rebeca long, but her sacrifice to save a fellow officer resonated in everyone who wore the badge. She turned and made her way to the boarding area, to accompany the casket as an honor guard until it reached Chicago.
When the plane landed in Chicago, the casket was removed by a Chicago police horror guard. A third flag was added to the casket, the blue and white stripes and red stars of the City of Chicago. Then the casket was loaded into the hearse and driven to the Holy Name Cathedral, again escorted by patrol cars and a double line of police motorcycles, all with their lights flashing. People stood on the overpasses of the I90 expressway, waving both Chicago and US flags. They saluted the hearse as it passed on its way from O’Hare to the cathedral just north of downtown.
Fr. Michael Dominic had asked, and was given permission, to preside at the funeral mass, concelebrated by the arch-bishop of Chicago. The police chief, and the Mayor of the city of Chicago both spoke. When it was Michael’s turn to give the homily, he spoke about the qualities that make not just a police officer, but a hero. He looked out over the audience, making eye contact with Hana, Marco, Karl and Lukas, Detective Felici, and Eliza Spiteri. He spoke about duty, and honor. He spoke about choices made in the blink of an eye, and sacrifices. For what greater love is there than to lay down one’s life for a friend. And not just in death, but every day, sacrificing your wants and desires in favor of others.
At the conclusion of the services, standing on the steps of the Cathedral watching the casket being loaded once again into the hearse for interment, Hana came and stood next to Michael. He put his arm around her, and she leaned into him. She took a big breath and sighed.
Michael looked down at her, his heart full, and said: We need to talk. Not today, but soon.