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Stitch Cromwell gets burned, blackmailed, held captive, blackballed, and extorted to smuggle drugs. Now he isn't sure what to do next. 


     I’m an Air Force fighter pilot with a new family and a problematic mortgage. When a CIA contractor offers me a clandestine test pilot job, I take it. I don’t ask permission from my wife or my squadron commander because they might say, “No.” I secretly moonlight for two years. Cash is rolling in and my money problems seem to be solved until I make a spectacularly stupid mistake. The next thing you know, I’m smuggling cocaine for a cartel. I don’t want to do it, but, if you cross these guys, they distribute your vital organs all over Mexico. One night I desperately risk everything in an attempt to break free. Twisted Piccolo is the story of how it goes down.


     A fighter pilot without a call sign was like a rock star without a guitar: not illegal, but peculiar. My assigned back seater was First Lieutenant John “Rim Shot” Remington. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, big Rim Shot would accept any dare at a party. He could eat a light bulb without shredding his guts by not swallowing the filament or the metal parts. One night he split his scalp on a coffee table corner while attempting a limbo pass. I told our hostess that he’d bleed out if I didn’t stitch him up. Nonsense. She produced her sewing kit. My first operation of this kind was a challenge because Rim Shot’s hair was thicker than a raccoon pelt. Skinning a wolverine would have been easier than shaving the margins around his wound. He had drunk as much as I had, so anesthesia was unnecessary. I sewed the edges of the gash together with burnt orange thread in honor of his beloved University of Texas Longhorns. As a reward for my lightning quick reflexes and rock-steady hand, I received my own nom de l’air. “Stitch.” I believed that audacious flying and a madcap social life would defend against Boundless Gloom and prove that I wasn’t to blame for Elizabeth’s death. Perhaps I could persuade even myself.