Stitch Cromwell gets burned, blackmailed, held captive, blackballed, and extorted to smuggle drugs. Now he isn't sure what to do next.
FOLLOWING THE MONEY DOESN'T ALWAYS WORK
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.