Salvation at Rio Feo received a 2015 Reviewers Choice Award for Humor  and was  a 2015 IndieFab Book of the Year Award Finalist



In Kentucky, where basketball is oxygen, Tommy Gunn plays his way into the NCAA title game.  Despite the warnings of his sweetheart Lori, Tommy takes a big bribe to lose the game and then a bigger bribe to injure an opponent and win the game.  Consumed by greed, he reneges on all deals, steals all the money, and escapes into troubled exile hounded by Russian and Italian bookies.  Adopting a stolen identity, he builds a team using lies, rules violations, and sheer audacity to claw his way back to the top.  Tommy will fake, take, and forsake anything to win games, but he can’t regain Lori’s love unless he turns his back on greed and finds salvation in a hope-starved place called Rio Feo.


      Four students reported for the first afternoon basketball shoot-around – Chip, Felipe, Rondo, and River (yes, River).  The tallest player was Chip Bradley, the Principal’s son, at five-feet-eight-inches.  Tommy took a deep breath to hide his disappointment.  He reminded himself that Hadrian’s Wall was built one stone at a time. Felipe, a pudgy kid squinting through thick glasses, was wearing his jock strap on the outside of his bright yellow gym shorts.  Tommy called him to the side for fashion counseling.

     “What’s your goal here, Felipe?

      "I want to be a priest.”  He seemed sincere.

      “Well, regardless of your aspirations in the clergy, the jock goes inside your shorts, Son.”

      “I’m rubber intolerant, Coach.”

      “Then you’ll have to wear cotton underwear under your gym shorts.”

      “I can’t . . . my . . . .”

       Felipe stretched out his waist band to give Tommy a clear view of his genitalia.  Tommy recoiled from the sight with a mixture of awe and respect.  Tommy slapped Felipe on the shoulder.

      “Congratulations, Felipe.  We’ll special-order something for you.”

       At that moment, a skinny, zit-afflicted kid trotted by wearing elbow pads, knee braces, wrist bands, and a head band.  Tommy motioned to him.  Teacher and pupil met at mid-court.

      “What’s your name, Son?”

      “Rondo,” the kid said, flattered to get special attention.

      “Rambo or Rondo?”


      “Lose the roller derby outfit, Rondo.”

      “But, Coach, my mom says . . . .”

      “Has your mom ever coached basketball?”


      “Didn’t think so.  Your mom is being irrationally exuberant about the amount of playing time you’re going to get.  Take off the gladiator stuff.  You won’t get hurt.”

       A native-American kid glided by on tip-toes.  He had two studs in his nose and a metal piercing of some kind on his tongue.  Dangle earrings swayed below his silver tragus rings.  Tommy crooked his finger at the boy, who seemed delighted to be singled out.  He swished toward Tommy at a canter like an uncoordinated colt.

      “Name?” Tommy asked.



      “Do you want to know my last name?”

      “No,” Tommy said, “It’ll be a miracle if I remember your first name.”  Tommy rested his hand on the boy’s skinny shoulder to hint at sincerity.  “See, River, the Boy George thing won’t work with basketball.  Dennis Rodman is an anomaly.  It’s a physical game.  Lose the ball bearings and the wind chimes.”