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Saint Oswald, Copyright © 2020 by Jay Bonansinga

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, without prior written permission.

Burns and Lea Books

11018 Radleigh Lane

Louisville, KY 40209

www.burnsandleabooks.com

Layout by www.formatting4U.com

Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.

Saint Oswald/Jay Bonansinga 2nd edition

Praise for Jay Bonansinga

Robert Kirkman’s

The Walking Dead: Descent

 

“Descent maintains the series’ strength due to the author’s truly powerful ability to describe the series’ world and to establish tone, pacing, kinesthetics, and every other nut and bolt that holds a good novel together.”

―Booklist on Robert Kirkman’s

The Walking Dead: Descent

 

 

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead:

Rise of the Governor

 

“Not for the faint of heart, this book runs on pressure-cooker suspense, graphically described bloodshed, and dark acts of brutality… This riveting character study adds a new dimension to the oeuvre by fleshing out established characters and plot lines.”

―School Library Journal on Robert Kirkman’s

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor

 

“Zombie-apocalypse stories are perfect for miserable winter weather regardless, but for those obsessed with The Walking Dead (such as yours truly), this is essential reading. This is the epitome of a page-turner, and makes subway rides just breeze by. And, that end - woof.”

―REFINERY29 on Robert Kirkman’s

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor

 

“An excellent companion to the The Walking Dead comic books. The story is enriched by the novel format, and the characterization of the series’ most hated villain is something no fan will want to miss.”

―Examiner.com on Robert Kirkman’s

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor

 

“This book stands alone and is a compelling read for fans of the series or just fans of zombies. Watch out though, because once you get a taste of the particular Kirkman brand of zombie mayhem, catching up on past issues is just around the corner.”

―The Ossuary on Robert Kirkman’s

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor

“The story makes a great novel. You’ll get sucked in and can easily visualize everything that is happening. It’s simply a great read.”

―Comicvine.com on Robert Kirkman’s

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor

 

“... packs in a twist so mind-bogglingly good that Shyamalan should no longer use the term.”

―Den of Geek

 

The Ulysses Grove Series

Frozen

 

“Frozen is the latest example of author Jay Bonansinga’s impressive range, depth, and audacity... Bonansinga nimbly avoids all melodramatic traps and makes his two investigators believable and moving.”

―The Chicago Tribune

 

“A relentless chiller that leaves you guessing and gasping again and again”.

―David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author

of the Rambo novels.

“A thrilling, beautifully paced skyrocket of a novel.”

― Peter Straub, New York Times bestselling author

of Ghost Story

PART I:

Body Count

“There’s nothing glorious in dying. Anybody can do it.”

- Johnny Rotten

1.

Oswald Leonardo Means pulls up in front of Northwestern Memorial Hospital at a quarter to 1, woozy from smoking an entire bowl of skunkweed en route. The doctor needs to talk to him, and when doctors say they need to talk, it’s rarely a good sign. It’s never, “Hey, your tests have come back negative and your cholesterol is normal and you happen to be our one-millionth patient so you can tear up the bill! Go have a cocktail on us!”

He parks the Chevy S-10 at a meter on Huron, climbs out, and secures the canvas flap over the bed.

The truck is Oswald’s branch office, the cargo bed stocked with a road case full of provisions. He has enough iron and ammo back there to wage a small insurrection. He also has some cash, an old bullet-proof Kevlar vest, a few stolen credit cards, a change of clothes, a couple of fake IDs, and enough canned goods to survive a nuclear apocalypse. He turns and staggers across the sidewalk.

At nearly 275 pounds, Oswald walks with the wounded gait of a behemoth, his Wolverine boots shaking the earth. A full-blooded Winnebago, he has skin the color of weak coffee, and a huge, square, handsome head. His XXL chambray shirt is soaked through with the perspiration of forgotten fever dreams. His thatch of coal-black hair dangles in his face. For years, he has held his shit together in a field not known for its healthy working conditions or generous retirement packages. He has managed to survive and remain firmly entrenched in the middle echelon of his profession. But recently, with the news of Matilda’s illness and imminent demise, he has let himself go. He has medicated himself, turned inward, and gotten sloppy. In other words, he’s a hot mess.

He crosses the lobby, ignoring the shrill voice of the desk nurse calling out for him to check in first before he goes up to Oncology.

In the elevator, he takes deep breaths, girding himself for what he’s about to hear. Still dazed from the cheap dope and the harsh Chicago sun, he lets his senses adjust to the hermetically sealed, disinfected world of the medical center, and he focuses his thoughts on presenting himself well to the physician. Oswald clings to the old superstitions. He will never put a hat on a chair, never light three cigarettes with the same match, never ride a horse named Firecracker, and never play cards against a man named Doc. He also believes with all his heart and soul that if he’s polite and deferential to the arrogant little prick that runs the cancer ward, God will bestow Oswald with good news.

“Mr. Smith,” a voice greets Oswald the moment he steps off the elevator.

The overhead light blazes a uniform fluorescence like a halo around the well-groomed young medico leaning against the nurses’ counter. He looks like a game-show host in his white lab coat,

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