Powerball by Theo Cage
Powerball by Theo Cage

What would you do if you won the Powerball for one hundred and twenty-three million dollars?

Hire a team of mercenaries to track down the terrorists who killed your kid sister?

Well, that’s exactly what Tony Ricco does. He shuts down the family-run plumbing business he owns in New Jersey and goes into the revenge business. In the process, he runs into some very sinister killer types – and these are the good guys we’re talking about. Wait until you see the villains.

Tony’s expensive little project takes him and his team to some very exotic and dangerous locales where he runs into a very determined woman who just happens to head a covert group of terrorist trackers. She thinks he should keep his nose out of her business. But Tony doesn’t give up easily.

You’ll never guess what he finds in the end.



Yesterday, my life changed forever. I won the Powerball. One hundred and twenty-three million dollars. Have you ever wondered what you would do with that kind of money?

My younger sister was killed last year at the New York Marathon by a terrorist bomb. She was the only family I had so I’m going to take my winnings and revenge her death. And I won’t stop until every last cent is gone.

My sister Elaine was twenty-one years old when she was murdered. She was an apprentice plumber. A really good one. She worked for my company, Vincenti Plumbing and Heating.

My Dad started the company over thirty years ago. When he died, I took it over. I wasn’t happy. I had planned to go back to school and take Law. Elaine was the athlete in our extended family and no one else ever had that ambition. When she wasn’t working, she was working out, as my Dad used to say. She was lithe and muscular and always smiling. She smiled more than any other Vincenti I ever met. And that includes a hundred relatives we met once on a trip to Polermo years ago.

My Dad died in Cuba. First real vacation he took his whole career. He and my Mom, two weeks at an all-inclusive my brother and I paid for.  His 30th wedding anniversary. First day he goes out for a swim, goes out too far, gets pulled out to the sea in the undertow and drowns. He was laid out on the beach for almost eight hours as the local police fussed over details, my Mom going out of her mind. She died a year later from a major stroke in the dairy aisle at Wal-Mart.

“Ross. I’m going to find out who killed Elaine.”

Uncle Ross looked at me with his red-rimmed eyes, his coffee cup shaking lightly in his hands. He had the very first symptoms of Parkinson’s, but his mind was good. He knew a lot of people and gave sound advice.

“You gonna hire a private eye?” he asked. I didn’t really know what a private eye was. Maybe I heard the phrase used once on some black and white movie on cable. But I didn’t know what they did.

“No. I’m going to hire someone who can do an investigation. Help me get started.”

“You win a pile of money and the first thing you think of is vengeance. Go buy a nice house, go on vacation. Enjoy your life while you’re young.”

“Uncle Ross. I will look after you. That’s a promise I made to Dad. Don’t worry.”

“I’m not worried. I wasn’t worried when you became a plumber. And I’m not worried now. But if you’re going to become James Bond, I might worry a little bit.”

“You must know somebody,” I suggested.

“Those were terrorists who put that bomb in a truck by the finish line. Evil, evil bastards. I know nothing about that.”

I hesitated. “You must know people who look after things. You know, mechanics.” I thought Ross was going to slap me, he got very hard right away. I don’t remember seeing that look before.

“No. I don’t know people like that. Tony, I’m a landlord. I have some nice tenants. I make a living. Why would I know people like that. And it I did, would I want you mixed up with that?”

“But I heard a story when I was younger. Someone had a thing for Mom’s sister. They got a little too … personal with her. And you fixed that.”

Ross sat back in the booth, looked left and right. That was something he did all the time. He knew everyone in our neighborhood. It was like he was making sure he hadn’t missed anyone.

“Tony, you were a kid. You probably read a comic book about that and got me confused with Batman or something.” Yeah that was funny. Thinking of Uncle Ross like Batman with his spindly legs and knobby knees and basketball gut. I laughed out loud.

“OK. Uncle Ross. Whatever you say. so I’ll just find someone on my own.”

“That’s not happening either,” he said, plunking his coffee cup down hard on the table. “I don’t want you bringing that schifo into our family.”

“What family?” I asked. “The whole family is sitting in this booth right now.”

“You’re a smart ass,” he said. “A smart ass multi-millionaire.

“What’s the point of having money if you can’t do something with it. Elaine deserves – well, she deserves justice.”

“Elaine was a special girl. But you’re not talking abut justice.” Uncle Ross ran his hand over his chin. It was ten-thirty and he already needed another shave. He could grow a beard on a lunch break. But now the beard was mostly white. The odd black hair was visible. Mostly salt, not much pepper. “Listen,” he said. “You gotta be careful. You are worth a great deal to certain people right now. The wrong people.”

“I’ll be careful, Uncle Ross.”

“I don’t believe you will. That being said, I will try to help. You need to make me a promise though.”

“What is it?”

“You must call me every day until this quest of yours is done. Or you run out of money. Or you come to your senses and marry that girl of yours, Julie. Understand?”

Run out of money, I’m thinking?  Over one hundred million and I could spend it all in a lifetime? I smiled and shook my head but agreed. Little did I know how smart Uncle Ross really was.

The phone calls have started. The first was from the sisters of the Rapture Church. They need a million dollars to build schools in South Africa. Their pitch was brief but emotional. I could see the little children, tears in their eyes because they had no school to go to, and I had all that money. There’s no ‘but’ to this story. I felt awful saying no. But (there’s the but I said wasn’t there) I have to get more organized and make a ‘giving plan’. That plan could be a hundred dollars or a hundred million. I might need to find a financial adviser. I also need to get an unlisted phone number. Is there such a thing anymore?

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