When the Serpent Bites
by Nesly Clerge
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GENRE: Crime fiction, psychological thriller
Frederick Starks has it all—a gorgeous wife who was his high school sweetheart, three beautiful children, a mansion and cars others envy, millions in the bank, respected in his community, admired by his employees, loved and respected by loyal friends. He revels in the hard-earned power and control he’s acquired. As the saying goes, “All that glitters is not gold,” which Starks discovers when gut-wrenching betrayal by his wife sends him over the edge and into a maximum security prison. There, Starks is a new “fish,” stripped of nearly everything he’s always relied on. In that place, where inmates and guards have their own rules and codes of conduct, Starks is forced to face the darker side of life, and his own darker side, especially when the betrayals, both inside and outside the prison, don’t stop. He must choose which path to follow when the line between right and wrong becomes blurred: one that leads to getting out of the physical and emotional hellhole he finds himself in or one that keeps him alive.
Starks stared at his hands. He looked up when he heard Spencer confer in whispers with the other men at the table.
“You leave us no choice, since you admit to starting the assault. Thirty days in the SHU might make a difference. I hope for your sake it does.” Spencer explained in response to Starks’s puzzled expression, “Secure Housing Unit. Not a place you’ll care to return to, I promise you.”
The same two guards escorted Starks down more corridors than he could follow, to a windowless six by eight cell constructed out of concrete. The bed was a concrete slab with no mattress and no pillow, just a thin, scratchy blanket with holes and stains he didn’t want to think about. At least, he thought, the toilet and washbasin will stay clean.
One guard stood watch with his charged taser in his hand. The other guard shoved Starks forward, chuckling when he tripped on the restraints around his ankles.
“Get on in there, asshole. It’s not like we got all day.” He laughed. “Oops. I forgot—you do got all day. Every day for a month!”
The guard was rough as he started to remove the restraints which had abraded skin on Starks’s wrists and ankles.
Starks squinted up at the single blinking fluorescent light buzzing overhead. “Ballast needs to be changed.”
The first guard yanked hard on the chain. “Showing off, prick?”
“You’re going to fix it, right?” Starks asked.
“You may’ve been a big-time mucky-muck out there,” the other guard said, “but you’re nothing in here. Here’s what you can count on, puke. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner shoved through that slot in that door. Maybe your food’ll even stay on the tray.” The other guard snickered. “One hour a day you’ll be taken out to walk around. We might even let you shower so you don’t stink up the place any more than you do now. The rest of the time, you can stare at the fucking walls, for all we care.”
“What about the light?”
“Pretend you’re in a fancy nightclub.”
“What about my stuff?”
“Maybe some of it’ll be waiting for you. Maybe not.”
Just before the door slammed shut, Starks yelled, “There’s no toilet paper.”
His only response was a nightstick rapped against the opposite side of the door.
Nesly Clerge received his bachelor’s degree in physiology and neurobiology at the University of Maryland, and later pursued a doctoral degree in the field of chiropractic medicine. Although his background is primarily science-based, he has finally embraced his lifelong passion for writing. Clerge’s debut novel, When the Serpent Bites, will be available in 2015, with the sequel to follow in 2016. His debut novel explores choices, consequences, and the complexities of human emotions, especially when we are placed in a less-than-desirable setting. When he is not writing, Clerge manages several multidisciplinary clinics. He enjoys reading, chess, traveling, exploring the outdoors, and spending time with his significant other and his sons.
Official site: http://www.clergebooks.com/
Nesly will be awarding a signed paperback copy of When the Serpent Bites to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.