Scroll down to read the Prologue and Chapter One of Rita's thrilling novel.


     In forty-six years of life, Luke Plisky had killed
dozens of people. Today, there would be one more.
     Only four of those were murders.
     The rest were "killed in action" in the Vietnam
War. What difference did that make to those who
loved them? None, he thought. Death has no
     A quarter of a century later, thousands of miles
from the battlefield, Luke still remembered them,
those his country sent him to kill.
     Today, in a pre-dawn April fog, he stood near a
tree, north of the graveled running path that circled
the Bronxville Lake.
     He'd been there for almost an hour. "Start out
early," his mother had told him in East Lansing,
years ago. "You never know what you might run into.
No one wants to listen to excuses."
     All that time, the advice had served him well.
     This morning, he'd done a little two-step in
place, to ward off the chill. His jogger's suit, a non-
descript gray; fit his lean six-foot body snugly: Black
running shoes. A navy baseball cap pulled down very
low over a high forehead and deep-set ice blue eyes.
Aviator glasses, darkly tinted; a thick wreath of
curly, auburn hair peeking out from under his cap.


His long, thin face had a trim mustache.
     From time to time, Luke focused his binoculars
on a six-story slate building a half-mile across the
water: Lake View Co-operative. It stood at the end of
a cul-de-sac, with five other apartment complexes, up
on a grassy hill.
     If all went according to plan, Dan Horgan would
soon exit from Lake View's rear door. A few pushups
on the grass, then a slow lope down the incline to the
path. There, he'd pick up his stride and begin jogging
around the lake. Luke had observed and timed this
routine more than a dozen times. Horgan, a fit sixty-
three-year old, would circle the lake in about eight
     Luke had waited for the perfect day: This was it.
The trees were starting to bloom, partly obscuring
the view of the track from nearby apartments. Fog
clouded the view of drivers from the scenic Bronx
River Parkway that ran parallel to the lake.
     At 5:45 he sighted his quarry coming out of the
rear door of Lake View. At 5:50 Dan Horgan started
his first lap. There were no other joggers in sight.
Luke Plisky moved out from behind the tree, and
walked the short distance down to the lake's path.
Once there, he began jogging slowly toward Horgan.
He ran steadily with a barely discernible limp in his
left leg. In about three minutes, they'd meet.
     Just before they did, Plisky grabbed his chest
and fell to the ground, face first. Horgan, seeing him,
picked up his pace, stopped and bent over to help.
"You O.K., buddy?"



     No answer. When Horgan leaned over to turn
Plisky on his back, Luke opened his eyes and mum-
bled, "Weak ankle. Just give me a hand, I think I can
make it up." Horgan reached down, extending his
right hand. Plisky grabbed it to steady himself. With
his left, he reached into a pocket, pulled out a small
pistol, and shot Horgan once in the heart.
     Horgan's eyes filled with shock and pain as he
fell. "Dear God," he murmured. Then his eyes rolled
back in his head. When Luke checked his pulse,
there was none.
     Cars were swishing by on the Bronx River Park-
way, and cicadas were chirping in the trees, when he
left Dan Horgan in the dirt. Luke walked slowly back
through the brush and the park area, then to Thcka-
hoe Road. By 6:35 he was back in his white-shingled
house in the Crestwood section of Yonkers.
     He removed the wig and jogging outfit, show.
ered, shaved and dressed for work. Navy blazer, gray
slacks, blue shirt, paisley tie, black moccasins. He
ate his usual breakfast: orange juice, a toasted raisin
bagel, coffee. At 7:30 he got into his royal blue Tau-
rus and took the Deegan Expressway south, exiting
in the South Bronx. After parking his car in a nearby
garage, he crossed the busy street and walked
through a large yard. Small groups of children were
shrieking outside the main door of the old three-story
brick building. A whispered, "Here come the duke.. . "
     Just after eight o'clock, he stood in front of a fifth
grade classroom at P.S. 807.
     Luke Plisky was a teacher.





The Prior November...


     Their union contract gives New York City's teach-
ers one prep period a day. The time is to be used for
class-related work: planning, lesson preparation,
contacting parents and guardians, things like that.
     Teachers call it their mental health break.
     On this mild, rainy Thursday before Thanksgiv-
ing, six are gathered in the teachers' room at P.S.
807 in the Highbridge section of the Bronx. Prep
     One is doing The New York l1mes crossword puz-
zle. A second is explaining to Harriet "the Hat" Noble
why Harriet's turkey dressing was never moist. Still
another is analyzing the latest shift in New York
City's School Chancellors: "By the time they find
their way to the Bronx, they're gone."
     Two are working. Enid Gomez, a student teacher
in her mid-twenties, is busy with a plan book. Luke



Plisky, a seasoned fifth grade teacher, is quietly
coaching her.
     Luke ("the Duke") Plisky is a legend at P.S. 807
and in this community where he's worked for more
than a decade. When Enid Gomez looked at Luke
Plisky, she saw a tall, slender, middle-aged man with
a high forehead, thin blondish-gray hair, just a trace
of a light mustache, and ice blue eyes with a two-inch
scar below the right one. Unlike many on the staff,
Luke took great care to dress well. "I tell the kids to
look their best, so I do, too," he'd said when asked.
Years ago, the kids had christened him "the Duke."
Now, few knew whether his name was Luke or Duke.
     His name was not the only mystery about Luke
Plisky. Enid Gomez had heard that he was a Vietnam
war hero, but didn't like to talk about it. That appar-
ently accounted for the facial scar and the slight
limp. Word was that he'd been married once, but that
his wife had been killed by a mugger; he never talked
about her either. Mild-mannered and gentle, he spoke
softly but was a superb disciplinarian.
     Only once had he been known to get angry; On
Parents' night three years ago, two neighborhood
toughs had tried to rob him outside the school. He'd
already handed over his wallet, but when told to
remove his sterling silver identification bracelet,
Luke had appeared to comply and then knocked the
thug unconscious with one karate chop. The thief's
partner had fled, but not before Luke had retrieved
his wallet. A patrol car had arrived shortly thereafter
and delivered the grounded man to the hospital,



under arrest. His buddy had been picked up within
the hour, claiming "that meek skinny guy was like a
Ninja turtle."
     One thing Enid Gomez did know: he was a
superb teacher. Luke held out hope to his kids. Work-
ing with him, Enid felt that she too could make a dif-
ference in their lives; that, for a time, she could
insulate them from the poverty and meanness of the

     She was not alone.
     Later, when all was known, Selma Einstein,
school secretary at P.S. 807, said of Luke: "He was
centered. Never ruffled. Not with parents. Not with
kids. Not with the stupid bureaucracy in this system.
Do you know what that's like around here? What can
I say? We never really knew him, but you know
what? He was loved."
     Selma was Queen Bee at P.S. 807. Chancellors,
School Boards, Principals and Assistant Principals
came and went. Selma Einstein stayed. One fourth
grader had said of her: "Miz Einstein, man, she's like
...she IS who IS 'roun heall."
     But that was later, the following autumn, when
all was known.
     Now, Luke checked the clock: fifteen more min-
utes till class. He finished talking with Enid Gomez,
stood up and walked out of the room, down the quiet
hall. The plaster on the ceiling was chipped and the
walls needed a paint job. He made a mental note to
talk with the principal about that.





     Stopping at the computer room, Luke took out a
key and unlocked the door. The room was off-limits
to students, except when a teacher was there. Today
it was empty. He sat down at a terminal and keyed in
an ID and password. There was one E-mail message,
from "Loot."
     The message read:
                               100 D #4

     Luke erased the incoming message, acknowl-
edged its receipt to "Loot," and signed off. Tonight, in
his Crestwood home, he'd key in a numbered Swiss
bank account and verify a $100,000 deposit. It was
just a formality. The money would be there, payment
for killing a Fort Lee junkie who'd sold drugs to kids.
     He left the computer room and walked slowly
down the dingy corridor, back to his home room. His
fifth grade class would return from the library in a
few minutes. The last period before lunch was a chal-
lenge for most teachers, but not for him.
     In September, Luke Plisky had received the
Community School Board's "Teacher of the Year"
award. The recognition pleased him. He loved teach-
ing, worked hard, and was very good at it. The sched-
ule allowed him to moonlight at a second job, one
that required similar skills: planning, patience,
resourcefulness. Today it had paid him $100,000.
That would buy a lot of plaster and paint, maybe a
few computers. Not bad for a "Teacher of the Year."
     One who moonlighted as a contract killer.


This ends the excerpt from Rita Farrelly's novel,