Excerpt from Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Sick Puppy

by Carl Hiaasen

Sick Puppy
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2000, 341 pages
    Mar 2001, 528 pages

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Another student asked: "Did anybody get kilt?"

"Of course not," Twilly snapped. "I did it on a Sunday, when the bank was closed. That's my point -- if I was really pissed, I would've done it on a Monday morning, and I would've made damn sure my uncle was inside at the time."

Several other probationers nodded in agreement. Dr. Boston said: "Mr. Spree, a person can be very mad without pitching a fit or flying off the handle. Anger is one of those complicated emotions that can be close to the surface or buried deeply, so deeply we often don't recognize it for what it is. What I'm suggesting is that at some subconscious level you must've been extremely angry with your uncle, and probably for reasons that had nothing to do with his banking practices."

Twilly frowned. "You're saying that's not enough?"

"I'm saying -- "

"Loaning fourteen million dollars to a rock-mining company that's digging craters in the Amazon River basin. What more did I need?"

Dr. Boston said, "It sounds like you might've had a difficult relationship with your uncle."

"I barely know the man. He lives in Chicago. That's where the bank is."

"How about when you were a boy?"

"Once he took me to a football game."

"Ah. Did something happen that day?"

"Yeah," said Twilly. "One team scored more points than the other team, and then we went home."

Now the class was snickering and it was Dr. Boston's turn to manage his anger.

"Look, it's simple," Twilly said. "I blew up the building to help him grow a conscience, OK? To make him think about the greedy wrongheaded direction his life was heading. I put it all in a letter."

"Yes, the letter's in the file," said Dr. Boston. "But I noticed you didn't sign your name to it."

Twilly spread his hands. "Do I look like an idiot? It's against the law, blowing up financial institutions."

"And just about anything else."

"So I've been advised," Twilly muttered.

"But, still, at a subconscious level -- "

"I don't have a subconscious, Doctor. That's what I'm trying to explain. Everything that happens in my brain happens right on the surface, like a stove, where I can see it and feel it and taste the heat." Twilly sat down and began massaging his temples with his fingertips.

Dr. Boston said, "That would make you biologically unique in the species, Mr. Spree, not having a subconscious. Don't you dream in your sleep?"



"Seriously," Twilly said.

"Never once?"

"Not ever in my whole life."

Another probationer waved a hand. "C'mon, man, you never had no nightmares?"

"Nope," Twilly said. "I can't dream. Maybe if I could I wouldn't be here now."

He licked the tip of his pencil and resumed work on the essay, which he submitted to Dr. Boston after class. Dr. Boston did not acknowledge reading Twilly's composition, but the next morning and every morning for the following four weeks, an armed campus security guard was posted in the rear of the classroom. Dr. Boston never again called on Twilly Spree to speak. At the end of the term, Twilly received a notarized certificate saying he'd successfully completed anger-management counseling, and was sent back to his probation officer, who commended him on his progress.

If only they could see me now, Twilly thought. Preparing for a hijack.

First he'd followed the litterbug home, to one of those exclusive islands off Las Olas Boulevard, near the beach. Nice spread the guy had: old two-story Spanish stucco with barrel-tile shingles and vines crawling the walls. The house was on a cul-de-sac, leaving Twilly no safe cover for lurking in his dirty black pickup. So he found a nearby construction site -- a mansion going up. The architecture was pre-Scarface Medellín, all sharp angles and marble facings and smoked glass. Twilly's truck blended in nicely among the backhoes and cement mixers. Through the twilight he strolled back toward the litterbug's home, where he melted into a hedge of thick ficus to wait. Parked in the driveway next to the Range Rover was a Beemer convertible, top down, which Twilly surmised would belong to the wife, girlfriend or boyfriend. Twilly had a notion that made him smile.

Excerpted from Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen. Copyright© 1999 by Carl Hiaasen. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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