Hard Work never fails

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The Naked Face
Sidney Sheldon

To the Women in my life Jorja

Chapter One

At ten minutes before eleven in the morning, the sky
exploded into a carnival of white confetti that instantly
blanketed the city. The soft snow turned the already frozen
streets of Manhattan to grey slush and the icy December wind herded the Christmas shoppers towards the comfort of their
apartments and homes.
On Lexington Avenue the tall, thin man in the yellow rain
slicker moved along with the rushing Christmas crowd to a
rhythm of his own. He was walking rapidly, but it was not
with the frantic pace of the other pedestrians who were
trying to escape the cold. His head was lifted and he seemed oblivious to the passers-by who bumped against him. He was
free after a lifetime of purgatory, and he was on his way
home to tell Mary that it was finished. The past was going to bury its dead and the future was bright and golden. He was
thinking how her face would glow when he told her the news.
As he reached the corner of Fifty-ninth Street, the traffic
light ambered its way to red and he stopped with the
impatient crowd. A few feet away, a Salvation Army Santa
Claus stood over a large kettle. The man reached in his
pocket for some coins, an offering to the gods of fortune. At that instant someone clapped him on the back, a sudden

stinging blow that rocked his whole body. Some overhearty
Christmas drunk trying to be friendly.
Or Bruce Boyd. Bruce, who had never known his own strength
and had a childish habit of hurting him physically. But he
had not seen Bruce in more than a year. The man started to
turn his head to see who had hit him, and to his surprise,
his knees began to buckle. In slow motion, watching himself
from a distance, he could see his body hit the sidewalk.
There was a dull pain in his back and it began to spread. It became hard to breathe. He was aware of a parade of shoes
moving past his face as though animated with a life...
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