Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mortgage-Backed Suspense: Crisis Redux

Hubby and I wrote a novel in the '90s based on his work for the now-infamous Freddie Mac. We didn't know then that Freddie and its sister mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae would today be barely afloat under the weight of a nation of mortgage and derivative investment defaults and under U.S. government control. He was then working out their vast pool of defaulted multifamily loans, as opposed to today's multitudinous backlog of single family and subprime mortgages (what's old is new again). Most of his work took place in NYC, home of the neo-meltdown of 2008-09, among corrupt, greedy and unethical lenders and landlords in some of New York's seediest, pre-gentrified neighborhoods (remember, this was the last housing crisis - in the early 1990s).

The book is out now, the hardships experienced in the wake of this mortgage crisis eerily presaging today's economic melt down. The new suspense thriller is available on

Check out an excerpt from Satan's Mortgage ©2009 by Robin S. Payes and Richard I. Payes:
It was noon when Tommy, Louis Peller's driver, dropped him off at the corner. Louis told Tommy to meet him back at the same corner at 2:30, sharp. No dilly-dallying in this neighborhood, especially not after 3 p.m., when the hoodlums got out of school and the dope dealers and their couriers took up residence on every-other street corner.

Despite the squalor of the street, Louis was savoring the sunshine on this brilliant blue spring day. The sidewalks, for once, were deserted. This part of the Bronx was generally teeming with life whenever he came up here to check out a building, boiling over with tension. Louis liked to get in quick, and get out.

Suddenly, he heard an explosion, the shattering of glass and the crash of brick on concrete. It sounded like a bomb detonating in his path. As he looked up, he witnessed the top two floors of this six-story apartment house crumble right before his eyes. He watched, dumbfounded, to see the upper third of the mural fold in on itself, leaving only the names and the lower third of the cross to mark the memory of the young victims of poverty.

Peller immediately ran, thrusting himself to safety. He crouched behind a dumpster, the closest cover he could find. He smelled fire. The air was blistering. Through his nostrils, he breathed in acrid smoke. He could almost feel the air singe his eyebrows. Chunks of brick and mortar rained down around him. He crouched down still further, searching for somewhere safer to hide, some cover to protect his head.

He could hear people wailing, whimpering, weeping nearby.

Looking at the luminous sky now choking with flame, he had to shield his eyes against the debris. When he dropped his gaze he saw people crawling from the building on hands and knees like animals, choking in the smoke-filled air, screaming, as panic flowed into the street. Smoky silhouettes of mothers with babies clutched in their arms their cast shadows against the sidewalk partially obscured by billowing smoke and yellow flames that were breaking out in what remained of the top two floors.

Peller was frightened, trembling. He had to get away. He decided to make a mad dash, even though he was partially sheltered now from the fallout of the apartment building. It was difficult to breathe. He must make it out of there, quickly.

No. He felt guilty for his selfish impulse to flee when people's lives were at stake. Could he -- dare he run back to help?

"Quit wasting time, Peller," he lectured himself, angrily. "Do something. The right thing." He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

He ran.