Tuesday Sampler: A Florida Keys Double Shot by Tom Winton


In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Tuesday’s Sampler features an excerpt from A Florida Keys Double Shot, a boxed set of two quirky adventures by Ton Winton.

As one reviewer said: Tom ignites scenes, characters, dialogue and narrative. His plot is unbelievable yet he weaves plausibility into each page.

The Story

A FLORIDA KEYS DOUBLE SHOT (Box Set) – two bestselling novels by Florida author Tom Winton.


After New York salesman Sonny Raines loses his job and his wife on the same day he’s had it. With little in his pocket and the weight of the world on his mind, he soon drives his aging van to the Florida Keys.

Although he only hopes to find peace and serenity that doesn’t happen. He’s not long in the land of warm sunshine and tropical breezes before he gets involved in a romance he’s not ready for.

But that’s not all. He also finds himself face to face with danger—the worst kind of evil, sinister, you-better-run-for-your-life danger.


After big-time Hemingway fan Jack Phelan falls into a coma following an accident, he somehow finds himself in Key West, Florida, literally rubbing shoulders with his longtime hero.

The legendary author has been sent down by “The Main Man in the clouds” to see if Jack has what it takes to write a book for Him. And though Hemingway knows that his findings may very well determine whether Jack lives or dies, he doesn’t have a clue that the book is going to be about him.

Over the next four days, Jack and Hem not only knock around Key West but they also travel to some more of the legendary author’s old haunts. Together the two meet up with many of Hemingway’s long gone friends and have some rollicking good times.

But during their journey they are also forced to go nose to nose with some things that are not at all fun and games. They both face highly emotional tests of strength as well. But wait. That’s not all. After their time together ends is when things really get out of hand.

The Sampler

From Four Days With Hemingway’s Ghost

Tom Winton
Tom Winton

“Dressed in clean, roped-up shorts and a white Guaynabo, Ernest rose from the table.  Rolling his sleeves up to his elbows, he said, “Get that cooler on the counter over there . . . it’s full of sandwiches, fruit, beer, water and ice.  It’s somewhat heavy, but we’re just going a few blocks.  I’ll get the thermos of coffee.”

When we stepped out of the house into the darkness, all was quiet.  The sky was clear, and the sliver of a moon had migrated across it.  We trekked up the wide concrete walkway, and before locking the gate behind, Ernest turned and took one final look at his house.  After standing there for a moment with the Thermos dangling from his hand, he said, “They were good years here in Key West.  Damn good years.”  Then there was more silence.

It was as if he were looking at a close friend in a casket for the last time.  I knew he was dealing with memories—waiting for them to pass—waiting for their nostalgic hurt to wear off.  When we finally did walk away, neither of us said a word.  All that could be heard was our footsteps on the sidewalk as we coursed the brick wall out front.  And there was more of the same as we continued past long, darkened rows of conch houses.

As we walked on in silence, I thought about the man alongside me.  Although I had just hooked up with him the day before, I’d not only witnessed some of his emotional displays, but I’d felt them as well.  To say I was surprised by his heartfelt actions would be a huge understatement.  After all, Ernest Hemingway—the man, the myth, the legend he’d become—had been forged from more than just his literary accomplishments.  He was supposed to have been a hard man, with thick skin and calluses on his knuckles and heart.  But I already knew differently.  That was not the Ernest Hemingway I was walking with in the pre-dawn darkness.  This man had neither a stainless steel persona nor heart.

The cooler I’d been lugging was now getting heavier with each step.  The muscles in my arms had stretched to new lengths.  As we crossed yet another street, I was just about to tell Ernest that I needed to put it down, but I didn’t.  There were docks and black water before us.  In the darkness I could just make out about a half dozen boats.  We were close enough now to hear the gentle slap of water on their hulls.

“Looky there, Jack,” Ernest said, as we stepped onto the wooden platform, “third one down   . . . on the right.”

Still in a predawn half-trance, I could not believe my eyes.  Tied to the dock just up ahead, her cabin gently lit by a single light bulb, was the Pilar.

I turned to Ernest alongside me and said, “Come on . . . get out of here!  It can’t be.”

He said nothing, but there was a smile across his face as wide as the yacht’s beam.  Unable to hold back his excitement any longer, he sped up in that rolling gait of his.  With heavy heels plunking the wooden planks, Hem moved with the renewed energy of an old man being reunited with something he had loved deeply for a long, long time.

The closer I got, the more magnificent his thirty-eight-foot fishing boat looked.  With her low gunwales, she seemed to straddle the water rather than float upon it.  Faint light from the bare bulb atop a piling mirrored off her freshly-painted, black hull, and the wooden cabin shone as if the varnish had not yet dried.  The Pilar looked brand new—like she must have looked in 1934 when her maiden voyage took her from Brooklyn’s Wheeler Shipyard to a waiting Ernest in Miami.

By the time I reached the boat, Ernest was already on the wide, green deck near the stern.  He was checking out the ladder-back fighting chair—swiveling and sliding it—as if preparing once again to do battle with the finned Goliaths of the South Seas.”


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