Review by Jane A. Marlowe
A new book by local author, Dom Fiorda and Kendra Brady relates a story about someone who remembers his ‘Spirit Time.’
Ernest Spirit’s name was rather prophetic. When he was a boy, he didn’t realize that fact. He was named for his grandfather, Ernesto, who immigrated to America at the beginning of the 20th century. The custom’s officer who processed him through Ellis Island Americanized his name, Ernesto Di Spirito, to Ernest Spirit.
In English or Italian, the name translates to mean “of the Spirit”… and young Ernest was ‘of the spirit’. As a child he remembered his past experiences in the Spirit world before he had been born. “I had a strong feeling that another part of me existed and somehow was left behind.”
His best friend was his cousin, Nicky. They grew up together in an Italian neighborhood in west Philadelphia. The family business was a successful restaurant called “The Coconut Umbrella Club”. The name was derived from changes to the names of friends of the first Ernesto, when they passed through Ellis Island. The three young immigrants found work in a restaurant together and eventually bought and improved the business until, in young Ernest and Nicky’s time, it was a popular club, serving fine wines from the Di Spirito winery imported from Italy.
One hot afternoon, Ernest and Nicky were sitting in a booth in The Club, where they often spent their free time. They were 16 and Ernest had longed to confide his secret to someone. He tried to explain to Nicky his ‘Spirit Time’, where he found himself observing incidents that happened before he was born. He explained that he could move freely among humans, hearing their conversations and could perceive their good or evil intentions. There were other spirits with him, all of whom had names. They were able to easily travel together and communicate their thoughts and observations to each other without language.
He was met with laughter and derision. Nicky explained the beginning of life to Ernest and assured him that there was nothing magical about him. So much for confidences! Ernest kept his secret to himself into adulthood. He learned to move adeptly in and out of his Spirit memories as he matured. He attended Temple University, earning a degree in Criminal Justice. Thanks to some help from one of his professors, he was offered an interview with the FBI and was accepted as an agent. He was assigned to the Philadelphia office that was just a few blocks from The Club where he and Nicky shared an apartment.
His first assignment was to re-examine an old double murder case involving the murky world of bare- knuckled boxing in the early years of the 20th century. A New York gang had begun to infiltrate the Philadelphia neighborhood where Ernest’s family had settled. The gang ran a lucrative protection racket and was moving in on the fight business. A man had been convicted of the murders and was serving a life sentence in prison. Recently, however, new evidence suggested that the wrong man was imprisoned, and he did not commit the crime.
Ernest began his investigation by searching through old records. He arranged an interview with the boxer imprisoned for the murders and set about a methodical search for any living witnesses to the crime. As he pondered over the facts he uncovered, he was able to recall through his ‘Spirit Time’ a dinner table conversation between his grandfather and his father about resisting the threats of the local thugs pushing protection. He ascertained that certain people from The Coconut Umbrella Club might recall the circumstances which led to the murders.
In the midst of his work on the case, his cousin Nicky introduced him to a beautiful young woman from New York to whom he was immediately attracted. He was disturbed to discover that she was the granddaughter of the leader of the New York gang involved in his case. Was Julie interested in him as she implied or was she seeking inside information about a case which involved her own family?
Ernest sought the quiet of his ‘Spirit Time’ and was transported back to the early 1900’s, before he was born. It was in this alternate existence that he found his way to an ominous kidnapping and to the murder scene itself. Does Ernest solve his first case? Is a killer brought to justice after 40 years? Is Julie manipulating him under the guise of a steamy romance?
Spirit Time is the work of Dom Fiorda who was assisted in this thought provoking book by Kendra Brady. They divide their time between Indiana and Marco Island. Dom has five children, ten grandchildren and six great grandchildren. He is a softball player in the Marco Island Men’s Softball League, which Dom helped to establish in 2000. He also helps manage the Island Liquor Store during the winter months and plays on an Indiana tournament traveling team, during the summer.
The book is available for purchase at Island Liquor Store and Sunshine Booksellers at both locations on Collier Blvd., Marco Island. You may also purchase a Kindle reader edition through www.amazon.com under the title, Spirit Time.