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The Enterprise Zone

 Michael P. Sakowski
The Crow's Nest
The Enterprise Zone: An innocent man is framed for the murder of a police officer and sentenced to life
imprisonment in a giant prison-for-profit city in the Desert Southwest, where he fights for his life and

In the near future, the U.S federal government turns over the remaining management of its over-burdened
prison system to private enterprise. In a last-ditch effort to maintain solvency, states follow suit, and a
tax-weary society goes along with the plan.

Jack Lusky, aka Jack Luck, is a down-on-his-luck Baltimore businessman-physicist whose bad luck
multiplies itself when a routine visit to housing court lands him in the middle of a police shoot-out. He is
shot, and wakes up in a hospital, where he finds himself framed for the murder of a police officer.  He is
sentenced to life imprisonment in a new hi-tech prison city in the Desert Southwest, where he finds he can
have anything he wants, except his freedom.

Fate plays its hand, as he weathers a series of personal tragedies, and he soon finds himself fighting not
just for his freedom, but his life.

Sample Chapter
Kimberly Parker
     A taunting, feminine voice arrested
his gasping.
“Is that the best you can do?”
Jack looked up at her.
His first unfocused impression was hair,
teeth, and eyes. She had the most
beautiful eyes. They were big, very big,
and blue, but soft, and warm, and very
inviting. She was grinning the widest
smile he ever saw. Her teeth were big,
and very white and very straight, but
they weren't too big, and were in
perfect proportion to her face. They
shined at him, white as a beacon.    
Kimberly Parker's model and real-life
counterpart, who leg-pressed 700 lbs.
Evolution of the Zone
Fifteen years of editing, research, and
rewriting, produced a pile of manuscripts
and rewrites over six feet tall.  The
author now relies on multiple back-ups of
magnetic and optical media to save
Click here for history

They came out of the far end of the plant in
front of a trio of gigantic  needle-pointed
towers that had globular swellings at several
points on their rise.  Jack bent backwards,
looking up at the top of the tallest tower. It
was a thing of awe-inspiring beauty, at least
seven hundred feet tall, stark white in  the
desert sun.

"The person who is wanting to see you is up
there," Hess said, pointing to the highest
globe in the largest tower. "Come.  We go

The elevator had no respect for gravity and
they rose like a pin to a magnet.  Up, to an
unknown factor.
Chapter 1 - Bad Luck

The phone rang.
Jack finished a sip from his coffee and looked over at Holly. She was kicked back in the office chair, with
her feet up on the desk, filing her nails; her legs on display for his inspection. She liked that he liked
looking. They were friends, separated by years. Jack thirty-eight, she eighteen. Her early morning
grooming was as routine as Jack’s first coffee. But she did it as much for his entertainment as for herself.
He couldn’t resist watching, and she liked the attention. Holly looked up from her filing and glanced at the
office clock.
“It’s not nine o’clock yet,” she said, and returned to her nails.
“Right,” returned Jack. He sipped his coffee, mindlessly watching her efforts.
The phone rang a second time, and Jack looked back to the clock. Holly knew he wanted to answer it.
“You know you said it never pays to answer before opening time. You said: ‘It’s bad luck’.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Jack returned. Ten years in business had largely tranquilized his aggressiveness.   
The phone rang again. Jack tensed, fighting the urge to answer.
“It’s probably just a salesman. It never pays to open early,” he agreed.
But what if it was money? He pulled his lucky dice out of the watch pocket of his jeans. The same dice that
he had rolled the day he decided to go into business. The ones that had rolled three consecutive sevens
to three questions asked them that day. “Should he leave the university? Should he go into business?  
Should he rent the building he had found himself standing in front of?” Three sevens. Three yeses. So he
left the university. Left his research. Left a world of scientific order and academia to become an
entrepreneur. He would control his future, not some government grant that could be rescinded at will. He
did well. At first. But business saw a lot of change in ten years. He couldn’t let money slip by nowadays.
Jack rolled the dice across the desk.
“If it’s seven, I answer.” He rolled a three.
Holly looked at him out of the corner of her eye as the fourth ring sounded.  
Jack jumped for the phone.
“It might be money,” he explained.
Holly smiled as he reached over her for the phone, and kept right at her nails.
“Good morning, Luck’s TV. May I help you,” Jack said cheerfully. It was Monday. He was positive. The faint
whine of a complaining customer could be heard from the phone.  
Holly smiled. “I told you.”
Jack held his hand over the mouthpiece. “It’s Mrs. Maher. Her neighbor is messing up her TV picture with
his CB radio again. She wants us to come out for free--again.”
After several minutes of explaining, Jack hung the phone up. It immediately rang again. He looked at the
clock, and then back to Holly. Then rolled the dice again: five.
“Well, I already broke the rule, I might as well answer it. Besides, it’s almost nine o’clock. This is probably
Holly shook her head no as he answered. He soon cradled the phone with a grimace.
“That was the Baltimore City Housing Court. They say I owe them an eighteen hundred dollar fine...on a
house...that I don’t even own. I lost it at foreclosure sale almost two years ago. They said if I don’t show up
in court today they’re going to issue a warrant for my arrest.”
Holly shook her head and smiled. “Lucky you! Why did you say you had your name changed from Lusky?”
“For luck,” Jack frowned.
“Yeah,” Holly laughed. “See? I told you not to answer the phone before nine o’clock.” She wagged a
scolding finger. “It’s bad luck. Your own words.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. But I don’t really believe that. They can’t fine me on a house I don’t own...use
common sense. It’s probably just a mistake. You hold down the fort, and I’ll run up there and straighten it
Holly wagged her finger again. “Bad luck.”
Jack smiled at her. “Luck? Trust physics. You make your own luck. You make you own destiny.”
He rolled the dice again: a seven.

                                                                  * * * *

The judge pushed his small frame up off the chair and looked down from his tower. His brow wrinkled. “I
find you guilty, and the fine is eighteen hundred dollars.”
Jack’s jaw dropped in shock.
“But Your Honor, he just said the state would be satisfied with two hundred and fifty dollars!” Jack retorted,
pointing toward the state’s attorney.
The state’s attorney eyeballed Jack, and then looked back up at the judge’s tower.
“Your Honor, the state would be satisfied with the two-hundred-and-fifty dollar fine for not registering the
property as a rental unit.”
“It was vacant,” Jack added.
“We’re not playing games here!” the judge boomed. “The fine is eighteen hundred dollars and it stands. I
gave you six months to fix that house up, and you said you would, and you didn’t. It doesn’t matter to me if
you lost the house in foreclosure proceedings. You shouldn’t have promised to fix it if you were going to
run out of money.”
“Business went sour, Your Honor. I had to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy. How could I have known?” Jack
“The fine stands. Do you have anything else to say Mr. Lusky?”
“Luck, Your Honor,” Jack said softly. “My name was changed to Luck.”
“Anything else--Mr. Luck?”
Jack paused.
“All I know is, I don’t have any money,” he finally said.
The judge’s face darkened.
“Well you’ve got till four o’clock today to get it, or you’re going to jail for thirty days. That’s sixty dollars a
day. I think that’s fair.”
Jack’s face went blank. He pictured scaling the judge’s tower. Squeezing the judge’s scrawny little neck till
his face turned blue.
“That’s fair,” Jack said. He stood trance-like as the judge dismissed the court. The squeal of a chair
missing one castor button saved the judge’s life. Jack looked over at the state’s attorney who was standing
by the table next to him, putting papers in his briefcase.
The attorney returned his look and they quietly searched each other’s faces.
“Sorry,” said the state’s attorney.
“What was your name?”
“What do I do now? I really don’t have any money,” Jack said.
“Well, you’ve got until four o’clock. Isn’t there anyone you can call?”
“I don’t know.” That was a lie. There was Dad.  But he had watered at that well too many times before.
“What happens if I don’t get the money by four?”
“You can turn yourself in at the clerk’s office and they’ll escort you to South Precinct for booking.”
He paused. “Or, don’t show up by four to pay, and they’ll issue a warrant for your arrest. Wonnur
shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “It’s up to you.”
Jack nodded a frown.  
“Thanks for your help.” He turned, and walked slope-shouldered out of the courtroom. He pushed through
the swinging door and it thumped behind him, echoing up the hallway. The sound of his footsteps floated
after it as he walked aimlessly along the empty marble corridor.

Maybe there was such a thing as luck. According to “Jack’s Wave Theory”, everything came in waves,
because everything in the universe was made up of waves. The downward slope of a negative wave front
could be labeled “bad luck”. If he rode it out, once he hit bottom he should start on an upward crest--good
luck. Or was there destiny? Maybe he was just doomed in the final analysis.
He sat down on a wooden bench outside the Clerk’s Office and decided to wait for four o’clock. You can’t
fight fate.
Two hours passed.
An elderly black lady toting a striped canvass shopping bag shuffled up to Jack’s bench. She spotted a
penny on the floor and bent down with a groan to pick it up.
“Lawdy, this is a lucky day,” she laughed, holding the penny up for Jack’s inspection.
Jack looked at her and smiled.
His smile faded as he looked at the wall clock.  It was a quarter-till-four. He looked back at the old lady who
was still smiling, polishing the penny.  
Jack suddenly stood up.
“I like to think that I make my own luck.”
“Ah, hear ya,” the old woman replied.
He started down the hallway, a new man. The penny being discovered there at that instant had to be an
omen. The odds seemed too great for it to be a coincidence.
Wait! The judge called him Lusky. The warrant would be issued for Jack Lusky, not Jack Luck. They
couldn’t touch him till they fixed the paperwork!  Changing his name was lucky. It was working. But if they
changed the papers?
In two weeks, he could raise enough money to pay the fine. He’d just lay low. Holly could run the office.
She could tell the cops she hadn’t seen him.  It was a cinch.

A few blocks away, was the South Precinct stationhouse. In a small smoke-filled room on the second floor,
two detectives were grilling a suspect in a drug-related murder.  
“C’mon Lemanz, we know you were involved with Jones. What happened, did a deal go sour or did ‘ja
figure to increase your profit margin by snuffin’ him so you wouldn’t have to pay?”
The detective took a long drag of his filterless Camel cigarette and blew it in the face of the suspect.
 “I tole you monn, my name is pronounced Le Monns not Lemanz, and it’s impolite to blow your exhaust
fumes in my face.” The thick Jamaican accent rolled smoothly and calmly from the lips of the chocolate
colored suspect. He glared across the table at the other detective who was sitting slouched down in his
chair, playing with a pencil.
The detective seemed to feel it and looked up.
“Harry this isn’t gettin’ us anywhere. How ‘bout gettin’ us a cup of coffee and we’ll give it a rest for a couple
of minutes. I’m sure Mr. Lemans will be anxious to cooperate when he reconsiders.
His partner, Detective Harry Mongan, reluctantly turned away from the Jamaican.
“Okay, Ron--Ya want one of them concrete bagels they call doughnuts?”
“Yeah, sure--why not?”
Mongan ground his cigarette into the ashtray, giving the Jamaican one last dirty look. Then left the room,
slamming the door behind him.
Ronald Starr, the seated detective, sat motionless behind the desk, listening to his partner’s footsteps trail
off down the hall. As soon as the last footstep was heard his eyes darted to the Jamaican.
“You got to do something, monn” the Jamaican blurted. “This is murder--and Jama won’t go down alone.”
A look of urgency covered Starr’s face, then faded.
“Jama, Jama--That’s no way to talk--and it’s lucky for you that this room is clean. ‘Cause if it was wired,
your loose black lips would have already sunk our ship.”
“Look monn, you suppose’ta take care of everything. The Jama monn’s suppose’ta stay free and clear--
That’s the deal.
“And you will if you keep your mouth shut. Nobody knew Mongan was going to pull you in. So don’t start
makin’ threats, or you’ll go to sleep real fast.
“So what you gone to do monn?”
Starr jumped to his feet.
“You’re gettin’ outta here, now. Go right--down the hall--there’s a stairwell at the end. After that you’re on
your own.”
Starr opened the door and checked the hall. He motioned for the Jamaican to leave. As Lemans passed
him in the doorway, Starr grabbed his arm.
“Here, take my gun. Hit me, and make it look good.”
Their eyes locked and Lemans grinned.  
Starr looked down at the gun, now pointed at him.
Lemans paused, still silently grinning. The whites of his eyes were yellow. They narrowed to slits, then
suddenly widened.
“No problem, monn.”
Lemans smashed the gun into Starr’s left temple and tore off down the hall.
Detective Mongan rounded the corner of the hall, coffees in both hands, a bag of doughnuts clenched
between his teeth. He saw Lemans running and froze for a split second, then threw the coffees splashing
to the floor, spit out the bag of doughnuts, and gave chase.

Jack saluted the South Precinct stationhouse as he passed on his way back to the office. “Not today boys.
I’ll raise the money before you get me.”
He turned down the alley behind the stationhouse. A white vending machine truck was pulled up to the
back of the stationhouse making a delivery. As he angled around it a three-legged dog hopped out from
under the truck.
He bent down to pet it.
“Hey--what happened to you? Looks like you had some bad luck.” The dog was nervous, undecided as to
Jack’s intent.

The Jamaican came flying out the back door of the stationhouse and leaped down the steps. He turned for
the nearest cover--the delivery truck. Jack was huddled over right in his path, petting the dog.  Lemans
sprang through the air to hurdle over them.
The dog pulled away and Jack stood up, smashing into the Jamaican.
“Oh, excuse me--” Jack started to say. He saw the gun speeding toward his left eye and told his arm to
move to block the blow, but it was too late.
The gun butt! A blinding flash of white light, the searing pain of a red-hot poker being jabbed into his eye.
His arms shot out in blind reflex and grabbed the Jamaican. Through the flash, he felt the thin shoulders
wriggling to get free, but he held on, and listened. The high-pitched sound of a motorboat heard from
under water was coming closer. His tongue felt thick and went pins and needles. He felt himself falling
down a vortex and knew that he was losing consciousness. Halfway down, he heard a cannon going off.
The motorboat was now whining directly overhead.  It faded, to nothing, and the last thing he remembered
was the white blackness. That was all he could see; the white blackness, that was like coming into a dimly
lit room after being outside for a long time in the snow on a sunny day. When you can’t see and the room
goes black, or is it white, and your pupils strain to adjust but they momentarily cannot.  

                                                                       * * * *