The mangroves rustled just enough in the onshore breeze to block the hum of civilization a mile off. Camouflaged beneath the trees’ canopy by a dapple of sun and shadow, the squatter’s hutch in the untraveled reaches of Matheson Hammock Park sheltered Charlie Harrington in an almost impassible mudflat of low branches and roots that poked the lapping tide. A break in the overgrowth afforded breathtaking views of Miami’s skyline but the wizened 60-year-old took more comfort scanning the rippled stretch of Biscayne Bay to the south, leading out to the unprotected Atlantic.
It was Sunday. He was almost certain of that, though it didn’t much matter in this endless season of Sundays. It was late December. That, he knew. And if he didn’t, the dryness of the air and the chill in the morning shadows told him. A noisy flock of parakeets raced overhead as he picked his way to the rowboat, a faded dinghy that washed up after a storm a few months back. He shoved off, paddling once or twice and gliding into the cove before dropping his roped limestone rock of an anchor barely 50 feet from shore, to fish for breakfast in the shallows.
Warming in the sparkling sunlight, he slipped off his mud-stained Dockers, tugged the brim of his floppy hat a touch lower over his forehead and pulled a paperback from the pocket of his khakis. The freshness of all the life around him filled his lungs.
After two years in the open, his copy of Walden looked like a magazine dropped in a puddle once or twice – or, the bottom of a rowboat. But the ink held and the words rang as true as ever. Still, maybe it was time to trouble his friend Santos to make another trip to Books & Books for him, for some new words that might lead him out of this thicket or leave him more at ease within it. He’d mention it the next time the wildlife officer poked by in his skiff.
A puff from the north chilled him for a moment. He checked his fishing rod. Nothing. Why feeling so unsettled today? He’d been doing better.
Thus begins Floater: A Novel, the second work of fiction from Palm Beach Post investigative reporter Tony Doris. Floater continues the story of South Florida journalist Charlie Harrington as he finds himself accused of murder — and subsequently out of a job.
Raised in New York, Boston and Brussels, Doris unhitched from his newspaper career at age 30 and went walkabout. He donned a backpack and trekked through Asia and Australia before marooning himself in Tahiti, where he reported for a local newsweekly in French and English and was paid in breadfruit.
When the statute of limitations elapsed on his bank account he returned stateside, settling in Miami and West Palm Beach, where he dug into the worlds of government and business as an investigative reporter, editor and columnist.
Doris has a bachelor’s degree in English from Franklin & Marshall College and a master’s in journalism from Boston University. He has reported for The Palm Beach Post, St. Petersburg Times, Miami Daily Business Review, New Haven Register and Arlington (Mass.) Advocate.
He runs the occasional marathon at speeds too slow for cameras to record, is a crossword fanatic and a lapsed guitarist. Floater is Doris’ second novel, drawing loosely on his reporting years in Miami. Some characters in Floater appeared in his debut, Dirt. A third critically acclaimed novel is in the works.
Tony Doris Website • Facebook • Twitter
Read an excerpt from Dirt: A Novel!
FLOATER in the News:
WLRN Radio (Miami/South Florida) interview with Tony Doris on “Tropical Currents”
DIRT in the News:
How I swept a tale of corruption into ‘Dirt’ — Post reporter’s novel out as e-book
Secret’s out, Tony’s “Dirt” on iTunes
Suburban Kamikaze blog recommends you read Dirt!
Bring on the dirt — Miami Reader
I knew dirt, as in gossip, was fun, but I never knew that dirt, as in real estate, could be so enjoyable. Tony Doris has written a book that is witty, topical and a treat. The father-daughter journalist team was likable and the rest of the cast of characters, memorable. This is clearly an insider’s view of today’s Miami, written by a reporter who knows his turf. Rather, his dirt. Read it. You won’t be sorry.
The SK Summer Reading List, Part 1 — Suburban Kamikaze
I really enjoyed this book, and not just because I am sentimental for the baked men’s room scent of certain sections of downtown Miami. It’s a laugh-out-loud story that manages to keep its place between the headlines and the alligators. It felt both ridiculous and probable at the same time. Just like Miami.