by Bill Lorraine - Illustrations by Ann Lorraine.

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Review by George Fontana

the heat/

Peopling these 14 short stories by Bill Lorrain are the inhabitants of tropical Paradise today - the folk on the edge of unbridled stupidity, the hillbilly hookers, the hectoring homeless, the tourists from  Akron, a pot smoking tour train driver and Freddie the rooster, all coalescing toward collission Here are such sweet, flitarious questions as, "Is this lust?" Here there's Lenny in the mangroves, Louis Iflesia, late wife of a rumrunner turned banker, so scared of the dark that she has a window in her coffin. There are huge Haitian rats that lurk beneath Solares Hill and then there's always Theron, appearing and reappearing on Duval Street, waiting for nothing and no-one, careful to keep the red high heels on the girl he undresses in his mind.

"The Heat "
by Bill Lorraine - Illustrations by Ann Lorraine.

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the heat/

The unique, colorful island of Key West plays an important part in this story. The town's physical beauty and population of creative people help shape and define the three main characters.

The men, Felix, a seasoned fishing captain and poker player, and Jamie, a young radio disc jockey and aspiring writer, are best friends, two men who love each other like brothers. At first glance they seem very different, but they think alike, and in many ways, they are alike, men who have learned how to bounce all their ideas, all their beliefs, their conquests, their every good and vital thing, off one another.

One day these friends find themselves in love with the same woman, Rachael, a woman so vibrant, so special, that she is adored by almost everyone who knows her. This woman truly possesses the Heat, and everyone feels it when they are around her. And these two men, Felix and Jamie, outside the routine of their daily lives, are slaves to the Heat, to the magic of flirtation, to those silent communications that move like lightning between two like-minded people.

Flaco, a Key West Conch, and Buffy, an Australian nurse, bring a breath of fresh air to the group, and a smile to the face of Felix. Getting to know Felix, Jamie and Rachael and all their friends, hanging out at the local bars, fishing the nearshore waters, throwing the biggest backyard island party of the year, you will get a sense of what it's like to live and work year round in Key West.

Excerpts from "The Heat" page 111
It was the heat of her when she sat close to him in the hotel lobby that he remembered, the smell of her body, the promises they silently made to each other, the probing depth of her eyes into his, the sweet holding back of emotions, the uncertainty, the real world fact that they may never have the heat between them again like it was now, this moving, tantalizing hurt of heat that he was feeling again after so long, so many years in the past, and here it was again and it was going to be gone, and then it was gone with her, but what was left was the indelible memory of her and for two days he was breathless and would shake his head when he was alone and say her name and would relive the one night they were together, and in those moments he was happy and felt alive and not wanting for any adventure beyond more of her.

"FROM THE BALCONIES OF KEY WEST" by Bill Lorraine with Illustrations by Ann Lorraine.

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Excerpts from " From the Balconies of Key West "

In this cradle of air
high above the streets of the city
we rest secure in our balcony
our bodies pressing together
in this hammock
a languid Sunday morning
almost afternoon by now
scattered newspapers, more coffee
a slow breakfast with music
and far below us
in a white chapel
a preacher talks about the island
and the things he loves about it
and how much it has meant to him
to have lived here all these years
and he calls the land "blessed"


In the middle of the city
I found a quiet spot
on a lane off the main streets
in a cool corner of my backyard
under the canopy of fan palms
and I noticed the sound of the wind
the rustle of the oleander leaves
It was a light breeze
with no threat of bad weather
an average hot tropical day
eighty degrees by noon
The wind died down for a moment
to a quiet, standstill quiet
and the dappled sunlight on the plants
shifted a fraction of an inch before my eyes
and I held my breath and listened
then the wind came back with a gust
and everything went back to normal
Across the tall fence of reed and arelias
I hear occasional passers-by
walkers mostly, sometimes a bike
and in between, the quiet
the sounds of dry fallen leaves
tumbling down the lane
light, wooden sounds on the pavement
castanets to accompany the wind


Island girls
plump and friendly
give me tight bikini cheeks
hanging over bicycle seats
and the scent of pleasure
on their tanned skins
Tourists girls
with their worldly ways
are enchanted here
and wonder how people can live
in a place so remote
from big city malls
Artist girls
aware and in tune with life
come here to celebrate
their last new idea
and conquer a new man
with no strings attached


Here on a warm waterfront
we are barefoot and happy
the Christmas Spirit comes to us
like the tropical wind
through our open windows
It's the bougainvilla
that decorates the island
the smell of jasmine fills the air
Santa leads the lighted boat parade
and Christmas music calms the streets
Bicycle baskets filled with toys and gifts
we hurry home to wrap our presents
our Christmas tree is a potted palm
it's a Key West kind of Christmas
A cool spell drifts in
our little house is wind blown
two days of chill change our mood
an open oven door warms one room
we bring down blankets from the attic
By Christmas morning its warm again
we open presents on the balcony
we sip our eggnog in the morning sun
it's a Key West kind of Christmas

Some of Ann's illustrations from the book.


Shrimp Boat


Dancers at Sunset

Bill Lorraine

My home town of Key West is a lot like every other American town of 30,000 population. The differences begin with the palm trees, the unusual abundance of flowers, and the tropical weather. But the biggest difference is the boundry line that forms a circle around the outskirts of our city. Most Americans can hop in their cars and drive into the country, but the ocean surrounds Key West, and the town takes up all the land area. Only a thin string of sandbars and mangrove islands connect it to the mainland 160 miles away.

Before Henry Flagler extended his Florida East Coast Railroad to Key West in 1912, the only way to get to the island was by boat. So the history of Key West is the history of people who had a strong connection to the ocean. Books on Key West's history talk about the wreckers, the spongers, the pirates, the Navy, the shrimpers and the boatbuilders. Many of the first residents were ship's carpenters who built their homes with highly elevated vantage points call "widow's walks" which gave them an unobstructed view of the ocean. In their travels they brought back exotic tropical plant life from all parts of the world - flowering trees, orchids, coconut palms, mahogany, Queen's umbrella trees, and flowers that bloomed all year long like Hibiscus and Bougainvilla.

Key West is located beside a natural coral reef that breaks the ocean's waves six miles out, giving Key Westers calm beaches and crystal-clear water at the shoreline.