I've been in a bit of a writing funk the last couple of weeks. Maybe NaNoWriMo took a lot more out of me than I realized. But it's been hard for me to just sit and write, very unusual for me. In all fairness, my thoughts have been stretched in several different directions lately, too many perhaps. Then, as always, I was sent a sign of how to get through this funk.
The other night when a woman came to the door asking for a donation to help support a local charity, . This time of year, it seems there are more requests than usual but this charity gripped my attention.
It was for the Old Strathcona Youth Society, which is essentially a safe place for youth to gather, connect, receive resources or just have a trusted person to talk to. We'll be featuring this awesome place in our next In The Spotlight, but the long and short of it is that the woman and I had a very lengthy discussion regarding the importance of these places and why they're so important.
By the time I shut the door, I was newly refreshed and ready to get going again. It's amazing the inspiration that surrounds us when we allow ourselves to take it in. So, on that note I'm sharing a snippet from my first, and only (so far) adult fiction novella, Out Of Sync. I was in a different sort of funk when the idea for this book hit me and, really. Writing it helped me work things out in the best way I know how.
The following segment is from one of the first chapters when Cheyenne is finally ready to get back on the horse after a Leave of Absence following her husband's murder. She won't let one more day go by until the killer is caught. This scene follows a playful teasing by Perry to Cheyenne's bodyguard, Henderson. I hope you enjoy today's sample AND...there may be something more from this team of crime solvers in the near future. 😉
Cheyenne locked, then re-checked the deadbolts. “Was that necessary, Perry?”
“Yes,” he said straight-faced. “Yes, it was. The whole situation pisses me off, love. If I don’t have fun with it, I’ll go mad. Besides, they’ll get back at me during the day. Sure as crap I’ll have something pop outta my locker or desk drawer. That’s what we cops do. William was the best at it…”
“I know...” After a brief silence, Cheyenne cleared her throat. “Why don’t you dig out the food and I’ll dig out the files, okay?”
“You’re sure it’s not too soon, love?” His voice softened. “It’s only been five months…”
“Five and a half,” she said. “Perry, the file is still open. I have to deal with it eventually, don’t I?”
He brushed a strand of her pin-straight ebony hair off her cheek with his forefinger, “Can ask to be removed, ya know. You shouldn’t be working on this, Chey.”
Cheyenne fondled the straps on her briefcase. “Well, nobody else can do it. I’m the expert…the pro…the one with all the answers. And that bastard is still out there somewhere. I’m so tired of living in fear.” She pulled out three over-stuffed accordion files held together with elastic bands
Perry nodded, then rubbed his meaty hands together. “Alrighty, then. Bring ‘er out and lets see what we can find. Brought some new stuff with me I’ve been collecting while you’ve been away.”
They organized the contents of the file around the living room—pictures, notes, police files, witness records, crime scenes, videotapes (marked “surveillance” and “police interrogation”) and forensic reports. Then two new pictures were added to the pile—one of Maria Longfellow that the Chief had given Cheyenne and the crime scene photo of William’s murder. She tenderly picked the scene picture up and stared as everything flooded back.
Perry hadn’t allowed her to see William at the scene, so she never saw him until she identified his body at the morgue. He’d looked like he was sleeping. She remembered touching his cold, marble-like face, still not quite sure it was really happening. His wound had been cleaned up; all that was left was a purplish hole, the size of a penny on his chest where the bullet had pierced his body before doing its damage. She hadn’t cried—not one tear. That would have meant she’d accepted he was gone.
Cheyenne traced William’s face with her fingertips.
“Chey…” Perry began, looking down at the photo.
“It’s fine.” Cheyenne smiled weakly. “Alright…so what’s here? What’s new? What should we be seeing here but aren’t?”
“In review—Shooter’s name is Marcus Harper, early thirties, not married. No information here about his family history or if he had kids. Unusual, ain’t it?”
“Well, he did talk about a brother he hated and a father who pretty much cut him off. Where is that police interrogation video? I think he was asked if he had kids, too, and all he did was laugh.”
She shuddered. She’d witnessed the interview from the other side of the two-way mirror. He’d stared, seemingly, right at her. When asked again about whether he’d had kids he’d responded with, “Depends on who you ask,” then winked.
“Where ya wanna start then, love?” Perry said, bringing her out of her trance. “We’re still working on collecting evidence.”
Without answering him, Cheyenne picked up the picture of Maria that the Chief had given to her during their meeting. The picture wasn’t dated but Cheyenne guessed it had to have been taken close to when she’d started counseling Maria’s mother, Jodie almost a year earlier. “What answers are you hiding in there,” she whispered.
She absorbed herself completely in the scene—taking in the sights, hearing the voices, screams, pleads, scanning every minute detail.
Perry tilted his head to see the photo. “Is that Marcus behind the girl?”
Comparing the photo to the victim’s autopsy photo, Cheyenne frowned. “Yeah. What’s he doing with her? And what about the male victim from the convenience store robbery?” she asked, holding the photo taken of him after his autopsy “He’s been labeled a ‘John Doe’?”
Perry tapped his temple. “Yeah. Real mess that was. Had no ID on him and nobody ever came to claim his body. Still sitting in the morgue, the poor bugger. And I remember all that screaming Marcus did about his father and someone taking his kids, too. Boy, he was nuts.”
“He still is. But why would he come in the convenience store, with all of the other patrons that had been there at the time, and only shoot these two people? He didn’t ask for any money or try stealing anything. He just shot these individuals, then waited for the police.” Cheyenne squinted at the foggy figures around the man and Maria. “Is there a way any of your computer guys can enhance this photo so we can make out these other figures?”
It would have been nice to have had the photo during the pretrial, she thought. It might have convinced the judge to beef up security on Marcus.
“Got a computer geek or two who may be able to help.” Perry smiled wide enough for his dimples to appear. Cheyenne loved those dimples and found them oddly comforting.
The pair munched on their ginger chicken and stir-fried rice as they watched the surveillance video of the shooting. Cheyenne leaned closer to the television. “I can’t get a clear glimpse of the female victim before she’s shot. Do we not have any photographs of her before? What’s her name?”
“Still a ‘Jane Doe.’ Face so damaged, we couldn’t make a clear ID on her. Marcus shot her in the face at close range. Even the teeth were blown out.”
Cheyenne winced. “Okay, well…can you get your ‘computer geeks’ to try to get a photo of each vic before they’re shot so we have still photos to work with? We do have this morgue photo of the male vic, but I need one of him alive. Once we have those pictures, I’ll have somewhere to go from. We have a lot of information here but there are no solid connections among everything, which is why our guy is still out there.”
Perry saluted then barked, “Righty-ho, ma’am. Anything else we can do for ya?”
Cheyenne punched him in the arm. “Not at the moment, smart-ass. There’s just something really…familiar about the female vic. I can’t explain it.”