The Window (Short)

Hey, I really liked the female protagonist in this story so I figured I would share. It’s another one of the shorts I found in my files. Here you go, let me know what you think.

The Window

 

Behaviorally speaking, there is no difference between a five-year-old boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and a thirty-five-year-old accountant accused of raping and murdering a twenty-one year old bartender. The two mirror each other in movement, posture, responses. Tapping feet, shifting eyes, slumped shoulders. These movements betray their secrets. They try to put up a strong front; to deny their truth, both know what the outcome will be. Each can feel the ‘other shoe’ poised over their heads waiting to drop. The only difference between the two is a matter of time. Where the five year old will fold under the withering gaze of grandma in moments, the thirty-five year old thinks he’s crafty, ahead of the game. He requires a little more convincing.

    The way he slumps in the cold hard metal chair; one leg outstretched, his left arm crooked over the seat back. He looks calm. The expensive black suit says he is important, and the smug grin shows he believes it. His eyes angle toward the dull gray metal table, feigning indifference. He’s checked his watch three times in the fifteen minutes he’s been in there. All of that is betrayed, however, by the subtle movement of his lower lip. Beneath that smug, half grin, he gnaws on it like a wolf chewing though his leg to get out of a trap. This is where time comes in.

    He gnaws on his lip. After a few minutes his left knee starts to bounce ever so slightly. His eyes fix across the table. He just noticed the file, a simple manila folder. The word Subject precedes his name, and a thick stack of various forms hide beneath its cover. One form peeks out from under the off-white cover. The title reads, Search Warrant. His name is at the top of that too.

    His eyes dart to the window and he catches his own reflection. There’s a lack of confidence he can’t bear to see so he turns back to the warrant. Yearning to see without overtly straining, he reads as much as he can. Only three lines of text are available to him. When he scans the text his eyes flash wide, though only for a micro second. Instinctively, his right hand snaps to his left collar bone. He doesn’t consciously realize he is trying to hide the deep gashes that stretch from the base of his neck to his chest. He looks back to the window. His eyes are wider now, like the eyes of a person who realized they just stepped out in front of a bus. He is searching for help, searching for hope. It only takes a moment for him to recover.

    On the other side of the one way glass she looks once more at the photo in her hand. Swollen, closed eyes, black, blue, purple, the bloody pulp was once the beautiful face of Shannon Wells, twenty-one, bartender. She could quote the Medical Examiner’s report by letter and verse. Shannon Wells was a fighter, and that made Detective Kate Mills smile. Shannon died as a result of manual strangulation coupled with an intracranial hematoma. The medical examiner found mounds of ripped skin, not Shannon’s, buried under her fingernails. Shannon also had a chunk of areola lodged in her trachea. The girl fought for her life, no one could ask for anymore. And she had had a lot to live for.

    Shannon was a scholar in the truest sense of the word. Daughter of a single father; her Mother, Maya, died while delivering her. Shannon was valedictorian of a class of less than a hundred students in a speck of an upstate New York High School. She led her high school soccer team to a state title her senior year then shot out of town like a rocket. Despite being wooed by every major team in the NCAA, Shannon hung up her cleats in favor of Physics. She was a freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a full academic scholarship. Shannon studied Physics by day and slung drinks at night to make ends meet. Then she met Anthony ‘Tony’ Chapman. The crime scene examination showed forced entry through a shattered door frame. Holes in the sheetrock, a broken coffee table, and shattered television showed Tony liked it rough. Alex Newton, Manager of the Thirsty Owl where Shannon worked picked Tony out of a line up and remembered Tony hovering around Shannon until closing time the night before she went missing.

    Tony is a proud product of South Boston, and he has a record. He married once however that marriage ended with facial reconstruction for his wife, a restraining order, and ninety days in county jail. It seemed Tony liked to hit his girls, and the wife wasn’t the only domestic trouble he’s been a part of. Interviews of former girlfriends yielded adjectives such as scumbag, Napoleon, sadist. Mills also found a south side hooker named Tina who pressed charges on him for assault a few years back. The assault failed to stick since Tina was a hooker. Tony liked to make himself feel strong at the expense of his girls.

Kate watched her quarry for another moment then knocked on the window three times. Slow and deliberate, the rumble of the heavy plate glass was like the sullen drone of a death toll. It’s an utterly unproductive gesture, lends nothing to the coming interrogation. The initial volley in an unmitigated psychological war Detective Kate Mills was about to unleash on this trapped predator.

Tony shot out of his chair at the rumbling staccato, eyes like saucers, he looked at the window, toward her. She smiled. Tony likes it rough. Tony ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

    Detective Mills secured Shannon Wells’ photo to the file that will bear her legacy and turned from the window. Thirty-five or five, little boys do not change. Tony Chapman is about to realize he has been caught with his hand in a very dangerous cookie jar.

END

Don’t forget to check out my books here. My new novel Where Angels Sing just came out in October.

Where Angels Sing Cover

 

Advertisements

Last Call

whiskey

CAVEAT: I don’t get short fiction. My mind doesn’t seem to work in short bursts of writing a single scene or putting a story together in only a couple of thousand words. That being said I was going through my files and found a couple of old stories that I like. I figured why not share them and see what you think.

My first offering is a short called ‘Last Call,’ it takes a look at a detective having a bad day. He’s treading on the edge of disaster and needs a little gentle advice to set him straight. I hope you like it.

Last Call

            Jack’s gut twisted like a cat falling off a building. He pulled on the brass handle and the heavy wooden door swung open with ease.  His eyes on the ground, he crossed the threshold.  Warm as the womb, smoke, stale beer, and the lingering scent of spilled liquor greeted him as he stepped into the bar.  It was quiet and he kept his head down as he made his way to his stool.  There were two couples in a booth toward the back by the fire place.  Three sets of slumped shouldered men hovered over their drinks as if searching for truth at the bottom of their glass.

He found his stool, snakes in his belly were writhing and kicking.  His head hurt and his hands shook as he settled in.  Bennie, the bartender and owner of Jameson’s Pub watched him from down the bar.  He managed a weak nod toward the older man and in a low voice muttered,

“Bourbon, neat Bennie,” he couldn’t meet the old man’s eyes.

He heard the old man sigh as he limped to the shelf and grabbed a tumbler and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.  He watched him start to pour as tears welled in his eyes and he again had to turn his eyes to the floor.

Go! Now! The voice screamed in his head.  Throughout the day that voice had grown progressively weaker like a clock winding down.  In the end it was over matched by the thirst.  The glass slapping the solid oak of the bar sounded like a gong and snapped him out of his thoughts.  Before him stood the tumbler, half full of the harsh amber fluid.  Flanking the larger glass on either side stood two shot glasses brimming with the same.  Bennie loomed over the five drinks, his tired eyes boring into him.  A hint of sadness trimmed the burning disgust in the bartenders eyes.

“What’s this?” Jack asked.

“This?” he pointed to the shot furthest to the right, “is for Tina,”  pointing to the next shot glass he said, “Sammy,”  Bennie skipped the tumbler and at the next shot glass said, “Jack Junior,” Bennie paused for a minute and studied him.  Then his arm shot across the bar and into the breast pocket of Jack’s blazer.  Smooth as lightning he slipped Jack’s wallet.  Flipping it open before his face flopped a  New York Police Department, Detective First Class shield.  “The last shot,”  Bennie palmed the badge and slammed it into the bar so hard it dented the wood.  “is for your badge ya pathetic son of a bitch.  If your wife and kids ain’t enough to keep you straight I thought maybe the job would.  The last time Tina came to pick you up off my bar I could see it in her eyes Jackie.  She’s done, she won’t be here for you this time.  So here you go.  Drink up, but let’s make it a toast.”  Bennie lifted the shot farthest to the left.  He then leaned in so close Jack could feel the heat of his breath.  Jack stared at the bar. He was shaking.

“But…” he offered.

“No! No But, you selfish prick!  Nobody gives a shit what your pantywaist, traumatic, predisposed, worthless excuse is or will be. Least of all me, and certainly not Tina or the kids.”  He slammed the shot down in front of Jack, alcohol spewing from in between his meaty fingers.  “So what’s it gonna be, Jackie boy,” he whispered.

Jack looked at Bennie. Met him eye to eye.  They were red, swollen, broken.  “You can be a real Son of a Bitch sometimes you know that Lieutenant? It’s a good thing you’re retired.”

“Bein an asshole is the only way I ever got you to learn boy.”

Slipping off the stool, shoulders still sagging, Jack tossed a twenty on the bar and started for the door.

END

Make sure you check out the rest of my titles here. My newest release, ‘Where Angels Sing,’ came out in October.

Where Angels Sing Cover

The Line Between Fiction and Science Fiction

 

colonizing-another-planet-1024x575

I’m a thriller writer currently trying my hand at the fantasy genre. I don’t know if writing in another universe was the germ that lead me to this question, or if it was one of the many news articles I’ve read lately but I’m wondering; where is the line between fiction and science fiction today?

I imagine thirty years ago writer’s might have been asking the same. For me I remember watching the Tom Selleck movie Runaway, still one of my favorites. In the movie Tom Selleck is a detective in a bureau dedicated to robot crime. He spent the entire movie chasing Gene Simmons (that’s right, Gene Simmons from Kiss was the bad guy) and an army of acid spitting robots around Los Angeles. I remember as a kid thinking robots all over the place would be awesome. At the time, however the reality of the thing seemed pretty far-fetched. Today I have a robot that sweeps my floors chasing dog hair twice a day.

The definition of Science Fiction from Dictionary.com reads: A form of fiction that draws imaginatively from scientific knowledge and speculation in its plot, setting, theme, etc. Science and speculation…got it. So back in the day watching Runaway I was watching a technology based speculation. But what about today? In the last week I’ve read articles about scientists who created beating heart tissue using a spinach leaf. One of Elon Musk’s sponsored companies helped a quadriplegic use his arms to feed himself by implanting dozens of electro-sensors in his head. And Blue Origin released its design for their space tourism capsule. What was clearly the realm of science fiction thirty years ago, is now the mundane. Speaking of which, who does the trooper ticket when a headless Uber causes a wreck?

So now that we are the Jetson’s lets speculate. It’s estimated that consumer technology lags behind the ‘black’ project world by fifty years or so. If we can create a human heart from vegetables and send fat cats into outer space for a photo op, what are we really capable of? Once I finish my wandering through fantasy land one of my characters from Spoilers, and its sister novel, Where Angels Sing is getting his own series. He’s taking on an elitist cabal bent on re-constructing the world in their own image. The bad guys will be using high technology. As I block out my books I have to ask, how high is too high? Where is that line between Sci-fi and reality. I want to keep the new series as a thriller, not sci-fi. Even as I write this I still have no idea.

“We now have the technology to take E.T home,” Ben Rich, the Second Director of Lockheed Skunkworks is reported to have said that in a lecture once. Not sure how true it is but it is a pretty cool quote to think about.

Okay musing over, back to swords, horses, and horns of ale.

References:
http://www.livescience.com/58445-spin…
https://www.thesun.co.uk/living/32013…
http://www.seattletimes.com/business/…
http://www.blueblurrylines.com/2014/1…

Don’t forget to check out my new book Where Angels Sing.

Where Angels Sing Cover

Author Spotlight: Mark Bacon’s Desert Kill Switch

Desert Kill Switch Front cover final smal

Mark Bacon is a former crime reporter turned novelist. His newest release Desert Kill Switch is the second offering in the Nostalgia City Mystery Series and bears a look. Attached is the synopsis and other information about Mark and Desert Kill Switch.

Synopsis

A life-and-death chase across the Nevada desert in the middle of August highlights the action in Desert Kill Switch a complex mystery spread across the southwest

On an empty desert road, stressed-out ex-cop Lyle Deming finds a bullet-riddled body next to a mint-condition 1970s Pontiac Firebird. When he returns to the scene with sheriff’s deputies: no car, no body.  Does the answer lie in Nostalgia City where Lyle works? The Arizona retro theme park re-creates—in every detail—an entire small town from the early 1970s.  It’s complete with period cars, clothes, music, hairstyles, food, shops, fads, restaurants—the works.

Lyle swapped his job as a Phoenix homicide detective for a cab in Nostalgia City when the anxieties and disappointments of police work nearly pushed him over the edge.

Nostalgia City VP Kate Sorensen, a former college basketball star, is in Nevada on park business when she gets mixed up with a sleazy Las Vegas auto dealer who puts hidden “kill switches” and GPS trackers in cars he sells—mainly to low-income buyers.  Miss a payment—sometimes by as little as a few days—and your car is dead.  Maybe you are, too.

When Kate’s accused of murder in Reno, Lyle arrives to help his blonde, not-quite-girlfriend and they plow through a deadly tangle of suspects and motives.  Kate and Lyle hit one dead end after another as they struggle to exonerate Kate, catch a blackmailer, save a witness’s life, and help find the missing corpse.

Praise

“In Desert Kill Switch, Lyle Deming, an ex-cop who drives a cab in a retro theme park, and co-worker Kate Sorensen, are unexpectedly thrown together again when Kate becomes a murder suspect. If you like fast-paced mysteries, nasty characters and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing to the end, this is a must read!”

“Love this book! I was so happy to be back in Nostalgia City, the retro theme park. Bacon’s protagonist Kate Sorensen is a three-dimensional character, who stands up to challenges without being ‘super woman.’ This is the kind of book where you keep saying ‘just one more chapter.’”

Mark’s Bio

Mark S. Bacon began his career as a southern California newspaper police reporter, one of his crime stories becoming key evidence in a murder case that spanned decades.

After working for two newspapers, he moved to advertising and marketing when he became a copywriter for Knott’s Berry Farm, the large theme park down the road from Disneyland.  Experience working at Knott’s formed part of the inspiration for his creation of Nostalgia City theme park.

Before turning to fiction, Bacon wrote business books including Do-It-yourself Direct Marketing, printed in four languages and three editions and named best business book of the year by Library Journal.  His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Cleveland Plain Dealer, San Antonio Express News, and many other publications.  Most recently he was a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Desert Kill Switch is the second book in the Nostalgia City mystery series that began with Death in Nostalgia City an award winner at the 2015 San Francisco Book Festival.

He taught journalism as a member of the adjunct faculty at Cal Poly University – Pomona, University of Redlands, and the University of Nevada – Reno.  He earned an MA in mass media from UNLV and a BA in journalism from Fresno State

As always don’t forget to check out my new book, Where Angels Sing: Spoilers Book Two.

Where Angels Sing Cover

 

Human Trafficking

Any good story has to have an underlying bedrock of truth.

Brothers Keeper

In my novel Brother’s Keeper I follow undercover ICE Agent Charlie Bowman as he infiltrates a human trafficking ring. In the book women from the far east are kidnapped off the street and transported in cargo containers to the Port of Charleston then distributed throughout a criminal network. It’s all fiction, but any good story has to have an underlying bedrock of truth.

In the novel I have the victims taken in a foreign land and shipped like animals to the U.S. but I came across this story the other day and thought it bore further study.

Picture1

This is a case where my alumni at the FBI used undercovers to catch a guy outside of Atlanta who tried to hire a couple of thugs to murder one woman and kidnap another.  According to the article the subject was planning on kidnapping his target to pimp her out as a human slave. This story hits pretty close to home. When you see a movie or read a book like Brother’s Keeper where human trafficking is part of the story it makes sense that the actual victims are from somewhere else. Sure they end up in the US and a bunch of other places around the world where they are exploited in a variety of ways but to think of an american girl kidnapped and made a slave here doesn’t compute. Not here right? This case can really give one pause.

I tend to believe that over the career I’ve had and some of the cases I have worked that I am pretty hard to surprise. When I was researching Brother’s Keeper some of the stats I came across related to human trafficking were staggering. The brutality and the tactics used to force another human into modern day slavery are pretty bad too but the shear scope of the problem is what really got my attention. When I began writing Brother’s Keeper human smuggling was just a means of making my bad guys as awful as possible. When I was trying to get the reality of human smuggling right I really learned something though. I’m not going to bury you with stats but it is worth mentioning that today human trafficking is a 32 billion dollar business. There are over 4.5 million people forced into sexual exploitation in our country every year, and 300,000 of those are under eighteen and bought and sold on the commercial sex market.

I’m not big on preaching but the practice of human trafficking is something that the average person doesn’t see, and doesn’t think about, so it doesn’t exist in their world. Sadly you probably run into modern human slaves a lot more often than you think. before I close here are some things to look for that may be indicators of a possible human trafficking scenario: (Courtesy of the www.polarisproject.org)

  • Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
  • Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
  • High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
  • Has few or no personal possessions
  • Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
  • Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
  • Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
  • Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
  • Loss of sense of time
  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story

References:

http://m.waff.com/story/36575966/decatur-police-fbi-arrest-man-in-alleged-human-trafficking-plot

http://arkofhopeforchildren.org/child-trafficking/child-trafficking-statistics

https://polarisproject.org/recognize-signs

Author Spotlight: Hollie Overton’s The Walls

Hollie Overton

Hollie Overton’s new book, The Walls was released on August 8th.  Hollie is an experienced TV writer currently working on the second season of Freeform’s “Shadowhunters.” She previously wrote for two seasons of Lifetime’s “The Client List,” and the final season of the CBS drama, “Cold Case.” A native of Kingsville, Texas, Hollie made her way to the Big Apple, where she studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Literature at Hunter College and mixology in Murray Hill. Convinced her talents lay in telling stories; Hollie set her sights on Hollywood. In 2008 Hollie was selected for the esteemed Warner Brother Writers Workshop.  Her debut novel, Baby Doll was published in July 2016 and is an international best-seller. Hollie is repped by MetaMorphic Entertainment and WME.

Here is an excerpt from The Walls:

What if you could get away with murder?

Single mom Kristy Tucker works as a press agent for the Texas Department of Corrections — handling everything on death row from inmate interviews to chronicling the last moments during an execution. Her job exposes Kristy to the worst of humanity, and it’s one that’s beginning to take its toll.

So when Kristy meets Lance Dobson, her son’s martial arts instructor, she believes she has finally found her happy ending. She’s wrong.

Kristy soon discovers that Lance is a monster. Forced to endure his verbal and physical abuse, Kristy is serving her own life sentence…unless she’s willing to take matters into her hands. Perfectly poised to exploit the criminal justice system she knows so well, Kristy sets out to get rid of Lance — permanently.

The Walls explores domestic violence, the morality of murder, and how far one woman will go to protect her family.

 

Links to Hollie on Social Media:

www.twitter.com/hollieoverton

www.instagram.com/hollieoverton

https://www.facebook.com/authorhollieoverton/

www.hollieoverton.com

Don’t forget to check out my new book Where Angels Sing, Spoilers Book Two. Available Now.

Where Angels Sing Cover

Spoiler Alert! (Get it?)

Where Angels Sing: Spoilers Book Two comes out tomorrow. In honor of this here is the back cover. I will release some excerpts soon but I’m still trying to figure out which ones I want to put out. If you haven’t read Spoilers already this is going to give some things away, just warning you.

Where Angels Sing Cover

Where Angels Sing: Spoilers Book Two comes out tomorrow. In honor of this here is the back cover. I will release some excerpts soon but I’m still trying to figure out which ones I want to put out. If you haven’t read Spoilers already this is going to give some things away, just warning you. Here it is:

“Where Angels Sing is a gritty crime thriller that picks up where Spoilers left off.

Detective Benjamin Wilke has tried to get over the murder of Poppy Montague.

Montague was killed during an operation to take down a weapons trafficking conspiracy almost a year ago, Wilke was only minutes too late to rescue her. He was the first to find her lifeless, abused body and he was powerless to do anything about it.

Wilke knows people responsible for Poppy’s death are out there. Ben Wilke also knows those people, powerful, connected people need to pay.

Wilke’s only lead in an off the books investigation vanished before his eyes. He’s lost, no leads, no direction, just boiling anger, and festering rage. Little does Ben Wilke know however that his actions have drawn attention. The cabal he hunts is deeper and broader than he could ever have imagined, and they’ve decided he’s a threat. Will he realize he is being hunted before it’s too late?”

I hope you like the book. Please let me know what you think.