A Section of River Road

Here’s a short excerpt from River Road:

Homicide Detective Hugh Rafferty stood in the center
of the kitchen holding Fido, his hefty black cat in his arms.
In dismay his sharp eyes roved over the disaster that
surrounded him.
A huge dark brown stain matted the filthy linoleum floor,
Cabinet doors sagged open, some broken, as was the
kitchen window. The oven door hung sideways and the
kitchen fanlight was hanging by one electric wire. Rafferty
wrinkled his nose at the familiar smell that permeated the
Fido struggled to get down, but Rafferty held him fast.
“No no, Fido. You know you can’t be wandering around
crime scenes. Jesus…”
Jeff Malone, a husky man in his early forties stood in tshirt
and jeans holding a clipboard in one hand and a digital
camera in the other.
“Yeah Raf. Crime scene is right. This is about as bad as
it gets. The bastards that did this—” He broke off and
sucked in his breath. “I mean…this is sick, man.”
“I hear you,” Raf agreed. “Just when you think you’ve
seen it all.”
His eyes continued to rove about the kitchen. Cracked
tiles sullied the counters. Litter cluttered the counters and
the floor.
“But hey,” Raf went on, “look at the bright side, Jeff.
Somebody did us a favor. When we bring this puppy back
to life, she’ll be worth three hundred grand. Maybe a little
bit more.”
“Well, we’ve got our work cut out for us, Raf. But—you
know, only giving me a forty thousand dollar budget to
work with—this isn’t going to as easy as the last flip.
Besides, if you ask me, this was a poor time to be trying to
flip a house. This’s not like a couple of years ago.”
“You said that the last time, Jeff. In fact you always say
that. But somehow you always come through for me. And
we won’t be greedy. If we offer a good value, the right price,
somebody will buy. I —” He broke off to answer his ringing
cell phone. Still holding Fido firmly in his grasp, he fished
the phone from his side pocket. “Yeah. Yeah. Where? Jesus.
Yeah. Okay, I’m on my way.” He shoved the phone back
into his pocket.
Jeff stood patiently looking at his employer.
“Looks like my city needs me, Jeff. Crime never takes a
holiday. Well, you’ve got enough to start on. I’ll touch down
with you later.”
As Raf headed for the door, Jeff nodded and looked at
his clipboard. Raf turned suddenly back.
“Well, come on man. We’ve only got four weeks to flip
this puppy.” He looked down into Fido’s yellow eyes.
“Come on, Partner. We’ve got us a homicide to investigate.”
“Yeh,” Jeff came back, “and you need a new hat.”
Raf pulled off his ragged and stained straw hat to reveal
a thick mass of uncombed red hair. He looked fondly at the hat.
“Hey, I’m sensitive about this hat. This is my lucky hat. I
wouldn’t trade it for two new ones.” He slapped the hat
back onto his head. “Now get busy.”
Raf pulled his Ford off onto the right embankment of
River Road, opposite the small army of other vehicles,
including two television vans.
Raf sighed and grabbed Fido up in his arms. “Come on
big boy. We’ve got work to do.”
The day was warm but hazy and the tree line that edged
down toward the river looked slightly fuzzy. Carrying Fido
in his arms, Raf crossed the roadway.
A uniformed officer snapped his notebook shut as Raf
“Looks like you and your partner there have
another nasty one on your hands, Raf.”
“Gee, thanks, Jason. Just what I needed. “You know Fido
can’t stand the sight of blood.”
Jason laughed. “Sorry about that. Tell him to look the
other way. Here’s the deal: The girl was apparently riding
her bicycle in the rain along the road here.” He waved out
toward the roadway, dry now on this warm day. “Evidently
her bike was struck from behind by a vehicle, throwing
her off. But her body turned up down below there, under
a tree.” He waved his arm downward in the direction of
the river. “We don’t think the force of the blow threw her that
far, not by a long shot. Somebody got her down there one way or
another and smashed her head in with a rock.”
Raf’s face sobered. He set Fido on the ground and pushed
back his straw porkpie hat, allowing his tumbled red hair
to fly out. “Sexual assault?”
“Medical Examiner thinks so. Her shorts and panties are lying
by the body.”
“Oh boy…well, come on, Fido.”
Closely followed by Fido, Raf struggled to maintain his
balance as he slip-slid down through the wet grass and
gravel to the huddled corpse.

And we haven’t yet met Lucretia St. James, the medium.

River Road from http://www.writewordsinc.com and most sites.


Thrill Seeking

I‘ve always been something of a thrill-seeker, so when we decided to book a cruise, I wanted to be sure to see plenty of action.
I wasn’t disappointed. They had scuba diving, snorkeling, rock climbing, parasailing, hang gliding, jet skis, enterprising tour guides and peddlers; it was great.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to enjoy those activities. I got tied up in the hot tub and the pool where I could sit all day with my feet in the water. Did you know they just bring relaxing drinks right to your poolside all day?
The trip went so quickly. On the last day I decided I certainly had to live up to my reputation and do something daring before I got back to my humdrum daily routine.
I ate some snails in garlic butter.
It wasn’t so bad. Tasted exactly like garlic butter.
I thought my wife would be proud of my cavalier devil-may-care attitude, but unfortunately she thought I had a little too much wine.
I think next time I’ll just settle for the daredevil experience of getting through the airport with all my luggage.

Where did America go Wrong?

Recently I sat down at the computer and booked a trip to Europe. I bought  airline tickets, high-speed train tickets and booked our hotel rooms without a single hitch. Nothing to it.

Today we thought about taking a trip from Sacramento to Portland, a trip of less than 700 miles. We thought about driving, but remembering the train rides we had in Europe, we decided to take the train and rent a car at our destination.

I spent over half an hour going back and forth trying to figure out how get to the place where I could book two round trip Amtrak tickets on their website (the one a retired caboose tender’s son developed in his special ed class). They didn’t know where Portland OR was at first, and I had to go to a list of codes like airlines, lax, cdg, etc. Finally I got past that to the actual booking process.  There is only one train, and it departs at 11.59 P.M. (That sounds much more inviting that midnight, like offering gas for $3.89.9 instead of $3.90).

They could only offer coach seats; no sleeping compartments available (on what they bill as The Starlight — although  the word Starlight does conjure up thoughts of sleeping cars, doesn’t it?).


I go through all the finishing motions and follow all the rules and then up pops a notice telling me that they aren’t able to process my order at this time. I’m supposed to try again at another time.

Like that’s ever going to happen. Where oh where did America go wrong?

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