The #Kindle version of my mystery-thriller “Identity Check” is available now for only $2.95! Reviews are most welcome. Check it out today…
The #Kindle version of my mystery-thriller “Identity Check” is available now for only $2.95! Reviews are most welcome. Check it out today…
I need your help! I’ve written an award-winning novel, but have limited sales on amazon.com because only a few people have reviewed the story. It’s only a couple of dollars on Kindle (on sale!) or FREE to Kindle Unlimited members. I am looking for mystery lovers to read the story and offer your honest review. The story is funny, romantic, scary, exciting, and an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. Thanks!
Here’s the link:
New exciting mystery-thriller now available on amazon.com on Kindle or paperback. Here’s a scene with Scott and Jessie trying to find his true father…
Jessie parked the BMW in front of 4417 Westbrook Road. Scott stared up at the two-story, shotgun-style home that shared a covered porch with its paint-peeling twin next door. A few feet of calf-high grass separated the duplex from the other deteriorating homes on the block. A single FHA tree provided shade for the uneven broken sidewalk, and a brightly painted ceramic gnome family occupied a corner of the tiny front lawn.
“Are you going to sit there all day, or go knock on the door?” Jessie asked.
“Look at the time. We should come back tomorrow.”
“My watch says five o’clock.”
“They might be eating supper.”
“Or be in the living room half-naked, playing strip dominoes,” she said.
He shrugged. “Possible.”
Jessie got out of the car, grabbed Scott by the hand, and dragged him up the three steps leading to the porch. “Close your fingers into a fist, and bang it against the screen door frame–exactly three times.”
“What am I going to say–hi, I’m the bastard grandson you never met?”
“For an ice breaker I’d suggest, hello, I’m Scott Harold, Jr.”
“No wonder mom always liked you best.” He took a deep breath and rapped loudly on the door. No response. “Nobody’s home, let’s go.”
Scott turned to leave, but Jessie rotated him back. “Knock louder. I hear a TV.”
A few seconds later, the inside door swung open. A pleasant-looking elderly man, wearing leather slippers, smiled at them from behind a torn screen door. He wore a white t-shirt tucked into dress slacks held up by suspenders. The Cincinnati Enquirer sports section rested in his right hand. “May I help you?” he said, looking over his reading glasses.
Scott stood there with his mouth open, but no words came out. Jessie came to his rescue.
“We are looking for a Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Harold. Is this where they live?”
The man said. “You got the right address, but they don’t live here anymore. Are you family?”
“Could be,” said Scott.
The man said, “Either you are or you’re not.”
“If we could speak to them, I could give you a better answer.”
The man frowned. “That makes no sense.”
“Can you tell us where they moved?” Jessie interrupted.
A couple minutes of silence went by. Scott finally asked, “Well?”
“Sorry, it won’t help.”
Scott said, “Why not?”
“Are you two selling insurance?”
“No,” said Jessie, “we need to ask them something very important.”
“I’d like to help, but you still can’t speak to them.”
“Please?” Jessie said.
“Jesus, is everybody dead?” Scott said, throwing his hands up in desperation.
“I’m feeling okay,” the man offered.
“You don’t understand,” said Jessie, “We’re trying to find out if their son is Scott’s father.”
The man said, “Why don’t you ask him?”
“Who?” Jessie asked.
“We can’t,” said Scott, “He died in Vietnam.”
The man shook his head. “Not him, the other one, Billy. He’s the one who sold us this house.”
Jessie said, “Scott Sr. had a brother?”
“The Harold family have been friends for years. Billy took it bad when he lost his kid brother.”
Scott said, “Any chance you have Billy’s address?”
The man nodded. “Sure, he lives in the other half of this duplex.”
Check it out on amazon.com. Honest reviews welcomed!
New exciting mystery-thriller now available on amazon.com on Kindle or paperback. Here’s a scene with Scott and Jessie meeting Scott’s mother for the first time…
They pulled up in front of a three-story Victorian mansion that would have cost a fortune located anywhere else in the world. Scott told Jessie how the house had been constructed in the late 1800’s by a railroad tycoon, and that his mother had been able to keep most of the antique furnishings and decorations originally imported from Europe.
Jessie stared at the impressive structure. “You didn’t tell me you lived with the Adams Family. Who do you keep locked up in the tower?”
“Mother reserved that room for you.”
She gave him an indignant look. “Well, don’t expect me to weave any straw into gold.”
Scott tried to find a place to park, but cars lined the street on both sides for three blocks in each direction. All the lights in the house blazed away, illuminating the neighborhood like a Cincinnati Reds night game.
“What the heck’s going on?” Jessie asked.
Scott shook his head. “Mother must be entertaining again.”
He squeezed the MGB into a spot half on the driveway, half on the lawn, and turned off the engine.
Jessie snorted. “Look at the size of this place. You guys must be dripping with dough.”
“We do all right.”
“Just you and the Royal Family.”
They climbed the steps to the wrap-around front porch. Scott pushed down on the latch at the top of the s-curved handle and the elaborately-carved, seven-foot high, oak door swung open. A cacophony of conversations, music, and light spilled out into the night.
Jessie grinned. “Sounds like a party.”
Scott led the way through his home. Guests, dressed in their finest, drank champagne and held monogrammed plates loaded with bite-sized cucumber sandwiches, scallops wrapped in bacon, and goose liver on crackers that they had purloined off silver trays carried by an endless number of penguin-like waiters. Other invitees, clustered about in groups of three and four, were busily exchanging liberal opinions or spouting political half-truths.
They arrived at the ballroom–a huge space, with a soaring ceiling, illuminated by a pale blue crystal chandelier. An antique Steinway grand piano sat in the corner, its majestic notes supported an accomplished jazz octet attempting one of Dave Brubeck’s more accessible compositions. A few couples were trying to dance to the tune on the highly polished Carrera marble floor.
“Are you sure we got the right house?” Jessie asked.
Scott’s mother, Christina Harold, swept into the room, wearing the latest designer frock, with a “Kendall for President” button that nearly covered her entire left breast. She immediately descended upon Scott and smothered him in hugs and kisses.
Jessie answered her own question. “Yep, must be the right place, or else people are really friendly in Middletown.”
Several of the nearby guests turned to acknowledge the newcomers for the first time–frowning at their casual attire. Jessie announced with a queenly wave of her hand, “My Paris original didn’t arrive as planned, but they’re flying it over on the Concorde as we speak.” She whispered to Scott, “Should I flash ’em?”
“And you must be Jessica Sterling,” said Christina, extending her hand. “Scott has told me so much about you.”
Jessie did a once over of the attractive, shapely lady in front of her. She stood about five-foot-five, with dark brown hair, and appeared way too young to be the mother of a college junior. But something about her style commanded attention and Jessie found it hard to believe she had remained single all these years.
Scott complained. “Mom, you didn’t say anything about a fundraiser this weekend. I thought we’d spend some quiet time together for you to meet and get to know Jessie.”
“I’m so sorry, darling, but campaign funds for President Kendall are dangerously low, so I had to do it. The primaries are only weeks away. Don’t worry; by eleven at the latest, these people will consume all the alcohol and food, and then simply drift away. Go amuse yourselves for a few hours. I’m sure Jessie can come up with something for you two to do together for that long.”
She winked at Jessie, and then turned away as quickly as she had appeared; floating off to the next group of partygoers, who judging from Christina’s charm and panache, wouldn’t even blink if she asked them to hand over all their cash and jewelry.
Jessie remained looking in the direction Christina had disappeared. “What was that?”
Scott looked at the floor. “Ahh…my mother can be a bit overwhelming when you first meet her, but she’s really quite nice–almost shy.”
Jessie chuckled. “Yeah right, like Attila the Hun. Where’s the food at this party? I’m starving.”
Scott offered his arm and escorted Jessie to the buffet table, where she filled up two plates with slices of chicken, assorted dim sum, stuffed mushrooms, and jumbo shrimp drizzled with cocktail sauce, while he absconded a chilled bottle of vintage white Burgundy and two wine glasses.
Scott said, “Let’s go upstairs for a little privacy and to escape all the noise.”
“I think she liked me,” Jessie shouted over the band, as they climbed the staircase to the second floor, “But hard to tell from–you must be Jessica.”
“Give her a chance. She only acts like that in front of an audience.”
“What’s the big deal about President Kendall anyway? He’s a creep who’s done a lousy job for the country.”
“Don’t let her hear you say that. Mom loves the guy. He’s the reason she got into politics in the first place.”
“I thought all rich people were Republicans.”
“That’s a dirty word in this house.”
“Rich or Republican?” Jessie asked.
“If you mention Republicans, my mother will wash your mouth out with soap.”
Jessie folded her arms. “I’d like to see her try.”
When they arrived at the study, Scott opened a set of French doors and switched on the lights. Antique furniture filled the room, including a roll-top desk and a stuffed empire sofa. Several leather bound books rested on the polished mahogany bookshelves, along with a matched set of deep-blue Venetian vases, and a scattering of family photographs in ornate gold frames. A boxed out semi-circular window seat with a flowered cushion enhanced the alcove on the south wall.
“How do you like this room?” he asked.
“I love it.” Jessie nodded toward the alcove. “Let’s eat by the window.”
The two sat down, overlooking a sleepy row of houses along a tree-lined street below. In the distance, the faint glow of Cincinnati illuminated the evening clouds.
“As a kid, I would play in here, while mom worked at the desk.”
Jessie said, “I can see why you liked growing up here.”
“Yep, this little berg is crime-free and all the neighbors are friendly. We can even claim a celebrity singing group.”
“Middletown is the birthplace of the McGuire Sisters. Remember Sincerely, or Sugartime, big hits back in the 1950s?”
Jessie shrugged. “Sorry.”
Scott said, “Well, they were pretty famous around here.”
Jessie perked up. “You’d like my town too. Venice is one huge beach, the Pacific Ocean, and babes in bikinis skating up and down the boardwalk, dodging a steady parade of local characters and tourists. I’ll bet you can’t find medical marijuana in your town at midnight.”
Scott smiled. “You can’t do anything in Middletown after ten p.m., they’ve rolled up the sidewalks and gone home.”
“Hey, how about giving me a tour of this place? I need to pee like a banshee after all that wine.”
“I’ll make a bathroom our first stop.”
Several rooms later, they returned to the study. From below, Scott could hear a steady stream of guests making loud inebriated farewells and the front door kept slamming. “Sound like the party is ending. My mother should be up soon.”
Jessie walked over to the bookcase and picked up a frame with a picture of a beautiful young woman holding a baby. “Is this you and your mom?”
Scott looked over her shoulder. “Yep, ever see a cuter baby?”
She picked up another. “And your high school graduation?”
“Right again. I’m the one wearing the cap and gown.”
Jessie moved on to the next photo…a soldier standing in a jungle clearing with his shirt off, wearing a red bandana around his neck, and surrounded by ten other young smiling Marines.
“Scott’s father was a Marine,” Christina announced, as she entered the room. “Sorry, it took me so long to clear out the place.”
“No problem, mother,” said Scott.
Christina turned to Jessica. “Has my son been boring you with our ancient history?”
Jessie placed her arm through Scott’s. “I find his life story utterly fascinating.”
Christina smirked. “Of course you do.”
Jessie handed the picture to Christina. “Mrs. Harold, your guy was quite the stud muffin.”
“I prefer to remember Lieutenant Scott Harold as a wonderful husband, soldier, and patriot–not a stud muffin.”
“Sorry, I meant no disrespect, but he’s awfully cute.”
Christina smiled but didn’t respond.
“How did he die?” Jessie asked.
“He was killed in a firefight somewhere near the Cambodian border, but not before saving the lives of three of his men. Scott, Sr. was only twenty-two at the time.” Christina put her hand to her mouth and turned partially away.
“You must be very proud,” Jessie said, “He made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.”
Christina sighed. “I am…but regret that Scott Jr. grew up without a father.”
“It had to be hard on you too.”
“We managed.” After a long awkward silence, Christina asked, “So…how did you two meet–Laundromat, bowling alley…brothel?”
Scott frowned. “You know how we met, mother.”
“Oh, Scott, I don’t really care. Lust is natural in a boy, of course, but girls today; with their loose morals and provocative manner of dress. No wonder there are so many unwanted children. I suppose you two will want to sleep together.”
Scott restrained Jessie.
“First of all, I am not sleeping with your son–and even if I were, it’s none of your damn business. Where do you get off making snap judgments of people? I’ve half-a-mind to…”
“I don’t doubt the half-a-mind part, but Scott is my only son and I want what’s best for him.”
Jessie said, “He can make his own decisions.”
Scott interrupted. “Can I say something about this?”
Both women turned and yelled at the same time, “No!”
Christina addressed Jessie again. “You may think I’m an overprotective mother, but I don’t want Scott to climb on the first cute bus that comes along.”
Jessie clenched her fists. “He hasn’t climbed on anything yet.”
“All right, that’s enough,” Scott said. “Mother, you are being very rude to Jessie, and although she can be hot headed at times…”
Jessie shoved him. “Who’s hot headed?”
“…as I was saying, even though her temper flairs occasionally, I love her.”
Jessie said, “Sweet,” to Scott, and then got up into Christina’s face and stuck out her jaw. “See, he loves me.”
Scott forced his way between the women. “You both are acting like children. I expect it from Jessie, but mom you’re the adult here. Now either you two make up, or we’re leaving right now.”
The ladies stood their ground. Scott started for the door.
Christina grabbed his arm. “No, don’t go, I haven’t seen you in weeks.” She paused. “I might have been a bit harsh…”
“You got that right,” Jessie replied.
“Jessie…” Scott warned.
Jessie nodded toward Christina. “I’ll play nice if she will.”
Christina composed herself. “I’m sorry I spoke so bluntly. How about we start over?”
“Please, Jessie,” said Scott.
Jessie went silent for a moment. “Oh, all right. What the hell.”
Christina smiled. “Splendid. Let’s go downstairs for a cup of tea. You can tell me all about yourself, and I can share some of Scott’s little quirks.”
“Quirks, mother?” Scott asked.
“Yes, dear, she’s entitled to all the facts.”
Scott observed in amazement as his mother and Jessie walked off, chatting away like old friends as if nothing had happened. “Don’t worry about me,” he shouted after them, but neither one looked back. Scott would never understand women. He shook his head, had second thoughts about the whole “meet the mom” idea, and then went off to bed–alone again.
Check it out on amazon.com. Honest reviews welcomed!
Instructions: Read out loud in a “rap” style; white people pretend it’s a poem (except for EMINEM and Vanilla Ice). With apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda…
Last night I took a trip to the Pantages, bought a ticket to a show; handed over half my wages
took a seat inside, excitement was contagious, as I flipped through my program’s pages
The lights went down, audience started to stir when out on the stage walked Aaron Burr
We listened closely as he started rappin, didn’t want to miss a thing, about what was happenin
then he introduced us to a native son, a man called Alexander Hamilton
From the Carribean, a bastard clear, daddy walked out, mama died holding him near
Had to escape, use his charms, in New York City, he heard the call to arms
Freedom was the cry from Laurens and Lafayette, joined by Burr and Mulligan, against the British threat
Washington with Hamilton by his side fought the bloody British and turned the tide
Born a new nation, like an infant it cried, as the founding fathers looked on with pride.
…and that was only Act One.
The costumes were great, the set inspiring, the orchestra top notch, the dancers never tiring
choreography on its toes, (who knows how they moved so gracefully in those heavy clothes)
Too many actors to name them all by name, so I pick out a few who brought their A game
Rory O’Malley as King George always made us laugh…
Jordon Donica (Lafayette and Jefferson), tall as a giraffe, brought his characters to life with aplomb and panache…
Rubin Carbajal (John/Philip) got to die in Act One and Act Two, he played it so real we all got blue…
Joshua Henry (Aaron Burr) started the show, hero, and a villain, he rapped a different tune, then spent most of the show, envious of Hamilton and wanting to be “in the room”…
Isaiah Johnson (Washington), played frustrated but strong, defeated the British and became the father of our country where he belonged…
Ah, the ladies, Amber Iman (Peggy/Maria) and Solea Pfeiffer (Eliza Hamilton) brought sympathy, sophistication, and class, rapping with the best of them, and beat boxing with sass…
Finally, Michael Luwoye played with intensity/layers the star of the show, my recommendation? If you get a chance, I’d go…
Richard Allan Jones is an actor, musician, and author from Los Angeles, California.
New exciting mystery-thriller now available on amazon.com on Kindle or paperback. Here’s the second chapter…
College junior Scott Harold, dressed in bleached-out jeans, a scarlet and gray varsity sweater, and brown penny loafers, looked at his watch–late again. He promised to meet Jessie for lunch but had run into some friends near the Natatorium and time had simply slipped away.
He picked up the pace, passing the William Oxley Thomas Memorial Library, weaving in and out of the hundreds of Ohio State students hurrying to class on the many sidewalks that crisscrossed the Oval. Chimes in nearby Orton Hall rang out the three-quarter hour as the powder blue spring sky started to cloud up. A few drops of rain fell on his face. Now he wished he’d listened to the WCOL weather report this morning before heading out to his six AM swim practice.
Covering his head with the campus newspaper, The Lantern, Scott waited for the light at Fifteenth and High Street to change. He smiled as he thought back to how he and Jessie had first met only a few months ago.
His fraternity, the Lambda Chi’s, wearing their traditional blue blazers, with matching striped ties, and tan chinos, had walked over to serenade the Delta Gammas. After the brothers finished the first song, instead of the girls coming outside to respond, the housemother stuck her head out the door, smiled mysteriously, and invited them inside the sorority house.
There, like a Busby Berkeley movie, poised on each step of a curving grand staircase, stood a bevy of the most beautiful women Scott had ever seen. On cue, the ladies slowly descended, each holding a flickering candle while singing a lilting ditty from Brigadoon. Although each girl appeared as beautiful as the next, he focused his attention on one particularly stunning young woman, who easily outshone the others, with her flashing eyes, high cheekbones, and international mystique.
Scott watched in fascination as this intriguing young lady, dressed in a flowing chiffon gown, got closer and closer, and then he broke out laughing when he spotted, just below the hem, a slip poking out imprinted with tiny Minnie Mouse figures. Black army boots adorned with polka dot laces completed the outfit.
Curious to meet this fashion diva, he worked his way through the boisterous crowd to her side. “Hi,” he shouted over the noise. “I’m Scott Harold. Love your boots.”
She looked him up and down, and then asked, “Are you wearing any underwear?”
Scott checked his zipper, relieved to see it remained closed. “Ah, yes, why do you ask?”
“You strike me as the kind of guy who might go commando to one of these shindigs.”
Scott blushed. “Thanks…I think…and you are?”
“Thirsty,” she grabbed him by the arm and pulled him toward the dining room. “Buy me a drink, and if you’re lucky, I’ll tell you my fascinating life story.”
They stood in line forever for a half-filled paper cup of chilled fruit punch, plus the last of the coveted chocolate-covered mint cookies and then found space to sit down on one of the living room couches.
She faced him, her brown eyes open full…their knees touching. “OK, you’ve got one shot–so, impress me.”
Scott thought, be bold, don’t hesitate, and don’t be clichéd. No, wait, what if she talks brash, but is really shy? Oh crap, I can’t screw this up. What should I say?
Jessie raised an eyebrow. “You with the zombie stare–did I put you to sleep, or is the pressure too great to carry on a normal conversation?”
He blurted out, “You are the most beautiful woman in the world–and I can lick my own eyebrows.”
She laughed so hard punch came out her nose. “Good one–and as a token of good faith in this negotiation, I am not wearing any underwear.”
“Would you go out with me?” he said.
“You’re cute, but a little dense. I’m giving off such a positive signal that I could be mistaken for a lighthouse. I think I’ll call you, Pookie.”
Scott frowned. “I’d rather you didn’t.”
“What if I called you, Snookums?”
“Would it help with the Pookie thing?”
Scott shook his head. “Not really.”
“Okay, no nicknames, until we get to know each other better. Pick me up Friday night at eight.” She stood up to go.
Scott touched her arm. “Wait, what’s your name.”
She turned and smiled. “Jessie.”
That wonderful beginning had led to a series of incredible dates. Now Scott thought only of Jessie…his former girlfriends left far behind. His fraternity brothers had grown fond of her too. She had become a house favorite after showing up for the Hell’s Angels party on a Harley Fat Boy Classic, wearing nothing but combat boots, a red bikini, and a German World War Two helmet.
Today, Scott intended to take their relationship to the next level.
He entered the Char Bar and scanned the packed restaurant. It didn’t take long to spot Jessie because at five-foot-seven she easily stood out amongst the crowd. Wearing an open bolero-length leather jacket and jeans, she leaned against a high-backed booth, chatting away with Pam, one of her sorority sisters.
Jessie saw him approaching and loudly announced to the entire restaurant, “Mr. Scott Harold, here you are at last. I feared you had abandoned me. I’m pregnant and you won’t pay for an abortion. I’m ruined–ruined, I tell you.” She broke into tears and covered her face with her hands.
Several students within earshot gave him a disgusted look–including sister Pam, whose eyes grew so large she almost popped a blood vessel.
“Very funny, Jessie,” he said. “That’s not true…and please lower your voice, people are staring.”
Jessie took his hands but continued speaking at top volume. “When you left me that morning, ravaged from a torrid night of savage sex, you promised to love me forever. But by the next weekend, you couldn’t remember my name. Now I’m a gal in trouble, and you won’t return my phone calls.”
Pam’s jaw fell to her chest.
Scott whispered. “Tell Pam we haven’t done…it yet before she has a kitten.”
Jessie gave a clear, no holds barred laugh, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed the end of his nose. He loved that laugh–one of her many wonderful attributes, along with her trademark scent that smelled like a blend of fresh flowers and the lusty month of May. Whenever he got a whiff, he would flashback to their last make out session.
The rest of the Char Bar patrons went back to their meals, as the couple slid into the booth opposite Pam. Jessie said, “So, where have you been, dummy?”
“Well, don’t let it happen again, or I’ll tie you down and spank you–oh wait, I already did that!” She laughed again.
Pam shook her head.
A waitress, in matching white apron and cap, took their orders. He selected the usual huge amount of food required to fill his six-foot frame, while the girls chose a salad, accompanied by the Char Bar’s famous double-thick milk shake. It amazed Scott that he could eat as much as he wanted and never weigh more than one-eighty-five–thanks to the four hours a day he spent in the pool as a member of the OSU swim team.
Jessie said, “Okay, we’ve ordered. What’s the secret you wanted to tell me?” Both girls leaned in for his answer.
He loved the way her eyes sparkled when she smiled. She was a wonderful, complex, intelligent woman who kept him constantly on his toes. And although she liked to shock people with her brazen sex talk, they had waited to sleep together because she wanted the moment to be right. Who could guess that Jessie would turn out to be a Romantic?
He swallowed hard, turned toward her, and held out a gold twin heart promise ring in his open hand. “Jessie, would you wear my ring?”
Across the table, Pam squealed and nodded yes faster than a bobble head mounted in a speeding car on a bumpy road.
Jessie remained silent; her eyes guarding her thoughts, for what seemed an eternity. Finally, she said, “I don’t know, Scott. First, I agree to go out with you–and now you want me to wear a promise ring. People will say we’re in love.”
Pam’s head started bobbing up and down again.
“This is a giant first step, followed by engagement, marriage, and a baby carriage. Do you want lots of children, Scott Harold?”
He stammered. “I…I…uh…didn’t think that far ahead…well, ah…we might, uh, maybe…”
She laughed. “Don’t panic, I have no desire to march down the aisle quite yet either.”
Scott let out a sigh of relief. “So, what do you think?”
“Of course, I will, silly.” Jessie slipped the ring on her finger. “Now kiss me.” She pushed him against the back of the booth, pressing her body against his. Fortunately, she stopped after a few seconds or he might have burst. Jessie demurely brushed back her hair and took another sip of her milkshake.
“I should give out promise rings more often,” Scott said, mopping his brow with a napkin.
Jessie punched him in the arm. “Not if you want to live.”
“You two should be arrested for making out like that in public,” said Pam.
“Well then, we’d better keep it private.” Under the table, Jessie slipped her hand between Scott’s thighs.
“No w-way,” Scott’s voice broke, as he put Jessie’s hand back on her side of the booth. “I want to tell everybody that you’re my girl.”
“Let’s take out an ad in the campus paper.”
“Come on, I’m serious…and I want you to meet my mother.”
Jessie shook her head. “Not after what you told me.”
“Why, what’s wrong with his mother?” Pam asked.
“She can be a little intimidating,” Scott admitted.
Jessie twirled several of the dark brown hairs on the back of his neck around her finger. “Must I go?”
“Only for a couple of days. We’ll stay over Saturday night, eat a home-cooked meal, and then drive back to campus on Sunday. I can give you your choice of accommodation in our twelve room historic home.”
“So, where in this giant residence is your room?”
“Sorry, Mom’s an old fashioned kind of lady with a very strict Catholic upbringing. I had to learn about the birds and the bees from the neighborhood kids.”
“So asking her to join us is pretty much out?”
He gave her a look. “What do you think?”
“I get the picture–your mom’s legs are glued together, and no hanky panky for us on the schedule either.”
“I didn’t say that–we always could go watch the submarine races on the Miami River.”
Jessie kissed him on the cheek. “Now you’re talking. Who knows, you might get your periscope wet this weekend. ”
Scott chuckled. “Whatever am I going to do with you?”
Jessie smiled like the Cheshire Cat. “How much time before your next class?”
New exciting mystery-thriller now available on amazon.com on Kindle or paperback. Here’s the first chapter…
Calvin Mills, the senior Democratic Senator from Maryland, relaxed in his favorite leather chair, watching the latest CNN news summary. He’d spent a long day on the hill fighting for his water conservation bill and felt as drained as a rock star after a three-hour concert at JFK Stadium. After shutting down the big screen TV, he headed to the kitchen where he found Danny sitting at the table, eating a late-night meal. “You find everything you need?” The startled Secret Service agent jumped to his feet, his mouth stuffed with a man-sized bite of a turkey sandwich, and mumbled, “Yes, sir, appreciate your hospitality.” “This protection is a waste of taxpayer money,” Calvin said, as he grabbed a soda from the magnet-covered refrigerator. Danny, his white shirt opened at the neck and his striped tie pulled aside for comfort, discretely wiped mustard off his chin with his finger. “No matter how much you complain, sir, we’re not going away.” Calvin nodded. “Now sit down and finish your sandwich, I’m going to bed.” The senator climbed the stairs toward the second-floor master bedroom, paused at the midpoint landing to catch his breath, and then entered the bathroom to brush his teeth. Judy, his wife and best friend for more than thirty years, clad in a white silk nightgown, sat up in bed, leaning against the headboard, but remaining so engrossed in her latest romance novel, she didn’t notice him enter the room. The sounds of running water, gargling and spitting, however, broke her concentration. “Calvin Mills, is that you?” He stuck his head out. “No, dear, some stranger is using your sink. Honestly, if I can’t get your attention, how do you expect me to win the nomination next month?”
“Don’t pout because I fail to dote on your every move. Look, you are a shoo-in. You have a sizable lead in the polls, and Walter doesn’t stand a chance in the general election.” Calvin put the toothbrush back in its silver holder, crossed to the antique four-poster oak bed, and slipped under the covers. “I can’t remember when an incumbent President didn’t win the nomination, and by the way, today’s Washington Post editorial agrees with me. Maybe I should have accepted his offer to be Vice President.” Judy laid down her book. “Absolutely not…why play second fiddle when you can lead the orchestra?” He held her hand and looked at her slightly wrinkled, but still lovely face. “We’ve been down this trail many times. You think I can walk on water, but it would take an even bigger miracle for me to become President.” “Don’t sell yourself short. Who knows what will happen? If you can’t line up enough votes, we’ll strike a deal. Walter’s will need his own deus ex machina to stay in office, but no matter what happens between you two, we can’t let the Republicans move back into the White House.” He kissed his wife on the forehead. “Now I remember why I’ve kept you around all these years.” Judy swung a pillow at his head, but he ducked, and playfully pinned her on the bed. “Besides, if everything else falls through, my old law firm would take me back in a heartbeat.” Judy wiggled under his weight. “It’ll work out for the best. It always does. Now get off me, you big horse.” Calvin rolled over to his side of the bed, smiling, as his wife performed her evening ritual–turning the nightstand clock radio to light jazz from WJZW-FM, setting the sleep timer for thirty minutes, and kissing the ornate, silver-framed picture of their son, daughter-in-law, and three wonderful grandchildren. Judy sighed, settled under the covers and leaned over to give Calvin a peck on the cheek, “Goodnight, sweetheart.”
“Goodnight, dear.” He switched off the Tiffany lamp, and cuddled behind her, spooning like newlyweds. The moonlight through the bedroom windows projected a diffused tick-tack-toe pattern on the polished mahogany floor as they drifted off to sleep. # A tall figure, nearly invisible in his hooded black sweats, waited deep in the shadows within a stand of birch trees, his breath crystallizing in the cold night air. Through powerful infrared binoculars, Frank Tate observed the activities at the Mill’s large colonial home, nestled safely in the upscale community of Chevy Chase, Maryland. He checked his watch and smiled with satisfaction as the agent, like every other night, finished circling the house, punched in the home security code, and opened the back door–trading places with a second agent, who now stood under the porch light enjoying his last smoke of the evening. Nasty habit, Frank thought, doesn’t he know those things can kill you. Pulling a titanium compound hunting crossbow from his bag, he cocked the heavy gauge Dacron synthetic string, placed an aluminum shaft, four-bladed arrowhead into position, and took careful aim through the ATN Mars6x Gen.2 scope. His adrenaline surged as he squeezed the sensitive trigger and the arrow flew true to its mark. The agent could only gurgle as he tried in vain to shout a warning to his partner and the sleeping couple he had been assigned to protect. Before the injured man could pull his gun, Frank quickly crossed the perfectly-manicured lawn and pinned the agent against the house. While covering the man’s mouth with one hand, Frank plunged his hunting knife just below the ribs. He stared into the man’s eyes, watching him blink several times before the agent fell to his knees and toppled face-first to the cement. Frank retrieved his arrow by pushing it the rest of the way through the neck.
Frank’s head throbbed after another successful kill. He tried to rub it out, but the unrelenting pain and intense flashes of blinding light behind his eyes made relief impossible. He fumbled out a homemade briar pipe from his jacket pocket and filled the bowl with a pungent-smelling mixture of marijuana and tobacco. After tapping the crushed leaves down with his finger, he raised the pipe to his lips and held a match to the potent concoction until it began to glow. Taking several deep drags, his headache subsided to a tolerable level. Frank put out the pipe, broke down his crossbow and tucked it away along with his arrow, and then advanced to the still open doorway. He peered into the empty kitchen and then inched his way forward into the home. He lowered his bag silently onto the kitchen table and stole a bite of a mostly-eaten sandwich lying there. Grabbing some paper napkins from an antique holder, he wiped clean the freshly-coagulated blood along the blade’s serrated edges but chose the back of his sleeve to brush away a few bread crumbs from the corner of his mouth. One down, one to go, he thought. Hearing a TV playing in the den, Frank bent low and crept across the carpet until he reached a spot behind the second agent. With the only light coming from the flickering screen, he rose, silent as a specter, knife in hand, and ended the man’s life with one slashing stroke, while a late night comedian made jokes about President Kendall’s latest ineptness. Crossing to the stairs, Frank looked up into the darkness and listened for any noise coming from his primary target. The blinding flashes returned, so he lit his pipe again, and then step-by-step climbed toward the master bedroom, hugging the wall as he went, so the stairs wouldn’t creak and provide any advance warning, although he wasn’t too concerned about the sleeping couple putting up much of a struggle. # Jazz still played on the clock radio, but discordant free-form improvisation didn’t cause Mrs. Mills to jerk awake–it was her keen sense of smell. She wrinkled her nose and shook her husband. “Calvin, get up. Something’s burning on the stove.” He moaned and replied without turning over. “Why does your imagination go into overdrive the minute I fall asleep? We never cook, so there can’t be anything burning–unless one of the agents decided to surprise us with a Sunday roast.” But then he picked up the scent too. Now a non-smoker, he could still recognize–and briefly crave–burning tobacco, but the familiar aroma was mixed with a sweetness he hadn’t smelled since his undergraduate days at Yale. Now wide awake, Calvin sat straight up in bed, put on his glasses and scanned the room for the source of the odd scent. He stopped at the bedroom door when he came upon a red glow, like a demonic eye, staring back at him. “Who’s there?” He shouted. But his words had barely left his lips before the stranger took three quick strides to the astonished senator’s side, pinned him to the headboard, and sliced a jagged trench just below his distinguished chin. Calvin turned toward his wife with a look of astonishment before sliding down to his pillow; coming to rest in an expanding pool of blood. Judy stared up at the man, trembling, crying. She tried to speak, but nothing came out until one pleading word emerged. “Why?” Frank shrugged. “It’s j-just some-thin’ I g-gotta do.” He moved toward her, and she screamed, “Danny…John,” but no one answered. Frank hated to do this, especially to a sweet old lady, but his orders were clear–no witnesses. As he reached for her, she picked up a silver picture frame from the nightstand and threw it at his head. He ducked and saw the missile shatter against the wall, sending shards of glass flying everywhere. Judy scrambled across her dead husband and ran out the bedroom door screaming. He caught her at the top of the stairs, his strong fingers snapping one of the thin straps of her nightgown, causing the woman to ricochet off the banister, half falling, half tumbling down the steps–collapsing in a heap at the bottom. Taking three stairs at a time, Frank hauled the dazed woman to her feet and held her tightly from behind. His head next to hers, he picked up the faint scent of her lily-of-the-valley perfume. Judy’s eyes opened in terror as he whispered into her ear, “S-S-Sorry ma’am.” With a gloved hand, he drew the knife across the woman’s delicate white throat, simultaneously severing another scream and the carotid artery. He scooped up her crumpled body in his arms, cradling the woman like a small child, and carried her back upstairs-carefully placing her beside her dead husband. He watched her lacy pillowcase turn dark red, the sticky blood making a mess of what used to be her immaculately-styled, mostly gray hair. After wiping his weapon on the bedspread, he put it back in its sheath and knelt down beside Mrs. Mills. He drew close, gently stroked her pale cheek, and wept–such a waste. Shaking off the sadness, Frank picked up his pipe from where he had dropped it during the attack and relit it. The drug, along with a moment of meditation, helped reduce the pounding in his head long enough for him to finish his assigned task. He opened a jewelry box on the dresser, stuffed a handful of rings, bracelets, and necklaces into his jacket pocket and threw the box on the floor. In a quick turn around the bedroom, Frank knocked over a lamp, trashed some books, and for good measure kicked a hole in small TV sitting on a wheeled stand in the corner. Pushing aside the clothes in the closet, he ran his hand along the floor looking for a seam, until he found and removed a small square of Velcroed carpet. Pulling a piece of paper from his pocket, he dialed the in-floor safe combination, opened the heavy metal door, and removed several documents and a banded stack of cash. Frank flipped off the light, bounded down the stairs, and swept up his equipment bag on his way out the door. Producing a cell phone, he hit a pre-programmed number on the pad.
After three rings, a thin male voice answered, “Yes?” “I d-d-done it…like you t-t-told me.” “Good. I’ll send the money to your regular account, Frank.” “I d-don’t d-do this for the m-m-money.” “Whatever.” “Why d-d-did that woman have to d-die?” “Don’t worry about it, Frank. Just go home.” Frank walked to an unlocked gray Ford Taurus station wagon and threw his gear into the backseat. He had parked three blocks away in case any of the neighbors might be watching. Probably not a necessary precaution, because these days neighbors barely spoke, let alone looked out for each other. Nobody had ever cared about him or his sisters. He sighed, climbed in behind the wheel, took another deep drag on his pipe, and drove off into the night.