Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Kindle Book Preview: Average Joe and the Extraordinaires

Fun at the Game

The day was hot and the crowd rowdy and rambunctious.  Everyone was getting riled up for tonight’s statewide collegiate football match where the state favorites, the Sunshine City Fowlers, would take on the underdogs, the Orangetown Pickers.  Joe and his girlfriend Kate, along with her little brother, Mod, had predicted a bloodbath tonight between the two rival teams and their rabid fans. 

Joe: “This line is way too long.”

The three teens were here to support their hometown team, the Pickers.  Joe and Kate were set on going to Orangetown University.  Neither had even considered the alternatives.  Joe himself didn't have any bright prospects when it came to choosing his college, but Kate on the other hand had many schools to choose from.  In the end she chose with her heart and decided to stay with Joe.

The line had finally started to move, but everyone was still pretty antsy.  The game was set to start in only thirty minutes.

Mod: “Hey, guys, I brought some game boosters.”

Mod smiled a devilish smile that lasted longer than it should.  He opened his bright red insulated cooler and showed its contents to his shocked sister.

Kate: “How did you get that?”

Kate looked at her younger brother with alarmed blue eyes. His smile still hadn’t faded, so she knew he had something planned. She waited for his explanation of some half-brained scheme.

Mod: “The how is unimportant, dear sister, at least when it comes to the where.  A different how should be asked.”

Mod smiled over towards where Joe was absentmindedly standing, and repeated himself a bit louder after delivering an elbow to Joe’s side.  Joe snapped to attention and responded.

Joe: “As in how we’re going to get it in there with all that security.”

Mod: “And the answer to that, my dear sister, is you.”

Kate: “Why do I feel as if this i­s going to make me feel so stupid?”

The crowd started to move forward faster, the group’s shady acts cleverly hidden from the security staff.  No one could really see what they were doing with all the secrecy.  Mod took what looked like an albino baby seal from his backpack and placed the cooler in it. He attached it to Kate and hid it under a sweater that he told her to wear. 

It wasn't really an albino baby seal, as that would be a ridiculous and smelly thing to attach to someone, even more ridiculous than a regularly pigmented seal. He had attached a fake pregnancy belly to his sister.

Mod: “Okay now act natural, sis.”

Kate scoffed at the notion.

Kate: “Act as if I’m pregnant?  You jerk, that’s not even funny.”

Mod: “With the rate at which you and Joe have been going, I will be able to say that with a straight face a few months from now.”

Kate and Joe both blushed.

Kate: “You’re lucky I don’t slap you.”

Uncomfortable conversations aside, the line was moving full speed ahead and Joe’s group was finally nearing the front doors of the stadium.  The closer they got to security, the more nervous they all became.  It was difficult to tell if Kate’s sea of sweat had formed because of her nervousness or the hot fake belly and sweatshirt that she now had to wear.

At the front of the line, Joe went towards the doors, but was pushed back by a large man the size of a pro-wrestler, wearing a red t-shirt.  Kate looked at him with rising fear in her eyes and a growing knot in her stomach.  The large man might’ve been a wrestler, but he had the words UNIVERSITY SECURITY on his shirt.  He approached the group and looked right at Kate and Joe.

Security: “Is this woman with you?”

Kate and Joe looked at each other, and then back at the security officer.  Joe nodded his head and Kate sweated even more, to the point of drenching her socks.

Security: “Where’s your head at, kid?  Let the lady go first.  She’s with child.” 

He looked right at her and smiled, which Kate guessed was meant to be inviting, but didn’t make her feel any more comfortable.

Security: “Go on through, miss.”

Kate gulped down her previous fear and strolled past the man, while the other two followed close behind.  Joe got the stink-eye from the security guy.  Sensing DDTs and power-bombs in his future, he decided to hasten his pace towards the ticket taker, who then took their tickets.

Inside, they all had a powwow about where to go and if they would get snacks. Eventually, they got it all together and found their seats. The game began with the singing of the national anthem, which got everyone riled up and patriotic. The players on both teams took to the field in a frenzy, to everyone’s delight.  You could feel the high levels of energy throughout the stadium.  The pops that the players took created audible “pops” throughout the audience.

The hometown team was losing in the first quarter, to the chagrin of Joe and the gang.  Mod had pulled the thermos from Kate’s baby belly when he was sure no one was looking. Kate hastily ripped off the hot sweater and fake belly and threw them underneath her seat.

Kate: "Did you get this sweater from Grandma?"

Mod: "Nah, it's one of Dad's old sweaters."

Mod pulled a couple cans of Double Dog Brew for himself and handed another to Joe and then to Kate.  Joe sipped his beer while the other two downed theirs like old pros and argued over who had finished first.  Kate and Mod grabbed more beers and shared stories of the time Mod had accidently soiled his underwear during a camping trip.  Mod tried not to laugh but couldn’t help himself.

Mod: “You guys are poop-heads.”

Kate: “Great choice of words, little bro.  You might want to rethink what comes out of your potty mouth.”

When the second round picked up, they poured their hearts into cheering the Pickers, while pouring more beers into their mouths. You would’ve thought the Fowlers had murdered the families of their rivals from the jeers they got.  Joe, Mod, Kate, and the rest that sat in their row, screamed expletives at the rival team, and a few death threats as well.  Mod and Joe had made friends with the group sitting next to them and even shared some of their beers. 

Neighboring Fan: “Yeah, they’re selling beers at the concession for about seven flippin’ dollars.  If I didn’t think security would be so tight I would’ve brought me some cans too.”

Mod: “Yeah I always come prepared, man. Otherwise I’d blow all of my allowance—er paycheck, on these drinks.”

Kate elbowed Mod in the ribs and the friendly fan merely laughed.  Towards the end of the second round the group started smelling something weird.

Joe: “Do you guys smell that?”

Kate: “What is it?”

Joe: “Smells like something is burning or something.”

They all smelled it, but it was so faint that no one paid it any major attention.  The Pickers were still down and so the group cheered louder than ever.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Preview: A Woman Distraught

Dtroit was a cold place to be especially for someone like me.  It was always hot where I came from.  Not only did the cold bother me, this place smelled bad too.  The smells of blood, gunpowder, drugs, and stale green money were always somewhere in the air along with the remnants of booze, and all types of smoke from car exhausts, cigarettes, weed, and other stuff.  It wasn’t a pretty place to be, at all, but held a kind of charm of its own.  For all the bad, I still liked it here better than my old hometown.

                From my description of the place you wouldn’t think that this city could foster anything as wholesome as a family but you’d be wrong to think that.  Families lived here in this filth and had children that grew up here.  It was tough for families here but most lived as happily as they could.  I was here on the eastside of the city to find out why one of these families had been broken.

                The house was small and well worn but I could clearly see that care was put into it.  The grass was neatly trimmed and Halloween decorations were all over the lawn.  A black cat here, a pumpkin man there, and ghosts made of bed sheets showed that the adults inside celebrated the holiday with their children.  The decorations lied however; there was no celebration here, not today, not after what they lost.  I walked up the steps and unto the porch; there was no doorbell so I knocked.  After a few moments a small cinnamon colored woman with puffy red eyes opened the door and stared at me.  She wasn’t very old, but old nonetheless.  Her age didn’t make her any less attractive, she was short, full of hips, lips, and buttocks.  She had short black hair and wore a robe that clung nicely to her figure; even outside of it I could see the full roundness of her breasts.  Her dark eyes were wet with tears and her face was flushed but she was attractive all the same.

Woman: “Can I help you sir?”

Terry: “I’m detective Terry Andersen ma’am.  I came here to talk to you about your boy, you are Mrs. Wilkerson right?”

                I flashed my badge to her, not a difficult one to fake.

Woman: “Yes, yes I am.  Have you heard anything about Marquis?”

Terry: “No ma’am but that’s why I’m here today, to learn a bit more about him and where he might be.”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “I already talked to some officers about this.”

Terry: “Yes and I’ve talked to them too but I’m here to talk to you.  Those guys don’t know your son like you do.  Whatever you can 
tell me will help my investigation, even the smallest detail.”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “Come on in detective.”

                She looked me in the eyes and I gave her a soft smile.  She beckoned me in the house and stood in the doorway as I passed by.  She smelled nice, like early morning breakfast, like a loving home.  This was something I’d never known; I’d never had a mom.  Behind me I heard her close the door shut and lock it.  After that we walked to the dining room, a cozy little area with a large wooden table and four comfortable looking chairs.  After I took a seat she walked towards the kitchen.

Mrs. Wilkerson: “Would you like something to drink Mr., Mr…um…”

Terry: “Andersen, I’m detective Andersen ma’am.”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “Would you like something to drink detective Andersen?  We have coffee, pop, and juice.”

Terry: “Do you have any Sunny D… I… I mean Sunny Delight the orange juice stuff?”

                She looked at me suspiciously and with good reason.  What grown man in this city would ask another grown person for a drink obviously made for kids?  It was a dumb move on my part.

Mrs. Wilkerson: “No we don’t.  We do have orange juice though.”

Terry: “I’ll gladly have some of that then.”

                Around the room were photos of the woman and her family.  There was one photo that was taken at an amusement park sitting near me on a small wooden table.  I picked it up and examined it.  The woman stood in the center of the picture next to her husband, a tall man of Native or South American descent.  The two adults were hugging each other and smiling while their children stood below them with wide grins on their faces and brown hair on their heads.  The kids were really young, maybe around four or five, both the boy and the girl had stuffed animals, a whale for her and a monkey for him.   I recognized the boy as Marquis, even though he was far younger here.  I put the photo back on its spot after I heard Mrs. Wilkerson pour the drinks.  She returned to the room and handed me my drink.

Mrs. Wilkerson: “Here you go.”

Terry: “Thank you.”

                I put the cup down and waited for her to seat herself.

Terry: “I’m sorry I stopped by so late, I hope I didn’t wake your husband and daughter.”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “Neither of them are here right now so don’t worry.”

Terry: “If you don’t mind my asking, where are they?”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “My daughter is at a family member’s house and my husband is staying in a hotel.”

Terry: “You guy’s having problems?”

                She looked uncomfortable at the question and waited a few moments before she answered it.

Mrs. Wilkerson: “Yes, but we’ve been having problems for a long time now.  Ever since Marquis was taken from us they’ve just gotten worse.”

                Tears flowed down from her eyes and then slowly to her chin.  What she was feeling was harsh I knew, but I needed something from her so I pressed her further.

Terry: “Why isn’t your daughter with you?”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “With all that’s happened I thought she’d be safer at my brother’s place.”

Terry: “Who’ll keep you safe though?  You’re here all alone with no one to protect you.  In this part of the city that’s as good as being dead.”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “I’m a grown woman detective; I’ve lived here since I was a little girl.  This city doesn’t scare me.”

                She wiped the tears from her face and looked me in the eyes.  She stood up straight and defiant, a product of this tough city, a diamond in the rough.  I personally liked women with a little fire in them, I believed that a woman needed to be strong especially the one that would decide to try a relationship with me.  If Mrs. Wilkerson here was only a little younger and not married, really the married part was the only thing that concerned me, then I’d be all over her.  She seemed to have strength enough for the both of us.

Terry: “That may be but it’s not smart to be on your own like this.  You should call your husband back or go with your daughter.”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “I need to wait here for news of my son.”

Terry: “Okay I won’t push the issue any further.  What I want to know is, who do you think might have your son?”

                I took a sip of the orange juice which wasn’t nearly as sweet as Sunny D but good all the same.  After tasting it I quickly gulped it down and found its coolness to be refreshing.

Mrs. Wilkerson: “If I knew that detective then either I wouldn’t be alive anymore or they wouldn’t have my son.”

Terry: “Fair enough.  Where was he going the day he disappeared?”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “He was on his way to basketball practice with a friend.”

Terry: “That friend being Samuel Marley, who also disappeared?”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “Yes.  Sam lives down the street and both of them are on the basketball team together.”

Terry: “Was Marquis very friendly and would you say he was sociable?”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “Yes my son is very nice to people and that’s why he has so many friends.  In church everybody knows him, he is the type of person that can strike up a conversation with anybody.  I always used to tell him that he shouldn’t talk to adults as much as he did; he could walk up to a stranger and make a conversation out of thin air.  I knew that it wasn’t safe and I told him that but he was so happy that I never scolded him about it.”

                She spoke of Marquis in the present tense.  She may know where he is or might just be clinging to the hope of finding him.

Terry: “Some people are just made that way.”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “He never had any enemies.  So I don’t know who would’ve done this.”

Terry: “I have a feeling that I might know just who did it but I can’t follow the lead until I’ve built up enough evidence.”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “What else do you need?”

Terry: “Was your son ever around any homeless people or did he ever play around any of the apartment buildings that have been burned down lately.”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “Our family often volunteers at the church.  Every year we go to the church to help feed the homeless and we’re always volunteering canned goods and whatever we can there.  But he was never near those apartment fires and I’m glad for that.  Whoever did that has a hideous soul and much to answer for when they die.”

                I coughed, very loudly too.  I promised to see this hideous soul whenever I could to cheer her up.  I guess I could visit her as soon as this case was over.

Terry: “Thanks Mrs. Wilkerson you’ve been such a tremendous help to me tonight.  I’ll only ask for one more thing if you could spare it and that’s a photo of Marquis.  One that shows what he clearly looks like now.”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “Okay just wait right here.”

                I had always been good at lying, but when it came to doing it to someone like this I almost felt guilty.  She had all but lost everything and I was here right now taking advantage of her.  She was too easy of a target, lying to someone like this was criminal.  She returned with a large portrait of the boy, on it he was dressed in a red basketball uniform with a ball in his hands.  He smiled with brown hair in his eyes and a dark mole on his cheek.

Terry: “Do you have a smaller version of this photo?”

                The woman went to another room for her purse and returned with a small wallet sized photo of the boy.   When she reached over and handed it to me her purse slid off her shoulder and her robe slid open a bit revealing her left breast, she quickly worked the cloth together and tied the ropey belt much tighter.  She didn’t look the slightest bit embarrassed or undignified.  I felt as if I should probably be the one who was embarrassed considering how long I stared.  I chose to quickly ignore this moment and move forward as if I hadn’t saw.

Terry: “With this I’ll be able to find him before the week is over.  I promise you that the person that did this to your son will be brought to justice soon.”

Mrs. Wilkerson: “I just want my son back, find him and bring him home.”

                I nodded my head and got up from the chair and walked to the door.  She followed me with her hands around her chest, I guess to keep her robe securely on her body.  She opened the door for me and I walked out of it while waving back at her.  I walked down the steps and to the sidewalk before I heard the door close loudly behind me.  This block was one of the nicer ones in the city, the older families who lived here kept it respectable but there was still plenty of danger only a few blocks away. 

                My old school Chevy was parked a few houses down.  I liked to perpetuate the stereotype, detectives should have muscle cars.  Once I got into it I turned it on and drove down the street.  After a few blocks I found myself in a dark area with only a few street lights.  The shadows in this area were my friends.  I wove into them then into the light again repeatedly until I found the shadows again.  Once I came out of the shadows I was myself.  My short cut red hair had given way to a long tangled mess of black locks.  My tanned Irish skin turned pale and thick, my teeth grew sharp, then my ears grew longer and slightly pointy.  I grew horns of pale flesh on top of my head and my eyes turned a bright shade of yellow.  The old school Chevy turned into a badass motorcycle and I drove with the speed of a devil.  I was a speed Dmon (laughter) and I drove like a bat out of hell.  My friend had seen the boy Marquis earlier and I knew who had him.  It was only a matter of time before we found him and returned him but only after we did a lot of killing first.