I’ve been working hard this week on BW#3. Saturday was amazing. I was able to get TWO complete chapters down, which puts me at 11 really solid chapters.
To celebrate, I’m releasing Chapter 2 of AHAC. Again, please remember that this is a draft release. Typos and plot changes are SURE to exist in here. If you can’t handle that, don’t read this. Just wait until I publish the full book.
June 15, 2013
Private Investigator, Brodie Wade sat on a cool cement bench several feet away from the smooth marble slab embedded in the dirt. The foggy essence known as The Truth had long-since left him. Instead, he came here to talk to the dead, but no longer expected answers. At least, not from the heartless, threatening visages. With his visions gone, he had turned his skills at finding facts and people into a different form of making a living. He had acquired his private investigator’s license and now solved his cases with hard work and lots of thinking. He stooped and wiped the leaves and dirt from the marble. Etched deep in the stone was the name of a long-time friend.
Det. Phillip Jonathan Dawson
Born: July 21, 1965
Died: December 17, 2010
The warm summer wind rustled the leaves of the nearby trees and soothed Brodie’s nerves. Brodie often sat on this bench, donated by the Fraternal Brotherhood of Police in Phil’s honor. He could come out here to talk with Phil about his latest cases, and to just settle his nerves. Especially when he and Jamie were fighting. Most days they were like cinnamon and apples. You couldn’t rip them apart if you tried, and they worked in unison as though they were meant to always be together. But then there were days like today. The oil and water days.
Following a huge blowout that morning, and seeking some answers, Brodie drove through his lunch hour, well into one o’clock. He had stopped at Dougal’s Coffee Emporium and picked up his friend’s favorite blend, then worked his way here where he could tell his troubles to the one man that had never let him down. Not that Brodie wanted answers. He just needed to talk, out loud, in a place where no one would judge him.
“I screwed up, Phil,” Brodie said. “She wants kids, and I told her no.” He placed a cup of coffee near the headstone. “Here. Thought you could use a warm one. It’s been a while.”
Brodie loved Jamie. She was his everything. But he wasn’t ready to bring new life into this world, especially one that may be tormented like he had been. Maybe if they could talk about it over dinner, he could present his point of view. She was a very calm, rational woman. She would understand. Adoption might be a valid path. But to have a baby of their own? No. He couldn’t.
Sitting back, he let his thoughts traverse back to the yelling match that still rang in his ears. “I don’t want any child to go through what I’ve been through. I mean, I know The Truth is genetic. Did I tell you about the day you died? About the nut-case that shot you? He saw what I used to see because he had my DNA. What if the child that I bring into this world has my problem? I couldn’t do that to a kid. To my kid. What if they had to deal with everything I used to be? What if I made them crazy?” Brodie let the thought drift away on the summer breeze. Fear and anger mixed in his chest and constricted at his throat.
He looked down at the polished marble block that denoted to whom the bench had been dedicated. Amidst the etchings, his reflection stared back at him. His hair now cut short, and his face clean-shaven, but he was still the same emotional cripple that hadn’t been able to stop the madman from killing his friend.
Brodie rested his forehead in the palms of his hands. “I can’t do this, Phil. I can’t have kids. Even though I don’t see things any more, I still feel broken inside. Somewhere in there I’m still locked away in the Garrett Institution. The big white walls. The cold, sterile sheets. I’m that kid in this big, crazy, messed-up world and I don’t know what to do.”
Several birds fluttered from the trees, flying off into the distance as a car blared its horn. He wanted to be one of those birds, soaring away on the wind. There were days when he just wanted to go anywhere but here.
“Two and a half years,” Brodie whispered. “So much has changed since you died. I have almost everything in life I’ve ever wanted. I have a great wife and in-laws that I love. They treat me like their own flash-and-blood son. They accept me just as I am, quirks and all. Jamie had me cut my hair, shave, and try a more professional image for our business. My face is plastered on billboards all over the city. Don’t ask how much that cost. I’m still not sure how we’ll pay the bill for it. The gold from the statue ran out sometime last year. And still, I feel like I’m sitting on the edge of insanity, but in a completely different way, now.” He leaned forward and picked up a rock near the base of the bench, rubbing the polished white stone with his thumb. “You know, I almost wish that I could see those things again. At least then I’d have an excuse for some of the ways I feel.”
A loud, cheerful tune erupted from Brodie’s jeans pocket, ripping him from his thoughts. He retrieved the phone and stared at the name on the caller ID. Jamie.
“Hey, J,” he said as he pressed it to his ear.
“Hey.” Her voice was soft, almost an apology in itself. “Are you okay?”
Brodie took a deep breath before answering. ‘Okay’ could be a relative state, right? He ran his fingers through his short-cut hair. It had been six months since he cut it for his new private investigator promotional advertising, but it still felt weird. He didn’t feel like himself anymore.
“B? You there?” Jamie asked.
“Yeah. I’m fine. I just needed to talk to someone. You know, clear my head.”
She didn’t say anything. He closed his eyes, bearing through the ominous silence that always followed their fights. She could be incredibly stubborn. “Look, I’ll be back at the office soon. Just give me a few minutes, okay? I need to sort some things out, then I’ll be ready to work again. Like nothing ever happened.”
“Promise?” she sniffed.
Brodie smiled. They had agreed when they were first married that they would never use the word “promise” lightly. And they would never break a promise to each other. Promises were sacred, holy, immovable things. “Yeah, hon. I promise. Good as new. Just give me some time.”
“Okay. I love you, B. I’m sorry. You know I don’t want to press you into something you don’t want.”
Brodie opened his eyes and drew a long, relaxing breath. Those words always held him captivated. To know that she loved him was all he really needed. As he thought about it, that’s why he was here, to sort out if he’d wounded her beyond loving him any more. He resolved right there that he’d talked enough to Phil. He would get no better answer today.
“I love you too, J. I just needed time to cool off. Don’t worry. I’m fine and I’m on my way back right now.”
“Okay. Thank you.” Jamie inhaled a deep breath. “We have Mrs. Connor coming in at two this afternoon. Will you be here for her, or should I take that meeting?”
Brodie stopped cold. A set of black loafers appeared on Phil’s headstone. They didn’t step onto it. They didn’t walk up. They were simply there. He looked up to see the person wearing the loafers — a heavy-set man, dressed ina cheap gray suit and a white shirt. The man smiled down at him with a friendly stare, as though they knew each other.
But… they did know each other.
Their eyes locked, and he found it difficult to speak. His breath wouldn’t come out. “J, I have to call you back. Someone’s here.”
“Who? Where are you?”
“I’m talking to Phil. Gotta go.” He pressed the disconnect button before she could respond and scrambled away from the bench, nearly falling over it as he did. There was no way this balding, red-headed man could be standing right there. It wasn’t possible.
He was dead.
“Hey, bud. Long time, no see,” Phil said.
Poor Brodie has been so tortured in his life. I almost feel sorry for what’s about to befall him.