Murderville: The End Of- Episode 5

The Mistress’s Men

Lu really wanted to spend her entire shift tagging along with Josh, watching him be a detective, getting elbowed in the ribs for not keeping her word about not asking any questions or saying anything sarcastic, but unfortunately, she did have work to do.

A whole pile of it was waiting on her desk.

“You work weekends now?” Melanie asked as she strolled into the office.

The death investigator’s office was situated down the hall from the autopsy room.  It had two desks, two phones, several filing cabinets, a couple of chairs, a police scanner, a coffee pot, and a television.  The official break room was on the second floor, but most everyone just hung out in the death investigator’s office because it was closer.

Melanie poured herself a cup of coffee.

“Jerome is off and someone had to cover,” Lu said, sitting down at her desk, looking at the stack of files in the center of it not unlike she might look at pile of dog shit on her lawn.  And Lu didn’t own a dog.  She gestured at them, careful not to touch them.  “Is this my pain?”

“Yep,” Melanie said, reading her look.  “Those are the files that upstairs,” Melanie looked up, “wants reviewed.  Dr. Pascal was ranting about it last night.  I thought his head was going to pop off.”

“He’s got about as much skin in this audit as I do.”

“Neither one of you have anything to worry about,” Melanie said, giving Lu a pat on the shoulder.  “You two are the best at your jobs.  Upstairs is crazy to think otherwise.”

Melanie sat down at the other desk, turning on the TV, but keeping the volume low.

Lu wanted to believe that Melanie was right, but just the fact that she was working for Jerome on a weekend because the city was too cheap to hire as many death investigators as they needed didn’t boost her confidence any.  Lu knew all too well that being good at your job didn’t meant that you weren’t expendable.

With a heavy sigh, Lu pulled the first file from the top of the pile and opened it up, looking for a mistake she knew that she hadn’t made.

###

Simon Sidney lived in a large house on the lakefront, only a few miles down the road from End Of, on Lake Shore Drive.  The house was practically a wall of windows on the side that faced the lake, which was no doubt picturesque most of the time, if you didn’t think about how many cars were probably at the bottom of Lake Munster.

Josh sat on the white couch in the white living room wondering why so many people with money insisted on white living rooms.

Simon Sidney was a handsome man in his sixties, his hair long gone silver, his age starting to show in his golfer’s physique.  His wife, Carlotta, was easily twenty years younger than he was and held up to a much different standard.  Her hair was bleached an unnatural blonde and it was clear by the lack of movement in her forehead that she’d had a round or twelve of Botox.  Her lips looked overly filled and her clothes were a size too small.

They sat on the couch opposite Josh, a low glass coffee table between the detective and the couple.  Simon Sidney sat on the couch, looking relaxed in his dress shirt and slacks.  Carlotta Sidney was perched next to her husband, right on the edge of the sofa.  Josh didn’t think she could relax in the dress she was wearing.

“Mr. Sidney,” Josh began, sparing a glance at his wife, “I need to know about your relationship with Starla James.”

“She was my mistress,” Simon Sidney said so bluntly that if the words had been an anvil, a cartoon coyote would have been flattened instantly in a comical way.

“One of your mistresses,” his wife patiently corrected and a second anvil dropped on that poor coyote’s head.

Josh nodded and quickly jotted down the unnecessary information into his notebook to hide his wide-eyed shock from the couple.

###

Keep up with Lu and Josh’s investigation! Check out Murderville or Patreon!

Advertisements

May Writing Projects

You know, I said last month that April was my oyster. Apparently, I forgot that I don’t care for oysters. I did my page-a-day and my poem-a-day. I submitted a short story twice (same story, two different markets, a rejection was involved) and I submitted (Vampires) Made in America to a new agent.

And that’s about it.

I thought I’d be able to find a project to work on, but the best I did was rearranging my To Do List of Doom so it made more sense. I’ve still got a massive list of projects in various states and none of them made any progress in April.

I have my speculations about the reasons for this, but I’m not going to get into them here.

Instead, I’m going to move on. New month…well, same me, but actual stuff to work on.

I’ve decided to dedicate May to my Patreon. I’m going to outline season 3 of Murderville and write the first draft of the season 3 preview story. I’m also going to brainstorm ways I can be more involved on Patreon. Right now, it’s very much set it and forget it. I feel like I need to provide a little more content in order to entice new patrons and keep the ones I have. Can’t get by on my looks here.

Or anywhere, really.

Speaking of Murderville, episode 5 of The End Of is live May 8th. We’re over the half-way point here. Become a patron and enjoy the ride. $1 an episode lets you read; $2 an episode lets you read AND you get some really sweet bonus material in the form of other stuff I’m working on. It’s never too late to head to Murderville!

Murderville: The End Of- Episode 4

A Little Family Support

Haskell and Leora Jones were big on family.  So big on family that they had five children: Drusilla (Dru), Nicodemus (Nico), Tallulah (Lu), and twins Dashiell (Dash) and Dartagnan (Tag).  They ran a successful family business that only their daughter Lu didn’t work in, much to their displeasure.  And they had a family dinner most nights of the week even though their three oldest children no longer lived at home and in the case of the two oldest, had families of their own.  But that didn’t stop Haskell and Leora from cooking huge dinners nor did it stop any of the children or their husbands or their children from stopping by for the evening meal without invitation nor forewarning.

Lu walked into her parents’ house in a foul mood wanting nothing more than to eat until she reached peak food coma, but without the effort of actually cooking.  Her foul mood fled as soon as the door closed behind her, not because of the impending food, but because no foul mood of hers could withstand the cute of her two nephews, Ezra and Roman.  Aged five and three respectfully, the two biracial boys were biological half-brothers adopted by Nico and Josh when they were tiny.  Their dads got a kick out of people saying that the boys looked like them.

Ezra and Roman barreled into their aunt as soon as they heard the front door slam shut.

“Auntie Luuuuuuuu!” they squealed, crashing into her legs and hugging her around the knees.

“Hello, my minions,” Lu said, giving each a hug in turn, kissing them both on the top of their heads.  “What evil have you done on behalf of your overlord today?”

The two boys answered in only giggles.

“Are you heathens here alone or is Nan and Pop around?” Lu asked.

“Inna kitchen makin’ dinner,” Ezra said and then wrinkled his nose in disgust. “It’s gross.”

“Yes, but you also don’t like pancakes,” Lu said.  “Your opinion can hardly be trusted.”

Roman giggled while Ezra stuck his tongue out at his aunt.

“Get away from me,” she said, giving her nephews a playful nudge.  “Go hassle Pop for quarters or something.”

“Hooray!”

The two boys tore off through the house.  Lu knew they passed through the kitchen because her mother yelled at them to slow down.  Lu followed them at a much calmer pace.

Leora was at the kitchen counter.  Four different pots were going on the stove, something was in the oven, and it looked like there was something in a bowl that was in the process of being prepared.  Her mother moved like a whirlwind amongst all of it.

“Are you here for dinner, Lu?” she asked.  “I think I might just have enough to feed you, too.”

“Good God, I hope so,” Lu said, looking at the ensuing feast.

“She started throwing more food into pots as soon as Josh walked through the door,” her brother Nico said.  He was sitting on the other side of the kitchen with said Josh at the table.

When it came to Lu and her siblings, an argument could be made that Haskell and Leora took home the wrong baby at some point, only no one was quite sure which one.  None of the Jones children looked like their parents.  And with the exception of the twins, none of them looked like each other, either.  Lu was short with a witch’s nose and hazel eyes that looked like they could see through anything.  Nico was tall with gangly limbs and soft blue eyes that looked almost like he was on the verge of crying all the time.  The only thing Lu and Nico had in common appearance-wise was they both had brown hair, but Lu’s was much darker than Nico’s.

Lu sat down heavily at the table with Nico and Josh.

“And how was your day, dear?” Nico asked with a sly little smile.

“My cases are being audited,” Lu said bitterly.

Nico’s eyes went wide and Josh’s jaw actually dropped.  Lu heard a pot lid rattle harshly across the room.

“Yes, exactly,” she said, pointing at them both.

###

Don’t miss a clue! Check out Murderville or Patreon!

Murderville: The End Of- Episode 3

To Complicate Things

Josh and his partner Vince sat on the couch in the living room of Stella James’s sister, Brandy Everly.  Her husband, and Stella’s brother-in-law, Lance sat in a chair opposite them.  Mrs. Everly was in the other room, finishing up a phone call.

The search of Starla James’s luxurious apartment quickly revealed that it wasn’t the site of her death, but also revealed little in the way of clues as to who the culprit might be.  Everything was neat, tidy, orderly, and there was no sign of any of the men that Starla James might be connected with, either currently or in the past.  The most Josh and Vince were able to recover was the name of the victim’s next of kin.

The Everly’s living room was done up tastefully enough in dark wood and white, which let Josh know that this couple didn’t have any children or pets.  The white couch he and Vince sat on was spotless.  Lance Everly sat nervously on the edge of his chair, waiting for his wife so the couple could receive the bad news that Josh and Vince had brought them.  Not that they knew at the moment they’d be receiving bad news, but what good news do two plain clothes detectives ever bring?  Mr. Everly was a thin man, young with an older cast, like he worked too hard for too little.  Josh watched him fidget as he waited, his hands unable to remain still, the only attempt at small talk to fill the time unsuccessful.  Josh wanted to keep this serious and direct.

“I’m sorry about that,” Mrs. Everly said as she entered the room.  “I’m trying to organize a girls’ night out for next weekend and you would not believe how involved it is.”

She smiled at the two detectives as she perched herself on the arm of her husband’s chair, putting an arm around his anxious shoulders.  Brandy Everly didn’t quite have the exotic, sexy beauty that her sister had, but she wasn’t unattractive.  Instead of black hair, hers was red, and kept about shoulder length in an easy, flattering style.  She was thinner, less-curvy than her sister, and whatever bosom she might have had was discreetly concealed beneath a modest dark purple blouse that matched her light purple capris.

“Now, what’s this all about?” Mrs. Everly asked.

Josh felt Vince shift beside him.  This was a tough part of the job, informing someone that their loved one had died and not in a natural manner.  The reactions to such news varied from person to person and there was no clear predictor of what to expect.

“Mrs. Everly, I’m sorry to inform you that your sister was found deceased early this afternoon,” Josh said.

He waited while the words found their meaning for the couple.  Mr. Everly looked up at his wife, reaching back to grasp her hand that rested on his shoulder.  Mrs. Everly stared at the two detectives for a moment, her face somewhat neutral, as though the full weight of her sister’s death hadn’t quite hit yet.

“What happened?” she asked softly.

“Your sister was found hanging from a tree at End Of,” Josh said.

“She killed herself?” Mrs. Everly asked.

“Right now we can’t say,” Josh said, watching as Mr. Everly squeezed his wife’s hand hard.  Lu called it a homicide, but Josh wanted to be careful with that information for now.  It hadn’t been confirmed.  “We have to wait for the autopsy results before a cause of death can be conclusively stated.  But as an unattended, suspicious death, we have to investigate it.  Are you up for answering a few questions?”

Mrs. Everly nodded.

“Do you know of any reason why your sister might have wanted to take her own life?” Josh asked.

Mr. Everly looked down at the white-carpeted floor, considering.  Mrs. Everly sighed and looked at Josh.

“Maybe she was finally tired of being a whore.”

###

Keep up with the latest mystery. Check out Murderville or Patreon!

March Writing Projects

Last month I said I was only going to work on revising The End of the (Werewolf) Curse, but thought I might do something else, too, because I so rarely do just one thing.

Yeah, no. That was it.

And I didn’t even get it done.

Okay, I sort of knew that I wouldn’t get it done in February because I typically only revise one, maybe two chapters a day and there are more chapters in the first draft than days in the month. Throw in a couple of unwell days when I didn’t do as much as I’d like and a couple of tough spots to revise, and there was no chance of getting it done before March.

However, it shouldn’t be any trouble to get it wrapped up in the first week of March. The ending needs some real work and some of it could be a struggle, but I think I can get it done.

And after I do, I’m going to work on a short story that might likely become the first chapter of another novel. We’ll see. Story first.

I’m also going to be working on submitting some of the short stories that I have done that are just sitting there. I need to get back in that game a little bit.

If you’re curious, I’m keeping up with my experiment to write a page a day on a novel. It’s about sixty pages of nothing like I’m currently working on and I find it very refreshing to write a page not knowing exactly where it’s going to go and having only a vague idea of the story.

This experiment is going rather well.

Episode 3 of Murderville: The End Of goes live on March 13th. Don’t miss out! Become a patron for a $1 an episode and read about Detective Josh Carpenter and his sister-in-law, death investiagor Lu Jones, as they try to solve the mysterious death of another Munsterville resident. For $2 an episode, you get all of that murdery goodness, plus bonus content, including peeks into other projects I’m working on. It’s never too late to get in on the killer fun.

Murderville: The End of- Episode 2

A Little Bit Suspicious

Lu Jones looked up at her brother-in-law as he gaped down at her.

“You look like a fish,” she said.

Detective Josh Carpenter’s mouth snapped shut.

“How can you tell she was murdered?” Josh asked, narrowing his eyes at her.

“It’s kind of the whole point of my job to be able to do that,” Lu said.

“Lu.”  It was a warning and Lu shrugged it off as easily as if it had come from one of her siblings.  The curse of the two of them working together for almost as long as Josh had been with Nico.

“Well, it’s nothing so obvious as the rope done wrong,” Lu said, walking towards the body.  Josh followed her.  “But, there’s antemortem bruising under the rope inconsistent with hanging.  And her face is the wrong color.  It’s a little too red.  That implies force.”

“So, she wasn’t hung?”

Lu shook her head.  “Not by this rope and this tree.  Though, if I had to guess, I’d say she was strangled.  Dr. Pascal will make the final call on that.”

“What do you mean about the rope being done wrong?” Josh asked, peering as closely at the noose as he could bear to get.

Lu grinned.  “The movie The Black Cat?  Remember?”

Josh frowned.  Lu and Nico were big horror film fans, a fitting favorite genre for their lines of work.  They’d often get together to watch them and many of their conversations featured references to them.  Lu was a little disappointed that more of this hadn’t rubbed off on Josh.

“Isn’t that the one where Bela Lugosi skins Boris Karloff alive?” Josh asked, squinting the way he did when he was trying to remember something.

Lu heard Vince mutter something under his breath and she was pretty sure it was in response to the mention of skinning, not the overall topic.  Vince was green, but he’d been on enough death scenes with Lu and Josh to know how they operated.

“No, this one has Bela Lugosi, but he plays a gardener that gets shot as a scapegoat.”

“I don’t remember that one.”

“That’s a shame,” Lu said with a shrug and went back to business.  “I’ll bag the vic’s hands and we’ll see if we can get anything off of her clothes, but she looks pretty clean.  There are a couple of smaller bruises on her forearms that could be defensive marks and most people who are strangled put up a fight unless they can’t.  I’m not seeing much evidence of a fight around here, though.”

Everyone standing in the little clearing at the end of the path looked at the ground.

“So, this is a dump scene, not a crime scene,” Josh concluded and Lu nodded.  “Well, give me whatever you can get as quickly as you can.  If this is a homicide, then we’re on the clock.”

Josh walked over to Detective Carthos, the other two uniforms, and the forensic team to hatch a game plan while Lu went on with her work.  She picked up her clipboard from the gurney and started making notes about the case.  Murderville was living up to its reputation this time.  A homicide at the local suicide spot.  Dr. Pascal was going to love this twist.

###

Want to read the rest? Check out Murderville or Patreon!

February Writing Projects

January was a thing, man.

I finally finished the first draft of The Coop Run. It took until the third week of January to get it done, but it’s done. After that, I spent the final week reading over the first drafts of The End of the (Werewolf) Curse and The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant and made revision notes for both. One got more revision notes than the other. I’m not looking forward to dealing with that.

And on the final day of January, I submitted (Vampires) Made in America to an agent. Fingers crossed and all that. I’m just happy to get the practice doing the query/synopsis/bio thing. Okay, that’s not true. It’s hell, but I still need the practice.

This month I’m going to revise The End of the (Werewolf) Curse.

Yep. That’s it.

I’ve felt like I’ve been pulling my hair out and banging my head against a wall and several other cliches that have put me at the end of my cliched rope. I need a recovery month.

Okay, yes, I know. It’s me. This probably won’t be the only thing I do this month, but it’s the only thing  I’m definitely going to do this month.

Let’s call this a working break.

The second episode of Murderville: The End Of comes out on the 13th. $1 an episode lets you read. $2 an episode, you get to read and you get the bonuses, including one this month that comes out on the 27th. Don’t miss out! Become a patron!

Murderville: The End Of- Episode 1

Hanging at the End Of

It was a typical day in Munsterville, the industrial city of 70,000 (give or take), with people on lunch break or hurrying to start second shift somewhere or running errands, the general business of a typical city running at its typical hum.  The sky was blue and the day was warm without being oppressively hot like late summer had a tendency to be.  And since this was a typical day in Munsterville, that meant that the city was living up to its jaunty nickname: Murderville.  Weird deaths abound in Munsterville.  And weird deaths require creative clean-ups, which was why the family business of Jones Cleaners had steady work.

Lu Jones sat in her parents’ office, eating a roast beef sandwich.  Lu had agreed to “mind the store” during her lunch hour while her parents picked up some cleaning supplies.  Her older siblings, Dru and Nico, were cleaning up the death scene of an elderly gentleman who’d died in his home and had gone undiscovered for over a week.  Her younger siblings, twins Dash and Tag, were cleaning up the scene of a suicide by shotgun in an apartment.  So, Lu was left to sit in the office and answer the phones as she ate her lunch while everyone else was out.  It was purely as a favor; Lu was the only one in the family that didn’t work the family business, a bone of contention picked at every family gathering in which there were more than two Joneses, which happened multiple times a week, so that bone was cleaned of meat years ago.  Instead of cleaning up death scenes, Lu investigated them.  She worked as a death investigator out of the city’s coroner’s office.  Same general area of the family business, but different line of work.  Horseshoes and hand grenades, her family said.

Kicked back at the reception desk in the tiny front area of the office, feet up, sandwich in the process of being devoured, Lu nearly choked in her scramble to right herself when the door opened.  They didn’t get many walk-in customers (she was really just there to answer the phone), but people did come in to pay their bills and Lu didn’t want to hear it from her mother that she was being unprofessional when someone did.

In strolled her brother-in-law, Detective Josh Carpenter, looking dashing and handsome as always.  Truly, the man looked like he should be playing the lead in some big budget Hollywood action movie that called for a good looking, tough, but charming and sensitive African-American man instead of investigating curious deaths in a no-name city like Munsterville.  How her goofy-looking white boy brother Nico ever landed him, Lu would never know, but the couple had been together for fifteen years, married for close to six of them.

“What are you doing here, Lu?” Josh asked with a grin as the door swung shut behind him.

There was no sense in Lu trying to recover her cool now.  She picked up her discarded sandwich.

“Watching the phones for Mom and Dad while I eat,” Lu said, sitting back and kicking her feet up on the desk again.  She took another bite of her sandwich and asked her question around it.  “What are you doing here?”

“Hoping to catch Nico while I had a minute,” Josh said with a bit of a wistful sigh.

He sat down in one of the chairs on the opposite side of the desk.

“He’s cleaning an undiscovered scene.”

Josh made a disgusted face.  Lu didn’t need to give him any details.

“Been busy?” Lu asked him, this time without a mouthful of sandwich.

“After that whole thing with the Harmon case, I feel like I’ve been on garbage detail.”

Winchester Harmon was a rich guy with a warped sense of humor who decided when he received a terminal cancer diagnosis to kill himself, make it look like a murder, and send a whole bunch of poor people on a wild goose chase.  Josh had been lead detective on that case and took the whole thing very personally.  Lu couldn’t quite blame him; she would have clocked Harmon for what he’d done if he hadn’t already been dead.

“You’re imagining things,” Lu said.  “Your ego is bruised because that big murder case turned out to be a weird suicide practical joke thing.  You really think the chief is going to hold that bizzaro twist against you?”

Josh looked at Lu like she must have been out of her mind.

“Have you met this woman?” he asked.  “She does not take failure lightly and to her, this looked like a huge, public failure because we didn’t immediately conclude it was a suicide, not a homicide.”

“Oh, please,” Lu said with a roll of her eyes.  She sat up, leaning on the desk with one elbow.  “It was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.  The gun was found half a block away under some bushes.  It was staged to look like a murder and it was pretty convincing.  It took an anonymous tip to sort it out.  That’s how convincing it was.”

“That’s not how the chief sees it.”

“Well, she needs glasses.  You did good work, you did it by the book, and anyone would say so.  It was a weird case to crack.”

Lu ate the last bite of her sandwich and chewed it in a determined fashion.  Josh shook his head, entirely unconvinced.

The tone of a pipe organ, mournful and funeral-like, emanated from Lu’s back pocket.  She pulled out her cell phone.  Before she could look at it, Josh’s cell chirped from the depths of his suit jacket.  He fished around for it.

“Dead body at End Of,” Lu said, reading her text.

###

Wanna read the rest? Check out Murderville or Patreon!

And Then Patreon Went and Changed Its Fee Business

Edit: Patreon changed its mind about implementing the fee changes. You can read about it here.

Okay, so Patreon has decided to change the way they charge fees. Until now, creators covered all of the fees that way when patrons were pledging a certain amount that was the true amount they were paying. Now, Patreon is moving some of the fees onto the patron. Creators will still get charged 5% and patrons will now get charged 2.9% + $0.35. You can read the full details here.

Patreon says that they did this to put more money into the creator’s pocket and to provide a more stable income because the fees we paid could vary month to month. Which sounds really nice.

But it’s really kind of not, when you think about it.

First of all, someone on Twitter pointed out that by charging both the creator and the patron, this makes Patreon more money. This is the reasoning I’m more likely to believe.

Second of all, creators are losing patrons left and right because of the fee change. They don’t want to pay the fees. And Patreon doesn’t suffer for that (they make plenty); the creators do.

I cherish all of the patrons that I have, but it’s no secret that I don’t have very many. I’m always actively trying to acquire more patrons as well as keep the ones that I have. This fee change does nothing to help me. It’s an asterisk on my selling point and it puts my current patrons in a bad position that makes them question if the fees are worth it to support me.

And all of this after I have everything ready to go for the next season of Muderville.

I’m now working on alternate methods of support. I have Ko-Fi and paypal.me. The fees associated with those are paid by me and me alone, so whoever buys me a cup of coffee or sends me money pays no fees. If I have patrons or potential patrons that would prefer this method, then I’m sure I can set up something here on the blog so people can still read Murderville, but support me through different means.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep plugging away and hope for the best.

The Black Friday List

If you follow me on Twitter or have KikiWrites liked on Facebook, then you know that I’ve spent the past week starting on Black Friday promoting my work.

For convenience sake, here’s the entire list of everything I tweeted and posted about.

Gone Missing–Tom is missing and so is everyone else in this little town. And then the missing start to go missing. Also available as a paperback.

Yearly–12 months. 12 stories. Nice. Neat. Unnerving. Also available in print as a special edition that includes Gone Missing.

Night of the Nothing Man–Kim and Scotty are being stalked by a man with a nothing faced.

Hatchets and Hearts–Is Henry’s past repeating itself?

The Ivy Russell Novellas–Four novellas about private investigator Ivy Russell and the unusual cases she gets stuck with. The first novella, Cheaters and Chupacabras, is also available as a stand alone.

A Tale of Two Lady Killers–Of course Edda’s new start in life would come with a burlesque club, a gigolo, and a serial killer. Of course.

Spirited in Spite–What’s worse than Gret’s arch rival and a couple of questionable psychics crashing her paranormal investigation? The house is really haunted.

People Are Terrible–These thirteen stories just scratch the surface of just how terrible people really are.

Ghostly–Fourteen stories that leave you feeling that maybe, just maybe, you’re not alone. The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys is also available as a stand alone eBook or paperback.

Murderville–My Patreon project. Each season features a new duo attempting to solve an unusual death in Munsterville.

The Storytime Jukebox–A pay what you want venture. Drop some money in the jukebox and pick a story or stories from the list.

Ko-Fi–Buy me a coffee! A simple way to support all of my writing projects in one quick go.

All of the eBooks are $0.99-$2.99. The print books range from $5.99-$9.99.

Don’t forget that word of mouth is the strongest currency of all! Please share. If you’ve read any one of my books, please leave a review at Amazon, Goodreads, etc. Each star helps!