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.”


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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.


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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!

January Writing Projects

Hello, 2018! I hope you’re prepared to do a lot of writing things because I know that I am, despite how I ended 2017.

Okay, so, yeah. The Coop Run didn’t get finished. But I do know that it’s going to be closer to 50,000 words since I passed the 30,000 word mark and it’s not done. So, that’s something. I did finish the final polish of (Vampires) Made in America, though. I wasn’t totally consumed by jolly fatigue.

It makes my plans for January pretty obvious. Finish the first draft of The Coop Run and submit (Vampires) Made in America to agents.

Those are the two main things, though obviously submitting (Vampires) is going to be something that happens throughout the year because I expect this to be more of a learning experience than anything.

I’m also going to be doing some reading. I’m going to read the first draft of The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant and the first draft of The End of the (Werewolf) Curse and make some revision notes. I’m going to be working on both of these novels during the year, so I might as well start now.

I think that will be enough to keep me busy.

Murderville:The End Of starts January 9th! Become a patron and don’t miss an episode. $1 an episode let’s you read; $2 an episode gets you bonuses as well. It’s a steal!