Murderville: Rounds of Luck- Episode 5

Back to the Dumpsters

Velvet arrived at work that night toting bits and pieces of gossip in her head, all of it juicy, but none of it definitive. She put her cell phone and her purse in her glove box, locked her car, and hurried against the whipping autumn wind to the backdoor. Once inside The Kobel Warehouse Off Rockrine Road, Velvet quickly navigated the maze to the security room, not pausing to think about what might be lurking in or around that new crate (or the other side of that wall). She found the atmosphere in the security room an odd mix of boiling and icy.

Cami and Trey sat hunched in their chairs while Otis stood behind them, arms folded across his thin chest, absolutely fuming.

“Hey, guys, how’s it going?” Velvet asked hesitantly, looking around the room as she spoke, trying to figure out what the hell had happened.

“Otis is in a mood,” Trey said, getting to his feet.

“He’s always in a mood,” Velvet said, casting a glance at Otis, who was definitely in a mood.

Cami stood up, too.

“Where are you going?” Otis asked, his voice gruffer than usual. “You still got ten minutes.”

“I’ll take the cut,” Trey said, scooching past Velvet to get out of the door. Cami followed right behind him.

Velvet stared at Otis, who stared back. She listened for Trey and Cami to clock out, gave them a second to flee, and then walked back out of the security room to clock in. Otis followed her. The two of them clocked in and went back in the security room to start their shift.

“What did you do?” Velvet asked.

“I didn’t do anything. It’s what Kobel did,” Otis said, sitting heavily in his chair, the damn thing screaming like an overacting victim in a cheap horror movie.

“What did Mr. Kobel do?” Velvet asked, sitting down in her own chair a little more delicately. It still squeaked horrendously.

“Left a message for us.”

Otis sat back in his chair, ignoring the noise, and glared at the monitors. Velvet stared at him for a moment, waiting. With a roll of her eyes, she prompted him, speaking slowly, enunciating every word.

“What is the message, Otis?”

“He said that the next time we need to call the police, we’re supposed to call him first,” Otis said.

Velvet waited and when Otis said nothing more, she picked apart the sentence, looking for the insult.

“So?” she said.

“So?” Otis scoffed. “I’m not deferring my judgment and my responsibilities to that man.”

“It’s his warehouse, Otis,” Velvet said, shaking her head at Otis’s wounded pride.

“And it’s my job.”

“I thought you were retiring.”

“And until I do, this is still my job.”

Otis shut down, going into full pout mode, his whole posture a frown. Velvet sighed, and leaned back in her chair, looking up at the monitors. Why did men have to be so impossible?

Normally, Otis would have walked the first round, but he was in such a fiercely foul mope over his job and retirement that he didn’t even make an attempt to get out of the chair when Velvet told him it was time. So, she walked the first round, her own mood souring over Otis’s behavior and his impending retirement (which she was still not sure he’d actually be able to go through with, but was afraid that he would), her brain rolling over the bits of gossip she’d acquired during the day in an attempt to keep the dark shadow of fear at bay. Because against all logic, Velvet was a little afraid. The killer was long gone. Those shadows were just shadows and those noises were just noises. There was nothing to be afraid of. Yet she was. Just a little.

Velvet completed that round in record time, coming back to the security room to find that Otis’s mood hadn’t improved

“It’s going to be a long night,” she said as she sat down.

“Why do you say that?”

“Because you’re in full grump,” Velvet said. “You’re no fun when you’re in full grump.”

Otis grumped loudly in reply. “I’m not here to have fun.”

“Yeah, but it’s only when you’re in full grump that it makes it impossible for me to have fun.”

Otis ignored her. Velvet reached over and gave him a nudge.

“You’re not really going to retire, Otis. Right?”

“My mind is made up, Velvet, and there’s nothing you can do to change it.”

Velvet crossed her arms in a huff. “You’re a real pain, Otis.”

“Well, you won’t have to put up with me for much longer.”

“But I want to put up with you.” Velvet paused. “Except when you’re being a grump.”

Otis didn’t respond.

Velvet left him be for a bit. Her eyes drifted over the monitors in a pattern, starting at the top and working across, then down and across again, back and forth. It was a soothing sort of thing, even if she did end up suffering from eyestrain after a couple of hours. But it was also an easy way to pass the time. It didn’t require much thought.

“I’m going to walk rounds.”

Velvet jumped, her chair squeaking loudly and preventing her from pretending that she hadn’t. Otis looked over at her with a raised eyebrow before his own chair squealed as he got up.

“So nice of you to participate,” Velvet said. “I was wondering since you were retiring if you were going to walk rounds at all.”

“I always do my job,” Otis said, deadly serious.

“Really? You didn’t walk the first round.”

“You didn’t ask.”

“I never have to!”

“I’ll be back.”

Otis stalked out of the security room, flashlight in hand and radio on his belt.

“Maybe it would be better if that old grouch did retire,” Velvet muttered to herself, knowing full well she didn’t really mean it.

She went back to the monitors, watching Otis disappear and reappear as he walked through the maze. Something on another monitor caught her eye. It moved quickly, but Velvet was a little quicker, seeing it before it vanished.

A shadow in the parking lot.

###

Trouble has returned. Or has it? The only way to know is to read. Check out Murderville or Patreon to find out how.

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May Writing Projects

April was sort of a wacky month. I took a break from the To Do List to do a couple of things on my wishlist and ended up getting nothing done that I intended, but things did get done.

I was supposed to put together a poetry chapbook and do some research on one of the TV books I want to write one day. What I ended up doing was writing a poem a day (like I usually do in April for National Poetry Month) because I felt like I didn’t have the poems I needed/wanted for a chapbook, working on Book ’em, Danno (it’s still a mess, but getting better), writing one short story to submit for an anthology, and two pieces of hint fiction for a contest.

Wild how that happens, huh?

This month I’m getting back to the To Do List. I’m going to revise Murderville Season 4. Yes, that’s it. I’m dealing with some personal shit right now, so I’m trying to play it with a loose hat, as they say. I need the room to be flexible and committing to only one project this month will let me do that.

Besides, we’ve seen what happens when I give myself a little room. Who knows what I might end up talking myself into doing because I have the time?

However, Murderville: Rounds of Luck is running out of time. Only three more episodes left! Episode 5 goes live on May 14th. Become a patron for only $1 or $2 an episode and enjoy the fun. There’s always plenty of time for that.

Murderville: Rounds of Luck- Episode 4

Official Gossip

The Munsterville Courier was a marvel of a modern newspaper. No matter how late a story broke, they always seemed to have it first thing in the morning, usually on the front page. And not just online. In the physical copy, too.

Simon Sidney’s murder was no different.

Otis sat at his kitchen table, eating a peanut butter sandwich, drinking a glass of chocolate milk, and reading about what he’d already experienced, which was splashed in glorious fashion all over the front page. He was somewhat relieved that his and Velvet’s names were kept out of the press and a little more than tickled that Manfred Kobel’s was splattered all over it. Just out of spite, he hoped some rumors about the man started.

And judging by the way the article was written, they would.

The article highlighted that the body was found at The Kobel Warehouse Off Rockrine Road, a warehouse that Mr. Kobel was thinking of selling, possibly to the victim, something that Otis didn’t know. He reckoned that none of the other security guards knew it either. And none of them probably would have known until the day the warehouse was sold and they were all fired. Otis realized it was very likely that Simon Sidney’s death saved all of their jobs, at least until Kobel could find another buyer. Not that it mattered much to Otis. He was retiring.

The paper also went into great detail about the business deals and steals of the two men. There was also something else about Simon Sidney’s estranged wife and his connection to a dead woman found at The End Of and the late Winchester Harmon, but that didn’t interest him. He preferred the parts that drug Manfred Kobel through the mud.

It served the man right. Otis didn’t believe in Karma, but in this case, he was willing to make an exception. If Kobel was going to insult Otis’s work, then he could be insulted, too. Being seen as a shady businessman and a murder suspect in the court of public opinion was much better than any name Otis could think to call the man.

Otis finished the paper and his peanut butter sandwich, only pausing here and there to read a few shorter blurbs of other stories that caught his eye. When he got up to get another peanut butter sandwich, he got his checkbook, too.

As he ate, Otis looked over his finances. Growing up poor had taught him two things: be frugal and be meticulous with money. Otis only bought things when he was sure he could afford them, which was why he drove a car nearly twenty years old; he wasn’t sure that he could afford any of those pricey new ones. He bought a house, the one he still lived in, but it was an investment when he bought it all those years ago and he’d been good about taking care of it, even if it wasn’t as up-to-date and fancy as some of the others in the neighborhood. Take the kitchen for example. The stove was over twenty years old and one of the knobs was gone and sometimes it shocked you if you were touching the sink at the same time, but it still worked just as well as when he’d bought it from a rummage sale about fifteen years ago. The table came from his grandmother’s basement and despite a couple of nicks was still in good shape. The wood paneling and the floor were new-ish; he’d redone them both about five years ago. The place might be well-worn and lived-in, but it was a good house.

He’d tried to pass on some of his wisdom to Velvet, though she seemed to have a pretty good head on her shoulders when it came to money. She didn’t wait to get married to buy a house and she was in no hurry to buy a new car even though the one she drove was paid for. He couldn’t convince her to spend less on clothes or make-up, though.

Otis had one hundred thousand dollars in his checking account. He also had savings accounts pushing two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, thanks to steady deposits and interest. Otis frowned. He wasn’t sure that’d be enough. He probably should have started investing in CDs or bonds or something, but Otis didn’t really trust that sort of thing. He wasn’t even sure about the savings account, but the bank had proven solid over the decades he’d used them. He still kept about ten thousand dollars in cash in the house, though. Just for emergencies. Thinking critically about his money situation, Otis decided that he could afford to retire if he really had to, though he might have to splurge on fewer name brands during grocery shopping trips just to be safe.

When he stood up to return his checkbook to its proper place and to get another glass of chocolate milk, the jingling in his pocket caught his attention. It wasn’t an unusual sound by any means, but it reminded Otis of what was actually in there.

Digging into his pocket, Otis found the coin and pulled it out. He sat down at the table again, checkbook and milk forgotten as he examined the coin, turning it over and over in his hands. It wasn’t any American or Canadian currency he knew. Didn’t look like the English money he’d seen either. There was a bird on one side, sort of like an eagle, and there was star and crescent on the other side. It was strange. And it didn’t look like it’d ever been used, like most currency, nor did it have that look of being a forgotten lucky charm. This had been cared for, the silver gleamed in the morning sunlight spilling into the kitchen. This was important.

###

But why is it important? The only way to find out is to keep reading. And to keep reading, check out Murderville or Patreon.

April Writing Projects

I honestly thought about doing a Twitter poll to decide what to work on this month because I’m feeling a bit adrift at the moment. Not sure what project to focus on, not sure what I want to do, not sure of much of anything.

Last month, I finished a round of revisions on The Coop Run (which may need another round; I’m sending it off to a beta reader to see if I’m getting anywhere with it). Great. I looked at my project list the other day to see what I should be working on this month.

I could start revising Murderville Season 4, but I’d rather wait until May. I like working on Murderville during summer because when I’m not struggling with health/stress issues, I get into a nice rhythm that keeps me busy and happy. I could start revising End of the (Werewolf) Curse because that is one of my projects this year, but I should really fix the beginning of (Vampires) Made in America now that I’ve had my epiphany about it, and start shopping it to agents again. I could revise a couple of scripts, but those projects are sort of pointless because I wouldn’t be able to do anything with them once I got them done.

Who knew this would be such a loaded question?

Well, I did, to be honest.

I wrote last month about how my productivity had been garbage and how I had no interest in much of anything. Shortly after that public whining, I found a burst of mojo that led me to recording a few Book ’em, Danno segments and doing some art and making some significant progress on my revising. The mojo was short-lived, but useful. The next week I felt like I’d been steamrolled and was back to struggling.

Sitting at the end of that week, with the latest round of The Coop Run revisions finished, I asked myself what I should do in April. And when I got that garbled-ass answer above which prioritized the projects that would make me money, I stopped, closed my eyes, and asked myself again.

What do you really want to work on in April?

I want to research and outline one of the ideas I have for a TV book that I’ll probably never write and I want to work on one of the poetry chapbooks I’ve been thinking about doing since it’s National Poetry Month.

Fine. Great. Let’s do that.

I need a break. A break from the pressure to produce. A break from attaching a dollar-value to everything I work on. Yes, I like to get paid for my work, but right now I need to work on something that might turn out to be nothing, something that might not mean anything to anyone but me.

I’ve got a few ideas for how to make the ends meet for May.

But someone has already met their end in Murderville. In fact, we’re at the half-way point of Rounds of Luck as episode 4 goes live on April 9th. Lucky for you, it’s easy to catch up. Become a patron for as little as $1 an episode. $2 patrons receive a bonus every other month, like this month on the 23rd. Don’t wait! Get in on the killer fun!

Where Has All My Mojo Gone?

I started off this year busting some serious tail. I got things done, man. I read four books in January alone. I was finishing projects and feeding off that accomplishment. I was even getting into the groove of starting Book ’em, Danno.

And then my mojo failed me.

Sometime around the end of February, it all started to dry up. This month has been hard. The productive days have dwindled from above average to bare minimum. I’m getting just what I need to get done to keep the train rolling, writing-wise. Podcast-wise, that train has come to a halt. I’m struggling to even write a blog post once a week. I don’t have the energy or the motivation or the interest for it. I’m tired more often than not.

Now, obviously, I’m looking for a solution. But to find a solution I first have to identify the cause. I’ve been having some trouble with that.

Is this a byproduct of some recent insomnia? Is it my depression acting up? Has my anemia returned (I was given the all-clear to stop my iron pills and have been off of them for about six weeks)? Is it PMS? Menopause (hopefully)? Something new? I don’t know. I haven’t been able to nail the root cause of my malaise down. Believe me. It’s frustrating.

More frustrating is that I now have to use the cooked spaghetti method of finding something to help me get my groove back. Just throw a bunch of possible solutions at the wall and see what sticks.

I’m getting back into my meditation, which I had slacked off on, so that should help with my sleep issues. I’m going back on my iron pills, just in case. I’m digging into my depression-managing toolbox to see if there’s any tricks in there I can try.

I’m also trying to conjure up some productivity by working on one of my half-assed resolutions. In trying to figure out something to do with the art I did last year, I’m starting a new art project. I’m hoping that getting those creative juices flowing will open up the dam for the rest of my creativity.

Pray for rain and get a flood of mojo working again.

Murderville: Rounds of Luck- Episode 3

Loss/Gain

The police wrapped up their investigation a little after two in the morning. Otis sent Velvet down to meet Detective Carpenter at the backdoor when he knocked, which was fine with Velvet. Otis had been suspiciously quiet the whole time they’d been in the security room. Not that Otis was a real talker or anything, but he usually had at least something to say about everything and Velvet was sure Otis would have a lot to say about this. But he didn’t. He was quiet, and this quiet was deeper than his usual quiet, which irked Velvet.

“We’re finished for this evening,” Detective Carpenter said as Velvet tried not to look like she was looking for Detective Carthos. She decided that she liked his kind, awkwardness. It was comforting. “The crime scene tape is staying up for now. Forensics will be back in the morning to have a look around by daylight and I’ll probably be back sometime tomorrow, too, for my own look around. You and Guard Gorski can go back to your rounds as usual, but please avoid that side of the building for now. Let the next shift know what’s going on.”

“Sure. No problem.”

“Oh, and if one of you could drop the security footage off at the police station when you get off work in the morning, that will be helpful. The sooner we look at it, the better.”

“Again, no problem.”

Velvet smiled and nodded like she was talking to a teacher she was trying to please, an odd feeling since she hadn’t done anything wrong. Maybe Detective Carpenter just had that affect on people. She bet he got a lot of confessions. Bad guys were lulled by his good looks and nailed by his aura.

They said their goodbyes, Detective Carpenter reminding her to call if she or Otis remembered anything, and then he left, getting into the last unmarked car in the parking lot. As he pulled away, Velvet could make out the shadow of Detective Carthos riding next to him in the passenger seat.

Velvet closed and locked the backdoor and walked the maze back to the security room.

Otis sat in his chair like a grumpy lump, the deep, unhappy silence still heavy in the room. Velvet sighed and sat down next to him, her chair squeaking and popping.

“Detective Carpenter wants one of us to run the security footage over to the police station in the morning,” she said.

“You can do that,” Otis said, his gravelly voice agitated.

Velvet bristled at being volunteered.

“Why do I have to do it?”

“Because I found the body.”

“Man, that isn’t how this works.”

“How would you know how it works?”

“I know it doesn’t work like this.”

“I’ll put it together, you run it over,” Otis said, sitting up in his chair. He quickly pulled up the program on the systems computer that allowed him to copy the footage and started to go through it.

“Fine,” Velvet said, watching him work.

They probably could have had this done and waiting for the detectives by the time they left, but Otis didn’t seem to be in any hurry at the time to get it done and Velvet was in no mood to prod him.

Then.

Now, prodding Otis would be an excellent way to get things back to normal. And she was eager to get things back to normal and shake the creepy feelings that had been plaguing her all night, anything to erase the image of that dead man’s legs sticking out from between the dumpsters that she was sure to be seeing for a while. She wasn’t looking forward to going to sleep and seeing what her dreams had in store for her after a night like this.

“What’s with you?” Velvet asked, watching the monitors. Otis didn’t get as cranky with her for conversing if he thought she was keeping an eye on things.

“What do you mean what’s with me?” he asked, focusing on his own work.

“Why are you so cranky?”

“I’m always cranky.”

Velvet snorted.

“Yeah, but you’re cranky even for you. You’re not that fun cranky that I’ve come to know and love. You’re a sullen cranky that makes me want to push you over.”

Otis stopped what he was doing and looked at her. “Push me over?”

“That’s what I said.”

He shook his head and went back to his work.

“So?” Velvet prompted after a minute.

“So what?”

“So, what’s eating you?”

Otis didn’t answer.

“You’re underestimating me, Otis,” Velvet said with a little smile. “I will bug you until the rest of your hair falls out. When I want some information, I will stop at nothing to get it. You know this. You know how I can be.”

Otis stayed silent.

“I mean it, Otis. I will make our shifts a living hell for you with non-stop chatter if you don’t spill your beans. I will-”

“I’m retiring.”

The two words hit Velvet with the same force as a cinderblock chucked at her gut. It took her a couple of seconds to get her air back.

“You are not,” she said in disbelief.

“Yes, I am.”

###

Things are getting a little tense at the Kobel Warehouse on Rockrine Road. Want to read more? Check out Murderville or Patreon.

March Writing Projects

As you may have seen, my flash fiction collection, Take a Bite, did indeed get finished and published last month. And once it did, I started work on Book ’em, Danno. I actually recorded and edited the first episode and it’s not horrible. It’s something I’m going to continue to work on, so stay tuned for updates.

This month I’m going to revise The Coop Run. I wanted to work on something geared toward publication, be it traditional or self-publishing. I really need to do more work designed to generate income, which sounds crass, but hey, you like to get paid for the work you do. Well, same. Finishing The Coop Run would be an excellent gain on my 2019 project goals.

Speaking of projects.

I have GOT to re-organize my writing project To Do List of Doom. In the words of my grandmother, it is a fright. Directions have changed, projects have been abandoned, others have been started without notice. The current coagulation of projects is no longer helpful and I need to find another way to keep everything straight. So, that’s going to be something I work on this month.

I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised that it got so out of hand. After all, it is an extension of my brain and that place ain’t so neat either.

However, Murderville: Rounds of Luck is very neat and the next episode goes live on March 12th. Become a patron for $1 or $2 an episode and you can be neat, too.