Saturday, January 20, 2018

Excerpt from a new novel 2

Excerpt: Untitled Serial Killer Story

Here is another scene from the novel. As I mentioned perviously, these excerpts are unedited and that details may change in the future. This is one which will be most likely to change. But for now, it does introduce Nick Ryan, the forensic psychologist and one half of the broken relationship I wrote about earlier.

If you missed the first post, you can find it here. It contains the first excerpt as well as information about the story itself.

Hope you all enjoy this one. Nick is a character close to my heart, the idiot.

Nick Ryan sat back in his leather chair, the worn material moaning softly as he moved. He stared at the computer screen, an article from the Greendale Gazette staring back at him, the files, documents, and photos covering the desk forgotten. armed robbery thwarted by new resident. The story had made front-page news, but then, an armed robbery in a small town like Greendale was seriously big news.
He’d read the article twice. The first time, he’d felt a familiar, painful wrenching in his gut as he’d read Emery’s name. It was the same feeling he had every time he got one of her fan newsletters that he’d signed up for, or saw someone reading her books. The same feeling he got every time he glanced at her photo in the back of one of her books, or read her blog, or visited her website, or flipped through his own photos on his phone or computer.

The second time he read the article, it was with more professional or perhaps clinical interest. He’d been reading the Greendale Gazette, a weekly publication, religiously since February, and even into some back issues; he knew the Gazette didn’t employ any ace reporters. And he usually wondered if they had a copyeditor. The reporter who had written the armed robbery story, Paul Clark, had obviously been struck by the excitement and the sensationalism of the crime. The article had not been a report of the facts, but a gossipy retelling of a very scandalous happening.
But then, Nick reminded himself for the eighth time that evening, Paul Clark was probably a full-time farmer or rancher or shopkeeper or whatever the hell else people did in BFE Colorado, and only wrote for the paper on the side. A hardened, seasoned reporter Paul Clark was not.
The article recounted the stories of the half a dozen eyewitnesses who had been present in the store at the time of the attempted robbery. Given how little variation there was in their stories, even in the article, Nick knew the whole thing had gone down quickly. The longer an event dragged out, the more time people had for their perceptions to be skewed by fear, prejudice, and stereotypes, resulting in wildly different accounts.
The robber, Austin Lewis, was apparently a drifter, who had ridden into town on a train. Clark cited an “unnamed source in the sheriff’s department”—which an editor would have caught and changed to “sheriff’s office”—who had told him Lewis had warrants in three states for armed robbery and theft. Extradition was immanent, according to Clark’s source, who may well have been the sheriff himself, the only question was where Lewis was going first.
The more interesting parts of the article for Nick were the ones that recounted Emery’s role in the whole thing. Clark had written a very pointed line about Emery being unwilling to give him any comment on the event, which caused Nick to chuckle every time he read it. According to others, she’d been in the store when the gunman had come in. As Lewis threated a ninety-three-year-old woman, “a well-liked and highly-regarded pillar of the community,” Emery had “intervened with a clever rouse.” Nick knew Clark meant “ruse.”
“She never seemed afraid,” Carol Lowell said of Taylor’s heroic act. Carol Lowell and her husband Bert had been directly threatened by the mad gunman, along side Mrs. Leighton. Lewis demanded they give him their purses, wallets and jewelry, but Mrs. Leighton, in her fear, couldn’t get her watch off. “That’s when he threatened to take it,” Carol said, obviously still terrified by the ordeal. “He said he would rip it right off her wrist. And I think he would have.”
“That’s when the siren went off,” Betty Mitchell said. Betty and her husband Hank, who own the hardware store that Lewis attempted to rob, were both present at the time of the robbery. “It was so loud, it made everyone jump. That’s when she [Emery Taylor] came bursting out of the aisle, swinging the shovel.”
“The robber actually saw her, and pointed the gun at her,” Bert Lowell said. “But she never flinched. She just smacked him with the shovel, and he went down.”
“She was actually the one who figured out he’d come in on a train,” Hillary Whitehead said. Hillary had been in the store with her two teenage sons at the time of the robbery. “Sheriff Tucker probably would have figured it out for himself eventually,” she said, “but Ms. Taylor figured it out right in the store, just by looking at the guy.”
Emery Taylor, 32, best-selling author of mystery/thriller novels, purchased the old Biscayne ranch in January. The Gazette has since learned that ranch was originally owned by the Taylor family. Joseph Taylor settled the land in the late 1800s, and it was in the Taylor family until 1990, when Charles Taylor was killed in a tragic farming accident and his widow sold the property to Bob Biscayne. Charles Taylor was Emery Taylor’s father.
Nick chuckled softly as he sipped his whiskey. Clark gave background on Emery that was relevant to her place in town, not to the event she’d been involved in. There was no mention anywhere in the article about her education, her background, or her work with the Denver Police Department, nothing that might have helped explain how she’d been able to stand up to an armed robber without seeming to show fear, or how she’d been able to conclude he’d arrived in town via freighthopping.
Instead, he’d effectually claimed Emery Taylor as a treasured townswoman, a part of the community, one of their own. In a small town like Greendale, belonging was important, and crime was scary. And it certainly wouldn’t do to have a rogue running around town, even if that rogue was thwarting crime. Whether consciously or subconsciously, Clark had minimized the crime and highlighted Emery’s membership. And all was well once again in Greendale.
Greendale, he thought angrily as he belted back the last of his whiskey. Why did it have to be Greendale?
He’d had to look the damn place up on the Internet. He’d spent forever staring at a fucking map trying to find the place with no success. It was in the middle of nowhere, where the whole county had fewer than five thousand people. For heaven’s sake, it barely warranted a dot on a map. He laughed at that as he poured himself another drink. She’d moved from Denver, with a population of six hundred and fifty thousand, so a place like Greendale.
Running away. The words danced through his mind like the accusation they were. But then he shook his head, a pang of guilt searing through him. He looked at the nearly empty bottle of whiskey and the files open on the desk. He ran away in his own way, didn’t he? And even if he didn’t, how could he blame her for anything?
He got up and began to pace the length of his office, the glass in his hand. He remembered Emery telling him about Greendale. No fan would find anything mentioned about the place anywhere on her website or her book jackets. Greendale was a part of the Emery she never shared with the world, the part that precious few people even knew about. It was a part that she guarded fiercely.
Nick had been one of the precious few, one of the lucky ones. She’d shared that part of herself with him, let him see the memories and the dreams she kept secured in there. And then he’d done what she’d feared most; he’d hurt her because of it.
He threw back a huge gulp of whiskey in an angry swallow, the drink burning his throat all the way down to his belly where it splashed onto the fire already simmering there. The flames roared higher, hotter, and heat rolled through his body like molten lava.
It never took long for him to arrive right here, at the bottom of this black pit filled with disgust, frustration, self-hate, guilt, and so much pain he wanted to scream. But he wasn’t going to stay here long tonight. He drained the last of the whiskey from the glass then walked back around the desk where he traded it for the bottle. His gaze fell on the Gazette article still up on the screen.
Why the hell did he read that stupid paper anyway?
Oh, I don’t know, Nick, his inner voice mocked him. Why do you read her blog, or follow her Facebook page? Why do you read her books every night, over and over?
A cry, primal and full of pain and frustration, bubbled up out of his chest as he swept an angry arm over the desktop. Papers, books, files, and various other items crashed to the floor. Clutching the neck of the whiskey bottle, he stormed out of the office, headed straight for the liquor cabinet.
He was going to get very, very drunk.

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