I finished editing The Book of the Wounded Healers in early July (2022). After taking a few days off, I went through my files to find my next project. One short story, The Brick and originally written in Jan 2020, was close enough to finished I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t already sent it out. More than that, I completely forgot I wrote it. Ever have the joy of discovery when you find a new author? Compound that with discovering you’re the author you found.
A few first readers and an editor later and off it went.
The next item I hit was The Alibi (originally written on 25 Sept 1994). I couldn’t get past the first few paragraphs. It was okay. I’ve seen lots worse get published these days.
I’m being gracious.
I must have written it as part of a class assignment or by following instructions in some book. Reading through the first few paragraphs I could imagine myself ticking off a checklist:
main character described ✔
main setting described ✔
secondary character described ✔
situation described ✔
conflict identified ✔
Oy, it was painful to read.
But the core idea?
That I liked. So I decided to rewrite the core idea.
That’s when things went…different.
The Alibi wanted to be a novel. I wanted to write a short story. No, The Alibi wanted to be a novel. Or at least something recognizably longer than a short story (a short story being something one can read in less than an hour).
So again, a completely new work-in-progress, unedited (exciting, isn’t it?). Let me know what you think.
Cranston entered the precinct offices and saw a small crowd hovering around his desk. Captain Marete called out, “There he is, Man of the Hour.” Everybody laughed and went back to work. He smiled and nodded until he saw what was so interesting. His workstation had been replaced by a throbbing, humming, blue, oversized shitake mushroomy thing. A too thin, early thirties man with poorly trimmed dark black beard and thick brown hair tied in a ponytail half way down his back sat at Cranston’s desk wearing dVids.
Or something like dVids. They looked like the things his daughter, Leddy, kept asking him for.
A green folder rested square on his desk with a slightly larger than normal, light blue business card stapled to it. The card showed a wizard sitting on a tree trunk, crescent moon over one shoulder, dragon at his feet, and a computer on a tree trunk in front of them. Opposite the wizard, in script, was RBFH, Inc., with some titles underneath.
Cranston reached for it and The Kid’s – Cranston didn’t know who he was and “The Kid” seemed to fit – hand snaked out and caught Cranston wrist. “Please don’t. Not yet. A few more minutes tuning.”
Cranston pulled his hand back and The Kid let go.
A moment later the dVids came off and The Kid blinked the bluest eyes Cranston had ever seen. He kept looking around, blinking and squinting, blinking and squinting. “Can I help you?”
“You’re sitting at my desk.”
The Kid kept looking around, blinking, squinting, and not focusing on anything.
The Kid nodded. “Takes a minute for the eyes to adjust.” A few more blinks and he stood.
Definitely too thin.
His improperly knotted tie had a picture of a cat on it, his clothes off-the-rack office regular. He focused on Cranston and offered his hand. “Howdy. I’m John Rhinehold. Are you Detective William Cranston?”
“Bill. Yes. What’s all this about?”
Marete’s voice came up behind them. “This is about you getting the latest crime solving tech.”
“When was this decided?”
“I don’t remember volunteering.”
“And you still volunteered. Get this to work for you, everybody’ll get one.”
“Why did I volunteer again?”
“Because you don’t even open your emails or check the schedule unless they’re printed out and handed to you.”
“I’m being punished for being a luddite?”
Rhinehold perked up and spit out words like a bright-eyed machine gun. “You’re a luddite? Wow. You’re the first one I’ve met. And you admit it, too. Amazing. This’ll be fun.”
Cranston and Marete kept their eyes on each other. Both said, “Shut up.”
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