The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 33

Hopefully the next entry in these The Alibi previews will be new, fresh, exciting…or at least recycled differently.

See you next month.


The Alibi – Chapter 33

Leddy sat across from Penny in the Boston Public Library’s Johnson Building. Leddy always thought she and Penny’d look like tower salt&pepper shakers if Penny could get on her shoulders. Leddy, stocky and dark like her father, Penny thin and fair like her father if he didn’t get to his Bermuda home for a weekend.

Out the window she watched firetrucks and ambulance race towards the waterfront until people crowded around her and blocked the view. She switched her tablet from screen to dVids, a gift from Penny’s father, and guided her drone with a specialized pen she designed inside MIT’s Media Lab as part of the after school study program. She couldn’t stop actionable ideas from coming to her. Her advisors wondered if she were adopted. Grad students and professors attempted to copy her designs. Penny’s father, Briggs, told Penny to keep an eye on her and bring any things she came up with to him.

Briggs had Penny and Leddy to lunch at least once a month and Leddy on her own fortnightly. He ate little, a salad if anything and rarely more, bottled water on the side, made sure Leddy ate like a queen, and probed her about anything Penny brought to his attention and then conversationally asked about things Penny missed, but gently so she wouldn’t catch on.

Leddy thought him a playable fool. He could get her hands on tech even her Media Lab buds knew nothing about and Leddy always let him think something profitable would come of it.

But gently, conversationally, so he wouldn’t catch on. After their third chat she started picking at her food.

She’d order everything and anything, then have it boxed up to go and pass it around when she got back to the lab.

A lot of her labmates were just getting by.

And Leddy liked to pay it forward when she could.

She tapped Penny’s tablet. “People will see what’s on your screen.”

Penny laughed. “I’m going inside. I’ll be able to sell this, create a bidding war. We’re the first on the scene.”

“You take too many chances.”

Penny kept her tablet active. “You don’t take enough. What are you doing?”

“Watching vehicular and foot traffic.”

“Do you listen to yourself? You sound like your father.”

“You sound like yours.”

“Yeah? How ’bout you give those dVids back. Briggs won’t mind.”

“I’ve never heard you call your father father, dad, pop. He’s always Briggs to you.”

“That’s the way he likes it. Good business practice. He’s grooming me to take over for him when he retires.”

Leddy smiled and nodded. You don’t have the horsepower to takeover for a snail.

Penny nodded with her friend. “See? Even you know it.”

Leddy continued smiling and nodding. I’m agreeing with myself, you wonker.

Penny cocked her head over her tablet and frowned. Her long blonde hair fell forward and partially covered the screen. She brushed it away. “I swear Briggs has the right idea, shaving everything off. Nothing gets in the way.”

Leddy noted Penny’s blank screen. “Problem?”

A woman with a nametag hushed them from the window.

Penny’s tablet sounded an odd ping.

Leddy reached for it. “Did it die again?”

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The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 32

Still sharing what I’ve already written pre-Oct. By the time this chapter is published I’ll’ve begun The Great Rewrite.

Nice image, that…don’t you think?


The Alibi – Chapter 32

Sean surfaced slowly and rotated without making ripples. No one, no thing, besides himself in the cave. Boston’s record-breaking heatwave had daytime temperatures in the high nineties, nighttime temps not much less, and the downtown was, literally, a melting pot. People claimed they could see the waterfront boil and the seawater hadn’t been spared. A mist rose in the cave where the warm ocean water hit the cave’s subterranean cool. Not enough to hide in, and Sean was glad of that.

The water rose and lowered quickly. Not him, not the T, not passive or active sonar. Almost like a percussion blast, a pressure wave.

He waited. Nothing else. Probably some waterfront construction.

He focused on the wall sigils his last time here. Seamus thought there might be something more, something other.

Like what?

Kelp? Lichen? A scribe holding a writing tablet transposing his efforts to the bioluminescent walls?

Seamus’s placement on a DO NOT FLY list bothered him. His cousin a terrorist?

Caic tarbh! Nobody with half a brain in their head would buy that story.

Still, there it was. Seamus O’Hearn was on a DO NOT FLY list.

Too many coincidences.

But who in hell would care about what’s scratched into the walls of a cave you can only get to underwater?

Didn’t matter now.

He hadn’t investigated those other caves, the darkness in the walls, the tunnels leading…where?

This was a secret staging area for a smuggling operation?

Not bad. Except you’d need some kind of powered submersible if you were smuggling anything with mass.

But how many men were involved in the operation?

Had enough, you could make a chain.

And if this was an old T tunnel? Did they store equipment here? Wouldn’t there be service tracks to and from?

He rose from the water, waited for ocean to shed itself from his dive suit, less chance of sloshing, making a sound, being heard by others.

Another look around.

He turned on his headlamp, shined it in the tunnel entrances, and saw it light a backwall in one.

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The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 31

Still sharing what I’ve already written before inundating you with yet another set of edits…which I’ll be starting some time today…promise…

The Alibi – Chapter 31

Naomi listened to her new floor manager go on and on and on and…on. A young, overweight, balding man whose greatest daily physical effort, she reasoned, was lifting his pants up after he shit, replaced the ignorant sac-o-shit woman who thought a maroon jacket bestowed power like the Green Lantern’s ring or Thor’s hammer. This idiot had the same maroon jacket – okay, larger. Much, much larger – and same sense of power.

She nodded as he droned on and on and…on about how things were going to be different and how she needed to change her attitude and how jobs were not as plentiful as she might think and how she still hadn’t been with the company long enough to warrant benefits and she glanced periodically at the big screen TV over in Electronics broadcasting the news.


She stepped across the aisle, out of the traffic of shoppers pushing carts and baby strollers, and left him ranting on the other side.


People pushed their carts and strollers down other aisles rather than pass him.

He strode across the aisle. One hand held a tablet and he stood in front of her, hands on hips. “Naomi!”

She blinked and stared up at him. “I’m sorry. Were you talking to me?”

“God, woman. Don’t you know your own name? Do you have another name you’d prefer me to use?”

You think anybody would know if I followed you into the can and killed you? She pointed to the big screen. “Do you know anything about this?”

He glared down at her. “I know about Cleaning Supplies in aisle 13. You – ”

She raised a finger to her lips and her focus returned to the broadcast. “Shh. I’m listening. The TV showed a drone’s-eye view of Innovation Square. The top of the screen had a white-on-red flashing “Breaking News” logo. On the screen it occasionally blocked out what the drone picked up. “Jesus. That’s an awful lot of equipment for an accident or fire.”

He moved to block her view. “Naomi!”

She stepped around him to watch the news.

He tapped his tablet. “I’m taking this to HR!”

She stepped away from her manager and squinted at the ticker at the bottom of the screen.

She glanced at his retreating form and noted his face almost matched the color of his manager’s jacket.

News teams were on the scene interviewing people. The view switched to a reporter holding her mike up to some talking head. She couldn’t hear what she said.

She scanned the crowds. Her eyes popped when she saw on a civilian walking in the background.

Just walking, not paying attention to anything in particular, coffee cup in hand, just another civilian watching the show and enjoying the chaos.


Letting himself get caught on camera?

Must be damned important for Obsidian to risk being caught on camera in public.

Her young, overweight, balding manager strode back and stood in front of her. His voice held hints of gleeful sweetness. “Naomi, would come with me to HR, please?”

She didn’t think she’d get any more from the broadcast, turned to stare at him and blinked a few times. “Who do you bet keeps their job today, you or me?”

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The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 30


Welcome to November.


October was a fascinating month. Did a lot of work and got little done. Had two computers die (dishonorably, I might add), a major software kerfuffle, following up on a book release, editing my next release to get it to the editors, attending meetings, …

An author’s work is never done.

And now-a-days, with the advent of self-publishing and indie authors, books aren’t done even when published. It’s too easy to find errors that snuck past every freakin editor, first reader, and critiquer (dedicated they are, those tyops! at least persistent!).

Long story short, I got minimal work done on The Alibi, which means I’m taking some time to print out all I’ve written so far and give it a thorough edit.

Scary, yes?

And Hallowe’en was yesterday (as I type this).

But sharing what I’ve already written before inundating you with yet another set of edits…


The Alibi – Chapter 30

Briggs Lane stood at the window of his Lane, Cuomo, and Greenberg top-floor corner office and held a pair of MIL710 Optical Enhancers to his eyes. He adjusted the focus so Innovation Square showed with such clarity building images could cut glass. “That stupid bastard. I should’ve insisted he clear his plan with me. Doesn’t he know enough not to shit where he eats?”

He placed the MIL710s back in their padded box, placed that in a desk drawer, closed the drawer, and pressed his thumb against a lock. The drawer hissed as the desk sucked it a microscopic inch or two further in and sealed it in place.

Lane stepped over to The Great Wave off Kanagawa. He lifted his fingers to his lips, kissed then touched his fingers to the carving’s frame.

The wall opened and revealed what Lane’s deep intimates referenced as variously “the weapons locker,” “the Predators’ trophy array,” and “Elon Musk’s wish list.”

That last one always gave Lane a chuckle.

Musk was an ass.

Never invited Briggs to any parties, never accepted Lane’s invitations to dinner when he was in Boston.

What a fucking ass.

Lane lifted a smallish disco dance club’s glitterball from its birth in the hidden compartment to reveal a small, gold nameplate with HIVE engraved on it.

Lane turned the glitterball over and placed his hand inside. A moment later the HIVE – a prototype Human Immersion Visual-audio Enhancer – hummed and Lane fitted it over his head.

The HIVE’s separate facets, much like an insect’s compound eyes, captured video and audio feeds from whatever was available – a newscast, a store camera, municipal video, people livestreaming, devices uploading to the cloud – and built a real-time 3D immersive environment for the wearer. Tilt your head forward and you walked forward, lean forward and you ran, turn your head and you saw from side to side, tilt your head back and you looked up, down was down and so on.

Lane ran the HIVE through traffic to SkyHook headquarters. Emergency vehicles were already on site. Police were detouring inbound traffic and searching outbound. Pedestrians were herded into Fan Pier Garage for questioning.

Something hummed overhead. Lane looked up.

Whose drone is that?

Lane stood on his toes.

The HIVE adjusted to tap into the drone’s feed.

Two channels active?

And one is blocked?

Lane smelled ozone and heard a soft crackling. The back of his head grew warm, then hot.

He pulled the HIVE from his head.

The back of the HIVE buzzed then popped, its electronics cooked. The ozone smell wafted up and he drove down the urge to sneeze, instead opening his eyes wide at the smoking HIVE. “Somebody blocked me?”

The HIVE fell from his hands. It rolled on the carpet and hid behind the reef tank like a dog knowing it’s about to be punished.

Lane watched it stop. “Somebody blocked me?”

He went back to his windows, reached up, placed his palms on the glass and yelled. “Nobody blocks Briggs Lane!”

His office, more like a penthouse suite than a business office, was soundproof for moments such as these.

No one heard him. No one entered.

He went back to his desk and tapped his intercom. “Ginni, please have that mute janitor report to me. And when he’s done, come in with your notepad. I have something I’d like you to review. Thank you.”

Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 29

Yet one more not completely brand new. Pieces from previous chapters rearranged and edited for story flow and continuity.

I’ve learned to live with such things. Hope you can, too.


The Alibi – Chapter 29

Cranston grabbed the railing as he jogged up the stairs to Precinct House 17. He may have been a linebacker in college, but that was thirty-five years ago and now he needed to pull himself up inclines when he jogged them.
He snapped his hand back as if he touched a high-tension line.
The railing was shaking?

Sure, ’17 was one of the oldest precinct houses in Boston, still brick-and-mortar as they say, and with wide-paneled hardwood floors and high ceilings and big fans hanging down because putting AC in a building about to be decommissioned was a waste of tax dollars, but that decommissioning order had been on the books for twenty years Cranston knew of. The city discovered it would cost more to put up a new precinct house rather than get rid of this old one, but somehow the money set aside for a new precinct house never made it into a working AC system.

Cranston made it a point to dig deep whenever he had to investigate a city or state official. He was going to write a book once he retired and call it “Fuckers I Have Known.”

Old or not, ’17 was still solid. Granite anchored the railings. They could shake? Like that?

He looked up and down the street. No fifty-three foot TT or heavy construction vehicles in sight, but dogs barked and pulled on their leashes. Pigeons, robins, and starlings took flight. The leaves on sidewalk maples, willows, and elms shivered as if chilled by a late October wind.

He touched the railing tentatively, one finger stretched forward, his body slightly turned and ready to pull away.


He shrugged and continued up the stairs. The desk sergeant looked up and nodded as he entered.

Cranston returned her nod. “You feel that?”

The desk sergeant shook her head. “Feel what?”

Cranston continued up the next flight to the offices. Leddy’s ring on his mobile stopped him at the doors to the precinct’s central office.


He went cold. Something happened to Leddy. That’s what he felt that nobody else felt.

Her ring again. “U OK?”

Cold yielded to confusion. “K U?”

The precinct’s wall mounted blues flashed ON-ON-off ON-ON-off. Chairs screeched across the hardwood floor.

Leddy TXTed “C THS?” and Cranston’s attention returned to his phone. Leddy sent her video through. “SIMON GOT IT ALL!”

She’d sent him pictures at every stage of SIMON’s development and had them made into a tshirt collage with the heading “Leddy’s Little Project.” She gave them to her friends, people on their street, people on the subway, and a 4XL for him.

She loved it.


SIMON’s cameras moved through hazy clouds flecked with ash. Cranston wasn’t sure what he was seeing until the drone cleared the clouds. It flew just above street level and revealed the clouds as billowing smoke.


“BPL Johnson w Pen.”

Captain Marete opened the central office door. “Bill. SkyHook just blew up. We need all hands on deck.”

Cranston followed Marete back into the office. Most uniforms and plainclothes had their mobiles in one hand, their landlines in the other, and held two or more conversations at once checking up on allies and reassuring family. A small group stood by the east facing windows. A puff of smoke seemed to hover above their heads before slowly dispersing.

Somebody called out, “Channel 5’s got it already.”

Cranston glanced at the wall screen. “That’s Leddy’s feed.”

Marete looked up from his phones. “Your daughter got this?”

Leddy’s TXT dinged in Cranston’s hand. “SLD 2 NTWRKS!”


A uniform at a far desk announced, “4 and 7’s got it. And NECN.”

Another uniform added, “So do Fox and the CW.”

Marete snorted. “Busy girl you got there. Maybe UAS should hire her. She got there faster than our own drones did. Tell her we’ll want that video. And anything else she got.”

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