I am thrilled and honored to have four more of my books selected by the Library of Congress, accepted into General Collections, and assigned Library of Congress Control Numbers:
I didn’t get much writing done in November. For the first time since pre-Covid, I was doing booksignings, talking about writing, the usual marketing stuff. The holidays came and went and we were busy with those. Also preparing Search for release (the second-round print format is on my desk for review. still waiting for the final cover).
In short, busy.
But I did lots of pissing and moaning about The Alibi in November, mostly to myself, some to others. Lots of plotting and strategizing. Realized a plot point isn’t going to work last night, going to take it out this morning.
Don’t worry, it about twenty chapters from where you are now. You’ll never notice it’s absence. I hope.
Anyway, on with the show!
Cranston nodded at the crowd control officers who waved him through the gawkers, news crews, and internet-wannabes shoving and jumping with mobiles in hand. He spotted Rhinehold moving slowly through the crowd, alternately TXTing and talking on his mobile, and generally paying no attention to anything but the emergency services vehicles, triage units, and crowd control. Once or twice Cranston saw Rhinehold dip his head towards some people pointing at the destruction and talking but otherwise paying attention to nothing at all.
Cranston nodded. Yeah, Marete was right. Tonto handled this kind of undercover pretty well.
Cranston walked up behind a petite woman covered head to foot in a white Tyvek forensics suit. “Mary Frances.”
The petite woman turned, removed her right glove, her mask, offered him her hand and smiled. “William.”
“What’s a good looking woman like you doing at a crime scene like this?”
Mary Frances kept her eyes on Cranston and nodded in Rhinehold’s direction. “Today’s Tonto?”
Cranston snickered. “John Rhinehold. Shall I introduce you?”
“Won’t that blow his cover?”
Cranston watched forensics personnel come and go from SkyHook’s garage. “When will you be able to talk?”
“Maybe five, ten minutes. They know what to do. I’m just here for the unexpected.”
“Buy you a coffee?”
“Large double-double. And from the coffee shop around the corner, not from Starschmucks.”
“Meet you there.”
Cranston sat on a concrete bench outside the coffee shop, a large double-double and a bag containing a single maple-cream donut beside him.
Rhinehold ambled up with an iced something-or-other from the same shock and sat on the other end of the bench. He took a few experimental sips and tossed his cup in a floral pattern painted city trash can a few feet from where they sat. “Should’ve stuck with real coffee.”
Hopefully the next entry in these The Alibi previews will be new, fresh, exciting…or at least recycled differently.
See you next month.
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?”
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?
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.
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.
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…
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?”