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Tuesday, December 20, 2011


"It's coming on Christmas..."

And we stand confused in the midst of the bustle, standing on a traffic island as live speeds into frenzy for a reason somehow suddenly ambiguous. Our most recent project, the first draft of the third novel in the series that starts with The Tiger and the Sparrow, has occupied these last few weeks with a similar energy, but private, and in all honesty, an antithesis for all that is profiled as correct living this time of year. 

At this stage of Jaye's life, still young enough to remember the glow of childhood excitement, of hanging ornaments, and opening nativity windows, but old enough to be entirely removed from it, there are new associations with Christmas. Long walks downtown with the holiday lights, ignoring insecure high school students....
...and Joni Mitchell. Jaye and I can't remember if the Joni Mitchell association came before or after we began enjoying frequent viewing of Love Actually, that lovely epoch film of Richard Curtis. The Writer thought perhaps the connection went as far back as the Meg Ryan dialogue in You've Got Mail. Probably at this point the explanation is not nearly as interesting as the association itself. Around the time people start spending money they don't have and belting out Christmas carols that no longer have anything to do with the Truth of the holiday, we begin to meditate in looking like this...
...and singing, "...they're cutting down trees, they're putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace. I wish I had a river I could skate away on...."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Vampire with a Pin

From the Writer.

It is in the night’s darkness that bodies fall prey. They fall to those equally-human predilections which make them, in their own way, also predators. For Willie Wilks the III who had always struggled to be taken seriously on account of his name, death was his first and last moment of the kind all people secretly strive for in their various life spheres.
            Wilks’ body had been found in the part of Carter Lake that could have been Nebraska but was in fact one of the few places where the Iowa border jumped the Missouri River and protected the summer rentals and retirees of Carter Lake from Douglas county’s big city taxes.
            However useful for residents, the river-jumping state line proved hazardous for the death of Willie Wilks, a sometimes freelance web designer, sometimes computer technician at Creighton University always World of Warcraft scion, because his body was found half a mile east of 11th and Locust in Iowa while his car covered with the perpetrator’s finger prints was found half a mile west of 11th and Locust in Nebraska.
            “The Raven strikes again,” said Detective Henthorne. His Carter Lake counterpart shook her head. “Poor guy,” she said. “Little younger than the others looks like but otherwise fits the profile, all male, all locals, all healthy until the day they died. Prints left to laugh in our faces. We can’t take this one.”
            “You have the body in your state,” said Henthorne, weary, knowing already he’s going to lose the argument.
            “You have a rising crime rate.”
            “Fine.” Pencil and notebook slip and fall as he tries to shove them in his pocket. Bending down, he notices the raised red dot above Willie Wilks’ life-giving artery. It was the only part of him still colored after a night unprotected in subzero wind. While the dim corners of Detective Henthorne’s mind not yet brightened by the caress of his morning dose of caffeine registered the information that the three previous victims also had dots in the same parts of their necks, the rest of him found the detail insignificant.
            What Henthrone, seasoned homicide investigator four years away from his pension in a city that averaged less than forty deaths in a year, did not know was what the victims had in common besides the red dots on their necks. The connection, indiscernible to even a genius detective was only understood by the all-knowing god Drea, previously known as Jade, one half of the Corito twins from Bronxville, New York. Now known colloquially by her given name, Audrey.
            Since coming to Omaha, Audrey had spent a great deal of time reading obituaries. The names of her characters became fictional when amalgamations formed from dead people and people still living, their stories mingling with Audrey’s past and present lives. Willie Dearborn, the computer geek student at Creighton had in real life been killed in a gang-related shooting because he rented a cheap house on the edge of campus where such things tended to happen. William Robert Wilks the III was a midlevel manager for the New York Jets and one of her father’s oldest friends. Exactly sixteen months before she killed him on 11th and Locust in Omaha, Wilks had approached her at her parents annual anniversary party and said, “Hey sugar, give me one of those big dimpled smiles like I’ve seen.”
            The other three casualties found by Drea’s mind-reading capability were similar stories, men who had looked at her in that familiar way never having met her on a previous occasion, not even pretending that they had. Detective Henthorne, trapped in a fictional killing spree has no way of knowing what Drea knows. But in her writing Audrey has begun to feel sympathy for the detective. Though she originally planned for the case to go unsolved, she is now considering what loophole she might create that will unravel the victims’ connection and lead to their killer. Perhaps Drea appears to the detective in a dream. Or she might come down to earth in the form of a witness willing to testify. In writing the death of the next victim, Audrey will look for a loophole that might make the case more interesting for Detective Henthorne.