This excerpt is the first part of Chapter 5 of my mystery novel Holes in My Armor, available in ebook and paperback on Amazon and other sites. The first-person narrator is Clay Sutler.
I should say this now, for the record or something like that: I’m an orphan. I don’t know if you can be an orphan at twenty-nine, but I don’t see why not.
Mom died while I was in high school. Cancer, of course. She didn’t even make forty.
Dad went six years ago, five years after I finished high school in Montana and came west. Construction accident. He made it to fifty-one. I got some insurance money, but it didn’t help me forget or feel better.
I didn’t have much to clean out at his place. At the end, he was down to an apartment smaller than mine. He’d sold the house right after I got out of high school. Had to pay cancer bills, but the house didn’t give him enough. He owed a gazillion, I guess. Took those debts to the grave. Patient dies, then doctors and hospitals yammer to get paid. For what? Their failure? Hell of a system.
No brother. No sister. Orphan.
I don’t know why I mentioned that orphan stuff. Maybe I wanted to feel special.
When it gets down to it, every one of us is alone, relatives or not. Alone with ourselves. We’re all orphans.
I stopped at Red Robin on the way home and had one of those peppery Southwest burgers. Tasty.
Funny thing, here in the Northwest we like to think we’re someplace else: Southwest, Hawaii, Mexico, India. Don’t like those? OK, you can always try China, Thailand, Morocco, Rio, New York, Paris, Rome. Hardly anybody’s satisfied sitting still. Can’t even eat without thinking of traveling. Maybe that’s why they make jet planes here.
I took a shower and changed clothes. And waited. I decided not to flee. Might as well deal with Tara head on.
I wasn’t looking forward to confronting her in the apartment, either. Didn’t want another scene. But I couldn’t run away like a coward. It was my place. I lived here. I didn’t care if she was the devil or not. I’d get rid of her. I wouldn’t threaten her this time. Instead, I would use kindness, appeal to her better self. There had to be one.
Part of her seemed to like Francie’s pictures the other day. In retrospect, it was amazingly human of Tara. By looking through those prints, Tara was almost communicating with Francie woman to woman. I didn’t think that would ever happen in reality, but that’s the Tara I’d make my pitch to.
Tara: Phase Two, Act 1. Or was it Phase Two, 1.1? Better include the phase and make it version 2.1.1. The scientific Tara would understand that. The other day she said we’d already started on Phase Two, so by now we’d probably moved on to 2.1.2. Some little game she was playing. Definitely not an upgrade.
She knocked a little before eight. Nice loose skirt, knit top, necklace, lipstick, eyeliner, the works. Looked really good, maybe too good. But the devil knows how to do that. I let down my guard and invited her in.
After the door closed behind her, she said, “We’re going dancing.”
What? Phase Two was dancing?
I let it sink in. I was going dancing with the devil, and a very nice looking one at that. Apparently the part about winning her over with kindness would come later.
Francie wouldn’t like this, and who could blame her? I was still recovering from Tara’s freeway antics and may not have had my feet under me properly. Something like that happens to you, you have to square up and get back in balance. Easy to say now.
Most of all, I wanted to squash Phase Two and set Tara straight. But there couldn’t be a fight. Just be civil, I told myself. Stick with the plan. Be kind, but firm. Persuade her to do the right thing and go away.
My plan seemed to dissolve in Tara’s aura.
I knew what I wanted, but I really didn’t know what she had in mind, other than dancing. Maybe she just wanted a boyfriend. There were better ways to go about it, I could have told her.
I tried to back out. “It’s a little early for clubbing, don’t you think?”
“I know a place.”
-- Continued in Holes in My Armor (Chapter 5, Part 2 of 3)
Holes in My Armor on Amazon