Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Excerpt from "Murder by the Mile"

Thank the Lord for coffee breaks! My throat is sore, my back hurts, and the characters in my novel are trying to kill me. Of course, I've been tormenting them, but that's my job. They're just being contrary and childish to oppose the slings and arrows. Speaking of my novel, I've posted a couple scenes that were cut. Here's one (unedited) that's staying.

The Ryton Many Mile Marathon Chairperson Dolores Hyatt had been working in the huge race tent when runners began to share the news about what was happening on Watts Ridge. She had been horrified as the details emerged, but she kept the volunteers focused on processing the racers and making sure they all received their t-shirts and giveaways. At least none of the racers had been injured.

“Dee,” Abby Lange hissed at her. “It’s him!”

Dolores looked up from her clipboard. Michael Hyatt stood in the entrance scanning the tables. Strangely enough, he was dressed in his jogging suit even though she knew her soon-to-be-ex-husband hadn’t run in the race. Or had someone else checked him in?

She saw when he saw her. His face twisted. She tried to control her rapid breathing as he strode over to her.

“We need to talk,” he said flatly. “Now. Come with me.” The anger in his voice made her flinch.

For a moment, her body nearly betrayed her. She had always done what her husband said, had always taken his anger as her due, and had hid the bruises to protect him time and time again. But she would never do that again.

“You need to talk to my attorney,” she said, proud that her voice didn’t quiver. “Call Harold Hast –”

“I know who your attorney is,” Michael cut in, his voice shaking with fury. “I read the papers you had served to me today!”

“I guess the server couldn’t find you yesterday,” Dolores said. “Call Harold.”

“Don’t tell me what to do!” Michael yelled. “Now, come with me!”

People looked at them. All the noise in the tent ceased. Abby rose and came to stand behind Dolores.

Dolores looked down, feeling the old familiar shame. Only Abby’s hand on her shoulder kept her in her chair.

“Michael, you should go,” Abby said.

“Stay out of this,” Michael snarled. “If you know what’s good for you.”

“She does,” Abby’s husband Mack said from behind the real estate agent. Mack, a construction foreman, stared down at Michael. “And if you think you’re going to beat my wife like you beat yours, you'd better rethink real fast.” Mack brought his face down to an inch from Michael’s. “Why don’t you go before I make you go?”

For a moment, Dolores thought Michael was going to throw himself at the much larger man, but he backed away.

“This isn’t over,” Michael told Dolores.

“Call Harold Hastings,” she said, not trusting herself to look up. “I won’t talk to you.”

“You will. One way or another, you will.” Michael turned and left the tent.

“He’s so mad,” Dolores said, sick with fear.

“It’s okay,” Abby said. “It’s okay now. He can’t hurt you now.”

“He’d better not try,” Mack said. “I’ll snap him like a twig.”

“Mack, that’s enough,” Abby said. “Dee, are you all right?”

Dolores nodded. “He wasn’t supposed to be here.”

“Mack, take her clipboard,” Abby commanded. “Dee and I are going to take a break.”

“But I don’t know what to do,” Mack said.

Abby glanced at him. “You’ll learn.” She handed the clipboard to Mack. “Dee and I will be right back.”

Abby led Dolores over to the refreshment table where she got them both a cup of black coffee with plenty of sugar and creamer. “We can sit in my car,” Abby said. “It’s right over here.”

In the car, Dolores cried for a good ten minutes while Abby held her hand and listened.

Finally, Dolores pulled herself back together. “I’m sorry, Abs.”

“Sweetie, I’m always here for you,” Abby said. “You’re going to get through this, and your life is going to be so much better. I’m proud of you. And Mack and I are going to be beside you all the way.”

This caused Dolores to cry for another five minutes while trying to tell Abby how much she appreciated their support. Finally, she pulled herself together.

“Have you told Sherry yet?” Abby asked.

“No,” Dolores said. “She will never forgive me. She’s always been her daddy’s girl.”

“You might be surprised,” Abby said.

“Maybe,” Dolores said, but she knew better. Sherry was cut from the same pattern as her father who had denied her nothing. Dolores had done what she could, but it hadn’t been enough. She wished Sherry and Bernard hadn't broke up. Bernard had been a good influence on her daughter unlike Jerry who gave in to Sherry on everything.

They sat quietly for a few minutes watching the runners trickle in.

“You know what I think? I think it’s so sad that a nice man like Cyrus Fowler is dead while Michael Hyatt isn’t.”

“Don’t say that,” Dolores said. But she secretly agreed, and for a moment, wondered how to do it.

(From Murder by the Mile. Copyright 2013 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying without express written permission. Thank you for reading.)

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