Cold Mac & Cheese and other musings

October 10, 2010

Time to get writing again…

Filed under: Fiction — D.J. Lutz @ 7:56 pm
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If you look to the right, you will see “pages” listed. There I store my completed stories (although there is one poem from Cat, too.) Are they ready for publishing? No, not really. They are good stories but they ramble at times, sometimes they get off topic, most often they are just plain disjointed and lack good character development.

But they serve a purpose. No one, at least I don’t think, starts out writing the perfect novel on their first try. Why would I be any different? I keep the stories for two reasons: one is that they are, even with their faults, decent stories and maybe I can rewrite them someday and two, there are some people that actually like them. Finally (did I mention I have trouble counting?) I hope to someday look back on these stories in a way that allows me to say “Gee, look how much better I am now!” Wishful thinking, perhaps…

So now I am starting a new story. Instead of serializing it, I am writing it off-line. I will post weekly to update my progress and to chronicle how the writing has been going. Kinda a “see, you aren’t the only one having those writer’s block problems!”

This week’s goal: identify main characters (give them names, too) and come up with the overall story premise.


March 12, 2010

Dead Man’s Hand – finale.

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 12:41 am
Tags: ,

The onlookers stood, jaws gaping open. “What’s this all about? I didn’t do anything. I was on the boat when he shot himself. These guys will vouch for me!” Trevor, looking more than slightly panicked, was reaching for any lifeline he could grab.
“I understand that you were on the boat, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t hire someone to come in and shoot Mr. Shellman. We had a tip come in right after Detective Baxter made the call to 911. Once your hired gun emerged from the water, about two blocks down the street, we were waiting for him. You better believe he’s already talking to the Commonwealth’s Attorney about an amnesty deal.”

Trevor knew he had been set up. Only one other person knew of his plan and that was…Sylvia Shellman. Looking right at her with fire in his eyes, he started to lambaste her for being a squealer. She cut him off with a scathing retort. “Look, you. I had to call the police. I didn’t think you were serious about it at first, until Bud told me that you were just using me to get control of the marina. Don’t play with matters of the heart, boy. You’ll get burned every time. Have fun in jail!” Sylvia had almost a morbid sense of glee in her voice as she told him off. Corporal Barrett, by now finished putting Trevor in cuffs, turned towards Sylvia.

“Before you say anything else, Mrs. Shellman, you are also under arrest for the murder of your husband, Drake Shellman…” Sylvia was in shock, hardly hearing any of her Miranda rights as they were rattled off by rote from the officer securing the handcuffs around her wrists. “I don’t get it,” she said. “I tipped you all off? And this is the treatment I get? I need a lawyer…”

With the two rats leaving the sinking ship by way of a blue and white taxi, the rest of the gang stood there in silence. Calvin helped Dallas search Sylvia’s car, where they found a bloody ice pick. “So, how did you know the lady killed her husband? I thought you already nabbed the gunman?”

Dallas Tippett thought for a moment, trying to put a tremendously complex story into a short verbal narrative. “Well, best I can figure is this – Trevor made plans to have Drake killed in such a way that it would appear to be a suicide. The gunman used chloroform, coming up from behind. We found the contaminated handkerchief part way down the chum chute. What the killer did not know was that old man Shellman was already dead. So all we have on Trevor Lancaster is conspiracy to commit murder and murder for hire. The gunman is being held for conspiracy and abuse of a corpse.”
Calvin acknowledged that this one was one for the history books. “Continue, please Mr. Holmes, how about the fair lady, then?”

“Not more than a minute after your call, another 911 operator received a call claiming that Sylvia was seen going into the office right before the shot was heard. Upon closer inspection, the medical examiner found the actual mortal wounds, two small holes in the heart, caused by an ice pick. Mr. Shellman had bled to death internally before the gunman ever got there. Since he was wearing gloves, he did not realize how cold Drake’s hands were when he fashioned the gun around them. And, if you remember, Mrs. Shellman got out of her car and, without prompting, said that she was sorry the old man was dead. When Bud Spenser called her, he only mentioned that they heard a shot. He had no idea who had been shot. The only way she could have known her husband was dead was if she did it herself. ”

“Geez, I guess that’s what happens when everyone wants to kill you. I guess Kay is one of the few who didn’t have a reason to kill him…”
“I’m sure, given the chance, she might have thought about it. Drake was putting a lien on her boat, somewhat unethically, but it would have been perfectly legal. Thank goodness she was with you when this all happened.”
“Yeah, that’s a relief. On the bright side, it looks like we may be sailing off into the sunset together, at least for a while. She’s selling her boat and we’re taking mine down to the Bahamas.”

“What are going to do? Will your pension cover all of that?”
“Not sure. Life is full of surprises. Drake Shellman found that out the hard way. By the way, have you been up on Bud’s yacht? That’s where they were playing cards.”
“No, why?”
“I took the nickel tour and saw the card table inside the cabin. Drake Shellman had pulled two pair, aces and eights with a nine of diamonds as a kicker.”

“And that’s pertinent how?”

“Officer Tippett, you’ll never make detective without knowing how to play poker, will you? Aces and eights – that’s the Dead Man’s hand…”
After the police department had completed its job, Calvin Baxter returned to his boat. Kay had finished loading the supplies she had brought down at the start of the whole debacle.
“’Bout ready?” he asked.
“Almost. Need to get some ice.” Kay returned to the marina office with two ice chests. Opening one of them up, she filled it to the brim with ice. Carefully maneuvering the second chest over to the chum chute, she lifted the chute lid and dropped a plastic bag inside. Kay Francis had her cake and was eating it, too. Smiling, she walked back down toward the Concept 2, ready to move on with her life. They’ll never find that ice pick, especially since they don’t even know that they should be looking for one…

[The end?]

March 10, 2010

Dead Man’s Hand – II

Filed under: Creative Writing — D.J. Lutz @ 2:10 am
Tags: ,

Calvin noticed the squad car pulling up to the marina. Time to put this away. Calvin surreptitiously put the Sig in his back holster and untucked his shirt. The patrolman was still inside his car, talking on his radio. Probably checking with dispatch to let them know he was there and to see if there were any new details. Leaving the safety of the vehicle, the officer surveyed the area, hand on his still holstered service weapon. Calvin knew better than to approach quickly; a call that starts with ‘shots fired’ gets the adrenaline going. You never know who the bad guys are, either, until the situation allows. The last thing Calvin Baxter wanted to create was a headline in tomorrow’s paper that read “Retired Detective Killed by Mistake.”

“Do you know anything about a disturbance in the area?”

The officer, a Corporal, had observed no one else in the area and as such had approached Calvin.
“Yes, sir. I made the call to 911. I’m Detective Baxter, Norfolk, retired.”
“Officer Barrett. Dispatch told me there was a gold shield here somewhere. So, what do we have? Who got shot?”
Calvin pointed to the marina office. “I was on my boat, down at the end of the pier. Heard a single shot come from inside the office there, so I made the call. Some guys on that big boat over there tell me that their buddy is in the office somewhere.”

“Could have walked into a robbery,” Barrett offered. Calvin glanced over at the office. “Yeah, I thought so, too, but I haven’t seen anyone come out yet, and it’s been a good five minutes.”

“ Any other exits?”

Calvin thought for a moment. “You got the front door there, and…to the best of my knowledge there isn’t a back door.” Calvin then realized that he really didn’t know about other exits. He had never seen one, but that did not mean there wasn’t one. “We better check,” he hedged.

Barrett, still with his hand on the top of his pistol, walked around the side of the small office. “No back door, although there does seem to be some sort of chute leading into the water. Any idea about that?”

Calvin’s eyes lit up. “The chum chute. Of course! Yes, there is an old bit of ductwork going down to the water. It’s where boats used to pull up and get their bait. Old man Drake would just weigh out how ever many pounds of chum you wanted and then send it down the chute into the buckets on deck. I don’t think you can use it now, though. He built some storage down there, sort of blocking the way of the chute, once boats became too big to slip up to the office.”

“Could someone slide down there?”

“I suppose they could. Be awful damn nasty though. You would really have to know what you were doing to make it all the way down without causing a noticeable splash. Didn’t hear anything like that.”

Corporal Barrett pulled his gun from the hard plastic speed holster. “Well, someone shot something. Time to take a look.”

The windows had slightly opaque white curtains; he strained to get a good look in.
“See anyone?”
“There’s a guy sitting at the desk. I think we may have a suicide.”

With his free hand, the officer reached for his radio mike, draped over his left shoulder and threaded through the epaulets of his well-ironed, military-creased shirt. “Dispatch, 105.”
“Go ahead 105.”
“10 – 54. Send Rescue, 67th Street Marina. At least one victim.” Possible dead body, man, this keeps getting better and better.
“Ten four.”

Barrett, gun in hand, lead the way to the door. Calvin instinctively put his hand behind his back, just in case…
The door wasn’t locked, after all, the marina office was technically open for business. Normally Kay would have been there at the front counter. The question was…if there was a dead body in the back office, was there a live body anywhere else? Fortunately, the marina office wasn’t too terribly complicated a structure. One main room, rectangular, about 40 by 50 feet, with a small office in the back, cordoned off with a set of love beads, probably original to the early 70’s construction. The bait freezers and chum chute took up an entire wall.

“Clear.” Corporal Barrett put his gun back in the holster, a distinct click sounding as it snapped into place.

The siren from the volunteer rescue squad was becoming more and more audible as Calvin pulled the beads away from the doorway, allowing Dallas Barrett to take account of the bloody scene in the office.
“Have to wait for the coroner to call it, but it sure looks like a suicide. Safe’s closed, no sign of struggle. God only knows why he did it…”
“The guys on the boat looked to be playing cards, gambling problem? Maybe Kay can tell us something.”
“Who’s Kay?”
“Kay, the counter girl. She was loading supplies onto my boat when we heard the shot. She’s still down there if you want to ask her anything.”

The rescue squad had arrived. It took less than a minute to call it. Dead. Not mostly dead. All the way dead. Just by the nature of the death, photos were taken from every angle. There did not seem to be any other evidence to process; everyone agreed that suicide was the most likely scenario.

“What a mess. Must have been a hollow point to tear up the chest like that,” Barrett observed. While the entry wound was not too traumatic, the rest of the chest cavity was in total disarray, half of it blown out the exit wound. What neither Dallas Barrett nor Calvin Baxter could have known, or seen at this point, was the original, fatal wound. A wound caused by an ice pick…

March 9, 2010

Dead Man’s Hand – scene 1

The Dead Man’s Hand
By Douglas Lutz / copyright March 2010

After a slow count to five, the chloroform had done its job, rendering the old man motionless. Time was short; voices could be heard just down the walkway. This job needed to be finished quickly and there was always the getaway to consider. Much harder to get paid if you’re in jail. Concentrate. Ignore the voices for a second. Now, put the pistol in his hands; point it backwards. Get a good grip on the hands and aim center mass. Carefully manipulate the pliable digits; slowly squeeze the trigger. The 6 inch, nickel plated.38 came to life like a dog whose bite was worse than its bark, sending a spiraling chunk of metal through the skin, past the ribcage and into the heart. The tumbling bullet tore through the massive muscle of life, carrying much of it out the exit wound in back, fusing flesh and blood with the fibers of the office chair’s naugahyde back rest. Mission accomplished.

Calvin Baxter’s 12 pots full of blue crab were better than he had expected, considering the weekend’s Nor’easter had turned the normally tranquil waters of the Chesapeake Bay into a dark green, foamy grog. Hell, the boat almost sank twice and the last thing Calvin wanted to do was catch a ride with a nearby Coast Guard helicopter. The weather had cleared that morning, just hours before the Concept 2 was to pull into the marina off of 67th street. Retired and now living alone, Calvin had little human interaction of consequence and each Sunday afternoon he looked forward to selling his catch, stocking up on a few supplies and maybe, if he was lucky, spending an hour or so just hanging out at the marina. There was no kidding himself. Calvin tried to believe it was the extra cash he made selling crustaceans that made his day worthwhile, but no, deep down Calvin Baxter knew it was the few minutes, that precious quarter of an hour he would get to spend with the dock girl, Kay, that kept him coming back to the same marina, week after week. Today was no exception. Kay had already helped him off-load the blue crab and was returning with his cash, a receipt and a cart full of basic supplies, the type needed by someone who lived on their boat. A muffled pistol shot grabbed both of their attentions.

Calvin knew what had happened. Thirty years a cop, 18 years a detective on the homicide squad of the Norfolk Police Department had given him the experience to know that a fairly large caliber pistol, possibly a .45, had just been discharged inside the marina office. “Damn, here we go…” Calvin muttered as he picked up his cell phone and called 911. “Yeah, this is Detective Calvin Baxter, Norfolk PD. Just heard a shot fired inside the marina office on 67th street. No one seen entering or leaving the premises.” The dispatcher went through her normal procedures, sending the report to the nearest unit. Calvin knew he was in Virginia Beach and while he knew some of the older guys there, he didn’t want to bully his way onto their turf. “Yeah, I’ll wait outside for the marked unit.” Calvin reached into a drawer just inside the pilot house of his little boat, pulling out a Sig Sauer .38, the detective’s preferred handgun.

“What’s going on? What just happened?” Kay said with more than a little fear in her voice. Quite shaken, she had almost rolled the ice chest right into the drink. “Stay here, Kay. Probably a robbery in progress. With one shot, it’s already gotten ugly.” “I’ll stay here on the boat, if you don’t mind.”

Weapon in hand, Calvin moved down the dock towards the office. He heard voices to his right. There, on the fantail of one of the larger yachts, were four men. “Hey, our buddy is in there,” one said, pointing to the office. “Don’t worry, I’m a cop. Stay where you are until we find out what’s going on.”

June 22, 2009

Canon 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 3:14 am
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Reaching the auto deck, Toni found her scooter amidst a dozen or so Italian Vespas and American made knock offs. She had an original Vespa, a fire engine red model that had been stored in the museum basement for God knows how long. With no record of ownership, the museum curator, Sir Neal Jeffries, gave it to her as a way to help commute to the ferry. Downtown Bridgeport was no place for a woman to walk alone, especially in the evening after closing time, and Toni had proved to be a hard working and popular employee. The old museum had probably past its’ prime as a tourist destination and the curator knew that fresh, young smiling faces behind the counter were essential to revitalizing the business. He could not afford to lose good help, and Toni Marie Sevilla was the best he had working. With overpriced coffee shops and their ilk opening on every corner, fewer and fewer college kids darkened the door in hopes of getting a minimum wage job.

The rain had let up just enough for Toni to venture over to the rail. Looking forward, she could see the anchor lifting out of the water. No sign of the old woman. The deck crew did not look concerned; apparently they did not see the woman go over the side. The weather had improved, but it was still too poor for search boats, even from the Coast Guard. Of course, if no one knew she was missing, why would they even start a search?

With the ferry pulling into the landing, Toni saw the man with the beret going from car to car, peering in with a flashlight. He had on some sort of badge, probably a phony she thought, to give legitimacy to his search. Toni quickly put on her jet black helmet in hopes he would pass her by; whatever his motive, she knew it couldn’t be good. Her heart starting to pound faster and faster, she watched as the man finished with the last row of cars. He was making his way towards the motorcycles, bicycles and scooters. If ever there was time for a miracle, this was it.

As if on cue, just as the man arrived at the area reserved for two-wheeled vehicles, the deckhands opened the gate to allow vehicles off the ship. Cyclists of all types are allowed off first and as the corrugated steel ramp hit the dock, the roar of Harleys echoed throughout the deck. Like a herd of charging wildebeest, the motorcycles led the pack off the ferry. The man had to take a step back, fearing he would be run down. The scooters were next. Toni made sure she had maneuvered to the farthest side away from the mysterious, would-be detective.

The man spotted Toni as she sped up the ramp. Lunging ahead and trying to block her getaway, the man found himself surrounded by a peleton of bicyclists. The pileup mimicked an accident on the Tour de France. Angry riders, New Yorkers no less, showered the man with verbal epithets. Toni took advantage of his delay, scooting past the ferry terminal and onto the main drag. That’s when she heard a car honk and a familiar voice.

“Hey Toni! Hop in ‘dere, before da rain come back!”

It was Stubs, the local cabbie whose boisterous voice and outgoing personality had become so well known that he had parlayed his cab into a mobile tourist attraction for the village of Port Jefferson. While one could walk through the entirety of Port Jeff without too much trouble, it was chic for the rich and famous to be seen with Stubs. He even had a picture of a few Watergate figures, autographed of course, framed and glued to the ceiling overhead the backseat. It was next to his picture of Elvis.

Stubs popped the trunk lid using an automatic switch below the steering column. Making his way to the back of the cab, he noticed the man with the beret heading their way. “Gets in now; I’ll take care of da scooter, Missy.” Toni didn’t have to be told twice; she knew it would be only a matter of time before the mystery man would reach the cab. Stubs secured the trunk lid with a bungee cord, then turned around – finding himself face to face with the beret man.

All Toni could hear was screaming, painful screaming, coming from the back of the cab. Then came the thud. Somebody had hit the sidewalk and hit it hard. She slunk down in the backseat in a vain attempt to avoid detection by the man. The driver’s door opened. Too scared to look up, Toni got her room key out as a weapon of last resort.

“Well then, lets get you home before da rain, Missy.”

It was Stubs. Wheels screeching, smoke rising from spinning tires, the cab lurched forward into traffic. Sitting upright and struggling to fasten her seat belt, Toni asked “What happened back there? Who was that guy?”

“Beats me, but I didn’t like his attitude. So me and Matilda here gave him a little sumptin, just a little adjustment to his attitude, dat’s all.”

Stubs held up a Cheetah stun gun. “Two point five million volts for only 96 clams…shipping and handling extra, of course. Comes in pink, blue and black. You might wanna get you one of dese items. Came in handy today, I tell ya.”

“Well, whoever he is, he looked like he was up to no good on the ferry. He was after an old lady and I’m afraid she may have fallen overboard trying to get away!”

“Let me make a call, then. Hold on. Stubs knows what to do in a case like dis.”

Stubs reached for his handheld cell phone. His cab didn’t have a meter, nor did it have the traditional Motorola style radio connecting his taxi to some distant dispatcher. Port Jeff was not that big; he knew most if not all of the residents. Locals he would let ride for free; tourists he would drive for tips only. Made more money that way, he claimed.

“Hey Bobby, dis is Stubs, man, you dere?”

Turning toward Toni, he quietly mentioned “Bobby’s mah cousin; he’s da trooper who’s always catchin’ foreign speeders on da highway outside of town.” By foreign, he meant people from out of town.

“Hey ah, Bobby, listen up, man. Dere’s some guy down by the terminal, tryin’ to start trouble wit da locals. I introduced him to Matilda so he’s probably still down for the count. Maybe staggering ‘round, trying to find which way is up. Can you check into it?”

“Thanks, man. Dinner on Sunday? Great. See ya.”

“Thanks Stubs. Your aces in my book.” Toni almost cut herself short. She had just used the same bit of slang heard earlier from the old woman. “Can your cousin look into the lady that fell overboard?”

“No. Dat’s Port Authority’s bidness. Too choppy for a search, anyways. All they have is a couple of speedboats; no helicopters. If there is a body outs dere, it’ll wash up sometime tomorrah, once da tide comes back in.”

The ten minute cab ride over, Stubs pulled into the small parking lot of an old, weatherbeaten antique store. It was past closing time, the only light still lit was the battery-powered hurricane lamp, inside the foyer. The second floor window above the shop’s front door suddenly opened. “Toni, are you alright? We were worried about you. They closed down the ferry because of the storm. Come inside for some tea. Stubs, you wait right there until I come downstairs.”

“Yes, Madame. Your wish is my command dere.”

The front door opened with a creak. An older woman, an octogenarian by years but with the spring in her gait typical of a thirty year old, walked out onto the porch. “Come in, both of you, before the rain starts again. Not fit for neither man or nor beast out here I tell you.”

Stubs had put the scooter inside a small shed, built onto the side of the shop. Walking up to the porch, he declared “Tanks for da offer, Mrs. Parker, but I need to get back to da Terminal. Wit no boat service, dere’s plenty of shoppers needin’ a lift to a hotel.”

“Suit yourself. You know you are always welcome to stop by when you get thirsty, Toni, give this to Mister Stubs; he undoubtedly earned it tonight gallivanting about town in this nasty weather.” Eileen Parker handed a ten dollar bill to Toni. Stubs graciously accepted the tip, clicked his heels together, did a slight English bow, then smartly did an about-face. A few seconds later, he was behind the wheel of his classic blue and white ’58 Chevy taxicab, rolling down the hill toward the main thoroughfare.

Toni flipped the light switch as she entered the antique store. The old coat rack caught the riding jacket as she walked by; the helmet dropping into the umbrella stand. Heading straight for the mahogany wet bar, Toni propping herself up onto a faded red, Naugahyde-covered bar stool, She took off her museum vest, shaking it slightly, hoping to drape it over the next bar stool so it, too, could drip dry.

“Cream or lemon?” asked the hostess.

Not really listening, Toni replied “Both, please.”

“Now deary, you know that the lemon will curdle that cream right up. Why don’t I just give you a slice of lemon. We’ll save the cream for breakfast.”

“Oh… I’m sorry. I’m just a little preoccupied, that’s all.” Toni was looking at her work vest. The name tag was staring her right in the face. It read “Toni Marie.” Nothing unusual about the tag, except now Toni had to ask herself: how did the old lady on the ferry know to call her “Miss Sevilla?”

June 15, 2009

Fire the Canon – 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 2:35 am
Tags: , , ,

Fire the Canon, Raise the Dead

By Douglas Lutz
Copyright 2009

A larger than normal crowd of tourists and commuters had gathered at the ferry terminal, trying to get home before an approaching storm would hit. By the looks of the front, with its’ dark clouds billowing about with strong winds and traces of lightning emanating from within, Toni Marie knew that by the end of their hour long voyage to Port Jefferson the huddled masses would end up soaked to the bone. The scooter ride home would be dreadful.

As Toni found a seat inside the mid-level cabin, above the auto deck, she looked out the window. The sky had darkened to pitch black, red and green lights from passing ships and barges dotted the watery landscape. The smooth ride to which she had become accustomed was rapidly becoming more agitated. Passengers from the observation deck were moving to the mid deck cabin, seats were now at a premium. An older lady sat herself down next to Toni. Probably in her 80’s, at least, thought Toni. She had not seen this woman on the ferry before, but something about this disheveled gypsy-like woman looked familiar.

“I enjoyed your tour this morning.”

“Excuse me?” Toni was not expecting a conversation. The ferry, like the circus museum where she worked, had its’ fair share of odd people and often enough Toni wanted nothing to do with them. Growing up alone had given Toni Marie Sevilla a slight case of paranoia. The parents who would have taken care of her had divorced and left her in the care of an elderly couple who ran a bed and breakfast. They treated her well, yet Toni always felt as if they were tolerating her, biding their time until she could do something for them in return for the years of free room and board.

“The Barnum Museum. You work there, yes?” the woman said, pointing to the name badge still affixed to Toni’s vest. “I was in your first tour group this morning. With so many tourists this time of year, I am sure you don’t remember me, but I remember you. You were kind and listened to everyone’s questions. Too many guides these days just rattle off a speech; they know absolutely nothing about the exhibits, just memorizing script after script. It’s a shame; they don’t know what treasures they have there.”

“It’s a nice place to work; I find the artifacts interesting, too.” Toni wasn’t sure how to handle a compliment; most museum visitors only wanted to see the mummy lady or pictures from the old circus days when P.T. Barnum ran the show.

“Well, I’m glad I had you as a guide. You knew much more than what was printed on the placards. Aces in my book.”

Toni was trying to place the accent. European most likely. Hungarian, Slavic perhaps? No, not “thick” enough. Something smoother, more refined, yet definitely old country. “Thank you; I am glad you enjoyed the tour. Too bad the weather has turned, your vacation may end up a bit on the wet side, I’m afraid.”

At the aft doorway, a man wearing a beret was talking to a Port Authority officer, showing him a photo. They started looking around the crowded cabin. Finding someone here would not be easy. Too many trench coats, hats, umbrellas. Too many people in general. They started easing their way though the crowd, their steps faltering occasionally as the ship rocked.

“Vacation? Oh my, no. I am here on a research project of sorts. Say, I bet you may know… when giving those tours, have you ever found…”

The old woman stopped abruptly as she gazed through the cabin, putting eyes on the two men looking around.

“Found what?”

“Nevermind, just an old woman’s thoughts. Not important. Have you ever read any Twain?”

Toni Marie recognized the intentional change of subject as well as the cause. “Why…yes, I love reading Mark Twain. But…who are they? Are they looking for you?”

“I must be going now, Miss Sevilla. Let me leave you with something to ponder – what does Mark Twain have to do with the museum’s Napoleonic War diorama?” With those cryptic words, the old woman stood up and slipped into the crowd, moving toward the bow entrance.

“Wait! What’s your name? What does Twain have to do with Napoleon? “

“Ma’am, have you seen this person?” It was the Port Authority officer. He was holding an 8 by 10 black and white photo. It looked like a surveillance photo, taken at a distance. There was the old woman, talking to a man, a shadow of a man really, and the Barnum Museum was in the background.

Toni’s paranoia had set in, raising her psychological defense shield. “No…I don’t recall, but there are a lot of people on the ship today, you know.”

“Where is the woman who was sitting next to you?”

“She just left. I think she was just a tourist or something. Why do you ask?”

“Hey – up front!” The man wearing the beret was motioning to the officer, pointing to the now open hatch leading out to the observation deck. They quickly forgot about Toni, brushing people aside, trying to get to the hatch before it closed. Reaching the doorway, the officer unholstered his .38 snub-nosed revolver. Peering out, the two were pelted with rain. The passengers started complaining, telling the two to shut the door. No one noticed or cared that the officer had his pistol at the ready.

Toni stood up and moved to the window, trying to find the old woman. The weather had deteriorated to the point where even the crew had come inside. The decks were supposed to be clear; safety first as they say. In the short, bright glow of the lightening, Toni saw the old woman. Her jaw dropped as she witnessed the old lady climb over the side, holding onto the anchor chain. “Crap, she’s gonna fall…”

The fog horn blared as emergency bells sounded. A second horn became apparent. This klaxon was too close, way too close. Toni realized that the ferry as in danger of colliding with another ship. Her mind returned to the plight of the escaping woman. As the two men reached the bow, shouting from the wheelhouse caused them to turn around.

Looking back to the front, the men saw the cause of the commotion. A barge being pulled by a tugboat had broken free in the choppy water. The massive barge was drifting right into the path of the ferry. The only course of action was to drop anchor, causing the abrupt halt of the ferry. With luck, the barge would drift by narrowly missing the ferry. An obnoxious buzzer joined the cacophony as the anchor was released, splashing into the white capped waves below.

Toni started to run towards the hatch. She had to find out if the old woman was still aboard, or if she was now in the water. The anchor took hold, causing the boat to shudder to a stop, twisting through the rough sea – barely missing the barge as it drifted across the bow. Passengers were thrown from their seat; those standing became like little bowling pins, scattering about. The lights dimmed, went out, then came back on. Toni could hear the roar of the massive engines being put into reverse. One of the mates came out to the deck, ushering the two men back inside. Toni decided to return to her scooter, down on the auto deck. Maybe by putting on her riding jacket and helmet, she would not be recognized by the two men if they came down that far.

Toni hoped above all that she had not just witnessed a suicide, intentional or not.

December 7, 2008

9 Lives – chapter 17

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 9:26 pm
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9-lives-178 Took 8 tries to get this one uploaded. Either something in the process changed or I just simply forgot to press one radio button during the uploading of my file.

Who knows. At least chapter 17 is ready to go for your reading pleasure. The story is in the final action sequence. Bad guys, and you know who you are, be on the look out, because Cat Melendez and her new friends are coming…

December 4, 2008

Oops… Tek-nik-al Problems

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 11:48 am
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The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the broken power cable is mightiest of all.  More story to come, once the new cable arrives in a few days…hopefully!

Stay tuned!

November 28, 2008

9 Lives – chapter 14

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 6:49 am
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October 16, 2008

All the yard’s a stage, and all the dogs and cats merely players…

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 2:55 am
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Dog looked around and realized that there is quite the cast of players in the yard today.  There, of course, is cat, who comes and goes as he pleases, as any good antagonist would. There are the supporting characters, rabbit and squirrel, who have their own issues and tend to ignore the main story line. And what troupe doesn’t have a casual observer, off in the wings? Dog sez his yard has not one, but three such denizens – big barky dog and his two pals, yippie and yappie. More about them later.

Crow is the bad influence, flying in just to stir the pot, only to fly away once things go awry. Naturally, the royal family that lives in the house deserves a mention, especially since they feed dog.  Dog thinks that is very, very important.

Last and certainly not least, there is me – Dog!  The star and hero of the story.

As it should be!

And so it is – sez Dog!!!

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