Preview: Blood Child Chapter 1

Blood Child

Coverart by Steven Warrick

Chapter 1

“I am not drunk enough to talk about it now.”

The interview I had lobbied over six months for just turned on her heels and walked back into the shadows of the house, leaving the door wide open and giving me an excellent view of her curves. My appreciation for them was short-lived, since cool air slapped me as I hesitated on the threshold, trying to take in the house’s details. The ten-foot walk from the car had broken me out in a sweat, making it difficult to concentrate. It wasn’t even May, and already Florida was managing to melt British tourists and small yippy dogs into smelly, sticky puddles. Since I was British born myself, it was only being raised in the United States that kept me from disintegrating.

As I watched the current Countess Bathory return, it occurred to me that she was nothing like her infamous blood-bathing ancestor. She had no aura of power or authority. She was, in fact, a wino, judging from the bin overflowing with bottles on the front porch. Albeit, an incredibly attractive one.

Technically, she wasn’t a countess, having renounced the title but keeping the money she had inherited along with it. Only people in fairy tales give up both, and usually for love. As far as I knew, Ms. Bath was single.

Nothing about Emily Bath made sense. She was richer than Donald Trump and had more degrees than Neil Degrasse Tyson, yet she lived in a tiny orchid-colored house in a mismatched Orlando neighborhood. She taught high school—not even a regular high school, but an alternative one for students who had been kicked out. She could have done anything and willingly chose to work in high school hell.

The interior was incredibly modest, if not a little old-fashioned for a thirty-something heiress or anyone in her thirties. The floors creaked with each step. There was no TV in sight, just bookshelves and seating. All the furnishings looked like they were hand-me-downs from someone’s long-deceased grandparents. The sofa engulfed me in patterned floral pillows. The countess smirked as I struggled to right myself. At least she had a sense of humor.

Still nothing about the home spoke of the mounds of wealth she had; it was all understated and sadly normal. I expected more—craved it, to be honest.

Emily Erzabet Bath was the survivor of a modern-day murder mystery. Nine years ago she and her three older brothers spent the weekend at their late father’s estate for his funeral in upstate New York. Her brothers died, along with twenty other souls.

The manor had been drenched in blood, literally. It dripped off tables, pooled in puddles on the floor, and had unartfully spattered the walls. The first officers on scene inched their way around the edges of each room as they searched for survivors. They weren’t trying to preserve evidence. No one wanted to step in that much blood. It was inconceivable that anyone could have survived the carnage. Pieces of victims were carried out bit by bit for nearly a week. The local police chief was one of the dead, along with his wife, so state police were immediately called in. They in turn called the FBI. It was a forensic nightmare. It took years for them to sort everything out, and then the picture that the evidence painted didn’t make any sense.

People were found at nearly all the exits, but no one made it outside before being killed. No one tried to call for help. All the phones at the estate were working, yet no one used them.

The officers who found Emily broke into her room after following a blood trail, only to find her cloistered in the back of the closet beneath a bunch of old musky coats stained with her blood. The combination of the smells—musky fur, stale blood, and human excrement—remained with the two men. Their stomachs emptied upon seeing Emily broken and begging for help with her eyes. Ten years later, even mentioning her or her condition made the two turn green. They thought she was dead until her bloodshot emerald eyes opened. She was severely dehydrated, with deep bloody scratches that had turned her flesh into ribbons; her wounds would seep blood for days after her rescue, confounding the medical staff. It was months before she was released from the hospital.

Emily allegedly had fled to her room and remained there the entire weekend. She couldn’t explain how she had gotten there or what had happened. Her story just didn’t hold up. Many believed she was at least partially responsible for the deaths of the twenty-three people in attendance. Maybe she really didn’t remember? It was possible, but why did she hide instead of calling for help or attempting to leave the estate? There were more questions than logical answers in the bloody tale of Emily Bath. The tabloid media had attempted to keep the story alive, supposedly to get answers, even after the relatives of the deceased pleaded with them to stop. A couple of lawsuits, combined with the complete unwillingness of law enforcement officials to contribute to the macabre circus surrounding the case, finally brought things to an end after about three years.

Now, as the ten-year anniversary approached, interest in the case was reemerging, making this interview priceless. And I was the man who landed it—the first and only person to speak to the reclusive Ms. Bath on the record. Persistence, charm, and just a bit of cyber stalking had won the day; being unemployed finally had a benefit.

No evidence was found linking Emily to the deaths, according to the investigator’s report in my satchel. No evidence was found linking anyone to the crime. The report had cost a pretty borrowed penny. Now I was wondering if the expense had been worth it. She was just so ordinary. So painfully ordinary.

Emily returned from the kitchen carrying two glasses of deep-red wine. When I started to protest, she informed me that I would need it.

“Mr. Clark, please…humor me.”

“All right, Ms. Bath. Do you mind if I record this conversation?”

“Not at all. I would appreciate a copy. Also, my attorney, Mr. McNeal, would like you to sign this disclosure agreement prior to us continuing.”

“I don’t think my editor would approve any agreement that limits or restricts the content of the article.”

“Let’s be frank, Mr. Clark. You don’t have an editor. And you haven’t had one for the last six months. Your freelance opportunities have dried up, along with your hope and savings.”

I wanted to protest, but she was telling the truth. I had been let go from the Times six months ago. Budget cuts or some other bureaucratic nonsense was the official reason; sleeping with my editor’s grandson was the true cause of my separation from the nation’s foremost paper.

In my defense, Philip was twenty-one, and I had no idea that he and my editor, Ashley, were related. She wasn’t amused to find us cuddling in the afterglow on her $1,500 sofa. It probably didn’t help that I was also sleeping with her and was too intoxicated to notice where I had passed out. In the paper’s defense, I was only great at my job when I was sober, and I was rarely sober. Drunk, I was just OK. Sad, but true; I could do my job intoxicated and get away with it for the most part.

Looking over the agreement, I was surprised to see that it didn’t restrict what I wrote—only that I share any new information I found with Ms. Bath and her attorneys, as well as proofs prior to publication. If I had an editor or had been attached to a company, I would have had them research it before signing, but I didn’t, and Emily had called my bluff.

“Why do you think I have access to information that you don’t have?” I asked.

She sighed, reaching for my satchel. Before I could protest, she pulled out the investigator’s report and tossed it on the ottoman.

 “You purchased that from Detective Anderson two months ago. My sources weren’t able to get a full report. They didn’t think to approach him directly, a misstep on their part.”

Her smile was the first hint that she wasn’t entirely innocent; I didn’t think she had killed anyone, but that still didn’t make her guilt-free. She just didn’t seem capable of mass murder. Still, everyone is guilty of something. It just might not be illegal. “Of course, your copy doesn’t include all the crime scene photos. I am willing to share if you sign.”

“Touché, Ms. Bath.”

“Sign and you can call me Em.”

I shook my head as I signed it, just to be dramatic. The wine was beginning to look more and more appealing.

“Anything else, Em?”

“No, the floor is yours. Let the inquisition begin.”

I had to glance down at my notebook to be sure where to start. Em had thrown me off more than the past six months without meaningful work. Or maybe it was everything that was riding on this interview going well. I was pretty sure Ashley had started to use her connections to blackball me when I didn’t appear to be suffering enough to satisfy her. Even Cat Fancy’s editor refused my calls. Pulling off this story would make me instantly marketable again.

Looking at Em, I realized she could have been her ancestor’s twin, except she was most definitely curvier. She had the same delicate almond-shaped eyes, china-doll skin, and brunette hair so dark; at first glance it appeared black. She leaned back into the plush sofa as if she were having a conversation with an old friend. Smiling, I began…

Five hours, two bottles of wine, and ten pages of notes later, I departed the tiny orchid house, making it back to the hotel as quickly and safely as possible. Luckily, I had experience driving during these conditions. Becoming inebriated in the course of an interview is never recommended or suggested, but Em had been right; the wine was necessary even for this seasoned drunk. I knew I could count on the recording to help me where my notes trailed off. Experience had taught me well to always have a backup plan.

Blood Child is being released on February 13th, 2015. Friday the 13th. 

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Lessons From A Cat on A 30-Year Old Roof

1.  The cat has no problem being on the roof.

2. You are the one with the problem.

3. The cat doesn’t care. She is having a wonderful time.

4. It will seem insane, but if the cat got up, the cat get down herself.

5. Still you will try and you will fail.

6. Tuna is a good idea to try and coax the cat down or at least closer to you.  The cat will use this as a way to torment you. Be prepared for these emotional games.

7. Going up on the roof is not a good idea at night, when it is windy or when your roof is thirty years old.

8. Cussing at the cat in a sweet tone will not work either.

9. When the cat comes down she will act as if nothing happened. Arguing with her is foolish just go pour yourself a glass of wine. It will be cheaper than therapy or getting a dog.

Nothing to see here. I wasn't on the roof for in indeterminate amount of time.  I mean, meow...

Nothing to see here. I wasn’t on the roof for indeterminate amount of time. I mean, meow…

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It is

it is sad when the poet runs out of words

runs out lyrics to sing

and the chambers of thoughts

once over flowing are empty

then the poet isn’t a poet any more

and slowly begins to die

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Back at School

Tomorrow is a school day. The first day back after two weeks of vacation.  Students and teachers alike dread the first day back. Students don’t want to work and the teachers already feel overwhelmed. Every year I tell myself that I am going to do this or that over the break to get a head after all I have so much time.

Oh, the lies we tell ourselves.

Like I am going to write everyday once I get such and such done. It doesn’t happen. Habits are easy to start and hard to maintain.

I have been writing more, but I have also been giving myself a break. A much needed one.  There is just one more change to be made before Blood Child can be published. One tiny change that so far has been waiting on communication to sink up between me and the Createspace folks.  So that is my goal for this morning to get the changes made to the manuscript and get it re-submitted by the afternoon with more specific instructions.

I don’t want to go back to school, but in an odd way I need to. My normally nine-to five (really 7:30 to 5:30) gives me structure and helps me focus.  And that focus helps me get more done.

Back to school means back to the writing desk.

 

 

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1st Day of My Next Project

Well, not really, but it sounds good, right.  Today isn’t the first day of my next project.  It the first day that I am returning to it after more than a month off.  I didn’t write for a month. Yes, that is right, I didn’t write for over a month.  I thought about it, but I didn’t do it. And I don’t feel bad about it. I am not beating myself up.

I work three jobs.  There are days when  I really don’t have the time.

Still a few days ago, I added about six hundred words but I was still going in the wrong direction. I didn’t like what I was writing or where it was going. I did my time at the keyboard and then left it there. Left it to stew for a while.

And it has sat, because I was no longer in love with the story. I still love Raelin, my protagonist, but the story that I began writing over three years ago has gotten messy, muddled and confusing. If it that way for me, then my potential readers wouldn’t enjoy it either. I have been doing a little research and realize that I had some major holes in the flow of the story. Those need to be patched and a direction plotted. My characters can feel free to run a muck once that is done.

I printed out a new copy of the draft.  Ninety pages of my work.  Over the next two weeks, I am going to read it and make some notes.  Then, it is back to the key board. I have a goal in mind for how long the book will be in the end between 80,000 to 100,000 words and then I will begin the trimming. The thing is I still have to get there. And I only get there by writing day after day.

Today is the first day on my next project because today is the day that I am fall back in love with Raelin’s story.

Today is the day that I sit down at my keyboard day after day and write.

Writing isn’t easy, but it isn’t hard. You just have to put one word after another.

Keep Writing

Love,

Lu

 

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End of the Year

Where has the time gone?

Wasted on the internet, rolling in the depths of my depression and figuring out I really wanted, living to work instead of working to live. We write our own stories, but this year I handed the pen over to my demons. Turns out that while they write an interesting hook, they next finish what they start.

The year is over, but I am not.

I am still here and although I have been quiet on this blog I won’t be in the next year.

Every ending is a beginning.

This next year, I am not making an resolutions or goals.

This year, I am taking over my story.

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Thank You, Santa!!!

The best gift this year came with a gold bow on top and wrapped in a DAV (Disabled American Veteran) blanket found in a thrift store.  My Papa put a gold bow on his head on Christmas and it was awesome. Not that my father has never done anything cool or cute before. At 4’11”, he can’t help being adorable although at times he is the charming bad ass.

 I call him Cranky.  He started yelling at the TV a couple years ago and hasn’t stopped.  He is a Fox News addict and while I am grateful that he has started voting, his renewed interest in politics has been some what distressing.

When he is in the hospital, I call him, Sir Crank Pants. I don’t care what the nurses thought of our banter, making my dad smile is one of the best things in life.  One nurse told the doctor that my dad was delusional.  He isn’t. Stubborn as hell, set in his ways but not delusional.  He can learn and grow.  He is slow to trust and loyal to the core; mess with one of his kids then you are in trouble.

 Two weeks ago, Momma and I were sitting down to eat lunch and drink mojitos, our little tradition, when my sister called.  The message which came to us was that Papa had fallen. Our order was cancelled as we rushed out the door waving goodbye to our mojitos.  And not caring in the slightest.

We arrived at the hospital and discovered that he hadn’t fallen. His sodium was so low that our family doctor (yes, we actually have one doctor for all of us) called and told him to go directly to the Emergency Room where we found him. He looked so small draped in a hospital gown. He may be short, but predictably he has never been small.

He has always been huge in my life. A giant.

When I first met Papa, I was already taller than him. He was dating Momma and I was living with my birth father.  Papa’s arrival meant that she could be a physically part of my life. She didn’t have a car and was living in a closet, not a small apartment in New York. She had no way to get to me. No way to see me.  It also meant that Momma had the support that she needed to prosper once again. She got the spark back and started her own craft business.

 He came into my life and I got Momma back. All of her.

 And he is still here.

 My Papa is still here, living and breathing and stirring up trouble and driving us all blessedly nuts.

Thank you, Santa.  

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Black Friday – Let’s Play Nice!!!

Every year the media makes a big deal over the Black Friday Sales.

This past year more than a few stores decided to open on Thanksgiving Day and many of them did not see the crowds there were expecting or needed. I am sure that a few will do it again.

All in the name of saving money.

Insane right. But,they will do it again even with people getting hurt. 

I have only been to three Black Friday Sale in my entire life.  We never went to them when I was growing up. My family has never been one crowds.

The first time I attended a sale was with a former roommate to get a Christmas tree for our apartment.  The second time, I was working retail. It wasn’t bad since I had the second shift of the day and most of the people were nice. I do remember how awful  I felt for the rest of the staff who had to come in at 2 am to get the store ready. Many when to bed immediately after they had Thanksgiving with their families. At least they got Thanksgiving, more and more people aren’t getting the day off. A day that nearly everyone had off so they could spend time with their families. Isn’t that what the holidays are really all about family and friends, not Big Screen TV’s for $399.00. (The third time was for a pair of jeans at Old Navy, just one pair of jeans.)

Isn’t it?

Is Christmas about the gifts or the time with family?

Is money worth your life? People have actually died shopping in this big door buster sales. In 2008, the doors of a Walmart were really ripped off the hinges and killed a Walmart employee.  Two more people died the same year in a shooting at a Southern California Toy R Us.  According to one website, seven people have died in Black Friday related incidents.  Nearly a hundred have been injured.

Black Friday Madness has become a symbol of what is wrong in our consumer society. We are so driven to consume that we forget that there is more than saving money and respecting each other.  The new thing is to criticize those people that do choose to shop on Black Friday.bf3It has now become cool to shame those who shop on America’s biggest shopping day of the year.  America’s latest craze is to shame people into good behavior.  You would like that American would have learned after back lash that followed Fit Mom, Maria Kang, ill fated effort to show all of us that we can get in shape.  Her non-apology got her kicked off Facebook.  She took her actions after the news media reported that shaming especially fat shaming doesn’t work.

So what makes American’s think shaming shoppers would work?

It won’t. In fact some Americans will go shopping because people have told them it is wrong. You know there are people will do it.  And be proud of themselves for doing it. Is it wrong for you to shop on Black Friday or the Thanksgiving? I can’t answer that. I am not you.

I don’t shop on those two days unless it is an essential need.  Toilet paper for example.  Or Wine. I do love a good class of wine. My reasons for it aren’t all for the workers who I do believe deserve a day off with their families. They aren’t holier than thou.  They are mine.

Shop or don’t shop, but don’t bash another human being.  If you do, leave the taser at home, why don’t you?

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And We Begin Again….

This month begins National Novel Writing month and I know that many folks are already feverish writing working on their novels.  I still have some minor things to finish up with Blood Child and she should be out by the end of the month, but while I am waiting I am going to be writing and joining the madness.

This blog was started on the advice of a dear friend as a way to introduce myself to the world as a writer and build an audience for my first novel, My Dragon Friday, which remains unfinished. Blood Child took over my brain and my life. Now it is time to return to Raelin Lewis and her world.  In keeping with the rules and guidelines, I will only count the words that I write this month.

Raelin’s story needed sometime to mature. When she was first conceived, my life was in chaos and her story took on some of that insanity. She was too much of me and not enough her own creature. I hope in the coming month to change that and allow her to tell her story, instead of one where my heart is breaking and writing is the only way to keep myself from crying. Raelin deserves more of my attention.

Word Count as of 11/02/14 ~ 1,686

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The fall wind blows through the trees no matter where I am to remind me that today is Halloween, today is a day to remember the dead. The beloved dead, our ancestors and friends who have walked before us into the unknown.

For Catholics, soon will come the celebration for the faithful departed. Many will make their way out to the graveyards to clean off the graves of their love ones and spend some time with them.  Other traditions have a Dum Supper, a meal eaten in silence to honor the dead.

In years past, I have been attending an event called the “Ancestors’ Feast” at the local Unitarian Church.  A group of friends and myself have sung old and ancient songs and joined in the celebration.  Of all the masses, rituals and celebrations, I have attended over the years this one has meant more to me than any other. It is a collaborative event, where everyone contributes and feels welcome. A rare event for many of us. It has been the highlight for me of this fall season; a time to remember the real reason for the season.  A time to remember my own ancestors.

Each year in my own home, I light a candle to remember my ancestors and friends who have crossed veil and into the next world.  This year, I will be lighting two more candles.  One for my Grandmother, who passed last Thanksgiving, and another for my friend, Shannon who passed later in the year. As a part of my yearly ritual, I raise my glass to them and thank them for all they did and for brightening my life with their existence.

My grandmother went by the nickname, Honey, for most of her life, because of her honey blonde hair.  She and my grandfather fell in love in elementary school.  She used to walk down the mountain and my grandfather would wait  to walk to her school.  They were in love for nearly eight decades.  He loved her until the very end.

Poets can only try to and do justice to their love.  I believe they would all fail,because their love was an imperfect and real love. A love that produced four children and saw two grow into adults. One of whom is my father.

This was one of my grandmother’s swans.  I think her name was Judith after my aunt who passed away.  My grandmother loved nature and taught me to love it as well. We never really understood each other.  She was always formal and rarely emotional. I was her opposite and while I learned from her, I didn’t understand her.

We connect in the last months of her life.  My father drove me up to see her and we spent the morning talking in the solarium.  My grandfather built it to house her plants in the winter. She was suffering from dementia and was rarely coherent.  I was used to this side of her. For years, she was slipped in and out of this world.  I knew it and some of the rest of the family, but no one wanted to admit it.

That summer day, we talked for hours while my grandfather and father went down the mountain to run errands. She told me the same story over and over.  In the sixties, my grandfather and her built a house in small pocket of a mountain. The house was built in part on the land and part on water. It is an amazing house.  She loved the house being surrounded by a mountain. She could never explain her love for that house to others or why she built in the shadow of her former home.

I don’t know if I really understood it either, but she didn’t try and make me over into her version of me, like before, this time she just talked to me and I snuck her licorice sticks. We giggled.  I always loved her, I loved her strength and her ability to transcend her beginnings and life’s tragedies. On that day, however, I met the women that my grandfather fell in love with seven decades before.

I will also be raising my glass to my grandfather who passed away in the spring.  He is finally with his beloved. Both the patriarch and matriarch of my family are gone and we are all a little lost. Lighting candles and seeking guidance seems like an excellent plan for the evening. So I raise my glass and thank them for being themselves and for all the lessons they taught me and all the lessons their memories will teach me in the years to come.

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