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“Congratulations Phyllis this is a wonderful book! ” a quote from breathtakingpark.
I can’t thank you enough for your kind words which are so very touching and welcomed. When you live with a book, and you re-read and edit and tweak for months on end, it becomes a part of you. At that point, you wonder if it’s as good as you hope, or whether you’ve overlooked something in the process, and wonder, just wonder!
I certainly welcome your “review” for that is how I shall take your words, as they were listed as a review on my blog. As well I consider them words of encouragement and they certainly spur me on to continue writing.
Since I have no way of contacting you to express my gratitude personally, I (hopefully this won’t embarrass you in any way) thank you in the only way I am able.
As I am currently working on two other books, I can only hope they live up to the first one, or perhaps outshine this endeavour, which would certainly be a boon since it would mean I’ve improved. Improved is always welcome.
Turning his attention back to the women he snarled, “What the hell do you two think you are doing?”
Taking charge, Sam responded, “Remembering old haunts we shared with Janie.”
“That’s a load of crap!”
“Give, now!” he commanded, motioning she hand it over as he stared at the scarf covered item she held.
“Ok, ok, we forgot about the boat. Janie’s parents own it. When they visit, to give Janie privacy, they stay on-board and they sail the coast once or twice a year too.”
“That explains the boat, not why your on it.”
“I told you, I didn’t remember it until we were leaving the store. Constable Jenson asked about the flats and why Janie would come here. It’s plausible she intended bringing her date to the boat. In fact, it seems she had prepared for that eventuality.”
Shaking the scarf covered book he asked, “What’s this?”
“It’s a photo/scrap book of our could-have-beens.”
“What the hell is a could-have-been?”
“It was an album of the men we have previously dated. If it didn’t turn out, we attached pictures and comments regarding the “significant” could-have-been in the album. The idea was to remind us about choices and decisions made, to see patterns in the men we chose, and in ourselves and why the relationship didn’t develop.”
“Go on,” he urged.
“If we hadn’t made any significant commitments within five years, we would sit down together, go over the book and it’s reminders together. To evaluate ourselves primarily and ask our friends to re-adjust our thinking if necessary.”
“Novel idea.” Grayson looked down at the book and would have continued when Amanda interrupted him.
“Do you honestly believe that someone was shooting at us?”
“This is a protected habitat for one. For two, do you see anyone else out here worth shooting at? And three, the bullet hole just below the ledge mid-section about where your head would pop up was my first clue!”
Amanda paled, “Oh my god!
“Now you know why the cops do the legwork. Let’s just hope you haven’t compromised the scene or crucial evidence.”
“You can march yourselves down to the station for fingerprinting.”
Amanda looked at Sam then back at Grayson, her eyes the size of saucers, “We would never harm Janie!”
“Listen, and listen good! If you don’t comply, I’ll have you picked up and charged with obstruction. Clear enough for you?”
Realizing the futility of arguing they hustled to the car to hop in. Sam reversed carefully among the few lookyloos that had arrived, “Damn it, it was a good idea. We’re onto something.”
“Yeah and the something is on to us!”
“There’s safety in numbers, so we stay together, wherever we go Amanda.”
“You don’t have to convince me, I’m no heroine.” A shudder shook through her.
Sam boiled, “Now the cops have the only clue as to who it might be! Damn it!”
Startled Amanda asked, “You seriously think Janie’s killer could be in our book? That he’s still here?”
Staring wide eyed she asked, “Why?”
“Janie loved a puzzle. If she had information on this guy, something damning, he might have killed her for it.”
After heading to the station where they were fingerprinted and given the third degree by Grayson who’d arrived before them, they returned to Sam’s.
Sam practically ran to the door and into the house and Amanda had to race to keep up. “Sam, what the hell?”
Charging through the door she called across her shoulder, “Janie left a bunch of stuff on my computer in shared folders in my name. I thought we’d take a look, see if there’s anything in them to find.”
“Sam, you’re bad!”
“Yeah, bad is good!” Sam said on a chuckle.
Flopping into the chair and turning the laptop on, she began searching. “Ok, let’s see what we’ve got!” Sam checked each folder thoroughly. “Hey, wait a minute, what’s this? I haven’t seen this one before, it’s been added recently.”
“Sam, this is nerve racking!”
“It’s dated four days ago, so before her date with her mystery man. She probably thought we’d find it and enjoy a good laugh together.” Sam hit print and two pictures spewed out. She had no idea who either man was. “Look familiar, Amanda? Have you seen either one?”
“No. Oooh, bedroom eyes!”
“He could be the killer for god’s sake!”
“Yeah, or not, but maybe!”
“Something tells me, one or both of these men are significant. If Janie had these pictures hidden, then it must be important.”
Watching her reach for a large book on the shelf she asked, “Sam what are you doing??
“Hiding them to keep them safe from prying eyes.”
“Don’t you think we should be sharing with like, the cops?”
“Maybe. Let’s see what they come up with after chasing that guy at the boat.”
“I sure didn’t see anything, a red hat and a blue jean jacket was about all.”
“Yeah I know, duck and cover right? I didn’t see any more than you. Perhaps, Grayson being the well trained cop that he is, did.” Sam couldn’t help the dig.
“If either man turns up at the store, we can inform the cops then. After we do some questioning of our own.”
“Yes, yes we can. Good point.”
“Do you want to check out the hotties online?”
“No, but you go ahead, I have to re-group, find out where Janie was with Aileen’s birthday party and the Martrand and Johnston party.”
“I almost dread going back to work, Sam, it’s . . .”
“I know, Janie’s not there, wont be there. We’re used to doing everything together. It won’t be the same.”
“No, it’s really not.” Her sigh contained a half hiccup and half sob.
Sam prepared dinner, her mind occupied elsewhere. In the end, they ate a sloppy joe mixture in which to dip garlic bread or chips, some pre-made salad and a bottle of red wine.
They gravitated to the tv and watched a movie, but Sam lost interest and headed up to soak in the tub. Lost in a good read, the water was nearly tepid when she finished her ablutions. Donning purple silk pj’s, she checked the alarm. Feeling surprisingly relaxed she reached for her book settling down under the comforter and read, read the same page a half dozen times that is. Putting the book away, she turned off the light and lay listening. She heard Amanda heading up the stairs humming a tune and her door close. All was silent.
Sam wasn’t sure what penetrated her sleep drugged mind to wake her. Something unusual, out of the ordinary. Out of place. Rubbing sleep from her eyes, she peered at the clock on the nightstand. It was just after four. She listened, straining to hear. huh! Thumping the pillow, she lay back down. Just when she’d convinced herself it was due to an overactive imagination and the incident on the boat, she realized she wasn’t about to get back to sleep.
Climbing out of her comfy queen sized bed, she donned a housecoat and slippers and peered carefully out her door. Nothing. Moving to Amanda’s door, she opened it and peered in. Scanning the bed she noted she was fast asleep. It wasn’t Amanda she’d heard then.
Tip-toeing forward, she again listened. She was nobody’s fool and she wasn’t about to rush downstairs and into a burglar. There, she heard it again. The unmistakable sound of rustling papers. Although that wasn’t what woke her, she knew there was an intruder in the house.
Back-tracking to Amanda’s room, she opened the door and hurried to the bedside and gently gave her a shake. “Amanda, Amanda,” she whispered. “Amanda!” she continued more urgently.
“What, what?” Amanda half sat, leaning on an elbow peering groggily at Sam.
“I think there’s a prowler downstairs.”
“What?” an instant flash of panic crossed her face.
“What do we do?”
“Do you have your cell phone?”
“Yeah, I plugged it in when i got into bed,” she whispered.
“Get it, dial 911.”
“Why not the other phone?”
“He’ll see it.”
Grabbing the phone, she couldn’t seem to dial and Sam whisked it from her hands and dialed. Following the usual routine, she informed the officer there was a burglar in the house.
“Have you seen him?”
“No, and I don’t have stupid stamped on my forehead. I’m not going down there to confront him!”
“Are you alone in the house?”
“Burglar not withstanding, I have a guest staying for the night. We’re in the guest bedroom.”
“Your address is 3155 Elk Drive, is that correct?”
“Stay put, a car has been dispatched and will arrive momentarily. Stay on the line until they arrive.” Sam listened as he spoke to someone on another line.
“They are outside your house now, mam. As soon as they check the grounds, they’ll knock on the front door.”
“Great, that makes me feel ever so much better!”
Her sarcasm was lost on him as he continued speaking, “They are at the front door now mam, can you see them?”
Sliding the bedroom window open, she peered outside. All she could see from her vantage point was two pair of legs and feet.
No sooner had she replied than she heard a loud pounding on the front door.
“Take the cell phone with you and head to the front door, mam.”
“What if the prowler is still here?” However as the pounding on the door continued, she added, “Well if he was here, that should have scared him off.”
Sam headed toward the stairs, Amanda in tow. “I’m coming with you.” Amanda grabbed hold of Sam’s sleeve. “This is not me being brave, I’m too scared to stay up here alone.”
“Glad of the company.”
Slowly reaching the bottom of the stairs, Sam flicked a light switch on, flooding the room instantly with light. “Doesn’t appear to be anyone here.” She spoke half aloud.
Walking to front door, she unlocked it and let the officers in. “Was a little nervous. Sorry about the delay.”
“No problem, mam. We’ll have a look around.” He walked through, checking each room as he went. They listened as he talked to dispatch. “No one here now, dispatch. Although someone was here. There’s a broken pane in the french door, back entrance. Yes, I’ll stay and secure the area. Franks will check outside.”
Both women hung on his every word, startled and nervous. “Would you take a look around, see if anything’s missing?”
Sam slowly moved around the room scanning her things. “I don’t see anything missing, but someone’s been through my desk,” she informed the officer.
The other constable returned from outside. “Someone was out there alright, footprints across the garden lead directly to the back door.”
Amanda was as shattered as I expected. Damn! No way to lessen the impact of a statement like that. She was younger than I, not by much, but she’d lead a sheltered life and was in no way prepared for the news. Not that I was either. Still I found myself on a white-knuckle ride as I attempted to shield and protect my other best friend.
Both women worked in my shop, Gifts’n such. Not only did we work together, we shared our lives and spend as much of our free time together as work time. Consequently, we were close. We’de created a sisterhood of our own. There was a hole in the fabric of time and our lives. We wandered the room unable to settle as emotion rolled through us. Grief would not be denied as anger, frustration, denial, and loss whipped through us like a storm on a blustery night. In an attempt to ward of the emptiness that tried to ooze in, I had an idea.
Although i didn’t relish the idea, I sat Amanda down and explained how the police handled an unexplained, a supposedly easier word for murder, and the timeline involved. I watched as she assimilated all that had been explained in detail by Detective Grayson, although hers was a condensed version.
“Janie’s parents will be here in a few days. Jim has to finish up some work before they are able to leave. They’ve given us the go-ahead to plan the wake. It would be too overwhelming to hold at Janie’s so I was hoping you’d help me with the arranging. We could hold the wake here. You up for that, Amanda?”
“Yeah, we need to do this, I need to do this.”
“What did the Detective have to say?”
“At first he threw a lot of bureaucratic red tape in my face. When I resisted, he asked a few leading questions that suggested Janie was killed out on the flats. At least that’s where her body was found by a couple on a romantic rendezvous.”
“The flats? Why would Janie go there?”
“She mentioned a new boyfriend, someone she’d recently met. Wouldn’t give me details, didn’t say much. Only that he was originally from Calgary and his family had moved to Quebec. He’d grown up there and integrated. Apparantly he was travelling across Canada before heading to Europe.”
“Consequently, I wondered if she’d planned on meeting him on the boat.” Sam waited and let the idea sink in.
“You mean her parents Trimaran?”
“Exactly. Interested in some sleuthing?”
“Let’s head out that way. If the police haven’t cordoned it off yet, we might find something to suggest what Janie was doing there, or what information she may have obtained that resulted in her demise, if it was connected.”
“She loved a good mystery, and she was great at solving them. Used to drive me bonkers! Couldn’t watch a show she hadn’t figured out, five minutes in.”
“What do you think she found?”
“No idea, but I’m determined to investigate, see if I can find out.”
They dressed warmly for the cool autumn weather carrying a biting chill. Hopping into Sam’s car, they drove out to the flats along the old highway. Sam parked on the west side of the bridge and alighting from the car, they hurried to the boat.
Amanda was definitely not a sailor and the second they stepped foot on the boat, the miniscule rocking had her turning green. “Oh my god, now I remember why I hate boats!”
They weren’t aboard long. Sam took a cursery look around and found fresh food in the pantry and opening the fridge found milk cheese and eggs bacon along with a bottle of bubbly and a couple of champagne flutes she’d obviously planned on using. Finding their “could-have-been book” they turned to go.
From nowhere a shot rang out. A man’s voice was yelling at them to stay down and take cover. Sam peered overtop the edge of the cabin. A man was hurtling through space toward her and thumped onto the boat it’s tumultuous rocking shook her hands from the hold she had on the cabin roof and Amanda struggled to remain upright.
“Grayson, what are you doing here?” Sam asked in surprise.
“I might ask you the same damn question!” he growled as gun in hand he turned to survey the surrounding area. He cursed as a boat on the far side of the quay roared to life and raced away across the water.
“Now, I want an explanation.”
“Can we get to dry land first?” Amanda requested.
Noting her pallor he assisted both onto the shore. “I’m waiting!”
I laugh when I wish to cry, I smile when I am sad, I joke when I am scared. My facade complete, in place, I go to face the world. My best friend is gone. Not due to illness, or an accident, but as a result of murder. Murder! In small town nowhere. So small we don’t even have a traffic light. Not one!
The population is compact, intimate as small towns are. Everyone knows everyone, and their business. You practically know what someone is doing before they do it! Therefore that Janie had been murdered didn’t seem possible, reasonable, logical.
I was looking for the logic, the reason behind it all. She was a bright star, a generous and exceedingly attractive woman, and funny. My god, she was funny! She could light up a room with her smile. It was impossible to believe anyone hated Janie let alone hate her enough to kill her.
I was waiting for the Detective assigned to the case to arrive. He would have questions. After watching hundreds of police shows on tv, the scenerio seldom differed, so I half knew what to expect. Since I was apparantly the last person to see her alive, it made sense.
They would work backward from the time of her demise, until the last time she’d been seen alive by anyone. Since we were best friends, and she worked for me, it would be logical I might have information. Amanda hadn’t been told. I would have to tell her before the police arrive. I’d waited knowing how shattered she would be. Good news should be shared immediately, bad news could always wait a little longer.
I’d plastered a smile on my face and continued with my day. The fascade was beginning to crack. I had to hold on just a little longer, until after the police questioned me. Then I would close the shop and gather Amanda, and we would head to my place, and together, continue with what came next.
For some reason my mind was wandering and it struck me as somewhat prophetic that much of what we now take for granted, or at least use on a daily bases, originally came from the minds of past movies, perhaps better stated, novelists and writers of movies, particularly Sci-fi movies.
Take Stanley Kurbrick’s groundbreaking film 2001 A Space Odyssey for example which clearly predicted the tablet computer. If not in reality, then the devices depicted bear an uncanny resemblance to the tablets we use today. Apple’s iPad made it’s debut in 2010 which is roughly nine years after the setting making Kubruck’s film pretty accurate in it’s depiction of the time period these devices would appear.
Interestingly many issues society faces were confronted and questions raised and solutions found in Star Trek. Diversity in appearance, culture, race, age and even robots were accepted.
As astounding are the technologies mentioned in Star Trek such as 3-D printers and the hand held communicators. Martin Cooper, the inventor of the first cell phone, cited Star Trek and the hand held communicators as his inspiration for his invention.
I have to give a nod to one of my favourite movies, Short Circuit made in 1986, in which a robot becomes self aware after being struck by lightening. While watching a news clip recently regarding advances in robotics, I was immediately reminded of this movie. Johnny Five was created by the military for military applications not unlike current robots used by the military for reconnaissance and attack purposes. The best known are by far, the unmanned aerial vehicles the U.S. and other militaries worldwide use. Interestingly they use the continuous track-based design that mimics or at least looks very similar to Johnny Five’s.
It could be argued that many inventions came from the minds of movie writers. Some individual somewhere, saw the potential and created a specific application we now use. What will the future hold, I wonder?
Confused is a good way to describe my protagonist, Sted Richardson, in what was originally the first chapter of my first novel. I decided the story needed a little more background and added five chapters preceding this original start. Let me know if you think this would have made a good start to the book.
Chapter 6 – First Awakening
The quiet is very disturbing. Where am I? I know I’m lying down on something soft, but perspiration under my head and neck has soaked into my hair and made this a cold and clammy bed. Bed. I must be in a bed. But where? Why won’t the fog clear out of my head? I know something is very wrong, but I can’t figure out what.
“Hello, Captain Richardson. The monitors tell me you’re waking up. Please try not to worry about anything. The lights have been dimmed, and the…
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Having lived in Parksville and Coombs and Qualicum I have many fond memories of the area and diverse destinations within easy reach offering hours of enjoyment for young and old alike. From beautiful sandy beaches with hours spent frolicking along the shore to evening strolls under a moonlit sky the mild climate allowed for many such evenings of enjoyment.
Speaking of beaches, the Sand Sculpting Competition, a yearly event offered in Qualicum is certainly a delightfully entertaining occurrence drawing hundreds of participants every summer. Since I cannot claim this ability, my contribution being a plastic pale full of sand turned and dumped with a face scratched on the side, you can imagine how enthralling it was to watch, excitement and pleasure abounding as true artistic masterpieces were formed.
Perhaps the day called for a picnic lunch in order to spend hours wandering Englishman River Falls Provincial Park a picturesque location amid lush old-growth trees. I love trees, did I mention that? The park was originally established to protect the old-growth Douglas Fir Forest and associated plants, but you’ll find Cedar, Hemlock, and Maple as well.
Who could resist the deep crystal clear pool that awaits downstream from the lower falls where swimmers and sunbathers can gather or wander to one of two beautiful waterfalls cascading along the descending riverbed?
Copiously searching meandering trails through the forest and along the river enjoying some pretty spectacular views and plenty of exercise, but most of all, creating delightful memories to share.
And it would be remiss of me if I did not mention The Old Country Market in Coombs and I can personally attest how delicious their offerings were. Immediately upon entering, the scent of freshly made bread wafts toward you bidding you enter. Baskets and baskets of fresh breads, cheeses, milk, fruits and more . And of course, the ice cream!
My book, Prisoner on Holiday, incorporates many of these destinations in colourful detail and harks back in time. I say that because much has changed in recent years adding to a visitors experience.
For me, writing about these locations has been a trip down memory lane. I hope you enjoyed taking the excursion with me and one day have an opportunity to visit yourself.