Maxwell’s – final excerpt … for 2014

I didn’t want to rule out further excerpts completely but I think I’ve about wrapped up Charlie’s story.  I spent some time this past weekend working through a hard copy with a red pen.  I didn’t make it all the way through but managed what I considered some decent progress.  Once I finish that initial read-through and revision I’m going to be trolling for beta readers.  (That’s the term, right?  Beta?  Someone who will read and provide feedback?)

Until that time, here’s a little more of Charlie’s story for those of you who have been following along.  Thanks for reading.

Jeff put the phone down and groaned.  He had hoped he could close up and head home for the night, pick up the Minnelli investigation in the morning.  But a quiet evening at home wasn’t meant to be.  Standing up, he put a fresh notebook in the pocket of his jacket, grabbed his hat on the way out of his office and locked up. 

Hazel’s was close enough he didn’t have to drive but since it was after dark the temperature had dropped some so he took the Jeep anyway.  He’d be headed home from there and it would save him a walk back.  Parking in the first available space, he went inside. 

“Hey Maggie,” he greeted the waitress, touching the brim of his hat in her direction.  He crossed to the booth where Luke and another, older man sat.  “Tyler.”

“Hello Jeff,” Luke said.  He nodded toward the other man.  “This is my client, Leo Delaney.”

Jeff held out his hand and the other man took it, shaking firmly.  “Sheriff,” Leo said.

“Call me Jeff,” the Sheriff said.  “We’re on the informal side around here.”

“Then I’m Leo,” the older man replied.  “Please, have a seat.”

Jeff slid into the booth opposite Luke, removing his hat and setting it aside.  He pulled the notebook from his pocket along with a pen. 

“So Luke tells me you have information I should hear.”

“I think you might find it of interest,” Leo said.  He put the last piece of steak in his mouth and chewed it slowly.  Then he drank the last of his beer and set the glass on his empty plate.  “Your ‘Blockhead’ as you call him, is probably Carlo Dante.”

“Car…, wait, isn’t that one of the shooters Jack testified against?”

“It is,” Leo nodded.  “The reluctant partner of Tony Minnelli.”

“And you think he’s here in Manning and shot Joey Minnelli?” Jeff was confused.  “Why would he shoot his partner’s brother?”

“Because he lost everything while he was in prison Jeff.”

“But wouldn’t that make him want to kill Jack?”  Jeff was scribbling notes as fast as he could.

“You would think so, wouldn’t you?”  Leo took a drink of water.  “However, when Jack ditched me a few months back I started looking into the old case to see if I could figure out what Jack was trying to protect me from.  What I found out surprised me.”

“Are you planning to share it with us old man, or just tease us?” Luke asked, straight faced. 

“Well not if you keep that shit up,” Leo replied, hiding a smile.

“Could you tell just me then?” Jeff asked politely. 

“Of course,” Leo answered, just as politely.  “Don’t let us worry you Jeff; Luke and I mix it up all the time.  He forgets I can beat the hell out of him any time I want to.”

“In your dreams Leo,” Luke said, but he was grinning and Jeff relaxed. 

“So, please go on,” the Sheriff invited.

“Back when Tony persuaded Carlo to go along with him on the DeFranco hit, Vinnie Minnelli, the Godfather was in peace talks with Gino DeFranco.”  Leo could see that Jeff was lost.

“The Minnellis and the DeFrancos were enemies, much like the Capulets and Montagues from Romeo and Juliet,” he explained.  When Jeff nodded, Leo went on.  “Vinnie was tired of the bloodshed and afraid for his daughters.  He reached out to Gino DeFranco with a peace proposal and Gino bit.

“They were negotiating the terms, dividing up territories, et cetera when Tony, who hated the idea of peace between the families, decided to throw a wrench in the plan.  He persuaded Carlo Dante to go with him to take out several of the DeFrancos.”

“You said Dante was reluctant?” Jeff asked.

“Dante has a reputation for being slow,” Leo explained.  “Could be he was mentally impaired, could be he had an undiagnosed learning disability, could be he got hit in the head once too many times.  I don’t suppose we’ll ever know for sure.  But as a result he was easily manipulated, and Tony had always been there for him so he would follow Tony almost without question.”

“Almost?”  Jeff looked up from his notebook.

“Yeah, almost.  Apparently when Tony told him what they were going to do, Carlo balked.  He liked the idea of peace.  He was newly married with one kid and another on the way.  The prospect of peace between the families was like a dream to him.”

“Then why did he go with Tony?” Jeff asked.

“Tony convinced him that Vinnie planned to install DeFrancos in the family business,” Leo said.  “And that he – Carlo – would have no way to support his family.  Dante wasn’t a member of the Minnelli Family, he was what might be called a ‘hanger on’.  The Family owed him no loyalty and Tony persuaded him that with a peace there’d be no place for him.”

“That would mess with a guy’s head,” Luke said. 

“Which was what Tony wanted,” Leo replied.  “Carlo never would have been in that park otherwise.

“And you think the guy who shot Joey Minnelli is Carlo Dante?”  Jeff stopped scrawling notes and looked at Leo.

“Almost certainly from the description you have.”

“But I still don’t understand why he would be after Joey?”

“As I said, while he was in prison Dante lost everything.  His wife died in childbirth.  His children want nothing to do with him.  He has terminal cancer now, which is why he was released late last year.

“And he holds his partner responsible,” Jeff muttered, connecting the dots, “So he went after Joey because Tony’s still in prison and he couldn’t get to him.”

“That’s my theory,” Leo agreed, nodding.  “And I think my theory’s accurate except for one thing.”

“Here’s where I get to catch up,” Luke said, leaning forward.  He glanced at Jeff who was looking up curious.  “He wouldn’t tell me this next part till you came.”

“Except for what one thing?” Jeff asked, meeting Leo’s gaze.

“Except that Tony Minnelli was released from prison last week.”

And the winner is…

Not Janey.  As of 10:30 pm, Pacific Standard Time I have a total of 37,530 words. In 90 minutes I would have to write 12,470 words to meet the goal.  Unfortunately, I have to get up at the butt-crack of dawn to go to work.  But that’s okay.  I may not be a winner of the official NaNoWriMo, but Charlie?  She definitely is a winner!  And her story is almost complete!!

Wahoo!

And now I need to get my happy little behind into bed.

🙂

Winding down

I’ve come to accept that it’s unlikely I’ll make 50K this year in NaNoWriMo.  I’m currently at around 27,000 words give or take a hundred or so.  There are five days (not counting today) left.  I have to sleep at least six hours a night plus I work full time today and tomorrow.  You do the math.  While it would be more fun, it would be rude to write at the table during Thanksgiving dinner dontcha think?  Then Friday we go up to meet my husband’s biological father for the first time.  I don’t think I can count on being able to write while we’re there.  Besides, I’d rather go wine tasting.

But you know what?  I’m okay with not making it all the way.  Charlie’s story is further along than it ever was before and I am determined to finish it.  She deserves to finally see the light.  I’m not sure what I’ll do with it when the story is complete.  I may self-publish; I may not.  We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Below is the final excerpt of what I’ve written so far.  Thanks for sharing the ride with me peeps.  🙂

                From inside his parked rental car, Carlo Dante watched the people leaving the Rhodes’ house.  The broad who had seen him standing over Joey’s body got in the driver’s side of the sweet Malibu convertible while the blond man sat in the passenger seat.  As they drove off the older couple watched the car’s taillights disappear.  The man put his arm around the woman and they walked to a late model Buick.  Another couple left the house and followed the walk to the street talking, heads close together.  At the street though they split apart and got into separate cars. 

                Drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, Carlo watched the house for awhile longer.  No one else exited and he figured the Sheriff was in for the night.  It didn’t appear that they’d identified him.  Maybe he was worried about nothing, he thought.  He couldn’t help wondering if he’d left behind some clue in his rush to get away once the Maxwell woman had stumbled in.  And what on earth had possessed him to speak to her?  Had he gone soft in prison? 

                Shaking his head, he started the engine, put the car in gear and headed back to the Seaside Inn.  As Dante pulled into the motel’s parking lot he was running through a list of things he needed to do before he could leave for the airport.  Being distracted he almost missed the man slipping into the side door of the motel.  If the outside light hadn’t been in just the right place he probably would have missed him entirely in any case.  But the exterior spotlight was focused on the door, presumably to make it easier for returning guests.  And standing directly in the beam of light was Anthony Minnelli, tapping his cardkey on the security panel to open the door.  Carlo kept his head and told himself it couldn’t be.  Tony’s still inside, he thought.  But was he? 

                “Goddammit,” he groaned.  “Now I’m going to have to change my flight again!”

                Carlo backtracked to the front of the motel and found a parking space near the main entrance.  No sense in tempting fate by using the same door Tony did.  Once he’d locked himself in his own room he pulled out his cell and dialed a number.

                After several rings someone growled, “This better be very important.”

Time for another excerpt

Thirteen thousand six hundred fifty nine words!  Here’s another excerpt for your perusal and comment if you feel so moved.

At his desk, the Sheriff pored over the notes he’d complied on the murder investigation. It made no sense. What was a complete stranger doing in Charlie’s office? It was obvious, at least to Jeff, that Joseph Minnelli was anything but a tourist. His clothing alone gave that away. Who would believe the guy in the designer suit was here to visit the arboretum or the naval museum?

Jeff heard the bell ring as the outside door opened into the reception area. He listened as Mandy pushed back her desk chair and crossed to the taller counter which spanned the width of the room except for the swinging gate at one end. It was remarkably like the gates you might see in an old courtroom where the witnesses would push through on their way to take the stand. In fact, it had been recovered form the old courthouse before it was torn down several years previously. Jeff liked the connection between the old and the new.

In the outer office he heard Mandy ask how she could help the visitor and then he heard Luke’s voice. Even if he hadn’t heard Luke was in town he’d have recognized that voice. It had echoed in enough of his teenage nightmares, he recalled with a touch of the old self-disgust. Jeff started to stand intending to… what exactly? Staying in his chair, he rubbed his hand over his face. Am I really going to go punch him in the face because he was with Carolyn before me?   God, am I losing it or what? He dropped his head into his hands for a moment and there was a tap on his door.

“Jeff?” Mandy slipped into his office, closing the door behind her. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, just having a little argument with myself,” he smiled. “What’s Luke want?”

“He has information on the murder victim he thinks you might find helpful.”

“Oh really?” Jeff smiled. “Well send him in then. Is there any coffee left in that pot?”

“Well yeah, but it’s from three hours ago.”

“Perfect.”

“What? I can make a fresh pot…”

“Sure, make a fresh pot but bring Luke a cup of the old pot first please.” His eyes fairly twinkled with the anticipation of watching Luke take a polite sip. Who said he was a goody two shoes!

Jeff stood up, might as well take every advantage he could. Being a few inches taller than Luke might seem like a small thing but it made him feel better. He squared the pile of paper on his desk and looked up to watch Luke enter. Luke tried on a grin, holding out his hand.

“Jeff, nice to see you though I wish it was under better circumstances.”

“We can agree on that,” Jeff nodded. He indicated the visitor’s chair with a tilt of his head and took his own seat. Mandy came in and set a chipped china mug on the corner of Jeff’s desk near Luke.

“Thank you,” Luke smiled pleasantly at her. Picking up the mug he took a healthy drink and manfully tried not to let it show on his face that the coffee was awful.

Jeff raised his brows. “Everything okay Luke?” He watched as Luke forced himself to swallow the sludge. He had to hand it to the guy, the smile faltered just a tad but it stayed in place. Jeff relented in spite of himself.

“Fine,” Luke got out. “Coffee’s a bit stronger than I’m used to.”

“Ah, well we can fix that.” Turning to Mandy, Jeff smiled. “Will you start a fresh pot please?”

Mandy, bless her, got it. She gave him back a smile and nodded. “Sure thing Sheriff.” Mandy exited the office, drawing the door closed behind her.

Returning his attention to Luke, Jeff pulled over a notebook and pen. “Mandy said you had some information about Joseph Minnelli?”

“Yeah. First, he goes or he went by Joey. He was the second son of Alfredo Minnelli. Minnelli was a crime boss in New Jersey a few decades back.”

“Do you have any idea what Joey was doing in Manning?”

Luke hesitated and Jeff studied him. “What is it Tyler?”

“I think he was looking for Charlie’s father,” Luke’s shoulders slumped for a moment, as if all the air had gone out of him.

“Charlie’s father? Who has been gone for over 30 years?”

Luke nodded. “I know it sounds crazy. Actually I’m in town looking for Jack too. Or at least some sign of where he might be.”

Jeff tossed down the pen and leaned back in his chair. “So 30 plus years later you, and presumably Joey Minnelli come looking for a man who walked out on his family. Luke, what’s wrong with this picture?”

“Look, I realize how it sounds. I can fill you in on the background if you’ll give me a few minutes.”

Spreading his hands wide, Jeff met his eyes. “I’m all yours; I can’t wait to hear this.”

Technical difficulties updated

So last night we lost power due to a severe wind storm.  This morning (4:30 in the freakin’ AM!) when I got up we still didn’t have any power.  I had to get up anyway even though there was no heat.  Wah!

I left early hoping to stop for coffee on the way to the train station, but everything between our house and train was out.  Do you know how eerie it is to see 7-11 and Denny’s dark?

So I stood on the platform amid the portable generators and lights and stamped my feet and danced in place to the music playing on my phone.  And I survived.  I also counted my blessings that the trains were still running.

The electric company predicts it will be Friday night before we have power.  Did I say wah??  What I meant was WAHHHHH!

On the flip side I broke 11K words!  I’m almost to 12,000!  Go mee!  Go mee!

And then I did this:

cover draft 11-12-14

 

Due to technical difficulties

My video card died.

Now you know and I know this is not an earth-shattering tragedy.  Unless of course you’re trying like mad to reach 50,000 words in NaNo and you need to see what you’re typing damn it!

In that case all bets are off … yesterday was a Zero Word Day* peeps … ZERO!  As in goose egg, nada, nil, zilch, zippo.

It wasn’t only the video card; that came later.  But now it IS all about the blasted video card.

So JD to the rescue!  We have two desktop computers, both built by JD more years ago than I’d care to try remembering.  They’re beginning to show their age but since he just built a media computer, funds aren’t there to replace the video card immediately.  JD had a solution:  pull out our not-as-ancient Acer netbook, hook up my ergo keyboard and trackball and wah-la!  I haven’t had a chance yet to try it out and tonight doesn’t look good for it either (it’s my birthday and I’ll go out to dinner if I want!) but maybe I can get an early start in the morning.

I HAVE however, added some words today in between real work.  While it won’t be a Zero Word Day, it certainly won’t be anything to write home about.

*Stolen from my good friend rjkeith at accessoriesnotincluded.

NaNo Progress so far

I suppose it could be presumptuous to call it progress, especially since we’re only three days in and I’m already behind the average word count.  Oh well.  I’m having fun.  Below is an excerpt from the NEW and IMPROVED Maxwell’s Silver Bullet (which I’ve decided is a working title; maybe something cleverer will occur; and then again, maybe not).

                Much of the rest of the evening was a blur.  Charlie was pretty certain she’d had another glass of wine and possibly a crab puff or two.  Now, at ten-thirty she stood at her office door fumbling with her keys.  It took four or five tries but she finally got the office door open, slipped into the reception area and stepped out of her pumps.  Leaving the lights out and weaving only a little, Charlie crossed the room to the door of her private office. 

                “Ss..strange,” she muttered on seeing the sliver of light along the bottom of the door.  “I know I didn’t leave that on.”  Charlie grabbed for the door handle and missed.  “Dammit!  Someone’s robbing me blind and I can’t get the fucking door open!”  Focusing, she tried again and this time was able to grasp the handle.  For a brief moment she wondered whether she should confront whoever might be in her office or call the Sheriff’s office.  Curiosity won out over caution and she flung the door wide.  It swung back against the wall, bounced back and slammed in Charlie face.  Angry now, she grasped the handle again and shoved the door open, stepping across the threshold ready to face down the trespasser. 

                Standing to one side of her desk near the French doors was a man.  At least Charlie thought he was a man.  He appeared to have no neck and for a moment she thought he resembled a life sized Rock’em Sock’em robot like her kid brother had played with as a child.  With his hat pulled low it was difficult to see his face but she could tell he wasn’t smiling.  The gun in his hand confirmed it.

                “Wha…what the hell?” Charlie’s voice trailed away as the blockhead shifted until he was pointing the gun directly at her.  Great, she thought, just great.  Drunk off my ass and staring down the barrel of a … what the heck is that?  Beretta?  Could be, but looks more like a Ruger….  Before she could finish the thought he whirled away and dashed through the open French doors.  Footfalls pounded across the deck leading to the boardwalk.  He was getting away! 

                “Stop right there!” Charlie thought she shouted it.  She started toward the doors to go after him but common sense kicked in as she reached the desk.  The body she tripped over might have had something to do with it too. 

Happy Halloween!

Janey’s busy recovering from the damned bug that knocked her on her ass almost a week ago.  She’s taking tomorrow off to do some other stuff and Saturday NaNo starts!  With the new/old computer up and running (fingers crossed) she hopes to kick it off with a bang Saturday morning while JD is still dreaming.

I hope to keep up with a post or two a week here during November; we’ll see how that goes.  For those of you in WP land who are also jumping into the NaNo pool – here’s to ya!  (You’ll just have to imagine the beer I’m toasting you with; I didn’t have time to hunt down a graphic.  Plus, I’m drinking coffee, not beer.)  May the words flow easy and make sense!

Finally, enjoy this old classic and have a safe, Happy Halloween!

 

Opinions please

I stumbled on a hard copy of  Maxwell’s Silver Bullet.  There may be more than one version in the folder I found, I haven’t looked through it yet.

For those regular readers out there, you may recall that the above is the title of an unfinished novel and that I am contemplating – aw hell – I actually signed up so I guess contemplation time is over.  Anyway, I decided I would try NaNoWriMo this year and hopefully give Charlie the story she deserves.

So my question for you all is:  Do I re-read the hard copy or do I just wing it – starting from scratch?  Please respond in the comments.  Serious or smartass answers are all welcome.

Thanks in advance!