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Man of Salt

7:10 a.m. Monday morning...

Black crows flew in Henry Applewhite’s dreams. Maybe it was a Poe thing?  Redemption? Atonement? He crossed his chest, raised the knife above his head. He couldn't make up his mind whether to cut on a forty five degree angle or slice it horizontally with and butter toast.  He bites. Ummm!Umm! Henry decided to slit it down the middle. He was alone but he wasn't a winner like Fleetwood Mac—most of his drug dealers were dead.  

He liked to smoke crack and reefer together. Many people died for his thirst. He shook salt over his right shoulder every morning to keep the darkness away. He was like a lame duck his seas was always red, black or green and filled with the crows of death. They were always around him; like the raven as the black bird that remained in his dreams, as the fair scavenger crow of death mystified and held out the door of sleep to his casket He used up most of his money to buy dope; he was on crack now, the secret that slipped in his brain by some big tit girlfriend: Tyra, thanks for the memories because weekend after weekend he was dropping off the moon. Sweet coffee awoke him as Honduran nectars awoke him to smells of jealous women. He bites the toast and chews down time as he steps on a filthy cockroach; just like him. Henry checked his watch. On time, cool.  Marijuana smoke floated with musk cologne. He worked on his tie knot. He liked reading that Poe shit because death of loved ones was always in his life.  He threw a hand of salt over his right shoulder.  He was crazy-obsessed with death like him and being a part of this F’d  racist country.  He died in the streets a broke-crazy Writer.  O’ so the  Raven. He was weighed down with  rejection. Stone cold rejection. Henry flew with the black crow. He checked his silk tie. It was seven-forty-five time to make money and  Henry was going down like that.


Henry looked for his keys and briefcase. He had to fly the black crow underground. He hung like a vampire on subway straps,  reading his Washington Post and not looking at you. He was lynched again going to some goddamn job. What you want a rock song? Maybe that girl you had last night in the Jungle Bar?   Edie smelled like a hot and sweet Mexican taco. In his eyes she was a game of chance.  He could still taste her  in his throat like a bottle of tequila as he remembered she was honey on a stick. 

Henry was clean and fresh.  He scanned busted dog ass faces of people going to some goddamn job. All colors in his eyes. He trembled between the Asian girl and old fart of a guy with bald head and sunglasses. All stood on the bookshelves of misery. You welcome mama. Grin and photograph a sleepy black man hanging on a modern day lynch rope to his cotton fields taken over by city buildings with little blue, white patches of sky.

Something was happening, life is hard and the newspaper tells you half-truths about crime, politics and  the destruction of the soul. All rise, and got off  in front of KFC.  No sense being worried with the rest of the Clueless in America. He shrugged and went to his office with women taking control. He was still glad being a man today. New rules of romantic combat in the work place. Henry stared up for a  thunderstorm. Women held hands with their lovers sent him over the edge. He was lonely and he needed twenty bucks to get another hit of that coke-straight He wanted to stay home and nurse a comic book but he had to get to his research gig. Military dog that he was, love letters he wanted in this real life as he went in the Cody Building and died till five.

Henry was trying to work things out as he wrote a line of poetry under Colonel Bethesda.  He was getting in trouble in front of the pigeons. He wanted to forgive everybody for having to go to some fucked up J.O.B. God help the world of  Pocahontas fine women from various Gargoyle warped office buildings. He was through for the day as the dying yellow sun became a dropped ball behind helium green oak trees up and over Pennsylvania Avenue. Vacuum people strolled* reeled, churned towards buses and cabs marched towards comers like new release cuts: Open your nose smell three feet away perfume of loaded women descended with briefcases down stairs of justice, bureaus of evidence, trace evidence of no man, or a husband on pain killers and a search for law suit husbands from redheads, blondes, brunettes, afros go to mulish drinking holes with no charge like search warrants beating your ass in a cage. One more chance as he closed his notebook, not yet finished his poem, his great, great unpublished poem dangled out his ass.

What's the big deal? He waited at the corner of seventeenth and K, warm kiss blue skies and happy with his work. He couldn't wait to get home to smoke an el primo.

In a little circle crowded circle on the corner. He huddled with other shoulders across from a frigid red light like he was at a work meeting. He saw some co-workers: Joan Avery, Steve Byrd, Kitty Brown, Big Dave and Shirley McDonald.

Henry noticed to his right an old woman with shopping cart; holding the world up like Atlas. No one greeted her; they just held their noses. Beat. She was a lost angel. He heard a strong engine. He saw a truck pile into her shopping cart. “HONNNNK! HONNNNK!  truck screamed.

The bag woman feet  flew back as she looked up into hazel-brown eyes of a guy with a nervous grin gently held her. She dropped in his arms. Beat. She felt weak as if she wasn't able to breathe. Sirens. Henry just wanted to go home and smoke another el primo. He didn't want to be part of this American pie. He shoved out through the crowd as they saw him run. 

Voices chased him.

"Hey! Mister!"

"Hey! Mannnn!"

"Heyyyy! Heyyyyy!"

Henry melted into a street crowd.  He didn't want to be seen. He felt good, disturbed but good.  She would be okay now. He missed the applause of people searching for him. He didn’t care. He was hungry in front of  Indian restaurants. He passed a pizza place on 14th and K Street; Ponzi’s.  Jazz music popped from swinging doors. He walked red brick cobbled sidewalks as he got closer to home. Henry just wanted a job, a woman and peace between him and his father.  Maybe one day?

Metallic screeching Pennsylvanian trains shot like silver arrows over cereal box roof tops, the same kind that killed his mother one drunken night inside this fist raised world-uptown D.C. People, buses, landed by like a Charlie Parker theme song with strings. It was cool, as he went by Howard University, passed the rhapsody of students on bikes or walking or talking about classes with books under their arms. Henry was finished with all that. Henry was finished. He just wanted to smoke his el primo and chill out in his fish bowl of an apartment Man! This was great to be alive, not in jail. He stopped in the bar-b-que joint on the corner of sixth and Lessing Street Sharp butt knocking women walked, talked by the window as his corner buddies sold good dope from South America and all he had to do was wave goodbye. Bobby's joint smelled saucy, aromatic salt, peppers, hot, spicy southern tones of men and women eating there dinner of corn cob, collards, ribs* sandwiches, chicken, grits^ black eye peas, chitterlings on the side. And don-'t forget the pork chops. He walked in, people knew him and nodded, he walked up to the counter and smelled it all in.    " Henry," Martha said, "barbeque sandwich...two?*

" Thanks." He watched the basketball game over the counter. It was May with cherry blossoms.  He watched the uproar by a beautiful brave heart reporter about a life being saved today. He didn't pay any attention, watched a peach-pie woman come in. She was shaped like an open bottle of coca cola, long legged and radiant. She was a Washington, D.C. cherry blossom.

She came up beside him by the counter.

"I'll have a rib dinner, to go."

“Make that two.”

"Hi!” Henry said,  he let her get closer to the counter.

She looked at him; he was a few inches taller. His demeanor was studious, teacher or professor? He was cute, with gold-button blue sport coat, white shirt, unloosened neck-tie, grey slacks and tasseled loafers," Hi, just getting off work?"

"Yeah, that's all of us," he said," my names Henry.”

“Winnie, ” she smiled, “I’m hungry.”

"Hi! Winnie! me too."

"Henry, I’m going to sit down," she  motioned to a table.

"Okay," he followed her. She sat at the large front window behind the  logo 'BOBBY'S RIB HOUSE’. It faced the corner where blue and green street busses let people off.

The joint smelled like sweet peppers from her mother’s garden in Louisiana. Brown sparrows sounded like Ray Charles songs. Henry liked her style. She was nice in a blue suit, white blouse, black pumps, leather briefcase,  short bang hair. Lawyer? All business in the middle of  rush hour. He watched her people shopped at stores, kids ran, police sirens whisked by.

 She pointed up at the television." I wonder who is this hero they talking about?."

"What hero?"

Winnie smiled at him, smiling at her. A man she just discovered checked her out over plates of good smells," The guy who saved an old lady?"

" I need you to save me."

" Silly,” she rolled her eyes.

" You have pretty eyes," he touched her hand.

" Henry, is that line going to get me in your bed?**

" No, but it might get you to come and have dinner with me at my place," he pulled his ear," I live round the comer."

Winnie stared into his soft brown eyes. He didn't threaten her with that nice mustache. Past problems with men she was under control. She smiled; it could only lead to something good with this guy who needed her to live, to fly with those Ray Charles birds singing some kind of Georgia on my mine song. He was nice; he didn't pay attention to the t v., only her. He lived around the corner, and around the coiner she left with him and their food.

She liked his one bedroom: It had green plants in the window, large fichus in the right corner under ceiling rack lights. Zebra covered seven foot sofa. A small dining room bamboo table towards the left by the kitchen, African statues on the coffee table with a giant picture of a farmhouse, fields of people He was broader than an average bachelor. Winnie licked her fingers around bookcases, stereo as she sat and ate her food with him. He turned on some music from his stereo as it was getting late and the golden sun from the blinds helped its way in the rooms of blue painted walls. She settled in, kicked her heels off and listened to him talk about his family or his job as a government cookie cutter technocrat

She talked about her career and he talked about his job. Really. His general polices as he licked his fingers about black poverty, black hunger and improving the prosperity of a complex slave world that he couldn't fix. She recognized his comments were funny. He was funny, and he poured her more wine. She wasn't going to give him none as she sucked her. thumb and talked about her high class secretary's job at the Department of Navy.

" You are someone I would like to take out sometimes,'' he said.

" We’ll see, but take me home."

“ Let me get my car keys," he asked her, " kiss?"

"Okay, be gentle," she unfolded her arms.  He kissed her slow, waxed his lips slightly touched.  She revealed tenderness, as he slightly touched her arms.

She liked him, she bought him closer.

 "Thank you," he smiled.

"Thank you."

Henry got his car keys out a coffee can in the kitchen, “Ready.” She took his hand and walked her out his apartment Henry wanted to show her a strong brother. He wasn't physically big, but a man who wasn't a drug dealer, a cat who has never been to jail. He drove fast, but tailed off when he got too close to other drivers. If he did get close, he would back off carefully. He looked in the rearview of crawling darkness as night seeped ovenhim and his black Volkswagen.

Winnie touched his hand as he handled the clutch. She was tired. She smiled and stared at him at the  red light She didn't him to know yet,  he was just right Not dangerous like she thought, but still a mystery, still a man who had secrets. A quiet man.   It would take a while before he opened up to her, but until than she would keep her legs closed and only tell him the good parts about her.  She smiled; he bit his fingernail. He wasn’t slick. He was classy.  A square who wanted to be John Wayne like a lot of men. “ You nervous?”

“Always on a first date.”

“This is not a first date , this is a get to know you meeting over a chicken platter.”

“I ‘m falling in love with you,” he smiled.

She quietly watched  through the car windows  of night stars falling from earth. She met a nice guy, less nervous now. He carried himself like a man. Maybe he was an ex-soldier?  He dressed nice. She made the right decision to go with him.

Car radio news...


“I wonder who he is?" Winnie asked.

" Sure not Henry Applewhite," he laughed.

She directed him to the third apartment building on Lloyd Street.

“You going to call me?"

" I'll call you, " he kissed her cheek on her cheek,  he got her door.

“Thank you!"


Henry watched her go inside apartment lobby. He scratched his head as he drove around street corners; excited, but worried as he passed well lighted ma and pop stores showed trails of moon dust towards urban nativity street scenes with little junkie shepherd boys. He went down Upshur Avenue and took a right on 13th. His mother dead, father still alive with a young girl and new family, some aunts and some cousins left around. One uncle still around .like a fruit loop. He shrugged at the white quarter moon over top the Beacon Hill Apartments. He had bills, should he collect his award... will his quiet world be shattered if he showed his face? He liked living under the covers as a patriotic act of human feces.

He steered right on Meredith Street with tortured thoughts, parked his car in back of his building and sleep tonight as a government blue blood. He said his prayers…

Now, I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep…

If I should die before I wake,

I pray the Lord my soul to take…


Thursday afternoon after work Henry stood in his kitchen drinking a beer. He thought about his heroism and coming from his closet, desk and typewriter.  He listened to some John Coltrane. He played like it was going to be a blood bath and no boxing gloves, phone rang. His cousin, Mike was in the same building. Two floors down. He came up with a sweet potato gal. She had on a long brown jacket, black mini skirt, raised big tits that burned through a white cashmere v neck sweater. With5 brown cat eyes like she was sleepy, but she was hot like an Arizona wind. They hugged. Mike his favorite cousin, he was taller; and Henry really liked him. He was wise and like a tattoo on his life. They grew up together around D.C, They went out drinking and dancing around the Jeffersonian town. But it was Tuesday night and Henry couldn't go out to forget about winning an award and moving around and chilling and having people with a lot of guts asking him for attention, money or his blood.

“Henry let me introduce Kelly."                            .

"Hey, Kelly," Henry nodded, "having a beer, getting ready to smoke an el primo."

Mike pulled out a joint from his shirt pocket.

"Okay..." Henry got the matches, Kelly was on the couch, watched his tiny color t.v. and faced north like a Kansas jay hawk.

" Hey! man, who was that girl I saw you with?” Mike crossed his arms, leaned on the refrigerator. He glared at him like he had caught something nice to prepare himself for. '

"Winnie," smoke was getting him to slow down his thinking-mellowed jazz in the apartment as trumpet came in peace. He passed him the joint" Nice."

“Minnie?" he handed him marijuana cigarette.

Henry shook his head, "Winnie.”

"How you like it?'”

“Good.” he handed it to him. He watched him puff as if he was going to suck up the whole goddamn planet in his lungs.

"It's  smooth."

"Yeah! like us!"

He slapped him five.

Henry held the power of the weed down his throat.  The room spun, and he wanted to cry and sing about all the shit in his life.

"You okay Henry?" Mike took the joint.

"Just tired," he moved to the living room where the girl was, "I see you tomorrow."

"Okay, see you tomorrow, " Mike handed him the joint.

"Mike, thanks^" he opened the door.

"Come on baby, my cousin got to get up in the morning."

"We all do," Henry scratched his head.

"Okay! bye! Henry!" Mike asked his girl. "hungry baby?"


"What you want?"

"I got a taste for some chicken,” she snuggled against him, “I think Mister Wings is still open."

“Night cuz! Okay! baby!” Mike winked, closed the door. 

Wednesday morning a diamond sun opened his eyes. Henry stretched from his six o’ clock dreams, his yawn mixed with thoughts of cream and sugar in his coffee. He liked his peace, his silence with his thoughts. His thoughts. Not being bothered, uncomplicated and less than his medical deductible. He made his bed, went to the bathroom and took a teaspoon of olive oil.  Sneezed, wrapped his red and gold tie through his button-downed collar Mirror. He reminded himself of his father of course he didn't want to be like him. Not on speaking terms, never a day he didn't think about him thought . Henry and him were close when he was a little boy. Memories. Big Bill used to take  them to McDonald's every Saturday evening,  his sister  and his mother.

His mama Sweet Betty Applewhite died of bad  judgment and a taste for bad men. She died of pneumonia and Henry died in that grave with  her,  probably his father did too. But Big Bill had to go  to  jail for seven years. It killed his mother. Big Bill killed her old boyfriend.  It was a Bob Dale. Nigger already had two wives. What he want with his mama? After that he kind of lost him, especially after Henry and his sister went off to college. He turned the television on and watched WDDC.

Time for tanned,  muscle face, Nordic newscaster in a grey two-button suit gives his news update...

"There was a shooting at Mister Wings Restaurant last night. Police apprehended the suspect, but sadly three people died in the shoot-out before it was all over…”

“Damn!” Henry got his cup, "welcome to the real world."  He shook his head, reached and flipped through his Time magazine. He read an article on the mysteries of the Supreme Court He smiled at the fart face old men scratching themselves under their robes. "These old guys are mil of shit," than his phone rang. He snatched  it off the kitchen wall.


“Henry this is your Aunt Beth," she asked, “did you see the news?" She was sitting in her cushy rocking chair, her round upright body shook as she scrunched tissue in her fist.

"Uh! Noooo!."

“Mike was killed at that restaurant."

“Killed!" his chest became heavy as the phone got hot in his hands. He fell against the wall, to his knees. He dropped the phone in his hand. " Nooo! Noooo! Nooooo!"

She cried,“Yes, baby, Henry, he was killed in that chicken restaurant robbery." Her right leg shook, "Henry come over to grandma's house for the wake.”  

" Okay aunt Beth, okay,"  he swiped his eyes," bye!"  He hung up. The sorrow in him was terrible. He wanted to die too. He wanted to die with all the sorrows of the world; He didn't want to be on this earth anymore as he slapped his tears. He called his job," Good morning, Mrs. Bent.. .this is Mister Applewhite," tell Mrs. Carlton I won't be in work  today.  I got death in my... in my family." Henry ached like an enemy tore him apart.  He felt like he was robbed, he was lost-screwed as his cousin was gone.

He tried to concentrate on her voice," I am sorry Henry, I’ll  tell her." He hung up, wiped his eyes, looked around and fell on his bed before he could see his family. He was weak, tired and didn't understand why?  He recalled; rushed to the cookie jar on the table as he slapped his eyes. He examined the moon smiling porcelain face of the jar. It was a nice piece of craftsmanship he used to hide money, or memories of his life. He opened the jar top, sat down at the table and pulled papers, money, drug paraphernalia and photos of him, Mike, Eddie, Roy, Jerry, Duck, and Boo Peters. One photo had them sitting under a giant honeysuckle tree. Year end, they would go to a summer picnic in Rock Creek Park or one picture of them hugging up on midnight. women at a New Year’s Eve party. He wasn't satisfied "Why Mike?" He smiled, filtered his fingers over the photos of Mike and him tussling in the snow, leaning on a hilly lawn at a barbeque, sold the lives, footloose. It was about time they owned the sun, the whole fuckm* world. Two cousins grew up together like a Kenny Logan's song.

They were black crows pecking the flesh of the earth with respect and a low legacy of old pictures and smart afros; them sitting with their grandma

Two bookends in the business of growing up together, eating up the world. Not knowing, not knowing before they moved on to their own worlds like music not fitting in. Just working, going into the world and playing with it like a ball of yawn. Play right, play hard. They were heavy into everything from 1966 to 1968. Jazz man, jazz. He thought about * it and remembered Mike falling drunk asleep in a hot club, how he had to get him out before some pretty woman picked his pocket Mike saved him one time when he was stuck in the snow in Detroit with some voodoo woman, got him the money to get him out of the icy fingers of her love. "Why Mike?" Damn, he wished jie was there to save him one more time. more time. Henry started to write a poem on a piece of paper to Mike, he wanted him to know

that he understood him, he walked with him as they were like tight roots from the God's


















Henry folded the poem, stuck it in the cookie jar. He was hurt and mad, ripped off his

tie like it was all the possessions he had and he didn't give a shit anymore.

Ivy vines branched around his grandmother's house as he parked his car on a street of dwarf chestnut oak trees. It was a quiet street of proud black folks, a street he grew up on, now he had to come back for a funeral.

Henry kissed his little cousins playing. Catch me and tag the kid in the chest when you run out of time. Down you go. He smiled, and went inside the house that tackled his heart Go deep as he looked to his left in the living room

white French doors. He  reached down and squeezed his aunt Beth like a ball of love.

" Hi, baby," she said," you okay?"

" I'm fine aunt Beth," he hugged her," he's still with us, he's with us," tears fell. He didn’t want them too. He went and hugged his sister tight, his cousin Sheila, his cousin Debbie, his cousin Mark, Tim, Russ and cousin Kirk, his friends Sharon, Jackie, Teddy, Riley the green sisters, Jackie Harris, Ronnie and Uncle Drew and more. They were all their with his Uncle who was gray like the clouds in the house a tragedy like this made everybody older, physically hurt Mike was a handsome, nice guy with always a twinkle in his eye as if he had a smile for you or anyone. He was a couple of years older like a ship floating. This was too much; his cousin His sister gave him a glass of wine.

"Henry how you holding up?"

"I'm okay sis," he sat down on the silk red and gold sofa under a giant fleur de leis gold. frame mirror. The room of apples and nice perfume from well-dressed folks bringing in food amongst the house plants and big picture window looking out on the cobbled streets where they all grew up and lost and found each other. Henry sighed, hugged his sister. He rocked her like they were kids all over again. Tears nodded around as other friends of the family, neighbors bought flowers and condolences over. No music. Cake, chicken, salads spread across the table in the dining room of pictures, friends talked quietly with steadied approaches to Aunt Betty as she kept her feet up on a stool. Old friends came over to the house. Sun drowned them in the living room on such a terrible day. Henry saw his old girlfriend. Wait. He watched his true love come in the house. Barbara Rainey graced the room she came over to him with a hug. Friends we could never love enough. And sadly they could never be together. She was afraid of him, afraid of his power over her.

"Barbara, how you been?"

u Okay," she hugged him," you?" It was difficult for her to see him. Henry was so handsome. No regrets from the young man she left when they were sixteen. She didn't want him. She didn’t want his baby. She would have to give him everything. Barbara missed him. She wanted Henry to hold her. She was too afraid, because his love would drown her and she couldn’t swim.

“Let's go outside."

“Okay!” she hugged a few more friends of the family.

They went out front by the fence, as his little cousins were still playing on the streets playing hopscotch. Sparrows plucked crumbs, the garden was filled with sunflowers that made her look even more beautiful with her dark eyes, her African-Indian hair, her yellow skin in her blue dress that was tight in the top, and flowery loose down the bottom. She was still a wonder to behold and he could never look at her in the. eyes, because he would simply become lost

" We always meet at a funerals."

She swung on the fence." Remember this fence?"

" I remember us swinging on it at night…we had fun.”

He moved the fence with his knee, " Yeah fun…you married yet?"

"Do you see my husband idiot?”

 “Dumb luck."

"When are we going to get serious?"

Henry got closer, held her." You not ready yet"

"I'm not?" she laughed and swung herself off the fence, “more like you, not ready yet.”

 She gave him her phone number," When you get serious."

He kissed her. She hugged him like good medicine for her as tears came up from heir stomach and eyes.

"I'm glad you came," he said.

"Me too," she stepped back, sniffed over this mess with Mike and meeting him over their, life that they could never decide like an old item that would take care of itself

" You okay?" he thumb tears from her big brown eyes.

" I'm okay," she slapped her cheeks.

"Take a walk around the block with me," he took her hand, lifted it over little girl cousins skipping rope and counting all the way to ten." I want to see what new families have come in the neighborhood."

"Curious, huh?"

"I missed the place."

Barbara wiped her eyes, “I do too.” She hugged him, laughed as they took a little walk to clear the air, and their own imperfect lives as she knew that after this day they wouldn't see each other again for a while. It was how it was, and how it was meant to be as they listened to cars, busses and birds sound off in a blue and pink morning.

Sunshine followed them from corner street lamp posts under electrical wires. Brick colored houses slapped tight with short step stoops and small gardens in a small-big city that exploded worlds; you could see the dome of the D.C capitol from backyards to help you live a better life. They went across the street, made a right on M Street towards grocery stores that . use to have the names of Abe's, Nathan's, Hymies, or Goldberg's grocer. What's the gag, it happened one evening when King died. Punch line, get the joke—Henry thought we were all black Jews now, as they laughed back to Ramparts Street

Sunshine bloomed into a red onion as angel shaped clouds drifted over children playing in front of their houses. A car blew his horn at her. Yes! she was all that. Henry held Barbara's hand as if they were children but filled up with the sadness and a good place in their heart for a friend. Handcuffed to the past when they all chased each other around the big old oak tree. They played cowboys and Indians   on small comer streets that swallowed them and spit them out to become strong tree trunks except for some like his cousin and we keep dying too young. When Henry entered the house with Barbara  he saw his father by the chimney mantle beside his aunt Rose. With a short scotch in his hand; he had on denim overalls and the smell of dust, smudged red mud across his chest, and canvas work boots on—a dusty hard working man with arms the size of cedars. He was still at work with the gloss of 1-95 highway construction site in his concrete face. Henry hugged him up.

"Hey, Pop!"

Big Bill hugged him, “How you doing son?”

" Okay," Henry nodded," I see you on the job." He could smell the drunk coming up in his father's skin.

Aunt Beth fanned herself in Uncle Joe's arms, he rocked her steady to Mahalia songs in the angels flapping wings.

" I came through after I heard the news, " he winked at Miss Rolle who still lived across the street.

" Where's Miss T?" Henry asked this out of respect.

" My wife had to go to work tonight at the hospital,  Henry she wanted me to tell you, hello." Bill went around and  shook old friends" Son, you need some money?

 "Pop I’m okay, give Pat some money.  I’m working for the Energy Department."

Pat kissed her father and her brother. “Hi! Dad.”

“Hi! Honey, how is law school?”

“Fine dad, make sure you make it to my graduation.”

“I will baby,” he hugged her.

“I’ll tell Miss T,” she winked over at Henry, “and what my brother been doing?” She noticed him entranced with his old girlfriend, “same thing.”

Henry watched Barbara standing with her sister Diane  in the vestibule. They whispered. Time would never be right for them. Memories of swinging on the fence together would die as a memory. Life made him a fool and he would figure it out one day. With her or without her.  Time would never go back for him.  He watched his aunts and cousins crying, hugging each other as the church nurse got smelling sauce out.

Henry felt alone.  He reflected on the death of his mother when he was a little boy. Nobody could help him, he had to pull himself through it alone.

Henry watched his father Big Bill kissed and hugged  all the sad beautiful women. Henry mother was a woman who was too sweet and loved too much. Love can kill. A woman who had a touch for the drink, his son barely touched the stuff. He looked like him with a wide spread buffalo nose and deep dish brown eyes that said; give me the world, give me the world now. Henry was strong and would never give up, never quit through all the shit coming his way. " Have a drink with me."

" Okay Pop," he got a beer and stood with him.

“How you been dad?”

“Great, got to have my prostate checked.”

“Get it checked.”

“Yes, Mr. Applewhite,” he laughed.

“Thanks dad.”

“You held up well, since…”

“Okay! dad! cut! I know what you mean.”

Henry watched over the mourners like angels on high. He smiled through tears, hugged friends, laughed at Mike's yesterday's jokes, kissed old friends to be here or send flowers for a sad song.

Reverend Peters was a worldly man with a voice like a boom box and wind. He came to give prayer, solace to the family and calmed things down as they each must go towards the light alone. He wiped his face with a handkerchief, waved his hand like a poster child for God.

uOle' lord help this family to get through this trial of losing a good man, a good son because these times will always be rough, will always be rocky...we just have to stand together with you lord! And see it through! Ride it! Swim it! through better times with you ole' Lord here on this earth, Amen!''

Aunt Ester waved a church fan over Aunt Betty's face. The Reverend dabbed   his brow  and' sipped a cold glass of lemonade after his prayer. His father left after this. He slipped Henry some money. Big Bill left in his black Ford pick-up and drove off as if he won the battle of love between the both of them. In the midst of baked macaroni, potato salad, pork chops, salad, apple pie, fried chicken, smoked neck bones and collards filled up his belly. Tearful friends of the family continued to visit in the house of the black crow. Henry saw from the comer of his eye inside the living room a familiar face and long wild white hair of a woman approached his Aunt Betty. They hugged and cried.  

It didn't make any sense?  He stood alone and sipped his punch, caught a glimpse of this woman generate a hug of kindness from his aunt sitting with her feet propped up. She wore a long pleated blue dress of white lace collars, pearls, silver white hair and watery blue eyes. She was in her eighties. She glanced up and stared at him through the crowd, “You!”

Henry couldn't believe it. He almost couldn't believe it wasn't some crazy dream; his aunt was a maid in many white folks home. Miss Fairchild was one of them.  Henry cringed. "I'm the one.”  He listened as the room of family and friends stared at the old woman’s gold tip cane at his chest.

'Miss Fairchild this is my nephew Henry," Aunt Beth said.

"Henry, come here." Miss Fairchild smiled.

“Yes mam.” She hugged him. Henry thought she smelled like summer flowers. He hugged her around her body frozen in time.

“Thank you Henry Applewhite.”

Henry cried in the middle of a roaring black and white sea.


The End

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We would like to give our thanks to Rod Jordan for starting a new forum discussion this morning about Literary Agents and Book proposals. We hope to read more insights like this from you authors. For the literary-agents that are among us here at Indie Writers Support, we are all looking forward to your participations.

I recently had a literary agent ask for a synopsis of my latest novel, Code Name: Fountain of Youth. I shuttered! This is not an easy task. For starters, my manuscript contains 389 pages. How in the heck can I summarize this puppy into one or two pages?

The first think I did was look up the definition. It read: A synopsis conveys the narrative explanation of the problem or plot...the the book ends and who changes from beginning to end of the story. It should include the characters feelings and emotions!

Start with a strong paragraph identifying your protagonist problems, conflict and setting.

Next, convey major plot turns or conflict necessary and any characters necessary to make sense.

Finally, indicate how major conflicts are resolved in the last paragraph.

Easy, peasy right?

So, here's what I'm thinking...I'll show you mine if you show me yours. Perhaps we can help each other out. What do you think?

Bob Jordan

Clanci's Novels

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Inner Space Book One A sample chapter.



By Merlin Fraser

Chapter 1

What a complete and utter waste of bloody time. These were the thoughts of Detective Inspector Nick Burton as he returned to his home patch after a fruitless trip to Wales.

He was trying to imagine if there had been an alternative reason for his boss to want him out of the office and out of town. He didn’t think there were any secrets between them. After all, they were a good team as well as good friends, so why the silly subterfuge?

However, jammed in the window seat of an overcrowded train carriage sitting next to a man of very ample girth, whose breath smelled of stale beer and onions, is not ideal to conducive thought. Opposite him across the dividing table sat the man’s wife, a woman of equal size, who fidgeted constantly and managed to kick him every time she moved, with a sickly grin and “sorry dear” every time it happened.

As a distraction, he tried looking out of the grimy rain streaked window, but with the gathering gloom outside and the bright lights inside, all he could see was his own miserable reflection. He grimaced at the sight of the life battered face looking back at him. It appeared older than his forty-five years. Once upon a time, it had been a handsome face, sitting on top of a well built body. However, in those far off days he had had a relatively carefree, easy going attitude to life and he enjoyed the challenges life threw his way.

Twenty odd years a policeman had changed all that, carefree became careworn, easy going had become embittered. The all new politically correct police force and a legal system that cared more for the rights of the criminal than their victims had taken its toll. Add to that a broken childless marriage, a receding hairline, an expanding waistline and the promise of a stomach ulcer, and you had his life in a nutshell.

He dragged his thoughts back towards the half assed reason as to why he was even on this train in the first place. His boss, Chief Superintendent Daniel Davies, or Dapper Dan as he was more commonly called, had sent him on this fool’s errand to review evidence held at another police station. Evidence that, as far as he could see, was completely irrelevant to anything they were currently working on. He was doubly annoyed, given his well known aversion to travel, that Dapper would send him on a job that could so easily have been handled by a first year constable.

Courtesy of his recent travelling companions and the time-wasting exercise, he was still fuming two hours later in the darkness of late evening as he walked towards his own police station.

As he pushed the front door open if he was expecting a sea of calm efficiency, which was the norm around here, he was in for a shock. The place was in uproar, and most of the noise was coming from his colleagues.
There, milling in front of him, was a weird mixture of uniform and plain clothed policemen. The two different day watches were strangely intermingled; all seemed to be talking at once.

He pushed his way through the crowd to the front desk and the uniformed sergeant that stood there. As he approached, he could see the sergeant was not a happy man. His facial expression seemed to darken even further when he saw Nick coming.

He asked, “Tom, you mind telling me what the hell is….”

The rest of the question died on his lips as the sergeant spoke almost in a whisper, “They’ve arrested Dapper.”

Nick’s jaw dropped. “What? Arrested… arrested Dan… what the hell for?”
“Murder,” was the reply.

Nick shook his head. “No way, that’s ridiculous, Dan arrested for murder this is some sort of sick joke. Let me through, I want to see him.”

The sergeant stood firm, his hand on the folding lid of the counter; he replied as calmly as he could, “Look I know how you feel, but I can’t let you in Nick.”

“The hell you say,” Nick replied. “The head of CID arrested for murder, and the whole station standing out here with their collective thumb up their backsides.”

Now the desk sergeant was getting angry. “Look around you sonny Jim, we’re all here because we’ve been thrown out. CIB is all over this station your office is off limits to everybody, especially you by express orders.”

“Who’s bloody orders?” Nick demanded.

“Mine actually.”

Nick spun around so fast his vision blurred and a mild wave of nausea hit him. He put a hand on the counter to steady himself as he looked into the cold blue eyes of Superintendent Margaret Joy, recently promoted and made Divisional HQ liaison with the Complaints Investigation Bureau (CIB), what the Americans call Internal Affairs.

A more misnamed person would be hard to find – small in stature, she was as hard as nails and hated throughout the force for her fast tracked promotion through the ranks. Mostly, if rumours were to be believed, at the expense of her more experienced colleagues whose backs she had stabbed, robbing them of their successes. Plus the overzealous pursuit of her new job put her at odds with practically every officer in the force, and it seemed that in her opinion everybody was guilty until they proved otherwise. Her offhand way of dealing with her job had turned officer against officer and friend against friend.

“Of course,” Nick spat the words at her. “I should have recognised your unmistakable handiwork a mile off. The ring of steel jack boots tiptoeing around that, and the sickly smell of burning flesh…..”
Superintendent Joy just stood there, a slow smile growing at the corners of her mouth, but the smile didn’t reach her eyes. “Careful Inspector, insubordination to a senior officer comes under my remit as well. Besides we need to talk.”

“Talk?” Nick said, surprised at his own calmness. “Just what the hell do you suppose we have to talk about? If you want to talk to me, you’ll have to trump up some charge and arrest me, and even then I won’t speak to you unless there is a lawyer present.”

Her smile widened. “You’re over wrought and upset, I can understand that. It can wait until the morning. In the meantime, you’re suspended from duty pending further enquiries.”

The colour was starting to rise in Nick’s face. Their conversation was starting to draw the attention of the whole room. “Suspended? What possible grounds could you come up with to suspend me?”

“I would have thought that was obvious, wouldn’t you? Your long association with the accused for a start, everyone knows how close you are. For all I know, you might be an accessory to the murder, and until I can establish the facts….”

Nick took a step towards her, then checked himself. “My God! You can thank your lucky stars you’re a woman, because I wouldn’t take crap like that from a man. You have no grounds to suspend me, I’m not some wet behind the ears constable that you can ride roughshod over. But if you want to pursue the matter, we’ll go to the Chief Constable right now.”

The room was now still and silent. Superintendent Joy realised she had gone too far and it was time to back away. “Have it your way, for now, but be warned I am your superior officer and I will not tolerate another such public outburst.”

And before Nick could say anything else, she turned on her heel and marched from the room.

Nick was trembling with anger. “That bloody woman, who the hell does she think she is?” He pushed his way back to the counter and the desk sergeant. “Who’s in charge upstairs? Tell them I’m here and I want to see Dan.”

The sergeant smiled at him. Not many stood their ground before Superintendent Joy, and it had been amusing to watch. “Dan’s not here, he wasn’t arrested here, and we don’t know where they’ve got him. The first we knew there was anything wrong was when ‘Joy to the World’ walked in with her goon squad and started to chuck their weight around.”

“That’s it, I’m out of here! If anybody needs me, I’ll be at headquarters,” and with that Nick stormed out into the street.

The cold night air hit him immediately, and brought him down to earth with a bump. As he walked through the cold wet streets his thoughts raced, what the hell is going on? Dapper Dan arrested for murder! He shook his head… No, impossible, some huge misunderstanding, it has got to be, there is no conceivable way that Dan would take someone else’s life.

Who the hell is he supposed to have killed anyway? No one had told him that, mind you he hadn’t asked. His mind turned to all the cases they were currently working on. He could think of several lowlife villains currently under investigation that would make the world a better and safer place if they were no longer among the living. But Shit floats; sink one turd, and another one just pops up to take its place.

The only thing that he could think of was that in some extreme case, Dan must have been provoked or somehow caught so completely off guard that he overreacted. But one question kept nagging at him, why had Dan sent him out of town on such a stupid waste of time? Why today? Were the two connected? Nothing was making any sense.

The night air had cooled his anger and cleared his head. He still hadn’t a clue what was going on, but he was determined to find out and before the night was much older. He hailed a passing taxi and headed for the centre of town and police headquarters.

As he entered the building, he had to show his ID card to the constable on duty, and then he had to sign in before he could see anyone. He had already passed at least six people before he saw anyone he recognised or knew from Adam. He made his way to the duty Inspector’s office and knocked on the door, only opening it when a polite female voice called out “enter.”

He recognised her at once: Sandra Goodwood, quite a few years younger than him, but they had worked on a couple of cases together when she was in CID. “Is the Chief in?” he asked, already knowing the answer.

She looked up from the papers on her desk peering over the top of her glasses and said, “Don’t be daft, he’s off to some wingding or other, left hours ago, in fact I think all the seniors are attending. Anything I can do?”

Nick went in and closed the door. “You’ve heard about Dapper, I suppose?”

Taking her glasses off she smiled, “Nick, I’m so sorry, I don’t know what to say…”

“You could tell me it’s not true, you could tell me where they’re holding him.”
“Don’t you know? Dan’s been charged with murder.”

“You mean arrested?”

Rising from behind her desk, she shook her head as she came towards him. “No, I mean charged. He was standing over the body in the hospital when they arrested him. He’s confessed… signed a statement and everything.”

The colour drained from Nick’s face, and he slumped into a chair. “I don’t understand…Dan would never…it doesn’t make any sense. Who the hell did he kill? Where is he… is he here… can I see him?”

Sandra was standing over him, her hand on his shoulder. “I think you need to go home. Yes, he’s here but they won’t let anybody see him, especially you of all people. Come back in the morning when the seniors are around. They’ll be able to get you in to see him.”

“Is he alright? Does he need anything? A… a lawyer, has he seen a lawyer?”

“He’s fine, as far as I know. And no, there’s been no lawyer, he hasn’t asked for one, says there’s no need.”
Nick sat there white as a ghost, he didn’t stand up… he didn’t think he could. Sandra was on the verge of offering him a stiff drink when she remembered he didn’t drink any more, or couldn’t, to be more precise.

The room fell silent. All of a sudden, Nick felt tired and sick. Shakily, he rose to his feet, holding the back of the chair for support.

Sandra said, “Let me get the duty car to take you home! Get some rest, start again in the morning. Honestly, there’s nothing you can do tonight.”

Her words were barely penetrating his brain. It sounded as if his hands were over his ears; he heard the buzz of a phone and felt her arm gently supporting him. She led him towards a door that mysteriously looked both open and closed at the same time. The door moved and took on the shape of a big burly policeman. He heard muffled words, “Take him home… get him to bed… stay with him if necessary….”

The mist closed in, and the voices stopped.

The next morning, Nick awoke with a start. He was lying face down on a bed but had little recollection as to whose bed it might be or where. His first thought was that it must still be the middle of the night, given the darkness of the room. He lay there, quite still, trying to gather his thoughts, listening for any telltale clue as to where he was. He had no memory of going home, in fact, as far as he could recall his last clear memory was talking to Sandra Goodwood, but exactly how long ago that had been he couldn’t tell.

It was no good; he could hear nothing, and his head ached. He needed to get up, he fumbled around in the dark until his hand struck something hard at the bedside. Gently, he felt for the edge and moved his fingers over the surface, until he touched something that felt like the base of a lamp. Running his fingers up the side he found the little switch just below the bulb itself. He pressed it, and the room lit up before him.

It was his bedroom. He was lying on the wrong side of the bed, still in his street clothes with a loose blanket thrown over him. He thought of Sandra. Nah! Probably one of her men, the total lack of finesse as to his present state suggested the delicate touch of a beat bobby.

He swung his feet to the floor and went in search of his slippers. The bedside clock said 05:36. A good strong cup of coffee was called for, and as he waited for it to brew, he threw off his clothes and wrapped himself in his dressing gown. He knew he must look a sight and in need of a bath and a shave, but he needed coffee first.

On his next journey towards his tiny kitchen, he saw the little red winking light on the telephone that meant there was a message waiting. Even that was made to wait its turn. With a mug of steaming coffee in hand, he wandered back to the phone – it shouldn’t be that important. Anybody who needed him urgently had his mobile number. He pressed the rewind and waited for the machine to click and whir its way back to the start.

“Nick! It’s Dan. Listen, I don’t know when you’ll get this message but I imagine by now all hell has broken loose.”

“Christ! That’s an understatement and a half,” Nick said aloud as the message continued.

“Most of what you have heard is probably true, and by now the CIB will be all over the place. Whatever else you do, stay away from me. That’s an order, probably the first I’ve ever given you, but I mean it! Stay right out of it or ‘Joy to the World’ will try and drag you in as well. What’s done is done. I’ve no regrets, and there’s nothing you or anyone else can do to help me. Stay at home, go sick or take some leave, all will become clear if you stay at home.” The line went dead.

Second cup of coffee in hand, Nick played the message twice more before taking the little tape out of the machine and replacing it with a brand new one. Superintendent Joy’s goons would undoubtedly search his flat, with or without his blessing, so there was no point leaving them any gifts. The fact that the message was there at all was testament that he had not been searched already. He thought, more fool you Margaret Joy, but there again you were always a piss poor detective. In her shoes he would have searched his place as soon as Dan had been arrested.

Standing under the power shower, his one real luxury, he let the hot water knock the ache out of his shoulders while his brain tried to make sense of what was going on. His shock and the denial were over; it was true, and his friend and mentor these past seven years was indeed guilty of murder. But whom had he murdered and, more importantly, why? He had to know, even if it meant facing Dan and asking him.

Washed, shaven and in clean clothes, he felt a lot better than he did last night. He phoned the station and talked to the duty sergeant, who informed him that the goon squad was still there. Apparently, they had spent the night packing everything up: computers, files, even the wastepaper baskets from the CID office. They had carted it all away in a hired white van. Good luck to them, thought Nick. The sergeant ended with, “Superintendent Joy left a message that she wants to see you here at ten o’clock.”

Nick replied with a smile. “If she asks, you haven’t seen or talked to me and I don’t seem to be answering my mobile. If I don’t have an office to work in, I might as well take the day off.”

“No problem sir,” was the reply. “Anyway, I’ll be off duty long before she even gets here.”

Nick heard the line go dead, and he listened an extra few seconds just in case there were any telltale clicks before he also hung up.
Decisions, decisions, thought Nick. Bowl of cornflakes or a bacon sarnie at the local greasy spoon on his way to headquarters? He stared into the small fridge, not enough milk for cornflakes. Ah well! Such is life.

It had just turned nine when he entered the headquarters building. A casual glance through a side window told him that none of the senior officers had made it in yet. Obviously a good night was had by all, he thought. Although how they could just go out on a free binge with one of their own languishing in a cell downstairs was beyond him. Not something you need to dwell upon, Nick me boy, he thought to himself, the chances of you hitting those dizzy heights are a million to one. Then another thought chilled his brain. He knew one person who was clawing her way up the greasy pole, and he shivered at the prospect.

The duty custody sergeant popped his mug of tea under the counter as he saw Nick approaching. “I’ve come to see Chief Superintendent Davies,” he said as calmly as he could.
The man looked down at his desk and picked up a clipboard. “You’re not on me list of people who’s allowed to see him. Besides I don’t think you’re even allowed in here, are you, sir?”

“Look sergeant, what harm can it do? He’s already confessed and been charged, so where’s the problem? I only want to see if there’s anything he needs, a change of clothes, a toothbrush or something.”

“Five minutes is all you got and you have to talk to him from the passage, no going in there, and if anybody comes you pulled rank on me, alright?”

“Fair enough,” Nick replied and followed the man to the cells, where with a big bunch of keys he opened one of the doors and then moved a respectful distance away.

The sight that greeted Nick did little to improve his darkening mood. There, hunched on the hard narrow cot, was his friend looking tired, drawn and a little used.

Everybody knew him as Dapper Dan Davies, a good old fashioned copper, honest and well respected by all, even those he nicked. He was a tall and well built man from a fairly well to do family. His financial independence allowed him to indulge in his passion for being well groomed. He always wore immaculate tailor-made three piece suits over handmade shirts and coordinating ties. There was always a touch of gold about him from his cuff links to his father’s old pocket watch with its chain strung across his waistcoat.

None of that was apparent from the tired unshaven wreck of a man sitting there before him. He had been stripped down to the essentials, the neck of his shirt gaped open, and the double cuffs of his shirt hung open and dangling below his hands. The belt was missing from his trousers, as were the laces from his shoes. Rank had no privilege here. Nick felt the colour rising up his neck at the thought of Joy’s goons manhandling this man out of his clothes and searching everything.

The old man looked up, and it was clear from his expression he was not at all pleased to see his colleague. “Just what part of stay away from me didn’t you understand, Inspector? God Almighty man, get away from me and stay away.”
Nick looked crest fallen. In all their years together Dan had never pulled rank or even spoken to him in such a way. “I… I only came to see… if there was anything you wanted… needed…”

“No, no there isn’t, just get away from here.” The earlier sting was out of his voice now and he just sounded tired.

“Did those evil bastards keep you up all night? Did you have a lawyer with you? At least let me get you one of those…..” The words were tumbling out in a torrent.

“Go home Nick, go home and stay there, is that clear? Everything you need to know is there. Now, if you have any respect left for me, get the hell out of here.”

Nick was ready to start raving with more questions, but what would be the use? It was clear that his presence here was far from welcome. The fact that he didn’t know why hurt him as much as if Dan had struck him in the face. He grabbed the door to the cell and slammed it shut with such force that the noises echoed around the hall.

“Sit there and rot if that’s what you want!” he shouted as he marched past the policeman with the keys.

There was nothing to be gained from staying here, it wasn’t his case, and as Superintendent Joy had so nicely pointed out he might even be involved. Back outside he wandered aimlessly, until the cry of a street news vendor caught his attention.

“Senior Policeman arrested for Murder! Read Allaboutit.”

Nick almost ran to the newsstand, elbowing his way forward as he grabbed the paper from the man’s hand. Quickly he handed over some money and was scanning the headlines as he walked away. He read over the sensational opening sentences looking for some hard facts, suddenly his hands tightened on the newspaper as he read:

Late yesterday afternoon, detective Chief Superintendent Daniel Davies was arrested for the murder of a patient at the St. Anne’s hospital. According to eyewitness reports, he offered no resistance as staff restrained him while the police were called.
The murdered man was 34-year old Colin Murray, a long-term patient of the hospital. Mr. Murray who, according to a senior member of the hospital staff, was completely paralysed from the neck down following a car accident fifteen years ago and would have been unable to fend off any attack. Also due to his paralysis, his vocal cords were damaged and he would have been unable to call out for help. In this seemingly motiveless attack, police and staff are completely baffled as to why Chief Superintendent Davies would commit such a crime. This highly respected officer of local law enforcement is of course well known to this newspaper, and we believe there must be a plausible explanation, but it escapes our reasoning at this time. A police spokesperson said it was far too early to say anything…

Nick read on but there was nothing more he could learn, at least he now knew who if not why. He stuffed the newspaper in a waste bin and hailed a passing taxi.

“Where to mate?” the taxi driver asked.

Good question, he thought, where the hell am I going? “Just drive west for the moment.”

As the vehicle moved away from the kerb, he asked himself the question again, where to? There is no point going to the station and into the waiting clutches of Superintendent Joy. He still was not in the mood for another session with her or to run the risk of getting himself suspended. Can’t go back to the flat, even Joy’s goons would be waiting there by now… I need somewhere… somewhere I can think in peace and quiet, the library, yes! That’ll do.

“Can you drop me at the central library, driver?”

“That’s east that is, not west…. Still, it’s your money!” There came an angry blast of a car horn from somewhere close behind them as the taxi driver hastily changed lanes, apparently without signalling.

Two hours later, stomach rumbling with hunger, he was no further forward. This is pathetic, he thought to himself. I have the biggest goddamn database of criminal information at my disposal and here I am sitting in a bloody library like a penny ante news hack.

He had been half-heartedly trawling though microfiche records of fifteen year old newspapers. Again, he had no idea what he was looking for; car accidents, even ones that leave their victim paralysed, was hardly front page stuff. Let’s face it… people get flattened every day, tragic but hardly newsworthy.

Of course, he had to admit to himself that he was not actually looking for anything in particular he was just whiling away the time, or more precisely hiding. But hiding from what? He was not a criminal, he hadn’t done anything wrong so why, against all logic, was he ducking and diving around the city like a common villain? There was only one reason he could think of, joyless Superintendent Joy. Even here, other than his dislike for the woman, why avoid her? True, a small part of him realised that his disappearance would be a great sense of annoyance to her, and that gave him some pleasure. But why not face the cow? Get it over and done with, after all what could he tell her that would advance her case one step?

Then he smiled – what case? There had been a murder, and the murderer had been apprehended and confessed – hardly crime of the century stuff. It would be almost laughable if Dan was not involved. They had got their man, so why was she still stomping through all their files? There again, maybe she wasn’t. He hadn’t checked in lately; perhaps it was time he did.

Once clear of the library, he pulled his phone from his pocket and switched it on. It bleeped at him: there were seven messages. As he ran his eye over the tiny screen, he saw that all the messages were from Superintendent Joy. So Joyless, he thought, you are still on the prowl are you…and he switched his mobile phone off again. She will just have to wait a little longer – there is no way I can face her on an empty stomach.

Lunch over, he caught a bus to the station and was just walking the last few hundred yards when a car screeched to halt just ahead of him. A large shaven headed man got out of the front passenger seat and faced him. Nick recognised him at once. “Christ,” he said, “it’s getting harder to tell real policemen from Mafia hit-men every day.”
The man showed no recognition and even less humour. “The boss wants a word with you.”

Nick thought he even sounds like a henchman. “I assume you are talking about Superintendent Joy? Your boss, not mine,” replied Nick. “As you can see, I am on my way to the station right now.”

“The Super is not there. She’s gone back to HQ. My orders are to pick you up and take you there.”

Nick asked, “And you are?”

“DS Harvey.”

Nick looked at his watch. It was nearly half past two. “Well, DS Harvey, do you have a warrant for my arrest?’

“No, I was just told to go and get you.”

“Shouldn’t that be told to go and get you, sir? OK sergeant, you’ve seen me, you’ve passed your leader’s message on. Now run along back to Mama and tell her that I have some urgent business to take care of and I will come and see her in her office at four o’ clock, alright?”

“Sir!” The word was almost spat out. “My orders are….”

“Were you ever in the military, sergeant?”

“Yes Sir!”

“Well then, you should know by now to always obey the last order. And my orders to you are more recent now… bugger off…..” The man took a step forward but Nick stood firm. “One more step and I’ll drop you where you stand.” His voice was ice cold, and the expression on his face said he meant it. DS Harvey turned on his heel and got back in the car, which sped off tyres screeching, leaving the acrid smell of burnt rubber in its wake.

That was stupid, Nick admitted to himself. Why antagonise the woman further? But he had resented her arrogance at sending one of her bigger goons to fetch him. Better be on time for their four o’clock appointment, he thought, or next time they may just have a warrant.

He pushed his way in through the station door. A constable at the desk looked up and buzzed him through the door. He ran quickly up the stairs to the CID offices, stopping sharply with his mouth open. There in front of him was a sea of empty desks with drawers hanging open. Wires dangled from torn out computers, leaving dust rings as evidence as to where they had been. Chairs were overturned and paper was strewn everywhere. Two of his junior colleagues were over in a far corner nursing plastic cups of coffee. “Looks more like a crime scene than a CID office.”

DC Mary Riley was the first to speak. “It is a crime scene, sir. They’ve taken everything, even our personal effects.”

“What about interviews?” Nick asked.

“They finished about an hour ago, we were the last two,” this time it was the young man, DS Dave Martin, who spoke.

“So what did they want to know?”

“Just a fishing trip if you ask me sir. They just seemed to be going through the motions. I mean, what the hell do we know? They kept asking about some guy called Colin Murray and who was working on the case.”

“What case?” Nick asked.

Mary chimed in, “Precisely, no one had even heard of a Colin Murray until they started talking about him.” She looked around at the shattered office. “You can see they believed us.”

“So,” enquired Dave, “do you know who the mysterious Colin Murray is, sir?”

“Colin Murray is, or rather was, the man murdered yesterday by Chief Superintendent Davies,” Nick responded in an almost casual manner.

Mary said, “We’d heard he been arrested but none of us could believe it. Not our boss, surely? It just can’t be true, can it sir?”

Nick replied most soberly. “It can and is true. I heard it straight from the man himself this morning.”

“But why?”

Nick smiled. “That… he didn’t tell me, so I know as much about it as any of you. Anyway, round up the troops for the morning. Get this place cleaned up, and I’ll see about getting our stuff back.”

Four o’clock on the dot he knocked firmly on Superintendent Joy’s office door and waited for the command, ‘Enter!’

As he walked into the office, he imagined he could feel the cold of her stare as she watched him cross the room. There was no preamble or formal niceties, no welcome of any sort, just a blurted command. “Have a seat, Inspector.”

Nick did as he was told, keeping his facial expression as neutral as possible. Without further ado, Superintendent Joy got straight down to business. “I expected to see you this morning at ten o’clock. Didn’t you get my messages?”

“No, Ma’am,” he replied, “I didn’t feel too well, so I took a day’s leave.”

“Not sick enough to stay at home, or so I was informed.”

“I wasn’t sick, just not up to par. I thought fresh air might be more beneficial than just lying around the flat.”

She pulled a blue folder towards her and opened it. “This case you and Davies were working on…”

“Which case is that? We had at least four going on up until yesterday.”

“The one involving Colin Murray,” she replied, holding the file so that Nick couldn’t see the contents.

Good try, thought Nick. “That’s not a name I’m familiar with, Ma’am. I don’t recall the name being associated with any case we are, or ever have been, working on together.”

“Do you actually expect me to believe you’ve never heard the name Colin Murray before this moment?”

Nick thought: now she was getting flustered, not only a lousy detective but a lousy interrogator as well. “That’s not what I said. I said I don’t associate the name with any ongoing case. I know the name from a report in this morning’s newspaper saying that was the man murdered by Chief Superintendent Davies. Until then, I had no idea who he was.”

She changed tack. “Where were you all day yesterday?”

“Cardiff,” Nick said with a sigh. “I was asked to go there and review the evidence they had on a local murder case to see if it matched anything we were working on, possible serial killer, that sort of thing.”

“Who asked you to go?”

“Chief Superintendent Davies. It was a complete waste of time as it turned out.”

“So do you think you were sent out of the way to prevent you from being implicated in yesterday’s murder?”

My God, he thought. That was the first sensible question she has managed to ask. “The thought had crossed my mind, yes. It certainly makes more sense that way.”

There was silence as the two of them looked at each other across her desk. Neither wanted to be the first to break eye contact, Nick blinked.

“Listen Ma’m, can I say something?”

“Be my guest, if it’s relevant.”

“I am in the dark as much as anyone as to why the Chief did what he did. As far as I’m aware, it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any case that CID is currently working on. In the seven years that I have known and worked with him, there has never been any mention of a Colin Murray even as a social acquaintance.”

“Thank you Inspector, but that doesn’t alter the fact that a murder has been committed and we need to know why.”

“I too would like to know the answer to that, and given time we probably will. However, the point I’m trying to make is that you have the contents of our entire department locked up in a white van somewhere, and I need it back so we can get on with our job. Surely, if your people have done any work at all, you must have realised by now there is nothing in our system relating to this crime. You’ve got your man, he’s confessed and been charged, therefore why is the CIB still wasting their time by investigating the entire staff of one police station?”

She stared coldly across the desk at him. “If we had had this conversation at ten this morning as I asked, perhaps your department might have been back at work by now.”

For the first time during the meeting, Nick smiled. “That would not have been possible, Ma’am, perhaps if it had been a friend of yours arrested for murder you might understand. Besides, I didn’t find out who Colin Murray was until lunch time.”

Margaret Joy closed the file she had been holding and put it with the others in a neat pile. “I’ll arrange for your files and computers to be returned first thing in the morning. That’ll be all for the moment.”

As he stood to take his leave, Nick thought: Christ she’s a cold bitch even in defeat, but all he said was ‘Ma’am!’

While he crossed the office towards the door, she said, “It won’t be made official until tomorrow, but you’ll be in charge of CID until a new Super is appointed. I believe a promotion to acting Chief Inspector goes with the job, congratulations.”

If there was any warmth in the congratulatory statement, he couldn’t feel it but he added a “thank you Ma’am,” as he opened the door and went into the passage beyond. Was it just his imagination or was it really warmer out here?

On his way back downstairs, he mulled the meeting over in his mind. Christ, Burton, you are slow-witted today! Joyless should never have told him about his promotion, albeit temporary, it was not her place to do so. It was so obvious that she just couldn’t contain the fact that she knew something that he did not – a fact that she could only have picked up by talking to the top brass. Had she overstepped the mark by her raid on his station and been called to account? That would account for the relative softness of their meeting. She was just going through a face-saving exercise by trying to put him on the spot. Kind of obvious now, her heart wasn’t in it at all. No chance to use her brand new rubber truncheon, poor dear, he whispered with a grin.

Before he left the building, Nick’s thoughts turned to the prison cells in the basement. His first impulse was to go down and face Dan once more, tell him his fears about getting him involved were groundless. Get him in an interview room and find out what the hell was going on and what the two of them were going to do to get him out of it. Then, with a touch of anger, his next thought took him back to their previous encounter: what was it Dan had said?

‘Go home Nick, go home and stay there…,… now get the hell out of here.’

So with those words ringing in his mind, Nick left the building and headed for home.

On his way back to his flat, he stopped off at his local corner shop for some milk and the evening newspaper then popped across the road to his favourite Chinese takeaway. Now if there was just something half-assed decent to watch on the telly, his evening was set. Tomorrow was another day not touched. He would start working out the why after a good night’s sleep.

As he entered the front door leading to his flat, there was a small table set against the wall for mail and other messages. Nick put down his takeaway and other shopping and rifled his way through it. He whispered, ‘Junk, bill, bill, junk, junk, offer of a free massage, junk, junk.’ There was also a postcard from the Royal Mail saying that they had tried to deliver a package that needed a signature. He could collect it from the local sorting office, wherever the hell that is, he thought. He dropped the mail in with the rest of his shopping and stuffed the postcard in his coat pocket.

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Welcome to the Digital World of Nick Burton.

I’ll bet the first question you asked yourself was who the Hell is Nick Burton ? I don’t blame you and it’s not a bad question all things considered.

You see not so very long ago I was nothing more than a shadow in the imagination of an obscure Scottish author called Merlin Fraser, a faint voice in his head that wouldn’t shut up. I had a story to tell and no other way to tell it than to trick him into thinking the whole thing was his idea and getting him to write it down and get it published.

Now thanks to the glorious digital world of the Internet I can at last reach out directly and fill in any of the missing pieces and respond to the many questions my stories raised.

He’s a funny guy this Merlin Fraser, he called his books the INNER SPACE trilogy, you see the irony here? Inner Space… the space between his ears the inner space of his mind with me in it steering him this way and that until I was a spent force, or so he thought, but just like ‘Arnie’ I’m B-a-c-k !

However I am getting way ahead of myself here because it is more than possible you have never heard of Merlin Fraser or his Inner Space trilogy of Murder Mystery stories as dictated by yours truly so I suppose I had better introduce myself properly.

I am Nicholas Burton, Nick to everyone who knows me. I am, or should say was, a serving Detective Inspector in the British Police Force and according to my critics becoming something of a dinosaur because, in their opinion, I was being left behind by all the modern day technology. I am what they call an old fashioned flatfoot bobby, a plodder, someone who uses brain power and traditional police methods of detection rather than sitting at a bloody computer all day and listening to criminologists and criminal profilers and their like.

In hindsight I don’t suppose they were that wrong, after all most of the officers senior to me are also younger than me. University degrees sticking out of every orifice, fast tracked into senior positions with little or no time in the real world of crime, little or no actual common sense but up on all the latest politically correct speak and methodology. I think it’s what used to be referred to in the old days as ‘ass kissers,’ only these days it seems you can get a University Degree in it and it is becoming almost compulsory.

It’s mostly my own fault, I know, I was in a rut and cruising towards an early retirement, as the song goes, a policeman’s lot is not a happy one. My wife divorced me for all the usual reasons I was never at home married to the job….. You’ve heard it all before I’m sure, blessing was there were no children involved and as far as I know no other man, she just wanted out.

OK I admit it, career on the slide, no family and no life outside the job I was in a sinkhole of self pity and if events hadn’t taken a dramatic turn I might well have just faded away into obscurity, just another burned out copper.

In our small town police station I worked for a great guy, not only a good boss but a great friend, he saw how things were going for me but didn’t rub it in. Plus I am fairly sure that like many others around me he was at a loss to know what to do about my situation after all I did my job, kept my misery to myself and tried to keep out of their way as best I could.

That is until ‘That Day!’ There’s always one, a day that when you look back you say ‘that’s when it all changed.’

Only in my case it was actually the day before ‘That Day,’ because it was then that my leader, Chief Superintendant Daniel Davis, decided to send me on a three hundred mile wild goose chase to Wales to check out evidence held by another police force, a job that took me out of town and away for most of the following day.

By the time I got back to my own station all hell had broken loose and the chaos I found as I went through the doors did little to improve my health, temper or the headache that pounded in my temples.

It looked like a riot everyone yelling and as far as could see no one listening but the strange thing about it all was that the yelling was coming from my own colleagues. It looked to me as if both the day and evening shifts were involved. Strange as that was I was in no mood for such behaviour and I tried to restore some order by demanding to know what the hell was going on.

The Sergeant on the desk, who seemed to be the target of the shouting, took the slight lull in the uproar to tell me they had arrested Dapper. To explain, Dapper Dan, was the affection nickname they had for Chief Superintendent Davies because of his dress code, he was always immaculately turned out and always dressed like the perfect gentleman he was.

In the roar of confusion he had to give me the message three times before it sunk in and of course then my head exploded. “WHAT ?” Arrested CS Davies… the boss…my friend… probably my best friend… for what for Christ’s sake ? “ Murder!” Was the reply.

Once I managed to get my head round this piece of information and the serious side of my detective knowledge and experience kicked in and I started to take charge of the situation. “What Utter Bollocks is this…Who said so ?”

OK! Not my finest hour or the best opening statement I have ever made but you have to remember I was in shock.

True, after I went for a walk in the fresh air and calmed down a bit I reviewed the facts as I knew them, and arrived at pretty much the same conclusion that it was still Utter Bollocks. It had to be a mistake or even worse something of a frame up. After all, over the years he and I had crossed paths with some right royal villains many of whom had sworn on their Granny’s grave that they would get us back one day.

It had to be something like that, there is no way in hell that Dan would break the laws he had sworn to uphold and as for ‘Murder’ for God’s sake… give me a break !

I stormed into Police Head Quarters and made a complete Prat of myself, demanding to see him, like that was going to happen, but I needed answers and who better to give them to me ? Instead I was shown into the duty officer’s office and when I again settled down she confirmed the fact that not only had he been arrested for murder but had also confessed to the crime.

The following day they did let me see him, albeit very briefly, a meeting made all the more brief when he threw me out of his cell telling me not to get involved.
Then there was the final bombshell of the day after that when Dan was found dead in his police cell apparently having committed suicide.

Now I knew there was something wrong, the whole thing stunk like a barrel load of rotting fish.

I will concede that given the right set of circumstances we are all capable of committing a crime, even have murderous thoughts but this ridiculous suicide suggestion….No way ! Not the Dan Davies I knew, if he had committed murder, which I seriously doubted, he was man enough to face up to it and would take the full consequences of his actions.

Right there, right then, I knew I would not rest until I knew the truth of it and clear my friend’s name.

Of course, when things like this happen within the Police Force we are not allowed to conduct our own investigations. That goes doubly so for friends and close colleagues and I was duly warned to keep myself as far away as it was possible to get and ordered to cooperate fully with any inquiry.

Stay out of it ! I’d resign first ! And they knew it.

The old me was back, no longer in the self dug pit of despair, my friend needed me and I’d be buggered if I was going to let him down or allow the PC driven white wash to trample his good name into the mud.

Have you ever asked yourself the question; ‘how well do I know my best friend?’

Over the many weeks and months that followed I asked myself that question several times and didn’t like the answers I was getting. In truth I came to realise I didn’t know him at all. I knew nothing of his past prior to me being assigned to his division and his Criminal Investigating Department (CID) as a Detective Inspector. Me Watson to his Holmes as it were, he brains me running behind taking notes but he was a damn fine teacher.

Remember right at the beginning of this piece I said I was a plodder, takes me a while but I get there in the end?

I got there and what a tale it was. It challenged everything in life I thought was true, it made me a believer in things I had never previously considered, or thought possible, if I did think of them at all I had dismissed them as rubbish.

Then came my true dilemma, no one was ever going hear my story, not in an open court of law that was for sure. What I had discovered was beyond the comprehension of most people and would raise issues and ideas that many would rather not even think about. I had no hard evidence or proof that would stand up in court so what had it all been for, what exactly had I achieved ?

Conventionally I knew the real story would never see the light of day, not now that it had been covered up and buried in the many ways government bureaucracies have of dealing with things they think it’s best for the general public not to know.

So I came up with a cunning plan, if the story and all the facts of the cases will never see the light in reality how about as a work of fiction ?
All I needed was the right mind to make my plan work.

Was I right to take over the mind of another human being in this way? Only you can judge by reading the stories for yourself, only then will you come to realise what I did and why.

You see there is more….and it hits at the very highest level of what we laughing accept as democracy again the real powers that be will stop at nothing to prevent the real truth from coming out but, of course, I now know a way.

For the time being I am leaving dear Merlin’s mind in peace but if you decide you want more then you have to tell him … You will find him and my stories in Amazon.

I will be watching and will know your feelings.

Read more…

Requiem for the Thousandth Man


One man in a thousand, Solomon says,

Will stick more close than a brother.

And it's worth while seeking him half your days

If you find him before the other.

Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend

On what the world sees in you,

But the Thousandth man will stand your friend

With the whole round world agin you.

Rudyard Kipling must have been speaking about people like my dear friend Barry. Kipling would have wanted Barry for a friend, no doubt about it. Barry was with me during some of the darkest days of my life. In the 40 years I knew him, I cannot once remember him complaining about the quick thrusts with a knife that life sunk into him. I don’t remember him assigning blame to anyone when his car was vandalized and set on fire. The same car he had saved for with his meager earnings for five years. Nor did he complain when the insurance company gave him only half what the car was worth in settlement. You see, Barry was one of those types of people you could easily run over and he wouldn’t complain. He just wasn’t the type of person who was confrontational. Was he a coward? No, I don’t see him that way. Nor should you. Barry was just a humble, gentle soul who never wanted any trouble. But, trouble always found him, no mater how much he tried to avoid it. He went through hell on this earth due to people seeing him as being “weak.” It wasn’t that Barry was “weak”. It wasn’t that Barry was of low character. It was just he basically had little or no confidence in himself for a variety of reasons.

Every time I ever saw Barry, he was always either broke or living day to day on whatever money he happened to earn at whatever odd job he worked at that day. He refused to take any money from me. That would infuriate me more than I could say. I could never get Barry to further his education when we were younger. It wasn’t that he was a poor student. Barry made better grades than I did in school. I remember how envious I was of him because he would make straight A’s with little or no study. I had to hit the books three or four hours a night just to get a B, if I was lucky. No, it had nothing to do with intelligence. It had to do, once again, with confidence. He totally lacked it. I told him this to his face many times and he agreed. I tried to get him to get counseling. But, I knew he would never acquiesce to this idea. He would have to face up to his failings in life. That is something my old friend could never do. I loved him like a brother. But, he made me so damn angry sometimes by his refusal to get help. And he needed help. God he needed help on so many levels. You see, confidence wasn’t Barry’s only problem. Alcohol and drugs were also a menace to him throughout his life.

I felt responsible for some of Barry’s problems. I talked Barry into joining the U.S. Navy with me back in May of 1970. We went on the “buddy plan” together. This meant we would both go to boot camp together and would be in the same company for training. Barry’s mother told him this was a mistake and that he should just go to college. In retrospect, Barry’s mother was right about that one. She knew what Barry was all about. I thought the only chance Barry had to grow and prosper as a fully functioning adult would be to get completely away from her. I was wrong and I have regretted it for many years. Barry didn’t last four weeks in the twelve week boot camp back in those days. He just couldn’t do all the basics expected of him. To be brutally honest, Barry couldn’t do anything right in boot camp. I tried to help him. But, I couldn’t do everything for him. He was chewed out over and over by his squad leader. Damn it, it wasn’t his fault and I tried to explain that to my company commander. I practically begged him to give Barry more time. But, he would not. Barry was given a medical discharge and sent home. He was devastated. And so was I.

Barry could have blamed me for pushing him into something he knew he wasn’t able to do. But, he never uttered a word about it to me. Even after I came home from ‘Nam, Barry was among the first to greet me and shake my hand. He told me how proud he was of me. But, I wasn’t proud of myself. I still am not. Barry always seemed to want to push me to the forefront of attention and make self-depreciating jokes about himself. That always made me uncomfortable. Barry was just always so down on himself. I could not reach him to drag him back up. He just preferred to always be in the background.

There wasn’t anything Barry would not do for you. I don’t mean just friends. I mean from the homeless man in the street to a bank president. Barry didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He never thought about himself. Barry always was thinking about others. In fact, the only time I saw him actually get angry, I mean sure fire bonifide angry was when I told him I slept a couple of nights in my truck after my divorce. He got mad at me for not letting him know I needed a place (although I had family begging me to stay with them). I just looked at him in shock…and smiled. Poor guy, he didn’t have much of anything. It was like that his entire life. But, he had a kind heart and gentle soul about him that few could ever match. And that proved to be his undoing in the world so many times. People would take advantage of his trusting nature. Barry always wanted to believe there was good in everybody. I am completely different.

I remarked to him sometimes how did we ever become friends being so different? Barry would always say, “Because you need Kiplings Thousandth Man.” I didn’t know what he meant the first time he said that to me. Hell, the first time he said it to me; I didn’t even know who Rudyard Kipling was. But, as the years rolled by and Barry was always there for me, I understood. I understood what it meant when it didn’t look like I was going to make it from a collapsed lung and internal bleeding from several broken ribs I suffered in an auto accident. In fact, the doctor told my family it didn’t look good for me. Barry immediately left that scene and came to my bedside ignoring the nurse that said he couldn’t be in there. Barry told her, “I’m his Thousandth Man. I have to be here.” She didn’t know what he meant. But, Kipling would have. Kipling would have understood. I already miss my old friend. I’m reminded of a line from “Shawshank Redemption” when Red said, “Still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend.” I do too, Red, I do too.

We buried that kind, gentle soul today. It’s hard to believe that someone can be alive and then be buried just two days later. But, it has happened. I’m still in shock over it. I knew he had heart trouble. But, he told me himself just last week he was doing well and was starting back on his treadmill. I found out today he just told me that so I wouldn’t worry about him. That was so “Barry-like.” This loss…it seems to go through the heart and just penetrate your soul. It feels like when your leg goes to sleep and you stand up to get the blood circulating. Those little needle pricks you feel, in that situation, is what I feel in my heart of hearts today. I have seen too many friends and family die over the years. But, the loss of Barry hurts just as much or more. He was more than a friend. He was more than a brother. He was more than that big friendly guy who was always willing to help you and want nothing in return. He was more than that gentle soul that people would continually hurt. He was much more than all these things. I know now what he was and always has been. He is exactly what he claimed to be. Barry was the Thousandth Man.

His wrong's your wrong, and his right's your right,

In season or out of season.

Stand up and back it in all men's sight --

With that for your only reason!

Nine hundred and ninety-nine can't bide

The shame or mocking or laughter,

But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side

To the gallows-foot -- and after.

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It is very common today to own a second home to go on vacation or to make a break in the routine looking for a little relaxation. However, to protect these houses is more essential, if possible, than to protect our habitual home, given that when they do not reside there they are usually more likely to be assaulted by criminals.

In this sense, as there is no one living in them, it is not essential to place as many security systems as in a regular home, in which not having adequate security measures can become detrimental to the lives of their loved ones. Therefore, and for you to know at all times the state of your house or chalet, we recommend below one of the products that can find in our catalog that will solve this problem.


Spy Wall Clock with Motion Detection

Placing a spy wall clock is one of the best ways to make sure at any time that no one is making a visit to your second home without your consent. It is absolutely undetectable, since its simple wall clock appearance keeps the camera inside completely camouflaged, while transmitting images at any time to any place in the world in which it is.

By installing a simple program or using an application, you can see live images of the camera of the spy wall clock, so that connecting the clock to the router becomes an IP Camera that incorporates features as novel as motion detection or Making of photographs at a distance.

Thus, if you discover that something in your country house is not as it should be, or that someone has accessed your home without your permission, you can quickly notify the state security forces that your camera is capturing images of a Assault or robbery that is taking place in his second home.

You can find three different models of spy wall clocks in our spy shop, do not hesitate to ask us any questions you may have regarding the installation or configuration of any of them, we will advise you with all discretion and professionalism.

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