You usually match numbers to other numbers

“Uh, okay. You usually match numbers to other numbers.” It wasn’t like she didn’t know almost as much about bookkeeping as I do. She just liked the game of prime-and-pump and I’d learned to keep nudging her or she’d grind to a halt.

“There are numbers in the stories, silly. They should match the numbers in the spreadsheets. If so, you can bill me your hourly.”

“And if they don’t?”

Rosies-numbers

Silence wasn’t Rosie’s thing. She was usually starting her next sentence before you’d finished yours. After plenty of time for the ticking and clacking of gears, she answered.

“Then we’ll talk about a weekly rate.”

She should have sounded smug. She loved having the upper hand and made no secret about it when she had you in her palm.

She didn’t sound smug. She sounded scared.

This is an excerpt from That She is Made of Truth. To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

Beloved Irish History Expert Visits Galway

Irish historyRob patted the paper. “You should read it. Compliment is the word.”

The headline was “Beloved Irish History Expert Visits Galway” which could have been better if it were accurate. And shorter.

The facts in the article were accurate, but it read more like a resume written by my mother. Apparently, according to the article, the Irish people consider me one of their own, and would gladly entrust me with their nation’s most valued historical artifacts. Assumptions about my run-ins with the late Michael O’Quinn, known by one and all to be a rabble-rousing pseudo-patriot of the worst kind, furthered the assumptions that I was some kind of history-saving hero. “Death before dishonor” was the general tone of the article.

This is an excerpt from Into the Fog. To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

No point buying something expensive when you can’t be sure any of it is going to stay down

whiskey burns“You knew.”

I’d given up saving the situation. Yes, I knew, and I hadn’t told her. Yes, this Gertrude and Sam thing was my idea, and we’d blown it sky high. Yes, Darcy, I love you, and you hate me, and once again I’ve managed to destroy the best hope I had for any kind of salvation through a relationship.

She didn’t spit on me. She didn’t slap me. She didn’t even look at me. Or anyone else.

She just walked out, leaving the door swinging open as she went.

Sam started to follow her, but Millie held her hand and stopped her.

I don’t know how long I stood there, but after a few years of it, I left, alone, and took a cab home.

Made a stop on the way there and bought a bottle of Old Overholt.

No point buying something expensive when you can’t be sure any of it is going to stay down.

This is an excerpt from A Long, Hard Look. To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

White as a sheet, eyes wide in fear

Pally was silent.

Dope headed for the house. Since he had my arm twisted behind my back, I headed for the house, too.

Just before we entered the light from the door, a large sliding glass affair, Dope let my arm go and Pally stepped up next to me, as if they’d been like that all along. Dope slid the door open, and we stepped into a lavishly furnished living room where a tiny little man sat in a chair three sizes too large.

“What’s that on his face? What happened? He was not to be harmed, fools! This is not how we solicit assistance from our friends; it is most certainly not!”

During his tirade, startlingly violent in tone, he’d slipped from the oversized chair, crossed to Dope, and started slapping his face for punctuation. He almost had to jump, but he slapped, nonetheless. I expected Dope to snap him in half and use the sharp end for a toothpick. Nothing doing.

He was white as a sheet, eyes wide in fear.

Irish-cottage

This is an excerpt from Through the Fog. To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

I never meant to get you fired, Jesse

endless-officeShe’d made it clear that I was working on her stories now, taking food from her imaginary future children’s mouths. She’d also volunteered that she was seeing someone so I needn’t bother asking her out. If that was supposed to pique my interest, it hadn’t. We’d gotten off on all the wrong feet.

Before I could open my mouth she spun around in her swivel chair.

“I never meant to get you fired, Jesse. I just told Greg that stuff so he’d move you back to accounting. Not fired.” Her hands waved like she was washing them. How delightfully symbolic.

“Dunno what you’re talking about. Greg never mentioned whatever it was. It’s about money, and I’ve seen it coming since I made the switch. Accounting, remember? We know where the money is. And, uh, isn’t.”

She washed a little more. “Okay.” Her chair forced her around to face her computer. “Greg didn’t say anything?”

What a hatchet job she’d tried to pull, if she was this worried. Let her worry.

This is an excerpt from That She is Made of Truth To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

I’m so glad he doesn’t want my guts for garters anymore

“Wonderful. Great. I’m so glad he doesn’t want my guts for garters anymore.”

“Oh, no fear; he’s still looking for a good pair, made right out of your very own. But not just yet. You’re a sort of a distant dream, if you take my meaning. No; he’s got other concerns at the moment.

“You’ll recall a certain document he had in his possession?”

Did I.

A spectacular map of the voyage of Brendan, patron saint of voyagers and Irish icon. Concrete evidence that an Irish religious traveler had set foot in the New World nearly 1,000 years ago.

Too bad it was a fake.

“That’s in other hands now. Official hands. I couldn’t get it for him even if I wanted to. And, trust me, I don’t want to.”

“Och; not at all, Martin. We’d much prefer that oaf doesn’t have such an important icon of our nation’s history. He’s much too secular.

“We want you to get it for us.”

This is an excerpt from Into the Fog To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

Knee-deep in these folks and their shenanigans

“Could she have put Gil up to hiring me?”

“Why would she do that?”

I hadn’t thought about it. I was still slapping pieces into the puzzle to see what fit where. Would have been nice if I could see the picture on the cover so I knew what we were trying to piece together.

“No idea. But if she’d wanted him to do it, would he?”

She nodded. “Oh, yes. Absolutely. He believed every word she said, even if she’d said the exact opposite the day before.”

“And does she have reason to wish your father harm?”

That got a shrug. “Who knows? Like I said, we’re not close. She’s not close to father by any means. And it might have cost her a job.”

“Revenge doesn’t always calculate the risks first.”

But then, I hadn’t either, or I wouldn’t be knee-deep in these folks and their shenanigans.

This is an excerpt from A Long, Hard Look. To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

I pretended to be a post

Since everyone was feeling chatty, I thought I’d jump in. “So, where are we going, exactly?”

Dope pretended to be a post. Pally looked at me suspiciously like I was trying to trick him into telling me where we were going. Then he pretended to be a post, too.

I pretended to be a post. No sense making the natives restless.

The sunlight flickered on and off between the high clouds. We passed the Van Nuys airport and wound through the valley on the San Diego Freeway. Why is the 405 in LA the San Diego Freeway? When I lived in San Diego, only freeway was 5, north to LA.

When did I live in San Diego? Wasn’t only childhood; I remembered the freeway as a driver, not a kid.

Aaah; gone again.

We took Howard Hughes off the freeway and headed south on Sepulveda. That’ll take us right through the airport. Which means I’ve been there, maybe, or how else would I know South Sepulveda runs through the center of the airport?

I started racking my brain for what was south of the airport. Didn’t really matter; this car was made for traveling, and if we were going to Mexico it wouldn’t have mattered to Dope and Pally.

It also didn’t really matter, because we weren’t going through the airport, we were going to it. And I knew who Shannon was. Shannon was an international airport.

We were going to Ireland.

Chapeltown, Valentia Island, Co. Kerry, Ireland

This is an excerpt from Through the Fog. To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

I’m from the library

it's in here somewhere“I’m from the library.”

“Here to strong-arm me about some overdue Dickens?”

Okay, she didn’t really say that. It was so stuck in my head I was almost willing her to say it just so we could get it over with.

What she said wasn’t much better.

“Prove it.”

This was already going well.

“Excuse me?”

She switched eyes. The door opened another eighth-inch and I caught a glimpse of a polyester floral print, and a cast-iron permanent. There were probably scratches on the inside of the door where her hair ravaged it.

“Anybody could say they’re from the library. How do I know? Got any ID?”

What was she looking for, a library card? I tried to keep my mouth shut, since looking like a landed carp wouldn’t help my professional appearance any.

“Um, no, nothing officially from the library. I’m here to ask about the, er—” I scrambled in my inside coat pocket for the list. “It says Marjorie Millhone, eight low-light cameras with DVR.”

“It’s mill hone.”

Pieces of my brain broke loose and floated off into space.

“Excuse me?” Now you’re repeating yourself, fool.

“The name is pronounced ‘MILL-hone,’ not ‘mull-OWN.’”

This is an excerpt from That She is Made of Truth To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

Polite words served up with a straight razor

close-shave“Ah. Doctor Martin. You’re early, or I’d not have been moving about so close during your grand entrance.”

As usual for Dubin, polite words served up with a straight razor.

And unfortunately, as usual for me, incoherent babbling.

“My what? Early? For what?”

“I don’t have time for you to sort things out on your own, my good doctor, so I’ll elaborate, boring as it is. Your bumbling associates have traded your skills for their skins.” He looked around, and one of the four, no five, large over-coated gents moved an ancient oak chair closer. Another shoved a smaller chair behind me, pushing it against the backs of my knees.

I dropped onto the chair. Dubin sat, and continued. “I’ll begin our conversation by ensuring I have your attention.” He beckoned with a finger, and another of the thugs pulled out an iPad.

This is an excerpt from Into the Fog To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

So, Who Knifed You?

dagger“Come over here and lie down on the bench.” She pulled my arm and the rest of me back to the little corner spot where some folks drank their coffee instead of buying it and going home to make their own.

“There. On your back. These straight edges will keep tearing apart if it’s not taped well, and I can’t do that if you’re standing up.”

I eased down on the bench and put my hands behind my head so everything was out of her way. She did things with wet stuff, cleaning and moisturizing or something like that, then rolled out three hundred yards of gauze and an entire roll of tape. Somehow it all fit on my chest. Somehow, it made me feel a whole lot better. I might even get out of here without too many awkward questions.

Yeah, right.

“So who knifed you? And why?”

This is an excerpt from A Long, Hard Look. To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

Coffee is a wonderfully emotional smell

That She is Made of TruthCoffee is a wonderfully emotional smell. It’s no wonder so many people won’t go a day without it. I love it, but I keep it in its place. A cup when I want the taste, not because I need the caffeine. An espresso when I’m doing something creative. Not that can’t-get-out-of-bed-without-it relationship most people have. Watching everyone I know acting like addicts hunting a fix in the morning concerned me. Maybe I like to be different.

Maybe I used to drink a pot a day and I’m trying not to go back there.

Spending time in coffee shops was my version of an alcoholic in a bar. Usually I met in a real restaurant or even the park. I’d been known to bring a spare sandwich in order to have a quiet conversation away from flapping ears in the next booth.

This is an excerpt from That She is Made of Truth. To read the whole story, get your copy here: That She is Made of Truth.

Barry, You’re Hurting Me

An excerpt from the first Jesse Donovan mystery That She Is Made of Truth which you really should read.

That She is Made of Truth

When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her though I know she lies
— William Shakespeare

I should have listened to the bard.
— Jesse Donovan

After their 5th anniversary, he smiled less and stopped laughing.

After their 6th anniversary, he started talking less.

After their 7th anniversary, he started drinking.

After their 8th anniversary, he started coming home with lipstick on his collar and perfume that wasn’t hers lingering as he stomped through the living room and up to bed.

On their 9th anniversary, at what had become an annual torture session, he swore at their server and stormed from the restaurant.

She threw a handful of $20 bills on the table and ran after him.

… more … “Barry, You’re Hurting Me”

Introduction Excerpt Excised from ‘That She Is Made Of Truth’

This is the original prologue to the first Jesse Donovan mystery, That She is Made of Truth. With all the changes in the book and the character over the past 3 years, it no longer fit. But like any good writer, I can’t bear to just throw words away. Like any good editor, I don’t see anyplace I’ll ever use them, either. So, how about here?

Yost-typewriter-Co-LdYou’ve heard all the stories about love and betrayal before. If you’re looking for a surprising new angle, prepare to be disappointed.

… more … “Introduction Excerpt Excised from ‘That She Is Made Of Truth’”

Anodyne, Featuring Jesse Donovan: An Excerpt

Costa-RicaMinor excitement on Sunday: Isaac Ransom called. Isaac hired me when I finished school, taught me how to make a living as an accountant. Not just how to get paid, how to put something in the bank so later when you turned your whole life upside down you could still afford a classy loft in a ritzy neighborhood.

“Heard you were back on the market, Jess.”

“Heard where?” I knew better than to ask, but maybe he’d softened in his old age.

“Around.” Nope.

“Around. Sure. Anyway, not sure what market I’m back on, Izzy.”

… more … “Anodyne, Featuring Jesse Donovan: An Excerpt”