The following novel in progress is based on a real crime, but is largely a work of fiction. I started this novel in 2008 and stopped after just a few chapters. I will post those chapters here, and (hopefully) finish the remainder of the novel during NaNoWriMo.
Chapter 15 is here.
Sarah almost dropped her flashlight as a large hand came out of nowhere and clamped over her mouth. Someone’s breath was hot on her neck. But she recognized his voice.
“Keep quiet. Cooley’s at the back of the trailer, waiting.” Michael dropped his hand and turned Sarah around to face him. He was a dark gray ghost in the deep evening light, but she could see that he was angry.
“What the hell are you doing out here by yourself?” He kept his voice low, but Sarah was still stunned by his anger. Too stunned to tell him that his grip on her shoulders was starting to hurt.
“Cooley said to meet him here. He said he would turn over Jimmy’s arrest records to me.” Sarah swung her arms up, breaking Michael’s grip on her. Her hair had fallen when he grabbed her, and she wanted to pin it back up. She was determined to not let the sticky summer heat break her will and force her to cut her hair. Her mother had loved Sarah’s thick, long hair, brushing it for her almost every night when she was a little girl. She would never cut her hair. She pulled out the pins, coiled it on top of her head, and secured it before Michael had a chance to snort out a response.
“Woman, didn’t they teach you anything in law school? Like not coming out alone, on a moonless night, to a vacant trailer where you don’t know who or what is hell is waiting for you?”
Sarah gripped the flashlight tighter. This former Marine, this jarhead was getting on her nerves. He may be Misty’s brother, and he may really want to help his little sister, but Sarah was getting tired of how he kept turning up and interfering with her.
“I don’t need you to tell me how to run an investigation. This isn’t Iraq—“ Sarah stopped. The squeak of an aluminum frame door caught her ear, and she realized that Michael and she had raised their voices. She moved toward the sound, thinking it was Cooley. Michael grabbed her arm and pulled her to the ground on the other side of Sarah’s car just as a shot rang out. Sarah would swear later that she felt something hot just glance her shoulder as she dropped.
“It may as well be,” Michael said as he pulled out a gun. Sarah could barely make out the shape as he positioned it at the side of his head. The sweat on the back of Sarah’s neck turned icy and for a moment she wished she had worn long pants and a turtleneck instead of her linen shorts and sleeveless cotton blouse. She began to tremble.
Michael suddenly stood up, fired off a shot that ricocheted off something metallic and then dropped down again. Sarah started to move forward, but, again, Michael grabbed her, this time by the back of her shorts. She turned hot with anger.
“Get your hands off me.” She slapped at Michael’s hand, but he hung on.
“Just hold on. I only fired a warning shot. Let’s get into your car—but stay down—and get the hell out of here.” Michael gave her one hard look. “You don’t know what you got into here.”
Sarah started to retort when another shot rang out, hitting the ground just front of Sarah’s Volvo station wagon. Without another word, Michael opened the car door and pushed Sarah inside, moving in after her.
“Give me your keys. Stay down!” Sarah pulled her keys from her pocket, almost dropping them before shoving them into Michael’s open palm. Keeping his head low, he jammed the keys in and started the ignition. Sarah peeked out the passenger window in time to see a burst of light in the darkness where the trailer stood. Michael put the Volvo in reverse and slammed on the gas, spewing gravel as the car careened backward.
“Get down!” Michael yelled, pushing Sarah down away from the window. Without thinking, she flung out her arm to hit him and hit the stick instead. She thought she heard Michael laugh as he shifted the car into Drive.
“Damn it!” Sarah crouched over her bruised hand. Looking up as they passed under a street lamp, she saw a slight smile on Michael’s face.
“You can get up now,” he said in a cheery voice. “We’re out of range.” Sarah crawled back up onto the seat and glared at Michael.
“What the hell was all that?” She pulled the hair out of her eyes, giving up on trying to keep it tidy. “Why would Cooley be shooting at me?”
“We don’t know it was Cooley, although he must have something to do with it.” Michael pulled the car into the highway and drove quietly. Sarah huddled against the passenger seat. She felt exhausted, confused, and in desperate need of a bathroom. Michael turned off the highway and went down a narrow two-lane road, heading toward the bay.
After a few minutes, Michael stopped the car alongside an old Airstream that had been set up on blocks. Sarah’s heart sank. She would probably have to pee outside.
“Are you okay?” She turned to see Michael looking at her, the porch light throwing his face into soft relief.
“Yeah, I just have to pee. I don’t imagine you have facilities in there.” She pointed to the Airstream and Michael laughed.
“Oh, that’s one thing I don’t miss about Iraq—shitting in the sand. No, I’ve got facilities in the trailer.” Sarah slipped out of the car and followed Michael into the trailer, where he promptly flipped on a switch. The bright light caught Sarah by surprise.
“You don’t think we were followed, or that anyone is going to try and track us down?” She squinted at Michael. He was gesturing toward a narrow hallway.
“The toilet’s down there, second door on your right.” He turned toward her. “And, no, I don’t think anybody is going to bother us. They just wanted to scare you.” He walked up to her and put his hands lightly on her shoulders. “And I hope they did.”
Sarah gaped at him and then pushed him aside as she made her way down the hallway. She was trying to help his sister. That’s all she was trying to do. She couldn’t understand why he didn’t help her. She slammed the door shut and managed to get situated on the toilet before her bladder gave way.