A Tattered Truth

Here’s an excerpt from my mystery adventure, The Little Burgundy, available now on Amazon.com and soon through other retailers.  It probably doesn’t tell you much about the plot, but does give a glimmer into the relationship between the two main characters, Jeanne Dark and Foster Cain. More importantly, it’s a fairly clean sample of my writing style. When choosing a book, while character and plot are crucial, of equal importance is your being comfortable spending hours with the author’s voice ringing softly, constantly in your brain.

Here’s to hoping you like mine. Thanks for reading.

The Little Burgundy

Excerpt: Chapter 1, Dark Morning

With those you cherish, a tattered truth is better than a perfect lie. With Jeanne, who could read my lies like others read the paper, it was a requirement. She once told me that lies register in her brain as brown, irrespective of the colors of the words themselves. I had no idea what she meant, but I learned early on it was as accurate as any bellwether for deception detection I’d ever come across.

“If you think me mad, you can say. I need to know,” she said.

“I did when we first met and for almost a month afterward,” I said.

“But you do not now?”

I shook my head. “The rest of us have five senses. You have about a dozen, so you see things using senses we don’t know exist.”

“Most people don’t believe that, Foss. Even my friends think I’m crazy.”

“Not your problem. My grandpa always used to say, ‘If you try to convince an amoeba there’s an entire universe out there, no matter how hard you try, you’ll just confuse him.’”

“Oui.” The word came out as an exhalation: part affirmation, part resignation.

“I’m glad you agree. I never knew what the hell he was talking about.”

She stared at me for an uncomfortably long time before smiling and extending her small hand. I pushed it away, pulled her close, and kissed her again. The images and flashes returned, and my tongue began to tingle as though I’d kissed peppermint. I was blinded by a cacophony of sound and could smell morning coffee coming from the speakers attached to her phone. I released her, and she stood there on her toes, squinting into my eyes. “Should I undress?” she asked. Her weak eyes danced from one of mine to the other, a sense of quiet urgency behind them.

I shook my head no. This was to be a tale of intrigue and not romance. My government contact expected a lot from Jeanne and I wasn’t going to be the thing standing in her way.

“D’accord,” she said. There was a tiny flash of disappointment that made me want to change my mind. Jeanne lowered herself from her tiptoes. The energy between us sank just as quickly. Once again she reached out her hand; this time, I took it. “Partners, Monsieur Cain?” Any trace of regret faded into the sunrise of her smile.

“Partners, Dr. Dark,” I answered. Releasing her hand, I stepped back and gave her a pointed look. “Are you always going to dress like that around the office?”

“Not always.” She turned, favoring her bad hip. Her brief stint in the hard chair had been too much. I reminded myself that the moment for massages had passed. Her back turned, she doffed granddad’s hat then pulled off her shirt and flipped it over her shoulder to me. “Is that better?” It was. I kept my mouth shut, but had she seen my eyes, they would have had a story to tell. She peeked over her shoulder, exposing a glancing view of her soft breast. “A shame, you are a very good kisser.” She started toward her ground-floor bedroom, limping only slightly. “Let’s hope you are a great business partner. I would hate to think we made a bad decision.” She continued on her way, once again wearing that old hat with her little boy-brief-covered buns waggling behind her.

“I hate you,” I muttered. I think I was talking to myself. I stood there holding her T-shirt, trying to resist smelling it. “Who wears a John Coltrane t-shirt anyway?” I yelled after her.

I smelled the damned shirt. I practically inhaled the thing.

“The French. We invented American jazz.”

“How does that even make … ?”

The word “sense” got caught in her slamming bedroom door, while I stood in the middle of the empty room listening to her buzzing about and wondering how the world had come undone so quickly. Six weeks. It had taken her only six weeks to dismantle my life. For the first four weeks of our partnership I believed this was still my story, this life I led. I’d been my own boss for some time and quite successful at it. Then in walked this small woman with the noticeable limp and fearless swagger, and everything began to change. I went from independent contractor to lead investigator to junior partner and then to glorified babysitter and bodyguard almost faster than my once-healthy ego could stumble down each emotional step to the one below. After a few missteps, we hit our stride and decided to make our working relationship a formal partnership under the moniker Cane Investigations. I suppose the name was something of an homage to each of us, but we both knew Jeanne was in charge. Of course Jeanne never lorded any of the changes over me, nor would she ever admit to our being anything but each other’s equal. But we were equal in the way a summer rainstorm is equal to a great, gulping Pacific typhoon. We were equal in the way the moon is equal in brightness to all the stars in the heavens or in the way that hope is equal to prayer or pretense equates to love—which is to say, we were not equal at all.

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