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S. E. Schenkel
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A man stops the attack on a woman at a truck stop. He calls the police and then disappears. The victim’s boyfriend hires PI Tapp and his team to investigate. They delve into the woman’s past and, little by little, worm their way into the clandestine world of killers who will stop at nothing to keep their identity a secret.
From a distance, it looked like a firefly out for a night’s stroll. Up close, I could make out the circle of red ash at the end of a cigarette. And in the hand of a nurse, no less. You’d think a health professional would know better than to taunt death.
My little gray cells had barely fashioned that judgmental gem when the skies opened up and dumped on me as if I were target practice. I ran for the ER entrance, cursing Dillway for getting me out in this weather and at this hour--and not even saying why.
“Weather for ducks,” the guard said, picking up a roll of paper towels.
“Sure isn’t for dimwits who leave umbrellas at home,” I replied.
He tore off several sheets and handed them to me, his smile empathetic and tired.
I squeegeed my thinning mane, patted down my t-shirt and jeans and tossed the wet towel into a container by the door.
The guard held out a plastic tray.
I emptied my pockets and stepped through the security door. Reclaiming my keys and coins, I watched a wall clock click off another minute to make it an even four a.m.
Sleepy-eyed people turned my way as I entered the waiting room. To some, my appearance seemed as welcome as moonshine to a redneck. Distraction turned drug of choice to the distraught. I scanned the room looking for Dillway. Lots of older folk. A few blue-collars. One man with his face buried in a newspaper. Wasn’t Dillway--unless he’d trimmed way down and dyed his hair red. I wondered if freckles went with the mop.
“May I help you?” asked a middle-aged woman at the reception desk, trying her best to smile. Behind her was a picture of the recently added roof helipad of Willow Falls Memorial Hospital. The blades of the chopper fit her head like flattened horns.
“Detective Dillway,” I said.
The clerk straightened as though called to attention. “Yes, Detective, what can I do for you?”
I shook my head. “No, I’m looking for Detective Dillway.”
“Was he admitted to the emergency room?”
Clueless, and for the sake of expediency, I said yes. She reached under the counter. The large double doors to my right opened in a labored yawn. I headed down the sterile hall, wishing Dillway’s sleep-busting phone call had delivered a little more information than just a plea with a meeting place.
A smattering of staff sat hunched over keyboards and charts at a circular workstation. They didn’t look up and I didn’t stop.
Cruising around, I glanced into curtained cubicles and checked the gurneys in the hall, amusing myself with the image of Dillway’s short squat form clad in a flimsy gown. Saw lots of occupied beds and a few long-suffering souls who’d come to keep watch with the sick. But no Dillway.
A nurse wearing green scrubs stepped out of one of the rooms and blocked my path. She was petite, in her late forties and barely made it up to my chin. Which provided me a glimpse of coarse blond hair with dark roots. She put her hands on her hips and stared up into my face.
“I’m looking for Detective Dillway,” I said, hoping to dampen her apparent mistrust of this oversized intruder.
That triggered a twinkling in her eyes that was a little too jovial. “Mr. Tapp?” she asked.
“That’s me,” I answered, wondering if Dillway had entertained her at my expense.
She took in my wetness and whiskers. “You’re the private investigator?”
“Yes. Why, don’t I look like one?”
She smiled, motioned me to follow and walked over to a cubicle with its curtain completely closed. She pulled open a section.
Reminding myself that wisecracks needed censoring in a sickroom, I trailed her in, expecting to find Dillway on his backside.
Instead, a woman lay on the bed, her eyes closed; and she was alone. Thingamabobs hugged the bed, their clicks and ticks like robotic Morse code. An all-is-relatively-well in machine speak--I assumed. A bandage covered the woman’s right temple. Below the bandage a purple bruise spread across an eye and down the cheek like an ink spill.
Mysteries have always captivated me. Any kind. Mysteries of faith, creation, people. The mystery of an empty house, trap door. A neighbor’s weirdness. But I didn’t start writing mysteries until two events collided: a power outage and working under the dictatorship of the manager of a grocery store. The outage and its subsequent boredom handed me pen and paper, and my boss supplied the drive to write a story titled - “Murder in the Meat Department”. From that day until now, writing has been right up there with oxygen and chocolate.
Numerically, I’m grandmother to eight, stepmother to four, and sibling to five. I was a member of a missionary group (aka nun) for seventeen years, worked for ten of those years in Africa, have been married for over thirty years. And if you can’t figure out my age from that, you and I have equally appalling math skills.
As for my personality, what I feel, think, value... You’ll find clues to that in my mysteries.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 334
Paper Weight (lb): 14.0
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