For those of you who haven’t heard, Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays is now out and can be purchased in print or ebook format on Amazon. Here’s a short story sample of “Jasmine”, my contribution to: A the book:
by Debbi Mack
“No one should get away with murder.”
Jasmine’s words echo in my head as I walk home. I pull my jacket lapels up around my throat to shield it from the wind. I’m tempted to apply more Chapstick to my raw lips, but delving into my purse will slow me down.
The cold is biting. An old year will soon die and a new one will be born, but I have little to look forward to. Not even Christmas, just two days off. Other people will be with their families. I haven’t seen mine in years.
Leaning into the wind, the walk from the bus stop seems interminable, even though my apartment building is only a block away.
En route, a tattered wreath on a tavern door catches my eye. It looks as old and used up as I feel. A sign, perhaps? Not likely. More like an excuse. I pause, then head inside for a quick one.
Hustling over and ducking inside as if pursued by ghosts, I shut the door firmly against the elements. A look around tells me I don’t belong here. The room is roughly square, illuminated in sickly yellow. Tables and chairs are placed haphazardly, as if tossed about by a careless decorator. A few are occupied. Men drinking alone. Most of them don’t notice me. A few spare me a curious glance, only to return to whatever private purgatory they’re enduring.
Normally, I don’t frequent taverns, but times are far from normal for me lately.
The bar runs along one mirrored wall. Two men sit at it several stools apart. I hesitate.
Oh, who gives a shit? It’s a public place.
I walk up to the bar and take a stool between the two men. The bartender, a reed-thin fellow with sandy hair and the suggestion of a goatee, wanders over.
“What can I get you, ma’am?”
I think of movies I’ve seen and blurt the first words that come to mind.
“Scotch on the rocks, please.”
He nods with an approving look. After he pours and sets the drink before me, I take a sip. Goes down smooth as gasoline. Perfect.
“Can I ask you something?” I say to the bartender.
“Do people actually tell bartenders their problems?”
His mouth quirks up in a half-smile. “Sometimes. Dare I ask why?”
I cup the glass with both hands and gaze into it. “A friend of mine is going to prison. She killed someone.”
When I look up, the bartender’s smile has faded. “I’m sorry. What happened?”
So I tell him.
I met Jasmine at a victims’ recovery group. To be honest, I knew things about Jasmine before I met her. I work for the police department.
Cops are worse than old ladies and teenage girls when it comes to gossip. And my co-workers gossiped plenty about Jasmine’s case. I took a special interest and decided to seek her out and introduce myself. We had a common bond.
Though the name sounded appropriate for a pole dancer, Jasmine turned out to be your basic thirty-something girl-next-door in faded jeans and a long-sleeved peasant blouse. She had light brown hair, doe brown eyes, and a quiet demeanor.
One night I approached her at the coffee table during a bathroom break. She’d just shared her story about being raped and how her attacker was acquitted. I asked her if she was okay.
Her mouth pressed into a thin line, and she blinked rapidly. “It’s almost more than I can bear sometimes. Knowing he’s out on the streets.”
Jasmine didn’t want to talk much more about it, so I let it go. However, each time we attended a group session, we’d get together for coffee afterward. She began to open up about her feelings of fear and powerlessness, particularly in light of the acquittal. Week after week she grew angrier. Bordering on rage, really. I kept encouraging her to get it out. I thought I was helping her.
If you want to find out more, you’ll need to buy the book!
Now, if you love music as much as I do, click here for something awesome!
Speaking of music, here’s a song by a band I read about in The Washington Post.
And thank you, Christa Faust, for this image you tweeted! I laughed!
One of these days, I’ll have to learn how to pin a tweet!
PS: We saw part of this movie last night! I never get tired of it.