Whose Hand?

Below is an excerpt from WHOSE HAND?

I studied the crags in the old man’s wind-burned face. His gold and silver hair was pulled into a ponytail at the nape of his neck, leaving his bald head open to the elements. The ragged collar of a black T-shirt peeked through the v-neck of a dirty blue-green sweater with a run in the left sleeve. Nicotine had stained the dirty fingernails on the left thumb and forefinger he used to grip his ceramic coffee mug.

Leaning a little forward in his chair, he looked me straight in the eye, the stench of his breath hot in my face. He rubbed his left hand on the thigh of his faded camouflage pants -- the green kind from a jungle war, not the sand-colored ones from a desert war. He told me he was fishing in Lake Harriet on one of those warm, sunny days last October.

“My butt was getting numb,” he said, “but I cast off one more time, and sat a bit longer. Then I felt a little tug-- like maybe I’d caught milfoil. There was weight but no wiggle, ya know what I mean?”

“Yeah, I do.” I’d fished some with my daughters.

“But that was no fish that broke the surface of the water.” His crow’s feet grew deeper as he broke into a smile, then pushed the coffee cup aside with the back of his hand, as though he didn’t want it to come between us.

“It was someone’s hand,” he said

Where's Billie?

Below is an excerpt from WHERE'S BILLIE?

They say freezing to death isn’t so bad. You start to hallucinate that you’re hot and you take all your clothes off, then just go to sleep and never wake up. I made a mental note to keep my clothes on. I’d be embarrassed to have someone find me naked and dead.

I had always pictured myself dying of old age, trying to remember the names of all my great grandchildren. I saw myself surrounded by family and friends as I slipped away, not alone, frozen in the newspaper’s car that didn’t have a cigarette lighter for a phone charger.

As I envisioned those surrounding my death bed, I saw the girls and their husbands, sobbing. I didn’t see Michael there.

Would Michael remarry? Probably. Would his new wife be good to my girls? He wouldn’t marry someone who would become a wicked stepmother, I hoped.

Would she repaint my living room? Probably, the bitch. 

Writes of Spring

 I was pleased to be invited to contribute to WRITES OF SPRING, an anthology of the work of Minnesota's best mystery authors. Once Upon a Crime, Minneapolis' finest mystery book store, will launch WRITES OF SPRING April 7, from noon to 4 p.m. I'll be there. Stop by and say 'hi.'

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