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Busted, chapter 13


TheZot

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[i'm not sure if this is filler, setup (since it's only ~1200 words), or an introduction of more characters. But at least we learn something important -- Steve drinks domestic beer. (oh, the horror. The horror! :) )]

 

Joe pulled into the driveway of Steve's house at five minutes to two. The house was like all the others on the block. It was a neighborhood of older houses, middle class since the time they were built a century or more ago. They were all two-story buildings, old enough to have porches and dormer windows. A little wear around the edges, but solid and comfortable. Some of them, Joe was sure, had seen five or six generations of their residents. There were even people out on the streets, little kids and adults and senior citizens. It was comfortable and solid and anchored. Joe smiled, relaxed despite himself.

 

It was a beautiful summer day, sunny, bright, and just hot enough to feel like summer without beating you down. He'd come prepared, with two six packs of a good German beer and a beach towel stuffed into his gym bag. He was wearing a snug sleeveless lemon yellow t-shirt, a pair of black nylon swim shorts, and sandals. He wasn't sure why, but he wore his Speedos under the shorts.

 

There was another car in the driveway, an ancient VW Rabbit. It was green, though you'd be hard-pressed to see much paint. It was covered in more bumper stickers than he'd ever seen. Joe looked at them, amused. There was a good chance the owner was Wiccan, likely left wing, and definitely fond of stickers. Joe doubted it was Steve's.

 

He walked up to the front door and hesitated. This seemed like a good idea in the morning when he'd gotten up. Steve had been pretty clear the day before. For the tenth time he wondered why the man had asked him over. The invitation had been sincere. After what they been through together the day before, Joe felt like they had a sort of connection. That wasn't the reason, though.

 

Still, he had been invited, and he was there, so it was too late to back out now. He rang the bell. Moments later came the sound of running feet, then the front door was flung open by a boy who looked startlingly like Steve in miniature.

 

"Hello?"

 

Joe smiled. "Hi, I'm Joe. Your dad's expecting me."

 

He got an appraising look. The boy opened the door.

 

"Daaaaaaad! Mister Hennesy's here!"

 

Joe winced. The kid may have been small, but he had a voice that was probably heard at the other end of the neighborhood.

 

Joe stepped into the house. "Dad's out back," he said.

 

"Thanks," Joe said. He followed the boy through the living room and kitchen, then out the back door. Behind the house was a wooden deck, and past that an inground pool. A girl and young boy were in the pool, the boy wearing bright green inflatable water wings. There were a few lounge chair scattered around the pool, white tubing with floral cushions on them. There was a woman in a one-piece bathing suit lying on one of them. She was watching the kids, but gave a look in Joe's direction as he stepped on the deck.

 

The deck had a long wooden picnic table on it, a few chairs, and a gas grill with a blue cooler next to it. Steve was at the grill, and a man and a woman were sitting at the table. The sound of sizzling and the smell of cooking meat hit Joe.

 

"Oh, please," said the man at the table. "I can't understand why you don't believe. Clearly there are things beyond what can be seen with the mortal eye. You're a detective, surely you've found things you can't explain."

 

"Usually when I explain 'em, I get to lock 'em up after," Steve replied.

 

"Oh, hey, Joe," Steve said as he noticed Joe.

 

"Joe, this is my crazy brother-in-law Mike," Steve said, waving a spatula in the general direction of the man he'd been speaking with. Mike smiled and flipped Steve off. "And that's his lovely, but equally crazy wife Linda. Whatever you do," Steve whispered conspiratorially, "don't mention Roswell. Or Ho Hos."

 

Joe was taken aback. "Um, okay. Are twinkies fit for conversation?"

 

"Absolutely."

 

"Pay no attention to my excessively skeptical brother-in-law," Mike said. "He wouldn't recognize a real mystery if one jumped out and bit him in the ass."

 

"Yeah, right, Shaggy," Steve retorted. "Want a Scooby snack with your burger?"

 

Mike leaned back with a smile and casually flipped Steve off.

 

"Beer?" Joe asked, waving the bottles.

 

"In the cooler with the rest of 'em," Steve said.

 

Joe popped open the cooler and put the bottles of beer into it. There were already a dozen cans of Budweiser in it

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I drink Bud, but then where I live it's definitely not domestic.

Good chapter, good new characters - Mike 'the psychic' is a goody.

 

Chris (gotta be him) doesn't seem too happy to see Joe there ;)

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Heh. I'm trying to decide whether Mike's actually the serial killer or not. (I think there is one, at this point) I'm also trying to decide whether the girl Joe found a few chapters ago is actually his niece or not. (There's some dialog in the next chapter that ties in that may make that a possibility)

 

I'm thinking this is going to end up half and half romance and suspense. Somewhere in there I think I'm gonna have to use the line "There aren't any monsters hiding in the shadows, Joe. The people have scared them all away." I can see either Steve or Chris saying that. (I can't imagine being a police detective in a large city or with the state police (I'm not sure which) would leave one with too many illusions about the depths to which people won't sink...)

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I don't see Mike as a serial killer. If it's not Chris-Alex, it might be whoever did away with Alex the original in the first place. I'm thinking that there was an Alex, who was a twin of Chris's, and that some very gruesome thing happened to him before they moved to town -- that's strongly implied in several places already. Another possibility is that Chris was the one who died and that this Chris is really Alex who has been suppressing himself since the terrible thing happened because he always had the impression his parents liked Chris better (so when the terrible thing happened he just said he was Chris and they believed him, why not?).

 

 

This is such a good beginning that I'm terrified when you say you're not sure about things.

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Y'know, I hadn't even considered the fact that Alex could've been killed in the past and the killer was stalking people in the present. I actually kinda like that, possibly better than the idea I have on what's up with Chris and Alex. Hrm....

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Ah, what's to be terrifed about? Sure, I don't necesarily know which way this is going, but the nice thing is that it doesn't really matter, not right now. This is mostly setup, probably the first third or so of a novel. It needs to be clear that something is going on, and it needs to be internally consistent, but that's it.

 

Unfortunately I think poor Joe got tagged to be he Heroine In Danger. I expect he's going to be pissed. (And the urge to have Steve make "you're in deep shit" jokes at Joe and Chris' expense is going to be tough to fight off...)

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