The other night my darling wife and I took a drive to see some of the outdoor displays. I’ve never been a fan of the inflated Santa Claus or various characters that are about nowadays like Mickey Mouse, Minions, and Snowmen, to name a few. It’s the festive lights that always appeal to me. As we cruised slowly through different neighborhoods, a memory came to mind.
Years ago we lived next door to Greg and Denise. Greg was an engineer and took great pride in his efforts to light up his yard. He even went so far as to draw up a diagram of the exterior, indicating where every tree and shrub was and exactly which strand of lights fit in.
One evening I came home from work to find Greg on the front sidewalk, admiring his handiwork. When facing the houses, the left corner of his lot was adjacent to the right corner of mine. There was no fence or barrier. Greg and I chatted for a minute and he made some kind remarks about my own light display. Until he pointed at the cherry tree on the right corner of my lot.
“You need lights there,” Greg said.
“Yeah, but there’s no power near that spot.”
He clapped me on the shoulder. “You’ll figure it out.” Then he went inside for dinner. This wasn’t the first time he’d encouraged me to light that tree. Then I realized that it was about ten feet from the last shrub in front of his house to my cherry tree. A quick check confirmed that the plug at the end of his strand was available. Could it be that easy?
Hey, he was the one who wanted lights in the cherry tree!
The next day I put a couple of strands into the tree branches, ran a short cord to the edge of his property and plugged it in.
A few nights later I came home from work to find Greg once again on the sidewalk, admiring his scenery. He was shaking his head as I approached.
“Nice to see some lights in that one,” he said, gesturing at the cherry tree. “But it’s the craziest thing. That one goes on about half an hour before the rest of yours.”
“Guess I’d better reset the timer.”
There are times when events from real life are just too good to pass up when working on a story. I’ve done it on occasion and there are at least two segments in “Your Turn to Die” that actually happened. It will be up to the readers to figure those out when it’s released.
Here’s an excerpt from “Why 319?” that is based on a real conversation. In this scene Chene and Megan are searching a crime scene for clues that may help lead to the killer.
The kitchen was a mess. Blood smears covered the floor where Myers had been gunned down simultaneously by me and Laura. The walls were splattered too. We stood in the doorway and surveyed the room.
Megan clucked her tongue against the roof of her mouth. “Why is it we always end up in a place like this when I’m wearing a new pair of boots?”
I glanced down at her feet. These were bright red ones, with a rounded toe and a short heel. It was difficult to determine how far up her leg the boot went.
“How the hell can you run in something like that?”
“I’m a woman. I can adapt to any situation and do it with style.”
With a disgusted smirk, I turned my attention back to the room. There was a cheap table pushed against the wall, an old drop-leaf thing that had seen better days in the 1960s. Two padded vinyl chairs flanked it. There was the usual kitchen clutter, salt and pepper shakers, a sugar bowl, and a small bottle propped against the wall. There was also a stack of magazines and mail scattered across the surface. I pointed those out to Megan. She picked her way across the room, taking great pains in where she placed her feet.
I focused on the cupboards above the sink and counter. There was a jumble of mismatched glasses and plates, along with souvenir coffee mugs from various casinos and restaurants. It was obvious Myers didn’t care much about the furnishings of his kitchen. I was about to close the last cupboard when something caught my eye. Up near the very top of the door, close to the hinge, was a small round hole. The hinge was too high up for me to see it clearly.
“Find anything good?” I asked Megan.
“A couple of old newspapers, the kind filled with coupons. His bills for the internet service and cable, along with his cell phone bill. There is a magazine about weapons that looks like he bought it somewhere.”
“Hand me one of those chairs.”
Her eyes flicked to the open cupboard. Megan grabbed the closest chair, then swung it to where I could take it from her without disrupting the mess on the floor.
“This guy was a slob. He couldn’t even put shelf paper in the cupboards,” Megan said with disgust.
“Men don’t bother with shelf paper.”
“Yet another piece of evidence that proves women are superior.”
“Can you see anything odd from there?” I stepped onto the chair.
“Just the usual stack of dishes.”
I took a good look inside the cabinet. Mounted high up against the back wall was a small video camera. It was aimed so that when the cupboard door was closed, it would be able to film through the hole by the hinge. My guess was that it would easily take in the occupants of the little table. If the camera had a wide angle lens, it might capture everything within the kitchen.
Holiday tunes are everywhere. Here's a rendition of Santa Baby that's a little bit different.