Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Darkening Sturgeons: Chapter Ten

This chapter of my blog fiction is a week late for good reason...
Last week was the publication of my e-book "Dark Excursions: third set" and it did sort of eat up my time...

Chapter Ten

by John L. Harmon


    Sheriff Benjamin Straker and Chief Deputy Clyde Woodhouse sit silently in the parked SUV.  Their eyes stare at the sturdy brick wall of the Sturgeons Police Headquarters in front of them, both contemplating what Ms. Floridia Minch had reported.  Her uniquely informative words echo in the surrounding stillness.

    A large white van, plain as the day is long, pulled right up into the Widow Waterbottom’s cracked driveway.

    “I’ve seen that white van, Ben,” Clyde admits in a hushed voice, as if they are under surveillance in the SUV.  “On the way to Stickler Woods.”

    “I saw it then, too, Clyde,” Ben confirms in a similar tone while gripping the locked steering wheel.  “And once before, on the way back from Lake Pontoon.”

    She was a buxom blond, but there was professionalism about her.  An air of authority, like a teacher.  Very beautiful.

    “The blond woman…I, well, I…” Clyde loses his words, but finds new ones.  “I think she was the one driving.”

    He was a four-eyed, dark-haired hippie!  Though even with that hair he was surprisingly clean.

    “And the man…” Ben starts, not finishing his thought, certain the man must be the one from the bar.

    They were wearing lab-coats and performing tests or collecting samples, like in those absurd crime programs.  Except it was odd the way they worked, in unison but somehow opposite.

    Neither Ben nor Clyde knows what to think about that piece of information.  After a few more minutes of sitting in the dark SUV the law enforcement duo exit the vehicle, Ben grabbing an item from the backseat before shutting the door, and enter Headquarters to find Officer Leslie Johns waiting for them.  Ben had reported in immediately after exiting the house of Minch, so Leslie’s quick readiness is not a surprise.

    Attired in light blue, like Clyde, she is standing at the front counter with a determined smile on her face.  Her voice is like sweet maple syrup, “I’ve put out the APB for the surrounding counties.  Officers Cartwright and Norris have been called in to aid in the search for the white van in town.”

    “Excellent work, Leslie,” Ben commends, pleased with her efficiency, even if he deems it unnecessary, “but Clyde and I can search Sturgeons with you.”

    “With all due respect, Sheriff Straker, you and Chief Deputy Woodhouse have been on duty most of the day and nearly all weekend, so go home and get some sleep.  I’ll report in when we find something.”

    Ben, after a brief deliberation, realizes the need for sleep outweighs the need for action.  He also realizes a good sheriff spreads responsibilities throughout his trustworthy force.  “Clyde, you can go home and I will rest in the employee lounge.  Leslie, make sure someone wakes me when you’ve found the van.”

    “Will do, Sheriff Straker.”  Forever the professional, Officer Leslie Johns gives a nod and turns to leave, her short brown ponytail swishing in an arc.  Chief Deputy Clyde Woodhouse follows with a wave, eager to check the hits on his online dating profile within the privacy of his own home.

    Sheriff Ben Straker, as he makes his way to the employee lounge, feels an overwhelming sense of pride in the men and women who serve and protect Sturgeons.  Lawrence handpicked each of them, including Miss Whiffle who thankfully didn’t stay all night working, and they make quite a team.  Ben is certain that together they will find out what the hell is going on and prevent further disappearances.

    Entering the lounge Ben makes himself comfortable by taking off his boots, unbuttoning his shirt and placing the beige hat on the back of an old beat-up brown couch.  He situates himself on the couch, head resting on the cushioned arm, and opens the item he grabbed from the SUV.

    It is Lawrence’s decades-old high school yearbook.  The first thing he locates is the former sheriff’s senior picture.  Even though it is of a younger Lawrence, he is still recognizable; his reddish-orange hair is obvious even in black and white.

    “What was your reason for this?” Ben asks the picture, not expecting a response.

    After a moment of silence and a sigh, he flips through the pages.  Stopping every so often at a familiar name in sports, the school newspaper crew, a science fair spread, the drama club, and the chess club, he continues to ask the same question.

    Tired, and growing frustrated at the seemingly meaningless gift, or whatever it is, Ben puts the yearbook on the floor and closes his eyes.  Somewhere in his subconscious, between wakefulness and the swirl of sleep, he sees crisp blue eyes behind thick black glasses, intensified by a becoming smile.

    “Samuel Dwyer,” he mutters before falling into the sandman’s limbo.
Click CHAPTER ELEVEN to continue.

Until next time, Readers, be well and Freak Out,




Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Darkening Sturgeons: Chapter Nine

Another week, another chapter of my piece of blog fiction...

Chapter Nine

by John L. Harmon

    Floridia Minch, wearing her binoculars, sits extremely ladylike in a comfy purple recliner, surrounded by vivid blue velvet curtains.  Nearer to death than birth, this woman is a sight to behold, with her dainty figure and cropped bourbon wig.  She is also a force to be reckoned with, with her steely brown eyes and a voice that has been known to equally bawl out the deserving and undeserving.

    Reverent twanging faintly emits from a nearby radio as Floridia Minch reports what she witnessed this very night to the two officers-of-the-law seated in front of her on a purple sofa.  “Widow Waterbottom was on her front porch blasting away the blasphemous sound of country/gospel.”

    “Isn’t that what you’re listening to?” Chief Deputy Clyde Woodhouse asks, unsuccessfully holding back a chuckle.

    If looks could kill, Clyde would be a goner.

    “Bite your wicked tongue, young man!  This,” she points to her radio, “is gospel/country!”

    Clyde is about to inquire as to the difference, when Sheriff Benjamin Straker interrupts and apologizes, asking her to please continue.

    And Floridia Minch does, beginning with how she witnessed Straker breaking into Lawrence’s house.  (“I was investigating his sudden departure with the aid of a key,” Ben quickly explains to a wide-eyes and seemingly impressed Clyde.)  She then describes how, sometime after Straker departed, the light of the Widow Waterbottom’s porch slowly darkened.  After about ten minutes, she noticed the light gradually illuminating with Bertha Waterbottom nowhere to be seen.

    “Did you hear anything during this event?” Ben probes, thinking back to the helpless screaming of Bob Kinney and Tommy Schroder as described by the witnesses.

    “Her sinful music was far too loud to hear anything else.”

    “Well, thank you, Ms. Minch, for reporting this and giving us your time,” the Sheriff states as he rises, feeling there is nothing else to be collected from this witness.

    It has been a long weekend for Ben Straker, made even longer by this apparent third strange disappearance.  He had been at the bar, having a second unadulterated soda, when Joe the dispatcher contacted him.  There was a quick decision, on Ben’s part, to leave Officer Leslie Johns on duty at Headquarters and call in Chief Deputy Woodhouse.  Clyde had been present during the prior investigations, so he has more first-hand knowledge of the situation.

    “Have a nice evening, Ms. Minch,” the Chief Deputy nods, eager to escape the country/gospel or gospel/country, whichever, whatever the difference is.

    As the law enforcement duo turn to leave, Floridia asks in a lackadaisical, non-consequential tone, “Wouldn’t you like to know about the large white van that pulled up just moments after the porch light returned?”

    Ben and Clyde come to a screeching halt at the pointed question.  Giving each other a look of complete surprise, they turn and return to the purple sofa.
Click CHAPTER TEN to continue.

Until next time, Readers, be well and Freak Out,


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Darkening Sturgeons: Chapter Eight

My blog fiction continues...

Chapter Eight

by John L. Harmon

    Samuel sits in a bar predominately illuminated by neon signs, with corners as dark as his mop of hair.  Leaving his lab-coat with his coworker, he is attired in a dark blue, long sleeved, buttoned shirt (three buttons unfastened), faded black denim jeans, and blacker than black shoes.  Some would feel uncomfortable sticking out like a sore thumb in a hand full of plaid and rock concert t-shirts., but Samuel left such awkward feelings behind in his teenage years.  He easily relaxes on a stool, sipping a Gibson, enjoying the stadium rock of the jukebox, and conversing with the bartender.

    “So this is the pinnacle of Sturgeons nightlife?”

    “Yup,” Gordon, the bartender of many years, answers, giving a sly glance to the crowd whooping it up among the tables and chairs.  “For the 21-and-over crowd anyways.”

    Gordon leaves this extremely new customer to fill the orders of a few demanding regulars.  He has never seen a crowd like this on a Sunday night, but he knows it is a reaction to the strange tales circulating around town.  There is nothing like bizarre tragedies to put folk in a partying mood, to celebrate life and forget death.

    Samuel, sitting on the stool and taking in the rambunctious atmosphere, is contemplating similar thoughts.  Even if he could share what he knows, or suspects, the information would not have a mellowing effect on the crowd.  In fact, it would have quite the opposite result.

    Suddenly, the creak of the door interrupts all thought processes.  There in the doorway, silhouetted by a streetlamp and faintly illuminated by red neon, stands Sheriff Benjamin Straker, his beige hat on.  He remains motionless for an eternity of a moment, inadvertently silencing the music, the crowd, the world.  Well, at least one person’s world.

    Samuel’s crisp blue eyes zero in on that red neon-tinted beige and work their way down from there.  His becoming smile grows with the realization this uniformed man is the one he has twice caught sight of, albeit briefly.  Now there are no vehicles passing like ships in the night, there is just a solid stationary space.

    Releasing the room from the motionless moment, Ben lets the door creak shut as he maneuvers to the bar, placing his beige hat upon it.  He holds a finger up to Gordon, indicating his usual, and for a split second his light brown eyes roam, landing upon Samuel sitting several stools away.  Then this sweet potential is shredded, as if fate has other plans.

    The human equivalent of a freak storm cloud rises behind Sheriff Straker, glaring, fearful eyes are the lightning, and demanding voices the thunder.  Questions and accusations rain down on him as he turns around to bravely weather the onslaught.

    “Where are Bob and the Schroder boy?”  “How is it the Newcastle girl and Ol’ Ned are all right?”  “Why did Lawrence leave?”  “He had to have a reason!”  “Tell us what happened?”  “You know something, Straker!”  “Tell us!”  The crowd continues, shouting various names of townsfolk who could be responsible, along with accusing the government, Bigfoot and aliens.

    Samuel sits there silently, mesmerized by the mob mentality.  He has never witnessed such a fascinating and disturbing display.  After a moment he nudges up his glasses and rises to his feet to put an end to this growing insanity.

    In the same instant, Gordon bangs a croquet mallet against the bar and bellows like a foghorn, “Sheriff Straker is doing all he can!  Let him have a drink in peace, as any man deserves!”

    This does the trick.  The storm of people subsides, falling back to the tables and resuming the music.  Sheriff Benjamin Straker, none the worse for wear, faces Gordon with a ‘thank you’.  He had been waiting for such an angry scene.

    Samuel, remaining on his feet, decides there is no time like the present.  He saunters over, taking a breath in preparation to introduce himself to the rather striking Sheriff, when his cell phone beeps loudly, indicating a vital text message from Christine.

    “Damn it,” he whispers, checking the screen.  Detection!  The one-half of a scientific duo quickly departs the bar, leaving his heart behind.

    “Who was that, Gordon?” Ben inquires, in a not-completely-professional tone, between sips of his unadulterated soda.

    Gordon, the bartender of many years, puts away his croquet mallet and shares with the Sheriff what information he gleaned from his extremely new customer, “Says his name is Samuel Dwyer and that he is just passing through.”
Click CHAPTER NINE to continue.

Until next time, Readers, be well and Freak Out,
Author's Note:
Are you enjoying "Darkening Sturgeons"?
If your answer is yes, please check out the trailer for my first e-book...
It is a twisted tale of friendship, love, betrayal, and death.