HANK: This is never going to work. I’m not kidding. This is the worst thing ever.
HUSBAND JONATHAN: Honey, you always say that. And the books are always wonderful.
HANK: Well, thanks, but this could be the time it actually doesn’t work.
Jonathan: You always say, that, too.
Hank: (considering) I do? (considering again) But this could be the time it actually doesn’t work. I mean, there’s got to be a time that it doesn’t, and it could be this is it.
Jonathan: You always say that, too.
HANK: And he’s right, I know I do, thanks to my Sue Grafton-inspired writing diary. On January 27, 2012, I wrote in that diary: “I GOT NOTHIN’” (Yes, in all caps.)
And nine months later I had THE WRONG GIRL. (An Agatha and LCC nominee!) So, yeah, proof I was wrong. I love to be wrong.
In January 2013, I wrote in the diary: “What if I can’t do this?”
Nine months later, I had TRUTH BE TOLD. (Which I LOVE. And which will be out September 30! I am sure, ahem, you will hear more about this...)
Now, in January 2014, I am 15 pages (hurray hurray hurray!) into WHAT YOU SEE.
I am trying to balance my terror and my excitement, trying to balance my eagerness to see find the story in this book with my absolute knowledge that I have NO IDEA what happens. Pantser city.
Now, I would never do this, usually, but we are all in this together. So here is a true first draft—no, this isn’t even a first daft. It is the crazy banged out work of a person who is just trying to get the words on the page.
I will fix it later. And nine months from now, we can talk about it again.
As for now, Reds: Can you picture his scene? Hmmm...I haven’t really described anyone. Do I need the word "replied"? I don't think I need "replied." “Absurdly?” How should I replace “visitor magnet”? “Red and white” seems too easy.
Who knows how much of this part of WHAT YOU SEE—if any!--will be the same, nine months from now. But that’s the exciting part.
“Somebody saw something. And most of them took pictures of it.” Detective Jake Brogan watched the uniforms try to corral the chaos of tourists and brown-bag toting Bostonians as two crime scene units unspooled parallel rolls of yellow tape. Sirens wailed as three EMTs leaped out of their red and white ambulance, the beeping walk signal insisted clustering pedestrians should cross Congress Street, angry drivers honked their disapproval as newbie police cadets in orange webbing signaled them to stop.
Jake had heard screams through the plate glass front window of the Bell in Hand, left his carry-out roast beef sub on the counter, ran half a block. Found this. Lunch hour, now placed on hold by murder.
“Wall-to-wall spectators, the good news and the bad news.” Paul DeLuca replied, shaded his eyes with one hand. Scanned the shoulder-to-shoulder circle of onlookers. The two detectives, partners four years now, had split up to grab lunch, D opting for the corner Dunkins. DeLuca still held his iced coffee, third of the day. “Who called 911? Anybody run?”
“What we’re about to find out,” Jake said. “Most cases we catch, nobody saw anything. Here’s the opposite. Almost too many witnesses. That’s a new one.”
In the center of the sidewalk, in the noontime shadow of the burnished bronze knee of the Mayor Curley statue, some poor soul in a white t-shirt lay face down, his running shoes splayed, a navy blue Sox cap teetering on the concrete, the hilt of a knife protruding absurdly between his shoulder blades.
The medical examiner had radioed Jake she was minutes away. They’d need to dispatch the cleanup team, too. With the fourth of July a month away, the new mayor would go ballistic over the growing puddle of red now staining this concrete pathway along the visitor-magnet Freedom Trail. So much for the beginning of tourist season.
Across the street, the teeming marketplace behind Faneuil Hall, persistent vendors pushing Sam Adams tri-corns and Boston Strong t-shirts and cheap plastic lobster souvenirs. The visitors who had been unlucky enough to witness this noontime stabbing had just received a souvenir they might want to forget. But not until Jake picked their brains. And their cell phones.
“I want names. I want addresses. I want their phones and I want their cameras.” From moment one, Jake knew this would be a mess. Some of these people would lie, some would make stuff up, some would see things that never existed, some would have something to hide. Some would run. Complicating it all, he and DeLuca technically needed a warrant to seize property against a person’s will. If these onlookers knew the law, and gave them grief about it, it’d be even more of a shitshow. He pointed his partner toward the cadets. “D, you wrangle the new kids. Tell ‘em, don’t let anyone leave.”
“Where’re we gonna put ‘em all?” DeLuca sucked a hit of coffee through a clear straw. “The Garden? Maybe they can watch Disney on Ice while we get their deets.”
DeLuca had a point, and even the bleachers of nearby Boston Garden sports arena were not the solution. How could Jake keep fifty or so witnesses, from little kids to one guy in a wheelchair, essentially in custody while a group of inexperienced cadets tried to collect personal information and possessions? If they’d gone to lunch at Santarpio’s over in Eastie, where Jake had suggested, dispatch might have sent someone else to handle this.