In this scene from HID FROM OUR EYES, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne is checking out an abandoned house that may have seen some recent activity. I set this during a pleasant summer afternoon, but I may go back and recast it at night if I want to give the moment more of an ominous edge.
He decided to check out the old Cunningham house himself. He might have sent one of his officers, but it was on the way to his mom's and he could stop in and assure Mrs. Guthrie that no, the farmhouse up the road wasn't being used as a drug depot, or biker gang headquarters, or brothel. Actually, that last was a possibility, in that some teenagers might have discovered the shuttered house was the perfect sheltered spot to play a little slap-and-tickle.
There was no car at the end of the long drive, but the house had clearly been opened recently. Several windows were propped open with squared-off sticks, and old sun-faded drapes were puffing and flapping in the warm summer wind. One of the front steps had been pried clean off, the punky boards tossed in the grass next to a hammer and a can of nails. Russ tested the step above before putting his weight on it. The porch planking had also been decimated, empty spaces gaping, a hand saw left near the edge. Russ could see fresh cuts where someone had been sawing off the ragged, pulpy ends of the still-intact boards.
Balanced between the gaps, he knocked on the door. No answer. He tried the handle. It turned. He swung the door open onto a wide center hallway that was a hell of a lot cleaner than it should have been in a house that had been empty for over a decade.
Either the place was the hangout of a gang of super-neat Girl Scouts, or it had been sold. He'd tell Mrs. Guthrie and she could come over with one of her god-awful pies and meet the new folks. When he got back to town, he'd double check with Roxanne Lunt – if the Realtor hadn't sold the property herself, she'd know who had.
He was stepping out of the house, watching his steps to keep from falling through, when he heard the voice.
“Hey, there. Find what you were looking for?”
Russ almost stumbled. He glanced up just long enough to see an old man in jeans and a plaid shirt. Keeping his eyes on his feet, he crossed the remains of the porch. “Sorry to trespass. Your neighbor up the road saw some activity and asked us to check it out.” He jumped off the steps and headed toward the man. “I'm Russ Van Alstyne, chief of--” The old man was grinning at him. Washed-out blue eyes, heavy grooves, thick-set shoulders - “Chief Liddle!” Russ felt himself straightening like a rookie at parade drill.
“Nice to see you again, Russell.” Liddle shook his hand. “Nice to see you in the uniform. Suits you.”
What sort of fictional settings have you felt revealed the characters?