If you're at Malice Domestic, be sure to catch the Fifty Shades of Red Game Show tomorrow, Saturday, at 11:45!
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I'm the lonesome Red at home this weekend; Rhys, Hank, Hallie and Lucy are in Bethesda, MD, attending the Malice Domestic Conference, Debs and Susan are both in England, researching, and here I sit in Maine, waiting for the forsythia to sprout and feeling sorry for myself. Except! I'm buckled down writing, writing, writing. (Okay, with occasional breaks for driving, cooking and helping the Model UN Representative for Venezuela pull together her position papers. Besides that, it's all writing.)
So, what I'm writing? No surprise, I'm still working on HID FROM OUR EYES. I had really better get it done before I wind up having to excerpt all of it right here on Jungle Red! Today, a look back to 1972, with Chief of Police Jack Liddle, who's picked up 20-year-old Russ Van Alstyne for...well, you'll see.
At the car, Russell had folded himself into the front seat. He had taken off his t-shirt and was pressing it against his face. Jack got in, slammed the door, and reversed down the drive. He went up the road a good half mile until they were well out of range of the farmhouse, then pulled over. “Let's see it, then.”
Russell lifted his head. Jack winced. The boy's nose was bleeding, as was a cut over one eye and his split lip. “God amighty, boy, your mother's going to think I worked you over with a lead-lined hose.” He shifted into drive and got back onto the road. “C'mon, we've got to get you home. If you don't get some ice on that, your face is going to puff up like a parade balloon.”
Russ grunted, which Jack took for agreement. “You surprise me. He certainly got the better of you in that tangle.”
Russell shook his head. “Nuh-uh.” He moved his injured lip carefully around the words. “Didn't know how to fight. This,” he spread his fingers above his face, “dun't stop you.”
“It doesn't stop you, huh? What does, then?”
Russell pointed. His gut, his balls. His knee, his elbow. Jack thought back to the hold the boy had on Isaac before he'd been hauled away. Russell, he realized, had been five inches away from dislocating Isaac's shoulder and shattering his elbow. He dwelt on that as he navigated though the rolling fields bright with indian paintbrush and loosestrife, over Veteran's Bridge and into town, traffic picking up on this Monday morning, then hooking onto Old Route One Hundred by the river, rising north and west toward the mountains and the rough, rocky beginnings of the Hudson.
Finally, he said, “It wasn't a fair fight. I'm glad you didn't hurt him badly.”
Russell flashed him a look before letting his gaze drop to his hands. “I was afraid,” he mumbled.
Jack nodded. “You thought you might not be able to stop.”
Russell nodded. “If you... hand t' hand, you're not supposed to hold back.”
“But you did. You were angry, and surprised, and you still held yourself back.” He glanced over at the boy. “That's the mark of a man, Russell. Self-control. Without that, he's nothing but a bully and a brute.”
Russell nodded, slowly, then closed his eyes and sank into the seat. Even at that, there was still a wire strung tight through him, ready to lash him from rest at a moment's notice. Are you that afraid they've turned you into a killer, boy?
I do love Millers Kill, but maybe I need to start a second series set in, say, Aruba. Or the south of France. Somewhere I'll have to travel to regularly in order to research... hmm, maybe Nantucket?