People have been asking me when I am going to start the second book of the Lizzie Crenshaw series. I have started it, but I hit a roadblock – a writer’s block, let’s call it what it is – and I couldn’t get past it. I had to think and talk it out with family and friends to get past it.
I thought I would share the rough draft of the first chapter with everyone. Please keep in mind it IS a rough draft. Despite the fact I am also an editor, I haven’t cleaned this up yet. Like all writers, anything written is subject to change. I mean, I might have to throw in more dead bodies! I have to keep my options open! 🙂
“What color can you paint it?”
“Hank, that’s the color it is now!”
“I know that, Miz Lizzie,” Hank Turner said. “Amos was the only person who ever asked me to paint his truck, and he always painted it the same color.”
“I know, I know, pistachio green,” I sighed. Even from beyond the grave, Amos Gardner, my deceased grandfather, was being a pain in my behind. “If I request a color, would you order it for me?”
Hank nodded. “Sure can.”
“Then why didn’t you tell me that in the first place?”
“Cuz you didn’t ask me that. You just asked what colors I had in stock,” he said, pulling out an order form.
I filled it out. “How much do I owe you?”
“You can pay me when the job is done.”
Thanking him, I buttoned up my black jean jacket, slung my satchel onto my shoulder, and left. It was a cold January day in North Texas, which made me very glad I had an indoor job at the newspaper. Yes, you read that right. I took a job at the one place I was told by my college professor I didn’t belong. Luckily for me, Dale Gordon, the newspaper editor, saw my potential after the articles I wrote about my late grandfather’s murder.
Speaking of which, I should update you on the trial proceedings. Earline, Amos’ widow and co-conspirator in his murder, spent a month in the hospital prison ward, recovering from her injuries. The list of charges brought against her included murder, conspiracy to commit murder, willful destruction of property (for burning down the Gardner house, which was listed on the National Registry of Historical Places), and a whole bunch of minor chargers that had eventually been dropped. I didn’t understand all the legal mumbo jumbo that was involved. her lawyer filed a motion with the court, claiming Earline had been a battered wife and had been forced to kill Amos to save her life. Anita Cardiff, the county prosecutor, said that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in you know where of that working, considering Earline, her best friend Barbara, and Debra, Amos and Barbara’s daughter, planned the murder for months.
As for Debra, no one had seen her since her car crashed into the trees. Speculation around town was she had escaped, but died of her injuries somewhere else. The only problem with that theory was no one had found her body. Considering the woman, who was unfortunately my aunt, had threatened to kill me, I really wanted them to find her dead.
I pulled my keys out of my jacket and headed for my car. Glancing toward the park, I did a double take when I saw my boss arguing with a man. Dale’s arms were waving around in the air as he paced back and forth. The man shook his head at whatever Dale said, which caused Dale’s eyes to bulge. I had seen that look many times before: the eyes always bulged right before he began yelling. Considering Dale had been diagnosed with high blood pressure a month ago, I decided to intervene before he had a stroke. “Dale!” I yelled as I rushed across the street.
He turned his head in my direction, which gave the other man the perfect opportunity. He punched Dale in the stomach.
Picking up speed, I tackled the man, knocking the wind out of him, and banging my knee on the ground as we fell. “Dale, are you okay?”
Gasping for air, he nodded. I looked down at the guy I was sitting on. “What’s the idea hitting him when he wasn’t looking?”
“It was the best way to shut him up so he would listen to me.”
I could understand how he felt. There were times I wanted to punch Dale so I could get a word in edgewise, but that was besides the point.
“Get off me, young lady. You’re crushing my ribs.”
“No more punching?”
“On my word of honor as a gentleman.”
Dale snorted. “Gentleman, my …”
I glared at him before getting up. Holding out my hand, I helped the man to his feet. “You two want to tell me what’s going on?” They looked at each other and said nothing. “Okay, let’s start at the beginning. Who are you?”
“He’s just a…business associate,” Dale said. “No one you need to worry about.”
“If he’s going to go around punching my boss, I am going to worry.”
“I’m Oliver Coogan, ma’am,” the man said, taking off his blue ball cap and offering his hand. “I’m an old friend of Dale’s from high school. We work together on occasion.”
“Lizzie Crenshaw,” I said shaking his hand.
“Okay, Lizzie, you can go now,” Dale said dismissively. “Oliver and I have some things to finish up. Don’t you have a story to write?”
I reached into my satchel and pulled out a manilla folder. “All done. I was on my way to drop it off.”
Dale snatched it out of my hand. “Now you don’t have to bother. I’ll talk to you later.”
Oliver looked at his watch. “I’m afraid I have another appointment. We can get together for dinner, Dale, and finish our business.” He put his hat on. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Ms. Crenshaw. Nice tackle, by the way.”
I watched him walk off before turning back to Dale. He held up his hand. “Don’t even ask, Crenshaw. It’s none of your damn business. He hurried over to his car, got in and drove off. I had a lot of questions I wanted to ask him, and I would later regret not getting the chance.