That Sinister Thing

Eleventh Post

“Sam, I need to ask you about tonight. Do you mind telling me about it?”
“No, sure.”  Sam indicated putting the box of food on the hood of her car.
“Yeah, go ahead.  Just start from the beginning.”
X began taking notes as Sam told him from the starting from her call in, to when she drove into the diner’s lot.  Nothing in her demeanor or her narration of the evening led X to believe that Sam had any part in the disappearance of the body.
Devin searched the interior of the vehicle, nothing out of the ordinary.  Popping the trunk, he only found a couple of duffle bags of the funeral home’s packed with straps and monogrammed blankets.  He closed it and walked over to stand listening to Sam finish.
X looked up asking Devin with a nod of his head, Devin responded by shaking his head no.
“Sam, I have a question or two, if you don’t mind X.”
“Go ahead.”
“The bags in the trunk?”
“I did inventory and cleaning today.  Didn’t have the time to prep and set up the bags, so I took them home with me to fold and set up. I am on call, and getting paid.  It’s normal. Many times we get paid full when on call to do maintenance, or just the odd and end stuff.  TJ and I cleaned the carpets last spring at night on call. We got a call out and we just stopped where we were and completed the pick up and finished when we got back.”
“Ok, We will need you to go make a formal statement.  X do you know which agency is taking this one yet?”
“I don’t know but I can check.  If you want her to go to the Sheriff’s office, it’s closest.  You can take her statement, that way she can get out of her.  They can followup as necessary.”
“Ok, you fine with me follow her over? ”
“No problem, we are good here.”
X radio’d dispatch on his way to his car.  Sam grabbed the box of food off the hood of the car and sat it in the backseat floorboard.  Devin followed Sam to the Sheriff’s office a couple blocks away.  Once there Sam brought the box of food in.
“Devin, you hungry? It’s gonna get cold before I get it to TJ, might as well not let it go to waste.”
Devin smiled and took the box from her hands leading her into the office.

That Sinister Thing


“This has been an odd creepy night.”
“Odd and creepy? What do you mean Sam”
” TJ and I were on call.  We met to pick up a body.  It really started being odd at the nurse’s station.”
Devin had to smirk a little, rumors about Sam before he met her had been descriptions of odd and creepy.  After getting to know Sam there were other words he would have used to describe her.  At the moment his suspicion was tweaked.  Sam wasn’t easily spooked.  Yet, now, if he had to name the impression that bothered him most when they pulled in to the lot, and what made him ‘check’ her out was she was spooked.  She was scared. Only now talking to him, he was seeing her relax.  There was a sense of relief.  Why?  His instincts said they needed to start working the case now.
The state officer came out of the diner and nodded to Devin.  Sam turned to face X.
“TJ, he IS ok?  You aren’t just telling me that.”
“Sam, TJ IS ok.  I am sorry but we need to question you. Did you drive your car to the pick up?”
“Yes, do you need to search it or something?”
X was caught off guard by Sam’s response. Though she didn’t see defensive.  His eyebrow’s raised and he looked past Sam to Devin whose shoulders shrugged.
“My dad was a cop.  Here, you are more than welcome.  I locked it when I left in the parking lot.  It was locked and everything looked like I left it when I came back to drive here.”
Anyone else may have balked, but Sam knew she had no clue what was going on.  She didn’t know what it was, and the not knowing was the scary part.  X relieved her more than any of Devin’s words, even if something was wrong with TJ,  something  was being done about it.
“Dev, you want the car or . . . ?”
Devin saw the change Sam even greater when X nod about searching the car.  He tried not to take it personally, but she had definitely relaxed when he had indicated wanting to search.  He took a step forward and reached for the keys.

That Sinister Thing


Sam pulled into the diner’s parking lot, parked next to the state and county cars that were backed in opposite the lot’s entrance.  Still feeling the uneasiness from the hospital, it made her feel a little more secure. The officers were getting out of their vehicles stopping to eat on their dinner break. She walked in with them, nice guys she has known since she started working for the funeral home.
Making small talk as they walked in, they parted at the counter, Sam staying to pay for the pick up order and the officers walked farther on setting in a booth that faced the door.  Sam was walking back out, when the county deputy Devin Thomas caught up with her and walked her the rest of the way.
“Dev? Is there something wrong? TJ?”,  Sam stopped in her tracks, worry over her co-worker flooded her.
“No, Sam. TJ is fine.”   Devin was caught off guard, his suspicion now up, after hearing only part of the call over the radio about a missing body.  He had run out to catch up with Sam, while X called in they had Sam.  Knowing she had just left TJ, they wanted to stop her.  Not knowing for sure what was going on, or if Sam was apart of it.  It was hist job to check it out.
Sam let out a sigh of relief.  It still didn’t reliever her of the feeling that something was wrong.  Looking Devin in the eye looking to make sure he wasn’t just saying something to keep her calm.
“It has been an odd night Dev.  You are sure TJ is fine?”
“I promise you Sam, TJ is fine.  What do you mean odd?”

That Sinister Thing


“This is 911, what is your emergency?”
The voice on the other end of the phone stabbed a point of reality into TJ’s panic. He turned to check once more behind him. From the light shining in and reflecting off the clipboard laying on the seat to his right, he saw the signed and dated pick up papers for the body that was no longer in his possession.
“This is TJ Smith, I work at Johnson Funeral Home.  I just picked up a body, but the body is now missing.”
“Excuse me, TJ?”
“Yes, m’am, T.J. Smith.”
“TJ, where are you right now?”
“M’am I am at Johnson Funeral Home.  The address is 2955 Saratoga Street.”
“Ok, TJ, just a moment.”
TJ waited, taking a deep breath.  The dispatcher called for a call to meet a Mr. TJ Smith about a missing body at the Johnson Funeral Home.  The patrol car was sent on it’s way.  The conversations this call began spread across the county.  Hours from now it would be talked about across the state, by the end of the day, it was going to be national news.
The effects of truth and gossip would be felt for years later. The reaches of the events this night had begun, but were far from over.  It could be compared to a midwest twister, all the conditions are right, but you never really know where it will touch down, for how long, or who will be in the path.
“TJ is fine m’am.”
“TJ we have a car on the way to you. Are you ok?”
“Yes, m’am, I am fine.”
“I am going to stay on the line with you until they get there, ok?”
“Yes.  I hear the sirens now. They aren’t far.”
“Ok, that’s good.  Are you alone?”
“Yes, m’am.  I am. I see the car now. They are parked in front of me.”
“Ok, the officer wants you to get out of the car now.”
“M’am I am afraid to touch anything.  They stole the body out of the car. I didn’t notice it until I turned to back in to unload the body.  Someone had to have stole it when I went back into get coffee. That is the only time it was alone, but it wasn’t really alone.”
“Ok, Sir, just hold on.”
TJ saw the officer get out of the car.  He didn’t register that the officer was Paul Collins.  The chief of police until Collins was at his window pointing down, trying to get him to roll the window down.  Then held a finger up and pulled out his phone.
Tj’s phone rang, looking at the incoming call screen, ‘PAUL’ flashed and he had the option of putting 911 on hold and answering or ignoring.  TJ held the phone up and spoke to the 911 operator.
“M’am, Chief is calling me, I am hanging up on you right not.  I am sorry, but I need to go.”
“That is fine TJ.”  The operator was Betty, he realized after she’d hung up.  Betty sat next to TJ’s wife in the church choir.  The phone rang again, this time TJ answered.
“Paul, I picked up a body tonight at the hospital.  We put it in the back and I went to get coffee.  Sam was on call, she drove her car.  She was walking across the parking lot to it.  The car wasn’t left alone alone.  But I got in and Sam went to pick up breakfast at the diner.  I drove here, and  SAM!  Paul Sam’s not here yet!”
“Ok, just calm down TJ.  Sam is fine.  She is at the diner.  A couple of officers were eating at the diner when the call came across.  They stopped Sam.  They didn’t know what was going on, and wanted to make sure she was ok.”
“Oh, Thank you, Jesus!”


P. S. Ignore the Ham Sandwhich on the Shelf

Drive home conversation about my lack of confidence in my writing voice was not a comfortable conversation.  My input was broken and stilted emotional avoidance. The hub’s opinion was quite clear cut.

“Just write.” He said. “Quit self-censoring.”

No more stopping short?

Easier said than done. There is a deep vulnerability in writing. You, right now, are stepping into my mind.  Well, you are if I drop the distance between what you are reading and my inner voice, my writer’s voice.

My best stuff has at times shocked me. I don’t know where it comes from, that scares the ba-jee-bus out of me.  My alter-ego?  Damn.  Bitch is way out there.

Finding a path between out there and here? It’s a journey.

That Sinister Thing


What if…
The first body was stolen? Not just disappeared. The second family experiencing loss that night was one that had issues.  The almost-deceased’s daughter was angry with the choices of the parent dying. Let’s toy with the idea that she was the right hand. Having tried to please, and saw that her reward was not what she expected. She was passed over. Did she wait until death to steal the body as leverage to get what she wanted or did she abduct the parent prior to death to convince said parent to change their mind? Assuming the parent is a father.
The woman first met in the story, what if she is the illegitimate daughter of the woman above? Given away after birth to a very distant family member to be raised, and didn’t learn of her bio mom until after her beloved parent’s death.
The body is stolen, the wrong body, what becomes of it. Is there a contingency plan. Who is the mastermind behind the theft. What is his relationship to the distraught woman? Is there a relationship or potential relationship to Sam?
These are the possible backstory that is tumbling around in my brain.
Does Sam get arrested for the theft of the body?
IS this going to play out in a surreal fantasy atmosphere or will it become realistic and factual?  Or is this really just backstory that the reader may or may not know in order for me, the writer, to understand the motivation of the characters?

That Sinister Thing

sixth scene

In the spirit of the exercise, pushing outside my comfort zone of writing, this is/was a series of posts. A first draft if you will. In doing so there is back story information that is being made up as the story unfolds in my imagination. Not every word written nor piece of information I, the writer, formulate in my mind needs to be made known to the reader but this series, isn’t for a reader. This blog is about me developing my skills as a writer. Therefore, I am sharing all in this rough, first draft. Some may or may not make it into the story a second or final drafts, if there are any. Including my debates on whether or not this or that stays as part of the story or not.
Why? Because if I could look over another writer’s shoulder as they began their body of work, this is something I would have love to be able to do. Even as a reader, I would love to be able to read the thoughts of my favorite writers as they wrote, and not just the story.
So here goes the whole thing, kitchen sink and all.
I need to research the funeral home side of pick of bodies at facilities, proper vehicle, and then research the plausibility of a body being removed, from a lock vehicle.
The body picked up by Sam and TJ will be stolen. In the lot before they ever leave the parking lot. The why had been eluding me, then I woke up one morning during the Christmas season with this idea-
The family in the room down the hall, they are dealing with a death also. They feared that Sam and TJ were picking up their deceased, and this would not do. They had called ‘their own people’. This woman in the hall that unnerved TJ, is the daughter of the other deceased person.
TJ left the parking lot, driving somewhat distractedly to the funeral home. Pulling up in to the (loading/unloading- terminology) area, he pulled forward, as if to back in. Looking for the first time since TJ got in the vehicle in the rear mirror to check the body’s position from the wide sweep and assure himself that all was well before backing up into the now open bay/covered awning. He saw no body. He put the vehicle in park and turned his whole body to the right, slowly, eyes wide in disbelief. His head turning first, looking over his shoulder, seeing only the floorboard, turned shoulders and down to his waist, using his hands on the wheel, gripping tightly to wedge/will his upper body to turn and remain still.
Breath, Tj told himself. What is today? IT is Friday. Friday the tenth, not the thirteenth. He was on duty and he just came from a pick up. He turned back to sit facing forward. his watch on his left hand just barely perceivable under his jacket sleeve. Arching his wrist without taking his hands off the solid steering wheel, which was his grasp to reality at the moment. He checked the time piece. The face of the clock showing quarter til 2 the date the 10th, day, Friday. He was not losing his grip with reality.
Breathing in and out. He pulled his right hand from the steering wheel, reaching down to the cell phone clipped to his belt. Raising to rest his hand on the center of the steering wheel, he hit the button, lighting up the phone’s screen. Friday 10th, 1:46 AM flashed brightly. He hit the button again, and the screen of options popped up. Hitting the call button and seeing the keypad blaze in the dark. TJ dialed 911. As the phone began to ring, his thought his mind stopped. What the hell was he going to say?