Forever Cold – 4


Big, dry snow flakes. Accumulating at a very fast clip. The roads already have a foot of snow. Traffic is nonexistent now. All the townspeople were in town earlier in the day stocking up on food and batteries. Being stuck in your home for a few days or a week is not too uncommon. When the boys get out the dump trucks with the blades on the front and start getting all these county roads plowed and sanded, thats when you can drive again.

Silverville has a 3 man crew for town maintenance and snowplowing. All 3 are sitting in the towns maintenance shop drinking coffee and playing cards. No real sense in getting out to plow as long as it keeps snowing as heavily as it is. The blades on the trucks don’t care if the snow is 2 feet thick or 3 foot thick. So cards it is, at least for a while longer.

But one business in town is bustling. Mannys, right on the edge of town is one of those one-of-a-kind bars that defy description. It used to be a double screen theatre, when it closed Manuel ‘Manny” Garcia bought the property. The middle of the place is one huge horseshoe shaped bar. One side of the building is devoted strictly to pool tables and small booths and tables. 20 tvs hang from the ceiling placed strategically for easy viewing. This is the Bar side of things. The other side of the place is set up as a family restaurant. Larger tables, brighter lights and less noise on this side. Amazingly both sides are kept pretty busy most of the time. A little busier on the family side with the breakfast and lunch crowd, busier in the evening on the bar side. Manny oversees it all. A large man with an easy laugh and generous to a fault. But if you push him too far, or disrespect a female, you find yourself on your ass outside of the bar. Mannys youth was spent in East LA. running with various gangs, Manny made a name for himself as a no nonsense enforcer. After 10 years in the penitentiary, Manny disappeared from LA never to be seen there again. He had hurt enough people, time for change. And here he was, just 10 years later, clean and respectable, owning a good business and being responsible. A very nice change indeed.

Jack rode the 10 miles into town on his snow machine, fresh snow all the way. Its been a week since Crank was over and Jack needed to get out of the house for a bit. Parking outside of Mannys alongside the other 20 or so machines, he noticed that this was todays mode of transportation. No trucks in the parking lot today. Just snowmobiles, covered in inches of new snow, and the occasional set of cross country skis or snowshoes leaning against the building under the eaves.

Walking into the first set of doors there is the ‘boot room’. This entrance into the bar is where you leave your muddy/snowy boots and coats. If you walk into Mannys with your boots on, all the patrons turn to you and yell ‘Boots!’ like your mom would. It only takes one of those to make you remember to change out in the boot room.  A supply of slippers of all sizes are provided for those with cold feet. The little kids love the Elmo slippers. Its hard to keep them though. They tend to find their way home on 4 year old toes. Manny spends a lot of money each fall restocking the Sesame Street slippers. Jack slides into a nice set of sheepskin slippers and opens the next doors into the bar.

Amazing smells of big green chile burritos, the scent of alcohol, and the fragrance of warm bodies all wrapped in the nice sound of humanity in a good mood greet him. Before he was two steps in the door he hears “Jack, over here!”. He turns and sees Crank in a booth in the distant corner. Walking to the booth he sees a stunning young woman sitting there also. “Crank has a girlfriend” Jack thinks erroneously. “Jack, this is Abby Carmichael, Silverville Sheriff,” Crank says, and then turning to Abby, “And this is Jack Taylor, retired FBI and new citizen of Silverville.”  Abby rises to shake hands and a small spark of electricity crosses through them as they grasp. The friction from the sheepskin slippers probably. “But a nice omen anyway” Jack thinks.

As soon as he settles, Manny walks over. Walks really isn’t the word here. Manny occupies space like a sumo wrestler. He moves with a deliberance. A shift in the force. Manny isn’t fat, he’s just BIG. He nods to Abby, “Sheriff,” then to Crank, “Coroner”. Crank pipes up, “Manny, you’ve known me what, 5 years now? Please, for the umpteenth time, call me Crank.” Manny gives a playful leer, He knows that bugs Crank, thats why he does it. He extends a hand the size of a skillet to Jack. “I’m Manny, nice to meet you.” Jack hides his hand in Mannys. “Jack Taylor, Nice to meet you.” “Just wanted to say hello, I’ll have Chris over here shortly.” With that Manny spins his gravitational force thru its axis and heads to the bar area where, with just a glance, he quiets a table of loud drinkers.

“Jeez, he’s huge” comments Jack. “That he is.” Abby says, watching Manny leave. “Crank tells me you were FBI.” “Yeah, 20 years. Worked my way up to a lead investigator and team lead. Retired about a year ago, moved here for peace and quiet.” “Quiet we got, peaceful is spotty.” Abby adds. Abby looks at Crank and gives a imperceptible nod. Crank starts “Jack, Abby and I need some of your experience. And since some of it may concern you directly, we would like to ask for some advice.”  Abby interjects “All my budget dollars are tied up, Jack. I can’t pay you one red cent without there being some sort of inquisition from the accountants. But we, I, could use some help here.” Jack looks into her big brown eyes, gets lost for a moment, and replies. “I’ll do what I can.”



Forever Cold – 3

Please read from #1 to keep up. Comments welcome.


Jack Taylor looks out his back door of his modest cabin. He has owned the land for years, but only recently moved in. Located in a small valley high in the Colorado rockies, he has a nice view of a small creek that meanders through his acreage. There is a small pond the stream flows through. Lots of Aspen trees and pine. And visits from all sorts of wildlife are not uncommon. He leases out his 200 acres to a local rancher who runs a few head of cattle and horses. Some of the land the rancher grows hay on for winter feeding. He’s not going to get rich on the lease money, but it pays the mortgage. Jack planted native grasses in his yard instead of grass. Less mowing that way. And it is less of a magnet to the deer. Deer are like big goats. Everything is edible to them. Not many vegetable gardens up here are left untouched by these damn deer. Situated in the back corner of his yard is a wrecked blue sedan. Well, it used to be blue, but now its kind of a dusty brown from all the weathering this past year. Jack rarely visits the car, feeling that the view of it from his back porch is close enough for now. He was close to the car plenty after it was dragged from the lake with his dead wife inside. Its been a long year.

After retiring from the FBI in Denver, Sarah and Jack were going to live in a small town and lead the simple life. But ghosts from his past changed all that. The investigation revealed that Sarah had been targeted. The toxicology report showed drugs in her system from the wine. And her car had been tampered with. Almost all of the safety systems had been altered. There was no way anyone would have survived all that, let alone his diminutive Sarah. Further investigation had led the FBI to look into Jacks past at various cases he had closed. They had narrowed the field of prospective suspects down to about a dozen. But with no real solid clues, it had ended there. The water in the lake had erased more then just his wife’s life. The only real evidence was the yellow sticky note. The few days submerged in the water with his wife had really faded the writing and left the ink so damaged no real forensics could be done on it. But the message was undeniable to Jack. “I’m coming back” is all it said. It made no sense to anyone else. But it made sense to Jack. Not too long after the investigation was finished he bought a small ranch 10 miles outside of Silverville, Colorado. Some said he was hiding. Some thought he was running. He thought he was trying to start anew. Maybe there is truth in all of them.

The engine he heard first. Coming down the long dirt road from the highway was an old Ford pickup. The driver was getting out of the cab when Jack opened the front door. Keeping a 12 gauge within easy reach he leaned on the door jamb. “Jack!” Crank yelled as he saw his old friend in the doorway. “Is that you, Crank?” Jack asked incredulously. They shake hands in the driveway. No guy hugs here. Not this generation. “Come on in Crank.” Jack insists. “It sure is nice to see an old friend.” They work their way up the the porch. The temperature is in the 50s still. Not bad for October. Jack grabs a bottle of Scotch and two tumblers and sits on one of the padded wicker chairs. Crank pours a couple of stiff pulls, and they both settle back.

“Looks like snows coming.” Crank says after a good swallow. “See how dark the clouds are at the edges.” Jack nods and says “I haven’t been here long enough to see those signs.”  Crank nods and they sit silently for a few minutes. “Look, Jack,” Crank says “I came to see how you were doing. I heard about Sarah and I felt there was nothing I could do 300 miles away.” “There was nothing you could do.” Jack offered. “The investigation came up empty. And after all that happened, I guess, well…” Jack tailed off in thought. More silence. Jack then brightened “Hey, I heard you were working here.” “Yeah, got tired of the big city rat race and took the job offer here in Silverville a few years back.” Crank replied. “Pay is a bit less, but the views are incredible. And with only one stop light in town there aren’t any traffic jams.”  “Its a whole lot quieter up here as well.” Jack said. “Sometimes I miss the work, Not the cases I mean, but I miss the people sometimes.”  Crank was ready. “We have a case going on now that has us stumped. We could use a new set of eyes on it, and with your experience, well, who knows what could happen.” Jack cringed. “I don’t know. I’ve been out of it for more than a year now. And after my Sarah was taken from me, I just don’t have the heart for it.”

  Crank thought for a while. “Jack, just think about it. We have a new sheriff who is really smart and she’ll listen to experience like yours.” “She?” Jack shot back. ‘A female sheriff? My how times change.”  Crank answers “She’s good Jack, and cute. Look her up and introduce yourself to her. Just leave my name out of it. Abby will not forgive me if she knew I was talking to you without her knowing.” Jack and Crank stand up at this. Crank makes to leave, but turns to Jack. “I heard there was a note in the car.” Jack paled at this. Crank continued “We have a case which I think you will be very interested in.” “What do you mean?” Jack asked. “There was writing on the bathroom wall, Jack. In the victims own blood.” Crank offered. Jack waited for more. “It said ‘I’m Back.’“  Jack could barely move. The blood rushing in his ears sounded like the ocean. Crank helped him back to the wicker chair. After a few minutes Jack came out of it and said “I’ll look her up, Crank, I’ll find Abby.”

Forever Cold – 2

If you are new here, read the post below first. Comments welcome.

2 – Current day

“Sheriff! Over here!”  Abby scoots around the overturned furniture and slides into the hall towards the voice. In the back bedroom is a scene of chaos. Blood on every surface. Nothing in the right place. And a mans body laying across the bed. Without a head. “Jeez, Mike, you could have said something.” Abby says as she turns her head, coughs a little and tries to hold back the gag reflex. Mike, her 2nd in command, is scribbling in his notebook as the coroner finishes his routine. “The house belongs to Earl Wilson” Mike continues without looking up, “We’re thinking this is Earl, but we’ll wait for Crank.” Crank, the coroner, looks up. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure this is Earl. I’ll know more later. Assuming you have a head to go with the body.” Abby looks at Mike, “You don’t know where the head is?”. Mike shrugs his shoulders. “Not yet, we’re just starting to look around.” With that he moves past Abby and moves outside with a few of the other officers into the yard. Abby and Crank just stand there looking at each other. Neither one really wants to move around the room much with all of the slippery body fluids on the floor. The sticky, sucking sound as your shoes move through it really tests your stomach.

From the doorway Abby scans the bedroom. All seems to be here, although all on the floor. Dresser, lamps, bed linens, etc. She carefully tiptoes into the bathroom in the far corner. No blood in here. All is neat and orderly. “Obviously a bachelor”, Abby says under her breath. She pulls on her latex gloves and gingerly pulls open the mirrored vanity above the sink. Toothpaste and headache medicines. A few prescriptions. Nothing unusual. Turning to her right she pulls back the shower curtain. Perched on a chair, in the middle of the tub, is Earls head. Eyes open, looking right at Abby. “Mike!” Abby screams and starts backing up. She backs into Crank, and startled by his presence, screams again. Turning towards him “Goddammit, Crank! Let a girl know when you’re behind them will you!” Crank steadies Abby. As Abby is looking at Crank she sees his eyes widen and stare. Turning to the bath again she sees it herself. Written on the back tile of the shower is ‘I’m back’  in Earls blood.

The next day they all meet back at the station. Crank and Mike already have coffee and are sitting at the big table in the break room they all use as a central point. Abby is getting a mug of Earl Grey going when Crank starts. “My initial review shows Earl was slammed in the head with something like a hammer. I don’t know if he died immediately or not. His head was cut off with a regular hand saw. Like you would use on a two-by-four.” Mike and Abby cringe a little at the thought. In a small town like Silverville you don’t get a lot of grisly crimes to harden your emotions. Mike shuffles some papers around. “What?” Abby asks. Mike doesn’t say anything for awhile. “ We’re still looking around the house some. We’ll be there for a few more days. But the boys and I are coming up empty. Not empty in that there isn’t anything there, But empty in that Earl doesn’t exist.” “What does that mean?” asks Crank. “I ran Earls information from his Drivers license and and other IDs through Acuranet and Earl doesn’t exist past 8 years ago.” Mike counters. “I’ll keep trying everything I can, but it seems as though our recently departed has been hiding from something.” “Or someone.” Abby adds. Crank stands up and walks around to the coffee maker. “I used to know someone when I worked in Denver. He retired a few years back and made a move out here. I can contact him if you want.” Abby looks deep into her mug. “I’ll think about it.” Crank nods. Then adds “He was a really good investigator but he’s got a lot of baggage.”

‘Forever Cold’ – 1

Working Title – ‘Forever Cold’

 Synopsis…Widower trying to cope with untimely death of his wife under suspicious circumstances, enlists the help of a plucky young female sheriff in a small mountain town to solve the case. Small town politics and shadowy individuals in a rural, rugged section of the mountains make getting information difficult at best. Select townspeople turn out to be reliable and quirky. The young beautiful sheriff and our widower (a former big city FBI agent, since retired) form a tight friendship that eventually leads to a more romantic relationship.

 Location…The high Rockies where the weather is unpredictable and dangerous.

 Timeframe…Recent and current.

 Opening setup…One year ago…

 Exterior…The camera is high overhead. The view is of a forest in late fall. Few leaves remain, and those that do are brown and dingy. It is a gray, cold dark day where it doesn’t know whether to rain or snow, so it does both at once. A breeze coming in over the lake makes it even colder. The snow is skipping over the water and landing on the thin layer of ice jutting out from the shore a few feet. All in all, a day to spend indoors.

 A thin line meanders through the forest, sometimes alongside the large lake, sometimes in the middle of the forest. The camera starts descending along with the rain and snow mix. We see vertical silvery drops of rain and snowflakes passing in our field of view. As the camera gets lower we see that the thin line is becoming a gravel road through the forest. A sedan is traveling down the road. It is swerving slightly and appears to be going too fast for the conditions.

 Car Interior…She is so tired. The cars heater is stuck at full blast. The radio is playing quietly. The controls on both of them seem to be glued in place. She tried to move them but they wouldn’t budge. So she left them and started home. Halfway home her eyelids are so very heavy. Between the glasses of wine at the bar and the car heater she is too relaxed. She is fighting sleep and is steering the car occasionally, trying to keep it in between the ditches on both sides of this gravel road she uses as a shortcut to home. She misses the sharp turn by the lake.

Exterior shot…The car hits the small berm on the side of the road and launches into the air. We see the car do a nice arc, nosing into the lake and stopping violently as it hits and sends up a large plume of freezing water at its front bumper.

The airbags deploy explosively, waking her up immediately. Adrenaline pumps through her veins as she wildly looks around and tries to orient herself. Water is already streaming through the floorboards and somewhere under the dash. The freezing water is already up to her knees causing her legs to cramp. The seatbelt is so tight, it wont release its hold on her, keeping her back against the seat. She fumbles for the seatbelt release latch, it too won’t budge. neither the door handle or the power windows will move. Everything she tries seems frozen into place. The water is now at her waist and rising rapidly. The airbags are holding some leftover air and are bobbing at her face in the rising water. She is in full-on convulsions now. The adrenaline in her body and the cramping in her body are working against her, causing sharp pains and keeping her from pulling in a full breath of air. She is asphyxiating already, and there is still a full minute before the car goes under. She claws at everything in her reach. Water is now up to her neck. She strains up to the ceiling for any remaining air. Now that the car is tilting towards the bottom of the lake, the air is migrating up and towards the back of the car, away from her. Only a few breaths left, and then she sees the note. It is a yellow sticky note attached to the lining of the roof, by the rearview mirror. With her last  remaining thoughts she tries to fathom what it says.

On writing…

Fall in the orchardsI read a lot. Between my iPad, iPhone and home computer i ingest far more than I’m able to write on this site. I tend to return to good writers, especially if they have a blog. Some of my favorites are Kirk Tuck for those wanting a behind the scenes look at professional photography. A really eclectic site is BHJ (coarse language). This little gem about Mr. Rogers. And more are out there. Add to the comments on what sites you like to read.

I try to write well and sometimes I really get going. My best writing, I think, was the post below on the slides I found at the yard sale. That got me the most feedback and comments. It was posted on The Online Photographer. And then there are always those who will disagree with most anything written. Read Kirk Tucks last post. What a waste of good writing. Im really going to miss reading him. All because of an offhand comment about his site.

I really respect those that can write consistently well and often. I get blocked so many times when I think about my own writing. Maybe they are just excuses, but some are legitimate. Mainly my work schedule precludes me from writing regularly. For instance I will leave this weekend and be gone for about the next 2 weeks straight. And it is hard to write from the road. Its difficult for me to get into and maintain the correct frame of mind I need to write. Life intrudes. My other shortcoming, I believe, is my inability to string together a really long narrative. I seem to be able to write short posts. But anything  longer, like a short story, absolutely flummoxes me. So the next great American novel won’t be from me.

So those of you out there tell me whats up. Whose site are you looking at? What writer is turning you on right now? Share with the others on where to turn for different viewpoints or ideas. Contribute!