Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sample Sunday excerpt: Tough As Nails, P.I. novel in progress

(Set-up) Newly divorced Freddy Lang calls herself a re-claimed housewife. She has taken an internet course and is now a licensed private investigator. She has been hired by one of her neighbors to find out who killed her dog Tiffany but the dog's death is looking to be the least of what Freddy has to solve.)

On the way home, I had stopped at the Fineast supermarket to get a cooked chicken and seltzer. I dine on rotisserie chicken and seltzer strengthened by some Chilean Merlot many nights. Sometimes I eat standing at the counter, wash my hands and take the spritzer to the TV to watch the evening news. The whole thing takes fifteen minutes. It’s shocking to realize how much of my married life was spent in the supermarket and the kitchen. In twenty years I cooked seven thousand evening meals.
In the soft drink aisle of Fineast a short pretty woman in a maid’s uniform that was one size smaller than she needed, asked me to reach two bottles of Evian. On second look, I realized it was Rosalia, the Gibbons’ maid.
“I’m your neighbor,” I said. Before I reached for the Evian bottles,I wanted something in return. “Freddy Lang...across the street.....the little house.”
“Oh, casa the leetle house.”
“Is Charlene here?”
“No, she hab to go to the denteest. She drop me off and pick me up on the way home.”
“You’re Rosalia, right?”
I took a deep breath. “Rosalia, did you poison the dog?” There’s nothing that jump starts a conversation like a wild accusation.
“No way. Jew theenk I’m crazy? Madre de Dios.”
“Did you like the dog?”
“I can take it or leebe eet. In my country the dogs run in the street. My childrens can’t buy Nike Air but the dog hab everytheeng. Loco, no? Crazy. But I dun do nathing to the dog. The meester," she paused. “he hate Teefany.”
“Really? Mr. Gibbons didn’t like Tiffany?”
“Das right.” She clapped her hands in a gesture that said, ‘that’s eet for you sister. My mouth is cerrado.’
“That’s a switch. Usually it’s the men that are crazy for the dog.”
“Naw, she shook her head and looked longingly up at the bottles of Evian, “not heem. The dog, he sleep in the bed, he eat from the table, he do everything with Mrs. Mr. Geebons, he say, all the time, I’m going to keel this neur....newroteek...que es eso? What ees newroteek.?”
“It’s ....when you act a little know, you can’t sit still or you do things in a certain way all the time. Or you buy too many clothes because you don’t like yourself....”
“Uh, huh. She had lost interest in the conversation and was trying to be polite.”
“That’s hardly a reason to want to kill a dog. Didn’t he do something worse? Maybe he chewed up something valuable?”
“He do sometheen worse.” she said gravely.
“Last year, when the Mrs. she hab pregnant, the dog jump on her and she fall to the floor. The baby come too soon. He die.”
“Oh, no.” This was such shocking news, I was ashamed for cornering the woman and reached for her water. “Rosalia, that sounds terrible. I’m surprised Mrs. Gibbons doesn’t hate the dog, too.”
She shrugged. “I dun know. Mrs. Gibbons. She lobe de dog. She lobe the dog and her brother too much.”
Her brother and the dog? Charlene would walk in any minute and I could get more on this elsewhere. The women in the neighborhood would be only too eager to discuss the lopsided love rationing in the Gibbons household.
On the way home I sing-songed the phrase: 'she lobe the dog, she lobe her brother,' the way Faye Dunaway kept saying, ‘she’s my sister, she’s my daughter,' in Chinatown. That’s what it made me think of and I went with the feeling. I couldn’t wait to ask more people if they had poisoned the dog. It seemed to unlock a lot of information. I was on a roll.


  1. Fantastic. Freddy Lane is a great character and I love the way you handled the dialogue with Rosalia's accent. I'm really looking forward to reading the book.

  2. Consuelo, you always amaze me. I absolutely love your voice, your characters and your stories.

  3. Tell me more. Tell me everything. "She lobe the dog, she lobe her brother." Great stuff.

  4. Thanks, all. Very encouraging to get this sort of feedback.