The following is draft 2 of my short story I’ve written for the contest First Anniversary Beginning Writer. During the first round of submissions I learned many things about the art of short story writing. I’ve done research and reworked the story giving it a new spin and trying to fit it into the genre of short story.
Quite a few things have changed in draft 2 including the title of this story. I’d appreciate feedback. My final draft is due on December 29 and I am looking to put the finishing touches on right after Christmas. I welcome any advice or comments. The theme for this contest is creatives (the main character must be a writer, painter, or poet.)
Fan Mail Murder
By Lauren Sisley 2015
It was a cool, Tuesday morning and the body of Detective Alton Snow was found under an overpass outside of Trenton, New Jersey. A knife had been driven into his mid-section and blood had soaked through his undercover outfit and stained the rocks below him. Detective Patel, his partner had been called to the scene. She took one look at the body and shouted at the police chief in the distance, “Please bring in Ms. Rae Windsor to the station for questioning.” The chief looked confused as he pulled out his phone.
“The author?” The chief questioned.
“Yes, Chief.” Patel would not rest until Ms. Windsor paid for what she had done. The morbid woman had been making a living on writing about murders by creating them first herself. Detective Snow was convinced of this and now he had become one of the victims. With great remorse Patel hopped back into her cruiser and made her way to the station in Manhattan for the interrogation of Ms. Rae Windsor.
“Writing has always come naturally to me. I don’t think, I write. As far back as I can remember I knew that I would one day be a writer.” Rae spoke to Patel. She was seated on a stiff metal chair. Rae Windsor was responding to a question about how she began her career as an author.
Patel sat across a narrow wooden table from the suspect. She was armed with a yellow steno pad and a thin, black fountain pen. Her skin was a dark shade of caramel and her hair was the purest black.
“Ms. Windsor, let’s begin with why you are here.” Patel redirected Rae.
“Yes, the ridiculous accusations.” Rae Windsor spoke sharply. “What would you like to know?”
“Ms. Windsor, we are both aware of why you have been brought in. Let’s talk first about Mr. Snow. How did you know the victim?” Patel made eye contact with the large decorated officer seated near the door to the office. He nodded at her and began to sip at the coffee in a styrofoam cup in his large clumsy hands.
“About a month ago I started a pen pal relationship with Mr. Snow. I was going about my daily business sorting through my mail. Amongst the stacks of bills and fan mail I found an envelope which stood out to me. It was addressed with my name and the penmanship looked very much like my own. Inside I found a letter from a man named Alton Snow.” Rae recalled.
“And what did the initial letter from Mr. Snow say?” Patel questioned.
“In his letter he praised my newest novel which he had placed in his collection in Nebraska. He talked of his library and the six thousand volumes housed in his small cottage home. In his first letter he stated his affinity for the vivid details that I used in my books when I discussed crime scenes.” Rae answered.
“Okay, tell me a little bit more about last night. Were you with Mr. Snow?” Patel pushed. Rae looked at the blackened window across the room. Being a murder mystery author she was well-aware of the fact that on the other side of the glass sat a number of officers waiting. Within seconds of an incriminating testimony they would bust through the door beside the hefty officer in the corner and have her in custody reading her the Miranda Rights. She began to tread lightly as she recounted yesterday’s events.
“He had come to visit me that day, yes. It was an unexpected visit. I was at home when there was a knock on my apartment door. I was sitting at my desk in the living room and extremely bothered by the guest who had arrived and interrupted my writing.
“I opened the door and found myself greeted by a short, balding, middle-aged man with spectacles half the size of his face and a bright bouquet of flowers in his rough and calloused hands.
‘Ms. Windsor, My name is Alton Snow. How very nice to make your acquaintance.’ Mr. Snow put his hands out and after a few seconds of apprehension I decided to accept his commodity and placed my polished hand in his. We shook and for a moment I wondered what to do next. I decided to let him enter my apartment.
‘I have waited so long to meet you, Ms. Windsor. So many of your novels and short stories make me feel like I know you already.’ He said.
‘Is there something I can do for you, Mr. Snow?’ I asked, again wary of his unwarranted presence in my apartment complex. He began to make small talk combing through my apartment. His clothing pressing into my suede sofa caused my pulse to race. He made himself comfortable while I felt the opposite. As he took a seat on the sofa I caught a glimpse of something shiny in his pocket.
‘Would you like a drink?’ I asked my guest.
‘I would indeed, thank you, Ms. Windsor.’ Alton crossed his right leg across his knee. He laid the flowers on the coffee table in front of the couch and smiled back at me. Something within me began to sense that he had arrived in my apartment with ulterior motives.
“I made my way back to the kitchen to pour Mr. Snow a glass of water from the pitcher. We talked for a few minutes about a manuscript I was working on and then he left.”
“Ms. Windsor were you aware that Mr. Snow was an officer?” Patel looked up from her steno pad.
“Not until I was brought in. I was briefed on what was going on during the ride over.” Rae admitted. The officer in the corner stopped drinking his coffee and sat up straight. Rae felt the eyes of more than just Patel and the officer on her as she spoke.
“Mr. Snow was working undercover on a case he built himself. He was honest when he said that he was a fan. Mr. Snow was one of the most literary men on this task force. Recently, he had spoken about the cunning resemblance between some of your novels and several unsolved murders in the city. He was commissioned to visit your apartment that day to gather evidence.” Patel explained the motives of the now deceased officer.
Before Rae could respond to this new information there was a knock on the door. Patel stood up from the table and straightened her black blazer as she walked toward the door. A man on the other side of the door peeked his head in and whispered something to the detective. Patel tried not to show any emotion as she was informed of new evidence in the case, but Rae caught the raise of her right eyebrow. Rae’s palms began to sweat as she feared her ride to the top as an author was coming to an end. The door shut and Patel made her way back to the table this time not taking a seat across from Rae, but rather leaning onto the table with both arms fully extended.
“Ms. Windsor, it appears that some new evidence in the case had just surfaced. You said that you were sitting at your desk when Officer Snow came to visit? On that desk were you working on a manuscript for a new novel?” Patel questioned knowing full well the correct answer.
“I was, yes.”
“Was anyone else aware of this manuscript?” Patel asked. Rae’s pulse was racing. She swallowed hard.
“Just myself. I was to have the final draft to my publisher by the end of the week.”
“Please explain to me the crime committed in this novel.” Patel questioned a straight-lined smile replacing her stone-cold glare.
“A good author never reveals the plot of their story. You will have to read for yourself when the story is released.”
“Well, I don’t know if that will be necessary. One of my colleagues has combed through the manuscript and just informed me of its contents. What name have you chosen for this novel, Ms. Windsor?” Patel asked.
“I have not yet settled on a title.” Rae answered.
“Well, how about this one: The Fan Mail Murder. Ms. Windsor you are under arrest for the murder of Officer Alton Snow.” The heavy-set officer took his cue and lept from his seat in the corner to slap a pair of handcuffs on Rae’s wrists.
“You will never be able to convict me in a trial. I am a world-renown murder mystery novelist. I’ve studied the art of crime and you have nothing on me. I know how to perfect the art of cover-up just like my characters.” Rae shouted as additional officers entered the room.
“Ms. Windsor, I believe that you have just confessed to a number of unsolved area murders.” Patel grabbed her steno pad and pen and smiled before leaving the interrogation room.
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