Up until this year I had not participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I first heard about it in 2017. I would take that as meaning I wasn’t truly a writer until 2017. Some may beg to differ with me, being writers themselves and still unaware of what exactly NaNoWriMo is. It was only today that I looked up the wording to be certain I had it correct for this blog post. I joined a few writing groups in 2017, a cancer survivors group, a Christian women’s writing group, a collective women’s writing group and a memoir writing group. All met at different day, times and a variety of locations as well as varied frequencies.
It was in one of these groups I first heard the word NaNoWriMo uttered. Not wanting to seem ignorant (as all other heads in the room nodded with understanding) I remained silent and gathered information as it was given. I was freaked out when I realized they were speaking of committing to writing every single day to the tune of 1667 words each and every day! If you missed a day, you had to make up the words, as in order to win one had to complete a minimum of 50,000 written words. Woah! Unwilling to fail, I decided not to try. Take that doubting self.
This year I was invited to join a group of writers who were writing a novel virtually. Each writer would commit to one day in which they would write one chapter in the novel. Having ignored the original blanket invitation I found myself tagged in a post looking for writers as they found they did not have the necessary 30 writers, one for each day. I liked the post and said I would give it some thought. I began to read the chapters already written. Notebook in hand I kept track of each character introduced and a few details I felt would be important should I agree to jump in and write a chapter. Within 5 chapters I was overwhelmed. My skin became alive in a not so good way as fear crawled through the hairs that stood on end. How would I ever keep their story going, I couldn’t keep the characters straight?
I was nudged again as they approached Chapter 26 (on day 25) and still did not have a writer for that day. Like a rookie taking their first bungee jump, I put fingers to the keyboard and started writing. After 500 words logged in Word, I found the courage to post on the FaceBook page that I was in fact writing Chapter 26. As I wrapped up what I hoped to be a chapter that kept the plot moving forward while keeping the characters straight, I posted a question as to how many words I was supposed to be writing. I did not know the info above at that point (the 50,000 monthly goal equating to a 1,667 per day goal applied to this situation). I was told 1,667 minimum but that one writer had posted an update and they were behind, so 2,500 per writer would be great. For once, my wordy nature was going to come in handy, I had written over 3,100 words. If nothing else, I was getting them to their goal.
Enough about the process of how this came to be. Below you will find Chapter 26 in ‘The Devil Wears Flannel”, a NaNoWriMo collective novel.
CHAPTER 26 –
“It was not death, for I stood up.” Emily Dickinson
Rosalia stood in the dark basement apartment she called home, her hands shaking as she gripped them tightly in front of her body. What had she just seen? Who had she just seen? The sight of a human skull remained in her mind no matter how hard she tried to blink the image away. A shiver ran up her spine. What if whoever could do that was after her? Anyone could have been watching as she and Sarah checked the freezer at the end of their shift, been lurking in the shadows as she rushed to her car without so much as a good-bye to Sarah, both knowing it was the last they would see of each other.
Rosalia had grown to love Sarah and her daughter, feeling like they were family. Something she longed for, especially during the long cold winter months on the Peninsula. Summer wasn’t too bad, what with hikers and fisherman coming to Soldotna and Homer for the Salmon runs on the Kenia River. Many brought their wives and children as fishing on the Kenai was successful no matter your skill. A smile played on the corner of her mouth for just a moment as flashes of utter joy swept across her mind. Fish after fish being reeled in by man, woman and child alike. The children often getting the biggest fish much to their daddy’s dismay. Sarah had brought Rachel out to fish with Rosalia several times. Just the girls. A tear threatened to spill over her lashes, sadness welling up inside her belly.
Smoothing her shirt with her hands to keep them busy, Rosalia glanced around the room. Not much to pack, her place was simple, lacking the personal touch typically found in a ‘home’. Move after move, over most of her life, too many memories left behind created heart-ache, the kind that could not be healed even over time. The old-adage, Time heals all wounds, struck a nerve with Rosalia. It just wasn’t true. Some wounds would never heal, and time only allowed them to fester deeper still. Lie after lie, spoken, lived out, causing the pain of the original wound to bury deeper until it coursed through her veins, a constant reminder of who she truly was.
Her only hope was that her wound, the wounds of those she had gotten involved with, had not transferred to Sarah and Rachel. Rosalia would do anything to be certain they went unharmed by all the others had done. She wished she could help them, keep them safe. The best thing would be to stay far away from them. If the authorities came after her, and they would, Rosalia did not want there to be any chance of Sarah being linked to the deaths. As much as her heart broke, thinking she would never hold Rachel again, she knew it was best for all if she went away. Even better if she could lead anyone searching for answers away from where Sarah and Rachel would go.
Lauren sat looking at the text her mom had sent to her. Will I come meet her for dinner? She contemplated a snide reply, ‘Will your boy toy be joining us?’. Her mother always had time for dinner or coffee when it was convenient for her, when it fit her busy realtor schedule, or when she didn’t have a guy on the line and was lonely. But when Lauren needed to talk, a shoulder to lean on, like now, when her father had been found dead, could her mother be bothered with a simple phone chat? No, she was at the beach. Now she wanted Lauren to come to dinner. Everything within her wanted to cry out, NO!, but she knew she had to go. This time not for her mother’s sake but for her own. The only way to get to the bottom of what had happened to her father, who he really was, was to get her mother to talk.
Lauren typed out a reply after deleting her desired response.
“Sure mom. See you at 7. I’ll bring the wine.”
Anne’s phone chirped a new text message coming in. Satisfaction calmed her racing heart. Lauren would come to dinner. Good. Now to figure out what to tell her. How much did she really need to know? She had been frantically thinking of ways to make it all go away, to keep the truth hidden. With two dead bodies and connections coming out of the woodworks that would potentially implicate her, at least link her attachment to Daniel, she couldn’t help but worry that Lauren just might be in danger herself. If anything happened to her baby, she would just die.
Oh, why was this happening now? Just when she was getting close to this handsome and successful guy too. Pierce was a delight. Nice to look at, easy to listen too, and financially stable on top of that. The fact that he owned a rock-climbing business certainly showed when her hand smoothed his shirt, brushing away the sand that clung to the soft cotton. Rock hard abs warm from the sun beating down on them had sent a tingling sensation through Anne’s body. Just as she leaned in certain Pierce was going to kiss her, her cell phone rang. Never one to let her phone go to voicemail for fear it was the next million-dollar listing, she had answered while her gaze had remained on his soft lips in front of her. Instead of a million-dollar listing it had been a royal pain in the ass, Detective Sergeant Steele wanting to set up a time for her to be interviewed. Nothing to worry about, just a few questions. Yeah, right. The beach date called to an abrupt end, Anne told Pierce she had to go check out a new listing ASAP before another realtor swooped it up. Thankfully he understood and said they could pick up where they left off as soon as her schedule allowed.
Anne peered inside the nearly empty fridge finding nothing more than bad take-out and a few beyond-their-shelf-life vegetables not even worthy of a catch-all stew. She would have to run to the store in order to cook something suitable for her and Lauren to eat. Unsure her stomach would hold much down considering the weight of the topic up for discussion, she decided lemon caper chicken, light on the sauce, with whipped mashed potatoes and simple green beans would be best. Anne grabbed her Prada handbag, keys and dashed out to the market.
Rosalia, passport in hand, along with a duffel bag with the few items she felt worth taking, took one last glance at the place she called home before sliding into the back of the car she had ordered to get her to the airport. Her flight wasn’t scheduled until later that night, it was the earliest one available on short notice. Alaska Flight 106 direct, non-stop to Mexico City boarded at 9:00 PM. She would fly over night and arrive in the early hours of the morning. With plenty of time on her hands she had decided to fly out of Anchorage, a 3- hour car-ride away. The ride would give her time to think and formulate the rest of her plan.
She had left a note in her home right on the kitchen counter, first place someone would look. And a message on the voicemail at Kodiak Burgers for Angie. At least that’s what the message sounded like, but really it was for the police or anyone who might come looking for Sarah and Rachel
“Hi, um Ang, it’s Rosalia. I, uh, know I’m not supposed to be calling you here, but, well I had to. I needed to say good-bye. I tried your cell but you didn’t answer. I wanted to be sure you got this message, direct from me and well, not from anyone else. I’m, I’m sorry for anything that I screwed up, or did, or whatever. I didn’t mean to harm anyone, I just wanted you, um, your boys, everyone to. Um you know, be okay. I’m going, well you know where I’m going. I probably shouldn’t go there, but it’s all I have left. Thank you for being there for me, you know, how you have been. Having my back and all. I’m sorry. I never meant for any of this to happen. I won’t call again. That’s all. Bye.”
Before she could give in an choose the button to erase her message, she hit the ‘end call’ button on her phone. There, it was done. Anyone with any sense at all would know where she, Rosalia would go, that she really shouldn’t go if she didn’t want to be found. Hopefully, the Detective from the lower 48 would get her drift and steer the search for her, leaving Angie, the boys and most importantly Sarah and Rachel out of this mess.
The car ride from Kenai to Anchorage was peaceful. Having lived in many different places across the US and Mexico, Rosalia had seen varied landscapes growing up. Nothing compared to the majestic mountain ranges, bodies of water, and wild life one found in the great state of Alaska. Winters were hard, no doubt, but the glaciers that remained year after year, lasting through the warm seasons, to the delight of cruise ships, tourists, and even the locals, were unparalleled anywhere else. Well, maybe Antarctica, but Rosalia hadn’t been there, not yet anyway. The sky remained bright as they approached the airport terminal, summer evenings had a difficult time coming to a close before midnight in Alaska, but her body knew this day had a been a long one already. Maybe sleep would come to her on the flight.
Rosalia made it through security with one more swipe of her fake ID and passport. She realized this very well may be the last time she used it. A glance at her watch let her know she had just enough time to grab a paperback for the plane in case sleep evaded her, a coffee and a sandwich. The long flight likely served a meal, but she wasn’t taking chances that it would be even remotely edible.
Tomorrow morning would be a new day, a new chapter in her life, a new beginning in a different country. God willing, the last time she would flee ever again.
Lauren decided to let Detective Sergeant Steele and Ryan know that she was having dinner with her mother. As much as she hated the thought that her mother had anything to do with all that was going on, she had to be realistic. Anne had shown no remorse, not an ounce of sadness when Lauren’s father had been found dead. Had Lauren not asked she doubted her mother would have even spoke of it. Then when she did try to ask her mom about him, she had all but told her to let it go already. Anne had been more intrigued by her new real estate client, aka conquest, then about who had killed her ex-husband and why. Lauren did not understand how even her mother could be that cold hearted. It was that thought which led to her wondering what her mother truly knew about Daniel. And did she know anything about the other man, Gregor, who had also been found dead?
“Police precinct, how may I direct your call?”
“Oh hi, um May I speak with Detective Sergeant Vera Steele please?”
“May I tell her who is calling?”
“Yes, this is Lauren Riley”
“I’ll see if Sergeant Steele is at her desk, what is the nature of your call?”
“Well, um, I have some information that may help the case she is currently working on.”
“Okay, please hold Ms. Riley.”
The hold musak crackled through the phone speaker. Why did people still use musak? In this day and age one would think they would update the hold system. There was a double beep as her call was patched through.
“Sergeant Steele speaking.”
“Hi Vera, it’s me, Lauren.”
“Oh Hi Lauren, what can I do for you today?”
“Well, I am hoping maybe I can do something for you. You see, my mom texted me today, rather out of the blue.”
“Oh, yeah, what did the message say?”
“She asked me to meet her at home for dinner tonight.”
“Okay, is that something out of the ordinary, you going home to have dinner with your mom?”
“No, not exactly. We eat dinner together a lot, or she leaves me left overs in the fridge. But this is different. I tried to talk to her on the phone about my dad the other day. I had all these questions and she just brushed me off. She told me I sounded tired and I should go take a nap.”
“Go on.” Sergeant Steele waited to hear more.
“The whole time she was talking to me I could tell she was more interested in who she was with than the questions I was asking. She was at the beach with Pierce and they were, giggling and carrying on. Then it was like she caught herself and realized I was on the line and that she should really act concerned about me dad.”
“I see. So, you think she knows something about Daniel’s murder?”
“As much as I hate to say it, yes, I do. Oh my, am I a terrible daughter? My father is murdered and here I am turning my mom into the police for suspicion!”
“Hold on, you are not a terrible daughter and you’re not turning her in. You are doing the right thing and letting me know of a concern. One that most likely will turn out to be nothing, but is the right thing to do. Okay?”
“Okay.” Lauren let out a huge sigh as her body relaxed.
“Here’s what I need you to do. I need to know what your mom has to say. Would you be comfortable asking if Ryan and I can join you for dinner? Otherwise, I think I’d like you to wear a wire.”
“A wire? Are you serious? You really think it’s that serious?” Lauren’s palms began to sweat.
“I don’t know, but what I do know is we need to get to the bottom of this and time is running out. We need whatever information, whatever may lead to finding the killers and stop this from happening to another person. Who knows your mom may just have the information we need. Are you willing to help us find out what’s going on?”
Lauren took a deep breath and let it seep out through her lips before responding. Her thoughts all over the map, visions of her dad being found dead, the photo Ryan had shown her, and the ones she had seen on his phone flashing through her mind.
“Yes, yes I am willing to help anyway I can. I think it’s best if I wear the wire. Should I come to the station now? I can be there in 15 minutes.”
“I’ll call Ryan and get the wire ready. We’ll run you through how it works. Listen Lauren, you’re doing the right thing. Thank you.”
“I know. I’ll see you soon.”
Lauren grabbed her keys and coat as she dashed out the door. She hopped into her Jetta and headed to the police station. Maybe this would be the night, all these years she had wondered about her father, wondered who Daniel was and why he had gone away, stayed away. Maybe now she would know.
Rosalia boarded the plane, placed her carry-on bag in the overhead compartment and slipped into the window seat, row 22 seat F. She fastened her seatbelt and flipped open the paperback book she planned to read. The plane sat idling on the runway long enough for the air to turn off overhead. Passengers began whispering wondering what was taking so long. Rosalia looked out the window of the plane to see if maybe the weather had took a turn causing a delay. The exterior door, which had been closed and sealed by the stewardess, opened and two armed officers stepped onto the plane as an announcement was made.
“Excuse passengers, my apologies for the delay, this is your flight Captain speaking, your flight will take off momentarily. Thank you for your patience. Would passenger Rosalia Flores, please stand up.” The silence was cut only by the shifting of passengers in their seats as they turned left and right straining to get a view of who the officers wanted.
“Rosalia Flores, would you please stand up if you are on board.” The stewardess repeated one more time.
Rosalie shifted in her seat and looked at the gentleman sitting next to her.
“Excuse me, I need to stand up.”
The man’s eyes grew wide. He shoved his coat to the floor and waited as the woman in seat D moved into the aisle first.
“Are you Rosalia Flores”, the officer questioned.
“No, no, I’m not. I’m moving so she can get out of her seat. Please, wait.” Her voice nearing hysterics, the woman in seat D stumbled and nearly fell into another passenger’s lap. The man sitting next to Rosalia helped the woman gain her composure and they both stepped back, clearing the way for Rosalia.
Rosalia stepped into the aisle.
“Rosalia Flores, Please place your hands in the air where we can see them. Stay where you are. Don’t move.” The first officer began walking down the aisle towards her as Rosalia raised both hands high above her head, palms facing forward in surrender.
Rocky Raccoon watched as the VW Jetta pulled up to the station. No longer hungry for food, there was only one thing he wanted now. The truth. And he had a feeling Lauren was about to bring the truth to light, at any and all costs.
Rocky wasn’t the only one watching as Lauren walked up the steps of the City Precinct. Jonathan Van Roy slunk down in his seat as best he could, large frame and all. He watched as she took each step, every part of him wanting to go after her, to stop her. What was she doing? This couldn’t possibly be good. He didn’t want her involved, didn’t want her to get hurt. If she went to the cops, getting hurt might be the least of her worries.
Something shiny caught Rocky’s eye. He turned left just in time to see a flash of light reflect off the car window. As quick as it came it was gone. Rocky sat there watching Jonathan. “One wrong move buddy and I’m all over you. Get out of that car, I dare ya! I’ve had a hankerin’ for some flesh in my teeth. Just try me,” Rocky snarled, baring all of his sharp teeth.
Kristi Lyn Reddy, mom and realtor in Seattle, WA, is new to the writing scene. Currently working on her memoir as a part of the Narrative Project.