“Collateral Damage” Blog Excerpt Tour – Great new novel by @FrederickBrooke #ASMSG #Free

Posted: July 15, 2013 in blog posts, blogs, ebooks, eReaders, free book, novel, self publishing, social media, Uncategorized, writer blogs, writing
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Collateral Damage Blog Tour – Fredrick Brooke – Chapter 22

Friend and fellow author, Fredrick Brooke, has just released his latest book, Collateral Damage. As part of this launch, he is sharing the first twenty-six chapters, and today I am posting chapter twenty-two. He is also conducting a contest as part of this blog tour, the conditions are below. Hope you enjoy this excerpt, and if you haven’t had the chance to read the previous chapters, a list is also included.

Win a $25 Amazon gift card AND a signed paperback edition of any book by Frederick Lee Brooke!
To win, all you have to do is visit every blog on the 26-day Collateral Damage Excerpt Tour and leave a comment showing that you read the excerpt. That’s it! See the blog list and join the tour …
Frederick Lee Brooke is the author of the widely-acclaimed Annie Ogden mystery series, which includes Doing Max Vinyl, Zombie Candy, and Collateral Damage. The books do not have to be read in order.  Having lived in Switzerland for the past two decades, Brooke has taught English, run a business and learned French, German and Italian. You can find him online at www.FrederickLeeBrooke.com. Sign up for his newsletter and read all about his travels, recipes, and upcoming works!
COLLATERAL DAMAGE excerpt tour – 
Monday, June 24        Shannon Mayer           Ch. 1
Tuesday, June 25        Scott Bury                   Ch. 2
Wednesday, June 26   Raine Thomas              Ch. 3
Thursday, June 27       Emily Walker               Ch. 4
Friday, June 28           Simon Jenner               Ch. 5
Saturday, June 29       Amberr Meadows       Ch. 6
Sunday, June 30          Anne Chaconas          Ch. 7
Monday, July 1           BestsellingReads         Ch. 8
Tuesday, July 2           Tyler-Rose Neath        Ch. 9
Wednesday, July 3      Naomi Leadbeater      Ch. 10
Thursday, July 4          Mohana Rajakumar     Ch. 11
Friday, July 5              Helen Hanson             Ch. 12
Saturday, July 6          Marilou George           Ch. 13
Sunday, July 7            J.C. Martin                  Ch. 14
Monday, July 8           Corinne O’Flynn         Ch. 15
Tuesday, July 9           Tawdra Kandle           Ch. 16
Wednesday, July 10    Martha Bourke           Ch. 17
Thursday, July 11        Connie M. Chyle        Ch. 18  TBA
Friday, July 12            Cyndi                         Ch. 19
Saturday, July 13        Kenneth Hoss             Ch. 20
Sunday, July 14          Andrea Kurian            Ch. 21
Monday, July 15         Andy Holloman          Ch. 22            You Are Here
Tuesday, July 16         Marilyn Diekman        Ch. 23
Wednesday, July 17    Christine Nolfi            Ch. 24
Thursday, July 18        Jennifer Chase           Ch. 25
Friday, July 19            Patricia Sands            Ch. 26
And now what you’ve all been waiting for, the excerpt:

Chapter 22—Annie

Roof lights from six squad cars blanketed Michael’s house with red and blue light when we pulled up just before four o’clock. The police lights clashed with the blinking Christmas decorations on the roof. The missile still hung there, as did the party banner. We ran across the front lawn toward the front door, which stood open, but a cop blocked the way.

“I live here,” Michael said. “What happened?”

“You’re Garcia?” The officer registered Michael’s nod, and shouted into the living room. “Yo, Lieutenant. You want Garcia out back?” When Michael tried to rush past, the cop grabbed his arm “Hey, you can’t walk through there.” They tussled, arms and wrists flying.

“Michael, do what he says,” I said. I knew from all his old stories how he hated the police.

Two other cops ran over to help. Within thirty seconds, they had Michael’s arms pinned behind his back, his body tight up against the doorjamb. Panting from the effort, the first cop kicked Michael’s ankles apart.

“You want to do this the hard way, Garcia?” the cop said. In one movement, he snapped a pair of handcuffs on Michael’s wrists. “Pretty dumb to mess around with uniformed officers at a murder scene. Pretty dumb, just like you. Now we are gonna walk nice and quiet, and make your girlfriend real proud, you got it?”

Michael’s lips pressed together.

The cop glared at me next. “Stay here till I get back, sister. Anyone else tries to get through that door, give a holler.”

“Yes, sir,” I said.

“Hear that, Garcia. That’s how I like it. She probably says ‘yes, sir’ to you all the time, hey Garcia?”

I followed them with my eyes. The cop was trying to provoke Michael. I couldn’t believe they had cuffed him just for trying to walk through the house. Michael looked like he’d gone into a zone where no one could reach him. He wouldn’t let the cops provoke him.

Through the open doorway, I saw more cops chatting in the living room. A man in a yellow lab suit came out of a room at the far end. Husker and Michael each had a bedroom. The man in the lab suit was carrying two big cases, one in each hand. I heard him say, “We’re done,” to one of the uniformed cops, and then two more people in yellow lab suits came out of the bedroom.

“Excuse me,” I said to the cop nearest my position. It was an older officer with gray hair. He stood with hands on hips, and looked at me. “I was away for three hours. Can you tell me what happened here?”

“Homicide,” the officer said. “You were at the party?”

“Yes.”

“Hey, Lloyd, here’s one,” the gray-haired officer called. A taller, younger officer who stood chatting with a man in a brown sport jacket and another uniformed officer looked over his shoulder. He had a very large bulbous nose, and small eyes. His mouth curled down at both ends. “She was at the party.”

The tall officer with the big nose looked me over. “You were at this party?” he called. I nodded. “From when until when? Exact times.”

“I was gone for about the last three hours. I was with Michael Garcia, who lives here, from one till now.”

The large officer separated from the people he’d been talking to and came over to me. Michael’s name made him pay attention. He took out a notebook.

“Where did you and Garcia go?”

“A club called Papaya. It’s in the city. We had a late dinner.”

“I know the place,” the cop said. “They don’t even have potato chips there, much less dinner. Five bucks for a bowl of peanuts. Eight bucks for a drink.”

“We had a private room in the back. Michael organized it. It was catered.”

“So you’re saying Garcia was with you from one o’clock until now.”

“That’s right.”

“At Papaya in Tampa.”

“Yes, sir. What happened here? Is it true that Husker’s dead?”

The tall cop nodded. “We have one victim. His name is Owen Mathers. Let me ask you this, Ms.—”

“My name is Annie Ogden. I live in Chicago.”

He wrote it down. “Ms. Ogden, did you see anything at the party that looked like it would lead to violence?”

“Certainly not. Everyone was mellow and having a good time. Wait, there was one fight, earlier. A guy had to go to the hospital. But the rest of the time it was easygoing. That’s why I’m so shocked. When Michael and I left, they had just finished playing. Husker was playing the drums.”

“This was at one o’clock?” the tall cop asked. I nodded. “We have a number of people who confirmed that the band was playing. Garcia was singing, Mathers was playing the drums, and two other band members, ah, Jim Lyons and Douglas Waters. You saw them too?”

“I only knew Husker and Michael. How did Husker die?”

The tall cop looked at me like he didn’t want to answer. He took another note in his book, and then dotted an i with gusto. “Someone planted an eight-inch bayonet in his chest,” he said. “Seems like he was pretty coked up on meth to begin with. Might’ve been out cold when he was stabbed. You know him well?”

I had to lean against the doorjamb. The thought of someone stabbing Husker when he was defenseless made me feel like throwing up. Husker had been such a great big lug, back in the day. We’d had our quarrels, especially after his involvement in the sick prank about Michael being dead. But we’d had good times, too.

“I knew him well,” I said. “He was Michael’s best friend. Michael Garcia was my boyfriend in Iraq.”

“Garcia was your boyfriend,” the tall cop said, confirming rather than asking, writing while I nodded. “Do you know of any person who held a grudge against Mathers or had an argument with Mathers in the last few days?”

I shook my head. “I arrived yesterday morning. Almost twenty-four hours ago now. I came to Tampa for this party.”

“Collateral Damage,” the cop said, pointing up. The banner hung practically over our heads.

“They had a Facebook event,” the other cop said.

“Was Mathers involved in that fight you talked about?”

“No. He knew the guys and he broke it up.”

I spotted Todd in the kitchen. He saw me at the same moment. “There you are,” Todd said. They wouldn’t let him walk through the living room. Todd went back out through the kitchen, signaling he was coming around.

“Which hotel are you staying at?” The cop wrote down my address in Tampa as well as my contact information in Chicago. I gave him Salvatore’s address and my cell number.

The cop who had handcuffed Michael came back to his post, arriving just ahead of Todd.

“Where have you taken Michael Garcia?” I asked him.

“They’ll be taking him downtown,” the cop said. “He’s not going to sleep in his own bed anytime soon.”

“Why not? How could you say that?”

The cop leaned in so close I could smell the stale mints on his breath. “It was his bayonet, little lady. His fingerprints all over it.”

“That’s ridiculous,” I said. “I was with him for the last three hours.”

The cop shrugged happily. “I wouldn’t bet on him walking, dude like that. Nephew of a US senator, man alive. How stupid do they come? They’re gonna shake him till his dipshit brains fall out. Then he’ll talk.”

I steered Todd out into the front lawn, then around the house toward the back.

“You were here the whole time. What happened?” I said.

“Where the hell did you go? I was looking for you for, like, hours.”

“I left with Michael and we had something to eat.”

Todd looked dubious. “Yeah, right. For three hours?”

“Listen, are you going to tell me what happened here? A guy I know is dead. That cop said they think Michael did it. How could they think Michael did it?”

“I don’t know any more than you,” Todd said, going into journalist mode. “What I did see is this: After the band stopped, a lot of people left. They ran out of beer, wine, everything. That was about one. That’s when I couldn’t find you anymore. I did talk to June for quite a while.”

“Is she still here?”

“Sure, she’s here somewhere. Over there, see?” Todd pointed across the backyard. I saw June standing on the far side of the backyard, talking to a couple of guys I didn’t know.

“Okay, so then what happened? Who called the cops?”

“I was out here. All of a sudden, someone started screaming. People were running out of the house. Someone said there was a dead body, and then everyone said it was him, Husker. He got stabbed, apparently. Someone said there wasn’t a lot of blood. I didn’t go in there. Then your police friend at the front door mentioned that a bayonet was the murder weapon.”

“I don’t want to see this in tomorrow’s Tribune,” I said.

“Then don’t buy the Tribune,” Todd said. “Annie, be real. Of course I’m going to file. I’ve already texted my editor. She practically had an orgasm writing back to me. We’re talking about the nephew of a US senator, Annie. I’m surprised we don’t have any satellite trucks here yet. How cool is that, when you think about it?”

I stole a glance at my brother-in-law, hoping he wasn’t serious. “You really gross me out, you know that?”

“It’s my job, Annie. The story has morphed from an ordinary veterans’ reunion into the reunion that went seriously wrong. This’ll generate salacious headlines for days. Who knows? Maybe there’s a Pulitzer in my future.”

I crossed the yard without another word to my greasy brother-in-law and stood in line for June. The Shrike missile still hung suspended above the roof, red and blue lights reflecting off its slim white fuselage. While waiting for June, I observed on the other side of the sliding glass door my ex at the kitchen table with two uniformed officers and the man with the brown sport jacket. He must be the detective. I couldn’t hear anything through the door, but with their gesturing and contorted faces, it looked like they were losing their patience with Michael.

“Annie, you’re back.” June hugged me. “I was so worried. I couldn’t find you. Then this nightmare started, and it just won’t stop.”

“They think Michael did it.”

June framed her face with her hands. “I thought there must be a fire, Annie. I swear to God, with all these people, I had a bad feeling. I was out here and everyone came running out. Then I heard them talking about a dead body, and it was Husker. I couldn’t believe it. Who would want to kill Husker?”

“Somebody did,” I said.

“Nobody ever thinks about who his uncle is. That’s why this place is crawling with police. Can you imagine who gets the job of informing Senator Mathers that his nephew was murdered?”

“Look at them, in there,” I pointed at the foursome at the kitchen table. Michael still had his hands in handcuffs. “How can they be so dense?”

“He was his best friend,” June said.

“Plus he was with me the whole time.” I told her about our private candlelight dinner at the Papaya Club. I told her about the banner with our names surrounded by three hundred little hearts.

“Boy, is he stuck on you, Annie. You’ve got a real problem on your hands.”

“The only place there’s a problem is Michael’s head,” I said. “But he’s got bigger problems than me right now. I don’t like the way they’re interrogating him. Do you think I should tell them he has an alibi, if they’re so stupid?”

“Can’t hurt.”

June waited while I went up on the deck. A unformed officer stood watch outside the sliding glass door.

“I just thought they should know I was with him the whole time,” I said to the officer. It was a young cop, hardly taller or older than me, with wide set eyes and a deep scowl. “Can I just go in there and mention that to those guys?”

“What do you think my answer is going to be?” said the cop. He had a strong Southern accent. “My answer” sounded more like maaah ansaah.

“So can I go in?”

“If you try, I’ll be forced to arrest you,” the cop said.

The cop looked like he would enjoy the challenge. “He has an alibi. Just trying to save you guys some embarrassment, but I guess that’s not going to happen,” I headed back across the deck toward June.

“Annie, look,” June said. I whipped around again, in time to see the two uniformed officers take Michael’s arms on either side, while the detective in the brown jacket opened the sliding glass door.

“Make a little space here,” the detective said.

I addressed him from the edge of the grass. “Sir, I was with Michael Garcia for the last three hours at the Papaya Club. A lot of people saw us,” I said. This earned a glance, but the detective kept walking. Then came the two officers flanking Michael.

“Make sure you got her statement,” the detective said. The officer at Michael’s right spoke up.

“We got her before, lieutenant.”

“Where are you taking him?” I directed this at the cop who had spoken. I tagged along behind. The cop ignored me.

“I can’t believe Husker is dead,” Michael said, his eyes filling with tears. On top of the fact that they had him in handcuffs, he had lost his best friend.

“Be strong,” I said. Our hands touched, then he was out of my reach. He looked back and our eyes met.

“They think it was me, just because it was my frigging bayonet.” He held out his hand, and for a brief moment it was within reach. When our hands were pulled apart, my fingers closed around something he’d given me. It was the Corvette key. I stared at it, trying to grasp the meaning of it.

Todd jogged alongside on the other side of the column. Todd and his lousy story. He was catching every word and taking photos.

“They’re crazy,” I said. “Half a dozen people can confirm our presence at the Papaya.”

“Find me a lawyer.”

“I will,” I shouted. Michael was right. What he needed now was a good attorney. If there was one trump card I held, it was my cash pile. I brought home so much money from Iraq that I could afford the best. They were stuffing Michael in the back seat of a squad car. I knew he’d heard me, but he didn’t look. They weren’t going to put him away for a crime he didn’t commit, not if I could help it.

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Comments
  1. Wow, Chapter 22 sure looks fantastic on your blog, Andy … like fireworks. Thanks for hosting me!

  2. Martine Sangster says:

    Go for it Annie!

  3. Teresa H. says:

    It is great, Thanks Helen, for letting me know about this author, think so far the book is great

  4. Teresa, I’m very glad you’re enjoying it! 🙂

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