Ghostboard pixel

NaNoWriMo: Day One

Joe Hale 10 min read
NaNoWriMo: Day One
Photo by Ricardo Wu / Unsplash

Draft 0

I write partly from an outline and partly as it develops. I call this my draft 0, it's raw, largely unedited, and not very good.

Grammarly is screaming at me, but I'll edit later.

But it's out there. It's done. It's more words that get me closer to Draft 1.

Enjoy. ­čĹç

Ash´╗┐ ┬áwalked toward the patrol officer standing near the yellow cordon tape, angling toward the narrow opening between the barricades.

The officer held his hand up and said, "This is closed off; you'll have to go around the block."

He lowered his hand to the strap of his holster resting tight around his waist and step to block the narrow entrance.

"I'm ´╗┐Ash´╗┐ ..." ´╗┐Ash´╗┐ ┬ábegan; she practiced this in the mirror the night before and still couldn't sound natural. She reached inside her jacket and retrieved the familiar leather-bound badge wallet. Flipping it open, she continued.

"I'm detective Hawke; this is my scene."

The officer smiled and said "Ah, the other detective is waiting for you." He paused and looked at her badge again, his smile widening. "First day is always the roughest, good luck...detective." He emphasized the last word, letting it hit her and held his hand out, guiding her through the cordon.

"First day?" She thought. "And what was that tone?" She looked at his smile and brushed past him. First day or not, this was a day she had worked hard for, despite those in the department that believed, and voiced, otherwise.

"It's upside down." The officer looked at her badge. "Your badge, when you pull it out, make sure it's right-side up, its makes you more believable."

She looked at her badge. She was still holding it up, her hand frozen in mid-air. She turn the badge and saw herself staring back at, upside down.

No matter how many times she practiced in the mirror, she still messed it up.

"First days, they're the worst," she said, putting the wallet back in her jacket and letting out a slight giggle.

She turned and picked up her pace, walking towards a man standing not far from the entrance to the alleyway.

"Evening, ´╗┐Ash´╗┐." ´╗┐Tom´╗┐ said, "Welcome to your first shift. This is ┬ágoing to be a long one."

"What's the story?" ´╗┐Ash´╗┐ asked, looking over Tom's shoulder into the alley.

"We've got a body in the back of that van," Tom said, pointing towards a large white van with its back doors open. "It's safe to assume he's Daniel Moody, an ice sculptor." He looked at her, "we got the call thirty minutes ago, don't you live around here?" He said, motioning to the towers around them.

The city lights were starting to come on and many of the condos glowed with warm light on the brisk fall evening.

"Yeah, I do," ´╗┐Ash´╗┐ said, looking back at Tom. "Do we know how he died?"

Tom shook his head, "Yeah, that one's obvious, but ´╗┐Christina´╗┐ is here and she'll make it official." He nodded towards a woman in black coveralls who was talking to a uniformed officer near the van.

Ash´╗┐ looked at the woman and then back to Tom. "She's the medical examiner?"

Tom nodded, "Associate medical examiner, but yeah." He looked back at ´╗┐Christina´╗┐ and finished "She's good at her job, she'll probably take the lead spot in no time."

Ash´╗┐ took a deep breath and walked towards the van. This was it, her first day on the job she wanted for the past five years; and already a homicide. She could feel the adrenaline pumping through her veins as she approached the van.

The van looked like it was an ice cave, painted white with shimmering blues and livers leading toward the back. It was a dramatic display piece, part of the show of his ice carving. Blocks of ice filled the entrance, some were carved, but most were stacked on either side of a central table.

Tools were strewn about, a few larger ones on the floor and smaller ones on the table. There was a large block of ice in the center of the room, half-carved with what looked like a figure inside.

Blood spattered the walls and blocks of melting ice. The half-complete figure was a shimmering crimson on one side.

The body lay face down, in the rear of the van, near the tool shelves, a small chain saw blade emerging from the man's back.

Ice melted onto the floor around the man, mixing into pools of blood and water. An assistant was waiting with a bag, looking towards ´╗┐Christina´╗┐.

Christina´╗┐ turned as ´╗┐Ash´╗┐ approached. "Hey, you must be the new detective." She said, holding out her hand. "I'm ´╗┐Christina´╗┐."

Ash´╗┐ shook her hand, "I'm ´╗┐Ash´╗┐." She said, looking back at the body. "Do we know how this happened?"

Christina´╗┐ nodded, "Well, it's obvious enough what happened, but how, is another question." She said, gesturing towards the body. "The saw made quick work of the chest. He either fell into it or was stabbed with it running at full speed." Christine motioned to the window, "That leads me to believe it was the latter."

A large red streak of blood led to a small window that open just above the table with tools on it.

"There's more blood in the cab." Christine motioned to the front of the van.

Ash´╗┐ looked at the body and then back to ´╗┐Christina´╗┐. "So, it was a surprise either way..." ´╗┐Ash´╗┐ stopped and turned bright red, looking from ´╗┐Christina´╗┐ to ´╗┐Tom´╗┐ "I..didn't..." She stammered, losing her words.

Christina´╗┐ nodded, "yeah, either way." She said, raising an eyebrow and looking at ´╗┐Tom´╗┐. She was putting the coveralls on and started to zip up the front.

"That's a lot of blood," ´╗┐Ash´╗┐ said, gaining her composure.

Tom´╗┐ was writing in his notebook and then said, "We got the call around 7 pm, sounds like the chainsaw stopped at around 6:30."

Christina´╗┐ turned and looked at the ice sculptures then back to the body. "Well, I'll get to it and let you know the details when I'm done." She motioned as if she wanted them to leave and then finished zipping up her coveralls.

"Come on, there's a lot of witnesses I want to get to before it gets too late." ´╗┐Tom´╗┐ said, putting his notebook in his jacket's side pocket. "Most of the officers have already taken routine statements and there one guy we need to follow up with right away."

Ash´╗┐ nodded and followed ´╗┐Tom´╗┐ back towards an entrance to the furthest tower. The walked through the service entrance and emerged at a bay of elevators. "So, do we have a suspect?" ´╗┐Ash´╗┐ asked as they entered the elevator.

Tom´╗┐ shook his head, "No, not yet." He said, looking over at her. "But this guy said he was watching the whole afternoon, but the story's confusing."

The elevator dinged and the doors opened to a bright corridor with a large glass window looking out to the evening cityscape. Leading off in both directions were bright hallways with white tile floors and marble and wood lined walls. They walked down a long hallway, stopping at the furthest door.

Tom´╗┐ stopped at a door and knocked.

A man's voice called out from the intercom, "It's open."

Tom´╗┐ opened the door and gestured for ´╗┐Ash´╗┐ to enter.

The entry was smaller than ´╗┐Tom´╗┐ expected, and he looked around almost like he was disappointed. A narrow hall led to a large room where music was playing low. ´╗┐Ash´╗┐ led the way and as they emerged into the room, ´╗┐Tom´╗┐ looked betrayed a surprised look. The room was lined on three sides with floor-to-ceiling shelves, a narrow walkway midway up the walls led to a staircase on either end.

Tom´╗┐'s eyes surveyed the room and looked out large full-wall window, an impressive view of the city skyline merging with the water with a beautiful sunset just beyond. He leaned to ´╗┐Ash´╗┐ and asked, "Do you have a view like this?".

To ´╗┐Ash´╗┐, the room felt like home, it was big but cozy and inviting in a way that most offices weren't.

"Mine's better..." She said. ´╗┐Tom´╗┐ looked at her, his eyes widened.

"Ah, Detective!" A man said walking quickly in from the patio; he smiled and gesturing for them to sit.

Two large, cushioned chairs were arranged opposite each other separated by a small glass and wood table. They were angled toward a large oak desk that had an aerodynamic chair sitting on the other side.

The man looked at the chairs and then to the other side of the desk. He hesitated, as if he didn't know where to sit. Finally, he walked behind the desk and rolled the office chair out in front of the desk placing in front of the two comfortable chairs. He sat down, and then leaned forward with his elbows on the arms of the chair.

"And who are you?" the man asked with far too much excitement for a visit from two homicide detectives. "Please! Please, sit. Can I get you a drink?" He said, not letting ´╗┐Ash´╗┐ respond. He pointed to a small nook in the far wall, A glass cabinet was built into the bookshelves, bottles of expensive shapes were illuminated by a small light on each shelf.

"I'm Detective ´╗┐Ash´╗┐," she said pointing to herself.

"Yes, of course." The man said, "I'm sorry, where are my manners?" He leaned back and clasped his hands over his stomach. "I'm ´╗┐Simon Baker´╗┐."

"I'm so glad I was in my office when you called just now, otherwise you would've thought I wasn't home!" he smiled at them like they had missed the point.

Tom´╗┐ started to speak, "We're glad we caught you also, ´╗┐Mr. Baker´╗┐."

"That's my office entrance..." ´╗┐Mr. Baker´╗┐ continued, his voice pitch lowering slightly, "my home entrance is one floor up."

Tom´╗┐ opened his mouth but closed it again as ´╗┐Mr. Baker´╗┐ began to speak again.

"I was only in my office, because I wanted to see this beautiful sunset." He motioned out the window without looking at it.

Tom´╗┐ didn't look but said, "´╗┐Mr. Baker´╗┐, earlier tonight you gave a statement to an officer. I'd like to ask a few more questions."

"Oh, of course!" ´╗┐Mr. Baker´╗┐ said, his voice back to its original excited pitch. "Anything I can do to help. Oh, please call me ´╗┐Simon´╗┐."

Tom´╗┐ leaned forward and clasped his hands. "You told the officer that you were in your office all day today, is that correct?"

"Yes, that's correct." ´╗┐Simon´╗┐ said. "But not all day, I frequently move around the house when I need to think. You know, working my ideas out requires motion."

"And you didn't leave the house at all today?" ´╗┐Tom´╗┐ asked.

"No, I didn't." ´╗┐Simon´╗┐ said. "I was working on a project all day and I didn't want to lose focus."

Tom´╗┐ looked over at ´╗┐Ash´╗┐ who had been quietly taking notes. She met his eyes and gave a small shake.

"´╗┐Mr. Baker´╗┐," ´╗┐Ash´╗┐ started, "uh, ´╗┐Simon´╗┐. Which part of the house were you in when you heard the noise stop?"

Tom´╗┐ turned his attention back to ´╗┐Simon´╗┐ .

Simon´╗┐ looked at her and then back at ´╗┐Tom´╗┐. "I was over by the patio door," he said, "by my desk." He pointed to the large window with the water view.

"And what did you see when you looked out the window?" She asked.

"I didn't see anything," He said, "I just heard the noise stop."

Ash´╗┐ gave ´╗┐Tom´╗┐ a confirming look.

"´╗┐Mr. Baker´╗┐, we have reason to believe that you were not in your office all day." ´╗┐Tom´╗┐ said. "Can you explain why there would be a discrepancy between what you told the officer and what we know?"

Simon´╗┐'s face changed, the excitement gone and replaced with a more serious look. "I don't know what you're talking about." He replied.

"´╗┐Mr. Baker´╗┐, we have witnesses putting you in the garage area earlier this evening" ´╗┐Ash´╗┐ lied.

Tom´╗┐ furrowed his brow but kept his gaze on ´╗┐Simon´╗┐.

"That's not possible." He said. "I was in my office when I me ´╗┐Simon´╗┐, I don't like the last name thing!" He stood up and moved behind his desk.

Tom´╗┐ leaned forward, he was tapping on his phone, sending a message. "Do you hear that?" ´╗┐Tom´╗┐ asked, nodding his head toward the window.

The sound of the city below them was amplified as it came through the open window.

Simon´╗┐ just looked at them, "The city?" he asked.

Tom´╗┐ stood up and he placed his phone on the desk, he pressed the screen and the sound of a chainsaw starting up filled the room. He walked to the window and waved for ´╗┐Simon´╗┐ to follow "Come here." He said.

Simon´╗┐'s face turned white. "I don't understand." He said.

Tom´╗┐ turned off the phone. "You have an beautiful view of the water from here but you can't see the alley. And, you can't hear the sound from the alley."

Simon´╗┐ nodded, still looking out the window "It is beautiful." He said to himself.

Tom´╗┐ continued, "That sound," he said, pointing at his phone, "was a chainsaw, at full speed in the same location of the sculptor's van in the alley. I couldn't hear it over the sounds of the city from this window."

Simon´╗┐ just stared at him, "I don't know what you're trying to say."

Tom´╗┐ sat back down, "You do, ´╗┐Simon´╗┐ ." He said. "I think you were near the alley when the sculptor was killed. I think you saw something, or someone. I think you want to tell us, which is why you called it in. But I also think you're afraid because of what you saw."

Ash´╗┐ looked at ´╗┐Tom´╗┐, impressed by his assessment.

Simon´╗┐ sat down, his face in his hands. "I can't." He said, his voice muffled.

Tom´╗┐ leaned forward, "Why not?" he asked.

Ash´╗┐ leaned forward, caught up in the dramatic turn of their interview. Her face was hiding the excitement she was feeling. She stopped writing in her notebook and watched ´╗┐Tom´╗┐ do his work.

"You have it wrong." ´╗┐Simon´╗┐ said, his voice wavering. "I didn't see anything. I only heard the chainsaw. And I...I can't tell you how."

Tom´╗┐ leaned back in the chair and looked at ´╗┐Ash´╗┐. His eyes were telling her something, but she looked back in confusion.

Ash´╗┐ wasn't sure what to do next. ´╗┐Tom´╗┐ leaned forward "´╗┐Simon´╗┐ ," he started, ┬á"Would it be easier for you if we had this conversation at the station?".

Simon´╗┐ remained silent.

"I think you should come with us down to the station," ´╗┐Tom´╗┐ said. "We can talk more there and maybe show you some pictures to help you remember."

Simon´╗┐ looked up at him, his face pale. "No." He said, "I'm calling my lawyer."

Tom´╗┐ nodded to ´╗┐Ash´╗┐, who packed up her notebook and pen. She walked around the desk and reached for ´╗┐Simon´╗┐'s arm. "´╗┐Simon Baker´╗┐," Ash started.

"Wait," he said, holding up his arms. "You can't do this! I didn't do anything to that man."

Ash´╗┐ grabbed his arm and lifted him from the chair; he rose easily, surprising her.

"I can show you!" ´╗┐Simon´╗┐ shouted, then calmed his demeanor. "Just let me show you where I was."

More from Joe Hale

I'm writing a novel in 30 days!

Join me as I write a 50K novel in 30 days, starting November 1, 2022. I'll send you updates as I make progress.

Great! YouÔÇÖve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Joe Hale.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.