New title, new cover. The Autobiography: An Eternal Rite of Passage has been changed to, Eternal Write of Passage. Still the same story, revised.
AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON.COM as The Autobiography: An Eternal Rite of Passage for a short time.
Liberated from the boundaries of rationale thinking-bile begins to fester and seep from the pores-crawling from the belly of an imaginative mind.
From the moment Gregory Reed steps onto the island at Tenmile Lake, a strange phenomenon draws him deep into a family curse.
The manuscript he finds is being written as he reads, but Greg gets so drawn in that he doesn’t realize, and risks the lives of his loved ones.
Is someone really writing the manuscript, or are there words on the pages at all?
This mystery/thriller is set in Lakeside, Oregon and will challenge any whodunit fan right up to the last words.
Liberated from the boundaries of rationale thinking—bile begins to fester and seep from the pores—crawling from the belly of an imaginative mind.
Helen Reed knelt next to her husband, stroking his silver hair with a shaky hand, and quietly hummed Close To You, their wedding song, in the quiet dim lit room as she watched the pool of blood inch toward her knees.
“My sweet darling Robert, please don’t leave me.” She sobbed. “I can’t bear to be without you.”
She pushed on his chest and counted aloud, “one-one thousand—two-one thousand—three-one thousand—four-one thousand—and five—” then breathed into his mouth. Pain stung her heart. She searched his face for some sign of life.
“I need you to stay with me.” She whispered in his ear, “please—stay with me.” He was still, so peaceful and quiet—too quiet.
She repeated the CPR technique. When her lips met his, she whispered. “I love you, please try Robert. I’m begging you, don’t leave me.” His mouth was soft and warm, but unresponsive.
“Say something—give me some sort of sign.” She rose up and licked her quivery lips. Tasted the salty tears, and then leaned in to kiss him one last time.
Her heart ached. Her body trembled. It can’t be over—not like this.
“I can’t live without you, Robert,” she sighed. Helen quoted part of the poem he’d written her. “I need to hear your comforting voice, your laughter that commands the sun to burst in on a gloomy day.” The words choked past the lump in her throat.
She was alone, empty and so—so afraid for the first time in her life. Only Robert could fill the void.
She leaned in close. “Come back to me Robert, please…I need you.” She begged. Cold icy fluid rushed her veins as tears of grief seeped into her lungs. She was drowning in tears of sorrow. Now she knew what that meant.
This lifeless body wasn’t the man she knew, Robert Quinn was strong, a man of honor and pride. He’d be devastated that his last moments were spent sprawled out alongside the hearth, bleeding all over his prized oriental rug. A man like Robert wouldn’t want to be remembered that way.
She couldn’t give up, not yet. Helen sucked in deep. Adrenalin rushed her veins. With great determination, she shouted at him. “Robert, you have to try, don’t give up! It’s not like you to give up. Damn it, don’t do this to me!” She rocked back on her heels and sobbed, “oh Robert.”
Helen’s mind began to wander, and for some reason recalled when he purchased the rug, as she massaged his temple with her fingertips. It was late spring, nearly twenty years ago. They’d just moved into the cabin where they planned to grow old together. Robert had insisted on a particular pattern that would be perfect in front of the fireplace and he wouldn’t rest until he found it. “I’ll know it when I see it,” he’d said.
After months of endless shopping, Helen was doubtful and humored him often, but Robert continued to search with avid determination, until at last he found what he was looking for. She had to admit it was worth the wait. The burgundy, green and gold design against an eggshell background edged in royal blue, pulled all the colors of the room together giving it an air of sophistication yet hominess. That was the first time she knew Robert had a gifted eye, and the last time she’d doubted him. Not a single stain marred its lustrous beauty.
“It’s probably best you can’t see this sweet heart,” Helen whispered. “Everything is such a mess now.” She gazed off across the room. Her mind was gone, just like her father. For so long she’d resisted the idea, but now she knew.
Blood seeped between the cracks in the hardwood floors. “That will never come out,” she said as she watched the blood glide across the wooden slats.
“I may as well die with you.” She curled up next to him, giving way to the weightless sensation of death. She’d heard somewhere that people could will themselves to die if they wanted to bad enough. Helen couldn’t live without him so she welcomed the long sleep they were about to share.
Memories stood out in her mind as their lives faded in unison. “We had a wonderful life together, no regrets.” Helen whispered as she draped her arm across his chest and gathered a fistful of flannel material from the old raggedy shirt. The very one she’d tossed out ages ago, but Robert rescued from the trash. “You stubborn old man, never would let it go, would you?” He wore it everywhere, despite the ripped out elbow, miss-matched buttons and embarrassment to her. She hung on with a fierce grip, as if it would bind them together forever. She pressed her cheek against the warm fuzzy cotton and inhaled the sweet savor of his cologne.
In Helen’s mind, each tick of the clock brought her closer to death, as she lay in his warm sticky pool of blood, listening to the crackle-pop from the fireplace and giving way to heavy eyelids. Welcoming the abyss her body drifted toward, slowly unraveling the threads that bound her to this life, until she heard a strange noise. She lifted her head and listened, brushing the damp silver hair from her cheek.
Several moments passed before she heard it again. It was a raspy whine, or perhaps a croaky whimper. Either way, it seemed to be coming from Robert’s throat. At first, she didn’t trust her ears until it happened again. Helen rose up, searched his face, and listened intently.
She placed her hand against his cheek. “Robert!” Then shook his shoulder with both hands and shouted, “Robert!” He gurgled, coughed, and raised his brows. She saw him struggle to open his eyes. His forehead relaxed and for a long while, he was still. Then with a visible determination, Robert raised them again and looked straight at her. Startled, Helen jumped, and then noticed his pleading eyes.
“Can you hear me?” She felt his pain, and sensed his desperation as his lips parted and he struggled to speak. Helen leaned in closer. “I can’t hear you, what are you saying?”
He mouthed the words before she heard anything audible. “Help me—don’t let me die.” Robert begged in a whisper she could barely hear.
Helen froze, unable to move. Her mind reeled like a drunkard. She examined his condition as if for the first time. Blood oozed from the open flesh that exposed his broken skull. She leaned back, heavy hearted. What good will it do to call for help? By the time the paramedics reach the island, he’ll be gone. She shook her head hopelessly. It’s better this way.
Helen cried and said in a soft, sweet voice, “Sweetheart, I’m so sorry.” How can I tell him I can’t fix this?
Shock set in, and Helen no longer felt her body, heard her mind, or tasted her tears. The room dimmed as her sanity slipped away. She cocked her head to one side, face full of pity. He didn’t know, couldn’t see the dark liquid halo growing with every tick of the clock.
“Helen!” he coughed. “Please, help me.” She could hear him, but it didn’t penetrate.
She cocked her head to the other side and covered her mouth with blood stained fingertips. “Poor Robert—you just don’t know—do you?”
“Helen, call for help.” His eyes rolled toward the phone.
She followed his gaze, and fixed on the telephone sitting below the stairway. Then she began to turn her head slowly from side-to-side. “I’m sorry, Robert. I’m so—so sorry.” Her eyes pooled and hazed her vision. “I wish we could start this day all over again. But I’m afraid it’s too late for that.”
Robert’s expression hardened. “Damn it, if you ever loved me—call!”
His harshness brought her attention back to him. “Robert,” she snapped and gave him an annoyed stare, then pressed her index finger to her lips. “Shush…there’s no need to shout.”
Puzzled by his abrasive attitude Helen studied Robert’s face. She then analyzed his condition, determined he must be in a lot of pain. Her mood softened. “What can I do to make you more comfortable?” She asked eagerly.
His eyelids flickered and his mouth moved with no sound. She knew he was near death now. Soon it would be over. However difficult to watch him die, she knew it was too late. He was all a mess like Humpty Dumpty. She pursed her lips as the nursery rhyme played out in her head. “…all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.” Robert was drifting out of consciousness, going to sleep at last. It seemed right to her in his condition.
She reached down and gently stroked his cheek. “We’ll sleep now honey. Together, like always.” She resumed fetal position next to him. “It’s time to sleep.” She resolved, while rubbing his temple. Just as she was about to lay her head on his chest, she heard Robert suck in a deep breath.
“Helen!” The urgency in his voice startled her and she snapped out of her daze. It took a moment, but her senses came back. Slowly Helen got to her feet, not taking her eyes from his face. Her body took command. The involuntary movement surprised her, but she was helpless to resist.
He coaxed her, barely audible between gulps of air. “That’s it—that’s it.” She heard the familiar encouragement. She tried to work it in, but her psyche resisted. Helen’s steps were robotic, her high heels tapped against the hardwood floor, but she couldn’t feel her legs move. When she reached the phone, Helen glanced back at Robert for a brief moment. He was still looking at her and bits of memory of that evening trickled into her mind, and caused her to shudder. A sharp pain shot through her body leaving her weak, yet too aware. She couldn’t think about it, had to erase it from her mind. It’s too awful, just too awful, mustn’t think about it. Helen cried as she covered her face with both hands, head shaking back and forth to ward off the nightmare.
“Pick it up…Helen, do it now!”
She sniffled then slowly parted her fingers and peeked at the telephone. One deep cleansing breath made her more cognizant. The second eased the blur, and the third gave her the strength to reach forward.
“I’m calling now Robert. Don’t worry, you’re going to be alright—I promise.” As she lifted the phone from its cradle and started to punch the numbers, a sound overhead stopped her. It was a familiar noise. One she’d ignored until she heard the footsteps on the stairs.
The nightmare wasn’t over. Her eyes trailed upward toward the second floor and fixed on the dark landing.
“Is someone there?” She trembled, couldn’t suck in a breath. Someone was watching her. She could feel the burning.
The sound of heavy breathing kept her fixated.
A thump, a screech, like something sharp scraped against the wooden railing.
“Leave us alone!” Helen screamed.
The noise intensified.
Robert cried out, “Helen!”
Their eyes met, both filled with terror. It sobered Helen enough to know what to do and she quickly punched the buttons on the phone.
Lisa Thompson awoke hung-over. Her head pounded like hell. She forced open an eyelid to see the glaring numbers on the bedside clock. “One thirty five? Damn it, that can’t be right!” She rose up in bed, let out a moan then dropped her head back on the pillow. She tried to move her tongue but it stuck to the roof of her mouth. With a shaky hand, Lisa reached for the glass of stale water. She raised her head enough to get a sip, then laid back and allowed the lukewarm liquid to release her tongue from captivity. Her mouth tasted like an ashtray, which caused queasiness in her stomach. Did I smoke? She couldn’t remember but the heaviness in her lungs brought it all back. “Aw shit, what was I thinking?” Her voice set off a thunder in her head and she coughed out a whimper.
Lisa worked swing shift as a nine-one-one operator, been doing it for three years. Between that and raising a two year old, Lisa never slept in. She was lucky to get five hours sleep a night and was used to it.
It was Larry’s turn to have Casey that weekend, normally, she hated it when her baby was gone, but under the circumstances, it was a good thing.
Lisa knew she couldn’t lie in bed until it all went away, so she slid her legs off the bed and the rest of her body followed. She waited until she got her bearings then aimed for the bathroom, her eyes squinted just enough to see the way. Each step sent a sharp pain to the top of her skull. Each throb caused her to curse Carol and Tina for taking her to the club.
Lisa opened the medicine cabinet and snatched the bottle of aspirins from the shelf. After fumbling with the lid, she was pissed, and tossed it on the counter. The top popped, and pills scattered everywhere. It made her angry enough to curse aloud. “Damn childproof caps!” Lisa stuffed four of them in her mouth, cleaned up the mess, then stepped into the shower. The hot water soothed her achy body and she leaned her head back and stood under the pulsating flow.
Her alternate plan was to stay home, have a pizza delivered, maybe pop popcorn and watch “Terms of Endearment” for the millionth time. That was Lisa’s idea of a perfect Friday night. None of her friends understood. They didn’t have kids, so had no idea how hard it was being a single mom. A quiet, uneventful evening at home suited her just fine.
Somehow, Lisa managed to dress, hold down a few bites of scrambled eggs, a nibble of toast, and make her way to the carport where the harsh light slapped her in the face. She dug in her purse for sunglasses and slid them on. It was Saturday, so all the neighborhood kids were at the park next door. Mr. Lopez from across the street, waved from his mower, which triggered a wave from Stan Hubbard who cleared the sidewalks of debris with his leaf blower. It was his usual daily contribution to the neighborhood. Truthfully, there were times she wanted to stuff that machine up his butt. She was certain she wasn’t the only one on the block who felt that way.
All the sounds amplified in Lisa’s head causing her to lose her balance when she waved back. She braced herself against the post until she got her bearings. Then unlocked the car-door and slid behind the steering wheel of the Honda, and shut the door, happy to cut out the noise.
“Never again, God, I promise. I don’t care how much they beg me.” She put the car in reverse and backed out of the driveway.
Lisa knew she had to get it together quickly. She couldn’t afford to make mistakes in her job. She hoped for a slow night, for more reasons than one, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Whether it was the full moon, humid weather, or just her dumb luck, the phone rang non-stop. The emergencies ranged from fender-benders to a serious pile up out on Highway 101. A couple break-ins, and various injuries, but the calls that always got to her the most were the domestic violence cases. It was anyone’s guess what the officers would encounter, and that night there was a rash of them.
Somehow, Lisa managed to get through the night handling each call in a professional manner. Quite a feat considering how she felt. When she looked at her watch, there was only thirty minutes to go. She let out a sigh of relief, sat back, and waited for the next call.
“Nine-one-one, what is your emergency?” Lisa spoke mechanically into the mouthpiece, and then waited for a response.
“This is Helen Reed, my husband needs help.” Lisa knew that name. Helen Reed was a famous Mystery writer, Aunt of Gregory Reed, who she went to school with. She’d read every book in his “Tristan” series, although it wasn’t her normal genre. There was no need to ask her location, everyone in town knew where she lived. Her and her husband, Robert Quinn, who was himself a famous musician, owned the largest island in the area. Lisa had seen them together numerous times, always admiring their relationship. The two of them were like young lovers, always smiling and goofing around. The couple wasn’t only known for their fame. They were role models in the small town of Lakeside.
Most of the older folks went to school with Helen, including Lisa’s mom. Her heart went out to Helen as she struggled to maintain professionalism. It was her job to follow a strict procedure. That’s what saved lives. To get emotionally involved put people at risk. Lisa knew her duty and was good at it. She quickly typed in the information while asking the next question.
“What’s the problem ma’am?” There was a long pause. “Ma’am, are you still on the line?”
“Leave us alone!” Lisa heard Helen shout.
“Ma’am, what’s going on?” Lisa could hear her breath, but Helen didn’t respond.
“Ma’am, are you there? Mrs. Quinn…”
“Yes, I’m here. I think he’s dead. There’s blood everywhere.”
Lisa was surprised at how composed Helen sounded under the circumstances. “Stay calm, I’m sending someone right now.” Telling her to stay calm was protocol. Helen Reed’s voice was so controlled it was creepy. Lisa reasoned that a mystery writer probably didn’t get shocked easily. Still, Helen was talking about her husband, the man everyone knew she adored.
“Thank you,” Helen replied.
“Is there someone in the house with you besides your husband?”
“I don’t know, I think so.”
“Please stay on the line.” Lisa barely got the words out before Helen hung up the phone. “Damn it.”
The officers were already dispatched and on their way. Lisa knew Larry was on call that night, besides he’d been promoted to Sergeant and would be called in on this case anyway. Casey would be safe with her grandparents. A convenience Larry had by moving back home when they divorced. Still, she imagined he’d prefer to be in a place of his own. She knew by several of their conversations, the reason he didn’t have his own place was that he still had hopes of reconciliation. No matter how many times she told him it would never happen.
She said a silent prayer for Robert Quinn, and a plea to watch out for Larry, as she did every time he went out. A habit she would never break. Lisa was still in love with him, and sometimes hated knowing so much detail when he went out on a case. Larry was a good cop, but even the best ones were caught in the line of fire. He wasn’t invincible. At least he’d been smart enough to know that. It helped some. Yet Lisa knew she wouldn’t rest until she knew Larry was safe.