EXCERPT: Something's Coming to Oldtowne
My new novel Radiowaves: A Deklan Falls Case File is ready for pre-order now (for Kindle - and just 99 cents!) and will be officially available on April 25. This story continues the tale of private eye Deklan Falls. He's gotten sober, he's in love, Oldtowne has an uneasy peace and life seems good - except that something's coming. Something bad. Something unlike anything Deklan or Oldtowne has had to deal with before.
Below is an excerpt from the new novel:
He rolled into town in late. Or early. It depended on your point of view, he guessed. He had been driving all night, so it felt late to him, but the horizon was starting to glow around the edges like a knife in a flame when he pulled off the highway. Although it had a reputation for being a bad-ass town, Oldtowne was sound asleep when he got onto the side roads.
He would get a few hours of sleep. That was what was needed. Then he'd see what he could do. This was his town. He knew it. It had been on the news a lot recently and he knew that this was his destiny. He was going to need to be here.
There were others who had planned on meeting him once he got there and got established. Others who were like-minded. Most of them local. They had all met online, discussing their plans and making arrangements. They had been doing much of the ground work to make things easier for all of them. The politicians and people who ran and monitored this city were corrupt and too busy wallowing in that corruption to even notice them.
Oldtowne was perfect. Perfect to send a message to the world.
Almost immediately, as he turned down one street and passed a number of houses, he saw political signs. Most of them read: THOMAS MAHONE FOR STATE SENATE - Change You Can Believe In.
Maybe this town was getting too soft. That would be a shame.
His eyeballs ached. That was how long he had been driving. It was summer, so the weather had been good and he had driven much of the way with his head nearly hanging out the open window. Despite the fresh air, he was exhausted.
The hotel was on the right and he pulled in. It was some national chain, but he didn't care. It was just there for him to sleep. He had booked a week, and then figured he might need more time. That was fine, he had plenty of money. Plenty of time. Something like this needed to be done right.
He pulled into the parking space nearest the office and got out. The night was filled with the sound of katydids and other critters. He stretched his arms over his head, standing up on his tip-toes, flexing his fingers. He yawned and then tilted his head quickly to the right and then left, cracking the vertebrae. He smiled. In the distance, through the morning summer haze, he could just make out the skyline for downtown Oldtowne. It was hardly bright and shiny, but it was still impressive. He was home. His new home.
He clapped his hands and walked into the office. The girl behind the counter had been dozing and she snapped awake, nearly falling off her chair. "Good morning," he said. "Sorry to startle you."
She yawned. "No problem. I shouldn't be falling asleep. Been a long night. How can I help you?"
"I have a room booked and I'd like to check-in," he replied.
"We don't normally check people in until after eleven," she said.
"I've been driving all night and I need a place to lay my head. Can we please get me checked in?" "Yeah, what the hell. What's your name?"
He gave it.
"We have you around back, like you requested. Nice room."
They did all of the paperwork and she handed him the key card. He thanked her and strolled back out into the lot. The sky was brighter. It was already warm and looked like it was going to be a scorcher. That was fine. Just fine. Things always did a little bit better when you added a little bit of heat.
He got back into the black van and pulled around back. When he got out he worried about the things he had in the back of that van. What should he do with those? He decided to make a couple of trips, since the room was close to the door he would enter. He carried in his suitcase with the clothing first and then made several trips back for the cardboard boxes and then the duffel bag. He arranged them all around the room. It was a nice room, with a flat-screen TV and cable. There was a desk and even a little sofa with a coffee table in front of it. He had requested one with a fridge and a little kitchenette and they had complied.
He spent little time admiring it. As soon as the suitcases were situated, the air conditioning cranked to an appropriate level, and the windows closed tight to the dawn, he stripped off his clothes and fell into bed. Although he knew all about the germs and fluids that got onto the top layer of the beds in hotels he fell right on top of that and buried his face in the pillows. He was not destined to die from some strange illness due to improper hotel cleaning.
Later, he thought, he would go see what he could find. He'd heat things up for sure. Oldtowne was his. He would wait for the others to arrive. They would have even more of the necessary supplies to really make this town rattle from the top down. They would take their inventory and he would discuss his plans. Then things would start to change.
He fell asleep and dreamed peaceful dreams. Dreams of blood and explosions and rivers and rivers of blood.
Good morning, Oldtowne! This is Radio Free Oldtowne coming to you again from our top secret bunker, to wish you a good morning, play some music, and warn you against the threat of the very idea of SENATOR Thomas Mahone. That's right, the man being hailed as the savior of Oldtowne is anything but and we're here to keep you informed for as long as possible. So, that means either until the FCC busts us or the man ends up elected or arrested. Now - get ready for the tunes. If you have a request, you know where to find us online and how to do it, so send us a note.
Deklan Falls moaned in his sleep and rolled over, immediately squinting as a ray of sunshine pierced right through his eyelids and into the back of this brain. Who the hell opened the curtains like that? Oh yeah, right, he thought, only one person could be that cruel.
"Karen?" he called out. "Did you open the blinds just to punish me?"
"Yes, because you need to get some light in this place. I mean, Jesus, Deklan, you have this nice apartment right downtown and the walls are white and bright and you keep it closed up like a tomb. Besides, you have to get up. You have to meet with the Mahone folks."
Deklan moaned again, this time louder. "I don't wanna."
Karen Luna, wearing nothing but one of Deklan's button-down shirts, her now-red hair cascading over her shoulders, padded into the bedroom. They had been together for about six months and had just celebrated their anniversary. It had happened slowly, back when he worked the case that had killed her fiancé. They had become friends and then, one night, things got serious and had stayed that way since. "You have to," she replied.
"You know what he's going to get on me about," Deklan said, and then he hooked a thumb towards the clock radio. "That radio station you and your friends are running. Illegally, I might add."
The radio blared: "That's right, did you know that Thomas Mahone has made deals with gangsters and mobsters to keep the peace ever since the Pernelli family vanished? We have the proof and if you check out our forum at Radio Free Oldtowne dot com, you'll see the evidence. What this amounts to is bad news for the citizens of Oldtowne and if we send him to the senate, bad news for the state of Ohio and possibly the country. Wake up Oldtowne! It's time to get out in the streets and protest this man and stop him from grabbing more power and using shady deals and corruption to get results and then bragging about that for more power!"
The radio began blaring the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again."
This had been going on almost from the time and Deklan and Karen had found that they were good together in the world and in the sack. The pirate radio station broadcast every single morning on a distant channel at the far end of the radio dial. It had become the buzz of the town and a major annoyance to Deklan's primary employer - Thomas Mahone. Whether or not it was having any kind of effect seemed not to matter to Mahone. The man had grown such an ego that even pitiful insults and innuendo was enough to send him into a frothing fit. Whoever was doing the station (and the biggest suspect was the group formerly known as Citizens Against Fracking) was very good and so far no one had been able to successfully track the signal and bust the culprits.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Karen said. She had a plate in her hand and she handed it to Deklan. He sat up and saw that she had made him a bagel. He got a good look at her; the long legs, the bare feet, the barely-buttoned shirt, and he wondered if he had time to pull her into bed.
"Of course not," Deklan said, taking a bite. "C'mon, you know the C.A.F. is running this thing. Why do you hide it?"
"We're not the C.A.F. anymore," she dodged.
No, they were the Citizens United Against Corruption in Oldtowne or C.U.A.C.O. Deklan had no idea how that was supposed to be pronounced.
"Your new name is terrible," he said. "How the hell are you supposed to pronounce that? Coo ah co? Quack-Oh?"
"It doesn't have to spell anything!" she said laughing. Then she stretched out on the bed. Deklan took another bite and smiled. "Now, how am I supposed to concentrate on breakfast and getting ready when you do something like that?"
She smiled coyly. "What? I'm just listening to the music."
The music had ended and the announcer was back. "Did you know that Thomas Mahone has risen to the place he is, poised to win a senate seat, because the world believes he saved Warren Gatesworth after an assassination attempt? That's the real reason. He claims to have cleaned up Oldtowne despite having only placated the same people who took us down this road into hell, and then he rides on the back of a supposed heroic deed. Well, we happen to know that the entire assassination was arranged by Mahone himself. We have the security camera footage to prove it. My partner will be back with some more later."
The station launched into some comedy bit where an actor, or wannabe actor, pretended to be Mahone. It was all about Mahone being unable to choose what underwear to pick out without first getting approval from a street gang. It was fairly amusing, but Deklan was not in the mood to laugh.
"Do we have to wake up to this every morning?" he asked, putting his plate aside and wiggling down to the end of the bed so he could kiss Karen.
"I like it," she whispered.
"I like a lot of things in the morning, but most of mine center around you."
He kissed her again. She kissed back. Soon the shirt was gone and the music and comedy against Thomas Mahone sank into the background to be replaced by the soft moans and sighs of a couple very much in love.
All in all, when it came to ways to start your day in Oldtowne, this wasn’t half bad.
Radiowaves: A Deklan Falls Case File is available in print and ebook editions and you can pre-order the Kindle edition for just 99 cents right now! The book will be published April 25!