Out Now: Murder-A-Go-Go’s

Sometimes lightning strikes with certain projects, and I feel like it really did with Murder-A-Go-Go’s. The collection is the brainchild of my friend Holly West, a talented writer and editor who not only came up with the concept, herded a bunch of crazy cats into write stories, and got Down & Out Books to back it… she also got Go-Go’s co-founder Jane Wiedlin to write the introduction to this collection (!).

Here’s an excerpt from my story, “Unforgiven”:

The day I found out my husband was dead, it broke my heart. But I collected enough of myself to drive into town and corner the sheriff for answers. The jail was around the corner from Main Street, a tidy rectangle of a building with a pair of Art Deco angels guarding the entrance. Back in the day, my little hometown had big dreams for itself; like my own, those had been crushed to dust.

“Cassie! I was just heading over to see you,” the sheriff said when I walked in. That was an obvious lie. He was at his desk, with a spread from In-N-Out Burger laid in front of him.

I didn’t waste any time. “I’m here about Ray.”

The sheriff nodded and wiped his face with a napkin. He was red-faced and bulky, with a nose that had been broken a few times. It was hard to say if his face flushed, because he was always overheated. “You have no idea how sorry I am,” he said.

“I heard he died in jail.”

“Who told you that?”

“My father,” I lied.

That earned a stiff little nod. “Okay. Yeah. We came back and found him in his cell. I feel terrible, Cassie. I wish I’d been able to stop him.”

“Stop him?” I repeated, my voice flat.

“From killing himself,” Steve explained. “You know… you know Ray killed himself, right?”

“He would never do that.”

“I know it’s hard to believe, Cassie. Your husband’s been having issues lately. Drinking a lot. Maybe it was PTSD. So many guys in the service come back like that. Ray did, what, two full tours in Iraq, didn’t he?”

I nodded.

“So, who’s to say what kind of demons he brought home with him,” the sheriff went on. “You never really know, do you?”

“I want to see Ray’s body.”

“That’s not a good idea. Look, maybe you should talk to your dad. He’s handling all the arrangements.”

“Why would my dad do that?”

“Well, you’re away so much, Cassie. And I guess everyone knows you and Ray were living separate lives. You can’t hide much in a little town like Constantine.”

I swallowed my anger, aware I needed to stay calm. My father controlled everything in our tiny town, including the sheriff. If I was ever going to get to the truth about what had happened, it wouldn’t be by blowing up.

“How did Ray die?”

“He cut his wrists open. It was bad.”

Automatically, I glanced in the direction of the town’s single jail cell. It was pristine and empty. The acrid aroma of bleach hung in the air.

“How on earth did Ray get a knife into his cell?” I asked.

“He used a piece of metal he broke off the cot,” the sheriff said. “We got rid of that cot first thing, of course. Damned dangerous to have it around.”

He looked down at his rapidly cooling burger and fries, and I wondered if some part of him felt bad about lying to me. He wasn’t an evil man, from what I knew, just an obedient one.

“There’s one thing I just don’t understand in all of this,” I said. “Why did you arrest Ray in the first place?”

The sheriff shifted his bulk in his seat, and the chair squeaked under him. “He was drunk and disorderly. Screaming his head off. I only brought him in to calm him down. I figured he’d sleep it off.”

“Are you saying it had nothing to do with Ray going over to my father’s house?”

“How did you…” For the first time, the sheriff’s weak chin quivered. “I mean, like I said, Ray was going bonkers, yelling and stuff. Your dad called me because he was worried about him. He told you about that?”

“No, he didn’t,” I answered. “But that doesn’t matter. Like you said, you can’t hide much in this little town.”

Murder-A-Go-Go’s includes stories by Lori Rader-Day, Susanna Calkins, SW Lauden, Jen Conley, Greg Herren, RD Sullivan, Steve Weddle, Lisa Alber, Eric Beetner, Craig Faustus Buck, Nadine Nettmann, Thomas Pluck, Diane Vallere, Bryon Quertermous, Patricia Abbott, Sarah M. Chen, Travis Richardson, Renee Asher Pickup, Josh Stallings, Dharma Kelleher, Stephen Buehler, Wendall Thomas, Jessica Ellis, and Lisa Brackmann.

Want another reason to love this collection? The proceeds go to Planned Parenthood. Get this book now!

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