A gripping chiller and it could happen to you.
Doyle didn’t fit in his wife’s wealthy family, and when he accidentally killed her,he knew no one would believe him. So he buried her body and thought it would end there. That was a big mistake.
You’ve experienced driving somewhere and not remembering how you got there. It’s called a dissociative identity, the only difference between you and Doyle are the bodies. They keep piling up. He can’t run, he can’t hide, fighting back is his only option. But surviving that might not be possible.
Mr. Harmon clearly knows his criminal business – Allyn
In the style of Tom Clancy, Mr.Harmon writes a remarkable story – R. Stephens
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I was struggling with writing my third book, the second for my Mace Franklyn series, Returning Fire. For a break,I began brain storming ideas for a fourth book and hit upon a relationship between the protagonist and antagonist that I thought was unique and different. I explored the premise and the story quickly unfolded. Six months later I completed One Cold Sunday as my third book. Still working on Returning Fire.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Originally, my first chapter was about a teen who remained unnamed but suffered a shocking trauma, so naturally, his last name had to be “the boy.” But I settled on a symbolic translation “LaBoy.” I wanted my protagonist’s boss to be a Meryl Streep persona, someone very wealthy, hence Hillary Hampton. I envisioned the FBI agent as a former co-worker, who seemed a very formal person, and therefore his name had to reflect that. He became Howard Kyle Quinn Barrington. I liked this character so much, I’m planning on writing a book with him as the central character. The other characters were adaptations of friends and co-workers from years ago.
A yellow cab pulled up in front of his townhouse. Doyle starred at the door; something didn’t feel right. A fitting end to a crappy day.
“Yes, sir, twenty-three-fifty-nine Mass, like you said, sir.”
Doyle shook his head and handed the taxi driver a wad of cash. He didn’t know how much, but the driver beamed. His airport conversation with Ralph had gone on far too long, three scotch and waters, an appetizer, entrée, and two bottles of wine too long.
Doyle fumbled for the door handle. “Where’s the friggin handle?”
“Allow me, sir.” The driver said, exited his cab, and pulled open the door frustrating Doyle.
He steadied himself against the vehicle while the driver retrieved his luggage. The driver passed the roller board’s handle to Doyle, who stood there, ogling the object, questioning its utility in his current condition. He pushed off from the cab. Why didn’t I come home directly and call Hampton? Now I’ll have to deal with her on Monday morning.
Doyle stared intently at his watch to determine how late it was but was unable to make any sense of it.
“Have a good night, sir.”
Doyle wobbled and nodded. A sobering surge of cold air struck his face and blew a chill through his open overcoat. It was late, he wasn’t sure how late, but decided it didn’t matter. He took two steps, and then stumbled at the curb, losing his grip on his rolling luggage.
“You all right?” yelled the driver.
“It’s all right.” Doyle waived his hand, his head bobbing, as he struggled with the flat ground. He recaptured his luggage and managed the few steps to his door. He heard the cab drive off as he fumbled with his keys, nudging the door as he did. It opened. A sobering pulse of adrenalin surged. I locked the door when I left; double checked it like always. He released his luggage, prodded the door open with two fingers, and listened for any sound, but everything, even the wind, was quiet.
With balled fists, Doyle entered. Looked up the stairs for any signs of movement, but only his heavy breathing broke the silence. He reached into a closet on his left for any advantage. His hand found a cane, a mocking gift from his thirtieth birthday.
He felt the wall on his right for the light switch.
What was it? Feet shuffling, or the swirling of last fall’s leaves outside the open door?
The day, his dinner, facing Hillary, all attacked his thoughts. I laid out the plan, Doyle don’t screw things up. I locked the door I know I did. But I went back in to check the slider. I locked it didn’t I? You always fuck things up, Doyle. Come on another Manhattan. What’s waiting for you at home? More boxes?
Doyle shook his head and strained to hear, but nothing confirmed the noise. He flicked on the lights. The room was as he left it. The dining room chair where he sat still askew, his half-finished coffee on the low table in front of the sofa.
He ran his hand through his hair. I’m drunk, get some water, then bed.
Doyle closed the front door behind him. The room filled with the silence of the night, a click, a whirr, all from the guardians of modern convenience. He kept the cane to steady his weaving gait and walked the length of the living room to the dining area only defined so by a carpet and darkly finished table. He halted mid-step and turned around examining a blank white wall. The paintings, the objects of so much angst, were missing. He spun around searching the room. Then he saw what he missed as he entered. Wrapped in brown paper, leaning against the front wall, were the paintings Cheryl so obsessively sought.
A black blur lunged from the kitchen onto his back.
Thrown to the floor, he squirmed to get away. The lights went out.
Doyle reached for the escaping shadow, catching a foot with the cane.
Doyle rushed forward, leaping to pin the intruder clothed in black to the floor, but two feet met his torso and hurled him back into the dining room.
The cane flew out of his hand.
The intruder leaped on top of him, pinned his shoulders down, and pounded his face. He rolled, and twisted, finally succeeding in throwing him under the dining table.
Doyle rolled himself upright, but tangled by their legs, fell; his head caught the edge of the table. He lay in a fog. The dark figure scrambled to his feet. A foot plowed toward Doyle’s head. Fog lifted. His hands caught the attacking shoe, twisted. The form fell on him.
Tangled and pulling his attacker stood. He pounded their head into his. Doyle couldn’t withstand the force, fell back slamming against the kitchen counter, his head splintering a cabinet, he was losing his ability to fight.
The intruder grabbed his thick mane of hair and pulled his head back slamming it down into the counter. His arms flailing, he swept the counter behind him. His hands found his knife block. They raised his head again. He grabbed a handle. He pulled, and spun facing his attacker and plunged the blade into their right side.
A groan, deep throated, then gasping. The figure fell back but remained standing. With a flash of rage, Doyle launched the knife into their stomach, tearing across the body. A whimper, blood surged from their mouth, the figure clutched his shoulder, and slid to the floor, intestines bulging from the gash.
Doyle dropped the knife, stepped back, and lunged for the sink behind him. A wretch, then another, and his stomach erupted into the drain. He stood, braced against the counter, spitting, gasping for breath. A tremor roiled through his body, his arms shaking, testing his grip on the counter.
The rush waned. Still gasping for breath, he turned back facing the figure, the black blur that had attacked him. He saw a wisp of blond hair, the first hint of identity more terrifying than the attack. His vision cleared like a camera zooming in on a distant prominence, an emergent crimson pool framed the body of his attacker. It wasn’t a man; it was a woman of strength.
The haze of his struggle, the blindness of denial lifted as a revolting realization seeped into his consciousness. A surge of fear enfeebled his limbs as he moved toward the body. Using the counters and appliances, to steady himself, he stooped low, touching the hair masking her face. His heart pounded at the suggestion of her features, his breath coming in gasps.
Be a man, a real man, instead of milk toast. Say it so everyone can hear, I’ll kill you, slice your guts out so you can carry them in your arms. Do the reasons matter?
“Cheryl?” He whispered. “Why… oh god, oh god no.” Screaming he repulsed back, slipping in the blood on the floor, he fell crashing against the cabinets. This is a nightmare it couldn’t be. It can’t end, not this way. He sat in horror, starring at the fruit of his obsession.
FJ Harmon is a native Michigander, which is the location for many of his stories. He spent his entire professional career, including a twenty-two years career in Naval and Strategic Intelligence in Maryland. He currently resides in North Carolina, where in 2008 he began his writing career with his first book, “For What Is Sacred” which was published in 2012. In 2014 he completed a second book, Duplicity’s Child, the first in the Mace Franklyn Mystery series. He is currently writing for a local magazine in St. James, North Carolina, Cat-Tales, and is working on his next in the Mace Franklyn series, “Returning Fire”.
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