“Asterisk” Second Excerpt (Mystery)


Tuesday Afternoon: October 22nd


Adam sat on the metal bench chained to the wall. His hands were clasped, his head down. His denim pant legs were rolled up to his knees and his white wife beater was slightly lifted, revealing his midriff. Both ears pierced with red gauges, both eyebrows pierced, tips of mow-hawk curling downward from lack of gel, he looked up as Laura and Crowne approached the cell. Adam stood up and walked over to the bars. He lifted his arms over his head and leaned in, pressing his forearms against the bars. “Need another urine sample?”

“No. I need a different side.”

Adam bit down on his lip. “I come from a very accepting community. If you catch my drift.” He puckered his lips and then giggled.

“You’d move on from Robert that quickly?”

Adam dropped his arms to his side and leaned back. “Okay. Who are you?”

“Detective Crowne. I need to get this story straight. One of my clients thinks that you don’t deserve to be here.”

“And your client is?”

“Scarlett Nicks.”

“Wow. Well, bless her heart.”

“What happened the night of Robert’s death?”

“I can tell you what happened before.” He stuffed his hands in the front of his pockets. The left rolled pant leg began to slip down. “Veronica was on her way to the train station to go to New York when Robert called me. He said he really missed me. We hadn’t seen each other for about two months at that point. Nothing was wrong. Just, Veronica was looking for a job all that time. She was always home. So anyway, he ends up coming over around seven. I make him dinner, his favorite: butternut squash soup.” He inhaled through his nose, sniffling. “Ya know, when him and Veronica first moved here it was the week before Thanksgiving and I had a block party for the holiday. It was my first time cooking that soup that year. And, and he just couldn’t get enough of it. As soon as he asked for the recipe, I knew at that moment, that we were going to end up being just the best for friends.” He cleared his throat and swallowed. “So we finished the soup, I opened a bottle of wine. It was an amazing evening. We just did a lot of catching up. If you know what I mean.” He smiled slightly. “He left at about eight. I had no idea why he was with me for only an hour. All he said was that he was scared. Scared that Veronica was going to come home because she forgot something or that the train schedule was wrong. He knew if she came home and didn’t find Robert home, it was going to be the end of me and him. We couldn’t sneak around anymore. So, he left. Then the next morning, Scarlett called me.” He brought the back of his wrist up to his eyes.

“Thank you, thank you, Adam.” Crowne glanced at the tattoo on the side of Adam’s neck. “That’s a really interesting tattoo. The uh, asterisk. What made you choose that?”

Adam lowered his arm. “Before I decided to be a tattoo artist, I was an English major in college. One of my professors made this claim that writer’s have one of the easiest and also hardest jobs in the world. Writing is meant to be free. You keep going. If you run out of room, you get another page, start a new paragraph. You can add and take away later. For an artist, like a painter it’s more difficult to be free. You lose control and you find yourself painting yourself or the floor. Well, that’s what my teacher said.” He laughed. “As an artist, a writer especially, you always have the option of adding or erasing. As wonderful as a privilege that is, it’s a constant struggle over what side of the pencil you should use. Should one write and worry about erasing later, or erase what they have now and wonder what will come next?” He pointed to the tattoo. “An asterisk is a grammatical symbol. You use one when you want to fix your mistake.” He lowered his arm. “All of us have done things we regret. Can’t keep track of them all, now can we? This tattoo is meant to represent that I have control over the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ll learn. There’s always something we wish we’ve done. But you just gotta work with the day that God gives you.”

“How many people have seen that tattoo?” Laura asked.

“Probably thousands. I used to live in the city, ya know. But as of now, all of my neighbors. It’s easy to notice.”

Crowne nodded his head. “Easy to copy, too.”


Wednesday Morning: October 23rd


“From: Ron

Received: 6:15 am October 23rd


Good morning, beautiful :)”


“Sent to: Ron

Sent: 7:11 am October 23rd


Would love to talk to you…:)”


“From: Ron

Received: 7:14 am October 23rd


Okay. What time tonight?


“Sent to: Ron

Sent: 7:22 am October 23rd


I don’t know…what if Tristan finds out?”


“From: Ron

Received: 7:31 am October 23rd


We could see each other for just an hour. How about eight? Please :)”


“Sent to: Ron

Sent: 7:52 am October 23rd


Meet me at the Holiday Inn. I’ll reserve a room under the name Jones ;)”


“From: Ron

Sent: 8:32 am October 23rd


Gotcha covered :)”


Crowne stood on Veronica’s front porch. Before knocking, he listened to the sound of an electric drill. A few moments later, the drilling stopped and the door opened. She stood in the doorway wearing a black, strapless dress, a pair of red clogs and a denim jacket. Her brunette hair had been pulled back in a messy bun; her bangs fell beside and curled beneath her left eye.

“May I help you?”

“Ms. Jones, I am Detective Crowne. I would love to ask you a couple questions regarding the loss of your husband.”

“Mmmm.” She pulled a pack of cigarettes from the pocket of her jacket. “Have a light? Pretty sure I lost mine on the train.”

“No, no. I chew my packs, not smoke them.” He removed a pack.

“Cute, cute.” She smiled and put the pack back in her pocket. “Can I have a piece?”

Crowne looked down at his pack. “It’s the last piece.”

Veronica opened up her hand, waiting for some gum. “Don’t worry! I can throw the pack away for you. I hate being a litter bug, too.” She winked at him.

He handed her the pack. She took out the last piece, popped it into her mouth and shoved the pack into her back pocket. “Aren’t you supposed to have a side-kick?”

“I, I do. She was just feeling a little under the weather this morning.”

“Too bad.” She zipped her jacket.

“I would really like to ask you -”

“I wasn’t here, Detective. I was in New York. I have the train tickets to prove it.” She crossed her arms across her chest.

“May I please come in to speak with you?”

“I’m sleeping above a fuckin’ crime scene. Ya think I’m gonna let someone like you leave tracks of evidence in my house? Jesus, you’d probably try to frame me!”

“God, no. I’m just trying to get every side of the story.”

“Look, as far as I know, the right person is in jail.” She stepped back and placed her hand on the knob.

“Well, a couple people don’t think so.”

“Oh yeah, like who?”

“Scarlett Nicks.”

“Oh, Scarlett. Scarlett, Scarlett. Robert sure couldn’t stop talking about her. He was probably fucking her behind my back, that old fuck! I’m not surprised. She’s just trying to save her friend’s ass!”

“Scarlett and Adam are friends?”

“Oh, come on, Detective. You should know this. Of course they are. They went to the same college. He’s only a couple years ahead of her.”

“Wow. Small world.”

“Oh, honey, this sure is a small town.” She closed the door.

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