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Popular Thriller Wired

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Will Douglas meet his son? (Picture by Bart Heird)

1992 – The character of Douglas from the thriller Wired -

Douglas stood before the young man not sure what to do first. The few feet that separated them felt more like a wide gulf. All of the thirty-three years that had gone by since his son, this Brian Kane had been born suddenly felt like wasted time. Why had he ever thought it was okay to let this young man go?

“You look a lot like your grandfather,” said Douglas, noticing that Brian Kane looked an awful lot like him. Same tall, thin body with sharp elbows and a long, narrow face.

“Do I?” asked Brian, “Do you have pictures?” he said, taking a step forward. Douglas heard the anxiousness in Brian’s voice, in his son’s voice and felt Anna’s hand gently push him forward.

“This is your son,” she whispered, “You need to go first.”

Douglas stepped forward and opened his arms, letting his son grab him around the waist for a moment before Brian backed up to get another look. “I don’t know where to start,” he said. “There’s so much I want to say but I don’t want to hurt anyone.”

The words came out of Douglas’ mouth before he even had a chance to think them through. “No need to worry around me, Brian. I’m your father and I can listen. We’ll figure it out together.” The words spilled out of Brian, some of them painful as Douglas just listened and answered what he could, putting his arm around his son. Anna left them alone, occasionally stepping in with iced tea or an offer of lunch. So much time lost to my own idea of right and wrong, thought Douglas, as he watched his son’s face light up when he talked about his new wife, Angela or the fifth grade students he had in his classroom this year. Set the truth free, all of it and let it do its own work.

Next week: A New Mystery for Charlie – Starts on Monday and Ends on Friday.

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What does Brian Kane want? (Photo by Bart Heird)

1992 – The character of Douglas from the thriller Wired -

Anna barely flinched as Douglas made his confession. Instead, she grasped his hands tighter till he could feel his wedding ring dig into his skin. She pressed her lips together as if she was trying to hold back the words till the right ones came to her. Douglas braced himself for whatever was coming. After all, he told himself, he had earned her righteous anger. Anna loosened her grip and took a deep breath, letting it out in a huff.

“Go on,” she said, evenly.

Douglas hesitated but the idea struck him that trying to edit himself at this point would be digging a deeper hole. Best to tell all and let all of the pieces fall where they wanted to. “I have a son, Brian Kane. He was born a year before we met when I was 17 and I’ve known about him all along. I sent money to his mother every year till he was grown but I’ve never met him. His mother got married when he was still a toddler and she asked me to stay away.” Douglas let his chin sink to his chest. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he said, “I was afraid to admit that I let that happen and then it became easier to say nothing. I was wrong.”

Anna put her hand gently under Douglas’ chin and raised his head till he had to look her in the eye. “I’ve known all along,” she said, “and I’ve been sending presents with your name on them for years. I’m not sure I was right not telling you either but I was just as afraid. We may be just about even. We all make mistakes, Douglas. You need to call your son back. He sounds desperate and it doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do in the past. Didn’t we learn that with Charlie and Mary Elizabeth? It matters what you do right now. Call Brian Kane and ask him, what’s the trouble?”

Tomorrow: The Conclusion

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A Walking, Talking Secret Comes to Town (Photo by Bart Heird)

1992 – The character of Douglas from the thriller Wired -

Douglas stood on the main stage of the annual Boothe County Music Fest and turned in every direction to get a good look at the town. He kept having this nagging thought that his window to get ahead of this secret was quickly closing. But still, what if he told Anna all about Brian Kane and what he meant to them and the man never showed up again? Douglas shook his head and looked up at the edges of the nearby bluff that were visible from the stage.

“Did you learn nothing from that terrible summer?” he said, remembering how secrets had gotten people killed three years ago. “Set the truth free,” he whispered.

“What truth?” asked Anna, walking slowly up to the skirt of the stage, just below Douglas. His body shook as he searched for a plausible explanation, realizing he was trying to build an entire house on top of his lie. Anna crossed her arms over her waist and looked up at him. It was the same stance she had taken for over thirty years whenever he was reluctant to say something. Her ability to wait him out was legendary in their family.

Douglas slowly sat down on the edge of the stage and let his legs dangle over the side. He hung his head for a moment and then realized Anna deserved better. He looked her straight in the eye and felt himself falter for just a moment. “I love you Anna,” he said, his voice breaking. Her expression changed to worry as she put out a hand. He took her hand gently and let the words he’d held back for over thirty years slide out.

“That man who’s been trying to find me, that Brian Kane. He’s my son.”

Tomorrow – Part Four

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Who is Brian Kane? (Picture by Bart Heird)

1992 – The character of Douglas from the thriller Wired -

“He called again,” said Charlie, giving Douglas a look of concern. “You okay?”

Douglas knew Charlie was doing his best not to ask a lot of questions. But it was the fourth time a man named, Brian Kane had called leaving a message and asking for Douglas to call him back. Douglas could only imagine how desperate his voice must have sounded. He had hoped the young man would just give up and go away but he was starting to wonder.

“Yeah, I’m fine. You have the number?” Charlie handed Douglas the number, pressing his lips together in a straight line. Douglas was tempted to say, debt collector or traffic cop but making the lie even bigger was not the answer. He had learned at least that from everything they had gone through only three years ago. The silence was bad enough.

Thank goodness Charlie had never given Brian Kane his home number. Then he’d surely have to explain to Anna what the sense of urgency was all about and he had let the secret go on for too long. After thirty years of marriage he may have found the one thing she would find hard to put behind her. He couldn’t risk that, not even for Brian Kane.

Tomorrow – Part Three

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Photo by Bart Heird

1992 – The character of Douglas from the thriller Wired -

Douglas pulled out the shoe box just to glance at the papers. It made him feel better to see them once in awhile, make sure nothing had been disturbed. His secret was safe for a little bit longer. He felt the guilt run through him again as he shoved the box back behind the platform shoes that never sold. In the twenty years he had been hiding the papers here at the shoe store no one had ever moved the last remnants of the 1970′s. Not old man Mortimer and not even Charlie after he bought the place.

Anna was always cleaning up behind him at home. Surely, she would have tripped over his secret by now. That can’t happen, he thought. It was the only thing he’d ever kept from his wife and he planned to keep it that way from this world into the next.

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Whatever Happened to Wired characters continues - Where is Thelma? Part Four

It took some talking, maybe even a little pleading but Thelma finally convinced Larry, a fellow law student, to walk up and down the alley by the fence where the two eye-witnesses had said they’d seen Anthony running away from the shooting.

“Now, do you see what I mean?” she asked, hoping they wouldn’t be able to hear the worry in her voice. Douglas nodded his head firmly, his usual gesture when he was trying to let her know things will be alright. The two women, Mimi and Diane stood on their low deck and watched the top of a short Afro bob along by their fence. Nothing else was visible.

“Thank goodness you like shorter men,” whispered Douglas. Thelma looked at her big brother and marveled that he could find a family dig even when they were trying to save their own necks.

Diane gave out a short gasp and put her hand to her mouth. “We wouldn’t have been able to see his face,” she said. “Oh my, what have we done?”

“Nothing that can’t be undone,” said Douglas, stepping forward. “But we have to hurry. An innocent man is being held as his life is unraveling.” Thelma knew Douglas didn’t want to overplay their hand and say that her boyfriend, Anthony’s life was also in jeopardy but that was the truth. If it was true that one cop had shot another to cover something up then it would be easier to kill Anthony while in custody. The case would become less important and no one would care that anyone was saying they were no long sure of just who did what.

“Who did we see?” asked Mimi.

“Was this the man” asked Thelma, holding up a picture of Detective Spaulding. She knew that the I.D. would never hold up in a court of law but she needed to know who had almost run them down. Staying alive right now seemed more important.

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Where is Thelma? The Conclusion

1994: Thelma stood in front of the judge, her hands trembling. She was well aware of her status as a second year law student and did not expect to be making her first case so soon and about someone she loved. “Your honor, as you’ve heard Anthony Toler could not have been seen by the two eyewitnesses and they have voluntarily recanted their statements. This was the only credible evidence against Mr. Toler and so, I respectfully ask that you drop all of the charges.” She sucked a breath in between her teeth and held it, trying not to hope that this could all go away so easily.

There was still a dead cop and an angry city and Chicago didn’t easily let go of anything. She turned back for a moment to look through the crowd that had gathered and spotted her big brother, Douglas standing in the back. She gave him a small smile just as there was a series of loud cracks in the hallway coming from the Tombs where they brought up prisoners for their appearance before the judge. Thelma felt a knot grow in the pit of her belly. Spectators pushed toward the doors in the back getting in her way as she tried to reach the door.

“Anthony! Anthony!” She was sure someone had shot him. The two deputies piled through the doorway ahead of her, their keys jingling wildly on their belts. Thelma was aware of every sound and the sudden, quick movements happening all around her as she held onto the last moments of ignorance that Anthony was still alive.

Midway down the hall several inmates who were shackled together were plastered against the wall, pressing themselves against the peeling plaster as if they hoped to sink in and become one with the background. Detective Johnny Spaulding lay sprawled out in a pool of his own blood with his gun still clutched in his hand. Captain Romano was just stepping back, lowering his gun, a look of anguish on his face. Thelma saw Anthony on the ground behind him and willed herself to run to him.

“He’s still alive,” said Romano, holstering his gun. “Spaulding only got off one shot.”

“You shot Spaulding?” asked Thelma, trying to take it all in.

“It’s a new day in Chicago,” said Romano. “The blue line is still there, as it should be, but it’s not going to be used to cover up Spaulding’s enterprises. Get a gurney in here for Toler,” he yelled to the deputies who were still trying to gather their wits. “You’re going to make one hell of an attorney.”

“I’ll second that,” said Anthony as Thelma helped him to sit up and pressed her hands against his shoulder to stop the bleeding.

“It’s a new day,” she repeated to herself. “Sometimes a story can have a happy ending.”

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Where is Thelma? Part Three

“I never said you had to come all the way here,” said Thelma. She never took her eyes off of the long alley. “But I’m still glad you’re here.”

“That’s what big brothers are for,” said Douglas. “So is this where the murder took place? Man, what are the odds that twice in a lifetime I’m trying to figure out who’s a killer? Come on, alley isn’t getting any shorter while we stand her and if Anthony is half the man…” The rest of the words caught in Douglas’ throat as a silver sedan came racing around the tight corner of the alley, aiming for his younger sister. He shoved Thelma out of the way just in time as the bumper caught the edge of his shoe and spun him around, slamming him to the ground.

“Douglas!” Thelma yelled out as she ran to her brother and quickly helped him stand up again. The car spun around in a circle, tires squealing. “They’re coming back,” said Douglas, grabbing Thelma’s hand as they ran quickly past an open garage till they could slide down the sigh and let the car slip by them.

“You move pretty fast for an old man,” said Thelma, breathing a sigh of relief.

“Boy, you really managed to make someone mad,” said Douglas. “Did you get a chance to see who that was at the wheel?” He tried to stand and felt a sharp stab of pain in his side as he sat back down again.

“You’re hurt,” whispered Thelma. “I’m so sorry, you shouldn’t be in the middle of this.” Thelma sat down next to her brother. “I have a good idea of who just tried to run us down but we’d better get out of here before they try something else.”

Martha Note: Just can’t wait to read Wired? Pick up your copy in the Kindle, Nook, or iTunes stores or visit Smashwords with the coupon code AK95A to receive a discounted price (just $2)!

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Where is Thelma? Part Two

“I’m telling you, I didn’t do it.” Anthony slapped the table hard startling Thelma. The guard stood up abruptly and said in a loud, calm voice, “One more and you go back to your cell.” There wasn’t much time before they’d make Thelma leave as it was. She needed to get the details from that day. “I know, I know,” she stretched her hand out across the wide table not letting their hands touch. Thelma was aware of the rules. “Tell me again, where were you?” Anthony sighed and put his head in his hands. “I’ve told it so many times I’m not even sure anymore. Okay, okay, I was at the law library on the 4th floor working on an appeal for the mock trial you’re supposed to be helping me with and is scheduled for today.” His eyes welled up and he sniffed hard, biting his lip to stop any signs of emotion. The Cook County lockup was not a good place to show the soft underbelly of anything. “I didn’t see anyone but a couple of students or at least they looked like students and I didn’t know them, couldn’t tell you who they were.”

“It’s okay, that’s a start,” said Thelma. “They exist and they’re your alibi.”

“Have you talked to those two old ladies yet? The eyewitnesses? They didn’t see me,” he said, pounding his chest with the flat of his hand, pleading his case. “I didn’t shoot that cop,” he whispered to her, leaning over the table.

“Then why did you lie about knowing him,” she said, measuring out her words. In the year they’d been seeing each other she had never known him to lie or even omit something to get his way. “What were you thinking?”

“I panicked because of all the people in the world it had to be him, Brian Cooley. The only guy who knew about my sealed juvenile record. If that ever got out my career as a lawyer could be over before it started. Yes, I get the irony. It looks like my motive. What did your brother say?”

“Douglas and Anna send their love. He’s gotten Charlie to agree to put up the shoe store for bail if we can even get you bail. Is there some reason anyone else would have known about your record and implicated you for the shooting? It’s curious that Brian is dead and yet the detectives knew right away to go looking for you and put you in that lineup,” said Thelma. Anthony let out a deep sigh and hesitated a moment, looking over at the guard near the door. “There was one other person who knew about my carjacking days when I was 15 because he was there with me but I don’t know why he’d suddenly single me out,” whispered Anthony, nervously glancing back at the guard.

“Who was it? If you want me to help you, I need to know.”

“Another cop, Johnny Spaulding. He works in Internal Affairs.” Thelma knew who he was and was a little surprised to hear his name. “Don’t go near him, Thelma. If he’s involved he’s already gone way too far.”

“That’s just not going to be possible,” said Thelma.

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