Here’s an excerpt from Whiskey’s Gone, a work in progress publishing soon, the third in the Fina Fitzgibbons Brooklyn mystery series. In this scene, it’s the middle of the night and Fina is lying awake, trying to solve a few mysteries at once—the mystery of a missing woman, as well as the mysteries that lie deep in the heart of all of us.
The moon is a cold goddess who makes her home outside our bedroom window. I should know, I’ve stared up at her often enough. Snagged in amongst the electric wires and shining on branches losing their leaves, the heartless bitch beams her rays down on Denny and me. Sometimes I think she’s already decided my fate—ever on the verge, never willing to embrace love. But she knows the fickleness of relationships.
As I lay next to Denny, his body breathing the slow rhythm of sleep, a shard of my father’s image smashed through my brain. I ticked off the years he’d been gone, well over ten. Mom burned the photos of him; Gran stomped on the frames. So when I try to imagine him, I can’t. I can’t even tell you if he was short or tall. Is he still living? I don’t care. I never think of him except for sometimes in the wee hours of the night, I remember one time he held me when I had a nightmare. All I really recall of him with any sort of vividness is the look of disgust he gave me through his Ray Bans the day he left, a backward snarl that goes ever on. In his eyes, I never made the grade.
I snuggled into the warmth of Denny’s body trying in vain for sleep, but my mind pushed its way onto Whiskey Parnell and I wondered where she’d gone and what I was missing, for I had no doubt, I’d missed some kernel of truth, had forgotten to ask the one question of whomever to reveal her whereabouts. Could she still be alive or were the charred remains the FBI found on some remote spit of land all that was left of her? And if so, had she suffered? Oh yes, I thought, because I was unable to find her. Or is she somewhere within reach, hidden, my eyes too blind to see?
That evening when we got home, Denny sat me down. True to form, Mr. Baggins was there, winding his way around my legs. Denny took my hands in his and apologized, telling me about the sliver of self-knowledge he’d gleaned over the past few days, admitting that he was too afraid of his father. I nodded as if I understood. He asked me to help him get over the obsession to please him, and my soul teared up, not really comprehending the words spilling from my mouth when I said I needed to get over my father, too.
Photo: Coney Island Funny Land Credit: Sascha Grant (Flickr), Creative Commons.