Here’s an excerpt from A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE, my paranormal suspense set in 1968. The narrator here is Mitch Franklin, a 17-year-old orphan who was hired out of the orphanage to work for the town’s wealthiest family. Lydia, who volunteers at a local public service mission, is the daughter of a stern, condescending woman Mitch thinks of as The Dragon Lady.
excerpt from A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE
by Marian Allen
On the way back to the house, Lydia drove the black and silver 1963 Ford Fairlaine 500 — a decent car, but nothing flashy, doubtless bought so as not to make the Mission’s beneficiaries too jealous. …
She asked me about what life in the Refuge was like, “if you don’t mind talking about it.” I didn’t mind, exactly, but
it was weird. I mean, you grow up in a place, and that’s the way things are. What is it like? What does that mean? It’s
like . . . it’s like it is, that’s all. I got off onto the subject of Jimmy Gassman, and had her laughing before we turned off the highway. She looked better when she was laughing: not so phony. Less like she was made out of industrial plastic.
“You have a great laugh,” I told her. “Or should I say, ‘I like the way you laugh’? Isn’t that right? An ‘I’ statement, not a ‘you’ statement?”
She pushed playfully at my shoulder with her fingertips. “You’re terrible!” She cut her eyes at me and said, “I suppose you’ve had enough social workers to last a lifetime.”
“Yes, ma’am. I’d just as soon you stopped treating me like a client. I savvy the lingo, if you know what I mean.”
“You mean you know what message I’m trying to send when I say certain things in certain ways. I can’t boost your self-image unobtrusively, because you recognize the technique.”
“Give the little lady a cigar.” To be honest, I was surprised she’d got it. I revised my opinion of her: not stupid, not completely dense. That’s kind of scary, when somebody who’s usually thick as a brick flashes bright. Takes your breath away, and reminds you not to take what you think you know about people for granted.
“I’ll make a deal with you,” Lydia said. “I’ll stop trying to snow you if you’ll stop ‘ma’am’ing me. Deal?”
“I don’t think your mother would like that much, Miss Lydia.”
She smiled ruefully. “No, you’re right, she wouldn’t. Poor mother’s been through so much. I try to give her her way in as much as I can. I think I owe her that — and more. I miss her so much.”
“Miss her? But—”
“We used to go shopping together in New York, Atlanta, West Palm Beach . . . gossiped together. . . . She’s very active in volunteer work, did you know that?”
I shook my head. I tried to visualize The Dragon Lady driving the van for the Mothers’ Day Out, and failed.
Buy A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE from Amazon in print and for Kindle, through Untreed Reads in multiple electronic formats, as an audiobook, or in print from your friendly neighborhood indie bookstore.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Imagine someone unpleasant doing something nice.