Beta readers and a copy-editor will be cleaning this up but I would like to offer up an excerpt from the first chapter of The Scapegoat Suicides (The Sublime Detectives):
When Frank DeBoar started his shift at the car dealership on the morning of his death, he had a bounce in his step, a whistle on his lips, and traces of lipstick on his dick. The man looked sharp, like the points on his jacket’s wide lapels. His slick belt matched his spotless shoes, his sideburns were perfectly even and, if it weren’t for the blob of fried egg in his mustache, he’d be ready for his close-up. His co-worker Julianna Jacobs would later tell one of the detectives at the scene that Frank had seemed unusually happy that morning. Genuinely happy, she would say in a surprised tone. Like he’d been properly fucked for the first time in his life, and then she would blush because she would find the detective handsome and would, for a brief moment, imagine fucking him on the hood of one of the shiny new cars in the lot.
She was right. Frank had received the unexpected attention of a woman he had met the night before; a woman so beautiful and powerful that he still thought he might have dreamed her up in his desperation. That is why he had not taken a shower after their lovemaking or before he left for work. He wanted the scent of her to linger around his mouth and his groin. She smelled like the answer to his prayer.
Frank filled a paper cup with black coffee that offered a bouquet reminiscent of a distant tire fire. The first taste scalded his upper lip and his stomach hitched in protest. He spit the sulfurous sip back into the cup, returned the contents to the pot, and retrieved the nickel he’d dropped into the honor jar. Despite the coffee’s betrayal, his mood was still good. He sucked cool air over the small blister as he glanced at his watch. Less than an hour had passed since her lips had encircled his penis. Her mouth had tasted like the delicious smoke that drifted up from the altars on Midsummer’s Morn, her breath the sweet incense of a wish. He resisted the urge to put his hand down his pants and then smell his fingers.
Yes, today is a good day, he determined. He stepped outside of the stale smokey air of the office to survey his professional domain in the light of the morning sun. He felt like a king as he looked over the modest herd of new cars because he believed that he may now have a queen. He imagined that he felt her hand slip into his and he pushed the hand into his pocket to hide the responsive curl of his fingers. His thumb stroked the upper region of his thigh through the lining of his slacks in a promising manner.
Everything seemed brighter this morning: the new cars, the chain link fence around the lot, the trees struggling through their portals in the sidewalk, the ravens shitting from their perches on the spindly limbs. This is Life, he thought. This is what Life is supposed to look like. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the world like this before, so full of promise and meaning. He thought these words and remembered a time, not too long ago, the previous day to be more specific, when he would have scoffed at the ridiculous notion that life was any more than a series of unfortunate happenings, one of which was destined to kill you.
He responded with a smile and no hesitation. “Fuck off, Jacobs.”
He did not like Julianna Jacobs because she took pleasure in introducing him as Frank DeWhore—even in situations where introductions were not necessary—but, this morning, he could not help the lifting of the corners of his mouth when he heard her voice. This morning, her presence was not off-putting. In fact, this morning, he felt a twinge of empathy for her condition of lovelessness.
“That’s all you got for me?” She chided him. “Come on, you can do better than that.”
For all of her natural beauty and her talent for finding lovers and husbands, Jacobs was just another lonely human being seeking the fleeting shelter of another’s heart. He raised his middle finger in a rude salute but coupled the gesture with a good-natured wink. He felt generous. He wanted to tell her that maybe, perhaps, one day, if she was lucky, she might find a love like his. A love that induced a generosity of the spirit that, if properly applied, could heal the world.
“You ever been loved, Jacobs?”
“Three times last night and twice this morning.”
“That’s not what I meant.” He shook his head sadly because her response was only to be expected from someone who, unlike him, had never been loved. She just didn’t get it and probably never would.
“The Hell it wasn’t what you meant,” she said.
It truly wasn’t, he thought, but didn’t bother to push the matter. He pictured the woman he’d left in his apartment and, yes, the image was rather sexual nature but there was a magic, a real magic, that had never entered his experience of lovemaking. Before, he would have never left a woman he’d just met the night before alone in his place but he knew that he could trust her with his things, both material and otherwise. He knew that there was nothing of more value within his four cinderblock walls than the woman herself. She could take everything he owned and run for the hills and he would notice only the absence of Her. He was no longer worried about material things and how he might gain more of them. After all, the accumulation of things was nothing more than an attempt to attract into one’s life exactly what she brought to it. She was the human avatar of something bigger, something more encompassing. He believed that She had been written into his experience by a suddenly benevolent Scribe and that his story would now be about the both of them. He experienced the sublime assurance that She would feature significantly in the narrative of his life until the very last page.
“It wasn’t what I meant,” he said, finally. “But I can understand why you would think so.” Because I used to be the kind of man that would give it up for nothing more than a few drinks and a moment of pleasure. Yesterday afternoon seemed a lifetime ago.
“Someone besides me got laid last night,” she said. “Did that moonlighting gig finally pay off?”
“Yeah,” he said. “It did. It really did.”
“Look at that.” She leered and punched her tiny fist against his bicep. “Frankie got himself a Mojo Momma wiling to buy the whole bull.” She sounded almost proud, as though she herself had raised him in 4-H.
“If I died today,” he spoke with reckless prescience. “I would die a happy man.”
And then, with an audible snap, he did.