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Thread: "Showtime" - A Suspense/Thriller

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    S P I R A L Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky's Avatar

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    Default "Showtime" - A Suspense/Thriller

    Even though the link's in my signature and I've posted about it a couple times, I thought it couldn't hurt to have my own thread about my writing/novels.

    My new one, "Showtime", is now available from pre-order. If it gets enough orders and enthusiasm from readers, Inkshares will publish, market, and distribute it. The first four chapters are available for FREE at the link below. If you like what you read, I'd hugely appreciate an order and/or posting a review to my Inkshares page and sharing with friends/family.

    Here's the order link:www.inkshares.com/books/showtime.

    Thanks in advance for looking and reading!

    Plot Synopsis

    For years Jordan Jones has wished he could change the past. Now he has the chance.

    When Jordan discovers his grandparents’ television allows him to travel to the past, opportunity trumps fear: a chance for which he’s been aching for a decade. To not only save his grandmother from an untimely death, but to exact his need for revenge against The Man who caused it. After all, life hasn’t been the same since Granny, the person who loved and understood him most, died in The Man’s ruse of an act on Talent Now!, a horrific end to the nationally-televised talent show, leaving Jordan guilty, angry, and unable to deal with the challenges and decisions of adulthood quickly approaching.

    Though saving her isn’t the easy, perfect fix he first believes it to be, forcing Jordan to navigate the very massacre that took his grandmother’s life. And The Man isn’t his only obstacle.

    Years and miles in the past, a humiliating Talent Now! audition leads nineteen-year-old Charity Sparks to cross paths with the Man Jordan is attempting to stop. But to her, he’s no monster. He’s kind, understanding of her devastation and socially awkwardness from Asperger’s and a lifetime of taunts from unkind peers. But Charity’s had enough. With nothing to lose, her hatred for those who have wronged her leads to a planned revenge…and against an oblivious public, she’ll be unstoppable.

    But as Jordan goes up against them and his traveling’s increasingly severe physical side effects, Jordan is forced to make an impossible choice: atoning for his guilt by saving Granny, or satisfying his need for revenge against The Man. And with a ticking clock and only one chance to succeed, he’s willing to risk everything…including his life—and those of whom he loves. But as Jordan discovers, success is far from guaranteed. After all, just because the past allows him entry doesn’t mean it will allow him to leave.

    Chapter 1: Jordan, 2016

    Jordan Jones was prone to waking angry, and today was no different as he stepped into his grandfather’s house in early afternoon feeling not the slightest spark of premonition his life was about to change very quickly. The kitchen was bright with natural light from the small window as he crossed into the living room and realized just how oppressively empty the house was without Pop in it. Though his footsteps were cushioned by the plush carpeting, he could still hear the echoes in the near-empty house, the rooms almost devoid of furniture and appliances to absorb the sounds of a home—the creaks and squeaks and groans—that normally went unnoticed.

    He hadn’t gone to the viewing. Or the funeral. Or the Reading of the Will, the phrase spoken by his mother as if it were a proper noun. He’d been through it all with Granny years ago, and that had been enough.

    And now, standing alone in their living room, it was all too easy to remember why. Everywhere he looked only served to remind him of the people who were gone, the things they left behind and would never use again. Their absence. He felt the anger begin to boil up again, used all his strength to push it back down.

    The only furniture that remained was the couch, Pop’s old recliner (gray and lumpy, the indentation of his body still slightly visible in the fabric), a couple table lamps, the few framed photos that still hung on the walls, and Pop’s old secretary desk in the corner.

    It was the desk he had come to see.

    It rose to his chest, the genuine oak stained a faded medium-brown, just as he’d remembered it. The bottom had three drawers to the left, three to the right, a small space for an office chair between them (though Jordan had never known there to be a chair). He allowed his fingers to glide over the upper portion’s roll-top, eyeing the top shelf’s various knick-knacks and family photos (none too recent, he noticed), covered in a thin layer of dust. It looked like a relic and Jordan could almost imagine a manual typewriter and stack of stationary sitting squarely in the middle. But Jordan had never known Pop to use it as a functioning desk, a place at which to work or write. Rather, it was more of a storage area, a place to drop papers, medical bills, miscellaneous pieces of mail, and junk: rubber bands, paper clips, and things he might need for later like old postcards, half-used notebooks, and coupons for things he had never bought, but might one day.

    For as long as he could remember, Pop had told him he’d get the desk when he died. Even as a kid he could remember oogling it and leaving secret messages in its nooks and cubbies, locking and unlocking the bottom drawers with the tiny brass key, sliding his Hot Wheels down the curved expanse of the roll-top which, to his six-year-old self, was the largest racetrack he had even seen. And to that same six-year-old self, knowing the desk would one day be his had made him giddy with excitement.

    But no one stays six forever, and Jordan was no exception.

    Though there had once been a time when growing up seemed years—decades—away, as the years progressed, he understood time was tricky; events seemed far down the roadmap of life, but then you’d blink and realize they had arrived whether you were ready or not.

    But despite his age—ten or fourteen or eighteen—Pop would give him the old reminder, spoken with the same matter-of-fact tone of a teacher reciting a fact their student may have forgotten: You’re gonna get that desk when I kick the bucket, you know that, dontcha? As if it was a fact about which Pop felt the need to refresh Jordan every so often, watering the seed he’d planted long ago. As if to make sure it went to no one else but him.

    Despite Pop’s reminders, the day came when Jordan found the promise of the bulky wooden desk no longer held the same level of intrigue and excitement. Because as Jordan passed from child to teenager to young adult, the desk was no longer enticing. And now, nearly through college, the magic was gone, his Hot Wheels were long in the attic, and the desk was just a desk. Another outdated, bulky piece of furniture for which he had no room (or desire) to keep.

    But he could never bring himself to tell Pop.

    In the three weeks since Jordan had received the faded manila envelope that led him here, his feelings regarding it had boomeranged between dread and subtle curiosity. He had already suspected what was inside but now, as final preparations were being made to sell the house as the offers rolled in (the final coats of new paint in place, the cracks in the walls and ceiling plastered, the remnants of old furniture paraded outside to be dumped or donated), Jordan knew if he was ever going to confirm his suspicions about the envelope—and why Pop was so insistent he have it—now was the time.

    Jordan hadn’t wanted it—whatever it was. Hadn’t been in the right state of mind to find out (and accept) what treasures his grandfather had deemed him worthy of receiving, but had taken it anyway. It was old and crinkled, the edges frayed here and there, a blotchy stain in one corner where something had spilled and dried, Jordan’s name printed across the front in big block letters. They were neat, the printing confident (not the shaky style of Pop’s later years) which, combined with the faded Sharpie lettering, told Jordan that whatever was in the envelope, whatever Pop had decided to bestow upon his grandson, it had been done long ago.

    Now, staring at the desk and the envelope in his hand, Jordan was struck by the thought that even in death Pop was reminding him: You’re gonna get that desk when I kick the bucket, you know that, dontcha?

    Yes, he did.

    You could try to avoid something but the universe had a funny way of bringing it back around again.

    He titled the torn envelope downwards and into his hand slid a small brass key.

    If someone had wanted to view the desk’s contents badly enough, it wouldn’t have been difficult to pry open the rolltop’s small, rusted lock, but the formality of the key assured Pop that Jordan knew the desk—and whatever was inside—was left for him. Meant for him.

    Jordan had spent weeks turning over the tarnished key, examining it. Thinking. Among the thoughts and questions that had cycled through his brain, the first ones should have been: Why did Pop leave me a key? and What does it open? However, both of those questions had the same answer. And Jordan had already known what it was.

    Now, standing in his grandfather’s nearly-empty living room, in front of the object left to him and him alone, Jordan guided the small key into the desk’s lock and turned.


    When Jordan rolled up the top, he found exactly what he had been expecting:


    He wasn’t surprised. His grandfather was a packrat, his desk the perfect visual to illustrate such tendencies.

    The entire surface was covered with it—papers, memo pads from doctors’ offices and senior centers, dried-up pens missing their caps, a stack of torn-open envelopes with stamps unmarked by the postage machine. More items were cast off to the side—rubber bands, old coffee mugs—or shoved in one of the desk’s small, doorless cubbies—a roll of quarters, an orange ceramic ashtray (Pop hadn’t smoked since the eighties), a rusty stapler, the miscellaneous garbage as plentiful as it was varied.

    Jordan released the slow, anger-tinged sigh of someone given a job he did not want—or have time for. But since Pop had left the desk to him, it would be his job—like it or not—to sort through everything before they hauled it off to Goodwill.

    He leafed through a few papers with disgust.

    This? he fumed. All this time—all those reminders—and this is what you leave me? Garbage?

    Thinking of the weeks it took to build up the courage—the strength, the mental energy—to even set foot here—the memories he’d been forced to confront, the pain, the sadness, the loss—made his blood boil with unchecked rage.

    I came back here for this?

    The anger, which he had tried to damper, came bubbling back and he knew there was no pushing it back down. It was coming out, ready or not. His heart thumped, head throbbing, eyes darting around the room before settling on the desk. He started with the roll-top. Raised his arm and swept the entire surface of papers and writing utensils to the floor in one swoop, ignoring the scattering of paper cuts across his arm. Raised a fist and sent it through the glass of a picture frame, enjoying how the radial splinters made Pop’s portrait beneath seem to fragment, aware of the sharp sting but not minding. It only increased his anger, and that was good, pain fueling his adrenaline like gasoline. He withdrew his fist, knuckles sliced and bloody, as teardrops of glass sprinkled down, the fluffy carpet graciously absorbing the sounds of their fall. He grasped a pointed shard, threw it at the wall above the desk where it obliterated like a car’s windshield in a head-on collision.

    He wanted to scream, to shout. Something. Anything. The anger was visceral, always was, but he didn’t know what words or phrases that would (or could) properly and thoughtfully express his bitterness and rage. Because no matter what they were, he’d still be shouting them to a near-empty house.

    He opened the bottom right drawer, a barrage of crinkled and balled-up papers exploding like paper snakes from a joke can of peanuts. Jordan didn’t even bother looking through them—just tossed them with a guttural roar not unlike a wild animal. He did the same to the one on top, furiously dumping its contents into the ever-growing pile. He moved his hand to the bottom drawer on the left and pulled. It didn’t budge. Pulled again. Assuming it was crammed with junk like the others, Jordan, red-faced, braced himself and pulled the handle with both hands, wriggling it back and forth so as to free any crumpled papers that may be caught on the drawer’s tracks. But still it didn’t budge.

    His heart thumped, the unmoving drawer only increasing his rage.

    He continued wiggling it, but the sound inside gave him momentary pause. It wasn’t the crinkling of papers, but something more solid, subtly metallic—a clink, clink—like someone pulling on the handle of a locked door.

    Jordan took a breath, examined the keyhole with his fingers and noticed its similarity to the lock on the roll-top. He withdrew the small brass key from the metal lock in the roll-top, lined it up with the one in the bottom drawer, and slid it in. The lock’s inner grooves were flaked with the beginnings of rust. Evidently it hadn’t been used in some time.

    He twisted the key and when he pulled the drawer’s handle again, it opened freely without the blockage or difficulty of the others. Jordan stared at the object placed neatly within and pulled it out.

    What the hell?

    The box was small, though it took up the majority of the drawer space. Nearly a foot wide on each side, it was made of a hard, black plastic. With its top recessed handle and leather-padded corners, it resembled the kind of box that would have been used to hold old film reels or camera equipment.

    What do we have here? he thought, the box sticking out from the rest of the desk’s contents. What are you hiding?

    With the box removed, the drawer was empty save for a fine layer of dust.

    Jordan tilted it back as his fingers found the dual latches on the front side and popped them open. Lifted the hinged lid backwards and peered inside. The box was filled with black rectangles. He lifted one and realized it was a VHS tape. The box was full of them. All a uniform black and caseless, the kind Granny had used to record old TV shows and movies in the days before On Demand, TiVo, and DVRs were even a thought. At first he couldn’t figure out why Pop would keep old VHS tapes. And in a locked drawer of his desk—the only locked drawer. Jordan assumed they were blank, unused, then saw the thin strip of faded white running down the length of the tape’s front side in his grandmother’s neat cursive:

    Carol Burnett, ’74

    Then it clicked. His grandmother was—had been, he corrected—a huge fan of television—comedies, especially—and had tried to attend as many live tapings as possible. Variety shows like Carol Burnett, scripted ones like Mary Tyler Moore, and game shows like Match Game and The Newlywed Game. In her younger days, she’d fly to Los Angeles for the weekend with a friend or two (or alone—she was fearless that way) and later, after she’d married Pop, she’d make it a point to schedule some of their trips and vacations around whatever shows were taping. “Why do you bother going to those things when we can watch the same exact thing on TV the next day?” was Pop’s standard response to another of his wife’s plans. She’d give her regular smile, the one full of the child-like wonder she had refused to relinquish to adulthood, and say, “But the magic’s there.”

    Curious, Jordan inserted the tape into the slot of the ancient VCR and watched it swallow it up like some ravenous subterranean creature. The TV fizzled a moment before giving way to a black screen, then the VCR timer blinked to life and the video started to play. It was fuzzy at first, as some recorded videos in the seventies were apt to be (though this one was surely recorded as a re-run since VCRs wouldn’t be released in the US until three years later), but certainly good enough quality that he could hear and see what was going on. The video showed a glistening white stage complimented by an elegant black backdrop with scattered pinpricks of bright white to simulate stars. The audience lights dimmed and before long the familiar show intro started up (“Carol’s Theme”, Jordan recalled his grandmother telling him one afternoon watching one of the shows). Seconds after, out walked the star of the show, the woman the people had come to see. Slender, with hair trimmed into what would become her signature bob, Carol seemed to glide onto the stage. Her presence was always what had transfixed Jordan when he’d watched the old, fuzzy recordings. It was remarkable, he’d think, how such a small woman could fill such a large room, her smile beaming left and right, looking into the audience not as someone who was a star, but a friend.

    It was this quality Jordan had admired, what made her stand out from other comedians and talk show hosts of the time (and even now): the authenticity and openness, the feeling you were being talked with, not talked to.

    She started the show with a joke which elicited a hearty laugh from the audience and promptly opened the floor to Q&A, one of her show’s signatures. The questions ranged from the serious to the silly and Jordan found himself smiling, relishing the authenticity of it. Though the show would’ve used a broadcast profanity delay as a precaution, there were no questions spoon-fed to audience plants, no priming.

    The camera angle changed back to Carol on the stage as she scanned the audience for those who had their hands raised. Her eyes widened and she gave an enthusiastic smile and nod (the way you do when you don’t know someone’s name, but want to make sure it’s that person you’re talking to) as she pointed to a nearby woman with a poof of brown hair and large-collared blouse. The Seventies, Jordan marveled. He was amazed how half the audience seemed to be wearing some shade of brown.

    But as the camera pulled back slightly to put her in the center of the frame, Jordan froze. Though it wasn’t the question—or the woman who had asked it—that made Jordan stop. Rather, it was the woman sitting two rows back. She wore a short-sleeved emerald dress and, though Jordan couldn’t see, was sure it was free of creases and flowed perfectly to her calves. Even though she was not the camera’s focus, she was close enough for Jordan to make out her high cheek bones and smooth skin, light brown hair combed just so, faux-pearl earrings and matching brooch. Although the teeth she flashed in the video were not the dentures she would have when Jordan knew her, the smile—the facial muscles, the glowing, interested, engaged eyes—was the same. He would know his grandmother’s smile anywhere.

    Jordan remained still, not out of fright but pleasure, jarred by seeing someone long-deceased suddenly appear. He hadn’t seen this tape before—hadn’t even known it existed—but his grandmother had attended so many tapings, so many shows, that maybe she had forgotten to tell him about her little brush with fame.

    Granny laughed and flashed her teeth, using her elbow to nudge the white-shirted woman next to her, as was her habit to get someone’s attention. The woman returned her cheerful expression and joined in her laughter as if to say, Yes, this is funny! as her collection of bracelets jangled in agreement.

    It was a strange mixture of joy and sadness, his heart caught between exultation seeing her for the first time in nearly ten years and pain in reliving her absence; wounds hurt, but reopening them burned. Even in the muted studio lighting and fuzz of the recording, she looked radiant and carefree as he always knew her to be, savoring each laugh, each smile, each second. If there was anyone acutely aware that life wasn’t forever and each day had to be lived to the fullest, it was her.

    Ten years, Jordan mused. He couldn’t believe it had been that long since the funeral. And now, with Pop gone, the thought came numbly that he had no living grandparents.

    Jordan shook himself from the past and in a blink his grandmother was gone from the frame, replaced by Carol scanning the audience. She picked another hand but it was nowhere near where his grandmother was sitting.

    A tease, he spat. That’s what it was. Giving him just a taste before snatching her away, leaving him with a temporary visual that would no doubt fizzle and fade away like the others he had desperately tried to recall and save all these years, his mind deleting them—how she smelled, sounded, looked—to make room for the new. Fading away and filling in like footprints in the sand.

    “Fuck you,” he said somberly, acutely aware who he was addressing, and rewound the tape with an angry forefinger.

    This time he knew exactly where to look for her, the corner of his mouth turning upwards in a cautious smile as she once again laughed and elbowed the woman next to her.


    There she was. Stuck in the same twenty seconds of footage. The only footage Jordan knew existed. He touched a finger to the curved glass of the television and patted his grandmother on the shoulder. Clink, clink.

    Seeing her made him miss her even more, the longing mixing with anger, its targets too many to name. Not for the first time he felt the stinging loneliness and isolation that came with the realization the world was a terrible, horrible, unfair place and that, even if you played by the rules, nothing was guaranteed.

    He dropped the box of tapes and gripped the corners of the television’s wooden frame, staring at the still-glistening white stage and black, starry curtains as if in a trance, transfixed by the soft studio lighting, the deep blue of the audience seats, the tans and greens and oranges of Carol’s Very Seventies dress, and warm lull of her voice. He felt a wave of dizziness and knew he was probably too close to the TV. Everything felt so real—the cool, circulated air of the television studio, its bright lights and shining stage; he could almost smell the perpetual cloud of LA smog just outside the set’s soundproof walls.

    The last question of the show’s opening Q&A was more request than question, the young man with the wavy hair and denim shirt asking if Carol would do her famous Tarzan yell. At this, the audience clapped, encouraging her in a polite, civilized version of the schoolyard dare chant: Do IT! Do IT! Do IT!

    Carol smiled and theatrically cleared her throat before raising a hand to the side of her mouth and honoring the man’s request. Her voice went up and down, up and down, in her signature yell. She clung to the last note, stretching it out before bringing it (and her impromptu performance) to a close, rapidly winding her fist a few times before bringing it down her center in a theatrical bow. The audience went wild, as if they were at a rock concert instead of a taped variety show.

    Smiling, Carol informed them of the evening’s guests and said they had a great show planned for them before the camera backed away and the exit music cued up.

    Something was off.

    The music had ended, but there was no cut to commercial. Instead of the picture fading out, the focus remained on the stage. With Carol gone, the studio lights went up as stagehands wheeled around furniture and props for the first sketch of the show. Jordan felt like he was trespassing, seeing something he shouldn’t, like the inner workings of Santa’s workshop. The behind-the-scenes of it all. The magic, as his grandmother would have said.

    If the show had been recorded by an audience member, he could understand why it had continued to film without cutting to commercial. But the picture was too crisp and stable for that to be the case. Besides, Jordan was fairly sure audience filming wasn’t permitted, even back then. He supposed it could’ve been an error on the studio’s part, mistakenly broadcasting something that shouldn’t have been, and settled on that as the most likely explanation.

    He glanced at his cell phone for the time, wanting to finish clearing out Pop’s desk in a reasonable time, but it was dead. Squeezed his eyes shut and pressed his fingers against the lids. Too much TV combined with the dreaded task ahead had left him feeling the beginnings of a migraine.

    He looked down for the remote to shut off the TV but couldn’t find it. Had he even used it to turn on the TV, or had he done it manually, the old-fashioned way? And the box of tapes, the one he had pulled this one from—where was it? That, he was sure, was something he didn’t move. And yet it was gone.

    He stood and turned to look for the box, but what he saw when he did was nearly enough to bring him back to his knees. The world seemed to tip, a wave of heat spreading through his body as the realization hit him.

    He didn’t know how, but he was no longer in his grandparents’ living room.


  2. #2
    Fundraiser Emeritus Merlin1958 is loved more than Jesus Merlin1958 is loved more than Jesus Merlin1958 is loved more than Jesus Merlin1958 is loved more than Jesus Merlin1958 is loved more than Jesus Merlin1958 is loved more than Jesus Merlin1958 is loved more than Jesus Merlin1958 is loved more than Jesus Merlin1958 is loved more than Jesus Merlin1958 is loved more than Jesus Merlin1958 is loved more than Jesus Merlin1958's Avatar

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    I pre-ordered this and you should too!!!! What I have read so far has me hooked!!!!

  3. #3
    Breaker Garrell has a reputation beyond repute Garrell has a reputation beyond repute Garrell has a reputation beyond repute Garrell has a reputation beyond repute Garrell has a reputation beyond repute Garrell has a reputation beyond repute Garrell has a reputation beyond repute Garrell has a reputation beyond repute Garrell has a reputation beyond repute Garrell has a reputation beyond repute Garrell has a reputation beyond repute Garrell's Avatar

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    I will be preordering tomorrow
    Wish List:
    Any of the following flatsigned or inscribed-
    It, Shining, Salem’s Lot, Mr. Mercedes, The Stand
    Brother ARC, Seed ARC

  4. #4
    S P I R A L Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky has a brilliant future Ricky's Avatar

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    Thanks, Bill and Garrell!

    Forgot to mention that I'll be happy to send a free signed promo booklet to whoever orders from DT.org.

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