For any interested parties, here’s a sneak peek to the tentatively titled Angel Maker, the first book in The Sheriffs of Robertson County series. This prologue is done, but still needs a bit more editing.
A police procedural mystery/suspense drama (wish me luck!),The Sheriffs of Robertson County is a romantically titled, but crime-themed, series of books where the stories occur in sparsely populated, rural Robertson County, Texas; the county where I spent my childhood and the last place I’d expect major crimes to occur. Currently, there are two books in the works for this series. Hopefully, County Sheriff Dorian Storm and his associate, Detective Alan Keith, will arrive at squad room near you by early 2014 at the latest. 😉
ANGEL MAKER (THE SHERIFFS OF ROBERTSON COUNTY)
August 1977 – Robertson County, Texas
Eleven-year old Dorian tired of staring at the condensation dripping down his half-filled glass of tea. It was iced tea until a few minutes ago when the ice totally succumbed to the Texas heat. He looked at his father who was engrossed in the local newspaper. Dorian rubbed his fingers around the glass, smearing the dripping water all over the glass. He wiped his hands on his pants and looked out over the backyard. The grass was burnt brown from the sun, dried up and crunchy. Bare patches lay strewn about and red clay and sand dotted the yard.
“What are you reading about, Dad?” Dorian sighed.
Maurice grunted. “Hmm, nothing that would interest you, son.”
“Can we get a swimming pool?”
“No, sir,” Maurice responded adamantly. “No pools.”
The pair fell silent again and Dorian’s attention flittered to his parents’ bedroom window; his feet gingerly followed his interest. He stood there for a moment just staring through the glass.
“Dad, why do they call that guy Angel Killer?” Dorian asked. “The Angel Killer,” he whispered as he watched his mother move about her bedroom.
Maurice put down the newspaper article he was reading on the stock market. First he looked up at the sky, then to a nearby tree where a squirrel was ascending the trunk with a pecan in its mouth. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, meditating on an answer as birds chirped and dry leaves of nearby trees crackled.
“Dad?” Dorian asked again, not looking toward his father.
Maurice’s gaze landed on his son who still stood at the window looking in at his mother who sat at her dressing table fixing her hair. She spotted Dorian and smiled and waved at him then returned her gaze to her reflection.
Dorian was incredibly intelligent for a boy his age. School authorities tried to pass him on to higher grades to match his learning abilities. They tried to bump him from the second to the third grade, then again from the fifth to the sixth, but his mother wouldn’t have it either time. No matter how hard his father pushed for it. She said she didn’t want him to be an oddball; however, he already was.
“Well, son,” Maurice hesitated, searching for the right words. Dorian was just a kid, yes, but he was no fool. “I guess, because he nails angel wings to the backs of all those poor women he kills.”
“Why does he do that? Kill people and do that?”
“I don’t know. I can’t…” Maurice shook his head. “The man’s a devil, Dorian. Evil. Crazy maybe. I don’t know why he does what he does. Maybe he doesn’t know either.”
Dorian’s curiosity often tested his parents’ and teachers’ tolerance, got him in trouble with his friends and siblings, and often disgruntled the neighbors while he investigated all the neighborhood woes and looked for the lost kitties and doggies of pretty girls.
Dorian still gazed at his mother through the window.
“I wonder why he does it. I wonder if the police know why.”
“I doubt they know yet. We shouldn’t talk about this anymore. It gives the monster power.”
“Power?” Dorian said.
“I think it’s nearing lunch time. Let’s go in.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“I am. And your momma’s made egg salad. And guess what? She’s got us some potato chips, son. Isn’t that something? I knew she’d break down eventually and…” He stopped when Dorian’s eyes met his, squinting as he saw straight through his father’s facade.
“You’re glad we’re black, aren’t you?” Dorian probed.
“What? Why would you say that, boy?”
“Because, the Angel Killer only kills pretty white girls, not pretty black girls. I think Momma’s cousin, Harmony, would be his type otherwise. Maybe even Momma. Only that they’re black is what might be keepin’ them alive.”
“Dorian,” Maurice struggled to control his temper but his shock was something he could not conceal. “Don’t talk like that! Jesus.”
Dorian looked back in at his mother, studying her.
“Jesus doesn’t have anything to do with it. Look at her, Dad. How pretty. On the short side. Momma can’t weigh no more than a hundred-and-twenty-pounds. Big smile. And her eyes are wide and round and…well, never mind,” Dorian shrugged. “She’s a bit too old I guess. Thankfully. But Harmony, she’s just like those white girls, except she’s…”
“Dorian!” Maurice leaned forward in his chair. “Stop that! What have your mother and I told you about taking interest in those things?” He bolted up out of his seat. The iron chair grating across the cement patio startled Dorian and he shuttered. “Don’t ever talk like that again. Do you want to curse us?”
“Those women weren’t cursed, Dad.” Dorian said. “They were murdered. They’re victims.”
“Victims? Stop it, Dorian.” Maurice strode into the house, huffing like a freight train. “Alice? Alice! We have got to do something about Dorian.”
Dorian took one last look through the window but his mother had left her place in front of her mirror. The room was empty. He walked to the iron patio table and looked at the front of the newspaper.
“Alice, really. Dorian has got to keep his nose out of the adults’ business,” Maurice demanded. “And we shouldn’t let him read newspapers and magazines any longer. No more Time and no more newspapers.”
“Oh, Maurice,” Alice said. “He’s just a curious boy. And too smart for his own good.”
“What? Y’all are driving me crazy. He’s out there with his curiosity all over the monster that killed those women, Alice,” Maurice shook his head, waving his hands, hunting for his thoughts. “Oh, shit it doesn’t matter. I’m just afraid of what these interests are saying about him, baby.”
“They say he’s a child with a conscience, Maurice.”
“A conscience? Are you sure? Because his curiosity about crime disturbs me a little.”
Dorian read the article aloud to himself, just loud enough to drown out the voices of his parents who did not seem to care that he might be within earshot. His father, always judgmental; his mother, always pleading and defending him.
“Waco Woman Found Slain. Last night near sundown, twenty-eight year old Mrs. Dana Caldwell of Waco was found by farmer, Gill Cooper, lying in his hay field in Robertson County. Mrs. Caldwell had been missing for three days and surfaced on Sunday. Like the six previous victims who were murdered before her in a similar fashion, Mrs. Caldwell had been stripped of her clothing and redressed in what looked to be an angel costume. Pale makeup had been applied to her face which offered a porcelain doll-like appearance, and her cheeks and lips were colored baby-doll pink. Her cheeks were sprinkled lightly with glitter as was her chest. Her assailant…” Dorian choked back his distaste, “Her assailant nailed angel wings to her back at both scapulas. As with other similar cases, the victim’s hands were folded together and held a rosary.
Authorities believe the victim was already dead before the attacker redressed and spiked the wings to her back. The Robertson County Medical Examiner said the cause of death is not apparent at this time and is unsure of any sexual assault; however, it is common knowledge that the other women found in the exact same fashion were not sexually assaulted, and it was ruled their deaths were due to asphyxiation. Some of the women were killed by strangulation and others by suffocation.
Dana Caldwell was a Graduate student at Baylor University and just celebrated her three-year anniversary in May with her husband, Carl, who she leaves behind along with her twelve-year old daughter from a previous relationship.
There are a few differences between Dana Caldwell and the previous victims, however. Caldwell was on the tall side, and blue-eyed. Based on previous reports, the other victims were all brown-eyed and shorter than Dana. And according to her husband, she was about thirteen weeks pregnant. The pregnancy has not yet been verified by the medical examiner.”
Dorian looked to the black and white photo of Dana Caldwell then dropped the paper to the table. He wondered how this type of crime found its way into his city-less county.
His mother, Alice, called to him. “Dorian, lunch!”
“The Angel Killer. Why do you get glory while everyone you touch suffers?” Dorian snorted and squinted in judgment. “You don’t kill angels, you make them. Angel Maker.”
~Copyright 2013 Wanda S. Paryla
Click here to read Chapter One next!… https://wandasparyla.com/2013/09/12/sneak-peek-chapter-one-the-sheriffs-of-robertson-county-angel-maker/