In September 2016, I attended Bouchercon that was held in New Orleans. It was an amazing conference and city, I hope to go back one day as there were many places I didn’t get a chance to see. I was also able to get to know so many wonderful authors. One afternoon in one of the bar/lobby areas,I met Janet and we had a wonderful conversation about conferences, writing, and traveling. Today, I’m featuring an excerpt from her newest book and tomorrow come back by to read a little about 1950s Las Vegas.
This was the first Veteran’s Day Parade I’d attended since I got back from Korea. Seems like a lifetime ago. Claire wanted to go every year, even offered to make it a family affair… I never took her up on it.
Standing at attention, I saluted as the color guard passed. Next came the tanks and trucks and I was transported back to my time in the Corps. A pretty young girl dressed in red, white, and blue approached me with a basket full of tin American flag lapel pins. She held one out to me. The paper tag attached to it read Veteran’s Day, November 1955, but my hands wouldn’t come out of my pockets.
“Here sir, take one, they’re free.”
I reluctantly pulled out my hand. She placed one in my palm, and smiled and turned away. The cadence of the drums sounded like artillery as a formation of jet fighters passed overhead. I was back in Korea on Jeju Island, snow, guns, bombs… I shut my eyes and clenched my fists.
A woman wearing a big hat bumped into me. “Oh, excuse me sir.”
Slowly I opened my hand. The sharp edges of the flag pin were stained with my blood but I didn’t feel a thing.
“You should get something for that hand,” she said.
I couldn’t move.
“Come.” She led me to a hot dog stand and handed me a couple of paper napkins.
I leaned against a chain link fence, wrapped the tin flag in a napkin and dropped it in my pocket. I looked down at my blood smeared hand, the one that took shrapnel at Jeju. My head spun. I leaned forward until my head rested on the fence. “Keep breathing,” I told myself.
“So you’re a vet,” the lady with the hat said. “Korea?”
She lit a cigarette. “Here.”
I shook my head. “No thanks.”
“Suit yourself.” She hung the cigarette in her mouth and took my hand. After she wiped the blood, she wrapped another napkin around my palm.
“Just a minute.” She disappeared into the crowd. I stepped back and rested against the chain-link, staring at the tops of the trees. She returned and handed me a cup of coffee. I don’t know why, but my hand shook when I reached for the cup.
“It was pretty tough over there.” Her large hat covered most of her face.
I nodded, “How would you know?”
“47th M.A.S.H., Ouijonbu.” She joined me against the chain link fence and sipped her coffee. There wasn’t much more to say. After a few moments I looked at her. “Jeju Island, 1948. We got caught up in the rebellion.”
She held out her gloved hand. “I’m Nancy.” Still hidden under her hat she said,, “Pleasure to see you again, Mr. Drake.”
I studied her. “Have we met before?”
“We have a mutual association with an Officer Graves of the LAPD.”
I spit out the coffee and threw the cup in the trash. “Did that ass send you to…?”
Nancy shook her head. “No, he didn’t.” She took out a jeweled compact, held it at an angle and looked behind her with the mirror. “I didn’t say I knew him. I said you and I had a mutual association.”
Still checking behind her, she whispered, “Meet me at Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights.”
Bio for Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger
Published authors Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger had been writing individually until they got together and wrote the SKYLAR DRAKE MURDER MYSTERY Series. These hard-boiled tales are based in old Hollywood of 1955. Janet has published seven mystery novels and Will has three plus two short stories. Their world travels have sparked ideas for murder and crime stories. This creative couple is married and live in Southern California.
Janet was born in Queens, New York and raised in Long Island, until she was 12 years old. Her family escaped the freezing winters and hurricanes for the warmth and casual lifestyle of So. California. She has traveled to the far reach of the planet ending with new found friends and a basket of hotel shampoo and conditioner samples.
Will is from Omaha, Nebraska, living in Turkey for 10 years before returning to the states with his family ending up in So. California on their way to Samoa. Go figure.
Janet Elizabeth Lynn http://www.janetlynnauthor.com/
Will Zeilinger http://www.willzeilingerauthor.com/