Locked Doors

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Cover art copyright © 2010 by Jeroen ten Berge

All rights reserved.

LOCKED DOORS is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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Desert Places

each night we leave some cold potatoes

and a bowl of milk on the windowsill.

Usually they inhabit heaven where,

by the way, no tears are allowed.

They push the moon around like

a boiled yam.

The Milky Way is their hen

with her many children.

When it is night the cows lie down

but the moon, that big bull, stands up.

All it took was seeing his name.

Karen Prescott dropped

Leaning against a bookcase that housed many of the hardcovers she’d guided to publication, Karen shivered.  The mention of Andrew’s name always unglued her.

For two years she’d been romantically involved with the suspense novelist and had even lived with him during the writing of

She thought of his dead mother.

The exhumed bodies from his lakefront property.

His face on the FBI website.

They’d used his most recent jacket photo, a black and white of Andy in a sports jacket sitting broodingly at the end of his pier.

During the last few years she’d stopped thinking of him as Andy.  He was Andrew Thomas now and embodied all the horrible images the cadence of those four syllables invoked.

There was a knock.

Scott Boylin, publisher of Ice Blink’s literary imprint, stood in the doorway dressed in his best bib and tucker.  Karen suspected he was gussied up for the Doubleday party.

He smiled, waved with his fingers.

She crossed her arms, leveled her gaze.

God he looked streamlined today—very tall, fit, crowned by thick black hair with dignified intimations of silver.

He made her feel little.  In a good way.  Because Karen stood nearly six feet tall, few men towered over her.  She loved having to look up at Scott.

They’d been dating clandestinely for the last four months.  She’d even given him a key to her apartment where they spent countless Sundays in bed reading manuscripts, the coffeestained pages scattered across the sheets.

But last night she’d seen him at a bar in SoHo with one of the cute interns.  Their rendezvous did not look work-related.

“Come to the party with me,” he said.  “Then we’ll go to Il Piazza.  Talk this out.  It’s not what you—”

“I’ve got tons of reading to catch up—”

“Don’t be like that, Karen, come on.”

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to have this conversation here, so…”

He exhaled sharply through his nose and the door closed hard behind him.

Joe Mack was stuffing his pink round face with a gyro when his cell phone started ringing to the tune of “Staying Alive.”

He answered, cheeks exploding with food, “This Joe.”

“Hi, yes, um, I’ve got a bit of an interesting problem.”

“Whath?”

“Well, I’m in my apartment but I can’t get the deadbolt to turn from the inside.”

Joe Mack choked down a huge mouthful, said, “So you’re locked in.”

“Exactly.”

“Which apartment?”  He didn’t even try to mask the annoyance in his voice.

“Twenty-two eleven.”

“Name?”

“Um…I’m not the tenet.  I’m Karen Prescott’s friend.  She’s the—”

“Yeah, I get it.  You need to leave any time soon?”

“Well, yeah, I don’t want to—”

Joe Mack sighed, closed the cell phone, and devoured the last of the gyro.

Wiping his hands on his shirt he heaved himself from a debilitated swivel chair and lumbered out of the office, locking the door behind him.

The lobby was quiet for midday and the elevator doors spread as soon as he pressed the button.  He rode up wishing he’d bought three gyros for lunch instead of two.

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