Now that my co-write is finished and my anthology submission is completed, it’s time to focus on the next story. Deep End of The Pool rewrite. I’ve adjusted the timeline to set this story in the 60s, now. Sean Brody (yes, my cop is the same for most books… Brodyverse.) is a woman, let’s just say she has to live as a man right now because in East Texas, lesbian are not acceptable. With a complete rewrite, I am sure the original story won’t even be recognizable when it is finished. Here is the first unedited prologue:
Glass shattered as a group of young teenagers hurled a rock hurled into an abandoned gas station in the dead of night. They vanished into the darkness as quickly as they had appeared, leaving a trail of chaos in their wake.
The phone rang in the police station, answered by the one lone dispatcher who worked the midnight shift. As soon as she hung up, she called out. “Brody! Reports of kids vandalizing old Cooter’s garage and some houses out off of Dixie Road. Probably should head over there and check it out. Take some board too. Don’t need anyone squatting out there.”
Sean Brody groaned as she pulled herself up from the desk. Not that she couldn’t do the job, she just knew she wasn’t the best man for the job. Hell, she wasn’t even a man, though no one in town knew that about her.
She placed her cap over her short cropped hair and checked her pistol in her holster. “Sure thing, Verloyce.”
The police department truck, an old Ford F-1 pickup, had seen more miles in ten years than Verloyce had in her fifty-something years, if you believed the tales being passed around by the guys. Not that Sean wanted to find out if they were true or not. She loaded the bed with plywood and supplies, ready to hammer up the busted windows. It would be a chore, but Sean had grown accustomed to the manual labor since hiding her sexuality and playing the role of dutiful husband.
She barreled down the dusty highway, hanging a left at the light and following the truck’s headlights to the east side of Appleton where the streets had no overhead lamps. The road was lit by the glow of the surrounding houses, but most residents couldn’t afford to keep the lights on after dark.
The truck rolled to a stop at the corner of Dixie and Lincoln, right in front of Cooter’s garage. Not much to see from the street, so Sean exited the truck with a resounding door slam and a flashlight gripped. Her feet crunched against the gravel that had once been a driveway as she strolled up to the abandoned building.
The business had been closed since old man Coot took a nosedive off the city’s water tower. This happened during Sean’s first week on the job. She began working for the police force, which was the county sheriff and three deputies. They patrolled an area of about a hundred square miles. Coming from the gritty streets of Chicago, she had witnessed her fair share of gruesome deaths, yet nothing could ever erase the haunting image of Cooter’s shattered skull oozing brain matter like a cracked egg spilling its scrambled contents.
Anytime someone mentioned Cooter’s name, the vivid imagery returned to her thoughts; just like it had then while walking up to his place. As tough as she played it in front of the team, Sean had a vulnerable side that was all woman. Her hand cast a shaky stream of light toward the building, finding the shattered glass window. As she pointed the flashlight into the building, the beam hit a pair of eyes.
A feral cat let out a blood-curdling screech, matching hers from within the vacant building, and pounced toward her. Sean’s startled gasp caught in her throat, and she leaped backward, losing her balance and tumbling to the ground with a thump. “Mother—”
It scurried away as Sean regained her footing and dusted herself off, including her rump, which was sure to bruise. After a once over, she picked up the plywood and nestled it into position, securing it with hammer blows that covered the jagged remnants of shattered glass. It might remain that way, as the chances of someone buying the property appeared to be next to none.
Along Dixie Road, residents gathered outside the row of wooden shacks that resembled houses; all inspecting the damages caused by the wayward teens. Sean joined the others, contributing both the wood and her physical strength to secure the windows with makeshift boards. They did this hoping to repair them when finances allowed, or sealing them off for good, depending on which came first.
Lemonville was a ghost town, home to just 300 folks. The town’s population reached a remarkable six hundred during its heyday. However, most of them had either passed away from old age or moved to the thriving neighboring town, Appleton, which remained in the same county.
The police station was in Appleton, a town located just to the north of the larger community of Orange. It was a bit of a fruit salad in the East Texas region, although the big city wasn’t within their jurisdiction. In Appleton, a quiet town made up of residential areas, many people commuted to Orange for work.
After enduring the grunt labor of the midnight shift, Sean returned to the station with the dawn creeping over the horizon. All she wanted now was to reach home and immerse herself in a long, scalding shower to wash away the stench that came with the job. She swung the station’s door open. The creaking sound alerted Verloyce to her arrival. She hung the keys to the truck on the board with a heavy sigh and shuffled back to the police desk to write up a report.
After retrieving a notepad from the drawer, Verloyce appeared, bearing a brimming mug of pitch-black coffee in her hand. She placed it on the table in front of Sean. “You keep telling me no, and I keep asking ‘cos one day you’re gonna say yes. You wanna go grab some breakfast and clean up at my place?”
With a shift drink, the warm liquid ran down the back of her throat like a raging river she wished she had paved with brandy. She held up the gold band on her finger. “I’m a happily married man, Vee. Thank you, but she’d have my hide if she saw me in town with another woman.”
“You know I’ll ask tomorrow,” she said as she shuffled off and grabbed her hat and coat at the door.
Sean hollered back as she leaned in her chair. “And I’ll still be married.”
Her shift replacement crossed paths with Verloyce in the doorway. Deputy Dewey dropped his hat and jacket on the coat hanger at the door, then shuffled to the desk next to Sean’s. “I don’t know why you don’t give up and take that woman up on her offer. She’ll ride you ‘til morning, that one.”
Again, Sean leaned back in the chair with her legs spread in a masculine manner and rubbed the back of her neck. “Besides liking my women a little on the younger side, the Mrs. suits me just fine. Trust me, I am ridden enough at home.”
“Well, hell, since you came on the job, she sure ain’t putting out no more. Swear, you got that woman itching for whatever it is you got.”
That was about as much masculinity as Sean could handle in one day. She stood and grabbed her hat. “She can continue scratching ‘cos I ain’t about to dip into her pool anytime soon. I gotta get, now. See ya at sundown.”
And with that, Sean hopped into her own truck and sped down the road, disappearing into the relentless sunrise. Almost every morning, the sun’s blinding, bright yellow blaze obscured her vision. Often, she had to swerve to avoid colliding with a deer or a wild boar that dared to cross her path. The midnight shift wasn’t her preferred choice, but it was a week until she swapped shifts with Dewey.
They alternated their shifts every other week, with the sheriff having the luxury of working whenever he pleased. The other officer had two jobs to balance – as a part-time cop and as the county mortician, which served the county well, being a sundown town. A curfew prevented the undesirables from venturing out at night. Anyone unfortunate enough to be apprehended by the authorities, or townsfolk, after dark met a gruesome fate. They transported them to the county morgue, where officer Raymond Crow took care of disposing of the remains, ensuring they remained unidentified.
Just before the turnoff from the main highway, Sean screeched to a dusty halt. Two vehicles sat at the roadside, surrounded by a cluster of onlookers who had gathered around a bush. In this town, such a gathering suggested that someone had met their maker overnight.
She edged her way between the crowd to find the mangled remains of a dark-skinned woman. This was the part of her job she hated, having to turn away from the disrobed woman because it broke her heart.
“Go on. Ain’t nothing to see here,” Sean said as she pushed back of the gawking spectators and made her way back to her truck.
Inside was a police radio. Before speaking into the microphone, she took a deep breath and cleared her throat. “Got us a pickup on 1130 just before 1078. Wanna give Crow a call? I’ll wait ‘er out.”
“Man or woman?” asked Dewey over the band radio.
Not that it mattered. “Woman. Maybe around thirty or forty, I’d say.”
“Geez, she ain’t got no face. How the hell would I know?”
“Just leave ‘er. Shouldna been out. I’ll call Crow.”
Sean slammed the microphone down, fed up with the never-ending bullshit. It wasn’t as bad in Chicago, but her woman wanted to return to the southern roots where she had grown up. After being shunned in the big city, Sean chopped her hair and wrapped her breasts for a spot with the sheriff’s department in Lemmon County.
She pushed away from the truck and returned to the body. The curious onlookers continued to huddle around the gruesome form, so Sean took matters into her own hands. She waved her gun to shoo them away once more. “Let’s get. Y’all get on your way.”
After the cars had driven away, Sean crouched next to the body, whose entire torso looked more like a searing road rash than a woman. There was no telling what more she endured over the course of the nightfall as blood seeped from every orifice of her body. As much as she wanted to let the welling tear fall for this woman, she steeled herself, refusing to allow the emotions to overcome her.
With a blessing offered, Sean rose and stepped over the underbrush. She made her way onto the side road, which ran parallel to the highway but remained concealed by a dense line of trees that separated the two. She peered in one direction, then the other. Her keen eyes detected a trail where the remnants of the woman’s body had left a crooked red line in the dirt. Careful not to step on any of the bloody mess, she walked down the trail until the end of the crimson colored path.
Amidst the brush, a pink purse lay discarded off to the side. Sean retrieved it and rummaged through its contents, uncovering a small wallet containing a handful of photographs featuring children. There was no identification card, which was common for undocumented persons. Whoever encountered this woman in the middle of the night had no interest in the purse as it still held cash, along with a few pesos tucked away at the bottom.
From up ahead, Sean heard tires crunching on the road and coming to a stop. With the purse in hand, she walked toward the body and found Raymond Crow standing over it when she arrived.
“Brody. Thought you already took off from what Dewey mentioned,” Crow said as he appeared surprised to see her.
“Meh. Followed the trail down yonder. Looks like she mighta been on ‘er way home. Found ‘er purse, I reckon.” Crow held out his hand, which Brody gave away to him. “I guess now that you’re here, I’ll head out.”
Sean and Crow shared a nod before she navigated around the scene and headed back to her truck. Crow was a man of few words. Whatever happened next, there would be no official report. The family would remain oblivious to the woman’s fate. A mercy given the grisly details that would have been too painful for them to bear.