To: Bernice Milic
From: Clevus Von Clevus
Date: Monday, January 17 09:15:33 CST
Subject: Acknowledgments for BODY IN THE CREEK
Please find the file for BITC acknowledgments attached.
Faithful Reader, BODY IN THE CREEK is book number twenty-two, and I can’t believe it. As a fresh widower, please indulge this old writer a set of acknowledgments as unique as these last trying months.
First, great thanks to Celine Stone, agent extraordinaire, for her patience, especially through this fraught time.
All praise to my editor, Bernice Milic, whose steady eye is not unlike that of an Olympic volleyball line judge, scrupulously discerning what to leave in, what to leave out.
A debt of gratitude to the anonymous Twitter author of the myriad ways to eliminate DNA evidence from dead bodies. Immersing in water, I knew, but the ingenious idea of dousing a dead body with a fire extinguisher is amusing to practice in one’s garage, or so I’m told.
To Coach Jim Green who once showed me how to properly bend at the knees when lifting something heavy. That advice has been useful as I age and ferry dead weight now and again.
And to my wife, Irene, my muse, my inspiration for BITC, a cautionary tale about wanting more. Darling, I should have sensed your wanderlust when I first met you, standing in line to catch that Greyhound. The back of your head dazzled with copper curls, so much that it took me a minute to realize you were carrying a brown paper bag with a live chicken inside. (Reader, the driver politely uttered, Ma’am, you may not board with a live chicken.) I beheld Irene in one of her rare moments as she wrung the chicken’s neck and exclaimed with no small amount of pride, He’s not alive anymore. I stared at a woman as I’ve never stared before.
Irene, that neck-twisting was a sign of adventure to come. We had an interesting union for many years until, buoyed by royalties, we moved to Creekside. We discovered a wonderful walking path, a place for Irene to remind yours truly that I gained weight equal to a six-bottle wine carrier. (Reader, I assure you; Irene knew this weight by heart.)
There was no voyage quite like strolling Creekside with Irene. She was the queen of the anti-praise. Insulting my magazine subscriptions was the most honest, if not banal, attempt to tell me her adoration had taken wing. That fateful conversation led to an announcement about her enrollment in an early morning pottery class. Reader, I shall miss the wondrous creations that I was expected to gush over as if they were portals to elsewhere.
Nonetheless, I thank my wife for relentlessly purchasing items in twos. Irene bought twin fitness tracker watches to “encourage our mutual health and become more attractive.” (Reader, I might have laughed at that once, for my bride and I do not resemble the glorious bodies we commingled onboard that Cleveland-bound Greyhound water-closet.)
The pottery may have been as fleeting as your love. Irene, as you found a new hobby to occupy your attention. (Reader, she synced our fitness trackers wherein I often witnessed her activity and heart rate spiking up around 5:45 a.m., her furious athleticism was made more curious by the absence of additional earthen pots.)
All credit to the designer and genius of said fitness tracker. I discovered that on the dates of the pre-dawn fitness, my wife entertained me with dinnertime bursts of compliments about a new neighbor, handsome John Horton. (Reader, any similarity with my villain, Don Morton, is pure coincidence.)
But, Irene, my lovely, Horton blinded you somehow with his charms and the copious amounts of designer drugs he may or may not have sold at the end of our cul-de-sac. (Reader, it’s a matter of record that a man fitting Horton’s description dropped my wife onto our porch and tore away with a mere, She’s batshit crazy. I told her not to take too much! in his wake.) I weep at the thought.
I put a coffee capsule into the espresso machine. As it swirled and produced miracle froth, I pondered what my fictional hero might do with an expired body. Probably most people consider this question from time to time.
Alas, there is no handbook about what must be done with the unfaithful dead, not that I, Clevus Von Clevus, would ever have a use for such a manuscript and completely disavow knowledge of anyone who may have tampered with a deceased body in or around my vicinity.
All gratitude to my attorney, Les Rosenblatt.
With great admiration to Luigi Tazzini, whose artistry first introduced the handle to the coffee cup. That fateful night’s handle-less cup spilled along the counter where we keep the mail. There I discovered a bill from the phone store disclosing the purchase of not one, but two cell phones. The paperwork revealed two wholly original phone numbers as well.
Thanks to Anne Hunter for the use of her baby stroller. Also, hat tip to P. H. Champ for her essential research in “Guide to Avoiding Doorbell Camera Detection”.
A hurrah to Officer Tatum for his expeditious journey to my doorstep, tenderly and sensitively imparting the news of my wife’s tragic post-death baptism. Officer Tatum, I’m indebted to you for indulging an old writer’s mind when I suggested one might discover a cell phone identical to the drenched one you found in the creek. Your swift decision to direct additional men in blue to the quasi-dubious Horton house, killing two birds with one phone, as it were, solved the sad end to Irene’s demise.
Finally, Reader, thanks to you for boundless support and outpouring of emails and letters about dear Irene, may she rest in pottery.
To: Clevus Von Clevus
From: Bernice Milic
Date: Tuesday, January 18 07:01:29 EST
Subject: Acknowledgments for BITC
Call me ASAP.
About the author:
Karen Harrington is a former corporate speechwriter turned young adult novelist. Her short story work has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Shotgun Honey. Her novels, all set in her home state of Texas, were published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Find her at www.karenharringtonbooks.com and @KA_Harrington