From my novel: Letting Go


Chapter 2


Rachael Lancaster


On the outskirts of Chicago, Rachael Lancaster arrived home. “At last!” she gasped. The last few days had been nerve-wracking. Wrapping up the case against a local drug lord for moving large amounts of cocaine into the U.S. from Columbia had taken more than two years of hard work. The testimony she gave in court was detailed, and cross-examination was tough. Like any good defense attorney, the bully tried to cross her up, to get her to make mistakes. It was mentally exhausting. She had to think about every word she said before she said it, and it had sapped her of all energy.


Finally, the trial was over, and the verdict was in¬¬¬. “And the bastard is going away for life!” Rachel muttered. She kicked off her shoes and slammed the door. Miss Kitty came running and circled around her legs. “Poor Miss Kitty, no one here to play with you?” 
Rachael walked to the kitchen with Miss Kitty in tow, yowling to be fed. A half-full bottle of white zinfandel was in the refrigerator. She grabbed it and poured half a glass, then took a sip and savored it like an alcoholic savors a shot of whiskey. “Work your magic,” she said quietly.


To appease Miss Kitty’s relentless cries, Rachael opened a can of cat food and scooped it into the cat’s food bowl. An unopened package of Oreo cookies was still on the counter from her last grocery store trip. She grabbed the bottle of wine, her glass, and the cookies and headed for the couch.


Rachael’s apartment was nice, but simple. She didn't have a lot of time for dusting excess décor. What she did have were photos—and lots of them—that captured the happy memories and most exciting times of her life. Her most prized photo was encased in a simple silver frame on the end table next to her favorite side of the brown leather sofa. 


Rachael had met Gary while both were stationed in Iraq. They began dating and became friends and soul mates. They had made plans for after they got out of the Army. Near the end of their tours, Rachael and Gary were in a convoy transporting a prisoner to the airfield when Rachael witnessed Gary’s Hummer being destroyed by an IED. Gary was killed instantly. Sometimes, when she felt especially lonely, she would embrace that photo while she watched TV. Tonight was one of those nights. She picked up the photo and sighed. “Sure do miss you, Babe.”


She gently set the photo back in its familiar spot then zapped the TV with the remote. The Republican National Convention was on. “Oh yawn! Maynard’s acceptance speech. Double yawn! This should put me right to sleep.”


She didn’t really follow politics that much. She rubbed elbows with enough politicians in her job, but that didn’t mean she had to like them. She wasn’t paying much attention to the TV. 


Maynard said, "The United States is such a great country. We are capable of doing so much. However, we burden ourselves with too many outside influences. One such influence is oil imp—”


Rachael noticed the break in the speech and looked up, thinking there was some sort of technical difficulty. The scene was one of utter chaos. The TV crews were scrambling. “What the—” Rachael froze, amazed. The package of Oreos slid off her lap and knocked over her wine. “Shit!” 


Finally, the woman on the screen announced, “John Maynard’s been shot! It’s not yet known how serious his condition is. Stay with us, folks! We’ll get you further information as soon as we know something." She spoke to another on-air personality. "John, can you get us a replay of Maynard’s last words? Okay, folks, we’re trying to get that for you as soon as possible. Meantime, there's utter chaos on the convention floor. The panicked crowd is scattering toward the exits. Can we get a shot of Maynard? 
Security has surrounded him, and it’s hard to see exactly where he was shot or what condition he's in.” She tilted her head and put her hand up to cover her ear so she could hear clearly. “Okay, John. Thanks. We now have that replay. It looks... it looks like—.Oh my God! We’ve just received word, John Maynard is dead! He’s been assassinated!” 


Rachael watched intently as Maynard repeated his last words. As he was speaking, in a horrifying instant, a red, misty cloud appeared behind his head. He slumped to the floor and security scrambled to him. The entire place erupted in a unified gasp of fear.


The reporter was talking again. “He’s been shot in the head! Campaign staff and Mrs. Maynard are there on the stage with him. Security is not allowing Mrs. Maynard access to her husband.”


Rachael was snapped out of her shock by a digital rendition of "The Mexican Hat Dance." She reached for her cell phone. “No rest for the weary,” she muttered.
Looking at the caller ID, she saw that it was her boss, Bill Weston. She answered, her attention refocused on the television. 


“Lancaster here.” 


“Trouble at the convention. I need you down there, fast.” 


“I know. I just saw it on TV.” ....




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