Thursday, January 26, 2012

Early Release Excerpt, A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY

Excerpt from A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY by Clara LaVeaux (S.J. Drum)
  Release Date: February 7th 2012

When I saw her through the blinds from outside, I couldn’t tell if she was just passed out or something worse. Standing inside her apartment a few feet from her, I knew she hadn’t fainted. A long tube of stretchy, yellow rubber wrapped and twisted around her arm above her elbow. She’d loosened it but hadn’t removed it completely. An empty syringe lay next to her body. In the soft crook of her arms, where her elbows bent forward, were a hundred bruised pinpricks of varying ages. I guess I know why she always wore long sleeves.

I’d known my share of alcoholics back in Ohio, but I’d never come across a drug addict. Or maybe I had and just didn’t know. I hadn’t known that Natalie was an addict, and I saw her almost every day.

The air conditioner was cranked to the max, blowing a steady stream of cool air into the apartment. She might have died two days ago, but the cold atmosphere had kept the smell to a minimum. I nearly took a deep breath to calm myself but thought better of it at the last second.

Pulling my phone from my pocket, I dialed the police. The operator asked me to stay on the line until an officer showed up, but I didn’t see the point since Natalie was already dead. Snapping my phone shut, I stared at the dead body lying on the floor in front of me. The last time I’d seen Natalie, I’d been furious with her, yelling at her over my retched neighbor. “I’m sorry,” I whispered to the chalky, lifeless body.

I was sorry that our last conversation had been so unpleasant. Maybe my accusations had brought her to the mental state that led to her overdose. I searched myself for some emotion that would bring forth a fit of sobbing but found myself curiously devoid of tears. Not that I was comfortable standing in a room with the dead body of a coworker—far from it. I was shocked, sickened, fearful even, but not exactly sad.

I flipped open my phone and redialed the most recently called number before the police. I hoped I wouldn’t have to leave a message. My wish was granted when he answered on the third ring.

“Dustin, I need you to come meet me.”

“I’m at lunch with Frank. Can it wait?”

“No.” There was a silent pause.

“Where are you?”

I gave Dustin the address and shoved my phone back into my pocket. My feet were planted where I’d stopped when I came inside and realized Natalie was dead. My thoughts shifting to the police, I hoped this would be a pretty straightforward investigation. Overdose, no foul play. As far as I knew, I’d been the last one to see her alive, and the encounter hadn’t been a pleasant one. No one wants to be caught standing over the corpse of someone they’d just had a fight with.