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Excerpt from "Dirty Scottsdale"

“Dirty Scottsdale” (in the PHOENIX NOIR anthology, editor Patrick Millikin)
Copyright 2008 Diana Gabaldon

[Excerpts may not be reposted, copied, or otherwise published without the express permission of the author. It's fine if you want to link to one, though.]

“What. The. F***. Is. Going. On. Here?” said a voice behind me. Whoever it was had a pretty good Voice of Doom, too; it cut through the argument like a hot wire through ice-cream.

I turned around to see a tall blond woman in a sunhat, a Hawaiian shirt flapping open over a white bikini. Chloe and Tyrone’s mother; the breast implants must be hereditary.

“Cooney!” she barked. “What are you doing? What’s–” She caught sight of the guy in the pool and stopped dead, her mouth hanging open far enough for me to see that one of her molars was gold. I wondered if she had a diamond in it.

Cooney, hearing his master’s voice, came trundling over, sweating and apologetic.

“It’s OK, Pammy–”

“Don’t call me Pammy! Who are you?” she demanded, swiveling a laser eye on me. “Are you in charge here? Who’s that in my swimming pool?”

“Tom Kolodzi, Ma’am,” I said, offering her a hand. “Do you know the man in the pool?”

“Of course not!” she snapped, taking my hand by reflex. Hers was cold and damp and covered by a transparent latex glove. She let go fast, peeling the glove off with a snap. “Oh, sorry. I was drowning squirrels in the garage.”

“Squirrels?” I tried to keep a pleasant tone of inquiry, but it seemed to dawn on her that a mention of drowning things might not be the best thing she could have started off with.

“Ground squirrels,” she said through her teeth. “They eat the g*dd*mn plantings. Are they going to get that—him—out of the pool?” Her eyes kept sliding toward the water, where the body had resumed its peaceful dead-man’s float. Another siren coming down the street–police, this time.

Slamming car-doors and the crackle of a radio, and the brass was with us. I heard the word, “Lieutenant…” and froze for a millisecond. But of course it wasn’t my lieutenant–she was Phoenix PD, and we were on the Scottsdale side of Shea. That was luck; Lieutenant Griego would have had me locked in a squad car in three seconds, and if I died of heatstroke before she came back…well, accidents happen, especially in the summertime.

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12 Responses »

  1. “Sorry, i was just drowning squirrels”


  2. Dear Gretchen–

    The situation, or the writing?

  3. I thought it was funny . . .

  4. Dear lsimcox–

    Well, it is _meant_ to be. [g]

  5. Well I laughed out loud when I read it so I vote you keep it in!

    It’s so interesting to hear you write with a new character’s voice. Do your characters talk to you unbidden or only when you are focused on writing? Can you control which ones are talking to you or does the inside of your head sometimes sound like a loud party with many talking at once [g]?

  6. Is Cooney a dog? Do dogs sweat?

    I love the drowning squirrels part (and I laughed!) … but I assume anyone who drowns wild animals who are naturally feisty has GOT to be pretty damned feisty herself. Yikes. Two words: rabies shot. *g*

  7. Dear Linda–

    No, Cooney is the “homeowner in Bermuda shorts and a wtf? expression” that you saw in the first paragraph of the story (shown in the blog entry prior to this one).

    I.e., the husband of Pamela Pratt, the feisty squirrel drowner.

  8. Dear apteryx–

    I hear them _better_ if I’m focused on writing, but now and then I do suddenly pick up a line out of nowhere. When I do, I use that as the “kernel” for a scene.

    But no, they don’t talk at once, and by and large, don’t come into my head uninvited.

  9. Mr. Kolodzi has an entertaining “voice” – love it. You do irreverent humor so well… :) Thank you for sharing!

  10. Dear Diana,

    Sorry to have been unclear, I meant the situation, not the writing! I got a real kick out of that part because when I bought my house, there was an ancient bathtub behind the barn where the previous owner, a fiesty older woman, drowned the woodchucks who were digging up her yard. A kind of twisted, evil baptismal font.


  11. Hi Diana,
    Your voice is refreshing here– different, but very nice, very nice indeed.

    …and just in case nobody told you today, we love you!

  12. HAHAHA! Man, are the proverbial squirrel droppings going to hit the fan when this is published.(g)

    Current squirrel tally this week? Six to two, in favour of Boris. His M.O. is to eat the top half – chest cavity, the back of the head and the whiskers – leaving the lower half and tail, severed feet, half a head and one large organ I haven’t identified. It’s always the same, and this is what I wake up to most mornings. I’d post photos on my blog, but there’s a glitch. Probably the mushroom photos…

    God, I love that cat.


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