11 November 2012

The Hero's Knot

Hi, folks!

Sorry for the lengthy absence; I've been working on a variety of other projects.

One of the more recent ones has been my entry for National Novel Writing Month - a book I've been allowing to ferment for a while, called The Hero's Knot.

The details are available at my author's blog, here.

I thought, just for giggles, that I'd serialize the thing on this site, first to see if anyone reads my Anuru blog, and second to air the material out.  I'm eventually going to publish the whole thing at Kindle and Smashwords, once I've submitted the final draft, and then fleshed it out into a full-length novel.

Anywhere, here's the first piece. Enjoy!




by D. Alexander Neill




The thief had odd-coloured eyes – and then he didn’t.

That was the extent of the identification provided by the wild-eyed Securitas rent-a-cop about a half-hour after the uproar at the Broome Street branch of Delancey Credit. His name was Quinn, and the rest of his testimony was of a sort seemingly designed to drive law enforcement officials to despair: average height and build, Caucasian (maybe), a mop of hair that might have been black or brown or even dirty blonde, jeans, and a dark jacket. Leather jacket, or denim? Can’t say, officer. Was he wearing a hat? Can’t say, officer. Gloves? Can’t say. High tops? Cowboy boots? Glass frigging slippers? Can’t say, officer. When one of the cops had asked him with a sour smirk whether the perpetrator had been wearing sunglasses, he’d nearly offered the same reply before checking himself. The fellow hadn’t been wearing any sunglasses. Of that much, Quinn was reasonably sure. After all, how else could he have known that the thief had had eyes of two different, distinct colours?

To be fair, being questioned by a pair of testy detectives from the NYPD Major Crimes Unit hadn’t done much to soothe Quinn’s jangled nerves, particularly as they’d hinted at charging him with a fistful of firearms offences. In the confusion of the moment, after slamming bodily into the thief and seeing the strange, inexplicable things that he’d seen, Quinn had drawn his sidearm, a nondescript .38 calibre Colt revolver, taken careful aim, and put two rounds into the centre of mass of one of the bank’s potted palms. The first slug was still lodged in the tree’s thick stem; the second, punching straight through, had shattered a polished panel of decorative rose quartz just below a clock and above a garbage can.

The flat crack of the bullets and the sudden whiff of burnt propellant had brought him back to his senses, and he’d found himself staring at the weapon as though he’d pulled a venomous snake from his holster. When questioned about the discharge – first by the branch’s operations manager, and a few minutes later by the two MCU cops – Quinn had sworn up and down that he’d had the front post site centred on the robber’s chest before pulling the trigger.

His oath occasioned a glance between the two constables. The older, and taller, of the two was the first to respond. “Think maybe we should frisk the ficus?”

“It’s a palm,” the other replied. “And I don’t think it was carrying.”

In the end, given that the only casualties had been vegetable and mineral, they let Quinn off with a warning. Perhaps considering valour the better part of discretion, the bank gave him three days’ paid vacation. After all, if it had been a robbery, it certainly wasn’t a major one; after the tills, lockboxes and vault had been verified, all that was found to be missing was one thousand, three hundred and twenty-one dollars: the contents of the single deposit drawer behind the business banking wicket. According to the eyewitnesses to the crime (none of whose descriptions of the thief was any more fulsome than Quinn’s), the malefactor hadn’t been anywhere near that end of the branch. Suspicion might have fallen on Marlene Cleddik, the spinsterly business teller, save for the fact that nearly thirty years of unimpeachable service had made her synonymous with reliability and trust.

Which left Delancey with a loss so picayune that it would cost the bank more in man-hours to investigate the incident, and the flatfoots of the NYPD MCU with a crime that could not rationally be described as ‘major, and that they would gladly have handed over to their brethren in less august sub-units of the force, save for one fact: as a matter of policy, all bank robberies were deemed major crimes – even robberies where the amount of money stolen was hardly enough to treat the bank’s staff to a burger and fries. This meant that they would keep the Delancey robbery on the same list as the attempt that had been made on the Federal Reserve Depository a few months early. That had been a real robbery, complete with armoured cars, machine guns, a recoilless rifle and significant casualties among guards, patrons and perpetrators alike. This was hardly on the same scale; but it was of the same kind, and New York’s finest would keep looking for the Delancey robber. 

At least this time they would have an advantage. None of the hundreds of witnesses at the Depository break-in had reported a thief with one grass-green eye, and another as blue as ice, that both suddenly changed to brown. It wasn’t as much money, the two detectives agreed later on over a beer, but at least this time they had something to go on.