I plan to publish my third novel, Suburban Skies, toward the end of 2019. The book tells the story of a small community of condominium dwellers rebuilding their homes and their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. One of the neighbors is found unconscious in her FEMA trailers, and all of the neighbors are suspects. Here is a preview of the novel. I hope you enjoy!
Sasha – February 2007
Everybody was on the premises when the body was discovered. That frigid evening in February 2007, eighteen months after Hurricane Katrina had decimated New Orleans and the surrounding areas, the residents of Suburban Skies Condominium Association were gathering to attend an unexpected homeowners meeting. These folks still awaited their refurbished condos to go home to. The small complex was situated in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans. They were in striking distance, and I was doing my darnedest to help them get there. Jules with Superior Contractors hired me as a painter and all around Jill of all trades, and he assigned me to Suburban Skies. A couple of other workers started with me, but they either got stationed elsewhere or drifted off in the post-Katrina abyss. I needed a different vocation from nursing after so much happened in the Storm of the Century, and the long but busy days focused me with a single purpose and kept me from getting eaten up like part of the mold-infested homes the storm left in her wake.
So that Tuesday began like any other since I had been laboring there. I had driven my 1999 Corolla to Suburban Skies from my cousin's uptown New Orleans duplex she so kindly opened up to me and my children after we lost our home. The four FEMA trailers that stubbornly inhabited the parking lot had become a permanent fixture. So did the "Superior Contracting" sign so proudly displayed on the fence that faced Bellamy Boulevard. I'm not the boss, but if Jules had asked my opinion, I would have told him that's not really positive advertising after all this time.
As I applied primer in Mattingly St. John's upstairs bedroom, I saw Lynsie and Ethan slip into the common pool room/laundry room that served as the meeting room. Those two carried on some kind of on again/off again fling. Mattingly's condo was an upstairs flat in one of the three buildings that made up the small community of condo dwellers. That poor girl couldn't wait to return to her simple two-bedroom flat with a living room and small eat-in kitchen. She had chosen a pale blue to grace her walls. Most folks were choosing neutrals in the tan family, but Mattingly told me she wanted a touch of blue. She loved the calming effect of it.
I plugged my boom box in and played my gospel music. When tragedy strikes your life, you tend to either grasp on to spirituality like the Katrina victims I heard about clinging to the tree limbs outside their homes when their houses capsized before their eyes, or they shut it out of their lives. I cracked open the huge floor-to-ceiling window in Mattingly's master bedroom and let some of the icy wind flow in and circulate the paint-infused air. I saw Lynsie traipsing through the L-shaped courtyard toward the gate that led to the trailers. I started placing the blue painter's tape along the edge of one of the walls when I heard it. A scream.
I laid down the paintbrush and set it on the plastic tarp. Then I scurried out of the condo, taking the fire escape type staircase two at a time. The residents started emerging from the meeting room. Dell and Elaine Fontenot led the way. Martha Guillot ambled a few paces behind them. When I pushed through the gate, I saw Mattingly St. John getting out of her blue Dodge Caliber she had parked across the street from the trailers. Martha Guillot's twenty-two-year-old son, Conrad, rushed down the steps from the trailer he shared with his mom and scuttled toward Jody Bertolucci's trailer.
Lynsie stood in the open doorway of Jody's trailer. "She's lying on the floor! She looks dead!" Lynsie cried.
"I'll call 9-1-1," called Dell. He darted toward his trailer as Mattingly pulled out her cell phone from her purse. "No! She can't be," cried Mattingly. "I've got my phone right here, Dell," she called. "I'll call emergency."
Dell and Mattingly entered Jody's trailer. "Don't move the body," yelled Martha. I stayed back, saying prayers for Jody. The paramedics arrived shortly after, and everyone stood around holding their breath, waiting to hear Jody's fate. "She's still alive, just not conscious," announced the mustached paramedic, obviously relishing the town crier role. After another few minutes had passed, both paramedics came out of the trailer carrying Jody on a stretcher, placed her in the back of the ambulance, and whisked her off to the hospital. Lynsie followed in her old Pontiac and promised to report back to all.
I leaned against the gate and muttered another prayer for Jody. The woman managed to raise the wrath of the gentlest of souls. A side-splitting clown one moment, a raving, accusatory bulldog the next, she exasperated and exhausted every single person that spent any time with her. Poor Jody. Lord help her. I observed Lynsie, Ethan, Dell, Elaine, Mattingly, Martha and Conrad. From what I've learned, in spite of their close proximity to one another, these folks were virtual strangers to one another until Katrina. Catastrophes do that to people. They weld folks together. I also knew that one of them was more than likely responsible for this assault on Jody Bertolucci.
I love writing fiction about real people, exploring moral dilemmas, and delving into my characters' internal conflicts. I hope you check out my novels and short stories.
I published two novels through Amazon. The latest is a women's fiction/mystery set in the New Orleans area (my hometown).
You can check it out here:
Beneath the Shady Tree
My first novel, published in 2014, is a coming-of-age novel told in linked short stories that follows the story of a girl from age eleven through her mid twenties. As she journeys through life, she gets by with a little help from the Beatles. You can find it here:
Rain Clouds and Waterfalls
It is also available on audio:
Rain Clouds and Waterfalls on Audio!
"The Potting Shed and Other Stories" is a collection of short stories. It's free at these sites: Amazon Kobo Smashwords