Authors: Frank Zafiro
Tags: #USA, #police
Frank Zafiro channels Ed McBain and Joseph Wambaugh in this taut and frightening thriller.
Simon Wood, author of
series succeeds where so many fail of late, in not only delivering whipcrack plotlines, but characters as real as the breath in your lungs. You feel with them, rage with them, and bleed alongside these cops. Mr. Zafiro’s writing deserves more than comparison with the greats of the police procedural sect, it holds it’s own amongst them.
Todd Robinson, editor of Thuglit
Beneath A Weeping Sky
, Frank Zafiro lays the whammo on us. Once again, Zafiro brings us back to the River City police force as we follow the lives of these officers as they try to catch the Rainy Day Rapist, whose crimes are becoming increasingly more violent. With straightforward and highly readable prose, Zafiro sucks us into this compelling story, offering psychological insight into both the crazy as hell rapist and the cops chasing him, particularly the damage that the job does to them. This is great stuff, and any fan of Ed McBain or realistic police procedurals should be looking for this book, because no one is writing this stuff better than Zafiro.
Dave Zeltserman author of
BENEATH A WEEPING SKY
A River City Crime Novel
Gray Dog Press
This is a work of fiction. Names characters, places, and incidents are the product
of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to persons, places, establishments, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Beneath A Weeping Sky
Copyright © 2009 Frank Scalise
All Rights Reserved
No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, photocopying, recording or by any information retrieval or storage system without the express written permission of the author.
Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Beneath A Weeping Sky
1. Crime—Fiction. 2. Detective—Fiction.
3. Contemporary fiction. I. Title
Library of Congress Control Number: 2010920762
Cover photos: Matt Rose, Matt Rose Photography
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
This is for the love of my life—my Kristi May,
who knows and believes.
The writer spends many lonely, thrilling hours alone in front of the computer, plying his trade, crafting his world, writing his novel. But making a novel come to fruition is far more involved than simply putting words down on virtual paper. At the risk of using a tired cliché, each novel is like a new child. Any writer will tell you that many a novel is conceived in discussions over coffee with other writers or trusted confidants. That moment of conception is exciting and sexy and glowing. Once so conceived, it grows in the womb, often due to the encouragement of those other supportive people. And when it finally slides out of the womb of the author’s mind, that newborn novel is not a pretty sight. It’s covered in blood and goo and a host of mistakes and imperfections. Those other writers and readers and editors are like nurses and midwives, lifting the disgusting little creature up and cleaning it off. They treat it for some ailments, inoculate it against others. So when the proud author is finally allowed to leave the hospital with that completed novel in his arms, it is as close to beautiful as it is ever going to get.
So…the point of all that is this: I might technically write these books alone, but I don’t finish them alone. I get life-saving help from a number of people—too many to mention, if the truth be told. But I’d like to acknowledge just a few that were pivotal to this one making it through, warts and all.
Every reader who thought to give me feedback on the first two books—you know who you are. You’ll see your hands at work in this one.
T. Dawn Richard, whose enthusiasm as a fellow writer is infectious and whose coffee conversations have fed my fire...not to mention her divine editing.
Carly Cortright, for insights into characters and plot problems.
Jill Maser. My dear Tosh, queen of the line edit. What would I do without you? I’d publish significantly poorer stories, that’s what for starters. Thank you for your deep crits, deeper insight and your willingness to always call things as they truly lie.
My fellow officers at my home agency. Thank you for all you do every single day.
Julie Shiflett, who over time has helped me understand even just a little bit of what an assault victim goes through.
And lastly, they say that every writer has a particular reader in mind when s/he puts those words on the page. I never really did, to be honest with you. I’ve been writing since I was ten or eleven, but my “reader” was always a vague, inexact personage that I hoped would dig what I had to say. Since reuniting with my best childhood friend (and marrying her), I’ve found my “first reader” (as the venerable Mr. King puts it). So my last thank you is to you, Kristi…my gracious, brilliant wife, who reads everything I write as if it were bound for best-sellerdom, criticizes it with a kind, insightful heart and who believes in me more than anyone else, including myself.
Affectionately and gratefully,
Rain falls into the open eyes of the dead
Again again with its pointless sound
When the moon finds them they are the color of everything.
William Stanley Merwin
RIVER CITY, WASHINGTON
Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge.
French Post-Impressionist painter (1848 - 1903)
Wednesday, March 6th
Heather Torin never intended to be a victim.
No one ever does.
She ran the same route every day except Sunday, when she didn't jog at all. It was two and eight-tenths miles long according to the odometer in her Honda Accord. She would have preferred to jog a three-mile course, but the route was just too perfect and so she sacrificed the two-tenths in the interest of aesthetics.
Running was the one thing she did entirely for herself. She enjoyed the firmness it gave her legs and buttocks, but it was the mental benefits that kept her going out day after day. After her three miles, almost every frustration from her day was flushed out, pouring out of her with the sweat on her forehead.
Wednesday’s run was usually the hardest run of the week for some reason. Saturday morning runs were her favorite. She left before anything in her day had happened and with no frustrations to burn off, she experienced a calm that she imagined was similar to meditation.
Her breathing was deep and fluid as she padded along through the damp streets of River City's north side. It had been a mild winter, even though traces of snow still littered the ground where it had been piled high during the winter months. March began as a very wet month, but it had none of the iciness of January and February. Heather enjoyed the coolness of the air as she drew it in and released it, trying to keep her breathing as slow as possible. Trees lined the street beneath an obscured, gray sky above.
She passed the two-mile mark.
It's all on the way home now
, she told herself. Good thing, too, since her legs felt a little weak today for some reason. She forced herself to keep up the pace as she approached the park.
Heather liked zigging and zagging along the trail of the small, heavily-wooded park. The coolness in the air was palpable. She could almost taste the wetness and the bark on the pine trees. The damp earth muffled her footfalls. She skipped over a root that protruded from a massive pine.
She sensed the movement rather than saw it. The blow struck her in the rib cage, sending a shock wave of pain through her chest. She felt a pair of arms wrapping around her waist, grasping at her. Those arms slid downward until they clutched at her legs. Like a running back caught in open field, she took two stumbling steps to her left and she fell to the ground. The bulk of her attacker's weight was not on her. She tried to squirm loose.
“Don't move,” a man's cold, angry voice growled at her.
Fear lanced through her belly. She opened her mouth to scream but he clamped a hand over her mouth and chin. His fingers mashed her lips into her teeth.
Oh, God. He's going to kill me.
Heather thought of her parents and her sister. She saw her funeral in a flash of light.
The attacker kept one hand firmly sealed over her mouth and the other arm around her waist as he half-carried, half-dragged her off the small trail and into the wooded brush. She kicked and struggled gamely, but his grip was strong and she could not break it.
Heather sobbed once underneath his strong, smooth hand. She didn’t want to die.
“Shut up, bitch,” the man whispered. “Shut up or I'll lay the whammo on you.”
Heather's breath raced in and out of her nose. She couldn't get enough air.
The attacker flung her to the ground. She landed on her back with a dull thud. She felt a curious pain in her chest and realized that her wind had been knocked out of her.
That hasn't happened since I was about eleven and fell out of the tree in Grandma's—
The attacker fell on top of her, forcing her legs open.
He pulled her running shorts down her hips and tore at her panties. The action registered slowly with Heather.
He’s going to rape me.
My God. He’s going to kill me after he rapes me.
She struggled to get air into her lungs as she swam in darkness.
I should open my eyes. In case he doesn’t kill me, I can identify him.
She forced her eyes wide open and stared up into her attacker’s face. It was covered with a ski mask. The impersonal wool scared her even more. She tried harder to inhale so that she could scream.
Still no breath came.
The attacker fumbled with his pants, his hips still pressed against her thighs. She felt him shudder momentarily. His breath came in ragged gasps. Then he stopped.
For a moment, all was still. There were no human voices, only the distant sound of automobiles and closer, the evening sounds of birds. Heather stared into the man's eyes and searched for mercy. She could find nothing behind the impenetrable gaze.
He rolled her over onto her stomach.
“Don’t move, bitch or I’ll lay the whammo on you.”
Her lungs ached.
“Please,” she tried to say, but there was no breath to propel the words out her mouth.
She waited for the pain, expecting him to force himself into her and terrified at not knowing when the attack would come. She felt her fingers and toes twitching.
Will he kill me afterwards?
After an eternity, the smell of wet earth and leaves filled her nostrils.
Smell. She could smell. And breathe.
She took two short breaths.
No attack came.
Still breathing in short breaths, she twisted her neck and looked behind her.
He was gone.
She rose to a sitting position, full of disbelief. She hadn't heard him leave. But he was definitely gone.
Heather stood shakily, pulling her running shorts up and brushing the dirt and leaves from her hair. She stood perfectly still for what seemed like an hour or a lifetime, afraid he would come back and kill her for moving. But no one came. She stood alone in that small wooded area, where she first cursed God, then thanked him.