Authors: Erick Burgess
Tags: #thriller, #mystery, #african american, #private detective, #psychological, #suspence, #detective fiction, #mystery series, #cozy crime stories, #cozy mystery fiction, #private eye fiction, #erick d burgess, #louisiana author
UNDER ABNORMAL CONDTIONS
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Erick D. Burgess on Smashwords
Under Abnormal Conditions
Copyright © 2012 by Erick D. Burgess
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Your support and respect for the property of
this author is appreciated.
This book is a work of fiction and any
resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or
locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of
the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
Many thanks to all of my friends and family
who offered their skills and support in helping to make my writing
dreams come true.
Also, thank you to all of my friends in the
Louisiana Department of Corrections. You are overworked, underpaid,
but greatly appreciated.
I hope you enjoy the story as much as I
enjoyed writing it. There is a thrilling time ahead of you.
You can’t save everyone.
Those words rang in my mind as I stared out
the window. The rain beat a gentle pattern against the large window
in Dr. Franklin’s office. Even though I was very tired from a
weekend of little to no sleep, my mind raced as I answered the
“How have you been feeling lately, Michael?
He asked in his most soothing and therapeutic voice.
“I haven’t been getting much sleep.” I
answered as I returned to my chair. “I’ve been getting crank calls
all weekend and when I do doze off . . . I dream about her.”
“How do these dreams make you feel?” he
“Like I never want to sleep again.” I
answered. This was only my third session with Dr. Franklin and I
was still terribly nervous. It was difficult not to be intimidated
by the many degrees and awards that hung on the good doctor’s
“Can we talk about what happened that night?”
he asked as the scratching of his pencil against his legal pad
sounded like the only sound in the world.
I closed my eyes to help focus and answered,
“It was a Saturday night and Michelle and I were riding around the
campus in my car. We had dinner to celebrate the end of my
certification and then went back to my house. I tried to talk her
into staying, but she had a test to study for so she left. That’s
it. That was the last time I ever saw her.”
“No one knows what happened to her?”
“They found her car a couple of days later.
It was late and it was raining. I didn’t want her to go, but she
wasn’t worried about it. I don’t know what happened. She probably
stopped to try and help somebody. That was the kind of person she
“She sounded like a very special person.”
“She was. After my accident, she made me feel
alive again. If it weren’t for her I never would have even tried to
be a cop. She really was special. She believed in me.” I paused as
I felt tears begin to build in my eyes. “That’s how the dreams are.
I would try to keep her from leaving but I never could.”
“How does that make you feel?” he asked.
“Helpless. They needed me and I couldn’t help
“They?” he asked. Before I could clarify my
slip, he continued, “Interesting. Well, we only have a few minutes
left for this session, so maybe we can tackle that issue next week.
How is your return to school going?
“Well, it took a while to get back into the
swing of things, but everything is going well. If fact, I’ll be
“How do you feel about that?”
“Finally. It’s been a long time since I’ve
had something like this to look forward to. For my final project in
my psychology class, my assignment was to do an in-depth character
analysis of someone close to me but not related.”
He laughed quietly and said, “I can remember
that. Who is your professor?”
“Dr. Alan Pierre.”
“Hmmm, I don’t believe I know him. Is the
class going well for you?” he asked.
“It’s going okay. I decided to use Sherry
Allen for my project.”
“Do you think that was a good decision? Isn’t
“I know what you are thinking, but I had to
do it. She just came back to work and I think that is why I started
having the dreams again.”
“So what do you hope to accomplish by using
“Maybe it’s to help me understand the
situation more. I really don’t know. We both have to work through
it so she was as good a person as any. You know, when my life
finally calms down, I may even sit down and write a book.”
“Autobiographical?” he asked.
“No, the story I write will have a happy
As I drove from the doctor’s office, I
wondered whether or not I should have told him about the phone
calls. I figured maybe it would make me look paranoid, even though
it was a big part of why I wasn’t sleeping. In a way I was
thankful. Nothing could have been worse than the dreams.
For the past two years my life had been a
nightmare. Everything started with the accident. I was on my way to
an All-American season at Southern State University when it
happened. I was driving back home to visit my grandfather whose
body was being destroyed by cancer.
We had just beaten North Arkansas State for
homecoming. I had my best game of the year and the team had planned
on going out to celebrate. I hadn’t even finished drying myself off
when Coach Jackson told me I had an emergency phone call. I was
dripping wet and standing in a puddle in the coach’s office waiting
for the call to be transferred. A million different things ran
through my mind as I waited.
Was Ester okay?
Was it the baby?
When I heard the distress in Ester’s voice, I
knew exactly what it was. The doctors only gave my grandfather a
few hours to live. I dressed quickly and headed straight home.
I didn’t get on the road until after ten
o’clock. Normally the drive would only take about thirty minutes
but I had to take Highway 190 because of work being done on
Interstate 12. The air was cool and the night was bright. I
remember praying he would make it through Christmas. That is all I
remembered of my drive that night.
From what the police said, a drunk driver
crossed the middle lane and hit my car. I was thrown from the wreck
and slammed against a tree. My leg snapped like a weak sapling, but
the driver of the other car ended up with barely a scratch.
While I was in the hospital recovering, my
grandfather passed away. As close as we were I couldn’t be there
for him when he needed me most. That was something I would have to
live with for the rest of my life, and yet another reason I
Another reason I didn’t want to sleep.
Dunham Heights was a small quiet town right
outside of Baton Rouge. Because of good schools and the Capital
City’s fifty-year old desegregation case, the population was
growing at a record pace. Like most southern towns, strict racial
lines divided it. Of course, my house was located on the infamous
Rodeo Drive. It was the proverbial track the people of my color
were commonly known to live across.
I drove back home and dressed for work.
Luckily for me, my work attire consisted of a black suit and white
t-shirt. Along with the music, that was one of the many perks of
managing a jazz club. Along with his house, my grandfather left me
an extensive jazz collection and a great appreciation for America’s
only true art form.
I started working at the Club Cool Breeze as
a security guard about a year ago. In six months time I was
managing the place.
I turned into the parking lot of the club at
five-thirty that afternoon. Even though it was December, the
weather outside was hardly winter like. The typical south Louisiana
Christmas was rarely spent in front of a fireplace. We were lucky
if the weather dipped below sixty degrees. It was so warm and muggy
my glasses fogged over as soon as I stepped out of my car.
The club had gone through numerous name
changes, but Cool Breeze was the one that finally stuck about five
years ago. In the year I was born, 19F7, my father said the
building was occupied by a drug store.
Some of our patrons would call the building
rustic. Some even say it is an antiquated testament to the French
influence on Louisiana. I, on the other hand, would just call it
old, much older than myself.
The two-story building was brownish yellow
stucco with a balcony that faced the heavily trafficked Summer
Street. Though the surrounding area was crime ridden, The Cool
Breeze was a place where people of all races, creeds, colors and
religions could meet and mingle, but all with the understanding
their respective vehicles could be missing by the end of the
As usual, I entered through the front door
instead of the service entrance, to get a feel for what was in
store for the evening. It didn’t surprise me to see a few regulars
had already taken their usual places at the bar while the local
jazz station played softly in the background.
The inside of the club was just as out of
date as the outside. Patches of mold dotted the ceiling, but the
low lighting and the slow turning ceiling fans mostly shielded
that. The tables in front of the stage were small and close
together. The large dark cherry wood bar dominated the room and the
walls were covered with posters and photos of jazz legends like
“Cannonball” Adderley, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. In the early
80’s, Cool Breeze was known as the place to play. The location
between Baton Rouge and New Orleans was fertile ground for young
musicians eager for the chance to be the next Wynton Marlais or
Harry Connick Jr. The place was never much to look at, but it was
never about the appearance. It was always about the music.
The front bar was usually the hub of activity
at that time of day. Mona, an overly sweet single mother who didn’t
really have the temperament to deal with unruly customers, was
manning the bar as usual.
She was tall with dark feathered hair and
sparkling eyes. As I was about to pass, those eyes pleaded with me
to stop. I could barely hear her say, “That’s our manager
A smallish man who resembled a black Barney
Fife turned and stumbled over to me. He wore a gray t-shirt, faded
blue jeans, and an old welders cap. With the way he smelled, I
would have offered him money to find a shower.
“I gave her a twenty dollar bill and all she
gave me was change for a ten. I knows how much money I got and I
knows how much I gave her. I want my change,” he slurred.
I looked at Mona. She shrugged her shoulders
and showed me the dirty, wrinkled ten-dollar bill.
“Sir, I think maybe you made a mistake.”
“Are you calling me a liar? I ain’t never had
no problems like this here. The customer always right. Don’t you
know nothing? I been coming here since before you was a thought in
your daddy’s eye. I want satisfaction.”
With a smile on my face I said, “Sir, if
you’d like, I can come back there and pour you another drink and
you can tell me about the good old days.”
He gritted his teeth and continued to wait
for me to cave. When I didn’t, he agreed. He mumbled something as
he sat back down at the bar.
I walked around the bar and poured him a
drink and asked, “So did you ever hear Miles play here?”
“What? Did I?” he paused and sipped his
drink. “You too young to know nothing about Miles. I’ll tell you
one thing. He was the coolest dude to ever walk the planet. The
only thing he ever got in a hurry for was a female, you know.
Always sharp and always cool. Cool Breeze, you know what I’m
He downed the rest of his drink and headed
outside. The club had only been open for an hour or so. He must
have been waiting on the steps to get inside as soon as the key was
Mona smiled and said, “You have a gift. Do
you know that?”