Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My Interview with Amy Reade

It's not everyday you meet someone that you just "take" to.

I met Amy Reade at the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival a couple weeks back,
a four-time published author of the mystery persuasion, we instantly hit it off.

Then ... when I found out she interviews authors on her very popular blog, I begged pleaded and groveled to be invited.

And I was.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Perfect Saturday

Saturday, August 26, 2017.

Few days in my life turned out as good as today: the birth of my children, the birth of my grandchildren, becoming a published author, marrying the woman Fate had in mind, and a warm summer afternoon with my wife, my dogs, and my fourth grandchild.

Maggie is babysitting her first grandchild today (my fourth), and although he is not my blood, he is my grandchild nonetheless—#4 to be exact. So today I sat back and watched Maggie take the persona of Grandmom, Nana, Granny, and a multitude of other names for the one who delights in taking care of their offspring’s offspring. I liken it to being happier than a pig in s#*!.

“Grandma.” The word evokes images of gray-haired old ladies sitting in rockers, knitting shawls and blankets and sweaters. Not in my house. Maggie is young. Younger than me. And beautiful. But she stresses about babysitting her first-born grandson.

Maggie wants so badly to be the Grand-mom she thinks she should be. What she doesn’t realize is, she’s already that Grand-mom. I watch her hover over that baby like a Guardian Angel, keeping him away from things that might harm him or make him cry … like Murphy, our 105-lb Chocolate Lab. Murphy would never intentionally harm the baby, and would probably risk his own life to protect him, but his sheer size, like a furry dinosaur, intimidates the child. But as the day progressed, the baby decided he liked Murphy, and the two of them got along famously as they shared toys in the kiddy pool.

As the sun beat down on the backyard, Maggie directed me to transplant the large beach-type umbrella covering the picnic table to the spot where I set up the kiddie pool. It was easier than draining the pool, moving it, and filling it again, so no problem.

Afterward I sat back on the back deck, taking in the blue of the sky, the reach of the trees, and the perfect summer day God had given me to enjoy the Blessings He had bestowed upon me: a good wife, my fourth grandchild, a good living, a great dog, and health enough to appreciate it all.

I pray that our Lord similarly blesses all those reading this blog.

Best Regards,

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Interview

Last week, I had the pleasure to interview with Linda Thompson of The Authors Show. She spent about thirty minutes with me for a chat that will air Monday December 12 at Midnight, and will run for 24 hours. www.theauthorsshow.com  

Several days later, after she read the book, she wrote me.
Hi DB,
OMG man, The Lesser Sin was one of the best books I've read in a long time. Gritty, gory, and horrific in places, it also shouted the need for understanding of the victim, the need for real justice, not what currently serves as such. Below is the review I've written and posted on my favorite sites. I could not find it on Kobo, so you might want to place your book on that site as well. Please feel free to use this review as part of your marketing endeavors.
Please, please, please bring Hanna back, and let me know when the next one is available.

Her review follows.

The Lesser Sin
It’s been many years since I’ve read a book that was at the same time captivating yet disturbing, violent yet compassionate. DB Corey’s. The Lesser Sin kept me up at night needing to see what was coming next, and would wake me from a nightmare about Daemon. The character development in this novel is outstanding and Corey’s writing can easily be compared with that of John Sanford, Michel Connelly and even Patricia Cornwell. The way this book ends leads me to believe that we will hear from Hanna again in a sequel to The Lesser Sin. There are a lot of subtleties in this book that may raise a few eyebrows, particularly when Corey writes about the inadequacies of our justice system and rules of law. Personal beliefs aside, the longer you let these ideas roll around in your head, the more they begin to click. While I do not condone vigilante justice, nor do I believe Hanna’s way is ideal, I do believe that change is needed. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a genuinely good thriller full of suspense, intrigue, and a truly believable story line. I can only hope this is only the tip of the iceberg for a very good author.
~ Linda Thompson, Host of www.TheAuthorsShow.com

See what Linda means when she says: 

“… captivating yet disturbing, violent yet compassionate.”

“…subtleties in this book … may raise a few eyebrows.” 

Best Regards,

Website - www.dbcorey.com
Twitter - @dbcorey
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DB Corey Author FB site bit.ly/DBCorey-Author

The Lesser Sin - http://amzn.to/2b1zJjM
Chain of Evidence - http://amzn.to/1O73tnT

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Being Young, Being Old

I stumbled across a YouTube book review vlog today written and recorded by Emily CaitShe reviewed a collection of short stories and essays, The Opposite of Loneliness, by the late Marina Keegan. The theme was one of youth, and Emily found that refreshing as many young writers attempt to write “old.” Beyond their years. I thought about that for a few minutes, comparing memories from my youth to those of my age now, and odd as it may sound, I decided that I prefer being old, and relish the fact that I managed to survive my youth.

Marina Keegan wrote about being young, but experiencing old things like her old car, handed down by her grandmother. She wrote about finding it full of memories as she cleaned it out to pass it on, according to Emily. My youth was full of old cars as well, but not hand-me-downs like hers. Mine were clunkers that had seen better days. They were full of memories too, none of them good. Leaking tires, worn-out hoses, over-heating engines, I found no fond memories there. I could write about that aspect of my life now—now that I am old. I suppose that young writers, should they endeavor to write “old,” need to take a bit of creative license as they expound on things they had not learned or experienced. I imagine they have to if they are to write about years they have not lived. They have yet to fully experience life and have little to draw on. To write, one need experience stuff.

Someone asked me in an interview why I waited so long to write my first novel. I replied that I wouldn’t have been able to write it any sooner. I wasn’t smart enough. George Bernard Shaw once said, “Youth is wasted on the young.”  I didn’t quite get that when I was young. How could I? I was never old. But I am now, and to be honest, I like it better. I’d love to have the younger body for sure, but I would find the lack of experience that comes with youth, off-putting.  

Best Regards,

Website - www.dbcorey.com
Twitter - @dbcorey
DB Corey on Facebook - tinyurl.com/mltv6rs 
DB Corey Author FB site bit.ly/DBCorey-Author

The Lesser Sin - http://amzn.to/2b1zJjM

Chain of Evidence - http://amzn.to/1O73tnT

Sunday, April 17, 2016

DB Corey's Infrequent Newsletter - Vol. 2 March 2016

DB Corey's
Infrequent Newsletter!
No SPAM - All The Time

Vol. 2 
March 2016 
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The Infrequent News


Some months ago, my publisher, Intrigue, told me that Harlequin Publishing was interested in re-releasingChain of Evidence for their Worldwide Library Worldwide Mystery Collection.

I always thought of Harlequin as a publisher of Romance novels. Shows what I know. It seems they cover every genre across the spectrum.

I am flattered, to say the least.

Proof of Death… 
His retirement and what's left of his career are at stake. But Detective Sergeant Moby Truax is determined to prove his young captain wrong. Truax is convinced the recent deaths of beautiful young women are the work of a copycat, not the serial killer he's been pursuing. There's nothing to link these victims to the older women who'd already lost their lives to the Cyanide Killer…despite the evidence. 
The case is tangled enough without FBI special agent Frances Vecchio interfering. Especially when her unorthodox methods set Truax against Baltimore's ruthless power brokers…and goad a savage murderer to up his game. Now Truax must put his instincts in play to save innocent lives—even as an obsessed killer lies in wait to take his…

Novel #2 Is Ready!

The Lesser Sin 
(Sneak Peak Here)

The next effort is complete, edited and everything, and as you can see, I've decided on a title (Thanks Maggie).

Since Harlequin took such an interest in my 1st novel, I thought I'd see how they felt about my 2nd before self-publishing. 

The Lesser Sin - a tale of a murdered woman, a corrupt judicial system, and a sister driven to right the wrong done her family. 

Hanna Braver is a CIA sniper in the service of her country. A devout Catholic, she prays for forgiveness with every enemy life she takes. But when the judicial system bends the rules to acquit her sister’s killer, she crosses the line and seeks from God, through her childhood priest, permission to carry out the death sentence he so richly deserves. For the sake of her immortal soul, the priest denies her absolution for a sin she has yet to commit. Furious with the priest, with God, and the Church, she ignores the priest’s counsel and sets out to avenge her sister.
I hate SPAM as much as anyone, so you will get none from me. 
Only cool stuff.

Best Regards, 

If you wish to continue receiving this highly infrequent and rarely published newsletter, you can officially SUBSCRIBE at the bottom. However, if you feel you couldn’t possibly read another super entertaining and informative mailing, you can officially UN-subscribe at the bottom as well. 
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Hanover, MD 21076

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Kindergarten Church

I attend church almost every Sunday with Maggie because she “suggests” that I go. She says if I want to be with her in Heaven for all Eternity, I should be more diligent.

I asked if I could sleep on it.

And so it is that every Sunday, I follow her to the far side of the pews on the left, genuflect, and slip sideways into a seat. Here, I must tell you that Maggie has a knack of selecting the one pew in the entire church that is, in my opinion, flawed in one way or another. Either the kneeler isn’t quite right, or the sun blasts through the stained glass window as a warning of things to come, or there is a nearby child, or two, or three, just waiting for Mass to begin so they can test their new and ever improving vocal chords.

Now before you condemn me to Hell for hating children, let me point out that I have four beautiful grandchildren that I love dearly and that nothing is farther from the truth. I love children. Just not in church. I know I know … it’s not their fault. I understand it’s hard for the little ones to stay still for an entire hour that most adults would slit their wrists to avoid. But the parents— They should know better. Taking a screaming child out of the church would do wonders for their Immortal Soul.

Mine too.

So today, Maggie selected a pew two rows from the back. That was good. It made for a quick getaway. Because beside us, and in the pew behind us, sat two & three year-old children with their respective parents, and I was smack dab in the middle of them. I nudged Maggie and nodded.

“They’re just babies,” she said, her blue eyes blazing with Hellfire and Brimstone. “You should be more tolerant. Especially in church.”

I must admit, the two little girls in our pew were very cute and well behaved, but Mass hadn’t started yet, and I fully expected that when it did, all He— All heck would break loose. Then a young family seated themselves in the pew in front of us with their two young girls, settling in directly in front of the children in our pew. I was outnumbered.

I heard their mother call them by name: Sadie, a little brunette with a green-print pullover, and Sophia, a demure strawberry-blonde in pink. Mom pulled out a large baggie containing two well-used coloring books and a smaller bag of crayons; some broken in half, all rounded on the ends. She whispered something to her girls and flipped down a kneeler. Using it as a seat, the two transformed the pew into their own private desk and started the very serious work of keeping within the lines.

It wasn’t a moment later that Sade and Sophia were whispering with the two little girls in my pew, peeking through the space in the bench, sharing their coloring books and crayons, a couple toys, and just having a grand ol’ time. I couldn’t help but smile. Then I noticed Maggie was smiling at me. Apparently, there’s hope for me still.

Toward the end of Mass, the girls had tired of their Kindergarten Church, but by then it made little difference. The priest was wrapping it up and folks were gathering their things and their children, and no doubt looking forward to a little breakfast and their Sunday morning shows when they got home.

I know I was.
Have a wonderful, and tolerant, week.

Best Regards,

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

JUDAS: Heaven? Or Hell.

The 5th Sunday of Lent. Easter is upon us. And today, as Maggie and I step into our tiny neighborhood church for Mass, the organist, as she does around this time every year, plays a montage from the album Jesus Christ Superstar (c. 1970), a rock opera with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice.

It’s a personal favorite.

Depending on your age, you may or may not have heard this amazing work. If you haven’t, do yourself a favor. Check it out. Easter season is the perfect time.

The opera is loosely based on the final week of the life of Jesus Christ, and is told (sung) from the standpoint of Judas Iscariot, one of Christ’s chosen twelve apostles and the one who betrays Him with a kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Judas’s actions, according to scripture, led directly to Christ’s crucifixion. Now, every Christian on the planet knows that Jesus died on the cross for the salvation of Mankind. Moreover, according to The Bible, it was the primary reason for his existence here on Earth, eclipsing his role as Messiah, and that of setting the foundation for the Christian faith. Saving Man was his specific reason for being here. So, as I do every year around this time, put on the opera and revisit Judas’s role in the saga, debating with myself as to his fate.

I believe that had the death of Christ occurred earlier, within the realm of The Old Testament, I’m guessing Judas may not have been given the opportunity to hang himself, should the decision to betray Christ had been of his own Free Will. In The Old Testament, God reigned as an angry and vindictive god, and probably would have drowned him, or fire-bombed him from the sky. That’s just my opinion, of course, but that’s how I see the difference between the Old and New Testaments.

But since the New Testament was the overarching guide at the time, it tells us that Judas hangs himself in remorse for his betrayal of the Son of God. It reports that he betrayed Christ in a deliberate and premeditated act for thirty pieces of silver and did so of his own Free Will; Free Will being the gift from God that allows Man (or Woman) to make their own decisions in this world. But in spite of the assertion that Free Will was in full effect, and that God knew of Judas’s scheme but did not “direct” him in his role, there are some who see Judas as a pawn in the sacrifice of Christ, simply because Christ’s destiny was to die for the sins of Man, suggesting that God, in effect, needed a fall guy.

If one takes Judas’s act of betrayal as one of Free Will, one can understand why he would burn in Hell; and I did for the longest time, until the advent of this opera which put an entirely different spin on the episode for me. If Christ’s purpose here was as a sacrifice for the sins of Man, one could assume that the role Judas played in the crucifixion of the Son of God was preordained, and therefore, could not have been an act of Free Will, thus letting Judas off the hook. But Judas hung himself afterward, before Christ died for our sins; so if he died before he could have been forgiven, did he indeed descend into Hell? Moreover, suicide is a sin worthy of Hell’s fire, so given that, there are now two reasons why Judas would burn.

However, if Judas was simply the catalyst in the grand scheme of Man’s salvation, if he was part of the machinery that was set in motion to save us sinners, would God not have considered that and treated him as such? Thereby allowing that Judas’s act of betrayal was part of the master plan—and forgiven him?

Maybe. But what about his suicide? Was that part of the design? Or was the decision to hang himself solely a result of Free Will on Judas’s part? Thereby condemning him to Hell, anyway?

In the opera, as in The Bible, Jesus prays in Gethsemane, doubtful and troubled at his role in God’s plan to save Mankind.

“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me…”

This suggests that Christ’s sacrifice had been preplanned by a higher authority, and if Christ had no say in it, how could Judas?

Something to think about next time you’re in church.

Happy Easter, and Best Regards,

Website - www.dbcorey.com
Twitter - @dbcorey
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Harlequin’s re-release of Chain of Evidence

Monday, November 23, 2015

DB Corey's Infrequent Newsletter - Vol. 1

DB Corey's
Infrequent Newsletter!
No SPAM - All The Time

Vol. 1
View this email in your browser

The Infrequent News

Hey Guys & Dolls,

I've heard that readers are curious as to when my next book is coming out. They want to know what it’s about, what the title is, where they can get a copy. So in an effort to stay in touch with those fine folks, I have decided to utilize a tried and true irritant.

I, as much as anyone, hate the daily bombardment of info-whatevers pushing merchandise I do not want, services I do not need, and a plethora of miscellaneous items I would have to switch genders to use; but considering that some of you actually want to know about the progress I am making with the new manuscript, not to mention when it will be available as a paperback or an ebook, I’ve decided to employ that most dreaded form of communiquethe newsletter.

I thought this the most efficient, most vilified, method to keep those who want to know, informed. I do not intend to send on a daily, or weekly, or even a monthly schedule, but only as events with the manuscript warrant. I’ll keep it informative and interesting, and maybe toss in a bit of humor here and there.

Should you care to continue receiving these infrequent, yet most enlightening and brilliantly written literary works concerning developments and/or setbacks of my next book, please sign up HERE. I promise not to bombard you with a bunch of worthless crap.

And so, moving right along—

Some of you may already know that I have spent a year writing #2. What you maynot know is that I spent another year looking for an agent; a year that turned out to be a total waste of time. So, after trading sea-stories with several authors at the C3 writers conference in Baltimore, I decided to self-publish this one.

On the recommendation of a fellow author who actually makes money, I hired a professional editor and the manuscript (title undecided) is now in his capable hands. I am reviewing his feedback and applying changes as needed. Next step- the final edit. That will begin in three-to-four weeks, just in time to remove more $$$
 from my wallet before Christmas. But it's worth the money to publish a quality novel, and I will keep everyone posted on its progress ... assuming you sign up for DB Corey's Infrequent Newsletter.  

In Case You're Curious:
The story centers around a woman of Faith. A Catholic girl. She is a warrior, a CIA sniper in the Afghan war. Her sister is brutally murdered and the killer is released on insufficient evidence. Needless to say, the Catholic girl is pissed.

Now, I am contemplating several titles for the new novel and I seek your opinion on which of the following you would like to see on the cover.
Possible titles:

"A Lesser Sin"

“Bless Me, Father”

“For I Have Sinned”

“Into Eternal Fire"

I thought some of you might like a look at my workshop. It's nothing special, not the big studio some name writers have. But it's cozy, and works for me.

That's Zeake beside the desk. I've written him into the next novel.
But I must warn you....
It's sad, because it's true.

Please drop me a line with your preference,
or, if you have a suggestion for something better, let me know.
If I use it, you'll get a credit mention for the title, along with a PERSONALIZED COPY of the novel, my compliments. I'll even pay the shipping.

I hate SPAM as much as anyone, so you will get none from me.

Only cool stuff.

Best Regards, 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Where IS the Power, Really?

As I frequently do between 3 and 4 AM, I found myself running lines of prose through my semi-lucid brain, watching them come and go serially one after the other. Normally that’s not enough to keep me awake. I just let them go, until I start stringing them together into concepts. Then I reach the point where I have to get out of bed and fire up the laptop.

I spent the better part of the last two weekends producing a new trailer for CHAIN OF EVIDENCE, although I did manage to slice out a bit of time for little ghosts & goblins prowling the neighborhood last Saturday night. The old trailer was okay, but it didn’t have the pop I thought it should. Then I had the idea to produce a trailer that was more along the lines of a commercial; you know, like those you hear promoting Patterson or King’s new novel booming from the car’s speakers, by an announcer with a deep voice accompanied by a riveting dramatic score. 

Yeah … that'll cost.
I can hear the cash register now.

There’s a ton of royalty-free material on the internet ranging from music to photos to videos, and even if some cost a few bucks, the prices are not prohibitive; so why run radio commercials when social media is free for the most part. I have an okay voice; at least Maggie says I do—says it’s sexy. I don’t know about all that, but what I hear in my head compared to what I hear on a recording are two different voices. However, I found that early in the morning my voice is a bit deeper, so I decided to get up before everyone else, when the house was quiet, and do the whole thing myself. 

But I digress.

I decided to use the first scene from the book. I found a two-minute dramatic score that I could match to the cadence of the writing, and breaking the sound bites into smaller, more manageable “clips” worked out well, but I found I had to edit the prose to make it really pop! There’s nothing like a little editing to reveal a better way to write a line or two of prose.

I’ve been working with an editor on my current effort, and he pointed something out that just made all the difference regarding the power of the written word, that intangible element that keeps readers turning pages, something every writer strives for. And it’s so simple.

Writers tend to write the way they talk to some degree. When we tell a story to a group of friends, we list all the elements, and then summarize for their benefit, just to insure they get the gist of the story. He pointed out that I do the same thing when I write.

I offer it here.

The Example:
I made my way to the exit and listened for the sounds that I expected to hear. Frantic cries for help among a cacophony of confusion. And when I heard them, I turned to look as anyone might. I watched the bouncers push through the crowd, saw them knock people aside as they rushed to her. And among the music and the screaming, the dancing and the panic, I knew what the bouncers did not. I knew she was dead before she hit the floor.

Now remove the last, summarizing, sentence:
I made my way to the exit and listened for the sounds that I expected to hear. Frantic cries for help among a cacophony of confusion. And when I heard them, I turned to look as anyone might. I watched the bouncers push through the crowd, saw them knock people aside as they rushed to her. And among the music and the screaming, the dancing and the panic, I knew what the bouncers did not.

THIS … is where the power is.

In the first example, the antagonist is telling the reader that he knows what the bouncers do not. At this point, the reader doesn't know either, but then, the writer (me) blows it and lets the reader in on it, destroying the tension the passage has built. Curiosity lost. Ho-hum … where’s my bookmark?

It’s a cool line ‘n all, but it kills the edge-of-your-seat mood. Maybe the reader turns the page, maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he inserts a book mark and goes to bed, and that’s tragic for a thriller writer.

So, I removed that line from the trailer, and if I decide to publish a next edition, I’ll remove it from the novel as well.

I’d love to know what you think of the trailer. 
Drop me a line at db_corey@hotmail.com, or just leave a comment. 
I like those too.

Best Regards,

Website - www.dbcorey.com
Twitter - @dbcorey
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Friday, October 30, 2015

A Must-Read Halloween Story for Parents of Teenage Girls


DB Corey

Tony DeNelli had nothing against Halloween—for the little ones. Halloween was for children—not teenagers, so when his only teenage daughter announced that she and her friends intended to Trick-or-Treat again this year, Tony got a minor case of the ass.
“You ain’t a kid no more. You and your friends are too old for Trick-or-Treat and all you’re gonna do is get yourselves in trouble.”
But his objection was overruled by his wife, Heather’s mother, so Tony conceded the outing but little else. Two days later, when Halloween rolled around, Tony treated it like any other night. He was one to catch a couple hours sleep before going in on the evening shift, so that’s what he did Halloween evening.
When he awoke, he felt restless, anxious, and stepping into the kitchen, found Heather dressed in her costume. Tony did not like what he saw.
            His wife Connie spoke first. “How’d you sleep?”
            “Not worth a shit.” Then he gestured to Heather’s costume with a dark look. “What the hell is this?”
“This is my costume, Daddy,” Heather beamed. “Like it?”
“You look like a whore.”                                                  
The sparkle in Heather’s eyes dimmed with her smile. “I’m old enough,” she said.
Anyone who knew Tony, knew what was coming next.
“You’re old enough when I say you’re old enough, which you ain’t. Go change.
You can go out, but you ain’t goin’ out dressed like that.”
Heather’s faced stretched as her eyes widened and her jaw dropped.     
Wha—? Why? Why not?
“Because I said so, that’s why.”   
“But Daddy…”                  
“Tony, it’s just a costume.”                                   
“She looks like a slut Connie          and she ain’t goin’ out lookin’ like that.”                  
“But Daddy, all my friends—”      
“I don’t give a shit what your friends do. I ain’t raisin’ them! Now, if you wanna to go trick or treatin’, change into something more presentable for a fourteen year-old girl or you ain’t goin’. You will not leave this house lookin’ like that.”
Anger flashed on Heather’s face. She stormed out making all the disgruntled noises that teenage girls make when they can’t get their way and made a point of stomping up the stairs to her room.
“Tony, really.” Connie said. “Don’t you think you’re going just a little overboard? I mean, she’s growing up. She just wants to be like everybody else her age. Jennifer is going as a sexy nurse. It’s no big deal.”
“What the hells-a-matter with you, Connie? Did you see that costume? She looks like a freaking hooker! Wearing a skirt up to her crotch with her ass cheeks hanging out.”                  “She has short-shorts on underneath, Tony. Nothing shows.”
“Jesus Christ, Connie! I don’t care! That top was too low-cut for a girl built like her. Half of her was bulgin’ out. She’s fourteen, for Christ’s sake, not twenty-four. Do you know what dressing like that says to boys? To men?”
Connie’s tone hardened. “No, Tony, I don’t! Why don't you fill me in?”
“It says she can be hadthat’s what it says.”    
“Oh for God’s sake! You’re such a Neanderthal. That kind of archaic thinking went out a long time ago.”
“You believe that, huh? What fucking planet did you come from? I don’t give a shit what them feminist bitches say. Men are men. Period! And if they see a woman—or a girl—dressed like her? You better believe they’re going to think she puts out!”
“I think you’re being too strict.”
“Too strict? She wants to look like those half-naked women on those damn music videos. They all look like tramps! The revealing clothes and the grinding against each other, damn near havin’ sex right in front of everybody! I let her dye her hair blonde, didn’t I? Makes her look cheap, but I let her do it anyway … just to keep the peace.”
“I’m a blonde. You think I look cheap?”
“You’re a full-grown woman, capable of making adult decisions. She’s a teenager who ain’t.”
Connie gave him a cross look. “Yeah … Well I’m beginning to wonder about your decisions.”
“Don’t get wise. She ain’t goin’ out looking like no whore and that’s it.”
“Well?” Heather said, interrupting her parents as she ambled into the kitchen. “Is this okay?”
She had slipped into dark gray sweatpants and a light gray sweatshirt stained with “blood,” that matched red trickling down from the corners of her mouth. She performed a pirouette, mocking her father’s overbearing and uninformed attitude. He let it slide.
“That’s better. Be home by nine-thirty.”
“Nine-thirty? But all my friends…”
“It’s a school night.”         
Jesus, Dad! Why can’t I just this once—”
“Do you want me to make it nine, young lady? Just keep arguing with me.”
Heather unleashed an exaggerated eye-roll expressing her displeasure with her father and turned on her heel. “Fine!” she snapped, and set off on the three-block walk to Jennifer’s house. “You always ruin my fun!” The door slammed behind her as she stormed out in a huff.
Tony glared through the door for a moment as if it wasn’t there, debating whether he should drag her back considering her display of blatant disrespect. But he decided that would just make things worse. He let it go and turned to his wife.
“Look, Connie, I know you mean well, and it’s not her I don’t trust. She’s a great kid … except for the occasional backtalk.” He offered a withering smile. “It’s just that every time I turn on the TV or the radio, I hear about another young woman who disappeared, only to be found days later … dead. Some of those girls are in their twenties. What the hell does a fourteen-year-old know? Nothing! That’s what! She thinks life’s one big social event. She ain’t got the street smarts to avoid danger.”
“She just wants to have a little fun.”
“She can have all the fun she wants without drawing that kind of attention to herself. Most guys are civilized enough to let it go when they hear the word, ‘no.’ They ain’t the ones I worry about. There are animals out there that don’t bother to ask. They just take what they want. I ain’t havin’ my only daughter beaten and raped—or worse—‘cause of the way she’s dressed. And you know damn well I’m right.”
Okay! Okay! You’ve made you point! Can we just drop it?”     
“Yeah … sure.”                             
Connie’s expression softened. She moved to her husband, threw her arms around his thick neck, and gave him a hug. “I know you want to protect her, but she can’t live in a bubble. She has to experience life on her own terms. We did. She’ll be fine, ok? Now, since you didn’t sleep well, why don’t you lie down and take a nap before you go in. You’re grouchier than usual.”

Three hours later Tony climbed from bed, washed his face, and decided he should have a little more faith in his daughter. He trotted downstairs feeling every bit the overbearing parent she thought he was. He walked into the kitchen and looked around, but didn't see Heather.
“Where is she?” he said to Connie, suppressing a newfound anxiety. “It’s ten-thirty….”
“Oh, I’m sure she’s at Jen’s rooting through all her goodies. She should be home soon.”
Now Tony felt overbearing had its place. “Call her cell and tell her to get her ass home. She’s in big trouble.”
“Jesus, Tony.…”
Connie huffed a bit more, but this time, Tony didn’t budge. She picked up the wall phone in the kitchen and dialed a number. A few seconds later she hung up and dialed again.”
“What’s wrong?”
“It’s going directly to her voicemail. I told her not to turn off her—”
“Call Jennifer’s house.”                                                     
Connie, now teetering on the edge of minor panic, offered no argument. She dialed a new number.
“Hi, Sandy. This is Connie. Is Heather still there?”          
… A long pause.
“No, she’s not here. I.… No. What time? Nine fifteen? And Heather wasn’t with her? Oh my God! No, no, Sandy. That’s. … No. Look, I’m sorry, I have to go.”
As Tony listened to his wife’s conversation with Jennifer’s mother, every muscle in his body tensed as if the weight of the world had just descended upon him. Connie hung up the phone, her face ashen. She looked up at Tony—the sudden terror in her eyes unmistakable. With her heart in her throat, she managed to force out the words.
“I think we better call the police.”
Two uniformed officers spent an hour questioning Tony and Connie as to Heather’s description, her dress, her plans, and her state of mind when she left. The officers glanced at one another when they found Tony and his daughter had argued before she left the house. Finishing their interview with Heather's folks, the two officers made a beeline to Jennifer’s house.
They arrived to find a hysterical teenager, sitting on a kitchen chair in the middle of the living room, being interrogated by anxious red-faced parents on the edge. It was a scene right out of a noir novel. All that was missing was the harsh overhead lamp.
The cops separated Jennifer from her worked-up parents, calming the scene. Then they took Jennifer aside.
“Tell us what happened, Miss.”
Jennifer settled herself enough to talk to the officers, now that her parents had deferred to the two cops. “She made me promise not to tell. She was mad at her father. She told me she would be home in time. We met these guys.…”
What guys?” her father bellowed.
“Please, Mr. Browning. Let us ask the questions, sir. Jennifer. Tell us about the guys you met.”
Jennifer bit a quivering lower lip. “We had just left my house … ten minutes, maybe. A car pulled up next to us and these guys asked us if we wanted to go to a party. Heather wanted to go, but I told her I didn’t think it was a good idea, but she said she was going with or without me and her father couldn’t tell her what to do anymore. I didn’t think she would really go without me, but she got in the car and they drove away.”
Jennifer fell into hysterics as she continued to detail as much as she could remember about the guys and the car. When the cops got all they were going to get from her, they went back to Heather’s house to talk to her parents.

“Apparently, Mr. DeNelli, Heather accepted an invitation from several young men to go to a party. She wanted Jennifer to go, but Jennifer knew her father wouldn’t approve. So, Heather went by herself. Jennifer said Heather was angry with you. Did something happen here that we need to know about?”           

Two hours later, after Tony filled them in, the police left. Night turned into day. The police began combing the surrounding area at dawn, waiting only that long to begin the search in the expectation that the angry teenager would show up at home by then. Day turned to night and back into day with no results. Several days passed before a knock came at the door.  
“Mr. and Mrs. DeNelli, I am Detective Burns. May I have a minute of your time?”
At the urging of the distressed parents, Burns stepped into the house and showed them a picture of a nearly naked young blonde woman, found just after sunup that morning. Her skimpy costume dress was gathered around her waist and her top lay in tatters beside her, torn from her body. She had been raped and beaten beyond recognition, and dried blood painted her throat from where it had been slit.
“I was hoping that you might be able to help us out here. This costume. Can you tell me if this is what your daughter wore that evening?”
Tony’s eyes devoured the photo as he held it in his hands. “No,” he said, denial weighing heavy in his answer. “She was wearing sweats. Not a costume like this. I would never let her go out wearing something like this.”
"We found sweat pants and a sweatshirt nearby."
Physical pain registered on Tony’s face as his heart leapt into his throat. He looked again and recognized the costume he forced Heather to change out of, and as he conceded the body’s similarity to his daughter, horror took him. He pulled the color 8 x 10 photo to his chest and began to sob.          
“Couldn’t you at least have covered her up with something?” Tony cried. “Allowed her some dignity?”    
Detective Burns stared at Tony and began to laugh, and enormous teeth shown from a half-moon grin that distorted his face like some horrific Jackolantern.
Dignity? The way she’s dressed? Dignity? She looks like a whore! Just like you said! She got what she was asking for, and it’s your fault!
The cop began to shake Tony with all his strength, as if to rattle some sense into him. “What kind of father are you?” He screamed, launching spittle from his mouth in flyaway strings. “What kind of father are you…. What kind of father—”
Then from somewhere distant, Connie’s voice floated in, layered atop the chaos.
“Honey? Honey? Are you okay?” she called, shaking her husband, trying to wake him.
Tony bolted upright, wide-eyed as his wife shook him. The sheets were soaked with his sweat and he trembled with terror. Dazed, he looked around, uncertain of his whereabouts or what was happening.
“Tony? You all right, honey?”
“I … I ain’t sure.”
“You were having night terrors … calling out. Jesus Tony … you’re crying!”
       Tony wiped the tears from his face and swung his legs out of bed. Stumbling into the bathroom, he drenched his face in cold water. He stared at the mirror and saw a terrified man. Slowly he began to realize it had all been a dream. He walked back into the bedroom and told his wife what little he could remember of his fading nightmare.
       “It was about Heather’” he said. “Something … bad happened.”
"Honey, she's fine. She's in her room. Go see for yourself."
Tony hurried to Heather’s room to see his only daughter sound asleep, her teddy bear curled up tight in her arms.
He began to weep.

A week later, Tony finished helping Connie with the dinner dishes. As they finished, Connie said, “Heather’s going out with Jennifer tonight, Tony.”    
“I don’t want her out too late.”
“She’ll be home on time. She’s a good kid.” Connie grinned at her husband. “Much better than you were at her age.”
At that moment, Heather popped into the kitchen. “I’m ready. I’m heading over to Jen’s.”
Tony took one look.
“You ain’t goin’ out dressed like that.”
“But Daddy…”
“No ‘buts’.”
“Tony, it’s just a costume.”
“She looks like a slut Connie and I ain’t lettin’ her go out like that.”                                     
“But Daddy, all my friends…”
“I don’t care what your friends do. Now, if you wanna to go trick or treatin’, change into something more presentable for a fourteen year-old girl or you can’t go. You ain’t leavin’ this house lookin’ like that.”
Heather stormed out making all the disgruntled noises that teenage girls make when they can’t get their way. She returned a few minutes later in gray sweats.
“Well?” Heather said as she reentered the kitchen. “Is this okay?”
“That’s much better. Be home by nine-thirty.”
“Nine-thirty? But everybody else…”
Something twisted Tony’s stomach, wringing it out like an old dishtowel as foreboding drained the color from his face. He looked at his wife, and the terror she saw in her husband’s eyes frightened her.
“On second thought,” he murmured, “I think I’m going with her.”