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Calm: Original Mystery Short Story

IN THE September 17 ISSUE

FROM THE 2011 Articles,
andContributors,
andMysteryrat's Maze
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by Dan McGuire

Calm is an original mystery short story by Bakersfield writer Dan McGuire that has never before been published.

I have never felt so calm. It’s strange, I know, with all the police business going on and the house being such a wreck, but calm is what I feel, and happy.

My life changed one week ago. My estranged daughter called me here in San Francisco. I don’t know how she found me but I was grateful. We hadn’t talked for more than 24 years. She said she was 49 years old and still living in Chicago. It had seemed like another lifetime and thought I would never see her again.

Her mother and I had never gotten along and my daughter had always blamed me. So be it. I wasn’t the easiest person to get along with but I was raised with certain strict tendencies and I expected the same of my family. While Angela, that’s my daughter, was going to college in Florida, her mom took our young son and left for good. Angela never understood why her Mom never tried to reach her but, like her mom’s note said; she wanted a new life of her own and didn’t want to be tied down with a crazy daughter and a no-account husband. Her mom had left the typed note on Angela’s dresser, so I think all these years Angela felt that she caused this family split. At the time, she had taken her anger out against me. This sudden phone call to reunite gave me great hope for our future again.

When I first saw her at the airport last night, I was amazed at how much she resembled her Mother. I could hardly speak at first. She had a stern face like her mom, and her eyes could see through a person, also like her mom. I never liked that trait and remembered how it caused me stress.

We stopped at a coffee shop and I ordered her old favorite, ham and eggs, but she said no. She was a vegan now. I sure didn’t train her that way. We chit-chatted about her new career, her new office and how her counseling center had won this and that award, but I could see she didn’t seem at ease. I couldn’t blame her. Who wants to get paid listening to people’s weaknesses all day?

When we got to my house last night she seemed shocked. I thought that seemed funny, because if she could find my phone number she surely could find where I lived and the Tenderloin isn’t the nicest place in the world, but at least I have a roof over my head, a TV, a computer, a phone and a bed. She finally got around to what I had figured she really wanted. She asked me about stuff that went on in my previous life with her mom and brother. I didn’t want to go there now. My life was finally in order and calm, and I didn’t like drumming up things, things that were unpleasant. When we started to argue I had the politeness to change the subject and then take my headache to bed. She said she would sleep on the couch and we could talk some more tomorrow.

Tomorrow has come. I could see where that crap was going last night and I could see she was just like her mother. She took pleasure in upsetting me and making me nervous. I did to her just what I had done to her mom and her stupid brother.

But this time was different. I’m tired. I don’t want to clean up this mess and try to find another place to live and start over again. This time I just called the cops and told them to clean it up themselves and I’d wait on them. And as I wait and write, it’s nice to feel so calm again.

If you love mysteries, why not check out Left Coast Crime:
Mystery Conference in Sacramento, March 29-April 1, 2012.Registration through 12/31/2011 is only $210 (it goes up to $225 after that). Registration information can be found at the conventionwebsite, or by sending an email to rb@robinburcell.com or cindy@cindysamplebooks.com.

Dan McGuire is a retired musician and music store owner, who is still passionate about playing keyboards with the Fat Daddy Blues Band and writing. His first novel, Barstow Blues, is currently being edited, while he works diligently on the second. Dan lives in Bakersfield with his wife and best friend, Amy.

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