The head in the sink stared up at her. Darcy Monroe, the owner of a popular, chic hair salon was used to this. Only this time, the head was there without a body.
Chapter One: The Murder
As a Private Investigator, Jenna Preston had been hired to help solve murders, insurance fraud, cheating spouses and more. This was a new one for her.
She received what could only be described as a hysterical call from Darcy Monroe, owner of a popular, upscale hair salon in The Hamptons. A head without its body was rolling around in one of her shampoo basins.
Almost five-feet, five-inches tall, always looking taller in her two- or three-inch heels, Jenna had long red hair, blue eyes and was often seen driving around the East End in a white jeep, and in recent years, with her Irish setter sitting next to her.
Saturday, 6:10 A.M.
As a Private Investigator, Jenna Preston had been hired to help solve murders, insurance fraud, cheating spouses and more. This was a new one for her.
She received what could only be described as a hysterical call from Darcy Monroe, owner of a popular, upscale hair salon in The Hamptons.
A head without its body was rolling around in one of her shampoo basins.
Almost five-feet, five-inches tall, always looking taller in her two or three-inch heels, Jenna had long red hair, blue eyes and was often seen driving around the East End in a white jeep, and in recent years, with her Irish Setter sitting next to her.
As a well-respected private investigator in the area, she told the salon owner, “I’ll be right there, and don’t touch anything until the police arrive.”
Jenna knew they needed to secure the business as a crime scene and Coroner Doc Bishop and Head of Forensics Lara Stern had to be brought in as well.
“Troy, someone left a head, without the body, in a shampoo bowl at Darcy’s Salon. I’ll be there in about ten minutes.”
”Damn it, Jenna, I nearly spilled my coffee listening to this bizarre message. I’ll be there within the half hour. Meantime, I’ll ask Lara to get over there to check the crime scene for prints and other possible evidence and for Doc to arrange to bring the head to the morgue. We’ll want to look at it there, after he’s had a chance to determine how it was cut off and anything else he might find.”
Detective Johnson hung up.
He and Jenna had worked together and known each other for a long time. They clearly trusted each other. He knew she would follow police protocol at the crime scene.
Saturday, as always was an exceptionally busy day, “in season” at Darcy’s Salon, which is why she had gotten there so early. She always wanted the salon looking perfect, ready for stylists and clients, who this day had appointments beginning at 7 am.
Located off the main avenue of this posh resort at the East End of Long Island, less than ninety miles from Manhattan, the salon was known for catering to the rich and famous, as well as some of wanna-be customers, primping for weekend parties and fundraising events.
The salon was truly beautiful with warm color tones and soft matching leather client chairs facing gold (well, fake gold), trimmed mirrors. There was a reception area with the latest issues of fashion magazines from Paris and Rome, and a few of the more popular Hampton rags, like Dan’s Papers were spread out on a marble table, next to it a coffee machine offering gourmet flavored coffee and teas.
Most of the women who came to Darcy’s Salon had plenty of money, some from their own success, although others were arm candy for much older, wealthy men. Sometimes one of them would joke (maybe not) that they were “Dying To Be Beautiful” like some of the famous models and celebrities, many of who summered in the Hamptons.
“Jenna, you’ve seen how difficult and fussy they can be, and their egos—they’re constantly seeking confirmation of how beautiful they look. They want to come to a high-end salon, expecting to be treated like royalty. And believe me, we do.”
Darcy Monroe was only too glad to charge megabucks for her services since it included a whole lot of catering to their whims and demands. Beauty could indeed be expensive in The Hamptons. The chatter amongst the clients, the eight hair stylists, three manicurists and several assistants meant gossip was a basic ingredient of conversation. The story about the body without a head, and the head found in the salon, was sure to explode through The Hamptons. It certainly had all the elements of a soap opera.
“My god, Jenna, the gossip about this mess is going to be like a volcano spilling over this town.”
Kevin Larson swam in his pool nearly every morning. Going on sixty-five, he prided himself on being in good shape.
Walking toward the small pool house, off to the left of the pool, he noticed a light was on. He was certain he turned it off the night before. Strange, he thought.
Even stranger, lying in a different sort of pool—blood—was his long time friend and lover, fashion designer Andre Yellen. Yellen was stuffed into one of the gowns he had designed and a wearing a blond wig.
The gown had been auctioned off the night before at a huge Hamptons fundraiser.
People in the Hamptons were certainly dying to be beautiful.
Monday, 7:30 a.m.
Detective Troy Johnson was at Larson’s house when Jenna arrived. He had covered the victim with a large beach towel until the coroner and forensics arrived. [deleted “He and”] Sergeant Stan Miller, who had taken the call, accompanied him and was presently attempting to hold back the media. They had heard about Yellen’s death on the police scanner, and in no time, the active crime scene was quite a wild sight.
It was 6:30 A.M. when she had received the call from Johnson that he was on his way to Kevin Larson’s house: “Jenna, there’s been a murder. Designer Andre Yellen, the Fashion Queen, was found dead this morning at the home of movie mogul Kevin Larson. He gave her the address and exactly where it was located, “past the windmill at the edge of Southampton.”
“More like the situation was at the edge of reason,” Jenna thought.
“Jenna, they’re acting like a bunch of hungry vultures. Help! These are your people. Well, they’re reporters like you used to be. The homeowner is either in shock or just completely uncooperative except for telling me where and when he found Yellen’s body.”
Jenna sighed, “Sure, I can’t say no to such a lovely invitation.”
The death of Andre Yellen was big news.
Andre Yellen was squeezed—really, truly squeezed—into a beautiful ocean blue, sleeveless, silk gown he had designed and donated for a fundraiser the evening before. The size-8 dress was torn at all the seams. Yellen, in his early fifties, 5’9” and clearly out of shape, was more like a size-18-plus, and stuffed into a dress way, way too small for him.
As a designer for major celebrities for nearly twenty-five years, Yellen was a man about town who loved both the ladies and the men, or so it had been gossiped around the East End of Long Island, also known as The Hamptons.
After all, this is THE HAMPTONS, and all sorts of lifestyles are accepted, where choices are supposedly not judged, and relationships are not restricted by conventional boundaries. Unfortunately, there are always those determined to exercise their own brand of severe judgment.
However, there was no evidence this murder had anything to do with narrow minds. Not yet, anyhow. In fact, it wasn’t clear at all what this murder was about—or who had committed it.
Private Investigator Jenna Preston was familiar with many celebrities who lived or vacationed on the East End. Before becoming an investigative reporter, she was entertainment and social events reporter for the local daily paper and had interviewed quite a few of the “anointed” as she had once called them. Gossip columnists covered the rest.
Jenna was regularly hired by law firms, insurance companies and businesses for corporate fraud issues. She also had an arrangement and relationship with the local police—especially when it came to murder investigations. Some of the people she had once written about also tried to hire her for personal investigations and for, what she considered, ridiculous reasons. Such complaints included some new fence being too high or people walking on the beach in front of someone’s home.
Most of these cases she didn’t accept.
“For me, it’s about justice. We all have reasons, even life experiences motivating our passions. I have mine for what I do,” Jenna told a local reporter whose paper was doing a story on crime in The Hamptons.
Jenna had a solid reputation for being smart, resourceful and most definitely charming—without an attitude—which was different from many of the people who summered in The Hamptons.
She did love nice clothes, including the red shoes or red boots she almost always wore.
“Hey,” she laughed once when Troy made fun of her red shoes, “you wear a cowboy hat most of the time, so don’t make fun of me, Tex.”
Jenna and Troy worked together professionally almost as soon as she had become a licensed private detective. It was a small police force, often stretched thin during the summer season. Because they actually had few experienced investigators, he had requested and been given approval by his captain to use a discretionary fund to hire Jenna on an as-needed basis. She was often a member of his investigative team, usually for murders.
Lately, there didn’t seem to be any shortage of them.
Slender and almost 5’5,” yet always looking taller in her two- or three-inch heels, Jenna had long red hair, sometimes pulled back in a ponytail when she was working. She also had deep blue eyes. With more than a hint of spunk and mischief about her, she was definitely considered attractive.
M. Glenda Rosen is the author of The Woman’s Business Therapist: Eliminate the MindBlocks and RoadBlocks to Success, and award-winning My Memoir Workbook. For over fifteen years, she helped numerous authors develop and market their books, and presented writing programs in New York, The Hamptons, New Mexico and Carmel, California, on “Encouraging and Supporting the Writer Within You!” She's the founder and owner of a successful marketing and public relations agency for twenty-five years.
We think we know Emily Dickinson: the Belle of Amherst, virginal, reclusive, and possibly mad. But in A Loaded Gun, Jerome Charyn introduces us to a different Emily Dickinson: the fierce, brilliant, and sexually charged poet who wrote:
My Life had stood—a Loaded Gun—
Though I than He— may longer live
He longer must—than I—
For I have but the power to kill,
Without—the power to die—
Through interviews with contemporary scholars, close readings of Dickinson’s correspondence and handwritten manuscripts, and a suggestive, newly discovered photograph that is purported to show Dickinson with her lover, Charyn’s literary sleuthing reveals the great poet in ways that have only been hinted at previously: as a woman who was deeply philosophical, intensely engaged with the world, attracted to members of both sexes, and able to write poetry that disturbs and delights us today.
This book is like so many of Dickinson's poems—enigmatic. Charyn shows how the Belle of Amherst followed wherever her creativity guided her, never knowing where she'd end up. Yet at the same time, he makes sure to illustrate how she maintained a tight-fisted control over the boundaries of her tiny world throughout the course of her life.
Dickinson carefully fashioned a safe, homelike environment for herself, without a husband, free from society, in order to give free rein to her thoughts, allowing them to run wild inside her head. What a fascinating portrait of such an artist Charyn paints with each brushstroke of words. I love how he throws out there that genius never really dies, but is simply reborn. He imagines how Shakespeare's talent lying that was dormant in the ground for hundreds of years somehow arises and is given new life in the vessel of a 19th century female. If he's right, then we're all better for it.
It makes me wonder who will be next to carry the torch. And thanks to Charyn's thought-provoking question, I can't wait to find out.
Jerome Charyn was born and raised on the mean streets of the Bronx. He graduated cum laude from Columbia College. He has taught at Princeton, Columbia, Stanford, Rice, was Distinguished Visiting Professor at the City University of New York and is currently Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the American University of Paris. Charyn is a Guggenheim Fellow and has twice won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. His stories and articles have appeared in The Atlantic, Paris Review, Esquire, American Scholar, New York Review of Books, New York Times, Ellery Queen and many other publications. Charyn's most recent books are The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, I Am Abraham and Bitter Bronx: Thirteen Stories. His latest book is A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century.
Can a woman mired deep in the throes of grief have her heart and soul rallied by a therapy dog named Prozac who possesses supernatural wisdom and a canine Mensa IQ?
Meredith Mancuso is depressed. Ever since the death of her fiancé, she has shrunk from the world. Even with her successful writing career, she's not motivated to work. When her sister, Monica, begs for a favor, Meredith wants nothing more than to say no. But she’s ultimately roped into pet-sitting an orphaned Yorkshire terrier named Prozac.
Blessed with spiritual wisdom and a high IQ, Prozac is an active pet therapy dog. To heal broken-hearted Meredith, he rallies his fan club at Evergreen Gardens, an independent living facility, where he visits each week.
Prozac and the community of resilient older folks challenged by losses of their own propel Meredith, often against her will, back into the land of the living. Meredith learns that most people carry some sort of burden, but it's still possible to find meaning, purpose, and joy—and even love—along the way.
THE THING IS—a perfect read for fans of General Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romantic Comedy, and Dog and Pet Lovers!
Being a dog lover, I found this story to be very enjoyable. You gotta love the dog's name Prozac and how he'd hide in the toilet whenever he got scared. There were so many scenes that made me laugh! He's truly a special little dog, who provided the spark a woman suffering from depression needed to get going again.
I really connected with Prozac's role as a therapy dog at a senior living community. My aunt through marriage spent seven years in a nursing home and some of her roommates reminded me of characters in the book. It's amazing how true to life they were written. They felt so real, like I'd met them before in real life. (Although I never met one technically proficient enough to sync multiple iPads in order to watch more than one soap opera at the same time - what a hoot!)
In the end, Prozac brought so many lives together without even saying a word. Trust me if you're looking for a book that uplifts the spirit, then consider this a MUST read.
Prices/Formats: $5.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release: February 9, 2016
Publisher: Red Adept
ISBN: 9781940215587 Click to add to your Goodreads list.
About the Author
Kathleen Gerard writes across genres. Her work has been awarded many literary prizes and has been published in magazines, journals, widely anthologized and broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR). Kathleen writes and reviews books for Shelf Awareness. Kathleen's woman-in-jeopardy novel, IN TRANSIT, won "Best Romantic Fiction" at the New York Book Festival.