The smoker took his last drag on his cigarette, which made the embers pulse, like a tiny heart. He flicked the cigarette away, and the glowing end spun in an erratic arc like some drunken firefly before it hit the ground and rolled momentarily before gravity and friction took hold. The hurried smoker didn’t miss a step as he quickly left the area where he discarded his cigarette. When he was about fifty feet away from the still-burning remains of his smoke, a shadowy figure emerged from behind one of the large maple trees in the park.

The mysterious man, dressed in mostly black, skittered like some two-legged crab and quickly and with gloved hands, picked up the cigarette, carefully tapping the glowing end of it on the ground. Once the cigarette was out, the man placed it in a plastic sandwich bag and labelled it. He did this several more times over the course of the evening and repeated a similar action when another person discarded his gum on the pavement.

The man’s name is Ned. Ned Strahan.


Dr. Donald (Donnie), Lutz’ iPhone, vibrated and moved slightly across his desk. He had been reviewing a paper written by one of his forensic science students and didn’t appreciate the interference or the distraction. Oddly, most people would have loved a reprieve from grading a paper, but not Lutz.

The caller ID displayed “King County Jail.” He was instantly alarmed. Curious, He answered the call.

“Donnie…You gotta help me. I swear I didn’t do it. I swear I didn’t kill that man in the park.”

And like that, after no contact for over three years, Adam, Lutz’ twin brother interjected himself back into Lutz’ life.

“This is my only call man…and I couldn’t think of anyone else to call. Can you help, please? The Arraignment Judge set my bail at one million dollars because of the brutality of the crime.”

“Holy shit! I haven’t heard from you since Janie and Dylan’s funeral. And now you need me to cough up 100 thousand dollars? I don’t think I can pull that kind of cash together, especially on short notice, but I’ll do everything possible to help you. I was wondering if you were even alive.”

“Thanks, Donnie. I understand and will take any help you can provide. I have a court-appointed lawyer, Angela Barnes…or maybe it is Braun…she is very young; but seems to be working hard for me so far. I’ll ask her to call you when I see her.”

Donnie heard the guard telling his twin to hang up the phone. “Donnie…I’ve got to go. Please help.”

The receiver clicked, and Donnie wept quietly at his desk.


(c) 2013 – 2016 – Darin Hartley


3 thoughts on “Prologue

  1. I am not sure how you would like a reply. My first inclination is to review it. If that is what you wish I will offer a few suggestions.

    “He was instantly alarmed and curious and ….” It may be an easier flow if you simplify the wording. ie: He was instantly alarmed. Curious, He answered the call.

    ‘100,000 dollars’ to be correct, possibly say: $100 thousand. You can spell it out, one hundred thousand, but it is not as easy to read.

    If you wrote this in present tense it would have a strong impact.

    These are just suggestions. Your story flows well and brings the reader into the story. I am anxious to see the next chapter.

    Please advise me on how you want responses. You are an established writer and this may be your voice, and the way you want the characters recognized.

    Judy Price


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