Excerpt
Dick Jones didn’t need any help to kill himself. He could end his misery all by
himself and was about to prove it.

He slid down the rear of his son’s headstone and landed on the warm summer
ground in the Lewisburg cemetery. Tears blurred his vision as he glanced up
at the cloud covered night sky. He curled his index finger around the trigger of
the handgun he had wrestled from a street punk, hours earlier after the kid
attempted to steal his car.

Without further hesitation or thought, Dick rammed the gun barrel between his
front teeth, clamped down hard, and squeezed his eyelids shut.
A drum roll came from an owl hooting nearby. More like screamed against his
eardrums when the thunder broke next to him.

Dick’s eyelids twitched, flickered, then flipped open. His watery eyes crossed
as they focused downward to his mouth still gripping the gun between his
teeth. He heard a car door shut and eased his stiff finger off the trigger.
He tilted his head in the direction of the sound, and the gun barrel slid from
his mouth. The right tip stuck fast to a corner of his dry upper lip, and he gave
a slight yank to set it free. He winced from the pull on his lip, then spotted a
woman moving next to the car that had thundered past him less than a minute
ago.

“Damn,” he cussed under his breath. How dare she interrupt his suicide
mission─prolong his misery?

She hurried around to the back of the sleek automobile. It looked like a
Cadillac. Maybe a Mercedes, but difficult for Dick to make a positive
identification from this distance, which he judged twenty or thirty feet─and it
was dark, even with some moonlight.

The woman’s head jerked to the left, then to the right. Dick suspected the
survey sweep was to make sure she was alone with the dead.

She shifted in his direction, but Dick felt confident he hit the deck before she
saw him.

He waited a few seconds and raised his head, quietly spitting grass and dirt.
As he refocused on her, he couldn’t help but think of another woman. His
soon to be ex would be calling him a dickhead again if she saw the way he
was acting now. When in fact, he was acting like a cop.

A damn good one, he thought, as did others since he was promoted to a
criminal investigator with the Pennsylvania State Police. At least that was his
rank and file up until last week before his sergeant suspended him.

If he was the lunatic, Susan, his almost ex had been laying claim to lately, he’d
be marching up to the woman, who had pulled a shovel from the trunk of her
car and stood at a fresh grave. He’d rant and rave in her face for interrupting
his decision to end his suffering once and for all.

But no, dickhead was crawling on his belly like a scaly reptile so he could get
a closer look at what she was up to.



                                          Chapter Two


Alexis Black hadn’t done manual labor in years. But she couldn’t risk paying
or bribing an underling to dig up the grave of the late Harry Henderson laid to
rest that very morning. So she went to work, starting with the careful removal
of the thick layer of fresh cut flowers arranged over the grave.

Before she had tossed the first powerfully scented bouquet aside, her
allergies kicked in and she began to sneeze. It was bad enough she had gone
off and forgot her gloves and would need another manicure, but then to
forget her allergy medication was just plain irresponsible.

“And burying your brother-in-law on top of the former county Democratic
Party Chairman is responsible?” she mumbled to herself.

The more thought she gave it though, the more responsible it became.
Without a body, what could be proved? As far as anyone had to know,
Professor Thomas Little skipped town.

“Perfect!” she blurted, quickly realized her error, and glanced around to make
sure she was still alone with the dead.

Seeing the coast was clear, she went back to work, a smug grin settling on
her face. She knew what she’d leak to the press about the sudden
disappearance of the distinguished professor.

Her sister finally wised up and planned to slap her husband with a divorce
settlement that would take him to the cleaners─big time. Throw in hefty child
support and alimony payments and the greedy professor hit the road running.
Professor Thomas Little was about to acquire the new title of deadbeat dad. It
was that simple. Or at least it would be by the time Alexis finished.

The only problem she saw was convincing the man’s intellectual, but blind
sighted colleagues who had witnessed a loving and caring husband and
father over the years.

Alexis would convince them. As a seasoned politician, she had years of
experience in the manipulation game. It was her experience that had recently
reaped her a dinner invitation from the President of the United States. The
highlight of the evening was the campaign strategy he had offered that she
hadn’t thought of, but planned to use to unseat the two-term Republican
Senator.

Memories of that private after dinner conversation had her smiling as she
scooped up the first shovelful of loose ground.

                                                    ***
And they call me a lunatic, crossed Dick’s mind as he watched the woman
suddenly going to town with the shovel.

Dick put her in her early forties. Then again, she did look like the pampered
type. So he knew he could be off by a few years. But he figured he was right
on target about what she was up to by now. Losing his young son the way he
had, made it possible to draw a clear conclusion. The woman lost a loved
one, went off the deep end, and was digging the poor soul back up for her
own demented reason.

As much as Dick resented the woman for intruding on his suicide mission, the
gentleman in him was making it difficult to stay put, when he felt he should
relieve her of the shovel and finish up the laborious task.

He was on the verge of doing just that when the frantic digging and flying dirt
suddenly stopped.

From where he had taken cover less than ten feet away and behind an
oversized headstone, he watched her stab the tip of the shovel into the
heaping pile of dirt. She unexpectedly turned in his direction. He wasn’t as
confident he had ducked fast enough this time.

As soon as his breathing normalized from the unwelcome rush of adrenaline,
he peeked around the corner of the glossy gray piece of granite.

He did a double take.

The woman was hoisting something long and bulky from the trunk of her car.
At least she was trying to.

Dick’s mouth and throat went dry. He didn’t have to play any guessing games
here. He knew what was tightly wrapped in the quilt.

All thoughts of becoming an accomplice to this woman’s madness went by the
wayside. It was one thing to help a bereaved woman in her time of sorrow,
even if it meant digging up a corpse. But burying one was a whole different
ball game.

The cop in Dick rose to the occasion again. It had come time to make his
presence known. But as the woman physically struggled with the body, Dick
began another kind of struggle.

He knew as a cop he had a duty to take action. But the deeply depressed
man he’d become held him firmly in place. This side of Dick made it easier to
rationalize why he still remained hidden.

Officially, he wasn’t a cop anyway. He had been suspended until he had a
psych evaluation. With private citizen status, Dick was entitled to mind his own
business if he chose to.

He’d soon be dead anyway so it wouldn’t matter that he had watched a
woman roll a corpse into a shallow grave. Or that she picked up the shovel
again and began filling in the hole he had watched her dig minutes before.
By the time she began replacing the bouquets of flowers over the grave, the
struggle within Dick ended.

                                                     ***