Patsy Collins - The Travelling Writer.

Welcome to my blog, Patsy Collins.  Patsy is a prolific short story writer, having many published in magazines, in many different countries. She has also published a number of short story anthologies and novels.
Patsy and her husband are inveterate travellers. They publish some of their wonderful photographs on social media.
Many of us know Patsy as the editor of Womagwriter blog. She keeps us up to date with the ever changing world of magazines which accept short stories. We are all grateful for the work she puts in, with this blog and with her 'free competitions' blog. I shall let Patsy tell you more about herself.

Thanks for inviting me over, Carol.

I'm Patsy Collins – a short story writer and novelist. Several of my writing friends refer to me as 'the travelling writer'. That nickname is appropriate in several ways. For one thing, my short stories are regularly published in women's magazines in the United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden, Ireland and South Africa. (A few of these stories have been reproduced in themed collections, such as Through The Garden Gate, Slightly SpookyStories I, No Family Secrets and All That Love Stuff. There's also a shorter collection, Not A Drop To Drink, which is available as a free ebook.)

Another way I get about a bit is online. As well as a website and the usual social media, I have two writing related blogs. Womagwriter provides all the official guidelines and news needed by anyone wishing to submit fiction to women's magazines. There's often advice, tips and interviews from those involved in the industry too, plus information on fillers, non-fiction and pocket novels.

My other blog regularly provides links to free to enter writing competitions. I'm very keen on these, partly because my first novel, Escape To The Country, was initially published as a result of my winning one. You can imagine how much that boosted my confidence. Free competitions have also resulted in my work being performed in the House of Commons, read by Jeffrey Archer and A.L. Kennedy, translated into Greek and winning me cake.

The most obvious reason for my travelling writer nickname however is that I do much of my writing in a campervan. My husband is a maritime photographer, so we travel with his work and I use some of the places we visit frequently in my novels. It's great being able to write on location and literally walk in my character's footsteps. So far I've used Portsmouth, the New Forest, Dover and South Wales for novels, and places in Scotland, Sweden, France.  I like it so much that Leave Nothing But Footprints is actually set in a campervan... er and involves a photographer. (That doesn't stop people asking me where I get my ideas from!)

The non-fiction book From Story Idea to Reader, was written by me in England, France and Scotland, whilst my co-author Rosemary J. Kind worked on it in Yorkshire and Switzerland. Isn't the internet useful?

I don't just write in the van, I use it to visit writing friends and sometimes to give talks to writing groups or run workshops. (To travel to them, I mean – any events held inside the van would need to be very exclusive and intimate!) It's lovely to meet up with people I know online and that's something I hope to be doing more of this year.

Patsy has provided kindly provided links to her blogs, website and her books. Please go along and have a look.

Through The Garden Gate –

Slightly Spooky Stories 1 –

No Family Secrets –

Alll That Love Stuff -

Not A Drop To Drin –

With Love And Kisses –

Escape to the Country –

Leave Nothing But Footprints –

From Story Idea to Reader –

Release Day! What if...? by Abbey MacMunn

Today I'm delighted to welcome the talented author Abbey MacMunn to my blog.  Her collection of short stories, 'What if...?' is released today. I was lucky enough to have the privilege of reading them a short while ago and can highly recommend them.

Some time ago I read Abbey's novel 'Touched' and I loved the romance and 'other worldly' experience that lives amongst its pages. Abbey is a gifted paranormal romance author. So, I was very keen to read her short stories. They didn't disappoint.

This themes of the stories range to include sirens, ghosts, aliens and vampires.  Each story is completely different with a slight twist in the tale. They are well written and each lasts just long enough to put your feet up with a coffee and read while you relax.

I'll let Abbey tell you a little about this magical collection.

What would you do if you discovered you were a ghost, or a mermaid, or even an alien? Or perhaps vampires are more your thing?

First Bite: When vampire-obsessed waitress Madison meets her very own dark prince, is she ready to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Ghost: All Sarah wanted was a chance at a happy life, but as her husband lies dying on the hospital bed, can she confess her ghostly secret?

Song of the Sirens: Found alone on the beach as a child, Kai has always been drawn to the ocean, but can the appearance of a soaking-wet, naked Adonis offer the truth about what she is? 

Otherworldly Dreams: Art student Amy dreams of strange alien galaxies, but what if learning the truth takes her out of this world?

FREE bonus content: Chapter 1 of TOUCHED, a fantasy romance from Tirgearr Publishing.

Buy links:
Amazon universal link

ASIN: B079RJSPD6                   


Author bio:
Abbey MacMunn writes contemporary, paranormal and erotic romance. She lives in Hampshire, UK with her husband and their four children. She is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
When she’s not writing, she likes to watch films and TV shows – anything from rom-coms to superheroes to science fiction movies.

Contact links:
Twitter  @abbeymacmunn


The beautiful cover for TOUCHED is on Moonlight and Mystery's Readers' Choice Cover Contest! It's in the lead right now - please keep voting if you can

The Amazing and Versatile Jane Risdon.

Please welcome Jane onto my blog.  Jane has had a varied life, with careers in the music world and even working for the Foreign Office. 

Carol, thanks for asking me to tell you something of the background to writing Only One Woman with Christina Jones. I didn’t want to repeat other interviews and pieces I’ve written, so even though I’m writing about writing the novel, I’ve decided to go ‘off the beaten track’ somewhat.
Our novel begins in 1968 in a rural community in England at the height of the Cold War and the Swinging Sixties, where one of our main characters, Renza, lives with her many siblings and domineering mother. Her father is working overseas and the family will join them in the summer.
Renza is 16 and a music fan, she lives for Top of The Pops and Radio One. There’s little else to bring her joy; she has few friends and her time is spent mostly looking after her siblings and helping her mother. And then Scott, lead guitarist with Narnia’s Children, enters her life. I won’t give the plot away but suffice to say that writing about Scott and Renza was like flashing back to my own youth, in many respects.
The story is fictional but the locations for the music venues (gigs) and many of the bands and music mentioned, is based upon real places and musicians. Many are still around. Others are a complete figment of my imagination and have been based upon a combination of musicians I’ve known and situations I’ve experienced during my many decades involved in the music business – write what you know they say.
As some of your readers might already know, I’m married to a musician whom I met when I was 16. Eventually we went into artiste management -musicians, singers, and song-writers and record producers - internationally. I could write several books about our life working in the music business and I guarantee it would make your hair stand on end. Some of my crime stories hint at it.
All my experiences garnered as the girlfriend, later wife, of a musician living through the crazy, amazing time which was the 1960’s, have been pillaged and plundered whilst writing Only One Woman. Mixed with our life experiences later-on, working with mainly male musicians, it was easy to write what I’m told has been a realistic description of life with, and as, a musician. Both Christina and I used our experiences, of course.  She was, in real life, the fan-club secretary to my husband’s band - which is how we know each other. She wrote Stella using some of her experiences with the band, I am sure.
Back to 1968 and my husband’s band who’ve been such a great source of material for me over the years. I took various events during 1968/69 and stretched my imagination and used loads of poetic license when writing various chapters. For example, the other band managed by ‘Stephan,’ is based on a real band and they did indeed make their lead singer’s life hell back stage and on stage. They were mega successful and their records are still played today. Back stage was a nightmare – open warfare - when his band (named for him by the way) wanted to have a go at him. Remember the stories about Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend (The Who) fighting back stage and in hotels – physical fights – well, this was how it was with ‘Stephan’s’ other band. It used to get so violent threats of calling the Police was about the only thing to stop them killing him. And on stage they were horrid to him in front of audiences; they’d mock him, berate him, and often left him singing with his microphone switched off for ages before it dawned upon him. Wonderful material for a writer, but actually how dreadful to be in a band like that. All bands fall out of course, but I’ve never experienced anything remotely like that since.
‘Narnia’s Children’ had an army of faithful – mostly female –fans following them up and down the country, covering their van (Bessie Bedford) in lipstick messages and writing quite salacious fan-mail to them, which, going through my husband’s memorabilia containing similar material, I delved into for my research for Only One Woman. I found it quite sad reading them, all these decades later; letters filled with such love and optimism and joy. What were those girls doing now? Did they find happiness with another ‘rock god,’ or did they settle for Fred from the local Council road crew? Some followed the band for years and would show up at gigs, album launches and autograph events, knowing everything about the band, or their desired musician, whilst the band knew little or nothing about them other than their names and by then, familiar faces. Wives and girlfriends of the band  kept a low profile as it wasn’t ‘cool’ for them to be seen or for the band to be ‘taken,’ and the record company and management went to great lengths to keep up the pretence of the band being ‘available and attainable.’  Such tosh, and no-one really believed it I am sure. Nowadays, does anyone care if their adored band or musician is married or has a partner? I think not.
The scene in Only One Woman, at the Army camp, where Narnia’s Children are playing when Renza is confronted by hordes of female fans all throwing themselves at Scott, was quite common. Many confrontations took place in the loos at these events, and the one with the two female soldiers actually happened, to me.
The after gig party is written from memory of several such parties over the years. The fashions and music have changed but the ingredients all making up the ‘party’ at the support band’s home – or ‘dump’ as Renza called it – could have happened any place, anywhere in the world, any time since.
Quite a few ‘group’ vans – in the late 1960’s - were to be seen regularly driving through towns and villages on the way to gigs in venues, large and small. One could pay to see several Chart topping bands and singers for next to nothing and without all the booking nightmares of recent times. The live scene was vibrant and varied. Bands didn’t have such an entourage with them, no security – unless you were The Beatles etc – and access to them was unfettered usually. A fan could walk into a dressing room (or what passed for one back then) and even turn up outside the band’s home with ease. It was not unusual to find a half-naked girl in the dressing rooms so the band told me many times. I wasn’t surprised.
I recall bumping into various fans who’d managed to secret themselves in the back of the van, hidden behind the drums and stacks (speakers, amps etc), only to be discovered upon reaching home as the van was being unloaded by the roadies. Few people had phones at home, there wasn’t internet, so unless someone was near the local phone-box there was no way to call a taxi for them or to notify their families that they were safe and well, often hundreds of miles from their homes. The fans came into the band’s home, were fed and watered, and sometimes allowed to sleep over, until the roadies could get them to the nearest bus, coach, or railway station and sent home. In recent times ‘security’ check the trucks (no vans these days) for stow-away girls and of course, illegal immigrants. How times have changed. And of course bands no longer get in to their Ford Transit or Bedford van to drive all over the country and Europe; most fly or travel in tour buses. I must admit I do prefer the latter forms of transport. Vans were fine back when, but these days comfort wins every time over the ‘fun’ of slumming it on the road.
I could ramble on forever about ‘those days,’ but I won’t. If you are curious about the life and times of a UK band in the late 1960’s, do please consider reading Only One Woman. And if you do, please let us know what you think. Better still, leave a review on Amazon and GoodReads for others to read – every little helps.
Jane Risdon

The Paperback (Worldwide) and Audio will be published May 24th 2018 for stores and libraries etc.

Renza’s Diary
June 29th 1968 – Merryhill Base
The gig was amazing. It was packed – lots of kids and soldiers of course – full of screaming girls, so noisy. Scott’s band was the star attraction, having come from overseas (well, Jersey), and, as Rich told me during the evening, they had proper management and an agent, plus as well as writing their own songs, they had songwriters working for them too. Serious stuff.
Narnia’s Children, I soon discovered, were professionals, unlike the support act, The Fulcrum, a local amateur band looking for a record deal but so far hadn’t got any interest. They had a big local following, but Scott’s band had a national following and some fans came to all their gigs, wherever they played. It was great, learning all this. Rich said that Narnia’s Children even had several record companies interested in them and there was talk of overseas tours, and they were recording soon with a famous company. They had lots going for them. Going to one of Scott’s gigs for the first time was so thrilling – and I basked in the glory.
Mind you, it had got a bit scary when I went to the loo. Being an Army base there were lots of women soldiers and I have to say some of them were real hard cases by the look of them. Anyway, I found my way through the heaving crowd to the ladies and waited in line for a cubicle to become free. Several mini-skirted girls were ahead of me, chatting and giggling and discussing which one of the band they fancied and which one they were going to get off with given half a chance.
There were a couple of female soldiers behind me, chatting and passing remarks about the girls in front. I didn’t think anything of it. I’d been thinking about how sexy Scott was, the way he held his guitar so low and moved on stage.
The girls in front of me went into the cubicle and one of them shouted to me to hold the door because the lock was missing. I grabbed the door as best I could and tried to keep it shut. But all the time she chatted to her mates about how she fancied Scott and went into great detail about how she thought he was eyeing her up all night and how she was going to go backstage and make a play for him. Over my dead body, I thought, and was tempted to let go of the door and expose her.
‘Are you going to be all day?’ I wasn’t going to hold it much longer and all the other cubicles were full so this one was going to be mine, if she ever came out. It sounded like Niagara Falls on the other side of the door.
‘Go play with the traffic,’ came the reply. Girls tittered behind me.
‘Come on, you’ve been in there ages. What’re you doing?’ said the soldier behind me. ‘Need any help?’ Everyone laughed again.
The door flew open and a Phyllis Diller look-alike shoved past me, giving me the evil eye.
‘No chance,’ I muttered, thinking of her plans for Scott. Before I could move she turned and pushed me into the cubicle. ‘It’s all yours.’
I turned to the soldier behind and asked her if she would hold the door for me, at which she smiled sweetly and nodded. Her friend giggled. I was getting myself organised when the door flew open and the two soldiers stood grinning at me.
‘Please shut the door,’ I said, my hipsters almost at my knees. I held my hand out to push the door closed again, but the blonde soldier who had agreed to hold the door pushed the door open again.
‘Don’t be unfriendly,’ she said, moving closer to me.
‘What?’ I moved as far away from her as I could in the tight space and nearly toppled into the loo.
‘Please go away.’ My hipsters fell around my ankles.
‘You want to be nice to us, don’t you?’ Her tubby freckled faced friend was trying to get into the cubicle as well.
‘What are you on about?’ I started pulling my hipsters up. ‘I want to leave, let me leave.’
I felt threatened. I couldn’t understand what I had done to upset them. I didn’t think I’d been unfriendly, why did they want me to be nice to them? I struggled to zip my hipsters up and tuck my skinny rib in.
Something about their faces and their stance made me frightened and I could feel my heart pounding and my face getting red. I tried to get past again, but they blocked my way and the blonde one made a grab for me. She got hold of my shoulders and pushed me against the wall, as her friend tried to get in far enough to shut the door, but thankfully the space was too small for the three of us.
‘What do you want?’ I yelled at them, struggling against the hands holding my shoulders. ‘What have I done to upset you?’
My captor laughed and bent her head towards me. The penny suddenly dropped: bloody hell! She was going to kiss me. Oh my God! My mind went blank with shock. I turned my head away and my hair covered my face.
She grabbed my head and forced it round and her friend leaned over and pushed my hair out of the way. She grabbed my left boob and squeezed. I struggled and kicked and yelled at the top of my voice, ‘Help! Help!’
The tubby girl looked over her shoulder and checked no one had come into the loo. Then she held my face in her hands whilst her friend tried again. I twisted and turned and wriggled about, I was in a panic. I couldn’t for the life of me think why they were doing this to me. At first I thought they were going to beat me up, I’d heard about girls who did that to other girls, but kissing me!
That was really weird.
‘Scott! Scott!’ I yelled at the top of my voice, though how he could help me in the ladies loo, I had no idea.
‘Shut up you stupid bitch.’ The blonde girl twisted her face up and grabbed my hair, pulling it really hard. I yelled louder, the pain was terrible.
‘Hey, what the hell is going on in there?’ a female voice asked from the other side of the cubicle wall, and both girls stopped and stood quiet.
The blonde one put her hand over my mouth. I thrashed about with my legs, kicking her and biting her hand. She yelped and jumped back, her hand falling from my mouth.
‘Help! Please help me,’ I shouted and kicked out again so that the two girls had to back out of the cubicle to avoid a good shin kicking.
‘What is going on in there?’ the woman outside shouted again. ‘I’ll get someone to sort you out if you don’t stop it and come out.’
‘I’m being attacked, please get help,’ I yelled as my assailants backed out of the cubicle and left me, panting hard and holding on to the wall for support.
I heard the door bang as they left and a middle-aged woman appeared in the door.
‘Are you OK, love?’ she asked kindly, holding her hand out to me. ‘They’ve gone now. You can come out.’
I took her hand, emerging slowly, looking around to check they’d really gone.
‘What on earth was going on?’ the woman asked.
‘I don’t know,’ I trembled, hardly able to get the words out. ‘They forced their way in and grabbed me and tried to kiss me… I don’t know why they’d do that. I was terrified.’
‘Well, they’re gone now so don’t worry anymore.’ The woman smiled at me kindly. ‘They won’t try it again, they’ll get into serious trouble if they’re reported.
I was still bursting to spend a penny (well more like half a crown by now) and the woman held the door whilst I relieved myself. What Mum would call the ‘Relief of Mafaking’ whenever she was that desperate to go.
Hang on whilst I go to the loo and I’ll come out with you and check they really have gone.’
‘Thank you.’ I held the door for her, my heart at last beginning to slow. ‘You with anyone, love?’ the woman asked, pulling the chain. The door opened and she came out moving towards the sinks.
‘My boyfriend’s in the band,’ I said and stopped her trying to wash her hands before she tried the taps. ‘Nothing works.’
‘Ah, thanks.’ She opened the door to the hall and the noise of the crowd and the support band nearly deafened us. She looked around and then beckoned me out. ‘All clear love. You go and find some friends and stay with them.’
‘Thank you so much,’ I shouted as she walked away waving over her shoulder.
Music has played a large part in Jane's life and she uses her knowledge and love of it in the novel, 'Only One Woman'.  

 Jane Risdon Bio:
Following a career in the International Music Business I’ve turned my attention to a life-long ambition – writing full-time.
Now I fill my days writing and concentrating on developing my own career instead of those recording artists, song-writers, and record producers whose careers filled my every waking moment for decades.
I write Crime and Thrillers mostly and have been published in numerous Anthologies, Online Magazines and Newsletters.
In addition to my short stories and crime novels,
(I’ve broken away from a life of crime – only temporarily)
I’ve co-written a novel
with best-selling and award-winning author
 published on 23rd November 2017
by Accent Press


Thanks for coming along Jane. You've certainly lived a life most of us could never dream of!  I hope you visit again soon to tell us all about your crime thrillers and Mrs Birdsong.  I look forward to hearing all about it.

Susan Clayton-Goldner: An amazing author and fellow Tirgearryan

I'm delighted to welcome to my blog, fellow Tirgearryan author, Susan Clayton-Goldner. Susan's latest novel, A River of Silence , was published on 24th January 2018 and is already receiving 'five star' reviews.
I've read two of Susan's books so far - A Bend in the Willow and Redemption Lake. I loved both of them and look forward to reading more.

Let Susan tell you a little about the book:

When Detective Winston Radhauser is awakened by a call from dispatch at 12:45a.m., it can mean only one thing—something terrible awaits him. He races to the Pine Street address. In the kitchen, Caleb Bryce, nearly deaf from a childhood accident, is frantically giving CPR to 19-month-old Skyler Sterling. Less than an hour later, Skyler is dead.
The ME calls it a murder and the entire town of Ashland, Oregon is outraged. Someone must be held accountable. The police captain is under a lot of pressure and anxious to make an arrest. Despite Radhauser’s doubts about Bryce’s guilt, he is arrested and charged with first degree murder. Neither Radhauser nor Bryce’s young public defender believe he is guilty. Winston Radhauser will fight for justice, even if it means losing his job.
I asked Susan for a short biography:
Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She has been writing poems and short stories since she could hold a pencil and was so in love with writing that she became a creative writing major in college.
Prior to an early retirement which enabled her to write full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. It was there she met her husband, Andreas, one of the deans in the University of Arizona's Medical School. About five years after their marriage, they left Tucson to pursue their dreams in 1991--purchasing a 35-acres horse ranch in the Williams Valley in Oregon. They spent a decade there. Andy rode, trained and bred Arabian horses and coached a high school equestrian team, while Susan got serious about her writing career. 
Through the writing process, Susan has learned that she must be obsessed with the reinvention of self, of finding a way back to something lost, and the process of forgiveness and redemption. These are the recurrent themes in her work.
After spending 3 years in Nashville, Susan and Andy now share a quiet life in Grants Pass, Oregon, with her growing list of fictional characters, and more books than one person could count. When she isn't writing, Susan enjoys making quilts and stained-glass windows. She says it is a lot like writing--telling stories with fabric and glass.

Is There a Message in Your Novel That You Want Readers to Grasp?
A River of Silence is about a hearing-impaired man, Caleb Bryce, who is falsely accused and imprisoned for the murder of a 19-month old child. This is the 3rd book in my Detective Radhauser series. Because of pressure from both the small community of Ashland and his boss, Captain Murphy, Radhauser makes the arrest, but remains convinced Caleb Bryce is innocent. With the help of a young public defender, who wants to prove herself to her father, a world-renown criminal defense attorney, they set out to find the real killer and free Bryce.
The novel deals with issues of abandonment and the effects it has on the child even after he reaches adulthood. It also deals with alcoholism and its aftermath which can cling to the lives it affected for decades. Mental illness and disabilities is also a theme. And the book shows us that sometimes a person who is mentally challenged sees life in a more beautiful way than those of us who are “normal.”
I’d also like to say that I’m so grateful to my readers. I had no idea how much it would mean to me to have a reader write a review or send me an e-mail about how much they enjoyed the book. It means more to me than royalties—just to know someone enjoyed and was moved by my story.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
 Writing is hard work. It takes dedication and a willingness to spend long hours in isolation. There are times when family issues get in the way. Balancing can be difficult. And I’m often torn. I want to be the best possible wife, mother and grandmother. But I’m also driven to be the best storyteller I can be.  

How many books have you written and which is your favorite?
 I’ve written 8 novels so far. I’d say my favorite is A Bend In The Willow because, more than any other of my books, this one draws from my life, what I’ve learned, what I’ve loved and what I regret.  

 If You had the chance to cast your main character from Hollywood today, who would you pick and why?
 I would choose Timothy Olyphant (from the Elmore Leonard Netflix series, Justified) to play Winston Radhauser because of his rugged good looks and the way he fills out a pair of jeans and a Stetson.

When did you begin writing?
 I don’t think I decided to become a writer. I believe I was born a writer. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. Let’s face it, writing is isolating and doesn’t pay very well. I’m not sure many people would choose to write if they could avoid it or were of sane mind.  When I was a little girl, my father won a Smith Corona portable typewriter in a poker game. He gave it me. It came with 45 rpm records guaranteed to have you typing. It was the beginning of my life as a writer. I taught myself how to type with the help of those records and starting writing poems and stories. I’ve never stopped. I went back to college after my children started school. This time I majored in creative writing.
How long did it take to complete your first book?
 It generally takes me about a year to complete a novel. I’m trying to work faster these days because I now have a publisher and that has changed everything. I recently read a book about a woman who’d taken her productivity from 2,000 to 10,000 words per day. She gave me some very helpful hints about writing faster. And I strive to get 2,000 words a day now. It doesn’t always happen, but I am writing faster than in the past.
Did you have an author who inspired you to become a writer?
 I believe the first book I ever read that inspired me to be a writer was To Kill A Mockingbird. I was a child when I read it, but it remains my favorite book. Atticus Finch was such a wonderful character. He fought hard for what was right, for what he believed in, even though he knew victory was impossible. He was a man you never forget. He touched my life. I wanted to touch the lives of others by creating my own memorable characters.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
 The best part of the writing process for me is when I get totally immersed in the fictive dream and all concepts of time disappear. People ask me if it is lonely being a writer and sitting in front of a computer screen for hours on end. Yes, it can be. But once the dream has captured you, it is thrilling, filled with excitement and adventure, and there is absolutely nothing I’d rather be doing.
Describe your latest book in 4 words.
Mysterious, heart-wrenching and human.

Can you share a little bit about your current work or what is in the future for your writing?
 I have just completed the edits and handed off a stand-alone novel to Tirgearr Publishing. It is entitled The Good Shepherd and is the story of a priest who falls in love with one of his parishioners and she ends up being murdered. I suspect it will release sometime in the summer of 2018.

I’m also working on the 4th book in the Detective Winston Radhauser series. It is entitled, A River of Shame and it is about the murders of two high school students in what appears to be hate crimes.

To  wet your (and mine) appetites here is an excerpt from the A River of Silence:
In only eleven minutes, Detective Winston Radhauser’s world would flip on its axis and a permanent line would be drawn—forever dividing his life into before and after. He drove toward the Pima County Sheriff’s office in Catalina, a small town in the Sonoran Desert just twelve miles north of Tucson. Through the CD speakers, Alabama sang You’ve Got the Touch. He hummed along.
He was working a domestic violence case with Officer Alison Finney, his partner for nearly seven years. They’d made the arrest—their collar was sleeping off a binge in the back of the squad car. It was just after 10 p.m. As always, Finney wore spider earrings—tonight’s selection was a pair of black widows he hadn’t seen before.
“You know, Finn, you’d have better luck with men if you wore sunflowers in your earlobes.”
She laughed. “Any guy intimidated by a couple 14-carat web spinners isn’t man enough for me.”
He never missed an opportunity to tease her. “Good thing you like being single.”
The radio released some static.
Radhauser turned off the CD.
Dispatch announced an automobile accident on Interstate 10 near the Orange Grove Road exit. Radhauser and Finney were too far east to respond.
Her mobile phone rang. She answered, listened for a few seconds. “Copy that. I’ll get him there.” Finney hung up, then placed the phone back into the charger mounted beneath the dashboard.
“Copy what?” he said. “Get who where?”
She eyed him. “Pull over. I need to drive now.”
His grip on the steering wheel tightened. “What the hell for?”
Finney turned on the flashing lights. “Trust me and do what I ask.”
The unusual snap in her voice raised a bubble of anxiety in his chest. He pulled over and parked the patrol car on the shoulder of Sunrise Road.
She slipped out of the passenger seat and stood by the door waiting for him.
He jogged around the back of the cruiser.
Finney pushed him into the passenger seat. As if he were a child, she ordered him to fasten his seatbelt, then closed the car door and headed around the vehicle to get behind the wheel.
“Are you planning to tell me what’s going on?” he asked once she’d settled into the driver’s seat.
She opened her mouth, then closed it. Her unblinking eyes never wavered from his. “Your wife and son have been taken by ambulance to Tucson Medical Center.”
The bubble of anxiety inside him burst. “What happened? Are they all right?”
Finney turned on the siren, flipped a U-turn, then raced toward the hospital on the corner of Craycroft and Grant. “I don’t know any details.”
TMC was a designated Trauma 1 Center and most serious accident victims were taken there. That realization both comforted and terrified him. “Didn’t they say the accident happened near the Orange Grove exit?”
“I know what you’re thinking. It must be bad or they’d be taken to the closest hospital and that would be Northwest.” She stared at him with the look of a woman who knew him almost as well as Laura did. “Don’t imagine the worst. They may not have been in a car accident. Didn’t you tell me Lucas had an equestrian meet?”
Laura had driven their son to a competition in south Tucson. Maybe Lucas got thrown. He imagined the horse rearing, his son’s lanky body sliding off the saddle and landing with a thump on the arena floor. Thank God for sawdust. Laura must have ridden in the ambulance with him.
But Orange Grove was the exit Laura would have taken on her drive home. The meet ended at 9:00 p.m. Lucas always stayed to unsaddle the horse, wipe the gelding down, and help Coach Thomas load him into his trailer. About a half hour job. That would put his family near the Orange Grove exit around ten.
The moon slipped behind a cloud and the sudden darkness seemed alive and a little menacing as it pressed against the car windows.
Less than ten minutes later, Finney pulled into the ER entrance and parked in the lot. “I’m coming with you,” she said.
He shot her a you-know-better look, then glanced toward the back seat where their collar was snoring against the door, his mouth open and saliva dribbling down his chin. It was against policy to leave an unguarded suspect in the car.
“I don’t give a damn about policy,” she said.
“What if he wakes up, hitches a ride home and takes out his wife and kids? Put him in the drunk tank. I’ll call you as soon as I know anything.” He ran across the parking lot. The ER doors opened automatically and he didn’t stop running until he reached the desk. “I’m Winston Radhauser. My wife and son were brought in by ambulance.”

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Many thanks for coming along Susan.

Patsy Collins - The Travelling Writer.

Welcome to my blog, Patsy Collins.  Patsy is a prolific short story writer, having many published in magazines, in many different countr...