Saturday, May 01, 2010

Guest Blogger Jeffrey A. Cohen

The Killing of Mindi Quintana, by Jeffrey A. Cohen—An excerpt

The following is an excerpt from my new Philadelphia-set legal thriller, The Killing of Mindi Quintana. The scene takes place after Mindi’s murder, at the tail end of reporter Manny Sykes’s jailhouse interview with Freddy Builder, the accused. The crime was brutal, sensational and newsworthy. Media coverage of Freddy, a formerly obscure department store manager, is captivating the city. And Freddy is blossoming in the light and heat of public fascination. A new celebrity murderer is taking the stage—and rising to his role.

Excerpted from Chapter 16:
Freddy moved so that his back was against the cool wall again. He relaxed against it, enjoying the contrast to the overly heated cell while he listened to himself answer the reporter’s question, and his next and next, until he was sure the sun must be up though it was dim as ever where they were.
He sensed the reactions his answers engendered and knew they didn’t depend on Sykes’s belief in their truthfulness. In fact, Freddy was sure that much of what he said Sykes didn’t believe at all. Freddy didn’t need him to.
Because despite the dispassionate questioning, the crime Sykes had already written about was the alleged passionate one of a lover, a roar of revenge against beauty’s rejection, the explosion of an artist in corporate-American bondage. The buds of it all were in his stories so far. They were there in his hinting that Mindi was promiscuous. In his repetitious allusion to her father’s criminality. In the unquestioning acceptance of Freddy as blossoming writer. In his rendering of Chanet’s and the sympathetic credence given Freddy’s hatred of the store.
“To feel that much!” seemed to seep from the pauses in Freddy’s reconstructions, as Manny pointed and Freddy watered the buds. “Enough to kill her!” It obviously fascinated him. It fascinated them both.
And Manny would have had to admit, had he been privy to Freddy’s thinking, that he did see his stories in epic terms, and that when he didn’t, he figured out how to. It was how he made sense of things, how he knew he’d gotten them right. It was when the elements fell into place, and he knew he’d seen all the way through. It was how he had gained a readership and professional acclaim. How he got to the truth, since all truth was epic.
For both of them now, as they talked through the night, the antihero emerged further and was a type of tragic hero nonetheless. The type Manny appreciated and wrote about, and the type, without realizing it before, Freddy had known how to be.
He remembered thinking in the store that when he made it into gear he would know what to do. That he would be witty for reporters, pensive when appropriate, insightful always, and clever sometimes—and he was. That when people cared what he thought, he would think great things—and it was true. That when they came to him, he would know what to say—and he did. That when there was no question of his stature, they would admire his work. And he was sure now they would. He would be accepted as a writer now. He was sure of it.
Two weeks ago, Manfred R. Sykes would have sneered at a man forced to live his life in a department store. Now he was squinting in the dark hoping Freddy wouldn’t throw him out.
© Jeffrey A. Cohen 2010
For more information or to contact Jeffrey A. Cohen, author of The Killing of Mindi Quintana:

No comments: