23 March 2017

Scotch-hoppers: Chapter 1

This is the opening  (prelude) chapter to my forthcoming supernatural mystery novel, Scotch-hoppers. Check out the Hopscotch Song and Chapter Three


In a thicket of trees at Elephant and Castle Park, a pale boy with shiny dark hair held a dead crow close to his heart, petting the slick feathers. He watched the girls play the game painted on the blacktop, hopscotch with ten squares in the Victorian style. A girl with sunshine blonde hair cheered, “Go! Katie! Go!” and kicked in the air while the boy’s sister prepared to toss the marker. The blonde girl’s knee-high skirt flew up, and the boy relished glimpses of her yellow panties. His sister threw the smooth stone into the square marked 10 and began to jump from box to box, chanting the hopscotch song. She was going to win.
The boy had a silent chant of his own: I hope she falls. I hope she falls. I hope she falls.
Katie’s foot caught on her ankle, and she fell; her knees scraped the black top. A circle of skin on her right knee tore open. Blood flowed. Katie gripped her knee and wailed. Her long, dark hair obscured her face, hiding her tears from the boy. He wanted to see her cry, to watch the shiny tears fall to the blacktop.
“Katie, what happened now?” The man walked up, a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. He removed the cigarette and exhaled. “Katie?” he demanded.
“She fell,” the blonde girl said. “Playing hopscotch.”
The man put a hand on Katie’s arm. “Let me see, honey.”
“Don’t touch me,” she said. “I’m fine.”
“I’ll touch you if I want to, honey,” the man said. His voice was calm and deep. “I’m your father.”
“I don’t want you to be,” Katie said.
The man puffed on his cigarette for a minute, squinting in the sunlight. “Let me see it,” he said.
“No!” Katie screamed and began sobbing.
In the shadows of the thicket, the boy petted the black, oily feathers of the dead crow and smiled. He kissed the dead bird on its head. Its black eyes gazed liked little beads into the Afterword. “Ten for a bird, ten for a bird, ten for a bird,” the boy chanted under his breath. From the trees, the living crows chanted a song of their own

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