Halfway

Halfway

by

Phillip McCollum

Detective Marty Quinn’s job is a lot like dipping your face in a pool or the ocean, where you leave your ears floating halfway between one world and the other. The above and the below. You get a hint of the diluted, swirling side, but you’re still anchored in what you know. Then comes the pull. An act of mercy. Like someone taking a fistful of wet hair and yanking you back into comfortable reality. Or it’s the other way around–the push–where someone takes that same hand and shoves you down into a new set of circumstances and you’re forced to adapt.

Marty felt like he was drowning when he came back to his beachside apartment and found the limp body of his wife of seven days, posed in the pea-green easy chair she vowed to get rid of the first time she laid eyes on it (It’s so 2025, she had said).

The majority of her appearance said she’d come home from a hard day of paralegal work and simply fell asleep. Head tilted down and to the side, tucked into her right shoulder. The only distortion to the picture was the stain of blood running from a line crossing her throat, onto the pink-rose colored dress Marty had bought her two days ago.

“I’m sorry, Marty.”

Marty said nothing. Only stared at the bottom of the sheet covering Diana. Three of her sky blue-painted toenails were sticking out. It was a sloppy job, whoever placed the sheet.

“We can get Pierre to work this. You don’t need to be here.”

Of course they weren’t going to let him work the case, but Kate, the coroner, wasn’t going to outright say that. She was one of the few people that Marty worked with whom he felt he could call a friend.

“I have a spare bedroom. You know Leonard would love to have you stay with us for awhile.”

Marty may have nodded, but all he felt was that cold water surrounding his face, the unrelenting hand of fate denying him breath.

If you’d like to finish reading this story, along with many others, I’d be ecstatic if you’d consider purchasing one of my books.

8 thoughts on “Halfway”

    1. You’re too kind, Jill! Thank you. 🙂 This is definitely a genre I’m very uncomfortable writing in as I don’t read many pure mysteries, so I’m super happy to hear it worked out for you as a reader. It was a good opportunity to stretch myself.

  1. Brilliant work as always, Phillip! Love the name “Flitterbook”–as with “Drafted”, I think it’s great how you weave some social commentary into the story.

    I could definitely see this be expanded into a longer story or series–if you wanted to, that is. I don’t want to seem like I’m telling you what to do. 🙂

    1. No worries, Berthold. I take that as a huge compliment, not an order. ? This felt to me like I was exploring a character for a longer piece, so we certainly see it the same way. As always, appreciate the time you spent reading and for the feedback. Hope you had a great 4th of July!

  2. Well done, Phillip! Your dialogue is great and you feed the reader information at a good pace. I was hooked from the beginning. Interestingly, the image you start with–floating face down in a pool or the ocean–reminded me of the movie Sunset Boulevard. I agree with Berthold that you could expand this story, or character. Marty is a complicated guy. Obviously he has a strong moral compass, and can stay cool enough to do his duty. Yet, if he had been willing to listen to Diana …? That relationship does leave me with some questions: was it really a whirlwind romance, or something contrived by Diana? Did she chase after Marty, thinking that he could protect her? Marty is a man of few words so we may never know 😉

    1. Thank you, Marie. Really appreciate all your feedback and spending time with my story. 🙂 Glad to hear the character resonated with you. I haven’t seen Sunset Boulevard, at least that I can recall–must be buried in the subconscious somewhere! Given the short time frame I’ve imposed on myself with these stories, so many of them are begging for room to expand, this definitely being one of them. I may revisit Marty in the future as he seems to be a hit!

      1. You definitely are amassing a lot of material to work with in the future 🙂 I recommend Sunset Boulevard. I don’t think there’s a remake, but the original version with William Holden and Gloria Swanson is very entertaining.

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