Missing, Assumed Dead
Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets.
The Story According to Kam, the Main Character
I hardly have time for this type of appearance. After all, I'm not a public speaker (even in the virtual sense), although I can make a presentation on a new software product with the best of them.
Personal life? HA! I have none. It's either work or helping out my mom, who's now in a wheelchair from long-term MS. She helps me too. What would I do without her love, wisdom, and chocolate chip cookies.
Because I love my mom, I set myself up for this incredibly stupid trip to eastern Oregon. Some old guy named Salvadore Vasco disappeared seven years ago, so the court is declaring him missing, and assumed dead. Guess what? I'm his last living relative, so (lucky me), I get to be the executor of his estate.
The word 'estate' sounds like some major goodies to inherit, right? No such luck. The old man, bless him, was churchmouse poor. I should have just let the court go ahead with the probate without me. That's where my mom comes in. She's a geneology nut, er, enthusiast (that how I found out Salvadore was my long-lost whatever). Since she wanted any photos or family records left behind, she made me go to gawdforsaken eastern Oregon...in the MIDDLE OF THE SUMMER. What was she thinking?
First thing I do is get lost. I can't find this itty bitty town. So, I'm standing in the middle of this desert--so much for green Oregon--and haven't a clue. But luck is running a little bit my way when Deputy Mitch Caldwell shows up in his big SUV. Hmm. Not so bad after all.
That was my only lucky break, though. Soon enough I've got some really weird people coming after me, and I don't even know why. Not until I do some digging around. Then all hell breaks loose.
I thought Oregon was going to be boring.
Here's an excerpt from the book when I'm in deep doodoo, which is most of the time.
* * *
Kam gasped and jumped down the embankment toward the creek, stumbling through the underbrush. She heard the pickup tires screech and glanced back. Scruffy had gotten out and headed down the slope behind her. She moved faster, gripping her hair spray. A strap broke on her sandal, and she kicked it off. Ignoring the brambles poking into her legs through her jeans, she moved as fast as she could, the terrain preventing her from flat out running.
She heard the crashing of bushes behind her and put on more steam. She knew the pickup would have reached her car by now, but she’d be coming up on the passenger door, slightly downhill from the driver’s side. She switched the hair spray to her left hand and pawed into her purse for the keys. Finding them, she dropped the bag on the ground to free her hands and kept moving.
When she reached the Chrysler, the driver had already skidded down the embankment and was standing on the driver’s side. Thin compared to the other man, but his arms were solid muscle under the tats. She rushed to the passenger side, jerked open the heavy door, dived in, slammed the door and hit the lock button on the key fob.
The driver pounded the window with his fist. The scruffy one had caught up and pulled on the passenger side door handle. Kam hit the panic button on the fob. The deep and seriously loud Chrysler horn went off with honking bursts. Both men jumped back from the car.
The driver yelled, “I’ll fetch the rifle.” He scrambled to climb up the embankment.
Kam’s heart almost stopped. Even the shatterproof windows wouldn’t stand up against a hunting rifle. She looked around the car wildly, her breath coming in sharp rasps, and then launched herself over the console and into the rear. Sweat ran from her armpits, soaking her blouse. She ran her shaking hands across the top of the seat back hunting for the latch. She hoped the Chrysler had fold down back seats. If she could just reach the tire iron, she’d have a weapon. If this stupid car even had one that is.
She felt the latch pin, grasped it and pulled it up. It clicked. She grasped the seat back in both hands and pulled it down. On her belly, she crawled halfway into the trunk searching for the spare tire well.