MENTOR: Susan Spann
SECOND ALTERNATE: Ellis Callen
TITLE: THREE CARD MONTY
CATEGORY/GENRE: Adult Mystery
WORD COUNT: 60,258
PITCH: When a child abuser turns up dead in an immigrant family’s home, a down-and-out security guard must find the killer, and the missing teenage girl accused of the crime, before the police—or the killer—discover the secret evidence that will force the security guard to take the blame.
Clifford reacted as if a corpse was a common thing to find. Then again, he’d been to Vietnam. And he hadn’t been in the hallway with that terrible thing--easy for him to play it cool.
I was … less cool. “Jesus Christ, a freaking cadaver! What the hell do I do?”
Cliff made the face that meant he wanted a cigarette – his face scrunched up when he thought about smoking – but I wouldn’t let him smoke in the store, even if either of us could afford the habit, which we couldn’t.
“You’re real sure it wasn’t Rosa, right?” Cliff asked.
I thought about it. True, I still didn’t know where Rosa was, which terrified me – Was everyone dead over there? – but I took some deep breaths and considered the shape in the stairwell. It was all wrong for a teenage girl. Much bigger, much broader. Even without the head, I was a hundred per cent sure.
“Nah man,” I said. “It wasn’t her. It was a dude.”
Clifford shrugged. “Okay then. I’m recommending doing nothing.”
“What?” I asked.
“Monty, how you even gonna explain why you were over there?” Clifford settled into his seat and shook his head.
Good point. I’d taken off in the middle of my shift. I’d left a homeless person in charge of the store. In fact, the entire night’s events, which ended with me walking in on a headless corpse in a stranger’s unlocked house, sounded pretty unlikely.
Forget getting fired, I’d probably get arrested.