My #SaturdayScenes Samples

This page contains, in reverse chronological order, story samples I share with my readers. Usually, but not exclusively, these include excerpts I post weekly for my Google+ #SaturdayScenes. Come by every week to keep reading!

Book review appreciation by Eduardo Suastegui

#SaturdayScenes: Wounded Honor (Tracking Jane), Part 6

The problem with this hearing, as Candice explained during strategy sessions back home, comes from divergent agendas. Usually, she recounted, one party favors the witness while the other attacks it. Unfortunately for me, I’ll likely get it from both sides.

On the one hand, those on the left, not too keen on the nasty behind-the-scenes details of the war on terror, may wish to score points by drawing out factoids that show the bankruptcy of war strategy and the abundance of less than nice practices on the ground. One of those things I fear them bringing up? How dogs were used on the natives, in particular during interrogations. Which brings me up to the second concern, namely my own involvement in said interrogations, even if for a short stint, and mostly in an observer’s or assistant’s capacity, depending on how you spin it.

Then we got the right-handed folks who haven’t seen a budget they can’t slash. Oh, they like their tanks and planes, so long as they’re bolted together in their home districts and states. But helping vets with expensive gadgets so they can walk again? Nah. The VA is broken, so we need to fix it by starving it into efficiency. All of which leaves us wondering how far they’re willing to dumpster-dive into a project for fancy legs and neuro-transplants. How much of Devon Smith’s project will they expose, in particular after he went on TV and spilled the beans?

Add all that up, and there I sit, pinned, bracing myself to draw fire from two nasty flanks. If I had any doubt of that, one senator and representative after another confirms our worst fears. Oh, they don’t do it by asking the tough questions themselves. Rather, one after the other they “yield” their time back to senator Bowers, the gentleman from South Carolina—a former state prosecutor, as they keep proclaiming on the news. With him in the lead, we should get us some juicy facts, more than one talking head claims.

In that lead role, Bowers asks all the questions. Keeps lavishing me with that venomous southern charm of his. He drips me with enough of it that I start getting visions of me and Tahoe jumping over two tables to go wipe off that condescending grandfather-knows-best smile off his face.

Since this is a wide open hearing, with cameras rolling and all, coming in we pinned scant hope on the classified nature of some of the facts in question. But as luck would have it, many areas have been declassified. To clear up what’s fair game—a good deal of it, as we learned—they’ve provided us with an updated classification guide.

Candice has a redacted copy of said guide, in case we need to consult it on the fly, like we do now. With tight lips, she gives me a curt nod. Yup, this last question is fair game, too.

“Yes, senator,” I reply. “Joe— excuse me, Major Joseph Brenner and I served together in a Special Ops unit along the Iraq-Iran border.”

“Oh, that’s alright. You can refer to him as Joe, if you prefer.” His lips curl into yet one more smile. “You two were close.” He gives me a one shoulder shrug. “Good friends.”

“He was a mentor.”

He nods. “Alright. We’ll go with mentor.” His lips curl some more. “Now, you weren’t part of the Special Ops unit yourself, were you?”

I eye the lady from California. “No, women were not allowed.”

“But… yet… you were with them.”

“In a support role.”

For a second, he falters a bit, no doubt surprised at my short answer. Coming in, Candice coached me on ways to keep running down the clock. Say truth, but take your time about it. But I don’t have much use for loquacious speech, do I?

“A support role?” he says, finally. “Or something more?”

“I’m sure you have my service papers somewhere in that stack of documents on your desk. As best I recall, they say support role.”

He smiles. “But… it turned into something more. You were more active than simply supporting the unit, weren’t you?”

“When the bullets start flying and things start going boom around you, you do what you have to. Support, bleed, die. Pick your term. It all boils down to survive as best you can.”

Next to me, Candice shifts in her seat. For a second I wonder if I’ve let her down. Then I decide I don’t care.

“Wasn’t there another reason you were able to ride along that unit?” the senator asks. He pauses to let those blues of his twinkle at me again, in the way someone does when they’re about to slam you down on the mat. “Isn’t it true that you were being prepped and groomed for a special project?”

Not feeling good about it, I apply another piece of advice from Candice. Whenever possible, play dumb. “I’m sorry. You’re going to have to be more specific.”

“About?”

“The project. Don’t quite know what you mean. As part of our duties, we had many proj—”

“Oh, I think you know which project I mean. The one with Energetix, headed by your commanding officer…” He scans his papers, like he needs the memory aid. “Lieutenant Colonel Brady, and of course, Devon Smith, owner of Energetix.”

Once more, I play dumb. I ain’t about to admit to anything he doesn’t come out and state first. “I believe those two will have likely also had many projects, so again, I need you to get specific.” I wave my hand. “So as I can give you a precisely honest answer.”

His face lengthens a bit. For a moment, I bask in that small slice of victory. He’s getting it now. He should’ve gotten it when he reviewed my military paperwork and saw what I did—all that I did while stationed with Joe. It ain’t so easy to interrogate an interrogator, is it?

But his political leanings won’t let him dive too hard into the interrogator part. Best leave that untouched. Too messy. Too fraught with murky details. Too much blowback.

He recovers with, “You are wearing them today, aren’t you?” Before I can say I’m wearing many things, please be more specific, he points at my table. “Your prosthetic legs.”

“Yes.” The one word response jolts him a bit. Again, I’ve failed to run down the clock. I can hear Candice coaching me. Turn even the simplest yes-no question into a dissertation. Talk them to death. Keep talking when they cut you off. Run down that clock so they have less time to hound you with all their questions.

But someone I admire said let your yes be yes and your no be no, and I suppose I’m tired enough of this show I’ll start applying His advice.

“Well,” he stammers. “What can you tell us about them?”

I smile. He’s getting tired, too. State prosecutor and all, his scalpel is getting dull. And as unkind as it may be to point it out, he’s old, and I got that on him. I can run a marathon, and he’s stuck at eight hundred meters.

“They come in handy,” I reply.

To be continued…


Now released!

Thank you for reading this installment of Wounded Honor. Leading up to and following it’s release on April 21, I will be sharing preview samples for my readers. Keep checking in, and don’t forget to join my Reader’s Club if you haven’t already to stay up to date on future announcements and giveaways.

Wounded Honor, episode 7 of the Tracking Jane series, coming out April 21


#SaturdayScenes: Wounded Honor (Tracking Jane), Part 5

The gentleman nods, smiles some more, and this time I could swear he does wink at me. Will have to check the footage later. Looking forward to it already.

“I saw you visited Arlington this morning,” the senator says, affecting a more serious expression. “A moving ceremony, I must say.”

He pauses, and here I brace for him calling me on my hypocrisy: that I let the PR spinsters talk me into going there so I could ham it up for the public. Give them a powerful optic. Imprint them with an image they would soon not forget, whatever dirt may air and/or whichever pointed question I may fumble on during this hearing.

Instead, he says, “That was an emotional experience for you, wasn’t it? It touched you deeply.”

For the next few seconds, I’m back in front of that square monument, and I’m remembering all the gore and explosions that came to mind while I stood there. I’m stuffing my head into Dan’s chest, eyes squeezed together, willing for all them images to fly away.

All that wants to come up again now. My body wants to give way like it did at Arlington. But while it was fitting and proper to break down there, I won’t allow it here. I won’t give this condescending stuffed suit the satisfaction.

I take one deep breath, and let it out with, “I suffer from PTSD.”

The room goes quiet, the way the world goes quiet right after a bomb blast. Except this time I don’t even hear the ringing in my ears.

I bet someone’s said those words in a room like this, in this very building. I bet a tableful of veterans have said it in some obscure hearing seeking better care and more support for those who come back from wars funded, if not approved in this very building, with the invisible wound no one really knows how to suture.

I must say that for all the mental vitriol I’ve casted in the senator’s direction, the way his face shifts now smacks of real concern.

“Is there anything we can do to make you more comfortable?”

I take another deep breath, and let it out with, “I need my dog.”

Somewhere in the next few seconds, the lady from California speaks up, rather loudly. They try to shush her, but she’s a pitbull, that one. Thereafter, the gavel falls, and a short recess follows.

I turn to Candice expecting to get her letter of resignation. But she’s smiling at me. She reaches over, grabs the neatly typed statement, and crumples it up.

“Keep it up,” she says. “Right down the middle.”

To be continued…


Now available!

Thank you for reading this installment of Wounded Honor. Leading up to and following it’s release on April 21, I will be sharing preview samples for my readers. Keep checking in, and don’t forget to join my Reader’s Club if you haven’t already to stay up to date on future announcements and giveaways.

Wounded Honor, episode 7 of the Tracking Jane series, coming out April 21


#SaturdayScenes: Wounded Honor (Tracking Jane), Part 4

I’m still thinking about down the middle when, after arriving to the clicking and flashing of cameras, and having shaken a few hands of folks I scarcely recognize, I sit smack in the center of a table only I occupy, but for the company of my one legal representative, none other than Candice herself. What […]


#SaturdayScenes: Wounded Honor (Tracking Jane), Part 3

Even though time is getting short on us, I refuse a ride and instead, holding Dan’s hand, the two of us walk down to the visitor center. “Nice weather,” he says a couple of times. It is. The crisp fall air fills my lungs with what strikes me as the refreshing touch from the Almighty […]


#SaturdayScenes: Wounded Honor (Tracking Jane), Part 2

A week later, after making my second trip to Washington DC, I stand at the top of the steps above the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, overlooking this portion of Arlington Cemetery. Next to me, Dan shifts his weight to lean closer. He pats my back to express what he won’t say. Keep it together. […]


#SaturdayScenes: Wounded Honor (Tracking Jane), Part 1

“Guess Candice knows what she speaks of,” I tell Dan. Having told the kids to scoot back in the house, and after settling down the dogs, Dan and I are standing on the porch, letting them cameras with long telephoto lenses get a solid bead on us. “I count four,” he says, referring to the […]


#SaturdayScenes: Virtual Identity, Part 6

AT LEAST PHYSICALLY, SANDRA WAS feeling better by the time the tall crew cut guy walked in the room. She attributed her tenuous comfort not only to her leather outfit, but to the room’s rising temperature. On her face she could feel the warm draft blowing out of the overhead vents. “Rod,” he said, holding […]


#SaturdayScenes: Virtual Identity, Part 5

Agent Rodrigo Ochoa stood next to Cynthia, on edge, doing his best to ignore her nudging—her veiled ridicule—knowing she could use it to mask her prodding. He had to keep it together, no matter how he felt about Sandra and how they were treating her. “You like her, then,” Cynthia said. Ochoa mulled that over […]


#SaturdayScenes: Virtual Identity, Part 4

Sandra eyed the coffee mug before reaching for the bag. Shaking, she dumped its contents on the table. She would’ve said something about not recognizing them as her clothes, but Cynth slid a key across the table. “You will need this.” Sandra frowned. “Oh, right.” She grabbed the key. Still shaking, it took her a […]


#SaturdayScenes: Virtual Identity, Part 3

“IT SHOULDN’T TAKE LONG NOW,” Cynthia said to Agent Rodrigo Ochoa. She tapped on the large flat panel display. It showed a split view: on the left a close up of Sandra Tomek’s trembling lips and facial features, and on the right a wide angle view of the interrogation room. Ochoa stood there, arms folded […]