Homicide in the Headlines

Here are the first two chapters of the novel. You will soon discover that our heroes, Terry Lambert and Paula Stanford are the most unlikely of crime fighters. Hope you enjoy this taste of the novel. Sorry about the spacing. For some reason, it’s off when I uploaded these chapters. Remember, you can purchase the book on Amazon.

Mark Zeid

Chapter One

Terry groaned as he reached for the phone ringing on his desk. Someone with a sick sense of humor had put it out of his reach. He climbed on top of his desk and pulled the phone to him before sitting back down. He cursed himself as he knocked over a photograph of a pretty brunette. “Sorry about that,” Terry said to the photograph as he set it upright. He picked up the receiver for the phone.“Hello,” he said trying to get comfortable in his specially-made chair, “City Times, copy editing. How can I help you?”

“I’m helping you,”a voice distorted by a machine replied. Terry listened as the person chuckled at the other end.

Terry took a deep breath. “Well I certainly appreciate that. How are you going to help me?”

“I’ve got a killer of a story,” the distorted voice said while laughing.

“Excellent. We are always looking for good stories. What’s this one about?”

“No, no, no,” the voice said in a taunting manner. “You have to work for it.”

“Okay,” Terry said drawing out the word. “And how am I going to do that?”

“There’s an abandon shopping center on Highway 41. Look around back. You’ll find your story.” Thevoice hung up.

Terry looked at the handset before setting it back on phone. He sat there, thinking how to handle the situation.

“Hey, didn’t I see you with Snow White?”

Terry groaned again; another voice he didn’t want to deal with. This one belonged to Ashford Zane, one of the paper’s top reporters and probably the practical joker who put Terry’s phone out of his reach. However, as far as Terry was concerned, Ashford was as welcomed as a hemorrhoid, a real pain in the ass.

“Now, which one are you,” Ashford said chuckling at his joke. “Is it Grumpy, Sleepy, Doc, Dopey, which one.”

Terry looked up at Ashford. “I’m the one who doesn’t like jokes about dwarfs. And I don’t like it when you put my phone at the edge of my desk so I can’t reach it, and then call me about some bogus news story, just so you can watch me struggle answering thephone.”

“Hey, I didn’t call you about a bogus story, although I would have if I thought of it. Also, it’s not my fault you’re only four feet tall.”

“Well it isn’t my fault either. It’s not like I choose it on my college application.”

“Listen half pint. Don’t give me any crap.”

Terry glared at Ashford. “Just leave the stuff on my desk alone.”

“Yeah, sure,” Ashford said as he walked past Terry, pressing Terry and his chair into the editor’s desk.

“Ashford,” called out a feminine voice. “Quit picking on Terry.”

Ashford turned to face the woman. “Diana. Come on. I’m just joking around with the runt. I’m not going to hurt him.”

Diana stood with her arms crossed. “Sometimes your jokes aren’t funny. Besides that, no one really appreciates your practical jokes; especially the one last week with the dead rattlesnake in women’s toilet.”

“Aw come on, that was funny. You should have seen you girls running out of there.”

“The snake was probably one of your relatives,” Terry mumbled to himself.

“You say something,” Ashford said challenging Terry.

“Yeah,” Terry replied. “If you didn’t call me, then who did? I got a strange phone call. Someone said there was a story behind the abandon shopping plaza on Highway41.”

“What else did the caller say?” asked Diana.

“Nothing really,” Terry answered. “He just said there was a killer of a story out there. I thought it was Ashford and one of his practical jokes the way the guy was laughing.”

“Probably was aprank.” Ashford replied. “It’s not worth running out there. If there is a story, someone will call it in.”

“I don’t know,” Terry said. “If it isn’t a prank, then someone should check it out.”

“Ashford’s right,” Diana added. “It there is a news story, others will call it in. People are more likely to call the media about a crime or incident than they are to call the police.”

“Do you really think people are that sick?” Terry asked.

“Yeah, they are,” was Ashford’s response.

~ ~ ~

He giggled as he removed the sim card from the disposable phone. He made a mental note to throw them both away, possibly in the river near the railroad tracks. He wasn’t worried about anyone tracing the call, but if the police found the phone, they might be able to trace it back to where he bought it and when. He didn’t want to show upon any video recordings. He called a newspaper and it was the first time, so he knew they wouldn’t have any equipment set up for tracing phone calls. The police would go through phone records. They would find the number and probably be able to triangulate the signal to this area, which wasn’t a problem. He wanted them to find this place. How else would they find the dead girl’s body?

~ ~ ~

Woody Dumfries loved the interesting people he met while driving a taxi. Sure, there were somewho gave him hassles; but as a retired boxer and a very large black man, Woody had no trouble getting those who stepped out of line to mind their manners. Twice, someone had tried to rob him. Both times, Woody gave them the money, let them out of the cab, called the police, then chased the thieves down himself. He admits he was lucky. The first time the thief ran down an alley and Woody followed him in the taxi, knocking the thief down with the driver’s door. The second time the thief ran into a building and started up the stairs; but he slipped, fell down, and dropped the gun. He got up and took a swing at Woody, who immediately decked the thief, knocking him out cold. Still, Woody had learned to be careful and made it a point to check out fares before they got into his cab. He noticed a small man hailing a cab.

Woody pulled his taxi over to the curb. The short man jumped in. “Where to?” Woody asked.


“Where do you want to go?”

“Oh. Yeah. Ah, I need to go to an abandon shopping center on Highway 41.”

“The one across the highway from the museum?”

“I guess,” Terry answered. “All I know is some guy called and said there was a big story and it was behind an abandon shopping center on Highway 41.”

“Is that all,” said Woody.

“That’s all he said. I’m hoping it isn’t a waste of time.”

“You and me both,” Woody replied as he turned on the meter. He looked in the rearview mirror at the man in the back seat. “You should buckle up. The cops will give me a ticket if you don’t.”

“Sure, not a problem.” Terry grabbed the seatbelt and buckled in.

“So. You some kind of reporter?”

“Excuse me?”

“I asked are you some kind of reporter?”

“Yeah, why do you ask?”

“You said something about a story at this shopping center. I know it’s been closed for a couple of years now. There’s no reason to go there; but you said there was a story there. Are they going to reopen the place?”

“I honestly don’t know,” Terry answered. “I was just told to go there and I would find a story.”

“So you are a reporter.”

“Yes, I work for the City Times.”

Woody picked up a newspaper lying next to him. “Read it all the time.”

“Thanks, appreciate the patronage.”

They pulled into the empty parking lot of the shopping center. Woody drove through the parking lot. “Nothing here.”

Terry pointed to side of the building. “It’s around back. At least, that’s what he said.”

“Who said?”

“Some guy on the phone.”

Woody stopped the taxi. “Listen guy, you had better not by leading me on a wild goose chase or trying to set me up. I know you’re a midget, but how do I know you aren’t leading me someplace where I’m going to get robbed?”

Terry took out his identification for the newspaper and handed the driver forty dollars. “I’m notgoing to rob you. I work at a newspaper. This morning we got a phone call saying something happened out here, and I came here to investigate. That’s all.”

“Why didn’t you drive your own car?’

“I don’t have one. I don’t even have a driver’s license.”

“You don’t know how to drive.”

“I didn’t say that. Look, I live in the city and I find it easier and cheaper to use public transportation than to own a car. Please, just drive to the rear and let’s see if there is anything back there.”

“Okay,” Woody replied as he drove around to the back. They slowly moved along rear entrances of the deserted stores until they came to a pile of debris.

“You think this is it?” asked Woody.

“Don’t know,” Terry said as he slid out of the taxi. He hesitatingly walked to the pile. He quickly turned and ran back to Woody.

“Call the police,” Terry shouted.

“Why? What’s wrong?”

Terry point to the debris. “There’s a dead girl over there. This is more than a story. It’s murder.”

~ ~ ~

From his vantage point, he could see the taxi pull around the shopping center and stop several feet from the debris pile. They weren’t the police, so who were they? He watched as a short individual got out of the vehicle, walked over to the debris, and ran back to the driver. But they didn’t leave. The short guy walked back over to debris pile and started taking pictures with his cell phone. What a ghoul. Within minutes, there were police vehicles with their blue lights flashing. Patrol officers began stretching yellow tape around the debris, using their vehicles as posts for the crime scene tape. He became delighted at the sight of news vans with TV cameras arrived, along with additional police cars. He was disappointed when the police put up a plastic tarp to prevent the press from getting pictures of the body. He went back to his blue pickup and reached into a cooler, pulling out a cold beer. This is better than the movies he thought as he took a long swig from the can he was holding.

~ ~ ~

Terry tried to think of a logical explanation why four police cruisers had their lights flashing while they secured the crime scene behind an abandon building. Who were they trying to warn? It did make it easy for TV news crews and newspaper reporters to find them. Unfortunately for Terry, the City Times has sent Ashford to cover the story. Reporters were trying to find a position where they could get photos of the investigation. The police erected walls of blue plastic hiding the body and the crime scene from the eyes of the media.

Woody groaned as he sat back in the driver’s seat. “We could be here for hours before they move the body and take our statements. And I’m hungry. Hey, just so you know, I’m still running the meter. You’re going to owe me for waiting around here.”

“Are you kidding,” Terry exclaimed holding his hand out towards the blue tarp. “There’s a dead woman over there and you’re worried about getting paid.”

“Damn right.”

“I don’t blame you,” said a voice behind them.

Terry and Woody turned to face a man in chino slacks and a blue blazer. He had a detective’s shield on his belt.”

“I’m Detective Marshall. Nick Marshall. Need to talk to you about the body you found.”

“He found it,” Woody said pointing at Terry. “I’m just a taxi driver.”

Marshall turned his attention to Terry. “So, tell me what brought you out here?”

Terry pulled his hands out of his pockets. “Earlier today I got a phone call. The person at the other end told me there was a story out here behind an abandon shopping center. I got a taxi to drive me out here, where I found the poor girl murdered, and I immediately called you.”

“How do you know she was murdered?”

“With all of the blood on her clothes and the fact she was laying on a pile of debris, I assumed she was.”

“Okay. What can you tell me about the person who called you?”

“Nothing,” Terry replied. “I spoke to him for only a few seconds. He told me to look here and I would find a story. I looked, and I found the girl. That’s it.”

“That’s it?”

“I think he used a machine to distort his voice. It didn’t sound normal.”

“Okay. So, why do you think he called you?”

“He didn’t call me,” Terry explained. “He called the paper. I just happened to answer the phone.”

“Do you have any idea who might have called you?”


“Did you know the victim?”


“So as a journalist, you get a phone call and decide to check it out, on your own without reporting it to anyone?”

“Report what?” Terry said with a hint of frustration. “I can’t call the police every time I get a strange phone call. You know how many nuts are out there?”

The detective chuckled. “Yeah, I do. I’m a cop. I deal with them on a daily basis.”

“So do I,” Terry replied.

“Hey man,” interrupted Woody, “really, all we did was drive up and spot a dead girl. Then we called you. That’s it. Is it okay if we go now?”

“Sure,” answered Detective Marshall. “Just let me get your contact information and then you cango. 

Chapter Two

She woke up sweating– again. Paula Stanford threw the sheets off her six-foot, two-inch frame and planted her feet on the floor. She wiped the sweat from her face down her shoulder-length blond hair. She got up looking around for the bottle of Jim Beam she had been drinking. She found it on the end table next to the chair facing the television.

Beneath the bottle was a small piece of paper with the word muffin on it. This was her clue. The doctors at the VA gave her pills to help with her insomnia. They worked very well. So well that she would sleep walk. Onetime she woke up the next morning to discover several hamburgers from a local fast-food place. The receipt showed she had purchased the hamburgers at two o’clock in the morning, but she had no memory of it. Since then, she started hiding her keys. She placed the keys in a lock box, then hid the lock box and the key, each night in a different place. Then, she would place a clue as to the location of the key to the lock box. Today’s clue was muffin, which meant she hid the key to the lock box in the muffin tins she had in a kitchen drawer. For added security, she placed a stack of empty cans with small rocks in them in front of the door, hoping the noise from knocking them over would wake her. This way she kept from leaving the apartment. At least it gave her relief every morning to discover the cans had not been disturbed.

Her dilemma now was to take the pills and risk sleep walking or try to sleep without having nightmares. She closed her eyes. She was so tired, yet she could not sleep. Alcohol helped, but its relief was short-lived. She twisted the top off of the Jim Beam bottle but stopped short of taking a drink. A quick glance at the clock told her that her alarm would ring in less than two hours. No sense in going back to bed. Paula put the cap back on the bottle and got out her sweatpants. If she couldn’t sleep, she might as well run.

~ ~ ~

The next morning Terry sat at his desk going through photos of the dead girl on his cell phone. The photos showed a young woman, with multiple stab wounds to her abdomen and chest. Blood covered her dress. Her eyes stared vacantly into the air. It angered Terry the killer had dumped her in a pile of garbage. Terry had been very careful not to disturb anything at the scene. He put down his phone and picked up a picture of a pretty brunette from his desk.

“I miss you Kristen,” Terry said to the photo. “I went out on a story yesterday and I found a dead girl. Strange, it was always news before, but now, it’s different somehow. I mean I was a true reporter. I even got some photographs on my cellphone before the police arrived. But, it’s not a story, it’s not news. It’s a poor girl whose parents are going to find out their daughter was murdered, and we add to the pain by making it a headline. We use it to get more readers, ‘The more it bleeds, the more it reads.’ When did the news become more about sensationalism than caring for the victims? How I wish you were here. You always knew how to cover the news and care about the people at the same time.”

“Hey Runt. What are you doing?” Ashford said, walking up and banging the back of Terry’s chair. “Talking to yourself?”

Terry put the photo of his wife back on his desk. “I was thinking about the dead girl I found yesterday.”

“Looks like you were talking to your wife’s picture. I can’t believe such honey would marry someone like you. What was wrong with her?”

“Nothing was wrong with her,” Terry shouted. “She was perfect. And you have no right to insult her.

“Listen runt. I don’t care about her. What I want to know is who told you to go out and cover astory?”

“I did,” Terry answered. “And if you remember, I told you about it before I went out.”

“Yeah, yeah. Listen Runt, you’re a copy editor. Your job is here, at this desk, not out there on the road. Stay in your lane.”

“You mean stay here and let you get all of the glory for covering the news.”

“Hey, I’m a reporter,” Ashford said putting his hands to his chest before pointing to Terry. “You’re an editor. That’s your job.”

“Gee, and here I thought it was our job to cover thenews.”

“You know what’s worse than being short. It’s being a smart ass.”

“It’s better than being a dumb ass.”

“Knock it off you two,” yelled a large man, also known as Bill Fitch the managing editor. “Both of you, make like the Jolly Green Giant and can the crap.”

Ashford turned to Fitch and pointed to Terry. “Do you know what this runt did yesterday? He made a taxi driver take him around town…”

“And found a news story about a homicide,” Terry answered before Ashford could finish his sentence. “Look, there’s a real news story here.”

Fitch started in the newspaper business when they still used teletypes, long before the age of personal computers. Like all editors, he started as a reporter, even spending time as a war correspondent, before earning a position on the editorial staff.He knew and had experienced personal conflicts in news rooms. Fitch groaned and crossed his arms before responding to this one. “I know there is a story here, but Ashford’s right. Your position is here at the copy desk. That’s why I sent Ashford out there to handle the story. Besides, no one is as good as you for editing. I mean you’re a wiz at grammar and rewriting. As for you Ashford, quit giving Terry trouble just because he found a story and you didn’t. Now, both of you, get back to work.” Fitch stood there, watching both of them.

Terry reluctantly returned to his desk and began to gently touch the photo on his desk.

“You still miss her, don’t you?” Diana asked as she sat down next to Terry and passed him coffee in a Styrofoam cup. “How long has Kristen been gone?”

“Four years, three months, twelve days.”

“It’s been a long time. Maybe time for you to move on.”

“I know, but it’s hard. Kristen was the only one who saw me as a whole person, not some gag or trophy date. In high school, I was a joke. Girls would go out with me only to laugh about our date afterwards. I thought college would be different, but it wasn’t, until I met Kristen. She made me feel like John Wayne.”

Diana rubbed Terry’s shoulder. “Well cowboy, it’s time for you to get back in the saddle again.”

“Are you asking me out on a date?” Terry said with some surprise.

“Well, I don’t know Pilgrim,” Diana said in her best John Wayne voice. Both Terry and Diana smiled at the silly imitation. “Look, I know you loved Kristen; but you should move on. Hey, some of my girlfriends and I are going to that Wild West Show at the fairgrounds this evening, why don’t you join us.”

“I don’t know.”

“It’s friends getting together for some fun. Besides, I’m going to be there with three of my girlfriends, so joining us will not be any big deal.”

“I know, but it’s a girls’ night out. I don’t want to get in the way. I’ll just be extra baggage.” Terry replied.

“You’re not extra baggage. And it’s not really a girls’ night out. It’s coworkers getting together. Come on. Do something tonight other than going home to watch TV alone.”

“Nah, I’d hate to butt in.”

“What butting in.I’m asking you. All you’re doing is meeting us at the fairgrounds. The worst that could happen is you join us for a drink afterwards. If the girl talk gets too much, you can always cut out on your own.”

“Okay. I’ll meet you there. When does the show begin?”

“It begins at eight, so try to hook up with us at around seven thirty.”

~ ~ ~

Paula Stanford was in a bad mood. She usually was after her appointments with the mental health counselor at the VA. “Deep breaths,” or “you should try meditation,” wasn’t what Paula wanted to hear when talking about her anger issues, depression, and insomnia. The VA had put her on drugs for her depression and anger problems, which proved ineffective. It took Paula months to finally lose the weight the medication made her gain. To make matters worse, she was late for her exercise class, and she hated to be late, mainly because she was the instructor. She hurried along the sidewalk, silently cursing while darting between slow moving pedestrians, trying not to hit anyone with her gym bag. She quickly looked down and made sure it was secure against her side. She didn’t see the short man until she ran into him, knocking him down.

Terry, surprised at being bowled over, looked up at the tall blond woman standing over him.

“Sorry,” the Amazon said with some frustration as she bent down to help Terry up.

“It’s all right, I should have watched where I was going.”

“No, I should have watched where I was going. Hope I didn’t hurt you.” The woman still sounded hostile.

Terry blushed. “No, I’m fine.”

Paula stood there for a moment, angry at herself for crashing into someone, trying to think of something to say.

“Really, I’m fine,” Terry said to relieve the embarrassment of the situation.

“Again, I’m sorry. I’m in a bit of a rush and I didn’t mean to knock you down. Are you sure you’re all right? I didn’t hurt you. Did I?” This time she sounded sincere.

Terry smiled and appreciated the change of tone in her voice. “Honestly, I’m fine. No problems.”

The blond Amazon smiled. Terry could tell she was a bit embarrassed

“Yeah, well, take care. Again, sorry for knocking you down,” she said.

“It’s okay.”

“Thank you for understanding.” Paula nodded and continued on her way.

~ ~ ~

Bright lights, noise from carnival rides, and food wagons surprised Terry. He had expected to see cowboys riding horses and bulls in a dirt ring, not this transitory festival to the old West. Terry wandered through the crowd looking for Diana and her friends, a feat made considerable more difficult due to his height. Terry realized he was getting hungry and stepped up to a food truck serving corndogs.

“Out of the way, shrimp,” said a man dressed in blue jeans, a polo shirt, and a faded baseball cap, butting his way in front of Terry.

“Excuse me. But I was here first,” Terry interjected

The individual wasn’t particularly imposing. He was average height, which was almost two feet taller than Terry. He had a slight paunch and was unshaven. He barely gave Terry a glance before ignoring him and ordering two corn dogs. Terry realized the futility of pursuing the matter any further.

The man took his food and faced Terry. “Kiss off shrimp.”

Terry and the vendor watched the man walk away. “Sorry about that,” the vendor said. “I hate it when customers are rude to others. Hey, what can I do for you?”

Terry smiled and waved his hand. “It’s okay. It’s not your fault. Can I get two corn dogs and a Coke?”

“Sure thing.” The vendor disappeared from the window, only to return a moment later with Terry’s order. “Here you go. And here, have a pretzel on the house. You deserve it after the way that guy treated you.”

“Thanks,” Terry replied, accepting the vendor’s hospitality. Terry finished his food and was sipping his drink when he spotted the offensive man from the vendor’s stand talking to a young woman in a flowered summer dress and her friend. While he couldn’t hear what was said, Terry could tell the women wanted the conversation to end, but the man did not. Some people can’t take a hint Terry thought, and it was obvious that this individual was going to need bright lights, a large sign, and being hit with a taser before he realized the women didn’t welcome his company.

Terry walked over to the group. “Do you ladies need some help?”

“Buzz off,” the individual responded vehemently. “This is none of your business.”

Terry shook his head slightly. “Well maybe I want to make it my business,” Terry replied as he balled his fists. Terry quickly realized the foolishness of this act. He knew he could not defeat the rude man in any kind of physical confrontation. Still, he didn’t back down.”

The rude individual laughed at the challenge. “You walk away and we’ll forget you were ever here.”

“Hey,” said the woman in a flowered dress. “Why don’t we walk away? Really, no one wants any trouble, so let’s all forget all of this.” 

The man turned as the women walked away, leaving him standing alone. Terry could see he was upset, which pleased Terry very much.

“I should beat the crap out of you,” the individual said.

“You can, but it won’t bring back the ladies. All it will do is get you thrown in jail for assault.”

The individual walked away without saying a word.

Terry waved his fingers at the man’s back. Terry continued to wander through the festival atmosphere, looking for Diana. He stopped and tried his hand at a dart game hoping to win a prize he could conveniently give to Diana. He wasn’t successful. Minutes later, he saw the rude individual again, this time talking to Diana and several of her friends.

Terry and walked up to the group. “Can I help you ladies?” Terry asked.

“Terry,” Diana exclaimed happily. “Good to see you. We’ve been waiting for you.”

“You’ve been waiting for him?” the unpleasant individual said pointing to Terry. “What do you want with a shrimp when you can have a real man?”

“You really do have a problem with people, don’t you?” Terry said stepping in front of the individual.

Diana forced her way between Terry and the rude individual. “Well, he’s our friends and we promised we would spend the evening with him. Sorry, but we really do need to keep our promise.”

“Yeah, yeah. I get it. It’s a pity date for the shrimp.” To everyone’s relief, the unpleasant man left.

 “Don’t listen to him,” Diana said “I’m glad you came along. You provided a good excuse to get rid of him. Come on in. It should be a fun show.”

~ ~ ~

Paula forced a smile as she waved her arms to the beat of the music which she could barely hear over the noise from carnival rides. She couldn’t pass up this opportunity to promote the gym where she worked and hopefully recruit new members. What she really couldn’t pass up the opportunity to earn extra money for doing the demonstration. The audience had been sparse during the performance of the main attraction in the arena. Now that it was over, more people had joined. Below the stage were several young boys watching her. Paula made it a point to smile and give them a small wave of her hand. The boys giggled and whispered to each other. Paula was sure it was some stupid juvenile joke, probably about her height. She wanted to jump off the stage, grab the kids by the throat, and demand to know what they were laughing at. Instead she kept smiling and dancing. The music ended and a few members in the audience clapped their hands. Paula picked up a towel and wiped the sweat from her face.

“Thank you all for attending,” Paula addressed the meager audience. “Be sure to come by our gym on Broad Street for a free lesson and more information about our programs. We have information on our programs and rates here for your convenience.” The audience slowly disappeared from the front of the stage. The smile slowly faded from Paula’s face. She had gotten warmer receptions from the DMV. The carnival was shutting down for the evening, and the stage hands were anxious to finish their work and find a nearby bar where they could complain about cheap pay, cheap customers, and cheap politicians. She envied them. She didn’t care about the cheap customers or the cheap politicians, but she certainly could use a drink. Paula thanked those who performed with her. Within a few minutes, she stood alone; even the stage hands had finished and were gone. She grabbed her gym bag, the remaining pamphlets, and started towards her car.

~ ~ ~

The unpleasant man made his way to his car. He was still upset at that dwarf interrupting him when he was talking to the young women at the arena. That dwarf was the same one who had interrupted him earlier when he was talking to those other two women. Not that it mattered, he found that lady in the flowered dress alone. She had become separated from her friend. She still didn’t want to talk to him. Well, he fixed that. He taught her a lesson. He actually enjoyed what he did to her. He wished he could have done something to teach the shrimp a lesson too. Maybe he would get the opportunity later.  He took out his keys. He didn’t have time to look for the dwarf, he had to leave.

He backed up his pickup truck. Suddenly, he felt a jolt and heard a crash. Damn it he thought as he looked in rear view mirror. He had run into a parked car behind him. Better leave before someone see me, the individual thought as he put the truck into drive. Tires spun wildly, kicking up dirt as he sped away.

~ ~ ~

Paula had to jump back to avoid being hit by a blue pickup truck. “Hey, look where you’re going,” she yelled the single taillight moving away from her. She cursed at the truck as it skidded around some cars and accelerated. It skidded around another row of cars. The driver kept going and was soon out of sight.

Paula continued on her way. She groaned when she got to her car. Someone had run into it, smashing the right front fender and headlight. She just knew in her bones it was the truck that almost hit her. It was like twisted Karma. Fortunately, she could still drive the car. Unfortunately, it was going to cost her more than she could afford to get it repaired.