A blog where Stephanie M. Belser test-drives her fictional stories.
Expect the occasional
"stall, spin, crash & burn".

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Yet Another Project; Ch.1

This is one that I've been working on for awhile:
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Chapter 1

I was sitting at my desk in my cubbyhole of an office in Tyson’s Corner. There was a nice, hot cup of coffee on the desk. I had my feet up. I was reading the Washington Post. I try to pay attention to the local political shenanigans, not because I’m a political junkie, but out of professional interest. When there is a serious political feud going on, people get interested in digging up deeply buried scandals. They want to find the skeletons that are so far back in the closet that they’re in old garment bags. It helps if I keep abreast of who is gunning for whom.

Digging up dirt is part of what I do. I’m a private detective.

The receptionist buzzed me to let me know that I had a client. My cubbyhole is in the offices of another private detective. She, in turn, shares a receptionist with three other offices. Two of them are new lawyers who had recently hung out their shingles; the third is some guy who claims to be a “financial planner”, which is probably some new breed of confidence artist.

I swung my feet off the desk and told her to send the client in. He was tall, pale, and white, with semi-short hair that was trending from blond to grey. “Good morning, my name is Jens Hauger,” he said.

I stood up and shook his hand. Hauger was wearing what appeared to be a reasonably expensive suit which gave him a European air. If he was armed, he concealed it well and the suit would have had to have been custom-tailored for it.

“My card,” he said, and proffered it.

“Have a seat,” I said, as I did so, as well. I looked at the card. It was appropriately thick and embossed. It said that he was the Chief Security Officer for the Royal Norwegian Embassy. I guessed that was the Norwegian royal coat of arms on the card.
Hauger reached into his inside suit coat pocket. The right side top drawer of my desk was open, a Ruger Security Six .357 Magnum was in it. My hand drifted towards the drawer.

His eyes twinkled a little as his hand came out holding some folding money. He placed that on my desk and slid it over towards me.
“Consulting fee,” he said.

I picked it up, four $50 bills. I put them back down.

“How may I be of assistance,” I asked.

Hauger began to reach for his jacket pocket again. This time, he pulled out a photograph and two small sheets of paper. He handed them to me. The photograph was a copy of a consulate ID card for a Peter Haupmann, who was forty six years old. The papers had details about Haupmann.

“Who’s Haupmann,” I asked.

“He works in our financial affairs office. He’s essentially a liaison between my government, Norwegian and American banks and your banking industry regulators.

“Sounds like a German name,” I said.

Hauger nodded. “Correct, Mr. Hawkins. But to answer your unspoken question, the war was a long time ago.”

I was skeptical. The war was a long time ago for Americans, but Norway had been an occupied country. Children with bitter memories of the hard times, both during and after the war, would be Haupmann’s age, maybe a few of years older. Stories would be told and handed down from generation to generation- How the Germans Shot Uncle Jan Johansen, and so on. Europeans were far better at holding on to their history than Americans. There’d be no forgetting.

“How does a German end up working for the Norwegian Crown,” I asked.

“Because he’s not German. His mother was Norwegian. She came to the States after the war. She later married an American banker. Haupmann went to Yale University and the Harvard School of Business.”

“So he’s an American?”

“Dual citizenship,” Hauger said. “Norwegian citizenship is conveyed at birth through the mother. His mother raised him to speak Norwegian as well as English. He spent a year of high school in Norway on an exchange program.”

“If you don’t mind my getting down to it: What’s the job?”

Hauger sighed. “I fear that something is wrong in his personal life. It may be something serious, something that could pose a security threat to my embassy or my country. But I have no indication that he is corrupt or has been turned by another nation.”

“You have a feeling?”

Hauger paused for a second. “Yes, a feeling. Haupmann is a valuable staffer. If I open a formal investigation, even if nothing is found, there will be a stain on his reputation in my country’s diplomatic service. It will damage his career and we might lose him to a banking house.”

“Where he would make a lot more money?”
“Yes, very much so.”

I mulled it over. “I would have trouble getting into his finances, you know.”

Hauger shook his head slightly. “I can get you signed releases from Haupmann.”

He looked at me. I looked back at him. Hauger was patient. No surprise, for he was either a policeman or a spy. Maybe both. Those trades teach patience.

“No,” I said.

“ ‘No?’ Why not,” Hauger sat back in the chair, looking slightly puzzled.

“I don’t doubt that Haupmann’s who you say he is. But I don’t know who you are.”

“I have my passport and embassy ID,” he offered.

I shook my head. “Passports can be fixed, business cards can be made by any print shop and I wouldn’t know what a genuine Norwegian Embassy ID looked like.” I picked up the money he had dropped on my desk. I took a fifty and tossed the rest back across the desk.

Hauger looked at the bills and made no move to pick them up. “I have already accounted for the expenditure,” he said, as if to himself. He looked thoughtful, probably thinking over what he might say to persuade me to change my mind.

He stood up. “Good day, Mr. Hawkins.”

“Good day, Mr. Hauger,” I replied.

Hauger nodded his head once and left my office. He had left the rest of the money on my desk.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

BRANDED!

Not this, by the way:


Being older than dirt, I remember when "brands" were names such as Hershey's, Levi's, Proctor & Gamble, Maytag and so on. But now, a "brand" is everything. The esteemed law firm of Boyd, Dewey, Cheatham & Howe is a brand. And so, it seems, am I.

The "experts" say that a brand should post frequently. I didn't post anything at all in 2018 and this is #3 for 2019.

So I guess I get an "F" for self-promotion. Which, in a way, suits me. I'm from both a time and an area of the country where self-promotion was deemed to be beneath an honest person. Self-promotion was the domain of used-car dealers and storefront loan joints.

Of all the things in life I'm not good at, I can take this one.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Chapter Seven of "The Jamokan Affair"

That's the title that I have settled on, for now.
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I followed Sheila Ellis out of Holmes’s office. Ellis was maybe 5’6” and appeared to be Asian. I don’t know the differences between the different nations of East Asia to be able to tell where she or her people were from. Didn’t much care.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“Medical,” she said.

And Medical was where we went. They had a nearly-complete copy of my medical record already. I was inspected, injected, detected, infected and made to drink some pretty vile stuff. They ran me through some sort of whole-body scanner. Then it was off to dental, where they fixed two nascent cavities. The tech said that my teeth were discolored enough for the outer worlds, which didn’t sound like a compliment.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Writing Fiction; Social Responsibility or Self-Censorship?

I like to write fiction. For various reasons (health, family, other projects), I haven't been doing a lot of it recently. But I keep thinking of story ideas.

Here's the issue: What if I come up with a great idea, a method of doing X, with "X" being a crime of some nature, that, as far as I know, has not been written about, much less attempted. What if, as I envision it, X all hangs together? It would not be a perfect crime, as in either undetectable or one where the perps cannot be proven to have done the crime.

But it might work, as in the perps would be able to pull it off. Do I write it up and publish it somewhere. Do I have a moral responsibility if somebody takes that idea and tries to use it, not for a story, but for a crime?

I kind of, sort of, think that I do. Which is why I have ideas for stories that will never be hammered out on a keyboard. I might commit them to paper, but in the traditional "ink on paper" sense, not in the "type into a word-processing program" sense. But you, Gentle Reader, will never see them. At least, not from me.

For those are the times that we live in.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

SCREEEEECHHHH!!!

I've got two novels underway. Recently, all I've managed to do is reread and revise what I've done. I'm not making any real headway on either.

On the other hand, it's not as though I've been making any serious money at this.

Anyway, Happy Holidays. And follow the Bangor Rules.

Friday, June 30, 2017

More SF

Points of Impact, the sixth book in the series, can now be pre-ordered.

It's due out in January, so if you haven't read #1 through #5, you have time.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Chapter 6 of "No Working Title Yet"

Well, that's not for certain. I have a couple of titles in mind. In my computer's directory, it's titled "Project 8". Earlier projects include a work that I got about three chapters into and then I lost interest. There are a couple of completed first drafts. One of which I printed out-- the hard copy has enough red marks in it to almost use up an ink pen.

But that's neither here nor there, I guess. So, without further ado:

Chapter Six:

Two hours later, there were scraping noises and a little bit of thumping. The door at the front of the cabin opened and the same woman came out. She went to what I now presumed to be an airlock, opened the inner door and stepped inside. Then she opened the outer door and came back into the cabin.

“Thank you for flying with Fakawi Spacelines, have a nice day, buh-bye,” she said with a grin. Then she went back wherever she had come from.

“Seriously? ‘Fakawi Spacelines’,” I asked, as we went to the lockers to get my baggage.

Amy shrugged. “Spacers are weird. It’s a really boring job, most of the time.”

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Chapter 5 of "No Working Title Yet"

The alarm shrilled at 0230. I felt pretty well rested. I got up, brushed my teeth, made a pass through my hair with an travel brush and got dressed. Everything was packed away five minutes before Amy showed up. She was right on time.

“I imagine that one doesn’t leave tips for housekeeping, here,” I said.

“That’s right. You ready,” she asked.

“Lead on,” I said.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Chapter 4 of "No Working Title Yet"

“Are you hungry,” Amy asked.

“I can eat,” I said.

“OK, then let’s get something,” she said. Still playing Sherpa, she towed my suitcase and laptop bag behind her, as I followed. By my watch, it was well after 2PM. ‘I can eat’ was an understatement.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Chapter 3

I stayed late that evening, finishing up reports and clearing my desk.  Some things I wasn’t able to do, so I just sent them back to my supervisor with a note that he needed to pass them off.  I didn’t tell him anything about my assignment, for if he hadn’t been told by the brass, he didn’t have a need to know.  Compartmentalization is the rule in this game.

When I went home, I packed. Since the sheet had said “light industrial”, I packed a pair of steel-toe  flight deck boots from a job on an aircraft carrier.  Short and long sleeved work shirts, all cut with some extra room. Jeans and work pants.

My personal gun selection was not huge.  If I need something specialized, I normally can draw it from the armory at work or in the field.  In a pocket under the laptop, I stowed a 4” .357 in a holster, along with 50 rounds of heavy magnum rounds, 50 rounds of 9mm hollowpoints, and 20 round of .38 wadcutters.  The 9mm ammo was for a Smith & Wesson Ladysmith, the wadcutters for a Smith & Wesson Airweight.  I dropped in two magazines for the 9mm, two speed loaders for the .357 and a couple of extra speed strips.  Then I packed pens, two small notebooks and a digital camera.