It's Black Friday. If you're out shopping, I wish you luck. You are a braver soul than I.
As a mystery writer, the phrase "Black Friday" twists another direction for me: it sounds like the title of a murder mystery. For fun, I've taken that idea and cobbled together what it might look like from a few different genres of mystery. Happy Thanksgiving/Black Friday everyone.
Thanksgiving was even more tense than usual. The entire town was nervous. Prayers of thanks had been more fervent this year and quickly shifted into prayers asking for protection. It had started on New Year's Day. Then Valentine's. Then Easter, the Fourth of July, even Veteran's Day. The town paper already had the headline ready for tomorrow: "Black Friday -- Holiday Homicides continue."
John knew his client was innocent. Maybe "knew" was too strong. He thought he was innocent. It didn't really matter, legally speaking. And it shouldn't have mattered from a personal standpoint. But for John it did.
John had spent Thanksgiving nodding politely at the dinner conversation and not really hearing anything. His client hadn't spoken since his arrest last Friday. With no ID and no hits after his fingerprints were taken, the police referred to him as "Black Friday," blending their racism with the upcoming holiday to create a moniker for the anonymous man they'd arrested.
The evidence continued to gnaw at John. Something was missing. He'd need to put the puzzle pieces together, showing the jury a different picture. But to do that, John needed to first find the missing pieces.
Uncle Bertrand sat in his favorite armchair, reading the paper and occasionally clearing the phlegm from his throat. The leather squeaked with every slight movement Uncle Bertrand made. Thanksgiving had gone surprisingly well. No one liked Uncle Bertrand. Holiday squabbling, however, had been strangely muted this year. Uncle Bertrand slouched to the side of his chair, apparently falling into a post-meal slumber.
[but wait, it's not tryptophan, it's poison! And all family members are now suspects. Uncle Bertrand's niece, Constance, must unravel family secrets to find the Black Friday murderer.]
The mall was a zoo. Bodies crowded and crashed into one another as they grabbed for the best of post-Thanksgiving deals. Lonnie needed to find one guy in this mess of body odor and consumer excitement. And he needed to find him quick. The proverbial needle in the haystack. Cyrus was nasty. He snapped necks like kids snapped wishbones after Thanksgiving meals, with a smile and excitement.
Shots rang out from The Cheesecake Factory. Lots of shots. Lots of screams.
Lonnie dashed to the door. Too late. Cyrus was gone. He left eight bodies. Blood covered the floor. Brain matter slid down the wall. A clump of hair stuck to the board advertising the daily specials.
"Welcome to Black Friday," thought Lonnie.
Friday was black. The ionized air lifted the hair on my arms as the storm rolled in. Clouds twisted upon themselves as they raced across the purple sky. Though midday, sunlight struggled to find its way through the roiling mess.
The darkness crept over everything. Or maybe the darkness was instead crawling out of my heart, changing how I saw everything around me. Since Sara's murder, I felt as though I'd collapsed in a house of mirrors. I couldn't find reality. There were fractures everywhere I looked.
Today, though, I was ready to crawl out. I owed that to Sara. She'd whispered one word to me as she died. One word. I was ready to unlock it, no matter where it led me. One word: giblets.