I considered writing a post about old friends because the book I am currently writing, A Silent Place to Die, involves a number of characters who are old friends of Grace Kimball, the main character.  But I believe it would be wise to talk about Grace first.  Other posts will follow about her friends.

Let’s look at one of Grace’s conflicts and the former students she sees as she lives in the tiny town of Endurance. Then let’s listen in on one of the conversations she has with her friends.  Ah, an introduction to Grace!

Grace is a widow and her husband Roger died years ago, leaving her with three children to raise on her own.  After Roger’s untimely heart attack, his sister, Lettisha, moved in for a number of years to help Grace with the children.  Grace also was aided by three friends whom she met during those early years, and even now they are highly involved in her life and will be knee-deep in the murders that take place during the course of the book.

Conflict.  Grace is a recently retired English teacher in Endurance, Illinois, who taught for twenty-five years after Roger’s death, and she is having a few problems with her retirement.  What to do?  Here are some of her thoughts:

Two weeks earlier she had cleared out her file cabinets, erased the whiteboards for the last time, piled up the textbooks in neat rows, emptied her desk drawers, and carted home only a few precious mementoes from a lifetime of teaching high school English.  That hadn’t been so hard really. The bad part was turning in her room keys, keys that had jingled in her pockets for twenty-five years.  That was when she realized she was done.  Now she would gather her thoughts and settle into her big house, empty since her children had left.*

While Grace contemplates the next part of her life, she keeps running into former students in the little town of 15,000.  As she recognizes them, we read some of her thoughts:

Another one she remembered.  Lacey Lancing.  Probably about twenty-three.  Has two kids and is married to a guy who works for IDOT.  Terrible speller.  Did her research paper on whether the Loch Ness Monster–spelled ‘Lock Nest Monstir’–could be related to Big Foot.*  


Jimmy Dolan.  He must be in his forties by now.  I remember he gave a speech on the history of condoms, hoping to shock me.  I think he has six kids.  What does that say for the old axiom that knowledge is power? *

Finally, let’s sit in on a conversation with her three friends–Deb, Jill and TJ–who are having lunch at the Cafe on the Square downtown in early June:

     “I don’t know where all that will end,” murmured Deb, and then it was quiet.  Within seconds the calm was shattered by Grace’s cell phone playing the theme from Jaws.
     “Ah, that’s Lettie,” announced Grace, touching the “answer” button.
     Deb glanced at Jill and whispered, “Her sister-in-law gets the theme from Jaws?”
     “Ours is not to question why–“
     “What? Who called?”  Then there was silence again.  “Sure. Be right home.” Grace broke the connection.
     “An emergency?”  TJ questioned.
     “Oh, that was Lettie.  She’s puttering around my kitchen making a pie.  She declared it was an emergency because a man called me and wants me to call him back.”
     Deb, TJ, and Jill eyed each other.
     “And this is a problem because–“
     “When was the last time I had a male caller?”
     TJ responded, “How long have I been alive?  Did she get the name by any chance?”
     “Of course not. This is Lettie we’re talking about.”
     “Could be interesting.  I’ll have to check back with you later this afternoon,” Deb surmised.  “And then I’ll call Jill.”
     “And then you’ll call me,” TJ nodded to Jill, as she scraped her chair on the cement and dropped a few bills on the table.*

Shortly after this conversation, Grace will become involved in multiple murders in her quiet, little town.  People she knows have secrets they must hide. Because Grace has the curiosity of a cat, her own life will be threatened and she will discover that all is not what it seems in the picture-perfect town of Endurance.

*copyright, Brakelight, LLC, 2012