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Crooked is the story of a Private Investigator's battle to quit smoking cold turkey, which causes him to have dreams so terrifying sleep is the one thing he fears most until he receives a call that submerges him into an underworld so corrupt...when a notable mob boss is murdered Kelly must find out why.
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Crooked is the story of a Private Investigator's battle to quit smoking cold turkey, which causes him to have dreams so terrifying sleep is the one thing he fears most until he receives a call that submerges him into an underworld so corrupt...when a notable mob boss is murdered Kelly must find out why.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781481751605
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 5/16/2013
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Read an Excerpt


By Frederick McClendon


Copyright © 2013 Frederick McClendon
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4817-5159-9



The telephone rang at 11:16 p.m. on Saturday, October 8. Kelly had a habit of gazing at the clock when he heard the phone ring, one of the many bad habits he had picked up as a cop. The raindrops that beat against the kitchen window sounded like bombs dropped from an F-16.

Large bolts of lightning lit the heavens, followed by roaring claps of thunder. He thought of his mother, who had a habit of turning off all the electrical appliances in the house during a storm, out of fear that they attracted lightning.

The voice on the other end of the phone was frantic, rambling about a dead body in a restaurant.

"Slow down," Kelly demanded as he looked at the unopened pack of Newports that sat on the living-room table with the clock, remote control, and lamp. He reached for the remote and turned down the volume on Law and Order until it was almost inaudible.

Another clap from the heavens rocked the house again. Kelly sat almost upright. He almost pushed the power button when he saw the lightning illuminate the T.V. screen.

The constant turning of his stomach tormented him. The feeling was caused not by the weather outside but by the endless yearning to smoke. This desire to smoke was much different from the childhood peer pressures that had caused him to start smoking in the first place. This addiction, which he tried to ignore, brought forth a feeling of death.

Trying to compose herself, the caller continued. "I need you, Mr. Kelly. You see, my son was arrested for a murder he could not have committed."

"Wait!" Kelly interrupted. He watched two figures on the television set; one struck the other over the head with a gun and dragged his body into the woods. "Another 'my son is innocent until it is proven that he was indeed guilty' story?"

"I can understand your being judgmental. And I certainly can't tell you that my son is an angel," the voice continued. "But I was here when the telephone rang that night; I gave the phone to James myself. Even Miss Black, his lawyer, questioned the timing. If he left here at two in the morning after he spoke on the phone, it is impossible he could have killed that detective, because the detective got shot a little after midnight."

Kelly listened intently as the voice, which he recognized to be southern, aroused his curiosity. "You mentioned Miss Black," he said as he switched the phone to his left ear, freeing his right hand to pick up the pack of cigarettes. A sudden crack from the heavens above scared the daylights out of Kelly, causing him to drop the cigarettes. He picked them up and placed them back on the coffee table. "Were your referring to the lawyer Miss Julie Black?"

"Yes, she is handling James's case, and she said if anyone can find out what happened, you can."

"I'm sorry, Mrs. James's Mother." The urge to rip open the pack of cigarettes and smoke until the shakes were gone gripped him. He stood up and went into the kitchen as another bolt of lightning lit the house. He put some ice into a glass, poured some water, and returned to the couch. The phone was dead long before he realized he was talking to himself. He put the phone down and once again looked at the unopened box of cigarettes.

The torment he felt from the lack of cigarettes made him intolerable. He knew this based on an altercation he had had with Allen a couple of days before over a smart remark Allen had made about Kelly not being a real cop. Kelly had broken Allen's nose. He felt it best to stay away from people until he felt better.

It was not long before he fell asleep and the TV was watching him.

He woke with his fingers to his mouth as if he were holding a cigarette. He mimicked blowing smoke rings before he realized the phone was ringing. He looked at the clock; it was 12:35 in the morning. The pack of cigarettes, which sat on his chest, fell to the floor when he reached to answer the phone.

It was Julie. He could always tell when she was upset, because she would always begin the conversation with "Hello, mister!" Then, afterward, she never let him get a word in edgewise. "Mrs. Turner called you earlier, and you turned her down, Kelly. Why?" Without a breath, seemingly not even wanting an answer, she went on. "That boy could not possibly have killed that cop." She paused. Once again, he knew to say nothing. "I just want to remind you of one thing."

"Sure, if you give—"

"I clearly remember the day that you said you don't ever want anyone to go through what you did." Once again, the phone went dead.

* * *

On Sunday, October 9, as he sat at his kitchen table with a cup of coffee in front of him, Kelly reluctantly picked up his cell phone and dialed Mrs. Turner's number. "Mrs. Turner, it's Kelly; please don't hang up," he said as he put the box of cigarettes in his shirt pocket. "I apologize for last night. I'm going through withdrawals, and I don't know if you should trust that."

"Well, Mr. Kelly, I feel thus far Julie has done a remarkable job on my son's case." He sensed she was relieved. "I am totally confident that she would not have recommended you if you were incapable."

"I have not smoked in one full day now, and it's killing me." He picked up the cup off the table, took a sip, and placed it back in the same spot.

"Get yourself some peppermints or hard candy. It will help you deal."

"I'll go right now—thanks! Can we meet? I would like to talk to you about your son."

"I need someone who is on point, Mr. Kelly. Because of Julie, I believe in you, but you must believe in yourself—withdrawals or not."

"You're right, Mrs. Turner. This is just one of the hardest things I ever did in my life." Kelly continued talking, still holding the cell phone to his ear, as he stood up, he reassured himself that the cigarettes was in his pocket, and went out to the car.

He turned the key in the ignition and switched on the radio. Reports of power outages, fallen trees, and numerous delays rocked the city. "Please do me a favor and don't tell Miss Black yet. I kind of like it when she is mad at me."

After writing Mrs. Turner's address in his notepad, he hung up the cell phone, backed out of his driveway, and proceeded to the nearest Rite Aid, which was on Flatbush Avenue. He put every bag of peppermints in his cart and proceeded to the nearest cashier. She was an older white woman. Her tired expression gave Kelly the impression that she had worked hard all her life, and her reward was having to stand long hours as a Rite Aid employee.

After tallying all the candy, which came to twenty-six dollars and change, she looked up at Kelly. "I know what you are going through, and believe me, the first two weeks are the worst," she said with a warm smile.

"I wake with my fingers to my mouth," he said, imitating his smoking posture.

"And after you eat, it makes you feel like the whole world is coming to an end!" She handed him his change and placed the mints into a plastic bag.

"That's just it; I am scared to eat. I get very irritable. Yesterday I felt the need to jump out of a window. I looked out of the dining room window; lucky for me, it was on the first level. So for the rest of the day, I went without eating." Pity was not something he wanted from the much older ex-smoker. He felt satisfied knowing that he was not the only one going through this experience.

"I quit after my husband died. We smoked for over forty-five years. You think you got it bad, son, try grieving and going through withdrawals at the same time. Then come back and talk to me."

"It's the dreams." He picked up the bag and walked away from the counter with a confidence that lasted for only a moment. "One more thing: just remember, there is no easier part." He began to pop peppermint after peppermint into his mouth as he walked out into the cold.

Kelly headed directly from Rite Aid to Mrs. Turner's home. He drove through Sterling Place until he found number 562. It was one of the best-kept buildings on the block; it was gated and had neatly lined garbage cans.

Looking up at the building after parking his car, he noticed flowerpots in most of the windows. After entering the first of two doors, he found the name Turner on the intercom and rang the bell.

Buildings with four floors or less were not required to have elevators. He walked over to the staircase, looked up between landings, and thought about how small it looked at the top. As he approached the third floor, he heard the clicking of latches and the opening of a door.

After reaching the fourth and final landing, out of breath, he looked past the half-open door at a woman standing there with a half-baked smile, which he understood from their conversation the other night.

She wore no makeup and had not a blemish. She wore a short Halle Berry hairdo. She was somewhat taller and darker than Halle Berry, but she reminded him of her in detail. She had one of those faces that, whether her hair was long or short, would complement a truck wreck.

She led Kelly past the kitchen into the living room. The kitchen was much brighter, with decorative white wallpaper. A fruit bowl filled with apples, oranges, and grapes sat on the kitchen table, along with a matching set of salt and peppershakers. Except for the bathroom, the kitchen was the only room without parquet floors. The bathroom had black and white marble tiles, and the kitchen had linoleum.

"I love your place," he said as she gestured to him to sit anywhere. He sat on a burgundy sectional across from a massive oak china closet. A beautiful glass coffee table sat in between.

"Thank you, Mr. Kelly. We can complement each other until the cows come home." She sat on a leather recliner to the right side of the door less entrance. He took out a notepad, a pen, and a voice recorder, and then, from his shirt pocket, he took out the pack of Newports and neatly placed them in front of him.

"I don't allow smoking in my apartment," she said as her gaze at Kelly intensified.

"You have no idea how bad I want to tear into this pack of cigarettes. Thank you for your advice, Mrs. Turner." He reached into his inside pocket and placed some peppermints in front of him beside the pack of cigarettes. "Every time I tried to slow down, I ended up smoking more."

"So you decided to go cold turkey?"

"Yes, it's been one complete day now." He examined the pictures across from him.

As they engaged in small talk, a picture that sat on the shelf just above the TV captured Kelly's attention, and he began to write down James's distinguishing features in his notepad. As he shifted to more case-related conversation, he was popping peppermint after peppermint.

"Please excuse me," he said, noticing her concern. "Do you know the real reason I turned you down at first?" he asked, changing the subject from her curiosity with him to the case.

"No, but I know you're going to tell me."

"Mrs. Turner, you seem like a very up-front type of person. I like that. I, on the other hand, am a straight-to-the-point kind of person. I want you to know what I'll do if I find out at the end of this that your son was involved."

"Mr. Kelly." She paused. "I must stop you right there." Her stare was penetrating. She sat up straight. "That cop got killed at about midnight. Someone called James at around one forty-five in the morning."

"When we first spoke, you said James got the call about two in the morning."

"No! Mr. Kelly, I said James left here at about two in the morning. Look, I have my bill right here." She stepped over and handed Kelly an itemized account of all the calls made to and from her home that she downloaded from the internet.

He scanned the bill until he came to the date and time in question. "Mrs. Turner, I'm going to be totally honest with you. Anyone could have made those calls."

"That is what they said to Miss Black." She picked up her coffee and then put it down without drinking any. "Mr. Kelly, I'll be the first to tell you that my son is no angel. I know in my heart that he did not kill anyone on that night. He was here."

Kelly continued to look around the enormous living room. Every now and then, he stopped and wrote something down in his notepad.

Later that evening, Kelly sat at his computer keyboard, inputting information. After the death of his mother and father, Kelly had chosen to be alone. He created a file and named it, "The James Turner Case." He wanted so badly to pick up the phone and call Julie. However, gut intuition persuaded him otherwise. Besides, what would he say? He knew she was upset over him turning down the case, and he could not find a way of telling her yet that he had indeed taken the case. He spent the better part of two hours staring at his computer screen, his eyes shifting down from time to time to the well-placed pack of cigarettes that constantly nagged and poked at him.

On day two, Kelly woke with his fingers to his mouth. He remembered dreaming of a pack of cigarettes chasing him through a mall. It had to have been after hours, because all the stores were closed. He had found that the gate to a jewelry store was open, and with feet that moved like molasses, he had slowly made his way in. He had climbed through a hole in the ceiling, trying to hide, only to find that he was stuck, the cigarettes coming closer and closer to chomping off his toes with long, sharp teeth.

He rolled over, picked up the phone, and dialed Julie's number. "I'm glad I got you before you went to the office."

"Oh, now you want to talk to me," Julie said with enough sarcasm to raise the roof.

"Please, not now, Julie. I need to use the office to research this case I'm working on." He sat up on the edge of the bed, picked up the pack of cigarettes, and then put them down in the exact some spot.

"Now you need me, and I'm supposed to just become so excited and say yes?"

"You didn't give me a chance to speak, Julie."

"Okay, Mr. Kelly. Please, by all means, explain to me why you turned this case down. Besides, I'll be in court most of the day."

He pulled a chair up to the cabinet where he kept the tea, climbed up, and pulled out a tea bag. He placed a cup of water in the microwave and nuked it as he listened to her talk. "First of all, young lady, you are a spoiled brat. You want what you want, and nothing else matters," he said as he took the cup out of the microwave. He put the tea bag, some sugar, and a slice of lemon into the cup, stirred it, took a sip, and went on. "Second, and for your information, I spoke to Mrs. Turner, and I need your help." He took another sip from the cup and quickly pulled it from his lips.

"I just hung up from Mrs. Turner, and she never mentioned talking to you."

"I wanted to be the one to tell you." He placed the cup to his lips again.

"If this is your way of saying, 'Julie, I am stupid, and I can't help myself. I will never give you a hard time again,'" she said, mocking him, "I will accept your apology. Just don't ever call me a spoiled brat again."

"We can argue about this later. This kid is in for murdering a cop." He placed the cup on the table. "Hold on, I'm going to get my notes." He picked up his notepad and began to recite info he had ascertained from Mrs. Turner.

"We need you to prove he is innocent, or he will burn for this. This morning I am going to plead for bail—not that it will be granted, but I have to try."

After hanging up the phone, he dialed Mrs. Turner. After a brief conversation, he headed over to Julie's office. He was so distracted that he left the Newports and the peppermints on the table with the cup of tea. When he realized he'd forgotten them, an unsure feeling overcame him. The farther away he was from the cigarettes, the more uneasy he became. He could not make himself drive any farther. He stopped in the middle of the street. Cars began to beep at him, and he pulled over to the side of the road. Never before had he realized it, but he not only craved the relaxation that smoking offered but also could not function without it. He turned the car around.

Kelly had planned to be at Julie's office by nine but did not get there until ten fifteen. He sat down at the computer and put in the password. He did exactly what she had told him over the phone, and James Turner's file came up. He found much information, including arrest records and charges—everything except witness accusations.

Excerpted from CROOKED by Frederick McClendon. Copyright © 2013 Frederick McClendon. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2013

    Crooked is the Summers best read. Well written action pulls you

    Crooked is the Summers best read. Well written action pulls you into a world of corruption and greed. Set in Brooklyn, Crooked is a true page turner. Get your copy now.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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