Lost Hoursby D K Gaston
On Father's Day 1982, a twelve year old was blamed for the multiple stabbing death of his father. The boy had no memory of doing it. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to two years at a mental hospital. Twenty-three years later, now a private detective and a father, his son is the same age he was when he was accused of murder. This prompts Joseph Hooks to discover what really happened that day two decades ago. Did he kill his own father or did something else happen? As he searches for the truth, he must deal with an uncooperative Detroit police force, rekindle strained relationships with his siblings, protect his loved ones from the threats of a mystery stranger and live with the knowledge his estranged wife is sleeping with another man. Finding out the truth might prove deadly. Genre: Murder Mystery Thriller
I would recommend this book to anyone who is over the age of 18 and enjoys a good murder mystery." - Reviewed by Kelly Rieder for The Road to Romance
- Whiskey Creek Press
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- SIMON & SCHUSTER
- NOOK Book
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- 574 KB
Read an Excerpt
I looked intently at the image trapped inside the rearview mirror and saw a man drained of fortitude. Dark lines charted a timeline beneath his eyes like rings of a tree. I could almost map the long weeks of restlessness to the very minute. Blowing out a long breath, I shifted my gaze to the house. I stayed put within the safe haven of the car, watching the home we once shared. I was indecisive on whether I should remain inside or leave its warmth for the cold response I would most certainly receive at the door. Everything I cherished lay before me. All I had to do was swallow my pride and step out.
On the second floor, light escaped through a bedroom blind that had suddenly been cracked. Someone was at the window peering out. It was still black outside, and the dark tone of the Mustang made it invisible. I waited until the upstairs light had faded before turning the key and starting the car. I was confident my being there had never been detected.
I drove downtown and pulled over beside a broken parking meter near the corner of Washington Boulevard not far from the convention centers or from the meeting I had later. I felt a need to get some air before my engagement and decided a stroll would clear the dust from my head. It wasn't the first time I'd done this--in the many months since the separation, it had become a place for me to think and to enjoy the stars. Civic Center Drive was peaceful at that hour. There was the occasional shuffling of homeless people that slept in dark places, disrupting the quiet, but they were only minor distractions.
Street lamps lit the direction down the walkway. The path had a view of the Detroit River and beyond that,resided Canada. Darkness cloaked the reflective water but across the river the city lights of Windsor glistened as though it were the Emerald City Dorothy had sought. At dock, was the Detroit Princess, its decks dark and quiet. The old styled riverboat, a new attraction to the city, promised entertainment by way of pleasant cruises, spirited music, fine food and drinks. None of which I was in the mood for. I passed the boat with barely a glance.
Stopping close to Hart Plaza, I stared at the stone set of steps that led up to it and remembered the many events Nina, Jamaal and I shared here. We enjoyed ethnic festivals, music concerts, and fireworks. The showground's desolate, empty seats and the waterless fountain in its center mirrored the seclusion I felt in my heart. I faced away and leaned against the security barricade dividing the pavement and the river. My gaze turned upward beyond Windsor's towering structures made of steel and mortar, and escaped to the heavens. The translucent sky had surrendered itself to the stars. It was a perfect vista of the cosmos, and I was left breathless. It was a moment I wished to share with my son. Regret began to permeate inside me. I should have gotten out of the car--should have talked to my wife--should be there to wake my son for school.
There was a great deal of things I should have--could have done my entire life. Bad decisions surrounded me like a pack of hungry wolves, and I was so tired of it. I spent a lot of time that morning reflecting and wondered if what I was about to pursue would be another regret piled on top of the others. But how could I avoid it? The nightmares were getting worse. My thoughts were interrupted when I heard the sounds of the city starting to wake. The stars had begun their slow retreat and first light embarked on its ascent into the heavens. A chilly early morning October breeze that I had not noticed before during my walk reminded me I had somewhere to be.
Crossing Hart Plaza, I tried not to think of the past. This was a problem in itself, since the answers about the past were what I actually sought. When I reached Jefferson and Woodward, the streets were congested with traffic and hurried people rushed to work. The solitude I enjoyed retreated with the night. It would have taken me ten or fifteen minutes to walk to police headquarters, but I had walked enough and decided to move the Mustang closer to the station. I turned back toward the water and stared out at Windsor. With the daylight, it had lost its majesty--the yellow brick road led not to a magical place where a wizard could fix my problems, but to another city with troubles of its own.
When Detroit Police Sergeant Charles LaForge returned to his desk, he eyed me suspiciously. It had taken him over a week to find the file I requested. Worse yet, I had given him little information as to why I even wanted it. He sat, dropping the folder to the desk. On its face the word "SOLVED" was stamped across it in large bold red lettering. The hustle of the squad room did little to hide the irritation I heard in his voice.
"I went through a lot of trouble looking for this file, Joe. The least you can do is to tell me why?"
I understood his frustration. The closed investigation was over twenty-three years old. Most current case files were electronically stored and easy to retrieve, while older ones were on the waiting list for eventual data archiving--a time consuming process that could take years to complete. The fact that he found the file at all was a miracle in itself. Accepting the fact that I could no longer avoid telling him the unfortunate truth, I embarked on my reasons.
"Twenty-three years ago a twelve-year-old boy was discovered with a bloody knife in his hand. The boy lay only inches away from his father who was in a bloody heap on the floor, dead. He was found guilty of his father's murder," I explained.
LaForge shrugged, narrowing his eyes. "I knew that much from reading the file. I want to know why you're interested in it," he insisted.
I straightened in my seat, my eyes no longer able to lock onto his. "I know the child in the file. I don't think he murdered his father. I'm trying to find the true murderer."
"The case is closed, Joe. The evidence was overwhelming against him. How could you possibly believe the kid was innocent?" he asked.
Here's the part I was dreading. A bead of sweat formed on my brow. My eyes returned to his. "The murder victim was my father, Roger Valentine. The boy ... is me," I said. The backdrop of the loud squad room suddenly seemed quiet.
I explained to LaForge that I had no memory of what transpired those many years ago. Doctors at the psychological medical institute to which I was committed after the trial said that I was overcoming a catastrophic event, which resulted in my impaired hippocampus-encoded memory. In layman's words, I was suffering from selective memory loss or amnesia.
My father was not a kind man and often beat me and my siblings after a night of hard drinking. With no evidence stating otherwise and with my unfortunate memory loss, a jury of my peers found me guilty but took into account my father's brutal past. It was deemed self-defense after two years of sitting in Wayne County Juvenile Detention and going back and forth to Recorders Court.
The name in the file was Joseph Valentine, which is why LaForge did not associate the child with me. I changed my name at age twenty to Joseph Hooks, my mother's maiden name. I tried to erase my past and start over. Now thirty-five, I'm a private detective and am always haunted by thoughts of that past life. Yes, my father beat me. Yes, I was angry with him. But, would I kill him? I had to know. I had to be sure.
LaForge slid the folder toward me, saying, "I can see why this is so important to you. I don't know what you'll be able to find. The file is short, but it's cut-and-dry. You may not like what you find, Joe."
After photocopying the contents of the folder, I left the downtown precinct with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. What would I do if I find I did murder my father? What would I do if I find that someone else had killed him? That day, twenty-three years ago, changed the direction of my life. There was no telling what I would have become if not for its influence. I stuffed my copy into the folds of my coat and headed to the parking garage.
Later that day at the office, I reviewed the file. Posted on my corkboard I had created a timeline and a list of suspects to interview. Some of the interviewees were related to me. I hadn't spoken to them in years--not since that day. The thought of speaking to them after all this time was unnerving. But it had to be done.
The interviewees would be my brother, Larry, my two sisters, Joyce and Michele, my Aunt Barbara, my father's old girlfriend, Andrea Goode, and his best friend, Reggie Crouch. None of them were plausible suspects, but they might recall something that could assist me in finding the truth. Now it was only a matter of tracking each one of them down.
I spent most of the night at work in search of their addresses. Luckily, they all lived either in Detroit or one of the surrounding suburbs. Rather than go home, I decided to spend the remainder of my time in the office. I always kept a spare suit on hand in the closet for long nights.
When my secretary, Patricia Harris, arrived the next morning, she was surprised to see me. She always beat me in by a half hour. Trish stood at five feet, seven inches. She had a caramel complexion and dark brown eyes. She wore her black hair short, similar to Halle Berry's past style, and had a body to match.
She flashed a pleasant smile. "Am I running late?"
"No, Trish, I'm running early. I pulled an all-nighter. Hot case," I answered.
She looked at me oddly. I knew what she was thinking. She had a copy of all my case files and generally reviewed which assignments I took on in any given day. This had been a slow month; and, currently, I had completed my caseload. I should not have been working on anything at all. I debated whether I should tell her about it. I knew she would not ask. Trish knew when to question me and when not to.
I departed without telling her anything. In retaliation Trish would, of course, go into my office, spot the filled corkboard and scan the contents of the folder on my desk before I returned. Trish never liked being kept in the dark, and I generally left things out for her to find. She forgets that I'm the one who's the private detective, not her. But, bless her heart, I do love her in a platonic sense.
I inputted all the addresses and pertinent information into my PDA. Before visiting Andrea Goode, my father's former girlfriend, I stopped by my old house--where it all happened. The house was still in relatively good condition and was owned by my older brother, Larry. He maintained it for rental. For the time being, it was not rented to anyone. The neighborhood was hardly recognizable. Most of the old houses had been torn down. An empty lot stood next to every third house. The residents regarded me with distrust as I walked up to the door. Many drug dealers rented the home in the past, and I suspected they might have thought I might be one looking for a temporary stay.
My key still fit into the lock. I turned it and opened the door. Walking inside, I felt a sense of nostalgia; and the memories of my family came flooding back. I could see Larry, Joyce and Michele sitting in front of the black and white thirteen-inch television that sat on top of a larger broken color TV. My father, drinking his beer in his favorite chair, was ordering me to turn the channel. I was his equivalent to a modern day remote control back then. My mother was in the kitchen preparing dinner. Then I glanced up the stairs and the happy memories faded.
Meet the Author
D. K. Gaston has worked in the information technology field for more than 15 years in Michigan. He has two Masters Degrees: one in Technology Management, the other in Business. Born in Detroit, Michigan, D. K. Gaston now resides in one of its many suburbs. He is married with children. He is currently a member of several writers’ groups. He likes to write cross-genre stories such as Mystery and Paranormal Thrillers.
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