I am participating in the Author Helping Authors – Egg-cerpt Exchange.
Today, I am featuring Maryann Miller, author of One Small Victory.
One Small Victory
by Maryann Miller
Life can change in just an instant.
That thought wove its way in and around her mind as Jenny fingered the clothes jammed along the wooden rod in the closet. His funny T-shirts promoting the likes of “Prince” and “Dilbert.” His one good shirt, only worn under duress. His leather jacket that still carried a faint aroma reminiscent of saddles and horses.
Sometime soon she’d have to clean out the closet. Isn’t that what usually happens?
Tears burned her eyes and she turned away. She didn’t know what was supposed to happen. No one had ever told her. And a multitude of questions swam through her mind like restless minnows in a pond.
There were books on choosing a college. Books on how to plan a wedding or how to help your child find a job. But no one had ever written one on what to do when your son dies.
Thus begins what is a mother’s worst nightmare, the loss of a child. For most women, that loss would hold them in a grief so pervasive they couldn’t function, but Jenny Jasik doesn’t give in to the paralysis. After discovering how rampant drugs are in her rural Texas town, she bullies her way onto a Drug Task Force and works as a confidential informant to help bring down the main distributor. This isn’t done without considerable risk, not only to her safety but to her sanity and to the sanctity of her family.
She sank to the edge of her bed, the pain threatening to drag her into the dark abyss. Her blood pounded so loud in her ears it took a minute to realize someone was knocking on the door.
“Mom?” Scott’s voice called from the hallway. “Can I come in?”
Jenny took a deep breath, then rose and opened the door.
“I was wondering . . . uh,” Scott’s eyes had difficulty resting on hers. “Has Dad called back yet?”
She shook her head.
“Well, uh . . . do you want me to call him?”
Again, she shook her head. “It’s something I should do. I’ll try again as soon as I’m finished here.”
Scott hesitated a moment more, then backed out of the doorway. Jenny quickly closed the door. Better that he not see the flush of anger that warmed her cheeks. She’d tried to call Ralph last night, sometime during those hours of agony between leaving the hospital and finally collapsing for a brief period of fitful sleep, but there’d been no answer.
Last night she’d been too numb to care. It was just so typical. He had never been there for her, or the kids. Not while they were married, and not in the years since he’d left. Most of the time she just accepted it and tried to ease the disappointment for the kids as much as possible. But even though little was said, the message was clear. Ralph wasn’t involved with the kids. Not like a father should be.
But the truth was like a kick in the gut this morning.
“You stupid, sorry, son of a bitch,” Jenny said, running a brush through her dark hair with quick, angry strokes. “Why should I care how you find out? I should just clip the obituary and send it to you.”
It gave her a perverse rush of pleasure to consider doing that, but she wouldn’t. She couldn’t. Out of respect for the fact that he was Michael’s father, she would call again.
Jenny crossed the room and picked up the phone on her bedside table. Still no answer after ten rings, and she started to worry. Maybe it wasn’t even his number anymore. He had a penchant for moving and not getting around to giving them the new number for weeks. She could try him at work later, but she wasn’t even sure that number was current.
Longevity, either professional or personal, was never one of his strong suits.
She slammed the phone down. “Couldn’t you be there for me? Just once?”
Maryann Miller is a best-selling author of books, screenplays and stage plays. One Small Victory was her first hardcover release. Other books include a police-procedural mystery, Open Season, which is the first in a new series that features two women homicide detectives. Think “Lethal Weapon” set in Dallas with female leads. Miller has won numerous awards for her screenplays and short fiction, including the Page Edwards Short Fiction Award, the New York Library Best Books for Teens Award, and first place in the screenwriting competition at the Houston Writer’s Conference.
One Small Victory is available in paper, electronic, and audio. Links to all formats are on Maryann’s Book Page on her website:
Amazon Author Page
Facebook Author Page
Character Questions for Jenny Jasik:
What on earth possessed you to join a drug task force?
If I hadn’t been numb with grief, I might have reconsidered. Everybody kept telling me to, even my best friend, Carol. But I just got so mad when I found out that drug dealers were hanging around the school and other places where kids, even very young kids, were put in danger. People keep saying we need to do something about drugs, so I figured, why not? It took some convincing to get the captain to agree, and I know he was shocked when I passed the tests to work undercover with the task force. I think I was shocked, too.
So what now? Will you do it again?
Are you kidding? I was scared to death most of the time, so I don’t think I’ll do it again. Although, I must say that I liked that Jenny who took no crap from the drug dealers and actually made a huge difference.
Did you have any previous law-enforcement experience?
Heck no. I barely graduated from high school. Like so many young teens, I was madly in love, or so I thought, and couldn’t wait for Ralph and I to get married. Getting pregnant sort of helped that along. And like a silly teenager who believes every word a guy says, I thought we really would live happily ever after. That didn’t happen. Ralph didn’t want to be a husband any more than he wanted to be a father. I’m only sorry that it took so many years for us to figure that out. However, had it not, I wouldn’t have had my three wonderful kids.
What was the most difficult part of your life?
That’s pretty obvious, I think. Losing Michael was like losing part of myself. I’d heard people say that a parent should never outlive their children, and I’m here to tell you the truth in that. Even thinking back to that horrible day the pain is as strong as it was then. There were days I didn’t know if I even wanted to go on without Michael, but I had the other kids to think of. And then the opportunity to get some vindication. That helped.
Do you see another man in your life in the future?
Funny you should ask. I worked with a detective, Steve. He was the one I reported to and who held my hand through the whole process of applying and then working on the task force. We both recognized that there was some chemistry between us, but his professionalism held him back. Plus, we were both dealing with a lot of emotional pain. He had lost his wife. So we didn’t want to rush into some kind of relationship that would put his job at risk and maybe we weren’t ready for anyway. Now that some time has passed, we are considering trying to make something work for us. Maybe I can convince Maryann to write that story. I’ve been bugging her about it.