About No Such Thing:
Newly divorced and ready to recreate herself, Sydney Powell and her retired K9 move back to the city in which she grew up to write a book about the infamous underworld faction known as The Purple Gang. Having once lived in a house built and used by the Purple Gang to run liquor, Sydney takes the opportunity to rent the place, believing it will help her write the book.
Met with opposition from her psychotic mother and her long brooding brother, Jack who believe the real story of the house is about ghosts, she begins to dig into the history. Her research yields very little about her intended subject instead pointing to an entirely different history tied to the death of young boy.
Peeling away the layers of legal paper, Sydney and Jack become acutely aware that the house hides secrets linked to not only the gruesome murder that rocked the state, but deeper, more disturbing events. The secrets, held hostage in the walls.
Link to Purchase: Amazon
Excerpt: Chapter 1
He rose from the table, tossing the pen and yellow legal pad aside. It was time to face his past with the control, maturity and direction of a man; to lay the ghosts from his past to peace; to bring closure. He smirked. Closure. There is no such thing.
Urban Legend. Modern Day Folklore. Sales techniques. The realtor presented the salon of the old federal style house that sat at the top of a cul de sac lording over the newer cookie cutter houses that dotted the small circle below. “If you follow me to the lower level, there are still signs where the Purple Gang built a tunnel from their storage room to the railroad. It is believed this is how they moved their bootleg liquor out and into the speakeasy’s in the Midwest.” Her voice rose and fell in a canned speech, like a practiced tour guide, a method that feigned excitement meant to entice the client into buying the story and the romance of the house.
The stairway, still narrow and poorly lit, had not changed much since Sydney had been there last. She spent her high school years in this house, this basement, the “lower level” the realtor called it and knew there was no tunnel to the tracks, never was, but Sydney let the realtor tell the stories as she gingerly placed each stiletto heel on a step and made her way downstairs. She would have told her the truth, that she had once lived here, but the realtor had launched into “the story”, the Purple Gang one anyway, and Sydney never had the chance. To mention it now would only serve to embarrass the lady, so Sydney said nothing. “The house was abandoned for many years and then, during the late 60’s and early 70’s, was even overtaken by hippies who, I’m told, painted wild murals based on their psychedelic acid trips on the walls and floor. In a complete state of disrepair, the Powell family purchased it in the mid 80s, restoring it to a livable condition, but,” she lowered her in a dramatic, just between us girls sort of way,”not to the opulence it deserves.” She stopped and smiled. The bubble gum pink lipstick had bled into the lines around her lips and feathered out, resembling a kool aid stain around her mouth. Sydney wanted to tell her that it had not been restored to its “opulence” because the Powells were just a family looking for a place to live. For her dad, it was an opportunity, an engineering project, how to make a place livable. They could have lived anywhere, he was, after all Chief Patent Counsel at one of the Big 3, but in his heart he was a small town boy who enjoyed the challenge this house presented. Her mother was a free thinker, an artist, and the house was a new canvas for her to paint – even if it was over the weird murals on the walls. They packed up the house on Martell and moved to the Kensington Cul de sac into the Purple Gang House.
The basement still held a chill in the stones of the old walls. Sydney’s mother spent a lot of time down here when she went in to menopause and the hot flashes took over. She liked to sidle up to the stone walls, lift her shirt, exposing her back and dampened bra and press herself against the cool rocks. Her mother swore there were days when she could create steam. The little beads of sweat forming around the realtors mouth causing her lip stick to slide seemed incongruent to the chill of the “lower level”. Sydney stood there for a minute, lost in her own swirl of memories, good memories. She had her first kiss in this basement, her first sex and her first drink, all with the same boy, but not on the same day.
Brian Oldham and Sydney began their relationship in elementary school, she with an undying crush and him not wanting anything to do with her. It took a sudden hormonal awareness coupled with the belief that she would assuage his teenaged needs that enticed Brian to make that first move. A move that Syd had planned for years, but when the opportunity arose, she put the plan into action. Her parents were in Detroit at the Auto Show opening night gala, a perfect night to have a party.
The realtor removed her gold jacket and fanned her face. “ I don’t know why I am feeling so hot,” she laughed a bit when she said this, but there was an edge to her voice. Syd thought about letting her in on her mom’s secret of the stone wall but decided to keep it to herself. Instead, she offered a perfunctory, “Huh,” and turned back toward the stairs.
“Don’t you want to see where the tunnels were dug?” the realtor asked, a little perplexed that Sydney didn’t seem to care about the story on the story. Sydney already knew the next stop would have been through her mother’s old studio, a closet sized storage room where her father had knocked down the walls and rebuilt them into half walls to better light the area. The previous owner had curiously cement blocked and mortared the far wall as if reinforcing the loose rocks that held up that side of the house. It was that wall, the newer, stronger wall, that her mother had been found digging at right before she was committed. Her fingernails, what was left of them were caked full of dirt, bleeding, the skin on her fingers raw. She said she was freeing the children, insisted upon it, her father had told her and was the last act before her father gave in and made the call.
“No, I’d like to see the upper floors,”already half way back up to the butler pantry where the basement door was located. Sydney started taking the steps two at a time, something she had done as a teenager. The realtor, realizing she was alone down there, scurried toward the steps, her heels clicking as they struck the hard wood steps. Winded by the top, the realtor seemed shaken by the abandonment and adjusted her blouse and skirt before taking control of the showing again and leading Sydney to the grand staircase. White marble floors with ebony veins branching across the slabs graced the foyer. Like a sculpture, the staircase swept up the curved wall to the second floor in a liquid flow as if carved from one enormous chunk of marble. Age and lack of attention dulled the luster, but the inherent beauty of the rock, the artistry of the movement still stood.
They had entered the house through the back kitchen door. The front was dangerously overgrown, the sidewalk cracked into chunks of cement and brick, the windows covered in the insidious vines that strangled the large tree out front. Clearly whoever had lived here after the Powells did not do yard work or bother to hire someone to take care of the yard. Sydney wandered the upper floor of the old mansion, stopping only briefly at her old room. She didn’t want to tip her hand to the realtor by showing interest beyond the cursory, but she knew she wanted to rent the place, maybe even buy it if possible, and restore it to its own level of comfort, the comfort she had known living there before. Before things had gone terribly wrong.
About Judi Coltman:
Raised in an affluent suburb of Detroit, Judi Coltman grew up in a female heavy household with an urban sense of “normal.”
Coltman attended Michigan State University, majoring in Journalism until a professor requested she switch majors – “Apparently making a story better with added features isn’t acceptable in the news world,” Coltman laments.
With a BA in English from Northern Illinois University, Coltman has written for local, regional and national publications.
Coltman writes a weekly blog called, “My Life in a Nutshell,” the impetus for her first book. With it’s success, she took the intrepid step into writing novels, her true passion and is thrilled about the success of In The Name Of The Father.
Coltman lives in northern Illinois and is working on her third book. Also, visit her at http://www.judicoltman.com/.
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