I have no business doing this right now , but …

What I’m supposed to be doing is finishing the third edition of The Illusion of Gravity. For God’s sake, Amazon says somebody read the second edition on KU yesterday. Ock! I’m so embarrassed not to have my best work out there, and I hope they don’t give me a bad review.

But I had the strangest dream last night, which is sometimes how it starts. I wrote the idea down so I wouldn’t forget it, and if you know me at all – which probably you don’t so I’ll just tell you – I have a hard time keeping things to myself.

This might be the follow on to The Dressmaker’s Apprentice, although maybe I should finish that book before I start a second one.  No matter.

Scorch – An Eric Burton Mystery

My tale begins with me driving around St. Mary, Georgia looking for the home of Caesarus “Chet” Laikul — a physician I met at a golf course — to attend the wedding of his son.

Part of the reason I was going was to see a house known as “The Elliot” — which he described as a multi-level post-modern fantasy extravagance set in a saltwater marsh — the anchor residence in what ultimately became a failed housing development. The design, he said, was drawn up for an actor who intended to have it built in Palm Springs, but apparently that never happened. Naturally, I asked him “Which actor – Elliot Gould?”.

To which he replied, “Who’s Elliot Gould?”

Chet wasn’t that much younger than me, and although his family is from India, the man was born in Cincinnati — so don’t ask me how he didn’t know who Elliot Gould is.

Anyway, the street he lived on wasn’t listed on my GPS. I finally looked at satellite images, leading me to another house on a saltwater marsh — which turned out to be an HGTV dream home built for a giveaway promotion some ten or fifteen years before. The owners were very nice, and gave me good directions to “Chester Lykow’s house”.

Mind you, I didn’t know Doctor Laikul at all — we played golf one time on account of us both showing up the course alone. That said, I was in St. Mary by myself, between assignments, and I didn’t have anything else to do. Why not go to a wedding?

Notwithstanding that we weren’t friends, I felt bad when I learned he’d spent so much time in the dressing room — presumably admiring how good he looked in a tux — that his wife went to get him, only to find a pair of patent leather shoes on the floor and a black scorch mark on the wall.

My name is Eric Burton. I used to be a sheriff’s deputy in Texas. After that, I ran a clandestine online store selling pop culture artifacts to customers on another planet. After that, I was hired by a security company operated by a secret society connected to the outfit that started the e-commerce business selling stuff to people on another planet.

As far as “we” knew, Doctor Laikul wasn’t “one of us”, but the scorch marks on the wall suggested “we” had something to do with it. I called the office, they told me to look into it, and that’s how I ended up running off with Abner Laikul’s intended bride on his wedding day.

Nah — I’m just messing with you. That’s not what happened at all.

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