Monday, April 8, 2013


            I wrote the book fast, another mystery. I don’t read mysteries, but I write them. Don’t want to lose my voice by reading other people’s stories. I’m so sensitive, very, very sensitive—overly sensitive, some say, my woman says.
            So you can imagine my surprise when my agent held my last book up—The Reluctant Scofflaw—raised it in front of my eyes and said, “One more draft.”
            “It’s finished,” I said.
            “This time in Swedish,” she said and dropped it on the desk.
            Thump. A solid, definitive thump. The sound of something weighty, significant, important.
            I pointed that out to her, reminded her that I am not Swedish, that I am in fact Jamaican, that I have never been to Sweden and don’t speak the language.
            “It’s the bandwagon effect,” she said. “Nobody expects Sweden to be interesting--Larsson put it on the map.”
            “But Jamaica,” I said. . . .
            “Is interesting,” she finished, “and so it won’t work.”
            The woman is crazy. I grabbed the book off her desk. She put her hand on mine and stood up. Her strawberry perfume engulfed us both, so overpowering that I could hardly breathe.
            “Think about it,” she said and smiled that even, white-toothed smile she had perfected and saved, I thought until now, for editors, not writers. “Think about it,” she said again, “and then do it. Swedish.”
            The last word was emphatically two syllables, SWE – DISH and spit right in my face.
            I lifted my left eyebrow and looked past her to the window where a guy in a harness was washing the window. She turned to follow my gaze, and I slipped her I-pad between the pages of my manuscript and into my briefcase—a perfect, smooth motion worthy of Busta Big Guy, my all purpose detective. Busta Big Guy would never hesitate to do the wrong thing for the right reason, and I now understood him better than ever. I was excited, but careful not to let the adrenalin pumping through my system show.
            Martha had turned back to me, was smiling and about to say, SWE-DISH again when the phone rang. She raised her hand in that Just-a-minute gesture and picked it up. “Martha here,” she said and turned to face the window washer again. I helped myself to a handful of her mints.
“Gotta go.”
She raised her hand to show she heard me, sending me off to make my rasta guy track the murderer from Kingston to Stockholm and back again with the aid of his new I-pad.

© 2013 Kathleen Coskran

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