Snippet from Midnight Rain

Just a little chunk of what I wrote yesterday — this from the POV of the villain. This section includes a reprise of sections of the John Masefield poem, quoted in its entirety earlier in the book, used to anchor the section and provide some direction for the villain.

Many of us, I think, use poetry as a roadmap for our lives. Though from the looks of things, a lot of people have chosen, “There was a young man from Nantucket,” as their guiding literary force …

“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking …”

He whispered the poem with his eyes closed, and smiled. She waited for him, in the right place at last. His star, shining from its predestined corner of the sky. All of his personal constellations fell into place.

He’d been waiting for a sign. Now he had one.

He had to look. He had to see — to see if everything was as perfect as it could be. He promised himself that he would not touch her this time. He had done so well for so long; not touching, just looking. Then he had slipped once, and that once had led to many times. So many times, so much — and finally she noticed him.

He did not want to frighten her. Not now, not when everything was coming together, when they would be together as they were meant to be. He would not touch her.

He would simply look.

With his eyes closed, with the stars in his personal sky bright and hard, glaring and chattering down at him, he nevertheless fell into her special brightness with the ease of slipping on an old glove. Brightest of the stars, clearest — the star he steered by. The skin he wore.

She walked, intent on her thoughts, from bright hot outdoor spaces. Walked easily — her knee wasn’t bothering he so much.

She stepped into vast, cavernous spaces, into white and gray and black, and beautiful red. He could see her in that space, could see him with her.

The interloper was with her, of course. He’d be easy enough to get out of the way — the doctor didn’t fit into the plan, and would not require any special treatment. The guard at the gate, too, could be put down with a single stroke, without extra care or effort. Neither of them were stars — they did not gleam or shine.

Two of the live-in people had removed themselves from the picture — he didn’t care about them either way. They were not stars either. Had they been in his way, he would have dealt with them. They were not. Lucky enough for them. The third, the groundskeeper, was still on the premises. The groundskeeper might prove a problem. He gleamed dimly among the stars — not bright enough to seek out, but bright enough to call for special handling, because he was a light — because putting out the lights called for … art.

Don’t touch her. Don’t touch her. Just look.

The police had accepted his gift. His careful, clever set-up had worked — but of course it had worked. He had moves the police couldn’t even imagine. The gift sat in a jail cell now, while reporters dug through the bumbling idiot’s past looking for clues to madness and trying to jam all the pieces of the puzzle into place. Reporters were useful that way — noisy as a pack of dogs, braying after the freshest scent, unable to look beneath the surface.

He almost opened his eyes when he smiled, and he started to break away from his anchor in Phoebe. He squeezed his eyes tighter, then relaxed them as he moved into her again. She traveled through the house and what he saw gave him a feel for it, for its layout and for its strengths and weaknesses. It was excessive — and yet, it was just right.

The white carpet, especially, with the swaths of black marble curling through it.

The white furniture.

They were blank canvases, on which he ached to paint.

“I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.”

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6 responses to “Snippet from Midnight Rain”

  1. Cailin Avatar

    I’m chilled all the way through. The way this guy thinks is eerily beautiful and almost hypnotic. I probably won’t be able to get this out of my head for awhile. And I’ll probably never read that peom quite the same way again!


  2. Nonny Avatar

    Oh god … Holly, you and Sheila are going to make a romance reader out of me yet.

    I loved this. When you sell this, I am definitely buying a copy!!!

    But I don’t wanna wait that long to read it …

  3. Linda Sprinkle Avatar
    Linda Sprinkle


    I think you’re going to make me into a romance reader again. This is the third or fourth snippet you’ve posted and each one pulls me deeper into the story. Can’t wait to buy this one. But. . .I guess I can wait on the publishing industry. I’ve done it before. Sigh!


  4. Kay House Avatar
    Kay House

    Scary. Very scary. Well done!!!

  5. David Stone Avatar
    David Stone

    Ah, I can almost hope this guy wins – he’s got such a perfect handle on his own reality. The world is stress free and beautiful to him. And he has his own Special Role within it.

    I love it.


  6. Robert A. Sloan Avatar

    Wow! Only you could take a poem I love and make it that chilling. This guy is so off base – and so fascinating, like picking up a snake behind the head to look at him. That poem inspires me too – but it inspired me to move to different states, live in different neighborhoods, travel a lot and meet people who weren’t like the ones I grew up with. To do real artwork in various media and understand art forms I don’t focus on as intensely as my writing.

    And then you show how it can be taken by someone like this killer. You characterize so well and so deep! This is like Baanraak’s writerlike patience. This is the guy just like me who made a wrong turn in life and kept on going. You made me think, this morning. And then think about my choices and feel pretty good about them!

    Onward! Whoohooo! You write great books!

    Robert and Ari >^..^<

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