Audrey Austin

Audrey Austin
Proud to be a small town indie author

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Meet Marjorie Doering - this week's featured author

This week's featured author is Marjorie Doering who lives in Birchwood, a small town with a population of 528 in Northwest Wisconsin.

An excerpt from Dear Crossing

I’m including an excerpt from the first chapter of Dear Crossing. (Please note: there is some adult language in the book, as might be expected.)

Chapter 1

Saturday, April 3rd

It had only been an hour, but the jail cell had already begun to close in on Ray Schiller. He had no remorse for the actions that put him there, only a belly full of scotch and a deep-seated need to unleash his rage. Ray waited in sullen silence for another head-on collision with Chief Woody Newell, well aware that fellow officers Neil Lloyd and Chuck Wilke had already notified him of his whereabouts.

Minutes later, Newell stormed into the station. “Where’s Neil?” he asked Wilke.

Manning the front desk, Wilke sat with an apple in one hand, the other extracting a bit of peel from between two molars. “Neil went home right after him and me got Ray squared away in back, Chief,” he said, talking around his beefy finger. “Didn’t think there was much point in his sticking around after that.”

“Damn it. He gets me out of bed and then takes off before he gives me all the details. That’s

just great.” Newell headed toward the holding area.

Wilke pulled the finger out of his mouth. “Sure you want to go back there, Chief? You know what they say about sleeping dogs.”

Newell entered the hallway to the holding cells without comment. For the last six months of his thirty-two years, Woody Newell had been doing his best to fill his late father’s shoes as Widmer’s Chief of Police. Ray Schiller seemed hell bent on making it as difficult as possible.

Ray lay in the cell, his trim frame stretched out on the cot, his head resting on interlaced hands. Crossed at the ankles, his feet rested halfway up the concrete wall—the picture of tranquility.

Newell stood outside the cell as seconds stretched interminably with no sign of acknowledgment. “Okay, Ray, are you asleep or just being an asshole?”

Ray took his time righting himself. Elbows resting on his knees, he turned his thirty-eight-year-old, hardened-choirboy face toward Newell, his pale, gray-blue eyes narrowed, his lips pressed together in resolute defiance.

Newell pointed at Ray’s cheek. “You’re going to have a hell of a bruise. What happened at Pete’s Tap tonight?” Silence as solid and heavy as a brick wall answered him. “Damn it, Ray, you’re a cop. You’ve got no business getting into a bar fight. And with Bob Buric of all people. Were you trying to get yourself killed?”

“That’s my business.” Ray ran a hand through his hair. It was the color of wet sand and just

beginning to thin. “Stay out of it, Just unlock the cell.” His speech wasn’t slurred, but the glassiness of his eyes and the reek of alcohol spoke volumes.

Newell planted his hands on his hips. “If you don’t want to talk ... fine, I’m out of here, Ray, but either way, you’re sleeping it off where you are.” He turned to leave.

“Did they make you judge, jury and warden, too, now ... junior?”

Woody did an abrupt about-face. “You cocky... All right, get it off your chest. You’ve

been aching for this since I was elected.”

“Elected? Elected? That was no election; it was a posthumous tribute to your father.”

“Okay. Feel better now, hotshot?”

“Go to hell.”

“Let me tell you something, Ray. In Chicago you may have been hot shit, but all I’ve been getting is the stench, and I’m sick of it.”

Ray leapt up and charged toward the bars. “I’ve got more experience than you in my little finger, and in a place where it counts, not Podunk, Minnesota.”

“For Widmer, I’ve got all the experience I need. You’re the only one complaining. A word of advice… If this town is too quiet for an adrenaline junkie like you, take your withdrawal symptoms and haul your ass back to Chicago for your next fix.”

“Screw you.”

“Shit,” Woody muttered, “I must’ve been crazy thinking I could talk to you in your condition.” He started to walk away. “We’ll discuss this tomorrow. See me before you do the security check on the summer homes in the morning.” At the door, Woody turned. “Let me set you straight on something: I’m not your enemy—you are. Open your eyes and stop tripping over your own damn feet.”

As Woody left, Ray kicked the bars. He limped back to the cot and settled on his left side. The bruised ribs on his right felt like they’d met the business end of a sledge hammer. He closed his eyes and envisioned Bob Buric’s face. The man was big and ugly. Nearly as ugly outside as in—a former schoolyard bully taking his act to the next level. It hadn’t been his snide “How’s the missus?” crack but his snicker and the nudge he’d given his drinking buddy that set Ray off like a Roman candle.

The furtive looks and whispered comments over the past weeks had taken their toll. Buric was

a loudmouth, more blatant than most. The fact that the 6’3”, 230-pound Neanderthal stood four inches taller and outweighed him by fifty pounds hadn’t fazed Ray. His only regret was having been too drunk to lay the bastard out cold on the barroom floor.

He massaged his bloodied knuckles, stewing in his own bitterness. Laws existed to protect people from all sorts of crime, but infidelity wasn’t a crime—it was just a goddamn shame. For fourteen years, the virtues he’d attributed to Gail made him feel secure in his marriage. Then Mark Haney had come along. He punched the flimsy pillow bunched under his head, substituting it for Haney’s face. His scraped knuckles bled again, like the unhealed wounds inflicted by Gail’s betrayal.

Sleep approached, crashing like waves over his thoughts of the next day’s routine. Summer homes ... The Bautistas. Michael and Lydia Sumner. Paul and Valerie Davis ... The names and faces drifted into an abyss as Ray relinquished control and surrendered to troubled sleep.

Ray awoke to a sensory overload the next morning. Irene Herman, the station’s white-haired dispatcher, shook his shoulder, her tobacco-ravaged voice grating in his ear—her fragrance du jour: baby powder and Bengay.

“Wake up. C’mon, Ray. For crying out loud, will you get up? I’ve got to pee. You have to watch the dispatch console for a minute.”

Ray’s body felt as though it had been pulled from a car wreck. He opened one eye. “Get

someone else to do it, Irene.”

“We’re the only two here right now. You getting up?”

Thirty-five years as a dispatcher for the Widmer police department made Irene Herman more than an employee; she was an institution. She presided over the station like a PMS-stricken den mother.

A bolt of pain ripped through his ribcage as Ray rolled onto his right side. “Where is


“The Chief called. He’s running late. Neil’s over at Hank Kramer’s place looking for a

rustled cow, and—”


“That old fool figures some archenemy of his dairy empire made off with one of his four-legged milk containers. The other guys are out on ...” Irene fidgeted. “Look, I don’t have time to give you a run-down.” She squirmed, her need to visit the restroom growing greater. “Are you going to help me out or not?”

“Go ahead. I’m coming.”

“Thank God.” Irene hurried from the cell toward the restroom. “These days when this old bladder talks, I listen. I’ve learned the hard way.”

“Too much information, Irene.”

“Fine. When you reach my age, you can find out for yourself.” She hurried faster. “Just for the record, you smell like a goddamn distillery, Ray.” She stopped at the restroom door. “When I’m finished in here, you’d better get cleaned up before you start your shift.”

He gave her a sloppy salute.

“Smart ass. You should...” Her eyes widened as she locked her knees together and hobbled into the restroom.

The phone rang as he dropped into Irene’s chair. Holding the receiver in one hand, he pressed the other over a throbbing temple. “Police department. Officer Schiller.”

A male voice came back, frantic, garbled. He couldn’t make it out. ”Wait a second. Who?” Grabbing a notepad, he scrawled down the name Ted Barton.

Barton’s bass voice climbed an octave, his words running together like bits of molten metal.

“Take it down a notch,” Ray told him. “What? Repeat that. Where are you calling from?” He scribbled more notes on the pad. ”Are you— Yes, okay, I heard you. You’re absolutely sure? Positive? All right. Calm down and listen to me. Get back in your truck and wait right there. Don’t touch anything. Not a damn thing. Do you understand? Good. Stay put. I’ll want to talk with you. I’m on my way.”

Ray slammed the receiver down without a goodbye. He sprinted across the room and pounded

on the washroom door. “Irene, call Woody. Have him meet me at the Davises’ place ASAP. We’ve got a 10-101.”

He heard a flush and her muffled voice. “A what?”

“You heard me.” Already halfway through the station door, Ray shouted, “Get him over there. Now.” With the sound of Ted Barton’s panic still ringing in his ears, he rushed to his squad car. “Blood,” he’d been told. “Lots of it. Everywhere.” Hysterics weren’t Barton’s style. On automatic pilot, Ray reached over, switched on the flashers and siren and sped through town.

The Davises’ summer house stood at the edge of Lake Hadley nearly one hundred yards from the entrance of their driveway. The initial steep downward slope of the land made the structure virtually invisible from the road. Locals simply knew it existed there below eye level, nestled on the property like a baby in the crook of its mother’s arm.

In accord with their wishes, the property had been only minimally cleared. The landscaping remained predominantly wild although tamed to some extent by regular professional attention. Other homes dotted the shoreline, carving out widely separated niches in the dense woods surrounding the lake.

Ray’s squad car fishtailed into the mouth of the driveway. He picked up speed over the initial

flat portion of pavement before racing down the steep slope beyond. He pulled up beside a rusty, green truck parked in front of the house. Waiting as ordered, Ted Barton sat slouched behind the steering wheel. Barton jumped like he’d been shot when Ray tapped on his window.

Barton cranked it down. “There’s so much blood,” he said. “She’s dead. Gotta be.”

                                                Author -Marjorie Doering

“Small Town Authors” caught my eye, Audrey. I’m certainly one of those. My husband and I live in a lovely little town in NW Wisconsin. My typical joke is that it’s about the size of a large prairie dog colony. The fact is, I’ve always lived in small towns. Maybe my “Mayberry-style” life explains why I write murder mysteries; it could be the vicarious thrill. In any case, I enjoy writing exciting mysteries, which keep my readers thinking. I’ll be publishing Shadow Tag, the second book in my Ray Schiller series, very soon. In the meantime, Dear Crossing—(the title’s a play on words)—is available in paperback or as an e-book at

I’m including an excerpt from the first chapter of Dear Crossing. (Please note: there is some adult language in the book, as might be expected.)

Thanks very much, Audrey.

Marjorie Doering





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