So you can read my books

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


(Image courtesy of Leonora Roy)

If you're looking for my entry for the QUERY BLOGFEST hosted by Jodi Henry :
Some of you have wondered how my prose reads after having read my query. Here's an

EXCERPT from my YA urban fantasy, VICTOR'S NOT JUST MY NAME.



The smell of death was overpowering the moment I cracked open one of the hospital chapel’s wooden doors.

Inside, more than a dozen bodies lay motionless on low cots and on the ground, shrouded in white sheets.

Here, a wisp of gray hair peeked out. There, a knee was flung all awkward. A pale hand reached across a blue gown.

Mother, in a shimmering black robe, gently tucked the knee back under the sheet. She turned to me.

"Victor, you are wondering why I called you here, are you not?"

I forced my throat to work. "I was surprised is all. I figured Katrina would have the Angel of Death really busy."

Shadows swept over her like a shroud to flicker away, revealing her in blood-stained linen wrappings. Her face had become a skull.

I knew she was testing me. It made no difference. No matter the face she showed me, I only saw Mother.

Her forever-smile parted and she rasped, "Busy? You have no idea. Is Alice, your ghoul love, here?"

"You asked me to leave her behind."

The wrappings became a toga. One blood-stained wrapping clung to her eyes. She was holding high a golden scale.

"This hospital would have been too much temptation, Victor. Time for you to see shades of gray."

The room blurred, the 100 degree heat lessened. But not by much. I was in another room.

In the hospital bed in front of me, an elderly woman was crabbing feebly back from the weary doctor, trying to inject her.

"N-No. I heard what you done to them others. Please, I'm not hurting that bad."

The frazzled-haired woman doctor straightened.

"Mrs. Hebert, Memorial is cut off from the world. Our resources are down to critical levels. It is but a matter of time for you. There are others here who can survive ... but only if they have the medicines you are uselessly consuming."

"No! Please, no."

The doctor sighed and held up the needle.

"This is merely a mixture of morphine and the sedative midazolam. You will feel nothing. You will merely sleep."

"The big sleep, you mean," I said behind her, fingering my largest ball bearing.

The doctor whipped around. "Who are you?"

"I'm Victor Standish. And I don't give up ... not on me."

I winked at the old woman, hope suddenly lighting her eyes. "Not on anybody."

The doctor looked at the ball bearing in my fingers.

"You would kill one of the few remaining physicians in New Orleans?"

"No, but you'll really hate that broken knee-cap."

"Orderly!," shouted the doctor.

A burly man the size of Paul Bunyan lumbered in. I smiled wide. Two slender arms wrapped around his waist. He was wrenched back into the hall. The screams told me that Alice wouldn't be tempted for awhile.

A long time ago she told me that I would never go where she would not follow.

The doctor hovered over me, the needle trembling in her hand. "He was perfectly healthy!"

As the screams gurgled then ended, I smiled cold.

"Not anymore. And you try jabbing that thing into me, you better hope it's made of chocolate 'cause I'm going to make you eat it."

She stiffened. "I will not give Mrs. Hebert any further pain medication. Her agony is on your head."

She turned to the door but stopped. I called out.

"Alice, let the doctor go see her other patients."

As the doctor gathered her rationalizations about her uppity self and stormed out of the door, Mrs. Hebert gasped,

"You're not gonna help the other patients?"

I turned to her and shook my head.

"I don't have the medical knowledge to know how to tell if she's hurting or helping."

"But why help me?"

"You were here."

"And the others?"

"They weren't."

I walked to her bed, where Mother stood unseen by the head. I took Mrs. Hebert's hand in mine. I fought to give her my best smile and wink. I managed. I think.

"Sleep. I'll stand watch by your bed."

She smiled sad at me. "What about the pain?"

"I'm Victor Standish, and I do not lie. You will feel no more pain."

"I - I heard of you, son. You keep your word."

I nodded, not trusting my voice.

She smiled, closing her eyes and resting her head on the sweat-stained pillow. "Could you promise me one more thing?"

"What's that?

"No more bad dreams?"

I watched Mother bend over her, my eyes filling with hot tears. "I promise. N-No more bad dreams."
Recent interviews and documents cast the story of Dr. Ana Pou and her colleagues in a new light. It is now evident that more medical professionals were involved in the decision to inject patients —

and far more patients were injected —

than was previously understood. When the names on toxicology reports and autopsies are matched with recollections and documentation from the days after Katrina,

it appears that at least 17 patients were injected with morphine or the sedative midazolam, or both, after a long-awaited rescue effort was at last emptying the hospital.

A number of these patients were extremely ill and might not have survived the evacuation. Several were almost certainly not near death when they were injected,

according to medical professionals who treated them at Memorial and an internist’s review of their charts and autopsies that was commissioned by investigators but never made public. {NEW YORK TIMES Published: August 25, 2009

{Many thanks to the extraordinary artist, Leonora Roy}


  1. In March 2007, a state grand jury was sworn in to consider the Memorial case. Unlike a typical grand jury, this one dealt with just one case, and functioned as an investigation instead of a review of evidence.]

    The grand jury did not hear from Minyard's experts, some witnesses who had been present, or the Department of Justice investigator who had spent a year on the case and amassed 50,000 pages of evidence.

    The two nurses who had been arrested with Pou testified in her defense, after being compelled to testify in return for not being charged themselves.

  2. SO interesting, Roland.

    I had no idea this was going on at the time. You wrote the scene expertly. I am starting to bond with you charming Victor Standish. I can't wait to find out what he's up to next.

    Thank you for sharing him with us as well as the horrors of Katrina.


  3. Michael : Yes, New Orleans during Katrina and right afterwards was a horror movie come to terrible life. Victor is a rogue, isn't he? A young Tony Stark without the Iron Man armor. I'm glad you like him. I'm at work just taking in a breath before assaulting the work ... or being assaulted by it!