Broken Wing – Free Web Edition


Chapter 1

 Normally, Bess liked how she could find a dark patch of weeds and scrub just off the side of a forgotten dirt road and look in any direction without seeing a single house, light or even a lone stanchion of tired wooden utility poles with black wires sagging between them. Sitting in the passenger’s seat… Continue reading Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Bess gripped the varnished tiller, checked her footing and watched her father sitting quietly in the cockpit across from her. She had done all the rigging after her father had made a show of telling her that she was ready to captain her first race. She smiled at him even as her heart sank, knowing… Continue reading Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Bess sat in the lobby of a hospital ward, rubbing the shiny wood laminate of her chair’s armrest. They had told her to wait. They wouldn’t let her see her father, but they weren’t doing anything. She stared at a buzzing fluorescent light in the ceiling. There was nowhere else to look that didn’t make… Continue reading Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Within a week Mary Kincaid  decided she couldn’t buy any more shoes. Walking through the mall in a half daze, all she really wanted was a drink. She was already running out of finding new ways to spend money and the grating urge to feel the burn of alcohol against the back of her throat… Continue reading Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Bess trudged through the front door with her backpack slung over her shoulder and her blouse sticking to her back with sweat. The heat of early June pressing down on her washed away as she stepped into the air-conditioned interior of the house. She stretched her neck and let out a long sigh as she… Continue reading Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Rickie Hewitt jerked the steering wheel and headed for the freeway exit. He didn’t use his turn signal and grumbled at the blast of a horn from the driver he cut off as he raced up the exit ramp. Pausing at the stop sign just long enough to make sure there was no oncoming traffic,… Continue reading Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Rickie watched Mary Kincaid hang up the phone in the living room and stomp back into the kitchen. Grabbing her Jack Daniels from the counter top, she upended the bottle and drained the last of its contents over the half-melted ice in her glass. She shook the bottle, cursing under her breath as a few… Continue reading Chapter 7

Chapter 8

The world came back as a mosaic of pressboard above her head.  Bess lay on her back, vaguely aware that she shouldn’t try to move as she studied the pattern on the ceiling. For a moment, she felt like she was in a coffin. She let her gaze trace the nibbles of wood glued together… Continue reading Chapter 8

Chapter 9

 Bess lifted her face to the sunlight filtering through the slats of a wooden awning running over the stretch of sidewalk they were standing on. Concrete walls flanked the sidewalk, each with six evenly spaced doors just like the one to her room. Each was made from the same heavy wood and had a steel… Continue reading Chapter 9

Chapter 10

After her shower and all too brief solace in her room, Bess was shuffling behind the other girls as one of the guards herded them into the dining room. They slid onto benches on either side of a long plastic table that barely fit in the room. There were no windows. Instead, a narrow fluorescent… Continue reading Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Bess woke up blinking at the door. She picked up both hands and turned them over as she studied the shafts of light leaking through. Her hands didn’t feel like blocks of concrete this time. She sat up and swung her legs off the bed, wiggling her toes. Her body did not rebel with searing… Continue reading Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Bess sat in a plastic chair on the walkway just outside the block, smoking a cigarette. She didn’t know how many days had passed since the gunshot she could still hear in her mind had rung out across the courtyard. She watched the sun ducking behind the outline of the main house, noting the azimuth… Continue reading Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Later that night, Bess stood in the parlour and listened to the murmurs and chuckles of men dressed in tuxedos flowing through the room while the girls took empty champagne glasses from their hands and replaced them with full ones. The clients who had been there before smiled easily and let the girls run a… Continue reading Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Mary Kincaid Stood at the end of the hallway, staring at the worn out door with faded stick-on letters bought from a home improvement store.  The hallway was dimly lit and the carpet looked like it hadn’t been vacuumed – ever.  Stains from what she assumed were spills from coffee cups and the like created… Continue reading Chapter 14

Chapter 15

The next morning, Tom Carlisle opened the door to his office to find the room in shambles. His desk was flipped over with its legs sticking up – like a dead animal that had been shot. The drawers had been pulled out and tossed on the floor, next to their scattered contents. A half dozen… Continue reading Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Jefe sat behind his desk, glaring at the door to the stairway. On the road outside, the rumble of an approaching vehicle drew closer and then faded as brakes squealed and the vehicle stopped in front of the iron gate. “Is that him?” he asked. One of the guards tugged at the curtains behind the… Continue reading Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Bess woke up with a groan. Every part of her hurt. Her shoulders hurt. Her arms hurt. Her chest hurt. Her legs hurt. She pawed at her belly and grimaced. She was dressed in a different nightgown and her feet were bare. Although it was dark outside, she was squinting and realized light was pouring… Continue reading Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Twilight was descending when they pulled up to Mary Kincaid’s house. Rickie pulled the key out of the ignition and eyed Gutierrez. “You know, I’ve been trying to think of another way to do this,” Rickie said. Gutierrez slowly turned towards him. “And?” Rickie looked at the house and let out a long breath. “Didn’t… Continue reading Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Bess staggered through the desert under the crisp light of a crescent moon. With no other lights, her eyes had finally adjusted so the landscape looked like it was frosted with a dim sunset. She could clearly see that it was all the same – miles of scrub and sand with an occasional patch of… Continue reading Chapter 19

Chapter 20

When Bess woke up, she had the sense she was in a coffin. She reached out with her hand and felt a wall next to her. Stretching out her feet, she felt another one. She rolled her eyes back and scooted back a few inches until her head bumped into a third. She reached out… Continue reading Chapter 20

Chapter 21

The old man’s rusted pickup truck rattled, creaked and thumped as it hobbled along the ruts etched in the desert floor. The steering wheel gyrated in his hands as the wheels fought against the ruts and scrub brush that grew next to them. Several times, Bess came off her seat and plopped back down while… Continue reading Chapter 21

Chapter 22

The river behind her, Bess crossed her arms and rubbed her shoulders as she walked through more endless scrub. She was wet up to her waist and both the poncho and her nightgown were soaked as they flapped against her legs. A cold breeze cut through the wet garments and she shivered as the tingle… Continue reading Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Bess didn’t have anything other than her poncho, bolsa and knife and she knew they weren’t enough. She needed more. And she had learned that there were times when there was only one way to get what you wanted, as long as you had the will. The notion of propriety scuttled through her mind and… Continue reading Chapter 23

Chapter 24

The sun was long gone when Bess idled along a thin strip of highway leading up to a cluster of gas stations and fast food restaurants at an entry ramp for the freeway. She knew the gas in her tank was low and she couldn’t wait any longer to fill it back up. Unlike the… Continue reading Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Bess was close enough now that she could hear the soft clamor of the reception like a distant babbling brook. She crouched down as she padded the rest of the way through the weeds and sagebrush bordering the compound. She angled across the back of the shower room and down the side of the block… Continue reading Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Bess grabbed the hand of every girl sitting in the van as she said her goodbyes. The black van that had brought each and every one of them to Los Rojos would now become their chariot of liberation. There was a bond between them, but she knew they would never see each other again. She… Continue reading Chapter 26