the beginning

My Bad Side is my novel. It begins in New York, present day:

I watched my face fade in and out against the shadows and buildings, my eyes and mouth, my neck and chest, my dress suddenly there and then gone into the scaffolding and lights, a police car, its blue and white lights swimming back and forth. The cab turned, and my face was in the window again, the flat stone of Battery Tunnel and then the gravel and bent-over plastic fences and the wide emptiness and the front of my building.


I gave him $8. “It’s a $7 fare.”

He turned sharply, his collar jutting out at the side. “I’m not a beggar.”

“I’m not a tourist.”

“The fare is $9.40.”

I was only half out, my foot just on the wet asphalt, when the car lurched ahead, and I had to pirouette, kick down and catch myself to a stop, as the wheels spun, jittering, and jolted away, the door still half open.

“Miss Sinclair?” Sully had his hand out for me; he wore his suit perfectly, tie tight, shirt sleeves just out from his jacket,

“Thank you.”

We watched the cab’s tail lights flash on and off, menacingly, and then turn to the park.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with people.” He walked me up the steps. “I really don’t.”

“It’s cold.”

“Yes.” He bowed as he opened the door. “It’s going to snow.”

“It’s supposed to be spring.”

He smiled. “We always have the late snow.”

“Night, Sully.”

“Good night, Miss Sinclair.”

The elevator doors closed. The hall was empty. My key went badly into the lock. Apollo was lying in the middle of the rug, curled away, his bottom leg sticking out, his paw over his head. I couldn’t understand why he was like that.

“Hey there.”

I stepped back and banged my elbow into the wall. “Jesus fuck, Derek.”

He was slouched at the edge of the couch, his uniform half off. “Sorry.”

“What are you doing here?”

He doubled up, coughing horribly.

I crouched over Apollo; there was a hole in his shoulder, a tiny nothing and then a watery line of red trailing into the rug.

“Dee.” Derek was suddenly too close, almost at my shoulder. He had something in his hand, dark and heavy, like a phone, but it wasn’t that. It was a gun. I swung out wildly, twisting away, falling forward, both of us full onto my side and arm, and kicked at him, punching the floor, the gun loose and in my hand. I pushed myself up, everything in me twisted tight, my heart erratic, a mess of veins squenched together, making me think that I was more real than I was, and I raised the gun at him. He wouldn’t stop coughing.

“Your fucking cat—“

It snapped up and hovered, a living thing, and there was a vibrating sound, the light hard and burning. He slumped back like he was pretending to be mad and then he was struggling to get up again.

I was going to shoot again. “Just stay.” He listened to that.

Apollo whipped his tail at me. I tried to lift him, but he swiped back and hissed, and I was just dragging him awfully. I got his cage and pulled him into that and knocked everything off my dresser into a bag, like I had been waiting for this and pulled him after me onto the elevator, getting my phone and was going to call the police but just held it stupidly, thinking they would come after me and decided I had to get away.

“Miss Sinclair?” Sully ran to us. “Are you all right?”

“Apollo’s hurt.”

“Apollo? Let me.” He took the cage out the glass doors. “What’s happened to your hand?”

I looked down, my left hand tight and bent against my chest. “I—I…It’s…I twisted it.”

“You should get it looked at.” He had the cab door open. “You’re sure you’re all right?”

“We’re fine.”

He slid Apollo’s cage in after me. “You’re sure?”

I smiled back. “Thank you, Sully.”

“You should go to the hospital.”

I closed the door. “Penn Station.”