Dark Paradise – Gene Desrochers

Boise Montague’s life in Los Angeles has fallen apart. After his wife dies, he returns to the tiny island where he grew up. Unfortunately, coming home doesn’t bring him the peace he’s looking for. Things have changed drastically since his last visit. The island has moved on and so have the people he once knew. When Boise tries to find the one friend he thinks he can count on to be there for him, he’s confronted with another death. A murder. A murder that the police did not think important enough to investigate thoroughly. Boise wants answers. He enlists a local reporter named Dana, who has theories of her own, to help him dig deeper. With not much left to lose, a bone to pick with the justice system, and a relentless partner, Boise sets out to do what the police would not: solve the murder of Jeffrey Black. The island of St. Thomas is a gleaming tropical paradise. Welcome to the Caribbean, where murder is as common as sunshine.

 

 

Extract

Today, once more, an extract. I hope you enjoy it and it makes you curious enough to read the whole book.

***

In this passage, Boise is trying to find out what happened to a childhood friend who he hasn’t seen in years. The intrigue and puzzles begin to take shape.

Roger’s house looked like a neglected drunk on a bender. A tattered piece of red cloth caught on the rusty front gate fluttered in the hot breeze. Crates of cardboard and Styrofoam were stacked inside the gate. Brown paint flaked off as I ran my hand along the exterior wall. I trotted up the stairs to the front door.

My stomach churned. I had forgotten to take my goat pills–as in, only a goat would be crazy enough to eat pills this large. They calmed my colon. Running my hand through my brillo-pad hair, I realized the flight down from Miami jostled me around so much, that in my nauseated state, I had forgotten a dose. In my pocket I found a couple loose pills and popped one. Swallowing it dry caused me to gage twice. Roger must have a cold beer in that house for his old friend.

Some amber varnish stuck to my knuckles when I knocked. I blew it away, looking over my shoulder at the deserted road. The potholes had been filled. That had never happened in all the years I’d lived here.

I knocked again, shifting from foot to foot as the aching in my ass ascended toward my lower back. I hated wearing watches. My wrist always itched.

Thank God for smartphones. Mine said it was ten in the morning, but that couldn’t be right. In the settings application I switched off airplane mode and the correct time popped up. Almost two in the afternoon on March thirty-first. The time of year mattered little because St. Thomas only had one season: hurricane season. As winter became spring and summer approached, the temperature changed from hot to hotter to scorching.

After a safe thirty seconds, I knocked again, but louder in case Glor, Roger, or Guillermo were back in the kitchen or out on the rear porch.

A tall, white manor stood up on the hill. It rose stately above the rest: a wooden watchtower. It was the same house Presidente Santa Anna had occupied while in exile.

The current owners had enough sense to keep the sign in front freshly painted red, but hadn’t done so much with the house itself. Two swords crossed beneath the pirate font. It read: “The West Indian Manner, A Guesthouse.” The vintage wooden sign curled at the edges like a parchment page from a treasure map.

I rocked from heel to toe and back again as I clenched. How would I find Roger if he’d moved stateside? Needing to take a leak, I made my way around the ugly white office buildings that had been stacked in front of our homes by a land developer named Payne and Wedgefield in the nineties. I hustled down the elongated steps, through the grassy asphalt, and up to Lucas’s house.

This was a harder knock. Lucas and I had ended things badly. We were young and both angry about different things. Saying good-bye for good as pre-teens wasn’t easy. I hoped he’d forgotten those growing pains and would at least tolerate seeing me. I reached the top of the stairs and was greeted with an open door.

“Hello,” I called into a cavernous room full of boxes.

A male voice called out, “Yeah, wha’ you want?”

I saw no one.

“I’m an old friend of Lucas Beauregard. Just comin’ by to say hi,” I hollered, edging my foot over the threshold.

“No one here by dat name,” came a gruff reply from behind the boxes.

“Any idea…”

An aged man emerged wearing a ripped Pittsburgh Pirates hat balanced on a gray afro. “He ain’t here.”

“I got that, sir. You see, I just want to locate him. He was Adam’s grandson. I used to live there.” I pointed to a vacant lot on the hill.

He sauntered over to the doorway smelling like Aqua Velva aftershave. His brown eyes gazed up at the dirt lot while petting his mustache.

“All right. What about Lucas?”

“I just want to see him, you know, say hello. I moved to St. Croix when I was twelve and he was thirteen.”

“Mi-son, you ain’t ol’ enough to be dat old,” the guy laughed.

“Yeah, I have a youthful face, but seriously, we were buddies.”

He pulled a soiled handkerchief out of the back pocket of his cut-off jeans and slathered it across his forehead. He adjusted his scrotum. “Adam die five year ago.”

“Wow, I can’t believe he lived that long. He was old when I was a kid,” I said.

“Yeah, well dey sold da house to somebody from da nort’side. Some Frenchie or da odda.” He finally looked at me. I couldn’t help shifting and squirming. “Da bat’room ova der.” He pointed back to the right.

“T’anks,” I said, scurrying off.

I returned with a big, tired smile on my face. “What about any of Lucas’s aunts or anything? This place isn’t that big, you gotta know some of these people? You local, right?” I said this, knowing that questioning his knowledge of the local people would bring out the desire to declare his allegiance and knowledge for life on the island.

“Hey, hey, I know da Beauregards. Nobody who from dez parts don’ know dem, check,” he said.

“Okay, so can you tell me where to find Lucas,” I said.

“I don’t know Lucas, but da lady who have me doin’ dis, she work right der.” He pointed at a house that had been converted into an office building.

“T’anks, da man,” I shot back, falling into a bit of the island dialect.

Thank you, Gene Desrochers and RachelsRandomResources.

 

About the author

Gene Desrochers hails from a dot in the Caribbean Sea called St. Thomas. He grew up with minimal supervision and free-roaming animals in a guesthouse that also served as a hospital during wartime. He has spent his life steadily migrating west, and now finds himself in Los Angeles with a beautiful wife, cats, and kids. After a lifetime of writing and telling short stories, he ventured into the deep end, publishing his first novel, Dark Paradise in 2018. If you ask, he will regale you with his Caribbean accent and tennis prowess.

https://www.instagram.com/ggdesrochers/ https://www.facebook.com/ggdesrochers/ https://twitter.com/problemsolverge https://medium.com/@genedesrochers https://www.genedesrochers.com/

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