CHAPTER 3 PART 1: GWEN




SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 13 - LAWRENCE, KANSAS

A RAGE OF SUCH monumental proportions built up inside her that Gwen Daniels felt, not for the first time, the urge to kill.

She sat propped up in bed, papers strewn about her on the bed and the floor, a red pen in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. The papers had been, just moments before, sitting in a neatly stacked pile at her side. The papers were essays. An assignment she’d given her Eleventh Grade English class:

Are we too dependent on our smart phones and other portable devices?

Her students had handled the subject matter with a sense of maturity and bias that had made her more than a little proud. But their use of grammar, spelling, and punctuation did nothing but support the argument that yes, we are too dependent on these portable devices that have become more than an integral part of everyday society.

In fact, it had been the sixth paper in which the word ‘Meh’ appeared that caused her anger to flair and she had swept the stack of essays away from her in one of her characteristic bursts of fiery rage. She wasn’t particularly proud of this notable flaw in her character, but it was a part of who she was and she had learned long ago when to fight it and when to give in. Alone in her room would be the right time to give in.

She didn’t blame her students, however. It was the education system that had failed them. The way she figured it, by the time the kids got to her in high school, there wasn’t much more she could do for them other than cram their heads full of facts they would never use. That’s why she would have preferred Grade School. That’s where the action was. The lower the grade the better. Fresh minds itching to learn. That was teaching. What she did now didn’t even come close.

Gwen sighed, dropped the pen onto the bed, downed the wine from the glass in one quick gulp, sat the now empty glass on the bedside table next to the nearly empty bottle, and went about the task of gathering up the far flung essays. She arranged them once again in a stack and then placed them on the table next to the wine, deciding she would read no more tonight.

She glanced at the clock on the table. 10:36 PM. Too late for the local news, but with satellite, there was bound to be something to watch.

So she took the remote from the table and thumbed the power button.

Despite the time, the picture and sound faded in to the local news.

Football, she thought. Game must’ve run late.

A man with a square chin, perfectly sculpted hair, and a bland suit sat next to a woman who, in Gwen’s opinion, wasn’t dressed appropriately for her age. She caught the man in mid-sentence.

“. . . to Connie Hawthorne with your weather. What are we looking at out there, Connie?”

The shot switched to an even more inappropriately dressed woman who stood in front of a map of the area. Specifically Topeka, but Gwen could see Lawrence off there on the right hand side of the screen.

“Well, Jim,” said local weather bunny, Connie Hawthorne in her tight dress that left little to the imagination. “As you can see, current temperature in Topeka is a brisk thirty-three degrees. But by Midnight, we should drop to the mid-twenties making it the first hard freeze of the season.”

Gwen frowned, which had less to do with the temperature, and more to do with the woman on screen. Of all the local news personalities, Connie Hawthorne was her least favorite. In fact, Gwen loathed the woman. She was all smiles and curves and perfect skin.

Gwen raised the remote to change the channel—Wings would be starting soon on that station that played sitcoms from the Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties—but had suddenly become distracted by a fat, black fly that buzzed lazily in front of the glowing screen.

To be continued . . .





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