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Secrets

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If this life coach were a shark, his name would be Jaws telling his own story.
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Author: Zev Bagel
Description

Not long after a mystery man arrives in a small coastal town in New Brunswick and begins a new career as a life coach, people start to disappear, get blackmailed, die in unusual circumstances and are kidnapped.

Who is he, this charming, helpful man? What secrets does he carry with him? What drives him? And who is going to stop him?

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Title Secrets
Author Zev Bagel
Genre Crime Fiction Mystery
Release April 11, 2017
Designer Charlotte Volnek
Pages 220 pages
ISBN 978-1-77127-916-1
Price $5.99
Tags Crime, life coaching, mystery, suspense, psychological thriller, literary fiction.

Excerpt

The onion and the two-hundred dollar kitchen knife changed my luck. This was before I learned the safest way to slice an onion is to cut it in half and lay the two pieces flat side down so they don’t slip.

I was into the rhythm of the chopping when the onion slithered across the chopping-board. My left hand followed it while the right continued its movement. It happened in slow motion, as these things do when the insight into an impending catastrophe speeds up the brain neurons so everything goes slower, but your physical reactions don’t work at such a heightened pace.

It was an early evening in June. Images of the long journey to this place clogged my mind.

The knife sliced off the tip of my middle finger, which plopped among the rings of onion. The pile reddened into a messy blob. My scream, formed into the word ‘shit’ emerged the moment before the pain hit, before the mutilation seeped into my brain.

My first thought was Monique would help. She’d know what to do. My wife would make it go away.

But Monique was dead.

She couldn’t help with this emergency any more than I’d been able to help her.

The knife clattered into the sink. I turned on the faucet, grabbed the fingertip out of the mess of onions and stuck it and the end of my finger under the cold water. The raw stub felt as though it would explode. Pain filled every nerve. Blood flowed freely. Every drop in my body would drain from that throbbing finger. Get to a hospital. They’d sew it back on. Quicker the better. A doctor could save it. Where is the nearest place? Must be Moncton, twenty minutes away. Call 911. No, get someone to drive. Get help now.

I opened the refrigerator door, grabbed the ice container from the freezer compartment and stuck my finger in among the ice-cubes along with the loose end. One advantage of living in a camper van is everything is right there.

Stumbling from the side door, carrying the tiny cargo, I made it to the nearest trailer showing any sign of life.

This is how I met Vic and Elise. My shouts brought the couple to the trailer door. The incoherent panic-infused message burbling from a stranger brought two ministering angels from their summer home. The couple seated me on a sofa before I could explain the urgent need to get to a hospital. But the moment I sat it felt as though Vic and Elise were taking care of everything; as though Monique were there with me.

It was the first conversation with my neighbours apart from an exchange of waves a few times when arriving or leaving in their car. Even before telling me their names, these two showed I could trust them with my pulsating finger and its sliced-off tip.

“Let’s have a look,” said Vic.

My saviour took the whitening tip and inspected it, squinting as he held it up.

“Looks clean. Good clean cut. Must have been a good knife.”

“It was new.”

Vic’s voice was resonant. The accent sounded eastern European. He turned to his wife. “Get the comfrey, Elise. Let’s make a poultice.” He nodded at me. “We’ll have this back and healing before you know it.”

“Are you a doctor?”

“No. Better. Doctors aren’t the only healers in this world.”

“Don’t you think it would be better to get to the hospital and have someone sew it back on or something?”

“Can if you like. It would mean waiting around for three or four hours. Even so I doubt the staff there would be able to fix it. We’ll have it done before a doctor would have time to take a look.”

It took less than thirty minutes, including the time it took Elise to mix the greenish-brown paste onto a strip of surgical tape, for Vic to refit the end of my finger with the care and precision of a surgeon, and for them both to bind it together. It still hurt like hell, but the throbbing subsided, and my finger almost felt as though it were in one piece again.

It was the turning point. It hardly seemed like it, but it’s when my life began again. Not that life was all bad until Monique, and being out of work. Before the finger episode, nothing was planned. I’d never felt in control of life. Not as a kid, or growing up and getting a job. Marriage didn’t change things. Life lurched on without me. There were a few difficulties. Good times and not so good. One horrendous one. Things nobody would ever know about. Everything was in a straight line. A to Z. Birth to death. If everything carried on the same path, I was on J or K.

Four years ago, someone grabbed hold of the Scrabble bag and threw the letters into the air. They crashed to the ground just like Monique plummeting from the icy ledge, my scream echoing hers into the distance.

I hit rock bottom about two years later.

 

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