Story Excerpt: “Heaven Painted as a Cop Car”

Heaven Painted as a Cop Car ebook cover web

In my continuing series of highlighting the most excellent writers who have graciously contributed to the Middlings Bundle ( I was particularly excited about the excerpt for Dean.

You see, Dean saved my life.

Not in some sort of dramatic pull-me-from-a-smoking-vehicle rescue, although he’d be perfectly capable of doing that. (Have him tell you the cow story sometime.)

Back in 2009, I was…not burned out on writing. I was re-writing the epic fantasy trilogy that I’d finished and hating my life. I was completely ensconced in the myths about writing. They were making me miserable.

Dean was publishing his, “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing” at that time. (

Someone pointed me to one of his blogs, making fun of what Dean had said.

However, what Dean had said kind of made sense to me. So I went to his site to read his original post. (When possible, I always try to go back to the original source material.)

What he said made me so angry.

Because he was right.

It took me about a week to get over myself. To finally pull on my big-girl panties and open my mind and start to learn.

Without Dean (and his cohort Kris) I wouldn’t be here. I’d quite possibly be miserably mired in the myths still, and not writing.

They gave me this second career, this second chance at a life and happiness. I cannot thank them enough. (They’ll say that I did the work, which is true. But they showed me that the path was possible.)

So thank you Dean.

Heaven Painted as a Cop Car

EVE BRYSON DIED so fast, she didn’t even realize she was dead for
a few minutes.

The rain was pounding down hard, one of those storms that
felt more like standing under a cold shower. She had on only a light
cotton summer dress, sandals, and panties. No bra, so this rain was
sticking her dress to her like a second skin. Not pleasant in the slightest.

Around her the heavy pine forest seemed frighteningly dark,
even though the sun was hours from setting. She could hear nothing
but the pounding rain against her head, matting her long brown hair
into a mess down her back.

She wasn’t even sure how she had ended up in the rain. A moment
before she had been driving toward a dinner date at a local
brewpub in downtown Portland with three friends from college.

In the years since college, the four of them had managed to get
together every month or so and she loved those evenings. It took her
mind off her worthless husband and even more worthless job she
couldn’t figure out how to get out of.

She had thought she would love high-tech work after coming out
of college with her masters in engineering. But she hated it, hated
the people more than anything else. Their goal wasn’t to create new
things, use their brains for good. All they did was try to figure out
how to get ahead in the corporate game.

And just like her job, she thought marrying Simpson Jones right out
of college was a good idea as well. It didn’t matter that he was taking a
break from finishing his degree. They had had great sex, lots of fun traveling,
and planning for a future. She thought she had found a soul mate.

Maybe a soul mate for her single lost sock. But that might be giving
Simpson more credit than he deserved.

It seemed good ol’ Simp to his friends never understood that
working was required to get ahead. She had no idea what he did all
day while she was working, but it certainly wasn’t anything to bring
in money. She had a hunch he just looked at porn and played online
games. She had gotten tired of asking about six months ago.

The marriage was that dead.

So for two years now she had supported him and that was going
to end very, very soon. All of the rebel things she had found charming
with him in college now just annoyed her beyond belief.
And all of her friends didn’t like him either right from the start.

That should have been a clue to her, but when a girl was in the first
blush of love and sexual satisfaction, thinking with the logical brain
wasn’t that possible.

So she had made two mistakes right out of college. In six months,
she would be out of both mistakes.

She shivered from the pounding cold rain and looked around.
What had happened?

The two-lane winding road through the trees was empty. Water
ran down one side, it was raining so hard.

Then she saw her wonderful little classic blue Miata off the road
and down an embankment. Then she remembered. She had been
thinking about how Simpson had complained that she wouldn’t cook
his dinner before she left. She had gotten so angry, she had been driving
far too fast down the twisting area through the trees from their
house in the hills to the main street below.

Far too fast for a pounding June rain.

She had slid into one corner, managed to get straightened out,
and then didn’t make the next corner. The last thing she remembered
was the Miata heading over the bank and for a large pine tree.
She must have bumped her head. She didn’t remember climbing
up here to the road.

She quickly felt her forehead, looking for any sign of blood in the
rain pounding at her.


The Miata’s lights were still on and she went to the edge of the
road to look down at it. It was pretty smashed up, but it wasn’t that
far off the road and the next person to come by would certainly see
it and her.

She felt really sad she had totaled her Miata. She had bought
it right out of college as well and it was the only fun thing left in
her life after two years. Now it looked like she would be starting
over completely.

The rain kept pounding at her and she could feel she was starting
to really get chilled. It had been a seventy-degree day today. How
could she be this cold?

A blue pickup, brand new from the looks of it, came around the
corner, saw the lights from her car and quickly braked and pulled
over onto the gravel shoulder of the road, putting on its flashing red
warning lights.

The driver was a guy about forty. Maybe older. She could never
tell with men in that range.

He pulled on a rain jacket with a hood as he climbed out and
went to the edge of the road to look at her poor car.
She put one arm across her chest to cover what was showing
through her wet dress and said to the guy, “I sure made a mess of it,
didn’t I?”

He said nothing, but instead quickly scrambled down the
bank. When he got to the Miata, he looked inside, then shook
his head and at a fast climb came back up the bank and started
toward his truck.

“Why are you ignoring me?” Eve asked.

She reached for the guy as he went past and her hand went right
through his arm.

And as it did, she could feel and read his mind.

All he was thinking was to get help out here quickly. And that he
doubted the woman in the car was alive. Her neck was badly twisted
in a way that necks didn’t twist.

She watched him move to the truck and climb in and use his cell
phone to call for help.

Then in the pounding rain, she moved over to the edge of the
bank and once again looked at her car.

She could see now that she was still inside.

She was dead.

And she was just about as cold and wet as she could ever remember
being. And she was getting hungry.

She was dead.

She was a ghost.

How the hell could she be hungry?

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