My friends, I dove into my 6th book not knowing anything about it and now it is almost finished. Two more chapters to write. Never mind that it's been two years in the making. It's very exciting to me each time I finish a book and I want to share the excitement with you:
Disaster struck Wednesday, my second day on the job at Ralph’s Roller Rink located on the east side of Santa Cruz, California. A hit-and-run-driver, most likely over eighty, hit the gas instead of the brake according to police. The Sentinel reported that a car slammed through exterior walls and an inner office. Employee, Mario Portello died at his desk. The car finally came to a stop against a sixty-year-old steel stall in the lady’s restroom. Still in a geriatric daze, the driver found reverse and has not been seen since.
I was the only witness at the rink, that sunny morning in May. I barely saw the black sedan covered in roller rink residue topped off with a pair of size ten loafers. A well trained chimpanzee could have been driving for all I knew. The windshield acted like a magnet for shredded building materials and powdered wallboard.
My first thought was, “Is this a movie stunt?” My second thought, “Run!”
The crashing noises were deafening behind me as I sprinted twenty yards to the back door, still gripping a drippy stir stick in my white-knuckled fist. I looked back in time to see the vehicle disappearing through a massive hole in the wall, back to daylight, sidewalks and unsuspecting pedestrians. I heard the tires squeal and smelled rubber.
The only standing rooms within the cavernous building were the two restrooms. The office had been flattened.
My stubborn interrogator, Sergeant Fishburn, had a preconceived idea about how Mr. Portello lost his life. No matter how I described what I had seen, the officer was sure the driver was an out-of-control oldster, a senile senior probably heading for Bonnie’s Bingo Parlor two doors down. Since I did not see the driver I could not describe the driver, consequently I was unable to convince Fishburn that there had been foul play.
Painting the musical notes and words to the “hokey pokey” across a sixty-foot light blue wall was not my worst-ever mural job, but close to it. My first day, a quiet Tuesday, was spent measuring and calculating on paper. Ralph Rattini, owner of the roller rink, had given me very specific hours. Painting had to end before three o’clock, when school was out and the kids would come charging in. The entire job needed to be finished before the big roller derby event on Memorial Day. That gave us three weeks.
Just before I slipped out the back door at three o’clock, I glanced across the enormous room, and saw Mr. Portello, short and balding, leave his little office, walk to the main entrance and unlock the doors to let hoards of young skaters in. Two teenage boys were the first to enter. Mario greeted them and pointed to their assigned duties behind the counter.
Wednesday’s work, mixing colors of paint and drawing a pepper tree near the back door, was cut short when the infamous black sedan struck. After that my hands were not steady enough to draw or paint, and thinking was out of the question.
Sergeant Fishburn questioned me relentlessly and finally said, “Go home, Ms. Stuart. You’ll feel better tomorrow.” I detected a bit of kindness in his voice. Maybe he felt sorry for me because I shivered every time I recalled details of the shocking ordeal.