Ocean Crest, New Jersey
Lucy walked to the stairs leading from the boardwalk to the
beach. The music from the bandstand was muted here, and the
screams from the roller coaster on the sole pier seemed
A pleasant ocean breeze cooled her cheeks and teased the
wayward strands of hair that had escaped her ponytail. She
slipped off her sandals, and the surf sprayed her ankles.
Gulls squawked and circled above. She stopped to pick up a
pretty shell, then tossed it back into the water. She
breathed in the fresh ocean air and felt her stress melt
away. The beach always had this effect, calming and
soothing, and she couldn't envision herself living anywhere
else than in Ocean Crest.
After fifteen minutes, she headed back, but at the last
minute she decided she needed a bit more time, and rather
than climb the steps to return to the boardwalk, she veered
right and walked under it. In a couple of hours, high tide
would begin and the ocean would reach under the boardwalk.
But for now the sand was cool beneath her feet.
A few yards away, a large shadow appeared ahead on the sand.
She stared. What could it be? A stack of boards? A sand dune
bush? A large trash bag someone had illegally dumped?
She changed her mind as she crept closer and a shock of
white hair came into focus, then an outstretched arm with a
Wile E. Coyote tattoo.
It wasn't a trash bag.
Oh, no. It was Archie.
"Mr. Kincaid?" she asked aloud although deep in her gut she
knew he wouldn't respond. He'd never speak again. Her gaze
lowered to the bullet hole in the center of his chest.
She reached toward him and placed a trembling finger to his
neck. She had to be sure.
Nothing. Oh, God.
Archie Kincaid was dead.