Thrilled to announce that my crime short story “The Passenger” is included in Mystery Weekly Magazine‘s September 2021 issue, along with stories by John M. Floyd, R. T. Lawton, Adam Leeder, Albert Tucher, Sharom Love Cook, Joseph Kuttler, C.L. Cobb, Vinnie Hansen, Mark Levenson and James Blakey.
My Pat Tierney story opens with Pat feeling uneasy when her friend offers a lift to a stranger on their return from an out-of-town job fair. An hour later, Pat wishes that she had voiced her objections.
“The Passenger” was sparked by a real-life incident at Limestone Genre Expo in Kingston, Ont. The two-day literary event features a roster of panel discussions and workshops, and authors devote hours to peddling their books in the bookroom. During the 2018 event, the May weather was particularly lovely, and on the second day, shoppers in the bookroom were sparse, probably because they were soaking up the sun outdoors. By 3 p.m., I was ready to drive back to Toronto when a tanned young man sporting Bermuda shorts, a floral shirt and large sunglasses stopped by my table.
We chatted about books, and somewhere in the mix I mentioned that I lived in Toronto and would be heading back later that day. He asked me for a lift to Belleville, about an hour’s drive down Highway 401 toward Toronto.
I looked at his face, and caught my reflection in his mirrored sunglasses. Something gave me pause. I realized I didn’t know what he looked like. His sunglasses obscured much of his face.
I couldn’t give this guy a lift. I couldn’t let him in my car.
A white lie tripped off my tongue. I told him I had a visit to make before I left Kingston, and I didn’t know how long it would take. He would have to find another way of getting to Belleville.
Before I could blink twice, he was across the room and chatting up another author.
I’ve thought of this incident many times, always with a shiver. I hope no one else gave this guy a lift.
The encounter found its way into “The Passenger.”