It’s short, only 36 pages from start to finish. It’s called, Deep in the Grove, and it’s priced at a rock-bottom $0.99. One penny short of a dollar. I’m actually kind of proud about that.
The story is based on a real event, although it departs from reality early. In real life, I was present when two skeletons were removed from a sandy gravesite, hastily dug under cover of darkness deep in a citrus grove. That experience has lingered in my mind for several years. Visually compelling, emotionally wrenching, even olfaction comes into play when you stand beside a hole in the ground where bodies have recently been decaying. It’s impossible to forget. And so I decided to write about it in a highly fictionalized manner.
To be truthful, I initially thought about writing a non-fiction magazine piece detailing the actual killings. But the more I thought about it, the less appealing the idea become. I couldn’t find a way to write the story that didn’t feel slimy, sensationalist, and ultimately disrespectful of the two murdered girls. So I dispensed with the notion. Yet the experience of standing beside that hole in the ground, watching as their bones were recovered, witnessing the professionalism and care the crime scene investigators put into their grisly work – the memory kept nagging at me and nagging at me. Clearly the memory wasn’t going to go away easily.
This is where the writer’s imagination kicks in. The real-life recovery of those two bodies became the spark that developed into a completely unique story. And it was the development of this story that set the stage for an entire fictional county located not far from the in the well-known tourist meccas of Florida. Not that Abiaka County draws tourists. Not unless they’re lost anyway. There are no ferris wheels, no roller coasters, and no brightly lit arcades in Abiaka. No. This is a place lost in time and steeped in tradition. Spanish moss hangs from the trees and the spoken word comes out slowly, with a pronounced drawl that northerners think of as evidence of stupidity. It is not. Still, Abiaka bears little resemblance to the place you call home. Law enforcement here is very different than it is where you live. Here it’s not a profession, it’s a calling. As divine in nature as the priesthood. As permanent as death. The sheriff of Abiaka County is a home-grown soldier of justice, as was his predecessor, as will be the man who follows in his footsteps. Oh yes, evil exists in Abiaka, but it does not exist without opposition. Fierce, brutal opposition that knows no bounds. This is a beautiful place. But danger lurks here for those who aren’t respectful of their neighbors.
It’s short, only 36 pages from start to finish. It’s called, Deep in the Grove. I hope you enjoy it.