Vacation of a Lifetime! Jane’s Family Visits Jigsaw’s Retreat

by | Oct 22, 2021 | Crime Writing | 0 comments

Los Angeles, California. St. John and I sat at our usual booth at Denny’s with our usual combo of iced tea for him, black coffee for me trying to create a rough draft for a chapter outline. But the going was tough. Nothing felt right. The words on the menu made more sense than the words on the page. My head was beginning to hurt, John’s patience was getting thinner and thinner, and the coffee was cold and had begun to taste stale.

Added to that, I knew when I got home, I’d be facing piles of dirty clothes that needed laundering and a hungry family that wouldn’t be happy with another meal of leftover meatloaf. St. John must have felt the descent of what was a cheery mood a few hours later into a dark cloud of grumpiness. I wasn’t sure what I needed, but for sure it wasn’t more coffee.

“What’s going on in that brain of yours?” he asked. “One minute you’re on cloud nine, the next you’re on cloud zero. Is it Jim? Is it the kids? Is it the writing? Is it me? Is it you hate Tuesdays?”

I looked around the most familiar restaurant in my universe since I’d met Detective John St. John and wondered why nothing seemed as it should be. Certainly, after months and months of revisions and rewrites on our manuscript: Badge Number One John and I should have felt positive and pleased with what we’d produced. Several chapters felt solid and well-written, but I still felt there was something missing.

Some message wasn’t coming across.

Some scenes felt lifeless and flat.

Some dialogue felt forced and phony which a reader would pick up in a minute.

St. John took a swig of his iced tea, gave me a look that said, “Time to get straight with what’s going on. Are you so tired of this project you need a break? A trip to Hawaii. A vacation?”

A vacation? What a concept! You mean going to a place where you don’t have to think? Where people bring you towels and food and dessert? Where one can just look at the moon and dream?

Jim and I hadn’t had a vacation in years. When we did it was usually camping with the kids which meant sleeping on the ground, cooking on a Coleman stove, and waking up feeling beaten.

“It’s been ages since Jim and I have gone on a vacation,” I said.

“Well then,” St. John said, “Have I got a treat for you. Helen and I are headed to our retirement house on the Klamath River and you, Jim, and the kids can be our guests.”

I’d heard about St. John’s “house” on the Klamath River (that’s really a garage) and how he and Helen have to stay in their motorhome for a month while he works on it. Vacation? It’s the vacation from hell Hollywood makes movies out of.

“No thanks, John,” I said. “I know about your luxurious digs in the mountains. Where would Jim and I and the kids hang out? In your garage with you and Helen? Next to your motorhome or maybe in the local Motel 6? Thanks, but no thanks for the invite.”

Little did I know St. John had other plans. How did he know our neighbor had a motorhome and it was always Jim’s dream to vacation in one of those monster vehicles? I was in for the surprise of a lifetime. The motorhome experience was about to become my dream vacation.