As a special appetizer for the release of Steve Ulfelder’s The Whole Lie (available May 8, 2012), Criminal Element has three exclusive outtakes from the book, handpicked by the author and edited for your consumption. Enjoy!
Conway Sax is finally within the grasps of normalcy until Savannah Kane, a woman from his past shows up again. Conway helped her disappear seven years ago, but almost as soon as she’s back in his life, she’s found brutally murdered, and one of the suspects is none other than the wannabe Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts.
***Reader Beware! These deleted scenes may contain spoilers, they are designed to be spoiler-free, but if you are spoiler-sensitive, turn back now or check out the exclusive excerpt of Chapters 1-3 from The Whole Lie by Steve Ulfelder.
Outtake 1: We meet Betsy Tinker
Why it was cut: I like this scene, and hated to dump it. I wrote it to introduce Betsy Tinker and to illustrate the tension between Tinker and Bert Saginaw, her running mate.
Tinker is the beloved widow of a beloved Massachusetts politician. When her husband died, she finished out his Senate term to great acclaim. She could have been a senator for life, but opted instead to run for governor–an office it appears, at the outset of the story, she will win easily.
The other original point of the scene was to introduce a construction lot in Boston’s gritty Charlestown neighborhood. Alas, during editing, it became what I call (in my sophisticated and literary manner) a popcorn fart of a scene. So out it came.
The Deleted Scene:
A black Escalade waited outside the hotel. Three bellhops just about had a fistfight for the privilege of opening doors for Saginaw. Krall, Savvy, me, and a girl-flunky trailed along. A big-chested gal with dyed-black hair scampered at Saginaw’s side, making damn sure she sat beside him in the SUV.
When we were inside, I saw why: she wrapped a barber-style cloth around his collar, popped open what looked to me like a fishing-tackle box, and began applying makeup.
“No fag jokes,” Saginaw said.
“The thought never,” Savvy said.
“Where we going?” I said.
“Five minutes,” Krall said.
The girl-flunky, who Krall called Alexa, made half an attempt to tell Saginaw about the script he was shooting. Krall flipped fingertips, indicating the great man couldn’t be disturbed by the likes of her while having foundation patted onto his face. She hushed up and turned red. I thought about punching Krall. Or Saginaw. Or both. Maybe after I cashed their checks.
The Escalade hit a busy intersection. A left would take us to Harvard Square. A right would take us over the Charles River, past the Museum of Science, into Boston.
We went straight.
“Huh,” I said. “Charlestown?”
“Barely,” Krall said. I saw what he meant: As soon as we cleared the intersection and crossed under a set of train tracks, our driver swung into a scabby lot stuffed with earth-movers, a pair of cement trucks, and semi-trailer-sized storage pods.
“Here’s the deal,” Krall said. He acted like he was explaining things to me, but I could tell he was refreshing Saginaw’s memory too. Saginaw would be a guy who didn’t give a rat’s ass about making a TV commercial – or would pretend he didn’t. “The concept is Putting Massachusetts Back to Work. The voice-over will talk about Saginaw Fence, how many employees Bert has, how they all love him, proven private-sector experience, blah blah blah. Bert just walks around in a hard hat, pointing at things with the actor playing his foreman.”
“I get no lines?” Saginaw said, making a rabbit-mouth for the benefit of the makeup gal. “I thought I had like two lines.”
“Alexa?” Krall said. Didn’t have the balls to deliver bad news himself.
“In the latest rewrite,” she said, “it’s just the voice-over. And then Miz Tinker’s line, of course.”
“Well ain’t that just fuckin’ dandy,” Saginaw said, snapping the cloth from his torso. “That’s enough makeup. Let’s get this over with.” He climbed out.
The rest of us were quiet in the SUV. The poor makeup gal sat stunned. She’d been in mid-pat.
“Tell Mister DeMille,” Savvy finally said.
They all laughed. I didn’t get it.
As we climbed out, I tapped Krall’s arm. “Why not shoot this thing over at the Escutcheon, where the real construction’s going on?”
“Movie making magic,” he said. “Better optics over here. And even with the trains, it’s quieter.”
“Does Saginaw even have anything to do with this lot?”
“Hell yeah. Staging area. Cambridge City Council won’t let Bert stow gear over there.”
“So they blow an hour every morning getting the equipment from here to there,” I said. “Every evening, they blow another hour bringing it back.”
Krall shrugged. “Cambridge.”
I spent the next hour behind lights-and-sound people, watching Bert Saginaw strut and point and frown and nod. They filmed him in every corner of the lot, from every angle.
It was a hell of a dull hour.
About the time Saginaw and I were good and sick of making TV, a Range Rover glided into the lot and there was fresh buzz among the crew. The Range Rover’s left rear door must have been heavy, because it took three people to open it. When a woman stepped out, I half-expected men to throw their jackets down to keep her shoe from touching dirt.
“Who’s that?” I asked a sound guy next to me, who was studying the analog pointers in a box he held.
“You kidding me?”
“That, friend, is Betsy Don’t-Call-Me-Elizabeth Tinker.”
In less than a minute, she was stationed in front of the fence, with the director herself humbly asking if she’d mind putting on a hard-hat. It was a gimmick, the director said, practically dropping to one knee, and a clichéd gimmick at that, but if Ms. Tinker wouldn’t mind …
Ms. Tinker did not mind. When she set the hard-hat on her head like Miss America’s tiara, there was an actual burst of applause from the crew.
“Ready to puke yet?”
Saginaw kept his voice down while he said it. He’d slipped up next to me.
I said, “Yes I am.”
“We’re heading back,” he said.
“Let’s go,” I said. Checked my watch. “I need to meet somebody.”
Outtake 2: Conway gets his first look at Tory Sasaki, the new tech at his shop
Why it was cut: The Whole Lie, like all the Conway books, is salted with references and minor characters that will become important as the series rolls on. Victoria Sasaki is an example. I’ve got big plans for Tory; don’t be surprised to see her in future novels. As I edited, I saw that this was like a stick tossed in a bicycle’s spokes. So I trimmed it and made do with a brief name-drop on Tory Sasaki in another scene.
The Deleted Scene:
Fifteen minutes later, I stomped into F&C Automotive. During the drive, I’d ignored another three texts and two phone calls that I assumed came from Team Saginaw. Those vipers would have to wait.
I couldn’t believe the parking lot: from the looks of it, we were flat booked.
Floriano looked relieved when he saw me – he was signing in customers, and it wasn’t his favorite thing to do even though his English is fine. But instead of spelling him, I strode past into the work area.
Polite double-toot behind me. I spun, saw a beige Toyota minivan waiting at the roll-up door. In the driver’s seat: Victoria. Or Tory. Whichever. She was lined up to use the good lift, the one closer to the rolling toolboxes.
I stepped aside, glared. She centered the minivan between the lift’s blue-painted posts, made sure not to bang the door on a post when she climbed out. “Tory Sasaki,” she said, making a little half-salute as she kicked the lift’s support arms into place.
She had to know who I was. Maybe I’d been hoping to make her nervous. Or self-conscious, anyway. Hell, she was a foot shorter than me, shaped like a bowling pin, with a look to her I couldn’t figure out: the name sounded Japanese, but she looked mostly Latina to my eye.
Whatever she was, she wasn’t scared. In the female-intimidating department, I was having a rough morning.
Once she got the minivan in the air, she stepped to the bench and spun the radio dial from my favorite little country station to Spanish-language hip-hop.
The hip-hop chased me back to the office, where Floriano was now alone, tabbing around on the computer.
“You should have told me,” I said.
“She’s pretty good.”
“I don’t care if she’s Missus Goodwrench,” I said. “You need to tell me this stuff. You need to run it past me.”
“Bullshit, Connie.” It came out BOOL-sheet. And he was the only person in the world who could get away with calling me Connie. “We been open what, just starting fourth day now. I been here forty, forty-five hours. Hell, Charlene been here ten-twelve hours, and it’s not even her real job. How many hours you been here?”
“I’m working on a Barnburners thing.”
“I heard about that. Your old girlfriend. Why you wanna do that to Charlene?”
“It’s not just an old-girlfriend thing. I’m getting paid, paid big. Charlene won’t mind so much when I pay off the note early.”
“I heard about that too.”
“Yeah, from Charlene,” he said. “So what? I seen you do a lot of things for a lot of reasons. I never seen you do nothing just for money.”
It’s not about money anymore,I thought. It’s about catching a killer. It’s about making him pay.
I kept the thought to myself.
We were quiet awhile.
My phone buzzed. I ignored it.
“What is she?” I said, nodding at Tory Sasaki.
He knew what I meant. He glanced her way, lowered his voice as we watched her swing down the minivan’s front brake caliper. “Japanese and Puerto Rican.”
“Quite a combo. I thought you Brazilians didn’t like Puerto Ricans.”
“She don’t work like no Puerto Rican I ever seen.”
I smiled and started to say something, but saw he was dead serious.
“Besides,” Floriano said, “we pay her twenty an hour and bill her out at eighty-five. Leave it to Charlene, uh?”
“You shouldn’t have hired her without talking to me.”
“We needed someone going to be here every day, Connie. We needed someone we can count on.”
He rose, walked out to the work area, took his coveralls from a hook. Left me standing there.
Outtake 3: Conway and Katy Stoll have a conversation at Floriano’s house.
Why it was cut: This scene is between Conway and Katy Stoll, the ex-wife of business bigwig and political candidate Bert Saginaw. Originally, Katy was a walk-on character who merely filled in Conway on her ex’s backstory. I found I liked her a lot. Consequentially, Conway did too.
Sorry to be cryptic, but to say much more would give away secrets. About all I can add without issuing a spoiler is that most of the info in this scene vanished, and the relationship between Conway and Katy changed substantially.
The Deleted Scene:
“You must have charmed the hell out of them,” I said when Katy Stoll and I were the only two in the room.
“You’re hard to find,” she said.
“Why’d you try?”
“Long day,” I said. “I… long day.”
Katy looked at me maybe 15 seconds. “I made the effort to find you,” she finally said, “because the other day, I implied something about Bert and Emily. It was a cheap crack of a sort that’s beneath me, and it’s been bothering me ever since.”
“Emily got the crap beat out of her last night.”
Katy froze mid-sip. “What?”
“She ought to be in a hospital, but they can’t afford the bad pub.”
I gave her a 30-second version. “Now Saginaw’s got me and my guys keeping an eye on her.”
“So you’ve become a bodyguard? Is that your normal milieu?”
“Habitat, wheelhouse, area of expertise.”
“Tell you the truth,” I said, “I’m a mechanic.”
She seemed to bite back a smile, then covered it by sipping wine.
I didn’t like the smile, which was too damn much like a smirk. So I counted to 10, anchoring each beat with a steady breath.
I leaned forward, keeping my elbows on my knees and my hands clasped.
I met Katy Stoll’s eye.
“Okay, lady, you’re smarter than me,” I said. “Join the club. It’s not a small one. Bert Saginaw’s a member, and Emily too. Pete Krall is sure as hell smarter than me. Betsy Tinker’s way smarter than me. She’s got a half-dozen maids that I know of, and I doubt I could beat any of ’em at Scrabble.”
Katy was leaning away as much as she could.
“Funny thing about all these rocket scientists, though,” I said. “Two of ’em are looking at wrecked lives because Bert couldn’t help but fuck like a wild dingo while somebody snapped pics. Sister Emily’s codeined to the gills with 30 stitches in her mouth and an eye like a rotten melon. As for Krall, if this lead-pipe-cinch election slip-slides away, he’ll be filling out job applications at Old Navy.”
If Katy leaned back any farther, she’d fall over the back of the sofa.
“So what I’m thinking, just between you and me,” I said, “is maybe this smartness ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe it’s not a milieu I want to spend a whole lot more time in.”
When I reached to pet good old Dale, my hand shook only a little.
The room was quiet but for his purring.
“I’m sorry,” Katy said after a long time. “To defend myself … no, explain myself, because there is no real defense … I’ll plead guilty to being a chronic grad student. I spend far too much time with twenty-five-year-olds. They watch the Daily Show. They think it’s clever. They think they’re clever.”
“They probably are.”
“They are, but they’re merely clever. There’s nothing beneath, nothing here.” She thumped her heart. Which was conveniently located, I tried not to notice, beneath her breast. “You, I suspect, live in here.” She thumped again. Softly.
Copyright © 2012 by Steve Ulfelder
Steve Ulfelder is an amateur race driver and co-owner of Flatout Motorsports, a company that builds race cars in Bellingham, MA. He was a business and technology journalist for 20 years. In addition to trade and automotive magazines, he wrote for the Boston Globe, Boston magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and many others. His first novel, Purgatory Chasm, was an Edgar Award Finalist.