Young Dar Beaumont struggles to hold her life and marriage together amid her growing terror that a long-dead crime victim has taken up residence in her brain and may be directing her behavior.
Dar adores her husband, but she is troubled that Roc has taken a job so far from L.A. where her friends and family live. Lonely and uprooted, she dedicates herself to domestic skills and trying to decide what to do with her life.
Since she was a very small child, she has had memories that didn't seem to belong to her but to some other person who had died, perhaps violently. She calls this phenomenon "The Remnant." She seems to recall incidents she couldn't possibly have lived through and people she has no knowledge of.
Dar is from a complex background, her father had left the family when she was young, and although they were poor, Dar managed, after some adolescent rebellion and turmoil, to put herself through college, where she met Roc as a young law student. But Dar has become so involved with Roc's career that she has fallen off her own radar. She thinks she may try journalism and takes a little part-time job writing for a local free newspaper. This puts her in touch with the regional rumors and legends, the infamous crimes, unsolved murders and disappearances.
As time passes, Roc becomes more and more absorbed in the crimes and trials he is asssigned. His responsibilities grow as he gains skill and succeeds in his job. Dar, feeling marooned at home, begins to experience heightened anxiety. She becomes irrationally frightened of an odd, mentally challenged young man known around town as "Chester," whom she seems to see more often than she would by mere coincidence. Chester has a job sweeping the post office steps, but Dar sees him in other places and begins to worry that he is stalking her. He is aggresssive, muscular and very outgoing, but something is amiss with him; Dar feels she has known him before, he seems familiar. Rumors circulate that his father is a noted neurologist.
When Dar confides in another lawyer's wife, a nurse, the woman exclaims, “Oh Chester! I knew him in Children's Social Services when he was just a toddler. He's perfectly harmless.”
But her fear of Chester is only one of Dar's anxieties. She is frightened of the town of San Marcos itself, where so much violence has taken place. Roc thoughtlessly relates frightening cases—stories of serial killings and bodies buried out in the redwoods, not realizing that Dar is taking all of this very seriously. She is prone to anxiety and has westled with panic and phobias since she was a child, most of which she conceals assiduously from Roc, feeling that her fears make her an unfit wife. She also worries that his father, who dislikes her, will turn Roc against her.
One day, Dar is strolling on the beach/boardwalk enjoying the ocean, when she comes upon Chester at a game concession—he is hurling balls at pyramids of wooden bottles. A crowd has gathered egging him on, and Chester, strutting around half naked in tight jeans, is racking up a phenomenal score. Every time he hurls the wooden ball, he shatters the pyramids and bottles go flying; the crowd cheers. Dar becomes frightened at the violence and noise; the ocean seems to shine like mercury. Everything becomes unreal. She nearly has a break with reality and staggers home.
By the time she arrives, she is nearly in a state of nervous collapse. And she is entertaining Roc's colleagues from the DA's office at dinner that night. To calm herself, she drinks a bottle of wine on the sly before Roc gets home and somehow makes it through the dinner.
After that, Dar begins to drink secretly to settle her nerves; she sneaks out to buy her own bottles and hides the empties in an increasingly complicated ritual. Roc has no idea anything is wrong; he is so preoccupied with his cases and making a name for himself as the new hire in the office that he takes Dar for granted.
But as Dar leads her lonely desperate life, she realizes that The Remnant is engaging more and more with her alcohol-addled mind. It seems to have a purpose or a message for her. Dar wonders is she is going insane, and as her fear and desperation mount, she becomes more and more obsessed—and intrigued—with The Remnant. In the end, The Remnant and Chester lead Dar to a horrifying realization of why she found her way to San Marcos.
A young Elizabeth Olsen
A young Elisha Cuthbert
Nominated for a Pushcart Prize in fiction in 2021 and 2016
I wrote the feature film, Murder in Fashion, about the shooting of designer Gianni Versace by serial killer Andrew Cunanan. The film played at theatres and festivals and was reviewed in the NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/22/movies/22murder.html?_r=0
My short story, published in Cornell University's literary magazine, Epoch, is currently under option to Sony and Road Less Traveled Productions.