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Accused


Accused
By Sherry Morris


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Excerpt:

January 1945 in the District of Columbia

The announcer boomed in a deep voice, “Now boarding on track number nineteen, the Havana  Special. Direct coach and sleeper service to Miami, Florida. Connecting there  to  swift  and  safe  air  service  to  Havana,  Cuba.  Track  number  nineteen  now boarding for the Havana Special. Passengers needing assistance, women and children please board now.”
Chloe leaned around the broad-shouldered nun in front of her, counting three more customers. Hurry up. That’s the train I need.
A fat cop escorted a disheveled man across the station by the scruff of his collar and the back of his belt. He threw him outside. “And don’t come back!”
Chloe turned away from the Metropolitan police officer as he stomped back inside. She pulled the cowl over her mouth. What if they’re looking for me already? What if they think I murdered Bill? Chloe shuddered.
An elderly couple ambled hand in hand toward the restrooms. Momma and Daddy never  would  have  shown  affection  like  that.  Tears  welling  up,  Chloe  dragged  her  two suitcases  as  the  line  moved  forward.  She  gazed  above  at  the  intricate  gold-leafed ceilings. Statues of the Roman centurions  were perched high on a ledge under the dome. The ancient generals are watching over me. I’m gonna be  all right. Or are they here commanding their troops? Who is out to get me? Who can I trust?
The announcer inquired, “Would the owner of a lost yap-yap dog please report to the information desk? She’s a hot dog or poodle or somethin’—” The crowd laughed as barking drowned out his voice.
“Next?” the ticket agent asked.
Chloe picked up her luggage and hurried to the counter. She bought a ticket for the Havana Special, scheduled to depart at 1:50 a.m. Looking up at the Roman numerals on the station clock, she saw it was already 1:47. Chloe grabbed her bags and glanced up at the centurions before hustling down the stairs to platform nineteen.
Hot steam blasted her legs as she passed the shiny black Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac engine and tender. The conductor yelled, “All aboard.”
Chloe ran past the dark green Railway post office and baggage cars and then five streamlined aluminum coach cars with purple and maroon striping behind the trains’ line  names—Atlantic  Coast  Line,  Pennsylvania  and  Richmond,  Fredericksburg  and Potomac.  The  conductor  smiled  and  took  her  baggage  as  she  showed  her  ticket. “Welcome, miss. Your seat is on the right. Walk on through  to the lounge car for a complementary cup of coffee.”
Chloe said, “Yes sir,” and then pulled herself up the three steps.
Snoring men in uniforms, crying infants and their weary mothers jammed the coach car. Chloe found her aisle seat next to a dozing sailor. She grabbed the armrests and sat down, not jarring any tender spots on her battered body. The baby in front of her began a coughing fit, which in turn woke the little boy in the next seat.
A delicate  young  Oriental  woman  wandered  through  the  car.  Wordlessly, she picked up a fluffy stuffed lamb from the aisle floor and handed it to a crying tot.
He shoved a wooly ear in his mouth, closed his eyes and grabbed onto the lady cradling him. She thanked the kind lady for retrieving his toy.
Chloe checked her watch. It was 2:25 a.m. Darn it, the train is already thirty-five minutes late departing. She looked out the window onto the platform and saw a couple of fellows dashing toward the train. “Come on, come on, whoever you are,” she mumbled.
The men appeared to have a brief discussion with the conductor before boarding.
Get on the train already. Chloe hoped she wasn’t thinking aloud again.
The whistle tooted twice. The train lurched forward, chuffing through a tunnel under Capitol  Hill. The drooling sailor’s prickly head flopped onto Chloe’s shoulder. She shoved him away. His eyes flew open.
“Hey doll face, step right into my dream.” He burped as he kissed her.
Leaping to her feet Chloe screamed, “Eww!” I’ll never be able to go through with this. She ran down the aisle, through the coach cars and into the first sleeping car, where she shoved past a heavily cologned man walking toward her.
Mike Taurus took a deep breath as he tingled on the remnants of her touch. How could she just push me out of the way? It’s as though she doesn’t even realize who she just cast aside.

Paperback:  Amazon  Barnes & Noble  CreateSpace
Kindle:  US  UK  DE  FR  ES  IT  NL  JP  BR  CA  MX  AU  IN
iBooks  Kobo  NOOK