A Letter for Hoot: A Gripping Tale of Mystery and Intrigue
A Letter for Hoot is a captivating novel that delves into the depths of mystery and suspense, keeping readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.
July 23, 1981
Tick, tick, tick. Round and round went the blades. Clay
opened his brown eyes and focused on the white ceiling fan.
Tick, tick, tick. He liked the rhythmic sound and comforting
breeze. He lay still and absorbed the calming energy of the
fan. The long day ahead would require his full focus. He
filled his lungs with clean morning air that wafted in from
the open window and closed his eyes again. He took a
moment to envision each shot, feel each swing, and see each
putt fall into the cup. Visualization was a critical part of a
routine that helped him win his club championship the past
five years. But something inside him felt off—something
small, but annoying enough to concern him. Maybe a cup of
rocket-fuel coffee would knock that feeling right out of him.
He sat up, swung his long legs over the side of the bed,
stood, and shuffled to the open window. The sky was robin’s
egg blue and not a single cloud was in sight. He looked down
and saw his neighbor Mrs. Day walking Caesar, her well-fed
“Mornin’, neighbor,” he called from above.
“Mornin’ to you, Mr. Clay. Another beautiful day’s upon
us,” she responded and waved.
Clay waved back and watched her stop and wait while
Caesar relieved himself on a tree. She always called him “Mr.
Clay” even though his last name was Tyson.
He dressed quickly in the outfit he had laid out the night
before—navy golf shorts, a white golf shirt, and a red
leather belt, the same color scheme he wore in every club
championship. Was it coincidence he had won five years in
a row wearing the colors of a country he loved? He wasn’t
about to change course, especially now, with this weird
feeling nibbling at the edges of his mind.
Outside, the newspaper landed on the ground with a
loud slap. Daily, the paperboy lobbed the paper through the
air like a grenade. If it landed anywhere near the middle of
the driveway, Clay considered that a miracle. He retrieved
the paper and sat down to breakfast, anxious to see how his
beloved Phillies had done at the previous night’s game. He
turned to the sports page and saw they had suffered another
loss. At least I didn’t stay up late to watch it. Well, they’re
young and have time to develop, he thought.
Clay read the rest of the paper, crunched on his wheat
flakes with sliced banana and strawberries, and washed it
all down with a glass of juice followed by a cup of coffee.
Glancing at the clock, he saw he had a little over an hour till
his nine o’clock tee time. Time to get a move on. He went to
the front hall table and grabbed his keys, wallet, a small blue
notebook, and his good luck charm—a piece of blue sea
glass. He then headed out to the garage.
Clay’s golf bag fit perfectly into the back seat of his green
Jaguar convertible XKE. He slid comfortably into the driver’s
seat and started the engine. God, I love how she purrs to life.
He practically worshipped the car and cared for it like it was
a baby. Three years earlier, he had spotted the car rusting
away in the driveway of its heartless owner, and bought it
from the man. Within six months Clay had lovingly restored
the car to its current prime condition.
Maybe an open-air drive to the club would erase the
nagging he continued to feel inside. The beauty of the day
pushed the negative sentiment to the back of his mind as he
drove down Quarry Lane. He felt the warm sun on his face
and enjoyed the rich green foliage of the trees as he whizzed
past them. “Highway to Hell” blared out of the radio
speakers and, even though AC/DC wasn’t his favorite band,
the song pumped his adrenaline.
A quick check of his rearview mirror revealed to Clay
that another car was tailing him. The music had been
playing so loudly, he never heard the car approach from
behind. They must be in a rush. He slowed down and waved
at the driver to pass. The driver held steady behind, so Clay
pulled his Jag to the side of the road to make it easier for the
other driver to pass. Instead of passing, the driver of the
other car followed suit and parked some thirty yards behind
Clay. The reflection of the sun bouncing off the hood of the
car made it impossible for Clay to see who was inside, but
he saw two silhouettes.
Curiosity got the best of him. He stepped out of his car
and squinted as the two people got out of their car and
crunched their way over the gravel in his direction.
“Thought that was you,” said one to Clay.
It took Clay just a second to recognize the voice. “Hey!
What’s up? Y’all okay?” he replied.
“Nah, we’re fine. We just thought we saw something fall
out of your car,” said the second person.
“Oh, really? I hope not one of my clubs. Can’t lose those.
I’m headed to play for the club championship. You too?”
“Maybe in a little while. You sure don’t want to lose
“You’re right about that.”
“Hey, man, looks like your taillight is busted,” said the
second person as he pointed at the taillight.
“No way. I just had my car serviced,” Clay replied.
“More importantly, double check to make sure you
haven’t lost a club,” the first person said.
“Right, yes. Right now.” Clay turned to check his clubs in
the back seat of his car.
He never saw it coming.
Pain. Excruciating pain. He didn’t know pain like that
existed. Clay’s six-foot-four-inch frame crumpled to the
ground. His head spun like a tea cup on a children’s
amusement ride. He felt the warm slickness of blood ooze
from the right side of his head. His instincts screamed, “Save
yourself! Get away!” and he slowly rocked to his hands and
knees, trying to focus. A scarlet ribbon snaked down his
right cheek and plopped to the gravel. He raised his head
slightly and saw shadows. People? Suddenly, one shadow
raised its arms to the side and swung. The second blow was
delivered with more ferocity than the first. The back of
Clay’s head cracked like a walnut. He lay crumpled on the
ground and his white golf shirt turned deep crimson. Clay
felt himself being dragged across the gravel road, his head
bobbing like a doll’s. He fought to stay awake. His efforts
were futile. Pain took over.
Clay opened his eyes. His vision was blurry at first. He
had no idea how long he had been passed out, but the
tranquil air held the feel of early morning. He blinked and
realized he felt different. He shook his head—the pain was gone.
He put his hand to his head, expecting to feel blood.
Nothing. No blood. Inside his chest, his heart shifted into
high gear. His shirt was bright white. Why was there no
blood? Where was the blood? Panic struck and questioning
thoughts raced through his mind.
Clay stood, scanned his surroundings, and noticed
everything—the trees, the grass, the flowers—looked more
vibrant. He suddenly felt centered, weightless, calm. The
panic he felt was immediately extinguished. His Jaguar XKE
and golf bag in the back seat came into distant view, as did
the driver’s side door still hanging open. He closed his eyes
and shook his head again. Why is my car so far away? I was
just standing beside it. His head injuries must have been
making him see things. A check of his trusty Timex told him
the time was 7:58 a.m. He did a quick calculation in his head.
That can’t be right. Clay had left his house at 7:45, and more
than a quarter of an hour had passed. Or had it? Voices
emanated from somewhere nearby. He looked around and
didn’t see a soul—just a pale blue, almost white, sky. And
the light. The light was clear and warm, and Clay found
himself floating in it. Then, with stone-cold horror, he
watched as two men lifted his lifeless body and carried it
toward Serenity Lake.
He screamed, but no one paid attention because no one
heard him. The sound resided in his head alone as he
watched his body hit the water and sink to its dark bottom.