STUCK IN NEUTRAL
My name is Shawn McDaniel. My life is like one of those “good news-bad news” jokes. Like, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news-- which do you wanna hear first?”
In the jokes, it’s always the good news first, so here goes: I’ve spent my entire time on planet Earth, all fourteen (almost fifteen!) years I’ve been alive, in Seattle. Seattle is actually a hundred times cooler than you could believe unless you lived here too. Some people gripe and moan about the rain and the weather, but I love Seattle. I even like the rain.
Our house is about a mile from the Seattle Center: home of the Space Needle, Key Arena where the Sonics play, and the Pacific Science Center. AND, we’re only about a mile and a half from Bell Town, the unofficial former Grunge Capitol of the universe. I’m the youngest kid in our family, three years younger than my sister Cindy and two years younger than my brother Paul, who, although I’d hate for them to know I admitted it, are pretty cool for a brother and sister.
Okay, that’s good news, huh? Here’s some more, I have this weird—I don’t know what you’d call it—Ability? Gift? Power? Whatever name you want to give it, the thing is that I can remember everything I ever hear, perfectly, with total recall. I mean, Everything! Perfectly! Totally! I don’t know of anybody else, anywhere, who can do this. Most people remember bits and pieces of things they’ve heard in life, but I’ve got it all, every sound, ever.
This started when I was three or four years old. At first, I could only remember most of what I heard. But by the time I was five years old, everything I heard just stayed in my head. I can remember people talking, TV commercials, every melody I’ve ever listened to from boring, braindead country muzak, to nasty rap lyrics, to the theme music from Jeopardy, to—well—everything: Lines from movies, conversations overheard that strangers were having in the street, like—“Well, do you still love him or not?” I heard one lady say this to another lady while they were waiting for the bus in front of our house and swoosh came the sound of the bus along the wet road, and it’s brakes went ’squeal...eeeekkk” and the other lady answered-- “I don’t know, I haven’t eaten turkey since he left on Thanksgiving.”
For all you know, I might remember, perfectly, what you said to your girlfriend two years ago when I overheard you two fighting outside the Orange Julius at Northgate, or what your dad said to you in Champs when you were ten, and you and he were shopping for a baseball mitt. Remember, you wanted that Ken Griffey, Jr. autographed model but your dad said it cost too much. He wanted you to buy a cheaper one made in Taiwan. Your dad said, “Come on, I can write Ken Griffey, Jr. right in here . . . ” and he pointed at a spot in the pocket of the glove and you said, “Can you really do that?” And your dad said, “Has the Pope got a bullet in him?” And you both laughed. I’m not making it up. It happened. And if I heard you again, even once, after all these years, I’d recognize you, I’d remember your voice, the sound of it, perfectly.
I hope I’m not coming off as conceited here. I’m sure I am. I mean, I do think that my hearing memory is kind of amazing, but it’s not like it’s made me rich or famous. I just happen to have this one talent which I know makes me gifted and special-- yuck! I hate that word “special” when it’s applied to people. As in, “he’s a very special person.” Geez! Who isn’t! But the other side of people is true too. Everybody has negatives about themselves, stuff they wish wasn’t a part of them. The bad news about us.
I could go on about my good news for hours, but you probably want to hear the punch line, my bad news, right? Well, there isn’t that much, really, but what’s here is pretty wild. First off, my parents got divorced 10 years ago, because of me. My being born changed everything, for all of us, in every way. My dad didn’t divorce my mom, or my sister, Cindy, or my brother, Paul—he divorced me. He couldn’t handle my condition, so he had to leave. My condition? Well, that brings us to the guts of my bad news.
* * *
One bad news deal is that in the eyes of the world, I’m a total retardate. A “retard.” Not “retard” like you might use the word to tease a friend who just said or did something stupid. I mean a real retard. Real in the same way that total means total. As in, TOTAL RETARD: Everybody, who knows me, everybody who sees me, everybody, anybody who even gets near me would tell you I’m dumb as a rock. Let me illustrate through the wonders of science.
Every year the school district sends out a school psychologist (scientist) to test me for IEPs (Individual Educational Plans). And every year since I was six, the psychologist gives me a bunch of tests (“scientifically normed and standardized”), which are mainly intelligence tests filled with shapes and colors, square pegs and round holes, and “Who was George Washington?” and “What’s 2 plus 1?” And every year I sit there and miss every question, fling the blocks into the air or drop them all over or smack myself in the eye with one. Then the shrink goes in and gives my mom a number (I.Q.= 1.2), or mental age: 3 to 4 (that’s months, not years). Then the psychologist packs up his scientific garbage and moves on to the next dummy.
This has gone on for eight years now. Every year, year in and year out. Yep, according to the world I’m dumb as a fence post. I’ve heard the Docs explain why they think I’m so stupid to my parents and my parents explain it to their friends about a trillion times. They think it’s because my brain doesn’t work. They don’t know that is only partially true.
Manners Cost Everything (three chapters posted in this portal)
Robbie is a person like you and me, except that he murders bad mannered people.
He had always gone through life trying to do the right thing, respecting his elders and watching his manners. Then one day, a chance encounter made him snap. He developed an alter ego that unbeknownst to him, wreaked revenge on anyone crossing his path that had been disrespectful, ill-mannered or just plain rude. The ones that slam doors in your faces, the ones that don’t indicate on the roads, the bullies and the type of people that hurt innocent animals and people. The pushy, nasty human beings that choose to be oblivious to the world around them.
Now, the two parts of him continue separately, the likable one living a life of success and excess and the other, darker one leaving a bloody trail of murder and aptly delivered revenge throughout London. Only the black outs that Robbie suffers are an indication that anything is wrong, when he awakes from what he thinks are violent dreams. Otherwise, he doesn’t have a clue.
Meanwhile, an up and coming Detective Lentus has his world changed forever by the first of these vicious murders, and devotes his life to hunting down and bringing the mysterious killer to justice; whilst being haunted by the ’ghost' of his murdered sister. Lentus is a simple man with linear thinking, who now only has his job and his obsession driving him; now that he has lost his last remaining family member. The paths of the characters intertwine throughout London, sometimes knowingly, and sometimes not; ending in a breath taking conclusion.
This is the first of a serial killer fiction trilogy that will span the years 1996 to 2015, and it rampages its visceral course through the history, music, culture, sexual exploits and technological advances of the time. Manners Costs Everything is a dark mystery serial killer novel that covers the years 1996 to 2001.
Written in shockingly graphic detail, with dark humour and an adult erotic tinge; this series of books is for the open minded lovers of horror fiction, crime fiction and thrillers. If you’re looking for books set in England, a serial killer series, a serial killer novel or a book like Dexter then look no further.