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C. E. Zaniboni

C. E. Zaniboni, Author of Iced at Midnight
Writing since she was a child, C. E. Zaniboni took the plunge into the world of fiction. From singer, actress, waitress, bartender, to owner of a small machine embroidery business, Chris has drawn from her many livelihoods to craft a novel set in the fictitious town of Gammil’s Point, Maine. As a singer, Chris had the opportunity to entertain many with the program she and her mother, the late Dorothy York, put together, entitled, Music Through The Years. An actress in community theater, she had parts in many plays and musicals, some of them original works by local talent. While waitressing and bartending, Chris kept her ears open for material she knew she’d use in her writing. She lives with her husband in Mansfield, Massachusetts.


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Iced at Midnight by C. E. Zaniboni Twanged at Twilight by C. E. Zaniboni
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Iced at Midnight by C. E. Zaniboni
Ex-cop turned P.I., Cy Walleski, thinks he has it bad enough when he has yet another fight with his girlfriend, Connie Gaglioni, but his night goes from bad to worse when he discovers a body with a carrot deeply imbedded in its ear. A noseless snowman is the only witness to the crime, and he isn’t talking. Cy takes on the job to find out who the dead young man is and why anyone would want to kill him in such a bizarre way.

Word Count: 54620
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $4.99
Iced and Midnight by C. E. Zaniboni Order Iced at Midnight Print book! (ISBN #978-1-61950-255-0)

Twanged at Twilight by C. E. Zaniboni When Cy Walleski, ex-cop turned private investigator, is called by college friend Chief Stan Simmons to help with a crossbow killing case, the killings suddenly escalate. Has the killer been lying in wait for Cy? And will he be next?

Word Count: 56856
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $4.99

Twanged at Twilight by C. E. Zaniboni Order Twanged at Twilight Print Book! (ISBN #978-1-61950-305-2)

Iced at Midnight

Chapter One

I looked up at the stars twinkling in a cold December sky and kicked at the dirty snow that a lumbering plow had just deposited in my path. Thanks a lot, pal. I shoved my hands into the pockets of my worn parka and exhaled. Right now, I should be enjoying the comfort of a warm bed and an even warmer female, instead of trudging down the winter streets of my hometown, Gammil’s Point, Maine.

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Walleski,” I muttered, pulling my watch cap down tight over my ears. I’d had another fight with my girl and she’d sent me packing. At least we don’t live together. I couldn’t seem to please her no matter what I did. Just the other night she’d flown into a tizzy when I’d smiled at a girl at the pizza place downtown. It was just a smile, for heaven’s sake. Dames. I shook my head.

I drew abreast of the old Pike place and stopped. A snowman leered at me from the front yard of the abandoned property—minus a nose. He had all the other usual stuff, just no nose. Only an empty hole where one had been.

I frowned, looking around for the poor guy’s honker. Shit. I really needed a cigarette. Too bad they were in the glove box of my car. I pulled out a stick of gum and unwrapped it. Poor substitute, but it would have to do. I folded it up and popped it in my mouth. I walked closer to get a better look at the snowman and gulped. There, partially hidden in a snowdrift was a man’s body with something sticking out of his ear. A carrot. I almost swallowed my gum as I did a double take. Shit! My night had just gone from bad to worse. I yanked my cell from my pocket and dialed.

“Hey, Smitty, it’s me, Walleski. I’m out at the Pike place looking at a snowman without his nose and the stiff whose ear is wearing it.” I listened to his smart-assed reply. “No, his name isn’t Frosty. Look, send a car. It’s freezing out here.”

I ended the call and eyed the dead guy. Young. Late twenties, early thirties. I stomped my feet to try to keep the circulation going. It was damned cold out. As a former cop turned private investigator, I’d seen a few bodies in my day, but none done in with a carrot. Pretty strange choice for a weapon, although I’d read about another case where a guy was killed with an icicle to the ear, so I knew it was possible.

Good thing I’d decided to take a walk to clear my head, otherwise the poor guy might have laid here for days. Where the hell are the police?

As if in answer to a prayer, a squad car glided to a stop in front of me. I hadn’t realized I’d been walking in the middle of the road. The massive cop who got out looked like a tank with legs. Dexter Phillips. I’d tangled with him on more than one occasion, here and when we’d been in the Army together, stationed in ’Nam.

“Okay, Walleski, where’s the body?” He stood like a statue in front of me, hand resting on his piece. I knew he had an itchy trigger finger.

I motioned for him to follow and led the way. I got the creeps looking at the frozen face of the snowman while a body lay not far away. Dexter bent down and felt of the corpse’s neck. Did he think the guy had miraculously come back to life? What an asshole.

“Okay, he’s beyond help.”

No shit, I thought, wriggling my toes in the beat-up sneakers I’d foolishly worn. I watched him pull out his cell phone and punch in a number. He saw me looking at him and turned his back. Dickhead.

He turned to face me, a frown on his face. “The rest of the crew is on the way. Why don’t we have a little chat, Walleski, starting with what you’re doing out here in the middle of the night.” Dexter waved me toward the unit. I started to get in the front seat. He shook his head and opened the rear door.

I got in. “Not good enough to grace you with my presence in the holy front seat?” I asked.

“Shut up, Walleski. Let’s cut to the chase. Give me your story.” He twisted in his seat and eyed me while he pulled out a pack of cigarettes and shook one free. Lighting it, he took a deep drag and blew the smoke toward me.

I inhaled and groaned. “Hey, can I bum one of those?” I asked, leaning forward and gazing hungrily at the pack he’d laid on the dash. He offered me the pack. Greedily, I snatched one out before he could change his mind. He lit it for me and tossed his lighter on the seat. I closed my eyes and felt I’d gone to heaven, as I drew in a lungful of smoke and held it.


I opened my eyes and exhaling in a rush, nodded. “Me and Connie, we got into it again. Had a doozie of a fight and I left. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, so I took a walk. To rethink a few things. Found myself out here and saw the snowman. Started looking for the missing nose and bingo, I found it. Didn’t think it’d be in somebody’s ear.”

Dexter eyed me as he tapped ash from his cigarette out the window. “Didn’t see anyone hanging around? Running away?”

“Nothing. Just me and the ice man.”

Dexter glared at me and crushed out his smoke.

I savored mine, sucked on that baby ’til it was almost gone. I wasn’t wasting a bit of that stick of gold.

Suddenly, the area was festooned with the bubble lights of emergency vehicles and the angry squawks of police radios. The troops had arrived. “Okay if I go?” I said, pinching the last of the cigarette between my fingers. Couple more seconds, and it would burn me.

“Yeah, get out. I know where to find you.” He jerked his head toward the door and laughed.

I glanced at the handle-less door. “I will, when you open the door.” The burning butt seared my fingertips. I held my breath and counted to ten. Hurry the hell up.

Dexter came around and let me out. I dropped the butt like a hot potato and sucked on my singed fingers. He laughed.

Asshole. I pulled out my cell and dialed my good friend Tack, a detective with the force. He answered and the sounds of a distant game of pool and clinking glasses muffled his voice. I knew where he was. The Hot Tamale, a local haunt we both frequented. I could hear Dave, the bartender, bellowing at one of his regulars. Yeah, bellowing. Picture a bull. Big thick neck and shoulders that barely clear the doorway—that’s Dave.

“Cy, that you?” Tack’s voice was clearer now and the sounds of the bar faded. I figured he had stepped outside.

“Yeah. You got a minute?”

“Sure. What’s up?”

“I’m down at the old Pike place. I just found a body.”

“You what?” I could hear Tack’s heavy breathing across the line.

“You heard right. The Ten-Ten over the radio? That was me calling it in. I found a guy with a carrot stuck in his ear.”

“Are you shitting me?” Tack’s voice went up an octave.

“I walked here. Can you come get me?”

“Be right there.”

I heard the click and buzz of the disconnect and snapped my phone shut. Now I’d just have to wait.

I glanced down at my watch and was shocked to see it was after two. I was starving. Strange, considering I’d just discovered a body. My stomach started to growl. Where can I get something to eat at this hour? I thought of the little store I always went by. What was the name of it? Clover’s Mini Mart. Yeah. I headed for the center of town and dreamed of a hot sub. Or pizza. Tack will find me. He knows I can’t stay still.

It’s a good thing I like to walk, I thought, slipping on a patch of ice, but then regaining my footing. I kicked at a cola can and watched it tumble in the wind.

My footsteps crunched as, deep in thought, I continued down Old Beach Road. That guy wasn’t much more than a kid, and from the looks of his clothes, he hadn’t been doing too badly for himself. Wasn’t a local, and none of the guys had recognized him, either. I’d like to get another look at the body. Check the labels in his things. Maybe that would get the ball rolling to find out who he was. Why was a stranger at the Pike place? And what was the significance of the snowman?

Maybe Tack could pull some strings and help me get somewhere.

He used to be my partner in the good old days before the chief found out I was dating one of the key witnesses in a case, and kicked me off the force. I didn’t use much smarts then, not that I do much better now, but at least I’m my own boss.

Clover’s Mini Mart wasn’t doing much business at 2:15 in the morning. A beat-up old Volkswagen bug, painted a hideous shade of green, sat partially covered by the newly fallen snow, and no other cars were in sight. As I walked through the door, the clerk looked up, glassy-eyed and yawning. He looked out of place, I thought, like a hippie leftover from the sixties. Long black hair hung almost to his waist, and some of those love beads hung around his scrawny neck. I could feel his eyes follow my every move as I picked out a pizza from the freezer and grabbed a six-pack of Bud. I snagged a couple of Hershey bars at the register, too.

“How’s it going?” I said, reaching into my back pocket for my wallet.

“Okay,” he said. He glanced up at me with disinterest, as he finished ringing me up and started to bag my groceries. I swear a turtle could have gone faster. Once he was done, I thanked him and headed for the door. Behind me I heard a kind of grunting noise I interpreted as some form of you’re welcome. Maybe in an alien language? Kids nowadays. I shook my head as I started down the icy steps. Lazy kid, couldn’t even throw salt down.

I guess maybe I was a pain in the ass to all the adults when I was his age, but at least we’d had to have some kind of dress code when we went to work for somebody else. For crying out loud, he had on old ripped jeans that looked like they hadn’t seen the inside of a washing machine in a long time.

The sound of a car pulling up beside me broke my ruminations. The warm air that belched forth from the interior as the window opened smelled of cigarettes and Drakkar aftershave. Tack leaned over and opened the door. “Hey, thought you were gonna wait for me?”

But hey, I’ve got to tell you about Tack. He always looks like he just stepped out of a men’s fashion magazine. No kidding. No matter what time of day, there’s Tack, looking like a Greek god. He’s got an eye for great clothes and sexy ladies. Ah, maybe not in that order, but I guess you catch my drift.

The guys on the force used to joke with him about his choice of partners; after all, we were as different as night and day. But that’s one thing I can say for Tack. He sticks up for his friends and I’m glad I can count myself as one of them. Even though I’m not one of the gang, Tack keeps me in the loop and helps me out when I need special favors. Like parking tickets. It helps to know somebody.

I pulled up the backseat and stowed my bags in the back, getting in the front. “Sorry about that. I had to have a snack. Knew you’d know where to find me. What’s going on back at the Pike place? Heard anything?”

“Just the chief slinging insults and screaming about them messing up the crime scene. Seems everybody’s been tromping through the snow, not being careful. Same bullshit. Different day.” He tapped the bottom of a fresh pack of Marlboros, and I looked on hungrily. He shook one out and offered it to me. I grabbed it greedily and, with the lighter he offered, lit it. While I sucked on my cigarette like a hungry babe at its mother’s breast, I watched him flick ashes out the window.

“Were you going to walk home with all that stuff?” he asked, motioning toward the back.

“Well, I wasn’t gonna fly,” I quipped. “Seriously, I could use the exercise, but it’s damned cold out. Glad you came along.”

“No problem.”

The glow from the end of his cigarette was like a tiny beacon in the dark interior of the car. I leaned back and stretched out my legs toward the warmth blasting from the heater as we cruised down Willow Street and headed toward my house.
Back to Iced at Midnight
Twanged at Twilight

Chapter 1

The frozen look of horror on the dead woman’s face didn’t shake me, nor did the shiny red apple balanced atop her head. What really sent me over the edge was the object protruding from her right eye. An arrow. A crazy William Tell wanna-be, I thought, as I approached the body. Propped against an oak tree, one rope circling her waist held her captive. Another bound her arms around the gnarly trunk behind her.

Leaves crackled underfoot as I moved closer to the corpse, rays from the setting sun playing over the body. I wasn’t too good at telling the difference between types of apples, but if I had to guess I’d say this one was a McIntosh. Admittedly, I’m not an apple expert. Well-polished, its skin was satiny in the late afternoon light.

I’d stumbled upon another bizarre murder the year before in my hometown of Gammil’s Point. I hoped this wasn’t going to become a regular thing for me.

The sound of crunching leaves startled me. I turned to see who was there. Stan Simmons, police chief of Millfield, Maine, for the last twelve years and a long-time friend, stood behind me with his hands in his pockets. The frown on his deeply lined face showed the strain he’d been going through in the three weeks since the first murder victim of this year had been found. And now here was another. As a former cop turned private investigator and a colleague of Stan’s, I’d been called in to help with the case.

“Thanks for coming, Cy. Hell of a mess I got you into. Who’d do such a thing? And the apples on their heads. Polished shinier than a new sports car.” Stan turned his gaze to me. “What do you think?”

“Shit, I don’t know. Never saw anybody killed with a crossbow. Not your usual murder weapon.” I scratched my head, bending down to get a better look. The bolt was deeply embedded in the victim’s eye and appeared to have gone completely through her skull, impaling it to the tree. It was obvious that the archer was an expert marksman. How many people could put a bolt through the eye of a squirming human target? That poor woman must have been terrified.

“Know anybody who uses a crossbow?” I asked.

Stan ran a hand through his thick graying hair as he stared at me and tugged on his beard. “Maybe Alex Lincoln. He took lessons when he was a kid.” He paused, rubbing the back of his neck. “Remember Karen Bradshaw? Had all the guys running after her in high school? She and her husband, Tim Dillon, used to shoot down at the old gravel pit. I heard he even won some medals for the most bull’s eyes. Maybe they got into archery.”

I listened as he continued to think out loud.

“There’s an archery event every October down in Brewer’s Falls. It’s coming up soon. I talked to the folks in charge. Not much help there. You would have thought I was asking for their firstborn son or something.” The angry set to his jaw said it all. He was running into nothing but dead ends.

“Excuse me, Chief. We’re just about done here. Doc Warren wants to know if they can take the body yet.” A young fresh-faced kid with dirty blond hair, worn a little longer than regulation collar-length, eagerly awaited his superior’s okay. His brown eyes shifted back and forth from Stan to me, as his feet shuffled the red and gold leaves.

“Tell him to hold on a few minutes. I want to take a few more notes on body location and angles. Hey, make sure they’ve finished with the photos, too.” Stan waved the young cop away to relay the news to the coroner.

“What was her name?” I asked, nodding toward the dead woman.

“Beth Thoroughgood. Nice woman. Never bothered anybody. Kept to herself. She lived at the edge of town not far from the general store. Ran a little candy shop out of the front room of her house. All the neighborhood kids knew her by name. She was well-liked by everyone. Why would anyone want to hurt her?” He turned to speak quietly to another young officer at his elbow.

“Well, somebody didn’t like her, that’s for sure. How about the other victim? Any connection?” I looked over at the officers; taking more notes, completing their tasks. The flash of the cameras lit the scene like strobe lights.

“Not that I’ve found. Somebody with a grudge? Spurned lover? Heck of a way to get rid of your old girlfriends.”

Finally, the body was released to the coroner’s care and we watched in silence as they took the body away on a stretcher.

“Could I have the info on the two victims and the names of the next of kin?” I asked.

The light was fading fast, and the forensics team was gathering their gear, preparing to leave the scene.

“I’ll have Hank Warren get it to you. He’s been on the case from day one.”

Stan finished writing in his little notebook and put it in his breast pocket. I could read the fear in his eyes. No one was safe while this crazed lunatic was loose. I understood all too well what he must be feeling. The murder the year before had everyone in Gammil’s Point running scared.

“Let’s get the hell out of here and grab some coffee,” Stan said, turning to follow the last of his men. Nothing was stopping me from following his lead. I took a last look at the tree where the body had been found, focusing on a spot of blood, and shook my head. What the hell is going on?

He stroked his short graying beard and stared off into space. Trails of sweat were racing down the sides of his face.

Susan Bigelow was seated opposite him, hands folded demurely in her lap.

She may look harmless, Stan thought, but I know what she is here for. Alex Lincoln. The thorn in her side. And mine. The police chief cleared his throat and leaned back, determined not to be the first to speak. See what she has to say this time.

She tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear and shifted in her seat. “I need your help, Stan.”

“Alex again?” Stan picked up the pen he’d been doodling with, and pulled an incident report form from the file in his desk. This would be the third incident in the last two weeks. The guy was really starting to piss him off.

“He’s stalking me now. Popping up at my house at all hours of the day. And worming his way into my home. To talk about nothing. It’s harassment, Stan. I want to put a restraining order on him.” She sat back, fingering the gold chain hanging at her throat.

“Look, Susan, I’ll go talk to him. Put the fear of God in him. A restraining order isn’t going to deter someone like him.” Stan filled out the form and, turning it around on the desk, handed her the pen. “Sign this and I’ll take care of it. There’s not much I can do unless he gets physical. I’ll make sure he gets the point.”

“I hope so. He’s trying to drive me out, you know. After all, I’m the competition.”

“Yeah. Stiff competition.” Stan chuckled.

Susan frowned at him. “It’s not funny, Stan. This is getting ridiculous.”

He got up and went around his desk to offer her his hand. She rose. He said, “I’ll call you and let you know how it goes.”

“Thank you. I’ll be waiting to hear from you.” She nodded at him and stalked from the room.

He watched her leave and shook his head. Alex Lincoln was becoming a problem. A big one.

Back to Twanged at Twilight