I’m taking a short break from eels in order to practice something new! Writing a synopsis. For the record, I hate it. Taking a 60,000 word story and re-telling it in 1,000? That’s kind of the writing equivalent of kicking puppies. However, I had to do it in order to submit my 2013 NaNo project for the Jackson Daughtry Literary Honor (https://www.jdlh.org/submission.html). I’m not tremendously optimistic, but it feels good to stretch a bit. As Yoda would say, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
Naiad of the Cuyahoga: Synopsis
Sixteen year old Clevelander, Dan C’zenowik wants to be a hero, but he’s picked an unusual way to go about it. He steals chickens and throws them into the river. He believes if he can find the right offering, a naiad will appear and grant him power. Instead, he gets arrested and has to be bailed out by his older brother, Karl.
Karl thinks Dan is an idiot for believing in spirits, but Dan explains that it was their mom who asked him to make the offerings in the first place. Back at home, Karl confronts their mother and accuses her of messing up Dan’s head. Lirienne insists that the naiad is real and claims that it killed their father. Karl storms out.
Meanwhile, Officer Brenda Kelly of the Lakewood police writes up Dan’s case. She researches the family and discovers that Dan’s father, Frank C’zenowik drowned fifteen yrs ago. The paper described it as one of a series of river accidents leading to the trial of the OxBow neighborhood development agency on charges of negligence and misuse of public funds. There was not enough evidence to confirm the charges.
Karl decides that Dan needs a dose of reality and introduces the boy to his pot-smoking college friends. At one of their gatherings, Karl gets high and has a vision of a bony little girl with needle-sharp teeth. The creature bites off a chicken’s head and swallows it. Karl is terrified and denies seeing anything, but Dan is convinced his brother has seen the naiad.
Lirienne returns to the police station and begs Brenda to investigate her husband’s death. Brenda is skeptical but bored with her usual police work. She checks the coroner’s report and finds a reference to claw marks on Mr. C’zenowik’s neck. The photos of the marks are missing from the file. Brenda calls the OxBow legal firm and even visits the coroner to ask about the pictures. Word of her unsanctioned investigation gets back to the Lakewood office and causes a turf war between Brenda and the Lakewood homicide detective. The autopsy photos are finally returned from the OxBow legal firm and the claw marks are confirmed. Lirienne is triumphant believing this proves a supernatural agent killed her husband. The homicide detective dismisses her as crazy, but Brenda continues investigating.
Karl dreams that the naiad is trying to drown him. He leaves campus to seek safety at home only to find the basement flooded. The mess includes numerous water-logged boxes of paperwork from Frank’s business. Lirienne asks the boys to help clean the basement and return the papers to the Tremont Construction firm. There they meet Hoyt Vinson, their father’s former work partner. Dan volunteers to help Hoyt sort the files and the boy’s initiative earns him a part time job. His sorting also turns up several letters and pictures hinting that Frank and Janet Guillardo (the beautiful CFO of the OxBow agency) were more than friendly business associates. Mr. Vinson gets back in touch with Janet thinking to blackmail her. The two of them set up a meeting at ‘Club Eros’, a strip joint near the river that was built by the Tremont Construction Firm with money supplied by OxBow. Mr. Vinson tells Dan it’s all just business as usual.
The boy doesn’t notice the lie since he’s still hung up on his fantasy life. Dan thinks the naiad appeared to Karl and that makes him jealous. Dan continues visiting the river and fantasizes about pushing Karl in. Dan’s revenge dream is broken when he spots the body of the coroner floating in the water. Dan reports the body, is questioned and blurts out that he was thinking about killing Karl, but doesn’t know this guy. Autopsy reveals that the coroner was shot. Dan is released but finally assigned a psychologist.
Karl’s visions continue. The river monster materializes on his birthday in the middle of a gambling trip orchestrated by his stoner friends. The creature helps Karl win by tipping the dice. Finally convinced that the thing is real and better yet profitable, Karl asks Dan to help him learn how to summon her. Dan’s strategy of making offerings doesn’t help. Karl finally gets a hint when he visits Grandpa C’zenowik, the only other family member known to have seen the creature. Grandpa tells Karl that the creature feeds on emotions and you can control her if you learn to control yourself.
Karl’s control is tested when Dan solicits his help to sneak into ‘Club Eros’. Dan wants to eavesdrop on his boss. Janet drugs Hoyt’s drink and she and an accomplice carry an unconscious Mr. Vinson out of the club. They plan to dump him in the river. Dan tries to save him, but Janet pulls a gun on the boy. Karl is too far way to help, but manages to call up the naiad. The thing grabs the gun and the shot goes wild, clipping Karl and sending him into the water. Dan tackles Janet, knocks her out and fishes Karl out of the river. Brenda and the police arrive in time to pick up the pieces and make arrests.
Janet is charged with the murder of Frank C’zenowik and the coroner was well as the attempted murder of Mr. Vinson. The original crime was committed in order to cover up her misuse of HUD funds for building commercial facilities in the Flats. Proof of this is in the paperwork that Dan uncovered. Janet had the coroner murdered when she learned the police appeared to have re-opened investigation of the old case. Brenda, despite being instrumental in the investigation, resigns from the police force. She doesn’t want to deal with politics on the force anymore. She jokes about opening up a center for paranormal investigation.
It becomes less of a joke when Brenda visits Karl C’zenowik in the hospital and walks in on the middle of a poltergeist display. What Karl sees is the river spirit moving things around. Lirienne, Dan and Brenda just see floating objects. It’s finally evidence that some kind of supernatural force is at work. Brenda is intrigued, but Karl mistakes her wide-eyed look for fear. He tells her not to worry. He thinks he can learn to control his shadow self better than his grandfather did. After all, Grandpa wasn’t able to get the naiad to save Frank. Her efforts just left scratches on the drowning man’s neck.