As I’ve gotten further into what was to have been my second chapter, I realize that it sets up the action and engages the readers from the start. They learn of people who have exhibited a range of symptoms, symptoms so varied that the illnesses are assumed to be routine. Until someone notices a pattern.
Severe nausea and diarrhea in Iowa City; cramps and convulsions in Cedar Rapids; disorientation and hallucinations in Marshalltown. Flukes. Random hospitalizations every few months or weeks for a year, not only in those cities, but in Des Moines; Bettendorf and Dubuque. And then Thomas Sauk, Clinton’s commissioner of veteran affairs, had died and someone connected the dots. All the victims – and they were now being considered victims – had a connection to veterans’ centers or clinics.
Yes, that’s a better beginning than the Father Francis chapter is, much as I’ve grown to care about him. So, I’ll continue writing about what Janelle knows and what she’ll do when she gets to Iowa. It will be my first chapter, and the one in which I introduce Father Francis will become Chapter Two.
That sets up a good segue to Chapter Three, which is still a long way off. In that chapter, Father Francis and Janelle meet. She’ll interview him, size him up and learn what she can to begin putting the puzzle of truth together.