"The Stopwatch of Death"

This is my second story featuring Texas PI Helmut Erhard. (The first one, "The Yellow Rose of Texas," appeared in Michael Bracken's anthology, The Eyes of Texas.) The idea for this follow-up came from a talk delivered at our pre-semester convocation at Northern Virginia Community College's Loudoun Campus by NOVA Police officer John Weinstein, in which he made reference to what he called "The Stopwatch of Death." The moment I heard that phrase, I knew it would eventually be the title of a short story, and when Michael invited me to contribute to the special all-private-eye issue of Black Cat Mystery Magazine he was editing for Wildside Press, I decided to send Helmut to do a presentation similar to John's to the kids at Hearne High School.

Like my first Erhard story, this one features a truly massive Easter egg, which I realized after submission wouldn't work if Michael rejected the story and I wanted to sell it elsewhere. Fortunately, Michael took it -- and the sale of a second Erhard story convinced me that the character was interesting enough to confront with additional adventures.

The Easter egg? Well, I'm not going to tell you. You'll have to read the story yourself and see if you can spot it....

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