The Suit: For 2016, Diamonds is my suit for “Stories by Contemporary Indiana Writers”
The Selection: “The Circle Effect” from Decades of Dirt: Murder, Mystery and Mayhem from the Crossroads of Crime”, the fourth anthology produced by the “Speed City, Indiana” chapter of Sisters in Crime.
The Author: Diana Catt. I’ve actually read a story of hers for Deal Me In before, tackling “The Art of the Game” from Hoosier Hoops and Hijinks in 2015. See her website (from where the photo at left was found) at http://dianacatt.com/ The “author notes” in Decades of Dirt tell me she’s an environmental microbiologist in her day job. Pretty cool.🙂 of coincidental note is that Deal Me IN’s notorious hand of fate led me to draw the card for her story on the week of her birthday…
What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card, and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of cards/storyroster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. Deal Me “IN” is also now officially endorsed as a “Legacy Project” by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission.
The Circle Effect
“‘I wish you hadn’t been the one to find the body, son.’ I wholeheartedly agreed.”
This story is the fictional first person account of a murder that occurs during the construction of Indianapolis’s famous downtown Soldiers & Sailors Monument (or, as many call it these days, simply the Circle Monument). The time frame of the story is historically accurate, it’s just the details and the murder which are fictional. Construction of this monument lasted thirteen years and bridged the turn of the 20th century, being dedicated in 1902. When construction began, many veterans of the U.S. Civil War were still living, and The Circle Effect is the story of how long grudges may sometimes be held before they can be properly resolved or avenged.
The young narrator – I believe he’s unnamed – is the son of a small group of benefactors who are leading citizens and guiding the logistics of the monument’s construction. A benefit of his position is that he has “the run of” the construction site and watches and interacts with many of the workers. One of these is the one-eyed, scarred, and mysterious “Mr. Singleton.” The narrator asks how he got the scar “after knowing him just a few hours.”
“Bayonet, boy. Hand to hand combat. Damn Reb had thirty pounds on me and a powerful swing. Last thing I ever saw with this eye was that blade slicing down.”
Whether all the stories Singleton tells the young boy are true or not is subject to debate, but one thing that is true, and that, not surprisingly, he has kept to himself, is that he once served as a guard at the notorious Andersonville prison. It was there that he wronged one man of a close circle of comrades-at-arms, other members of which just happen to now be in Indianapolis at the time he finds employment in the monument’s construction…
(below: The Soldiers and Sailors Monument at the center of Indianapolis)
The story is also, in a way, a coming of age story, as the young narrator’s accidental involvement in the unfolding events lead him to realize that trusted adults may not always be everything you’ve assumed them to be. I also loved the multiple meanings of the final sentence. “The circle was now complete.”
♫ Personal Notes: I worked in downtown Indy for many years, a lot of which were just one block east of Monument Circle, where I, among hundreds of other downtown workers, would often sit on the steps and eat our lunch, watching the world go by in our brief respite from the daily grind. I’ve been inside the monument itself only once, many years ago and climbed the steps to the top, which as you’d imagine offers an interesting view of downtown. The monument is also home to the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War museum. Lilly is the eponymous founder of a drug company you may have heard of….