Excerpt from “Dancing in the Middle,” A Short Story by Jansen Schmidt

Welcome to an excerpt from a short story by Jansen Schmidt, “Dancing in the Middle,” which won an Honorable Mention in the Writing on Walls III contest and publication in Storyteller Magazine.


Dancing in the Middle

Rosa Gonzales, a ballerina with a secret, is unwittingly involved in a Mexican drug smuggling ring. DEA Agent Damon Whiteside discovers her secret while trying to extricate her from danger. 

“Did you see the new guy in Amy’s class?” Audra adjusted her long lean body to get a better view into the opposite studio.

“Yeah,” I shifted slightly to see across the hall. Smiling, I turned away, embarrassed to be caught checking him out. Taller than usual, with coal black hair and sapphire eyes, Damon was a looker, no doubt about that. “He’s a hunk, that’s for sure.” I moved to the ballet barre and began a series of plies and stretches, all the while covertly watching him in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors.

Audra finished her yogurt and dropped the empty container into the trash. “Well, I’ll let you admire the view while you warm up.” She strolled to the door, pausing briefly in the hallway to observe the ballroom class in Amy’s studio. “Amy’s so lucky,” she said to no one in particular.

After my morning classes, I clocked out for lunch and left for the bus station to pick up the box I knew would be waiting there for me, a routine that Lupe and I had established almost two years ago. I retrieved the box, replaced the lock on the familiar blue locker, and headed back to my car. I only had a few minutes left to grab a bite to eat before my next class. As I neared my car I saw Damon standing near the driver’s side door.

Surprised, I said, “Well, hello there.”

Damon winced. “Rosa Gonzales,” his voice cracked, “you’re under arrest.” He held out his badge and a set of handcuffs. “I’ll need that box as evidence.”

I laughed. “What? You’re arresting me?’ But when his expression remained grim, I realized he wasn’t joking. “Who are you?”

“I’m an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency.” He paused, watching me intently.

“We’re working with an international agency to find a drug smuggling operation out of Mexico. Know anything about that?”

“What?” I asked, taking a step backwards to put some space between us. Another person had approached me from behind, blocking my retreat. I turned around and a behemoth of a man with a shaved head and numerous tattoos took the package out of my hands. At the same time Damon grabbed my arms and brought them behind my back, clicking the handcuffs shut. “This way,” he said, tugging me gently toward a waiting car.

“What are you doing? I can’t go with you.” I whirled around to face him but his grip remained firm. Panic set in as I realized I was in a great deal of trouble.

Damon said with calm authority, “You’re under arrest for possession of illegal drugs, intent to sell drugs, drug trafficking and–”

“Drug trafficking? Are you crazy? This is a mistake!” I shrieked. “Look, I have a class in about fifteen minutes. People will wonder where I’m at. I can’t just not show up.”

“That’s exactly what’s going to happen, Princess.” The giant tattooed man was tearing into the box of homemade toys from my sister.

Damon recited my Miranda rights as he helped me into the back seat. He sat next to me and the behemoth got behind the wheel. I looked at Damon. “What have I done? I don’t understand what’s going on?”

“Like Detective Whiteside said, Princess, possession of drugs, drug trafficking, intent to sell illegal drugs, etc. etc.” The behemoth obviously possessed no mercy.

“I don’t have any drugs. You’ve got the wrong person.”

“Rosa,” Damon said softly, “how much do you know about your sister and her husband?”

“What’s my sister got to do with this?” I asked.

“What’s my sister got to do with this,” the driver mimicked. “Always the same ole spiel.”

“Cool it, Stone,” Damon warned. He looked directly at me. “We know what’s in the box, Rosa, and we know it’s from your sister. What we don’t know is where it’s going. You can make this easier on yourself if you cooperate.”

“Cooperate with what?” I asked.

Damon reached into the front seat and pulled one of my sister’s cloth dolls from the box.

Ripping the head off, he pulled out a plastic baggie filled with a milky powdery substance.

“Like I said,” he paused, showing me the evidence, “We know what’s in the box.”

I gasped. “I had no idea that was in there. I . . . I don’t know what’s going on. Aren’t I entitled to a phone call?”


Jansen SchmidtJansen Schmidt started writing theater reviews for local community playhouses about twelve years ago. A previous theater owner, she spent many years involved in all aspects of community theater but her most enjoyable aspect of the theater was and remains being on stage.  An amateur thespian, pianist, singer and dancer, she has performed in many productions in the last twenty years, including A Few Good Men, Much Ado About Nothing, Annie Get Your Gun, Nunsense and Nunsense II, and her first production, a musical melodrama entitled Tumbleweeds.

To purchase Writing on Walls III, go to The Storyteller online store or send a check or money order for $12.95 plus $3.00 shipping/handling to Writing on Walls III, The Storyteller Magazine, 2441 Washington Rd., Maynard, AR 72444. For each additional 1 to 2 books, please add $2.50 for shipping/handling. For international orders the cost is 14.95 per book plus $5.00 for shipping/handling. All international payments must be in U.S. funds.

Thanks, Jansen!

28 thoughts on “Excerpt from “Dancing in the Middle,” A Short Story by Jansen Schmidt

  1. Lena Corazon

    SJ, I really enjoy the series of featured works that you’ve been doing. It’s a great way to get acquainted with everyone’s work. And Patricia, this excerpt is fantastic. I definitely want to read the rest now!

    1. Patricia

      Hi Lena! Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Sally is a lovely person to feature new authors like this. I really appreciate this opportunity.

      Patricia Rickrode
      w/a Jansen Schmidt

      1. Patricia

        Thanks Louise. I was honored that Sally wanted to feature me. It was a treat!

        I’m glad you liked the story.

        Thanks for stopping by.

        Patricia Rickrode
        w/a Jansen Schmidt

  2. Patricia

    Thank you Paisley, my new published author carpool pal! So good to see another chaptermate supporting me. I know Sally is glad for the cyber traffic to her terrific blog as well.

    See you soon.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  3. lynnkelleyauthor

    I love that excerpt. Excellent writing, and the story drew me right in. Wow!

    Sally, thanks for featuring Jansen’s work!

    1. Patricia

      Thank you Lynn. This was one of the first short stories I ever submitted anywhere. I was so excited to find out that I had received an honorable mention in the contest and that it was being published! Nothing like that very first publication credit!

      I’m glad you took the time to stop by.

      Patricia Rickrode
      w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. Patricia

      Hi Pat. Thanks for guessing the outcome. You’re partly right. Someone has been duped! I could tell, but that would spoil it.

      Patricia Rickrode
      w/a Jansen Schmidt

  4. Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

    Hi Patricia!
    (Aunty waves madly to her awesome chaptermate!)

    What a kewl excerpt and a very kewl site! Thanx a bunch for a great post Patricia and Sally.

    Keep up the great work, Patricia! I think 2012 is going to be a very good year for you. 😉


    1. Patricia

      Oh Aunty Cindy, I hope you’re right. I’m trying to play by the rules and do as the experts suggest. My time will come. I just have to be patient and don’t give up.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Welcome home and bon voyage. You don’t stick around home for very long before sailing off again. I’m envious!

      Happy sailing and merry Christmas my friend!

      Patricia Rickrode
      w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. Patricia

      Thank you Diana. I’m loving all the blog love and support from my chaptermates. I’m glad you enjoyed the excerpt.

      Happy holidays!

      Patricia Rickrode
      w/a Jansen Schmidt

  5. Dee Brice

    Looks like a very interesting story. Didn’t know you were involved in theater. So was I! We’ll have to talk soon about our experiences.
    Dee Brice
    Erotic Fantasies Where Nothing is Forbidden

    1. Patricia

      Hi Dee – nice to see another Sacramento Rose stopping by and supporting me and Sally.

      My theater days were awesome! We’ll chat. Knowing you as I do, I’m sure you have some juicy tales to tell about your thespian activities.

      Patricia Rickrode
      w/a Jansen Schmidt

  6. Madeline Olson

    What an intriguing story, Patricia! Many of us have had an experience when we trusted blindly and later regretted it. Looks like Rosa’s about to learn that lesson!

      1. Patricia

        Hi Madline. So nice to see one of my Sacramento chapter gals stopping by. Yes, Rosa she’s a truster (silly girl). But you me, my stories always end on a positive note. Alls well that ends well – or is it?

        Patricia Rickrode
        w/a Jansen Schmidt

  7. Patricia

    Thank you Sally for this awesome gift! I have never been featured anywhere before and this opportunity means a lot to me!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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