Excerpt for Remember to Forget by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Remember To Forget

A Cozy Mystery

Book 1 of the Karma’s Revenge Series

Written By

Jwyan C. Johnson

Smashwords Edition

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved


She’s an eye-witness. But she doesn’t know it… at least not yet.

After a Hollywood crime occurs in a small town, pressure sets in nationwide for answers. And detectives rely on their only lead: a teenage girl who saw the whole thing. The only obstacle is Dedra herself. Retrograde Amnesia has locked her out of how own answers from her own memory. But with a medical remedy to unlock it all, detectives suffer the additional mystery of her parents refusing to give consent. And Dedra must play detective herself to find the real reason why.

With her hidden yearbook, and her tricky little sister, it’s an unfamiliar race down memory lane with lots of traffic, and shortcuts of insistence from sidekicks to pranksters to worse. But as justice becomes impatient, and family demands loyalty, Dedra faces a memorable dilemma: should she move past the past, explore it fully, or ‘remember to forget.’

Table of Contents

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything” – Mark Twain

Chapter 1: If You Tell

Chapter 2: The Truth

Chapter 3: You Don’t Have To

Chapter 4: Remember Anything!

Book Club Questions

Continue the Series

Jwyan C. Johnson has granted its syndicates and affiliates non-exclusive displaying rights.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any matter without the express written consent of the publisher, except in the case of brief excerpts in critical reviews or articles.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

*Retrograde Amnesia is a psychological inability to ever recall the past dated before the trauma which caused the amnesia.

Chapter 1: If You Tell

Dedra stares at her old junior high school from its parking lot, with a tight hold on her yearbook: the only receipt from her past. She hopes her amnesia will one day bow to those pages, and animate a forever locked past. Until then, she certainly won’t forget to hide it from everyone after recently discovering it underneath her bed. Something inside her wants proof that her family and friend’s stories match that 16 year old girl in the picture. So with its cover cleverly disguised as a History Book, Dedra stares deeper at her own picture and all the mystery inside her half-smile.

“Dedra?” a voice behind her calls and approaches. “Do you… remember me?”

Dedra stares sarcastically until the smiling teenager caves in.

“Janine, don’t you ask me this every single day?”

“I’m just recycling my humor, in case you forgot!”

“I remember you, little sister. But I think YOU forgot how annoying you are.”

“Shouldn’t my big sister be at her high school, in her favorite Drama class right now? Or maybe… this is your stage to perform the role of ‘girl who ditches class.’ It’s way outside your comfort zone.”

“You’re right,” Dedra replies. “So I came to the class-skipping master for some real inspiration. We’re you studying the parking lot? Why aren’t you in class?”

“I… uhm… I’m rehearsing for the same role!”


“Okay, I’m sorry… again! Trust me, you’ve got the big sister role down perfect. You’re here to pick me up?”

“Yeah,” Dedra confirms. “But listen, look inside that office window. You see the secretary girl in the blue dress? Right before you came, she asked me for my autograph!”

“,” Janine reacts with an awkward pause. “Really?”

“Yeah. She said she loves all my videos and learns a lot from me. But it has to be a practical joke on my amnesia right? I’ve mean… I’ve never even been on TV before… have I?”

“Uh,” Janine reacts with a slight pause, “did you sign anything?”

“Yeah I just signed it as me: Dedra Kare. And she was thrilled to see it.”

“Dedra maybe she was there when you talked to our Psychology class about amnesia and what it feels like. But that was like a year ago. Do you… remember that?”

“Yes silly,” Dedra remarks. “Just like I said in your class, Retrograde Amnesia is when you recover but never remember anything that dates before the trauma, or my car accident. Obviously your teacher invited me after.”

“I didn’t send the secretary to you,” Janine offers. “And I know Mom has everyone on a practical joke alert. But I promise I…”

“I believe you. I just thought I saw a free piece of the puzzle.”

“The picture it makes isn’t pretty enough to work towards, trust me. Get past your past.”

Dedra holds her disguised yearbook a little tighter as Janine continues.

“Anyway,” Janine probes, “you’re picking me up because…”

“…because our whole family, and even your favorite Psychology teacher, are needed at the police station. They won’t tell us why until we’re all there.”

“Okay, let’s go. And listen Deej, there’s no need to wait for my next practical joke. I’m still enjoying the one I pulled off, still going strong for almost 3 years now!”

“Really? What is it?”

“Well Dedra,” Janine smiles to herself, “that’s not your real name.”

“Maybe you’re being arrested for being so silly! Come on. Lets’ go.”

Chapter 2: The Truth

“Right this way girls,” a detective says. “And please ignore the fact that we’re going into an interrogation room. It’s the only area with enough space.”

“Hello,” Dedra offers to the two cops at the table. They stare in silence until a familiar face walks in.

Extra Credit anyone? Hi girls!”

“Hi Dr. Johnson!”

“How’s school?”

“It’s okay,” Janine replies. “But I miss my Psychology class.”

“And Janine I miss your naturally clever nature.”

Janine smiles back as her parents enter with equal curiosity, in front of another man.

“Hello everyone,” another man says. “I’m Detective Corey. And I’m working on the case involving the murder of celebrity musician Image Reflection.”

“Of course,” the Dad says. “I saw you on the news channel discussing it.”

“I loved his music,” Janine says. “Didja guys catch the killer?”

“Well Janine it really depends. In fact that’s why we called your family in. With new footage, we believe that Dedra may have witnessed the whole crime scene. It happened the same night of her car accident which caused her amnesia.”

“Really,” Mom reacts sharing stares with Dad.

As Detective Corey plays the video described, the two cops rotate stares between Dedra and each other.

“Oh my goodness,” Dedra says beholding her old self. “That’s me!”

“That’s right. As you can all see, Dedra was right in front of a liquor store camera. According to the video clock, this was seconds before Image Reflection was shot two blocks away. So it’s very possible that Dedra saw the whole thing.”

“That looks like a completely different location I was in,” Dedra adds. “Detective Corey, exactly where was I in this vi…”

“Detective,” the Mom interrupts, “how could Dedra can help you now? She may have been there. But she can’t remember.”

“Right,” the Dad says through his head nod. “With the shooting event being before her car accident, I’m not sure how Dedra can ever remember.”

“I do,” Dr. Johnson replies. “People normally use hypnotism to transfer their suppressed memories within the subconscious. Amnesia is the same psychological equation, except it suppresses absolutely everything and even farther back! With this simple process, which I’ve been asked to perform, Dedra could discover well beyond that criminal night. She’ll remember everything!”

“And we might even go further in justice too,” Detective Corey adds. “Beyond her help in this case, Dedra might recall details to identify her hit-and-run driver. We can finally hold them liable for your car accident. And, with all the Hollywood pressure to solve this case, the other driver might be another lead.”

The parents whisper to each other as Detective Corey continues.

“Finally there’s a reward for any information leading to an arrest. Dedra could use that money for college.”

“Actually,” the mom replies, “Dedra wants to be an actress.”

“Or… a detective,” Dedra adds.

“Really?” Detective Corey smiles. “Dedra we have a head start program for students to see our field for themselves.”

“I would love that.”

“Excellent! Now, because Dedra is still a minor, we’ll just need parental consent in order for Dr. Johnson to perform this procedure.”

“No,” the dad quickly replies.

“We cannot allow this,” the mother confirms.

“Well… why not?” Dedra asks.

A small pause between the parents becomes obvious.

“I might know why,” Dr. Johnson offers. “And listen, if you guys concerned about the exp…”

“ACTUALLY,” the mom interrupts, “we should explain our reasoning to Detective Corey and the officers in private. Dr. Johnson, if you don’t mind leading our girls outside, we can talk about that.”

“Talk about what?” Dedra pushes. “I don’t understand!”

A confused Dr. Johnson ushers the girls and himself outside the interrogation room, but not before a furious stare between Janine and her mother. But to their outside surprise, the same interrogation room is being recorded and betrayed to audio loudly enough:

“Thanks for that Detective,” the mother begins. “Just between us, we’re concerned about Dedra remembering how bad she was as a teenager. We’re simply worried she won’t be able to forgive herself.”

“But we have forgiven her,” the dad says. “Ever since she fell in with the wrong crowd, we prayed for the day we’d get our good girl back. In fact, when you called us, I feared her past had caught up to her! I even considered that Dedra was a suspect in your Image Reflection Case!”

“WHAT!” Janine shouts to the soundproof window to everyone’s surprise, “That’s NOT true, that’s NOT what happened. LIARS!”

Dr. Johnson quickly pulls Janine as she lunges at the interrogation window. Fearing a hallway scene inside around every policemen, Dr. Johnson leads them both away into Detective Corey’s office.

“Janine what’s wrong?” Dedra asks.

“Talk to us,” Dr. Johnson adds.

“Listen,” Janine answers. “If Janine goes under hypnosis, she won’t find out she was a terrible kid; she’ll find out they were terrible parents. And I mean really terrible.”

Both Dedra and Dr. Johnson appear shocked as Janine elaborates.

“I remember how they used to be before.”

“Before… what?” Dedra asks.

Janine glances at Dr. Johnson and takes a deep breath.

“Okay, Dedra that secretary who asked for your autograph today… she probably saw a video from our home cameras. There’s a social experiment we’re both participating in.”

“What?” Dedra reacts.

“Wait-a-minute,” Dr. Johnson interrupts, “Dedra didn’t know?”

“No. Our parents kept it from her and threatened me if I ever told.”

“Well that ends now,” Dr. Johnson insists. “I’ll tell you! Dedra your car accident became an opportunity for me to prove my theory for a book I’m writing. My experiment measures child development when amnesia versus forgiveness.”

“And our family is being paid to participate,” Janine adds. “They evaluate things like confidence, habits, and trust. Because I remember everything, I’m the forgiveness variable. And since you don’t remember anything before the accident, you are the amnesia variable. We’ve been versing each other for almost 3 years. And I’m pretty sure you’re winning.”

“I’m so sorry Dedra,” Dr. Johnson reacts. “I though they told you. You deserved to know from the very start.”

“But there’s something you both deserve to know,” Janine offers while taking another deep breath. “Our parents lied to qualify for this experiment. They did it for the money. We were never the family image they offered in any questionnaire or interview. I painfully remember the real. The experiment was forgiveness versus amnesia in typical child development. But Dr. Johnson you had no idea how much there is to forgive! And Dedra you have no idea how much there was to forget.”

“Janine,” Doctor Johnson replies, “how come you never told me?”

“Because I also got what we both needed: protection!” Janine turns back to Dedra. “There are hidden home video cameras everywhere to observe and measure. So this constant attention inside our home was preventing really terrible things in our past from happening.”

“Really terrible things?” Dedra asks.

“Trust me Dedra you don’t wanna know… or remember.”

“Or do I?”

[Knock Knock]

“Well,” Detective Corey opens the door, “looks like you guys found my office. Ready to come back?”

“Detective did you get their permission?”

“We’re still working on it Dedra. But your parents explained some things we didn’t know. They’re pretty against it.”

“This is so unfair,” Dedra replies.

“Maybe unfair, but definitely dangerous,” Detective Corey adds. I don’t understand why these super concerned parents don’t seem to care about that bullet we found.”

“Wait,” Janine responds. “You found the bullet that killed Image Reflection?”

“No I’m talking about your bullet. Your parents never told you guys about this?”

All three stare puzzled as Detective Corey explains.

“After your hit-and-run car accident, detectives found a single bullet inside the car. It went through the driver’s seat and the back seat. Dedra someone may have tried to kill you.”

Janine grabs her sister in tears.

“Before ballistics from the actual crime scene, the bullet was lost in evidence. And your totaled car disappeared against our hold request. I warned your parents about a possible threat. They never told you about this?”

“They never said a thing?” Janine replies.

“Well I didn’t know that… you didn’t now. And this is a lot to process. So please take a moment if you need. And I’ll keep trying to persuade your parents the other way. But we could really use your help.”

Detective Corey closes his door behind him, as Dedra stares at the conversation between her parents and the other two cops.

“Janine we’re you told to keep the bullet a secret too?”

“No! I absolutely would’ve warned you about that, I promise.”

“Well what about those old cuts on your wrists?” Dr. Johnson asks. “Secret?”

“Kinda. Let’s just say… I was imitating a serious movie scene and trying to create my own ‘happy ending’ finally.”

Both Dedra and Dr. Johnson stare in shock as she continues.

“Unfortunately I don’t have amnesia; I have flashbacks. And with all these secrets, this psychological sports match between us will soon have a clear winner: you Dedra.”

“Oh no… NO,” Dedra says through her sudden tears. “We’re sisters and you’re not going through this alone. I don’t care how the past affects me. We’re going to be there for each other.”

“So…Dedra is that a yes to the procedure?” Dr. Johnson asks. “Are you agreeing to be hypnotized?”

“Yes,” Dedra replies through Janine’s hug. “Forget the rules. Let’s do it.”

Janine leaves the room, to both allow privacy and stall the others long enough for the hypnosis.

“Hold on Doctor,” Dedra whispers inside the office. “I’m still not sure.”

“It’s a very simple procedure. And I feel like I owe you regardless of…”

“Actually I’m not sure about the real story. I’m trying to figure out why my parents never told me about that bullet. Do you think it’s possible that bullet was my karma… from an uncomfortable truth that I really was the terrible kid my parents are describing? Maybe Image Reflection was an innocent bystander in my mess? I wanna be fair… to every suggestion. Doctor, why wouldn’t they tell me?”

Dr. Johnson remains silent in active listening.

“The tension between Mom and Janine might make sense if we were both bad kids back then and worked together. Janine never mentioned a bullet. Do you think the bullet belongs to Janine… or even me? Maybe our parents are protecting me or the whole family from this crime? Or could Janine be luring me back in, literally, as her partner in crime? I’m so confused.”

“This really is a lot,” Doctor Johnson replies in support.

“Doctor you didn’t meet me or my parents until after my car accident. So you might not know anything about the old me, or my parents. But you did know Janine, when you were her Psychology teacher. Now my mom’s always telling me that Janine exaggerates things and seems to be jealous of my popularity. It’s just you and me here right now. Based on everything you know about Janine, is this the greatest practical joke ever attempted? Is she telling the truth?”

“She might be,” Dr. Johnson admits. “Popularity is not a fair way to measure sincerity or social jealousy. Even in my class, as the prettiest and smartest, Janine was very withdrawn. In an essay assignment, Janine listed you as her best friend and only friend. She even ditched class once to go to your high school performance for your Drama class. Maybe she’s been privately mourning a trauma bond, between you and her, that only you knew… when you knew.”

“She really is very much to herself. That makes sense.”

“I’ve always suspected Janine had a high-functioning form of Autism. I hesitated exploring further because so many of her behavioral traits have nothing to do with that condition. But after hearing what she’s alleging now, maybe your parents were using Janine’s naturally shy nature to deflect attention away from their own self-made condition of narcissistic parenting! Considering the effects of emotional abuse, this plays out psychologically. Janine could absolutely be telling us the truth.”

Still outside both rooms, Janine prepares herself to entertain the inevitable tension. She moves closer to her parent’s room and stands beside the audio system to eavesdrop again:

“As I was saying,” the mother says, “Janine has always been jealous of Dedra.”

“She’s incredibly manipulative,” the dad adds. “Janine’s always playing practical jokes on Dedra’s memory, more than usual between siblings. In fact, I’m afraid that she might even use this hypnosis opportunity to unfairly include us in her latest tactics! I’ve done all I can, officers. I just wish Janine would get some help.”

The mother heads nods in agreement.

“I can’t do this,” Janine mumbles to herself in the hallway as she rushes back inside to Dedra. “WAIT! Don’t do it!”

“What?” Dedra says puzzled.

“I think I know a better way to get answers, and prove myself to you once and for all, without the pain.”

Chapter 3: You Don’t Have To

“It’s been a really long and stressful road for us, officers.” The mother reiterates. “But we’re still determined to be dedicated parents, even with both their difficulties.”

“Absolutely,” the dad adds. “This psychological opportunity to start fresh was an answer to our prayers.”

As the father continues, the mother notices a stalling Detective Corey starring at the other closed office.

“Wait-a-minute,” the anxious father gets up. “Who’s in that room?”

“Where’s Dedra?” the mother says. “Where’s Doctor Johnson?”


Running frantically past the two cops, out the room, the parents push Janine and Detective Corey aside to bang on the once guarded door.

“DEDRA,” the mother demands with a cold stare at Janine. “Where’s my daughter?”

“She’s right here,” a voice says behind her.

With a confident Dr. Johnson walking behind her, Dedra stares directly into the guilty eyes of another and lunges. Detective Corey can barely hold Dedra back.

“All this time,” Dedra manages through her anger, “I’ve been watching out for Janine… when I should’ve been watching out for both of you.”

“We’ll talk about this at home.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you! And neither are you guys going home. Officers, I wanna file a complaint for every single time that…”

“NOT ANOTHER WORD,” the dad yells.

“Doctor you betrayed us,” the mother lunges at him. “Arrest him Detective! Dedra’s a minor. She’s not old enough!”

“I’m old enough to tell the real story,” Dedra replies to the frightened hallway. “I got the truth. But what matters most to me, even more than the truth is the why. If you just tell me why… I’ll forget all these memories again, by choice. Just tell me why.”

“Fine,” the dad replies. “But not out here.”

As he lures Dedra back inside their interrogation room, the mother blocks Janine from entering with them, as the two cops still inside stare at Dedra.

“Another misunderstanding,” the Dad rationalizes. “Could you guys please give us a few minutes alone with our daughter?”

The two cops leave instantly, rushing past everyone standing outside. And as the dad secures the door, even blocking Detective Corey, he looks around unaware that his every motion and every word will soon be reflected from the outside.

Detective Corey listens, sickened at every real detail, which only worsens with Dedra’s tearful reply.

“That’s not what I’m talking about! And you know it.”

“Okay fine,” the mother succumbs.

Other detectives passing by can barely stand legally still to hear the next round of her childhood past. But as Detective Corey prepares to arrest them for their multiple admissions, it worsens even more.

“That’s not the big thing either. Seriously, if you guys can’t even admit between just us, I’ll tell them everything right now!”

The parents continue their deflections long enough for a frustrated Dedra to get up and run out the room.

“WAIT!” The parents yell. They both run after her, but only to be interrupted by the sound of their own amplified voice.

“You’re both under arrest,” Detective Corey says while handcuffing them. “I’m charging you with everything you just admitted to… on videotape.”

As they are taken away, the parents use their final words to curse both Dedra and Janine.

“Detective,” the Captain approaches. “Is everyone else okay?”

“Things are a lot better now Captain. But listen, uhm… I need to talk to you about the Image Reflection case.”

“No need,” the Captain smiles. “Thanks to Dedra we just got a confession.”

“A confession… on the Image Reflection case?”

“That’s right.”


“Oh like you don’t know,” the Captain smiles at all them and a confused Janine. “Dedra you didn’t tell them yet?”

“Uhm…no, not yet.”

“May I?”

“Sure,” Dedra replies while looking at Detective Corey. “Go ahead Captain.”

“Well I was in our staff restroom stall when they ran inside. One said “you heard her yourself. Dedra remembers everything.” And the other said “but without parental consent, it can’t be admissible” to which the other man said “a technicality won’t matter if it gets out to the public that we killed Image Reflection?” I burst out my stall and arrested them right there in the restroom. Don’t worry, I washed my hands after.”

“Captain who is… they?”

“The two cops. The same two officers who mysteriously demanded to be on this case, but apparently not to ‘protect and serve.’ They just wanted to stay a step ahead in any updates.”

“Captain,” Detective Corey says smiling at Dedra, “this is… truly unbelievable.”

“They’re being held in separate interrogation rooms. I think there’s a chance they may say something beyond Dedra’s memory.”

A mysterious blend of shock and silent stares rotate between everyone in front of the Captain.

“But this is a little messy,” the Captain assures. “The hypnosis was done illegally, without parental consent. A lawyer will argue what is referred to as fruits from a poisonous tree. And this whole confession would be thrown out, leaving us with no case.”

“Actually,” Dr. Johnson smiles, “Captain I have good news. Dedra didn’t go under hypnosis! All she did was prove that she deserves an ‘A’ in her drama class!”


“That’s right” Dedra smiles. “I never went through with the procedure and still don’t remember anything! I was just using my acting skills and improvising… like Janine suggested.”

“Ha ha,” Janine confirms. “And… CUT!”

“Captain I designed my invisible script according to Janine stance. This scene only played out well because she was telling the truth! I had to commit to the role of the risk. And when I saw the mystery of their reaction, I made them improvise according to their own truth.”

“This office was her dressing room,” the good doctor jokes.

“And I videotaped the whole absence of this procedure,” Detective Corey assures. “The parents simply outed themselves Captain.”

“Dedra,” the Captain claps in slow motion, “I’d give you an Oscar right now!”

Chapter 4: Remember Anything!

“We found the bullet,” Detective Corey reports to Dedra. “And we matched it with ballistics. Your hit-and-run driver was them! They were fleeing their own drive-by shooting on Image Reflection. One shot at you to silence you, while the other insisted your car accident already did it.”

“So the bullet found in my old car belonged to them?”

“Yeah. Your parents may have never worried about it. But now you and your sister don’t have to. You’re safe. And we got ‘em! Our Captain already approved the reward. It’s all yours. Well done you guys. We’re still getting an encore of admissions, thanks to your performance. So I gotta get back in there.”


Dr. Johnson smiles at the girls as they walk toward him for a final surprise.

“Janine, we didn’t go through with the hypnosis now for legal purposes. But Dedra turns 18 in just two weeks. So it will be her decision then.”

“Yeah,” Dedra adds. “And we’ve already made an appointment Sis! I’m scheduled exactly on my birthday to inherit all my expired daydreams, my whole past… our whole past!”

“I’m performing a birthday gift like no other.”

“From me to me, but really it’s for you Janine. I literally can’t imagine the hell you’ve been through.”

“We,” Janine corrects her with a hug.

“Right. We. But a much stronger we in two weeks.”

“Stronger huh,” Janine hesitates for a moment through tears. “Dedra for your sake, I changed my mind. Don’t do it…ever.”

“Really? Don’t do it?”

“I meant what I said in there: you don’t wanna know, trust me. Dedra there’s so much pain inside me. And that’s just how it’s gotta be. But you’ve got a shot to skip the flashbacks! It’s too selfish of me to deny that your predicament right now is a better gift for you. And you owe it to yourself. You owe it to your potential.”

Dedra considers this for a moment.

“How about this: I’ll trade you,” Dedra negotiates. “No more ‘happy ending’ cuts on your wrists, okay? You are the family I wanna keep. So I’ll trade you: my memory for your resilience. Deal?”

“Like I said,” Janine replies, “you’ve got the big sister role down perfect! Okay… you’ve got a deal.”

Dr. Johnson hides his tears as the two sisters embrace as they must have before.

“Dedra,” Detective Corey returns, “I doubt you’ll need me to wish you good luck as you pursue an acting career. But you said you were thinking about becoming a detective too. If our field wins your decision, here’s my card.”

“Wow. Thanks.”

“See,” Janine says, “you’re already moving forward.”

“We,” Dedra corrects.

“You’re right. And an even stronger we right now.”


Book Discussion Questions

Continue the Series

Book Club Questions

  • As the "Amnesia vs Forgiveness" experiment ultimately becomes "the deal," what symbolism and moral do you suspect?

  • Are there any disadvantages to moving past the past?

  • Do you agree with Janine's "clear winner" prediction and her reasoning?

  • Did you ever "Remember to Forget?" Share how this mystery relates to your own story and your thoughts.

Free Gift – Visit Our Website

And Please Tell Us Too!

Share these thoughts also in your book review. And be sure to tell us:


  • How surprised were you with the clever way Dedra uncovered the truth?


We sincerely appreciate your time to communicate your opinion. Thank you in advance.

Series To Be Continued

Remember to Forget is both Book 1 of the Karma’s Revenge Series and a prequel to the Detective Kare Bear Series. Book 2 of the Karma’s Revenge Series coming soon.

Story Scene:

“…Dedra could use that money for college.”

“Actually,” the mom replies, “Dedra wants to be an actress.”

“Or… a detective,” Dedra adds.

“Really?” Detective Corey smiles. “Dedra we have a head start program for students to see our field for themselves.”

“I would love that…”

Detective Kare Bear

And she certainly did! Dedra chose the career path of a detective. Find out in Punished By Silence how she got her nickname “Detective Kare Bear.”

Download this book for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-22 show above.)