Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 26: Paid in Full

The prompt this week was to open the book we are currently reading, and begin our story with the first sentence of the fifth paragraph on Page 40. The fifth paragraph on Page 40 of my book only contained one sentence, and it is highlighted. The book it’s from is called Brimstone, and it was written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I’ve read many of their books, and have enjoyed them all.

Paid in Full

“Have we met?” I said, as I sat down next to her. There were few empty seats in this car, which hopefully made my approach less suspicious.

I hated riding trains, but the time had come for me to confront her. I doubted she would recognize me since I was just a kid when her trial was held, but I had to know for sure. She glanced over at me with rheumy eyes. I had been shadowing her, but until now, hadn’t been physically close enough to make contact. Her appearance placed her decades beyond her actual age of 31.

“No…I don’t think so…I don’t know.” Her voice was raspy and her breath reeked of alcohol. Her confusion was evident. I had effectively set the wheels in motion.

“I’m sorry,” I said quietly. “I didn’t mean to startle you. It’s only that you look like someone I had met years ago. Apparently, I was mistaken.”

She released the tight grip on her handbag. That’s it. Relax. That way, you’ll never see it coming.

“It certainly is a nice day, isn’t it? I mean, for a long walk. It’s not possible to walk all the way downtown, of course, but a pleasant day to window shop, wouldn’t you agree?” I needed to keep the conversation moving along.

“Yes, I suppose so.” Her response was barely above a whisper.

She was obviously very uncomfortable with every day chit-chat. Get used to it, lady. This conversation’s going to get a lot darker.

“I knew someone years ago who loved to go for long walks, especially in the downtown area. It was great for her because it was safe to cross the streets because of all the traffic lights. She lived outside the city where there were no traffic lights at all. It wasn’t safe to walk there along the side of the road. People always drove at high speeds down those roads since they knew there were no traffic lights, but in the downtown area, there are traffic lights every block or so. Don’t you agree that traffic lights make it much safer to cross the streets?”

Her hands began to tremble. I attributed that to two possible causes. One would be her inescapable need for a drink and the other would be my constant mention of traffic lights. I prayed it was the latter.

“Yes, that’s true,” she said quietly. “It’s better with the lights.”

“Should be, in theory,” I continued, primed and ready to strike. “It isn’t always however, since just because a traffic light turns red, that’s no guarantee all drivers will stop. There are those who don’t even slow down. I’m sure you’ve seen those kinds, haven’t you? They’re not all bad though. I mean, some are folks who work all night and are on their way home, and they nod off behind the wheel briefly and fail to stop. That’s sad enough for all concerned. But then, there are the other kind – the ones that are lower than low. I’m talking about those who go out and party all night and drink themselves stiff and come up on a red light and see it as a challenge. They floor it and blow through the light and if they hear a thump as they go through the intersection, they don’t stop. Why bother. I mean, they’ve got another party to get to. You know the type of person I’m referring to, don’t you?”

Her eyes filled with tears and her hands shook so strongly, she knocked her handbag to the floor. I heard a thud when it landed. There’s a flask full of hooch in there. I’ll bet my condo and my baseball card collection on it, and I’d win hands down.

“Let me get that for you ma’am.” I’m such a thoughtful bastard.

As soon as I handed her the purse, she pulled out a flask, took a quick look around for the conductor, and took a nice big gulp.

“I’m ill,” she said. “I don’t do this all the time, you see. You won’t tell on me, will you?”

If only someone had the guts to do just that ten years ago, bitch, you’d be behind bars right now.

“Of course not,” I smiled.

Drink up. The yellow tinge around your eyes and fingertips isn’t quite dark enough. Your liver must be having quite the picnic. I just figured out why she takes this train downtown every Wednesday. She gets off at the downtown terminal, walks five blocks to the Medical Plaza, and takes the elevator to the 5th floor. I never followed her beyond the lobby, but I know that entire floor belong to a clinic whose physicians treat patients with hepatitis and those needing liver transplants. I thought she went to have lunch with a friend who works there, but apparently she’s one of their patients, and hopefully, is on a downhill slide.

“Speaking of those who drink and drive, ma’am, you know what happened to that friend of mine, the one who loved long walks? She was taking one of those, browsing the shops, and she crossed one of the streets downtown. It was at a light, of course; she always crossed at one of those, and the light was red for oncoming traffic. Wouldn’t you know, one of those all night partiers ran her down, right there in the middle of the crosswalk? My friend bounced off the car and flew 25 feet onto the sidewalk on the other side of the street. She was dead on impact.

“The driver, who was a woman, by the way, did pull over briefly, then drove away. She never got out of the car or called the police or an ambulance. She just drove away. I heard there were witnesses who did report the accident and the woman ended up being arrested, but her daddy had lots of money. She pled not guilty due to some kind of extenuating circumstances. The witnesses’ memories had faded, and some shrink testified about childhood trauma. It was probably being passed around from nanny to nanny. Whatever, it was all bullshit. Anyhow, the jury found her not guilty and she walked away without even a slap on the wrist. Can you believe that?”

I’ll bet you can believe it, Miss ‘my-daddy-can-get-me-out-of-anything’. In case you’ve forgotten, that girl you murdered that day with your car was my older sister, Becky. Do you remember how it sounded when your car struck her? Did you see her broken body bounce off your car and fly across the street and land in a bloody heap?

I was in court and saw the pictures of your handiwork on her body when the Prosecutor held them up. Your Mommy and Daddy were right by your side in the courtroom. Lucky you. I only had my Daddy back then. My Mommy killed herself after Becky’s funeral. She couldn’t bear the pain. Now, my Father’s dead and buried too. Drank himself to death after the verdict. You didn’t just kill Becky, you see. You killed my whole family.

“That’s very bad…I mean, very sad. It’s bad too.” Her voice trembled. “Sometimes though, people can’t always do the right thing, even if they want to.”

What garbage are you trying to hand out now?

“I’m not sure I understand.” This, I’ve got to hear.

“I only meant, if a bad thing happens, and a person wants to try to fix it, but doesn’t know how, she gets scared. She hopes her family will help make things right. But, her family doesn’t want things made right; they want the bad thing to go away. They have doctors give her pills and tell her she’d better not…I mean, a person’s family won’t let her...and then they send her away and she…”

She started coughing so hard, I thought she’d pass out. She pulled a handkerchief from her handbag and spit into it. The blood soaked through onto her hand and began to run down her arm. I pulled mine from my pocket and handed it to her. She nodded and blotted her arm and her lips. She put both handkerchiefs in her handbag and pulled out her flask. Her hands were shaking so badly now, she couldn’t open it, so I opened it for her. This time, she didn’t sip; she took a long drink.

I took a close look at this woman who had killed my sister and who I’d thought never paid for it. But even now, ten years later, I could see she still remembered what she had done. I could also see that she was dying. Shouldn’t her vivid memories of a life she’d taken and her own imminent death be payment enough?

Becky, I promised I wouldn’t rest until I made her pay for what she did to you. I believe it’s time for us all to rest. She has paid, my beloved sister. In full.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 25: Happy Valentine's Day

The prompt this week was to write a story that takes place on Valentine’s Day. We also had to include the following words: Love, Candy, Forever, Secret, and Surprise. Please enjoy my story about a lady who is taking no chances with her love life by following her mother’s advice to the letter. After all, Mom knows best.

Happy Valentine’s Day

That blasted phone, she thought. I still have a few things to do to get ready.

“Hello. Not to be rude, but if you’re selling something, I’m very busy right now. It is a holiday, after all.”

“Hi, sweetie. It’s Mom. I just called to wish my dear daughter Happy Valentine’s Day, and to thank you for the candy you sent. You always pick out my favorite kind of chocolates.”

“Oh, Mom, I’m sorry. Happy Valentine’s Day to you too. It’s just that today is such a special day and I’m trying to get everything ready for my future husband, and I keep getting these nonsense calls.”

“Cara, I’m so happy to hear that everything has worked itself out for you and that nice boy. What was his name – Ronnie?”

“Yes, Mom. All is perfect between us now.”

“I told you there’s always a way to sort out problems when they come up in a relationship. It was just wrong when that young man of yours decided to pick that other girl – that Janie. She was definitely not the one for him, only he couldn’t see it. It’s just like when your sister’s young man believed he would be happier with some other girl. I told her the same thing I told you. It’s up to you to take matters into your own hands to show the man you love that you are the one.

“It was the same way with your father. He was almost lured away from me by this little hussy who used to live on the other side of town, but I wouldn’t stand for it. I invited him over for a cocktail and a talk, and we’ve been together ever since. I have never heard an unkind word from your father in our 40 years together. Now, that’s the way a marriage should be. I feel like a princess every day who is married to her prince, and I know we will be happy forever and ever.”

‘Mom, it’s so wonderful to hear you talk that way, even after being married so long. I only hope Ronnie and I will be half as happy as you and Daddy have been.”

“You will, dear. Look at your sister. She and David have been married for almost ten years now and not one problem between them. She had a few issues in the beginning keeping up with proper maintenance, but once she got into a routine, she found out how little upkeep her husband required.”

“I’m not concerned about any of that, Mom. I watched you care for Daddy. Like you said, once you do things the same way day in and day out, caring for your man takes no time at all and you will have tons of free time.”

“That’s the truth, Cara. I get everything done first thing and then I have the rest of the day to run my errands, shop, and attend my committee meetings. I know your father won’t need anything else until evening time, so I’m good to go all day.”

“Mom, I hate to let you go, but Ronnie’s starting to come around. Uncle Jimmy is coming by at 7 to marry us. Ronnie should be fully awake by then. I wish you didn’t live so far away so you could be here, but I know you can’t leave Daddy for very long.”

“I wish I could be there too, but know that I love you, Cara, and I wish you and Ronnie all the happiness in the world. Call me tomorrow and let me know how the wedding went. Make sure you send me pictures of the two of you. Love you. Bye.”

“Bye, Mom. Love you too.”

* * * * *

What is going on? My head feels like it’s in a vise. Where am I? Oh yeah. I remember now. That girl I took out last week on a dare – Cara. My friends were right. She is one weird chick – dressed all in black, her book of spells, the charm on her necklace filled with blue powder, among other things. Five minutes after I picked her up, she’ on me like a leech, and planning our wedding. I didn’t tell her I took her out to win a bet. I didn’t want to be mean. I did tell her when I dropped her off though, that I wouldn’t be calling her again because we weren’t right for each other

Then, she calls me up on Valentine’s Day and asks me to come by for a cocktail and a talk. I remember coming here and telling her I didn’t have much time because I was spending Valentine’s Day with my love, Janie. I didn’t care if I was mean or not because when I walked in her house, she threw herself on me. The smell of incense almost knocked me over. Maybe that’s what’s wrong. That crap probably gave me a stroke or something. Why can’t I feel my face?

“I see you’re awake, darling, I should tell you, it will be less painful if you don’t struggle against the straps. Besides, you wouldn’t want to pull the IV out, would you?”

IV? Oh my God. I’m strapped onto a table with a bottle hanging from a pole next to the table dripping yellowish liquid into a long tube attached to a needle stuck in my arm. Why can’t I say anything? What the…

“Now, don’t panic, my dear. The more you fight the bindings, the tighter they will become. I don’t want you to hurt yourself. And don’t try to open your mouth. You need to let those stitches heal. Mother showed me how to sew the lips together. You’ll still be able to make sounds – you just won’t be able to say any words. Isn’t that perfection, darling? That way, you’ll never say anything mean to me out of anger. Words said can’t be taken back, you know.

“You’re going to be fine because I will take care of you every day just like my Mom takes care of my Dad and my sister takes care of her husband. The catheter won’t bother you after a few days and the IV will provide you with all the nourishment you’ll need. My parents have been married now for 40 years and Dad’s still all right. He’s a bit thinner, but Mom rotates him now and then so his skin is still holding up really well.

“I have a wonderful surprise for you, sweetheart. My Uncle Jimmy is licensed by the state and he will be here after dinner to marry us. Won’t that be terrific? All you have to do is nod for your part of the vows. I don’t want you to worry about your date with that Janie woman. I’ll tell you a little secret, honey. She won’t be worried about it either. It will be quite some time before anyone finds her remains. I didn’t want her to suffer with a broken heart when she found out you married me.”

Oh no. Why is this happening to me? I’m sorry if what I said hurt you. But, I can’t tell you I’m sorry. I can’t. I can’t tell you anything. Or yell. Or scream. Or…

“I’m going to finish getting ready for our wedding and celebration this evening, my dear. I’m putting fresh flowers on the table for our dinner tonight. You are already having yours, but I’m going to have roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, and I baked a heart-shaped chocolate cake for dessert. It has vanilla frosting and both our names are written on it with icing. It says ‘Ronnie and Cara Forever’.

“There’s the oven timer. Dinner’s done. I’ll be back once I fix my plate so you can smell how good everything is. I love you more than anything else in the whole wide world, and it is so romantic that every year, this holiday will also be our anniversary. Darling, Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 24: Till Death Do Us Part

The prompt this week was to write a story that takes place in a courtroom. Silence really can be golden…

Till Death Do Us Part

“Mr. Cooper,” Judge Fitzgerald began. “You understand no one can force you to take the stand in your own defense. I will instruct the jury that if you choose not to testify, they are not to take that as a sign of guilt.”

“I understand, Your Honor, but I need to tell my side. Please.”

No way was I going to place my life in the hands of that klutz of a defense attorney that was assigned to me. This was his first capital case and his hands shook 24/7. If anyone was going to get me acquitted, it was me.

“Very well,” the Judge said. “Take the stand. Remember also, once you are finished with your statement, you are subject to cross examination by the Prosecutor, if he so chooses.”

I was sworn in, and my attorney asked me to explain what I had done and why. I began with the ‘why’.

“A few days after that couple, the Hamiltons, moved in next door to us, I noticed them skulking around my house in the dead of night, looking in the windows. I never mentioned it to my wife because I didn’t want to frighten her. I started doing some sneaking around myself to see what they were up to. One night, they were on their patio finishing a meal, and I hid in some bushes and overhead them. They were talking about getting rid of my wife and me because they hated our kind, and said how we didn’t deserve to live among decent folks.

“I was horrified. I knew I had to do something to protect my wife and myself, so I decided to strike first. I know that was taking the law into my own hands, but who would believe me if I told them what I overheard? Besides, after I stabbed them, I left my weapons right there with my prints all over them. If I felt I was doing something wrong, would I have done that? I notified the police of what I had done and turned myself in and explained why I did it. I couldn’t believe they still arrested me and that it’s come so far as having a trial.

“I’m being threatened with execution for defending my own life and that of my wife’s. While there was no so-called imminent threat – I mean, I know they were asleep when I stabbed them, I was walking around 24 hours a day with the threat of being murdered hanging over me. I had to do something, and I had to do it when I stood the best chance for survival. I couldn’t wait until they came at us. They were in much better shape than I, and my wife would never have been able to defend herself against them.

“Please understand. I’m so sorry it had to come to that, but I couldn’t just let them come into my home and tear our throats out. That’s what they were saying they planned to do, you know. Tear our throats out.”

I let the tears fall freely down my cheeks. I had practiced that daily to perfection. When my wife had told me what she overheard, I knew I had to take a proactive approach, but not involve her in any way. I sighed deeply, stood up and prepared to leave the stand when my wife, who was in the Visitors’ Gallery, jumped to her feet.

“Wait,” she gasped. “This is not right. I can’t go on like this.”

I never should have convinced her to come to Court to show her support. She has always been so emotional and unable to withstand any kind of stress. The Judge banged his gavel.

“I will not have anyone disrupting my courtroom. Bailiff, remove this woman.”

My poor Emily. This will all be over soon, my darling. Please be gentle with her.

“Your Honor, I am Mrs. Cooper, the Defendant’s wife. You must let me speak because I can’t live with this on my conscience any longer. You must understand that I had nothing to do with killing the Hamilton’s, but I know the truth about what happened. I’m sorry, my dear husband, but these lies cannot continue. It was not self-defense. He murdered them in cold blood.”


“Your Honor,” I had to put a stop to this insanity. “My wife is not well, and hasn’t been for some time. It’s the shock of both our lives having been in danger, all the confusion surrounding discovery of the bodies, this trial…”

“Silence!” The Judge shouted, and banged his gavel again. “In light of this lady’s statements, I do believe the Court needs to hear what she has to say. Please ma’am, come to the witness stand and clarify your allegations.”

The Bailiff came back up front, pulled me to my feet, dragged me back to the Defendant’s table and handcuffed me to it. He then escorted my wife to the stand. Emily was sworn in, and the Judge asked her to explain what she meant.

“Your Honor, that lovely couple wasn’t planning to kill him or me. He made that up to justify what he did to them. He had been planning to murder them ever since the day they moved in next door to us.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Where was this coming from?

“We went to meet them on their first evening in the neighborhood and brought them a bottle of wine to have with their dinner. They were very pleasant and appreciated being welcomed to the community. We stayed and chatted awhile, but they informed us they had plans to go out for a late supper. We bid them good night and returned home.

“As soon as we were in the door, Jack began to complain about them. He told me there was no way he was going to live next door to their kind. I reminded him that all were welcome in our community, and that it was wrong to pass judgment on others, especially since we had only just met them. The development where we made our home was a place where any, and all, could reside safe from harassment and from harm. That is why our new neighbors chose that location, and was why we had decided to live there as well.

“I told him his fears were totally irrational, but he continued to speak ill of both of them. On that terrible morning, when I awoke, my husband was just coming back home and he was covered in blood. He told me that he had experienced enough sleepless nights watching and waiting, and decided to end the threat once and for all. He had gone next door, crept into where they were both sleeping and driven a stake through each of their hearts.

“Vamps were garbage, he had said, soulless killers. He could not believe they would live next door to us for much longer before they snuck in during the night to kill us both, as their kind had done for centuries. I tried over and over to make him understand that our being werewolves did not necessarily pit them against us.”

She knows I’ve never had anything against vamps, generally speaking. Why is she trying to get me executed?

“While it’s true that vamps and werewolves have been known to scuffle, we were not natural enemies, especially within a community that housed creatures of all types. Zombies lived across the street from us, our back yard neighbors were ghouls and next door on the other side was a family of shapeshifters. Frankly, the vamps were the least objectionable of the lot. I reminded my husband of the bylaws that stated residents were not permitted to hunt, kill, or feed upon any other residents. Violation of any of the rules would result in eviction.

“Your Honor, nothing I said could change his mind. He was determined not to have their kind so close, and instead of us relocating, he murdered them. I can’t go on protecting you, Jack. What you did was wrong and cruel and you need to be held accountable for your actions.”

The jury, definitely not of MY peers, comprised of three Wendigos, some nasty looking witches, assorted fairies and demons, and a couple of vamps, found me guilty as charged, and my execution date was set. As they led me out of the Courtroom, my wife threw her arms around me and whispered in my ear.

“That handsome young human who works at the filling station in town will be moving in with me tomorrow morning. He has no idea exactly what I am, but I’ll tell him eventually.”

There’s supposed to be a full moon tomorrow night. Emily never did pay attention to the forecasts. I sure hope he’s a runner…

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 23: All that Glitters...

The prompt this week was about moving in to the home of our dreams that’s located in a picture-perfect neighborhood. The catch is, we have a nosy neighbor. Well, here’s my side of the story. I learned the hard way that appearances can be deceiving.

All That Glitters…

Whoever said that if something looks too good to be true, then it probably isn’t. Maybe I don’t have all the words right, but you get the idea. When I bought this house, it wasn’t just the house I was buying – it was the neighborhood and especially, the neighbors. On the corner of my new street is a lovely two-story home with a well-kept yard. Its occupant is a 74 year old widow who wanders the subdivision chatting to herself. She bothers no one though, and after a couple of trips around the block, goes back into her house. On the other side of me is another charming dwelling, with a large vegetable garden in the back. That house’s resident is a 72 year old widow who still drives herself to and from town, tends her garden and maintains her own grounds. The lady also runs a Bed and Breakfast to bring in some extra cash to supplement her Social Security.

How do I know all this? I do my research. I need to know who might come knocking on my door in the dead of night should the neighborhood’s power cut out in a storm. I’m living between two elderly ladies who are capable of taking care of themselves, so my days should be uneventful and my nights calm and restful. Right? Remember what I said about something looking too good to be true? Well, I’m living proof that that’s a fact.

From the minute I moved in, the 72 year old, a Mrs. Delaney, watched me like a hawk. She opens her curtains wide and there she stands, binoculars fixed on my property. If she was out weeding or picking veggies, every so often, she’d raise her binoculars and train them in my direction. She watched me leave, she watched me come home, she watched me mow my lawn, and she watched me get my mail. I felt like the headliner in one of those reality shows, only I wasn’t getting a dime for my trouble. I had blinds installed on all my windows and heavy curtains over them and kept them shut 24 hours a day, but it didn’t help my nerves. I knew she was standing there at her window, binoculars up, watching and waiting. But, for what?

At first, I figured perhaps I resembled a grown son who had moved away or maybe I even looked like her dead husband when they had first met and fallen in love. While that’s all very sweet and sentimental, she still creeped the Hell out of me. I want to point out that I’m no kidnapper or Satan worshipper. I have no skeletons in my closet, real or rhetorical. I’m a copy editor, who used to live in the city and worked for one of the biggest newspapers in the state. Even though I’m nowhere near retirement age, I got tired of all the rushing and the rudeness of big city life. I sold my condo, bought a house in this quiet little town, and got a job with the local press. My savings, investments, and IRAs helped to supplement my salary and I was looking forward to noise- and crime-free living.

Well, my house is perfect, the area is beautiful, and several ladies from town brought me casseroles and pies on the day I moved in, so my dream for a peaceful way of life came true, except for one thing. In addition to all the above, I also have my own personal stalker. Yep. Mrs. Delaney was not just a peeper. When I turn around in the grocery, there she is at the end of the aisle. Sitting at a table in the park to have my lunch, she’s three tables away having hers. Watching. Always watching. I decided something had to be done, and soon. Today.

Last night, I noticed a man checked in to her Bed and Breakfast. I slept in this morning to give him time to have his morning meal, call a taxi and continue on. By noon, Mrs. Delaney should be alone and ready for me to burst in and confront her. I was determined to find out why she was so obsessed with me and more to the point, what were her intentions? Was I to be invited over for coffee and cake that was drugged with sedatives to render me helpless so she could carve me up add my feet to her stew pot along with her homegrown carrots and onions? Okay. Maybe not that, but still. There was something she wanted from me or to do to me and I had to find out the truth. I felt like an animal caught in a trap, but this creature was not going down without a fight.

I snuck around the back, thinking I would climb in one of her basement windows, sneak up the stairs and startle the daylights out of her while she sat in her kitchen. When taking on the enemy, best to do it by surprise – you know, so you have the upper hand and all that. But, when I knelt down and looked through the window, her basement light was on and it appeared as if she was dragging a body down the stairs. What the…? I went around the front and tried her front door. It was unlocked and I let myself in. I made my way to the door to the basement and called down to her.

“Mrs. Delaney, it’s me, Robert. Robert Janson, from next door. Is everything all right? Do you need some help?”

Her response startled the daylights out of me.

“Yes, hon, could you give me a hand? I need to get Mr. Horace into the acid before he starts to smell. He’s been dead since early morning and he’s beginning to ripen. Grab hold of his feet and help me get him down the stairs, will you?”

For 72, this lady had some muscles on her.

So. It was Mr. Horace’s feet that were going to end up in her… Did she say acid? Oh God. I grabbed the man’s feet and helped her carry him down the stairs. When I saw his face, I recognized him as last night’s Bed and Breakfast guest.

“What happened to him? Did he have a heart attack?”

“Oh, no, hon. It was the poison in his cocoa. A couple sips and he was gone. I cleaned out his wallet and now I need to get him out of my way. I’ve got a lady coming to stay this evening. Help me get him to the cellar door. I’ve got a vat down there filled with acid and that’s where I put them. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly they disappear in there.”

“Who ‘they’?” I had to know.

“Why, my guests, hon.” Her tone was calm and even like she was forecasting a clear and sunny day on the Channel 13 news.

“Mr. Delaney didn’t leave much insurance, so I have my guests come and stay the night. If I have enough to cover my bills for the month, I just let them go on their way. If I’m short, I mix some poison in their morning cocoa and take their cash and Traveler’s Checks. No one comes looking for them and even if they did, no one’s going to look in an old lady’s cellar, are they?”

Is this what she planned for me too?

“Is that why you watch me and follow me around? Are you planning to stash me in your cellar vat too?”

When she smiled, a cold chill ran down my spine.

“Hon, this is a small town. We’re bound to run into each other here and there. Besides, I wasn’t watching you. I was watching Lydia, the lady who lives on the corner. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be and that’s why I use my binoculars. I know she steals tomatoes from my garden and I’m determined to catch her. That’s why I watch her day and night. Could you keep an eye out too and let me know if you see her in my garden? She wanders around at all hours and if I’m asleep and you see her taking some from my garden, will you call me and let me know? When I catch her, I am going to give her what for.”

I’ll just bet you will, lady.

“Um, sure.” I didn’t know where to go from there. After all, I’d just helped her dump a body into a vat of acid.

“I guess I’ll be going now, unless you need help with something else.”

“No, hon. I’m fine now. Enjoy your Saturday.

“Yes, ma’am. You too.”

My house in Little-Old-Lady-Land goes on the market first thing Monday morning. This small town peaceful life is way overrated.