Until my father’s death, my family lived on a profitable little farm in Killarney, Ireland. Mother would never discuss the nature of his demise or the enchanted manner in which a magic spell had changed me from a boy into a small cat. Even as a cat, she loved me as a son. As time passed, Mother grew frail and I grew into a fine fluffy black cat and a fine reputation as a hunter…
One day Mother called me to her bedside. “Tabkins, Tonite is Halloween, and I can no longer provide our bread and cheese. You must restore our good fortune tonite, or surely we will both perish.” And, so, she recounted the Halloween tale of trickery and enchantment, deviltry and a magic spell.
Some years ago, our farm possessed six orange trees, three cows and a potato patch. A wicked green leprechaun from a nearby mountain-top, coveted, our land, but father repeatedly rebuffed his guiles. So, with trickery and a magic spell, the evil creature caused him to fall into the river. Then, with a magic wand, he changed me from a comely youth into a black cat. Though the world profited by the addition of an exceedingly good-looking cat, my father drowned. The leprechaun then cast a spell that prevented our six cows from giving milk. The orange trees ceased to bear fruit and the potato patch gave only scant potatoes.
“You must find the leprechaun,” Mother said, “and retrieve the magic wand. Perhaps it will restore you to a human lad and our land into a profitable farm.” The tears in her eyes wrenched my heart, and yet I trembled in horror at the thought of facing the evil creature.
She lifted her frail hand. “Make your way to yonder mountain. High on the top beside a river, you’ll find a cave where the wicked leprechaun dwells,” she said. “Perhaps you can trick him into revealing where he hides his magic wand and can retrieve it. Go, now, Tabkins. Our future lies in your paws.”
Knowing that setting a leprechaun against a small cat, no matter how exceedingly good-looking, my feline cunning would be sorely tested if I was to fool the evil leprechaun and live to tell the tale. With every step toward the leprechaun’s cave, I considered how I might dupe the leprechaun into stealing his magic wand.
“Halt. Who goes there?” The wicked leprechaun called from beneath the log that spanned the river. “Answer, Cat, or I’ll turn you to stone.”
Panic seized my heart. An idea popped into my furry head. “I’m just a harmless pussy-cat out for a stroll. My, what a lovely river you have here, Sir Leprechaun.” (I’ve been told a little honey-talk is always good to sooth a malevolent spirit.) I sashayed across the log, humming, Katie From Killarney, and bowed low. “My name is Tabkins. Pray tell, what might your name be, kind sir?”
The leprechaun’s eyes narrowed. “My name is Merichandrick. What do you seek?”
“Perhaps a spot of tea? I’m weary from my travels.” With a twitch of my whiskers, I looked wistfully toward the cave, conveying abject vulnerability and friendship.
“Come on in, then, and I’ll light the fire,” said he, his green mouth atwitch. I feared he had an ulterior motive.
I followed him, wary of any plan he might have to toss me into his stew pot. I scanned the cave, keeping one eye on my host.
The imp pointed toward his fire. “Sit over there.”
“Oh, what a lovely bird,” I posited, sidling closer to a green and red parrot, hanging from a golden hook. Where was he hiding that blasted magic wand? In a chair near the back of the cave, lay a pot of gold and something long and thin poked from beneath a red blanket. Aha!
The little man turned. “Will you be after spending the night?” A wicked glint gleamed in his eye.
“If I’m so invited,” says I with a yawn, patting my paw against my mouth, “Let us drink our tea and I’ll curl up for the night just yonder on your lovely red blanket.”
He shook his mop of green curls. “Not there,” he shrieked. “Best you should sleep closer to the fire. where it's warmer.”
“As you wish, and I thank you kindly for the hospitality,” says I. Oho! Once the little man sleeps, I’ll snatch the magic wand from beneath the blanket and skedaddle, thinks I.
My host poured two mugs of tea and shoved one toward me. Expecting a trick, I sneezed, and as he reached for a handkerchief, I switched the mugs. Indeed, the mug he intended for me was drugged. Soon after the evil goblin drank, he fell into a stupor. Without further ado, I grabbed the magic wand, printed with the magic words on its side, and raced back down the mountain.
Back at the farm, Mother waved the wand and spoke the magic words. I was instantly changed back to a young man, even more exceedingly handsome than before. Soon, the cows gave milk, the orange trees bore fruit, and this spring, we had a bumper crop of potatoes.
We hear that the leprechaun still lives on the mountain with his parrot, but now that he has lost his magic wand, and his complexion has turned a sallow yellow, he is embarrassed, and rarely leaves his cave.
If our future fortune should fail, the cows dry up again, or the potato crop falters, the wicked yellow leprechaun still has a pot full of gold, and.... I know where he lives.
As I child of the 1950’s, I remember how we I dressed as ghosts, hobos, cowboys or Cinderella at Halloween. Properly attired, we went trick or treating as soon as the sun went down. Invariably these trips were made alone or in groups of two or three, but without chaperones, since our parents stayed home to dole out the goodies to other trick-or-treaters.
I recall how we tromped through the neighborhood, knocking on doors. Our decorated brown paper bags were soon filled with cookies, cupcakes, oranges and often, homemade fudge or even a candy covered apple. It wasn’t unusual to be invited in to show our costumes to elderly family members.
I remember the moon was always full, big and round and yellow with the face of the Man in the Moon watching benevolently as we tromped the streets.
Halloween these days? Kiddies are still at the door, but there is always a parent hovering on the sidewalk to keep predators and kidnappers at bay. Good-hearted grandmas no longer offer cookies, unwrapped candy, or cupcake treats because any such treat would be suspected of Ricin poison, or a razor blade hidden inside, or even Fentenyl. Children wouldn’t dare enter a neighbor’s house to show their costume to an aged parent, lest there be a depraved, perverted felon lurking in a dark closet.
Even the custom of trick or treating has come into displeasure and is often substituted with private school parties, church carnivals with tailgate trick or treating, and prizes for every kid.
Now, you might think it odd that this article is about Halloween customs from yesteryear. My main subject is not the practices of Halloween. Instead, it’s about that pesky full moon I thought I remembered shining down on every Halloween trek through the neighborhood. Apparently, my memory is dwindling with old age.
One day, I wondered how often we had a completely full moon on Halloween. Imagine my surprise when Google research reported that the moon is actually completely full-on October 31st only four or five times each century! Whoa! Who knew?
The last time we had such a full Halloween moon was on October 31, 2020. The next full Halloween moons are scheduled in 2039, 2058, 2077, and 2096. Now, if I knew a whit about the sun, moon and stars, rotation of the earth, planets or the galaxy, I could probably give you a reasonable explanation for such a rare occurrence, but since I don’t, you’ll have to do your own Google research to understand the why of it.
Children will celebrate Halloween this year differently than my childhood Halloweens. One more childhood memory bites the dust. One more pleasure our grandkids will never experience, like playing outside and not coming home until dark, or selling lemonade on the corner. These days, parents would be arrested for child endangerment for the former, and a City Seller’s Permit is required for the latter. And they say this is progress?
Elaine’s latest cozy mystery novel, Mrs. Odboddy’s Desperate Doings takes place in No. CA during WWII as Agnes Odboddy faces rationing, fear of enemy invasion, and food shortages. In addition, she is discouraged about her inability to locate a zoo to take Shere Khan, the displaced carnival tiger she rescued from her last adventure, Mrs. Odboddy And Then There was a Tiger.
When she falls from a tree and suffers a head injury, her usual eccentric notions increase. But when she adamantly accuses the local doctor of stealing a well-known War Artist’s painting, and The Lord’s Shepherd lithograph from the church, folks wonder if her head injury is responsible for increasingly irrational behavior, or is it dementia? For a raucous adventure with an absurdly funny elderly sleuth, you can’t miss with Mrs. Odboddy’s Desperate Doings.
Selected situations in Mrs. Odboddy’s Desperate Doings are based on true events and circumstances. Agnes and I have somewhat altered dates and certain locations for the purpose of her involvement in these events. The characters, Bernard Plockhorst and Edward Reep, are real.
The following events, circumstances, and characters are found in the storyline as Agnes deals with the unnerving events following her fall from the apple tree.
ZOO EUTHANAZIA During WWII, many USA zoos closed due to personnel shortages but mostly due to the lack of an adequate food supply needed to sustain the animals. Poor nutrition led to the death of many large animals and many more were euthanized due to the inability to properly care for and feed them. In no circumstance would an existing zoo take on a displaced carnival tiger. In such a case, the animal would likely have been euthanized. Shere Khan’s plight in this novel, is therefore, based in fact.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD PAINTING Bernhard Plockhorst is most famous for the painting of The Good Shepherd shown with a staff in one hand and a lamb in the other. He also painted the famous picture of the guardian angel watching over two children as they traversed along a dangerous cliff. His image of the face of Christ is the most accepted rendering of Christ’s likeness in the Christian Church. Plockhorst was from Germany, famous during the latter part of the 1800. Copies of his paintings are in practically every Christian church and many USA homes.
EDWARD REEP, a California resident and water-color artist, became a photographer and combat artist for the United States Army during WWII. Widely publicized in newspapers and magazines, Reep’s poignant war-time depictions made him popular with the public before and after the war. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to help finance his pursuit of art due to his outstanding contributions to war art
JAPANESE SUBMARINES In 1942, Japanese submarines were occasionally sighted along the western coastline from Oregon to the Aleutians. Along with several other incidents, they successfully shelled a lighthouse near Vancouver Island, WA, and torpedoed and shelled a freighter off Cape Flattery, WA. The freighter was towed to safety with no loss of life. Though a factual event, the date and location of this event was altered somewhat in our story for purposes of involving Agnes and fictionalizing the event.
For a raucous adventure with an absurdly funny elderly sleuth, you can’t miss with Mrs. Odboddy’s Desperate Doings.
Available at Amazon: E-book. Mrs. Odboddy’s Desperate Doings is just $3.99. https://tinyurl.com/5xah4cnt For an autographed and discounted paperback, contact Elaine directly at Elaine.Faber@mindcandymysteries.com
The four-book series is listed below with url to Amazon.
http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv Mrs. Odboddy–Hometown Patriot
http://tinyurl.com/jn5bzwb Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier
http://tinyurl.com/yx72fcpx Mrs. Odboddy And Then There was a Tiger
https://tinyurl.com/5xah4cnt Mrs. Odboddy’s Desperate Doings
Just ran across an old notebook containing some of the poetry I wrote over the years. I don’t claim to be a poet but a few of these were rather nice, so thought I share. Since we just celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary in June, this one seemed appropriate, though it was written many years ago.
The Bride’s Prayer
I Pray God grants me 60 years, a lifetime yet to live. My life to be a tribute to all the love I’ll give.
60 Years is all I need, if I can live it as your wife. I know that we’ll have trials, and days of stress and strife.
Yet knowing how I love you is all the strength I’ll need to face the great uncertain and triumph, yes, indeed.
60 years. Just long enough to share the plans I’ve made. To cook the meals and clean the house and picnic in the lanes.
To pull the weeds and scrub the floor, to bandage up the knees. To wipe the tears and tuck in bed; to rake up all the leaves.
To chase the kids and wash the cat and clean up all the mess that you and they will make, for I confess.
I see my life surround you and the home that we shall make. I pray God grants me 60 years. That’s how long that it should take.
We’ll spend the time together; the rest of our whole life. My life will then become complete if I’ve lived it as your wife.
Then one day from Heaven’s gates, I’ll ponder, when they’ve laid me to my rest. The years I spent as your wife, were certainly the best.
FISHIES IN THE BROOK
If I was a fishie in a brook and swam around all day
I’d never have to think what worries people so.
And worry, work, or ponder the responsibilities of life
that seem to plague most humans that I know.
If I was a fishie in the stream and slept in the sun
I’d never have to buy a car, wash a dish, or sweep the floor.
I’d never have to work, never pay a bill
Never have to mow the law or watch the taxes soar.
If I was a fishie in the sea, I’d never have to shoot a gun
Never have to leave my home, and never wonder why.
Never kill another soul, never learn to hate.
Never have to go to war, or watch a young man die.
But, I’m just a fishy in a bowl, and swim in circles every day
Time to ponder the mysteries of life and think the higher thoughts fishies get to think.
I’ll bet if you really understood the life that fishies lead
You’d want to be a fishies too…even swimming in the sink.
Telll me if you've ever found old stories or poetry you wrote many years ago.
In 1950, I was a first grader, one of the first to attend school in the county’s newest rural school house. Two days a month, the yellow Sonoma County Public Library bookmobile visited the school and we were allowed to select a library book! Without today’s technology of televisions, computer games, videos or CD’s, a book was our gateway to another world of fantasy, imagination, and excitement.
We lined up at the bookmobile door in two rows. Squirming, wiggling and chattering, barely able to contain our excitement, we waited our turn to enter the truck. Finally, it was my turn.
The librarian directed me to the two shelves dedicated to beginning readers, and I made my selection. The librarian lectured me about my responsibility to care for library property, and wrote down my name and the book’s title. She tucked a small card into the back cover. The book was mine to enjoy until the bookmobile returned.
Triumphantly, I carried my book down the steps and flashed a smug smile at the fidgeting children still standing in the hot sun. Their jealous gaze followed me into the shade of a nearby tree where I sat down to read.
The book was a treasure, sent to me personally by the President of the United States, who owned the Sonoma County Public Library System and personally sent out the yellow bookmobiles to rural schools, as a symbol of truth, justice and the American Way. This, I knew, in my heart of hearts.
I walked home from school that day, carrying my lunch pail, sweater and my precious library book under my arm. One of my companions suggested we take a different route home. Though this was against my mama’s rules, the chanting of “chicken” cinched my decision to agree.
Several blocks from the school, our path brought us to a deep PG&E worker’s hole, loosely covered by boards. Our leader pranced across the boards and “double-dog dared” us to follow. Another child crossed the teetering boards successfully.
I was afraid, but due to a “double-dog dare,” I had no choice but to give in to peer pressure. Fighting back tears, I clutched my lunch pail, sweater and library book, closed my eyes, and took a precarious step onto the wobbly boards. Flailing my hands outward to keep my balance, my precious book tumbled down between the boards into the dark hole, and surely, into the pits of hell. Horrified, we crouched over the hole and peered into the darkness; surely at least a hundred feet deep. I could barely see the pages flipping gently back and forth. The hole was too deep, and too challenging for our six-year-old minds to comprehend. My precious library book was gone!
I contemplated the outcome of this catastrophe. The President of the United States had personally commissioned the book into my hands, and I had failed him…. miserably. Someone was going to jail. I felt sure they wouldn’t put a six-year-old in jail, but if not me, then who? Suddenly, it became all too clear. They would put Daddy in jail because I was his kid and somebody had to pay for my grievous blunder.
Tears of regret, shame and panic plagued my walk home, where I hid in the closet for hours, despite my mother’s pleas to discuss the problem. I sat in the darkness, crying, imagining what would become of us. Mama would have to go to work. We would be poor, and everyone would point fingers at me, knowing I was the reason my Daddy was in jail.
When Daddy came home that evening, it took him about four seconds to grab me by the collar and pulled me out of the closet. Then, he whacked my bottom. Daddy always could get to the seat of a problem in about four seconds. He bellowed, “What the heck is going on?”
Between tears and trembling, I confessed my disobedience to come straight home and how I’d lost my library book down a hundred foot deep hole. I decided not to mention the part about him going to jail. He'd know as soon as the library police showed up to arrest him.
After dinner, Daddy drove me back to the gigantic, monstrous hole that yawned beneath the boards at least a hundred feet deep, the hole that had swallowed my precious book, the hole that was the cause of his impending incarceration, the ruination of my family, and my everlasting shame.
“Stand back, now,” He said. Daddy leaned over the yawning cavern, reached down with his long arm…and pulled out the book!
Things were easier back then, when I was six years old. No matter what happened, it seemed that I could always count on Daddy to solve enormous, life- shattering problems with one sweep of his big hand. I remember that I snuggled against his shoulder as we drove home, with my very own library book clutched tightly to my chest.
This is a scene from my cozy cat mystery novel, Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary, where Kimberlee goes to Austria in search of a lost treasure in gold coins. I visited Austria in 1987 and experienced some unusual occurrences. In this story, I was able to have Kimberlee experience these and other unusual events in this otherwise fictional story. The experiences described in this scene in Salzburg are from my own experience. The watercolor described is in my hallway still, a reminder of this wonderful day.
As Kimberlee passed through the countryside and the forests, the terrain varied and the road rose and fell. Around every corner, another picture post card vista appeared. With no particular agenda, she stopped frequently to take a photograph.
In some green meadows, the only sound was the tinkling of shiny brass bells, hanging from the collars of a flock of sheep or a small group of black and white cows. In other places, the gentle terrain rose up into a fine mist clinging to the hillside. Hidden in the distant mist, tinkling bells confirmed grazing animals, unaware that their bells could produce such a stirring in the heart of an unseen tourist passing on a nearby road.
The vineyards on the hills and meadows became fewer as Kimberlee approached Salzburg, an ancient city where Mozart first played his harpsicord and wrote melodies. Hundreds of years later, people still know his name and enjoy his music.
Near the center of town, she parked the car and began to walk. Ancient ivy-covered buildings with sagging tile roofs covered the courtyards along the sidewalk. Church spires peaked out above red tile rooftops of nearby houses. She passed a church with dates carved into the walls reading 1200-1400. How incredible! One church was said to be 1000 years old!
Violin music drew her toward the town square where a street musician stood on the steps of an ancient church, playing Ave Maria. Pigeons flew overhead from rooftop to rooftop, appearing to be as mesmerized by the music as the cluster of tourists gathered on the steps.
Kimberlee paused to listen as the haunting melody echoed around the square. It touched her heart as it carried her away from this world and back into another time. It was easy to imagine the cobbled streets filled with horse-drawn carts carrying a princess and her ladies in waiting, or a knight in shining armor, after a joust with a dragon.
The musician drew his bow across the strings and as he lowered his hand, the final note hung in the air. The tourists stood spellbound and silent. And then the spell was broken and the more generous visitors tossed money into the violin case at his feet.
Kimberlee opened her purse. “That was absolutely lovely! Thank you.” She put money into his case and wandered on.
She ran to catch a tram climbing to the top of the hill where a medieval castle overlooked the city, a cold and barren place with steps everywhere. The rooms were filled with armor, ancient guns, javelins, chains and torture devices. From the balconies, looking down on the valley was like peeking into the pages of a storybook. Rainy mists on the distant mountains beckoned hikers upward into the cold crisp air. Off to the left, rivers, towers, cathedrals, graveyards, and church spires. Off to the right, cobble-stone streets with horse-drawn carriages, sidewalk cafes, musicians, and archways, where street vendors hawked their wares on the street corners.
Returning to the city below, Kimberlee came upon a street artist sitting with his back against the wall, his easel and backpack by his side. The picture drying on his easel was a watercolor of the nearby ancient church steps where the musician had just played his stirring aria. Unable to resist the desire to memorialize the moment, she purchased the picture. She planned to have it framed and hang it near her bedroom, a constant reminder of the musician and his poignant melody.
What a magical city! After a good meal and a very strong cup of coffee, Kimberlee returned to her car. She must locate a pension where she might spend the night. Tomorrow, she would continue to follow the clues from the WWII soldier’s diary, in hopes that they might lead to the gold coins, still hidden so many years later.
Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey's Diary is available at Amazon (e-book) for $3.99. Contact me directly for an autographed paperback version. ($15.00 - Free shipping within in USA)
Alice pulled in her driveway and stepped out of her Prius. Her neighbor, Millie, hailed from across the street. “Yoo-hoo! Alice! Wait up. Happy Fourth of July!” as she scurried across the street.
Millie was the last person Alice wanted to talk to. They had nothing in common. Millie’s husband, George, collected Revolutionary War memorabilia. Their house looked like a war museum. Why did Millie put up with such nonsense?
Millie ran up, breathlessly, “Are you coming to the Independence Day celebration at the Vet’s Memorial Building? It starts in an hour. They’re having a military band, Viet Nam veteran speakers, and fireworks after the meeting. You’re welcome to ride over with us.”
Alice lifted her grocery bags from the back seat. “Sorry, can’t make it. Gotta’ get these things inside. Frozen stuff, you know. Talk to you later.” She hurried into the house. She felt a twinge of guilt. Snubbing Millie wasn’t very nice, but Millie was so gol-darned boring. Every conversation somehow turned to her husband’s latest E-Bay purchase. A Minute Man rifle. A battered sword. A faded British shirt. Alice sighed. Who cared about all that stuff anymore? What difference did it make, anyway, two hundred years later?
The 4th of July was such a nuisance. The fireworks always made the neighborhood dogs bark and the next morning, the streets were a cluttered mess.
Alice went to bed early. She pulled the pillow over her head and closed her eyes…It helped block out the sound of fireworks down the street.
Alice jerked and twisted. What? What was that? She opened her eyes to find herself standing in the middle of a battlefield! The boom-boom of nearby firecrackers became the sound of a beating drum. The sun blazed down on men wearing brilliant red jackets. Sweat poured from their faces as they marched in a straight row toward an outline of shadowy figures in buckskin, hiding behind rocks and trees.
Redcoats? English soldiers? A battlefield? She didn’t belong here! She couldn’t be here. That’s it! She must be dreaming. Wake up! Wake up! The field would soon be littered with dead and dying men. She turned to run.
Someone grabbed her arm, and yanked her down behind a rock. Her heart pounded. She could smell the sweat on the man crouched beside her.
Grimaces lined the faces of the older soldiers, knowing what was to come. “Hold the line, men. Steady now.”
Younger soldiers, terrified of the unknown, sniffled as each beat of their drum brought the redcoats closer. Though the ragtag soldiers were outnumbered by the advancing troops, they had the advantage with the cover of trees and rocks. The men primed their guns with powder and ball and squatted in the dirt, waiting, waiting as the formidable enemy advanced, step by step.
Alice had to get away. This couldn’t be real! She knew she was dreaming! Why couldn’t she wake up?
The drumbeat stopped. Silence! What happened? She peeked around the rock. There stood the redcoats, frozen in time, guns at the ready, feet in mid-step. The flag drooped, unmoving. The drummer’s drumstick hung above his drum, suspended in mid-air.
Alice lifted her head toward the brilliant sky where scattered patches of clouds gathered as though suspended from wires. Overhead, a bird hung motionless...
She opened her eyes and blinked against the darkness in her room. “I was dreaming!” Dreams were, after all, just snatches of thoughts and memories, sounds and sights stored willy-nilly in one’s mind, and pulled into a fractured scenario to haunt our restless minds. She shuddered, thinking of the day when her dream had been the reality for young men and old who would not live to see another sunrise.
She turned toward the window. Rivulets of rain streaked the glass, curving and twisting as they traversed the pane. Outside, the tree in the backyard wavered in the breeze of an unseasonable summer shower. The Fourth of July celebrations and fireworks must have ended by now. Alice put her hand to her pounding heart. It was just a dream. Everything was fine. Just a dream.
Alice rose from her bed and found a book about the Revolutionary War in her library. She sat in a rocker and began to read:
For the sake of independence, farmers, storekeepers, bankers, men from all walks of life, rebelled at the tyranny England imposed on their fledgling nation. Ill equipped, with antiquated guns and untrained, the Continental soldiers chose to fight a highly trained army made up of Englishmen, German mercenaries, and Hessians.
The Revolutionary war lasted over eight years.
The estimated population in America in 1776 was three million.
80,000 militia and Continental Army soldiers served at the height of the war
25,000 American Revolutionary soldiers died during the war
8,000 more Revolutionary soldiers died later from wounds inflicted during battle
17,000 Revolutionary soldiers died from disease
25,000 Revolutionary soldiers were wounded or maimed
1 in 20 men
All for the sake of following generations, so we could have the freedom to make laws and live by our own rules as established by the Declaration of Independence.
Alice called and left a message on Millie’s answering machine. “This is Alice. Sorry I couldn’t make it tonight. I hope you had fun. I promise I’ll come with you next year. Our freedom is important, isn’t it? We need to remember what the holiday cost our forefathers. It really matters.”
Alice returned to her bedroom. Boom! Another firecracker cracked in the night. Alice stared at her reflection in the dresser mirror. “Does that child have any idea what he’s celebrating or why? We all take so much for granted.”
Agnes climbed out of bed and tiptoed down the hall, careful not to wake Katherine and Maddie. She stepped into the kitchen and glanced out the kitchen window. The sun was just rising, casting a glow over the garden and turning the blossoms on the apple tree a pale shade of pink. She sighed, once again assured that God was in his Heaven and all was right with the world. At least in her part of the world... The war still raged across Europe, affecting the lives of neighbors and friends with tragic news of loved ones, but today promised to be another safe and sunny day in Newbury, without immediate threat of danger in their hometown.
Agnes lit a match, held it under the stove burner, and slowly turned on the gas knob. A circle of blue flames circled the burners. Agnes filled the tea kettle and set it on the stove. She carefully measured exactly six tablespoons of coffee into the top of her coffee pot. Coffee was still a precious commodity, not only still in short supply but needing a ration coupon to buy. One shouldn’t waste a speck of coffee, even as restrictions were lifted and a bit more product available these days. When only one pound every six weeks per adult was rationed, she was ready to storm the War Department offices.
A sound outside in the front yard drew her to the front room. She pulled back the curtain and peered out the window. “What the Sam Hill?” Her heart seized at the sight of two men leaning over the lawn signs in her front lawn. One held a can of paint and the other used a brush to deface her campaign poster, touting her candidacy for Newburg City Council.
Determined to make short work of them, Agnes grabbed a broom, rushed to the front door, threw it open, and stomped onto the porch. “Get the heck off my lawn, you rapscallions, before I have the law on you. What do you think you’re doing?”
The men grabbed their paint supplies and headed for a Hudson, idling at the curb. Agnes took the front steps two at a time and raced across the lawn. She smacked the broom on the Hudson’s trunk as it pulled away from the curb. “And stay gone!” She turned toward the campaign sign. Red paint dripped off the cardboard onto the grass. She gasped as she viewed a bright red mustache marring her upper lip, and across the silver chopsticks sticking akimbo from her grey bun. The glare in her eyes defined her determination to fill the empty seat left by the recent arrest of the previous city council chairman.
The front door opened and Katherine peeked out. “What’s wrong, Grandma? We heard you yelling. What are you doing out here in your nightgown?” Katherine stepped onto the porch. “Get inside this minute. You’ll catch your death of cold.”
“Some son of a biscuit-eater just painted a mustache on my campaign sign.” Agnes waved her broom in the direction of the car screeching around the corner.
“Well, they’re gone now. You can’t be out here in your ‘altogether.’ What will the neighbors think?” Indeed, the curtains were drawn back in the house next door, and Agnes’s friend, Mavis, peeked out, her grey head covered in pink curlers. Agnes waved, lifted her broom to salute her, and marched back into the house.
*****To read the remainder of the novel, go to Amazon to buy...
(Amazon e-book $3.99) Contact me for an autographed paperback $15.00 - free shipping
The fourth Mrs. Odboddy adventure is finally available in e-book at Amazon ($3.99) and in paperback from me ($15.00 free shipping). As Mrs. O continues to fight WWII from the home front, she continues to be search for a home for the displaced carnival tiger. She decides to take her burden to the Lord. From Chapter Six…
“Lord, it’s me, Agnes Agatha Odboddy. Yes, I know you must be pretty disappointed with me most days, but I do my best, Lord, really, I do. You won’t be surprised to hear that I’m in another jam. It’s not about me this time, it’s for Shere Khan. Surely, You approve of my efforts to save him, because it’s a worthwhile mission. I know you’re busy with the war and all, so I’ll get straight to the point. I need a caregiver for the tiger right away, and I need a permanent home for–”
Bing… Bong… The doorbell? Agnes’s head came up as she turned toward the bedroom door. She bowed her head again. “Someone’s at the door, Lord, so I need to go, but I’ll be back as soon as I can. I’d appreciate it, Lord, if You could ponder on a solution while I’m gone. Uh…Amen!”
Agnes hurried to the front door and flung it open. She put her fist to her mouth. “Oh, my stars. You! I can’t believe it. What are you doing here?” She grabbed the visitor’s arm, pulled him into the living room and thrust him onto the sofa. “Did you come on your own or did God send you?”
Her visitor raised his eyebrows and shrugged. “Well, I…I guess it was my idea.”
Now, in the past, due to her inability to keep her mouth shut and her nose out of things that were none of her business, Agnes often found herself in a pickle. As a result, she would get on her knees and bargain with the Lord for deliverance. More often than not, thanks to the benevolence of the Almighty, her conundrum would reach a satisfactory solution. But, never in her history of misadventures had He answered her prayer before she even got to the ‘Amen,’ proving that He’d seen the problem coming and was already several steps ahead in solving it.
There on her sofa sat Charles, the young man from Albuquerque she met last summer, who risked his life and freedom to help her. Thanks to Charles, when she was unexpectedly waylaid, he provided an unconventional method of travel to Little Rock, where she was able to reconnect with Katherine and complete her journey to Washington, D.C., to visit the president. (Mrs. Odboddy And Then There Was a Tiger)
Now, some months later, imagine her surprise to find Charles at her door. Surely, God sent him to Newbury to help save the tiger.
One problem solved, but many more ahead. Hope you’ll all enjoy this new exciting and humorous adventure.
Contact me at Elaine.Faber@mindcandymysteries.com to order an autographed paperback novel.
https://tinyurl.com/5xah4cnt for an Amazon e-book ($3.99)
Re-read my 2015 novel again this week and was surprised what a wonderful story it was. Here is a short (edited) excerpt from Brett and Kimberlee's ride across the Texas prairie. Hope you purchase the book.
Heavy clouds formed overhead as Kimberlee’s mare plodded behind Juan with Brett as they rode single file through the underbrush into the valley. Kimberlee caught her breath as she reached the grassy meadow and the wild horses came into view. A streak of lightning crackled across the sky and distant thunder rumbled.
Quantum reared, and took off at a gallop, his black mane whipping as he led his mares away.
Brett gave his mount a kick and sprinted past Kimberlee and Juan. Kimberlee’s horse lunged after him. Kimberlee gripped the body of the horse with her knees. The wind beat at her face. Her heart thumped in time with the thundering hooves. Brett raced beside her, creating a cloud of dust and wind and noise. Adrenaline mingled with terror as she reveled in the exhilaration.
Her body throbbed with each stride of the beast’s surging muscles, driving through her legs. The breath in her throat burned as her mare rode neck to neck with Brett. His horse’s mane whipped against her hands, stinging like fire. Never had she felt so close to death and yet… so alive.
She turned and stared into the horse’s giant brown eye, the dark and the light of it looking like land and water on a distant planet floating through the universe. Her heart soared as she became one with the wind and the grass and the dirt and the noise, overcome with abounding joy. She swallowed a sob, as the ecstasy of the moment washed over her and she wished it would never end. Quantum’s herd pulled away and seemed to disappear in a cloud of dust. Kimberlee’s mare skidded to a halt beside Brett.
Juan pounded up behind them and pulled his horse to a halt. “What’s the big idea?” His face was as dark as the clouds overhead. “You both could have been killed!” Lightning streaked and thunder rumbled.
“Wow! That was great. I’ve never had such a thrill.” Brett beat his hat against his leather chaps. Still panting from the exertion, Kimberlee could only nod. Her body tingled, unable to express what she felt.
“We need to get moving. These summer storms can be vicious. We don’t want to be caught out here on the prairie.” Juan turned his horse back toward the ranch. As great drops of rain pelted down, Kimberlee sniffed and tasted the scent of it. Little puffs of dust bounced in the dry earth. The smell of damp earth would forever remind her of this wonderful afternoon.
An unexplained lump rose up in her throat. The exhilaration of following Quantum’s herd filled her heart to overflowing. She couldn’t gulp down her sobs. Rain mingled with tears streaming down her face.
Brett slid off his horse and handed the reins to Juan. “What is it, honey?” He pulled her from the saddle and wrapped her in his arms.
“It was all so wonderful. The wind, the lightning... I… I’ve never felt anything like that before. I needed to be a part of it, to become one with all this. I needed to remember that God is in control and we are powerless to change what happens around us. I don’t know how to explain it.” Tears trickled down her face.
Brett dabbed her cheeks with his handkerchief. “I understand. I−”
Kimberlee pulled her head back. “No. You don’t. I don’t understand it myself. We were riding and the thunder and lightning… It was like, all at once I understood.”
“Tell me, honey. Understood what?”
“With all that’s happened here on the ranch, I didn’t think I could go on. I was losing control, losing… me. I didn’t think I could bear it.”
Kimberlee looked out across the meadow where the rain poured onto the dry earth, and then back at Brett. “Now I understand. It’s not important, none of it. What’s important is you and me, our family.” She waved her hand. “The land… and this. Quantum and his herd. They’re important and the lightning and the thunder. She smiled. “I’m ready now. Let’s go home.”
A streak of lightning slashed across the sky and distant thunder crashed as the storm moved further across the plains. As suddenly as it started, the rain stopped and the sun came out.
The bushes sparkled with clustered rain droplets, catching the sun and glistening like diamonds. The hills jutted up from the prairie floor like mounds of cookie dough. A brilliant rainbow of red, yellow, green and blue circled the top of the canyon. And, there again was the contrariness of the prairie, intense and challenging one minute, and God’s beautiful garden the next.
I can send you an autographed paperback for $15.00 (free shipping). Email: Elaine.Faber @mindcandymysteries.com or Amazon e-book is just $3.99