Apr 24

Excerpt from Mrs. Odboddy And Then There was a Tiger

Enjoy an edited excerpt from Mrs. Odboddy And Then There was a Tiger.

A stringent odor stirred Agnes to consciousness. Wild, earthy.

Where am I? Straw tickled her cheek. I must be in a barn.

Why hadn’t her abductor tied her up? He’d knocked her unconscious and used chloroform.

She would have to rely on her brilliant crime-fighting faculties if she was to get out of this alive. She struggled to sit up and put her hand to her head. Still dizzy, but clearing.

Brrrumm… Brrrumm

What was that sound? She shivered in the chill air and tilted her head to listen. It sounded almost like something scratching in the corner, like someone… or something… moving around in the darkness.

The light from the moon revealed the faintest outline of something vertical near her face… She reached and closed her fingers around a steel bar. A quick movement seven inches to the left and her hand smacked into another steel bar. She was in a cage! An animal cage? A stab of panic shot through her chest. She could almost see the front page of tomorrow’s Newbury Daily Gazette now. It is with a heavy heart we announce that Agnes Odboddy, almost regular attendee at The First Church of the Evening Star and Everlasting Light, exemplary citizen and unparalleled volunteer for causes both large and small, was eaten alive by a wild animal.

No one would think she was kidnapped and foully murdered. Maybe someone would wonder why she had willingly entered an animal cage, but knowing the daft stunts she had pulled in the past, they would not wonder long.

Now, how to defend herself against a wild animal? She pulled a silver chopstick from her hair. Stainless steel and sharp, it would be a lethal weapon against a human, but wasn’t very effective against a wild beast.

Brrrumm… Brrrumm…

That noise again from the corner! She scrambled to her feet, holding the chopstick in front of her. Her breath came in ragged gasps. Waves of dizziness threatened to send her spinning again. Not now. Stay strong, Agnes. Don’t give up! She took a step forward, ready to fight to the death, but her wretched body defied her best intentions. Which way was up and which down? Her legs felt like noodles. Not now! Not now! The strong smell of animal urine assailed her nostrils. And then, the edges of her consciousness turned to black.

Slurp…  Slurp…

The ringing in her ears subsided. The blackness faded, consciousness returned… then panic as she became aware of a sandpaper-like sensation rasping across her neck… her cheek… her mouth. Instantly awake, her hand flew to her wet face.

The clouds had thinned and in the ensuing moonlight, the faint outline of a giant tiger, not six inches from her face! The knot in her throat tightened. Sure that her life was measured in seconds, the prayer of every Christian at the moment of death came to mind. Lord, forgive this sinner and open the pearly gates.

She scrabbled through the straw, searching for the chopstick she had dropped when she fainted. Unable to locate the chopstick, she scrambled to her feet. What good would the tiny scrap of metal do, anyway? If she was destined to be the beast’s dinner, he’d accomplish the deed whether standing with a chopstick in her hand or on her knees, mumbling in prayer.

Brrrumm… Brrrumm…

Why did it sounded so content? Was the tiger tickled at the prospect of chasing down a live meal, instead of finding it on the end of a stick?

She’d have to fight the beast bare-handed.

The creature moved forward, and threw back his head. RRROWWW!!


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Apr 24

Here, Kitten, Kitten


Feral cats lived in the bushes next to my worksite. I watched the Mama Cat grow heavy with kittens. She eventually came to me, knowing she would be fed.

And then I saw them—three skinny, hungry little waifs, with sticky eyes nearly closed with infection. I crawled under the bushes, trying to catch them. “Here kitten, kitten.”

And the rose-colored kitten came to me. I placed her in a box and went back for the other two.

“Here, kitten, kitten.” I crawled further under the bramble bushes.

How could they know how different their lives would be if they came to me? How could they know there would be catnip toys, three meals a day, no fleas, and a warm bed.

"Here, Kitten, kitten."

I had the tortoiseshell kitten by the scruff of her neck and placed her in the box next to her sister. The box trembled as they scratched toward the top. Their mewing became more insistent as I crawled further into the bushes, trying to reach the black baby. Lord knows I tried, but I couldn't catch him. My fingers brushed the tips of his soft fur as he disappeared into the bushes. I had to leave him behind.

Months have passed and the rose-colored kitten and her tortoiseshell sister scamper through the house, frolic up and down the cat pole, sprawl across my lap and kick and fight each other in mock battle. At night they curl together on a soft bed with tummies full of kitten Friskies and dream of catnip mice.

“Here kitten, kitten.”

They hear my voice and run to me, reaching their little feet up my leg, begging to be picked up, purring with delight as I rub their little heads. They don’t remember the day I left their brother behind. But I do.

And I think of him, living in the bushes, perhaps hungry, perhaps sick, never knowing the joy of a human touch. And I think about the moment he chose to run from me. How could he know that running away would alter his life?

He’s still there, they tell me, those who catch a glimpse of him. He’s a feral cat now, hungry, ragged, one of the untouchables, frightened at the sound of a human voice.

That little black cat represents all the suffering in the world I have no power to change. I think of all the sick bodies I cannot heal, the hungry mouths I cannot feed, those living in oppression I cannot free.

That little cat has a body I could heal, a mouth I could feed, and a life I could make joyful. And, so, from time to time, I return to the bushes, and call, hoping one day he will respond.

“Here kitten, kitten. Please come to me. Let me change your life…”


How like that kitten we are, when our Lord calls and we turn away and run, searching for something, not knowing what we seek. Like the black kitten, frightened of what we don’t believe or can’t understand, we run, unwilling to surrender.

Jesus promises to forgive our sins. He promises eternal life and comfort in time of sorrow. He offers a personal relationship with our Him and His Heavenly Father.

Jesus calls, “Come to me, Kitten, Kitten. Trust me and I will show you a better life. Follow Me, and I will fill your life with joy and peace.”

Many hear His call but turn away. And still Jesus calls. “Here Kitten, Kitten. Please come.”

Apr 24

Spirit Woman Legends and Lies


My latest published novel, Spirit Woman Legends and Lies is now available at Amazon for just $3.99 (e-book). (https://tinyurl.com/ym2t37yy)

The Spirit Woman and her mountain lion companion are once again sighted in the hills near Lockleer Mountain.

Shortly after Joe and his brother, Cyrus, quarrel over the ownership of a winning million-dollar lottery ticket, Cyrus’s mutilated body is found in the mountains, ravaged by the local wildlife.

When stolen hospital drugs are found in the dead man’s home, murder is suspected. Sighting of the Spirit Woman and her mountain lion are once again seen in the nearby mountains. Has she returned to aid the troubled town? And, surely there is enough trouble to warrant her return.

Lou Shoemaker, owner of the local sewer truck, the Pooper Scooper, befriends Rosita Ramirez, a transient with two children, who came to Lockleer Mountain to sell tamales. Soon, gossip erupts about Rosita and the local Baptist pastor. The church deacons fear the gossip will discourage the membership and destroy the church. Deputy Nate and Sheriff Peabody must find and expose a killer and track down the perpetrator of the gossip, or the pastor will be forced to leave the church.

Will the Spirit Woman and her companions resolve the troubles that plague the rural community?