14
Jun

Mrs. Odboddy's Desperate Doings - Excerpt - Chpt. One

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...

https://tinyurl.com/5xah4cnt

(Amazon e-book  $3.99) Contact me for an autographed paperback $15.00 - free shipping

26
May

Mrs. Odboddy's Desperate Doings

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)

 

 

3
Apr

Interview with Mildred Haggenbottom, Mrs. Odboddy's Best Friend

Elaine’s novel, Mrs. Odboddy-Hometown Patriot a hysterical WWII fiction novel of suspicion and spies.  Agnes fights WWII from the home front, while seeing conspiracies and Nazi spies around every corner. When Mrs. Roosevelt unexpectedly comes to town to attend a funeral, Agnes is called upon to prove she is, indeed, a hometown patriot.

Interview begins:

I’m Mildred Haggenbottom, Agnes’s best friend, and share the adventures with Agnes in Elaine Faber’s first WWII novel, Mrs.  Odboddy–Hometown Patriot.

Agnes and I have been friends for over twenty-five years. She’s the cat’s meow…as the young people say. How we met…? Let me see.

It was in 1918, during WWI. Agnes and I were United States’ undercover agents, assigned a top secret operation in Paris. We spent three days hiding in a bombed-out building with our handler, Godfrey Baumgarten. Believe me, after 72 hours in a life or death situation, you end up either hating someone’s guts or friends for life. Godfrey and Agnes got quite close…too close, if you ask me… Missing from our lives for 25 years, he showed up in Newbury last week, looking for a million dollars in missing Hawaiian money and wanting to reignite his ‘friendship’ with Agnes. I don’t think she’s trying very hard to keep him at arm’s length, if you know what I mean.

After Paris, Agnes changed. She’s been paranoid, eccentric, and fanatically patriotic ever since. She’s determined to root out injustice, regardless of the consequences. I could hardly believe what she plans to do about the black market ration book scam she thinks she discovered, and when the watch tower burned down at the ocean, she says she can’t explain it because it’s Top Secret. Talk is that she burned it down, herself.

Let’s just say, Agnes tends to see conspiracies and spies under every rock. She believes Nazi spies have infiltrated Newbury. She drives Police Chief Waddlemucker crazy with her notions. She’s usually wrong, but her heart is in the right place.

Agnes lives with her granddaughter, Katherine, who works at the Curls to Dye For Beauty Salon. She does the hair and make-up for the Whistlemeyer mortuary. That certainly turned into quite an adventure, but you’ll have to read the book for the details. Spoiler alert, you know.

Fair warning to the Nazi spies out there. If you really are skulking around Newbury, planning nefarious deeds, I suggest you peddle your papers elsewhere, because if Agnes stumbles onto you, between her and Chief Waddlemucker, your name is toast!

Elaine’s novels include Black Cat’s Legacy; Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer,  Black Cat and the Accidental Angel, Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary, and Mrs. Odboddy–Hometown Patriot, Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, Mrs. Odboddy And Then There was A Tiger,-and lastly, The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain, all available at Amazon - $3.99 for e-book. Or, you can write to Elaine and for $15, she'll send you an autographed paperback copy, (free shipping).

25
Jan

Cont. Chapter One - Mrs. Odboddy's Desperate Doings

See previous post, dated January, 2022, for the beginning of Chapter One. In summary, Agnes was rescuing her Siamese cat, from the apple tree when she fell... and....

Agnes hit the ground with a thud. Her head flung back and thwacked against the apple tree. Then everything went dark.

****

The story continues....

A voice called her name from far away. “Mrs. Odboddy. Can you hear me?”

Ow.” Her cheek smarted. Had someone slapped her? Another slap? Near dead, and now being attacked? What was the world coming to when an old woman couldn’t fall from an apple tree and die in peace? Agnes opened her eyes. Ling-Ling leaped from branch to branch and dropped lightly beside her hip. “Meow!

Her head lolled back against the tree. Now she comes down, after I risked my life to…  Several faces hovered over her. Godfrey’s face and two others.  Fireman? Why?

Katherine knelt beside Godfrey and took her hand. “Grandma. Are you alright?” She turned toward the men in heavy overcoats. “Did she break anything?”

“Hard to say, ma’am.” Barnaby Merryweather, the gray-headed volunteer fireman, touched the lump on the back of Agnes’s head. “She has some scratches and a sizable bump on the back of her head. Her doctor should check her over to be sure. She took a pretty good whack. Agnes? Do you know what day it is? Who’s the President?”

Ow!” Agnes swatted at the fireman’s hand. “Of course. It’s April 26, 1944, and Franklin D. Roosevelt is the President. Now, help me into the house.” Her hand dropped onto Ling-Ling’s back as she nuzzled under her arm. “I see the wretched cat managed to rescue herself.”

“If you’d asked my opinion before you risked your fool life, I would’ve told you she’d come down when she was darned good and ready, Grandma.”

“I called Godfrey. When he didn’t come, I thought I could get her down, myself.”

“Just see how well that turned out,” Katherine patted her grandmother’s cheek. “You could’ve killed yourself.”

“It takes more than a bump to kill an old bird like me.” Agnes touched the lump on her head and twisted her neck from side to side. “Ow.

“Give me a hand, Barnaby,” Godfrey said. One could always count on volunteer fireman,Barnaby Merryweather, a volunteer fireman, whether for a kitchen fire or a cat up a tree. Godfrey put his arm under Agnes’s shoulder. “Can you stand, sweetkins?”

“I think so. You’re right. I should have called the fire department in the first place.”

Barnaby and Godfrey helped Agnes into the house where they lowered her onto the sofa. Barnaby’s son, Benjamin, followed Katherine inside.

“Now I mean it, Agnes. Your doctor needs to check that bump,” Barnaby said. “It looks like it’s swelling up more.”

“Agnes knows what’s best for her, Dad. Maybe she doesn’t want to see the doctor.” Benjamin said. “It’s not your decision, old man.”

Barnaby scowled. “Thanks, Son! Where did you get your medical degree?”

“Just sayin’ she knows how she feels better’n you,” Benjamin snapped.

Barnaby, a long-term citizen of Newbury, had recently handed Merryweather Shoe Repair  over to Benjamin. Word was, they argued about replacing the heel on a shoe almost as much as how to run the volunteer fire department.

Agnes rolled her eyes at the two Merryweather men. “Stop bickering. I’ll contact the doctor later, if my head still hurts.”

Barnaby pulled the straps on his hat. ”Next time your cat goes for a climb, Agnes, stay out of the tree!” He and Benjamin turned and stomped out the front door.

Agnes glanced between Katherine and Godfrey. “Why were they here in the first place? I didn’t call them.”

Godfrey ducked his head. “I told you before, plum blossom. We needed their ladder to rescue the cat. Then, by gum, you fell smack at my feet. We should call the doctor. You never know about a head injury.”

Humph! Head injury, my Aunt Fanny. It’s just a little bump. Katherine? Can you fix me a cup of tea and bring me a headache powder?” Agnes stared at Katherine. Her mouth pulled into a frown. “Why on earth are you wearing that ridiculous hat?”

Katherine’s hands went to her head. “Hat? I’m not wearing a hat.” She glanced at Godfrey, then back to Agnes.

“My dear!” Godfrey patted Agnes’s hand. “You must lie down. I’ll get  an ice pack for your head.” He hurried toward the kitchen, paused at the door, and looked back. “I’m calling the doctor.”

“Whatever for? I told you I’ll be just fine… Katherine, would you be a dear and bring me a headache powder? My head hurts like the dickens.” Agnes swiped angrily at tears on her cheeks.

“Agnes, my sweet,” Godfrey said, his cheeks as pale as cottage cheese. “You already asked Katherine…" He sighed. "Never mind. I’ll get you that cup of tea.”

*****

. The three Mrs. Odboddy mystery/adventures are available on Amazon (ebook) for $3.99.

Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, and Mrs. Odboddy And Then there was a Tiger

Hope you enjoyed the excerpt.

16
Jan

Sneak Preview.... Mrs. Odboddy's Desperate Doingss

If you haven't yet met Mrs. Odboddy, you'll enjoy all her books, the last titled Mrs. Odboddy And Then There was a Tiger where she attempts to save a displaced carnival tiger.

This is the beginning of her next adventure... Mrs. Odboddy's Desperate Doings... to be published soon.

Chapter One 

Agnes slung her leg over a limb in the apple tree and reached to grip a higher branch. “Hang on, Ling-Ling. Mama’s coming.”

“Meow!”

The cat’s shrill yowl announced her displeasure that Agnes should question her agenda to reach the top of the tree. Agnes’s boyfriend, Godfrey, peered into the branches. “Agnes! Come down this instant. What in tarnation do you think you’re doing?”

Agnes yanked her skirt down over her rump in an attempt to cover her chubby thigh and flannel stockings. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that I’m trying to rescue Ling-Ling. She’s been up here for hours and won’t come down. If you’d come when I called you over an hour ago–”

“I came as soon as I could, Lambkins, after I called the fire department and asked them to bring a ladder. Now, come down before you fall and break your noggin. Leave the climbing to the firemen. They rescue cats every day.” A siren shrieked in the distance.

“No need. I’ve almost got her.” Agnes loosened her grip on the branch to reach for the Siamese cat as she climbed higher. “Just a little more. Come to mama, baby.” Wasn’t that just like a cat? “You rascal. I have half a mind to leave you here, and let you starve. Come here before I…” Crack! Agnes gasped as the branch under her foot gave way. “Saints preserve–”

Godfrey sprang toward the tree as Agnes flung out her arms and grasped at branches to break her fall. Pieces of twigs and leaves pummeled Godfrey’s head. As she plummeted toward the ground, images and questions flashed through her mind. Godfrey’s image intermingled with her little ward, Maddie, and her granddaughter, Katherine. Would Shere Khan, the displaced carnival’s tiger, find a home without her help? It’s true. Your life flashes before your eyes just before you die.

Agnes hit the ground with a thud. Her head flung back and thwacked against the apple tree. Then everything went dark.

*****

What follows is a wacky adventure where Agnes struggles to find justice not only for the tiger but for the community, as she faces personal conflict and drama at every turn. Guaranteed, you'll laugh at her antics in every chapter.

Let me know if you wish to reserve an autographed copy. If you read on a device, all Mrs. Odboddy's adventures are just $3.99 (ebook) at Amazon.

 

8
Jan

The Funny Query Letter Contest

Writers hoping to acquire an agent to represent us and sell our manuscripts to famous publishers, must send the agency a ‘query’ letter to introduce our work. The ‘query’ letter should contain the following information: The general plot, the desired audience, explain why it would sell well, show our knowledge of spelling and punctuation, indicate the word count, and tell a bit about our qualifications as the writer .

Several years ago, a popular agency held a contest among its followers to see who could write the funniest, worst, query letter. The letter had to include the required information.

I submitted the following query letter to the contest.

Dear Ms. Writer’s Agent:
Since I won the 3rd grade spelling be and a composition contest in 7th grade, that why I’m qualified tobe a writer and giveing you the honor to be my first queery letter.
My book is about these two fat ladies who go on vacation ...at Saint Lucus Morturary and Day Spa.. "We fix your hair - coming and going." Kind of a mystery romance janrah, and therefore,lots of fat women will read this kind of book, so that’s how I know it would be well- received all around the world.
Your publish company was reccommended to me by my good friend, Lize Snotwittle, (my referral) who wrote you a queery letter last year. You sent her a nice letter but you didn’t publish her book. So I know you are a reputuble agency what wouldn’t do anything wrong.
My novel is 47,567 words long, up to page 102. I haven’t counted the words any further yet. Are you suppose to count “a” as a word the same as “zillionaire,” which is what one of my heroines is?
Should I quit my job and be a fulltime writer?.

Sincerely, Elaine Faber

I won their contest with my letter.

Even though the agency did not decide to represent me, I have successfully published nine cozy mystery/adventure novels. If you enjoy a good mystery with lots of laughs, hope you will consider purchasing one of the following. Amazon e-books are just $3.99.

Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot                     http://tinyurl.co/hdvzsv

Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier                   http://tinyurl.com/jn5bzwb

Mrs. Odboddy And Then there was a Tiger      http://tinyurl.com/yx72fcpx

Currently working on the fourth Mrs. Odboddy adventure, to be published very, very soon! Keep watching!

 

 

19
Oct

Harvest Jack's Rebellion - A Holiday Story

“If I’ve told you once,” Papa Red Warty Thing said. “I’ve told you a dozen times not to stray so far. Look at you. You’re already at the end of your tendrils and into the road. When the tractor comes, you’ll be smashed flatter than a fritter!”

Turning toward his parents, Papa Red Warty Thing and Sweet Sugar Pie, unruly Harvest Jack huffed, “I’d rather be a fritter than bored to death, lying face up in the sun like my cousins, Baby Boo, Wee-be-Little, and Jack-be-Little. They never stray past the first twist in their vines.”

Harvest Jack’s pumpkin cousins gasped. Such disrespect! Such defiance! And with Halloween and Thanksgiving right around the corner. Unheard of in polite Cucurbita Pepo society! They turned away from the disobedient cultivar and buried their tendrils and stems beneath their prickly leaves.

“That child shall be the death of me yet,” Sweet Sugar Pie declared. “How does he ever expect to become a pumpkin pie acting like that? It’s your fault. Your ancestors never looked like the rest of us. They were always rebellious.”

Papa Red Warty Thing shivered. “If the lad doesn’t change his attitude, he’s likely to end up gutted, with an ugly smirk carved on his face.”

Sweet Sugar Pie waved her sticky leaves in dismay. “Don’t even think such a thing. My family has a proud history of becoming harvest pies for the past 72 generations. Grandma Sirius Star would roll over in her mulch if she heard of such a vulgar future for one of our clan. I know that some of the Rock Star and Howden crew across the field plan to be gutted and carved up. Some even look forward to lighted candles stuck where their innards used to be. That’s not the future I want for our boy.” A drop of morning dew trickled from her stem, down her rounded middle, and plopped into the dirt.

“Now. dear. Don’t carry on so. The season isn’t over yet. It’s just growing pains. I’m sure he’ll come to his senses when he matures a bit.”

Papa Red Warty Thing was wrong, for by now, Harvest Jack had wandered into the road and lay directly in the path of the giant tractor grinding its way down the road, swooping up all in its path, and dumping the unfortunate ones into a hopper to be carried off to an uncertain future. Sweet Sugar Pie shrieked, “It’s coming! Beware!”

Harvest Jack heard the engine and turned toward the sound. “Uh Oh!” The seeds in his belly shook in terror. Papa Red Warty Thing was right. He was about to be crunched into a fritter.

A raven swooped down and landed on his stem. “It serves you right for wandering into the road. Papa Red Warty Thing warned you.”

How he wished to be alongside little, white, cousin Baby-Boo, or little cousin Wee-be-Little’s tiny, orange body. Their future was assured. They would become cute little decorations, perched alongside a costumed vampire doll in the middle of a mantle, or maybe in a wheelbarrow surrounded by harvest leaves and acorns and a couple Rock Star or Howden’s. Even his distant cousin Lil’ Pumpkemon with his white body and orange stripes might end up on the front porch with his larger cousins.

Directly in the path of the tractor, Harvest Jack’s future was destined to be ground into pulp.

Suddenly, he heard guttural, humanoid sounds reverberating through his stem. Harvest Jack felt himself lifted and then felt the cool earth beneath his bottom. What happened? He was lying just inches from Papa Red Warty Thing and Sweet Sugar Pie. Somehow, he’d escaped the wheels of the tractor and was back in his own row of cultivar cousins. “Oh, Papa Red Warty Thing! You were right,” Harvest Jack cried. “I’ll never disobey again. I promise I’ll grow up and become a Harvest dinner pie, but… do I get to choose which kind of pie I want to be?”

“Of course you can, my dear,” Sweet Sugar Pie cooed, stretching her loving tendrils over her son. “Your great aunt was a pumpkin streusel pie with a gingersnap crust, and your great-grandfather was a pumpkin cheesecake.”

“Good! When I grow up, I want to be… let me think! I know just the thing. I want to be a cherry pie!”

Sweet Sugar Pie glared at Papa Red Warty Thing and shook her sticky leaves in anger.

“What’s wrong,” Harvest Jack cried. “You said I could choose what kind of Harvest pie I wanted to be.”

“My dear, you can’t be a cherry pie, because you’re a pumpkin.” Papa Red Warty Thing patiently explained.

Sweet Sugar Pie screamed. “According to today’s media, if the lad wants to be a cherry pie, then he’s a cherry pie! It’s your fault, Papa Red Warty Thing. You were always too lenient with the lad!”

 

8
Oct

A Halloween Story - Jenny's Shopping Trip

Jenny’s shrieks followed Tom as he skipped down the sidewalk to his 57’souped-up T-bird parked at the curb. Like many times before, when his girlfriend’s grew tiresome, he’d walk away. Women were like shoes. When the shine wore off, you got a new pair. Women always expected commitment and Tom wasn’t the committing type.

Tom checked his rear-view mirror as he ran his hands through his carrot-red hair. Not to worry. He’d have another girlfriend within the week. He stomped the gas and sped away.

****

Jenny clutched her black cat to her breast, “I should never have allowed myself to care so much.” A brown Maltese, a golden-eyed, pure white cat, and a tan blue-eyed beauty with Asian ancestry, hunkered nearby, commiserating with her sorrow.

Reflections from the high window bounced off Jenny’s wine glass and cast a rainbow across the far wall. She took a sip and lifted her head. “Lord knows, an orange one won’t make me feel any better, however…” A faint smile twitched her lips. “On the other hand, perhaps an orange one is just what I need.”

The black longhaired cat in her lap gazed into her eyes and yawned. “Come on, guys, let’s get a snack. Then, I’ll go shopping.” Her feline menagerie followed her to the kitchen.

Jenny gazed at the four cats hunkered around a pile of Friskies like four spokes of a wheel; black, brown, white and tan. Didn’t Tom have a lunch meeting today at a little restaurant on Main Street? Jenny whispered. “Let the games begin.”

Jenny lifted a dusty box from a garage top shelf and removed a black hat sporting a long black feather. She ran her fingers over its velvety texture, from nib to tip. “This will do nicely.” Dust rose from the feather and disappeared in a wisp of breeze.

In her closet, she found a black pantsuit. The height of 1980’s fashion with shoulder pads in the jacket and bellbottom pants. She shook the wrinkles from the jacket and frowned at the tiny moth hole in the left sleeve. Had it been that long since she got the last one? She could have sworn it was just a couple years before. It was definitely time for a new one.

Jenny donned the pantsuit and the black feathered hat and topped off her ensemble with a bangle bracelet and a lion head medallion necklace. She nodded, satisfied with the image reflected in her hall mirror.

Jenny drove downtown and parked a half-block from Marvelous Marvin’s Magic Shop, next door to the restaurant where Tom was having lunch.

She stood outside the magic shop, staring at the items in the window. In a few minutes, Tom strode down the street, his head held high, his bright red hair blowing in the wind. He spotted Jenny just as she dashed into the magic shop. Once inside the door, eerie shrieks and squeals of organ music, enough to chill one’s soul, blared through an elaborate sound system.

Startled to see her there, Tom followed her into the store. “Jenny, is that you?”

Jenny hurried through the darkened aisles toward a dimly lit corner piled high with boxes, capes, and baskets heaped with assorted Halloween decorations and magician’s paraphernalia.

Tom followed her into the furthest dark corner, where the black light overhead reflected a neon aura off the logo on Magic Marvin’s Magic Shop black shopping bags.

Tom’s gaze followed the drifting feather on Jenny’s hat, caressed by the air conditioned breeze. “Jenny? Are you headed to a costume party?” His gaze stayed locked on the swaying feather.

“No,” Jenny whispered, “I was waiting for you.”

“For me? Don’t be tiresome. I told you… We have nothing more to talk about.”

“Oh, yes. I think we do.” She tapped her long red fingernail three times on the stack of black Marvelous Marvin’s Magic Shop bags and whispered, “Dinkle, Dinkle, Catzenwinkle.”

Tom disappeared. The top shopping bag now displayed the a vivid orange-striped cat with glowing eyes, staring wildly from its paper prison.

Jenny laid the bag on the counter. “I’ll take this one.” She paid and left the store.

Back home, Jenny poured another glass of wine, and filled a plate with crackers and cheese, and set the shopping on the floor. “Come my lovelies,” she cooed.

They came from under the table, from the top of the sofa, from under the bed, off the fireplace mantle, stretching and yawning. Like four spokes of a wheel, black, brown, white and tan, they circled the shopping bag decorated with the vivid face of the cat with glowing eyes.

Jenny sipped her wine and tossed each cat a bite of cheese, grasped the shopping bag and tipped it upside down, “This is Tom,” she said.

Out spilled a carrot-orange striped cat. He gazed wildly around the room, his big round eyes filled with horror… The four cats nibbled their cheese and glared at the newcomer with amusement.

“Tom has come to live with us. Welcome your new changeling companion.” Jenny tossed Tom a bite of cheese, folded the shopping bag and shoved it into the trash .

30
Jul

The Restoration Project

My husband, Leland, likes to tell one of his favorite adventures as a boy scout. In 1953, Leland was about eleven years old and lived in Satsop, Washington, with his uncle, Frank, the Scoutmaster for the local Boy Scout troop, That summer, the eleven Boy Scouts made a two-day trip into a nearby region to reforest a field with tree seedlings given to them by a local Forestry Agency.

The boys rode to the planting site in the back of the assistant Scout leader’s truck along with their camping gear and 3-4 flats of pine seedlings in little cups. They set up camp near a river and prepared for the project at hand.

First the restoration site had to be cleared of natural brush or branches, which was gathered and stacked on the far side of the planting site. Leland also remembers picking up litter, bottles, and refuse left by previous campers.

The Forestry Agency provided the scoutmaster written directions of exactly how the tree planting process should take place. The scoutmaster used pre-measured strings to measure approximately 15-20 feet and drove a stake into the ground to indicate where each seedling should be planted.

The scouts followed behind across the grassy field. Natural grass and weeds was cleared about 15” around each stake. This allowed the sunshine to warm the seedling and prevented weeds from encroaching.  The scouts dug a hole with a hand spade and tapped in the seedling, then progressed to the next stake. Over the next  two days, the scouts planted several hundred trees.

Prior to the trip, Leland’s Aunt Emma had made a batch of homemade root beer for the scouts’ camping trip. Not having enough coke bottles to bottle the root beer, Leland and his cousins approached a local tavern owner, who loaned them a case of brown stubby beer bottles, requesting the return of the bottles after the camping trip.

During the bright summer evening following a hard day of planting trees, the boys sat on the side of the hill above the road, laughing and joking and drinking Aunt Emma’s root beer bottled in the brown stubby beer bottles.

Drivers on the road below saw the Boy Scouts, still in their uniforms, laughing and rolling around on the hill, apparently drinking beer. One driver called the local authorities when she got home, scandalized that the local Boy Scout troop should behave in such an unseemly manner.

As the case of root beer dwindled and the boy’s behavior became more rowdy, the sheriff drove up, responding to the call of drunk and disorderly Boy Scouts drinking beer up on the hill.

The scoutmaster explained that the root beer was bottled in borrowed stubby brown beer bottles. The explanation was sufficient to send the sheriff on his way. However, it is unlikely that the jubilation that followed was the satisfaction of the scouts' hard work planting trees, or their amusement at the sheriff thinking there was real beer in the brown bottles. More likely, their hilarity was the result of Leland’s cousin adding raisins to Aunt Emma’s crock of homemade root beer, making it a light alcoholic drink. The following year, only soda bottles were used and Aunt Emma kept a closer eye on her crock of root beer.

The story of the tree planting and the homemade root beer was a closely guarded secret, told only around subsequent campfires where bottles of store bought root beer was the only type of soda allowed.

If you enjoyed this story, please share some of your own childhood memories that resulted in misunderstanding or humorous outcomes.

 

 

24
Jun

The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain - Cht. One

(This is an edited scene from chapter one of Spirit Woman.)

"I’d just stepped away from my rig when I heard a noise behind me.” Lou spread her arms wide as she continued. “Not thirty feet away, a black bear stood on a large boulder. I heard its claws click as it scrabbled across the rock, dropped into the grass on all fours, and lumbered toward me.” She wrinkled her nose. “It was so close, I could smell it. I thought I might be the bear’s main course that night and headlines in tomorrow’s Lockleer Mountain Gazette.” Lou winked at her friend.

“Lulu Jane Shoemaker! Is this a true story, or are you telling tall tales? What happened? Tell me!”

“Obviously the bear didn’t eat me.” Lou folded her arms and leaned back. “It’s true. The bear roared. It gave me the chills. Instead of thinking about how not to be eaten alive, I thought, ‘Think fast or die. Wow! That would look good on a bumper sticker on the back of The Pooper Scooper.’”

“Lou! You’re killing us! Get to the point. What did you do?”

“I slowly stepped back toward my truck. With each step backward, the bear advanced. Me─one step back. Her─one step forward, as if we were playing a game of Bear Eats Camper chess. I pivoted, grabbed the lever on the side of my sewer truck, and flipped the switch. As soon as the pump kicked on, the bear turned and scrambled back into the woods, lickety-split.”

“Lou Shoemaker,” Judy said. “I don’t believe a word of it. I think you made up that whole story to get attention.”

“I did no such thing. It’s the God’s truth, every word.”

“Lou, only you would name your sewer truck business, the Pooper Scooper.” Judy reached across the pub table and patted Lou’s hand. “Honey, why don’t you sell that truck? That’s no business for a beautiful woman like you. It’s too dangerous. That bear could have killed you. How can you pump out septic tanks every day? It’s so nasty.”

Psst. Don’t look now,” Judy jabbed her finger toward the door. “Look who just walked in. Col. Ralph Ramsey. Is that his wife with him? She used to be on the Animal Rescue Committee with me. About three months ago, she said she was too busy to take a litter of puppies found beside the road. You remember when Nate’s twin sister, Suzanna, went missing? Apparently, she spotted a black garbage bag that looked like something was wiggling inside. She found five puppies inside. She called to see if our rescue group would take them. When she didn’t show up and didn’t answer her phone, I called Nate. He drove down the hill and found her car over an embankment and blood on the window. The pups were in the back seat, but Suzanna couldn’t be found. They don’t know if someone picked her up or if she wandered away.”

“The town swarmed with FBI for days. Offering a reward didn’t do any good. I haven’t heard anything about it for weeks.”

Lou stood and walked past Col. and Mrs. Ramsey’s table.

Col. Ramsey nodded as Lou passed. “Evening.” Lou guessed his septic tank needed service again. Perhaps he hoped she would respond favorably should he give the Pooper Scooper another call. She grinned and promised to think about it…not.

 

(You can purchase this book (e-book) at Amazon for $3.99.  hppt://tinyurl.com/y7rp7f3x

Or contact me for an autographed paperback book for $13.00 (free shipping) at Elaine.Faber@mindcandymysteries.com

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