8
Jun 24

Story behind Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey's Diary

 

The Story Behind the Story of Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary

In 1987, my daughter, Londa Faber, and I went to Austria and Germany. While there, we experienced a number of peculiar events and heard an odd tale of folklore that inspired me to write a poem…

The key to the treasure is in Hopfgarten.

Touch the feet of the babe that lies beneath the king,

In the place where the storm clouds…

Are frightened away by the ring.

Over the years, I wrote three fictionalized short stories based on the sights, sounds, scenery, feelings and insights we experienced in Austria. Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary includes true elements of our experiences mixed with the fictional story in this full-length cozy mystery novel. The poem I wrote that sleepless night became the catalyst for the story of the secret in Dewey's diary.

Black Cat and The Secret in Dewey’s Diary is a dual tale, with half of the story taking place in Fern Lake where Black Cat and Angel face challenges aplenty, and the other half of the story in Austria and Germany as Dorian and Kimberlee follow the clues in a WWII soldier’s diary, searching for a treasure in gold coins, missing since short after the end of WWII.

Amazon e-book $3.99

https://tinyurl.com/vgyp89s

Elaine’s Website –http://www.mindcandymysteries.com

Email your questions or comments to Elaine.Faber@mindcandymysteries.com

Amazon reviews are welcomed.

20
Oct 23

The Ghost of Mokelumne Hills - A Cat's Story

                             Elaine Faber

Did you ever hear what happened at the Leger Hotel in Mokelumne Hills? Probably not, because I doubt there was anything in the papers about it. Nobody cares much about ghosts anymore. Well, it happened sort of like this.

Mom was Dad rented a room at the Leger Hotel the week before Halloween. The Hotel brochure said the place was haunted, Of course, they took Sissy and me along because we were still too young to stay home alone. Mom had some idea that kittens would enjoy the cultural experience.

Sissy and I stayed in the room while they went exploring. How did mom think we could have a cultural experience from the hotel room? I think it was an excuse because she couldn’t be away from us.

Sissy and I spent the first hour exploring every nook and cranny, looking out the window onto the 2nd floor balcony where the prostitutes used to sit, advertising their wares. I didn’t make that up. That’s what we heard the maid say. We crawled in the fireplace and under the claw-foot tub in the bathroom. We felt “something”, but we couldn’t exactly figure out what it was.

That’s when I heard the voice. My hair stood on end and my tail fluffed up. I just made out the faint wispy outline of an old guy on the sofa, wearing an old miner’s hat. His face was covered with gray whiskers and he was missing a few teeth. He looked pretty scary!

Sissy was sleeping. She’s not like me. She’s all quiet and prissy. I’m usually awake and looking for trouble. So this old guy waves a gnarled hand and says, “Can ya’ help me? I need help to move on.”

There wasn’t anyone in the room, so I figured he must be talking to me, so I says, “Are you talking to me? I’m a cat.”

“I can see that. Maybe you can help me more than anybody, you bein’ a cat and all.”

“Are you a ghost?”

“Yeah. Guess so. Name’s Joe Harrigan. I died in 1876. My partner and me had a little mine nearby and we usta' come to town on weekends. They hanged me for killin’ my partner, but I didn’t. I shoulda’ gone on to whatever comes next, but since I was innocent, they couldn’t send me to Hell, but bein’ convicted for murder, all official-like in a Court a’ Law, Heaven said they couldn’t take me neither. I’ve been stuck here in this room ever since, tryin’ to get somebody to help me clear my name so's I can cross over.”

“Why hasn’t anyone helped you before?”

“Some folks can see me, but I can’t make them hear me. They run off yellin,’ “I seen a ghost! I seen a ghost!” and change rooms. Sometimes there’s a dog stay in the room. They can see and hear me, but they growl or hide under the bed. Maybe cats is more understandin’?”

Sissy was awake now. She puffed her fur up, and her eyes got all big. “Whaaat’s going on?”

“Calm down, scardy-cat. It’s just an old ghost. They hanged him so he can’t move on. He wants us to help him.”

“What can we do? We’re cats!”

I was about to agree when Mom and Dad came in. The ghost melted away, so we couldn’t ask any more questions.

“What’s up with Sissie Amber? She looks like a porcupine!” Mom said.

“Maybe she’s seen a ghost!” says Dad, and both of them fell down laughing on the bed and got all kissie. Sissie and I tossed sand from the litterbox onto the hearth, to let them know what we thought about such nonsense.

A while later, Mom and Dad went to dinner and locked us in the room. We waited for the ghost to come back again but he didn’t. Mom and Dad came back and went to bed. We could see ghostly shadows all over the room and chased them around for the next three hours until Mom tossed us into the bathroom.

About 6:00 AM, I clawed the door and woke up Dad. He hasn’t needed an alarm clock since we came to live here. I just claw the door and howl, and like Pavlov’s dog, he’s out of bed, opens the door, and feeds us. Just three or four days of repetition and humans are fairly easy to train.

Mom and Dad went off to breakfast and left us in the room. So much for day two of our cultural experience. The old guy showed up about 9:00 AM. His aura faded in and out, much fainter than the day before. His hands trembled when he spoke. “Look, girls, I think I’m about at the end of my rope…no pun intended… If I don’t get some help movin’ on pretty soon, I don’t think I’ll ever make it.”

“But, you never said how we could help you,” I exclaimed.

“There’s a secret panel in the back of the old armoire in the corner. I hid a paper inside the panel. My partner writ out his will, tellin’ how he accidentally shot hisself’ cleanin’ his gun. After I buried him, I was grieving’ his death and come to town to get drunk. I hid that Will in the armoire before I went to the bar. I told um’ my partner was dead and they thought I kilt’ him to get the mine all to myself. One thing led to another until someone got a rope. They had a trial, but I was so drunk, I plumb forgot to tell um’ about that air’ Will in the armoire. So they hanged me.

“Bein’ dead sorta’ cleared my head and I remembered the Will, but it was too late. I’ve been ‘ahoverin’ ever since, hopin’ someone would find the Will and clear my name, so’s I can get a crack at Heaven, which it’s doubtful I deserve, but I’d like to give it a try!”

Sissy and I jumped off the bed and clawed at the door of the armoire. We got the door open and began clawing at the back wall of the paneling.

“That’s it!  Right there!  Give it all you got, girls. If you push on it, it sorta’ slides in. There! You can see the paper stickin' out?”

“You can do it, SissyAmber! Go for it!”

Amber had plenty of practice pulling thumbtacks out of bulletin boards and pulling papers off the wall. She grabbed the paper with her teeth and pulled it out.

Old Joe was pretty excited. Mom and Dad came into the room about then and saw us pawing at the paper.

“What have you girls been doing? What’s that?” Mom picked up the faded paper with teeth marks in the corners… I was quick to explain that if anybody was in trouble, I didn’t have anything to do with it... Mom read the paper.

Joe, he didn’t shoot me. I done it kleenin my gun.  I got no fambly and my frend Joe Harrigan otta have my shar a the mine. Sined July 1876  George Wales

“Where did this come from?” Mom asked.

“It looks like they were inside the armoire,” Dad said. “The door’s open and the paneling on the back wall is pushed in.”

“Let’s take it down to the manager and see what they make of it.”

Mom and Dad put on our collars and leashes and carried us downstairs to the manager’s office. At last, our cultural experience!

“Our girls found this in the armoire up in Room two. This old paper looks like a handwritten Last Will and Testament. Your Historic Society should see this,” Mom said.

“My goodness, yes. I know the name, Joe Harrigan. He was hanged for killing his partner, old George. They say Joe haunts Room two. Indeed, the Historic Society will be very interested! Poor old Joe. So, he was innocent after all. He’s buried up on boot hill. Folks go up to see his headstone. Your cats are heroes!”

Mom and Dad drove us to the cemetery and found old Joe’s headstone. Poor old guy. I guess The Leger Hotel added a postscript to their brochures about the ghost of the miner who was hanged by mistake at the hotel. I don’t think anybody in the news media paid much attention. Hopefully, someday, the courts will clear his name.

We never heard about old Joe’s ghost again. I think he must have been able to move on. I expect St. Peter gave old Joe a fair trial when he got to Heaven. He sure never got one at the Leger Hotel in Mokelumne Hills!

3
Jul 23

Edited Scene from Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey's Diary

This is an excerpt from the cozy mystery, Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey's Diary. While Kimberlee follows clues to a treasure in lost gold coins in Austria, Black Cat and Angel are home in Fern Lake when unexpected deviltry is afoot....

****

Black Cat reached the corner of the house and skidded to a stop. Who is that?

A woman wearing dark glasses and a large black hat crept through the front gate and pulled it closed behind her. She tip-toed down the sidewalk toward the house. Did she imagine she couldn’t be seen from the house? Black Cat lowered his ears. What is she up to? She’s up to no good, that’s for sure.

On the other side of the gate, the woman’s car motor rumbled, its driver side door hanging open.

Black Cat’s heart thudded. Perhaps the woman intended to steal something from the front porch. He crept forward. He would have to stop her. He could almost see the front-page headlines in tomorrow’s newspaper. Plucky Local Cat Foils Attempted Grand Larceny. Despite overwhelming odds, the plucky feline protected his master’s valuable rhododendron plant from the clutches of a 200 lb. female assailant determined to…so forth and so on… Perhaps even his picture and…

His gaze swept toward the Wisteria vines where Angel’s gold tail swished beneath the purple flowers. Angel! The portly woman sprinted up the sidewalk, leaned down, and yanked Angel out from under the bush.

Meow!

Clutching the struggling cat, Angel writhed and twisted. “Oh no, you don’t, my pet.” She turned and hurried back toward her street.

Black Cat raced across the lawn. Angel! He leaped at the woman’s arm, teeth bared. She jerked away. Having missed his target, he tumbled to the grass with a shriek. “Help! Help.”  

The woman waddled to her car, struggled to open the front gate with one hand while grappling with the thrashing cat. Once she got the door open, she flung Angel onto the passenger seat and flopped into the driver’s seat.

Not my Angel… Black Cat sprinted through the gate, leaped over the hood of the car, and scrambled around the car door.

Before she could slam the door shut, Black Cat leaped into the kidnapper's lap. She grabbed her purse and struck at his head, knocking him sideways. His head struck the dials on the radio and he fell to the floor, momentarily stunned.

Angel huddled on the front passenger seat, her nails clinging to the vinyl seat, frozen with fright, mewing pathetically, Black Cat! Black Cat!

The cat-napper hit the gas and the car plunged down the driveway, spewing gravel. She reached the street and gunned the engine. Her tires squealed, leaving patches of rubber as she roared past the lodge and headed for the outskirts of town...

To order this e-book from Amazon... www.https://tinyurl.com/vgyp89s

 

22
May 23

Thumper Stalks a Seagull - Black Cat's Legacy

Excerpt from Black Cat's Legacy    http://tinyurl.com/lrvevgm

(With the help of his ancestors' memories, Thumper has the thoughts and emotions of a human. Thumper adds plenty of humor to the plot, as he attempts to help his mistress solve mysteries and a cold case murder.)

****

Thumper stepped onto the sand, lifted a front foot, shook it, and placed it down again, picked up his left front foot, shook it and moved forward. How he hated sand between his toes, but it was a necessary evil if he wanted to walk on the beach and make nice with the tourists. Every so often between the step and shake, he would hop, and shake off any sand clinging between the toes on his back feet. Step, shake, step, hop, step, shake, hop. He traversed the short stretch of beach toward Amanda. Maybe she had a cookie in her pocket.

Kimberlee laughed until tears ran down her cheeks.

Huh! She wouldn’t think it’s so funny if sand was stuck between her toes.

Thumper took another step and stopped, his front foot in midair. Twenty feet away, a seagull swooped down and landed by a partially eaten piece of hotdog bun, half buried in the sand. Every hair on Thumper’s back stood on end. Prey!

As if in slow motion, the mighty hunter lowered his front foot. He squinched his eyes, flattened his ears and scrunched his rear into the sand. He rocked forward and back until he balanced on all four feet. Wheels whirred inside his cat brain.

Like the great and mighty Bastet, cat god of old Egypt, I am the avenging angel of death. His tail gently waved from side to side, like a serpent rising from a snake charmer’s basket, as he crunched his rear lower in the sand. He shifted his back legs from left to right, calculating wind, versus thrust, versus distance, versus velocity; X minus 3 to the velocity of 12 divided by pi-R- squared. (Perhaps the calculations are more difficult when you have six toes on each foot.) In a split second, he calculated the exact formula necessary to traverse the distance between him and the seagull. The song of his people continued in his head, as he entered a Zen-like state.

I am swift of foot. My aim is true. Prepare to die, villainous seagull. Your seconds on earth are numbered. Your thieving ways shall be your demise. I will crunch your bones and suck your marrow. My tongue cries out for the taste of dripping blood. Surely, the memories of my ancestors have prepared me for this decisive moment. Evil seagull, prepare to meet your doom.

With these last majestic thoughts, with a virtuous heart, a mighty spring and four feet spewing sand in all directions, he launched into his calculated flight path. His heart was brave, intentions noble. His aim was true as he shot across the sand.

Having spied the cat even before landing beside the hotdog bun, the seagull had apparently pre-programmed her own algebraic calibrations and was airborne a millisecond before Thumper’s ETA─a perfect WW where two webbed feet left their mark in the wet sand.

Thumper’s gaze followed the seagull across the expanse of sparkling blue water until she circled directly over his head. A blob of gray-white, toothpaste-like consistency splatted in the sand near his front foot.

Ha. You missed me.

The seagull disappeared behind a conspiratorial cloud. Thumper flicked his tail, sprang into the air, twisted and landed in his footprints and padded toward the cabins. The thing was really too skinny to bother with, anyway.

23
Apr 23

Watching the Radio - The Teddy Bear's Picnic

In 1950, when I was a child, my family’s favorite past time was listening to the radio. In the afternoons, Mama listened to Our Gal Sunday, Amos and Andy, Fibber Magee and Molly while she ironed pillowcases and sheets.

My favorite show was an hour-long children’s show on Saturday morning, Big Jon and Sparkie – No School Today. Jon Arthur almost single-handedly produced the show. He was also the various voices of his characters and used sound effects and music to enhance the realism. His main character was an elfin creature named “Sparkie”, who, like Pinocchio wished to be a real boy. Their adventures often included solving mysteries involving various characters called Daffodil Dilly and Mayor Plumpfort.

I would awake early Saturday morning, take my blanket and alarm clock into the dining room, and lay on the floor in front of the radio. Mama wouldn’t allow me to turn on the radio until 8:00 AM, so I watched the clock creep toward the exciting hour. At exactly 8:00 AM, on went the radio, the volume real low, and I was transported into Big Jon and Sparkie’s world. The theme song was “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic.” I can still remember the words...

It’s picnic time for teddy bears. The teddy bears are having a lovely time today. Watch them… catch them unawares. See them picnic on their holiday. See them gaily gad about, how they play and shout. They never have any cares. Beneath the trees, where nobody sees, they hide and see as long as they please, 'cause that’s the way the teddy bears have their picnic.

Technology marched on. We got our first television in 1952, which provided new family entertainment. Live pictures made my imaginary world of mysteries and elfin creatures seem dull and lifeless. Saturday morning, Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse cartoons tempted me to abandon Big Jon and Sparkie.

Looking back, I think giving up radio shows for television took away something special about ‘watching the radio’. Wrapped in my blanket on a chill Saturday morning while my family slept in late, I used my imagination to create the characters and see the events in Big Jon’s quaint little tales. My seven-year-old creations were far more interesting than the Hollywood produced flickering black and white characters.

Over the past 70+ years, with the advent of even more technology, big screen wonders, U-tube, the I-phone, the internet, much of entertainment has advanced even more. I wouldn’t want to give up all the forms of current day entertainment, but there is something to be said for wrapping yourself in a blanket,laying on the floor in front of the radio, and watching the clock tick slowly toward 8:00 AM until it’s time for…The Teddy Bear’s Picnic.

31
Jan 23

Launching a Self-Published Fiction Novel

I just finished the last chapter of my latest Mrs. Odboddy mystery/adventure, Mrs. Odboddy and the Conniving Candidate. In this novel, Agnes Odboddy is running for a seat on the Newbury City Council, vacated by the removal of a previous member, described in Mrs. Odboddy’s Desperate Doings.

The open city council seat attracts the attention of Horace Faggenbacher, owner of the Flying Red Horse gas station, a character the readers met in previous novels. Who knew that he was such a conniving, despicable person that would engage in under-handed tactics? In addition, Katherine’s old boyfriend, determined to win her back, returns with questionable tactics to rival those of Faggenbacher’s.

So what must be done before Mrs. Odboddy and the Conniving Candidate is published? At the moment, I’m involved in a deep editing process intended to catch typos, punctuation issues, story line snags, expanding certain scenes, and generally looking for anything that needs changes.

My mentor is currently reviewing the manuscript with suggestions or needed corrections. The manuscript will then go to 3-4 beta readers looking for plot issues, punctuation, or point out any suggestion they feel needs addressing.

Other types of editors are often hired at this point who make changes and offer suggestions.

As a self-published author, the necessary steps toward publication all become my responsibility. I’ll envision a general cover concept and as I prefer photographs, I'll search Shutterstock, Fotolia and other online photo sites for one or two photos to be added to Mrs. Odboddy’s image. Once I’ve selected and purchased the rights to the images, they are sent to my mentor/editor/cover design genius who plays around with the photos until I’m satisfied with a finished cover design.

Acknowledgments, back cover blurb, character description, and dedications are assembled. The manuscript is sent to my genius who puts it in the correct format for publication. She returns a printed copy to me for a final edit where I often have her make 40-50 corrections or changes before it is sent to my publisher who uploads everything to Lightening Source. They return a Final printed version for my approval and a chance to correct any printing errors. Upon approval, the paperback books are printed and delivered to my publisher. I pick up my books and they are now available for in-person sales or for interested bookstores or libraries to purchase.

A correctly formatted e-book version is sent to Amazon where, if the moon and stars are in the correct alignment, they upload it correctly so folks can purchase the e-book novel from Amazon. (My Amazon experiences with my last two novels were less than encouraging.)

So, there is no wonder that a paperback novel costs $12-16. After many thousands of hours writing the novel, you now know what a self-published author must do to complete the process and provide you with a wonderful reading experience. I hope you'll enjoy all my books and look forward to presenting this latest novel, perhaps next year.

31
Oct 22

Halloween Story - The Magic Spell

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.

 

16
Jan 22

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.

 

26
Aug 21

A Chance Encounter = A short story

Rolling thunder drowned out the clanging church bells across the street. Lightning zig-zagged across the sky. Fear clutched my heart as Mother Nature crashed around me. Was this reality, or had I been caught up in a time warp that transported me to another place–magical, ethereal, and terrifying? Stay calm. It’s just a sudden summer storm. A torrent of water rushed down the Austrian cobbled street, threatening to overflow the gutters onto my feet. Were the bells warning of some disaster? Had war been declared? Had someone assassinated the President? Did Austria even have a President?

Cold spines of rain stung my face and bounced off the pavement onto my legs. Another clap of thunder and a flash of lightning made me jump. I pulled my sweater tighter around my chest and huddled closer to the wall beneath the narrow, striped canopy. And then a man stepped beneath the awning and tilted his umbrella over my head. “Do you wish to share my umbrella?”

“Thank you, how kind.” His presence soothed my fear. My pattering heart slowed. “The storm came up so quickly, it caught me quite unawares.”

“Sudden storms are not unexpected at this time of year.”

We stood side by side beneath the canopy, watching the ribbons of lightning zigzag across the afternoon sky, chatting about bells and clouds and weather. I tilted my head toward the church towers. “Why are they ringing the bells? Is there an emergency? The street is flooded.”

“The priests ring the bells to frighten the storm clouds toward the next village.”

I suppressed a smile, doubting that bells could drive away the clouds. “If that’s true, I’m sorry to say, it’s not working. It’s been raining buckets for twenty minutes.”

“Oh, it’s working fine.” A smile lit up his face. “But, the next village also rings their bells, and the storm clouds get confused, so they drift back here again. From village to village they drift. Soon they will find a quiet place where they can rest.”

I was pleasantly amused, but did not wish to dispute his quaint belief in the magical power of the bells. As we talked, we stood shoulder to shoulder. His scent comforted me–a woodsy manly scent, strong and secure.

A train whistle pierced the air. At the sound, he turned. “My train... I’m sorry, I must go. You will be alright?”

“I’ll be fine. Thank you for sharing your umbrella and for the secret of the bells.”

He caught my hand and lifted it to his lips. “It’s been a pleasure. I wish we had more time to… Good-bye.”

We looked deep into each other’s eyes and in those few seconds, as his lips brushed my fingertips, I was whirled through another time warp. In that instant, surrounded by the lightning and the chiming of the bells, it was as though we shared a lifetime together, infinite days and endless nights of love. I heard the blare of a hundred marching bands, saw the night sky explode in a fifty years of New Year’s Eve fireworks, felt the coolness of a thousand springtime rains, the color of a hundred rainbows, and an untold myriad of golden sunsets…

The rain stopped as he released my hand, waved a final farewell and strode toward the train. As he disappeared into the station, the blare of marching bands…became the tinkling bells around the cow’s necks in a nearby field. A final streak of lightning…replaced the image of fireworks in the night sky. The sun came out…and cast sparkling rainbows through the dewdrops dripping from the awning.

His scent lingered, but as I reached for the place where he had stood, the memory of his touch melted through my fingertips. I ran toward the station, “Wait! I don’t even know your name. Wait!”

The whistle blew and the train clacked down the track. The magic spell was broken. Was it a crack in time and space? Was it another lifetime of love that two strangers shared in those few moments, or was it just a dream caused by the magic of the bells and the storm clouds?

****

Years have passed. I’ve had the best life one could hope for–marriage, a satisfactory career, and children. But, every time I hear church bells, I close my eyes and remember a summer storm in a faraway land.

I am reminded of church bells echoing from mountaintop to mountaintop, as the storm clouds scramble from village to village in their frantic search for a silent, peaceful place. Finally, they drift onto a quiet hillside where the only sound is the tinkling of cow’s bells, as they amble across the meadows and disappear into the mist…. and I remember the man I loved who was only a dream.

*****

If you enjoyed this story, please go to Amazon and look for my eight cozy mystery/adventures ($3.99 e-book) and an anthology of 'cat' stories ($2.99).

 

 

5
Dec 20

The Christmas Bird

The days grew shorter, the air crisper, the nights longer, and the whisper of leaves on the roof began to awaken each Christmas tree bird in their tissue paper in the attic. Something sang to them, called to them, until they wiggled with joy, crinkling their crepe paper walls. Soon, each Christmas bird ornament would be lifted from his crinkly paper bed where he slept since last Christmas.

As the year neared its end, the Christmas birds felt a thrill from their springy wire clips and gold porcelain bodies to their bright feather tails. The littlest Christmas bird lay warm and snug beneath Gold Bird. How he anticipated the coming holiday season. Soon he would be on the Christmas tree with his fragile glass friends and the others…the round ones with bright colored paint. They were not nearly as beautiful as his Christmas bird friends with their springy wires, delicate glass and pinchey clips that clasped them firmly to each branch. And though all his friends were lovely, he felt he was the most beautiful Christmas tree bird in the attic.

He closed his little red eyes and dreamed about Christmas Eve. From the top of the tree, he would look down upon the family gathered by the fireplace. Being part of the Christmas celebration made him feel truly alive. “I’ve been thinking,” he whispered in a trembling voice filled, “You are lovely, Gold Bird, but, in truth, I am the most beautiful Christmas bird.”

Gold Bird’s tail feathers quivered. “Really? Blue glass bird is made of hand-blown glass from Germany, with a fine blue feather tail. Antique bird is missing some tail feathers but he is so fragile, you can see right through him. We all have unique qualities, and all are as beautiful as you.” He fairly shook as he scolded the young bird wrapped beneath him in pink tissue.

“It may be true what you say,” said the saucy little bird. “But, the tree won’t be nearly as beautiful if I’m not right near the top.”

Gold Bird, being older and wiser, turned his head. “You obviously don’t understand the true meaning of Christmas. You don’t deserve to be included in the holiday events. You conceited fellow, it would serve you right if you got left behind this year.”

The Christmas bird trembled. The idea of being left behind scared him a bit. With a slight tremble, he said, “That couldn’t happen, could it? It’s not that you aren’t handsome, but my tail feathers are longer and softer and fluffier than yours, and…my…paint is much shinier.”

Tut tut,” replied Gold Bird. “Not…another…word.”

For several uncomfortable days, the little bird lay silent in his cocoon of crinkly paper. Gold Bird’s warning haunted him. “You conceited fellow, it would serve you right …” Not to be there on Christmas Eve? He could not bear the thought.

The days grew shorter and a soft sprinkle of snow blanketed the roof. The wind whistled past the attic and the dark days edged toward December. Early one morning, footsteps on the attic steps awakened the Christmas birds. They held their breath, as their box was lifted from the shelf and carried down the stairs. “It’s time! Soon we’ll be on the Christmas tree,” the little Christmas bird whispered to Gold Bird.

One by one, the Christmas birds were lifted from the box. The young Christmas bird lay wrapped in his soft tissue wrapping. He heard the squeal as his friends were hung on the tree. He faintly heard music and children laughing. He even smelled the cookies!

“It’s almost time,” he whispered to Gold Bird. “It’s nearly my turn.”…but Gold Bird’s fluffy tail no longer tickled his nose. The ornament box was tossed into the corner; empty, except for the little Christmas bird. “Wait! What happened? I’m still here.” Overlooked in mother’s haste, he was left behind. His comfortable bed, now a prison, his beautiful body still swaddled in crinkly tissue paper. Muffled Christmas sounds reached his ears. A tiny plastic tear formed in his little red eye. “I was conceited and proud, and now I’ve been left behind.”

Christmas Day approached and he missed the entire Christmas season, alone in the box in the corner. On Christmas Eve, the family gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Christmas tree bird lay in his box, imagining the tree with his friends hanging on its branches. Even the scorned round ones were part of the celebration. “The round ones may not be as beautiful,” he lamented,” but they are on the tree, and I’ve been left behind.”

After supper, the family gathered by the Christmas tree. The little girl read from the Bible. “They wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and lay Him in a manger.”

Christmas bird thought, “I’m wrapped in swaddling clothes, like the baby Jesus,” and he imagined the tiny baby sung and warm, lying in a manger, warmed by the breath of the surrounding animals. He heard the daddy tell how Jesus came to earth as a tiny baby, and if we loved and trusted Him, He would take us to heaven and we would never be left behind.  The Christmas bird sniffed, “I know what it’s like to be left behind. How much worse it would be, to be left behind from Heaven.” Then, his box jiggled, the crinkling tissue paper lifted away and the warmth from the fireplace touched his cheek.

The little girl lifted Christmas bird from his box. “Look, Mommy! It’s another Christmas birdie. He has a red tear in his eye. Can we hang him on the Christmas tree?”

Daddy lifted her and she hung the little bird near Gold Bird. Looking down from the tree, the joyous Christmas bird felt the love in the room as the family shared gifts with one another. Carols played on the stereo. The spicy aroma of gingerbread drifted in from the kitchen. The family laughed and sang. Christmas bird wiggled with joy. At last, he was exactly where he wanted to be. Gold Bird swung around from a nearby branch and gave him a tender glance. “Welcome to Christmas, little bird. Did you learn anything?”

The light from the fireplace reflected the tear in his eye, shimmering like a drop of gold. “I understand,” he whispered. “Christmas is not about who is most beautiful, who is round or who has the brightest springy tail. It’s not about carols or turkey dinner or gingerbread, or even about presents under the tree. The true meaning of Christmas is God’s love for us with the birth of Jesus. When we accept His love and believe in Him, we will never be left behind.”