3
Sep

Introducing Mrs. Odboddy

Mrs. Odboddy – Home Town Patriot – oddboddycollage.1

Can you tell us a little about yourself, Mrs. Odboddy?

"Mrs. Odboddy sounds so old. I’m only 70. My friends call me Agnes. I live with my Siamese cat, Ling-Ling, and my granddaughter, Katherine. She lost her fiancé on the Arizona, at Pearl Harbor last year and she’s still a little bit lost. She works in a Beauty Salon here in Newbury. My volunteer work keeps me busy, and, as I’m sure you’re aware, every citizen must to be a home front warrior. There are Nazi spies and conspiracies everywhere."

Besides looking for Nazi spies, what kind of volunteer work do you do??

"I volunteer at the Boyles Springs Military Base USO several times a month, just up the Northern California coast. I also roll bandages at the hospital and work on the paper drive. Our ladies’ group at the church knits socks for the military. Probably my most enjoyable service to the war effort is on the coast watch every other Wednesday. As for Nazi spies, I’m sure that Sofia Rashmuller, the new gal in our knitting circle at the First Church of the Evening Star and Everlasting Light is a Nazi spy. Her dyed red hair is a dead giveaway."

But, Agnes…Your hair is dyed red.

"I beg your pardon! I do NOT dye my hair. I may freshen it from time to time with a henna rinse but I would never dye my hair. Fast women and European spies do that. I should know. I saw enough of them during WWI when I worked as an undercover agent for the USA. Of course, I was much younger then, but we saw some action, and I lived to tell about it."

Can you tell us about your WWI adventures?

"Of course not. If I told you the details, I’d have to kill you."

Did you ever kill anyway?

"Don’t be ridiculous… Well, there was that one time… Never mind. Next question?"

Okay. I can see that’s a sensitive subject. Let’s talk about these conspiracies you mentioned. What kind of conspiracies?

"Did I mention that I also volunteer at the Ration Book Center, addressing and sending out the ration coupon books to the neighborhood? Rationing is really terrible. Imagine. Only one pound of coffee per adult every six weeks! And the price of eggs! Actually, I’ve solved that problem."

Agnes? You were telling us about conspiracies?

"Oh, yes. This week, while addressing ration books, I came across a Black Market conspiracy. Someone is stealing ration books from the mailboxes at empty houses. I’ve convinced my friend, Jackson Jackson, to drive my Model A and I’ll bring my Brownie camera. We’ll catch the thief in the act."

I can see how that might go wrong. Are you sure….

"Really, young man! Where is your adventurous spirit? Where were we? Oh yes. Chickens. I’m getting six free chickens this afternoon. I’m not quite sure what we’ll do with them until Saturday, when Jackson is building us a coop. Guess we’ll just have to stick them in the bathroom."

In the bathroom? Really, Agnes. Are you sure that’s such a good idea?

"Why not? I’ll call them Mrs. Whistlemeyer, Sophia, Mildred, Clara, Abigail, and Myrtle, after my friends and associates. They’re just chickens, after all. What could possibly go wrong?"

What, indeed? Thanks, Agnes. We’ll continue this conversation another day.

"Delighted. Would you care for some tea? We’re completely out of coffee until next week."

1
Jan

Excerpt from Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer

BCLL_Cover_Front (2)

Here is a scene from Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer.The family is at Grandmother'sTexas horse ranch. She is teaching Kimberlee and Dorian how to make Apricot Jam when the trouble starts. .

“What should I do while Dorian picks the apricots?” Kimberlee looked around the large kitchen, ready to assist in the jam making process.

“Get a big kettle from under the counter and several large mixing bowls. The sugar and Sure-Jell is in the cupboard over the oven. The jars are already washed and stacked on the counter. We’ll have apricot jam before you know it.”

Kimberlee banged around the kitchen, following orders.

“Fix up a large kettle with cold water and ice. After the apricots sit in the boiling water for a few minutes, we’ll drop them into ice water. That loosens the skins so they slip right off. Once the pits are cut out, we’ll be ready to start the jam.”

The kitchen door squeaked open and Amanda came in, clutching the black and white cat to her chest. His long black hair covered his body. His legs with snowy white feet, dangled almost to her knees.
“Fumper says he’s hungry, Mama.” She staggered across the room, her arms wrapped beneath the compliant cat’s black legs.

Kimberlee shook her head. “I don’t think so, sweetheart. Daddy Brett gave him breakfast early this morning.”

“Uh-huh. He’s hungry. He tode’ me so. He wants some bacon.” Amanda squinched up her mouth and glared at her mother.

“Amanda. Don’t make naughty faces at Mama. Now, you run on and take Thumper outside to play. There’s a good girl.” Kimberlee gave her head a pat, and a little push toward the back door. Confrontation with a five year old in front of Grandmother wouldn’t impress anyone.

“Amanda, you come on back here.” Grandmother spread her arms wide. “Come and give Grandma some sugar.” She turned to Kimberlee. “If Amanda wants to feed da kitty bacon, that’s dust’ what her can do, ’cause Grandma says so.”
Amanda stood by the door, the cat clutched against her chest. Her gazed moved from her mother to Grandmother.

Kimberlee stepped between her and Amanda. “Please don’t contradict me when I discipline her, Grandmother. It just confuses her and makes it harder for me.” She knelt beside Amanda. “Now run along, Amanda. Go find Nanny.” She gestured toward the yard.

The muscles tightened in Grandmother’s face tightened. How dare she chastise me in front of the child, right in my own kitchen?
Amanda sidled across the room and put her hand on the refrigerator handle. She paused, waiting for the winner of the tug-a-war to make the final decision.

Grandmother couldn’t hide her smile. See how well her plans to take Amanda from Kimberlee were already working? Amanda was already accepting her authority and turning against her mother.

Kimberlee gave Amanda’s shoulder a shove toward the door. “I said, take Thumper outside!”

The warmth crept up Grandmother’s cheeks. She made a half-hearted effort to control her voice, without much success. “Kimberlee, where are your manners? You’re still a guest in my house. I said the child may do as she pleases. If Amanda wants to feed the cat caviar, she can feed the cat. I won’t hear another word on the matter.”

Kimberlee’s cheeks flamed. The kettle slipped from her fingers and clattered to the floor as Dorian stepped through the door with a pan full of apricots.

“What’s the matter? What’s wrong?” Dorian set the apricots on the table, picked up the kettle and placed it on the counter.

"Amanda and I are having a difference of opinion as to whether Thumper needs bacon. Grandmother feels that since it’s her kitchen, she should make the final decision, and I feel that Amanda and Thumper should get outside before one of them gets spanked. Now, if you’ll excuse me…” She rushed through the swinging door. Her feet pounded up the stairs. A bedroom door slammed.

Grandmother turned toward Dorian, the faint smile of success on her lips. “Just a little disagreement. Nothing to worry about. Now, if you’ll wash those apricots and put them on to boil for a few minutes, I’ll show you how to get the skins off in a jiffy.”

Dorian glanced between Grandmother and the door Kimberlee had disappeared through. “Perhaps we can get back to this later. I think I’ll go see if she’s okay.”

“She’s just having a snit…” The swinging door between the kitchen and the hallway sprang back and forth as Dorian hurried from the kitchen. “I swear, I don’t know what she’s so upset about. What difference does it make if the child feeds the cat or not?”

“Grandma?” Amanda dropped Thumper, her hand still on the refrigerator door. Her eyes were wide.

Margaret turned. “Amanda?” The inside of her head felt like a bottle rocket on the fourth of July. She lifted her foot off the pillow, stood and shuffled across the kitchen. She yanked open the refrigerator and grabbed the bacon. “Here! Feed the damn cat.” The plate of bacon clattered onto the counter.

Amanda set the plate of bacon on the floor in front of Thumper. “Here, Thumper. Eat you bacon.”

Grandmother limped out of the kitchen into the library. The fax machine on the desk hummed, and then began to spit out a printed report. Her heart thumped. Was it the information from the detective agency? Information that would prove Kimberlee an unfit mother and lay the groundwork to get custody of darling Amanda? She ripped the paper from the fax machine as the library door squeaked open.

“Grandma?” Amanda stood in the doorway, holding Thumper upside down in both arms.

Grandmother whipped her head around, shoving the paper behind her back. “What is it, now? Can’t you see I’m busy?” She felt her cheeks warm. How silly to feel guilty. The child couldn’t know what I’m looking at.

Amanda shifted the cat to her shoulder like a baby and patted his back. “Fumper’s not hungry. He doesn’t want any bacon.”
****
Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer is available at Amazon in print or e-book... even free under the Kindle Unlimited program.

20
Oct

A Halloween Story - Truffie and the Hotel Ghost

trufambercabinOne October weekend, Mom took Sissy and me to the Leger Hotel in Mokelume Hills, in the Sierra Mountains. She left us in the room while she went sightseeing. We stepped through the windows that opened onto the balcony where the prostitutes used to sit, according to the maid, advertising their wares.
Coming back inside, we could just make out the wispy outline of an old guy sitting on the sofa. His face was covered with gray whiskers and he was missing a front tooth. He waved a gnarled hand. “Excuse me. Could I trouble ya’ to help me move on to the here-after?”
My hair stood on end and my tail puffed up. “You’re a ghost! How can we help? We’re cats!”
“Maybe, you bein’ cats and all, you’se just the ones can help.”
Sissy glanced my way, her eyes the size of half-dollars. “Oooooh!”
“Stop being such a scaredy-cat !” I’m the thrill-seeking one. “Let’s hear him out.”
“Name’s Joe Harrigan. Me and my partner had a gold mine nearby back in 1876. They said I kilt him and they hanged me right outside that there windda’. I shoulda’ gone on to the here-after, but trouble is, I was innocent, see, so they couldn’t send me to Hell. But bein’ convicted of murder all official-like in a court a’ law, Heaven wouldn’t take me neither. I’ve been stuck here in this room in the in-between ever since.”
“How come you don’t ask a person to help?” I twitched an ear back, still somewhat skeptical.
“When folks see me, they runs off yellin,’ ‘I seen a ghost!’ and ask for another room. Sometimes they got a dog, but dogs is too stupid to pay attention. They growl and hide under the bed. I’m thinking maybe cats is more understandin’?”
Sissy and I exchanged glances. She nodded. “That’s true.”
The old guy’s aura faded. His hands trembled. “Look, girls, I’m about at the end of my rope…no pun intended. If I don’t move on to my final reward pretty quick, I might be stuck here forever!”
“But what can we do?” Sissy is always so realistic
“Before he died, my partner writ out his Will, tellin’ how he accidently shot hisself. I come to town to aggrieve his death. I hid George’s Will in the armoire, there in the corner before I went down to the bar. I told um’ George was dead and they got to thinkin’ I kilt’ him to steal the gold mine. One thing led to another which culsumated in a rope. Bein’ skunk-drunk, I plumb forgot to tell um’ about that air’ Will in the armoire. So they adjudged me guilty and hanged me dead.
“Oncet’ dead, my head sorta’ cleared 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 good name. It’s doubtful I deserve to go to Heaven but I’d like a crack at it.”
Truffie and the Leger Hotel Ghost – Elaine Faber & Truffie
Sissy and I nodded. What kind of cats would we be if we didn’t help a fellow into the here-after given the opportunity? We scratched at the armoire door until it opened and Sissy clawed at the back paneling.
“That’s it! Give it all you got, girls.” Joe’s aura hovered overhead. “It sorta slides in when you push on it. There! See that air’ paper stickin' out? Go for it.” Sissy bit the corner of the paper and eased it out.
“Hurry! You did it!” Old Joe crowed. “I’m saved. Now, can you take it to the authorities?”
Mom came back about then and saw us pawing the paper. “What are you girls up to? What’s that?” Mom picked up the faded Will with teeth marks in the corners.
“Meow!” I explained that if the teeth marks were a problem, Sissy did it, not me…but I don’t think she understood.
Mom read the paper.
“Where did this come from?” Mom spotted the open armoire and the pushed in paneling.
With a faint grin on his whiskered face and a wave of his hand, Joe’s ghost faded and drifted out through the open window.
Mom carried us downstairs to the Manager’s office and showed him the Will.
“My cats found this up in room two. It looks like a holographic Last Will and Testament. Your Historic Society might be interested.”
“Indeed! Room two? Folks often complain of a ghost in room two.” The manager read the paper.
Joe didn’t shoot me. I done it kleenin my gun. I got no fambly and Joe Harrigan gets my shar a the mine. Syned July3, 1876 George Harris
The manager pointed toward the plastic skeleton hanging on the balcony “They hanged Joe Harrigan from that very spot. He’s buried up on boot hill. You folks should go see his grave.”
We drove to the cemetery. Old Joe’s tombstone read, Joe Harrigan Born 1818− Hanged July 1876.
I hear that Joe’s ghost was never seen again at the Leger Hotel.
Someday, maybe the courts will clear Joe’s name. Do you suppose St. Peter gave Old Joe a fair trial when he got to Heaven? I hope so. He sure never got one back in 1876 when the townspeople of Mokelume Hills hanged him by mistake!

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