OVERVIEW: While the ‘tiger of war’ rages across the Pacific during WWII, eccentric, elderly Agnes Odboddy, ‘fights the war from the home front’. Then she finds a rat-filled shoebox on her porch, her house is trashed and she is implicated in the Wilkey’s Market burglary! In her own bumbling, hysterical manner, Agnes is determined to get to the bottom of things.
Then a traveling carnival with a live tiger joins the parishioners’ Harvest Fair at The First Church of the Evening Star and Everlasting Light. Agnes bears some of the responsibility when counterfeit bills are discovered at the carnival, and the war bond money goes missing. She’s in trouble again. Her attempts to restore the war bond money lead her into harm’s way. A friend’s betrayal results in a harrowing experience as Agnes learns more about carnival life and tigers than she bargained for.
(Excerpt from Mrs. Odboddy – And Then there was a Tiger)
(At the tiger's performance at the carnival)
For the next ten minutes, the trainer put the tiger through his paces. Probably declawed, and totally dependent on a human to provide his meat on the end of a stick, the tiger was as tame as a housecat. “Does anyone want to pet Shere Khan? He’s very friendly,” the trainer said.
Agnes touched Maddie’s cheek. “What do you think?”
“I…I…think so. Yes!” Maddie stepped closer. She ran one finger over Shere Khan’s head. “He’s so soft.” She stroked the tiger’s neck and scratched behind his ear.
Shere Khan turned into the caress, opened his mouth and yawned, showing long sharp teeth. His eyes sought Maddie’s face and their eyes locked in a gaze that seemed to connect their souls. At last, Shere Khan stood and ambled back toward the door of his caravan,
“Well, guess the show is over, folks. Our star has had enough public adulation.” The trainer chuckled and turned away.
Agnes reached for Maddie’s hand and gave it a shake. “Are you ready to go back now?”
Not responding, Maddie stared at the caravan door.
“Maddie? It’s time to go back.”
Maddie had not moved. She rubbed her fingers together, seeming unable to relinquish the sensation of the tiger’s ear, reluctant to forget the rumble in his throat as she stroked his face.
“Maddie?” Agnes searched Maddie’s face. The child seemed lost in the memory of a special shared moment, reluctant to return to her everyday life. “Shall we go, sweetheart?”
The child blinked. “I remember when we played together with baby lambs and goats in a meadow in Heaven…before I was born. Do you think he remembered, too?”
“What strange ideas you have, child. Where do you come up with such things?” Agnes grasped Maddie’s hand and hurried her away.
Played together in Heaven? What could have put such a thought into her head? Agnes glanced at Maddie’s face. Her eyes were aglow, her smile as innocent as an angel. Her face looked as though she truly remembered a day in Heaven when she played in a meadow with lambs and a tiger.
Goosebumps crept up Agnes’s arms. Hadn’t Pastor Lickleiter just preached on this text last Sunday? The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6 KJV)
Wolves? Leopards? Lions? Who’s to say there wasn’t a tiger among them.
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The reporter frowned. “ Odboddy! Please tell me in your own words just what caused the fire at the watch tower. I understand you were alone when the fire started.”
Mrs. Odboddy sighed, lowered her eyes and stared at her fingernails. She sat back down on the sofa chair. Here we go. Shouldn’t be too hard to convince them I was responsible. “You see, I…”
For some reason, now that it was time to relate a lie and take responsibility for a foolish act, her mouth went as dry as a prairie cactus flower. She took a quick breath and tried again. “It was like this. I was watching the coastline and…”
Her mind went blank. What did we decide I was supposed to say? That’s right. Kicked over the heater. “I turned on the heater. There was this squirrel, see. It climbed up the legs on the watch tower, or maybe it climbed up the ladder. I didn’t exactly see how it got in, but then it jumped over the wall. It startled me and I made a swipe at it with my purse and…and that’s when I accidently knocked over the heater…” Agnes glanced at the reporter and Ritchie. Were they buying it, or not?
“A squirrel… At the beach? Then what happened?” Harvey’s eyebrows touched the edge of his brow line. He wasn’t buying her story.
I’d better beef it up a little. “Well, maybe it wasn’t a squirrel. Maybe it was a…seagull. Now that I think of it, I’m sure it was a seagull. Anyway, I knocked over the heater and the spark ignited the kerosene and started the fire. I tried to put it out, but it spread too fast. I barely escaped with my life!”
Agnes’s heart thumped. She touched her nose with a shaking hand. In spite of the tingle at the end of her nose, it didn’t seem to be growing like Pinocchio’s.
“A seagull. Makes a little more sense. Why didn’t you say that the first time?” The reporter glanced toward Ritchie.
Ritchie’s hand covered his mouth. His shoulders shook.
Was he actually giggling? “I was embarrassed to say that a seagull startled me. You see, I’ve been terrified of seagulls ever since I was a baby and a seagull landed near my baby blanket and tried to pick…out…my…eyes…” Good grief. This blasted fib was spinning out of control with every breath. Why was this so hard? She’d been telling tall tales for years and never had so much trouble making the details sound right.
Harvey stood and glanced at his wristwatch. “So, let me get this straight for the newspaper story. In the middle of April, when it was close to 75 degrees at the ocean, a squirrel that wasn’t a squirrel but was really a seagull came over the wall. You have a fear of seagulls because one tried to peck out your eyes when you were a baby, and when you tried to chase it away, you accidently knocked over the heater and the watch tower caught on fire. You couldn’t put it out with the fire extinguisher hanging three feet away on the wall, and you barely escaped with your life. Is that about right?”
“You’ve got it! That’s exactly how it happened. Are we done now?”
Agnes jumped up from the sofa chair and opened the front door. “Thank you so much for dropping by. I’m looking forward to your story. Good-bye!
Harvey and Ritchie stood and stepped onto the porch. “Uhh. Okay. Good-bye.”
“Say hello to your aunt, won’t you?” Agnes closed the door and leaned against it. She put her hand over her eyes. Good grief! Katherine was going to have a cat-fit when she saw that whopper in print.
Mrs Odboddy Hometown Patriot is available at Amazon in e-book for $3.99 http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv
Mrs. Odboddy - Undercover Courier - Agnes travels by train and carries a package to President Roosevelt that she is sure contains secret wall documents. This is a scene from her first morning after sleeping on the train. Full of righteous pride, she is off to a bad start this morning...
Agnes hurried down the aisle before anyone else could beat her to the washroom. After brushing her teeth, washing her face, and smearing cold cream across her face, Agnes glanced into the mirror. She chuckled, noting that the cold cream made her face resemble a clown. Mid-chuckle, her smile faded. My purse! She’d left it in her berth, with the secret documents for President Roosevelt inside!
Agnes threw open the bathroom door and plunged down the aisle, cold cream still smeared over her face. What had she done? Oh, Lord above. Protect this idiot from her foolish ways.
The empty berth shrieked condemnation for her carelessness and neglect. Her purse was gone.
Oh, nooooo! Where was the porter who was supposed to be on guard, watching their belongings?
Agnes raced toward the far end of the car and found the porter, his head lolled to the side, his chair tipped back against the wall, sound asleep,.
“Porter! Wake up!”
The young man jerked. The legs of his chair slammed to the floor. He jumped to his feet, his eyes blinking. “Yes, ma’am?” He touched his cap, his eyes wild, scanning from left to right. As he came to full wakefulness, he peered at Agnes, her cold-creamed face contorted in rage. His eyes looked like black marbles floating in pools of milk. He stepped back, his trembling hands outstretched. “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again!”
“Porter! Did you see someone getting into my berth? I’m the second one from the end.” Agnes pointed down the aisle.
The porter’s face turned several shades lighter. “No, ma’am. Sorry ma’am. I…I… I’m afraid I fell asleep.” He hung his head. “Are you going to tell my boss?” He lifted his head.
Agnes reached up and touched her cheek. “Oh, my goodness!” I didn’t even wash my face. No wonder I scared the living daylights out of him. She pulled a tissue from her pocket and wiped at her cheeks. “I left the bathroom in such a hurry… But, then I discovered my purse missing from my berth!” Her heart raced as she uttered the dreadful words. And vanity clouded my good judgment! I’m such a fool.
His mouth trembled. Was he more concerned about her purse or getting caught sleeping on the job? “Missing? You’re sure you didn’t misplace it?” He hurried down the aisle toward her berth.
Agnes followed on his heels.
The porter yanked back Agnes’s curtain and glanced around her bed. Only the Bible lay on her pillow–. He slid the suitcases from side to side and tossed the pillow to the other end of the bed. “Have you checked in your suitcase?”
“Don’t you think I’d remember if I put it in my suitcase?” Agnes huffed. What kind of an idiot does he think I am? On the other hand, what kind of an idiot was she to leave her purse sitting on the bed with secret documents inside and run around the train with cold cream smeared on her face? Chill bumps raced up her arms as the realization of the loss hit home. She had failed the President of the United States of America on the first day out the door. She blinked to hold back tears as the porter rifled through both of her suitcases.
“Can you describe it, ma’am? What was inside?”
Agnes shrugged. “It was black…um…well, never mind what it contained. It had my wallet and my money and…and…my train ticket and passport.” Tears trickled down her cheeks.
“I’ll question the passengers before report it to the conductor.” The porter’s face contorted again.
Weren’t they two of a kind? Both brought low by their own carelessness. “I’ll finish up in the washroom while you look.”
The porter nodded and hurried off, leaving Agnes to return to her interrupted ablutions.
Agnes washed the cold cream from her face and stared into the washroom mirror. The wrinkles in her forehead had deepened over the past few minutes and the sparkle that folks said she carried in her eyes seemed to have abandoned ship.
Agnes straightened her shoulders and forced a smile. She gave her hair a final pat and stepped out the washroom door, climbed into her bunk and pulled the curtain. She laid her head back on the pillow, clutched the Bible to her chest and began to pray.
Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier Purchase this book at Amazon (e-book $3.99) at http://tinyurl.com/jn5zwb
An author must take great care when mixing fiction with history. We should not attempt to alter history, but where’s the harm in tossing our character into the action with actual historical events?
In Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, while volunteering time at a watch tower on the beach, elderly Agnes Odboddy spots a Japanese air balloon bomb headed for shore. She uncovers a ration book conspiracy and becomes romantically involved with an FBI agent searching for missing Hawaiian funds. And she meets Mrs. Roosevelt. Our fictional character and our plot weave around these historical facts, as the story moves forward.
In my latest WWII era humorous mystery/adventure, Mrs. Odboddy – Undercover Courier, Mrs. Odboddy, continues to fight the war from the home front in a small California town. In her bumbling charming way, she is determined to thwart conspiracies and expose Nazi spies.
Agnes and her granddaughter, Katherine, travel by train from California to Washington DC to join Mrs. Roosevelt’s Pacific Island tour. Agnes is asked to hand-carry a package to President Roosevelt. She believes it must contain secret war document! (Obvious, right?) She expects Nazi agents to attempt to steal her package. (Could happen!) Of course, along the way, she meets some intriguing characters who hinder as well as aid her in her mission.
Agnes befriends David and Samuel, two black soldiers bound for the Tuskegee Air Base, where they will be trained as pilots with the first all-Black fighting flying squadron.
And here is a bit of REAL history about the Tuskegee soldiers who became pilots.
Due to the many black men who wanted to volunteer, and the extreme loss of pilots in battle, it became expedient to set up a program to train Black fighter pilots, bombardiers and air support staff. A number of Black men with higher education and pre-war flying experience were selected to train as fighter pilots, but in a segregated squadron.
The most successful all Black squadron was the 99th squadron. They began to fly bombing missions in the spring of 1943.
Nine hundred ninety two Black pilots were trained in Tuskegee from 1941-1946. They were credited with 1578 combat missions, 179 bomber escort missions, destroyed 112 enemy aircraft in the air, and another 150 on the ground. Nine hundred fifty rail cars tracks and motor vehicles were destroyed. One destroyer was put out of action. Forty boats and barges were destroyed. Multiple citations were awarded along with many silver, bronze, air medals and 8 purple hearts.
Segregation of the troops ended in 1945.
And back to our story… When the train reaches Tennessee, Agnes’s friends run afoul of the JIM CROW laws and when she arrives in Washington, she faces trials that challenge her determination as a home front warrior.
Read Mrs. Odboddy - Undercover Courier and get the full story about Agnes and the Tuskegee airmen. The book will amaze and amuse all the way from California to Washington, D.C and shed a bit more light on more American history that may not be too familiar to many readers.
E-book available at Amazon for $3.99
Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier
Then there was a tiger ….
As every author knows, we, who manipulate the keys on the computer are not always in charge of the words that end up on the page.
This AM, while working on my third Mrs. Odboddy adventure…which I must admit is coming along very slowly thanks to the characters dragging their heels with less inspiration than I’m used to getting from my imaginary crew…
In this final sequel, I had every intention to wind up the series, finalize the romances outlined in book one, bring the culprit from book two to justice, and have Agnes unravel another Nazi-conspiracy.
We were at a crucial point in the story where someone has framed my protagonist for burglary, another character was just whacked in the head, and another couldn’t decide which of two men she loved and … And then…there was a tiger. Literally! A living, breathing striped tiger!
Throw out the rule book. Toss away the outline. Forget the red herring that I was just about to add to page 109, because now…there is a tiger.
Not that this is the first time a character has changed the direction of my story, but I have to admit, this is the first time there was a tiger. Now I have to figure out what to do with a tiger, in small town CA, during WWII.
Really? Come on guys!
I’m sure you’ve all experienced this to some degree. How many of you, while writing your Great American Novel, (or facsimile) have had a plan for where a particular scene should go when suddenly…the character takes over and drives the scene in a completely unexplained or impossible direction?