Sewing, Cooking, Planning for NaNo, Writing, and Christmas Cards?

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Hubby and me, Bad Witch and Good Witch, photo by Randy Cockrell

Saturday my hubby and I attended a Halloween party with a lot of our hiking friends. That’s the pic, there at the top of the post. We had a lot of fun. I went as a good witch and made my own costume. That’s where the sewing part came in. I had to modify hubby’s costume as well so, more sewing there.

The planning for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo) proceeds down to the wire. I still need two stories for the 14th and 28th of Thanksgiving.  My outline for my Cozy Mystery, working title, Mystery at the Fair, continues with difficulty. I have 45 scenes. I seem to toss more than I write new. I keep going through the cards, wondering where I can insert more trouble for my main protagonist, Jean Hays. I’m starting to wonder if I need another plot line. I have 4 days to figure it out.

I’ve also been thinking about the cover for Mystery at the Fair. Since I want to write these as a series, I’ve been contemplating the theme that will continue from book cover to book cover. My first thought is to have the same background color on each book. I’ll keep you posted on what the unifying element will be. If you don’t know, NaNo is a writing challenge. Every November thousands of authors, new and experienced, try to write 50,000 words or more in the month. It turns out to be 1667 words per day, minimum. You can go to the website and check it out. www.nanowrimo.org/en/sign_in It’s free to join and there are forums to visit to talk with others about writing.

I’m well into the final edits for the second book in my Brown Rain series. It’s at the editor’s now and I expect I’ll have it back from them in the next day or two. I’ll make the final corrections and start the formatting process. I finished the cover for it. It looks great. I think I’ll do the cover reveal next Monday. Stay tuned for that.

That thyme? Still on the drying rack. Sigh. I’d better hurry up and get that down and the rosemary and sage up on the rack.

Oh, and the Christmas Cards? I have made my own Christmas Cards for several years. It’s so much fun to pick a design and then the paper and colors and make all the pieces for assembly. The problem is that I send out about 60 cards, it’s a big family and we have a lot of friends. Unfortunately, it’s the end of October and I don’t have anything planned. Then there’s NaNo taking up a lot of time in November. So, I’ve decided that there won’t be homemade cards this year. I’m a little bummed but relieved that I can put that stress away to concentrate on writing. So, to my friends and family used to getting a homemade card, I apologize, but something has to give.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link.

First Encounter: a Brown Rain Story released September 18th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

Flash Fiction Friday: Day Ghosts

Red Sky by Randy Cockrell

Red Sky by Randy Cockrell

The summer sun still spread its fingers of light down my street. I hesitated in the doorway of my apartment building. I needed to get to work but I wanted to wait until the sun was gone from the sky.

The building super moved past me with a barrel of trash for the dumpster. He eyed me as he passed. I nodded. He viewed me with suspicion because I wanted the basement apartment on the north side of the building. “No one wants that apartment, why do you want it?”

I shrugged. “I work nights. I like it dark while I sleep during the day.”

He eyed me then too. “OK, but don’t come back in a month looking for a place on the top floor.”

I promised. I’d never ask for a place on the top floor. I love October. The days are noticeably shorter. I have more time to move around the city without sunlight. I know, most people want to be out in the sun. Not me. And before you ask, no, I’m not a vampire. Those are a myth. My problem is ghosts.

The sun’s last rays lingered but I had to go. I stepped out into the street and looked both ways. I didn’t see anything but I never do when I take this chance. I was nineteen when it first happened. I was leaving the college library after an all afternoon session. All I could think about was getting to the student union and filling a tray with a burger and fries. I was half a block from the Union when a cold shudder swept through me. I stopped dead on the sidewalk and felt as though I was going to vomit. I pushed hair out of my face with a shaky hand. I didn’t have time to be sick. I swallowed and looked around. There were a lot of kids but no one was paying any attention to me. I started on my way and was overcome again with that feeling of ice and doom. I made it to a bush, just loosing its yellowed leaves to the recent frost before I hurled into it. A couple of passing girls giggled. I blushed.

I turned around and headed for my dorm room. Hungry or not, I needed to lie down. I had three more attacks before I made it inside to rest. My mom called me three days later. “Have you been feeling all right, sweetie?”

“Yeah, I must have some bug.” My voice was weak, days of chills and vomiting had taken a toll.

The line was silent for a moment. “When do you get sick?”

“Outside, every time I try to go to class or to the cafeteria, I just lose it.”

She didn’t say anything. I thought the connection had been lost. “Mom?”

“Um, I need to tell you something.”

“What?”

“You remember your grandmother Winston? Never went out in the daylight?”

“Yeah? Kinda strange. Only went to night mass, that kind of thing.”

“Well, she was cursed.”

I had to digest that information for a minute. “Cursed, like a gypsy curse? There’s no such thing.”

“There is. Look. I’ll drive up. It’ll be dinner time when I get there. You stay inside and rest. I’ll come and get you.”

I felt better by the time she came. It was dark when we left the dorm. She took me to a nice place and I tore into a medium rare steak, baked potato and green beans. Over dessert I opened the discussion. “So tell me about the curse.”

She sipped Pinot Noir. “She was about your age and told me when you were a baby. I never paid any attention to her activities, it all seemed normal to me. She did everything after sunset. I thought that’s what everyone did. As a teen she’d made fun of some old woman on Main Street. The woman glared at her and said, “Laugh now, young one. See how you like living in the dark. This is for you and your’s every other generation for three generations.” Then she spit on the sidewalk at your grandmother’s feet.”

I resisted the urge to lick the inside of the crème brulee cup. “Seriously, Mom?”

“I know. But the symptoms you’re experiencing are the same as hers. Ghosts, she told me, can’t be seen well in the light. They were attracted to her and swarmed her. At night, they left her alone.”

My fingers flipped the licked clean spoon over and over on the white tablecloth. “You expect me to believe that? I can’t go out during the day because I’m being swarmed by ghosts?”

She nodded.

It’s been six years. Mom was right. I can’t see them, but they’re there and if a ray of sun is around, they’ll swarm me. I haven’t told my fiancé yet. I’m not sure how to do that. I round a corner and step into the last of the sunshine. I’m washed in cold air and it feels as though I’ve been punched in the stomach. What’s left of my late lunch comes up as I hurl against the wall of the building next to me. The sun drops behind the horizon and the cold disappears. I dig a tissue out of my pocket and wipe my mouth. A wino on a nearby bench asks if I’m OK.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Must have been bad food.”

“Gotta watch that, Miss. Those diners, they don’t care, just keep serving the old stuff up.”

“Thanks,” I tell him and wobble away.

No, I’m not sure how my fiancé is going to take this at all.

Racing through October

Red Rocks of Sedona by Randy Cockrell

Red Rocks of Sedona by Randy Cockrell

Is the month going by as fast for you as it is for me? Wow, it’s been a crazy month. Last week my hubby and I went to Sedona with several of our hiking friends and had a good time hiking that area. The picture at the top of the post is from there. Too beautiful for words. Of course the weekend before was the craft fair, that was exciting. The 4th was my visit to the Sedona book fair.  Then there are the meetings for the book festival we’re planning for Payson, dental appointments, HOA meeting, project management phone calls and a luncheon for the neighborhood ladies.

In between all of that, I’m prepping for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo). I want to have stories scheduled for every Friday in November so I don’t have to worry about that while I’m writing my newest draft. I have 2 scheduled, 1 written and ready to be scheduled and one still to be done. I still need one for the 31st of October, too. That should probably be kind of Halloweeny, don’t you think? Other NaNo planning is my outline. It’s going to be a cozy mystery, the first one I’ve tried to write. I have five plot lines and about 30 scene sentences completed. I think another 30 – 40 scenes will fill the story out nicely. If you don’t know, NaNo is a writing challenge. Every November thousands of authors, new and experienced, try to write 50,000 words or more in the month. It turns out to be 1667 words per day, minimum. You can go to the website and check it out. www.nanowrimo.org/en/sign_in It’s free to join and there are forums to visit to talk with others about writing. I need to think about a cover for my cozy mystery, too. Hmmm.

The garden is still producing tomatoes and the sweet and hot pepper plants still have a couple peppers on them ripening. Otherwise the garden is looking a little worn and tired. Soon I’ll have to pull everything out and prep the beds for the winter.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link. Let me know if you’d like to be a reviewer on Goodreads or the e-tailer site of your choice.

First Encounter: a Brown Rain Story released September 18th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

Writing Platform? Do I have One?

Phoebe at Park by Randy Cockrell

Phoebe at Park by Randy Cockrell

When I saw this month’s topic, to be honest, I was baffled. I didn’t know what that meant. So, being a modern woman I went to the internet to get some help. I stumbled on http://www.be-a-better-writer.com/writing-platform.html and checked out the definition there. Here’s the first paragraph on their page.

“Having a writing platform means that you have an audience, and that you have some vehicle in place to reach that audience when you have books to sell. This platform is as important to those not yet published as it is to established writers.”

Oh! Yeah, how am I contacting people, selling books, putting my name out there? Good question. The site offers thirteen things you should or could do to create a rounded “platform”. If you’re interested in what they suggest, check out the site. However, we get all of this same information right here on Forward Motion. Here are a few of the things I do.

Aside from writing the next book, which is the number one suggestion, I started a blog. One day I’ll turn it into a regular website but for now, until I start earning money from my books, the blog does much of what a website will do for me. It forces me to write to my audience on a regular basis. I’ve settled on two days per week, Monday and Friday. Friday’s are for a flash fiction piece. It tends to be a little rough. After all, I’m putting out a story a week! But that regularity helps me be consistent. Don’t think I gained a lot of readers right off the bat, it took a long time and I still have fewer than 500. Monday posts are for getting to know me. I share news about my garden, my writing, my family, my hobbies. I’ve focused my blog on my readers, not other authors. You won’t find author tips there but you may find a recipe to use the abundance of your garden.

I have business cards for my writing. That’s another suggestion. When I mention that I’m an author, people want to take a look at what I’m writing. A business card makes it easy. I use the cover of my most recent book as the graphic and usually print ten or so at a time with my facebook page and blog page listed so people can find me. When do I buy business cards? See the next paragraph.

To get more exposure, do an author signing, or a reading at the local library, or give a presentation to a local group. An author signing can be at a book store, the local library or in my case, a local craft fair. I made sure I had plenty of professional looking business cards made up, they cost about $10, and I had a postcard made as a give away at my table. It’s good to offer a little something extra to those that buy your book. And it’s nice to have something with your info on it to give those who look interested but don’t buy right that minute.

Another thing I’ve done is help other authors. I had a lot of help in my path to learn how to be an author. Now, I feel confident enough to help other authors. Being generous with my knowledge helps others and who do you think they’ll mention to their readers when they talk about how they became successful? This is a good place to mention that you can use your website or blog platform to help authors advertise their books. Give them a platform or give them a review. It’s all good.

There are a lot of other ways to add to your writer’s platform. Some I have the time and competence to do, others I’ve not tried yet. If you’re a reader, how do you feel about going to your favorite author’s website? If you’re an author, what do you do to build your writer’s platform? Feel free to leave a comment in the comment box below.

About the picture above. I was looking for a picture of puzzlement. I didn’t find any I liked but I did come across this picture of a little chihuahua I know, Phoebe. It was so cute I had to use it.

The Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour is sponsored by the website Forward Motion (http://www.fmwriters.com). The tour is you, the reader, travelling the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. There are all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s always something new and different to enjoy. If you want to get to know the nearly twenty other writers check out the rest of the tour at http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com!  Up next: Jean Schara!

Flash Fiction Friday: Royal Apples

Gala Apple on Tree by Randy Cockrell

Gala Apple on Tree by Randy Cockrell

The prompt for this story came from a Chuck Wendig challenge. From a list of uncommon apple names, pick three and create a story using those names. I had fun with this and used more than three names.

King Solomon sat on his throne, Reverend Morgan standing on the floor of the throne room in front of him. All of the King’s advisors and courtiers had been sent from the room. He even dismissed the guards. They were alone.

“Tell me again?”

“Yes, Sire. Your son, Crown Prince Rudolph has come to me in private asking me to wed him and one of your maids, Malinda. I put him off, but it seemed to me that the young man was making an error in judgment. I’ve come to you, despite Prince Rudolph’s confidence in me, to let you know.” He spun his hat in his hands around and around the brim as he spoke.

The King drummed his fingers on the arm of the throne. It was just like his son to run off and try to secretly wed one of the servants. He scowled at the Reverend. “I find it disconcerting, sir, that you betray a confidence of one of your flock.”

Reverend Morgan had the grace to look ashamed.

“That being said, I appreciate the information. Have you met the girl?”

“No, Sire. Just the Crown Prince.” The man shuffled his feet and looked at the floor.

King Solomon glared at the far wall. “That will be all, Reverend. Thank you for telling me.”

The Reverend bowed, turned and hurried to the door of the throne room. By the time the echos of the door closing behind the man finished ricocheting around the room, the King decided what to do. “Guard!”

Two guards opened the door to the throne room and stood at attention. One of you find the Prince and bring him to my apartments. The other one, find the servant Malinda. Bring her to me after the Prince arrives in my apartment.”

The guards bowed and hurried off.

An hour later, Crown Prince Rudolph was shown into the King’s apartment. He was at his carved oaken desk in front of a window, reading dispatches.”

“Father,” the Prince bowed in front of the desk. “You sent for me?”

The King put down the dispatch he was reading and stared at his son. “You’re twenty-three this year, son, are you not?”

“Yes, Father.”

“And you think it’s time for you to marry?”

A blush crept up the young man’s face. He straightened his spine. “I do, Father. I take it Reverend Morgan spoke with you?”

The King stacked his papers neatly and set them to the side of the desk. He folded his hands in front of himself. “He did. You are aware that I am negotiating an alliance with the King of Russet for the hand of his daughter for you?”

“I’m aware, Father. But I’ve never met the girl. She could look like a horse and weigh as much.”

They were interrupted by a knock at the door. “Enter,” the King called out.

The guards escorted the servant, Malinda, into the room. The King dismissed them with a wave of his hand. A comely girl, the King thought to himself, as he watched the two young people exchange worried glances. She stood next to the Prince after a curtsy to the King.

“You wish to wed my son?”

She glanced at the Prince and swallowed. “Yes, Sire.”

“I have plans for the Prince. Marrying a servant does the kingdom no favors, girl.”

Her head drooped. “I understand, Sire.”

A teardrop sparkled in the sunlight streaming through the window. He felt sorry for them but he had to think about the kingdom. “Where are you from, girl?”

“From the Kingdom of Apple, Sire. I came here as a child, my parents were killed there.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. I remember an uprising there, oh, ten years ago. The royal family was all killed. The country still hasn’t recovered.” He looked closely at the girl.

“Yes, Sire.”

“The King and his Queen were friends of mine. We held a hunt every year.” He leaned forward. “Let me see your face.”

The Prince nodded for her to comply. She held up her head, tears still in her blue eyes.

The King’s brow furrowed. “Who were your parents?”

Malinda twisted her skirt in her hand and looked as though she wanted to bolt from the room. “My parents here are shop keepers, Sire. They sell dry goods and imported items from other lands.”

He shook his head. “Your birth parents. Who were they?”

Her mouth worked and she twisted the bit of skirt even harder. “I was told never to say, Sire. For my own protection.”

The King pushed away from the desk and walked to the girl taking her face in his hand. He peered into her face. “Tell me.”

He could see her throat work. “King Oliver and Queen Lacy.”

“I knew it,” he shouted and dropped his hand. “You look just like your mother.”

She shrank back as the Prince put his arm around her.

“What is it, Father?”

“I’d heard that the Princess’ body had never been found. I sent spies into the revolution to try and find out what happened but the girl was gone without a trace. The shop keepers, who were they?”

She took the Prince’s hand. “My guard and my nanny. They married when they got here and kept me safe.”

King Solomon clapped his son on the shoulder. “Perfect. I’ve wanted to do something about that revolution for years. This is excellent.”

Two months later, the Crown Prince Rudolph married Princess Malinda. In the spring, he led the army to the Kingdom of Apple to retake the throne. After the war, he and Queen Malinda reigned there happily ever after.

 

The End

936 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

Weekend at the Craft Fair: Author Signings

The Drawing Prize Basket by Connie Cockrell

The Drawing Prize Basket by Connie Cockrell

I organized a book signing for this weekend’s craft fair. http://pinestrawberrybusinesscommunityaz.com/fallapple.html I started a couple weeks ago, contacting the fair people and it happened a fellow author volunteers for the event. We teamed up and were hoping to get an outdoors 10X10 ft. space for a discount. It turns out they had space inside and the other authors (3 of them) that we were going to shoehorn into the space, sharing the cost, would get tables inside too, all for the fact the one author volunteers. Yay! So five 8 ft tables indoors. Here’s the low down on all of them.

Me:

Me at my table by Connie Cockrell

Me at my table by Connie Cockrell

I sold the entire Gulliver Station series at the craft fair. I sold 4 complete sets and 2 of the first novel of the series. I also had 11 people sign up for my newsletter. I’m calling that a win. You can find links to locations were you can find all of my books on the Books tab on this blog site. I also have an Author Page on Amazon where you can find a list of my books.

Nancy Lee Burns:

Nancy Lee Burns at her Table by Connie Cockrell

Nancy Lee Burns at her Table by Connie Cockrell

This is the wonderful volunteer. Many thanks Nancy. She had two books at the signing, her first book: Retirement: Sacred or Scared and her newest book, Enjoy the Apple: You Picked It. Click on the titles to go to the Amazon links. She calls these Spiritual Adventure books.

Ken Crump:

Ken Crump and his book by Connie Cockrell

Ken Crump and his book by Connie Cockrell

Ken brought his children’s book, The Last Moment, to sell and sign. Click on the book title to get to the Amazon page. He had a wonderful illustrator for the book, Amy Abney, also local to my area. Her art work is amazing. His blog is www.brickhousepiggy.com and can be reached at KenCrumpAuthor@gmail.com.

Carole Emma Mathewson:

Carole Emma Mathewson and her Book by Connie Cockrell

Carole Emma Mathewson and her Book by Connie Cockrell

Carole has two books out, The Hostess of Providence, a one woman play, and her newest book, The Waste of War, a Civil War era Historical Fiction that is about her great-grandparents, a Union surgeon and his wife, who served as his nurse through some of the most horrendous parts of the Civil War.

Finally but not least, AnneMarie Eveland:

AnneMarie Eveland doing a Face Reading by Connie Cockrell

AnneMarie Eveland doing a Face Reading by Connie Cockrell

She brought her Self Help/Psychology book, At First Glance: What Faces Reveal. She spent much of Saturday doing readings for people. It was quite well accepted. Her site is www.HurrahForHumans.com and can be reached at Annemarie@HurrahForHumans.com.

We all had a great time chatting with craft fair goers, trading writing tips and enjoying a wonderful camaraderie. The basket drawing was won by Tara Fuller of Chandler who has donated the basket back to us. We’ll have to decide what to do with it now. I threw all the rest of the tickets away in Pine so have no way to draw a new winner.

I for one, learned a few things.

- Many people saw my SciFi books and assumed they were for kids. I had to gently tell them they had adult themes.

- People visiting a craft fair tend to walk as far from the tables as they can get and do their best not to make eye contact.

- Having a drawing, which we did, brings people in close enough to chat. Our drawing was a basket with one book donated by each author and a big mug with 5 different ways to make hot chocolate. If the word free didn’t bring them in to make out a ticket to drop in the jar, the word chocolate seemed to do the trick.

- Once you have them in to chat, we had great conversations and some people even took our business cards. A few even bought a book.

- Catchy book titles will bring passing visitors in for a look. Nancy’s book, Retirement: Sacred or Scared generated quite a few conversations.

- Don’t throw the drawing tickets away until we actually get the prize to someone.

Overall, we had a great time and hope we can get together again sometime.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link. Let me know if you’d like to be a reviewer on Goodreads or the e-tailer site of your choice.

First Encounter: a Brown Rain Story released September 18th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

Flash Fiction Friday: Final Third of Mystery at the Fair

Fonda Fair Butter Sculpture 2009 by Randy Cockrell

Fonda Fair Butter Sculpture 2009 by Randy Cockrell


Here’s the final third of the story with the whole thing in place so you don’t have to look for it. This is my first experiment with the cosy mystery genre. It’s a lot of fun. What do you think? Are you interested in hearing more about Jean Hays? Leave a comment!

Sweat rolled down the side of Jean Hays’ face, her short graying brown hair stuck to her forehead. The sun beat down out of a cornflower blue sky while end of the monsoon season thunderheads built up into towering blinding white and ominous portents of future rain. Rain every year for the fair, she thought as she trudged to the storage container where the plastic tubs of left over ribbons, banners and other fair paraphernalia resided the rest of the year.  She wiped her face and hoped the units were unlocked. The Fair Board President, Arris Van Horn wasn’t answering his phone. He should have them open by now.

She wiped the sweat from her face and lightly touched the metal handles of the shipping container. The front of the unit had been in the sun all day but while it was hot to the touch, she could grab the lever and pull it up. Must be ninety degrees out here. She swung the door open with relief that she wouldn’t have to trudge all over the fairgrounds looking for Arris and stepped inside. It was dark just a few feet inside the metal box and at least a hundred and twenty degrees. Sweat began dripping in earnest. Smells like mice in here, hope they haven’t gotten into the tubs, she thought.

Winding her way past safety cones, stacked tables, buckets of rope, steel cable and broken metal chairs, she stepped over a pile of rebar to reach her stack of tubs. One, two, three, four, she counted, where’s the fifth tub? The heat was giving her a headache. Maybe it’s farther to the back. A pile of cardboard boxes labeled, Mud Run, blocked her way. The storage container held material for several events that occurred on the fairgrounds during the year. Jean moved the three boxes behind her and stepped over a pile of rusting chain. Wish I’d brought a flashlight, she thought. It’s dark back here.

Squinting, she saw the medium blue tub four feet away on top of another stack of bins. There you are. She wiped her face again and held her breath. The smell of dead things was over whelming. I hope nothing crawled into my bin. The ribbons will be ruined. She picked her way past boxes, rusting metal things she couldn’t identify and a broken ladder. She pulled the tilted bin toward her and the pile of bins it was on fell over. Her bin slid to the floor, taking part of her thumbnail with it. “Owww,” she cried as she jerked her hand away. In front of her, the two doors of a metal cabinet creaked open and a desiccated human body fell out on top of her bin. She shrieked and scrambled outside.

She stared, panting, at the open door of the container then dialed 911. “This is Jean Hays. I’m the VP of Exhibits for the fair. I just found a dead body in the storage container on the fairgrounds.”

——-

Standing inside the yellow crime scene tape, Jean watched what looked like complete chaos as an EMT bandaged her thumb.

“That should do it,” he said as he smoothed the tape. “You should get a tetanus shot, too. The Emergency Care place over on the corner of the Highway and Longview Street can take care of you. If you go to the hospital emergency room it’ll cost more.”

“Thanks.” Jean examined her thumb. “I’ll do that.” She nodded toward the crowd of milling police and coroner and EMT’s. “Crime scenes always look like this?”

He shrugged. “Don’t know. There hasn’t been a murder in town since I started working, eleven years ago.”

They were interrupted by a uniformed officer. “Who said it was a murder?”

“It looked like a murder to me.” Jean nodded her thanks to the EMT who left. The officer’s tone annoyed her. She held out her right hand. “I’m Jean Hayes.”

He shook her hand, after a look of suspicion. “I’m Chief of Police Nick White. You found the body?”

“Scared the crap out of me. Fell out of the double door cabinet. Stuff was piled in front of it that held the doors closed. If it was a suicide, how’d stuff get piled in front of the door?” She jerked her chin at the small crowd gathering outside the tape. “The press is here.”

Chief White turned to see a photographer taking pictures with a long lens. “That’s Scott Duley, works for the town newspaper. The editor will be calling me soon for the story.” He turned back to her. “Did you recognize the body?”

“No.” Jean was hot and wanted a drink of water. A whole bottle of icy cold water sounded really good, what with the sun beating down on her head. “It was too dark in there and I was busy getting out. I’ve only lived here a year, anyway. Most people are still strangers.”

His left eyebrow cocked up. “You’re on the Fair Board.”

Jean shrugged. “Not hard. They needed volunteers and I’m a good organizer.”

Nick eyed her then said, “The body had ID, Ida Grange.” He studied her reaction.

She shook her head. “Sorry, Chief, It doesn’t ring a bell.”

“She and Arris Van Horn were an item last year.” He adjusted his equipment belt.

It was Jean’s turn to raise an eyebrow. Why would he share that information? she thought. “You think Arris did this? A poor place to hide a body since he’s in charge of the container.”

The Chief sniffed. “Maybe.” He looked around and waved an officer over. “Take Ms. Hays statement and let her get back to her business.”

“What about my bins?”

He looked directly at the officer. “Check the bins and if they’re clean, let her have them.” He never looked at her, just turned and walked back over to the gurney where the body lay covered.

—–

After an eternity of questions and a maddening examination of the bins, Jean was released. In the Exhibits building the Superintendents surrounded her.

“What happened?” was the primary question. She told them what she knew and they drifted off to complete their set up.

Karen Carver, Superintendent of Homemaking Arts, approached her half an hour later as Jean reviewed paperwork for the exhibits. She handed Jean an icy bottle of water. “I expect they kept you standing in the sun. You’re probably thirsty.”

Jean took the bottle and untwisted the cap. “They did.” She drank half the bottle then her right eye squinted. “Sorry, ice cream brain.” She recapped the bottle. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” Karen glanced around the building. “Um, did you hear anything?”

Jean cocked an eyebrow. “As in?”

“You know; any suspects?”

Jean didn’t really know these people. While they’d had a few planning meetings, she wasn’t friends. She wondered how much to say. “Well, the Police Chief asked probing questions.”

“Probing?”

Jean asked, “What do you mean?”

Karen shrugged. “Well, you know, it’s a small town. A body was found in one of our storage containers. It’s got to be a short list of suspects.”

“Do you have a theory?”

The woman looked around again. The fans that moved the hot air drowned out any nearby conversations. “Well, Ina George has been missing for months.”

“What do you know?”

“Maybe I shouldn’t say.”

Jean’s military training kicked in. “If you know something, you need to say so, to the authorities.”

“Well,” she tugged at the hem of her sleeveless blouse. “I don’t know for sure.”

“Come with me,” Jean said in her best Master Sergeant voice.

Karen fidgeted but after a command wave, followed Jean to the crime scene.

“Chief White,” Jean called from the outside of the crime scene tape.

“Yeah.” Annoyance spread across his face.

Jean had the urge to say “FU” and turn away but she held her ground. No small time police chief was going to intimidate her. “It’s important.”

He said something to the officer beside him and strode to the tape opposite them. “I’m a little busy, Ms. Hayes.”

“I understand that, Chief.” Her voice rose slightly and he scowled. “Ms. Carver is one of my Superintendents and I believe she has some pertinent information.”

He questioned Karen, then called an officer over to take her information while he stepped away to make a call on his radio. Two squad cars raced off, dust spewing into the air.

It wasn’t until the next Tuesday that she read in the paper that Arris had been arrested for the murder of Ida Grange.

A week later she bumped into Chief White at the local grocery. “Ms. Hays.”

“Chief.”

“Thank you for the tip last week.”

“My pleasure, Chief.”

He looked uncomfortable. “Uh, have a good day.”

“You too, Chief.”

She rolled her eyes when they parted. “What a clown,” she muttered.

 

The End

500/485/488 Words

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