Category Archives: Garden Grove

Garden Grove: 7 Rusty Plowshare’s Scheme – Rusty by LV Gaudet

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

“So, the skull wasn’t good enough, huh?  Oh, I’ve got something better than that, much better,” Rusty Plowshare muttered bitterly.

The old man nodded to himself.  His chin, white with unshaven whisker stubble, caught and held a piece of loose straw in the stubble when he came away from the stacked bales of hay he was digging between.  The straw bales were sagging with rot and greyed with age, their fibres breaking down over the years they had sat idle.

He turned away, rummaging through one pile and then moving on to another.  Rusty moved with arthritic slowness, the skin on his thin arms sagging from age and loss of the underlying muscle mass of youth.  His face, leathery from decades of working in the sun and wrinkled with age, gave him a crazy old man in the mountains look instead of wizened with age.

He was in the old barn, its interior packed with an amazing amount of clutter of every description.  It is unbelievable the old man can even move around in there, much less search the place.  The old packrat collected anything.

There are cats everywhere too, cats of every age and description, some looking very unhealthy, all feral strays that had made this barn their home.

“Now, where’d I put it?” he muttered to himself.

It wasn’t in the narrow space of a double wall between two stalls.  He moved on to search somewhere else.

“Maybe behind the loose board in the wall?”  He pried the board off and looked.

“Ah, I know, under the floorboard!”  He moved and stooped over a floorboard, pulling it up to look beneath.  Most of the barn floor is an open dirt floor.  However, one end of the barn, for reasons known only to the old man and his predecessors, has a rough floor of old two by fours that are now soggy with rot.  One part of this section, in the dark shadowed recesses of the corner, hides a small makeshift cellar dug into the ground beneath the floor, the rest of it covering part of the dirt floor that makes up most of the barn floor.  This particular floorboard covered a gouged out section of dirt just deep enough to hold its small treasures wrapped in rotting cheesecloth.

But what he is looking for is not there.

“Damn!”

“I know it’s here somewhere,” Rusty grumbled.

Noticing the carelessly dumped loose soil marking the spot where the skull had been dug up from, the old man reminded himself, “Got to stamp that down some, won’t do to have anyone finding it.”

The old skull had been buried in the barn for a very long time.  Of course, the rest of the body was there too, along with the tool used to kill the man.

It’s very possible the man buried so many years ago in the dirt of the barn was old Rusty Plowshare’s great great grandfather.

He did not really know for sure.  There was more than one body buried beneath the old barn through the generations of his family that lived here.

His great great grandmother’s husband, the man whose family name he carried, did not really know for sure either when he bludgeoned the young man to death in a jealous rage in that year after the then young couple was married.

If the rumours spread that day so long ago by a group of busybody old women making trouble where they had no business putting their noses were true, rumours of the wife’s alleged infidelity and possibly questionable pregnancy, then those were the remains of his murdered great great grandfather.

Or, the young man may have been an innocent victim of a husband’s jealousy and a bunch of busybodies making trouble where there wasn’t any.

Only his great great grandmother knew the truth.

She was buried beneath the woodshed some years later, after failing to provide her husband with an offspring that was undeniably his in his mind.  She had given birth to more children after that first boy, but her husband could not let go of his suspicions.

There are many dark secrets in his family’s history, and Rusty Plowshare knows where each one of them was buried.

It also could have been someone else.  Rusty had heard stories passed down about his great great grandfather’s violent temper.

“Ahh, there you are!” he cooed.  “Beautiful.”  He pulled out a round wrapped bundle and held it up as if presenting it to the watching eyes of the dozens of felines witnessing his moment of triumph.

“I know just what to do with you.  If you don’t stop them from digging out those woods, nothing will,” he said.

“I know just what to do with you,” he repeated happily.

 

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the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

Garden Grove: 6 Vandals Strike Again – Stanley by LV Gaudet

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

When Stanley returned to Garden Grove he went directly to the trailer office.  Pinching the padlock loop just above the block shaped lock mechanism between the blades of the lock cutter; he squeezed the lock cutter arms together angrily with more force than was needed.  With a little resistance, the blades pinched and cut through the lock, and the lock clattered to the ground.

He picked it up, removed the loop that still held the door latched, and went inside.

His snarl of outrage could be heard across the jobsite.

Inside the trailer was clear evidence someone had gained entry and gone through files.  Files and papers had been scattered everywhere.

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the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

Garden Grove: 6 Vandals Strike Again – Dave by LV Gaudet

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At the hospital, Dave McCormack and a few of the other poisoned workers are being discharged.  Being the slow process that it is, the discharges ran over the span of a number of hours.

As the men left one by one, they stopped in to wave a goodbye and crack the usual jokes about hospital food to the other men sitting in their rooms dressed to go home with their hospital issue plastic bags holding their personal effects of cards, well wishes, and stuff that was supposed to entertain them during their temporary hospital incarceration.  They made their rounds of the men who would still be in the hospital for a few more days or weeks, the ones who were allowed visitors anyway.

Dave was one of the earlier releases.  He made his rounds with his worried wife at his side fussing over him and looking like she was going to cry over every man they visited who couldn’t go home just yet.

Dave almost cried himself while he visited some of the men he’d worked with, spending long hours labouring and joking, the casual after work Friday beers shared, and now looking like death hovered within reach.

Two men who were supposed to go home in a few days had worsened and were moved into intensive care.  It isn’t looking good for either of them.

One of the men originally in intensive care had been moved to a regular hospital bed after improving considerably.

Another was taken off life support, his quality of life ruined and showing little brain activity.  But his body is still too stubborn to pass away.  His heart kept ticking, his lungs feebly collapsing and expanding.  The doctors are sure he will not survive.

Dave walked out of the hospital into the bright cool afternoon with an exhilarating feeling of release mixed with a heavy heart.  He feels like he has just been released from a prison, although he’d never actually had the prison experience to compare his feelings to.

He also walked with the weight of an entire injured crew on his shoulders.

He isn’t the foreman.  It is the foreman’s job to take responsibility for the safety of the men on the crew.  But he feels the guilt just the same.  He is the most senior man on the crew after the foreman.  He feels just as responsible for the men’s safety, especially the green ones.

 

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Where the Bodies Are

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The McAllister Farm

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Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

Garden Grove: 6 Vandals Strike Again – Stanley by LV Gaudet

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

As dawn broke over the horizon, adding an orange glow to the darkness, trucks and cars started lining up along the still unpaved road going into the Garden Grove site where new homes would soon start sprouting from the ground.

The large sign at the entrance announcing the coming of sleek and stylish homes and the promise of country-city living in the new Garden Grove Meadows development sported a new and rather rude crudely drawn caricature of what appeared to be intended as the foreman overseeing the job.

Stanley Rutthers stopped his truck to look at the vandalized billboard sign.  He shook his head with a chuckle at the drawing of himself splashed across the sign in large swatches of paint in a color that suggested someone had bought the wrong paint and rushed to the store in horror for a new color, leaving the unused paint to eventually find its way here.

“Kids,” he muttered.

Yelling from the site caught his attention.

He continued on into the jobsite to park closer, wondering what he will find this time.  This constant vandalism has gone well beyond being tiresome.

He parked near the scene of the commotion where one of the men was pounding senselessly on the door of one of the blue plastic portable toilets and swearing loudly.

As Stanley got out of his truck, the man ran off down the road, jumped into a truck, and tore out of there, the truck’s tires spitting dirt as he gunned the engine in a big hurry.

Stanley watched him go and stared down the road in mute surprise for a moment after he was out of sight before he turned and looked at the men standing around, their reactions ranging from laughter to shock and fear.  It was obvious there was an issue with the toilets and the man really had to go.

He headed over to them to find out what is going on.

“The doors are all glued shut,” one of the men said as he approached.

Stanley turned and walked away shaking his head.  He did not know if he should laugh or cry.

He walked towards the little portable trailer that serves as a jobsite office, digging his keys out of his pocket on the way.

Stanley paused just before reaching the trailer, looking around.  A chill feeling of dread ran down his back and the words of an old saying from his childhood, “someone just walked over my grave,” came to his mind.  He’d heard the phrase many times in response to that sudden unexplained shiver that sometimes takes people by surprise.

He has the uneasy feeling that someone is watching, and that it is not just a casual observer.  He can feel the intent to harm in that stare and for just a moment he could not shake the feeling that he was the mouse the cat is about to sink its claws into.

Stanley turned and stared at the section of woods that they had not yet cleared.  He has a sense he is being watched from there.  He studied the woods, looking for any sign of movement.  There is none except the muted shaking of the trees’ branches in the wind.

The uneasy feeling would not go away.

He continued on and stopped at the trailer door, grasping the padlock in one hand and bringing the key to it.

The key resisted going into the padlock.  The keyhole seemed to be blocked by something.

“Glue?” he wondered.  If someone glued the toilet doors, they could have glued the lock too.

He knelt down, examining the lock.  He thought he saw something pink inside it.

He tried shoving the key in again.  There was resistance, but he could force it part of the way in.  He could not get it even half way in.

He pulled the key back out.

Some kind of pink substance came out in small chunks, scraped out of the lock by the key.

He sniffed it.

Bubblegum.

“Shit!” he muttered.

Stanley is in a foul mood now as he headed back to his truck.  He has to go to the company office for a pair of bolt cutters to cut through the padlock and a new lock.

“Hey, what are you going to do about the toilets?” one of the crew called after him.

Stanley paused and turned back to meet the expectant stares of his men.

“Hell if I care,” he grumbled.  “Cut the damned doors off.”

He was turning away again and thought better of it.  These guys probably would cut the doors off.  He turned back to them again.

“I’ll get the office to call the company to bring out new ones.  They can cut their owned damned doors off.”

He turned away and went to his truck, driving out of there a little too fast in his anger.

 

GARDEN GROVE IS AVAILABLE ON KINDLE AND IN PAPERBACK ON AMAZON

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

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where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

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Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

Garden Grove: 5 The Coffee Clutch – Vern Lezkowitz by LV Gaudet

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

A figure prowled in the darkness by the entrance of the roughed in road leading into the Garden Grove jobsite, the shape revealed in the shadows of the trees and bushes by the light of the stars and moon and distant streetlights.  The form was tall and wiry and appeared to be male.  The figure came creeping up the road into the Garden Grove Meadows housing development, keeping to the trees and bushes along the edge to avoid being seen.

He paused outside the small trailer office, the mud-spattered light above the door showering him with speckled grimy light to reveal his identity.

It was Vern Lezkowitz, owner of Bruce Copeland’s biggest competitor Lezkowitz & Sons.

There could be no good reason for Vern Lezkowitz to be skulking around Garden Grove in the night.

He grasped the padlock locking the door, giving it a tug.  It is secure.  He released it with a callousness that suggested the item had somehow insulted him.

He moved on to a group of tractors, one of a few groups of equipment parked on the hard mud of the ruined ground across from and near the corner of the office.  He climbed up the outside of one Cat with a front loader bucket.  Holding on with one hand, he reached down and started pulling a tool from the tool belt around his waist.

He froze, eyes wide as he looked around, listening.

Did he hear a sound?

A scrape, maybe a foot scuffing on the roughed in road.

A snap.  A branch?  He turned and looked in the direction he thought it came from.  That way was houses, some with a line of bushes and trees blocking out all but the roof of the houses on the other side of the greenery.

Sliding the tool back down into its loop on his belt, he got down slowly, careful to be quiet.  He had finally gotten up the nerve to do this and did not want to get caught.  Vern Lezkowitz is not a man to take risks that would get him into a confrontation he was not guaranteed to win.  It is one thing to bully the men working for him, employees too scared to stand up for themselves out of fear of losing their jobs.  If he is caught skulking around the Garden Grove site Copeland and his guys will put the boots to him.

With both feet on the ground now, Vern moved to peer cautiously around the tractor.

He is sure he heard a noise again, but still can see nothing.

There, movement along the edge of the road; in the grass beneath the trees bordering a house.

“Someone is coming!  Did Copeland hire security for this site?” he thought, feeling the rush of panic over the possibility of being caught.

With one last long look to make sure nobody would see him, he scampered quickly across to another tractor and from there went behind the trailer office.

He peered around the corner of the wheeled building before running across the field for the trees some distance behind it, the last stand of old growth forest separating the backyards of the old houses along that stretch of road from the new development.

He breathed a sigh of relief after reaching the shelter of the trees, stopping to look back at the construction site.  He watched for a moment and was sure he saw movement.  He counted them.  One, two, three, four?  He could not be sure just how many.

“Damned kids,” he muttered, assuming now that it had to be local teens who were bored and looking to get into trouble.  He half thought of going back and chasing them off, but did not want to be seen by anyone or deal with the confrontation.

He turned unhappily and started making his way through the trees and bush, the fallen leaves crunching under his feet despite his efforts to walk quietly.  He swore an oath at the noisy leaves.

Vern could swear he heard another set of feet crunching in the leaves, following him.  The sound matched his own steps but was off just a fraction, a weak echo of his own movements.

He stopped and so did the crunch of leaves beneath his feet.

Nothing.  He listened to the silence, the breeze in the trees and bush, and the sound of a distant vehicle passing on the highway.  He could see the headlights moving in the distance as if it passed through the edge of the field.  That side was open field all the way to the highway.

He started forward again, the leaves crunching beneath his feet.  After four steps, he was sure he heard it again; someone else’s feet crunching behind him almost in perfect unison with his own.

Vern stopped again, looking around.  He looked up at the sky through the trees with a frown.  The night seemed darker somehow even though the moon and stars in the sky still put off the same light as a moment ago.  He was in the middle of the small copse of trees.  Ahead of him was a clearing where the trees seemed reluctant to grow.  Around it, the old oak trees seemed more twisted than the rest.

Watching for whoever was following him, he moved forward into the small clearing.  He looked at the strangely twisted trees, thinking how it looked like they were somehow dancing and frozen suddenly in mid movement by his arrival.

A cloud moving slowly across the sky finally covered the moon, making the night suddenly darker and the shadows deeper.

A chill crept over him and he shivered, the darkness of the night deepening further, seeming to close in on him.  The rest of the world suddenly seemed unimaginably far away, shut off from him.  The blackness engulfed Vern.

 

Vern felt dazed and confused, uncertain what had happened or why he is there outside surrounded by trees.  He blinked as he looked around, trying to focus on his surroundings.  It is dark and he can see the moon and stars in the sky where they peeked through the sporadic clouds.  He is at the edge of a small clearing in the bush with no memory of how he got here.

Disoriented, he doesn’t even know where here is.

He felt older suddenly too, drained, like something had just sucked some of the life out of him.  He looked down at his hands and, for just a moment, they looked withered.  He shook his head and blinked his eyes, looking at them again and they were normal, if a little thinner than he thought he remembered.  His face itched and he raised one hand to scratch at it.

Vern looked up again, studying his surroundings to get his bearings.  He can see a field through the trees.  He made his way to the edge of the small copse of trees and looked around.  He is on the edge of a small town.  Headlights in the distance revealed the location of the highway.  To his left across the field are the looming shapes of heavy construction equipment.

He realized now where he is.  That is the Garden Grove site.  Vern shook his head in dismay.

“Odd,” he muttered and moved on through the trees to the crunch of dry leaves beneath his feet, moving away from Garden Grove and towards yards that he hopes will bring him quickly to the street.  He has no idea where his truck is and can only hope he finds it quickly, assuming that is how he got here.

 

GARDEN GROVE IS AVAILABLE ON KINDLE AND IN PAPERBACK ON AMAZON

 

 

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Where the Bodies Are

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The McAllister Farm

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Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

Garden Grove: 5 The Coffee Clutch – Coffee by LV Gaudet

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

Another round of coffee was poured in the little kitchen for the four women of the coffee clutch.

“I just can’t take it anymore,” Libby Waterbourne moaned.  “The beeping and constant noise of the tractors first thing in the morning, I swear they start earlier every day and it goes on all day long.”

“And the garbage,” Mrs. Henderson complained.  “Why do they have to just toss their garbage all over the place?  Are they men or pigs?”

Mrs. Henderson was new to the group today.  She’s a long time resident of the small community, but not well known.  Her regal bearing gives her an unapproachable feel and none of the other women have ever given her more than a self-conscious wave in passing.  The kind of wave small town people give other small town people whether they know each other or not.

None of them wanted to come right out and admit to her face they didn’t know her first name, and last names are just too formal for a cozy coffee chat.  So, they just talked around not mentioning her by name.

“You should see the mess they left in front of my driveway,” Barbara added, “big chunks of mud in the road.  I had to move them just to get my car out.”

“Are you sure they aren’t just from your mudslinging with the neighbour, Barb?” Pamela joked.

“Funny.”  Barb eyed her levelly.  She didn’t think it was funny.  She’s had an ongoing feud with the neighbour beside her ever since their kid started walking the dog and letting it poop on her lawn last summer.  The kid never picked the dog’s poop up and it drove her crazy.

“Did you hear that old Mrs. Crampchet poisoned the work crew?” Libby asked.

The women all made the appropriate shocked faces and sounds, even though they’d all heard the story already.  News like this travels faster than a cold virus in a small town.

“I heard they decided she just put something into the dainties by accident, that she has dementia.”

“If that old Mrs. Crampchet has dementia, then I have six toes,” Mrs. Henderson humphed.

They all glanced quickly at her socked feet even though they knew she meant it sarcastically.

They looked up at her face, wondering what she knew.

The constant growl and beep of construction equipment in the background never ceased.  The incessant banging going on at the same time grated on the women’s nerves even more.

Silence fell on the coffee clutch, but it did not last.  They sipped their coffee and talked about old Mrs. Crampchet and the skull discovered on the jobsite.  They all wondered the same thing, although no one voiced it.

Even though the authorities decided it was just an old relic from the days of homesteaders crossing the prairies, they could not help but wonder if it could really be a long ago victim of Mrs. Crampchet’s pastries.  After all, the woman is so old and has lived in her little home her whole life.

They lapsed into silence again.

“I wish there was something we could do to just shut them up,” Mrs. Henderson said suddenly, breaking the silence.

The other women all tried to hide their smirks.

Libby stifled a giggle.

Mrs. Henderson looked around at them, suspicious.

“You know,” Mrs. Henderson said casually, “I heard rumours there’s been a lot of vandalism at the new housing development they’re building.”

She sipped her coffee, looking at the other women over the rim.

Pamela and Libby exchanged conspiratorial glances, trying to hide them from Mrs. Henderson.

“I think it’s a bunch of kids,” Mrs. Henderson continued, “teenagers probably, from the high school.”

“Teenagers,” Pam nodded.

“Definitely teenagers,” Barb agreed,

“You know,” Libby said thoughtfully, “I don’t think the kids have done anything to their port-a-potties yet.”

“That’s good,” Pamela said.  “That would be terrible.”

“Messing with a man’s toilet,” Barb agreed, “that would just be too low.”

“Especially after eating old Mrs. Crampchet’s pastries,” Mrs. Henderson added, giving them a knowing look that did not crack her always serious expression.

They all turned to stare at her.  She made a joke!  None of them could ever imagine this stoic woman would ever crack a joke.

That night four figures skulked around the construction site in the cover of darkness, furtively running from the deep shadows of one hulking piece of equipment to another.

The stoic face of Mrs. Henderson was caught briefly in the pale moonlight as they fled the scene.

 

GARDEN GROVE IS AVAILABLE ON KINDLE AND IN PAPERBACK ON AMAZON

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm

HuntingMichaelUnderwood - final - media copy

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

Garden Grove: 5 The Coffee Clutch – The Watcher in the Woods by LV Gaudet

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

I can see you out there, with your chainsaws ripping into the gnarled bark of the old oak trees, tearing their wooden flesh apart until they teeter and crash to the ground.

You just can’t leave well enough alone, can you?

I’m so sleepy, so tired.  I could just sleep again and might have, but you woke me again with all your noise, your activity.

The loud growling of chainsaws, banging of large metal tractor buckets against dump truck boxes, and the frantic pattering of terrified squirrels fleeing the roaring and trembling of their homes being felled.

They are cutting down more of my beautiful trees, my glorious prison.

The squirrels who I have been watching so frantically collecting nuts are going to have to start all over again.

They’ll probably starve this winter.

The wild turkeys that come in the spring will have to find a new spring roost.

The calm solitude of the sound dampening trees will be gone.  Soon the winds will tear through here like they do the empty fields surrounding this little piece of old growth woods.

And the secrets those gnarled twisted old trees hide won’t be secret much longer.

 

GARDEN GROVE IS AVAILABLE ON KINDLE AND IN PAPERBACK ON AMAZON

 

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm

HuntingMichaelUnderwood - final - media copy

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

Garden Grove: 4 Sick Workers and Senility – Mrs. Crampchet by LV Gaudet

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

A police officer knocked on the old lady’s door.  He waited, knocked again, waited.  Constable Timothy Berkham is a young man and new on the job, having graduated his training only six months ago.

She didn’t come to the door.

Constable Berkham walked around the outside of the little old house, looking in the windows, and saw movement somewhere deep inside past the old yellowing age-stained lacy curtain of one of the windows.

He went to the front door and knocked again, calling out.

“Hello!”

He knocked again.

“Hello, Mrs. Crampchet?”

He peered in through the window by the door.

“Mrs. Crampchet, I know you’re in there,” he called out.  “I can see you.”

He knocked again.

“Mrs. Crampchet, it’s the police.  Please come to the door.”

He heard movement inside.

The old lady did not come to the door.

He tried the door.  It was Unlocked.

The door creaked loudly when he opened it.  The worn hinges were long overdue for some lubricating.

Constable Berkham took a step inside, nervous.  He paused just inside the front door, looking around and leaning to look through an interior doorway to the rest of the house.  The front door opened to the living room and from there he could see a short hallway with an entrance to the kitchen.

The idea of walking unwelcomed into the residence of a suspect and knowing they’re in there but they won’t come to the door made him very nervous.  It’s a dangerous situation where the suspect could be hiding anywhere, just waiting to strike before fleeing.  It was his first time having to actually do it outside of a training exercise in his class.  Normally he would have waited for backup.

But this was a different kind of nervousness and this is a wellness check, not a criminal arrest.

This is a frail little old lady, possibly a very confused old lady who may be in some stage of dementia.  And, from the poisoning of the work crew, may herself have been poisoned by her own baking.

Young Timothy Berkham had never entered anywhere uninvited before.  He felt like a burglar, an unwanted and unwelcome intruder, not a police officer.

“Mrs. Crampchet,” he called out.  “Hello?  Mrs. Crampchet?  Police.  Can you come to the door please?”

He heard the sound of movement from another room, muttering, and then the heavy clunk of something being dropped.  It sounded breakable and very heavy, china or some kind of pottery maybe.  It didn’t sound like it broke.

“Mrs. Crampchet?”

“Yeah, yeah,” the old lady croaked back, her voice frail and wavering.  “What do you want?”

“Uh, Mrs. Crampchet?  I’m Constable Timothy Berkham.  I just want to make sure you’re ok.”

“I’m fine, I’m fine.”

She shuffled out from a bedroom in the back of the house.  A large heavy vase lay on its side out of sight on the floor behind her where she had dropped it.

She moved down a short hall and through another doorway to the kitchen.

Berkham saw movement.  The old woman appeared in the hallway where it met the living room and kitchen doorways and went into the kitchen.  He could just make her out as she came and went from sight, doing something in the kitchen.

“Would you like some tea dear?” she called out.

“Uh, no thank you ma-am.  Mrs. Crampchet?  I’d like to talk to you.  Can I come in?”

He paused.

She didn’t answer.

“Mrs. Crampchet?  I’m coming in.”

One of the first things he learned was to always announce yourself before entering an uncertain situation.  Do not surprise the occupants and do not make them panic.  A panicked suspect acts without thinking, making the situation less controllable.

He approached the kitchen cautiously.  She was out of sight now but he could hear the old woman moving around.  He found her there preparing for tea.

“Mrs. Crampchet?” he said as he entered the kitchen.

“Hello dear.  The water is almost ready for the tea,” she said.

An old kettle sat on the burner of an old stove.  The light isn’t lit to show the element is turned on, but the knob is turned.  The plastic covering the light is yellowed with age and turning brown, a sign it is likely burned out, charring the plastic when it went.  A faint wisp of steam trailing up from the spout and the slow ticking and hissing of the metal kettle heating up told him the stove element is in fact working.

Delicate little teacups teetered dangerously on their dainty little saucers as the old woman shuffled to the little table carrying them.  The cups rocked and tinkled against the saucers, almost tipping over as she put them down.

“Mrs. Crampchet, can you tell me about the pastries you brought to the men at the Garden Grove construction site?” Berkham asked.

She shuffled over to the cluttered counter, picking up a tin canister and spoon.  She shuffled back to the table and struggled with the lid for a moment, paused, then held the tin out.

“Would you mind dear?”

He looked down at the offered tin before reaching to take it.  He didn’t move to take the tin.

“Uh, Mrs. Crampchet?”

“Hmm?”

“Mrs. Crampchet, that’s not tea.”

“Oh?”

She looked down at the canister in her hands, turned it over.

“Coffee” it said.

“Oh dear,” she muttered, shaking her head and tut-tutting to herself.

She shuffled back to the counter and changed canisters, bringing back the one marked “Tea” this time.

After having him open the canister, complaining how hard it is with her arthritic hands, she spooned some of the loose tea leaves into the little cups.  She shuffled back to the counter to return the canister to its place.

As he watched, Berkham wondered why she didn’t use a teapot like people usually did with loose tea leaves.  It couldn’t be good with all the leaves in the cups.

“Mrs. Crampchet, I need you to tell me what you put in those pastries,” Berkham said.

“Would you like some sugar, dear?” she asked, shuffling back to the table with another canister.  Putting down the canister, the old woman carried the kettle to the table using an old folded tea towel and poured it into the cups.

The water had an unhealthy looking yellow color.

Returning the kettle to the stove, she shuffled back to the table, opened the canister, and started spooning the white powder into one of the little cups.  The fine powder floated on top in a clump before finally beginning to sink.

“Sugar?” she asked, ready to spoon some into the other teacup.

“Uh, oh-no thanks Ma-am.”

He looked at the canister she held.

It said “Flour”.

“Mrs. Crampchet, about those pastries,” he tried again.  This was getting nowhere.

She looked at him as if he’d just shown up and she’d never seen him before. Confusion furrowed her brow.  Then a smile creased her age withered lips.

“Johnny?” she asked, a little unsure.  “Johnny?  My Johnny!”

She rushed over as fast as her arthritic shuffle could and threw her arms around him, trying to pull him down to kiss him.

“Oh Johnny,” she cried.  “You’re here, you’re here!”

She looked toward the door, and then looked back up at him, clinging to him.

“Your father will be home any minute now Johnny.”

He gently extricated himself from the little old woman.

“Uh, Mrs. Crampchet, I have to go now.”

He made a quick getaway.  His report would show that the poisoning of the men at the Garden Grove Meadows construction site was accidental in his opinion, based on the old woman’s failing mental faculties.

A visit by a social worker would be requested to make sure the woman’s needs were being looked after and to determine if she should be put into a care home.

Following the young officer to the door, she called out to him in her feeble age withered voice.

“Johnny, don’t go.  Come back Johnny, dinner is almost ready.”

He looked back once at the confused old woman staring at him from the open doorway.  Her look suggested she wasn’t sure if he was coming for a visit or leaving.  She gave him a little uncertain wave and he beat a hasty retreat to his car.

She closed the door behind him and turned, humming, and shuffled back to the kitchen to dump out the ruined tea.

A smirk creased her aged lips.

 

GARDEN GROVE IS AVAILABLE ON KINDLE AND IN PAPERBACK ON AMAZON

 

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm

HuntingMichaelUnderwood - final - media copy

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

Garden Grove: 4 Sick Workers and Senility – The Hospital by LV Gaudet

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

At the hospital, men groaned in pain and thrashed on gurneys, rolling feebly to vomit furiously into too small jellybean shaped hospital blue plastic dishes.  Even more disconcerting were the ones who just lay silently suffering as if they had given up, their eyes looking haunted in their emotionless faces.

They all looked like hell.

The men in intensive care looked even worse.  Their ashy pallor left their skin grey looking and their blue-tinged lips were not a good sign.  Hospital staff worked on them furiously, their anxiety making the seriousness of their conditions clear.

Dave was one of the lucky ones.  He had mostly stood there holding the tray of pastries and thinking how strange it was that this little old lady brought them baking out of the blue, while the other guys eagerly grabbed handfuls of the delicate little pastries and wolfed them down with delighted noises of enjoyment.

Dave only managed to have one of the fluffy little treats, and had just taken a bite of it when the first men started to stagger weakly and vomit violently.

He had quickly spat it out before he had a chance to swallow.

Not knowing what they were poisoned with, the hospital staff had made a best guess and gave those who could manage to keep it down a foul tasting drink they hoped would counteract the poison or at least minimize the damage to their stomachs.

Dave looked around at the guys around him, his crew and friends, weakly trying to sit up, to roll over and vomit some more.  They were so sick; worse than that time some of the guys had food poisoning after eating at that questionable little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and that was pretty bad.

He wondered if some of the sicker guys would make it.

Poisoned!  He could not believe it.  The doctors were sure it was some kind of commercial poison, not just a simple food poisoning.

But they did not know what poison or why.

Was it an accident?  Had the old woman just grabbed the wrong container of something, making a dangerous error because of her aging eyes or mind?  She wouldn’t have poisoned them on purpose, would she?

“Nah,” he thought.  “It had to just be a mistake.”

GARDEN GROVE IS AVAILABLE ON KINDLE AND IN PAPERBACK ON AMAZON

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm

HuntingMichaelUnderwood - final - media copy

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

Garden Grove: 4 Sick Workers and Senility – Bruce Copeland’s Office by LV Gaudet

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

Stanley Rutthers stood in his boss’s office nervously gripping his hard hat in his hands.

His boss, Bruce Copeland, sat at his desk looking anything but relaxed.

“What do you mean they’re all sick?” Copeland demanded.

“The whole damned crew had to be taken to the hospital,” Stanley said.  “They all can’t stop puking.  Most of them can’t even stand up.  Some of them are in intensive care.”

“What the hell?” Copeland almost yelled it.

“Looks like some kind of poisoning,” Stanley said.

“Poison?  What the hell’d poison an entire crew?” Copeland demanded.

“Not what,” Stanley said, “who.”

Copeland just stared at him, dumbstruck.

“Dave said a little old lady gave them pastries just before they all started getting sick,” Stanley said.

Copeland just couldn’t believe it.

“First the site and equipment keeps getting vandalized,” Copeland said angrily.  “Then someone messes around with our plans, and I still think it was that damned Lezkowitz that somehow did it, he’d do anything to steal a job off me for his own company.  Then we dig up some damned old skull.  And now we have little old ladies poisoning an entire work crew?  Shit, damn, and mother!  What the hell is going on here?”

Stanley just shook his head.  He was mystified.

“How long are they going to be off?” Copeland asked.  “Any idea?”

“A few of them didn’t eat too many, maybe a couple of days.  Others-,” Stanley shrugged, “I just don’t know.  A lot of the guys are in pretty bad shape.”

“Damn!”

Copeland’s mind was running fast, thinking hard.  Somehow, this had to work out.

“Can we find guys from anywhere else?” Copeland asked.  “Guys off injured?  Pull some from other jobs?”

Stanley shook his head.

“Best we can do is pull a crew off the Anc-Chor project.”

“No,” Copeland said.  “That won’t do.  We can’t do that.  That project is already behind with all the time wasted trying to fit things together and redoing them because of the project owner’s secretiveness.”

The Anc-Chor project is another of Copeland and Howe Construction, Excavation and Land Development’s projects, and one that Bruce Copeland often wished he had lost the tender on despite the profits it was making for his company.  The Anc-Chor Corporation is run by a single man, the majority shareholder and CEO, Mr. Chornelhus.  The Anc-Chor project is a top-secret project that appears to be some large laboratory facility, although Mr. Chornelhus is completely secretive about the purpose of the facility being built.

He muttered something unintelligible to himself.

“Guess we’ll have to hire a new green crew,” Copeland sighed.

He was not happy about this.  An untrained green crew would work much slower and make more mistakes, slowing down the already behind Garden Grove project even more.

“I think so,” Stanley agreed. “It’ll put us even further behind on the Garden Grove project.”

“We have no choice.”

“No, we don’t.”

 

GARDEN GROVE IS AVAILABLE ON KINDLE AND IN PAPERBACK ON AMAZON

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm

HuntingMichaelUnderwood - final - media copy

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

In the darkness monsters lie.

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