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THAT SUMMER: MURDER AT CAMP SUMAC

karenwritesmurder

downloadI woke to discover it was late afternoon. I got up and made it out to the kitchen.

“Hey, look who’s away! Patrick stated. He was standing at the sink preparing dinner

. “Yeah, sorry I slept so long.” I said as I sat down at the table

“no worries carry. You must’ve needed it. I took the liberty to start dinner. I’m really chops and baking spots also made a salad.”

“Woohoo, a man who cooks. I like it!” I chuckled

“I’m king of the grill. I even have the teacher to prove it. You bought it for me with the kids were younger and can’t believe it still fits.” He said patting his belly.”

“Funny, so, am I a good cook?”

“You do well in the kitchen and no one has died yet I guess that’s a plus.” He said winking at me

I smirked. “Good to know. So…

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THAT SUMMER: MURDER AT CAMP SUMAC PART 6

karenwritesmurder

download

A week later, I was home as promised. Looking up at the stairs to the upper floor, I realized Patrick was right I’d never make it.

He led me to the den and I looked around. It had a a loveseat with a recliner at one end. In the corner, there was a sofa bed already made up. The loveseat faced a 50 inch screen television. The room itself is nicely appointed with one furniture and jewel toned accents. Patrick informed me that I had designed it. I was impressed with my work

. Suddenly, I felt tired and Patrick sensed it.

“You need a nap Carrie?” He inquired

I nodded “yeah, maybe arrest would be good.

“Do you want to lie down on the bed?”

I shook my head “no, the recliner is fine. I’m going to take a pain killer and sleep a while maybe if I put…

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Excerpts, Karen Vaughan, Uncategorized

1 PART SCI-FI, 1 PART ROMANCE AND 1 PART COMEDY–A SNEAK PEAK AT SPACE JUNK

space junk.jpgLieutenant Sarah French leaned over the latrine and lost her lunch for the 3rd day running. In her head, she did the math and realized her last cycle was AWOL.

” Shit! so much for my theory of the flu or food poisoning.” She swore.

What to do? Sarah tried to recall who she had been with, not that their were many but she hand kind of gone nuts after Ensign Todd threw her over for a stripper on Beta station.    Sure she’s got bigger boobs but compared to Sarah any one did. Sarah thought it was safe to assume Barbie Bosoms didn’t have a degree in aeronautical engineering. In fact Sarah doubted the bitch couldn’t even spell it!

Sarah sighed and came to the realization who she might have made a baby with. She had a fling with the driver of a interstellar garbage scow! It was a huge mistake in her mind. The kid was 22 if he was a day, and Sarah was edging closer to the big 3-0!  She remembered his name was Coop and in her inebriated state, last names didn’t matter.

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THAT SUMMER:MURDER AT CAMP SUMAC PART 2

karenwritesmurder

Chapter 1 present day – Patrick

Patrick Adams paced the hallway outside the operating theatre waiting for his wife Carolyn to get out of surgery. She had been hit by a speeding car it and it was deemed as a hit-and-run. It was both very worried about how Carolyn would survive after the serious injuries and angry at the animal did this to her.

Just as she decided to sit down in one of the benches the doctor came out of the operating room.

“Mr. Adams?”

Patrick stood up and addressed the doctor “yes, that’s me. Is she okay?”

“She will be we reset her leg it was broken in three places and shall have to have a very long rehabilitation of were hopeful it will mend.

Patrick nodded “good, thanks. Can I see her?”

The doctor shook his head “not yet Sir. She’s in recovery the soon we are…

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THAT SUMMER:MURDER AT CAMP SUMAC!!! PART 1

karenwritesmurder

Prologue Summer of 1979

I couldn’t sleep. Everyone else in the cabin was storing way but I tossed and turned in after an hour I gave up and decided to sneak out the back window like I do almost every night.

Don’t ask how I managed to get away with my nocturnal escapes I don’t even know. I should’ve been caught long time ago but maybe I’m just lucky that my cabin mates and counsellor are heavy sleepers.

I had grabbed my shoes and put on my Adidas after I managed to get out the window. I was wearing long pyjamas and a sweater good I’m usually cold at night even with the sleeping bag.

I have to admit that I can move with stealth after so many years of orienteering at camp and playing survival. No one would ever see or hear me coming.

I crept through the woods…

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COZIES AND OTHER MYSTERIES, interviews, Karen Vaughan, Laura & Gerry series, Uncategorized

27 things you need to know about Laura Hamilton Fitz but were afraid to ask!!!! Karen Vaughan

lauraandgerryfbpage.jpg

Let’s get to know Laura Fitz aka Cookie the corpse Magnet

 

  1. What is your story? MC in the Laura & Gerry Mystery series I am a bit of a corpse magnet in that every where I go there is a dead dude or lady and I jump into the fray to catch the killer with the Help of hubby and Det. Gibbons.
  2. Who are you?  I am Laura Hamilton Fitz
  3. Where do you live? Toronto Canada
  4. Are you the hero of your own story? Usually with some calamity thrown my way
  5. What is your problem in the story? I am usually the poor sucker to find any number of dead people from a dude rotting on my living room floor to finding a dead guy in our dumpster at our building. This is getting old really fast,
  6. Do you embrace conflict? No I try to avoid it where possible but it always finds me
  7. Do you run from conflict? No its best to face these things head on.
  8. How do you see yourself? I am a confident wife, mother and CSI person.
  9. How do your friends see you? They think I am weird but they love me anyway.
  10. How do your enemies see you?- Someone who doesn’t know how to mind her own business and they usually try to end me.
  11. How does the author see you? I think she made me out in her image and personality so she could have some fun at my expense.
  12. Do you think the author portrayed you accurately? Ya she did a great Job in making me snarky and innately curious
  13. What do you think of yourself? I have a healthy self-esteem and a truck load of ambition
  14. Do you have a hero? Gibbons He is always there when I get my self into trouble to bail me out
  15. Do you have a goal? Maybe to live my life in peace with fewer dead guys or gals and to deal with Stella without going totally insane.
  16. What are your achievements? Went back to college in my mid-thirties, graduated, got a job at a crime lab and became a mom.
  17. What is your most prized possession? Not a possession but I treasure my daughter Maggie
  18. Do you have any hobbies?Besides avoiding death? No I don’t have time
  19. What is your favorite scent? Why?Vanilla
  20. What is your favorite color? Why? Blue its so fresh
  21. What is your favorite food? Bring on the carbs
  22. What is your favorite beverage? Why? COFFEE NEED I SAY MORE?
  23. What is your favorite music? Classic 70s rock
  1. What is your favorite item of clothing? Why?Jeans, sweats and tee shirts –comfort
  2. What are the last five entries in your check registry? Credit card payment, amazon purchases that’s it.
  3. What are the last three books you read? Along came a spider by James Patterson. Oh the places you’ll go Dr. Seuss (read to the munchkin) Miss Marple Agatha Christie

 27.If you were at a store now, what ten items would be in your shopping cart? Steak for Gerry to grill, Chips and Cola, animal crackers and juice for the little one.

 

 

 

 

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STELLA AND LAURA ARE AT IT AGAIN –SARCASM REIGNS SUPREME IN DEAD AIR BY KAREN VAUGHAN

SASSY-SARCASMStella has been in prison for offing her ex husband Larry. Laura is surprised yet appalled to find her nemesis standing on her door step a scant 2 years after going up the river.

It’s obvious Stella is as feisty and sarcastic as ever since her time “inside”  Get ready for a battle of wits.

 

OPENING SCENE

early Wednesday afternoon, a knock at our door signalled the end of my peace and quiet for the day. I rushed to the door to answer it “coming, keep your pants on!”

I opened it to see someone I never expected to lay eyes on again… “Stella?”

“Yes, I’m back.” She stood there smiling.

“What the…?” I replied. I really didn’t want to know the answer but you know I had to ask

. “Don’t say it Laura. I heard enough bad language in the clink.”

“… Which is where you’re supposed to be for the next 20 years or so. What are you doing? Did you escape? Should I be calling the police?”

“Cool your jets or as the kids these days say chill!”

To say that I was aghast and feeling a tad nauseous was an understatement. I just stood there with a deer in the headlights look not knowing what to say next.

Stella cleared her throat “don’t just stand there let me in and I’ll explain everything to you.”

SCENE 2

“Listen Laura, there’s something not right about that woman in 207.”

I sighed and spoke “Myrna is a perfectly nice person who by the way objects to being bothered at 8 AM.”

Stella huffed indignantly “it’s a perfectly civilized our Laura. Why I was expected to be up a meeting at 6 AM every morning and then report to my workstation by 830 every day. Nothing wrong with getting down to business right away. “Do I need to remind you that this is not prison. Myrna is a elderly lady and likes to sleep in. by the way, she also informed me that you tried to trade units with her.” I was trying really hard to control my temper but Stella was making it really hard.

“Yes, I did. It was a perfectly harmless request after all, it was my unit before…”

“You went to jail yeah I know. You are also told not to bother the tenants. Myrna is a valued tenant. So don’t approach her about this again. Do you understand?”

“Clearly Laura. The decor in that apartment is disturbing to say the least. It’s like she’s a member of the occult or something.”

“She’s Wiccan. It’s her religion. Just like someone would practice Judaism or Christianity is no big deal.” A stated vehemently.

“Wiccan? Wait a minute! She’s a witch is and she? You’re harbouring a witch. Someone who asked spells and uses potions. Meanwhile you snub your nose at my criminal past.” Stella fumed

“what’s wrong Stella? Are you afraid she’s going to turn you into a toad?”

“Well, one has to be careful.” She uttered

“Stella what happened to the I’m going to chill and be Zen. Maybe you should go do some yoga and meditate or something.

“Don’t mock… Oh, I see what you did there. Well played Laura. Fine I’ll leave the broom rider alone.”

 

 

Karen Vaughan, Uncategorized

DEAD ON ARRIVAL CHAPTER 4 & 5

dead onarrival

Chapter 4

 

I woke up the next morning, to the feeling of being nudged and poked. I thought it was the cats demanding breakfast; however, I came to the sudden realization…. CATS DON’T TALK.”

 

“Laura”, the voice said “L-A-U-R-A.” I wanted to bury myself under the covers and make the nasty voices go away. “C’mon Laura.”

 

I opened my eyes to a guy standing over me. I would have screamed, but I realized very quickly that it was Gerry, my super. “Damn!” I yelled, “Don’t ever do that. You were this close to eating wood pal.” I jumped out of bed and grabbed my housecoat.

 

“Sorry, I was worried. I saw the unmarked outside and wasn’t sure if something else had happened since Monday.” “Nope, no one has done me in yet.”

 

Gerry and I had been friends for years. As I mentioned before, we were in the same high school and I got him this job as super here, out of guilt; since inadvertently I had gotten him fired from his taxi driver job—which he later admitted to hating anyway. Now he drives strictly for the airport limo service.

 

“Do you often take such liberties with your master key?”

“No but I was worried. I hadn’t seen you for a couple of days.”

“You weren’t the one responsible for letting the goon in last weekend were you?”

“No”

“Good, who was then?  “That was Ray, the relief super.”

 

“He should be fired and have his ass kicked. No one should have the right to get in here without 24hrs written notice—you know that and Ray knows that too, or he should. The privacy of my home has been violated, and he’s responsible for this nightmare. I am under protective surveillance and I feel like I can’t go anywhere because I’m afraid of being followed! You try living like that!” I was so angry I was shaking.

 

When I managed to regain my calmness, I asked him, “Can Ray describe the delivery guy or the truck?”

“Maybe, why?” he asked. “Ray said there were two of them, and they had a big box that they needed to deliver.”

 

 

 

 

“The police need a description of whoever delivered ‘my package’ and the truck.” “Ray didn’t want to let him in, but the guy said it was a surprise. Ray told me the guy said he would make it worth his while to do this.”

“Did Ray tell the police any of this?”

 

“Not sure. After he sobered up, Ray told me, that the delivery man was very persuasive. He told Ray he was just the messenger and his head would roll if he didn’t make the delivery.” Ray also mentioned the guy looked menacing.

“Ray really needs to tell the police what he knows for everyone’s sake. I can’t give out any information right now, but the delivery man could be a person of interest.” at this point

 

“I’ll take Ray over later on and get him to see one of those sketch artist guys.” says Gerry.

I looked at Gerry, and crumbled. I just couldn’t take any more. He took me in his arms and stroked my hair, kissed my forehead. Then he stood back, looked at me and told me to get dressed. He was taking me out to breakfast. Judging by Gerry’s culinary tastes, I assumed we would be heading to Timmy’s but he surprised me with a trip to Smitty’s. Gerry is basically a good guy. I have ribbed him about being a bad ass some days, but he really does have a good heart.

 

When in a potentially deadly predicament like mine and I do count having a dead body dumped in my living room by someone who may also be targeting me as potentially deadly. It’s best to have as many friends at my disposal as possible. Having an unmarked in the parking lot of my apartment building, and several locks on my door gave me some sense of feeling safe. However, just in case whoever dumped Velcro at my doorstep was following me, it never hurt to be seen in public with someone like Gerry, who could pass as a bouncer at Hooters. Gerry was the kind of ‘muscle’ I needed to send the back off message out there. What I needed to consider were the times when Gerry might not be around. What would I do then? A gun was a possibility but I couldn’t aim worth a damn, and as the city wanted to cut down on guns, I wanted to avoid handling one. Pepper spray was the next rational possibility. While it would not be on equal footing as a gun or knife, I could just spray the person and get the hell out of harm’s way. In the meantime I just hoped the police were advancing on the case. My Mom was still insisting I stay with them until the guy was caught. I wanted to avoid putting them in danger. I also thought living with them would drive me batty. I haven’t lived at home since I was 21. Since then I have done the college thing and the marriage thing, the divorce thing, and I see my self as fiercely independent. Running home to Mommy and Daddy wasn’t going to help. I begged off, mainly for their safety. Transporting my pets over to their house was inconvenient because I wasn’t leaving them for Gerry to watch. I already had police protection of sorts that could not be transferred –what would the neighborhood gossips say about a “strange” car parked on the street 24/7. Her comment about having a guard dog did not hold water with me—yeah right Toto, the killer Yorkie, wasn’t going to do much to serve and protect anyone. Sean and Seamus would eat the dog for lunch anyway, another good reason not to go there. All this being said; the bottom line is to solve this crime so I can get back to what passes for a normal life.

 

 

Chapter 5

 

Gerry had agreed to keep his eye on the comings and goings around the building and to help keep the police abreast of any strange faces around the neighborhood. Later that same evening, Inspector Gibbons called to check up on me and to see if I had recalled anything more which might be important. Right now the case was lukewarm at best and they were working on the list of leads they had. Right in the middle of the conversation, there was an earthshaking kaboom in my parking lot. I stretched the phone cord as far as I could, to peer out the window. My onsite protection had just gone up in smoke; the unmarked had blown up, complete with the officer aboard. “Oh my God” I screamed into the phone. “Call 911, and get over here.”

“Why?” he yelled back. “What’s going on?”

“The unmarked just exploded.”

The line went dead. It didn’t take long for EMS and police to surround the building. Gerry and Gibbons showed up on my doorstep at the same time. Thank goodness no one else was in the back lot and my own car was far enough away from the unmarked. It had been parked in the back forty next to the dumpster—to remain inconspicuous, but not enough I guess, as some one had figured it out and eliminated my only source of official protection. The only thing to catch fire besides the car was the dumpster. There really wasn’t enough left of the patrol car, or its driver to examine. I just had to wonder if the next kaboom would be the building. Gibbons sent a bomb squad through the building along with a couple of hounds, just to make sure we weren’t going up in smoke anytime soon.

 

Just at that point the phone rang. As a reflex I answered it, prepared to ask the person to please call back. What I got was a voice on the phone that sent chills up and down my spine.

“Whatcha gonna do now Bitch, without the cops to protect you?”

“Who is this?” I said, “What do you want with me?”

“It’s my way of letting ya know I don’t appreciate the attempts made to repo my car.”

“So why are you calling me? I didn’t do it.”

“You tracked me down. That’s enough for me. You turned your hound onto me to make the collection. I can deal with a lot of shit, Lady, but no one takes my car ya get my meaning?”

“Uh yeah”, I hesitated.

I motioned Gibbons to come and listen in but instead he grabbed the phone “Gibbons here,” he said. “Who is this?” Click, the line disconnected.

 

“Damn. What did you do that for?” I yelled, “I was handling it!” “It’s not for you to handle, its police business,” he yelled back.

“The hell it is! It’s my life. He was threatening mine not yours!” I was nose to nose with the detective at this point.

“Ok,” he said, “I can appreciate that, but you aren’t the one investigating, we are.”

“Yeah, well a lot of good that is, with a dead cop and burning car in the back lot, and no solid leads.” “Now I have a strange man whispering threats in my ear, so what’s next,” I thought.

“What are you going to do now Einstein, replace him with another sitting duck?” “Easy, we bug the phone. Move you to a safe place and move a decoy in to make it look like everything is normal, like you are still here. More enforced obvious police presence in the neighborhood.”

“I agree to bugging my calls. But a decoy? And where am I going to go? I have pets! I have a life. I have to work, pay bills.”

Gerry jumped in at this point, “I want to help here; Laura and the menagerie can stay with me. I will go where she goes, except of course to the ladies’ room.”

“Thanks Gerry but you can’t guard me 24/7. You have to work and what are your girlfriends gonna say about me on your sofa bed?”

“Well I just won’t have the girls over and anyway my life is dull. A couple of cats ought to shake things up. I also have vacation time coming to me, for a few weeks. Too tell you the truth, there aren’t that many girls.” He winked.

 

It takes a real man to admit to that much. We both looked at the police detective for approval of the plan, to which we got a nod.

 

“What I need,” says Gibbons, “is to know word for word what he said. Was there any accent or vocal inflection?”

 

I told Gibbons pretty much word for word what the guy on the phone had said to me. No accent but he had the street lingo down pretty good.

“Street Lingo?” asked the detective

Yeah like rap talk, gangsta stuff

Gerry looked at me like “What do u know about that shit?” “I listen to 50 Cent. I’m down with that.” “You scare me, Laura,” Gerry said.

“Don’t worry. I scare me too.”

 

“Well,” says Gibbons, “we’ll get the decoy in here and the bug on the phone. Take everything you’re going to need out have here, down to Gerry’s, and you might want to get a wig or a dye job so you look different. We want to make sure our suspect thinks he is following you around when it’s the decoy. We’ll provide you with a rental car so the decoy can drive yours.”

 

“Meanwhile, you and Gerry ride together for tonight.”

Gerry grabbed a baseball hat and a pair of sunglasses and said, “Come on ‘cousin’ Cindy we’re going shopping.”

 

Gibbons headed for the door, and looked at both of us. “Good luck Gerry. You may need it with this one.”

“Me too” and he slung my duffel bag over his shoulder.

I stuck my tongue out at both of them Grabbed the cat carrier and headed out of my apartment.

 

Gerry got my stuff settled in his room, after he lost the toss over who got the bed.

“I was going to give it to ya anyhow.”

“Yeah sure, I believe you. Millions wouldn’t, but I do.”

 

“Come on Red” he said. “We’ve got some things to do. Like shop for hair dye.”

“Red, as in what, hair colour? How do you know I didn’t want to go blond?”

“You ain’t any blond schweetheart”

“Schweetheart?? Who do you think you are, Bogie?”

“Yeah, so…”

“That’s the worst Bogie I have ever heard, and why red?”

“Got a visual of you as a redhead—Julia Roberts Red. It works for me somehow. With sexy librarian glasses and stiletto heals—fishnet stockings.” I picked up a pillow and threw it at him.

“Can the fantasies, Fitz.”

 

We left the apartment building through the side door and headed back to his truck. I was sporting his jean jacket, Jays cap and Ray Bans as a disguise. We decided to eat dinner first –and then go shopping. I lost the toss on the radio station so we headed toward the No Frills, with Eminem booming from the stereo.

 

I hoped our “rooming” together was going to work out before I went totally nuts, or the guy got caught which ever came first. I called my mom to tell her I was going on vacation for a bit. This was just to sidetrack the issue that I really didn’t want to stay with them instead of Gerry. If they knew I was staying with Gerry there would be too many questions asked. So I just figured I would tell them I was staying at Elaine’s cottage and they could reach me on my cell. I hung up before mom could start up with the safety lectures. It was better off that she thought I was going off with the girls for a week. The next call was to the agency to state that I was taking a stress leave and I would call when I was available for work.

 

I think all the bases were covered. I told Elaine that my folks thought we were off together and not to call there looking for me. None of my other friends would call my folks, so that tied up those loose ends. We stopped at a fast food joint to grab dinner, and make a list of provisions we would need.

 

We got our shopping done. After returning to Gerry’s apartment, I dyed my hair “Julia Roberts” red, dried it and put in brown contacts. The transformation was amazing! I felt like a new woman. Gerry had fallen asleep on the couch while I was in the bathroom. I turned off the TV and headed to bed early. There was a message on Gerry’s answering machine that my car was being dropped off at ten am at the department’s expense. My new life, such as it was, was about to begin. Until the killer/stalker was caught I was Cynthia Fair, Gerry’s cousin.

 

Karen Vaughan, Laura & Gerry series, Uncategorized

A CHARACTER INTERVIEW WITH KILLER T. FORD FROM DAYTONA DEAD!E

You met Killer T. in Daytona Dead. He is the bad ass responsible for several deaths in the Daytona Beach area and even took a run at Laura!

41FEniRgFbL

What is your story? I am the featured antagonist in DAYTONA DEAD

Who are you?  My name is Duane Ford a.k.a KILLER T. FORD

Where do you live? Daytona Florida, I have a nice estate with a ranch house and a slip for my cabin cruiser

Are you the hero of your own story? Yes it’s all about me! Actually I am a badass Nascar driver with an evil streak.

What is your problem in the story? Too many cops trying to track me down and a pesky

 

Do you have a hero? Dale Earnhart Jr. Only man who beat me that I respect

 

What are your achievements? Won a few big NASCAR races.

What is your most prized possession? Why? My 40’s Chevy; we are one with the universe

What is your favorite beverage? Why? Beer-Budweiser as they sponsor me.

What is your favorite music?

Country, and Classic 70s rock

What is your favorite item of clothing?

Why?Jeans, and my racing uniforms-I am a casual kind of guy. I don’t kill people wearing Armani

What are the last five entries in your check registry? Last 5 cheques I wrote to pay people off

    . What are the last three books you read?

Book of Robert Frost Poetry, Complete works of  Edgar Allen Poe, Christine by Stephen King

 If you were at a store now, what ten items would be in your shopping cart?

Beer, girlie magazines, steaks, salmon, 10 lb bag of spuds, Corn Flakes, Jim Beam, Bratwurst sausage, beef jerky and pork rinds.

You can find out more about Killer T.’s killing spree in Daytona Dead by Karen Vaughan!

DAYTONA DEAD AT AMAZON

 

 

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DEAD ON ARRIVAL CHAPTER 2 & 3

dead onarrival

Chapter 2

 

I got in my car, and stopped at Timmy’s. When in shock there’s nothing better than an extra large double-double and a sour cream glazed to put things right. Okay, so in this case, there were a lot of ways things could be improved, but coffee and a donut was a good start. I told Gerry where I was going. He offered to tag along, but I needed time to collect my thoughts, before heading to my employment agency to let them know I was available for tomorrow. I handed in my last timesheet, but nothing fresh had come in just yet. Even though I wasn’t in the mood, I gave them my cell number and told them I could really use the work before I got desperate enough to flip burgers, or sort clothes at Value Village. However, until my name is cleared up in this mess, employment was the last thing on my mind.

 

The next, dreaded stop was the west end. I needed to fill in my parents about the deceased house guest before they heard it through the news or the trans-metropolitan grapevine known as my family at large. Any gossip can reach Etobicoke from Scarberia within a half hour. I wasn’t going to call Vicky either for the same reason. I surfed the radio stations searching for news of the city’s latest murder. There was nothing yet, great. My Bon Jovi CD kept me company on the drive over.

 

I wanted to call Elaine, my very best friend for the last ten years since college. I just couldn’t do it until I was sure I wouldn’t break down. Elaine is great in an emergency but I wanted to digest the situation myself before sharing. Traffic on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardener Expressway were clear at 10 am on a Monday morning, and I made the trip in good time.

 

As I drove west I wondered who in hell would want Hodges dead. As I had told both Gerry and the detective, I had only known Hodges for a short while. I really didn’t like him. His collection methods were suspect and rumor had it he was snake when it came to women. So I guess there were many possibilities. Who would fit the suspect list? Pissed off victims of his collection attempts, and as many ex-girlfriends as you could shake a stick at. The biggest issue still stuck in my head was, ” Why my apartment? Was it completely random or was I really being sent a message as Inspector Gibbons suspected?” I could speculate until the cows come home but until we knew the truth, it was as useful as banging my head against the wall.

 

My parents still lived in the same house they had when they first got married forty-five years ago. I hauled my trash out of the car and headed for the side entrance. Mom was at the kitchen table portioning out her groceries into meal-sized servings. Upon seeing the Timmy’s bag and tray she gave me the look, you’ll-never-get-a-man-eating junk food” look. I am definitely heading for plus size model status. My mother preferred herself and her “girls” to be Barbie perfect, referring to Edna and Charlene, my two sisters.

 

I returned her look with a glare to suggest “skip-the-lecture-been through-helland-back”. It’s like I had told the police earlier. Mom has always believed that the girls should stay at home until they meet Dr. Right and have ten kids. I am 34 divorced and have always believed in once fried in unholy matrimony don’t do it again. I appealed to Dad to get her off my case for the moment. Dad is a happy camper as long as he has his newspaper and a 12 pack of Guinness in the fridge. I sat down at the table.

 

Mom looked at me.” You’re not working today?”  “Nope.” I was feeling into short staccato replies.

“Why not” was the obvious next query?

I didn’t really want to launch into 20 questions with her about my employment status. Mom just looked at me. It didn’t take much for her to figure that something was up.

 

“Before I entertain you with my activities of late, I need you to put down the knife before you hurt yourself.” Mom carefully put the knife on the table and sat down

“Laura,” she said, “You look like you have been through a war or two.” I had her attention now. “What’s going on?” She looked at my father. “Robert, put down the paper. Laura has news.” She was likely hoping I had finally snagged my shrink. Mom doesn’t care what kind of doctor I marry, as long as the initials preceded his name.

 

“Don’t get all excited Ma, I am not marrying Dr O’Hara. In fact, let’s just leave my love life and employment status out of this,” I tell them.

“There is something I do need to tell you. Number one, I am not working. I couldn’t handle the stress of chasing debtors and there is nothing available right now. Secondly I had a guest visitor overnight.”

Mom crossed herself and gave me and I don’t want to know about your tawdry sex life look.

 

“Nothing like that! Someone deposited a dead body in my living room last night while I was out.” There I said it. The best way I have discovered for delivering this kind of news is the rip off the band-aid quick method.

“Mom! I may be in deep here. I have to get printed and tested for gunshot residue, in order to clear myself of any involvement in this crime.”

 

My mom plunked down on the kitchen chair and looked sky, crossed herself, and sported

the ‘why me?’ look. It’s kind of a shoot first, answer questions later approach Her eyes got that glazed look. “What the….., why? Did you know him?”

 

“Yes I did. Some one snuck him in sometime while I was out yesterday, beyond that I don’t know. The police came this morning, and did the usual – including dusting for prints. They are going to let me know.”

“Okay who was he?”

“Well he worked at the agency. His name was Anthony Hodges. Not sure why yet either, obviously someone’s trying to tell me something. Maybe someone has an axe to grind and in his or her sick way is telling me, I’m next.” This thought alone gave me the willies big time!

“Well then its final, Laura I want you to move home.” Mom cut to the chase and put on her mommy knows best hat.

 

“I can’t. I have cats,” I was ready for her arguments and had some ready mad retorts of my own. “Besides, if I move, it will look suspicious to the police.”

“Bring them.”

“Who, the police?” I had a tendency toward sarcasm, which drove the folk’s nuts.

“Don’t get smart Laura; you know I meant your animals.”

“You’re allergic”

“Well get out of that neighborhood. I never liked you living across the city. Saul across the street is renting out his basement—I’ll put in a good word for you.”

“I am not moving THAT close,” I tell them.

 

Maybe it was just the shock of the situation, but my mother was doing a great job of avoiding the bigger picture, maybe that’s where I get it. I put my hands on her shoulders and looked her straight in the eye. “Mom, I could end up very dead if whoever murdered Hodges, found me. The other more heinous possibility is I could do time for this, if the legal system decided I was responsible for the crime.” It was a hideous thought that we all had to face. The only good news was that Canada has no death penalty. However, I pictured being at the mercy of some big chick named Bertha, who would either kill me or make me her prison bitch.

 

” I actually came here seeking refuge and a sense of safety, which I don’t think I am really getting here.”

“You’re welcome to stay here if you want.” Mom replied.

“No.” I return. “I’ll call Elaine. I want to go home and sanitize my apartment after all that has happened. I may not stay there but I at least need to clean up and get some extra locks and maybe an alarm system. No one is going to surprise me like that again. Besides the police planted an unmarked car in case the killer decides to come back. We also have to consider that if they want to question me further, I may just need a damned good lawyer.”

 

Dad chirped in for the first time.” Okay Laura I will call my lawyer friend, Paddy Mulligan—He does real estate law, but he might know someone good at criminal law, should the need arise.”

No matter how little Dad said in a conversation, I could always count on his common sense approach—no nonsense from him. “Thanks daddy.”

“No problem—hope you won’t need it but I’ll not put you in the hands of a ‘still wet behind the ears’ duty council.”

 

I kissed the top of Dad’s head I also hugged Mom, and asked them to wish me luck and say a few prayers the next time they head to Mass.

I pulled out my cell and called Elaine. I arranged a dinner date with her and some of our girlfriends. I definitely needed a night out to forget my troubles, albeit temporarily.

 

“Where are you going for dinner?” Mom asked.

“Not the Moose Burger Emporium.” I said, as I headed out the door.

Chapter 3

 

My appointment at the police division was for three p.m. I hoped I would not bump into anyone I knew. I took Elaine with me for emotional support. Elaine is another real long time friend. We have been buddies since our college days when we used to raise hell and get drunk. She is perpetually single, and loves it. She says it would be a frosty day in hell before she does the ball and chain routine. Call it commitment phobia. Seeing me and

Louie split, didn’t help change her mind. It only confirmed that love stinks, and men are pigs. Okay she’s not a lesbian, but she won’t commit to a guy beyond a short fling. Anyway, she and the other girls we hang with, including my cousin Vicky, have been a great support to each other over the years. So, once again, Elaine was along for the ride, complete with bail money should I need it. The testing involved me getting my hands clothing, and jewellery examined. I had a change of clothes in my car so I could hand over what I had been wearing. Elaine and I were out of there within an hour. I was informed that testing could take awhile but I would definitely hear from someone if there were problems. Next stop was the liquor store and the Home Depot for supplies – not necessarily in that order.

 

There is nothing like a night out with the girls to make you forget your woes. I told the group what had happened that morning. The girls were shocked that someone could have gotten in that easily. We agreed that, that night we would have a sleep over at my place install the locks, alarms and arm ourselves with pots and pans against further invasion. I had my baseball bat ready. If there was to be another intrusion to my sanctuary, the sucker had better be prepared to eat wood.

 

The next morning I got a call for a day job at a printing company, which ended uneventfully. Upon arriving home I received a call from Inspector Gibbons, who wanted to meet about the investigation. I asked him if it was official enough to come to the division, and did I need a lawyer.

 

Since he said no, I invited him over for coffee. I was still uncomfortable being alone, despite the unmarked police car out in the back lot. At 7 pm, Jeff Gibbons showed up at my door armed with coffee and Danish. We sat at my counter bar.

 

“So,” I said. “What’s new?”

The good news was that so far my hands had tested clean; they were still working on my other things. Gerry and Ray had been tested as well. Gibbons confirmed the fact that Hodges had been dead before he was dumped. He was shot. The Medical Examiner said some one had kept him on ice –almost literally – until he was delivered.  Well at least now I could reassure mom and dad that I wasn’t going to jail.

 

“But how could that be?” I asked, “He smelled like a fermented banana split when I found him.”

“In that heat it doesn’t take long for things to thaw out.”

 

“There is another nagging question I have been thinking of all day….. Since there was no blood on my carpet or in the parking lot, how did they get him here? I awakened at eight am and that’s when I stumbled over him. How long had he been in my apartment and who got him in here?”

 

“Those are good questions and ones maybe you can help us find answers to.”

 

“Okay, but I am not sure what I can do.”

 

“It’s easy. Just take us through your activities the day before the body was found. That way we can determine the possible time a body could have been snuck into the building.”

 

“Perhaps,” I remarked, “it would be important to find out how the killer knew to deliver him here.”

 

“Hey, I am impressed. How did you figure that out?”

 

“Look at me, I am a single woman, I have a lot of time to watch TV. I suppose I get into it a bit too much.”

 

“Okay let’s follow that line of thinking. Let’s take it back to Friday night. What time did you leave work?”

 

“Easy, they let me leave at 4 pm that day because it was the day I quit. “

 

“Okay, you said previously Mr. Hodges left before you went to talk to the boss. What time was that, approximately?”

 

“Hmmmm, about 3:30, I had just gotten off the phone and I remember asking him where he was going and he said he was off to do repossession on a car. I remember being creeped out about it. He just seemed too happy at the prospect. Do you think the owner of the repossessed was responsible for the death? Maybe he wasn’t quite ready to part with the car. ?”

 

“Where did you go after you left work?” Gibbons cut in.

 

“I went to the Super Saver to grab some wings to go, and junk food, then on to the beer store. I called my friend Elaine. I went to her place, we stuffed ourselves silly, got stinking drunk and I conked out until noon on Saturday. From there I went to my cousin Vicki’s, where I babysat her three kids for the rest of the weekend.” Which, I was thinking is really hard to do when severely hung over.

“Did you stop at your apartment at anytime through out the weekend, for a change of clothes?”

“No I keep a change of clothes in my car for emergency sleep-over at my parents, or at friends. I also wear the same size as Elaine so I borrowed something from her. And I always carry a tooth brush with me in my bag.” The detective looked at me kind of funny.

 

“What?” noting his look I answered back, “I am a woman. I am prepared for anything.”

 

“No comment on that,” he said. “So when you returned home sometime on Sunday night, there was nothing odd in the apartment?”

“Not that I can remember. But I don’t think I tripped over the body ’til Monday morning. I was over tired from babysitting over the weekend and partying with friends on Friday. Sasquatch could have been camped on my couch and it would not have phased me.”

 

“Did you notice anything strange when you left work?”

“You mean like some one following me? I never noticed anything out of the ordinary.”

 

“Who did the trace on the debtor?”

“I did.”

“Maybe from now on you had better take notice.”

 

Inspector Gibbons looked at me. “I can’t tell you this officially but off the record, we

“like” the debtor for this. He or she’s definitely a person of interest.”

“Well that’s going to narrow things down. The manager of the agency could trace what files Hodges was working on. Any files regarding auto loans should be looked at.”

 

“We already spoke to the director of the agency and he traced anyone who was slated for collection of cars. Then we narrowed it down and found out where they were all weekend.”

 

I can’t remember exactly who the debtor was but I liked him for this too. “That’s a good start. There is still the burning question why did they dump him in my backyard? ”

 

“Okay, new thread but it bears checking out.”

 

I was starting to feel like a spider—throwing out new threads to build a web and I was woven into the middle.

 

I tried to pretend I wasn’t afraid, but my false bravado was fading. Someone knew where I lived, and had succeeded in depositing a dead body in my living room. “So how long does my shadow stay parked out there?”

 

“I’d say until it’s over, and the killer is behind bars. Do you feel safe here?”

 

“No, my home and my peace of mind have been invaded.” I couldn’t help it. I fell apart. I have never been much of a cry-baby, but enough is enough. I was crying real tears and I was not ashamed to do so. Inspector Gibbons stood in front of me and assured me it was natural to feel this way. He handed me a card for victims’ services, if I needed counselling.

“Well I guess I feel better with the car outside my door than without it.”

 

“I should get going.” He said. “Let us know if you remember anything else unusual about the weekend.”

 

“So do you really think someone could have followed me around to find out where I live?”

 

“It’s a possibility we can’t afford to ignore. If he was angry enough to kill Mr. Hodges and if you traced him, you should be careful. But we will do what we can to protect you.”

 

“Well this is my home and I am not running from it until I have to. I have a bat and I added some more locks.”

 

I slept on the couch that night with the lights and the TV on. My phone was beside me and I had hairspray under my pillow. It wasn’t Mace but it would do. I couldn’t sleep so I watched the all night movie channel.

 

I had no work the next day. So when I did fall asleep, I dreamt of having to flip those dreaded Moose burgers, and ended up counting Bullwinkle’s all night.