Bob Hill and his new wife Betty are vacationing in Europe...as it happens,
near Transylvania . They‘re driving in a rental car along a rather deserted
highway. It’s late at night and raining very hard with thunder and lightning. Bob
can barely see the road in front of the car.
Suddenly, the car skids out of control! Bob attempts to control it, but
to no avail. The car swerves and smashes into a tree.
Moments later, Bob shakes his head to clear the fog. Dazed, he
looks over at the passenger seat and sees his wife unconscious, with her head
bleeding! Despite the rain and unfamiliar countryside, Bob knows he has toget help.Bob picks up his
wife and begins trudging down the road.
After a short while, he sees a light.He heads
towards the light, which is coming from a large, old house. He approaches the
door and knocks.
passes and a small, hunched old man opens the door. Bob immediately blurts out,
"Help! My name is Bob Hill, and this is my wife Betty. We've been in a
terrible accident, and my wife is seriously hurt. Can I please use your
sorry," replies the hunchback, "but we don't have a phone. But my
master is a doctor. Come in, and I will get him!"
Bob enters as
another older man comes down the stairs. "I'm afraid my assistant may have
misled you. I am not a medical doctor. I am a scientist. However, it is many
miles to the nearest clinic, and since I’ve had somemedical training, I’ll see what I
can do for your wife. Igor, bring them down to the laboratory."
Igor picks up Betty and carries her downstairs, with Bob following closely
behind. Igor places Betty on a table in the lab. Bob collapses from exhaustion
and his own injuries, so Igor places Bob on an adjoining table.
After a brief
examination, Igor's master looks worried. "Things are serious, Igor.
Prepare a transfusion."
Igor and his
master work feverishly, but despite all they do, both Bob and Betty Hill pass
deaths upset Igor's master greatly. Wearily, he climbs the steps to his
conservatory, which houses his grand piano. Music has always brought him
solace, so he begins to play, and a stirring, almost haunting melody fills the
Igor is still in the lab tidying up. His eyes catch movement, and he noticesthe fingers on Betty's hand
twitching, keeping time to the haunting piano music. Stunned, he watches as
Bob's arm begins to rise, marking the beat. He is further amazed when both
Betty and Bob suddenly sit upright on the examining tables.
contain himself, Igor dashes up the stairs to the conservatory, bursts in, and
Today I'm happy to host my good friend Marilyn Meredith here at Cicero's Children. Marilyn Meredith is the
author of over thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy
Tempe Crabtree mystery series. She borrows a lot from where she lives in the
Southern Sierra for the town of Bear Creek and the surrounding area, including
the nearby Tule River Indian Reservation. She does like to remind everyone that
she is writing fiction. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, three chapters of Sisters
in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety
Writers of America. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and follow her blog at http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/
When I was kid,
trick-or-treating was an adventure. We traipsed all over the neighborhood with
no adults supervising. We older kids, and I’m talking nine or ten, had our
younger siblings in tow. At least we had them until they got too tired and then we
took them back home, and headed out again.
Those were the war years
(WWII) and sugar was rationed, so the most wonderful treats were the homemade
ones like popcorn balls, chocolate chip cookies, and candied apples. We had no
reason to fear razor blades or poison. And we weren’t ashamed to hit up a house
with homemade goodies a second time. We also passed the word where the “good
stuff” was to others on the street.
One time I ventured out
on my own. I can’t remember why, but probably my friends had tired and given
up. I know I was on a street several blocks from home and had to climb a whole
flight of stairs to a house I’d never been to before. I knocked and shouted,
“Trick or Treat.”
A man with a fierce
expression opened the door with a rifle pointed right at me. He growled, “You
know what I do to kids who come trick or treating?”
Positive I was about to
die, I managed to squeak out, “No, sir.”
He grinned, lowered the
rifle and said, “I give them candy,” and he did.
I hightailed it home
after that—and though I don’t know for sure, I have a strong feeling I never
went trick-or-treating on my own after that.
What about you? What
kind of Halloween Memories do you have?
Shapes, Marilyn's latest book: Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house.
Deputy Tempe Crabtree's investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless
spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and the present, and demons
and angels at war.
The person who comments
on the most blogs on Marilyn's blog tour will have the opportunity to have a
character named after him or her in the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.
Have you ever noticed how many mystery novel characters take a bullet to the shoulder and bounce right back into action in the next chapter? Is this realistic, or are some modern day writers simply following a pattern created by dime novel authors back in the years when fictional tough guys were all the rage? Sometimes it's necessary to the story to let your hero take a beating or be shot by the bad guys. After all, criminals aren't nice people, and if your hero is involved in catching criminals for a living -- say he is a cop or a P.I. -- he stands a good chance of needing medical care at least once or twice in his life. Lydia Chin, a P.I. in S.J. Rozan's CHINA TRADE, took a classic beating in that book. Chin didn't miraculously recover from the attack in one day flat. Instead, Rozan portrayed her painful physical recovery over a matter of time, including limiting her ability to perform certain activities for the first few days. Rozan dealt in realism, unlike so many writers who minimize the effects of physical assaults on their characters. Now let's consider that bullet to the shoulder I mentioned earlier. If you look at the picture on the left, you'll notice there's more bones than muscle showing in the upper arm and shoulder area. Sure, a writer could simply "wing" his victim, grazing the upper outer arm with a bullet and leaving a nice gash there, but little other damage. That gash might require stitches, and it would certainly hurt like heck for a few days, but a tough hero could probably grimace his way through the pain while fighting off the bad guys, especially if he had the biceps of a football player with lots of muscle between skin and bone. But what if he's shot a little higher in the shoulder? Or what if he's lacking big biceps? And what if he's a size 4 she?? What then? You can probably deduce from the picture that a bullet of any size could do considerable harm to the clavicle, the scapula, or the humerus itself. Damage to any of those bones means our hero -- or heroine -- will be out of the competition for a while. And what about blood? In these pictures, the red indicates arteries, the blue indicates veins.
"Winging" someone wouldn't cause much bleeding, but a bullet to the inside of the shoulder area could cause massive hemorrhage. Shooting a character in the shoulder requires some thoughtful decision making on the part of the writer. Can the character be out of heavy duty action for anywhere from several days to several weeks? Can he do his job while wearing a sling on his arm or a figure-8 clavicle strap on his upper body? Will he bleed a little or a lot? Will he experience the minor but annoying pain of a simple gash, or the more exquisite pain of a shattered bone? It's all up to the writer -- if the scene is to be written realistically. So, how much damage would a bullet do to you? Check yourself out in a mirror. If you're a small woman like I am, you might be surprised at how little muscle separates skin from bones in your shoulder. **************
It's hard to believe we only have one week left in September. Seems like only yesterday when the kids were starting back to school. But it's true -- October is right around the corner, and that means Halloween is fast approaching.
To help celebrate the spirit of this spooky season, I'm presenting below the first chapter in my Halloween mystery, THE SCARECROW MURDERS, preceded by the informational blurb from the book. Hope you enjoy it!
******** It's a battle of the sexes in little Rhineburg, Illinois when Bruck University's fledgling football team butts heads with female rodeo riders during Halloween Homecoming Days. The Big Bad Bruins can’t believe it when Bruck President Garrison Hurst hires the Moore Sisters' Rodeo to perform in the school's new stadium the night before the homecoming game. The 3Bs—AKA “The Freebies” because of their losing style—may be lousy at football, but as country boys, they know what a herd of angry Brahma bulls can do to a grass field. Accompanied by every able-bodied man in town, they form a picket line outside Hurst’s office and raise their voices in protest.
Will the president meet the team’s demands to cancel the rodeo? Not if Donna Moore can help it. Backed by an iron-clad contract and a smart lawyer, Donna rallies the women of Rhineburg in support of their cowgirl sisters. Marching with signs in hand, the women out shout and out maneuver their male counterparts, taking over the college security office and generally causing havoc on Bruck’s campus.
Caroline Rhodes’ son and daughter-in-law take opposite sides in the argument—until a football player is found murdered in a rodeo bullpen and Martin Rhodes is named the prime suspect. Caroline looks to Professor Carl Atwater, Maddy “Mad” Moeller, and the ladies of the Rhineburg Boarding House and Home for Gentle Women for help in catching a clever killer. ********
(copyright 2004, 2012 by Mary V. Welk)
Rhodes megaphoned her plea through cupped hands tinged blue by a cold October
wind. The practical side of her brain ridiculed her efforts even as she
shouted. The day had dawned gray, with a battery of storm clouds stacked like
black casino chips on the far horizon. The clouds had edged ever closer to
Rhineburg until, as if pushed by some invisible croupier's hand, they'd spilled
into the skies above Bruck University, announcing their arrival with a
smattering of thin raindrops. The dribble had quickly turned into a torrent
that pummeled the school's auditorium and matted the yellow grass behind it.
the temperature dipping towards the freezing point, the rain had become a
crystal curtain of sleet. It battered Nikki's cries into icy little whispers
that spiraled out of control in the gusting wind. Common sense told her Martin
could neither see nor hear her.
what her head knew to be true, Nikki's heart rebelled at the thought of defeat.
The man she loved was fighting for his life only sixty yards away. Somehow she
had to let him know she was there for him.
called out again, this time expending every inch of breath available in her
hundred-and-twenty pound frame.
appeal was barely born before a slap shot of arctic air splintered her words
into shards of sound that boomeranged back into Nikki's face. Fragmented
syllables ricocheted inside the hood of her yellow vinyl slicker and echoed in
her ears like the muffled chant of a ghost choir. She shivered, spooked by the
eerie mimicry of the wind.
Mar-tinnnn! You can make it, boy!"
Nikki darted a look at the grandfather-like
figure roaring encouragement over her left shoulder. Sleet bounced off the bill
of Carl Atwater’s Bruck U. baseball cap and trickled down his drooping mustache
and Santa Claus beard. Seeking further purchase, the ice crystals burrowed into
the red and black checkerboard of his size 54 jacket, pinged off the fat metal
buttons marching soldier-like down his stomach, and splashed to the ground in ever-growing
puddles around his scuffed boots.
professor of history seemed oblivious to the sudden downpour that had turned a
merely gray day into a cold and miserable one. The brutal wind reddened his
face beyond its usual weathered look, but his eyes never wavered from the trio
of mud-spattered bodies dashing across the field behind Hildegard Hall. He
exhorted the lead runner with a series of deafening war whoops, emphasizing his
demands for speed with a clenched fist raised high to punch tight little
circles at the charcoal sky.
him bob up and down on the balls of his feet, frozen raindrops sprinkling the
air with each thrust of his arm, a picture came to Nikki's mind of a fat old
sheep dog shaking off the residue of a Saturday night bath. It was a comforting
image, if not a lasting one.
come on, Martin! Wake up and move your feet!"
dark eyes narrowed. Her mellow sheep dog had vanished, melted in the rain like
the Wicked Witch of the West. In its place stood an oversized pit bull complete
with bared fangs and a bad dude attitude.
it, Professor!" Nikki waggled a frostbitten finger under Atwater's nose.
"One more word of criticism out of you, and I swear I'll…I'll…"
words that would have shocked her mother, Nikki drew in her breath and finished
the sentence with a frustrated shake of her head. The professor responded in
typical male fashion. His eyebrows rose in stunned surprise, then fused into a
frown mirroring his inner confusion. He seemed baffled as to the reason for
Nikki's anger. He also appeared hurt by the vehemence in her voice.
to ignore the look of mystified pain on the professor's face. Atwater deserved
to be told off, she thought, and not only because he'd criticized Martin. This
entire mess was his fault. If he hadn’t egged him on, her husband would be safe
at home today instead of running for his life from a pack of thugs. But his
mentor's devious plot had appealed to the macho side of Martin's character.
Testosterone had triumphed over common sense, and her own dire warnings had
been in vain. Now Martin was about to die, and for no good reason at all.
Greek blood boiled, her fear for Martin's safety now preempted by an
overwhelming desire to throttle the chairman of the history department.
professor seemed to read at least a part of her thoughts. He leaned forward,
his damp beard brushing the hood of her slicker. "Don't you worry.
Martin's going to come out of this in one piece."
sensation in the pit of her stomach spread upward to her throat as Nikki stared
out over the field. The sleet and driving rain distorted her view, but she
could see the gap steadily closing between her husband and the two men chasing
him. The taller of Martin's pursuers appeared to be less than a yard behind him
and slightly to his right. A shorter, huskier fellow was closing from the left,
a step ahead of his partner and at a better angle to intercept his prey. It was
like watching a pyramid collapse, the tip slowly crumbling to be buried by the
rubble at the bottom.
warning, the shorter man launched himself into the air. His momentum propelled
him several feet forward directly into Martin's path. He fell to the earth with
a bone-jarring thud, then twisted to the right, arms outstretched, and grabbed
his victim by the ankle.
reached out blindly and clutched the arm of her mother-in-law. Her fingernails
dug a trench in the other woman's wrist as she watched her husband struggle to
escape. Martin was still on his feet, stumbling forward and dragging his
attacker with him across the slick grass. Covered in mud, the man held on until
the second pursuer caught up with them. This fellow slammed into Martin's back,
seized him by the shoulders, and unceremoniously hauled him backwards.
oh," groaned the professor. "I think he's a goner."
lips trembled. She squeezed her eyes shut, unable to watch her husband's
premature demise at the hands of the two thugs.
over," she whimpered. "They've made me a widow."
Rhodes smothered a yelp as her daughter-in-law's nails triggered yet another
spasm of pain in her wrist.
on the bright side," she muttered through clenched teeth. "Martin may
be dead meat, but you'll look smashing dressed in black."
So yesterday -- Sunday -- we had the kids and grandkids here at our house to celebrate Fred's and my birthdays. Fred is exactly one week older than I, which means for one week I can say I married an older man. (Of course, for that same week, Fred likes to say he married a younger woman!)
We picked the perfect day for a backyard party with the temperature reaching a comfortable 77 degrees. (Today the temp topped out at 94 degrees with high humidity!) Dinner consisted of fried chicken, sloppy joes, potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, and a variety of liquid refreshment followed by a red velvet birthday cake for Fred and a chocolate birthday cake for me.
That wasn't the end of the desserts, though. Daughter Jenni brought a homemade peach pie, the fresh peaches having come from the Elberta peach tree in her back yard. Daughter Sarah wasn't to be outdone by her younger sister; she brought homemade brownies, lemon squares, and raspberry crunch cookies.
So yes, this wasn't the most calorie conscious, fat free dinner of all time, but boy! it sure was good! :) The only thing missing was a Deamsicle pie. My sister sent me this recipe and said her family loved it. Being a Dreansicle fan -- you know, those vanilla ice cream bars covered in orange sherbet -- I intend to make this pie very soon, although I'll probably substitute a graham cracker crust for the cookie crust. I'm including the recipe below in case you'd like to try it, too.
And speaking of recipes, Carolyn Haines, author of the Bones series starring Sarah Booth Delaney, has a cookbook coming out next spring. Called BONE-A-FIED DELICIOUS, Recipes from Zinnia's Finest Chefs, the book features the best recipes out of 700 submissions sent to Carolyn from readers and writers across the country. The book will debut at Carolyn's annual Daddy's Girls Weekend, April 3-6, 2014 in Mobile, Alabama. This is a great conference for readers and writers alike with author conversations and panel discussions interspersed with fun activities like the Big Daddy contest. For more information, visit Carolyn's website at http://www.carolynhaines.com/ or go directly to the Daddy's Girls website, http://www.daddysgirlsweekend.com/About.html