Friday, October 30, 2009

Ghosts, Part 10

The town of Clement was different once, you know. We had businesses, homes, even our own post office. But businesses failed, people moved away, and we lost our post office to Shumark City. Tornadoes, fires, and time itself leveled most of what was left.

But back then, Clement had a thriving Main Street. And more than enough men to form Cotting's "posse." Larry and Ronald collected about twenty men, none of them armed with more than pocket knives. Cotting made sure there were no weapons besides his and the officers. Cotting wanted no one to steal his shot.

You probably find Cotting's eagerness to kill Simon strange. No bad blood existed between them. Cotting had only seen Simon with the Watts family around town a few times, and the two men had never met. But Cotting, you see, had been itching for a chance to kill another man ever since he killed his brother.

That murder happened like this. Devene Cotting had been jealous of his older brother Levi almost from the time Devene could walk. His parents doted on Levi and treated Cotting like the accident he was. Levi got the new clothes, Devene got the hand-me-downs. Levi received A's and B's in school while Devene struggled for every C. Levi had blue eyes, tousled blond hair, and a lean body made even stronger by football and track. Devene had muddy brown eyes, a tangle of black hair, and a body made by excessive sweets and second helpings of everything. Levi gave Devene plenty to be jealous of.

Until one day, when Devene was 13 and Levin was 15, they walked home from school on the old Crimsom Creek bridge, Levi a few steps ahead of his younger brother. It was report card day, and Levi was bragging about his straight A's while Devene walked behind and hated Levi with a purity only seen in madmen. Levi stopped and looked down at the river.

"What's he doing?" Levi said, not really asking his brother because he didn't care what his brother thought one way or another. He didn't hate Devene. He simply held him in contempt.

Levi had seen Terrance Mason on the side of the river. Mason held a black box and was turning in circles. They could hear that Mason was speaking, but they couldn't make out the words. Levi moved closer to the edge.

And suddenly it was all so clear to Devene Cotting what he should do. He stepped forward and pushed. Devene marveled at the simplicity of it.

Levi fell, screaming until he hit the water. He disappeared under the surface. Devene watched calmly as his brother struggled for a few moments, but Levi had apparently broke something in his fall. He vanished under the water finally and didn't come back up.

Devene watched the whole time. Movement caught his eye. Mason had walked to the edge of the river and looked up at Devene. Only then did Devene get scared. What did Mason see?

Mason looked out over the river and back at Devene. Mason waved to the boy. Mason walked away from the river back up a trail, carrying a black box under his arm.

Over the years, Cotting had decided Mason hadn't seen anything, although he didn't know how the barman had missed what happened. But what was Mason doing with that box, anyway? Probably something perverted, Cotting thought, and if Mason had seen anything, he certainly gave no sign of it.

And that was the end of Levi Cotting. Devene had thought his parents would turn to him, their only remaining child, but instead grief hardened their hearts. He would never measure up to Levi, and they let him know plenty about it until they were killed in car wreck outside Weatherford when Devene was twenty-three. With their money, he lived a good life and finally got the mayor, a beer drinking buddy, to appoint him as chief of police, a job where he got some respect and some authority.

Over the years as his boring life ground him down, Cotting had relived Levi's death many times. As he thought about it, Cotting realised something important, something essential had been missing in the murder. Finally one night while nursing a beer at Mason's Bar and Grill, he realized what it was. He hadn't got to see the fear in Levi's face. Levi hadn't suffered enough. It had been too quick.

He had stuffed that terrible thought to the back of his mind, but it had lurked there ever since. Now was his chance. He was finally going to get to kill someone the right way. For the first time in a long time, Police Chief Devene Cotting felt alive.

Copyright 2009 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ghosts, Part 9

In the woods, Simon Simple continued to run. Not that he thought anyone was chasing him yet. He just enjoyed running in his newly granted grace. No shamble, no clumsy run that made him look like a flailing chicken. Instead, a clean, direct stride with no wasted movement. He felt like he was flying.

Davey hung to him. The boy had stopped crying and buried his head against Simon Simple. Simon thought the little fellow was about to go to sleep, which would not be a bad thing all things considered, particularly when Simon considered the terrors the night would hold.

As he ran, he began to think. To consider all the possibilities that his previously limited intelligence had denied him. To think about his life and how -- by being his companions -- the Shining Ones had influenced him.

He altered his direction at an ancient oak tree and carried Davey away from the gnarled woods behind the Watts house into a true forest. Trees that had lived at least two hundred years or more. A green canopy overhead. Shaggy moss. The trees grew taller the further he went, and the air filled with mist.

In a small clearing circled by bone white stones, three Shining Ones waited. Simon stopped, catching his breath. He checked Davey; the sleeping boy didn't stir. Simon stepped in the circle. He placed the little boy on a long stone. Davey shifted and opened his eyes, and seeing Simon, smiled a sleepy smile before drifting off again.

"I've had time to think," Simon said, still watching Davey.

Yes? The Shining Ones glanced at each other and waited.

"What if I kept running?" Simon asked softly. "What if I didn't stop until Davey was several states away? Would he be safe then?"

Perhaps, the first Shining One said. Is that your decision? If the Shining Ones had been humans, they would have held their breath.

"Will I lose my ... intelligence if I do?" Simon asked.

The second Shining One shook her head. What gifts have been granted would remain. You could live a good life. Perhaps marry and have children of your own. You could be happy. She paused. We would not condemn you for choosing happiness over pain and death, dear Simon.

Simon looked at her. "If you hadn't made me so smart," Simon said, "I'd choose that. I'd have a good life. Davey would have a good life." He smiled sadly. "But I can see plainly there would be a cost to my decision."

Yes, she said.

"What would happen to Nate and Bettie?"

They would be lost, the second one said.

"And Mattie? Jacob?" He stopped as his mind put together things he remembered but had previous lacked the ability to understand. Those nights Mattie had slipped out and returned early in the morning. Her strange comments at times to the children. Things she whispered under her breath. Her fits of temper and the remorse afterwards. He looked at the Shining Ones with stricken eyes. "Mattie! I didn't realize ..."

Do not judge her harshly, the third Shining One said. She is young and lonely. She is only seeking comfort. She doesn't understand what she has carried into her home. All humans make decisions that impact their future. None of them know the consequences of their simplest choices until time passes.

Simon closed his eyes. "If I choose to be happy, if I choose to take Davey to safety, everyone else suffers."

It is not all your burden, the first Shining One said. They have choices, also. No one future is set. But a handful of futures are more likely if you choose your happiness. In those handful, the children and their parents are irrevocably lost.

"So I must sacrifice myself to save them," Simon said. "This new world, my new future, the limitless possibilities ... I have to give it up."

It always comes to sacrifice, Simon, the third Shining One said. We do not know why humans have to purchase wisdom with pain. Nor life with sacrifice. But that is the way of this world. Simon, you don't have to choose this path.

Simon looked at him bleakly. "Yes, I do. Nate, Bettie ... Mattie, Jacob, they're my family." He half-smiled. "Surely they're worth whatever I have to pay, but before I do this, I require a promise."

If it is within our power, we will grant it, the second Shining One said. The first one looked at her, but did not speak.

"Protect Davey," Simon said.

We will try -- she started to say.

"No," Simon interrupted. "Promise to keep him safe. For me. Let that be my price."

We cannot promise-- the third one started.

We will protect him, the first one said. As we have said, so will it be.

The other two Shining Ones looked at him briefly and then repeated his words. As we have said, so will it be.

"Thank you," Simon said. He took a deep breath. "Now, what do I do next?"

First, we must tell -- now that you've made your decision -- that more lives hang in the balance than you might have realized, the first one said. The fallen ones have chosen this town to wage a conflict. If we fail, the evil unleashed here will spread. It will eat away the morality of thousands and create a nightmare where unspeakable horrors will be the norm. The first one stepped forward. We cannot allow that to occur. We must stand here or there will be nowhere left for anyone to stand.

Copyright 2009 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

An annoying delay

My plan was to edit Part 9 when I went home for lunch. Good plan. Except when I went home, I had no electricity! Power is off. OG&E says there are power outages all over the place following a storm this morning. It did rain a lot and lightning a bunch downtown where I work, but we didn't lose power except for a few minutes. Sigh.

Anyway, surely I will have power when I get home this evening. If not, I'm going to worry about my fish and the food in my fridge. If I have power, you should be reading Ghosts, Part 9, about 30 minutes after I power up my computer ... always supposing the cable system is up, too. Well, if all else fails, I'll use my roomie's computer who has wireless through the phone company. Part 9 tonight or sooner!

Oh, it just occurred to me that you might be wondering why I can't simply post it down here. Because I write on Word on my computer and move each section to Blogger. I think I'm going to back it up each night to Gmail, and then it will be accessible wherever I am. Maybe back it up to a flash drive, too. That would be wise. Live and learn.

Be speaking with you later, God willing.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No Ghosts tonight

Not feeling well. Sorry. No Ghosts tonight. Ghosts will return tomorrow night when Simon Simple meets with the Shining Ones and we learn more about what's actually happening in the Watts family home. At least, that's my plan. See you then.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ghosts, Part 8

You’re probably wondering about the box, aren’t you? What it is? Where it came from? Who sent it? What’s inside? Well, you’ll learn if you listen long enough. I will tell you this: Humanity has always had a strange relationship with boxes.

Remember Pandora? The myth shows up in many ancient cultures around the world. The details change, but there’s always a box. A box that shouldn’t be opened. Think about all those treasure chests that pirates supposedly hid and guarded with deadly man-traps. We have boxes everywhere. Coffers. Safety deposit boxes.


A few years back, a University of Oklahoma researcher did a test with boxes. He placed three boxes on a table. One box was round, one was a triangle, and one was rectangular. He sent people in and asked them to open the boxes. Everyone of them opened the rectangular box first.

Then he put a lock on the rectangular box and sent in new people. Even though they could see that box plainly couldn’t be opened, they all tried the lock first. He put the lock on the other boxes, and still his subjects choose the rectangular box. He didn’t draw any conclusions from that, and perhaps there aren’t any to draw, but I should mention all the boxes were black. You see, his subjects always chose the one that most looked like the Curious Box the Watts kids found in the woods.

One other thing about boxes. We can’t leave them alone. We always want to open them no matter the consequences. I lay you odds if one morning a black box appeared before any human -- and if he or she was told that opening the box would destroy the world -- the world would be aflame before lunch. You can count on it.

Copyright 2009 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ghosts, Part 7

Terrance Mason watched from behind the bar as Ronald sauntered in, looked around, and walked over to Larry.

“How many you had, Larry?” Ronald asked. “Can you still walk?”

“Get stuffed,” Larry said with no real malice.

“Cotting wants us to gather up a search party,” Ronald said, picking up one of the empties on Larry’s table. Only three so far. “That Watts idiot took their boy and ran off into the woods. We gotta find him.”

Larry’s dead father attempted to get Larry’s attention, but his son studiously ignored the ghost.

“Come on,” Ronald said. “The chief knows you’re drinking. If you don’t show up, he’s gonna fire you.”

Larry apparently considered unemployment for a moment. Larry sighed and stood up. “We need to go by my house and let me get cleaned up,” Larry said. He looked over to Mason. “Put this on my tab.”

“Sure thing, Larry,” Mason said. Not that he really kept track. It didn’t matter how much Larry owed Mason just as long as Larry kept drinking. In fact, Mason had been the one to show up with a twelve-pack after Lisajean left. Mason had also been the one who had given the salesman Lisajean’s address when the man stopped by for a quick drink. He liked to think of himself as Larry’s personal demonic angel.

Mason watched Larry leave the bar. Larry seemed fairly steady, but that was normal for a drunk of Larry’s experience.

Mason pulled himself a draught of Black Dog Lager. He raised the glass in a mock salute to Rod Sr. who stared at the barman with frustrated hate.

Rod Sr. faded out. Mason looked around at the handful of men in the bar. Not as many as he might have hoped, but they would do. He reached beneath the bar and bought out a black box, much smaller than the Curious Box in the forest, but large enough for what Mason had in mind.

“Come over here, boys,” Mason said expansively. “I’ve got something to show you.”

Copyright 2009 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

Hey, have you signed up for Blastoff yet? It's a brand new shopping/info/entertainment portal. You can even get cash back from your purchases with over 400 companies if you use Blastoff. Go here for more info and become part of my "network." It's free, easy, and might save you some money. Check it out!

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ghosts, Part 6

The useless men at Clement mostly hung around at Mason's Bar and Grill, although the grill hadn't been lit in years. Mason stacked boxes of beer and liquor on it. On most nights, about 15 to 20 men would shuffle into the bar, play some pool, throw a round or two of darts, tell a few dirty jokes, and do their dead level best to drink themselves senseless with Mason's delighted help.

The bar opened in the early afternoon, but only the real serious drunks showed up that early. Like Teddy Aimes who came back from military service with memories he couldn't live with, Lonny Dewey who started drinking when he was 12 and wouldn't stop until he died when his liver finally gave out, and on the the day I'm talking about, Officer Larry Tweans who hadn't been right since his wife left him for a flooring salesman three years ago.

Larry had built his life about his lovely wife Lisajean. They had dated in high school, the football quarterback and the blond bouncy head cheerleader. A cliche couple, it seemed. When they married, Larry thought his life was set. He'd work at his father's furniture store until his father retired when he'd take over, Lisajean would raise two or three beautiful children but keep her looks, and they would live in a large house over on Oak Street where the kids and then the grandkids would play.

Larry, as it turned out, should have spent less time on the football field and more time talking to Lisajean. 'Cause Lisajean had no intention of settling for Clement when she could travel and do more exciting things than what Larry had envisioned for her. After a year of being married to dependable old Larry, she was ripe for the picking when that salesman showed up and told her his cousin Jack ran a TV station in Oklahoma City and he'd love to introduce Lisajean to Jack as well as introduce her to a better life than she had in Clement.

She left a note detailing Larry's failings. He kept it in his front pocket. He went on a three-day drunk. That was so much better than being sober he started planning his weekends around getting plastered. His father and mother tried to intervene, particularly after a terrible Monday morning when Larry showed up at their furniture store still drunk and threw up on a large three-piece microsuede sectional couch. Larry quit the next day. The Wednesday following, two men already on the run from the FBI robbed his parents' store and shot his father twice. His father died, the men were never caught, Larry's older brother Rod Jr. took over the store, and Larry decided to become a policeman.

He stayed sober for the year and half necessary for him to take a few law enforcement classes at the vo-tech at Sumark City. He applied for the part-time position at Clement to get a few months of actual work experience. His half-formed plan was to get a job with the Oklahoma City PD as a traffic cop, and soon after stop Lisajean's car for speeding. He was hazy on what would happen after that, but it either involved him discovering a few ounces of cocaine in the trunk of her car or her declaring her undying love upon seeing him.

Possibly his plan might have worked out for him. At least it might have moved him out of Clement. Might have let him discover something else in his life other than bitterness.

It might have happened as he planned, but one night, his dead father started appearing to him. First in his dreams and then when he was awake. His father haunted him all the time now. In fact, Larry's father Rod Sr. was sitting in the chair next to him and would be until Larry drank him away.

Larry knew -- in that way you know things in dreams -- that his father wanted to talk to him. So far Larry hadn't let him. Larry was afraid. Not so much of his father's ghost, but what his father wanted to tell him.

Larry knew like he knew gravity that his father's words would get him killed.

Copyright 2009 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 25, 1:39 pm

Sorry this is so late. I wrote it last night, but was too tired to proof it last night. And trust me, I need proofing! I did today, and here it is. I wanted to end each section on a cliff-hanger, but have discovered that is impossible in this form without making the story way over the top.

I intend on Ghosts being my next book. A friend asked why I was writing horror instead of mysteries. Here's my answer and with a few answers to questions he didn't ask:

1) Right now, Ghosts is more exciting to write than Murder by the Mile.

2) I don't really think this is horror as much as dark suspense. In fact that will its tag line: A Novel of Dark Suspense.

3) Yes, bad things happen to good people all the way through this book. No promises about any particular character surviving, although people who know me know that I usually root for the good guys.

4) I'm writing this on the blog for the comments. If I stop getting comments -- and readers -- then I'll stop posting it here.

5) I'm going to set up a different blog for Ghosts, which will have the story in order from the beginning, but the new parts will always be here first. I probably won't update the Ghosts blog more than once a week.

Anyway, that's where I'm at. I hope you're enjoying the story. Talk to you later.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ghosts, Part 5

If there are always heroes, there are also always villains. Now those people who choose evil for its sake alone are rare and easy to recognize. They do a lot of damage, and you put them down like a mad dog. You don’t torture them, no. You kill them as quickly and as merciful as you can, but you do kill them.

But most aren’t like that. Most people who do evil – sometimes terrible things -- they always have reasons, justifications, excuses. Police Chief Devene Cotting of our fair town of Clement, for instance, always found the law was a bit too confining. Law requires evidence, law requires work, and law requires you protect everyone, not just the skin color you like.

Clement was larger back then and could afford Cotting and two part-time deputies. Nowadays the county sheriff handles our town if we need him, but mostly we don’t. Too few of us left to do much stealing or carrying on or anything else. See, the life went out of our town forty years ago, and Clement never recovered. Sometimes I think a big fire would be the best thing. Finally put Clement out of its misery.

Anyway, back then, Cotting ran Clement like it was his private whore. A big brute of a man, he strutted around Clement and really thought he was God’s gift to the world when he wasn’t worth a good gob of spit.

Unfortunately, after Nate and Bettie finished telling their poison tale to Jacob and Mattie, and after Jacob and Mattie had searched desperately for Simon Simple and Davey, Cotting was who they called on that phone over there. See, the Watts couldn’t afford a phone, so Jacob ran the half-mile down here to call the police. Back then, old man Fisher owned the store.

Even then, Jacob didn’t tell Cotting the terrible things that Nate and Bettie had said Simon had done to Davey. Jacob still hoped they were wrong, but he was already losing faith in Simon. He was starting to fall. Not his fault. Every father wants their children protected. Every father suffers and blames themselves when their children are hurt. No, it wasn’t his fault at first. The best thing evil does is take good impulses and turn them inside out and upside down. The difference between a saint giving his life for others and a fanatic taking the life of others is razor thin.

Cotting hung up the phone at his two room police station. “Ronald, get your ass in here! That idiot up at the Watts place run away with their boy.” He spit a wad of chewing tobacco at the trash can and missed, the brown wad joining the pile on the floor. “God only knows what he’s doing to him. They should have put him away years ago.”

Officer Ronald Wellans wandered into the room. Cotting regarded him with contempt. Ronald was lazy and slow, but he didn’t give Cotting any lip.

“Where’s Larry?” Cotting asked.

“He called in sick,” Wellans said, leaning against the doorway.

“Drunk, you mean,” Cotting said. “You go over to his house and get him out of bed. Gather up some people and head up to the Watts place. That idiot doesn’t have the brains to go far.”

Wellans yawned.

“GO!” Cotting yelled, his round face getting red.

Wellans sighed and went.

Cotting circled around his desk and opened the gun case. He took down his deer rifle. He looked through the scope. If he got lucky, he might bag himself an idiot today. He couldn’t stop himself from grinning as he thought about it. He had only killed one other person in his life, and that had been his miserable brother. This promised to be even more fun. He headed toward his truck, whistling a little tune.

Copyright 2009 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ghosts, Part 4

You're back. Well, it's your funeral. Heh heh. But remember this: there is always hope and there are always, always, always heroes.

You recall when I was telling you about the Watts family, I mentioned the father Jacob; the mother, Mattie; the three children: ten-year-old Nate, nine-year-old Bettie, seven-year-old Davey; and one other, Mattie’s brother Simon Simple.

Of course, that wasn’t his name. Well, Simon was his first name, but he got “Simple” because he was. He was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his throat. Lack of oxygen damaged his brain. He couldn’t talk and had trouble walking. The doctors would have put him in a home, but his parents took their baby boy home and raised him with as much love as they could manage among all those other children. Simon had one gift; the best gift, his mother used to say, and that was he could love better than anyone you’ve ever known. When one of his brothers or sisters got hurt, he’d wrap them in his clumsy embrace and coo to them. It was silly and makes no sense, but he made them feel better.

In the little country school he went to, the other kids made fun of him, and eventually he became Simon Simple. He didn’t care what they said; he just laughed along with them and eventually the name stuck. No one thought much of it, certainly not him. But if those kids or his parents or those doctors could have seen into his mind, they would have been shocked. Because since he was born, the Shining Ones had been his constant companions, and in the gentle paradise that he spent his life in, he was never alone. They patiently taught him secret songs and hidden languages, and with great regret, prepared him for the Trial to come. It didn’t matter what the outside world saw; in his inner world, Simon lived the life of a prince of the sky.

Older than Mattie by three years, he attached to her when she was born, and to the best of his ability, he tried to take care of her. When she married and moved away, he was sad to the point of not eating. When his mother came down ill, the family asked Mattie and Nate to take him. They willing did, and to their credit, even during their hard financial times, they never thought of sending him back. He was a good companion to the children – not so much that he took care of them, but because they tried to take care of him, they didn’t do dangerous things that children sometimes do.

On that hot summer morning, Simon had been attempting to weed the poor garden. Simon had grown up large and strong, still clumsy, but capable of more than anyone would expect. He was trying to figure out if a particular plant was a weed or an onion when a Shining One came to him, and in a voice full of love said, Simon, our love, it’s time.

For a moment he stood there, the outside world snapping into focus for the first time in his life. He looked at the Shining One and smiled, his face full of courage and willing obedience. Then he ran toward the woods, with every stride his clumsy steps becoming steady and straight. Behind him, the Shining One watched and wept as Simon Simple raced to his destiny.

In the woods, Bettie brought the box up to Davey and said, “Open it, Davey. There’s a surprise inside.”

Davey stretched out his little hand, but innocence has its own wisdom, and he paused. Once Nate had hid a frog in his hand and threw it at Davey. Davey liked frogs, but it had still been scary at first. He shook his head.

Nate’s hands tightened on his shoulders. Davey tried to shrug him off, but Nate’s grip became stronger.

“Open it, Davey,” Nate commanded harshly.

“No!” Davey said and began to struggle.

Bettie caught Davey’s hand and brought it to the box.

Davey began to cry. “No, Bettie, no!”

Bettie laughed. She pulled harder, and his hand touched the box.

Davey screamed. He could feel the Curious Box moving under his hand, like a surface made of oily snakes.

“Open it!” Nate forced Davey to his knees.

Bettie shuddered as the creature in her drank in his delicious fear, sweeter than honey, and fiery like pepper.

Davey screamed again. He felt himself going numb, his mind trying to protect him, trying to close his eyes, trying to protect his little boy spirit from things that shatter the strongest adults.

The Curious Box started to open; inky blackness flowed toward Davey.

And then Simon Simple, running like an Olympian, swept Davey up into his big, strong arms and kept running, his passage scattering Bettie and Nate like chaff in a strong wind, the Curious Box closing with an angry snap and tumbling across the rocky ground.

Simon Simple disappeared in the woods before Nate and Bettie could recover.

“So he’s the one,” Bettie said as she picked up the Curious Box and carried it easily under her arm.

“He will be no trouble,” Nate said. “They chose badly.”

Bettie smiled widely at him. “No, no trouble. Particularly not after we tell her the naughty, naughty thing we caught the imbecile doing to our precious little brother.”

Nate laughed. He reached over and took her hand.

They walked toward the house, where Jacob slept and Mattie did the washing, and where worse things were to come.

You see, there are always heroes. Even simple ones.

That’s all for tonight. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow, maybe not. It’s up to you. Remember, too, that people always have choices. Always.

Copyright by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ghosts, Part 3

Let me drag up a chair. Standing up all day is hard on my back. Not that I have all that many customers anymore. Not now that the town of Clement is mostly dead, and folks zoom right past on Highway 17 since it opened ten years back. But I stay busy one way or another. People can always find things to do if they don't give into idleness.

Like the Watts children on that hot summer day. They had been busy, having already played cowboys and Indians -- Nate playing the cowboy, of course, with Bettie taking the role of a fierce Indian warrior and little Davey being an Indian prince -- and knights and knaves with Nate as Knight Nate, Bettie as Knight Rose, and Davey as Prince Peter. Nate and Bettie argued fiercely about her knighthood, but Bettie had no intention of standing around and just being rescued when clearly the fun was in swinging a stick (standing in for a sword) and vanquishing evil.

As his two older siblings bickered, seven-year-old Davey wandered off. Quite content to splash in the tepid water and catch what bugs and frogs he could find, he followed the stream farther into the woods. He found a large puddle and started floating twigs, leaves, and just about anything else he could find.

Bettie ran up to him. "Davey, you're not supposed to wander off," she scolded.

"Yeah, Davey," Nate said. "Bears might get you."

"Ain't none," Davey said, dropping a large rock into the puddle.

"Are to!" Nate said.

"Are not!" Bettie said, always willing to argue with Nate. "Bears live in the woods."

"We're in the woods!" Nate said.

"Not here, dofus!" Bettie said scornfully. "Alaska and Canada and Norway. Places like that." She actually wasn't sure if Norway had bears, but she thought she remembered her teacher saying Norway was cold, and if it was cold, it should have furry things.

"Don't call me that!" Nate hollered and swung his stick at her.

"Dofus, dofus, dofus!" Bettie ran across the creek, dodging her brother's stick and hurrying to pick up hers.

Little Davey ignored them. He watched the large puddle and wondered why it started to bubble. He didn't know enough to be afraid. Who would?

Nate and Bettie battled it out. Nate had a longer reach, but Bettie had a longer stick so it was an even fight.

As Davey watched, a box floated up out of the puddle, the water parting and sliding off its black sides until it was fully exposed. Davey gave a little laugh of surprise.

"Davey, what you got?" Bettie asked. "Stop it, Nate! I'm not playing anymore." She walked over to her little brother.

"I wasn't playing," Nate said, continuing to swing at the dragon in his imagination.

"Where did you get that?" Bettie asked Davey.

"Puddle," Davey said, pointing.

"No, you didn't," Bettie said, looking doubtfully at the puddle. The box was clearly bigger than the puddle.

"Did," Davey said.

"What is it?" Bettie said.

"It's a box!" Nate said. "Even a dofus knows that."

"You would know," Bettie said, still staring at the box. Made out of a black wood that barely showed the grain, the box had no decoration. Just plain straight black sides that fitted together perfectly and a lid held shut by a black metal latch. She stretched out her hand and touched the box. She jerked her hand back. "It's cold!"

"Let me feel!" Nate demanded and pushed her aside. He put his hand on it. "It is not. You're dreamin' things again."

Bettie pushed him back. "Am not."

"Open it!" Nate said. "There might be money in it."

"No," Bettie said. "People don't keep money in black boxes. Don't you know anything?" She felt uneasy as she stared at the box. "This is curious." She was proud of having remembered that word. "It's a curious box."

"Yes, the Curious Box!" Nate said. "And it's ours."

"No, it's not," Bettie said.

"Finders, keepers," Nate said.

"Finders, keepers," Davey echoed.

"Where did it come from?" Bettie said, looking around the woods.

"Someone must have dropped it," Nate said. "Let me see." He tried to open the latch, but it wouldn't give. "It must be locked."

"It doesn't belong to us," Bettie said. "Leave it alone."

"I bet I could get it open," Nate said, looking for a rock.

"No!" Bettie said, having made her mind up. "We'll leave it here where we found it."

"I'm going to open it," Nate said.

"No!" Bettie pushed Nate. He pushed back harder. Bettie gritted her teeth and jumped on him. The two wrestled with Bettie giving as good as she got and then some.

Davey picked up the box. Despite its size, he lifted it easily. Carrying it carefully before him, he started back down the stream.

"Davey, where you going?" Nate broke free of his sister and hurried after Davey.

"Momma," Davey said. He had a little boy's faith in his mother. She'd know what to do with it.

"Let's open it!" Nate said, reaching out to take the box.

"No," Davey said. "Momma."

Nate tried to take the box, but Davey was determined to hold on to it. Bettie ran up and pushed Nate away.

"Leave him alone," Bettie told Nate. "Let's take it to Momma."

"I wasn't saying we shouldn't," Nate said. "I just want to open it first."

"Here, Davey, let me carry it," Bettie said. Davey readily handed it over and walked on. She grunted.

"It's heavy," Bettie said.

"Heavy for a girl," Nate said. "Davey was carrying it easy."

"Dofus," Bettie said.

"STOP CALLING ME THAT!" Nate yelled.

"Dofus, dofus, dofus!" Bettie said.

"I'm gonna hit you!" Nate said.

"Dofus is as dofus does!" Bettie said.

Nate shoved her hard. Bettie fell back to the ground with a shriek. The Curious Box fell, and as easy as that, it opened. Both Bettie and Nate saw inside.

For a moment, Bettie felt like she was in a nightmare, that one where something was crushing her and she tried to scream and wake up, but that only left her with nothing to breathe and she heard her ribs crack and blood gushed up her throat and down her lungs and blackness took her eyes.

Nate felt hot and heavy, like he had a huge meal. But what he ate was still alive and eating its way out of his stomach and his skin began to tear and lurch as the worms gnawed their way out and he opened his mouth to scream and the shiny black worms flowed out OF his mouth as he fell.

The lid of The Curious Box shut then. Nate and Bettie stared at each other. Their bodies were untouched, but what stared out of their eyes was something oh so different from the children they had been. They both turned as one.

"Davey," Bettie said happily. "Come here."

"Come here and see what's in the box," Nate said cheerfully. "It's really neat."

And little sweet innocent Davey -- who always looked up to his siblings and trusted them only the way a child could -- stopped and looked at them. He made his way back toward where they stood.

Bettie leaned down over the box. She smiled at Davey, but her eyes were empty.

Nate put his cold, cold, hands on Davey's shoulders.

I have to stop here. I'm sorry. I don't know ... I don't know if I can tell you ... Listen, you should go. Go away. Don't come back tomorrow. If you come back tomorrow ... if you come back ... there's more to tell. There's more. And God help ya, I'll tell you. I'll tell you.

Copyright 2009 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ghosts, Part 2

So you came back? Want to hear more, do ya? Look, you seem like a nice person. This isn't a story for a nice person. Maybe you shouldn't learn any more 'bout it. It's up to you. I'm giving you the choice.

I'm not saying you're afraid, mind you. After all, stories like these are as common as dirt in the Ozarks. Always some ghosts wandering here and there and raising unholy hell. But this story is different. I'll tell you the difference in a bit.

Now, where were we? Oh, yes, I remember. Now before you can understand the story, you need to know the people. The Watts family. Let's start with Jacob. Folks thought of him as a nice man when they thought of him. Nothing remarkable. He had pale blue eyes, a straight back, and a body hard from work. His father Ezrah was a drunk who fell into a pond and drown one night, but not before he gave Jacob the hard side of his hand too many times. Jacob's mother Laura died from the flu when Jacob was five, so Jacob fended for himself from then until his father finally died when he was 15. The next year he met Mattie.

Mattie was the sixth girl in a family of eleven who could only feed five well if that. Despite how poor her family was, Mattie always had a ready smile, and her green eyes and long black hair outshone her hand-me-down clothes. She helped her mother as best she could and knew how to milk the cows and shuck the corn and snap the peas. She had to leave school in the eighth grade to help the family, and every time she entered her family's overcrowded house, she had to fight down desperation.

Mattie and Jacob met at the old Arbor Creek Holiness church during a hellfire and brimstone revival when they were only 16 and 15 respectively. They married the next year, Jacob in a gray suit borrowed from his brother Sam, and Mattie in a wedding dress her cousin Ailene gave her. Their clothes didn't quite fit, but Jacob beamed and Mattie had tiny white flowers in her hair, and they were a right good lookin' couple. Everyone remarked on that.

They moved into Jacob's house up there on the hill. They fixed it up real pretty. Jacob and Mattie were young and worked hard and pinched every penny until it squealed. Maybe things would have gone differently for them if the babies hadn't started coming so fast, but they did. First, Bettie, then Nate, and finally little Davey, one right after the other. On Davey, something tore inside Mattie, and she nearly died. She spent five months in the Baptist Hospital and recovered, but she could never have any more children. And the medical bills ate them alive.

Jacob ran a few cattle on his place, raised a handful of chickens, and planted just about anything that would grow on his thirteen acres. He sold what the family didn't eat, and it had been enough until those bills started arriving. Mattie and him talked a long time about it, but finally he took a night job over at Sumark City working in a chicken plant. He'd work all night, come home, and do chores until he couldn't, then collapse.

Mattie took to sending the kids outside to play for hours so Jacob could sleep. She told them to stay in the yard and near the house, but summer heat drove them into the woods behind their house.

On a hot day in July when the sun blazed mercilessly and no wind stirred the browning grass, the children would go farther into those dark deep woods and beside a trickle of water in a rocky creek, they found the Curious Box.

And that's how it began. The nightmare that followed all started with that.

I think that's enough for tonight. I feel tired. My head hurts. I'm sorry. Come back tomorrow afternoon, about this time, when I'm closing the store. I'll tell you more if you want, but I won't think less of you if you don't. In fact ... you shouldn't. But I'll be here if you do.

Oh, that difference in this story from the other stories? The difference is this: this story is true.

Copyright 2008 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Monday, October 19, 2009


You keep your mouth shut if you know what's good for you. Doesn't matter what you've seen or heard on that old dirt road across from the old Watts place.

It's better, in fact, if you don't go up there. Don't drive up there. Go around the hill and take Highway 17 even though it takes you miles out of your way. That's safer. You'll sleep better at night.

I know, I know. It's just an old house. Two-story farmhouse with more holes than wood left in its walls and a roof that allows the rain easy access as well as the birds if any birds dared to enter and they don't. A broken wooden fence that marks off the old yard, the yard the Watts children once played in until they didn't. Weeds up to your waist. And always the buzzing of two or three green flies.

From the road, during the spring when the blackeyed susans and Indian paintbrush are blooming, foolish tourists stop sometimes to take pictures. It's scenic, they say, having seen the house from the highway. But the photos they take never turn out right, and most people find they don't like the pictures. Some people make the mistake of staring at the photos too long, and they see things in those black windows, horrible things that aren't there when they look again.

We old-timers know about that house. We know what happened forty years ago. We know why it was boarded up. And we're afraid we know what lingers there in the ruins of the Watts family home.

Come close. Even though we're a half mile away, it's better to talk softly. Don't attract its attention. No, I don't know what exactly might hear us, but I don't want to find out. You don't want to find out.

Forty years ago, you see, the whole Watts family was destroyed. Jacob Watts, his wife Mattie, Jacob's brother Simon Simple, and the children, Bettie, Nathan, and little Davey. They were destroyed. Not just killed. Killing would have been a kindness. No, they were destroyed. The adults reduced to raving creatures; the children vanished with no sign of them ever found. Only one of the family survived. Just one. And he's mad. Oh, completely mad, they say.

It's late now. Time for me to close the store, but I'll tell you more if you come back tomorrow. I'll tell you how it began. What the children found and what happened next. No one knows the end of it, but I'll tell what I know tomorrow.

Copyright 2009 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Levelers

How do they become that way? Did life sour them early? Did their parents tear them down? Do they think they were appointed by God to the arbiter of mankind? Do they think all the pain they inflict with their criticisms is somehow good for you? Do they really think they’re helping you?

I’ve learned to shelter my ideas and dreams from certain members of my family and from certain people who supposedly are my friends. Ideas are fragile things, and these people take pleasure in picking them to pieces. Or they always have ways to better these ideas until the idea is a creaking, belching, lumbering monster that you can’t bear to work on.

I call those people The Levelers. They live tiny, self-satisfied, self-righteous lives. They can’t learn anything beyond what they know, and if you try to teach them, they will ruthlessly tear you down with no guilt. You will be told that you disappoint them, that you embarrass them, and that you are a failure in all the important things. The Levelers will pull you down to their level if you let them. They’ll push you into darkness if they can get away with it. They can’t look at the sky because they're too busy pushing people’s faces in the dirt.

You can run from them, but their words haunt you. The rotten thing is that we want the approval of our parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, and lovers. We want them to cherish us. We want them to think we’re smart, funny, bright, and attractive. We don’t need their careless cruelty, their unthinking remarks, and their unearned superior attitude. Not ever.

Eventually The Levelers will remake you or destroy you or … or you will find that your dreams and ideas have more strength than their words and actions. You’ll draw strength from being alone and being afraid. You might even hate your vicious critics at first, and anger will propel you on for a time, but then you’ll find the dream is enough. It’s a cold existence at times, but where you’re flying, the air is always cold and pure and you can see the stars and the unknown beyond.

When you set down on earth, resting your wings for a moment, you’ll see The Levelers for tiny creatures they are. You will probably feel contempt, but if your dreams have taken you far enough, you’ll pity them. You’ll pity them for their limited horizon, bounded forever by their spite and ignorance. You’ll pity them for choosing to live in a prison of their making. But pity isn't enough for you to choose the ground, no matter how much they need you.

The horizon will call, and then you will fly away.

I don’t know if you’ll look back. But I doubt it.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


A friend of mine shared this song with me. It's sang by Andrew Peterson.

I am tangled up in contradiction.
I am strangled by my own two hands.
I am hunted by the hounds of addiction.
I have lied to everyone who trusts me.
I have tried to fall when I could stand.
I have only loved the ones who loves me.

O Hosanna!
See the long awaited king come to set his people free.
We cry O Hosanna!
Come and tear the temple down. Raise it up on holy ground.

I have struggled to remove this raiment,
tried to hide every shimmering strand.
I contend with these ghosts
and these hosts of bright angels.
I have cursed the man that you have made me,
as I have nursed the beast that bays for my blood.
Oh, I have run from the one who would save me.
Save me, Hosanna!

O Hosanna! See the long awaited king, come to set his people free.
We cry O Hosanna!
Come and tear the temple down.
Raise it up on holy ground.

You have crushed beneath your heel the vile serpent.
You have carried to the grave the black stain.
You have torn apart the temple’s holy curtain.
You have beaten Death at Death’s own game.

O Hosanna! Hail the long awaited king, come to set his people free.
We cry O Hosanna! Won’t you tear this temple down,
raise it up on holy ground.
O Hosanna!
I will lift my voice and sing:
you have come and washed me clean.

I tried to find it on YouTube you could listen to it, but had no luck there or anywhere else. It's worth downloading, though.

And now good night! Have a sweet sleep and great tomorrow.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bone tired

A long grinding day and I didn't sleep much last night so I am dragging now. Not much to tell you about the day other than it was busy and I was tired throughout most of it.

I've been trying to get back into the habit of blogging daily again. I sure wish my blogging friends would, too, but it looks like Facebook has stolen them away. That's a shame. A blog records your life. Facebook doesn't do that.

And I think that will be all tonight. I hope you have a peaceful night and a great tomorrow. I'll talk to you then.

And before I go, I thought I'd share my current favorite quote:

"When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it's time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: Either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly."
-Edward Teller

And good night!

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Weekend Roundup

I was sick Friday night and most of Saturday. Too much stress at work so my stomach -- being a vengeful organ -- decided to punish me. The joys of IBD. Whee.

Good news, though, Saturday as both OSU and OU won their football games. Football almost redeems the cold weather of fall.

An acquaintance of mine was talking about how much he liked cold, wet, overcast weather. He said he particularly liked it when the temp dropped below freezing. All I can say is a man who will lie about that will lie about other things.

It looks like I'm going to be selling PrePaid Legal memberships in the future. I dabbled in this many years ago, but never really pursued it because my insurance job kept me restricted. With the many changes down at my office, I think it's prudent to look at my opportunities. If you'd like to know what PrePaid Legal offers, you can visit their website here.

Speaking of prudent actions, I have been attempting to rebuild my emergency fund after its summer demise (due to medical bills). The fund wasn't large, but it did help. Dave Ramsey recommends haveing an emergency fund, and I think that's the most important thing I took away from his books.

I've also been clipping coupons again. I used to do that years ago, but got out of the habit. I can't say I've saved hundreds of dollars this way, but every dollar saved is a good thing. Today I went to Walgreens and saved $2.50 on items I was going to buy anyway. That's $2.50 that I can use for something else.

I think that will do it for this weekend. I hope you have a great night and a wonderful Monday. Talk to you then.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Mostly Must See

This morning was foggy, damp, and cool. A bone-creeping chill was in the air. Have I mentioned lately how much I detest cold weather?

Apparently we're in for several days of this dismal weather. Whee. I can barely contain myself. At least there's something to watch on TV as the fall season has finally started. Admittedly not much to watch, but a few things.

Thursday night has become Mostly-Must-See-TV for me. I watch Bones at seven, Fringe at eight, and Leno at nine. I really enjoy Bones, Fringe is growing on me, and Leon is okay. I do enjoy his monologue most times, and I particularly like his Headlines and Craig's List segments.

Tonight we are experiencing a terrible storm. Lots of wind, lightning, rain, but fortunately the TV is still working!

Overall, it was a stressful day, but it's ended well. I hope your day ended well, too, and that you have a great night and wonderful Friday. Night!

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


It would be so easy to make decisions if we knew the outcome. We can evaluate the pros and cons. We can ask advice and opinions. We can and should pray and meditate. We can even flip coins or consult our dubious horoscopes. But we can't be sure of the outcome, no matter how carefully we've considered the ramifications.

And we don't get do-overs. Several years back I drove a woman away from me. I can give you a thousand reasons why that was the right thing to do -- age difference, life difference, etc. -- but it doesn't change the fact I was wrong. Now I look back and see clearly that I was wrong, that I should have leaped instead of hesitating, that I should have taken the chance -- but it's too late now. That moment passed. I don't love her anymore, particularly because of what happened in the aftermath of my stupid decision -- we did our best to ruin each other -- and she certainly doesn't love me. But I do regret how things turned out and think wistfully how nice it would have been if on that terrible night I had said and done the right thing.

Or maybe not. Perhaps we would have torn each other apart. Certainly we had enough willpower between us to light New York City and Vegas if willpower could do that. So perhaps it's for the best. Who knows? I don't.

We really do stumble around in the dark, you know. We hold such terrible power over the people we love, and we wield it so lightly, so irresponsibly. I think sometimes we get the life we deserve.

I also think we deserve better. Have a good night and a great Thursday.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Once again

Once again I have been surprised by the sheer gall and appalling dishonesty of some people. How did our world produce such people?

Actually, I know the answer: They chose to be that way. We can blame our parents, we can blame society, we can blame the schools, our politicians, our churches, our friends, and on down the list of scapegoats, but the truth is we choose our morals. We control our behavior. It is our responsibility.

If I could speak to those people -- after I finishing beating on them -- I would tell them that they live miserable lives and will always until they choose something different.

They wouldn't listen to me ... but the beating would be fun.

Have a good night and a great Wednesday.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Monday, October 05, 2009

Dinner & life

I made an excellent dinner tonight. I sauteed garlic, chives, onions, a yellow pepper, two cups of fresh baby spinach, a package of mushrooms, and a package of fajita chicken strips in extra virgin olive oil. I then added two cups of angel hair pasta and one cup of V8 vegetable juice. I let it all steam together in the skillet. It was excellent! And so very healthy.

I'm trying to reclaim my life. From illness, work, money problems, loneliness, grief, dispirit ... Don't know if I can. Don't know if it's beyond me. Interesting times ...

Have a good Tuesday and good night.

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Interesting times

There is an ancient Chinese curse that says, “May you live in interesting times.” I am, regrettably, living in interesting times. Here are my interesting times in no particular order.

1. My job remains stressful, but it was better this week. Most people have heard of my boss’s death now, so the questions and the retelling of the tragic event have lessened. I’m hoping next week will continue that thread.

2. The overall future of my job remains in doubt. However, it seems I will remain employed for a few more months or longer, depending on how things work out. It’s definitely not a time during which I can spend unnecessary money. I’m trying to rebuild an emergency fund after having it wiped out my medical bills and tests this summer.

3. My roomie got the flu and had been at home, sick as he can be. He finally went back to work today. I’m not sure if it wasn’t too soon, but like most of us, he has to work for a living. It’s all well and good for the health authorities to say you should stay home, but if you work hourly or have a job where there isn’t anyone to do your work while you’re gone, you have to go to work if remotely able. That’s life.

4. Dealing with my personal grief at my boss’s passing has been hard. He was part of my life for 20 years, and I had worked for him for 17 years. There is an empty space in my life where he fitted.

5. My health problems continue, and the doctors still have no idea what’s causing them. They throw medicine at me in hopes that some of it will stick. So far, I seem to be holding my own – even gaining ground – but I remain worried that my problem is some disease that is life-threatening and no one is correctly diagnosing it.

6. I can’t seem to get Murder by the Mile going. I can't get interested in the story, even though I was terribly excited by it a few months back. If that book isn't going to come yet, I need to get to work on another one. It's been too long since I've lost myself in writing. I need to do that again.

That's enough for tonight. I hope you're having a good life lately. And may you live in uninteresting times!

Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from Barnes &
Order Murder by the Acre in softcover from
Order Murder by the Acre in hardcover only at from
Order MBTA & MBDD items and more at Oakleaf