This is the first installment of the complete story of which I previously published an excerpt….small town, murder and shenanigans.
Deanna Abbott ascended the steps of her white, two-story house. Up she went, one step at a time, deliberate and angry. How dare anyone approach her with right and wrong? It was her life. If an affair made her happy, what business was it of the people in that stupid, little town? Anyway, she had not initiated the affair. He was just as much to blame. Deanna walked through the front door and found she was not alone.
Miss Edna Gibbons glanced up from her zinnia bed in time to notice a woman clad in a white cape hop into a convertible down the street. The wind blew slightly causing the cape to display a bright red dress. It was a bit warm to be dressed in that manner. The woman looked familiar, and after studying her, Miss Gibbons decided she was probably some neighbor’s relative and definitely not a native. Those folks were always a bit slow to catch on to Texas weather.
I let the heavy brass door knocker fall from my hand. I came fully prepared to tell her what a fool she was. For Deanna to carry on publicly with a married man in a small town such as Mimosa, was good only for the gossip mill. Not only that, but Wayne’s wife Jolene had caught on to the love affair. Jolene had publicly humiliated me at the last PTA meeting, and I felt that trouble would soon pay a visit.
After all, I had my position as a librarian and a city council leader to protect. I was also considering my possibilities in the next mayor’s race. One just couldn’t have a crazed relation running wild. Besides, people were beginning to talk and I was afraid the news would reach my mother. She could have a heart attack over something like that.
I observed the quiet street. Mimosa was such a lovely little place, the kind of town one would never want to leave. The sound of an approaching vehicle interrupted my thoughts. Eli Parker, the local handyman, waved and called out to me.
“Good afternoon, Miss Lucy.”
“Hello Eli!” I answered.
“Did you see the new fence in back of the school?”
“Yes I did. Do we owe that lovely piece of work to you?”
“Yeah, I did it. I wanted it to stand up nice and straight, not like it was. And you know the best thing? Now I get to sit in the announcer’s box at the game Friday night.”
“That’s great, Eli!”
“Goodbye Miss Lucy, see you later.”
Poor Eli, he was born behind the game, but he had a good heart. He would attend football games wearing his honorary school jacket, even though he never finished school. I always managed to line up work around my house for him. I feel that everyone has a place in society, and people should endeavor to help those less fortunate creatures.
I surveyed the house for activity. Deanna had inherited this wonderful house when Uncle Walter and Aunt Thelma passed away. She had also stepped in to running the family business, the local flower shop, Buds A Bloomin’. Finances were a challenge and Deanna had to take on a business partner. Her partner, Mona, was quite adept, but she could be exasperating at times with her forced manners.
Miss Gibbons waved at me as she went around to her green house.
“How’s those zinnias gonna be this season?”
“They’ll make it, but we will just have to see if I can get Yard of the Month again this year.”
“Oh you’ll do fine, nobody’s flowers compare to yours, Miss Gibbons.” She smiled waved her hand, and disappeared around the corner.
Outside I continued to contemplate Deanna’s life. I decided she would just have to listen to reason. Her sordid activities were ruining an old family name. I waited, she did not appear. Since nobody in Mimosa finds it necessary to lock doors, I let myself in as I had done many times before. I called to her as I made my way from the antique furnished living room. Thinking Deanna was out, I decided to make some tea and seat myself on the screened porch. Tea cup in hand, I made my way to the chaise lounge. I’ll never forget the shock upon reaching the chair and finding poor cousin Deanna sitting there, shot through the heart, the hot tea dripping from my wrist. I ran to the phone to call Sheriff Dockins; but I knew she was dead.
Sheriff Dockins and Deputy Martin arrived at the house. I was in agony. They made arrangements for the ambulance, and questioned me as to everything I had noticed. They asked for a list of people who might have wanted Deanna dead. Of course, I had to go into that embarrassing love affair with Wayne. This prompted the law officers to talk to Deanna’s friends and her partner, Mona.
Days passed and we buried poor Deanna. Mother was quite a mess. Since the death of Deanna’s parents, she had filled that void in Deanna’s life. Mother did a fine job picking out the best floral arrangements from Bud’s a Bloomin’. Everything was done in a most proper manner, but undercurrents ran rabid while the Mimosa Gazette went wild with scandal. After all, this was the biggest news since that butane truck overturned and the town had to be evacuated.
Wayne Holmes was stricken. Why did he have such rotten luck? Yes, he had to admit to the affair, but he did not kill Deanna, wouldn’t have wanted to kill her. Besides, he had not planned on seeing her that much longer anyway. Things were becoming dull and Jolene was putting pressure on him. Anyway, he had an alibi, he was on business in Culver City. Sheriff Dockins told him not to leave town until he could check it out.
I remembered Wayne Holmes from high school. Wasn’t he quite the charmer? Made my stomach turn, always bragging about things. He and his friends tortured poor, defenseless Eli and went around town performing all sorts of sordid activities. After attending college, Wayne came back to Mimosa to run his father’s ranch and insurance company. It was a well known fact that business wasn’t always done on the up and up, but the Holmes were well respected and always put up a good front. If you asked me, Wayne was worthless and I couldn’t imagine why Deanna would want to become involved with him.
One Saturday afternoon, I noticed Jolene Holmes sitting under the hair dryer at Simone’s Beauty Shoppe. She was getting highlights Her quick brown eyes surveyed the stacks of shampoo, cotton balls, and old magazines. The town was beginning to look dirty. Stares followed her every movement. I wondered if she could hear the rampant gossip from where she sat.
“Did you hear….poor Deanna!”
“I don’t think it was him….”