This is a continuation. To start at the beginning of the series click here.

By Nancy Carlton

The next morning Norman woke up early and slipped out the back door of the abandoned brick and rock building where he had slept. Even though his cozy nest was warm and comfortable, he had much to do, and he couldn’t afford to burn too much daylight.

He knew that the whole village was buzzing like a beehive after his spectacular stunt last night and it made him smile to think about it. But, far more important than just stirring things up, he had to get his message across to this pampered bunch of retirees with their electric golf carts and their Friday night dances that end at 9:30 p.m.

Why did they get to enjoy the finer things of life in their golden years, when his poor mother had worked two jobs for thirty years to raise him and his little brother? She had worked her fingers to the bone, sacrificing her health and her beauty to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. Now she was old, tired, and still poor. No golf for her. No fine house. No dances or pickleball tournaments.

Oh, she didn’t complain. Norman knew, deep in his heart, though. She was hurt by the terrible lot she had drawn in life. Once, long ago, she had been beautiful and energetic. She had loved dancing and singing. She was a head-turning auburn-haired twenty-year-old when she had met William Wrigley one night at a friend’s birthday party. It was love at first sight, and they were married inside of six months from their first meeting.

The two babies had come in rapid succession, leaving her and William to spend their second wedding anniversary at the hospital, where she had just given birth to Norman’s little brother, Ruston. They had named him after William’s hometown.

Tired but happy, William had headed home from the hospital that night after spending time with his wife and newborn son, while young Norman was spending the evening with his grandmother. Fatigue set in, for the hard-working father had worked a full day at the factory before rushing to the hospital to be with his wife and baby. His eyelids became unbearably heavy and sleep overtook him. Unfortunately, he was just entering a busy intersection when his tired body slumped over, asleep. His car crossed the center line and he hit a tractor-trailer, head-on. He would never see his wife or sons again, and the future was irrevocably changed for the young mother and her two offspring.

From that time forward, poor Pauline Wrigley would have to shoulder all the responsibility for parenting two babies without any father figure in the house, and certainly no paycheck coming in, other than the ones she worked so hard for. The ragged edge of poverty and exhaustion was where she lived for the next thirty years.

Norman had tried to be a good son, so as not to cause his mother any more stress than she already had, but finally, he came to the conclusion that he could help her more by stealing things and selling them so he could contribute to the family grocery budget. Pauline turned a blind eye to what her firstborn was obviously doing because she honestly needed the help. By the time Norman was fifteen, he and his mother didn’t even try to hide from each other the truth of what he was doing. Besides, he was getting really good at burglary. Some weeks there was actually steak on their table instead of peanut butter. Things had finally improved to the point that they didn’t have their utilities cut off for non-payment more than once or twice a year.

Pauline’s body wasn’t holding up well, though. Her back ached and the lines on her face were deep and they seemed to hold her expression in a continual sad, droopy scowl.

Norman dropped out of school at sixteen and decided that he would have to be the man of the house and somehow manage to give his mother back some of the happiness she had lost so long ago.

Ruston was never much help. He seemed to never have a clue about how dire and unfair the quality of life at the Wrigley house truly was. Norman had tried to persuade his brother to help him make life better for Mom, but Ruston just couldn’t get off of dead center, it seemed.

Well, now that Norman was a grown man, with a whole lot of life’s hard knocks keeping his brain constantly in an unhappy state, he was going to take things up a notch. Not only was he going to extract some wealth from some upper-class Cadillac owners with their club memberships and McMansions, but he was going to make sure they knew WHY.

“Things are about to get FAIR up in here!” he mumbled under his breath.

Norman kept up a brisk pace all the way from his sleeping spot to the nearest secondary food cache he knew was well-stocked with the beef jerky he had a hankering for this morning. It always struck him as funny that he could keep all this good food concealed a mere fifteen feet away from where the golf course maintenance crew stored their equipment. All day long, they walked back and forth, in and out, and never noticed the barrel he had converted into a food storage cabinet. Two large strategic bushes blocked their view of his personal pantry.

Once he had enjoyed a little breakfast picnic behind a clump of trees, he stood up, wiped his hands on his jeans, stretched, and headed for the house of a certain elderly busybody named Lena. She was starting to get on his nerves, and must be dealt with. Norman’s mission must not fail. His mother must be given a chance at her own happy golden years, and these people must give up a little bit of their abundance so that the less fortunate, namely Pauline Wrigley and her two sons, could finally have a decent-sized piece of the proverbial pie.

“Most of these folks are not bad people,” Norman said aloud to himself. “They just have more than they deserve, and they will have to give up a little bit of it.”

Norman didn’t really want to shed any blood here in Warm Springs Village. He just wanted to take home to his sweet “Mama” some of the worldly goods she had long deserved and always had to do without.

He approached Lena’s house from the blind side, the only side of her home with no windows. Thick shrubbery provided good cover for a stealthy, low crawler who knew how to be quiet. When he drew his body into a tight fetal position behind the hydrangea bush near her kitchen door, he could pick up quite distinctly her end of a phone conversation.

“Audrey, don’t chicken out on me now!” Lena chirped into the phone. “Things are just getting really exciting! Don’t you like a little spice in your life?”

Norman listened and pondered. He wondered just how much trouble this Miss Marple wannabe might become. She and the other two biddies were interfering with his concentration, and now he could tell that the persuasion that Lena was plying Audrey with, was starting to work. Lena had switched from entreating her friend to stay on task, to excitedly telling her an idea she’d had that morning while rehashing last night’s goings-on at the pickleball courts.

“I believe that there must have been a good handful of spectators last night who caught a glimpse of this guy, at least. Well, we know of at least two dozen pretty close friends of ours who were there, because we had plenty of time to scan the crowd during that horrible traffic jam! I think we should go see all of those folks that we can, today. Someone knows something, and we need to find out who, what, and anything else we can coax out of them!”

Well, this was all Norman needed to hear from Nosy Lena. Yep, she was going to be trouble, for sure.

As he unfurled himself and crawled back to the corner of the house, then stood and sprinted back into the woods, he found himself resigned to handling this pesky old woman. Quickly, and permanently.

Tonight at dark would be Lena’s time to vacate her cozy home in Warm Springs Village and proceed on to her eternal reward. He hoped, for her sake, that she had secured her spot in the glorious land that would make Warm Springs Village look pathetic in comparison.


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Chapter 1 – Click here.

Chapter 2 – Click here.

Chapter 3 – Click here.

Chapter 4 – Click here.