This is the continuation of a series. To start at the beginning, click here.
Even a Texan Gypsy with two nursing degrees is ruled by her bladder, as all females seem to be, so she stirred from her slumber at half past eight o’clock and pulled herself off the sofa, headed for the bathroom. As quietly as she had tiptoed down the hallway, the sounds awakened Norman. He cleared his throat, yawned, and rubbed his eyes.
In a matter of seconds, all the angst from the previous night flooded into his consciousness. “Ruston,” he mumbled. “Gotta check on Ruston.”
Missy came back through the living room and into the kitchen to make coffee. Norman headed for the guest bathroom, giving Missy a little wave and a “Morning,” as he went past the kitchen door.
A few minutes later they were seated at the kitchen table with a plate of leftover cookies between them and steaming mugs of coffee giving them the go-juice to start their day. This was going to be a day to remember, no matter how it turned out.
“Do you know what you are going to say to the Chief?” Missy asked him.
“No,” responded Norman, stirring more sugar into his coffee. “I guess a whole lot depends on whether or not my little brother was at that shack last night, and whether the police arrested him.”
“Suppose he was, and suppose they did,” said Missy. “Then what?”
“Then it all comes out,” said Norman. “No way will I let Ruston take the blame for what I did.”
“Well, at least you never actually hurt anyone,” Missy said, reassuringly. “And the Chief is a pretty decent guy. Plus, I will get you a lawyer if you need one.”
“You have been nicer to me than anyone has been in a long time, Missy, but I don’t want you to keep on carrying my load like I’m your responsibility. I’m a grown man. I will do my best to act like one,” Norman said with just a little quiver in his voice.
“Even grown men need friends, Silly,” Missy told him. “Don’t be afraid to let friends help you every now and then.”
Norman sniffled a time or two and wiped a single tear from his face. They finished their breakfast in silence, then got ready to head to the police station.
Back at Lena’s place, the four female crime fighters each took their turn in the powder room, then sat down around the table for a gab session fueled by yet more coffee.
Lena’s caffeine levels were off the charts by this time, as she sipped her third mug of coffee for the day. She felt a sudden burst of defiance creep over her well-stimulated brain. “You know what?” she said, standing up. “I’m done with letting that Village Marauder punk bother me!”
“What do you mean?” asked Audrey. “You’re fed up?”
“Nope. I’m not fed up. I’m done!” Lena slapped the table for emphasis. “That guy is not going to occupy one more minute of my time. No more free rent in my brain for him!”
“Explain,” said Maureen.
“Yes. Clarify,” Bette added.
“Well, ladies, what has been the focus and center of my life lately? That guy! What have I devoted my thoughts and energy to since the shenanigans and crime spree in the village started? That guy! Even when the police thought they had him, the plan fell apart. Who is still out there, running free? That guy! Well, I am finished with that guy!”
“Lena, I think you have had too much coffee,” said Maureen. “Let me cook you an egg.”
“Yes, Honey, you can’t just turn the page right in the middle of the caper!” said Audrey. “Just because you are finished with that guy, that doesn’t mean he is finished with you!”
Bette was watching and listening, patiently. When the other ladies all focused their gazes on her, awaiting her input, Bette grinned and said, “Diatomaceous earth won’t help this mess. I can offer you homemade chicken noodle soup, essential oils, chocolate, or prayers. But you will have to make your own decision as to which option you choose.”
Just then, Lena’s phone rang, startling all the participants in this high-level summit meeting. Lena picked up her smartphone from where it lay on the counter. “Hello!” she said, a little loudly, due to excess caffeine.
“Lena, this is Chief Middler,” came the voice on the other end of the line. Oddly, the chief’s voice sounded as keyed up and stressed as Lena’s.
“I want you to lock your doors and windows, and stay in your house, Lena. We have a situation. Is your husband at home?” he asked.
“No, he isn’t here. He is gone fishing,” Lena answered. “What is the ‘situation’ you are talking about?”
“Okay, Lena, get your husband’s handgun and have it near you. Stay indoors. Call your husband and have him come home. I have officers on the way to your place right now.” The chief was trying to sound calm.
“What? Why?” asked Lena, now trembling slightly. She glanced around at her friends, who all had their eyes trained on her, and their mouths agape.
“Shortly ago, the real Village Marauder, whose name is Norman Wrigley, showed up at the police station. He had Missy Matson with him. What her reason was for being with him, I don’t know. But, anyway, the security desk happened to be unmanned at the moment, and the door was ajar. Unfortunately, we had just escorted Ruston Wrigley, our prisoner, up the hall to the interrogation room, and that door was also open. Norman and Missy walked into Ruston’s view and sheer pandemonium broke out. Ruston went running over to Norman, and Norman just went crazy. This was our first time seeing Norman, so we were going on Ruston’s reaction, that this was Norman, the real Village Marauder. Norman, upon seeing his brother, yelled, ‘Run!’ and grabbed Ruston’s arm with one hand, and Missy’s arm with the other hand. Norman took off at full speed, pulling the other two, who very quickly started running of their own accord. I hate to admit it, Ms. Lena, but I didn’t really know what to do, as far as drawing my weapon, because there were three of them, and none of them had been convicted of anything, and I didn’t want bullets flying willy-nilly around my police station. Marla Jo was in the ladies’ room, and quite indisposed, so she wasn’t there to help me. My other officers were out on patrol. I can’t run as fast as I used to, and the three fleeing subjects just got away from me. They had a big Cadillac parked just outside the station door, and they were in it and gone before I could get to my patrol car and follow them. They are on the loose, Ms. Lena!”
Lena could not form a single word. Not even a syllable. She blinked her eyes.
“Are you still there, Lena?” the chief hollered. “Are you okay?”
Lena blinked again. She dropped her phone. Maureen picked it up. “This is Maureen Morgan. Lena is in shock. Who is this, and what is going on?” she asked.
This is Chief Middler,” came the harried voice. “The Village Marauder has just fled the jail along with his brother and a woman. They could be headed to Lena’s house right now. I have officers on the way. Everyone stay inside. Make sure doors and windows are locked. Have a gun handy!”
Now it was Maureen’s turn to drop the phone. She did.
STAY TUNED FOR MORE TO COME…
Chapter 1 – Click here.
Chapter 2 – Click here.
Chapter 3 – Click here.
Chapter 4 – Click here.
Chapter 5 – Click here.
Chapter 6 – Click here.
Chapter 7 – Click here.
Chapter 8 – Click here.
Chapter 9 – Click here.
Chapter 10 – Click here.
Chapter 11 – Click here.
Chapter 12 – Click here.
Chapter 13 – Click here.
Author Nancy Carlton
Nancy Carlton and her husband, Steve, have lived in the village for five and a half years. They have three children and three grandchildren. Nancy has been writing for many years, and loves to vary her projects between songwriting, authoring novels, and “cozy murder mysteries” and political commentary. Even poetry and the occasional short story are produced. She also sings with several groups in the village.
This chance to do a serial story in the Hot Springs Village Gazette is a fun and exciting new adventure!