Friday, June 15, 2018

Murder, She Investigated

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words were: record, company, drug addict, reveal, country, mayor. 

They were submitted by:

So my Murder, She Wrote obsession had a little influence on this one, but hopefully no one out there actually has the gall to hate Jessica Fletcher. Old me goals.


Warren Atkinson, the mayor of Franklin, TN, was found unresponsive yesterday in the storage room of a local Nashville record label known for discovering new and upcoming country artists. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Nashville General. The police have yet to release a cause of death, but an anonymous informant revealed foul play is suspected.

Mayor Atkinson was a beloved member of his community according to local officials. The entire town is shocked by his passing and the questions surrounding his death. No one including his assistant or anyone in his family has any clue as to why he would have been in Nashville much less at NuTone Records.

We will update this story as it develops.

That's quite odd, Dani thought. She knew Warren. In fact, the two of them had spent some time together together Thursday evening, and he hadn't mentioned a thing about going into Nashville even while they lay tangled and sweaty in her sheets trying to figure out if they might have time for each other over that weekend.

Both of them were recently divorced and had met at a fundraising banquet for his campaign a few months ago. She was at that banquet to be seen only. She honestly didn't give two shits who was mayor of Franklin. But she had recently moved to Tennessee from Georgia and taken the steps to transfer her private investigator license and wanted as much visibility as possible to drum up some business. She'd been rather successful in her home town, but after her husband screwed her sister behind her back, living there and running into them by chance just didn't seem worth it-- moderately successful business or not. So here she was at 44 years old starting over.

The night they met hadn't promised anything more than hours of torture in a dress she hated, shoes that hurt, and a smile that was as fake as every orgasm she had with her ex. But then Warren stopped by her table and charmed the pants off her. Literally. They talked at the banquet until his campaign manager dug her claws into his arm and drug him away. Good thing Dani had already slid him a business card. He'd called her as soon as he'd gotten away while she was still in the tub soaking away the aches of being in stilettos all night and hadn't hesitated for even half a second when she asked if he'd like to join her. She met him at the door in a short silk robe that left very little to the imagination. They never made it to the bathtub. She smiled at the memory. He'd been amazing in bed in a way she never would have anticipated given his good ol' boy image in town.

Obviously that had all been a facade. Nobody that squeaky clean ended up dead in a seedy record company office without any of the people closest to him having a clue why he'd been there in the first place.

She felt a little sadness over his passing and would surely miss him, but they'd only been able to see each other a handful of times over the last several months due to his campaigning and otherwise busy schedule. They hadn't gotten particularly close so much as had a great deal of fun together in the privacy of her home in the late night hours. She would miss that, sure. But they hadn't even gone to dinner together in all these months. It wasn't that kind of relationship. She doubted if anyone investigating would even show up to ask her any questions. As far as she knew, no one had any idea the two of them spent time together.

But this did present a unique opportunity...

Perhaps if she could solve the thing before the police, she could make a name for herself and put struggling to make ends meet behind her. She put the paper aside and started making a list of who to talk to in both Franklin and Nashville. Maybe one of them would reveal some connection between the two and Warren that no one else was yet aware of.

She started out in the best spot for all the town gossip--the beauty shop downtown, of course. The owner, Gladys, had been a fixture in the town for decades apparently. From Dani's viewpoint, people only went to stay in the loop on town happenings since Gladys hadn't updated her style since sometime in the 70s. Feathered hair, the shag, the wedge, perms.... The woman been honing her craft for quite some time, but it left at least half the women in Franklin looking like time travelers from the disco era. So, it was with some sacrifice that Dani stepped in and asked Gladys to give her the works.

3 hours, a perm, and some red dye later she could have been a Barbara Streisand impersonator or maybe the red head on Dazed and Confused. All she needed were some bell bottoms and a neckerchief.

But she DID have some answers to go with her hideous hairdo. Answers she had to track down and verify for herself of course, it gave her a place to start which was better than nothing.

The ladies had all seemed to think drugs might play a part. No, they weren't calling Warren a drug addict, but he gave little signs of using. Too many car accidents, changes in moods, showing up late to meetings, falling asleep during them... None of this was obvious to someone like Dani who had never known what Warren was like before the divorce hit him hard. And maybe it was just hindsight from women who had only put things together later. It was easy to see the way the pieces fit when you already knew how the puzzle ended. Things you wrote off before as being the result of too little sleep or depression took on new meaning when the man in question was found beaten to death, according to the grapevine, in a back office in a place where he had no known business.

Now she had a place to start though--sifting through Warren's contacts and relationships through this new lens. She could figure the odd man out, the people who didn't fit so neatly into his otherwise clean, political, small town life. Either they'd lead her to an answer, or she'd be back to the drawing board, but she was not giving up. Warren's life deserved real closure instead of the whispered trash talk she head today, and she damn sure deserved the chance to make her business work in this town.


Here are the links to the rest of the submissions! Enjoy!

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Bergham Chronicles

Southern Belle Charm

The Blogging 911

Cognitive Script

Part-Time Working Hockey Mom

My Brand of Crazy

Friday, June 8, 2018

A Bit Too Literal

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 10 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

It's raining...but is it raining men or cats and dogs?

It was submitted by:

so...I had no idea what to do with this prompt. But I refused to let a nonsense prompt beat me, so here we are. I suppose this answers it better than anything else I could do. 


Maggie grew up not quite believing the big family secret people tended to always come back to after too much drink had flowed on holidays and family reunions, the same story that was never really uttered out loud for everyone to hear but whispered in small huddled groups with eyes wide and tinged with fear.

Her grandmother was a witch, like a 100% born with magic in her DNA and could lift a car with a few words and her force of will kind of witch not a Wiccan with an alter kind of witch. Big difference. And apparently after finding him with another woman, she'd dropped a car on Maggie's grandfather with so much force it took a crane to pry it out of the asphalt before the body, or what was left of it, could be recovered and the car hauled away....which is why none of the men married to the women in that family have the courage to cheat. Or so the story goes.

Maggie had never met the woman to know firsthand what she was like. According to the rest of the story, grandma disappeared the same night, another layer to the mystery. There were 7 kids total--all girls--and none of them were old enough at the time to really remember her with clarity, but in the familial huddles after the sun was down and the wine bottles emptied, resurfacing memories about wands and dancing brooms and conversations with snakes would breathe a life of their own.

Maggie enjoyed them for what they were, odd family lore. They were the kind of tall tales that had their own energy, spun webs of mystery that made her smile and wonder and anticipate every family gathering.

Well. Until her daughter was born.

It wasn't obvious at first. Weird little things like teddy bears dancing in the air while Willow giggled that Maggie blamed on lack of sleep or bursts of energy burning out light bulbs when she threw tantrums happened enough to make Maggie wonder. That nagging little feeling wiggled its way around her brain while she constantly dismissed it. Nothing was going on, not really, she would think. All those years of stories about Grandma Nettie were corrupting her ability to be unbiased is what she would assure herself late at night after another owl sat outside the window answering her daughter's babbling.

But then... well... Willow as a toddler happened. And like all toddlers she took things a bit too literally. Phrases and idioms and old sayings seemed to just twist the real world to meet the meaning of words that Willow knew. There were a couple of hurricanes that hit near the area back then. During the first, Maggie looked out the windows with concern at the gray clouds even though it wasn't a huge, damage producing storm...yet. The rain was heavy and steady, and she muttered, "it's raining cats and dogs out there." Willow giggled to herself and walked over to the sliding glass door meowing and barking on the way. Next thing Maggie knew fluffy orange kittens and wiggly spotted puppies were softly landing in puddles in the back yard. 10 of them total--7 cats and 3 dogs--appeared before she screamed Willow's name and snapped the child's focus.

She checked all around once the storm was over and all the critters were safely indoors (no injuries thankfully), but there didn't seem to be not a one anywhere else. And she couldn't have been losing her mind. Those animals were there--tangible, purring and barking and hungry. Willow had already made it clear that there would be hell to pay if she couldn't keep her "babies." The whole thing was a disaster, so there she was, a young widow with a toddler, raising too many animals and half wondering if she needed to go live in a remote cabin in the woods and keep this child from tossing cars on people.

It wasn't long after the cats and dogs arrived that the two of them were in the car headed home from the grocery store when the radio began playing It's Raining Men. The day had been sunny with blue skies all around and barely a wisp of a cloud in the sky, but as Willow listened and started in on the eerie giggling the air around them crackled with lightening and everything turned dark.

Thunder cracked so loudly Maggie screamed, and lightening struck just a few feet ahead of the car. A thud hit the roof then the truck...Maggie saw a beige blur bounce off the hood. She hit the brakes hard and fast right in the middle of the street.

Ken dolls, naked ones, were falling all around them. And her child was giggling hysterically.

Maggie floored it and punched the radio off. She couldn't afford to be seen in a raining cloud of naked dolls. Who could? Luckily, they were only a few blocks from home, and as soon as they got within sight of the house Willow forgot all about her men in favor of screaming "Puppy!" at the top of her lungs. All 10 animals were named Puppy.

Maggie pulled in the driveway with her heart thudding loudly in her chest. This...this changed everything. Was this life now? Would she constantly be on edge about whether she had some kind of serious disorder or if her child was some kind of mutant? How would her little girl ever have a normal life?

Maggie started to sob as she stopped the car in the driveway. She turned the engine off, still crying, and put her head in her hands.

"What's wrong, Mommy?" Willow whispered from the back.

"Mommy's just a little sad. I'll be okay in a minute."

Willow was quiet for a minute or two then started giggling again. When Maggie looked up, the entire car was covered in butterflies and more were fluttering in the air all around them.

She smiled at Willow in the rearview mirror, her sweet, thoughtful little girl. The stories about her grandmother always came in hushed tones with horrified expressions...but maybe this didn't have to be a sad story with a warning lesson. Maybe this story could be warm and beautiful with butterflies and puppies and kittens instead of a dark, swirling nightmare of dead grandpas under cars and missing grandmothers with too much power and an evil streak...

With shakey hands, she reached for her phone to call her mother. There had to be more to the stories she heard, and she was determined to get it and make the best of all of this.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

The Lieber Family Blog

The Bergham Chronicles

Southern Belle Charm

The Blogging 911

Cognitive Script

Part-Time Working Hockey Mom

Never Ever Give Up Hope

My Brand of Crazy