Monday, May 1, 2017

The Skeleton in the Closet, Third Story in Series by Angie Fox...and Lovin' My Readathon!

I closed my eyes, breathing the clean fall air still tinged with the warmth of the fading summer. And I nearly ran smack-dab into the large Civil War reproduction cannon sponsored by the Sugarland Heritage Society. In my defense, it hadn't been there yesterday. The lawn outside the library— heck, the entire town square— had been transformed. With good reason. Today was the first day of the annual Cannonball in the Wall Festival.
 As far as parties went, Cannonball in the Wall Day was right up there with Christmas, Easter, and the biscuits-and-gravy breakfast at Lulabelle Mason's house. 
This year would be even better. A History channel documentary crew had rolled into town to film the celebration, and it seemed every man, woman, and child from four counties had descended on us like bees to honey butter. "Melody?" I called, spotting a blonde with a ponytail through the crowd. I strained to get a better look. "Melody!" I waved. 
The woman turned and I realized it wasn't my sister. This perky blonde was an actress I'd seen on television. I didn't know whether to be impressed or frustrated. I'd told Melody I'd meet her near the library, but that was before we realized what a spectacle this year's event was going to be. It might take some doing to pick her out of the larger-than-usual crowd. 
I ran a hand along the gun barrel of the old cannon, over the layers of caked-on paint, warm from the sun. During the war, Tennessee was one of the most divided states in the nation, and our boys had gone off to fight on both sides. That left the town vulnerable when the Yankee army came through in 1863. The local militia fought to keep everyone safe, but our homes and businesses were on fire all around them. We thought it was over when the Yankees got their cannon up and shot straight into the town square. 
Wouldn't you know it, that ball did not explode. It lodged deep in the wall of the Sugarland Library for everyone to see. That small victory gave our ancestors the extra bit of spit and vinegar they needed to drive the invaders out and save our town. The preacher at the time declared it a miracle. While I wasn't so sure faulty explosives qualified as the hand of God, the entire town had assembled to celebrate every year since. We'd come together— people of all different backgrounds and walks of life— and we'd saved the place we loved. The Cannonball in the Wall Festival reminded us to be grateful for that. A smile tickled my lips and I couldn't help but gaze at the rusting iron cannonball still embedded in the white limestone near the foundation of the historic library. Soon everyone would know our story.
"Five dollars for a picture with the cannonball," barked a scratchy voice to my right. I turned to find Ovis Dupre's thin, bent frame nearly on top of me. The old man didn't understand the concept of personal space. Instead, he drew even closer with his vintage Polaroid. 
"No, thank you," I said, doing my best to duck around him while taking care to be kind. He meant well. Besides, I couldn't afford to alienate any of my neighbors after a recent event had left my reputation a little questionable...

The Skeleton in the Closet: 

The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries

By Angie Fox

Folklore developed in a community can drawn people together in celebration--whether that folklore is true or not. That was the case when The Cannonball in the Wall became an annual celebration for the town of Sugarland. Of course, the cannonball in question happened to be shot into the side of the town library...but that's part of the story yet to be considered...

Everybody in town was involved in the preparation, especially Melody, Verity's sister, who worked at the library. Exhibits of family antiques and other valuables of the time period were to be placed on display. Two of the oldest families soon began to compete on how big (and, of course, the best) their individual displays were... And, so it was that, the town's volunteer of the year, and others, were soon overwhelmed to create acceptable exhibit areas within the library itself. Soon all of the volunteers had left for the night. Only Darla Grace remained.

But before she finally left, she had called Melody early morning and explained that she'd found something very important and needed to share it as quickly as possible... Melody asked Verity to go with her to help with the remaining work on the displays. But when they got to the library, Darla Grace wasn't there to greet them...

"I was here until almost two this morning. I could barely see straight." We headed for the back door of the building. "Even then, Darla Grace wouldn't quit. Not that I'm one to do anything halfway, but let's just say that when this woman volunteers, she volunteers. I left her sorting through an antique secretary." 
I took a sip of the drink. It was hot, delicious. "That does sound kind of fun." I loved looking through antiques. Melody swung the door open. "True. But Darla Grace really does need to learn when enough is enough," she said. "She left me a message at three this morning, saying I had to get back down here. She'd found something urgent." Melody took a fortifying sip of coffee. "Luckily, I didn't get the voice mail until I woke up," she added under her breath. "What could be so important in a bunch of old letters?" 
"Maybe you'll have to expand the exhibit again," I said, half joking. I loved history as much as the next person, but preserving it should be a labor of love, not this battle between the families. Every light in the library blazed. "You're going to have to preserve this month's electric bill for posterity," I said, trying to get her to smile a little. "It'll be epic." I was glad to see Melody's mouth tug into a grin as we walked down a back hallway and up the stairs to the main level. 
"It'll be fine," she said. "I just worry about Darla sometimes. She needs to learn to take it easy and treat herself better. Maybe I could teach her some of my yoga stretches." "And hope she survives." Melody was as bendy as an acrobat. 
I pushed open the doorway to the main reading room and let my sister enter first. "Darla," she called, "we're here." Velvet-covered tables spanned the edges of the historic high-ceilinged room, which was packed with artfully displayed Civil War muskets, family albums, and letters sent home by long-dead war heroes. Headless mannequins stood in full military uniform. The room appeared even larger now that
they'd taken out all the heavy wood tables. The catering company would replace them with sleek serving stations for the banquet. 
My footsteps echoed in the cavernous space..."It was all in someone's attic last month," Melody said. 
"Try yesterday." I snorted. One of the display cards proudly declared its contents as part of "How the Jacksons Saved Sugarland."
"The Wydells are on the other side," Melody said, sipping her coffee.
"Of course." We wouldn't want their artifacts to mingle. "Maybe Darla finally went home," Melody said. "Although if that was the case, I wish she would have locked up." She ventured past me. "I'm going to head into the donations room and see how far she got."

Verity was the one to see the shoe...They found her under one of the display tables, obviously dead for some time...

And since she had been there alone, there were no witnesses... except...of course, any ghosts haunting the library!

Since the library had been used during the war as a hospital, this story is sadder than some others since the place was filled with beds, patients, and nurses, all continuing to go through the life they had during that time period. Of course,

Frankie joined a card game of a small group and got the conversation going. Verity soon learned that one of the ghosts who was normally shut off from the rest because he was a Yankee had said that he'd seen it happened... "The beast insisted he saw a man use a bayonet on a lady," he said. "She had a discovery that would change everything. We told him he was wallpapered."

But he was back now in the lower floors of the library where he lived and nobody was going to show her the way there...

She found him reading Interview with the Vampire. And with Verity immediately exclaiming that she loved the book, a new friendship was born...

Of course, the police continued to work their case, but without Verity's contribution, well, I certainly didn't foresee who the murderer, it's a very good thing that Verity could talk to ghosts, don't you think?! 

It's a little hard to prefer one book over another when you love the who series and are reading them all at once... But I did like the ghostly interaction in this book as one of the best, especially when Verity goes back and helps a certain private write a letter...

What? You want more, well another short is coming next-- Ghost of a Chance!


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