The Hawk Run Chronicles: Welcome Home

by Skippy


The usual...

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HELEN ARRIVED for work at 5 am. She changed into her uniform, grabbed a cup of coffee, then went to her office and settled down at the computer. When Bert came stomping in 90 minutes later, she could not have been more surprised.

He stopped in the doorway of her office to command, "My office. Five minutes," and stomped on before Helen could reply.

Bert slurped coffee, scowling at the cup as though daring it to deny him his morning beverage. "You heard about that bullshit over at Masterson Real Estate?" he inquired as Helen entered.

"Yes, I did."

"You got any idea who might have bitched about it to anyone?"

"No, I don't."

"You know better than to go running to those assholes in Columbus, don't you?"

"Yes, I do."

"Then give me an educated guess as to who might have complained, Captain Burke," he sneered.

"I would guess that Mrs. Masterson reported the matter."

"That bitch is too busy getting laid over at the Lazy Daizy Motel to bother with the state police. Try again."

"I was referring to Mrs. Demetria Masterson, who is Honoria Masterson's mother-in-law."

"She owns the real estate office?"

"No. Honoria Masterson owns that. Demetria Masterson owns a number of other businesses here in Hawk Run, including Hawk Run Savings & Loan and WHWK."

"The TV station?"

"Yes, and the radio station and the newspaper. Her husband was Carlisle Masterson III, who was a federal judge for many years. Her son, Carlisle IV, is CEO of Hawk Run Investments."

"A judge?"

" A federal judge for this district. He passed away 15 years ago."

"Would it be safe to say that the ol' broad has got clout?"

"Yes, but I would caution you against referring to her as 'ol' broad'. Things have a way of getting back to her."

"Well, just see to it that you ain't the one who repeats it to her." He let out a loud sigh and rocked back in his chair. "I just about had those state cops convinced that I was clean as a whistle. Then this Masterson woman goes and shoots her mouth off about what happened at that real estate office. I've got another meeting with two more state cop assholes at 10:30. I want you to delete any reports about the Masterson business, just in case they take a notion to scan our computer files."


"And you tell Miller to keep his damn mouth shut." He yawned and slurped some coffee. "How are the new people doing?"

"Very well."

"That Conners woman. How's she doing?"

"According to Lieutenant Miller's report, she's ready to go out on her own."

"And what do you think?"

"I agree with his assessment."

Bert nodded. "Where were you figuring to assign her? I mean, which part of town will you put her in?"

"We need an officer in the business district. That would be district one on the map."

"Why do we need another cop there?" he frowned.

"Because the officer previously assigned to district one is now serving a ten-year sentence for assorted criminal activities."

"Oh," Bert laughed. "That's right. I forgot about that. Do we need to have a cop there? Isn't it more important to have our people patrolling the back roads and such?"

"Considering that the bank and city hall and almost all of the commercial enterprises in Hawk Run are located in the business district, it is essential that we have provide adequate police protection there."

"Yeah, I guess. It's just that I keep getting complaints about drag racing and loud car radios and kids throwing beer bottles into people's yards. Gotta keep our citizens happy, hon." He rocked forward, yawning and stretching. "Go ahead and put Conners in the business district, I guess. You got any other crap to discuss?"

"No, I don't."

"Then go get those Masterson reports off the computer. I want them gone before those state cops show up lookin' for 'em. I'm going over to Nona Bee's for breakfast."

THE TRAIN TRACKS that once crossed Depot Street had long ago been taken up. The track bed remained, though, and people in Hawk Run made good use of it. Some, like Maggie, ran along it for exercise. People of a similar bent rode bicycles there. A good many of the town residents liked to stroll along the track bed picking wildflowers in the spring and summer or big, fat blackberries in the early autumn. Elderberry and currant bushes grew there too; the berries from them provided fruit for homemade jellies and pies.

There were benches placed every half mile or so along the track bed, offering a resting place or simply a spot to sit and chat with a friend. Maggie, jogging through a light rain on her way to Dukie's Diner for breakfast, came upon one such bench, and was quite pleasantly surprised to find Lynne Curran sitting there. Lynne had a large and very colorful golf umbrella shielding her from the gentle precipitation. She tilted it back a bit when Maggie approached.

"Good morning, Officer Conover," Lynne called.

Maggie slowed to a walk to close the distance, then stood facing the bench with her hands tucked into the pockets of her sweatshirt. "Good morning," she smiled.

"Are you headed for Dukie's?"

"Yes, I am."

"May I walk with you?"

"Sure. I'd like that."

Lynne stood. "Would you care to join me under my umbrella?"

"It's a bit late for that umbrella to do me any good."

"Maybe so, but if we're going to continue along this path together, you will have to hold the bumbershoot. I am quite obviously too short to hold it over both of us."

Maggie took the umbrella from her. Her smile broadened to a grin when Lynne took her arm to walk along the path.

"Do you run here every morning?" Lynne asked.

"Not every morning, no. Almost every."

"It's a lovely place. I often come here to walk or to sit on a bench and read. Very peaceful here."

"You don't roller skate here?" Maggie teased.

"Not here, no," Lynne laughed. "It's difficult to skate over an unpaved surface. I prefer streets and alleyways and the paths through the gardens over at Masterson Auditorium. Have you had a chance to visit the gardens there, Officer Conover?"

"Yes, I have. And call me Maggie, please."

"Alright," she smiled up at her. "You can call me Lynne."

"Do you play golf, Lynne?"

"Because I own a golf umbrella, you mean?"


"Yes, I do play golf. I didn't buy the umbrella for that reason, however. I just felt it was more practical than those flimsy, fold-up types. I do have to admit that this particular umbrella can be difficult to control when it's windy. On days like that, I do without the protection."

"I can see why it might be hazardous," she smiled. "The wind could easily take you and your umbrella soaring out over the lake."

"It has been suggested to me that I could put rocks in my pockets to prevent that from happening."

"Who suggested that?"

"My sister."

"I didn't know you had a sister," Maggie commented. Then she laughed. "Why would I know that? I only just moved here."

"Well, I have a sister. She's nearly 20 years older than I. Her name is Rae. She owns the Irish Rose Tavern. Actually, Rae and I are what is commonly referred to as 'half-sisters'. We had the same daddy but different mommies."

"I see."

"Do you have brothers or sisters?"

"Two brothers, one sister. We aren't close."

"Are you married?"

"I'm a lesbian."

" I also am a lesbian, as are many of my friends. I recently attended something called a commitment ceremony, which is the currently popular substitute for matrimony among homosexuals. My friends consider themselves married. That's why I asked you that question."

"I am a bachelor person."

"I am, too."

"I'm inordinately glad to hear you say so. I've been told that you are still enamored of a childhood sweetheart."

"Meaning Honoria Masterson," Lynne nodded. "Many people assume that I still am in love with her. I am not. I love her, and I always will. But there is nothing of romance or passion involved."

"So you're free to go on dates?"

"Yes, I am."

"Would you want to have dinner with me Saturday night?"

"I would like that very much."

"I've heard good things about a place called Lanterman's Old Mill. Would you want to go there?"

"That would suit me just fine, Maggie."

"Six o'clock?"

"That also would suit me."

"Where do you live?"

"I live above the bookstore. There's an entrance at the rear of the house."

They ambled along, moving at a leisurely pace so as not to reach the diner too soon.

"Got a question for you," Maggie declared.


"How long did you perch up in that tree before Mr. Masterson Number Four came along?"

Lynne laughed. "I guess I'd be foolish to say I don't know what you're talking about."


"Then I would estimate a perching time of about 15 minutes."

"It's that important to you to frighten the man?"

"I enjoy it," Lynne shrugged. "And so does Carl. He likes that rush of adrenalin. I guess you could say that it's become a kind of hobby for me"

"Well, just for future reference, don't let me catch in the act of pursuing this hobby of yours. I'd be obliged to arrest you and I'd rather not do that."

They reached Depot Street and Dukie's Diner. Lynne paused at the crosswalk.

"Aren't you having breakfast?" Maggie asked.

"Lord, no. It's way too early for that. I'm going home and am going back to bed. I only got up at this ungodly hour in hopes of meeting you on the P&LE path."

Maggie heard this as "the Pee Nelly path", and laughed as a result. "Meeting me on the which?" she asked.

"The P and LE path. For the Pennsylvania and Lake Erie railroad that once ran through Hawk Run. Did you think it referred to Nelly's urinary indiscretions?"

Maggie giggled without restraint. Lynne found it so endearing that she impulsively kissed her on the cheek. They stood there grinning and blushing at one another for a heartbeat or two, then said goodbye and went along their separate ways.

NONA HUCKABEE, owner of the Kasa de Kaffeine, served Bert a platter of scrambled eggs and sausages. "I made that myself," she declared, sitting down beside him in the booth.

Bert poked at the eggs with his fork. "How come these are brown?" he inquired. "And what are those green things in there?"

"They are a light golden brown," Nona laughed. "Cooking does that to eggs. And I added some peas and some ginger. Like the Chinese do with that Egg Foo Yung stuff."

He lifted the fork slowly, hesitated briefly, then put the eggs into his mouth. A look of confusion skittered briefly across his face as he chewed. "That's a real interesting taste, there, Nona," he commented. He set the fork down.

"Don't you like it?" she pouted.

"Sure, I like it, honey. I just want to put some jelly on the toast, that's all."

"I sure would feel bad if you didn't eat those eggs after I cooked them special for you."

He patted her cheek, smiled, took a deep breath, then took another bite of the odd-tasting food. "Real tasty. I don't believe I've ever had eggs like this before. I'll have to stop in here more often."

"I saw you talking to Maureen Stambaugh in front of the dry cleaner's yesterday, Bert. I thought you promised me you'd stay away from her."

"I did, and I will just as soon as Patrice gets hold of that piece of property she's after. She asked me as a special favor to get back on Maureen's good side, and that's why I was talking to her. I know what I promised you, honey, and I'm gonna keep that promise."

"Patrice asked you to do it?"

'Yeah, she did, so just cut me a little slack on this. It's temporary."

"Well…I guess if it's a favor for Patrice I can deal with it. But after that, it's over, Bert. I mean it."

" I swear to God it's temporary."

"Okay. So, are you gonna do like I asked you to do about the bake sale this weekend?"

"Well, I have a problem about that. I gotta go to Columbus to talk to those state police assholes so I can't be there for you like I said I would."

"Bert…" she whined, "You promised me. I need you there to keep things running smooth."

"How about if I send a couple of my boys over to do that for you?"

"Which ones?"

"Whichever ones aren't scheduled for regular duty. I can't pull 'em off the roster for something like the bake sale, at least not with the attorney general breathing down my neck. I can have them do it as a favor to me, though, on their day off."

"I guess that'd be okay," she sighed.

"I'll pick out a couple of cute ones for you," he smiled, kissing her on the cheek.

" Are you gonna finish your breakfast? I thought you liked it."

"I do," he protested, eyeing the lump of eggs remaining on his plate. "It's just that I had a a couple jelly donuts earlier this morning, and they sorta filled me up."

Nona pouted until he picked up his fork and finished the eggs.

MAGGIE FIDGETED, trying to get comfortable on the chair in Helen's office. She was never comfortable here, and she could not quite figure out why. Thinking it might be a question of long legs and scant legroom, she scooted backwards so that her knees no longer brushed against the desk. She was still wiggling around when Helen came in.

"Scratching and itch or are you merely uncomfortable?" Helen smiled.

"Oh, I'm just fidgeting," she laughed.

Helen sat down and opened a folder. "We're going to waive the second week of in-service training for you," she declared. "Galen feels that you're more than ready to go out on your own, and looking over his reports, I'm inclined to agree with his assessment. Add that to the fact that two of our officers resigned yesterday, and you will be on your own as of today. Any objections?"

"No, ma'am," she replied. "If Lieutenant Miller thinks I'm ready, then I must be."

Helen closed the folder and set it into the out basket. She leaned forward, then, clasping her hands together on the desk. "Just so you know, there will be several investigators from the state police coming in today. They've been here before, and they tend to keep a very low profile, so you shouldn't have any trouble ignoring them."

"Yes, ma'am."

" This is part of an on-going investigation, Maggie. The two officers who resigned did so before they could be fired. Things may get tense in this office, but go about your business as best you can and do the job you're trained to do. If you have any questions, ask them either of Galen or me. Try to avoid Yancey."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Any questions before I send you out to protect and serve the fine citizens of Hawk Run?" she smiled wearily.

"Well, uhm…to which district am I assigned?"

"The business district. Sorry. With all of this nonsense going on, I'm not entirely focused on my job. You'll be on foot and on your motorcycle in the business district. Initially, you should take some time introducing yourself to the people who work along the boardwalk and along Main Lake Road. A little extra attention might be good at the Irish Rose Tavern and at the boardwalk concessions. Bert has caused some problems at the tavern, and we need to do a bit of damage control there. Also, he pulled foot patrol off the boardwalk last summer, and we had a dozen robberies there as a result. Some people think that was why he ended the patrols."

"And what do you think, Captain?"

"I think they may be right. But that's just between you and me right now."

"Yes, ma'am. Of course."

The telephone rang. The conversation was brief, but Helen sighed and stood up at its conclusion. "I'm sorry, Maggie. I have to excuse myself. I have to meet with Mayor Lassiter over in city hall."

"No problem." Maggie stood and followed her out of the office.

"If you have questions," Helen said, "talk to Galen. Okay?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Okay, then. Have a safe watch, Officer Conover. I'll see you later."

BERT BASKED in the afterglow of four jelly donuts, the remains of which were strewn across the surface of his desk and the front of his shirt. Powdered sugar adorned his tie; raspberry jelly painted the corners of his mouth. He used the back of his hand for a napkin as Galen entered his office.

"Darnell said you wanted to talk to me, Chief," he smiled tentatively.

Bert nodded. "Can you tell me how a woman who doesn't know the first damn thing about cooking can own a damn restaurant?" he grumbled. "That Nona Bee, she's a real fine looking woman and all but she has got to be the world's worst cook."

"Your day's not going well?"

"You got that right. I wasted two hours of it with those state cops. Did they talk to you?"

Galen shook his head. "No, sir, they didn't."

"Captain Burke gave you my message, though, didn't she? About that stuff at the real estate office?"

"Yessir, she did."

"Okay, then." He rubbed a hand over his face and yawned. "So. What was it you wanted to talk to me about?"

"I thought you wanted to see me," Galen laughed. "Darnell said something about you having a favor to ask."

"Oh, right. Right. Okay. I remember now. I need a couple cops to act as security over at that bake sale this weekend. The bake sale being held in Municipal Park. It's to raise money for some bullshit project at the Baptist church. Nona's running it, and since I'm dating her I gotta keep her happy. After that breakfast she served me this morning, though, I think she owes me instead of the other way around."

"I thought you were dating Maureen Stambaugh."

"Yeah, her, too, but don't tell Nona Bee about that," he winked. "Anyhow, Nona Bee's gonna display some big, fancy cake she's making. It's good publicity for her restaurant and catering business. She just wants the whole thing to run smooth, so she asked me if I'd send a couple cops over to keep things shipshape. The bake sale starts Saturday morning around 9 or 10. Maybe you could take that new female cop along. That Conners broad."

"Conover is her name, Chief."

"Well…whatever. How's she doing, by the way?"

"Real good," he nodded. "She's real quick and she's good with people, too. She'll do well here."

Bert leaned back in his chair. "She's kinda good looking, don't you think?"

"Yessir, I suppose she is. What my grandmother might have referred to as a 'handsome' woman."

"Got real pretty eyes."

"Yessir, she does."

"Nice rack, too," he smirked. "I asked her out to dinner, but she turned me down. Claims to be a dyke. I have my doubts about that."


"I dunno," he shrugged. I just don't believe her. She is awful tall, though, and kinda athletic, which usually means 'dyke'. Even so, I wouldn't mind strappin' that one on, I'll tell ya."

" You're already dating two other women, Chief. Let's don't get greedy." Galen chortled merrily, hoping to move the conversation away from the offensive.

" I don't like to limit my options, and I sure as shit don't want to get saddled with another wife. If I play the field, I don't need to worry about matrimony."

"As long as girlfriend number one doesn't find out about girlfriend number two."

"You got that right," he snorted. "If Nona Bee found out I've been sleeping with Maureen, she'd cut my balls off." He yawned and rubbed his eyes. " Anyhow, you and Conners be over at Muni Park on Saturday morning. Nona Bee will let you know what she wants you to do. And don't even think about overtime," he frowned. "This is strictly a favor for a friend. I can't submit extra pay requests for this kind of thing. Those assholes from the state cops bitched about some pay requests for that time I had you guys help me move to my new condo. Apparently," he sneered, "that ain't a legitimate use of personnel."

"Well…I have to say they're right about that, Chief."

"It's bullshit."


"Muni Park, Miller. Saturday morning. And I better get a good report from Nona Bee, or there'll be hell to pay."

GALEN PULLED his baseball cap lower on his forehead to shield his eyes from the glare of the late-morning sun. "I surely do not want to be here," he sighed to himself.

Spotting an unoccupied picnic table, he hurried toward it. He got settled just as Nona Bee came striding purposefully across the grass. She carried a large cardboard box, which she set in front of him on the table.

Removing a thermal carafe from the box, she asked, "Where's the other one?"

"The other which, Miss Huckabee?" Galen puzzled.

"Cop. The other cop, bozo. Bert said he'd send me two cops to keep an eye on things."

"I see. Well, the other one is making herself familiar with the park. She's walking around looking at things, in other words. She's new to the job."

"She?" Nona scowled. "Bert sent me a girl?"

"Yes, ma'am. Officer Maggie Conover is her name."

"I wanted a real cop, not a damn meter maid." She frowned and pouted and sighed as she removed a platter of pastries from the box. "This bake sale is very important to my business. Things have to go without a hitch."

"I thought the bake sale was to raise money for the Baptist church children's fund."

"Yeah, it is, but I'm donating a lot of the pastries for it. Plus, I've got my special four tier Coconut Delight Dream Wedding Cake on display on that table over there. See it?"

"Yes, ma'am," Galen nodded, standing to get a better look at the very large, very pink cake. "Real pretty, Miss Huckabee. I can't recall ever seein' a cake so pretty."

"Why, thanks," she beamed. "That's so nice of you to say. Thanks. It's good advertising for my restaurant to display the cake here. See, I do catering for weddings and graduations and such, too."

"I see. Well, I imagine that's a real good idea you had, then, to display the cake here, because the Baptist bake sale is always real popular with the townsfolk." He sat back down. "Miss Huckabee, you got my word that Officer Conover is a real cop. She's had five years experience with the Columbus police department. She'll do a good job here for you."

"She'd better. Bert'll make her an ex cop if she screws this up for me, I can guarantee you that." She picked up the empty cardboard box and turned to leave. She retraced her steps to tell Galen, "The coffee and the pastries are for you and Officer Conover. No charge."

"Why, thank you so much, Miss Huckabee," Galen smiled, "That's real thoughtful of you. Thank you."

Smiling and nodding to indicate that this response pleased her, Nona departed.

Maggie arrived moments later. She pushed her sunglasses up on her head as she sat down opposite Galen. "What's all this?" she asked, indicating the pastries.

"From Nona Huckabee," Galen replied. "For us. Free of charge."

Maggie picked up a Danish and took a bite. Her initial enthusiasm dissipated with each chew. She finally swallowed, then set the pastry aside.

Galen, who had a similar reaction, tried not to laugh. "They've got a real interesting flavor to 'em, don't they?"

"That's one way to describe it."

"Puts me in mind of toothpaste."

Maggie nodded vigorously. "That's what I was trying to think of. I knew it was a familiar flavor."

"We'll have to come up with a way to get rid of the rest of them without insulting Nona Bee."

"They could accidentally fall into the lake."

"And pollute the water? I don't think so. No, think of something else."

"Hmmm…What if we…"

The unexpected arrival of a golf ball startled Maggie into silence. The ball came sailing out of the bright, blue sky to land squarely atop the platter of pastries.

"What the dickens…"

"Oh, lordy…" Galen whined. "What's today's date?"

Maggie replied, "April 13," as more golf balls came raining down upon the bake sale.

"What in the world is going on?" she laughed. A golf ball hit the top of the table and bounced to an impressive height. She caught it before it could splash into Galen's coffee.

"It's the Billy Curran Memorial Random Golf Tournament," he said. He covered his face with his hands and groaned loudly. "Bert's gonna kill us."

"Random golf? What's Random Golf?"

There was no time for explanations. Lynne Curran came across the park clutching a golf club and interrupting the conversation. She knelt on the bench where Maggie was sitting to study the position of the golf ball resting atop the Danish.

"I need a ruling here," she sang out. "Where's the referee?"

"Howdy do, Lynne Curran," Maggie greeted her.

"Hello." She rested a hand on Maggie's shoulder on the pretext of steadying herself. "Are you a Baptist?"

"Nope. I'm here to provide security for all these baked goods."

A group of oddly attired golfers came strolling through the park. In their midst was a garishly painted golf cart driven by Yvonne Grant, Demetria Grant Masterson's twin sister. She guided the cart to the picnic table occupied by Galen, Maggie, Lynne and the golf ball.

Climbing out of the golf cart, she steadied herself on crutches and hobbled over to Lynne's side. On her head was a football helmet painted international orange. To the top of the helmet was affixed a placard reading 'Tournament Official'.

"Can I move the ball, Vonnie?" Lynne inquired. "Or do I have to play the lie?"

Vonnie considered this for a moment. "If you play the lie, Galen and his lovely companion will be splattered with Danish. Is that what you want?"

"No, it certainly is not."

"Then move the ball."

"Must I take a penalty stroke?"

"Were you aiming for the pastries?"


"Then you have to take a penalty stroke, I'm afraid."

Lynne sighed. She picked up the ball and set it on the wooden surface of the table. Then she got up onto the table, took her stance, and swung the nine iron. The ball executed a lovely, high arc and went sailing toward the big, pink Coconut Delight Dream Wedding Cake. It came to rest in the center of the uppermost tier, causing the bride and groom cake topper to fall.

"Oh, well done," Vonnie applauded. "Very well done. I could not have done better myself."

"Thank you," Lynne smiled at her. She hopped down off the table and went trotting toward the wedding cake.

"Don't you dare!" Galen hollered at her. He struggled to stand, his movement hindered by the presence of Vonnie's hands on his shoulders. "Lynnie! Don't you dare!"

Maggie got to her feet, having deduced the course of events. She started toward the cake just as Lynne climbed onto the table to play the lie. From a far corner of the park, a high-pitched shriek was heard. Nona came sprinting into view.

"Nonononono!" she screamed. "Not my cake! Not my cake!"

Lynne again addressed the ball. Again, she swung the club. The top tier of the cake rocketed through the air. Bake sale customers and golfers alike froze in place to watch the bright pink missile splatter into Nona Bee's face.

"I'm going to kill you!" Nona roared. She scraped globs of icing from her cheeks.

Lynne was not intimidated. She swung the golf club a second time. Another layer of cake went sailing. A number of Baptists, in an attempt to avoid flying baked goods, scrambled toward the parking lot. The remaining customers, and there were over 100 of them, decided to join in on the fun. Soon a wide assortment of pies, cakes, and pastries were whizzing through the air. It was long past lunchtime before Galen and Maggie could restore sanity.

NONA BEE SAT in Helen's office muttering to herself. Pink icing clung persistently to her hair and her shoulders. She was gripping one of her shoes in her hand. The heel was broken off of the white leather pump, and Nona occasionally lifted the shoe to brandish it in the face of an adversary only she could see. Vague threats and colorful curses accompanied this action.

Beside her was Vonnie Grant, who had, apparently, caught the major portion of a blueberry pie on her right shoulder. Vonnie was sipping coffee and casting an occasional wary glance in the direction of her muttering neighbor.

Helen sat behind the desk, striving mightily to maintain a stern and disapproving demeanor.

"Miss Huckabee," she spoke. "I cannot arrest any of the women who participated in the golf tournament."

"Why the hell not?" Nona demanded. "If that wasn't disturbing the peace and assault and battery, then just what the hell do you call it?"

"The Billy Curran Memorial Random Golf Tournament," Vonnie answered. She rested a hand on Nona's arm. "And, according to a town ordinance passed several years ago, Random Golf tournaments are perfectly legal. May I explain?"

"Yeah, okay," Nona grumbled. She knew Vonnie's status in the town. She also knew the approximate size of her bank account.

"Billy Curran was a resident of Hawk Run," Vonnie began. "Rae and Lynne Curran are his daughters. Billy was a carpenter who worked for Davis Construction. He also spent a great deal of his free time entertaining children at the schools and the day care center and in the hospital. He had a lovely singing voice, he played a number of musical instruments, and he could tell wonderful stories…all things that children enjoy. I imagine you know that there are seven Davis sisters?"

"I guess I heard that from somebody," Nona replied.

"Well, when the Davis sisters were children, their parents had their hands full keeping them entertained and out of mischief. Billy helped with that by inventing a number of games and activities for the sisters and for his own daughter, Lynne. One of the games he came up with is called Random Golf. When Billy passed away, the Davis family instituted the memorial golf tournament to honor his memory. Several town ordinances were passed making such tournaments legal."

"What crap," Nona scoffed. "When will Bert be back from Columbus? You just wait til he finds out about this. You'll be sorry you screwed up my bake sale."

"Columbus? Is that where Chief Yancey went?"

"Yeah. He had some important business with the state police, or something. They needed his advice about something."

"Advice? From Bert Yancey?" Vonnie snickered. "What sort of advice do the state police require?"

"I don't know. Something about that stuff with that guy who used to be the mayor here. All I know is what Bert told me. You people are gonna be sorry when I tell him what you did to my bake sale."

Vonnie set her coffee cup on the corner of the desk. "Miss Huckabee. Let's not pussyfoot around here. What price would you put on your silence?"

"Huh?" Nona frowned at her. "Whaddya mean by that pussy remark? I'm no dyke, lady. I'm a normal girl."

"Yes, dear, that much is obvious. No, what I am asking you is what you might accept in exchange for keeping your mouth shut."

Nona's eyes narrowed as she stared at Vonnie. "You want to pay me to keep me from telling Bert? Is that the deal?"

"That is the deal, yes."

"I could have sold that wedding cake for at least $300."

"Alright. What else?"

"You work at the TV station, don't you?"

"Dear, I own the television station here."

"Okay, then, I want some free advertising for my restaurant."

"No problem. Maybe you'd like the morning news people to visit the Kasa de Kaffeine to do a special report on the business."

Nona's mood brightened immeasurably. She stopped scowling and grinned from ear to ear. It was not an attractive sight.

"A special TV report?" she beamed. "On me and my restaurant?"

"Yes. That can be arranged quite easily."

"Lady, you've got yourself a deal."

"I'll stop by your restaurant tomorrow morning to make all the arrangements. I'll also bring along a check for the cake."

"Sure, okay. Wow," she giggled. "I'm gonna be on TV. I've always wanted to be on television."

"What time shall I be at the restaurant tomorrow?"

"Oh, jeez, any time is okay. I guess around 10. Is that okay, Miss Grant?"

"That's fine, dear, and please call me Vonnie."

"Well, thanks. I'll do that." She turned her attention to Helen. "Just forget about those charges I said I wanted to file, Captain Burke. We'll just let it go, okay?"

"If that's what you want, Miss Huckabee," Helen replied.

"It is. Can I go now, or do you need me for anything else?"

"No. You can go."

Nona stood, shook hands, and departed with a large grin on her face. She left a trail of pink coconut behind as she walked out of the office.

"Thank you, Vonnie," Helen laughed.

"No problem. It was the least I could do."

"I have to tell you that I would have filed the charges, only to avoid an altercation with Chief Yancey. He can be very unpleasant when things don't go the way he wants them to."

"So I've heard. Is he really in Columbus advising the state police?"

"Of course not."

"I didn't think so. It was my understanding that he went to the Harker Forest Lodge for a weekend romp with Maureen Stambaugh."

"And who told you about that?"

"I'm a journalist, Helen. I have many, many reliable sources. And if I were a kind and compassionate woman, I would caution Bertram Yancey against taking his lady friends for granted. Some one just might decide to teach him some manners."

"Never utter threats in the presence of a police person, Yvonne," Helen grinned. "Such things can come back to haunt you."

"Oh, I have no intention of taking action against our beloved chief of police, dear. But you know as well as I that he has made one or two enemies in recent months, and those enemies wouldn't think twice about extracting vengeance."

"Got any names I should be aware of?"

"If it becomes important, I will share them with you."

"Fair enough."

"Well. If our business here is concluded, I would like to get home so I can remove blueberries from my ears."

"We're through. You may be excused."

"Thank you so much."

"You are so welcome."

LANTERMAN'S OLD MILL restaurant was housed in a restored mill along the banks of the Harker River. The big water wheel that once had powered the massive stones for the grinding of corn and grain into feed and flour still turned, but it provided ambience only. The landscape around the restaurant was lush with trees, flowers, and evergreens indigenous to the area. A faithfully maintained footpath led from the restaurant to the spillway at the confluence of the river and Little Hawk Lake. All in all, it was a beautiful place for a first date…especially with springtime in full bloom.

Maggie and Lynne had dinner and lingered over coffee before deciding to take a stroll along the river. It was, after all, a warm spring evening with a full moon high overhead, and the murmuring voice of romance could be heard whispering beneath the dogwoods. No self-respecting woman could ignore such allure. Only a dozen steps along the path and they were holding hands.

"Who won the golf tournament?" Maggie asked, smiling down at her companion. "I meant to ask earlier and forgot."

"I won, of course," Lynne replied. "Vonnie usually wins, but she couldn't play."

"Vonnie is Yvonne Grant?"

"Yes. Demetria Masterson is her twin sister. Have you met Demmie?"


"You probably haven't had the opportunity to meet too many people here."

"Not really. I will though."

They reached the spillway, where a wooden platform was cantilevered out over the river. The view of the lake shimmering in the moonlight, the river tumbling and burbling below, and the forest etched in shades of silver and black was nothing less than enchanting.

"Wow," Maggie breathed, leaning against the railing. "Just look at that moon."

"Who can resist Luna full and sweet above." Lynne sat down on a bench and patted the seat next to her. "Come sit with me."

Maybe it was the moonlight. It could have been the soft, playful breeze dancing up off the water. It might have been the fragrance of lilacs and magnolia that breeze carried along in its wake. Regardless of flowers or soft breezes, Maggie did not hesitate to sit down beside Lynne and take her into her arms. So, maybe it was the moonlight. It oftentimes is.

Continued in Part 5.

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