Cat food, milk, soda, and ice cream – all the essentials needed to
get through the weekend ran through Melanie’s head as she pulled into the
convenience store parking lot on her way home from the office.
She opened her car door just as two young men in masks ran
out of the store to her car, where one jumped in the passenger seat and the
other yanked the keys from her hand.
The hijacked car started, the engine roared, but the vehicle
went nowhere in spite of the extensive cursing within.
She could hear a shouted and angry exchange between the two
men who then threw open the car doors and ran off into the night.
Apparently her decision to choose a standard transmission was validated
by more than improved gas mileage; the number of people able to negotiate a
clutch was definitely diminishing.
Back in my days as an English teacher, I
remember telling my students (after I first learned this from somewhere else)
that the popularity of the mystery is driven by our need for order. Unlike the
messiness of life, in a mystery there is always a tidy end. This is very
satisfying. Also, the evildoer is usually caught, or at least identified. There
is none of that frustration we feel in real life when that undeserving snake we
have the misfortune to know sails off smugly, the apparent darling of fate.
In high school when I moved my
bedroom down to the basement, I shared the space with shelf after shelf of my
father's discarded who-dun-its. Since like any card-carrying teenager I would
rather have sat next to the nose-picker in geometry than spend any time with my
parents, I spent many hours down there working my way through the entire Nero
Wolfe series, most of the Miss Marples, and endless Margery Allinghams. I still read mysteries today and never do I
concern myself with the actual clues. When I get to the finish, I think
"Oh, so that's how he did it" rather than "Aha! I was right -
the fingerprints on the elevator buttons were only a ruse!"
I read mysteries for the characters
within them, which is why I regret that Christie didn't write more Tommy and
Tuppance (spunky and fun) and less Hercule Poirot, (annoying). (Haven't you ever wanted to grab the man and
say, "Buy some shoes that fit, you fool"?) I'm just along for the
ride, enjoying Lord Peter Wimsey's urbane world and Miss Marple's cozy St. Mary Mead.
Now while struggling to write my own
mystery, I realize to my chagrin that I suppose I'll have to put some clues in it. Hard work. I
regret my past cavalier attitude and wish I had paid more attention to the
masters when I was reading from one end to the other of those paperback-lined
Today, ten minutes
into my daily (okay, maybe every other day) thirty on my favorite treadmill, I saw the sight that always takes the spring out of my step. Stinky Man
was passing by on the other side of the fitness room’s big window at the Y. I
knew from bitter experience that his next port of call would be the recumbent
bike diagonally to my left, strategically situated between me and the fan.
Standing on her cropped suburban lawn, staring at the August
sky and prodding her secret like a sore tooth, Madeleine wished she could
somehow control the passage of time, become its mistress rather than its
I was down in the black hole of Calcutta
that is my laundry area the other day and threw one load in the dryer and
started up another load of wash. I was folding a finished load – yes, the
holidays are over, but the endless loads of sheets and towels for company are still with me– when I heard a very unfamiliar noise.
I’m currently hunkered
down here with our two-day storm, happy in stretchy pants and sweatshirt. All
in all, it’s not such a big deal – the snow is very light and fluffy, our road
is plowed very regularly, and I’m no longer schlepping off to work. We’re not
anywhere close to the Berkshires, and so ended up with only about 6 inches,
small beer here in Western Massachusetts.
how could you not be a bit edgy when you have a storm named Hercules coming
your way? With the 24 hour availability of the Weather Channel, where they talk
about nothing but the weather, it’s easy to get hyped up. Their
forecasters stand in front of their maps and diagrams, reeling off wind speeds,
historic temperatures, and expected depths. Others clutch microphones while
being beaten by surf, or gale force winds, and it starts to seem inevitable
that it’s only a matter of time before all this weather drama reaches our
doors. The last hurricane had me filling the bathtub and taping the windows,
while all we finally experienced was a heavy rainstorm.
was prepared again this time. Knowing the nor’easter was coming on Thursday, my
first counter measure was to jump in my car and hit the stores. I figured if I
was going to be trapped indoors for two days, I needed to spend some quality
time trying on shoes.
discovered that New Year’s Day is a great time to go shopping. There’s no
school and many are home from work, so the roads were deserted, and 50% of the
world is hung over, so the stores were empty, particularly of the pre-Christmas
mania. I had found the real peace of the holiday season.