Barnes & Noble.com
Barnes & Noble
New revised second edition! "The Rileyville Mystery"
Author Garry E. Lewis
paperback $9.99 or Kindle edition for $2.99ea. My Fall/Winter Special!
Rileyville was a small quiet town, where family values were high, the crime rate was low. The kind of town you wanted to raise a family in. Where people knew each other on a first name basis. The local diner was where all the good old boys would meet to spread their tall fishing and hunting stories. Usually about the one that got away. It was here the local church ladies would also gather to spread town gossip and point fingers. Just a typical day in Rileyville, that is until they arrived.
THE RILEYVILLE MYSTERY
By Garry E. Lewis
It was a beautiful autumn day in the town of Rileyville; Pastor John Dawson had completed Sunday morning worship and was heading into town to visit a sick parishioner.
Pulling into Harvey’s Gas and Grub, John’s favorite place to eat as well as catch up on some questionable fishing stories from a colorful character everyone referred to as granddad Ernie.
Granddad Ernie was a regular at the Gas and Grub, pretty much a hang out for all the local good old boys. The ladies gift of gossip couldn’t hold a candle to these old boys. These guys could spin tales with the best of them. Of course most of the stories were pretty fabricated, so you kind of had to separate the facts from the fiction if you know what I mean?
Today was different though, someone had moved into the old Smith house on the outskirts of town. So why’s that such big news? Well, the old house had sat empty along while. The local town kids always considered the old house haunted because it had been vacant for so many years. So as you can imagine, the place was pretty run down, not to mention the weeds had pretty well taken over the place.
Pastor John walked into the Gas and Grub and took his favorite seat next to the window.
Waitress Betty approaches and says, “Coffee and the usual John?”
“Yes Betty, that’ll be great, thanks.” says John.
Betty returns with a cup of coffee and says, “Well I guess you heard about the old Smith house?”
“Yes, I have. Who moved into it?” asked Pastor John.
“Not really sure no one seems to know as of yet.” Betty says.
“Oh boy, strangers in town,” Old granddad Ernie says as he sits down next to Pastor John. “This could be the start of something big!”
Pastor John responds, “Now Ernie, let’s not start stirring anything up, you know how paranoid people get around here.” says Pastor John.
“Hog wash,” Ernie says, “it’s just another day in the big town of Rileyville, or should I say village. I don’t think we have enough population to be considered a town yet.” Ernie chuckles.
Betty comes over with Pastor John’s eggs and bacon, “There you go John, just the way you like them.”
Old Ernie speaks up, “You mean greasy and burned?”
Ernie breaks out in laughter.
“That’ll be about enough out of you old man, one more word and you’re out of here.” Betty says with a smile on her face.
Ernie replies, “Oh now Betty darling you know you’re the love of my life!”
“Yea, yea that’s what they all say.” replies Betty.
Pastor John asks, “Betty, what does Harvey think of our new neighbors at the Smith house?”
“Just that he hopes they like to eat out, more business for the Gas and Grub.” Betty replies.
Pastor John finishes his breakfast leaves his usual tip, and out the door he goes. Getting into his car he heads for Miss Myrtle’s house to see how she’s coming along, having come down with the flu recently. Little prayer and some thoughtful words from the church fellowship should do her wonders he thinks to himself as he leaves the Gas and Grub.
As he pulls away, a black old Cadillac slowly drives by.
The windows are tinted so he can’t see the driver inside. Pastor John watches as the old Black Caddy drives on by down the road heading in the direction of the old Smith place. Pastor John wonders if that’s their new neighbors.
Later as he leaves Miss Myrtle’s house, after his pastoral visit, he heads back to the parish and parks his car. Walking up the sidewalk to the house he notices little Tommy Daniels sitting on the steps. “Hey Rev!” Tommy shouts, “Hear about the Smith house? Someone’s moved into it.”
“Yes, that seems to be the talk of the town.” Pastor John replies. “What have you heard? Is it a couple with children?” the Pastor asks. “I’ve got make a stop by there one of these days to welcome our new neighbors.”
“Can I come?” Little Tommy asks.
“Well,” says Pastor John, “I don’t see why not as long as you behave yourself.”
“I just thought it would be neat if we have a mad doctor or vampire living in our town.” Say’s Tommy laughing.
“Well what ever you do leave your stakes and hammer at home Tommy.” Pastor John says, “We don’t want to scare them away, our town could use some new faces around here, and it’s been awhile since someone new has moved to town.”
Tommy responds, “Yea I know, that’s what makes it so mysterious. Why would any body want to live there anyway? That place is haunted!” Tommy says.
“O now Tommy just because the place has been sitting empty for awhile, that doesn’t make it haunted.” replies Pastor John.
Tommy replies, “Ok then, why hasn’t anyone ever stayed after moving in there?” asked Tommy.
Pastor John said “Well Tommy a big old house like that is probably pretty expensive to heat during the winter months, I would imagine.”
Tommy responds, “Well I think it has ghost living in it.”
Pastor John says, “You young man, have a very vivid imagination.”
Tommy says, “I’ve got to be going pastor, but don’t forget to pick me up, when you head out to visit that new family. Maybe it will turn out to be Dr. Frankenstein! That would be so cool,” Tommy says.
Pastor John responds, “What ever,” shaking his head, “I’ll pick you up at the Gas and Grub tomorrow morning at ten, be there or I’m leaving without you.”
Tommy replies, “Oh I’ll be there Rev.”
The next morning Pastor John pulls into Harvey’s Gas and Grub to have breakfast before visiting the new neighbors. As he walks into the diner he takes a seat in his usual spot.
Betty slaps down the local news paper in front of Pastor and says, “Turn to page two and read the obituaries, it’s so sad!”
Pastor John responds, “is it someone we know who’s passed? Is it one of our town’s folk?”
Betty responds, “Just read the obituary John.”
Pastor John looking around the diner asks, “Where is everyone this morning?”
Betty responds, “Are you going to read it or not?”
“Alright, alright,” Pastor John says, “I’m reading, I’m reading, for crying out loud.” John looks at the column, reading it he responds, “I just stopped by to see her yesterday, she was feeling much better, even said she planned on being in church this Sunday.”
Pastor John asks, “What could’ve happened I wonder, did she slip in the bath tub, or have some other kind of accident in the home Betty?”
Betty replies, “That’s just it, no one seems to know for sure, and he just found her lying dead on her bedroom floor.”
Pastor John asks, “Who found her?”
Betty responds, “The sheriff, he had stopped by to take
Mildred one of my homemade apple pies I’d baked for her. That’s when he found her lying on the bedroom floor.”
Betty continues saying, “The house was unlocked, so when the sheriff didn’t get a response after ringing the door bell, he went on in found her.”
Betty says, “They are thinking heart failure, she was eighty-seven years old. Her poor old dog was lying next to her body howling, carrying on something awful, poor thing.”
“Who Myrtle?” asked Pastor John.
“No her dog, well I mean yes Myrtle too.” Betty says.
Pastor John said, “I never knew Myrtle to have a bad heart, or a dog either for that matter.”
Betty says, “She kept the dog inside the house with her; just let it out when it had to take care of business if you know what I mean? Other wise it pretty much stayed close to her in the house.”
Betty says, “It was a quiet dog never barked much, it was getting on in years too like her. Just really sad is all.”
Pastor John responds, “Yea it sure was sudden. Well there’s Tommy. I promised I’d take him with me when I headed over to meet the new family at the old Smith house. I’ll talk to you later Betty.” Pastor John says, as he heads out the door.
Betty says, “You be careful Pastor, we don’t know anything about these new people.”
Pastor John responds, “Oh now Betty, now you’re starting to sound like Tommy. Quit your worrying.”
Tommy and Pastor John head up the long winding driveway to the Smiths old house.
Tommy asks, “Did you bring your Holy Water Pastor?”
Pastor John replies, “Holy Water, what in the world would I need to bring that for?”
Tommy responds, “In case there are demons or vampires. You can drive them away by throwing it on them!”
Pastor John responds, “Tommy you’ve been watching way to much Sci-Fi channel son.”
Tommy responds, “Well you never can be to careful Rev.”
Pastor John parks the car in the driveway and he and Tommy make their way to the door and knock. But no answer, so Pastor John knocks again, still no answer.
Pastor John says, “Well let’s check to see if the car is in the garage.” Looking in he sees the old black caddy setting in the garage, “Well,” Pastor John says, “I guess that was him I saw drive by the other day.”
Tommy responds, “You saw him? What did he look like?”
“Well,” Pastor John says, “he had two long fangs and a black cape if I remember right.”
Tommy responds, “Wow! I told you, he is a vampire!”
Pastor John says, “I’m just kidding Tommy, I couldn’t see what he looked like cause of the tinted glass in the car.”
Tommy responds, “Well that’s strange in its self Rev. Don’t you think tinted glass is strange?” Tommy asks.
Pastor John replies, “A lot of older people prefer it Tommy. The elderly especially, they often have trouble driving due to the bright sun light. So they have their windows tinted so they can see better. It’s somewhat common.” Pastor John says.
Tommy responds, “Not around here it isn’t.”
After checking the garage Pastor John and Tommy head back up to the house and knock once more but there is still no response.
“Well, Pastor John says, “maybe they went somewhere, on a walk or something. The weather is really nice out today.”
Tommy says, “Maybe their sleeping, down in the basement!”
Pastor John asks, “Now why on earth would they be sleeping in the basement?”
Tommy responds, “Because that’s where they keep their coffins. They sleep during the day and get up and roam at night. Like bats!”
Pastor John responds, “I don’t know what to think of you Tommy, let’s go we’ll try again another day. I’ll stop by after Sunday services.”
Pastor John says, “I’ve got a funeral service to prepare, I have to get back to the parish.” Pastor John drops Tommy off at his house. Returning to the parish he finds the sheriff’s waiting in the driveway.
Pastor John gets out walks over to the sheriffs car and asks Steve, “What are you doing here? Are you arresting me?”
The sheriff responds, “No you’ve been a pretty good brother, I did want to your opinion about something concerning Myrtle.”
Pastor John responds, “Oh, I’ll have her service lined up this afternoon. I still need to gather up some pall bearers. I don’t think Mildred had any living relatives. No kids or grandkids to speak of. God that’s sort of sad isn’t it?”
The sheriff responds, “Yes, but that’s not what I’m here about,” the sheriff says, “I’m here because something strange has come up in her autopsy.”
Pastor John replies, “Something strange, what do you mean?”
The sheriff replies, “Well do you know if Myrtle had any heart problems?”
Pastor John responds, “No not that I’m aware of. Why?”
The sheriff replies, “Well Jed said when he checked her out her body shows no signs of physical trauma, no signs of any heart type medications in her system, but he did find a needle puncture on her left arm.”
Pastor John says, “Well maybe Myrtle had some other under lying problems. Maybe she was diabetic,” Pastor John says.
“The sheriff says, “Only thing is, there was no sign of insulin in her system according to Jed.”
Pastor John responds, “Well maybe the flu she had caused other complications. Have you talked to Doc Baker?”
The sheriff responds, “Yes and according to him, Myrtle was in pretty good health, other than a little arthritis here and there.”
Pastor John replies, “Well Maybe she donated blood recently that would explain the needle puncture.”
The sheriff responds, “Well I tell you brother you’ve given me some different view points at any rate. We may never know for sure what really happen to her. We know she hadn’t been feeling well, that’s for sure. As Mildred had come down with the flu recently, from what you told me.”
The sheriff says, “I guess its possible complications brought on by the flu may have been the cause of death. Guess Jed is right we’re just going to have to write this one off as natural causes. Well Brother, I’ll see you at the funeral.”
Pastor John says, “Well I’ll see you Saturday morning brother. It will be a graveside service only, as poor old Mildred doesn’t have any surviving relatives that I know of. No family, her folks died long time ago, bless her heart.”
The sheriff says, “Yea, it’s sure sad when you haven’t any family left, and you have to die alone at home brother, no what I mean?”
Pastor John responds, “Yes it’s just a shame she didn’t have one of those life line units you hear so much about, maybe they could have saved her if they could have got to her in time.”
The Sheriff replies, “Yes it is a shame she didn’t have one of those units in her home, that’s for sure.” The sheriff says as he slowly drives away. Pastor turns and heads back to the parish.
Pastor John enters his study and begins preparing Myrtles graveside service.
Saturday morning comes soon and everyone is gathered at the grave side, as Myrtles service begins. It isn’t long after Pastor John gives his closing statements, and prayer as the service comes to a close.
Betty makes the announcement that everyone’s invited to the Gas and Grub for sandwiches and coffee.
The sheriff responds, “That’s real nice of Betty. “You sure old Harvey’s ok with you handing out free food?”
Betty responds, “Oh hell sheriff, this is different. Every one in town knew old Myrtle. I was up all night preparing this meal. So you all had better show up and eat, we can talk about old times.” Betty continues saying, “Did you know Myrtle was my sixth grade math teacher.”
The sheriff responds, “No I didn’t know that Betty, how about that. Was she a good teacher?” Steve asks.
Betty responds, “Oh my yes, she was a great teacher, very caring. Getting back to the meal,” Betty says, “you had all better make plans on taking left over’s home as well. My hips are big enough as they are,” Betty says.
Grandpa Ernie says, “Oh now Betty honey, I think you have beautiful hips.”
Betty laughs and replies, “Well, coming from a dirty ole man like you Ernie that means something. Now come on let’s go eat.”
The sheriff says, “Brother you did a real fine job on the service.”
Pastor John responds, “Well thank you sheriff. I think we laid her to rest proper. Well I guess we’re all meeting over at the diner,” Pastor John says, “I’ll see you there brother.”
Later that evening they all sat around sharing stories about Myrtle that night. Recalling other memories of how Harvey and Betty had been high school sweethearts, how Harvey had taken out a small business loan after graduating from school. Purchasing the diner and station, and how Betty and Harvey had run them ever since.
They then reflected back on how Pastor John had come to Rileyville having completed seminary, and started preaching at the Rileyville Baptist church in town. They remembered how Bert Jenkins having been a military police officer in the service. After his tour of duty had studied to be veterinarian, and now also helps out the sheriff as a part time deputy as well.
They also shared stories about old Grandpa Ernie, their arm chair philosopher of the town and storyteller. And Old Doc Baker, who delivered just about everyone’s kids here in town. How the Sheriff Steve Dawson had come to town after completing Police academy and was elected as town sheriff of Rileyville.
The stories continued through the evening hours, as they laughed and cried at times, until everyone slowly began to file out of the diner, and headed home for the night, having enjoyed reminiscing about old times.
Sunday morning soon arrived, as worship services came to a close. Pastor John Stood at the front door of the church, speaking to parishioners as they slowly filed out of the church. An elderly couple stopped and let Pastor John know how much they enjoy his sermon this morning. Pastor John thanked them as they turned and headed for their car.
It was a beautiful fall morning. The farmers had been late getting their corn and soy beans harvested due to heavy rain fall, which caused the fields to be planted later in the spring than anticipated. So a lot of the fields still had golden corn stalks standing waiting to be picked. If the weather would just hold out now and give the farmers a chance to get their harvest in before the freeze came all would be great.
The diner was closed today so Pastor John headed over to Harvey and Betty’s place to thank them for delicious meal they had prepared following Miss Myrtles funeral service. In all honesty, John was hoping to indulge in some of the left over’s from last night. Betty greeted him at the front door and invited him in.
Betty asks, “Are you staying for lunch Rev.?” Knowing full well that’s what he had come there for, knowing the diner was closed today in memory of Miss Myrtle.
Pastor John said, “Well that’s awful nice of you, I hate to be a bother.”
Betty smiled and said, “Sit down John I’ll get you a cup of coffee while we heat up those left over’s. Boy it sure is a pretty day out there, I hope the weather holds out for the farmers a lot of them are counting on it,” Betty says.
Pastor John replies, “They need a good harvest this year, and I think they’ll have one the way it’s looking. Corn prices are not too bad this year per bushel. Soy beans could have done a little better though. Guess you can’t have it all can you?”
Harvey responds, “But it doesn’t hurt to dream, the government hasn’t found away to tax our dreams yet, give them time they will!”
Pastor John chuckles and responds, “Oh now Harvey it isn’t that bad.”
“Not yet,” Harvey said, “give it a week!”
Pastor John responds, “Harvey you’re the only guy I know that sees a black cloud hanging over everything. You need to think positive.”
Harvey replies, “It’s hard to do when every time you make an extra dollar Uncle Sam takes eighty percent of it!”
Pastor John responds, “Oh now Harvey it isn’t that bad.”
“What fantasy world do you live in Rev.?” Harvey asks.
Pastor John responds, “You’re hopeless, let’s eat I’m hungry.”
Harvey says, “By the way Rev. that Tommy kid came by asking for you. Said he had something to tell you about the new people at the old Smith house, said it was important.”
Pastor John responds, “Not the vampire serial killer notion again I hope. I swear that kid has an imagination out of this world.
I’ll swing by his house and humor him a little, oh to be that young and care free again.”
Harvey responds, “Hell Pastor was you ever young?” Harvey laughs. Betty snickers.
Pastor John replies, “Ok, ok, I get the picture I’m older than dirt! Well it takes one to know one Harvey you old fart.”
© 2011 Garry E. Lewis