Murder at the PZThe house is so quiet, except for the heat making the old pipes creak. I sleep in the master bedroom. It’s cheerful with the oak floors and the multi-paned colonial windows, and I’ve moved in my furniture, but I always think of my parents first thing in the morning. I say a silent prayer and feel better. It’s been a couple of years since I lost both of them. First dad, we were prepared. He had cancer. I quit my job as a teacher to help take care of him. But then only a year later, my mother died of a heart attack. This has left me, well let’s just say, it hasn’t been easy.

I plan to get dressed in record-breaking time, but I’m straightening the covers first, thinking maybe Jerry will come over later. He’s the bright light on the horizon along with my job at the Wilton Weekly.

I’m doing a little better since Jerry and I started dating three months ago. I met him when my editor sent me out to cover a police strike. He’s a detective on the Wilton Police Force. My story proved that the cops’ demands for more benefits were justified and commiserate with the benefits of the police in neighboring towns.

Let’s put it this way, I can’t get a ticket in town, not that I’m trying.

Jerry is eleven years my junior, sure I don’t look my age, but am I crazy doing this to myself? But every time I think of Jerry, I only feel warmth, and security, no anxiety. I’ve had some disappointments over the years. Trust is the issue and I trust Jerry. He lives on an eight-acre farm with seven rescued dogs and a goat. His plan is to rescue farm animals. He’s a vegan, and now, he has me eating a vegan diet too. Well, it wasn’t much of leap, I was a vegetarian. In a meat-eating world, it was a little miracle that we found each other. This seems to reduce the age difference to crumbs, pardon the food metaphor.

Now I’m downstairs in the galley kitchen and cooking some oatmeal. I always look out the kitchen casement window over the sink to hopefully spot a doe and maybe even her fawns. I can see some huff prints in the snow. We have eight acres of wooded area with huge maple and oak trees with crusts of snow in the crook of their limbs and a wispy understory—so beautiful a winter scene. As I gobble up the oatmeal, a rosy hue is breaking the soft gray winter dawn. I take a deep relaxing breath looking at it.

Okay, everything goes into the sink and I’m rushing down the hall to get my jacket out of the hall closet, put it on and grab my shoulder satchel, hat and gloves and I’m out into the cold vestibule and slipping into my freezing boots. Here’s where I’m glad I usually run four miles a day; fluid motion.

My silver Nissan is sitting right outside the door, in the driveway, and as I slip into it, it is virtually a refrigerator. I didn’t put it in the garage last night. I was exhausted and too cold. A shower was the priority.

I’m backing out of the driveway and turning the car to head down Sugarloaf Drive. I’m always in a rush, it seems. At least I have on my gloves to protect me from this freezing steering wheel. I am so eager to start writing that I can’t wait to get to the newsroom. It’s just a few miles down Route 7, five minutes away. I’ll be writing all day, working on a feature of one of the planning and zoning commissioners. P&Z is my beat. Come Thursday, I’ll have at least three stories from the P&Z public hearing the night before.

I’m always looking for a shadowy deal. The commissioners are builders, contractors, real estate agents, and brokers. They, and the town planner, who all believe in “progress,” approve the site plans for every new building project in town. I’ve already written one environmental expose’ in my two years covering P&Z. Since, I’ve been known as the “local hero” who is protecting everyone’s well water. Most of the town lives on well water. So it’s a big deal. But that story failed to accelerate my career.

I’ve got to make that giant leap from a weekly to a daily. I’m 47, and all my colleagues are 20 years younger, and smart too. Time is not my friend. Need I say more?

I need a big one. And fast.

I’m at the newsroom, the first one here, as usual.

Eleven hours later, I’m still here, working on the feature. My fellow reporters are sitting, on either side of me planning to pull an all nighter. My phone starts ringing. It’s probably Jerry wondering when I’m leaving.

“Ros, there’s a dead body down on School Road.”

Dorothy is giving away one (1) copy of MURDER AT THE P&Z. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the author. Contest ends April 3 and US entries only.

Meet the author
Dorothy Hayes, a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, taught Language Arts, was a staff writer for the Wilton Bulletin, and The Hour and received an honorary award for her in-depth series on Vietnam Veterans from the Society of Professional Journalists. She also worked as a staff writer for a national animal protection corporation, and wrote Animal Instinct published in 2006. She writes for Women of Mystery and Criminal Element and is a member of Sisters-in-Crime. Visit Dorothy at

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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