It was a pretty normal Tuesday morning. Rocky and I left the apartment at 5:30. He picked the direction (left) and we made it two blocks before he pulled me aside to pee on a shrub. Once that matter of business was behind us, we continued to the corner, where I spotted a couple of chipped chairs sitting next to the curb by the recycling bin. I looped Rocky’s leash over my wrist and stopped to inspect the chairs. One was missing a leg. The other had a torn cushion. To most people, they were trash.
To me, they were inventory.
I pulled a Post-it pad from my cross-body bag, wrote “Mad4Mod” on it, and stuck it to the chair. If Jeff—the usual Tuesday trash man—was on the route today, he’d leave the chairs so I could come back for them. Just in case, I pulled them away from the curb and Rocky and I continued on our walk.
By the time we’d circled the block, I picked up a roll of retro wrapping paper and an unidentifiable smudge of filth from the Dumpster I jumped while trying to salvage a Tiki collection. Turns out the owner’s wife had tossed it after he insulted her dinner, and who am I to come between a Tiki collection and its original owner? I handed the collection off to him piece by piece in exchange for help getting out of the Dumpster. Good times.
When I got home, I carried the Dallas Morning News into my apartment and combed through the obituaries. I’d amassed a good portion of the Mad for Mod inventory by identifying women of a certain age who had never renovated their houses and making offers to their next-of-kin, but ever since the newspaper had run a profile of me after I helped catch a killer, I’d found it harder to fly under the radar. For the last nine months, more of my inventory came from the trash than from private residences, which meant it needed a little TLC before I could use it.
That’s where Hudson entered the picture. Hudson was my ace in the hole, my confidant, and my handyman. He had mad-skills in the form of furniture restoration and sometimes even did small favors for me for the cost of a decent bottle of red wine. And just because his cat didn’t like my dog was no reason to cut him out of my life.
After finishing with the paper, I headed back for the chairs. The trash truck was early. I ran to the corner—slowly, because my knee injury kept me from running anything faster than a pathetic jog—and waved my arms. “Jeff!” I called out.
An unfamiliar blond man hung his head out the window. “Jeff’s on vacation, lady. Sorry.” He pulled away from the curb before I could negotiate for the trash he’d just picked up.
I walked home. A police cruiser drove past me, and I looked the other way. If anybody on the police force wanted to find me, they knew where to look. Otherwise, I was going to get back to life as I knew it.
Dumpsters. Obituaries. Doris Day movies. Interior Decorating.
As far as I was concerned, there wasn’t much that would pull me out of my routine.
I showered and changed into a red and white checked vintage ensemble. (My clothes, much like my inventory, come from the Eisenhower Era. It was like being a walking ad for my mid-century modern interior decorating business.) I ran a few errands, ending with a trip to the paint store for a couple gallons of daisy yellow paint.
When I got home, I picked up the mail and carried the paint supplies inside. I should have left the mail on the desk and gotten straight to painting my living room.
If I had, everything might have turned out differently.
Diane is giving away one (1) copy of PILLOW STALK and THAT TOUCH OF INK. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends August 5; US entries only.
You can read more about Madison in That Touch of Ink, the second book in the “Mad For Mod” mystery series, published by Polyester Press. The first book in the series is Pillow Stalk.
Meet the author
Diane is a textbook Capricorn. She writes mysteries, and she loves clothes. She launched her own detective agency at ten years old and have maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since.
She is a Pennsylvanian at heart, but currently live in Southern California. Diane has two current series: the Style & Error Mysteries and the Mad for Mod Mysteries. She is also working on the Fabric Shop Mystery Series for Berkley Prime Crime. (“When Polyester Monroe inherited her family’s fabric store she expected to find dusty yards of velvet and lace. What she didn’t expect was a dead body.”) Watch for more news about this series in the future!
Books are available at retail and online booksellers.