One Garish GhostHi, I’m Rosa Mancini—matriarch of my wonderful family, co-owner of Mancini Deli (over on Park Place in South Shore Beach), and murderabilia collector. Yes, I’m aware that’s bizarre, but let me explain.

My husband is a regular man. He isn’t much affected by life’s morbidity. Well, except for what the rest of us place at his feet, but for the most part, he goes about his day slicing meats, taking orders, and making sandwiches. Then there’s our middle child, our son. The responsible one.

Please don’t tell my two daughters I said that.

Our son graduated college and entered the police academy. He’s currently an officer and just bought his own house. We’re very proud of him. My eldest daughter works at the deli part-time, is married, and has given us the sweetest granddaughter. Well, she’s a teenager now, so maybe ‘sweetest’ is the most accurate term on most days.

Then there’s our youngest daughter, Gianna.

When she was eight-years-old, she fell in the deli’s walk-in freezer, hit her head on the floor, and passed out. It was so busy that day we didn’t realize she was missing. When we found her, she was so cold and stiff, I feared the worst. According to the paramedics, she died for one minute and thirty-two seconds in the ambulance, on the way to the hospital. To this day, eighteen years later, I still shudder when I think how we almost lost our little girl. But everything turned out fine. She had a mild concussion and sprang back immediately.

There was one change though. Gianna could suddenly see and communicate with ghosts. And for reasons we’re still not sure of, the ghosts pass to the other side through the freezer. She stopped talking about them to her father, siblings, and me some years ago. I believe she was trying to spare us the weirdest of it all, but I know she still sees them. Luckily Gianna has a great sense of humor and can handle it all.

As for me, I collect murderabilia—items that once belonged to a murder victim or their killer. Yes, I realize it sounds like a gruesome hobby. It all started years ago when my sister, Stella, died. I was convinced she’d been murdered while taking a bath, but it turned out that she simply slipped getting out, hit her head on the edge of the tub, and slipped under the standing water. It started a fascination with me though.

Now don’t look at me like that. I don’t wish people dead. And I’d never want to see a bloody body, but their possessions intrigue me. The things they leave behind. I used to collect items locally, but when my husband bought us a computer, it opened up a world of collectibles. Online I’m knows as Clarice. Yes, I’m quite proud of myself for picking that name. I am very grateful I’ve never come across a real life Hannibal Lecter though.

As for the family as a whole… Well, we like to scare one another. It’s not malicious. It’s all in good fun. The kids love it especially. One will stand outside the bathroom door, nose pressed against the wood, wait for the other to open, and then whisper, “Boo.” Just the other day, my husband and I were out, but my eldest and granddaughter were at our home. Our son snuck inside and down to the basement. He screamed at the same time he blew the circuit breaker, shutting down all the lights. My daughter had a few choice words for him, but my granddaughter laughed and thought it was fun. I’m not sure when we started this tradition, but being scared sure gets your adrenaline pumping.

So next time you stop in Mancini Deli, if you hear a scream, it’s probably one of my children scaring another. And if you see Gianna talking to no one, just ignore her. Of course, if you happen to come across any murder items, you know where to find me.

You can read more about Rose in One Garish Ghost & Blueberry Peach Jam, the first book in the new “Dead by the Numbers” mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on December 26 for the chance to win a signed print copy of ONE GARISH GHOST & BLUEBERRY PEACH JAM (US residents only, please) or an e-book (open to everyone)–winner’s choice.

Jennifer Fischetto is the National Bestselling Author of the Jamie Bond Mysteries. Unbreakable Bond, her adult debut novel, has received a National Reader’s Choice award nomination. She writes dead bodies for ages 13 to six-feet-under. When not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, singing (off-key), and watching an obscene amount of TV. She also adores trees, ice cream, thunderstorms, things that sparkle, and horror movies—the scarier the better. She lives in Western Mass with her family and is currently working on her next project.

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