“Good morning—Middleton’s Mortuary—Callie Parrish here—How may I help you?” At least five days of each week in my world begin with those words.
My whole name is Calamine Lotion Parrish, but everyone calls me Callie except Daddy. My mother died the day I was born, and he had to name me. Daddy got drunk—really drunk—and tried to think of something feminine. He had five sons, but I’m the only girl. He named me for the one pink thing he could think of in his hammered state. Thank heaven he didn’t think of Pepto Bismol.
Jane Baker is my best friend forever. Politically correct people call Jane visually handicapped. I call a spade a flippin’ shovel and say she’s blind. When I began telling my stories in books, Jane had a wild streak, but she’s calmed down a lot. Some people might think her job as telephone fantasy actress Roxanne isn’t respectable, but it allows Jane to keep her independence. Of course, her boyfriend—my brother Frankie—doesn’t like it at all.
A few years after I began teaching kindergarten, divorce smacked me in the face. By then I was tired of spending my days with five-year-olds who wouldn’t sit still, be quiet, or take their naps. I moved back to my hometown, St. Mary, on the coast of South Carolina.
I’d earned my SC Cosmetology License in voc ed during high school which qualifies me to be the cosmetician at Middleton’s. I like the work—my clients don’t ever jump around, talk, or need to tee-tee every five minutes. My bosses, Otis and Odell Middleton, offered to send me to mortuary school to learn preparation (Funeraleze for embalming), but I prefer to leave that up to them. For me, it’s enough to create beautiful memory pictures for loved ones.
Speaking of Otis and Odell, they were born identical twins, but the years have changed their appearances so now they don’t look any more alike than their personalities. When they began to bald, Otis got hair plugs; Odell shaved his head. Otis is a vegetarian; Odell is addicted to barbecue. This has led to about a forty-pound weight difference between them. The most outrageous thing Otis has done is to install a tanning bed in Middleton’s prep room.
Jane says, “Callie, you attract murder like a magnet.” I confess I’ve found more than my share of homicide victims leading to lots of harrowing situations. In my seventh book (Hickory, Dickory Dock, Murder Is On The Clock; released on November 3, 2015) I discover a corpse hog-tied and left inside an industrial trash bag. You can guess where Jane and I found a body in A Corpse Under The Christmas Tree.
That’s the world I live in. At the end of the day, I go home, eat a Moon Pie, and pet Big Boy—my spoiled rotten Great Dane dog.
In answer to readers’ questions:
My books are cozyesque: no profanity. I created Kindergarten Cussing to avoid swearwords, and I can’t even spell the F-word. In order of emotional response, my most common expletives are Dalmation! Then A Hundred and One Dalmations! and in extreme situations—Shih Tzu!
Yes, it’s true I wear “blow-up” bras—not like a terrorist’s bomb, but inflatable. Why? My chest is more of a valley than a hill. When other girls blossomed, I hardly budded.
I have no idea why my readers keep e-mailing me wanting to know more about my love-life and suggesting which of the men I meet would make suitable partners. They must think celibacy is a terminal illness. To them, I say: “You asked for it! The new book brings an end to my dry spell, but you’ll have to read Murder Is On The Clock to find out who.
You can read more about Callie in Hickory, Dickory Dock, Murder Is On The Clock, the seventh book in the “Callie Parrish” mystery series, published by Odyssey South Publishing. The first book in the series is A Tisket, A Tasket, A Fancy Stolen Casket.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on November 20 for the chance to win a print copy of Murder Is On The Clock. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!
Meet the Author
Fran Rizer’s fiction, published in the USA and Canada, has been read world-wide. Early in her fiction career, she won a Porter Fleming Award in Fiction. Her first six novels were Callie Parrish mysteries which were nominated for SIBA, Edgar, Agatha Christie, and other awards. She is a featured author on the SCETV series, A Literary Tour of South Carolina, an instructional program offered to all South Carolina public schools. In addition to the cozyesque Callie Parrish mysteries, she is the author of thriller Kudzu River—A novel of Abuse, Murder, and Retribution.
Rizer lives in South Carolina near her two sons and grandson. Readers are invited to correspond with her directly through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit with her at FranRizer.com, and like her on Facebook.