Verna is now a resident in Glen Arbor Acres retirement complex, which is down the street from the Dixie Dew.
“Lordy, Lordy, those Betts boys are the sweetest things. Sweet as can be. Why they hug and squeeze an old lady like you’re their grandma or something. They were raised right. Manners! They hold the door for wheel chairs, pick up your cane if you drop it. Don’t act a bit uppity or stuck up even if their mama was a world famous writer living right here in Littleboro. There was a movie made out of one of her books and she got an Academy Award for it. Then that same story was turned into a Broadway play and a musical. She got to see it before she died and she’s buried right here in Littleboro, that little tiny cemetery behind the ARP church just across from the courthouse.
She always said ARP stood for All Right Presbyterians and she grew up one in Statesville where they do a festival in her name every year. She wrote a lot of stuff and raised those boys on a horse farm a hop and skip from Littleboro. Wonder if those Betts boys ever read any of her stuff? They don’t look nor act much like readers. Neither of them wear glasses, but maybe they will when they get old, if they don’t work themselves to death first. Wear out. They’re over here at Glen Arbor at least once a week, sometimes, most times, more, bringing in some new green potted plant for our atrium, which I think is just a fancy word for a sun room.
In our “living room,” which is just a parking place to read the News and Observer or do a puzzle or just sit and stare into space as some people around here like to do, those Betts boys put more green plants and little grow lights in the dark corners so that room looks about like an atrium. When the plants get all leggy and bushy at the same time, they come in with smaller ones to replace them. I’ve always believed green plants not only just make and decorate a room, they are living, breathing things that give out good oxygen and take in the bad.
And just about every time they come, one of those boys will bring me or one of the girls a bouquet of fresh flowers they grew themselves. They have their own greenhouses or it would cost them a pluperfect fortune. And they put a vase of something fresh and full of color on the front desk. They keep us cheered up as if anything in this place can cheer a body up. We’re all headed for the “great beyond” and taking either the “up” escalator or the “down,” depending. And I can guess who is taking which.
Our “warden”, is headed straight down as fast as the thing can go. Smiles so sweet butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, then turn around and behind your back lie and cheat and steal and if I had the proof I’m trying to get, I’d go to somebody with it. Lordy, Lordy, I’ve always been suspicious of these women who like to play up to the powers that be, who are usually male. In this case it’s when Mr. Harmon visits to checks on the books, our grounds and facilities. Those are the days she makes sure we are up and dressed to the “nines” by breakfast. And breakfast those days are twice as much as any other time, except Mother’s Day and Christmas. We get eggs Benedict and omelets to order with mushrooms, fresh spinach or asparagus out of season. And berries. Blueberries. Melon. She outdoes herself and Cook goes into a huff for a week, all that extra work just to impress some man from the home office.
Does he even look at the books? See how she’s cutting corners every way she can? Instead of having the van take us places for free as the brochures say, we get charged! It takes money to get old. I know the brochures say the facilities offer “all your needs” but this place gets to you after a while. These same old faces. A body needs to see what the rest of the world is up to, building and tearing down. Go to a movie once in awhile. A shopping mall for pity’s sake. Even if we don’t dress up much, except when Mr. Harmon comes, underwear and night clothes get sprung and holey. That’s holey with an e. Ain’t nothing else around here holy. Especially the preacher who comes on Fridays and we have to sing to that godawful piano playing. Sometimes I think we’ve all got on that down escalator and this is where we landed up. Hell. And there’s nothing green and growing down here.
Wedding Bell Blues is the second book in the Dixie Dew mystery series, published by Minotaur Books, August 2016.
Beth McKenzie, owner of the Dixie Dew Bed and Breakfast, is enjoying an exciting affair with her new love, Scott. Meanwhile, the town of Littleboro, North Carolina is abuzz with gossip about Crazy Reba’s upcoming nuptials. Most brides go crazy at some point, but Littleboro’s resident homeless lady has had a head start: she’s beloved, indulged, and most of all, eccentric. But at almost 60―or thereabouts―her marriage seems a little peculiar. Sure, she’s sporting a diamond big enough to choke a horse, but no one can tell if it’s real, or just a Cracker Jack prize she pilfered from a yard sale.
Crazy Reba’s wedding plans go confirmedly awry when the bride-to-be is arrested for her fiancé’s murder. Beth, determined to clear Reba’s name, gets in over her head when a lady wrestler who threatened to kill her books a room at the Dixie Dew, and Robert Redford, her neighbor’s white rabbit, disappears.
Then Littleboro’s First Annual Green Bean Festival gets up and running, a famous food writer becomes deathly ill, and Beth must battle through madcap mayhem to apprehend the culprit and save the day.
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About the author
Ruth Moose was on the Creative Writing faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill for 15 years. She’s published three collections of short stories, The Wreath Ribbon Quilt and Dreaming in Color and Neighbors and Other Strangers with individual stories in Atlantic, Alaska Quarterly Review, North American Review, Southern California Review and other places including publications in Holland, South Africa, England and Denmark. Moose has published six collections of poetry, most recently, The Librarian and Other Poems and Tea. She’s received a MacDowell Fellowship, a North Carolina Årtist Fellowship and a prestigious Chapman Award for Teaching. She lives in Pittsboro, NC. Her novel, Doing it at the Dixie Dew won the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition and was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2014, with a sequel Wedding Bell Blues to be out late August, 2016. She has also published in Ellery Queen Magazine. Connect with Ruth at www.ruthmoose.com
All comments are welcomed.