Saturday, July 27, 2013

Death by Shopping Cart

Detective Shawn Caramel, known as “Chewy” to his friends, stared down at the body on the floor at the grocery store entrance.  He looked at the overturned shopping cart and shook his head. “Bad way to go.”

“Sir?” His side kick B. D. Reckoning looked back with a puzzled expression.

“Death by shopping cart.”

Reckoning nodded that he understood.

A squat old woman came into the store and paused. She blinked and looked closer at the body. “Is he the store greeter?”

“No, ma’am,” Chewy said. 

“This is a crime scene,” Reckoning said. “You need to step back.”

The old woman gave a humpf. “Just came to buy some tomatoes.” She strutted to the cart corral and pulled on one to loosen it from the line.

“Maybe a robbery gone bad.” Reckoning pointed to the grill marks on the body’s face.

The cart remained stuck on another cart. The old woman yanked on it and three carts dislodged from the pack staying together as if welded into a single unit. She started shaking and twisting the cart, but it wouldn’t come away from it friends.

“Maybe a hit,” Reckoning said. “The mob is varying its techniques. Trying to be a bit more creative.”

Chewy raised a hand form a moment to think. He stroked the five o’clock shadow on his face even though it was only 10:12 a.m. and watched the old woman try to dislodge a shopping cart.

He pushed back his Stetson and sauntered to where the woman, now breathless, had lapsed into a futile tug of war to get a shopping cart. “Allow me, ma’am.”

She stepped away. “Good luck. Nobody is gonna get them apart. It’s like a magic spell has them locked together.

Chewy moved closer and sized up the situation. Before joining the CYAPD, he’d been a physics major, just before doing a short stint at the seminary. The situation was quite logical and diabolically clever.

He firmly grabbed the grill that folded up when pushed into another cart for storage and raised it high enough to clear the front of the cart it was stuck on. Then he pulled forward and separated the cart from the others. Pushing it a safe distance away, he said, “There you go, ma’am.”

She pushed the cart into the store and looked back. “I was going to do that next.”

“I know what happened to Mr. Body. He’d entered the store, probably happy and excited to be doing some grocery shopping. Pot roast is on sale right now.” Chewy pointed to a sale sign in the window. “When he tried to get a cart, the contraption wouldn’t disengage from the others. In his frenzied struggle, it came loose unexpectedly. He fell over and it rolled over him, crushing him.”

Reckoning’s mouth hung open as he digested the explanation. Finally he said, “Very clever, sir. What tipped you off?”

Chewy smiled. “Let’s just say it was detective's intuition and a bit of luck.”

Now a word from our sponsor: All the Penelope Mystery books have been reduced to 99 cents each. Get the entire series, or buy them one at time. Check it out at

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned when next time Chewy Caramel cracks the Case of the Cape Crusader Caper.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

First Mermaids, Then…?

Read this startling piece of news today: Fishhawk Bans Mermaid. Yikes! What is the world coming to?  All this little mermaid wants to do is entertain children. Sadly the public pools have a no fin policy.  Would they ban Flipper? What about Namu? Ok, the whale may be a bit too large for the swimming pool. But a mermaid? 

My memories of mermaids have be positive. When I was seven, I first wanted to have a mermaid for a friend after seeing the movie Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid.  Of course, I’m older now and realize the practicality of such a thing makes it out of the question. But then there is Splash with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. Or what about the Disney classic, The Little Mermaid?

Maybe something deeper lies here. Mermaids have been reported to lure seafarers to their death on the rocks near shores. It had something to do with the song they’d sing. According to legends, they’d lure men close enough to them, then grab them and pull them under water, drowning them.  But that could all be a misunderstanding, and the mermaids didn’t realize men can’t breathe under water.

I say posh! Mermaids are good. Take a stand. Save the Mermaids and let them be free. If we don’t, tomorrow they’ll ban Gnomes and Faeries and Trolls.

Ron D. Voigts is the author of the mystery-thriller Claws of the Griffin and the Penelope Mystery Series.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Memories

Took a walk this evening. My work keeps me out of town much of time and in the Maryland-West Virginia area, in the Allegheny Mountains.  So my hikes offer a great view of green mountains, rock faces and hilly terrain. Tonight the woody scent of the trees mingled with the smell of smoke caught my attention—probably some backyard fire to celebrate the summer with Smores and stories. Crickets sang in the background. Kids ran in yard playing some game made up on the spot. A dog barked somewhere, and neighbors chatted across a fence.

I remembered another time in my life when I was eleven and went to a boys’ camp. The smell of the wood and smoke reminded me of the forest and campfires where we cooked food from cans, told ghost stories and sang silly songs.  In a clearing, we’d play capture the flag long after sunset and into the dark, chasing shadows and calling to teammates. At night we lay in small tents that smelled of mold and dirt, trying to get comfortable on the hard ground. Sleep never came until after midnight, and, once and a while, we’d sneak out and hide in the dark, listening to the counselors, most of whom were college men working the summer, tell each other stories of girls and sports and school. In the morning, we’d rise again and eat pancakes made on a propane cook stove, by a guy named Coach, who always warned us of a fate worse than death if we complained about the cooking. And we’d dream of new adventures.

Funny how a smell or a sound or a voice brings back a memory.