Century End Part Four
A Tracy Gayle mystery
By Trish Hubschman
Grace Highland was in an assistive living facility in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Danny
texted me the info. The following day, I was headed back to PA.
Mrs. Highland waiting for me in the visitor’s room. She sat in a comfortable-looking wing chair.
“So lovely to meet Danny’s fiancé,” she said. She didn’t rise, though she did hold out both
hands and gave me a warm smile. “Such a lovely boy he always was,” she added, then waved
me to a chair across from her. I took it. There was a small table between us. “Would you like
some tea?’ she offered. There was no tea service on it, so I declined. She clapped her hands
together. “Oh dear, I must tell you, I’ve been collecting my memories of life in Century End and
can’t wait to share them.”
I was happy to hear that. “Can you tell me when and why you left the town?”
“Hmm, let’s see,” she murmured, poking her nose higher. “I think I should start from he
beginning.” I nodded. “That dreadful fire in ‘68 destroyed part of our beautiful town and stole
some very precious lives.” A tear trickled down her cheek. “As devastating as it was, we, the
townspeople, wanted to save our city.” She released a heavy sigh. “But there was a big
problem,” she began. “Much of our town was supported by the coal mines and now many of
our men were jobless and had to go to neighboring towns to seek employment.”
“That must have been difficult,” I surmised. She nodded.
“It was 2 or 3 years after the fire when that rich man drove into our town,” she said. Her
expression became disgusted. “Oh, maybe he meant well. Edward told me to stop being so
judgmental. But I didn’t have a good feeling about the rich man.”
“Are you referring to Michael McAllister?” I asked. I knew she was, but for the record, I wanted
to make sure.
Her head popped up. “Oh, yes, of course, Mr. McAllister, the father,” she said. “He offered to
buy our house on Coconut Drive three times before we finally accepted,” she said. “The first
time, neither Edward or I wanted to move.”
“What changed your minds?” I asked.
She lowered her eyes. A tear trickled down her cheek. “Weird things began to happen,” she
said, her eyes coming up. ‘My dear friend, Martha, fell and broke her ankle, then she got
pneumonia and died. It all happened so fast.”
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Highland. That must have been hard for you.”
She nodded. “On Martha’s family too,” she added. “It got worse. My seventeen-year-old son,
My eyes widened. “I don’t understand,” I said. “What do you mean your son disappeared?”
She made a strangled noise. “We were all arguing one day. Darren wanted us to leave Century
End. He insisted it was cursed. My husband thought our son was crazy and they debated it.
Finally, Darren, walked out of the house. We never saw him again. There was a search party out
looking for him, but nobody found him. Tears were pouring down her cheeks. I reached out and
took her hand on the table.
“What do you think happened?” I asked.
She sniffed hard and swallowed. “The theory was he went down to the mines. They tried to
search the area, but a boulder had dropped and sealed off the entrance.” She reached up a
hand and wiped the tears away. “Such a long time ago, but it still hurts,” she said. I was still
holding her hand. “Anyway, I told Edward at that point, we were selling the house to Mr.
McAllister. If he didn’t agree with me, then I was taking our other son, Richard, and moving to
my sister’s place in Terrytown.”
“Why did Mr. McAllister want your house or the others in the area?”
She shook her head. “We never did find out and he never did do anything with our town.”
I changed the subject. “Did you know Max Hanson?“I released her hand. A warm smile drew to
“Oh, yes, Max and his wife, Theresa, were lovely people. They were close friends,” she said.
“Max was so upset when we told him we accepted Mr. McAllister’s offer to buy our house.” She
shrugged. “We didn’t move very far and we kept in touch with our friends.”
“Did you go to his funeral?” I asked.
She nodded. “Indeed, I did. It as a beautiful church service.”
“What about the burial at the cemetery?” I prodded.
A frown crossed her face. “No one was allowed at the gravesite,” she replied. “Max is buried at the Century End Baptist church.”
I nodded. “His wife isn’t buried beside him.” I remembered that.
She shook her head. “Theresa was cremated. I don’t know where her ashes are buried, if they
were buried,’ she said. “Edward and I decided we didn’t want to be buried there. No one would
be able to visit us.’ She chuckled. “We had plots there, but Mr. McAllister, Jared, bought them
back from us.”
That one surprised me. It was time to wrap this up. I rose and took my leave. I had to meet me
friend, Jackie, at a diner for dinner. I also wanted to put in a call to McAllister Building
Enterprises and make an appointment for the next day with Jared McAllister.
Trish Hubschman is the author of the Tracy Gayle mystery series, Tidalwave, Stiff Competition, Ratings Game and uneasy Tides. Tracy is hired by rock musician, Danny Tide, to find out who set fire to his band’s summer tour bus. In doing this, more diabolical things arise, mystery, murder, romance.
Trish is a graduate of Long Island University’s Southampton Campus and has a Bachelor’s degree in English-Writing. She is deafblind and lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Kevin, and their dog, henry.
Her website is www.dldbooks.com/Hubschman/
#Detective, #mystery, #TracyGayle #Series
About Patty L. Fletcher
Patty L. Fletcher lives in Kingsport Tennessee where she works full time as a Writer with the goal of bridging the great chasm which separates the disAbled from the non-disAbled. She is Also a Social Media Marketing Assistant.
To learn more visit: https://pattysworlds.com/