Century End part Two
A Tracy Gayle mystery
By Trish Hubschman
The GPs wasn’t very helpful guiding us to Century End. Daphne provided me with directions. “Just follow the next bend in the road to the left and it will take us to Main Street,” she said.
The bend in the road was sharp. I found my right foot easing up on the gas pedal and we were going slower. I don’t know if this was intentional, instinctive or something else was prodding it,
We both made a loud whooshing noise when we came out on Main Street. I continued along very slowly, examining my surroundings. The buildings from forty years ago still stood, but were in very bad shape, from neglect, storms, or whatever.
“It’s definitely falling apart,” she said. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I figured it would be, didn’t I?”
I nodded. Strangely, it wasn’t as grotesque as I had thought or feared. Some of the plate-glass front windows were smashed and business signs were faded and askew. I read them as I passed to see what the shops had once been. There was a barber shop, a tailor, a café, an ice cream parlor. I knew instantly that this had once been a very quaint and friendly community.
“Let’s walk around?” I offered, pulling the
BMW to the curb. I unfastened my seatbelt and swung my door open. I got out. Slamming it shut, I opened the rear door.
“What are you doing?” Daphne asked.
I was leaning into the car and rummaging through my big shoulder bag. “Just getting some safety essentials,” I explained. I took out my thirty-eight and shoved it into my waistband, as well as my wallet with identification. If something happened to me while I was here, I wanted to be able to be identified. I met Daphne on the other side of the car and we started walking.
“I think there’s a residential street around the next corner.” She quickened her pace. I followed. When a line of properties came into view, she stopped short. I almost crashed into her. Her shock was evident. Mine was too. “This is so sad, she whispered. “Even the birds don’t want to be here.”
Instinctively, I listened. There was no sound, nothing. She was right. We were walking again. I think, maybe we were looking for something, life of some kind perhaps. There were houses, though we couldn’t see what state they were in. There was so much overgrowth on each property, grass, weeds, bushes, twine, tree branches. The once-white and pristine picket fences were broken and smashed to the ground. “It would cost a fortune to get a landscaper to do magic on these disaster zones,” I surmised.
“Maybe the bulldozers wouldn’t have that problem,” Daphne said. My head flew to her. Her fingertips were over her lips. “I don’t think I was supposed to tell you that.”
I smiled. “Tell me anyway.” I urged.
She nodded. “A big contracting firm wants to get in here and clear this place out, so they can build luxury condominiums.”
Okay, that made sense, sort of, but I doubted Danny had anything to do with the condo scheme. He liked to restore things, not destroy them. “Is your company involved with that big firm?” I asked.
She shook her head. “We want to know what Mr. Tide has in mind,” she replied. “I think there’s a church around the bend there.”
I was hesitant. This was depressing. How much more did I need to see? I didn’t want to follow her, but I did. Daphne sucked in her breath. “What?” I sputtered, my head popping up, and there it was, the church. It was beautiful, well-kept, freshly painted. The grounds around it were neatly manicured. “What’s going on here?” I asked. “All the decay we just saw and now this obviously well-taken care of church. Why? How? By who?” I wasn’t expecting a response. We didn’t go inside. This was already too freaky. We walked around the church grounds and came up in the rear. There was a cemetery. That didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was the dates on the headstones in the front row, 1988, 1990. “This doesn’t make sense,” I said, waving my hand to the headstones. “Why were people still being buried here, and how, so long after the big fire and the town’s desertion?” I was snapping pictures on my phone as I went down the rows, not of every one, just a few here and there. I wanted to check this out. I don’t know exactly what I was hoping to discover, but something wasn’t sitting right. I came to a back row of stones and the dates matched the fire. I still took photos. I heard Daphne make an awful squeaking noise. I glanced up. “What’s wrong?” I asked. Her face had gone chalk white and she was shaking.
She pointed to a headstone, “That’s Great-Uncle Max,” she whined. “I didn’t know he was buried here.”
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, mysteries, murders, 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/