BY: PATTY L. FLETCHER
COPYRIGHT DECEMBER 2019
ABOUT THE BOOK…
Blending Adventure, mystery, supernatural, Romance, and Suspense, author Patty L. Fletcher weaves a tale of fiction, all readers are sure to enjoy.
James Landing Tennessee was a peaceful small town just trying to keep up with its neighbors, which seemed to always be growing by leaps and bounds around it. Then one day Roy Dingus took over Friedman chemicals, a lady of unknown origin known only as
Miss Mazie bought the old house on the outskirts of town and as the heat of August blazed with no end in sight, what was once a city with no promise came to life.
Follow the adventures of three small-town boys, Joe, Ronnie, and Jake, and their newfound friend Billy Ray as they try to unravel the mystery that surrounds the newcomers and all the strange goings on before James Landing is no more.
This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to people, places, and things are simply that Similarities.
*Please Note, this has not yet been professionally edited.
CHAPTER THREE: MEETING MISS MAZIE
Rain slammed viciously against the little room’s windows, as Billy Ray lay flat-out on his back, arms spread above his head on the old bed in the corner. It had been one more long day, and in the end, he’d not even needed to worry about going out to that old house to try and sell another few bibles because when he’d finally made it back to his car for a wonder the thing had started right back up as if it had never missed a lick. In fact, if asked he’d have sworn it was running better now than ever before.
Rubbing a hand distractedly through his sweat dampened gray flecked hair, he thought again of the strange woman named Miss Mazie he’d met earlier that evening. He hated like hell to call her strange, a better word for her would be unusual, but either way she was as the middle boy had said, “different.”
Making himself more comfortable he let his mind drift back running through the visit yet again.
“You must be Bubba.” Billy Ray had allowed.
“That’s right.” A woman’s gruff voice confirmed from somewhere in the shadows ahead, “And who might you be?”
Billy Ray had tried to see into the shadowed yard, but somehow, he simply couldn’t see a darn thing but the big dog moving slowly but deliberately closer and closer. Part of him had wanted to turn and run, but he’d been afraid that to do so would’ve enraged the dog and he’d have been on him before he could even make it back onto the road.
“That’s right.” The voice had agreed. “You wanta stand where you are sir, Bubba don’t fancy a game of chase quite as much as he used to but if you rile him, he’s just liable to get the idea back into his old head.”
“How in all hell had she known what he was thinking.” He wondered, replaying the scene in his mind.
“Name’s Billy Ray Ma’am, and I mean you and your dog here no harm. Just out selling Bibles for the Angel Network.”
A peel of deepthroated rich laughter had drifted out of the shadows toward him. “Me and Bubba don’t need any bibles son, but you look like you’re about to fall over with heatstroke and Miss Mazie never let anyone fall out in her yard from the heat, so you’d best come on up onto the porch and sit a spell and cool off.”
“What about Bubba here?” Billy Ray had asked. Hating himself for sounding afraid of what was very obviously an old dog.
“Bubba! Stop that! Leave It! Go on back to your nappin’ and Let the man pass son.”
The big dog had given him another hard look, shown his teeth one last time, then lumbered back to his nest in the overgrown bush settling himself down with a satisfied sigh as if nothing whatsoever had disturbed him.
“OK. Come on. It’s hot as blazes there in the sun. Want iced tea or lemonade?”
Once again, Billy Ray had been totally taken aback. “How on earth does this woman know what’s in my mind.”
Coming up onto the porch, letting the screen door squeak shut behind him chimes overhead jingling he’d seen Miss Mazie for the first time, and he’d had to admit she’d not been at all what he’d expected. She’d stood there in the doorway of the old house dressed in a pair of faded denim jeans and white tank top, flipflops on her feet. Her long salt and pepper hair had been gathered back into one long ponytail that went to her waste, and her chestnut brown eyes had looked him over with an intensity which had seemed to momentarily look straight into his soul. Her skin was darkly tanned, probably from gardening and she was just a little shy of six-feet tall. She was robust and she looked like a woman who could give any man a run for his money out in the field or anywhere else she happened to want to work.
“Well,” she demanded, hands on expansive hips, “Lemonade or tea?”
“L…Lemonade sounds wonderful.” He’d stammered, and neither then nor now could he understand why she’d knocked him so far off his game.
“Have a seat in one of the rockers there. Want a little shine in that?” She’d asked, heading through the door into the kitchen a smile flickering round the corners of her mouth.
“Shine? Oh, No thanks. Plane’s fine.”
“You sure?” She called, with a snort of laughter. You seem a bit rattled. Surely old Bubba didn’t scare you that much. If so, bathroom’s just inside here down the hall.”
“Oh, no ma’am. I suppose I’m just warn out from walking. My car broke down a couple miles back as I was finishing my sales route for the day, and I made the mistake of misjudging the heat.”
“Thought you’d just pop on in on Miss Mazie and save her soul with one of them bibles, did you?”
“Huh? I don’t reckon I’m in the business of saving anybody’s soul ma’am, I’m just trying to make enough money to get a better place to live than the little room I live in above Sissie’s Bakery.”
“Oh goodness. Are you living up there?” She’d asked as she’d handed him a wonderfully frosty cold glass of honey lemonade with fresh sprigs of lavender sticking out of the top. “Hot as hell this time of year in that little room I’d bet.” Miss Mazie allowed.
“Look, Billy Ray, is it?” She asked, removing a big green-eyed tuxedo cat out of her way before settling herself into the rocker opposite his, tossing her ponytail over her shoulder as she began to rock. “You got to quit that calling me ma’am. You’re making me feel older than Mother Gaia and I aint quite that old no matter what them three boys told you.”
He’d nearly dropped his glass of lemonade. “How in all hell?” He thought again.
“You don’t happen to have any handyman knowhow, do you?” She’d asked.
“Um? Actually yes, Ma’am… um? Miss Mazie, I do. My dad and I used to have a business together, but he had an accident and passed away.
“Oh, I am real sorry to hear that. Well, anyhow, I bought this house as a fixer upper and now can’t seem to find anyone willing to do the fixing up. There’s a decent apartment overtop that old garage in back, and if you’re not afraid of the town’s folk and their talk, I’d be happy to give you a place to stay and a little pay in return for your work on the place.”
To say that the offer had taken him by surprise would’ve been a huge understatement, but he’d accepted it without even giving it any thought. In fact, it seemed to him as he thought it all over now, he’d said yes before she’d quite finished speaking.
Turning onto his side, and drifting toward sleep he thought, “Strange indeed. But beats the hell out of selling bibles and living in this oven like room.”
CHAPTER FOUR: OLD DOG BUBBA ICE CREAM AND WALRUS SIMS
Dusk settled over the town park and the music of summer drifted through the air with a joyful rhythm of children’s laughter, old women’s gossip, and insects buzzing in the trees. The Friedman Chemicals ice cream supper was in full swing and all of James Landing seemed to be there.
“Miss Mazie,” Sissie called, “Your blackberry ice cream is so good I’m considering having you make it to sell in the bakery alongside the cobbler.”
“Well, I think you Sissie, but I don’t know as I’d have time to make enough to satisfy all your customers. It’s all I can do to keep you stocked with preserves.”
Just then Old Dog Bubba darted across the field with a large blob of ice cream on the end of his nose. “Bubba, what in blue blazes are you doing? Have you been into the ice cream son?” A burst of laughter sounded, and Jake Blaire streaked passed in hot pursuit. “Bubba you come back here with my ice cream.” Jake squealed. A moment later Billy Ray came puffing up calling, “Jake do you really want it back now?” Sissie and Mazie looked at one another and burst into girlish laughter. “Lord, let me go see if I can wrangle that dog of mine.”
“Ah, now Miss Mazie, let the old feller be.” Roy Dingus laughed, dropping her a wink as he sauntered up to the table with a cone of ice cream in his hand. “He just wanted a bit for himself. You should’ve seen the look on Jake’s face when he slurped up his cone.”
“Why, Roy, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you were enjoying yourself.” Sissie teased.
“And why not? What’s not to love about an ice cream supper?” Roy asked cheerfully. I don’t know how we could end summer without one, do you?”
“Well, you got me there. And it was mighty nice of you to give Eddy Joe the night off too.”
“He’s done an outstanding job whipping that crew of his into shape, and he deserved it. I tell you Sissie, I couldn’t have done all I’ve done with Friedman had it not been for that brother-in-law of mine. He’s got more crew boss in him than any man I ever saw, and the boys love working for him.”
“Where are he and Cindy anyhow?” Mazie wondered.
“They loaded up their car with a couple ice cream freezers full of homemade ice cream and a big box of hotdogs and fries and took them over to the crew on duty at the plant.”
“How nice, no wonder the boys love working for him. aint everyone who would take the time to do that.”
“bribery will get you everywhere.” A grumpy voice chimed in.
“Oh Duff, get over it.” Roy snapped, his dark green eyes flashing as he turned to the heavyset whiskered old man who had walked up without a sound. “You’re just pissed off because Eddy’s crew puts out twice as much work as yours.”
“Maybe if he’d wipe that hateful frown off his face every now and then someone would want to do something extra for him.” Sissie allowed.
“My men work cause they like their paychecks, not because I coddle them with ice cream and hotdogs.” Duff Growled.
“Well, if it aint old Walrus Sims.” Mazie called in mock joy. “It’s a sure bet they don’t do it cause they like you. I hear tell they’d just as likely dip you in a vat of acid as look at you.” Mazie jabbed back. “You are, I believe the most odious man I ever had the not-so-great pleasure of knowing.”
“Alright now, you two let’s try, just for tonight to get along.” Roy urged, dropping Mazie another wink when he thought no one was looking.
“I’d have an easier time of it if that old walrus there would get along somewhere else.” Mazie said. “I tell you Roy I don’t know why you keep him around. He’s got to be bad for business.”
Roy stood quietly eating a double scoop cone of Mrs. Deal’s fudge delight watching as Duff Sims waddled away, and Bubba came loping passed going back the way he’d come wagging his tail looking rather pleased with himself.
“Mazie, I probably could’ve replaced him if you’d not stolen away the new man in town. I hear you’ve talked old Billy Ray here into working out at your place.” Roy observed waving his cone in Billy Ray’s direction.
“Nothing like town gossip to spread the word.” Mazie grunted. “Aint been out there a full day and already all over town. Why do we need a newspaper anyhow?”
“Well, I didn’t know it was a secret.” Roy smiled a drip of ice cream lingering on his chin.
“Don’t reckon it is, just surprised everyone already knows.”
“You can thank the Blaire boys for that.” Billy Ray said. “Lord, those kids. They’ve been telling anyone who would listen that Billy Ray the bible salesman has turned trade and is now Miss Mazie’s handyman.”
“Nothing wrong with that now is there?” Sissie asked, handing him a cone of peanut butter cream, bouncing her auburn curls and giving him one of her sweetest smiles.
“I don’t suppose, I guess I just don’t understand what all the fuss is. Mazie needed someone to work on her house before winter sets in, and I’m just not cut out for the Angel Network.”
“What’s wrong with it is that damned old Preacher John Carrol and Duff Sims Miss Mazie grumbled. “They’ve got every old lady in town believing I’m some sort of wicked witch from the north or something.”
“Ah, Mazie honey.” Sissie soothed, “Those old gnarled up Blue haired biddies don’t really mean no harm. They’re just afraid of what they don’t understand.”
“What’s to understand?” Mazie huffed. “People have been using herbal medications since time out of mind. I mean for Gaia’s sake One of Jesus’ own disciples was a doctor, wasn’t he?”
“Of course, he was, but those old gossipy women don’t know anything but what Preacher John Carrol tells them. They don’t study nothing on their own.”
Just then Jake came up to the table. “Miss Mazie.” He wheedled. “I don’t mind sharing my ice cream every now and again, but could you please ask Bubba there to stop runnin’ off with my ball?” Mazie turned to see her big brute of a dog scrambling underneath the fence with a tattered baseball in his mouth. “Bubba! Drop! It! Come!” The old Labrador lifted his head, turned and looked at his mistress and promptly kept right on going. “Oh dear. I reckon his selective hearing has kicked in.”
“Ah! Nuts! I wanted to play ball!” Jake whined.
“Hey, Jake.” Roy called. See that old yellow truck there in the lot?”
“Yeah.” Jake answered.
“Here’s my keys. You have a look in the glovebox, and you’ll find a ball and glove. Glove might be just a tad big but I’m betting old Billy Ray there can be convinced to catch for you.”
“Would you?” Jake asked, turning hopefully to Billy Ray who was just finishing his second peanut butter cream cone.
“Sure. Just let me rest my stomach a minute or two.”
“Game of ball will do you good.” Sissie laughed leaning over and wiping a streak of cream from his face with a damp cloth. “You’ve had more ice cream than those kids.”
“Well, a man’s gotta keep up his strength, don’t he?” Billy Ray Harrumphed as he headed off after Jake.
“Sissie.” Roy observed, “I believe he’s sweet on you.”
“Sweet on my cakes, cookies, and peanut butter cream ice cream.” She allowed. “Besides, I believe Miss Mazie’s done gone and put a spell on him.”
“Oh! Girl! Not you too?” Mazie declared in exasperation.
“I’m just teasing you sweetie. I’m glad he’s working for you. I was starting to worry about how you were going to manage that big old place during the winter if you didn’t get it patched up.”
“Well, I’ve got to say, he’s already done a fair amount of work. Fixed both the front and back doors, and even got a couple screens mended all on his first day. I wanted him to fix up his apartment first, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Said he’d work on it on his days off. He’s a good old boy and this town’s lucky he’s come along. Mark my words, before the year’s end we’ll be glad he’s here.”
To Be Continued…
Updated – October 2021
Patty Fletcher is a single mother with a beautiful daughter, of whom she is enormously proud. She has a great son-in-law and six beautiful grandchildren. From April 2011 through September 2020, she owned and handled a black Labrador from The Seeing Eye® named King Campbell Lee Fletcher A.K.A. Bubba. Sadly, after a long battle with illness on September 24, 2020, King Campbell went to the Rainbow Bridge where all is peace and love. In July 2021, she returned to The Seeing Eye® and was paired with a Black Labrador Golden Retriever cross named Blue.
Patty was born one and a half months premature. Her blindness was caused by her being given too much oxygen in the incubator. She was partially sighted until 1991, at which time she lost her sight due to an infection after cataract surgery and high eye pressure. She used a cane for 31 years before making the change to a guide dog.
WHERE SHE LIVES AND WORKS…
Currently, Patty lives and works in Kingsport, Tenn.
She’s the creator and owner of Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing (Author, Blogger, Business Assist), The Writer’s Grapevine Online Magazine and the creator and host of the Talk to Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing Podcast.
Patty writes with the goal of bridging the great chasm which separates the disabled from the non-disabled.
Patty’s hobbies include reading, music, and attending book clubs via Zoom.
Some of her favorite types of tunes are classic rock, rhythm and blues, and classic country.
Patty enjoys fantasy, science fiction, and books about the supernatural. She loves books by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Norah Roberts, and many more. Some favorite books include Norah Roberts’ Hide Away, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series.
Patty describes herself as a spiritual Walker. She says she knows both Mother Goddess and Father God and embraces all they have to offer.
AUTHOR PAGES AND SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS…
Patty & Pals
Bob Cat & Friends
A most excellent interview
My Anthology Links
December Awethology Light https://www.books2read.com/u/3yPZvB
A Treasure Chest of Children’s Tales https://www.books2read.com/u/bzaAML
Legal Notes THE SEEING EYE® and SEEING EYE® are registered trademarks of The
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