Authors: Tonya Kappes
I told him about how I overheard Patch and Patty arguing. Patch told Patty he couldn’t stay and that’s when his comment
over my dead body
came into play—only it had to be over Patty’s dead body.
“Then,” I gripped the wheel, “Mr. Prince Charming darted off toward Full Moon Treesort.”
“Let me guess, you followed him?” Oscar dropped his eyes and looked at me with a steady gaze.
“Of course. And he wanted me to.” I held the wheel steady with one hand and reached up to drag my hand down my fairy-god cat who was nestled near the windshield. “He led me straight to Patty who was being very aggressive with Ophelia Biblio.”
“Huh? What?” Oscar stammered in bewilderment.
“Yes. She told him he had to leave and he told her he wasn’t going anywhere without her. It was awful, so I pretended to be looking for Mr. Prince Charming.” I sucked in a deep breath. Mr. Prince Charming looked up when I said his name, but quickly put it back down. “I walked her back to the bookstore. She told me she didn’t want to talk about it. But he’d grabbed her.” My voice cracked, “But how do they know each other? The Potters are from the west and Ophelia is from Ohio.”
“Maybe they crossed paths somewhere? She could’ve been the one who killed him. I will need to stop by and ask her about the fight.” Oscar’s words haunted me. “If she and Colton are on the outs, then maybe she framed him.”
“Maybe, but she loves Colton.” I said in a hushed whisper, hoping that Ophelia would never do anything like that. And if she did, what would be a good reason? “But that’s not all.”
“There’s more?” Oscar asked in a grudging voice.
“Patty and Faith Mortimer also got into it. She was taking all sorts of photos the night before and Patty demanded to see her camera and stop taking photos. She refused to let him and he told her that she couldn’t print any of the ones she’d taken. Now, she’d taken pictures of the fight and he argued with her then too.” I could see the new development ahead of me.
“That gives us four people to question.” The look on Oscar’s face scared me. “Three of the people we are friends with.”
“I know.” I sucked in a deep breath. Mr. Prince Charming raised his head and looked at me. I loved how he was so in tune with me. He was a good fairy-god cat.
The new development wasn’t nearly what I thought it was going to look like. All the houses were different and unique.
“This is different.” I turned the Green Machine into the entrance.
“It’s pretty neat actually.” Oscar pointed me where to turn. “Right over there is the farm where they grow the crops and straight back there is the market they’ve set up for the neighbors to shop. I like the fact that we can purchase from them too.”
It was a pretty neat concept of whole living. I loved the idea that it was open to our village and I could take advantage of the fresh produce.
“Darla would’ve loved this.” I sighed knowing how much Darla appreciated fresh foods. Oscar reached over and rubbed my hand. He knew it was still hard for me that I didn’t have my parents. Especially Darla since I’d been raised by her.
“She’d be really proud of you.” Oscar pointed to a two-story brown brick home. It had a cute front porch on the front. “That’s Potter’s.”
The porch had a couple of bales of hay with a few pumpkins and gourds. It was done tastefully, unlike his neighbor, who had Halloween blow-ups on every inch of the yard. There were fake bats painted on all the windows and a big skull and crossbones on the front door.
“That’s so funny.” I laughed as I turned the car off. “Those were the houses we loved to trick or treat at, remember?”
“I do.” Oscar smiled.
We got out of the car and walked along Patch’s sidewalk.
Oscar knocked on the door. This had to be the hardest part for him as a sheriff.
“Sheriff. Ms. Heal.” Patch opened the door. He raked his hands through his hair to try to get his bed head to calm down. He yawned, “It’s pretty early for a social call.”
“Patch, this isn’t the kind of visit I like to make.” Oscar looked around. The morning was about to break wide open and Patch’s life was about to change forever.
Patch’s face stilled. He looked at Oscar and then at me.
“Can we come inside?” Oscar asked.
“Sure.” Patch opened the door. As we stepped across the threshold, he asked, “Is something wrong with the pumpkin patch?”
He shut the door behind us.
Oscar took his sheriff’s hat off and held it under his arm.
“I’m sorry to say that we found Patty’s body lying over one of your pumpkins this morning.” Oscar’s voice drifted off.
“I told him to stop drinking.” Patch shook his head. “Do you have him in a cell so he can wear off the drunk?”
“Patch, I’m sorry, Patty is dead.” Oscar made himself a little clearer.
“Dead?” Patch leaned forward and lowered his voice.
“Unfortunately, until the autopsy comes back, we won’t know for sure what happened, but it looks like someone killed him.” Oscar straightened his shoulders. “Without an official report, we are looking at it as a murder as it appears he was stabbed multiple times
someone used him as a pin cushion.”
“Patch, a voodoo doll was found at the scene, so we think someone from the spiritual community killed him,” I stepped up and ran a hand down his arm. “I’m so sorry, but we’d like to ask a few questions if we can.”
“Sure.” Patch shook his head as if he were trying to fix all the rattling going around inside his mind. “I’m just not sure.” He looked up at me with watery eyes. “I’m not sure why anyone would kill him. Yeah, he is brash. Was brash,” his voiced trailed. “Oh, God!”
Oscar grabbed Patch as his body slumped down to the floor. Oscar looked up at me.
“I’ll go see if there is some coffee to put on.” I didn’t like seeing grown men so upset, so I excused myself to go find the kitchen and let Oscar do what he was trained to do.
I couldn’t help but peek inside each door as I walked down the hallway making my way down to the large open room I could see at the end, which was probably a family room adjacent to the kitchen.
I pushed open the doors and took a quick peek inside. One of the rooms had a messed up bed, so I figured that one was Patch’s. Another room was a bathroom. And the other room was a bedroom where the bed was still made and there was a suitcase on the floor.
I looked back over my shoulder and could hear Oscar consoling Patch, but didn’t see them following me. I walked inside and did a quick scan of the room to see if there was anything I could find or something that would alert me to why someone would want Patty dead. Namely any of my friends.
On the table next to the bed was a half full glass of water beside a photo of younger versions of Patty and Ophelia, both wearing a uniform. I picked it up and took a closer look. They were standing in front of a building and other people with variations of the uniform were behind them, but not part of the picture. It was like someone had snapped their photo together. Both of them smiling at the camera.
I slipped the photo into my jeans pocket when I heard Oscar’s voice a little closer. My intuition tugged and told me to get out of there. I hurried down the hall where I noted I had been right, the big room was a large family room with a vaulted wood-beam ceiling and the back wall was shaped in an A-frame with floor-to-ceiling windows with the perfect view of the pumpkin patch.
“Nice view.” I realized it wasn’t probably the right thing to say when Patch and Oscar walked in, but I had sincerely meant it.
“Yes. I picked this lot for that reason. I knew when the Order of Elders opened up the village to new businesses, that I had to be part of it. Especially in Kentucky with all the seasons. It’s perfect to grow pumpkins,” Patch said.
“Where is your coffee?” I asked and walked over to the kitchen.
The cabinets were grey and the countertop was concrete. His house was very masculine and fit his personality.
“In the cabinet above the coffee pot.” He sloppily gestured. “Just make yourself at home.”
He eased himself on one of the stools at the high top counter and Oscar sat down next to him.
“Do you have any clues who might’ve done this?” Patch propped his elbow up on the counter and held up his head with his hand.
“That’s how I’m hoping you can help.” Oscar began to ask his questions while I found all the stuff to make the pot of coffee. “Do you know anyone who might’ve wanted to hurt him?”
“He has a big mouth. There are plenty of times he’s gotten himself into scuffles when he should’ve let stuff roll off his back. But you saw him with Colton.” He shrugged.
“Why would he and Colton have gotten into a fight?” I asked and leaned my backside against the concrete countertop, folding my arms.
“They had gone to the wizard academy together. Didn’t you go?” he asked Oscar.
“Actually, I didn’t. But tell me about their time there.” Oscar and I both had had no idea we were spiritualists until we were adults, so we got the fast track education. Oscar took out a pad of paper and began to jot down what Patch was saying.
“Colton’s father and my father were both police officers and had gone to the academy together as young boys. They were very competitive and Colton’s father got the Medal of Valor.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“It’s the highest medal awarded to one student in the academy. That student gets to pick whatever spiritual community they want to run. As a stab to my family and from the competition with my father, Colton’s father picked our family’s spiritual community in the west.” Patch bit the edges of his lip. “He did it purely out of spite. He could’ve picked anywhere. But he didn’t. He wanted to have more competition with my father. My father had to work under him as a deputy. My father had terrible working hours. Got the worst cases. It was a nightmare. But my father had to stick with it since it was our only income and he had sent Patty and me to the best boarding school.”
“Is that where you met Ophelia Biblio?” I asked.
The coffee pot beeped that it was finished and I searched the other cabinet next to the coffee pot to retrieve the mugs.
He continued as I poured three cups of coffee, “Yes. It was apparent that the competition didn’t just stop with my father and Mr. Lance.” Patch reached for the cup as I set it down. He curled his hands around it. “Mr. Lance had heard where we were going to school and he enrolled Colton there as well.”
Oscar and I sipped our coffee as the story unfolded, giving Colton a motive to kill.
“Not only did Colton win the Medal of Valor, but he also won Ophelia’s heart.” Patch twisted his body to look out over the pumpkin patch beyond the windows.
“You mean to tell me that Patty and Ophelia were a couple?” I asked.
“They weren’t just a couple. They were engaged. Ring, dress, date and all.” He turned back around. The corners of his eyes dipped along with his lips. “It was more of a family arrangement but Patty was head over heels in love with her but she wasn’t in love with him. Don’t get me wrong. They were good friends and had a great time, but the day Colton showed up, Patty said he could see it in her eyes that she was smitten.”
“So your family lost out again to the Lances.” Oscar was putting together the puzzle pieces of the past and a reason for murder.
“If you’ll excuse me. I think I need to go to the bathroom. I think I’m going to be sick.” Patch jumped up and headed back down the hall.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Oscar asked. I flinched at the tone of his voice.
I pushed myself off the counter and walked over to the bar where Oscar was sitting. I leaned over and whispered, “Did Patty go see Ophelia at Ever After and try to steal her back? Make her confused since she isn’t married to Colton and that’s why she asked Colton for some space? Colton figured out or she told him that Patty was in town and that’s. . .”
“A reason for Colton to murder him,” Oscar finished my sentence. His voice was absolutely devoid of any emotion and it chilled me.
The town was abuzz with the news of Patty Potter’s death. Even though he wasn’t a citizen, it was still hard for everyone to process that there had been a murder. Word spread fast in the small spiritual village.
“Good morning,” I tried to put on a cheery face when customers walked through the door.
Since Petunia was the Village President, she got in touch with the shop owners to let them know it was business as usual and the police had everything under control. She knew as well as I did that Oscar had no idea who’d done this, but there were suspects and motives.
My thoughts swirled around to Ophelia. I couldn’t imagine her killing anyone, but the creepy conversation I’d overheard her and Patty having in the woods gave her motive. If he wasn’t going to leave her alone, she had motive to force him to.
“Excuse me,” the customer waved her hand in front of my face.
“I’m so sorry.” I blinked. “I haven’t had enough coffee this morning. How can I help you?”
“My doctor said I’ve got a rotator cuff problem.” The woman did windmills in the middle of the shop. When she turned to face the light, I noticed it was Hazel Jones.
Mr. Prince Charming ran underneath the table, the tip of his white tail stuck out from underneath the red tablecloth.
“Hazel.” My face spread into a smile. “Welcome to my shop. I met you last night. June Heal.”
Hazel squinted her eyes. She returned the smile. “Oh, honey. Of course, you are married to that hunky police officer of our town.”
“I sure am.” It was so refreshing to see new faces living in the village.
The spry old woman didn’t waste any time getting down to business.
“Now, if it was a rotator cuff, I don’t think I could do this.” She wind-milled her arms the other way.
“May I?” I reached out to touch her arm.
She didn’t hesitate. She jutted her arm out and pulled up her sleeve.
“I’m not a doctor or anything.” I put my hands around her arm.
My intuition took over and a strong smell of roses curled around my nose. I moved my hands up her arm and grazed her shoulder.
“Sometimes I hate to see summer end.” I gazed at her. “I have the prettiest rose garden at my home and sometimes it makes me sad to see them die in the fall.”