CINDER WAS A SNOW BIRD
Cinder was a snow bird, but a working snow bird as she arranged her business schedule as such. Her full name was Cinderella Mitchpoint as her parents named her. But most people called her just Cinder or Miss. Mitchpoint depending who you were.
Cinder ran a private investigating service called Secret Eye Detective Agency. Both her houses were equipped with an office to be her home base. In the winter months she only took on cases that kept her near her south Florida home, and when it was summer she based her cases near her Connecticut home.
Mostly the Secret Eye took on cases such as cheating spouses, stolen items, or sometimes what people would consider paranormal activity; in which Cinder found there usually was a more logical explanation for.
This winter Cinder couldn’t have felt more blessed residing down south with the northern states being hit with a blizzard type storm. Yes Cinder had to turn on the heat to take the chill out of the house, but it was no where as bad compared to having to dig your self out of a mountain of snow.
Today she rose early to follow a subject of interest in the town of Yanky. Cinder had taken on a case of a possible haunted house that was also located in Yanky Florida. It was said to be haunted by slaves that were auctioned off there during slavery times. It was a big old southern looking farm house with five bedrooms as well as two stairways that ventured down to a very spacious first floor. The home was called the Winston Homestead and was occupied by Sally Hood a very rich elderly woman in her late seventies.
Sally Hood was a cute woman and seemed to be very much on the ball. However Ms. Hood was very distraught by the weird happenings in her home lately. Sometimes Sally felt that there was someone in the house with her when she very definitely lived alone. There were other times Miss. Sally would come home from shopping and she would find her furniture moved. Before she called Secret Eye she was sure a ghost was doing these things or that she at least was going out of her mind!
Cinder did have a hunch that it was some sinister human being that was trying to push Ms. Hood over the edge that could be the culprit; and not necessarily some ghost that was the cause of all the curious happenings in the house.
Cinder was a fair skinned woman in her early thirties. She had long light brown hair which she often kept pulled back with a clip. Cinder would depending on what she was doing for investigating wear an assortment of different outfits. Today she wanted to blend into YankyTown so she wore light kaki pants, a plain light blue shirt, and comfortable white walking sneakers. Really she looked like your typical snow bird tourist.
There were four people Cinder had her sights on for suspects and they were the nieces and nephews of Ms. Sally. These nieces and nephews were all in line to inherit Sally’s wealth at her death.
There were two nieces who were identical twins, and their names were Kara and Mara Hood. Both were beautiful and sported the same kind of long blonde hair along with very fashionable clothing always dressed to the hilt. It was a know fact that Kara and Mara spent most of their time shopping and spending oodles of money.
There were two nephews who were like night and day. One being Alex Hood a pale man who had pitch black hair a medium build who mostly dressed in suits because he worked at the local bank.
Now the other nephew was an artist who really didn’t make much money but was happy to live in the little cottage he had inherited when his parents passed away. His name was Vincent Croft and was really from the opposite side of the Hood family. Vincent or Vinnie as most people referred to him was the number one suspect in Cinder’s book and that is the person of interest she intended today to tail.
Vinnie was a very good looking man with rich dark skin and curly brown hair that he kept a little must-up. He dressed generally in jeans and an oversized polo shirt. Basically Vinnie seemed to have a cavalier disposition on life.
Cinder sat out on the deck of a small café that over saw Vinnie’s beach cottage on the outskirts of town. She had almost finished her coffee when she saw Vinnie leave his home and head for the hardware store. Cinder really didn’t have to move much because most of the town she could see from her café chair. She waited and waited almost over an hour and still there was no sign of Vinnie leaving the small hardware store. Cinder wondered what he possibly could be doing in such a small store for such a long time? Cinder finally decided if he didn’t come out soon she would have to wander in; which after a fifteen more minute wait Cinder found herself walking into the small hardware store and discovering Vinnie was no where to be found? He gave her the slip, because she couldn’t had missed him coming from either exit. Exasperated Cinder went home to calm down and call Ms. Hood up to see how things were going with her.
There was no answer at Ms. Hood’s home so Cinder decided to drive over there. In the front garden she found Sally Hood merrily clipping her pink roses. Cinder spoke to her a bit and had been relieved that there were no more unusual happenings at the Winston Homestead. When Cinder stood up to leave from the garden bench is when she almost jumped out of her skin when Vinnie appeared out of no where! It was all good though Sally was on the ball and introduced her as a dear friend. Vinnie had some unusual questions he seemed to ask however that put Cinder a bit ill at ease.
The next day Cinder decided to tail Alex which was easy because he spent most of his time in the bank.
On the days following Cinder also took a day each to observe Kara’s and Mara’s coming and goings which was more of a challenge than she anticipated. Both women spent their days going in and out of stores, generally coming out with arms full of items they had bought.
By the time Saturday rolled around Cinder felt exhausted from tailing the four and getting frustrated that she was no closer to an answer. Cinder decided to take a break and lay down to take a nap. But before she even laid her head down is when the phone rang and it was a frantic Sally Hood on the phone! Sally barely made any sense at all on the phone, so Cinder decided to rush right over there to see what all the commotion was!
When Cinder arrived at Sally’s she saw her pacing frantically in the front yard like she was too afraid to go into her house. Come to find out Sally had been away shopping and came home again to almost all her furniture moved and some things were even tipped over. The house certainly was not in the same condition Cinder had seen it last. Cinder did manage to get Sally calmed down and into the house to rest on the sofa.
It really appeared that Sally couldn’t take much more of this and would be a deaths door if something wasn’t done. Cinder decided it was time to take more drastic steps. She asked Sally if she could stay with her until the case was solved. Of course scared out of her wits by now Sally did not hesitate to welcome Cinder as a house guest.
By the time Cinder collected a few things at her house and arrived back at Sally’s it had already began to get dark outside. She found Sally happily making them some supper to eat with her financial advisor keeping her company.
Sally’s financial advisor was a jolly short rounded man, cleaned shaved with grey balding hair. His name was Justin Birth. Mr. Birth was advising Sally on steps she should take with her investments, and also insisted she call her lawyer to review her will at this time. Mr. Birth who also was a dear friend of Sally’s seemed genuinely concerned about her health and welfare. They all sat down for a scrumptious dinner that Sally made, which was mainly comprised of fresh vegetables from Sally’s garden. Later Sally showed Cinder to the guest room she was to stay in. The whole evening went by with out incident and Cinder actually felt refreshed the next morning when she awoke.
That day Sally had scheduled a meeting as advised to meet with her lawyer to update her will. Cinder asked to sit in on the meeting so she could determine who was to benefit from the demise or death of Sally. The meeting to Cinder was very helpful in the knowledge department, because she realized there were also several other people besides the nieces and nephews that would benefit from Sally’s death if it happened. Sally changed nothing in her will; but a new will with fresh wording was signed to keep it up to date. The lawyer seemed very professional and easy to work with, and as well he was a long standing family friend. Mr. Robert Nash was his name and he couldn’t have been anymore accommodating to the concerns of Cinder on the case.
The next evening Cinder was getting herself ready for bed, when she heard a crash outside her room. The hall way at this point was only lit by small night lights. However even in the darkness Cinder was able to find her way to Sally’s room, and after banging on the door she just walked in to find Sally laying on the floor unconscious! Cinder quickly called nine-one-one and waited for an ambulance to come. While she waited Sally came to and as soon as help arrived she was taken to her bed. Sally did not have any idea what had happened to her, but she did remember she had the sense that there was a presence in the room just before she fell. Now things were getting creepy not to mention dangerous! It was thought that there was no need to transport Sally to the hospital and she was to follow up with her family physician the next day.
The following day the house was filled with practically everyone, seeing that word spreads fast in a small town such as Yanky. Besides the family doctor who was quite elderly and another old friend of Sally’s. Dr. Loid.
Doctor Loid who carried an old fashioned medicine bag and tended to Sally in her own room at the house was an endearing man, and very concerned that Sally stay put until she had more of her bearings. The house had held now all the nieces and nephews, Mr. Birth, and handy man Tom Frey who was a long time employee of Sally’s doing all sorts of odd jobs around the house as well as driving Sally where she needed to go. It was a wee bit confusing with everyone there showing their concern for Sally’s health.
Dr. Loid deemed Sally ok for now, saying she sustained a nasty bump on the head, but wanted her to stay in bed and rest at least for the remainder of the day. With this news it seemed to ignite some arguments from all the visitors on how in the future to keep Sally safe. A couple of people went into how she might be better off in a convalescent home, which was knocked down by the rest of the debate-ters especially Alex and Vinnie.
Finally Mr. Birth, Tom Frey, and Dr. Loid had left, but still in the house were the very disagreeable nieces and nephews. It was a mad house with the four cousins deciding what could be done to take care of their Aunt Sally. In the end though it was finally decided just to leave things as they were, and they were grateful Cinder would be there to look after her. Kara and Mara seemed to leave in a huff, and shortly afterward Alex left also. Vinnie went up to check on his aunt and bring her some tea. He seemed like such a caring soul, but Cinder thought that this could be a deception. When Vinnie left Sally was resting comfortably and stated to Cinder how out of all her nieces and nephews Vinnie owned her heart.
Days passed, and Vinnie came every day to check on his Aunt Sally. He also paid much attention to Cinder now, by helping with the house hold chores. Nights although lonely were quite and uneventful at the Winston Homestead. Sally eventually was her vital self and yet still Vinnie never neglected to pay a visit.
A storm flew in fast on this Saturday night while Sally and Cinder ate their supper. Lightening and Thunder crashed outside one right on top of the other! Sally set a lit candelabra on the table in case the lights went out. No sooner did the candles burn strongly did they actually loose electricity, which made everything look luminous and ominous all at the same time. It was at that very moment that both women practically jumped right out of their skins from a loud knock at the door! However it was such a relief to see it was only Vinnie checking on them.
That evening Vinnie decided to stay over night to look after the two ladies. At least Aunt Sally was happy over this. Flashlights were doled out between the three of them to use in their own bedrooms seeing that the storm continued banging away outside.
As Cinder laid there in her bed, she thought her breathing sounded louder than usual. She lay there listening for anything other than the clap of lightening and roar of thunder, but the house was unusually quite. The next thing Cinder knew was she awoke and felt like some one was in her pitch black room! But who? She laid there still listening, and that is when she heard a rustle and her door open and shut in the blackness! Cinder grabbed her flash light and determined there was now no one there, so she ventured out into the dark hall. The storm had subsided now but still the electricity was out! Cinder thought she heard another rustle of sound where Sally’s bed room was! She cautiously ventured to Sally’s room and knocked on her door. It was blood curdling the scream that came from Sally’s room! Cinder tried to get the door open as the screams continued! But she had no luck the door was locked from the inside! Next Cinder felt someone beside her in the dark and with a bit of relieved shock she realized it was Vinnie coming to investigate. His words were “Stand Back!” as he kicked in the door! What they found was Sally still screaming uncontrollably! Cinder and Vinnie held their flash lights to Sally and calmed her as she did eventually stop. What Sally said made sense to Cinder, but Vinnie looked at her like she was crazy. Sally said there was someone in her room and they were trying to suffocate her with a pillow. If Cinder didn’t experience the presence in her room that woke her; she also might had thought Sally crazy because in Sally’s room there was no one else but the three of them. Cinder decided to stay with Sally in her room for the remainder of the night, just in case.
Morning came and Vinnie had breakfast made and laid out for the two women. Sally wanted to talk about last nights happening, but Vinnie acted like it never happened and that Sally might be loosing her mind. Cinder kept quite and just observed the conversation between the aunt and nephew. Cinder was hoping to herself that Vinnie would eventually leave for the day, because she wanted to investigate the house on her own to see if there were any secret passages. It wasn’t until eleven o’clock in the morning did Vinnie leave, which presented the opportunity for Cinder to check out the house.
Cinder started in Sally’s room feeling every nook and cranny. She actually shocked herself when she found a button on the side of the fireplace molding that rustled and opened a small door on the west side wall. It looked dark and dank but Cinder ventured in. Luckily she had taken her flash light because there were no lights available to use. It appeared to be like a ramp that went downward further and further down into the house even into the basement. As she came to the end Cinder noticed a large room that had a hatch way that opened out to the outside world in the north yard. Now she understood how some one could enter the house to play tricks and almost kill Sally. Cinder didn’t tell a soul about the secret passage way, but she did start devising a plan to catch the culprit in the act.
Cinder asked if Sally would be up for a dinner party and she wanted everyone mentioned in her will to be invited. Sally agreed and arranged for everyone to come to dinner on Tuesday evening by seven o’clock and dinner was to be served at eight.
Tuesday night had everyone gathering in a timely manner, even Mara and Kara were on time. There was a place setting for each niece and nephew, Mr. Birth, Dr.Loid, and Tom Frey, as well for Robert Nash the lawyer. Everyone gathered around the table in their allotted settings. Conversation flowed nicely, and even the cousins seemed to be having a pleasant time. When dinner was served Cinder started with her plan to have the conversation flow in the direction she was hoping. Cinder was trying to find out what everyone knew about the history of the house, and she was waiting for a que word that would give away the perpetrator. It seemed like everyone knew some little history tid-bits about the house, whether some were true or not was any-ones guess?
The evening ended on a good note, and the entire guest left except for Vinnie again who insisted to help in the kitchen for clean up. Finally he left also and it was time for Cinder to put in place her next plan for the evening.
Cinder had Sally switch bedrooms with her that evening and they both went to bed early. However Cinder only pretended to fall asleep she actually lied in wait for the rustling sound that finally came! Cinder felt a presence near her bed and she quickly flew on her flashlight and saw a masked person standing over her! Than it disappeared thru the secret door! Cinder was on the trail of the masked person in a minute’s time! Down the long tunnel she went, and she could hear foot steps in front of her on the ramp in the distance! Cinder felt that she had almost made it to the opened room when she felt a thump to her head which caused all her senses to go out! When Cinder awoke she was tied to an old chair and the masked person was in front of her! She tried to scream but there was a gag in her mouth!
The masked person with a definite mans voice said; “You little fool trying to ruin everything! Well now you are part of the disappearing plan and no one will hear from you again!” Closer the masked man came with a huge knife, while Cinder sat there struggling unable to help herself!
All of a sudden there was a loud crash and Cinder could clearly see that it was Vinnie who arrived on the seen! Vinnie attacked the masked man with all he had and the struggle seemed to go on for hours, which really was only seconds in reality!
Next the masked man was knocked out and Vinnie through off his mask! While the moonlight lit up this secret room the face of the scoundrel could be seen clearly and it ended up to be a shock to not only Vinnie but Cinder also! It was Justin Birth! Yes Sally’s financial advisor! Vinnie than quickly set Cinder free and they both hugged with relief! The police were called and that is when the rest of the truth came out and the other criminal partners were named.
Apparently Justin Birth had no qualms turning in his partners after he was caught. To everyone’s shock good old Dr. Loid and Sally’s trusted or thought to be trusted lawyer Robert Nash were also in on the scheme for the demise of Sally. All three were mentioned in the will to keep Sally’s estate running and in addition Dr. Loid was left a sizeable amount as a thank you for taking such good care or supposedly good care of Sally all her life.
Time passed and Sally acquired new help to re-write her will, make wise investments, and as well went to a new doctor.
Cinder kept in touch with Sally until Sally’s peaceful death ten years later.
Vinnie finally came into his own success ending up being a known artist.
Tom Frey ended up inheriting the Winston Homestead to reside in for the remainder of his life and than it reverted back to the Hood family at his death. Mara and Kara ended up simply with more money to spend on clothes, and Alex married and raised a large family of seven children.
Cinder still to this day is a snow bird, enjoying her two homes, but she no longer runs the Secret Eye Detective Agency.
However Cinder did sell the business to a friend who does keep the agency going, and every once in a while Cinder does some consulting for the Secret Eye.
Lisa J. Warner