A CHRISTMAS MYSTERY
~A MINI MYSTERY~
Mary Troth sat there not able to write a paragraph let alone a whole story. The page was blank and she had a deadline to make. The words would just not come. She just sat there running her fingers through her long blonde straight hair, thinking, and thinking. She wore a pencil behind her ears for corrections in case she ever got to that point at all.
Mary was in her usual writing attire which was her old faded jeans, her favorite grey hooded sweat shirt and socks that were whole through one of her big toes.
Being a magazine writer for a well known company Mary had a steady job, and she was very grateful for it. But this time the story she was suppose to write for the Christmas issue just wouldn’t come into her mind at all.
Mary lived in a redone church she purchased in the late eighties, which had a very creative interior design. The great room had a cathedral ceiling with all natural beams. All the bedrooms had been put in as loft rooms, and below was a kitchen and combination dinning area on the first floor. In the basement of the refurbished church, there was an apartment which Mary rented out to Henry Pierce.
Henry Pierce was a bit of an odd character. Most people just tolerated Henry even with his obnoxious tendencies. It was true when Henry would walk into the local coffee shop the room would clear of local residence quite rapidly. He wore his gray-white hair shaggy and often kept a white beard appearing older than he really was. Henry typically dressed in a plaid flannel shirt with work jeans on. He often gave Mary the creeps but she also endured him because Henry always paid his rent on time. Besides there were far and few between people that would rent out the bottom apartment with the belief that the old church was haunted.
Yes I said haunted. Many people believed that since the late nineteen fifties when the old church had been abandoned; there was a hobo that squatted in there for his residency, and was found dead of undetermined causes. Ever since the death of the hobo Clancy Brown the old church was said to be haunted by his ghost.
The only reason the church was refurbished and up for sale was because of some big developer that came in and bought many of the old buildings in town and remodeled them all for resale value.
When Mary bought the refurbished church she was from another state and did not know of the haunting story. In any case Mary didn’t believe in ghost and refused to be detoured living there when she finally did hear the ghostly stories. Although Mary did have to admit there were times where things happened in the old house that could not be easily explained away.
Not really making much head way writing Mary decided to take a refreshing country walk down by the lake. She started out at slow pace. There was no hurry because she didn’t want to return to the blank pages all too soon.
This was a tourist town and as it had turned cold and all the leaves on the trees were down, there were only the locals to see occasionally milling around.
Mary’s walk to the lake took her west out of town which she would more so see a bear or a moose before another person.
She finally reached the lake and could see the cabins on the other side. These cabins generally were rented out to tourist, and most now were empty; but there was one nearest to the end of the lake that had smoke from the chimney coming out. This particular cabin Mary had heard was rented year round by Jack Snow another local writer who was well known for his famous murder mysteries. Mary never actually met Jack Snow but from the waitresses in the local dinner which was called the Kuption Kitchen; she had heard much about him.
Apparently Jack Snow was a fine looking man, with strikingly blue eyes, gorgeous teeth, and curly blonde sun streaked hair. It was a sizable deduction to assume many of the local women just swooned over Jack. He was known to come into the Kuption Kitchen at least once a week for a good meal. Jack however did not hang around with many of the locals except for socializing with the two old cronies Doctor Snipp and Sheriff Bond whom both made it a point to know everyone’s business in town mainly because of the types of professions they had. Doctor Snipp could not have been a sweeter kinder man always wearing his Irish hat and plaid coat. Sheriff Bond was a little bit aloof but generally still friendly always sporting his uniform immaculately pressed.
Other than being pleasant to Mr. and Mrs. Kuption who owned the dinner and with the waitresses Jack was said to keep to himself.
Mary could see a hammock at Jack’s cottage and it looked like he was in it reading a book. This is when Mary decided to take her walk further to that side of the lake where Jack Snow’s cabin was and maybe introduce herself.
When she finally reached the spot she started shouting “Hello there!” ”Hello?” “Hello there!” It appeared all Mary’s hello’s went unnoticed until all of a sudden as she grew closer to the hammock she tripped on a rock right beside Jack!
Jack Snow just laughed! This angered Mary! As he laughed he said “What an entrance!” He continued to chuckle.
This did not set well with Mary at all!
She could have been really hurt and what would this snobby buffoon do “still laugh?”
Finally Jack did offer a hand and ask if she was alright, but really it took him it seemed for ever to do so.
Mary said “I am sorry to intrude but I heard so much about you, and seeing that we worked in similar fields I thought I might introduce myself” Well Jack chuckled again and said “Lady I know who you are and if you think writing a few pages in a magazine is anything like writing the caliber of books I write you are sadly mistaken”
Mary had never come across such a rude inconsiderate man!
She not only came in on the wrong foot to meet him literally, but she was about to also leave him on the wrong foot!
Mary said “Well Sir I am sorry you feel that way, and I am sorry I went out of my way to introduce myself!”
Mary’s harsh words seemed not to bother Jack at all. He just snickered and said “than be on your way Lady”
In a huff Mary turned to leave but not before she unbelievably tripped over the same rock almost stumbling to the ground again. So embarrassed Mary just kept on walking, as she could still hear Jack’s out right laughing over the whole matter.
As she neared her home Mary thought “Thank goodness I won’t ever have to deal with that horrible man again!” Mary just could not get it out of her head how someone could be as uncouth and offensive as Jack Snow!
She thought out loud mumbling and huffing into the house “What a foul, boorish, vulgar and disrespectful man! It was than that Mary thought she had a story in mind to write about Christmas, so she sat down and started to write away.
The next day Mary sent off her story to the magazine, with plenty of time to spare. Seeing that she did not have another deadline for almost a good chunk of a week; she decided to treat herself to one of her favorite activities which was hiking into the mountains on the north end of the small lake. Mary prepared her back pack with a days worth of provisions including extra water.
She set off early on her hike, and utilized the canoe she kept on the side of the lake to get to the mountainous area other shore. Mary remembered to make as much noise as possible to give any bears in the area fair warning that a human was coming through. She hiked higher and higher until finally she reached the pinnacle where she decided to eat her lunch. Mary sat down on the rocky ledge over looking the lake munching on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She had her binoculars out and occasionally scanned the downward shore line.
Mary couldn’t believe her eyes! She saw what she thought to be two men fighting on the shore! Mary continued to watch as one of the men took a rock and hit the other one on the head causing him to fall into the water! All Mary could think at this point was to run and get help! She didn’t even bother to take her back pack and left all her belongings there as she took flight to run down the mountain path for help!
She was running so fast she barely could look where she was going! Until boom! She ran right into something! And that something had arms! Mary struggled but the arms held her firm!
Finally she focused enough to see it was Jack Snow she had ran directly into!
Jack said “what the heck is the matter with you girl!” But Mary couldn’t catch her breath or think of any words to speak!
So Jack than calmly said “Now calm down and catch your breath” “It is all right” “breathe slowly” Jack’s voice had become so soothing that Mary couldn’t help but to calm down. Finally some words came out but they weren’t really audible.
Jack went on to say “Now take your time and tell me why you were running so fast?” “First take one good deep breath” Mary did take the deep breath and came out with the words “help, murder, drowning, two men”
“Ok” Jack said “now collect your thoughts” “Where were you running from?”
Mary finally got out more scrambled words “I was on the pinnacle and I saw a murder on shore, I need to get help”
Jack said “ok let’s sit here a moment” and than he realized he had still been holding onto Mary with both hands. Both of them sat on a near by log as Mary was able to conclude her story of what she saw in more detail.
“Alright” Jack said very calmly “this is what we are going to do” “we are going to hike back to my cabin and use the phone there to call Sheriff Bond and report the incidence to him” “He will send someone over more qualified than us to investigate.”
Mary protested and reiterated that she should go help the man that fell in the water, but Jack explained to her it was or would be too late to do any helping by the time they reached the mountain shoreline. Mary relented and followed Jack’s instructions trying all the way back to his cabin to continue to calm down.
At the cabin it wasn’t long before Sheriff Bond was there and had already sent some of his marshals to investigate the mountain shoreline by air-boat. Shortly afterward by radio as he was getting Mary’s final statement, Sheriff Bond received a radio call that they had indeed found a body!
By now Mary had calmed down quite a bit, and was looking forward to going back to the safety of her own home. Jack although insisted in a caretaker tone that she have some tea and he would personally drive her to her home. Jack stated tomorrow he would go up the mountain to retrieve her back pack and other items for her. Mary again relented almost resembling a helpless school girl at this point.
It was starting to get dark when Jack drove Mary home; he walked her to her door and made sure she got in alright. Than left her by saying he would be by tomorrow with her things.
That night Mary had a fitful sleep, all she could see when she closed her eyes was the one man hitting the other with a rock. But just as in real life she could never make out their faces because she was too far away.
The next day the whole town was buzzing from the findings of the murdered man that could not yet be identified. Sheriff Bond stopped by to see if there was anything Mary could remember to identify the killer. But as she told him before she was not close enough to see their faces although it appeared the man with the rock did have on some sort of baseball jacket and hat to match.
Shortly after the Sheriff left, Jack was at Mary’s door with all her belongings in her back pack. She could not have thanked him enough for all his help, and apologized for miss judging him from the beginning.
It wasn’t until Mary came back from eating at Kuption Kitchen that she found her home had been turned upside down like there was a robbery! On one of her mirrors to her horror Mary saw the words “YOU ARE NEXT MISSEY!”
The Sheriff was soon on the scene and also as a courtesy to Jack had called him also. Jack had taken no time to get over there to Mary’s, and found himself worrying very much about the Lady.
The conclusion at the house was that it had gotten around town that Mary had witnessed the murder. Now the murderer must be assuming that Mary could identify him and he was trying to scare her off.
However the murderer probably didn’t expect Mary to get her dander up and instead of being scared she now was pretty darn mad and stubborn about it too! The nerve of someone breaking into her sanctuary and destroying her personal things! Mary felt very violated and that made her even madder!
At this point Jack and the Sheriff wanted Mary not to be alone and suggested she stay at Jack’s place in his spare room. But Mary wouldn’t hear of it! She felt she was desecrated enough in her own home and it would be over her dead body to have to leave it!
Well there was no changing Mary’s mind, but she did relent to allow Jack to stay there for protection.
Jack and Mary both that afternoon straightened up her home so the damage seemed more at a minimal. Than Mary fixed jack a home cooked meal to thank him for all his kindness. Mary set him up in one of her spare rooms and they both went to bed eventually both falling sound asleep.
At almost exactly twelve o’clock the bell that never rang in the steeple of Mary’s house started to ring which woke not only Jack and Mary up, but almost the whole town! The Sheriff arrived shortly after the ringing stopped along with Doc Snipp. Every one investigated the bell that didn’t even have a rope any more to ring it and determined it a mystery how it could have been wrung by human hands.
The whole town was buzzing about the mystery of the church bell ringing. Some people were speculating it was the ghost of Clancy Brown awaking. Others were saying it could have been another warning from the murderer, and frankly Mary didn’t know what to think? All Mary knew was she was not going to be run out of her home by any foe, whether it be a ghost or a murderer!
By now Christmas was growing closer and not only had Mary not tended to her decorating and shopping, soon she would have another deadline for the magazine to reach.
Mary decided to go into the city to get some Christmas shopping done, maybe stop into her office and get some writing done, as well as get away from the stress she was feeling in town.
Jack wanted to go with her but Mary wouldn’t have it and it was just as well because Jack had some writing he had to get done himself.
Mary was suppose to call Jack just before she arrived home so he could come over and assure her safety, but being stubborn Mary never called him.
Mary unlocked her door and walked in finding none of the lights would turn on!
It was too late to turn around when the door slammed behind her!
It was pitch dark!
Mary was sure someone was standing behind her!
A low whisper next to her ear said “You are a stubborn little thing, and you should had taken my hints”
Next Mary felt her feet moving forward but she was being held back from this someone in the back of her!
She thought she recognized the voice?
This had to be the murderer?
And now he was going to murder her also!
Mary broke away from the grasp and stumbled over furniture as she tried to run away!
Than she heard the voice now even clearer when it said “You little fool you can’t get away!”
Mary thought she had stumbled into the kitchen and felt herself grappling around for her kitchen knives!
She heard the murderer come in the same room!
Mary’s heart was pounding a thousand miles a minute!
Finally she thought she had a kitchen knife in her hand when all of a sudden she felt his hands on her again!
Mary screamed and stabbed at where she thought he was, but nothing was working!
All of a sudden bright lights had flashed on and it was Jack who tackled the murderer.
The murderer was not someone either Mary nor Jack would have expected!
It was Doc Snipp!
He had on a black baseball cap and matching jacket!
Jack held him until the Sheriff arrived, everyone was stunned and couldn’t believe that sweet Doc Snipp was a murderer, but it was true.
Apparently Doc Snipp was dealing prescription drugs and the man he argued with and killed was one of his distributors.
While everything was being wrapped up and statements taken Jack just kept holding Mary laughing at the same time of what she had held in her hand thinking it was a knife and all the time it was the knife skewer that sharpened the knife blades, it probably would had been lucky to damage a fly let alone a murderer.
Finally Mary joined in the laughter of the humor in it, and than both Mary and Jack had a very passionate kiss with lots of warm hugs.
Doctor Snipp received life in prison without parole.
Sheriff Bond lost a friend but gained two in Mary and Jack.
A year later Jack and Mary married on Christmas day, and now raise their five children in that refurbished church.
There are still to this day some unexplained happenings in the old church-house but Mary and Jack have learned to live with it all.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
Lisa J. Warner