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Authors: Patricia Rockwell

Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Humor - Senior Sleuths - Illinois

Patricia Rockwell - Essie Cobb 04 - Ghosted

BOOK: Patricia Rockwell - Essie Cobb 04 - Ghosted
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Patricia Rockwell - Essie Cobb 04 - Ghosted
Essie Cobb [4]
Patricia Rockwell
Cozy Cat Press (2013)
Tags:
Mystery: Cozy - Humor - Senior Sleuths - Illinois
Mystery: Cozy - Humor - Senior Sleuths - Illinoisttt
It’s Halloween and time for the goblins to come out. But for Essie Cobb, senior sleuth, and her pals at the Happy Haven Assisted Living Facility, there’s nothing quite so spooky as a good mystery. Maybe it’s the strange new resident who resembles Mark Twain. Why does he collect a box surreptitiously each day from a stranger behind the kitchen entrance?
Or maybe it’s Felix Federico, Happy Haven’s new manager. Where did this Italian heart throb of all the female residents develop his charming ways? And will Essie’s pals be able to convince her to go on a field trip to a local haunted house despite her aversion to any activity that takes her away from a nearby restroom?
But most important—why is Essie seeing things? Such as large rodents in her shower, faces in her crossword puzzles, and the ghost of her dead husband on her favorite television game show? Is she being haunted, or is age finally catching up to this 90-year-old lady?
Essie isn’t one to just sit around and wait for an answer. She’s going into detective mode and find out why she’s being GHOSTED.

GHOSTED

(An Essie Cobb Senior Sleuth Mystery)

 

by

 

Patricia Rockwell

 

Dedicated to my journalist Dad, whose memory always “ghosts” my writing.   “I may be wrong,” but he never was.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

“My house was haunted, that wasn’t true.  God, there’s been so many rumors”

              ––Adele

 

“I was so scared, I almost peed my pants!” whispered the petite lady with the reddish grey curls as she peeked over her cards.  Her eyebrows were the only visible part of her face but they were expressive enough. 

“You’re exaggerating, Marjorie,” chided a tall
, grey-haired woman seated across the card table.  “As usual.”  She plopped down a card on top of a pile of discarded ones in the center of the table.  

“Why would you say that
, Opal?” asked a smaller woman seated to her right.  “You know at our age just about anything can cause a bladder malfunction.”  She played a card from her hand to the pile.

“Maybe for you, Essie,” replied
the sprightly, redheaded Marjorie, “but I pride myself on controlling my sphincter muscles!”  She quickly deposited a card from her hand on the ever-growing pile in the center.  “Fay, it’s your turn!”

A
pudgy lady seated in a wheelchair next to Marjorie roused herself from an apparent nap and glanced at the cards nestled in the ample folds of her lap before swiftly adding her own contribution to the pile of cards.

“Play, Opal!” demanded Marjorie. 

“I’m thinking,” said the tall woman, fingering a beautiful cameo around her long, scrawny neck. 

“Marjorie,” interjected Essie
, looking over the tops of her wire-rimmed glasses, “do you really think you can control your, uh, your sphincter muscles?”  She stared sideways at Marjorie who gave her a devilish grin.

“Essie, you’d be surprised what body parts I can control!” 
Marjorie wiggled her shoulders in a flirty manner not typical of an octogenarian.

“Really, Marjorie!” s
ighed Opal, still clutching her namesake charm.  “Do we have to discuss bodily functions at the card table?”  She played a card.  “People will hear.”  She glanced around the room.  Only a few other residents were in the Happy Haven family room at the moment.  A few were watching an afternoon talk show on television and one man was working on one of the assisted living facility’s two computers.


So what, Opal?” asked Marjorie sweetly.  “Are you a prude?”  She leaned over the table and playfully poked the somber Opal on the nose.

“No!” huffed Opal
, pushing away her hand, “It’s just unseemly.”

“I don’t know, Opal,” said Essie, placing a
friendly hand on the stern woman’s arm.  “Marjorie might be providing a service.  I mean, I for one would like to hear any advice she has that relates to bladder control.  I have no problem admitting to the three of you that my bladder…well, it’s not always under my control.”

“We know, Essie,” said Marjorie, continuing with the game.  “You’ve let us know more than once
about your…issues with your bladder.”

“And, Essie,” added Opal, “we’ve suggested over and over that the answer is simple.  Just use some of those adult
—”


Don’t even say it, Opal!” cried Essie, slapping her hands on the table.  “You both know me well enough to know that if there’s one thing that I will NOT do, it’s wear those infantile—” and her voice plummeted to a whisper, “diapers.  I mean, I’m an adult, not a baby.  As long as I can walk to a bathroom, that’s what I’m going to do.  I mean, would either of you wear them?”

“Of course not!” replied Opal.

“I rest my case,” said Essie. 

“But Opal and I are younger than you, Essie,” added Marjorie sweetly
, eyelids fluttering rapidly. 

“Only by a few years,” said Essie. 

“I’m sure Fay wears them,” noted Opal, nodding to the fourth member of the group across from Essie who, apparently oblivious of the heated conversation, had dozed off again while waiting for her turn.

“She must,” said Marjorie.  “I mean, she’s in her wheelchair all day.  I’m sure her aide puts them on in the morning.  You’re with her most of the day, Opal.  Do you know?”

“No,” replied Opal.  “I don’t.  Fay isn’t that…self-disclosive.”

The three companions all glanced over at their sleeping friend.  

“You could check,” Marjorie suggested to Opal.

“What?” cried Opal.  “That’s disgusting, Marjorie!”

“Stop it, you two!” said Essie, attempting to break up the simmering battle.  “It doesn’t matter what Fay wears or doesn’t wear.  I’m far more interested in what Marjorie does.  I mean, Marjorie, you say you can control your bladder, if I understand you.  If that’s true, I’d really like to know how you do it.  Maybe I could learn your technique.”

“Yes, Marjorie,” added Opal, “then Essie could come on field trips with us!”  She beamed widely at the two women
—an infrequent event.

“No!” shrieked Essie.  “That wasn’t what I meant.  I want to be able to have better bladder control.  Of course.  Anyone would.  What does that have to do with field trips?”

“Essie,” said Marjorie, her hands gyrating like crazy.  “You always refuse to come with us on all the Happy Haven field trips.  You miss out on some fantastic places!  And you always say it’s because you won’t be able to get to a restroom.”

“I won’t.”

“We rest our case,” said Opal.  “Field trips, bladder control.  They go together.  At least for you, Essie.”

“Oh,
Mel’s bells!” cried Essie, slumping back in her chair.

“And, Essie,” whispered Marjorie, leaning close to her ear, “we really want you to come with us on the next field trip to the haunted house.”
  She turned, flinging her hands abruptly in Essie’s face, and cried “Boo!”  Essie was not frightened.

“Marjorie, you just said that when you went to a haunted house you almost peed your pants!” said Essie, shaking her fist at Marjorie, who shrugged her shoulders and leaned back in her chair.
 

“Essie,”
added Opal, “Tippleton House is not just any haunted house….”

“I know, I know,” said Essie, rolling her head and
reciting the oft heard description. “Reardon’s famous Tippleton Haunted House!  An historic treasure!  Not just fun for the kiddies, but a unique look at days gone by!”

“I guess they have advertised it quite a bit, haven’t they?” asked Marjorie sheepishly.

“Almost every hour on the hour, Phyllis broadcasts it over the Happy Haven intercom,” noted Essie.

“But it sounds wonderful!” said Marjorie with a smile.  “It sounds like a beautiful mansion from the old South brought to life
—”


Probably with hobgoblins and ghouls!” said Opal.

“And all sorts of ghosties!” added Marjorie.

“All of which are designed to scare the pee out of us!” said Essie.  “At least, Marjorie, probably out of you.”

“Essie,” said Opal, firmly placing her hand on Essie’s arm.  “You are the bravest woman I know.  Given all of
the adventures you have led us––Marjorie and Fay and me––on and have gotten us embroiled in, I can’t believe you––of all people––are frightened of a little haunted house.”

“I’m not frightened,” said Essie in a small voice.  The women had all put down their cards.  Fay dozed softly with a gentle snore now and then.

“It’s just this…uh…no bathroom thing?” asked Opal gently.

“Yes,”
Essie replied.

“So, if you absolutely won’t wear any
…you know what…then, Marjorie, you teach her some bladder control exercises and then we can all go to the haunted house field trip together,” pronounced Opal with a dramatic and conclusive wave of her hand.

“And Essie,” added Marjorie, also touching Essie’s arm, “the field trip is during the day so it will be light inside and it won’t be so scary.”  She gave a little
‘tsk’ sound and patted Essie’s shoulder.

“Stop it, Marjorie!” said Essie.  “I told you.  I’m not scared!  If I must go on this insipid field trip, then you
’d better teach me some of your tricks for maintaining good bladder control.”

“Okay, Essie,” agreed Marjorie, fluffing her hair.  “
And you’ll be happy to know that there are other benefits to these exercises…” Marjorie shook her shoulders again and wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.

“I don’t want to know!” cried Essie
, covering her ears.  “I’ll think about the field trip!”

At that moment, a tall
, robust-looking man with a head full of rich brown curls and wearing a nicely fitting designer suit appeared at the card table between Essie and Marjorie.


Senoras
!” he proclaimed warmly, placing a hand on Essie’s shoulder and one on Marjorie’s shoulder.  All chat at the table ceased and the women focused their attention on the man’s handsome face.  Even Fay awoke from her slumber and stared at him.

“Mr. Federico!” said Marjorie
with a sweet smile, her eyelashes flashing coyly.

Essie and Opal added their greetings.

“Felix!” he corrected them warmly.

“Felix,” responded Marjorie, snuggling into the man’s hand on her shoulder.

“And what are my four favorite
senoras
up to this afternoon?” he asked.

“Oh, Mr. Federico
…Felix,” responded Essie.  “We were playing cards.  You know, like we do every afternoon.”  Essie sputtered in conversation as Felix Federico beamed at her and her table companions.

“You four
senoras
are a fixture here at Happy Haven,” he replied, looking around the table and giving each woman an individual moment of attention.  “I can always count on finding you all here at
esattamente
—exactly—this time!”

“We’re definitely reliable!”
squeaked Opal in a voice far more girlish than her typically authoritative one.

“And did I hear you
disputare
, uh, discussing the field trip?” he asked with wide eyes and a broad grin.

“If we can convince Essie,” noted Opal.


Senora
Essie!” cried Felix.  “Surely
you
don’t need the convincing!”  He reached down to the table and grabbed Essie’s hand and raised it to his chest.  As if tracking a missile, the four women’s eyes followed the path of Essie’s hand from the table to Felix’s upper torso.

“She does need convincing, Mr. Fed
…Felix,” added Marjorie, blushing and hopeful that the handsome gentleman would remain at their table and continue to “convince” Essie.

“Essie Cobb,” said Felix Federico, now squeezing Essie’s hand, much to the surprise and glee of the four women
. “Essie Cobb, I’ve only been here at Happy Haven, for…what is it now?  A few months, but it did not take me long to discover that you, Essie Cobb, are one of the stars of this facility!  Your history precedes you!  No sooner had I arrived than I start to hear tales of Essie this and Essie that.  The baby you saved.  That old man who collapsed playing Bingo.  Oh,
Madre di Dio
!  So many adventures!  And all because of you,
Senora
Essie!”

Essie was transfixed, not certain whether to stare at Felix Federico or her own hand that now resided comfortably in the grasp of the man’s
mammoth hands.  She felt frozen in time even though her hand felt warmer than it had ever felt before.


Eh? 
Allora
?” asked Felix Federico.  He directed the question to Essie and then glanced around at her three friends.  The women giggled.  Opal nudged Essie in the side when it was apparent that Essie was transfixed by Felix Federico’s face. 

“Essie!” whispered Opal.

Essie shook her head and Felix dropped her hand gently. 

“What?” she asked, confused.


Cosi
,
Senora
Essie,” Felix continued, “you are going to the haunted house, are you not?  You of all people would not be afraid of a
piccolo
—little—haunted house!”  Essie mused on how he’d said “little” which made it sound even littler than little.

“Oh, no!” mumbled Essie, looking up at the man and then around at her friends
.  “Maybe I’ll go.”  She smiled weakly at the group, all of whom were staring at her intently.


Stupendo
!” cried Felix, flinging his arms in the air in a dramatic gesture that started like an orchestra conductor’s wave and eventually ended in a swift embrace of Essie.  The women were awestruck. 

“You ladies have a
fantastico
day!” Felix said and with that, he was on his way to another part of the Happy Haven Assisted Living Facility.

BOOK: Patricia Rockwell - Essie Cobb 04 - Ghosted
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