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Authors: Pepper Phillips

The Devil Has Dimples

BOOK: The Devil Has Dimples
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by Pepper Phillips



Published by Lagniappe ePress at Smashwords

Copyright 2011 Pepper Phillips





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You knew Maudie Cooper was really dead when you read her
funeral invite listed in the Boggy Bayou Chronicle.

I’m T-Jack Couvillion, newspaper owner and reporter of ‘The
oldest family-run newspaper in Louisiana.’  I can’t report all the news, else
I’d be sued every week after the paper came out.  So, I just ramble my thoughts
down in case I need to jog my memory later on.  You never know when some bit of
information might sell more papers.

Back to Maudie.  There had been talk, of course.  Someone
said Maudie was dead, but I couldn’t print her obit, ‘cuz I couldn’t find out
if it were true.

Some figured she finally found a salesman gullible enough to
believe her blarney about being rich.  Heaven knows, she cornered every male
that ate their lunch at Hank’s Hole-in-the-Wall, her hunting ground.  Most
never came back.  Maudie could talk them to death.  Fact is, she talked so much
they didn’t notice she put her lunch on their tab.  Or they didn’t care.  It
was a small price to pay for their freedom.

Two or three were of the opinion that Maudie wasn’t dead. 
They thought old Sedgewick Jeansonne had finally caved in to her amorous
overtures and that the two were holed up at his place doing the naughty.  No
one had seen him much since Maudie closed up her antique store about two weeks

We all missed Maudie.

Silas Moreau, the town’s fix-it man, figured that she could
wear out any one human being in three to five hours.

When the boys who sit in front of the courthouse questioned
how he knew that fact, he just turned beet red and left.  Silas hasn’t lived
that down yet.

The boys (the youngest being seventy-seven and the oldest
being Mackie Marcotte, who lies about his age, but everyone knows he’s
ninety-three) at the courthouse spent most days speculating where she might
have gone.  They missed Maudie telling them all the news, gossip, and trash on
everyone in town and the ten miles that encircle Boggy Bayou.  She gave most of
the juicier leads to me. 

Our number of tidbits really dropped when she disappeared.  Wasn’t
hardly anything to talk about.  Excepting Maudie, of course.

No man dared fool around in Boggy Bayou.  Maudie always
found out.  And after she called the man’s wife, the rest of the town knew
before he could zip up his pants.

I was in my office finishing the last details on the
newspaper, when Grant St. Romain, Maudie’s attorney, brought in her funeral
invite. That was a shock.  I said a silent prayer for her and almost busted a
gut getting the revised paper out on time.

Maudie would have loved the layout.  Hearts and flowers
danced around the corners and inside big bold letters spelled out ‘Maudie
Cooper - Last Rites.’  She died in late October and her wishes were to be
buried on Halloween night.

Yeah, at night.

According to the notice, everyone was invited to dress in
costume and bring a candle to light during the service in the cemetery.  Since
kids were invited, candy would be available for the trick or treaters. 
Afterward there would be a pig roast and beer bust at the local V.F.W. Hall. 
Most everyone thought that was a nice touch.

All her friends and most of her enemies decided to dress up
and go.  It’s not every day you get to wear a costume to a funeral.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite so many people at a
graveside service.

Silas dressed up as a pig, complete with a snout, and went
around grunting and snorting at all the ladies.  He got a lot of teasing about
being dinner.  Silas didn’t need any padding, and many of us wondered why he
owned a pink jumpsuit.

Bitsy, Silas’s wife, ran an apple dunking contest by the
front gate, welcoming everyone and thanking them for coming.  You would have
thought it was the social event of the year, but then, she and Silas don’t get
out much.

Mackie Marcotte, Grant St. Romain, and I stood watching the
goings on.

“Mackie, you ever been to a funeral on Halloween?”

He thought for a moment, most likely turning the decades
over in his mind searching for an answer.

“Nope.  This is the first night funeral I’ve ever been at. 
Makes me think it might be a good idea when my time comes.”

“Never for me either, although I did attend a Halloween
wedding once.  It was a bit over the top,” said Grant.

Maudie’s casket was perched on a roller parked next to the
grave hole.

“Her casket looks like it cost a handsome dollar,” I said.

Mackie nodded.  “They should have given her a kid’s coffin,
since she was so small.  If’n I die in the next ten minutes, stuff me in there
with her.  There’s more than enough room.”

Grant chuckled.  “I don’t think your wife would like that,

Mackie shook his head, “You’re most likely right.  Maybe I
can get us a double wide and we can sleep together ‘til the end of time.  That
would jolt her.”

Grant and I couldn’t help but laugh, the visual alone was

We watched as kids, busy munching on treats, and bobbing for
apples, threw apple cores and candy wrappers all over the ground.

The more serious-minded adults brought lawn chairs and ice
chests to get a head start on the beer bust.

When the time for the service arrived, everyone lit their
candles.  I have to tell you that was a show.  The candlelight sure was
pretty.  Some of the kids had their candles in hollowed-out pumpkins, so there
were orange and white lights all over the place.  It was dark enough that you
couldn’t see the empty candy wrappers anymore.  A few placed candles on the
built-up burial sites, making the area rather festive, even for a graveyard.

Silas managed to burn his snout almost off with his candle. 
Bitsy threw a bucket of apples and water over him and his cronies and managed
to put that fire out quite nicely.

Reverend Benny Gagnard stood at the head of the casket. 
Drawing his fist up to his mouth, he coughed to clear his throat, then said in
his loud, hearty sermon voice, “She’s dead.  Thank you, Lord.”

Mackie turned to me.  “That was the shortest eulogy I’ve
ever heard.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, “He must be still ticked off ‘cause of
Maudie telling his wife about his indiscretion with the choir leader.”

Mackie nodded.  “Just goes to show you.  What goes around,
comes around.”

Then the choir led out the song.  Angie Tassin, the choir
leader and Maudie’s arch-enemy, raised a little triangle and whacked it twice. 
The choir, all Angie’s friends, began to sing, “Ding dong, the witch is dead,
the wicked, wicked witch is dead.”  Angie finally got her revenge.  They
continued the song while the rest of us hooted, hollered, and laughed so hard,
tears rolled down our faces.  Silas fell out of his lawn chair and lost what
was left of his burned snout, but didn’t spill a drop of beer.

The only person who seemed to take everything serious was
Sedge.  He was dressed up in a new black suit complete with the label still on
the sleeve, a hat in his hand and even carried a bunch of yellow flowers he’d
picked that grow wild along the roadside during this time of year.

Mackie said, “I’ve never known Sedge to dress in a suit. 
Didn’t even know that he had one.”

“Maybe he’s in costume.”  I replied.

“As what?  A funeral director?”  Grant asked.

“He could be a mourner, what with the flowers and all.  He
and Maudie have been friends for a quarter of a century.”

Sedge placed his hand on the casket and started to cry.

The three of us stood there, uncomfortable, not knowing what
to do.

Someone dressed up in a witch’s costume walked over to him
and patted him on the back, giving him what comfort she could and handed him a
handkerchief. He was so overcome with grief that he almost toppled into the

Finally, the singing stopped, and while everyone wiped tears
and smirks off their faces, the casket was lowered, and old Sedge dropped his
bouquet on top.

Then Silas threw in Bitsy’s candle and that started a candle
throwing frenzy.  Needless to say, there was a really big blaze going in no

The grave diggers got hopping and shoveled dirt in fast. 
Eventually the blaze was buried and so was Maudie.

The town’s sure going to miss that old gal.  She sure knew
how to enjoy life, and her death wasn’t so bad either.

Then came the biggest surprise of all.

The next day, the daughter no one knew existed showed up in
Boggy Bayou.


* * *


I checked the envelope again.  My name centered in the
middle: Sara Elizabeth McLaughlin.  Or was that my name?  That’s what I thought
for twenty-seven years, but apparently, I was wrong.  Hesitating before the
door, I shook off the feeling that I should jump back in my car and head home
to Baton Rouge.  That would be easier than the few steps it would take me to
reach Mr. Grant St. Romain’s law office and find out the truth.

But I needed to know the truth.  Drawing in a deep breath, I
opened the door that led to a foyer with stairs in front of me.

I thought I would fall trekking up the steep stairs in my
three-inch heels.  Obviously, a bad choice in footwear for hiking, but they
were cute as could be, and sometimes that’s all you get out of life.  Great

At the top of the stairs were two doors.  The one on the left
was what I was looking for, St. Romain, Attorney at Law, painted in gold leaf
across beveled glass.

I dug in my purse and pulled out a peppermint for courage
and to get a little moisture in my dry mouth.  Then I twisted the doorknob and
entered the office.

It reeked of money.  Lots of it.  A mahogany forest was destroyed
to furnish this baby.

A large-busted black woman, in linen creased within an inch
of its life, sat behind a secretary’s desk and looked at me expectantly.

“May I help you?”  Dark brown eyes roved over me, checking
me out as I did the same to her.

“Is Mr. St. Romain in?”

Just saying the words made my heart speed up, I could hear
pounding in my ears.  My hands shook, so I gripped my Balenciaga handbag
Good grief
.  I thought my fingers were liable to push through
the leather, but the shaking stopped.

She hesitated, then ran a long red fingernail down a column
in an appointment book.  She glanced up at me, raising one thin pencil-drawn

I need to practice that move.

“Do you have an appointment?”

My heart sank.  I wondered if I could bluff my way into his
office, but I couldn’t think fast enough.  I cleared my throat and almost
swallowed my peppermint.  So much for dignity.

“I asked if he was in.”  I croaked like a rusty frog.

“And I repeat.  Do you have an appointment?”  Her voice was
snippy, as if she held the scissors and would cut me out of any appointment.

Oh, snarl, snarl.  It didn’t take much to press her attitude

“No.  Obviously, I don’t have an appointment, but apparently
you didn’t comprehend ‘is he in?’”  I have an attitude button, too.

Her eyes narrowed.  If looks were knives, I’d be bleeding on
the carpet.  “Yes, but you need to make an appointment to see him.”  The
secretary looked at the book again and began flipping pages.  She was going to
show me who was in control of the situation.

BOOK: The Devil Has Dimples
10.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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