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Authors: Ed Lynskey

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Ed Lynskey - Isabel and Alma Trumbo 03 - The Ladybug Song

BOOK: Ed Lynskey - Isabel and Alma Trumbo 03 - The Ladybug Song
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Ed Lynskey - Isabel and Alma Trumbo 03 - The Ladybug Song
Isabel and Alma Trumbo [3]
Ed Lynskey
ECL Press (2014)
Tags:
Mystery: Cozy - Humor - Elderly Sisters - Virginia
Phyllis Garner refuses to believe her best friend Ladybug Miles’ death is an accidental drowning in the local Coronet River. Phyllis thinks it was murder and asks her friends Isabel and Alma Trumbo to do their talented snooping in small town Quiet Anchorage to root out the truth of what happened and bring the guilty killer to justice.
Isabel and Alma call on their own assistants, including twenty-something Sammi Jo and The Three Musketeers (Ossie, Blue, and Willie) to help with the investigation. Even Petey Samson, Isabel and Alma’s pooch, gets involved.

THE LADYBUG SONG

An Isabel and Alma Trumbo Cozy Mystery

 

By Ed Lynskey

LICENSE STATEMENT

Copyright
© 2014 by Ed Lynskey and ECL Press. All Rights Reserved. No part of this book
may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent
of the author.

 

This
eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be
re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book
with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you
share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was
not purchased for your use only, then you should return to the vendor of your
choice and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of
this author.

 

Other Books By Ed Lynskey

 

Private Investigator Frank Johnson Series

Out of Town a Few Days
(short
story collection)

Pelham Fell Here

The Dirt-Brown Derby

The Blue Cheer

Troglodytes

The Zinc Zoo

After the Big Noise

 

Alma and Isabel Trumbo Mystery Series

Quiet Anchorage

The Cashmere Shroud

The Ladybug Song

 

Private Investigator Sharon Knowles

A Clear Path to Cross
(short story collection)

 

Other Novels

Lake Charles

The Quetzal Motel

Ask the Dice

Blood Diamonds

Topaz Moon

Outside the Wire

Skin in the Game

 

Other Short Story Collection

Smoking on Mount Rushmore

The Ladybug Song

 

Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home,

Fly away home.

Your house is on fire, and your children are gone,

All except one,

And her name is Anne,

Her name is Anne,

And she hid under the pudding pan.

 

“The Ladybug Song” is a traditional British nursery rhyme, circa
1774. The first American publication of the lyrics occurred in approximately 1865.
My research shows
Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected for Boys and Girls
by Helen Ferris (Doubleday, 1957) is the first collection having its modern
version.

Chapter 1

 

After the
local authorities recovered Ladybug Miles’s dead body from the Coronet River, Phyllis Garner was reluctant to identify her best friend. Her preference was
to remember Ladybug as she had been in life. Nonetheless Phyllis, with Sammi Jo
accompanying her, went to the morgue. The attendant had dressed Ladybug in a
tacky purple robe, and Phyllis gave him the stink eye. She couldn’t wait to leave
after she did her duty. She cried out all of her tears on the way home, and
Sammi Jo shed a few, as well.

One of Phyllis’s
fondest memories was the time she and Ladybug had first met in the third grade
during lunch period. Ladybug tapped Phyllis on the shoulder and asked if she’d
like the other half of Ladybug’s twin-stick Popsicle. Since it was grape, Phyllis’s
favorite flavor, she said, “You betcha and thanks.” They soon giggled at each
other’s grape purple lips and tongues. Ladybug’s simple act of generosity started
their lifetime friendship. Phyllis was now frank in stating her opinion that Ladybug
had not died in an accidental drowning.

“Ladybug
was murdered,” said Phyllis who looked on the downhill side of sixty, but she’d
only admitted her age to Social Security. “There are no ifs, ands, or buts about
it.”

“I hear
you, Aunt Phyllis,” said Sammi Jo, the twentysomething with the open smile, wheat
blonde hair styled short, and the athletic build of a women’s lacrosse player.
“Sheriff Fox hasn’t come out and said one way or the other about how he thinks she
died.”

They sat
on the almost new sofa with the pillows, velvety and turquoise-colored, in
Sammi Jo’s efficiency apartment over the town drugstore. She’d painted the
walls a tasteful forest green with the trim done in matte white before she moved
into her first place. She’d also mounted framed pieces of Amish artwork depicting
barnyard scenes and quilt designs on the opposite walls. She’d bought the
artwork while on a bus trip to the Amish country in Pennsylvania. Her only
quibbles with her digs were its lack of space and the traffic noise created below
on Main Street, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

Phyllis’s
haggard face showed her grief, and she hadn’t worn her customary bag lady wardrobe.
The room felt a bit chilly here in mid-October.

“Sheriff
Fox had better get it right,” she said. “Ladybug did not drown while she was
swimming in the river. Who else but a penguin would go into it for a dip now?”

Sammi Jo
shrugged. “I imagine the water temperature is still comfortable enough from the
summer heat.”

Phyllis
didn’t relent. “Ladybug’s sneaky killer made it appear as if she drowned, but
I’m not fooled by it.”

“If she
was murdered, how will you convince Sheriff Fox of it?”

“Certain
physical details will come to light. Does her body show any defensive wounds,
for instance?”

“He’ll notice
if any suspicious cuts or abrasions are found on her body.”

“So you’d
like to think until we take into account his dismal track record.”

“He did better
after Isabel and Alma stepped in and helped him investigate the murders of my
dad Ray Burl and before that Jake Robbins. They are like a pair of bloodhounds
in old lace, not that either sister is a fan of old lace.”

Phyllis nodded.
“Two bloodhounds are just what I need.”

“Your
hope is Isabel and Alma will get busy again and prove Ladybug’s death was
murder.”

“I’m certain
as the nose on my face somebody killed her,” said Phyllis. “I don’t care how long
it takes, or how tough it turns, but I’m going to prove it and see that justice
is done.”

Sammi Jo
sized up her aunt. She was firm in her conviction, and when Phyllis dug in on
something, there was no stopping her. Sammi Jo didn’t want Phyllis traipsing from
house to house, buzzing door chimes, and asking the townies if they’d noticed a
bloodthirsty killer slinking by lately. Sammi Jo decided her smartest course of
action was to go along with Phyllis.

“All
right, we’ll give your way a try,” said Sammi Jo. “When are you going to see Isabel
and Alma?”

Elated
Sammi Jo was now in her camp, Phyllis smiled. “Do you think they will consider taking
my case right away?”

“Alma will be raring to go since she lives and breathes this private eye stuff, but Isabel won’t
be so much these days.”

“What
are you talking about?”

“She has
grown leery about taking on any new cases because she says investigating mysteries
leaves her drained. That’s a problem because they are a team, and they can’t unravel
a homicide mystery unless they work together.”

“Aren’t
they a private eye firm? Didn’t they get a state license to make it official?”

“They started
out that way, but they have since let their license expire. Their aim is still
the same, but now they work less formally.”

Phyllis turned
more thoughtful. “As much as I want to catch Ladybug’s killer, I don’t want to
put Isabel on the spot or be a pest. Is there anything we can try?”

“There
might be one way if we are serious.” Sammi Jo leveled her eyes on Phyllis. “Are
we serious?”

“We are nothing
but serious so spill it.”

“First off,
we approach Alma who I believe will listen to us. Once she is on board, maybe—but
that’s just a maybe, you see—she can sway Isabel to accept your request. Alma is the only person I know of who can win over Isabel.”

“That’s
great but how much pull does Alma have with Isabel?”

“Just
enough for our purposes, I hope.” Then Sammi Jo frowned a little at her next
thought. “It almost got by me, but there is a larger roadblock for us to
overcome.”

“Oh no, what
is it?”

“Scrabble.”

Phyllis
smacked her forehead with her palm and gave a frustrated groan. “Don’t tell me
they’re in the middle of a Scrabble marathon. We’ll never get their attention
if they’re spelling out the words I’ve never heard of by arranging those little
wooden tiles on the game board’s squares.”

“Ah, they’ve
also cajoled you into playing Scrabble with them.”

“Have they
ever. Isabel never misses a trick. Anytime I step into their foyer, she’s
dropping hints all over the place. Don’t get me wrong because I love both women
dearly, and I enjoy playing a game or two of Scrabble, just not on every visit.
Why can’t we play Monopoly for a change of pace? I love squeezing the play
money in my fist and snapping up the swanky properties like Park Place and
Boardwalk.”

“Isabel is
fixated on playing Scrabble like you are on playing Quiet Anchorage’s bag
lady.”

Phyllis didn’t
agree. “The difference is I’m pretending to be a bag lady for the kicks, but
Isabel is all serious about Scrabble.”

“You
should get a hold of Alma and lay out what our favor is. Be sure to tell her
everything you gave me. Better yet, we both can talk to Alma. Then she’ll hit
up Isabel when the time is right.”

“Suppose
Isabel really has called it quits? What if she balks at Alma’s suggestion they
should help us?”

“Aunt
Phyllis, we have to put our faith in Alma’s ability to make Isabel change her
mind. Alma can be tenacious when she has to be, so I like our chances. She has
never let me down in all the time I have known her.”

Phyllis
held up a hand with all her fingers crossed. “We’ll think positive Alma will come through for us.”

Chapter 2

 

“Do you think
our lives have fallen into another rut?” asked Isabel just back from flushing—twice—a
stinkbug she’d trapped in a tissue down the commode.

Alma rolled her eyes straight up while thinking. “I don’t see that as being the case. Why
do you ask me?”

Alma ran short and stout like a teapot while Isabel stood tall and slim like a parfait
glass. They sat in their favorite armchairs. Alma’s upholstery was the bold
tartan plaid print while Isabel’s fabric was the more sedate green velveteen.
Both sisters felt at ease in their stylish dresses of muted warm colors. Their
birth certificates proved Isabel was several years older, and Alma liked to
remind folks of it.

“We
haven’t set up the Scrabble game board in three days, no make that four.”

Alma smiled. “Mr. Rhee probably felt ambushed when the Trumbo sisters ganged up and beat
the stuffing out of him. Even his Scrabble partner Sammi Jo couldn’t save him
from the jaws of defeat.”

Mr. Rhee
was their newest friend who owned a men’s tailor shop in the nearby larger town
of Warrenton. He was vain about his Scrabble prowess, or he had been up until the
recent night when Isabel and Alma had defeated him in almost every game they
played. He’d remained closed-lipped during the final game when Isabel winked on
the sly at Alma. They eased up and let him win by three points, and he was back
to smiling again.

“What
time did we finally call it quits?” asked Alma. “I’m never a clock watcher when
I’m spelling out the big score words left and right.”

“I
checked the microwave clock, and can you believe it was 1:16 a.m.? Where did that
night go?”

“Time
flies by when you are having as much fun as we were.”

“We
served Mr. Rhee all the iced tea he wanted, and he must have a hollow leg from
the way he guzzled it down. I don’t feel too guilty about winning.” Isabel
chanced a look out the front window. “Goodness me, Phyllis is charging up Church Street like she has an airplane to catch. Something big must be on her mind.”

“It’s got
to be Ladybug Miles,” said Alma also peering out the front window.

“Phyllis
must be torn up about how her best friend so tragically drowned.”

“You’re right
about Phyllis being upset, but you’re wrong on the cause of death because somebody
killed Ladybug.”

Isabel
snapped her hazel eyes at Alma. “Why do you believe such a terrible thing happened
to Ladybug?”

“Sammi
Jo and I have discussed it, and Phyllis is coming to see you about our checking
into Ladybug’s death and proving she was murdered.”

“That’s
quite impossible. We are retired sleuths.”

“Speak
for yourself and not me. I’m still chomping at the bit.”

Isabel
shook her forefinger to emphasize her point. “I am not—that is spelled N-O-T—reopening
the Trumbo Sisters Detective Agency, no matter who drops by our house and pleads
for our assistance. Do I make myself clear?”

“I haven’t
gone stone deaf. If Phyllis asks me to do it, I will. That’s how I was raised
in the Trumbo household.”

“Feel
free to do as you wish then,” said Isabel with a sniff not caused by her ragweed
allergy since she was taking her medicine. “See if I give a tootle. I told you that
I’ve retired. No amount of inveigling from Phyllis or you can persuade me to unretire.
My decision is binding and final.”

“Is it now?”
Alma arose and took up the straps to Isabel’s pocketbook where she kept it on
the end table next to her armchair.

Isabel cringed
over knowing what Alma was set to do. She opened Isabel’s pocketbook and didn’t
have to rummage around inside it for long.

Alma
flashing her smile drew out Isabel’s large 3X magnifying
glass and brandished it. Isabel’s declaration of her retirement was crumbling to
bits and she knew it.

“My, my,
take a look at what I found,” said Alma, turning the magnifying glass around. “Why
are you still carrying this tool of the trade if you’re retired?”

“A
magnifying glass comes in handy for other things like reading the small print
on the restaurant menus for which dishes are marked hot and spicy. Be careful
and don’t smudge or scratch the glass lens.”

“You can
ask the server about which dishes are hot and spicy. No, I think you’re not
ready to quit just yet. I say nothing gets your blood pumping like the thrill
of the chase does.”

Isabel
relented but only by a little bit. “Maybe I’ve got enough gas left in the tank to
take on investigating one more case, but after finishing it I’ll make my
retirement official.”

“It’s good
to hear you have returned to your senses,” said Alma. “When you make your
retirement official, I’ll be certain to send you off with a packet of zinnia
seeds. I would never want your life to fall into that rut you mentioned.”

“Touché,”
said Isabel.

She left
her armchair and went to answer the door before Phyllis tried to use the broken
electric doorbell. Isabel placed her hand over her chest. “My heart is racing,
and we haven’t gotten started yet.”

“I won’t
tell you I told you so, but I did. Do we have any iced tea in the pitcher to
offer Phyllis a tall glass after her jaunt up Church Street?”

“We
always have a cold pitcher of iced tea to serve our guests. It would be a sin
not to have any on hand.”

“There
is also a box of bear claws in the breadbox.”

Isabel
tried not to smirk. “Not anymore, there isn’t.”

“You ate
every one of them?”

“Yes,
and let the record show they were delicious to the last crumb, and I’m full as
a tick.”

“It’s
okay because I didn’t want them anyway since I’ve started my next diet.”

“Is that
why you wrote bear claws on our shopping list?” asked Isabel.

“Touché,”
said Alma.

BOOK: Ed Lynskey - Isabel and Alma Trumbo 03 - The Ladybug Song
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