Authors: Madison Johns
An Agnes Barton Paranormal Mystery
Copyright © 2014 Madison Johns
Spooky Hijinks, Madison Johns
This is a work of fiction.
This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to persons living or dead (unless explicitly noted) is merely coincidental.
In loving memory of my black lab, Sparky, who would lie on a rug near me while I’d write late at night. She’d come and wander over and in her own way and tell me when it was time for bed around three in the morning. I really miss you, girl.
I’d like to thank Carole Cooper for her invitation to speak at Sunrise Side Lifelong Learning. It was through this speaking engagement that I was able to get some real information about the Tawas area. Carole was kind enough to take me to the real lighthouse on the point, and I was able to speak to two real lightkeepers, Doug and Heather Conaway. As part of the Lightkeeper Program, you are able to stay at the lighthouse on the point, and you work as guides while there, with many other interesting duties, like tracking the weather and even journaling what you did that day, just like they did when the light wasn’t run by electricity with an LED light like is now the case. You have to pay for this privilege, but still, what a great way to spend a week, if you ask me. I’m also sure that this program helps to maintain the lighthouse for tourists to enjoy for years to come. Check it out
to see exactly how it works.
A note from the Author
Primarily, my Agnes Barton stories take place in the Tawas, Michigan, area. For this book, I tried to give you a little more history of the area. Remember, this is a work of fiction, and the Butler Mansion is a figment of my imagination, but I’ve gone out of my way to use businesses in the Tawas area whenever possible.
Why Tawas for a setting? As a child, Tawas was my favorite vacation spot, and we’d make our trip at midnight, stopping over at a roadside park, where we’d sleep until morning. First thing, though, we’d head into East Tawas and put our names on the waiting list at the campground on the tent side (it no longer exists—it’s now the Tawas Bay Beach Resort). As campers checked out, they’d begin calling names, and if you were lucky, you’d get in. From what I recall, we were always able to get in.
Life for me back then was idyllic, fishing at 5:00 a.m. According to my father, that’s when the fish get up. We were able to get so many perch fishing off the state pier. I have many good memories of those days: getting ice cream in town, shopping on Newman Street, meeting boys in my teenage years, none of which were from the Tawas area. Smiles.
In closing, I’d like to say that I love the area, and if anyone is ever on the eastern side of Michigan, be sure to stop by Tawas and enjoy the beautiful Tawas Bay area.
This book is dedicated to all of my readers. I thank you one and all for embracing Agnes Barton and Eleanor Mason and the entire zany cast of characters. I enjoy hearing from readers, which you can do by emailing me at
or my at my author page
. Also, if you haven’t done so, sign up for my newsletter
. Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
I rolled over for the hundredth time tonight. Not only had sleep eluded me, but so had my wits since I had been working at the Butler Mansion. To be honest, I knew this place was haunted, but not that the ghosts who lived here would be so noisy all throughout the night. I’m Agnes Barton. My best friend, Eleanor Mason, and I are known around Tawas, Michigan, as amateur sleuths. We’re not Miss Marple, and frankly, I’m getting sick of hearing the comparison. For one thing, that particular detective was British, and nobody from across the pond would ever think that we would be able to even stand in her shadow, and personally, I wouldn’t want to. Why, we’d have to spend years just getting that slang down, and come up short without a doubt. Nope, I’m just plain ole Agnes Barton, resident of Tawas City, Michigan, on the shores of pristine Lake Huron that’s contained within the Tawas Bay. Picturesque doesn’t even come close to describing it. Why, you simply have to come through Standish and head north on US 23, passing by the tiny town of Omer, which has a great campground on the Rifle River. You’ll also pass Au Gres, which has a great pier and state-owned boat launch, unlike the state dock in East Tawas. Now, while Au Gres is known as the perch capital of Michigan, you can catch plenty of fish right off the state pier in East Tawas, including walleye and perch. Not only that, but just last winter, the annual Perchville USA festival passed its 64
mark. That’s sixty-four years of wintertime fun and polar bear dips. Not a festival to be missed, and plenty of reason to head to Tawas, Michigan, during winter.
I pulled up my comforter, getting a chill thinking about winter, hoping that we wouldn’t get nearly as much snow as last year—the polar vortex as some have called it, with record-breaking freezing conditions. It was already December, and although the Tawas Bay wasn’t frozen over quite yet, it would be before long.
I shuddered as a ghostly apparition floated down from the ceiling, until I saw it was Caroline, the ghost who had attached herself to me some time ago.
“Why are you still awake, Agnes?” Caroline asked.
“Just thinking ... and wishing that those ghosts upstairs would hush up. It sounds like they’re pulling chains across the floor up there. Can’t you speak with them and tell them to keep quiet?”
Caroline gripped her chin with one hand. “Sorry, but nighttime is all the dead have. Ever since this place was opened as a bed and breakfast, it’s been so hard to just be undead.” She laughed.
“Fine. I’ll go up there and sort it out tomorrow, perhaps. In the light of day, I might add. It’s about time I got to know the spirits up there.”
“Go on ahead, but you know that whoever it is up there, they don’t like to be disturbed.”
“Oh, I know. One of the reasons that attic was closed off, but we need to get in there anyway, since all of the Christmas decorations are up there. That should be a good enough reason to venture up and interrupt their solitude.”
“Fine, but don’t say I didn’t warn you, and go back to sleep. It’s three in the morning.” Caroline faded away without giving me the opportunity to ask her to come along tomorrow on my venture to the attic, but even for a ghost, Caroline wasn’t the bravest. Why, often, when trouble was brewing, she was elsewhere.
I yawned for the hundredth time tonight, and hunkered down deeper in my bed, closing my weary eyes and drifting off to sleep.
* * *
When I woke up, it was to something tickling my nose. When my eyes snapped open, my cat, Duchess, had her backside in my face! I sputtered, using the blankets to push her across the bed. “What are you doing, you blasted cat?”
Duchess just sat there, looking at me, her tail in full motion as she swished it from side to side. Before I could say, “Don’t you dare,” she leaped toward my head. Luckily, I pulled up the blanket right in time, before she was able to do any damage to me. I quickly slipped out of bed and raced into the hallway, encountering a few startled guests who chuckled at my attire, since I was wearing a white flannel nightgown, with the material above my waist! At least I had something decent beneath it, like Victoria’s Secret’s pink panties, since that’s the only kind of undies I wore. They moved toward the stairs while I righted my clothing, much to the amusement of Eleanor Mason, my best friend and partner in our investigative activities, as she opened her door.
“Stop right there. I was just trying to get away from my cat is all. How was I to know anyone would be out here, or that my clothing was so askew?”
“You do know this place is a booked-up bed and breakfast, though, right?”
“Of course I do. I just didn’t know anyone would be up this early.”
Eleanor smoothed her pink blouse over her black slacks. “It’s about ten, Agnes. I was about ready to check on you and see if you were breathing, since you’re usually such an early bird.”
“I didn’t sleep at all. Too many ghosts making too much noise in the attic.”
“You should try listening to music at night. That’s what I do. I fall asleep before a few tunes are played. I use earbuds. It drowns out just about everything.”
I nodded, and went back into my room to take a shower in my bathroom, since Eleanor and I had luxury suites here. It’s the least they could do since we watch over the place. The actress Sara Knoxville owned the place, but she was seldom here.
When I finally made my way down the steps, a few guests chuckled as I passed by. “Can I help you?” I asked.
They promptly turned around and muttered, “Nothing.” As I walked into the dining room, I heard a meow, and Duchess raced toward me. I held up my arms and implored her to stop, but she kept right on, attacking the toilet paper that was trailing behind me.
I bent and removed the paper from the bottom of my flats and clenched my fists at my side as I strode into the dining room. “I’ll get that for you,” a maid said. So far, today was not going well at all, and I just hated to ever say that, lest the wrath of bad luck follow me throughout the rest of the day.
Eleanor sprang to her feet when she spotted me, and motioned me to sit while she hustled over and brought a coffee pot from the antique buffet cabinet that was alongside the wall with a warming plate for coffee pots.
As she poured the coffee, she said, “You really look rough today.”
“Thanks,” I shot back. “That’s nice of you to say.”
“It’s not your blouse and slacks. It’s that crazy look in your eye.”
“Well, I’ve had quite the day already, but I need to quit thinking about what more could happen to me today.”
“Oh, don’t ever say that, Agnes. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being around you, it’s that you just need to roll with the punches,” Millicent said.
I stared at Millicent Wilson with a slight smile. Millicent was Mr. Wilson’s granddaughter, who is Eleanor’s man. She had just moved into the mansion. She oversees things now. That way, Eleanor and I can sneak off when and if anything happens in and around Tawas that is crime-related.
I poured vanilla creamer into my coffee. “You’re so right, dear. I’m letting a few things that happened this morning get me down.”
“Agnes went into the hallway in her nightgown, and right in front of guests.” Eleanor laughed. “Her gown was above her waist, too.”
“Oh, my. Well, that would be embarrassing,” Millicent said sympathetically.
“My cat was being frisky this morning, and I was trying to get away from her. I guess I should have made sure my clothing was intact before I went into the hall.”
“That cat of yours sure is a handful at times. She runs all over this place like something is chasing her,” Millicent informed us.
I sipped my coffee. “Then I was trailing toilet paper off my shoes when I came downstairs.” I sighed. “Let’s just say that I’ve been a source of entertainment for the guests more than once today.”
“You mean guests saw you doing that, too?” Millicent asked. “How awful for you, but I’m sure your day can only go up from here.”
“Hopefully,” Eleanor said. Her cellphone rang, and she gave it an answer. “Hello? Oh, my. We’ll be right there.” Eleanor stood up. “Our menfolk would like us to meet them at the teahouse. It seems they might have something up their sleeves.”
“I just hope it’s not another push to the altar. There’s no way we can put a wedding together in time for Christmas at this late date.”
“I agree, but we’ve been hemming and hawing for quite a while now. What if they get tired of it and find themselves new gals? At our age, we’d be lucky if we found anyone else in this town who would want to date us, let alone marry us.” Eleanor frowned. “And I don’t want to find a new man. I love Mr. Wilson,” she said, near tears now.
“Calm down, old girl. We’ll figure out something that will make us all happy, but the last I remember, I agreed on Valentine’s Day, not Christmas Day.”
“I know, but—”
I squeezed Eleanor’s hand. “Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out.”