Neighbor Watchers - Amazing Gracie Mystery Series - ISBN 1438246072
Gracie and Melinda find out snooping on the neighbors can be scary.
Twilight settled around them by the time Gracie elbowed Melinda. "Wake up, sleepy head. You had too big a day what with that birthday party. You might as well go to bed already."
Melinda’s head jerked. She blinked. "What time is it?"
"You’re the one with the new timepiece. You tell me," cracked Gracie.
"That’s right." Melinda smiled down proudly at her brooch. She pushed on the latch, the cover opened, and the music began. Frowning, she squinted at it. "It’s too dark to tell. Did I miss anything?" She slurred her words in the middle of a yawn. Shutting the cover, she squinted to look through her hole at Rachel’ house.
"Nothing," said Gracie, disappointed. She swatted at a mosquito buzzing near her ear, " there ain’t going to be anything happen so we might as well go to bed."
"How do you know?"
"Rachel just lit the lamp in her living room. It’s a plain fact, when she has a light on nothing happens." Gracie gripped her rocker arms to boost herself to a standing position.
"Wait," Melinda hissed. She grabbed Gracie’s arm to stop her from getting up.
"What’s the matter?" Gracie barked.
"Sh! Someone just came from behind Sara’s house up to the side door. It’s Dan Jordan again."
"That’s strange," Gracie puzzled, a dread surging through her as she watched the big man enter the house. Trying to reason away the alarming premonition she felt as
her senses going haywire, she continued, "The lamp’s on so it has be an unscheduled visit."
She perked up, thinking that things could get interesting if a scheduled caller showed up while Dan was there. About fifteen minutes later, Gracie felt the sting of
disappointment when no one else came before Jordan slipped out the side door. He disappeared into the darkness. His large silhouette came into view, moving fast amid the
shadows toward downtown.
"That visit didn’t take long tonight," surmised Melinda, dryly.
"No, it didn’t. Rachel’s putting the lamp out now so we might as well go to bed," Gracie grumped. She grasped the rocker arms and started to stand up.
"Wait!" Melinda hissed. Grabbing Gracie’s forearm, the little lady applied pressure to jerk Gracie back down.
"Ouch! Let go of my arm. It’s full of rheumatism. That hurts. What’s the matter with you?" Gracie grimaced, glaring at Melinda while she vigorously rubbed her arm.
"There’s someone else sneaking up to Rachel’s side door. Look!" Melinda tilted her body over the side of her rocker for a better view around the vine.
Leaning forward, Gracie peered through her hole. With what she saw, she completely forgot the pain in her arm. "Don’t that beat all. Looks like a woman."
"It does indeed. Oh my, what’s this town coming to. Rachel’s house is dark, and a woman’s going into it,"moaned Melinda.
"Hush up before she hears you," hissed Gracie. "Let’s see how long she stays. Wonder who she is?"
"Don’t ask me. It’ too dark to tell," grumbled Melinda.
A little more than half an hour passed before the side door opened. The dark form stuck her head out to look around. She eased out, gently shut the door and flattened against the house. After a few seconds, she moved to leave, turning her back to dissolve into the darkness. Suddenly, a lamp, lit in the Bullock house, cast a yellow stream, spotlighting the woman. Blanketed with light, she jerked her head in the direction of the window. Backing up, she flattened against the house again. The light reflected off something in her hand that gave off a golden twinkle middle ways of the woman’s skirt. She twirled around to face the mansion.
Automatically, Gracie shrank back in her rocker. Melinda, with a barely audible gasp, slapped her trembling hand against her chest and bumped the brooch latch. Sentimental
Journey cut the silence.
"Shut that thing up," ordered Gracie in a hushed voice.
Melinda smacked the cover. The click seemed deafening. Afraid to move, Gracie tried hard not to breathe. The woman stared intently in their direction. After a moment that seemed to last forever, she turned and melted out of sight.
At the same time, the two ladies inhaled deeply.
Gracie snapped in a lowered voice, "That was real great of you, Melinda. You just had to play your little tune for that woman so she’d know we’re over here."
"I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that," Melinda defended herself.
"I reckon you didn’t but that watch is too dang loud." Gracie caught herself and focused her attention across the street. It was too late to take back what she said. She could imagine the hurt look covering Melinda’ face at the insult to her new watch. "Well, she’d have to have mighty good hearing from all the way across the street, I reckon," relented Gracie. In spite of herself, she added, "But you better pray she didn’t hear."
"Amen," replied Melinda, fervently.
"We sure know who that woman is now in that red dress," said Gracie, still unable to believe her eyes. Nervous but curious at the same time, she wondered why Mavis visited Rachel.
"I saw, but I’m praying right now she didn’t see us. Mavis is a wild cat when she’s riled, and she didn’t appear to want anyone seeing her. Why do you reckon she sneaked into that young woman’ dark house?"
"Don’t know. I wouldn’t figure those two ladies to be on friendly terms, especially that friendly. What do you suppose that was shining in her hand?" Gracie pondered.
"Maybe it was a firefly’s tail."
"That was too big a shine to be a firefly. No, she had something in her hand."
"I couldn’t tell much. It was too dark." Melinda searched across the street for movement. Her voice quivered as she said, "We better go in now."
Attracted to the dim light in the hall, insects splattered against the screen door, sounding like fingernails noises, Gracie glanced from one end of the porch to the other to make sure they were alone. All of a sudden, squawks, cackles and flapping wings along with the robust crowing of a startled rooster came from the Bullock back yard.
Melinda grabbed Gracie’ arm again. "Listen!"
"I hear," grouched Gracie, jerking her arm out of Melinda’ grasp.
In a moment, Sara’s voice penetrated the darkness, yelling from back of her house, " Get away from my chickens, you varmint."
Minutes later behind the Jordan’s house, the German shepherd barked ferociously. Gracie listened to the dog’s chain clink on the ground until he reached the end of it. A bang reverberated when the chain refused to give anymore. His frenzied barking kept up for a minute, followed by a loud yelp. Then came nothingness.
"Listen," Gracie tittered. "Mavis ran over Sara’s chicken pen in the dark. Serves her right! She better have been quick about getting into her house, or Sara saw her sure." Then Gracie turned serious. "Sounds like she hit her dog to quieted him down after she stirred him up."
"Well, I’ll tell you one thing. I’ve had enough excitement for one night. I’m going inside before Mavis thinks better of it and decides to come see if we’re really here. Besides I’m ready to go to bed and cry for a little while," said Melinda, stifling a yawn.
Giving Melinda an incredulous look, Gracie considered her last remark and decided that was the strangest thing to say. "Why on earth would you want to bawl?"
"I had such a good time today while everyone made a fuss over me at the birthday party, but now it’s over. I feel like a good cry, because I probably won’t ever get another birthday party like this one," lamented Melinda.
"Well, I’m going to bed to sleep," said Gracie, struggling to get out of her rocker for the third time. "And you better remember to pray before you go to sleep."