Murder on a Girls' Night Outby Anne George
Patricia Anne -- "Mouse" -- is respectful, respectable, and demure, a perfect example of genteel Southern womanhood. Mary Alice -- "Sister" -- is big, brassy, flamboyant, and bold. Together they have a knack for finding themselves in the center of some of Birmingham's most unfortunate/p>/strong>/center>… See more details below
Patricia Anne -- "Mouse" -- is respectful, respectable, and demure, a perfect example of genteel Southern womanhood. Mary Alice -- "Sister" -- is big, brassy, flamboyant, and bold. Together they have a knack for finding themselves in the center of some of Birmingham's most unfortunate unpleasantness.
Country Western is red hot these days, so overimpulsive Mary Alice thinks it makes perfect sense to buy the Skoot 'n' Boot bar -- since that's where the many-times-divorced "Sister" and her boyfriend du jour like to hang out anyway. Sensible retired schoolteacher Patricia Anne is inclined to disagree -- especially when they find a strangled and stabbed dead body dangling in the pub's wishing well. The sheriff has some questions for Mouse and her sister Sister, who were the last people, besides the murderer, of course, to see the ill-fated victim alive. And they had better come up with some answers soon -- because a killer with unfinished business has begun sending them some mighty threatening messages...
Read an Excerpt
Mary Alice flung her purse on my kitchen table, where it landed with a crash, pulled a stool over to the counter and perched on it. "Perched" may not be the right word, since Mary Alice weighs two hundred and fifty pounds. The stool groaned and splayed, but it held. I began to breath again.
"I have decided," she announced, "that I am not going gentle into that good night."
"Thank God," I said. "We were all worried about you. Last year when you dyed your hair Hot Tart""Cinnamon Red."
"Well, whatever. We all said, 'There she goes gentle.
Mary Alice giggled. She's sixty-five years old, but she still giggles like a young girl. And men still love it.
"That was a little much." She patted her hair. "This is just plain old Light Golden Blond. It's what you ought to use, Patricia Anne."
"Too much trouble." The timer went off on the stove and I took out a batch of oatmeal cookies.
"It would charge Fred's batteries."
"There's nothing wrong with Fred's batteries." I went around her to get a spatula and opened the drawer too hard, banging it against my leg. How long had it taken her to get to me this time? One minute? No record. In the sixty years we have been sisters, I figure the record is somewhere below zero, into the negative integers of time. Absolute proof of the theory of relativity.
"Well, your hair sure could use some help."
I scooped up a hot cookie and handed it to her. Bum, baby, bum.
Mary Alice blew on the cookie. A couple of crumbs fell on her turquoise T-shirt, which declared "Tough Old Bird" and which had a pelican with a yellow beak peeking around the words. Given theexpanse and jiggle of Mary Alice's chest, that bird was having a rough flight. "Hand me a paper towel," she said. I tore one off and gave it to her. She sank her small teeth into the cookie. "Ummm," she said. "Ummm."
I put the plate by her. "You want some tea?"
"Ummm." She reached for a second cookie. "Mouse," she said, "these are great."
I banged the ice into the glasses. Mouse. The old childhood nickname.
Mary Alice looked up. "I'm sorry. It just slipped out."
I sighed. "It doesn't matter."
"And mice are little and cute."
"And can bite."
"Yeah. I'd forgotten about that." Mary Alice has a crescent scar on her leg where I bit her when I was three and she wouldn't let me play with her Shirley Temple doll. Daddy had liked to tell the story and said he thought they were going to have to wait until it thundered to get me to turn loose, a reference to snapping turtles. He and Mother had called me Mouse, too, though. And say what you please, if Mary Alice and I hadn't been born at home, I know they would have been at the hospital having the records checked to make sure we hadn't been mixed up. Whereas Mary Alice had been born a brunette with olive skin, I had been a wispy blonde and pale. She had been healthy and boisterous; 1, sickly and quiet. My big teeth should have been hers. You name it; if it could be different, it was.
"I know a woman named Jean Poole," Mary Alice said. I smiled. We had been thinking the same thing. "What I came to tell you, though, is I've bought a country-western bar named the Skoot 'n' Boot. Up Highway 78."
I laughed and reached for a cookie.
"When Bill and I were in Branson, Missouri, last spring, we learned how to line dance, and we've been going out to the Skoot 'n' Boot every Thursday night. It's a lot of fun. You and Fred ought to try it."
"Are you serious?"
"Of course I'm serious. Y'all don't do enough. Fred's only sixty-three. Bill's seventy-two and he just loves it. He"s hardly out of breath when it's over." Bill Adams is Mary Alice's current "boyfriend." I swear that's what she calls him. He showed up trying to sell her a supplement to her Medicare and he never really left.
"No, I mean about buying this place."
"Sure I'm serious. I told you I wasn't going gentle into that good night."
"Nobody thought you were, Sister."
"And country-western bars are hot right now. Everybody's going to them, getting dressed up in their fringy clothes and boots."
"Stuff with fringe on it. You know." Mary Alice stretched her fingers out from her chest as if she were pulling bubble gum from the pelican's beak. "Fringe. Tassles."
"Where is it, this bar?"
"The Skoot 'n' Boot. I told you. It's about twenty miles out Highway 78. Bill and I were in there the other night and got to talking to the man who owns it, and he said he was trying to sell it, that he needed to go back to Atlanta because both his parents are sick and he needs to be near them. He says he hates to leave because the club's doing so well. There was a crowd out on the floor line dancing and I thought, Well, why not? Roger would have liked his money invested this way. So we met at the bank this morning and I bought it."
Roger had been Mary Alice's third husband. They had all died rich and, thanks to Sister, happy. She had given each of them a child, which, considering their advanced ages, was more than they had expected. And I think she really loved them-the husbands. She has them buried together at Elmwood Cemetery for convenience...
Meet the Author
Anne George (c.____ - 2001) was the Agatha Award-winning author of the Southern Sisters mystery series which culminate in Murder Boogies with Elvis, publishing in August 2001. Like Patricia Anne, she was a happily married former school teacher living in Birmingham, Alabama. Ms. George was also a former Alabama State Poet and a regular contributor to literary publications. During her lifetime she was nominated for several awards, including the Pulitzer. Being a true lady of the Old South, her date of birth will forever be a mystery.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >