Los Angeles is a very busy place. When you?re a third-generation mortician like Robert Thompson, it can be overwhelming at times. Sometimes you want to sweep your wife off her feet and fly across the country. October in New England is outstanding. You might want to just relax and take long walks or maybe have a picnic. That?s what Robert and Marsha Thompson thought. They had no idea that their choice of bed and breakfast was located in the belly of the Beast. They had no idea that they were driving headfirst into murder and mayhem. Ride along with them if you dare. Next stop . . . Terror Town.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.34(d)|
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Marsha looks over at her sleeping husband. She loves the way the light coming through the window makes him look so heavenly. Of course the clouds in the background add to the peaceful look on his face. She thinks about how wonderful he was to stand by her during this low point in her life and getting away for awhile is just what she needed. The only thing she couldn't understand is how could he sleep through al this. His excitement clearly didn't match hers. It would be another hour before their plane would land at the busy Logan Airport in Boston and another three hours after that to get the rental car to the little bed -n- breakfast in New Hampshire. Marsha changes positions in her seat and tries to smooth away any winkles in her skirt. She picks up a magazine and tries desperately to focus on reading it, but her thoughts keep going back to the meeting she had with the school board last week. At 46 years old and suffering from empty nest syndrome, Marsha decided to take a job as a 4th grade art teacher. She loves the job and the children but now budget cuts are threatening her future. How dare they say Art is not a literary subject! She feels somehow that she has to prove that the expression of art connects directly with the soul, all the time knowing that the administration won't care. Her defense seem weak to her. She tries to crunch some numbers in her head, but without the use of pen and paper she concedes to the fact that these are only preliminary thoughts on her part. Marsha has always been good with numbers. That's probably why her husband has encouraged her to manage the budget in their household. Again she looks over at her sleeping husband, her heart exploding with love for him.
"Maybe it's the altitude" she says quietly.
Robert Thompson turned 55 last month and she teased him that he was now on the down side of 60. The truth is that with his sleek figure and handsome clean shaven face he didn't look a day over 45. Marsha wondered to herself why men always look mare attractive when they grew older while older woman were always trying to find a way to look younger. Her eye caught a Victoria Secret ad in the magazine she was holding as if to taunt her. Even though Marsha was a size 5 she still felt uncomfortable letting her husband see her in her underwear let alone have sex with the lights on. Her mind wandered down the path of their last sexual encounter. ... she had just wanted to cuddle him, to feel close to him, but he had other things on his mind. Robert is a dynamic sexual creature and it seems to Marsha that more often he was only interested in her pleasure. Last week after 22 years of marriage he gave her an orgasm that didn't stop until he did. She had never felt anything like that before. With her head swimming in the memory of that experience she gently woke her husband up.
"Hi Baby" she cooed.
He looked over at her and smiled as if he had been dreaming about her. Robert is a third generation mortician who runs the Thompson Funeral Home in a busy suburb outside the city of Los Angeles. He was taught by his father and grandfather, but always kept up with his schooling and seminars to lean about modern techniques. Thompson Funeral Home is a beautiful two story stone building dating back to the 17th century. It gets painted a brilliant white every five or six years and with it's four hand carved pillars out front, the meticulous landscaping and the stone walkway, the building is a sight to behold. Behind the building on the 5 acre lot stands a farm house that raised 5 generations of Thompson family. To the side of the farm house is a beautiful majestic barn and truth be told, it's Robert's favorite place to be. He loves his work being able to comfort grieving families and giving peace to their loved one is very rewarding to him. However, it was his father that introduced him to his true love when he converted the old barn into a magnificent woodworking shop for custom handmade coffins. This practice brought in a variety of clients from the super rich upper class to the super rich darker class of people. Robert had just completed a beautiful coffin made out of a rare European wood called purple heart. So named by it's deep purple color, once polished, the grain in the wood is just gorgeous. It was Marsha that suggested they use a light yellow silk for the inside liner. The client had said that money was no object. There were some nasty rumors around town about the client and his family, but Robert had to consider the deep respect he had for the dead and the grieving families. Of course there was also the perk of working with a really great wood. The tip from the client was enough to allow the Thompson's to go on this get away. However, things are never that simple for Robert.
In her heart, Marsha knows that somehow he will mix business into this trip. Sure enough, in his first waking moments he is thinking about visiting the small town funeral homes in the area. He smiles as he thinks about the old ways of his profession, it makes him think of family. He turns to his wife and says
"I'm the last one you know."
"Not this again" she replies.
"It's true ... neither of our children seem to be remotely interested in the family business" he said no longer smiling. Marsha turns back to her magazine refusing to make eye contact with him.
"What do you expect? They're girls!" Marsha says in a tone of voice she developed about 12 years ago. Robert knows that tone and uses it to his advantage.
"So what ... I don't care" he turns in his seat and stares out the window to sulk. Marsha decides that she is not going to do this now, not when the plane is landing in 30 minutes.
"Did you have a nice nap?" she inquires sweetly.
Robert gives her the silent treatment, even though he is not actually mad at her.
"Alright!" she demands.
"What's really going on here? What do you want? Let's hear it!" she said firmly.
They had been around this mulberry bush before, he will sulk until he gets what he wants. Perhaps he is feeling a bit of the empty nest himself. Cindy his oldest daughter went off to the LAPD Academy to study criminal behavior last year. Then 5 months ago, Francine his baby left to study at LA's La Cordon Blue hoping to be a top chef one day. Oh how she loved to cook! It's not enough that his children are learning a trade that they have a passion for, Robert still feels like he is being deserted so he continues to sulk. He turned in his seat to look into her eyes.
"I was hoping to see some sights before heading into New Hampshire" he said sulking.
"Is that what this is all about? Of course we could see some things along the way" Marsha replied realizing now the next 3 hours had just turned into 5.
"Ladies and gentlemen. ... this is your Captain speaking, we will be arriving at Boston Logan Airport on time in approximately 23 minutes ... the temperature in Boston is currently 72 degrees. We ask when you see the seatbelt sign, that you would take your seat at that time. The flight attendant will come around to assist anyone that needs help. We ask you to remain in your seat until the plane has come to a complete stop. Once again we thank you for flying Trans Atlantic Airline. ... have a wonderful day.
The sleepy little town of Hudson is suddenly awakened by the sound of fire trucks and ambulances. The neighbors on the back country road of Bush Hill don't know it yet, but soon the news of a mass murder will rock their world. The Chief of police himself has responded to the call. He is a tall round man with a head full of dark thick curly hair.
Chief Clyde Miller is no stranger to mass murder he has seen it before in his 27 year career as a police officer. He had moved to this quiet little town in hopes to retire without incident. However, this would be the first mass murder that this little town has seen in more than a decade.
"Oh boy. ... this is gonna be bad" he said out loud as he speeds his cruiser to the scene. The call came in from Edith Whitmore, the pastors wife of the local Baptist Church. Chief Miller can only image the hysterics that await him. He will do the interview himself, he has already decided that. His thoughts are disturbed as the radio crackles to life.
"Chief?. ... Are you there? ... Chief?. ... It's Randy ... Oh man we got a mess here. I ain't seen nothing like this ... Chief??? Are you there?
"Randy" the Chief responded, "stay calm, I'm trying to get a hold of the state M.E., so for Christ sake don't let anyone in that house. I'm just turning down the back way on to Bush Hill now. ... be there in 2 minutes OK?"
"YYYeah ... OK" Randy chokes.
Chief Miller holsters the microphone and slows down around the dangerous curve of this winding back road. Part of him is thankful that the crime scene is in a remote area of town, not to many trill seekers to deal with. As he rounds the last corner Chief Miller sees his deputy Randy in the bushes across the street retching his guts out.
"That's gonna cost him five years of his life" Clyde Miller thinks to himself. The scene is relatively quiet. One of the other deputies is potting up the mandatory DO NOT CROSS tape around the perimeter of the house. They can't let a bunch of yahoos in there messing up the crime scene.
He barely got his cruiser in park when Edith Whitmore was at his window.
"Oh Clyde ... it's just awful! Sharon is on the kitchen floor with about a dozen knives in her back and her poor little girl Annie is on the stairs out back with her head bashed in!" Edith exclaimed as she started shaking all over. The Chief can see her eyes start to glaze over and recognizes this as shock.
"Oh shit" he says as he climbs out of his cruiser. He grabs Edith by the shoulders and in one quick move shakes her slightly.
"How many times do I have to tell you to address me as Chief Miller?" he demands.
This response snapped her back to reality and now he can conduct the interview on a professional level.
"Sorry. ... I, I just can't believe this is happening" she said looking down at her feet.
"Edith, it's gonna be ok" he says earnestly and makes eye contact with her. In the distance he hears one of his deputies calling.
"Chief ... over here. ... you gotta see this!" the voice is coming from the west side of the property. Chief Miller starts to head over there when he turns back to Edith.
"I need you to come down to the station and give me a full report. If you go home, and I think you should, I'll call you later. OK?" he said softly. She doesn't answer, just simply nods her head and walks off. As the Chief crosses the yard to the west side of the property he can't help but notice how plush and green the grass is and that the landscaping is clean and manicured. It doesn't represent abuse or neglect often seen in depressive suicide cases. The deputy was standing in front of a modest well kept little shed, pointing to inside. Chief Miller already knows what he will find. Annie's stepfather, John, is hanging just inches off the ground by a heavy nylon rope.
"Aw geezs, It's gonna be a long night. We got a murder suicide on our hands. ... Damn it!" the Chief announces.
The deputy takes two steps back and collapses to his knees.
He is a two year rookie and the most action he has ever seen is when he broke up a bar room fight between two guys he grew up with. Chief Miller turns his attention to the living.
"Nobody gets on this property until the guys from Concord are done. ... you got that? Has anybody seen Billy?" he bulked.
Co-workers and bystanders alike are looking at him with glorified respect in their eyes, he is taking charge of this mess and they all thank him for it.
The non-stop flight into Boston was beginning to lose altitude over the beautiful October foliage of New England. Robert pulls his wife into him so she can enjoy the view. He was no longer sulking when he said,
"Would you look at that ... it's almost as gorgeous as you." Marsha feels her face begin to flush as she is staring at Gods glorious show.
Suddenly she feels her stomach do a flip-flop, the goose bumps appear on her arms and a small shudder starts at the top of her head working its way down the spine to her tail bone. She immediately tries to process what is happening. Did they just hit an air pocket? No, what was it her Grandmother used to say? Oh yeah ... it feels like a goose just walked over my grave. What the heck does that mean anyhow? Her thoughts are broken when she realizes the hair on the back of her neck is standing up. She sits back in her seat and wonders how something so beautiful could make her feel so strange, something wasn't right. Marsha takes a deep breath, decides not to tell her husband, and stores the feeling inside her memory box marked
The plane landed without incident and the rental car was a breeze. Before they knew it they were cruising in the afternoon sun on their way to Boston Harbor. The day was magical to say the least; the USS Constitution sailed into the harbor that very afternoon for the first time in one hundred years. The tall sailing ship was a thing to behold.
Made completely of teak wood and brass, it was built over 120 years ago. Robert thought he had died and gone to heaven. People were starting to gather very quickly as reporters pushed onto the pier all looking for that perfect front page shot.
Slowly, the Thompson's moved away from the waters edge and the magnificent vessel. They walked very leisurely back to the rental car holding hands the entire time. They talked and laughed, they discussed what an amazing historical event they had just witnessed. As they approached the car, Robert let go of her hand, put his arm around her and said,
"How about we ride north for some real New England clam chowder?"
Well, north was the direction she wanted to go and she was a little hungry, so she was thrilled at the idea. She had started to push that nasty little feeling further and further back. This day was turning out great! As they rode north the conversation between them was light and the foliage was outstanding. They were both feeling real good about picking this time of the year to come here. They found a clam chowder restaurant not far from the main road and sat on the deck overlooking the bay to eat their treat. The cool air and the hot chowder was a great combination and Marsha thinks to herself, "Wow it doesn't get any better than this."
The sun is starting to set and her thoughts wander to the cozy little bed-n-breakfast further north in New Hampshire. Somehow she just knows it's going to be like the rest of this day ... Great! She looks over at the only man she has ever loved to see him staring out into the bay. The light from the setting sun catches his eyes, is that worry she sees in those eyes?
It took the medical examiners two hours to get to the scene. Meanwhile, no one had heard from Billy. He didn't come home, none of his friends had seen him and everyone at the scene was beginning to fear the worst. ... he was somewhere inside the house. The M.E. moved in quickly taking pictures and gathering evidence. The team had their own agenda as they moved cautiously through the house. One of the team members found Billy in the upstairs bathroom. He came back down and whispered quietly in his bosses ear.
"Chief Miller?" the M.E. called.
As Chief Clyde Miller approached him the M.E. said,
"Can I see you over here?"
"Sure no problem, what can I do for you?" Miller replied.
"We found a teenage boy upstairs, can you identify him for us?" the M.E. asked in a low tone.
"I'll do my best" he said also keeping his voice calm and discrete. He was led through the house in a way that would not disturb anything and when they got to the upstairs bathroom door, Chief Miller let out a big sigh.
"Oh crap. ... that's Billy alright, son of a bitch!" he announced. Billy's wide eyed expression was incredibly lifeless under two inches of water. Miller knew that with his hands tied behind his back, poor Billy didn't stand a chance. He tried not to stare at the 14 year olds face, so he directed his eyes to focus on Billy's leg hanging over the edge of the tub. In the laces of the shoe he sees what appears to be a piece of trash, a piece of paper that gets stuck in your laces on a windy day? Not really ... Oh what do you care? Just grab it already. ... the voice in his head tells him. Miller makes the sign of the cross on his chest as the medical team continue down the hallway. As he turned to follow the team he grabbed that little piece of trash and stuffed it in his pocket. Later driving home, he would wonder why he did that.
After investigating the rest of the house Chief Miller stepped outside never more thankful of the cool afternoon air. Now.... We wait, he thought.
Miller wonders if he has enough time to conduct an interview. He looks over to see Edith Whitmore crying in the arms of a female friend. It was Stacy Jenkins and she had a desperate look on her face.
Excerpted from "Terror Town"
Copyright © 2017 E.B. Dart.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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