Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) by Annie Acorn
Those of you who follow this blog will remember that last summer I flew to Birmingham, Alabama to work with the Birmingham Area Writers’ Group and some of the members of From Women’s Pens. Well, time flies, and so am I. Once again, I am heading to Birmingham to meet with these wonderful gals and my very talented graphic cover artist, Angel Nichols, as well as to enjoy a visit with Son #1.
As usual with me, things did not get off to a great start.
First thing on the morning of my intended departure, I realized I had forgotten to purchase a new box of Earplanes – a necessity whenever I fly. Quickly, I threw on some clothes and drove to the grocery, only to be greeted by a full parking lot, unusual so early on a weekday morning. Then it hit me. It was Friday, and the buses had already arrived from the local retirement community.
The store was totally packed, something my suitcase was not yet. Gray hair was obviously in, as one tiny old woman after another zoomed by me, despite the fact all of them stood at about 2’5” and, therefore, could not see over their carts.
“Ouch!” I let out as one of them struck me in the calves with the front of her cart leaving, I was sure, a pair of matching bruises the size of two football fields.
“You need to watch out,” my attacker growled as she hurled past, explaining in part why my car insurance had doubled in price when I moved to the area.
If these wild women shoved their grocery carts around in this way, what did they do when behind the steering wheels of their cars? I tried not to think about it.
Then I recalled the vehicle that had held me up in the parking lot. And, yes, my choice of words is correct here, because it hadn’t been a person, but rather an empty vehicle that had obstructed my passage.
Turning into my parking aisle of choice, I had applied my car’s brake and patiently waited for a car up ahead that appeared to be pulling out. Halfway out of its parking space, obstructing clear passage, you would’ve thought so, but oh, no, this car was empty – its owner having parked and left the rear doors, trunk, and back bumper extended into the driving area.
So here I was, having finally made my way into the store, trying desperately to push my way through to the ear, nose, and throat pharmacy aisle, when I heard a shrill voice exert itself up ahead of me.
“Haroooooold!” The shrill tones asserted themselves like fingernails crossing a chalk board. “Harooooooold! What do you want for dinner, Harooooold?”
Looking closer, I determined that Haroooooold must be the 3’ tall munchkin whose wrist was attached to the cart in front of me by a pink ribbon. Harooooold was all over gray – gray pants, gray shirt, and a three gray hairs that stood proudly atop his otherwise bald head.
“Harooooold! Do you want brisket or baked chicken? You must answer me now!”
I was tempted to answer for Harooooold myself, just to move things along, but he must have mumbled something himself, because the voice’s body threw out a claw and picked up a package of chicken at precisely the same moment my calves and the outer side of my right knee received yet another blow from behind.
Gritting my teeth I moved forward, grateful for the small mercy of slow progress, only to feel a soft touch on my arm.
“Could you reach me that can of cherries, dear, please?” I looked down – far down – into the blue eyes of another munchkin whose face, surrounded as it was by a soft cloud of snow-white hair, wore the sweetest smile that I’d ever seen.
Now, I’m only 5’5” myself, but to this woman I must have been perceived as a giant. “Sure.” I sent her one of my own smiles, certain it would fall far short of hers, but nonetheless willing to try. “Would you like one or two cans?”
Her eyes having darted around, she made a quick decision before replying, “Two, please, you may not be here the next time I need them.”
Placing two cans of cherries in her cart, I graciously refrained from telling her she could definitely count on my not being there the next time before I proceeded.
Setting an example for any fledgling NFL running back, I began expertly weaving my way through the sea of carts spread across the more open area in front of the deli. Making good time to the pharmacy aisle, I arrived ahead of the crowd, slightly breathless.
Quickly I, too, made a decision and grabbed three boxes of Earplanes – one for now and two for later, all too afraid that this group of shoppers might indeed be here next time I found myself in need of this precious item.
For once in my life, I was able to go through the Express aisle, both removing a longstanding item from my Bucket List and aiding my progress towards the exit. Paying cash and preparing to carry, I grabbed my receipt before hurrying to the parking lot.
Passing by the window of the gatehouse to my community, I paused and spoke briefly with the young girl who was stationed there. “You should sell T-shirts and mugs,” I advised her. “They should announce ‘I survived the Giant parking lot on a Friday.’”
“You’re not the first one to suggest that.” She shook her head sadly at the missed opportunity. “Management won’t let me.”
Back at my home, I threw a box of the Earplanes into my purse, secure in the knowledge that at least one of my belongings had been packed. At this point, I only needed to get the rest of the 45 million things that I required pulled together and stuffed into my suitcase before my ride got there in just about ten minutes… One thing was for sure, I wouldn’t need to pack any shorts, no matter how hot it was going to be down in Birmingham. The bruises on my calves and the outside of my right knee having already turned a dark purple.
For a moment, I wondered why I was thrusting myself into the air for such a short visit. But then, I remembered Denise Hay’s sweet nature, Sheila Lawrence’s sense of humor, Angel Nichols’ wonderful talent, and Stephanie Naman’s shy smile, not to mention Son #1’s wonderful bear hugs, and deep down inside, I knew that my trip, however short, would be worth it.
NOTE: And it was!
A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! by Annie Acorn
Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries) by Annie Acorn
Also available for NOOK!
Also available for NOOK!
When to Remain Silent (Annie Acorn’s Kindle Short Mysteries) by Annie Acorn
Also available for NOOK!