read an excerpt >>>
book details

cover detail
buy the book

THE LAST BLUE NOON IN MAY
A Harrison Weaver Mystery (#6)
Author: Joseph L.S. Terrell
First Edition
5.5"x 8.5" Trade Paperback
136p; Retail $14.95US
Retail: $14.95US
ISBN 978-1-62268-125-9 print
ISBN 978-1-62268-126-6 ebook
LCCN 2017943765


Chapter One


At first, I assumed Chief Deputy Odell Wright was deep in thought as he sat alone in the windowless interrogation room at the sheriff's office. With his back to me, he pored over a thick sheaf of papers from a case file. The file did not look like a new one. It was too dog-eared and some of the pages appeared yellowed with age, including a few faded newspaper articles pushed to one side.
    But something about his overall posture told me there was more to it than simple contemplation. His shoulders, usually so broad and erect, were slumped and rounded. He rubbed the palm of one hand across his close-cropped black hair, which had only the beginnings along his temples of silvery gray. Then he propped his chin up with the same palm. He seemed to lack the stamina or the will to hold his head up.
    I stood in the open doorway, ready to speak to him. But I decided not to. I stayed perfectly still. Maybe it was my imagination but I sensed he gave the tiniest shake of his head in dismay as he turned page after page of the report in front of him.
    Quietly, I stepped fully back into the hallway. A few feet from the door to the sheriff's office, I saw Mabel. She had stopped and watched me move away from the interrogation room. A tired smile softened her face.
    Mabel has been with the sheriff's department maybe a hundred years. Well, certainly not that long, although to hear her tell it, it's been about that. She worked first for the long-time Sheriff Claxton, starting there when she was a relatively young woman. Difficult to think of Mabel ever being young. After Sheriff Claxton's death several years ago, she stayed on and serves Sheriff Eugene Albright with the same dedication.
    I can't imagine the sheriff's office without Mabel. Today she wore one of her usual loose-fitting tops in muted green and brown and a full skirt that came down to mid-calf. Her shoes were the comfortable looking soft black ones that ran over a bit on the side.
    She eyed me and remained still. I approached her and stood close. Tilting my head back toward the interrogation room, I said, "He okay?"
    Mabel gave the slightest little nod. "It's May fourth," she said softly.
    I knew there was a quizzical cast to my face, an eyebrow raised. Taking my cue from her, I lowered my voice. "Yes?"
    She turned one palm toward her small office, which was next to the sheriff's. When I followed her in, she moved behind her desk and eased herself into the large, leatherette upholstered, high-back chair. The chair was a castoff of one the sheriff had used before getting an even fancier one. Without speaking she pointed to one of the straight chairs in front of her desk, and I took it. A small green lamp on her desk glowed softly, illuminating a few prints on the wall. One was by local artist James Melvin of a peaceful front porch scene with two rocking chairs overlooking the beach and the ocean. Behind her was a large framed map of Dare County and much of the Outer Banks. Her little office looked homier than anything else in the sheriff's office there in downtown Manteo's courthouse.
    I'm not sure why, but I almost whispered when I queried, "May fourth?"
    She had the softest, kindest expression around her eyes. "Yes. Every May fourth he goes over that file from beginning to end, page by page."
    I leaned forward so I could catch all of her words.
    Mabel said, "May fourth is the anniversary of the day his little sister disappeared. She was nine years old. This is the twenty-first — no, the twenty-second — anniversary of her disappearance. Her abduction, it had to be. And never any trace. Not the slightest."
    I sank back in my chair, shaking my head. I was stunned. This was the first I knew about that, and I had been acquainted with Odell Wright for almost five years now. Maybe we were not close, but with an effective and smooth enough working relationship from time to time, and I certainly held him in high regard as a lawman and human being. He was always gracious and blessed with a wry sense of humor, and that was how I knew him. Yet, I didn't have any idea about this tragedy that obviously plagued him.
    Her voice soft, Mabel said, "Odell has never gotten over it. Neither did his parents. His mother's dead now. I think the tragedy just broke her heart and her spirit to live. His daddy's still alive but I don't think he's in good health."
    Looking over Mabel's gray head to something a thousand yards into the distance, I said, "We never really know what ghosts other people wrestle with, do we?"
    Mabel said, "Odell was only about eighteen or nineteen when this happened. But he got real involved with Sheriff Claxton and the others trying to find her, find out what happened. He was here at the courthouse every day, and with the search parties that were organized. He practically lived here, it seemed like." She took a deep breath, glanced down at her hands, and then back up into my face. "It was because of this, I know, that made Odell decide he wanted to be a lawman."
    "He's never given up on it? Her disappearance?"
    "No. Not at all." She compressed her lips for an instant. "Of course, he doesn't say anything about it much anymore but I know it still is with him, and every May on this date he gets that file and reads every word in it. Takes him two hours or more. No one bothers him."
    "So sad," I said. "Never, ever any leads? Not the slightest? No suspects? Nothing?" Then I added softly, hating to ask it: "Her body . . . her body never found?"
    She shook her head. "Never any trace of her. As for suspects, a couple of people were questioned. People that the sheriff knew had . . . well, had something of a reputation . . . but they all had alibis and nothing panned out." Two little wrinkles creased her brow. "It was such a pretty day, too. I remember that because the very next day a front came in and it turned real chilly and rainy. But still a search party—lots of volunteers, in raincoats and ponchos—searched and searched. All along the water, the woods over on what's now Festival Park, all around. White people and black. Lots of folks. It was about the first time something like this had ever happened."
    Then, obviously remembering something about the little girl, she permitted herself the slightest trace of a smile. "Luanne was such a cute young thing, too. Very friendly. Came down here to the waterfront lots of afternoons. Always smiling and sort of singing to herself. Whistled tunes a lot too."
    Then Mabel's eyes focused on a slip of paper near her phone. "Oh, I've got to get this message to the sheriff."
    I took that as a signal to leave, and I stood, fingers of one hand resting on the edge of her desk. "Thank you for telling me that," I said quietly. "I had no idea."
    Mabel gave one of her kindly smiles and pushed herself up from her chair, taking the slip of paper in one hand. She sighed deeply and made her way around her desk. She's given up on dieting, she says, and vows she'll not complain about her knees and hips aching. She doesn't have to complain. It's easy to see the pain in the way she moves. But her determined smile is always there and except for the look in her eyes and the way she clenches he jaw muscles when she walks, you'd never know she was hurting.
    I stepped out into the hall just ahead of her, then moved aside to let her pass. She nodded at me, smiled, and headed to the sheriff's office with the slip of paper in her hand.
    Quietly, I retraced my passage back toward the interrogation room. I paused there a moment. Odell Wright sat in the same position but stared off into the distance as if he weren't closeted in that tiny room. It was as if he could see back into the past, to relive those years of long ago; as if, by some means, he could conjure up those last hours when his sister disappeared, and bring her back again.

copyright 2017 Joseph L.S. Terrell


THE LAST BLUE NOON IN MAY
Author: Joseph L.S. Terrell
First Edition
5.5"x 8.5" Trade Paperback
136p; Retail $14.95US
Retail: $14.95US
ISBN 978-1-62268-125-9 print
ISBN 978-1-62268-126-6 ebook
LCCN 2017943765

book details
read an excerpt
cover detail
buy the book >>>

To purchase from your local independent bookseller click here:

Purchase at amazon.com

Purchase at barnes&noble.com

Purchase at booksamillion.com:

 

NOTE TO BOOKSELLERS:
All Bella Rosa Book titles are available through
Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Brodart Company, Book Wholesalers, Inc. (BWI),
The Book House, Inc.,
and Follett distributors.

Booksellers, Schools, and Libraries can also purchase
direct from Bella Rosa Books.
For quantity discounts contact sales@bellarosabooks.com .


Home    All Titles    Upcoming Titles    Submission Guidelines    Info Requests

 

 

www.bellarosabooks.com

© Bella Rosa Books