We are absolutely delighted to welcome Susan Van Kirk, president of the online chapter of Sisters in Crime (“Guppies”) and author of the Endurance Mysteries. A DEATH AT TIPPITT POND is the first in her new Sweet Iron Mystery series, and Susan has graciously offered to give an ebook of this much-anticipated mystery to one lucky commenter today!
Life’s Safety Features
I live in a small town and have many friends, traits that I thought would see me through all of life’s perils. Ah, gentle readers. Beware of making deep and profound statements about having all mysteries and misfortunes solved. I’m afraid this is a tale of absent-mindedness, small towns, safety features, and well-meaning, but absent friends.
After shopping, I wheeled the groceries to my car. I set my purse down in the car trunk so I wouldn’t leave it in the grocery cart—an episode I’ll save for a later date. Closing the trunk, I deposited my cart and grabbed the door handle of my car. It was locked. What is this? I thought. Oh, my purse. And it is where? In the car trunk. The car trunk I just closed. This is silly. I have a car that won’t let me lock my keys inside. Safety feature. I pulled on the handle again, but it wouldn’t give. Car designers must not consider the trunk part of the car. Rats, I thought. In real life, I thought words that I will not write on this page, gentle reader.
Fortunately, I had slipped my cell phone into my pants pocket. I’ll call my friends, they’ll come get me, and I can go home and grab my other set of car keys hanging on the refrigerator in my kitchen. After four unanswered calls to friends, my brain was fully focused, and I came to a disturbing conclusion.
My house is locked. My house key is in my purse. My purse is in my car trunk. Curses on those safety designers.
Now what? I called the police department and asked about locksmiths. I knew the police dispatchers and most of the policemen because I’d had them all as high school students. Small town. As predicted, the dispatcher was very empathetic. Unfortunately, all of her on-duty policemen with lock kits were out on calls. What? A crime wave on a Sunday afternoon in our little town of 10,000? She suggested I call the local towing company, located five minutes away. I did. He came, lumbering into the parking lot in his huge truck.
He used one of those clothes hanger wires that go through the edge of the front window and lift the door handle on the inside. Sadly, safety features kicked in, and every time the handle came up, it set off the car alarm, the car relocked itself with a loud click, and everyone in the parking lot stared at us. It did not help my sense of confidence when he told me I had a newer car and he’d have to Google it to figure out if there was another way. As it turned out, there wasn’t.
I called my next-door neighbor who drove out and picked me up, leaving my locked car and groceries—including ice cream—in the parking lot. Her husband figured we could climb in through a house window and get my keys. He’d also called a friend who was studying on the internet to become a locksmith. Key word: studying. When we pulled into my driveway, we saw her husband standing on my front porch, flashlight in hand in the early evening, helping the locksmith. We determined he’d need to study longer.
Walking around my one-story house, we discovered I was great at locking windows. All but one. And that was the key to our success, gentle readers. My neighbor, being much younger and more agile than I, grabbed a stepstool and climbed in through that window to save the day. Not so much the ice cream.
What do you think? Is there a moral to this story? No one will ever steal my car?
Susan Van Kirk lives at the center of the universe—the Midwest—and writes during the ridiculously cold, snowy, icy winters. Why leave the house and break something? Her Endurance Mysteries—Three May Keep a Secret, The Locket: From the Casebook of TJ Sweeney, Marry in Haste, and Death Takes No Bribes—are humorous cozies about a retired school teacher in the small town of Endurance who finds herself in the middle of murders. Her new series about Beth Russell combines history and mystery in her debut, A Death at Tippitt Pond. Van Kirk taught for 44 years in high school and college, raised three children, miraculously has low blood pressure, and is blissfully retired. You can find out about her books at www.susanvankirk.com