Guest Chick: Susan Van Kirk

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.

I was in the middle of writing a mystery, and I took a break to pick up a few groceries. At the time, my brain was busy trying to write myself out of a tricky situation. That is my excuse.

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

Facebook:      http://www.facebook.com/SusanVanKirkAuthor/

Twitter:    @susan_vankirk

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/586.Susan_Vankirk

Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/susanivankirk/

 

 

52 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Susan Van Kirk

  1. What a hassle, Susan! I don’t think there’s really a moral here. We’ve all done things like this. Luckily the last time I locked my keys in my car, the clothes-hanger method of opening doors still worked. Also luckily no criminals ever tried it. I hope you rewarded yourself by buying some replacement ice cream after that ordeal was over.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ah, so true. Fortunately, I haven’t had this happen again, but I’m writing a book presently so I’m sure something else will happen.

      Like

  2. Like Marla, I’m not sure there’s a moral. I’ve locked keys in the car, although now I do have a fancy-schmancy car that supposedly won’t let me do that. I haven’t deliberately tried (although it’s also a push-button ignition and I have often left the keys in the center console – fortunately, the safety features worked correctly and I was not locked out).

    And yes, I hope you bought more ice cream!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I think the moral to the story is that whenever I’m writing a book I’m spending a lot of time thinking about the characters, plot problems, etc. Those thoughts take me away from thinking about my actual life, so being a writer does occasionally have its difficulties.
      And yes, I bought more ice cream!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I too have left my purse in tue shopping cart… but still not careful enough to lock my car. Live dangerously!

    And thank you for your leadership to the Guppies 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You’re so welcome. I’m still learning
      It’s a little easier to live dangerously in a larger town. My small town is filled with people willing to help me.

      Like

  4. Join the club. I’ve had to climb in windows, too, in more than one house. (We’ve moved a lot.) That’s when we started leaving a house key in the dirt of a potted plant on the front porch. That has a worse outcome than any of this, eventually, I’m sorry to say, but, as you say, that’s a story for another day. I believe the neighbors called the cops on my son-in-law when he climbed through his own window, if I remember correctly. So sorry about the ice cream!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s going to take a long time, Kaye, for me to get that picture of you climbing through a window out of my head. (-: When we did have a locksmith, I locked myself out of my house and was waiting for the locksmith when flowers arrived from my children for my birthday. It was some birthday. I was writing a book then too. I guess maybe that’s dangerous to my health.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your story reminded me of the time my special needs 4 year old granddaughter was playing with my keys while I buckled her into her car seat. I closed her door to walk around to the driver’s side. Just as my hand reached for the handle to open my door, she accidentally hit the button on the key fob and locked the car. No amount of prompting could get her to understand how to unlock the door – she just giggled. The fire department showed up and because it was new with all the security bells and whistles, can’t ever break in type of car, they had to break the window to retrieve the keys. And yes, it was one of those cars that it was supposed to be impossible to lock the keys inside. Lesson learned… buy cheap keys and make a key ring for the granddaughter to play with and to keep my keys in my pocket at all times!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I must say, Kim, that is a story topper. I can’t imagine having a granddaughter locked in a car at age 4. My children would never let me babysit again. I’m glad your story has a happy ending. I hope the insurance paid for the window!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Had a great chortle over your post, Susan (sorry). I used to do the lock-out thing all the time when I had small children and a crazy job in NYC. (Always some kind soul passing by to help. Really.) Recently I returned to “help” my very-pregnant daughter and literally broke the key in her front door lock. In the rain. Locksmith assured me this happens ALL the time. But I had my purse essentials with me because I have discovered the secret of life: fanny packs. 1990s fashion has returned and I am so much smarter now. Your books sound awesome and thanks for visiting Chicks today!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ah, the stories locksmiths can probably tell. Actually, that might make a great character in a book! Isn’t it amazing that we get smarter every year. And thanks for inviting me to visit!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Robin and locked ourselves out of our rental car in Alaska during the wintertime in the middle of nowhere (we’d gotten out to take a photo and the car doors locked automatically when we closed them, since we’d left the ignition on to keep the heater going.) We flagged down a passing motorist who took us to the nearest roadhouse, called AAA, then got a ride back to the still-running, locked car, and did swing dancing to keep warm till they showed up to break into the car for us. Oy.

    Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, Susan, and thanks for all you do for the Guppies! And congrats on the new series–it sounds terrific!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So many great stories and material for me to use in another book. My gosh. In Alaska? In the wintertime? Thank goodness for AAA. I bought all three of my kids a AAA membership, and I renew it every Christmas. And so kind that a motorist stopped and helped you. Thanks for inviting me!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Susan,
    I feel your pain in this story, but I must share that when I lived in New Jersey (had just moved there) I went to get the newspaper…yes, they were delivering it then…and the door slammed shut behind me from a gust of wind. My dogs were locked inside. My husband had gone to work and there were no cell phones at that time. Oh, and did I mention I was wearing only a bathrobe with NOTHING on under it. I did find an open window and I thank God to this day that I did. I prayed no one was watching me climb in that window with a robe hiked up around my waist. Colleen Mooney, Sisters in Crime: New Orleans

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am still laughing as I type this. Thank goodness for unlocked windows. My guess is that police have a lot of great stories like this too. What a great story, although I’m sure at the time it wasn’t so funny.

      Like

  9. GAH! I’m having flashbacks to the time my husband had to boost me onto the roof of the garage so I could break in through an upstairs window…And the time my husband walked out to get the newspaper, and our two-year-old locked him out of the house. Ahh, memories…

    But there’s a mystery plot in there somewhere, or at least a good logic problem. In one of my Frannie Shoemaker cozies, Frannie is forced to drive the killer somewhere, they have to stop for gas, and when she gets out of the car she hits the kiddie lock, trapping him in the back seat!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A kiddie lock. Now, that is a great idea! Isn’t it amazing how our children often teach us skills we might not have learned otherwise? There is something to be said for life’s experiences. Great story! Your poor husband.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I am loving all these stories about lock-outs, but probably only because it has never happened to me! Hubs and I both carry all keys to all cars, I have a house key attached to the mailbox key and one hidden outside, I never EVER close the door tightly if I just run outside for something, and I often make sure the back door is unlocked if I go out the front. This all stems from my days of doing daycare at home when my kids were little. Same reason I never run out of grocery essentials … we only had one car at the time, and hubs had it!

    That said, I tell people all the time that my locked car or house won’t keep a burglar out … it’ll just keep me out! And I doubt I’m as ingenious as any of you are to get myself out of a jam. Kudos to all!

    Susan … thanks so much for visiting us today. Your books are new to me so I can’t wait to dive in!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You and your husband have it all under control. But I have to say, you may be one of the few people I’ve met, even virtually, who hasn’t locked herself out of the house or apartment somehow. Good planning usually helps avoid disasters. You are a wise woman.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow. So sorry about that. It’s a frustrating things when safety features don’t work out. Glad you eventually were able to get in.

    But you lost your ice cream? The horror!!!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Well, live and learn. Fortunately, my children are grown up and on their own, so at least I didn’t have to worry about locking them in the car or figuring out what to do with them while I paced. As for ice cream, there is always more!

      Like

  12. Thanks for all that you do for the Guppies, and congrats on the new series, Susan!

    As a kid, I remember locking the car by accident at one of those full-service car wash places (oops!).

    I’ve also locked myself out of my car before because I put my purse in the trunk. I was visiting a client, so she actually had to find a neighbor who did the hanger trick to open it. Guess having an old car is nice sometimes!

    (Nowadays I keep my keys in my pocket just in case.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Please tell me at the car wash you did not have 10 cars lined up behind you. I’m so glad to hear you put your purse in the car trunk. I was afraid I was alone. And yes, that hanger must work on older cars. I have moved my keys to my pocket too.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh, do I have stories! I hope one of y’all can use this in a book sometime. Of course, I have locked my keys in the car (SUV) – twice! With it running (before the super safety mechanism of today’s cars.) The first time, I tried calling Cajun hubby but he was at work and the ringer shut off. Tried BFF (at the time) and her phone had been disconnected (forgot to pay the bill for 4 months!) I finally call a locksmith. He starts to do the Slim Jim down the driver’s door when I started yelling. “It’s a new car and you can’t use one of those anymore!” “Well then how the he** do I get it open?” I rolled my eyes and said, “you can use it on the passenger door!” Thankfully he had not got that far on the driver’s door so he was able to get in. That was great until I purchased a new SUV that had all the bells and whistles. You guessed it. I locked the keys in, while it was running, thinking I can get back in when I closed the back door. Wrong. This one wouldn’t allow you to open any door since it locked itself while it was running. (Safety again!) New locksmith (didn’t even bother calling anyone else this time) and told him he would have to make me a temp key so I can go to dealer to get keys inside recomputed. I tried to explain that at least five times before he just told me to call a tow and go to dealer. Well, heck, he could have said that at the beginning. Oh, and full of groceries this time.

    I am excited to read your books, Susan, and thank you for visiting with the Chicks.

    ps, I sure hope you got some good, premium ice cream after all that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the fact that you figured out the second time that it wouldn’t be any good to call anyone but the locksmith. See, we do learn things. Unfortunately, our only locksmith passed away and no one has taken his place. Maybe I should start thinking about that for another retirement job. I have a feeling there would be lots of work.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Aw, Susan, I can empathize! I’ve locked myself out of my car and my house several times over the years. We have a car now that can be opened with some kind of app on the cell phone — not that I know how to do it. But I could call my husband if I need to. 🙂 Thanks for visiting with the Chicks today — and congrats on the new series!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You know, I should look into that. I still have room for a few apps, and that might be a good idea. At least I had my cell phone at the time of this lockout.

      Like

      1. The key in the fake rock was the one the kids used to get into our house and rob us blind. You’re never all that safe!

        Like

  15. I almost forgot about the time I ran into the house and left my 3 year old in the car, running, because it was cold out. He locked himself in! I could NOT talk him into doing the “click click,” which he loved to do, because he was crying that I was outside and he was inside. I had to call my husband to come home from work and unlock the car. Without the baby knocking it into gear, thank goodness. And yes, I’d put him in the car seat. There was never one made that could hold that kid.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a wonderful post! This story resonates so much…my family has a history of locking keys in cars and campers whilst on vacation. Once we had to go in through the trunk and remove the back seat of a car in order to get back inside!

    So glad you had a happy ending to your ordeal, though!

    Thank you very much for visiting us today, Susan, and congratulations on your latest book!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And thank you, Cynthia. I feel so much better knowing I didn’t have to take the back seat out to get back in. In fact, I also feel so much better knowing that I have a lot of company when it comes to locking myself out of my car and house. Your blog is great therapy!

      Like

    1. And thanks to you, Edith. I’m ordering your July 21st release from my favorite independent bookstore. I love the new cover.

      Like

  17. What a great post, Susan! And oh my goodness, what an ordeal. Hopefully it–and the other locked-out stories–provide fodder a-plenty for future books!

    Your new series sounds absolutely delightful, and I can’t wait to read A Death at Tippitt Pond. Thank you so much for visiting us and for all you do for Guppies.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s