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Book Excerpt From "A Fool and His Honey: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery"


Darius gave me a strange look, almost as if he’d never seen me before, which at the time I wrote off as conservative disapproval of my attitude toward my husband.

But he got down to work. After a brief conference, I’d given him the green light to pull the trailer as close as possible, and he began unloading rapidly in the chilly air. The sky was gray, and rain was supposed to start tonight. The wind began to pick up, blowing my long tangle of brown hair into my eyes. I shivered, and stuck my hands in the pockets of my heavy red sweater. As I turned to go inside, I looked over at the roses I’d planted at the corner of the concrete porch at the back of the house, outside my kitchen. They needed pruning, and I was trying to remember if I was supposed to do it now or wait until February, when a piece of wood flew by my head.

“Mr. Quattermain?” I said, whirling around. “You okay?”

Darius Quattermain, deacon of Antioch Holiness Church, began to sing “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” in a manic bellow. He also kept up with his task, with one big difference. Instead of stacking the wood neatly under the stairs, Darius pitched split pieces of oak in all directions.

“Whoa!” I said loudly. Even to my own ears, I sounded panicky instead of authoritative. When the next piece of firewood missed my shoulder by only a foot or so, I retreated into the house, locking the door behind me. After a minute, I risked a peek out the window. Darius showed no signs of calming down, and there was still a lot of wood on the back of his pickup. I was thinking of it as ammunition now, instead of fuel.

I dialed the sheriff’s department, since our house is outside the city limits.

“SPACOLEC,” said Doris Post. “SPACOLEC” stands for Sparling County Law Enforcement Complex. It sounded like Doris was chewing a mouthful of gum. I figured she must be trying to quit smoking again.

“Doris, this is Aurora Teagarden.”

“Oh, hi, hon. How you doing?”

“Just fine, thank you, hope you’re well. Ah—I have a situation here.”

“Is that right? What’s happening?”

“You know Darius Quattermain?”

“The black man who delivers wood? Got six kids? Wife works at Food Fantastic?”

“Right.” I peered out the window, hoping that somehow the situation would have changed for the normal. Nope. “He’s gone crazy.”

“Whereabouts?”

“In my side yard. He seemed just fine when he got here, but all of a sudden he started singing and chunking wood.”

“He’s still there?”

“Yes, he is. As a matter of fact . . .” I stared out the window in appalled fascination. “Um, Doris, he’s taking his clothes off now. And still singing. And chunking.”

“You locked in that house, Roe?”

“Yes, and I’ve set the security system.” Guiltily, I reached over and punched in the code. “I don’t think he means to hurt anyone, Doris. He just can’t help himself. It’s like he took drugs, or had a seizure, or something. So whoever comes out here, if they could take it real easy?”

“I’ll tell them what you said,” Doris told me. She didn’t sound bored or lackadaisical anymore. “You move away from the windows, Roe. A car’s on the way.”

“Thanks, Doris.”