Lifeless in the Lilies – Dale Mayer

Saturday Late Morning … THE FUNERAL FOR Rosie happened Saturday morning, two days after the last debacle. Doreen walked away from the graveside. Rosie’s ashes had been laid to rest, and the crowd had dispersed. Her autopsy stated her death a suicide, having ingested the remainder of her husband’s old heart medicine and a cocktail of other drugs she’d hoarded. That wasn’t why she would be remembered though. No, Rosie had been accused of killing the three little old ladies—the kiwi clique—and her husband, David, which had the entire community up in arms, not to mention the added news of Marsha going to jail for murdering her husband too. Doreen had quietly stepped out of the hype reverberating around town. She watched as Nan walked away ahead of her. Her grandmother would go to a celebration-of-life ceremony, which Doreen had also backed away from, hoping to go home and to just relax. The last few days had been more media sensation than anything. The police were still piecing together the bits and pieces from Rosie’s life, but it was a pretty simple case, where the same drugs had been used in all three of the women’s deaths, the first one being an accident, and Rosie using that as an opportunity to point fingers at Marsha and to take out the other women Rosie considered her enemies. The return of Rosie’s cancer had apparently given her the freedom to make a few changes in her life—such as getting rid of the kiwi clique that had been a pain in her butt. And gave her a supposedly God-given opportunity to point the finger at the one other woman who could ruin her life by telling everyone what their husbands had done. Rosie had never wanted her grandson to know and had lived in fear of what he’d do if he found out. And the police had found the same drug had been given to her husband, who she’d killed years ago.

It looked like it was a pretty simple open-and-shut case, but the end result had left the community in shock. And, of course, the local fair would never be the same again. As Doreen walked by the multiple fresh graves, she stopped to look at various stones and monuments, seeing patches of lilies at various places. Finally she ended up in a complete circle, as she stood over Rosie’s grave. “I hope you’re at peace now,” she said sadly. “It’s not the end I would have wanted for you.” She reached out and picked up a lily and sniffed it, wondering why lilies always represented death. As far as she was concerned, flowers should be for life and rebirth. But so often they were used for funerals. She placed it back into the vase and straightened them out.

She didn’t have her animals with her, out of respect for the others attending the ceremonies dotting the cemetery. It’s a good thing she’d left them at home, as No Pets Allowed signs were everywhere. But being without them? … Well, she felt a little lost herself. Not to mention how worried she was about the upcoming meeting with Mack’s brother, the lawyer. But she’d dragged out as much time as she could here. She needed to go home and to eat Rosie happened Saturday morning, two days after the last debacle. Doreen walked away from the graveside. Rosie’s ashes had been laid to rest, and the crowd had dispersed. Her autopsy stated her death a suicide, having ingested the remainder of her husband’s old heart medicine That wasn’t why she would be remembered though. No, Rosie had been accused of killing the three little old ladies—the kiwi clique—and her husband, David, which had the entire community up Doreen had quietly stepped out of the hype reverberating around town.

She watched as Nan walked away ahead of her. Her grandmother would go to a celebration-of-life ceremony, which The last few days had been more media sensation than anything. The police were still piecing together the bits and pieces from Rosie’s life, but it was a pretty simple case, where the same drugs had been used in all three of the women’s deaths, the first one being an accident, and Rosie using that as an opportunity to point fingers at Marsha and to take out the other women Rosie considered her The return of Rosie’s cancer had apparently given her the freedom to make a few changes in her life—such as getting rid of the kiwi clique that had been a pain in her butt. And gave her a supposedly God-given opportunity to point the finger at the one other woman who could ruin her life by telling everyone what their husbands had done. Rosie had never wanted her grandson to know and had lived in fear of what he’d do if he found out. And the police had found the same drug had been given to her husband, who she’d killed years ago. It looked like it was a pretty simple open-and-shut case, but the As Doreen walked by the multiple fresh graves, she stopped to look at various stones and Finally she ended up in a complete circle, as she stood over Rosie’s grave. “I hope you’re at She reached out and picked up a lily and sniffed it, wondering why lilies always represented death. As far as she was concerned, flowers should be for life and rebirth. But so often they were She didn’t have her animals with her, out of respect for the others attending the ceremonies dotting the cemetery.

It’s a good thing she’d left them at home, as No Pets Allowed signs were everywhere. Not to mention how worried she was about the upcoming meeting with Mack’s brother, the lawyer. But she’d dragged out as much time as she could here. She needed to go home and to eat before the two men arrived, and she had to face the unpleasantness of her now-defunct marriage. She stared at the lilies for one last long moment, sighed, and turned to step away. As she did, a shadow fell over her side, and she felt somebody reaching out for her. She turned with a smile, only to cry out at the blow that came out of nowhere and struck her on the back of her head. She didn’t hear anything but the sounds of footsteps thundering away, as she crashed into the pile of lilies at the graveside. The pain was crushing. Poor Mack.

He would be the one to find her. Lilies. How appropriate. Her last thought before the blackness took her over? She had already come up with a name for the investigation into her own death. Lifeless in the Lilies. before the two men arrived, and she had to face the unpleasantness of her now-defunct marriage. She stared at the lilies for one last long moment, sighed, and turned to step away. As she did, a shadow fell over her side, and she felt somebody reaching out for her. She turned with a smile, only to cry out at the blow that came out of nowhere and struck her on the back of her head. She didn’t hear anything but the sounds of footsteps thundering away, as she crashed into the pile of lilies at the graveside.

The pain was crushing. Poor Mack. He would be the one to find her. Lilies. How appropriate. Her last thought before the blackness took her over? She had already come up with a name for the investigation into her own death. Lifeless in the Lilies. Chapter 1 Saturday Noon … DOREEN WOKE TO sunlight and blue sky, which was immediately overlaid by chaos and a confusion of barks, snaps, yells, and growls. She groaned and rolled, shoving blades of grass into her face. A heavy hand landed on her shoulder.

“Stay where you are. You’ve been hit.” Her eyelids fluttered open to see Mack crouching beside her. She frowned at him. He immediately frowned back. She closed her eyes and whispered, “What happened?” “That’s what I would ask you,” he said, his tone grim. Her eyelids shifted open again, but it was a struggle to keep them that way. “I don’t know,” she cried out, only to shudder, as her voice added to the din. “It’s so noisy. What’s with the noise?” She moaned as the cacophony around her increased.

He leaned over and whispered, “If you’ve got the energy, you’ll want to call off Mugs.” Immediately her eyelids snapped open, and she struggled to sit up. But, as she did, Mack struggled to hold her down. “Stay still,” he ordered. She growled at him. “Let me go.” Hearing another bark beside her, she twisted her head to see Mugs, snapping at a crowd of people and keeping them all back. She whistled only once, yet Mugs caught the sound in his floppy ears and raced toward her. She collapsed back in the grass and stretched out a hand, placing it on his head. But that wasn’t enough.

Mugs buried his face and his snout against her neck and in her hair, snuffling all up and down her side. She chuckled. “I’m okay, buddy. I’m okay.” A collective sigh of relief came from the crowd around her. Something else warm and fuzzy was up against her other arm. When she shifted to look, she saw Goliath curled at her side. She looked up at Mack. “Well, at least they’re here, looking after me.” He nodded, but his tone was grim, as he said in a quiet tone, “I haven’t seen Thaddeus.

He’s gone missing.” Her eyes popped open. “What do you mean?” He shook his head. “Either he’s gone walking or somebody has taken him.” She stared up at him, her heart already filled with joy at having Mugs and Goliath here, then shifting to panic-stricken mode after realizing that Thaddeus may not be. “That’s not good,” she whispered. Yet something else shifted in her brain. “I didn’t have them with me.” She shrugged and said, “Or maybe I did. I have no idea.

” “Let’s leave that for the moment. Tell me. What are you doing here?” he asked. She focused on him, but her mind went blank. “What am I doing where?” she asked cautiously. His eyebrows shot up. “You’re at the cemetery.” She frowned, as she thought about it. “Oh.” Her gaze caught sight of the crushed lilies beside her.

“Oh,” she said. She reached up a hand to her sore head, then realized what happened. “Someone hit sunlight and blue sky, which was immediately overlaid by chaos and a confusion of barks, snaps, yells, and growls. She groaned and rolled, shoving blades of grass into her face. A Her eyelids fluttered open to see Mack crouching beside her. She frowned at him. He immediately Her eyelids shifted open again, but it was a struggle to keep them that way. “I don’t know,” she cried out, only to shudder, as her voice added to the din. “It’s so noisy. What’s with the noise?” She Immediately her eyelids snapped open, and she struggled to sit up.

But, as she did, Mack struggled Hearing another bark beside her, she twisted her head to see Mugs, snapping at a crowd of people and keeping them all back. She whistled only once, yet Mugs caught the sound in his floppy ears and raced toward her. She collapsed back in the grass and stretched out a hand, placing it on his head. But that wasn’t enough. Mugs buried his face and his snout against her neck and in her hair, snuffling all A collective sigh of relief came from the crowd around her. Something else warm and fuzzy was up against her other arm. When she shifted to look, she saw Goliath curled at her side. She looked up He nodded, but his tone was grim, as he said in a quiet tone, “I haven’t seen Thaddeus. He’s gone She stared up at him, her heart already filled with joy at having Mugs and Goliath here, then shifting to panic-stricken mode after realizing that Thaddeus may not be. “That’s not good,” she whispered.

Yet something else shifted in her brain. “I didn’t have them with me.” She shrugged and She frowned, as she thought about it. “Oh.” Her gaze caught sight of the crushed lilies beside her. ,” she said. She reached up a hand to her sore head, then realized what happened. “Someone hit me,” she snapped, glaring up at him. “Did you find him?” He raised his palms. “Of course I didn’t find him,” he said.

“We barely found you.” She stared at the ground, her head twisting to look at the crowd gathered around. “Who found me then?” He pointed off to the side, where a little boy stood close to his mom. “Well, Mugs technically, but also that little boy did.” “Wow. How long ago?” she asked, struggling to sit up again. This time Mack helped her, slipping an arm underneath her back and helping her into a sitting position. She shuddered as the pain ricocheted down her back. “Did he see what happened?” “He said he came here because of Mugs.” She looked over to see Mugs, snuffling the little boy’s hand, and the boy’s expression of absolute rapture on his face as he petted him.

“Mugs does have that effect on some people.” “Only some,” Mack said gently. “A lot of people have learned to run.” “He doesn’t attack everybody,” she said indignantly, not liking the way Mack was thinking. “No, maybe not,” he said, “but he’s certainly attacked enough.” “Well, you could say the same for Goliath for that matter.” “Absolutely I would,” he said, with a humorous tone. Ambulance sirens screamed in the distance. “Wow, somebody else got hurt too?” “Nope,” he said, “that ambulance is for you.” “I’m fine,” she said, with a dismissive wave of her hand.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said gently. “We’ll get you looked over.” She leaned up against his knee, tilting her head to look up at him. “I’m really okay, you know?” “Really? The blood dripping down the side of your head disagrees.” She winced. “Will they cut my hair again?” “That’s hardly the issue,” he said. She twisted and then gasped at the pain. “But it’s not far off,” she muttered. Just then the ambulance arrived. Two men hopped out and raced toward Mack.

“You know what? I only get that kind of attention because you’re here.” He sighed. “I am the one who called them.” “You’re overreacting again,” she grumbled. “Again?” he said in an ominous voice. She grinned. “Well, maybe. But you guys should be out looking for Thaddeus.” “Don’t you worry about Thaddeus. We’ll find him,” Mack murmured.

“I want you to go to the hospital and to get checked over.” “But we don’t always get what we want,” she announced, as she struggled to stand. Just the thought of going to the hospital made her ill. “Oh no, you don’t,” he said, keeping her seated on the ground. “You’re not getting out of it this time.” She tried to ignore him, but, with the paramedics hurrying toward her, she knew that she couldn’t avoid it. Mugs immediately stood and barked at the two paramedics. She called him over, and he came back to her, wagging his tail happily. She gave him a cuddle. “It’s okay, buddy.

They’re here to help me.” He woofed several times and shoved his face up She stared at the ground, her head twisting to look at the crowd gathered around. “Who found me He pointed off to the side, where a little boy stood close to his mom. “Well, Mugs technically, but “Wow. How long ago?” she asked, struggling to sit up again. This time Mack helped her, slipping an arm underneath her back and helping her into a sitting position. She shuddered as the pain She looked over to see Mugs, snuffling the little boy’s hand, and the boy’s expression of absolute “Don’t you worry about Thaddeus. We’ll find him,” Mack murmured. “I want you to go to the “But we don’t always get what we want,” she announced, as she struggled to stand. Just the “Oh no, you don’t,” he said, keeping her seated on the ground.

“You’re not getting out of it this She tried to ignore him, but, with the paramedics hurrying toward her, she knew that she couldn’t avoid it. Mugs immediately stood and barked at the two paramedics. She called him over, and he “It’s okay, buddy. They’re here to help me.” He woofed several times and shoved his face up against her. She hugged him close, and a paramedic crouched in front of her. “Let’s take a look at the injury.” She studied his face. “I think I recognize you.” “You should,” he said.

“I been out to look at injuries you’ve received several times now.” She winced. “It’s not good when the paramedics get to know me by name,” she announced. “It’s not good when the cops get to know you by sight either,” Mack muttered, as he pointed off to the side, where several policemen were, including Chester and Arnold, holding back the crowd. “Oh dear,” she said. “Will I owe them more beer and pizza now?” Chester, who must have been close enough to hear, turned and grinned, giving her a thumbs-up. Mack burst out laughing. She sighed. “I am a little tired,” she admitted. “Well, as long as I know you didn’t do this on purpose.

” She rounded on Mack, then cried out in pain at the sharp movement. “Why did you do that?” “Why did I do what?” “Make me turn like that,” she said. “I didn’t make you turn,” he said, sighing. He moved off to the side, so the paramedic could get a better look at her head. “Besides, why were you outraged at my comment?” “Do you really think I did this to myself?” she asked in an ominous tone, glaring at him. “Of course not,” he said, “but you did agree to meet with my brother this weekend.” “Well, I can’t do it now,” she said, reaching a hand to her head. “I’m hurt.” He snorted at that. “A minute ago, you were just fine.

” “A minute ago, I forgot about your brother,” she snapped back. At that, one of the paramedics tugged on her, and she cried out in pain. “I’m so sorry,” he said, “but we’ll need to take you in. Do you want to walk to the ambulance, or shall we bring over a gurney?” “Oh my,” she said. “I don’t even want to go in the ambulance.” “Too bad,” Mack announced, as he stood and gently lifted her to her feet. “Now, can you walk on your own, or shall we put you on a gurney and wheel you through the crowd?” “Now you’re just being mean,” she announced. “Of course I am,” he said. “I live to bug you and to be mean, apparently.” She turned to look at him and said, “That’s a failing.

You should fix it.” The paramedic looked at her, bemused. She glared at him. “It’s really not nice to knock people when they’re down now, is it?” He immediately nodded, and her eyebrows shot up. “It is?” He shook his head. “Are you confused?” she asked. “Oh, yeah,” Mack said. “We all are. And I’m taking the decision away from you.” In one smooth movement, he bent and swooped her up into his arms and strode toward the ambulance.

She immediately clutched his shoulders. “You could have at least warned me,” she cried out. “Why would I bother?” he snapped back. “You just would have argued. And you’re not getting out of meeting my brother this weekend either.” She poked his chest. “Bully.” He just shook his head at that. The crowd parted as voices called out. “Will she be okay?” “Is she all right?” “It’s not good when the cops get to know you by sight either,” Mack muttered, as he pointed off to “I didn’t make you turn,” he said, sighing.

He moved off to the side, so the paramedic could get a “A minute ago, I forgot about your brother,” she snapped back. At that, one of the paramedics “I’m so sorry,” he said, “but we’ll need to take you in. Do you want to walk to the ambulance, or “Too bad,” Mack announced, as he stood and gently lifted her to her feet. “Now, can you walk on She turned to look at him and said, “That’s a failing. You should fix it.” The paramedic looked at her, bemused. She glared at him. “It’s really not nice to knock people when they’re down now, is it?” He immediately nodded, and her eyebrows shot up. “It is?” He shook his head. “Are you confused?” “Oh, yeah,” Mack said.

“We all are. And I’m taking the decision away from you.” In one smooth “Why would I bother?” he snapped back. “You just would have argued. And you’re not getting out “I hope she’s okay.” “Do we know what happened?” “Did she get hurt?” “Did someone hit her?” But Mack gave no answers. And she didn’t have any to give. She waved to the crowd and was emotionally taken aback when she saw so many people waving their hands, with bright smiles on their faces. “Wow,” she said. “Are they happy that I’m hurt?” “Of course not, silly,” he said, with an exasperated sigh.

“They’re happy that you’ll be okay.” She leaned back slightly, so she could look up into his face. “But how do they know that?” The paramedics just looked at each other, then at Mack. He shrugged and said, “Don’t even bother. She’s just being difficult.” She sniffed. “Can Goliath and Mugs come with me at least?” “No animals in the ambulance,” the two paramedics said immediately. She stared at them. “Then rest assured, I’m not going either.” “Too late for that,” Mack said, as he stepped into the ambulance, still carrying her.

She glared at him. “Who made you the boss?” “A lot of people,” he said in that ominous voice of his. He sat her on the gurney and stretched her out, so she was lying flat. Immediately he was replaced by the paramedics, who quickly buckled her in. “Mack?” she said desperately, hating that note of worry in her voice. He stopped, then looked at her and smiled. “I’ll take care of the animals.” “But Thaddeus,” she said. “Where is Thaddeus?” He shrugged. “He wouldn’t have gone far.

He was here earlier.” “But you don’t know,” she said. “You just don’t know.” “I promise we’ll find him.” And, with that, she had to be satisfied. As she laid back down, she felt the pain racking through her system. “Why do I always have to get hurt?” she muttered. “I’m pretty sure Mack would say it’s because you always put your nose into things you shouldn’t,” the second paramedic said. She stared at him in surprise. “But I wasn’t even doing anything.

I was just at a funeral.” “Maybe so, but you’ve been stirring up all kinds of chaos.” “I haven’t been stirring anything up,” she said tiredly, as she collapsed against the weird crackling of the plasticky pillow under her head. “All I’m doing is shining light on some cases.” “And that’s what I mean about stirring things up,” he said cheerfully. “Not everybody likes to have you bringing light to dark shadows.” “Well then, they shouldn’t have done something wrong in the first place,” she announced. Just then the ambulance started up, leaving her with the one paramedic. She sighed. “It always hurts worse when I go to the hospital.

” “Well, it shouldn’t,” he said. “The people there can help you.” “Well, it does hurt. Everybody pinches and prods and pokes with their needles,” she said. “It just hurts.” “Well, tell them not to hurt you,” he said. “Like that’ll help.” The jostling ride was blessedly short, and, before she realized it, she was But Mack gave no answers. And she didn’t have any to give. She waved to the crowd and was emotionally taken aback when she saw so many people waving their hands, with bright smiles on The paramedics just looked at each other, then at Mack.

He shrugged and said, “Don’t even “A lot of people,” he said in that ominous voice of his. He sat her on the gurney and stretched her out, so she was lying flat. Immediately he was replaced by the paramedics, who quickly buckled her And, with that, she had to be satisfied. As she laid back down, she felt the pain racking through “I’m pretty sure Mack would say it’s because you always put your nose into things you shouldn’t,” “I haven’t been stirring anything up,” she said tiredly, as she collapsed against the weird “And that’s what I mean about stirring things up,” he said cheerfully. “Not everybody likes to “Well then, they shouldn’t have done something wrong in the first place,” she announced. Just then the ambulance started up, leaving her with the one paramedic. She sighed. “It always hurts worse “Well, it does hurt. Everybody pinches and prods and pokes with their needles,” she said. “It just “Like that’ll help.

” The jostling ride was blessedly short, and, before she realized it, she was shifted onto a bed in the emergency room. She laid back down, now with an equally stiff, equally uncomfortable sheet over her, and felt the shakes setting in. By the time a nurse came to check her blood pressure, pulse, and temperature, she gave an exclamation and turned and disappeared. Doreen wasn’t sure what was wrong, but, when the efficient woman returned with a heated blanket a few minutes later, Doreen cuddled under it and moaned with relief. “It’s the shock,” the nurse said sympathetically. “You should warm up soon.” “Is it just shock?” she asked, her teeth chattering. “I guess I was lying there on the ground for a little bit too.” “Do you know how long that was?” the doctor asked, as he walked past the curtain. “No, you’ll have to ask Mack.

” “I can do that,” he said. “But you were unconscious?” “According to them, I was, yes,” she said. “I just don’t know how long.” “Good enough,” he said. “Let’s take a look.” His taking a look was just like she had expected. By the time he was done, she felt the tears in the corner of her eyes, and she struggled to not let them pour out. “We’ll get you fixed up,” he said. “You’ll need a couple stitches, and we’ll get you a shot for the pain.” She wanted to nod but didn’t dare move because, ever since he had examined her head, the pain was so much worse.

She didn’t quite understand how that worked, but it always seemed to be that way. And it wasn’t fair. She felt the tears of self-pity on her cheeks and knew that wasn’t normal for her either.

.

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