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Innocence Lost: First Two Chapters

Book One of the Bootleggers' Chronicles

Welcome to Innocence Lost, the first book of the five book series The Bootleggers Chronicles.

Enjoy!

Chapter 1

Philadelphia has not yet lost its soul. It’s still the early days of Prohibition. Sure, you can see the rot around the edges beginning to creep in, but people, for the most part, are enjoying the thrill of being lawbreakers. The times; they’re dangerous, but not yet deadly. Bootleggers are still the boys from down the street, and hooch still has a bit of quality control to it. Hell, the most dangerous thing about the Twenties, so far at least, is hemlines. Those short skirts are trouble.

You can smack your lips at the scandal of it all. Everyone has a bit of an outlaw in them, don’t they? Many of the good people of Philadelphia are secretly thrilled to be able to thumb their noses at a senseless bit of government regulation imposed by morons in Washington. It’s a buzz to sneak out to the local speakeasy, get in with a secret password, and tip back a refreshing swig of illegal booze.

Ah yes, that inevitable illegal booze. Stashed in old warehouses; some of them are by the river, some close to the tracks, all hidden from view. Brick carcasses of abandoned enterprise, those warehouses now bustle with new business. Risky business. Bootlegging.

Inspector Frank Geyer leans against the brick wall inside one such warehouse. Shrouded by shadow, he is a dapper old gent, his walking stick resting beside him. The high shirt collar, heavy woollen suit, and thick mustache over a neatly trimmed beard paint him from a different generation.

The slow draw off his cigar provides fuel for his dark thoughts. Frank doesn’t see the glamour that his fellow Philadelphians seem to be enjoying; the comfortable danger, the shaking off of the heavy burden of the recent Great War. He’s been trained to recognize crime when he sees it, regardless of the cheap dress it wears. Like a bloodhound, his heightened senses catch that faint whiff of decay.

‘Death is nothing. But to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.’ Perhaps Napoleon was right. Certainly, ‘inglorious’ is a good description of Philadelphia these days. But have the bootleggers and corruption managed to defeat her? Have we lost the fight so easily? Have I been reduced to this: an old man standing idly by? Maybe Philly isn’t the only one defeated.

Dark thoughts, indeed.

Melancholy, even philosophical, Frank draws in warmth from his cigar as he watches a dozen young men load large, wooden casks onto the flatbeds of three trucks. They appear too nattily dressed for the work they are doing. They joke, familiar with each other and with the task at hand, eager to get the trucks loaded and the deliveries made—there will be money in their pockets tonight.

Two men cradle tommy guns and guard the operation. Their feet are solid on the dirt floor. They speak quietly around the cigarettes that dangle from their mouths.

Moonlight through murky windows boosts the weak lighting under which the young men labor. Two wooden garage doors, slightly ajar at one end of the warehouse, expose the frozen ground of February and invite its chill inside. Winter keeps the dust down.

Crates and barrels line the walls, several rows deep. Open rafters store boards, hoses, tarps, ladders, and the other paraphernalia common to buildings of its type. Off to one side are tables covered with tubes and funnels, used sticky pots of glue, and stacks of paper labels. Boxes of empty glassware are stacked around the operation.

He’d been taken too soon, but Frank’s sense of duty rejects the imposed boundaries he now labors under. Continuing his thoughtful watch, he muses on the developments during the past four years since Prohibition was enacted. The menace of the bootleggers is expanding. Criminals have grown in power and influence. They’ve been a plague on his city. He concedes, though, that the arrival of Colonel Smedley Butler as Director of Public Safety has finally got the police making more of an effort to crack down on the bootleggers, moonshiners, and rum-runners. Hopefully, Butler will attack corruption with the same zeal.

The media has dubbed Colonel Butler ‘the Fighting Quaker’. Because of his own training, Frank admires the cut of the man. With Butler’s military background in the Marines, he’s bringing new tactics and discipline to the task. And as an outsider, he adds the appearance of integrity to the process, something that has eluded previous crackdown efforts.

Frank knows the colonel hasn’t been on the job for long, so they will have wait and see if his changes stick. While Colonel Butler has been closing more speakeasies and gin joints in his first two weeks than had been accomplished the whole of last year, there are judges on the take who are as busy flipping the padlocks back open on them just as fast.

Back in my day, the cops were the heroes who caught the villains and brought them to justice. People respected the law. Those were better days. The front line is faltering. Am I the only one that sees it?

Despite his cynicism, Frank sees potential in the new director.

Butler, now there’s a man of action. A man you can look up to. All I’m good for is standing watch. Napoleon Bonaparte was right, death is indeed nothing. There are worse things. I was born to serve and protect. An old sheepdog standing between his flock and the wolves. But I’m not even that anymore, am I?

Frank’s thoughts are interrupted. In a far back corner, he can see three small boys have pushed open one of the high windows on the wall. From their waving arms and pointing fingers, the group appears divided about climbing through or staying outside to watch. A convenient ladder leaning against the wall decides it. They scramble down.

The trio are caught up in their own world of adventure, but thankfully are aware enough of the danger to be taking care not to be seen. Bundled in overcoats, the earflaps of their woolen caps meeting their tightly wrapped scarves, they creep behind boxes and crates, always staying in the shadows, out of sight. Frank begins to move in their direction, but is distracted by the workers near the trucks.

“How much more time we got left, Gus?” shouts one of the workers.

“Lots. Twenty minutes. Maybe more,” Gus answers. “We’ll be outta here in plenty of time before they come in. And Porter, when you’re shooting, watch the windows this time, okay? I don’t want to have to go up there and fix another one.”

“Cutting it pretty fine, ain’t they? Maybe they could come early and help us load these barrels? They get heavier every time,” Porter says.

“Less complaining and more lifting. We got a schedule to keep,” a man with a clipboard hollers back.

There’s a lot of activity in and around the warehouse tonight. When Frank arrived, he saw a squad of Philadelphia police outside, enjoying a smoke while waiting for the signal. And now these young boys are here. Frank knows what’s ahead. This warehouse is no place for children, especially tonight. Even if he can get close to them, they’ll not hear a thing he says. He curses inwardly at his powerlessness to help them. Hopefully the boys will leave before the police begin their supposed raid.

* * * *

“Hey Jimmy, isn’t that your uncle?” The medium-sized boy whispers to the boy in the lead.

“Yeah, Uncle Charlie. He’s been working with Mickey for a while. Ma says the money’s good, ’though my auntie worries,” answers Jimmy.

“My pop worked for Mickey before he got sent up, and my brother Ernie quit school last week to join up with Mickey’s crew. He’s a runner,” the medium boy brags in a low voice. “And if I’m lucky, he says I can be a runner next year, when I’m bigger.”

“You’re lucky, Oskar. That’d be a swell job,” whispers Jimmy. “Hey, Tommy, wouldn’t that be swell?”

The smallest boy nods, eyes wide. Plenty of young boys can imagine nothing finer than being part of Mickey Duffy’s gang. Tommy cranes his body to try and see around his two friends. “Do you think we’ll see Mickey tonight?”

A worker stretches then arches his back, working out the kinks.

“Shhh. Get down, you guys,” whispers Jimmy.

“We should scram. It’s way past dark and Ma’s going to skin me if I’m late again,” says Oskar.

“Mine, too.” Tommy echoes the concern. He nudges Oskar. “Hey, isn’t that one of those new tommy guns?” he says, pointing to one of the guards.

Oskar punches Tommy’s arm. “Named after you, I suppose?”

Tommy shoves him back.

“Come on you idgits, cut it out. They’ll hear you,” whispers Jimmy. “We got front row seats. Don’t wreck it.”

“Think there’s going to be any action tonight? I’d love to see those choppers lit,” Tommy whispers. “They call ‘em Chicago Typewriters in the newspapers, on account of the noise. And they can shoot nine-hundred rounds a minute. Nine hundred. That’s twenty rounds every three seconds. Can you believe it?”

Oskar rolls his eyes. “I can’t believe you did all that math.”

Jimmy shushes his friends.

“I didn’t say nuthin.” Oskar complains in a soft voice.

A hand grabs Jimmy’s shoulder. “You lads shouldn’t be here. Get on home with ya now,” a policeman whispers.

Surprised, Jimmy yelps and bumps against a crate.

“Hey, who’s there?” shouts one of the workmen. Instantly, the crew pull handguns from shoulder holsters. The men with the tommy guns swing around and turn in the direction of the noise.

Two uniformed policemen appear at the door, raising their guns and shouting orders.

“Philadelphia police. Drop your guns.”

“Drop your guns or we shoot.”

“Ah crap, it’s way too soon,” says the policeman who’s with the boys.

The bootleggers’ guards swing back and open fire, tommy guns spraying bullets at the walls above the door. Police at the door return fire, their shots aimed above the workers’ heads.

At the gunfire, the boys attempt to scatter. The policeman lunges, grabbing two of the boys—one in each hand. He pulls them behind wooden boxes for cover.

Workmen swing into the cabs of loaded trucks. They rev the engines while remaining workmen rush to try to load the last few barrels onto a remaining truck. They won’t dare leave all the beer unloaded; more concerned about their boss’s reaction than a handful of Philadelphia police.

* * * *

With the first shot, Frank scans the warehouse urgently. The children. Where are they? He heaves a sigh of relief to see the shadow of a policeman standing beside the crates the boys had been behind.

None of the gunfire is doing any damage. Frank’s not surprised that the bullets fly high and wide. Another sham raid for the statistics and tomorrow’s headlines. Another bunch of police on the take. Oh, my brothers.

Frank had hoped for more than just a show. He takes his walking stick and strolls toward the warehouse doors. Along the way, he checks that the boys are still well-hidden, protected. They’ll be safe now that the copper is with them.

The drama unfolds around him. Bullets fly as he moves through the chaos without a ripple. He leaves it behind and heads into the crisp, winter night.

The three loaded trucks tear past Frank, careening out of the warehouse. They cross the yard at breakneck speed. Men cling to the sides of the truck beds, shooting over the heads of the police. Police cars give chase, lights flashing and sirens wailing. Frank continues his steady pace, unnoticed.

* * * *

The bullets stop flying after the trucks and bootleggers pull out of the garage. The policeman with the boys waves his arms, trying to get the attention of his fellow officers. “Hey, there are some kids here.” He’s ignored by the other policemen who are now creating mayhem in the warehouse. Shouting, yelling, smashing. The adrenaline of the gunfight still pumping. And, of course, stealing. The order was to get rid of the booze after the raid, but they didn’t say how.

As soon as the officer lets go, Jimmy and Tommy bolt.

Hiding from the policeman, they reach the ground and crouch behind a bench seat that’s been pulled out of a car and left leaning against the wall. They hear strikes of axes followed by wooden barrels cracking, and the shattering of glass bottles filled with whiskey. Tommy covers his ears. The sweet smell of beer floods the warehouse.

“Come on. Let’s get outta here,” says Jimmy.

“Where’s Oskar?” asks Tommy.

“He got a head start. Lucky he didn’t get caught. Probably waiting for us outside.” Jimmy nudges Tommy. “Come on, we gotta go.”

Tommy peers out from around the edge of the car seat. He looks back at the open window and across the floor to the open door. “The window’s too far away and they’ll catch us for sure when we go up the ladder. I say we try for the door.”

Jimmy pokes his head out from behind the bench seat, gauges the distance and the risk, and nods. “Okay. Let’s go.”

Head down, Tommy tries to keep the remaining crates and barrels between himself and the cops. He races across the open space toward the warehouse door. An officer shouts, “Hey, stop.”

Other voices follow. “It’s some kids.” “I told you so.” “What the hell?” “Grab them.”

Tommy’s arms and legs pump, his breath loud in his ears. More shouting. All he can see is the open door. He stumbles, regains his balance, and keeps going. Feet pound close behind.

“We’re almost there,” Jimmy shouts.

Tommy makes for the front gates, aiming for a parked car to use as cover.

When he turns to check on his friend, Jimmy slams into him. “Don’t slow down. Go. Go.” Jimmy shoves him hard in the direction of the street corner.

Tommy gasps for breath, one hand on the parked car and the other on Jimmy’s shoulder.

Jimmy grabs his hand and tugs Tommy toward the corner. “Come on, Tommy. Let’s get out of here. There’s cops all over the place. We’ll be in so much trouble if they nab us. They’ll turn us in for sure.”

“But where’s Oskar?”

“You’re so slow, he’s probably home by now. Come on, move.” Jimmy takes off down the dark street.

Tommy follows Jimmy into an alley. Their running footsteps echo on the quiet streets, the sounds at the warehouse fading as they move away from the raid, away from the violence and chaos of what Philly is becoming. The boys sprint for the safety of home.

 

Chapter 2

Close to the waterfront with its docks, mills, factories, breweries, and tanneries; the Northern Liberties district in Philadelphia is a mecca for immigrants. They’re looking for work and wanting to set down new roots in the fertile soil of America. The streets are teeming with newcomers: Irish, Germans, central-European Jews, Poles, Lithuanians, Russians, Latvians, Ukrainians, Hungarians, Slovaks. It’s a gregarious, global stew: different languages reverberate, cooking smells of regional dishes fill the air, different cultures and religious observances are practiced cheek and jowl.

Running along the far edge of this delicious fusion is Marshall Street, the commercial center of this vibrant and diverse neighborhood. Making their way home from school for lunch, Jimmy and Tommy bob along in the current of the street’s commotion. The smells make their noses twitch and their stomachs growl: heady yeast aromas from the rye and pumpernickel breads baking, garlic and spices from the pickle barrels, the smells from the cigar-chomping men carrying hot corned beefs dripping fat high in the air from the kitchen to the cart, and the fish—oh, the stink of the fish.

A rare treat in February, the midday sun brings warmth to the bustling commercial neighborhood. Trollies clang their bells and roll along tracks running through the center of the busy street. Passengers onboard lean their faces against the sun-warmed windows. A steady stream of cars and horse-drawn delivery wagons are part of the flow. Winter coats are unbuttoned some, hats pushed back to take advantage of the bright day. Even the towering wooden poles, strung with electrical and telephone wires, appear less frosty.

Everyone jostles for space. Loud, male voices warn or greet over honking horns. Many merchants have lowered their awnings to shade the window displays. Others have put their merchandise on the sidewalk, hoping to attract passersby. The pushcarts are on the street, merchants and customers haggling. Pedestrians weave around each other, hurrying about their business. It’s a different city than the one last night—not a tommy gun in sight.

Tommy and Jimmy pick up their pace. Growing boys are always hungry, and the insistent demands of their growling stomachs keep them moving past the distractions. Eventually, they turn the corner onto the residential street where they live. The uniformity and calmness is a stark contrast to the hubbub behind.

The boys walk through a neighborhood built to accommodate Philadelphia’s rapidly expanding growth. The houses are thrown together overnight, speed over craftsmanship. Narrow, brick rowhouses line the sidewalk, each dwelling identical except for the color surrounding the window sashes. Between every two units, a short flight of stairs rises to a shared, wooden veranda where housewives shake mats and young children often play.

Along the sidewalk, a parade of newly planted trees with thin bare branches wait for spring. They’ve been planted with the long-term vision of becoming stately shade trees. Their roots are taking hold as an unconscious symbol of a more established future for the people living inside houses where the smell of plaster and wallpaper paste still linger.

As they trudge along, Tommy looks sideways at Jimmy. “Did you see Oskar today?”

“No, you?”

“Nope.” Tommy kicks a stone along the sidewalk.

“Maybe we should go to his house after school,” says Jimmy. “I bet you he didn’t study for this morning’s test, so he’s pretending to be sick.”

“That’s probably it,” says Tommy, nodding. “Got home too late to study.”

“He better not tell his Ma where we wuz at.”

“That was pretty wild last night.”

Jimmy grins at Tommy. “I’ll say. Did you see how fast they pulled out of the warehouse? I thought those barrels of beer were going to roll right off the trucks. And the cops were no match for the tommy guns.” Jimmy pretends to fire the machine gun. “Rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat!

Tommy copies him. “Rat-a-tat-tat.” The boys dart around, chasing each other with their imaginary guns. “Do you think that cop is going to rat us out to our folks?” Tommy asks.

“Nah, how’d he even know who we are? We never told him our names,” Jimmy says, and grabs hold of Tommy’s arm. “Just make sure you don’t tell. We’ll all be in real big trouble if anybody finds out.”

Tommy nods at him solemnly. He’s no rat.

Jimmy spits in his hand and shoves it at Tommy. “Swear you won’t tell.”

Tommy grabs it tight. “You neither.”

A sacred ritual cemented with wet spit.

Tommy grins. “Holy cow, I didn’t think I could run so fast.”

“Ha, you weren’t so fast.” Jimmy gives his friend a shove.

“Faster than you. You run like your sister,” says Tommy and takes off. Jimmy gives chase, easily beating him to the corner. He waits for Tommy and they continue, heads close, recreating stories from last night’s adventure.

*  *  *  *

Further along the street, inside one of those brick rowhouses, Tommy’s mother, Peggy, goes through the mail that has just landed with an ominous thud in the front hall.

She winces in shame that the postman would have seen the familiar “Past Due” notice stamped in red ink on the front of the grocery store envelope. Unless circumstances change soon, there will be another envelope next week, and the week after. She didn’t think the tightening in her chest could get worse, but she was proved wrong with the next envelope. A letter from her mother.

Her mother’s regular letters always have the same theme: Come home. Your living in Philadelphia is an embarrassment to your family. The neighbors wonder why you’re not with us now that you and your son are alone.

While her mother rarely phrases it quite so plainly, Peggy can read between the lines and knows the judgemental message will still be there. It just isn’t done in polite circles, a young woman living alone, even if she is a widow. And the boy—he needs a strong man to look up to; a man like your father.

Her mother’s rigid, hidebound approach to the world is from an earlier time when women were merely adornments of their husbands, dependent for security and a place in society. And that place was well-defined, with no exceptions. Society would gleefully tear you apart if you stepped away from the narrow path prescribed a lady, which is exactly what Peggy had done when she’d run off with Jack.

In her mother’s day, women abided by rigid expectations. Peggy wishes her mother were more modern, but recognizes the futility of her wish.

Mother’s attitudes are as rigid as her posture. What does she know about my circumstances and what my life is like? There are a lot more women on their own raising kids than that old relic will ever admit. At least two war widows on this street, and they’re managing. And what about the women whose men are in jail? Heck, there’re probably as many families without a man at home as not.

 She squares her shoulders, rehashing old arguments. Mother is off her nut if she thinks I want my son anywhere near Father. If it wasn’t for him, Jack would still be alive. Hell can freeze over before I share a roof with that man.

 Peggy stomps toward the kitchen, clutching the envelopes tightly.

Although she’s still a young woman, time and fate have scoured away much of Peggy’s youthfulness. The shock of losing Jack, the crushing burden of never having enough money, the strain of raising Tommy on her own, and the relentless anxiety about the future have dulled sparkling eyes and carved deep worry lines into her forehead. Bouncing ringlets have been squeezed into a practical knot at the nape of her neck, and traitorous threads of gray are starting to appear. She’ll go gray early, like many of the women in her family. Today, Jack would be hard-pressed to find the carefree scamp of a girl he had married seven years ago.

Peggy pulls her threadbare cardigan tighter. The last four years following Jack’s death have been difficult. They’d had only three years together before he died. She’d been a coy sweetheart, a young bride, a young mother, and then suddenly a young widow, but grief and hard times have taken their toll.

What she wouldn’t do to see Jack’s smile. He was always in good spirits; nothing ever got him down. But if she’s being honest, he’s not in her thoughts as much as he should be. There are many days when worry and exhaustion drive everything but the harsh day-to-day reality from her mind. Thank goodness for Tommy, who’s the spitting image of Jack.

And thank goodness she has the house. She and Jack had jumped at the first house they could afford, especially with the baby on the way. They hadn’t thought about the false economy of what a cheap purchase price might actually cost them. The ongoing maintenance and repairs on their cut-rate house—albeit a large house—were ruining her now. And they certainly hadn’t thought that it would be just her left holding the bills. Thank goodness she owns it free and clear; one more bill would be the end of her.

Peggy throws the envelopes onto the kitchen table. She won’t complain too loudly, though. As bad as it is, it could be worse. There are a lot of widows who have to live crowded together in much smaller places. The four bedrooms upstairs give her some options. As does the small room Jack and the neighbors had tacked onto the back of the porch off the kitchen. They had originally planned to use it for newly landed immigrants passing through; now the rent from it will put food on the table. The idea of a bit of rent money coming in and Peggy can almost see daylight.

Kitchens are often described as the heart of the home, and Peggy’s is no different. There are no modern conveniences; she relies on the wooden icebox and a wood-fired stove. Her dishes are neatly tucked away in a glass-fronted cabinet that stands next to a wall-hung porcelain sink. On the other side of the sink is the kitchen’s work-horse, the wooden Hoosier cabinet with its flour-bin sifter, and various drawers and nooks and crannies for storing kitchen staples.

The letter from her mother lies on the top of the pile of offending mail. I need a cup of strong coffee before I can tackle it. Glancing at the clock, she realizes that Tommy will soon be home from school, looking for his lunch. The thought reminds her again of the near-empty icebox and the outstanding bill from Howard, the grocer. What am I going to do? What happens if he stops letting me buy my groceries on account? Who knew young boys could eat so much?

She’ll water down the soup, again, after she’s read her mother’s letter. There’s just enough in the pot for one last cup of coffee. That will have to do.

Peggy settles into one of the three mismatched wooden chairs at the kitchen table. She sips a little of the steaming coffee, then picks up the letter. She knows exactly how it will begin: a name her mother intentionally uses to erase life with Jack, and to ignore the present. Jack always called her Peggy.

Dearest Margaret,

Your father is extremely disappointed in you.

 We were shocked when we saw the advertisement you had placed in The Inquirer. In my day, a respectable woman was only mentioned in the newspaper three times: at birth, when she married, and in her funeral notice. She certainly didn’t take out an advertisement, looking for boarders.

 You have no idea the comments I had to endure from Mrs. Galbraith at the Garden Club. I really must insist that you stop this nonsense immediately and return home. A daughter’s duty is to her parents. It’s our responsibility to see to your security. Think of your reputation, Margaret.

 Your father and I have tickets to the theater for Thursday. We will call around prior to the performance to discuss the matter further.

Until then,

Your loving mother.

 

There it is again, grating along her already raw nerves. Margaret. Mother does it just to annoy me. Disappointed in you. When isn’t she? Think of your reputation. Peggy snorts. Reputations don’t put groceries on the table, reputations don’t feed hungry, growing boys, which are much more pressing concerns than the opinion of Mrs. Galbraith, thank you very much.

 Peggy’s toe starts to tap as the hand holding the letter curls into a fist. Loving mother? Controlling, yes; rigid, yes; but loving? Ha! She’s always been more concerned with the opinions of that stupid Garden Club than how I feel.

The letter is tossed away as the front door bangs open. Tommy charges down the hall. “Ma, I’m home,” he shouts. He bounds into the kitchen. “What’s for lunch?” Tommy sheds his outer coat. Underneath, he has on a shirt and tie, argyle vest, and a jacket that’s a bit too small. Knickers and knitted socks complete the outfit. Tommy often complains that winter is one long, prickly woolen itch.

Peggy grimaces. “Tommy, a boy with good manners says ‘Mother’. You are not one of those foreign boys from down the street. And there is no yelling inside this house, young man. You know better. Now, go hang your coat and wash up. I’ll get your soup and bread.”

Tommy tosses his coat onto the hook by the back door and heads over to the sink. He turns the tap, but all that happens is an ominous gurgle. He looks at his mother, alarmed.

“Not again. That’s the second time this month,” Peggy mutters under her breath. Where am I going to find the money for another plumber? “It’s all right Tommy, just wipe your hands on the dish towel. Come sit, I’ll get your soup.”

Hunched over his bowl, Tommy devours his soup and bread, chattering on about his day. Peggy continues to twist the handle on the sink faucet, busy reconciling the diminishing household budget for the month against this latest crisis. Maybe I can pick up a few more shirts to mend from the Bright and Clean Laundry. It’ll be spring soon, and warmer…

“And I wish I could run as fast as Jimmy. Oh yeah, and Oskar wasn’t at school today.”

 … so I can maybe cut back on the coal order?

“Mother, did you hear me? Oskar wasn’t at school today.”

“Oh, is he sick?” she asks, listening with only half an ear.

“We had a test today and he missed it.”

Peggy’s head snaps up. “And how did you do on the test? You know you’re going to need top grades, young man, if you’re going to get into Boys’ Central High School in a few years.”

Tommy kicks at the table leg. “I don’t wanna go to that stupid school. Nobody else has to go.”

Peggy gives Tommy a stern look. Then she catches a glimpse of the clock and hurries to grab his coat. “Tommy, the time. Off with you now. And bring home that test tonight so we can look it over after dinner.” She hands him his coat and pecks his head.

“And don’t slam the…” The front door slams. She carries his empty soup bowl to the sink, turns the tap, and the pipes rattle. Still no water.

To find out what happens next, read the rest of Frank, Tommy, and Maggie’s story. You haven’t met her yet, but she’s a spunky gal and I think you’re going to love her. And all the adventures as she investigates the disappearance of a young boy. You can find the books on Amazon here.

– Sherilyn Decter, July 1, 2018 ©