Book Launch:Chapter One
Pre-Ordering at Poetic Justice Books
Some of you have been following this site for a while and you have read a few of the Whistlestop stories. But there are more. The entire collection is available now!
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Here's a random excerpt to get you started...
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Father Dingle, Some Mice, and the Portal to Hell -
Maybe it started with the mice. Maybe the exodus of mice was the first sign that there was something amiss in the church basement. The choir room had been plagued by mice for as long as Father Dingle had been there. Alan Cunningham, the choir director, had been belly aching about adequate storage for music since he’d been there. Father Dingle remembered Alan had nearly been in tears at a staff meeting after finding a mouse nest made with scraps of the Hallelujah Chorus. Alan found this situation neither economically nor spiritually tolerable. But the following year, early in the spring, church mice began moving out of the basement in droves. Father Dingle arrived at church one morning to find several families of mice scurrying up the basement stairs, down the hall towards the front doors. More mice appeared each morning, waiting to dash out as soon as the heavy wooden doors were opened.
One morning he found a mouse quivering on the window sill in his office. The poor thing was so paralyzed with fear that he’d been forced to ease it out the window and into a scraggly rosebush outside with the end of a pencil. He could not bring himself to otherwise dispose of the poor shivering animal.
The mass evacuation of mice conducted itself quietly up to a point. Father Dingle was incuriously grateful that the rodents were leaving. He chalked up the exodus to a minor miracle and mentioned his gratitude every evening in his prayers. But then there was that Sunday morning when pandemonium broke out in the choir loft during the opening hymn…
A bewildered and trembling mouse crawled into Bunny Beardsley’s purse to escape the basement. Finding itself in strange new terrain, it ran up Bunny’s arm when she reached into her purse for a Kleenex, leaving her in a state of near shock. Then the mouse ran across the pew, behind the sopranos, shot up Mary Jo Baker’s choir robe, right up her neck and perched trembling on her chignon, provoking high pitched squeals from the sopranos and what must have seemed a fervent, spirit filled dance by Mary Jo.
First Tenor Harlan Smith’s instincts took over and he swatted the rodent out of Mary Jo’s hair. It flew up in a beautiful, acrobatic arc, soaring high over the pulpit. It landed on the organ keys and the organist, Myrtle Anderson, a victim of both the mouse and the cleaning lady’s zealous over polishing of the organ bench, slid right off, landing on her posterior with a thump and a rather unfortunate and somewhat vulgar exclamation that echoed and bounced against the old church rafters. Once could hardly blame her, but of course, some people had.
Father Dingle retrieved a bottle of flavored brandy when he returned to his study after the incident. He contemplated the conversation he would need to have with old Mrs. Flowers, the cleaning lady. He would need to visit Myrtle, who had probably broken her tailbone, and he supposed he needed to go and pay a visit to Bunny who’d nearly passed out after the incident. He shuddered as he remembered the sopranos gathering round to flail at her with church bulletins while Mary Jo went for a wet paper towel. By the time he’d thought the whole thing through, Father Dingle found himself holding an empty bottle.
After the mice cleared out, two packages of Sunday school material had disappeared from the church steps. The postman stoically declared he’d delivered them himself and left them right under the archway at 10:15 just like always; Margie, the church secretary, just as stoically declared that she had gone out at 10:20 to find absolutely nothing there. Reverend Dingle found himself smack dab in the middle of a mess with phone calls to the Post Office and the publishing company. Father Dingle hated to be in the middle of a mess. Then the alter linens disappeared.
Julie graduated from Tennessee Weslyan with a BA in English Literature, and she has an MA from University of Memphis in Professional Writing. She was accepted to the Writer’s Hotel in 2016 and 2017, serving as as a teaching assistant in 2017. Julie is a Pushcart nominee for “Letter to Essie” in the New Guard Anthology VII, and has published four stories at Fiction on the Web. She will have a short story collection , Things Get Weird in Whistlestop, published with Poetic Justice Press later this year. She is currently working on a novel called “Last Train Out of Hell.” She can be often be found blogging here on the Sacred Chickens website along with her cats, Uncle Morty and Jarad. (Actually, the cats don't blog. They're amazingly lazy.)