Welcome to Part Two of Peninsula Community Library’s cozy November WHODUNIT!
In this four-part installment series that’s just for fun, your goal is to answer several questions by month’s end. You should submit your answers all at once at the end by November 30 via email to Library Director Vicki Shurly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by dropping them off at Peninsula Community Library (PCL), 2893 Island View Road on the Old Mission Peninsula. (Editor’s Note: I even get to be part of the mystery in an upcoming installment! – jb)
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Everyone with the correct answers will be entered into a drawing for a basket of goodies! In solving the questions, you can use the internet, your knowledge of PCL, or you can even come in and sleuth around the open areas of the library, properly masked, of course!
To refresh your memory, read “Part One – The Weapon” here. On to Part Two below!
Part Two – The Crime Scene
I couldn’t explain what I had found. Not what you would usually find in a library. And certainly not covered and dripping with red paint or whatever it was.
We offer a lot of crafts in the library, now as carry-out sacks due to Covid, but we seldom use paint. Too messy. It might spill on the new floors or tables. On special occasions, we do use it, however. I knew Amber had mentioned she was planning an adult take-out craft with paint.
Time to go home. I was tired. It had been a long day. I went back into the staff area to get my things. The wind was howling now. The library sits below a hill in between West and East Grand Traverse Bays. The building can really rock in a storm. I was sure Tim Carroll’s angel was flying wild circles atop the Carriage House. It had come from his ancestral farmhouse but even before that from Haiti. It had its own secrets, I was sure.
I heard hail starting to pelt the glass. Darn! My car was at the far end of the parking lot. Better to wait until the storm subsided a bit.
What to do now? Libraries are wonderful places to have to yourself, even if you are a little spooked out in the dark. What if the power went completely out? Might be a long weekend. Good time to hunker down with some magazines, movies and a good book.
I wandered over to the magazine racks. As I picked up the latest copy of “Michigan History,” I heard a sound behind me. I froze. Was it that mouse again? I am not afraid of mice. Even got one in the library myself once, as the rest of the staff sat shaking on top of the desks. Got it with a ruler. Afterward, I couldn’t let go. By that time my hands were shaking, too. A child’s dad came up behind me. “I’ll take it from here,” he said, both of us crouched under the desk. Sure, he would carry it outside! I had done the hard part!
Back to the current situation … not knowing where this little long-tailed fella was hiding was kind of creepy. I looked around, but didn’t move. It had to be a mouse, but still … I was alone in a dark library on a now stormy night. Come on, I told myself. This was Old Mission – a safe, law abiding community. I was letting my imagination run away with me.
I thought for a passing moment about a book sitting on the shelf in adult fiction, a well-loved novel by a local author set on Old Mission and based on a real murder. My thoughts started to churn. No! I was being ridiculous. The doors were locked. I was alone. My mind was just running on overtime along with the late fall weather.
Maybe there were such things as ghosts. We had a paranormal program in the library once. After the program we were told there was an old woman who used to work here who haunted the romance area of the stacks. She had wanted to die at the circ desk. The paranormal had that right! There HAD been an older employee years before who wanted to die at the circ desk. She adored steamy romance novels. She worked on a Thursday, went into the hospital that night and passed away the following Monday. Was Pat still with us?
I decided to double check the back door in the foyer. I pushed against it. It was locked. I gazed out the window for a moment, out into the Mack and Lorraine Beers Children’s Garden. It is a beautiful place, tucked behind the library and a low hill, a secret place for anyone to discover and enjoy.
The branches on the leafless trees were swaying. The xylophone stood by itself waiting for a child to come once again to make its melodious sound echo out. It seemed to be making a low soft tune, but perhaps that was a twig sitting on the metal bars. The raised beds stood empty and bare.
I thought for a second that I saw a winged monster. Then I realized it was the sculpture of a dragonfly crafted by Old Mission’s own Gilbert Carrizales, looking a bit ominous in the blue-black night.
I started to turn back when another noise caught my ear. Was that a ringing? It couldn’t be. I was alone. It wasn’t the phone – our computerized phones sort of buzzed. There it was again. It was a bit like an old-fashioned bicycle bell. I looked out the window a second time. Was there someone crouched behind one of the garden beds? Hard to tell. No worries. The Wi-Fi is up and running 24/7. Perhaps someone needed after hours access, homework due first thing in the morning or a business report.
I turned toward the sound and walked back through the office, the work room, by the circulation desk back into the stacks. The fireplace, so beautiful during the day but a bit monstrous unlit in the darkness, loomed ahead.
I went slowly toward a door. It was locked. I heard the bell again. Reaching for the key I wore around my neck, I peered in. Nothing seemed amiss in the dark. I couldn’t get the key in the hole, my hands were shaking so hard. I tried again, using both hands. In it went, and I turned the key and pushed. A poster on a shelf read “Angels in the Architecture: A Photographic Elegy to an American Asylum.” I had to admit I was starting to feel like I might need that kind of help.
Then I saw her. She was reaching up to ring her alarm again as she suddenly fell backward. Horror! I reached down to take her hand. It was warm. As I pulled back in terror, she suddenly squeezed my hand. Then, it slipped away. Blank eyes stared up at me. I felt for a pulse. There was none. She was dead. On the floor near her lay a book called “All Our Yesterdays” by Larry Wakefield. Guess her yesterdays were all she had now.
WHERE DID IT HAPPEN?