Here's a sample of our latest book, A Watch of Weeping Angels Book Three in the Devecheaux Antiques and Haunted Things Series by me (M.L. Bullock) and fellow author A.E. Chewning.
Tugging at my new accessory had become a hard habit to break. These gloves were the only things that kept me from running away from my job and newfound circle of friends. They had come into my life rather unexpectedly and I didn’t want to leave them. Placing the gloves on my hands had become as natural as brushing my teeth in the morning. My new ritual kept me sane amid the chaos of just being me. Who would have thought that a pair of gloves would be my saving grace? It was a part of who I was now. Another weird element to all that is Aggie Kelly.
Detra Ann was sending me on this dreaded task--more like a wild goose chase, something that had become a regular thing. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that she wanted me out of the shop. I really couldn’t blame Detra Ann after everything that had happened since I got there. I mean the tea set and then the freaky radio. Trouble seemed to follow me, especially with this gift of mine. Maybe I was being unfair. Yeah, probably.
This task was a little different though and seemed risky, especially for someone like me. Cemetery statuary wasn’t something that I wanted, or needed, to hang around. Smoothing out the wrinkle that ran across the top of the glove I couldn’t help but worry about the minefield I was about to step in.
The old iron gate hung off the rust-covered hinges; it was covered with vines. But for their tight clinging, they would not be standing upright. The green vine roof attempted to wrap the stone gate that surrounded the property and hid some of what was left of the old crumbling mansion. Unsuspecting travelers casually driving past this hidden gem day after day would never know that it was even here. Kind of creepy, like a scene from a B horror movie. Or an A. Definitely an A.
Man, I should have insisted that Patrice tag along.
Bricks were lined up in a semi-circle that led me to a portico that had seen better days. Cracks ran up the side of the off-white stucco walls and the same vines that held the old iron gate together, worked its magic here too. The old mansion surely would have fallen to the ground by now, if it weren’t for the protection of the vines and the years of paint that clung to it like glue. Like a rotten old mausoleum. I shivered at the appalling scenery.
What have you gotten me into now, Boss Lady?
Staring up at the old mansion, I couldn’t help but feel I must have done something terrible in a previous life. Why else would Detra Ann send me to this ticking time bomb?
Before I had a chance to really examine that possibility, the cherry on top of this nightmare sundae appeared. The old man stood in front of my car, glaring in at me. His steel blue eyes, cloudy from the years, met mine. He smiled and it was not soothing at all. Mr. Glass looked at me as if he were a hungry predator that had just trapped his prey. An old vulture maybe. With that scrawny neck and the strange red coloring of his skin, that was an apropos comparison.
Everything inside of me screamed, “Get in the car! Put it in reverse and get out of here as fast as possible!” But that would not be professional, would it? Nevertheless, nothing about him seemed warm or inviting. I was so glad that I sent a text to Phoenix with the address and a message that if he didn’t hear from me within the hour to call 911. He sent back an LOL but I made sure he knew I was serious.
Reluctantly relinquishing my desire to make a dash for the car, I extended my hand to the old guy. “Good morning Mr. Glass. I’m Aggie. Detra Ann sent me to have look at the statuary you spoke to Henri about.”
Mr. Glass refused my handshake by sticking his aged hands into his faded jeans pockets. The smell of some type of oil lingered around him. Motor oil? “Yeah, I guess you’ll do. At least you’re easy on the eyes,” he grunted. “I’ve been waiting here for thirty minutes.” This was not going well already.
“Yes, I almost couldn’t find the place. My apologies.”
Looking me over and hesitating at my breasts he said in a rough voice, “Let’s get on with it. I haven’t got all day.”
“Okay. I’ll follow you,” I replied, sticking my hands in my well-worn sweatshirt. To my relief we traveled around the old creepy mansion and into an unusually well-kept garden area. It certainly didn’t match the run-down appearance of the house. Who would keep a garden up but not a mansion? There was no historic preservationist living here, that was for sure. Garden enthusiasts, yes. Restoration guru? Very unlikely.
I wondered what priceless art and artifacts clung to life within the crumbling walls and if old Mr. Glass would even consider letting me have a look at them. Curiosity was going to kill this cat if I wasn’t careful.
Get a grip Aggie, one thing at a time.
Mr. Glass pulled at the old wooden doors, breaking them free from the ivy that had started to encase them. He pulled an old brick from the ground and propped one side up, shedding some light into space.
“Here they are. Come have a look see. I know the Devecheauxs said they couldn’t take them all, but as you can see there’s plenty to choose from.” His lips parted into an unattractive smile made worse by exposing pockets of missing teeth. Glass resembled a badly carved Halloween pumpkin. “Take your pick. You’ll see that it’s an excellent collection. Nothing like it anywhere around these parts.”
Rows and rows of headstones and statuary filled the old musty warehouse. Some were covered with moss and others cracked and chipped. Intricately carved statuary stood guard, like the terracotta warriors armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. Their stone features were hidden within the dark shadows. I was immediately enchanted. Running my gloved hand across the lettering on one of the stones, “How long have you had all of these?”
“Like I told your boss, my parents had to remove them. The city wouldn’t let them keep them on the property after they began moving the bodies. These statues have been in the family for well over fifty years,” he licked his cracked lips. “I need to sell them in order to have the rest of the bodies removed. The city decided to renege on the agreement. They won’t cover the costs. Can’t sell the old house without doing so. People get awfully jumpy when you tell them there’s bodies buried on the grounds.”
I tried to smile, “I guess they would.” The thought of all of the people buried nearby on the property and this old guy having them removed, I suspected unceremoniously, made me want to slap him and knock the rest of his teeth out. I don’t know what he was doing but I didn’t feel good about this. I knew Detra Ann and Henri would not approve of his little plan.
“Do you want to take one or not?” he huffed, “Can’t stand here all day gawking at them. Although,” he dropped his voice to a purr, “I wouldn’t mind hanging out with a pretty little things like yourself somewhere else.” He stepped closer to me and pawed at my shoulder playfully.
I took a step back. “I have to go.” I backed away, forcing his hand away. “I’m afraid the two of us hanging out is not going to happen today or any other day. Try touching me again and you might join the other bodies buried here.”
“I guess you just can’t take a little playing around,” he winked as he dug a pack of cigarettes out of his shirt pocket and began flicking his lighter. “Suit yourself but you’d be hard pressed to put me in the ground. I’m a vet, little girl. I’ve seen plenty of action.” He huffed as he patted his jacket pocket again. Wait, did he have a gun? “I can protect myself.”
What a creep!
“There are people who know I’m out here and if you want to sell these items, I suggest you just give me a minute. Alone.” I insisted through clenched teeth. I couldn’t spend one more minute with this guy. A row of decrepit angels watched us. Did I see one move? What was that?
“Make it quick,” he replied, walking out of the warehouse towards the mansion.
Finally. My hand released from the fist that I had unknowingly created. The nerve of that weirdo. Okay, Aggie. Get it together. You’ve got a job to do. Get it done and leave!
Most of the statuary was just too big to carry in my little car. As much as I wanted to take them all from this horrible man, there was no way that was possible. We would, unfortunately, must take more than one trip to free these precious memorials from the grasp of such a horrible creature. His irreverence was mind boggling. Obviously, his parents taught him to view these items as a mere nuisance and nothing more.
My heart sank as I scanned the room. I began snapping photos. There was a palpable heaviness within the darkness. Even with the door propped up, no amount of light could dispel the sadness within these walls. Out of my peripheral I caught a glimpse of a small cherub statue laying on its side. Small enough to put in my car and carry. It was perfect for me to take back to the shop.
The little cherub was solitary, no headstone seemed to go with it although the roughness of the underbelly of the statue seemed to indicate that it had been attached to something at one point in time. I’d have to come back with Henri or even Phoenix to do any further investigation. I’d been there long enough by myself with old man Glass. The thought did cross my mind that I could take him, but I had a feeling that he had more secrets hidden on these grounds. He would protect them at any cost. I am sure whatever weapon I had couldn’t match a bullet.
My gloves protect me nicely and would allow me to detect where this little angel came from. I had no vision, no breathing hard. Nothing. Thank God for small favors. Who knew a little piece of fabric could save me from a world of trouble? With the angel in my grasp and a collection of photos on my phone I left Mr. Glass’ place without so much as a goodbye.
I couldn’t get that rotting mansion in my rearview mirror quick enough. Detra Ann would be getting an earful from me as soon as I got back to the shop. I hope she will be happy with my choice. There was just something about the sad little cherub. I couldn't leave it there unprotected in that awful place with Mr. Grabby Hands.
I can’t say why but I arranged it in the seat next to me like it was a small child. An unexpected tear rolled down my cheek as I sped down the drive and onto the road that would lead me back to the store.
What just happened? I wasn’t seeing anything, but I had all kinds of feels.
Disgust. Revulsion. Anger. Sadness.
Mostly sadness and this time it was not my own.
Time to get out of here.