Today we have book excerpt from Tonya Kapps latest Ghostly Southern Mystery, called A Ghostly Grave. This is the second book in the series. You can see the beginning of the first book, A Ghostly Undertaking here.
Just think, this all started because of Santa Claus. I took a drink of my large Diet Coke Big Gulp that I had picked up from the Buy and Fly gas station on the way over to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to watch Chicken Teater’s body being exhumed from his eternal resting place—only he was far from restful.
Damn Santa. I sucked up a mouthful of Diet Coke and swallowed. Damn Santa.
No, I didn’t mean the real jolly guy with the belly shaking like a bowlful of jelly who leaves baby dolls and toy trucks; I meant the plastic light-up ornamental kind that people stick in their front yards during Christmas. The particular plastic Santa I was talking about was the one that had fallen off the roof of Artie’s Deli and Meat just as I happened to walk under it, knocking me flat out cold.
Santa didn’t give me anything but a bump on the head and the gift of seeing ghosts—let me be more specific—ghosts of people who have been murdered. They called me the Betweener medium, at least that was what the psychic from Lexington told us . . . us . . . sigh . . . I looked over at Jack Henry.
The Ray Ban sunglasses covered up his big brown eyes, which were the exact same color as a Hershey’s chocolate bar. I looked into his eyes. And as with a chocolate bar, once I stared at them, I was a goner. Lost, in fact.
Today I was positive his eyes would be watering from the stench of a casket that had been buried for four years—almost four years to the day, now that I thought about it.
Jack Henry, my boyfriend and Sleepy Hollow sheriff, motioned for John Howard Lloyd to drop the claw that was attached to the tractor and begin digging. John Howard, my employee at Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, didn’t mind digging up the grave. He dug it four years ago, so why not? He hummed a tune, happily chewing—gumming, since he had no teeth—a piece of straw he had grabbed up off the ground before he took his post behind the tractor controls. If someone who didn’t know him came upon John Howard, they’d think he was a serial killer, with his dirty overalls, wiry hair and gummy smile.
The buzz of a moped scooter caused me to look back at the street. There was a crowd that had gathered behind the yellow police line to see what was happening because it wasn’t every day someone’s body was plucked from its resting place.
“Zula Fae Raines Payne, get back here!” an officer scolded my granny, who didn’t pay him any attention. She waved her handkerchief in the air with one hand while she steered her moped right on through the police tape. “This is a crime scene and you aren’t allowed over there.”
Granny didn’t even wobble but held the moped steady when she snapped right through the yellow tape.
“Woo hoooo, Emma!” Granny hollered, ignoring the officer, who was getting a little too close to her. A black helmet snapped on the side covered the top of her head, giving her plenty of room to sport her large black-rimmed sunglasses. She twisted the handle to full throttle. The officer took off at a full sprint to catch up to her. He put his arm out to grab her. “I declare!” Granny jerked Zula Raines Payne, the owner of Eternal Slumber, and this is one of my clients!”
“Ma’am, I know who you are. With all due respect, because my momma and pa taught me to respect my elders—and I do respect you, Ms. Payne—I can’t let you cross that tape. You are going to have to go back behind the line!” He ran behind her and pointed to the yellow tape that she had already zipped through. “This is a crime scene. Need I remind you that you turned over operations of your business to your granddaughter? And only she has the right to be on the other side of the line.”
I curled my head back around to see what Jack Henry and John were doing and pretended the roar of the excavator was drowning out the sounds around me, including those of Granny screaming my name. Plus, I didn’t want to get into any sort of argument with Granny, since half the town came out to watch the 7-a. m. exhumation, and the Auxiliary women were the first in line—and would be the first to be at the Higher Grounds Café, eating their scones, drinking their coffee and coming up with all sorts of reasons why we had exhumed the body.
I could hear them now. Ever since Zula Fae left Emma Lee and Charlotte Rae in charge of Eternal Slumber, it’s gone downhill, or my personal favorite, I’m not going to lay my corpse at Eternal Slumber just to have that crazy Emma Lee dig me back up. Especially since she’s got a case of the Funeral Trauma.