How about you introduce yourself by providing the basics?
My name is Janie Manson and I am the widow of an Austin police detective. He often bounced his most puzzling cases off my brain to get a different perspective. Now I live in Sunset Acres retirement village where I power walk almost every morning with my best friends Ethel and Betsy Ann and host Bunco on Thursday evenings.
I have a son living with his family in New Jersey ad a daughter, Mel, who lives here in Alamoville with her husband. His name is Blake Johnson and he is the chief detective for their police department. I don’t mind telling you, he is overworked and I worry that it might damage their marriage. Mel and Blake have two teenaged kids, Elli and Jaime. He never gets to their banc=d concerts or soccer games.
Did you attend college?
I did, and that is where I met my late husband. He was moonlighting as campus security while going for his law enforcement degree. I majored in English with a minor in sociology. Don’t ask me why. Back then it was acceptable. All of us gals were really there to get our MRS. Women’s lib was not yet in full swing so most of us expected to be housewives.
Are you athletic?
I try to stay fit, even though I am in my sixties. My ticker is fine and except for a slight blood pressure issues and being about fifteen pounds more than I’d like to be. I do power walk, as I said, which is how Betsy Ann and I discovered Edwin’s body diced up in the community’s dumpster. And after he’d only lived here three days. Quite odd, don’t you agree? But I won’t tell you why, because then you wouldn’t read Dumpster Dicing.
I also take yoga at the village and swim. I have never been a golf or tennis aficionado, even though they offer both here at Sunset Acres. Walking the golf course in the early morning is invigorating, however.
Did you ever think about a profession?
(She leans closer to the microphone with a hushed voice.) Just between you and me I wanted to be a private investigator. Women in my day just didn’t do that sort of thing, you know. Or if they did, well they were very secretive about it.
Are you a pet person?
Oh my, yes. I have a cat, Ms. Fluffy. A spoiled rotten Persian, but she is a great companion. I am not that fond of dogs, but I tolerate them as long as they don’t bark obsessively or slobber. My late husband had a German Shepherd named Buddy. He was a police dog, of course, so when Jack died I gave him to his junior partner. Buddy stayed outdoors most of the time. He preferred his run and dog house to our house. Got antsy when he remained inside for too long, so we got along just fine.
Do you have any hobbies?
I do needlework, and of course I am an avid reader. Mostly suspense and mysteries, though I am nothing compared to Ethel with her bookshelves crammed with mystery novels. Did you know she cross-catalogs them by crime and motive? Oh, but I digress. I also love Bunco, which is why I host it in my home.
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?
Well my dear, if I told you, I’d be revealing part of the plot of Baby Bunco, the next one in the Bunco Biddies mysteries. You will just have to wait until the winter of 2017 to discover that! (She winks and sets down her tea cup.)
As Janie and Betsy Ann go for their morning jog, the city sanitation vehicle follows its normal five-mile Tuesday morning route through their retirement community of Sunset Acres. The two Bunco-playing biddies spot a leg dangling out of the dumpster when the truck lifts the trash container high in the air. Someone diced up one of their newest residents—a grouchy loner named Edwin Newman. Did he unpack too much of his dicey past when he moved in last weekend?
The community’s trash receptacle dangled at a precarious angle.
The senior citizens sputtered in unison. “Stop. There’s a body.”
The garbage man shook his head in confusion.
Betsy Ann motioned to the back. “A body. Get it? Dead person.”
The man shut down the engine. “¿Muerto?”
“Yes. Uh, sí.” She bobbed her cropped, reddish-blonde hair.
The worker crawled down from his seat and walked to the back of the sanitation truck, which rumbled and spewed more putrid fumes. The dumpster titled down at a forty-five degree angle. Suspended in time clung numerous trash bags, pizza boxes, a broken lawn chair and…an arm?
“Who?” Betsy Ann’s brow furrowed.
“Newman. Edwin Newman. He chewed out Mildred Fletcher because her Yorkie barked at him. Threw a coffee mug at the poor animal. Whack! Right on the nose. It left a raw, sore spot.”
Janie gave her a quick nod. “Mildred must apply a special salve on him three times a day. Says it cost her $22.95.”
“On Mr. Newman?”
Janie scoffed into her velour v-neck. “No, the Yorkie.”
Betsy Ann’s lips formed an “O.”
Janie pointed to the dumpster. “Mr. Newman’s in there all right.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” Janie bent to Betsy Ann’s ear. “I see his head.”
Julie B Cosgrove is an award-winning novelist, freelance Christian devotional writer and public speaker. When she is not writing novels, she enjoys reading those by other faith-based authors while curled on her sofa with her two purring cats and a cup of Earl Grey. And yes, she plays Bunco.
My sites: www.juliebcosgrove.com
Blog: Where Did You Find God Today?