A BAD MOJO SERIES MYSTERY SET
13 Complete Stories
SERIAL QUILLER 1—New Orleans, Louisiana
Posing as Alma LeJeune, sex worker, crime writer BJ Donovan embarks on a killing spree, by means of voodoo magic, and uses details of the murders to maintain her best-seller status with an episodic thriller series.
SERIAL QUILLER 2—St. Augustine, Florida
BJ goes on a murderous rampage after someone at a writers retreat steals her handwritten manuscript of a new novel containing details of a true crime that were never made pubic.
SERIAL QUILLER 3—Savannah, Georgia
With a little help from BJ Donovan, Alma LeJeune exacts revenge on the descendants of the people who had willingly participated in the unfair conviction and public hanging of a young Irish woman in 1735.
SERIAL QUILLER 4—Key West, Florida
Made the brunt of a sick joke by The Six, a snobbish group of writers, BJ shows them what make believe is all about when she uses the legendary Robert the Doll, a child’s toy created by voodoo magic, to hit back.
SERIAL QUILLER 5—Charleston, South Carolina
Possessed by the ghost of a female serial killer from the 1800s, Alma drugs traveling businessmen then feeds their dismembered body parts to her pet, a great white alligator.
SERIAL QUILLER 6—Salem, Massachusetts
A strange conversation between BJ and the descendant of a Salem witch leads Alma to believe that BJ is being drawn into a web of lies and deceit.
SERIAL QUILLER 7—Cincinnati, Ohio
BJ grows suspicious of an elderly woman’s true motives after she asks her to help get her granddaughter away from her cruel husband, a notorious gangster.
SERIAL QUILLER 8—Chicago, Illinois
After a devastating hurricane hits New Orleans BJ decides to get on the road and finish her promotional tour, unaware someone is lying in wait.
SERIAL QUILLER 9—Portland, Oregon
BJ is about to wage war on two animal abusers when something extraordinary happens.
SERIAL QUILLER 10—Hollywood, California
A playwright’s misuse of BJ’s thriller series infuriates her.
SERIAL QUILLER 11—Las Vegas, Nevada
An unexpected invitation to a murder mystery dinner party makes BJ wonder if she is the intended victim.
SERIAL QUILLER 12—Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
BJ soon regrets her decision to help a woman who claims she had just escaped from a torture chamber in the desert.
SERIAL QUILLER 13—Coming Home
SERIAL QUILLER 1
Virgil awoke late at night to find his wife gone. He kicked off cold and clammy bedcovers, box springs screeched when he got up. A steady breeze, weighed down with humidity, carried the vanilla-like fragrance of Joe-Pye weed and the barely audible sound of laughter through an open window.
He stood behind fluttering white sheers and watched Marie trot across the back yard, her long black curls bouncing with each footfall. The opaque security light above the barn doors cast an eerie pallor through the limbs of an old elm draped with Spanish moss. He noticed her belly, in the narrow space between her shirt and shorts, seemed rounder than normal. He lazily scratched his ass, wondered what the hell she’s doing.
A man stepped out of the shadows, and drew her into an embrace. They kissed for a moment, then entered the barn.
Marie came back out. She turned her head side to side, looked up. Virgil leaned back without thinking.
The man clasped her hand. “C’mere, baby.” He brought a shiny metal flask to his lips and took a long swig.
She giggled again. “Gimme some.”
“Sh! Not now.” He pulled her into the barn, loosely swung one door shut, the other already latched at the top.
Virgil slipped through the half closed door. Stood beneath the loft and listened to the rough’n ready sounds of raw lust. Glossy photos in his dog-eared girlie magazines flashed through his mind. He hiked the leather rifle strap onto his shoulder, gripped the sides of the wooden ladder. Slowly mounted the rungs; aware one always squeaks.
He found them in a clearing behind short stacks of hay. Virgil recognized him. He was the same slick salesman who’d come sniffing around last April trying to sell them some kitcheny crap. He didn’t know if his wife got any. He’d left the house to spend the rest of the mild and sunny morning planting eggplants to be sold at the farmers market and to local chefs.
A July heat wave made the guy come a-knocking again. Now he was a-rocking, in the hayloft, with a young wife and mamma. His face was nestled against her neck. He grunted mightily with each slow thrust. She flexed her leg muscles, gasped. “Bring it home, baby,” he told her.
A metallic click.
Marie froze. Her dark eyes and reddish complexion oddly reflected the lantern light. She tried to speak but couldn’t. Too late to warn her loverboy, anyway.
He shot the salesman named Russell Something-or-other when he raised his head and looked over his shoulder. She screamed bloody murder. Virgil yanked her up off the floor, got a whiff of the man’s scent, resisted giving her the beating she damn well deserved.
Shivering with fear, she used handfuls of hay to wipe the blood off of her. Watched Virgil load Russell’s body into the bed of his pickup truck. She looked at the back of the house through the open loft doors on the left side of the barn. Her gaze shifted from one upstairs window to the next. She thought she saw her four-year-old son, Bernie, rest his arms on the windowsill in his bedroom and stick his thumb in his mouth. Marie bowed her head and cried.
Virgil drove through the field, toppling crops in his path. He put the body in a rowboat. Filled a feed sack with the man’s belongings, added a cinderblock, then tied the bag around Russell’s scrawny neck. Virgil thought he heard a small gasp. Tightened the rope. Using a pair of wire cutters he removed the guy’s wedding band with his finger still attached, and slung the bloody digit to the ground for the snapping turtles to fight over.
He rowed to the middle of the bottomless pond where dark green scum floated on the surface and mosquitoes multiplied by the hundreds, and chucked the salesman in. Red-hot bolts of lightning clawed the black sky. A roar of thunder soon followed. Straight-line winds almost flipped his boat. Virgil returned to the water’s edge without delay.
In the midst of a torrential downpour his truck got stuck in the mud. He made a mad dash through the field. Lightning revealed the salesman’s car parked in the shadow of a live oak tree.
He jerked open the right door of the barn. Marie ran out screaming, waving her arms in the air, stringy hair covering her face. Crazy bitch looked and sounded like a banshee. His heart thumped erratically while his wet hands fumbled with the rusty iron slide bolt on the other door.
He drove the salesman’s car to the front of the barn just as a strong gust of wind blew one of the flimsy wooden doors shut. “Dammit.” One by one, he carried two empty oil drums out of the barn and propped them against the doors to hold them open. Drove in, and parked behind a do-it-yourself pegboard wall holding an array of hand tools, hooks, and baling wire.
He wouldn’t allow Marie to change clothes or to sleep in his bed, making her spend the night in the living room instead. Lamplight threw a shadow on a cheap seascape hanging to one side on the wall. He leaned against the worn banister, listened to her tossing and turning on the couch. Virgil was tempted to put her out of her misery. Decided a bullet would be too swift. He needed to teach her a thing or two about faithfulness. Too bad he didn’t think of that before he shot her loverboy.
Marie knew it was only out of meanness when Virgil woke her up at five o’clock one dark and rainy morning to come and get the rest of her things out of his bedroom. About to bend down to scoop up the last pile of clothing in her drawer, he grasped a fistful of her long spiral curls and slung her onto the bed. She didn’t tell him she’s pregnant. Or about having frequent thoughts of murder-suicide.
As the months passed and her stomach swelled to the size of a ripe watermelon she started wearing the long, baggy dresses she’d found in a trunk in the attic, where she’d also found a secret compartment inside of a closet. A place to run and hide.
By her seventh month she couldn’t conceal her big belly anymore. She could under the dresses, but not…
“Jeebus Christ, woman, you gettin’ fat?” Virgil asked in a drunken manner.
She frowned. Is he that stupid?
He propped himself up with his arms, and stared intently at her. She shrank back. He moved to her side. “Get the hell away from me.” He pressed his foot against her hip and shoved her off the bed.
Marie bolted from the room.
Lying on the couch, she listened to him pacing overhead. Every creak and squeak of the floorboards was deafening. Her teeth chattered. She balled her hands around the top of a wool blanket, tucked them under her chin. The house was very hot. She was freezing cold. Teardrops disappeared in her hair.
Will this be the day that I die?
“I hope so.”
Chapter 2 (excerpt)
Near the end of December, under the luminous glow of a full long nights moon, Marie went into labor. Virgil stood at the entrance of the living room with his hands on his hips, stared with morbid fascination as the pain worked its way up to her face. No sooner had she started making gross bodily noises than he turned and walked away. He clicked on the radio on top of the refrigerator in the kitchen. Fetched a bottle of whiskey and a shot glass from the cupboard.
He intended to get rid of the kid, he believed wasn’t his, soon after it’s born. Thoughts of killing the thing with his bare hands, though, gave him the willies. More than that, he felt certain God would strike him deaf and blind if he outright murdered it. Bad, bad mojo. He couldn’t bury it alive anywhere on his property, either, knowing the Almighty would be watching.
One thing he knew without a doubt, God truly approved of Marie’s punishment for committing adultery. The proof was in the abundant crop the Wentzel’s had that year.
He sat at the table, gospel music bouncing off the walls, and filled the small glass.
The first drink calmed him. Marie hadn’t fixed his dinner yet. Drinking on an empty stomach, the seventh shot of liquor made his head swim.
As Virgil lifted the glass for the last time she screamed. His hand jerked, spilling brown liquid down the front of his faded blue and red flannel shirt. He slammed the glass down on the table, got to his feet after a couple of attempts, and stomped off toward the living room.
It occurred to him he hadn’t seen his son for a while. “Bernie? Where y’at? Get your ass in here and help your damn mamma.”
Virgil felt his blood pressure rising. He went to Marie. “What’s wrong with you, woman? You act like you’ve got a burr up your ass. You’ve had a kid before. You know what to do. Just squeeze the slimy thing outta ya same as any animal do. How hard can it be?” He angrily rubbed spittle off his chin, and returned to the kitchen.
He knew when the end came he’d have to help her. He’d have to cut the cord. The very thought made his stomach queasy. He turned up the music, sat at the table, and downed another slug of whiskey. He was dizzy as hell, but at least he’d finally worked up the nerve to face the task when or if the time came, which he hoped would be nev—
“Virrrgil. Anmwe mwen! Please, please help me.”