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Madison Johns - Agnes Barton 03 - Senior Snoops, page 1

 part  #3 of  Agnes Barton Series


Madison Johns - Agnes Barton 03 - Senior Snoops

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Madison Johns - Agnes Barton 03 - Senior Snoops

  Senior Snoops

  An Agnes Barton Mystery


  Madison Johns

  Copyright © 2013 by Madison Johns

  Senior snoops Madison Johns

  This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author

  Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to persons living or dead (unless explicitly noted) is merely coincidental

  I dedicate this book to the feisty aging population that never give up their thirst for life.

  Edited by Arlene R. O’Neil

  Cover makeover by

  Also By Madison Johns

  Coffin tales Season of death

  Armed and outrageous

  Grannies, guns and ghosts

  In memory of Dorothy and Frank Abbott.

  Chapter One

  I adjusted the waistband of my khaki crop pants and smoothed my bright aqua shirt into place. As I slid my feet into white sandals, I yelled, “Eleanor Mason! If you don’t hurry, we’re never gonna make our flight.”

  Eleanor, with string bikini in one hand and tanning lotion in the other said, “Hold onto your granny panties. I’ll be ready soon enough.”

  I raised one brow. “This year or next?”

  With a huff, she turned and mooned me, and then continued to shove items into her oversized suitcase, including her denture cup and Efferdent. “I’m glad that we’re going to Florida for the winter.”

  “And why is that, besides the obvious sunshine and no snow, that is?”

  “Buff men on the beach can’t hurt either.”

  “Eleanor,” I gushed in mock disapproval. “You’re eighty-two, dear.”

  “Yes, and I’m not dead yet.” She ginned widely. “And try not to act so innocent, Agnes Barton. I know what goes on in that Winnebago of yours when Andrew Hart visits.”

  “We-Well I-I. That’s none of your concern.”

  Eleanor batted her eyelashes. “I guess it doesn’t matter that you’re seventy-two either, dear.”

  “Nope,” I laughed. “I guess not. Us older gals need some lovin’ too, but what about Mr. Wilson? Is he coming to Florida with us?”

  “I’m really not sure yet. How about your hot shot lawyer man, Andrew?”

  I sighed. “He said, ‘I’ll meet you there when I can’.”

  “Why, for a retired lawyer he sure works a lot.”

  “I know. I really should say something about that.”

  Eleanor and I are senior snoops or private investigators. The main difference is that we don’t charge a cent for our services. I giggled. I don’t think most folks care to have us on a case if they’re a bad guy or gal that is. After our last case, Sheriff Peterson promised us a trip to Florida. That case hadn’t gone according to plan, but neither does any case we’re on.

  Plus sized Eleanor was crammed into purple Capri’s and tee. She didn’t much care what people thought of how she dressed or how many rolls were displayed. I hardly think she cared much about anything except for snooping out clues with me. Well that… and Mr. Wilson. He’s the man she’s been getting busy with. It’s a running joke that we still don’t know Mr. Wilson’s first name and that he doesn’t remember it either. I, on the other hand, have a red hot romance going on with the lawyer, Andrew Hart.

  I frowned as Eleanor climbed atop her over loaded suitcase and sat on it; I’m guessing in an attempt at closing it enough to zip. Although how she had planned to do that while sitting on it, I wasn’t sure. She wobbled a bit and toppled to the floor.

  “A-Are you okay?” I hid a smile with my hand.

  “The least you could do Aggie, is not laugh until you know I’m okay.”

  Tears ran down my cheeks. “I-I’m sorry, but it was so funny. First you were balancing yourself on the suitcase and then boom, you hit the floor.”

  “I’m happy to be part of your entertainment. Are you planning to help me up or what?”

  I helped her up like she helped me whenever I found myself in a jam. “Hurry or we’ll never make it to the landing strip.”

  “Landing strip?” Eleanor asked. “You make it sound like we’re going on a small plane.”

  “I’m not sure, but Sheriff Peterson lined us up with a charter flight from the Iosco County Airport.”

  Eleanor’s face turned white. “Then it’s probably a one way ticket.”

  I laughed. “Come on, El. Peterson has changed his ways.”

  She put her hands up. “I’m okay with it if you are. Florida for the winter sounds yummy.”


  “Yes,” she giggled, “As in man eye candy yummy.”

  My hand went to my hips. “I thought you and Mr. Wilson were exclusive.”

  “We are, but it don’t hurt to look,” El said in mock shock. “It’s not like I’d cheat on the old boy, but I’m old, not dead.”

  I decided to let this topic drop. I hauled the suitcases through the house and outside where Sheriff Peterson awaited us. He was using his squad car to take us to the airport. “I don’t suppose you can go back in and carry the rest of the suitcases?”

  His face darkened and then he burst into a fit of laughter. “Of course, Agnes.” He rushed into the house carrying them happily to the car and loaded them inside.

  Once Eleanor and I were sitting in back of the squad car, we roared up the road. Eleanor grabbed ahold of the metal cage separating the front seat from the backseat and screamed. “Slow down. You’re speeding!”

  “Yup I am. I’d hate for you two to miss your flight.” He paused. “If it makes you feel better I’ll turn on the sirens.” He flipped a switch and my ears rung as the sirens blazed to life. Cars pulled over to the side of the road, and when I glanced at Eleanor, she had a huge smile plastered to her face.

  “This is exciting,” she said. “I always wanted to be in a police car chasing bad guys.”

  “Maybe we should get a siren for your Caddy then, dear.”

  “That’s a great idea, Agnes. I’d be lost without you.”

  “It’s against the law unless you’re a cop, that is,” Peterson reminded her.

  “Fun sucker,” Eleanor retorted.

  “She meant that in a nice way, Peterson,” I added. I nudged Eleanor and whispered into her ear. “Knock it off before he hauls us back home and we’re stuck here for the winter.”

  As Peterson drove along a curve, Lake Huron was visible. The lake was calm today as was the wind, but it was only September. Soon the temperatures would drop and snow would come.

  I’d miss East Tawas, Michigan, and hoped no crime sprees would happen while I was away. I mean what would the sheriff do without El and I chasing down clues?

  Peterson made the turn into the Iosco County Airport and I gasped when I saw how tiny the airport was. Okay, so I know East Tawas is a tourist area, but really, couldn’t they at least have a bigger airport in the county? Even the closed Air Force base in neighboring Oscoda, would make a larger airport. I suppose that not many people fly into Iosco County to visit the Lake Huron shoreline. It sure is a beautiful drive on US 23. It’s scenic with a great view, but many closed down businesses. US 23 had a slue of thriving gift shops and such, but now they primarily are in East Tawas and Oscoda.

  I smiled when I spotted the Cessna Citation II/SP on the runway. At least we would be
traveling in style, but still. “How long is that runway? It hardly looks long enough for the plane to take off.”

  Peterson sighed. “It’s 4,802 feet long, plenty long enough for a safe take off, unless….” he paused.

  “Unless what!” I shouted.

  “Unless a seagull hit the plane,” he laughed. “That only happened once and nobody was injured. I promise I’ll be on the lookout until you’re safely in the air.”

  El wrung her hands. “That plane looks too small. Are we the only ones that will be on board?”

  Peterson clammed up and I wondered what gives, until I noticed Dorothy and Frank Alton standing outside with suitcases! Dorothy was Eleanor’s nemesis. I just shook my head; this wasn’t going to go well.

  When the squad car screeched to a stop, Peterson opened the door for us and quickly retrieved our suitcases from the trunk. “He seems almost a little to eager for us to leave,” El pointed out.”

  “I see that El, but the truth is I’m kinda happy about leaving myself.” I waved at Dorothy and Frank, and gave El a pinch when her eyes bugged out. “Behave,” I whispered to her. “I have never been to Florida and I’m more than happy to leave Michigan behind for the winter. How about you?”

  She began to spout off. “Why is Dorothy here? No way do I want to be stuck in a flying tube with the likes of her.”

  I sighed. “I know how you feel, but she’s not that bad. She has been out of town for awhile; maybe she’s changed.”

  “Some cats just can’t change their spots,” she pouted. “She’s a bully.”

  “Maybe she wouldn’t be if you’d quit hitting on her husband.”

  Eleanor smiled at that. “I only do that because it annoys her.”

  “But you have Mr. Wilson now.” I searched the airport and then asked, “Is he going to be here or not?”

  Just then a state police cruiser came around the building and stopped. Trooper Sales ran around and opened the door for Mr. Wilson helping him out and handing him his walker. Mr. Wilson’s walker had wheels on it, but they were smaller so that it didn’t move too fast. His rail thin body was encased in gray Dockers with a matching gray shirt, white sneakers on his feet. Obviously Mr. Wilson hadn’t changed his style of dress since before he retired. From under a fishing hat, Mr. Wilson greeted us. “Oh, sweet Eleanor. I’m so glad the trooper whisked me here before the plane left.”

  “Me too, hun.” She rushed over and gave him a peck on his gaunt cheek.

  Trooper Sales yanked Wilson’s Suitcases and helped Sheriff Peterson to load them onto the plane. Well, they ended up loading everyone’s suitcases. “Thanks, Sales.”

  Trooper Sales was a good trooper with a huge heart. He wore his dress blues today and his shoes had quite a shine to them. His black hair even looked freshly cut. I wondered where he was going today.Stop it Agnes.

  I kept staring at Sales until he finally said, “Sophia wanted to be here, but she’s sick today. Your daughter Martha will be here soon. She didn’t want you going to Florida solo.”

  I was betting Martha wanted a free trip to Florida was all. We had been at odds for years, but she turned up in town not long ago, and we’d been trying to mend our relationship. Sophia is my granddaughter. I was more than a tad disappointed she wasn’t coming to Florida, but then again, she works at the hospital as a nurse. I imagine that it’s hard to get time off. She also has been dating Trooper Sales, which I’m still trying to swallow. In my book nobody is good enough for my Sophia.

  Rocks tumbled forward as Martha’s station wagon came into view. She jumped out and adjusted her hip hugger jeans. Her midriff top with the words “Wild and Crazy,” was knotted at her waist. She clickety clacked across the asphalt and stood near us waving at the occupant of her car, who promptly whirled around and drove off, a smoke trail in its wake.

  “I can come, can’t I?” Martha asked, biting a fingernail. “You said—”

  “I told you that El and I were going to Florida, if memory serves me.” I darted a glance toward Peterson. “I hope it’s okay.”

  “Of course. The pilot is a friend of mine and he’s flying to Florida, so the more the merrier.”

  I could tell Martha relaxed at that, by the way she dropped her shoulders. She fluffed her wild blond hair with the too much hairspray and smiled. “Thanks Clem,” she winked at Peterson.

  The door to the Cessna opened and a man appeared dressed in pilot whites. “Come on board and welcome.” He was of medium build with a goatee, which he longingly stroked.

  Mr. Wilson moved his walker forward and was helped inside first. We all followed suit except for Eleanor, who got on last. She bit her lip nervously as she made way between the narrow seats and sat in the one next to me. “It sure is a tight squeeze,” Eleanor said.

  “Oh my! I swear I felt the airplane drop when Eleanor came in,” Dorothy Alton said snidely.

  “You’ll feel your bottom lip fall if you say another word, Dorothy,” I reminded her. “No need to be nasty.” I thought speaking on Eleanor’s behalf this time wouldn’t hurt. As it was, El had her hand balled into a fist and was rubbing it suggestively while glancing Dorothy’s way.

  Dorothy shouted. “She was looking at my Frank!”

  Frank slapped a hand over his bald head. “Here we go again.”

  Martha turned and glared at Dorothy. “If you don’t want to come on this flight you can catch another.”

  Good for Martha,I thought.

  Dorothy opened her mouth for a hasty retort no doubt, but then shut it with a gnashing of teeth. It was like nails on a chalkboard.

  I gave Martha a nod as she sat next to Mr. Wilson. Looking at El I said, “Why aren’t you sitting next to Mr. Wilson?”

  “Because I wanted to sit by you is why. I’m too old to be wrapped around a man twenty-four seven.” She said it like someone in her forties and not a woman of eighty plus.

  “Okay, but you know Martha is gonna be flirting with him. It’s what she does.”

  “I know, but ultimately she always ends up with a man half her age. It’s just what happens,” she giggled.

  I knew Eleanor was right. The truth was that I didn’t know who Martha was anymore. Since she showed up in town, things have been mighty interesting. Her daughter Sophia, had pushed her off on me, and truth be known, I wasn’t too happy about it, but I was determined to make the best of it and roll with the punches. I frowned; I sure hoped Sophia was okay. I pulled out my cell and dialed her number. She answered on the first ring. “Are you okay, honey? If you want I’ll postpone my trip to Florida.”

  She squealed. “Don’t you dare. I’m fine. Bill is here and he’ll look after me. If I feel better soon, I’ll meet up with you.”

  “Oh, don’t put yourself out. I can’t imagine you want to hang out with us old folks in Florida anyway.”

  She giggled and then ended the call with a barfing sound. I clicked off the call and told Eleanor what she said.

  “So, Trooper Sales is looking after her, eh?”

  “Yes. They’re dating now, remember?”

  El gazed down at her freshly painted fingernails that were fuchsia in color, and then back at me. “She’s sick, like with the flu?”

  “I suppose so. Poor thing was barfing when I hung up. Why?”

  “Do you think it’s the flu or something else altogether?”

  I narrowed my eyes. “I don’t know what you’re hinting at here, but get it out of your mind. I won’t stand for any more assumptions about my granddaughter. Got it?”

  “Fine,” Eleanor said holding up her hands. “I won’t say that she might be p—”

  “You said you’d drop it.”

  “I never said anything like that, but I’ll drop it if you like.” She smiled sheepishly. “Trooper Sales is a great guy and will do the right thing by her, don’t worry.”

  I turned my back to her and stared out the window. Outside, Sheriff Peterson was talking to the pilot and handed him a suspicious looking envelope. How much had it cost to send us
packing and how badly did Peterson want to get rid of us? I knew the answer, quite a bit I imagined, but that was fine with me. El and I had been a thorn under his skin for a while now. He wasn’t that happy we kept butting into his cases, but what’s a body supposed to do when crime comes knocking in your town? So whatever the reasons, it was nice he paid for the trip. He even had accommodations for us.

  “What gives out the window?” El asked.

  “Oh nothing. Just glad we’re getting out of town for the winter is all.”

  “Who needs all the snow when we can go surfing?”

  “Did you rattle something loose, dear? Neither of us is young enough to risk a broken bone.”

  “Speak for yourself. Eighty is the new twenty I hear.”

  “Forty tops.”

  “What does that make me?” Martha asked from her seat.

  “Sixteen,” El said belly laughing. “So young lady, you better start behaving.”

  “No way! I’m going to be rebellious. Maybe if I did that when I was younger, I’d be more settled now.”

  I nodded. “I’ll give you that much, Martha. You were a good girl. I never worried for a minute about you.”

  The pilot came onboard and told us to fasten our seat belts, reminding us the plane was smaller so we’d feel the turns. He showed us all the safety equipment on board, pointing out the oxygen masks. I laughed it off, of course. I mean what could happen, right?

  The Cessna roared to life and we taxied down the runway. I bit down on my lip when I saw how short the runway really was, and a white tail deer appeared. “Deer on the runway!” I screamed. I gripped the arms of the seat and we glided above the deer without a problem. I could clearly see the deer’s white tail as he sprang away. Poor thing was probably having a heart attack. “Is everyone okay?” I asked, to which they all laughed at my antics.

  “It sure was nice of that white tail deer to send us off, don’t you think, Aggie?”

  “I could have done without it.”

  “Aw. It was nice to see you come unglued for a change. It’s usually me.”

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