M E L I N D A
C U L E A
WONDAGO An Illustrated Mystery Novel
WONDAGO A n I llustrated Myster y N ovel
M E L I N D A
C U L E A
Copyright ÂŠ 2016 Melinda Culea. All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are a product of the authorâ€™s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Printed in the United States of America First Printing, 2016 Published by Hillstone Press Santa Monica, California HillstonePress.com ISBN 978-0-9978645-1-9 Written and Illustrated by Melinda Culea MelindaCulea.com
For Peter, Lily and Lucas
My drawings are the only true me at this point. There are not many
memories left in my damaged brain. The images come in bursts that seem to tell a story. Then I get rivers of words. I hope they are the truth. Otherwise, I should be dead - as dead as they thought I was when they found me. When the pictures come to me, I draw them, show them to the deputy and tell him the story the best I can. We are in a hurry as there is still a woman missing. I turn away from the taxi, and a shot of warm wind passes through my hair. I wrestle with getting the five dollar bill back into my wallet. But now, I am quite sure that I have made a grand miscalculation. Being in this place is not going to help anything. Leaving New York was inevitable, but the decision to stay with Great Aunt Edna whom I have never even met, is flawed. Still here I am, walking up the drive to this funny old farm. Huge wisteria limbs are weeping over the porch roof. Clay pots covered in green mold are piled haphazardly high in a glass garden house and a cement- sculpted head of a man is wrapped in ivy vines guarding the path. A long rusted chain hangs from the gutter. A crow sits in a tree. I need air. The humidity is killing me. My mouth is drained of moisture like my cellphone is drained of juice. I walk up the rotted steps and knock.
There is no answer. But I am quite certain that I hear a sound. So I knock again, but not too loudly as I donâ€™t want to startle anyone. Nothing. I decide to walk around back to the back kitchen door. I try to maneuver my suitcase with wheels, but the flagstones are too uneven. So I pick it up and proceed to squash a worm under my shoe. Not a good omen.
WO N DAG O
Well, there she is, I presume, as I peep through the glass window pane. Must be her, she’s old and short, and working away with her hands in some kind of glop. Her kitchen is packed with two sofas, a tall hutch with colored plates, an antique red upright piano, loaded bookshelves and a large square wood counter which is where she is working. She looks to be putting strips of pasted newspaper on some plaster pumpkins. Her radio is blaring. I speak up and call to her, but not too loudly as I don’t want her to think I think she is deaf. But it’s no use, she is clearly enthralled with her project and she is not facing any windows for attentiongetting purposes. I try the door, just in case she’s left it unlocked, as people who live in rural areas always claim they do. But no such luck, it is latched. Here right to the right of the door knob I notice a hole in the wall. It is neatly cut out with a sign above it that reads “DOORBELL”. There is a basket of colored golfballs below that, and more words that say “TAKE ONE DROP IN”. I pick a blue one, my favorite color lately, and let it go. It slips easily into the hole and I can see it roll down a wooden gutter - like the ones in pool tables. Finally it disappears from sight. “SQUAWK SQUAWK” suddenly the sound of a shrieking parrot pierces the air. I peer in through the window pane and now see Great Aunt Edna squawking back “Squawk, squawk to you too, company for me and an old golfball for you.” “Hello, dear, just a minute, let me rinse my hands.” She holds them up for me to see, “Dreadful stuff this papier mache, wonderful when it hardens, but an awful mess before.” My great aunt who really is a tiny woman, makes her way to the sink. I don’t want to stare.
I turn away and notice a big wood planked barn. It sits on a hill and tilts to the right. It has a painting of a black bird on it. I shiver, though I am dripping in sweat.
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