Saint John City, Part 2

Continued from Part 1

Ida stood, concern threatening to cloud her brow. She looked from floor to fridges to open aisle. Here, at the back of McClintock’s Mercantile, she attempted to gather her wits. At the least, she attempted to appear unaffected while those un-gathered wits felt completely unraveled.

Calm down. Calm. Down. Inhaling through her nose and exhaling with a soft whistle out through her mouth, she talked herself through a tempting panic. She, the great Ida Layton, could handle anything. She could certainly handle a person disappearing; Petey had to have gone somewhere.

She walked coolly forward. She studied a Get Well Soon card, its flowers a yellow and green shadow of what they once were. She turned the display this way and that, but a creaking spin was her only reward.

Returning the card and pursing her lips in an innocent expression of perusal, she stepped along the back wall. Bob had inherited the place from his father, and his father before him, and a cousin before him, and -rumor had it- that cousin’s mother before him. The shelves along the back betrayed the store’s age, sagging at their splintering plaster. Wisely, Bob set lightweight merchandise on these. No matter how casually she scrutinized them, however, Ida saw no evidence that the seed packets, balloons, tissue paper, or ladies’ hosiery had been disturbed. No fingerprints in the dust. No dislodged packages. Nothing.

She came to the furthermost corner. For a place of business so brightly lit and generally clean, the store’s back corner appeared dark and cluttered. When she glanced up, she noticed no light nor security camera. Odd, she thought.

Glancing down the aisles, she heard snatches of Bob and Sue attempting a conversation with old Mrs. Benjamin Wilson. Ida turned back to the task at hand. Her hands shook in excitement. She pushed aside a barrel-shaped display advertising Pepsi-Cola. She stepped over an old janitorial mop and bucket. At the back, she faced a cardboard cutout of some long-lost athlete with hand raised in greeting.

There, beneath the athlete’s arm, shone the dim, straight outline of a doorframe.

Photo by Louis on

©2020 Chel Owens

19 thoughts on “Saint John City, Part 2

  1. petespringerauthor October 21, 2020 / 10:22 pm

    Somehow I missed part 1. I just went back and read it. I’m looking forward to learning where the doorframe leads. Good job, Chel!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Chel Owens October 21, 2020 / 10:25 pm

      This is my first straight-up mystery, so we’re both looking forward to it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. kat October 21, 2020 / 10:44 pm

    I was hoping to find out where he had disappeared to, but a door frame seems even better!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Chel Owens October 21, 2020 / 11:18 pm

      He’s either somewhere involving the door, or they’re having a special on frozen Petey’s.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hobbo October 22, 2020 / 4:17 am

    Don’t frame him for anything!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jules October 23, 2020 / 7:18 am

    Ah… you’ve reminded me of some of my own mysteries that I’ve more than less abandoned.
    I may have to dig them out of that back room of yours and work on them! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      • Jules October 23, 2020 / 9:20 am

        Don’t count on me… I kind of stalled. I put those pages on private. But maybe if you’d like I could send you one of them once I get it organized…

        Liked by 1 person

          • Jules October 24, 2020 / 10:47 am

            I sent you the first five segments of one particular series, because I had set up a folder for it… Let me know what you think?

            Liked by 1 person

  5. H.R.R. Gorman October 24, 2020 / 7:54 am

    Who is Petey to Ida? I assume she knows him, since she knows his name, but why was she following him in the first place? All I saw was “She needed to keep him in sight.” from part 1.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chel Owens October 24, 2020 / 2:00 pm

      Beats me.

      …I mean, of *course* I know what’s happening. I’m the author!

      Liked by 1 person

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