The winds were howling like cat screaming in fear. The sliding glass door wobbling from the force of seventy mile an hour gusts. The glass holds firm, but rattles through the night. The screens are forced open by the wind approximately one inch and pushed back into it’s original position. The wind cannot make up it’s mind on were to blow. East , west, which way is best, as we sleep through the night.
You become accustomed to the wind in San Luis. The heavy winds is a normal course of the night. It is hard to grow a colorful garden because the wind blows off the leaves and flowers or the leaf eater ants have an early morning breakfast. You want to use insecticide, but how much is enough? Too much and you walk in a cancer field; too little hundreds of dollars are washed away with Mother Nature.
The sunrises as the wind sends the storm clouds away, and it is beautiful in the morning and not as windy. Not today, the gust still rattle the sliding glass doors; I am glad I bought heavier doors to combat the wind and keep us warm. Today I continue to correct my new novel Charlie. It is the continuing saga of the McLaughlin Family. Charlie takes over the reigns of the avenger, The Chameleon. Dad wishes to retire and have the Chameleon disappear, but daughter, Charlie wants to continue the legacy of the crime fighter against the greatest evils in the world.
Press the link above for my bookstore and read an except below from my latest novel Charlie.
The case of the accidental poisoning
It is a quiet winters morning, the snow is falling, and the temperature is two degrees Fahrenheit. Lucky tells Carla,
“Let’s spend a couple of months in Costa Rica. It is too cold here in DC!”
Carla agrees as Lucky and Carla searches the internet and finds a beautiful house in El Cielo, Costa Rica. It is a road off the main highway overlooking Lake Arenal; you can see the whole lake from the living room. It has every amenity for a thousand dollars a month. Maybe the kids will visit, and we can make it a family affair, thinks Carla.
The house is quiet, Mom and Dad are gone for three months enjoying Costa Rica, Nicaragua and having an enjoyable time. Charlie’s phone rings,
“ Charlie, Claire here, I was going through my emails and received a strange message. It says help me please; my family wants me dead. Should I track it down?”
“Yes, if you can get a complete name and address,” Says Charlie.
“ I found this obituary in the Barstow newspaper,” Says Claire.
Ida Clemens, the last of the oil baron Clemens whose husband dug a well for water in nineteen thirty-two in Barstow California and struck oil, dies at the age of one hundred and ten years old. Her husband Ira and son Joe were digging with a pick and shovel one hundred and fifty feet down. They hit one of the most productive oil fields in California. Her survivors are Ida Mae Clemens and Granddaughter, Mary Anne Clemens Stow. Funeral will be January twelve, two thousand and eighteen at twelve in the morning. The services will be at St Joseph Catholic Church, 505 E Mountain View St. Barstow, California.
“ Mary Anne Clemens Stow believes her husband is trying to kill her and her mother. Several incidents involving broken step ladder, flat tires near a river where the car almost went into the river, and a late night break in where shots were fired by Mary Anne to chase off the intruder,” Says Claire.
“Is she asking for protection?” Ask Charlie.
“ She wants you to find her killer?” Says Claire.
“ What? We need to help her out and find the mischief maker,” Says Charlie.
“ Mary Anne is sixty-eight years old, and Mom is ninety years old,” Says an interested Claire.
Charlie, Claire, and Harry arrive in Barstow a few days later. The trip in the Albatross was comfortable. The vehicle was overhauled before, and the air conditioning is working great. They drive into the long gravel entrance of Clemens Cattle Ranch and Oil Company. Home of ten thousand head of cattle. You could smell the ranch five miles down the road. It is a large ranch, some one hundred and fifty thousand acres of trees, grass built into the desert some one hundred years earlier. Almost two hundred and fifty square acres.It is Modern Ranch with helicopters, ATVs and four-wheel trucks. It is a billion dollar industry that helps feed a nation. The ranch also has two farms that raise chickens, hogs, and grows large crops. Because of its age and size, the ranch does not worry about California water laws. The family owns California politics which has a Stow as a California Senator for twenty years. Marshall Stow is also the family lawyer; he took over his father’s practice before becoming a Senator. As they pull in front of a magnificent one story Ranch house with a sizeable gabled frontage, a tall man is waiting.
“I am Senator Marshal Stow, welcome to Clemens Ranch. My Mother is in the parlor with Grandma; I must warn you Mom is a spitfire!,” Says the Senator.
“Mrs. Clemens, Mrs. Stow, I am Charlie Mc Laughlin and my associates, Claire and Harry. What can We do for you?”
“Did you get my letter, Young Lady? I want you to find out who is trying to kill me!” Says the feisty Mary Anne.
“Easy daughter, you are coming off two strong, they are not your hired help!” Grandma is working to calm her daughter.
“Well! I want answers, not questions!” Demand Mary Anne.
“Ma’am, you might as well get used to our questions, or we can leave. We can not be held back because you have a lot of money and a sour disposition,” Says an eager Charlie.
Mrs. Stow asking questions will help us solve your problem,” Suggest Claire.
“Ok! I’m on edge because I believe someone is trying to poison us,” Says a frightened woman.
Marian hands a cup of tea to Charlie and asks her to smell it. It has a faint scent of arsenic.
“Can you and your mom trust us alone in your house for three hours?” Ask Charlie.
“Yes, we can visit our friends down the road,” Says Mary Anne.
“We will call a laboratory to inspect your well for arsenic and lead. Did you have new piping replaced in your home? I imagine it was originally lead pipe, correct?” Ask Claire.
“ No, it is the same piping for over one hundred years, why?”
“ My scientist will come out to your property and take samples of your chickens, meat, water on your property. I do not think anyone wants you dead; your property is old, it is showing its age. We will fix your situation and investigate wrongdoing,” Explains Claire.
Claire excuses herself and calls Professor Lazlow and ask him to send some scientist and equipment to the farm. The Professor says,
“I know the Clemens family and Albert, and I will fly out by helicopter to the ranch. See you in a few hours.”
Charlie calls Mary Anne asking for a few more hours so the scientist can do their work and she agrees. The helicopter arrives, and the scientist goes to work. In minutes they find a severe problem, The Professor lights a match and throws it in the sink, and it explodes in a puff of fire and smoke. Charlie comes running into the kitchen followed by the Senator,
“What was that?” Screams Charlie.
“Methane! You have dump site near here Senator?” Ask the Professor.
“No we incinerate all garbage five miles inside the property and dump it in a large landfill with the cattle dung to make Compost for the local farmers and us, “Says the Senator.
“ Any earthquakes in Barstow lately?” Ask Claire.
“ Last year we had a seven point two quake that shook up the area for almost four minutes. We thought it was the end of the world. We had minor quakes for six months and then they went away,” Says the Senator.
“I need to call my associate Joshua and get a geologist out here. Joshua will know who to call,” Says Charlie.
Charlie calls Lucky and explains what is happening,
“Good call Charlie! It sounds like Alaska all over again. Get a drilling company out there and have them wait for Joshua. He is the expert on methane related problems. Let the Clemens know they can harness the methane for useable energy. Joshua and the Geologist will show them how; I Love you! Bye!”
“We have all the drilling equipment you need; we are an oil company, and my men are experts,” Says the independent oilman.
Joshua arrives at seven PM; his Geologist does some minor checks at the well and house. Large amounts of methane plus lead and arsenic in the water. The Geologist shuts off the water to the house and digs into the piping. It is cracked and seeping into the ground.
Mary Anne is back at her home as a violent shake rattles the area and a giant explosion a half mile from the ranch house blast dirt and dung high into the air. Joshua and Bill, the Geologist, drive out to the blast site. Night time is beginning to fall, and they can not visualize the bottom of the crevice. Joshua runs to the truck and take out a rope and ties a rock to it and drops it into the hole. One hundred feet it falls as Joshua rolls it back up.
“We have to wait until the morning, what kind of reading did you get?”
“ No scent of methane gas, it must have capped it off. Tomorrow we will have a better idea, five AM?” Ask Bill.
In the morning, Mary Anne, Bill, and Joshua head for the hole. It is two hundred feet deep, three hundred feet wide. Joshua gives orders to the drilling people. He asked Mary Ann to have a crew fill in the hole and compact it with rock, stone and gravel and pile in the dirt. Make sure it is compacted. An hour later a truck with large stones is followed by trucks of gravel.
It is covered with dirt that exploded into the air. Joshua and the drilling team drill where Bill instructs them to drill. They used special piping that sprays water into the ground as the drill. They stop at one hundred and eighty feet and unhook the drilling pipe. With water sprinkling on the top, they unscrew the lid and walk away as they clear Joshua pushes an igniter, and a hundred foot flame appears. Joshua drives to the dung pile where Bill is and ask Bill,
“ Do we need to cap more leaks?”
“The parameter is safe. I drilled down one hundred and eighty feet in different areas and believed we need to drill in the center of that fifty-foot pile. Any suggestions on how we do that?” Ask Bill.
“ They need to knock down forty feet of that mountain of dung, and we will put the final pipe in.” Suggest Joshua.
The Clemens made lemonade out of lemons. They started a gas company with two trucks and delivered propane to new clients. Repiped the house with PVC pipe, built a new well and added filters to protect from any iron that might exist. The Geologist gave them a bill of good health.
The Professor stayed to ensure the proper work. Charlie gave Mary Anne a bill for three hundred thousand dollars because of all the professionals she brought in and the expense of the helicopter. Mary Anne said it was a low price to pay for good health. Mary Anne invited everyone back for the Fourth of July picnic, and Charlie thinks we would like to come and ask if she could bring mom and dad. Of course, says Mary Anne. The gang jumps into the Albatross and head down the road.
“ Funny how people think it is foul play instead of poor maintenance,” explains Claire.
“What business they have built! They will be in the history books; think we will get a mention?” Laughs Charlie as the group giggles at the thought.