One Big Bat by Fay Risner by Fay Risner - Read Online

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One Big Bat - Fay Risner

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Prologue

Hello! I'm Wedgewood, Minnesota Police Detective Renee Brown. Actually, I'm the only detective on our police force, and the only woman. There are four in total with me, two patrolmen and the chief. I loosely count Chief Olaf Tollerton who spends most of his time behind his desk.

Our potbellied, balding chief might come in handy in a pinch, but so far the two patrolmen and I seem to keep the town under control. Pretty much, the chief is just counting the days until his retirement. Secretly between you and me, I'd be all too happy to give him a whale of a retirement party. I'm just waiting to apply for his job.

I'm single and thirty years old. I date the Pike County Coroner, Ross Klink, when I feel like it. Lately, that has been pretty often.

I was raised in Wedgewood so I've watched this small town expand. For years, retired farmers outnumbered the younger generations in town. They turned their farms over to a relative or had a farm auction and retired so they could move into Wedgewood.

These days there are all sorts of strangers moving to town to get the jobs available in the Industrial Park. More than once, my mother has groaned when we passed someone up town. When I give her my what is wrong with you look, she grumbles for my ears alone, What happened to the good old days when I knew everyone in town?

My parents are retired now. My father used to run a shoe store on Main Street that he inherited from his father. Mom has always been a homemaker. She keeps busy volunteering in the town's various volunteer groups along with her best friend Mrs. Pestkey. Personally, I think that woman is an instigator. She knows my mother is a good worker for any cause, and Mrs. Pestkey is bossy. She figures on giving the orders, and Mom doing the work.

Life for me in my early years was kind of like living the Father Knows Best show. That's about it in a nutshell as far as my growing up was concerned.

I have one sister, Diane. She's two years younger than me. Since we've grown up, we have always gotten along all right, but that might be because we went our separate ways.

Usually, I see Diane and her husband, Paul, on holidays at my parents house. Family dinners are a must for special occasions so designated by my mother. Suits me fine. Holidays are about the right number of visits for me with my parents, my sister and her husband.

A large Victorian house in the old part of town sold a few years back. My landlord, Ervern Chaloupek, turned the house into apartments. As soon as I was hired by the police department, I was ready to leave home so I headed to the landlord of that old Victorian home and was lucky he had one apartment vacant. My four room apartment is on the ground floor, facing the front.

Growing up, my family passed by the house every Sunday on our way to church. I've always liked the looks of that grand old house. Now I enjoy living in my cozy apartment in it. The rooms are small, but that's all right. Doesn't take long to clean house that way. Not that I make much of a mess.

One afternoon I came home from work to find the landlord on my doorstep, waiting to talk to me. My first fear was Ervern was going to raise the rent.

It was a relief to find out all he wanted was to paint the apartments. Ervern planned to start with my place first, and he wanted me to move out until he finished. He said he'd have to move furniture so he didn't want me in the way, and he didn't think I'd like smelling fresh paint until he was done.

He estimated it would just be for a couple of weeks. Yeah! Right! The man has a day job. He wasn't fooling me. That means he'd only be painting nights and weekends. If he took a night off now and then that meant who knows how long it would be before I moved back in again.

The way I saw it, I had four choices of places to stay, and I didn't like any of them. Number one was the hotel at the county seat. A fancy hotel like that one costs too much. On my piddly salary I'm not about to pay the going rate for a hotel room for two weeks. On top of that expense, I'd have to commute to work, and with gas prices what they are, it would be cheaper to stay in town.

Choice number two was the motel. Cozy Inn sets on the edge of town by the busiest highway coming into Wedgewood. That L shaped building does a good enough business to keep it open, but that's no thanks to the tourism.

The inn's regular renters are the local, friendliest women in town. They spend most of their nights entertaining men in the inn's rented rooms. With the prices the women charge, they can afford to rent by the night, and they get the same room all the time. No confusion that way about knocking on the wrong door if a customer has a particular woman friend he likes.

I saw the downside of staying there right away since I'm a cop. As soon as the manager warned the women to cease business because a cop had moved in, I'd have some unhappy ladies after my hide for losing them their income. I've heard those gals are good shots when they're angry. I'd have to demand the manager put a double lock on my room's door. For sure, I'd have to stay away from the windows, too.

If all that news about the Cozy Inn wasn't bad enough, I recently overheard a conversation at Joe's Bar and Grill one night. A man was saying to another guy that his brother and sister-in-law rented a room at the Cozy Inn while they visited in town. When his relatives left, they packed home bedbugs courtesy of the motel.

Choice number three was my old room at my parents house. It was always available. At least that's what my mother tells me every chance she gets.

Mom keeps the bedroom decorated like it was when I was a kid. It took me a long time to figure out why. I thought it might be since I hadn't married yet, my mother expected me to move back in some day. Maybe she had this crazy idea that I'd take care of Dad and her in their old age.

Finally, it came to me why Mom hadn't redecorated my room. When I was fourteen I put a large poster of Elvis Presley on one wall, because I thought Love Me Tender was the most romantic song I'd ever heard. At least it was romantic to me, the way Elvis sang it.

Secretly, I think Mom has a crush on him, too, since he was popular when her age group was teenagers. She just uses leaving the room as I decorated it as an excuse to keep Elvis on the wall.

Even if the stay at my parents was just for two weeks that would be fourteen days too long. Just enough time for my mother to get possessive of me again. She'd forget I was thirty years old, had a mind of my own and an important job as a police detective. No sir, I just don't take well to the idea of being mothered and smothered at my age.

That only left me the last choice, number four. I'd have to call my sister, Diane, and beg her to let me spend the two weeks at her house. Just in case she hesitated, I'd fail to