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Fore! In the Hole

Fore! In the Hole

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Fore! In the Hole

286 pages
4 hours
May 29, 2018


A Charlene Parker mystery.

After spending a peaceful and relaxed winter at her home in Nova Scotia Charlene is back in Ontario to open the cottage resort for another noisy and hectic season. Sneaky Bob gets lucky, Sarah is bonkers, the geology students are back and a group of women from an area shelter are there to relax. Charlene’s relaxing time is definitely over.

Set mostly in northern Ontario at a cottage resort and partly in rural Nova Scotia at her old fixer-upper house, Fore! In the Hole (book four in the Kirk Lake Camp series of books) features a former Hamilton police detective, Charlene, who would like most of all to spend the season just doing the never ending everyday chores of running a resort, but who seems to end up having to solve murders instead.

Then there are the guests. Not only are the trees too sappy, too messy, too numerous, the mosquitoes and black flies are too many and too pesky, the cabins are too rustic with too few luxuries, with too few televisions (as in none) and too expensive, the other guests are too loud, too drunk, too close, too present, the air temperature is too hot or too cold or too windy or not windy enough, the lake is too cold or too rough, with too few pickerel and bass, the wolf howls are too scary and too close, the black bears are too smelly and too scary and too close, the water snakes too skittish and scary and too close, the garter snakes too, too, too close, the red squirrels and blue jays too chattery and bossy and too close, and the guests' own families are too obnoxious, too stressful, too close.

It's enough to make Charlene want to head south back to a dark alley in the north end of Hamilton to chase a criminal in a hoodie (always a hoodie), with a gun, who is too scary, too mean, too drunk, too stoned, too hilarious, too stupid and too close.

Thank goodness she has time to unwind every now and then with a good Cape Breton single malt whisky.

The season started well. The group of women from a women's shelter had a chance to unwind a little and let mother nature help soothe their worries. It didn't end well. Her angst over the man she left behind on the east coast mixed with her resentment of the man she once loved who lived just a short drive away, caused Charlene as much stress and worry as the dead body discovered on her property just a week before the hectic May long week-end.

May 29, 2018

About the author

Ms. McCluskey is a Canadian author of cozy murder mysteries and short stories. Her current cozy mystery series, Kirk Lake Camp, takes place primarily in Ontario but with an ever stronger connection to Nova Scotia as the series progresses. The author has first hand experience similar to that of the main character of the Kirk Lake Camp and Back Road to Shore cozy mystery series. Her book of short stories is life on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia as seen through the eyes of a CFA, Come From Away, after having moved from northern Ontario to the Eastern Shore.She joined the Hamilton Regional Police Service in Hamilton, Ontario and was a police officer for 14 years. She started as a beat officer in Stoney Creek, then became a Detective Constable in the Criminal Investigative Division, partnered with a Sergeant, investigating crimes such as serious assaults, robberies, sudden deaths, sexual assaults and break and enters. She was promoted to Sergeant and worked in the Special Investigative Unit as a detective in the Sexual Assault Unit. She was also specially trained in Child Abuse investigations and Domestic Violence.She passed her Staff Sergeant exams and attained the rank of Acting Staff Sergeant before she left policing and moved on to another career in which she owned a water access resort in northern Ontario that included 12 rental cottages, fishing boat and canoe rentals, and a small general store.After seven years she sold the resort and taught Police Foundations at a small college in Sudbury, Ontario, before she moved to Victoria, B.C.She moved back to northern Ontario and concentrated on her work as a freelance writer going back to what she missed most, writing.Well before her policing career, she graduated from Print Journalism. She has been writing for over 40 years including her time as a police officer and resort owner. Her articles included a weekly fitness column, feature stories, and a short stint as a beat reporter for criminal court and town council.She now lives with her partner in an old farmhouse in a small community along the eastern shore of Nova Scotia, not far from Cape Breton Island.She enjoys traveling to visit her daughters and grand-children. While at home she kayaks, hikes, cycles, swims, practises yoga, and drives the back roads to explore the beauty of her new province where she gets inspiration for her writing and life in general.K.L. McCluskey is currently working on the Kirk Lake Camp murder/mystery series of books. The series will consist of six books in total and when completed will lead to the Back Road to Shore series. The books are available as ebooks and are published by An Taigh Buidhe air an Lohan (The Yellow House on the Pond in Scottish Gaelic) Publishing, a small Nova Scotia publisher, and distributed by Smashwords.

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Fore! In the Hole - K.L. McCluskey


Fore! In the Hole is dedicated to all the plumbers in the world but especially to my Uncle Keith McCluskey and his son, my cousin Keith, who followed in his father’s footsteps as a plumber/fitter, and to Elmer McBain (1913-2014) a plumber/fitter with Local 67 out of Hamilton who continued to plumb into his early nineties, and his son, my partner Arthur, who, though not a plumber by trade, can plumb a house like a professional and in doing so, must deal with the **** like the rest of them.

I would like to be able to thank my mother for her encouragement in getting me started on A Kayak for One the first book in this series. Her enthusiasm and belief that I would serve myself better if I wrote down the words that were piling up in my head motivated me to just get at it. Sadly, my mother died before I completed the book.

My thanks and appreciation go out to Arthur who listened to my idea for a series of books and told me he thought it was a great idea. His continued support has encouraged me to continue writing. We have shared our thoughts about the characters with lots of laughs over potential plots for the six book Kirk Lake Camp series. I would also like to thank him for creating the art work for the covers and getting my books formatted to be available as e-books and paperbacks.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank my family members and friends who read rough drafts of my books and were kind and said they wanted to read the next one. Thank you.


Chapter 1

Thursday May 11, 2017


Oh my God! I can’t believe how big he is now! How did that happen? Charlene asked as she helped Sarah get Myeengun out of the stroller.

It was easier to carry him rather than try to push him in the stroller over all the exposed roots and pine needles up the hill to the house. Besides, Charlene was happy to hold him and cuddle him as Sarah turned the stroller around and pulled it behind her. It almost made Charlene burst out laughing at the big shot detective struggling with the stroller, the storage space jammed with an over-sized diaper bag, a bag of stuffies, and containers of food. Food? Was he eating actual food now?

She did burst out laughing when all she could hear was, Fuck! Couldn’t you live somewhere normal like that has some bit of flat pavement, never mind flat, just pavement?! How the hell am I supposed to get this thing up to the house? Oh my God this is ridiculous. The wheels keep get stuck and going all ape-shit. How can you even live here with all this...all this...all this GD nature is beyond me! Fuck it. I’m just putting it back on the pontoon boat.

Charlene looked back and saw Sarah push the stroller down to the dock and onto the deck of the pontoon boat. She watched as Sarah tried to load up her arms with all the baby stuff from the stroller. The bags fell out of her arms faster than she could arrange them so they wouldn’t.

Won’t it be easier for it to be in the house so Myeengun can have somewhere to sit and nap? she called down to her.

It would be easier if you just let me do what I want! I know what I’m doing you know.

Charlene cuddled the baby and put her nose into his chubby little no-neck and took a deep breath in of pure heaven baby smell. She watched as Sarah managed to load up her arms and step off the boat.

As Sarah stepped heavily from the boat to the dock she pushed the boat back a bit and the bounce was just enough to send the stroller rolling backward and into the lake. It was too good a moment to want to do anything to help.

I hear some people use the brakes when they park their stroller, Charlene called out.

Sarah turned back to look when she heard the splash then turned back to Charlene and stared at her long enough to give Charlene the idea she wasn’t too happy. When she walked quickly back along the dock to the boat the bag of stuffed animals fell from her arms into the lake on the other side of the dock. Charlene could smell Sarah’s brain smoking. Which would she go to first Charlene wondered. The day was turning out to be better than she could have dreamed.

Fuck! Oh my God, don’t just stand there do something!

Charlene did something, which was nothing. She tried to hide her laughter in Myeengun’s sweater. Hey! Wait a minute. It looked hand knit. As far as she knew neither Sarah or Patty could knit. She would have to ask her where they got the sweater. She tried to imagine Sarah knitting but she couldn’t conjure up a mental image of Sarah sitting still long enough to even get the yarn and knitting needles organized.

It was pale blue with navy trim and had a little hoodie that covered his head that Charlene knew was covered in thick black hair to match his almost black eyes. The sweater matched perfectly with his dark blue little track pants or joggers or whatever they were called these days. He sure wasn’t doing any track and field or jogging at his age though. Leisure pants, that’s what she would call them to annoy Sarah. And his shoes. Man. Baby white Adidas. He couldn’t even walk yet. Where were the deer skin moccasins she bought him?

Charlene waited long enough for Sarah to get more steamed before she sauntered down to the dock. She stopped part way and put Myeengun into the double size rope hammock that was hanging between two enormous white pine trees. When she was satisfied he wouldn’t be able to fall or roll out, she walked to the pontoon boat where all she could see was Sarah’s backside as she bent over and tried to grab the stroller.

It won’t come out like this, Sarah yelled.

Charlene got the emergency life pole from the side rail of the boat. She gently pushed Sarah’s bum aside and reached out with the end of the pole and hooked the frame of the stroller. They worked together to pull the stroller closer to the boat. It would have been easier to just wade into the water and get it but the lake hadn’t fully turned yet from the winter and was still really cold. It was only May and warm water was months away. When the stroller was close enough they were able to reach down and pull it out of the water and onto the pontoon boat.

Don’t say it! Sarah said as she turned and walked off the boat and brushed water from the front of her jacket and shook water from her sleeves.

She got a few feet away then turned around and walked back onto the boat. She walked up to the drenched stroller without a glance at Charlene and pushed her foot down to lock the back wheel brakes.

Don’t you even think of saying anything!

It was a super sunny day with warmth to the sun for so early in the day. Charlene heard on the radio the forecast was for the temperature to get up to the mid 20s. That was warm for early spring in northern Ontario and it felt much warmer than that already and it was only 11 o’clock. The fabric of the stroller would dry in no time out in the sun with just enough of a breeze to help. Her wet shirt and Sarah’s jacket would dry quickly on the clothesline. It was in full sun this time of day.

Why was Sarah even wearing a jacket? Ah, she wasn’t old enough to get hot flushes yet, Charlene remembered, so she could still feel the chill air more so than she could. Sarah didn’t have an internal furnace. She was only 45 and Charlene knew she was not yet into menopause, since every time Sarah had her period and was at Charlene’s she yelled about no tampons in the bathroom. Charlene wasn’t about to buy some and have them in stock just for Sarah. She already paid her dues with the wretched things.

Sarah was into perimenopause probably since she was the age for it on average. God, would she have to put up with Sarah being like this for the next six to eight years or whenever her period stopped? That’s what Patty had to put up with? And with her stressful job and havoc in her life, Sarah’s symptoms would be screaming on overload. That could explain her increased use of swear words.

Charlene thought of her own use of swear words, but for her they were mostly in her head and not said aloud. She just used swear words because they felt right to use sometimes and it felt good, like there was no better release than a good loud outburst of Fuck!

Patty was the same age as she was, 55, well into menopause and a lot more chilled out than Sarah. She probably needed a good outburst of swear words living with Sarah. Poor Patty.

Charlene loved warm days with no bugs. The blackflies weren’t out yet but would be soon. The May long week-end was usually the start of the horrid invasion. That was next week so Charlene knew she should enjoy it while she could.

Sarah had the wet canvas bag in her hand. Nothing had fallen out since it looked like the top was fastened. She looked down at the water dripping from the bag onto her purple Chucks.

Shit. Now what am I going to wear? Some flipp’n moccasins or something from your collection?

I don’t have a collection. I have one pair and I will wear them. You can wear some thick wool socks if you hate my moccasins so much.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, what a day.

That would be so funny if that was his first word! I mean after Momma and Momma of course, Charlene said.

First Patty leaves a day early for work since some other trucker dude has the flu and I have to call in and ask for a Family Day. Imagine, me calling in and asking for a Family Day! Then the boat heaves and dumps the stroller in the lake and the bag of stuffed shit goes flying into the lake! I can’t even have a drink. I have a baby to watch. Oh my God Charlene, where’s the baby?

It wasn’t worth it for Charlene to point out that the boat didn’t heave on its own and the bag of stuffed toys didn’t go flying on its own either. She was tempted, but no, she thought she better leave it.

Myeengun is in the hammock over there, she said as she pointed.

In a hammock! For God’s sake Charlene! A baby in a hammock! What were you thinking! Sarah yelled and dropped the bag and ran to the peacefully sleeping baby nestled securely in his cocoon and woke him up with her jostling. He started to wail.

Fuck Charlene! Now look what you’ve done!

Kill me now, Charlene thought as she walked up to the house holding a bag of wet stuffed animals out at her side.

Chapter 2

Okay. Aren’t you on some kind of arrangement where the elders take care of Myeengun when you are working? Charlene asked Sarah.

They were sitting in at the table in the dining area. The breeze barely reached them through the open sliding patio door up on the second floor of the house. The wet clothes and Sarah’s shoes were on the line and the stuffed animals were in one of the two dryers Charlene had in the storage/work area beside the office on the first floor of her house. She needed both dryers to get all the linen dried after guests left. It wasn’t always sunny nor did she always have time to put the sheets on the line.

Charlene was the sole owner and operator of Kirk Lake Camp, a water-access cottage resort property on Kirk Lake. This early in the season she didn’t have any guests staying in any of the six cottages and her fishing boats were up on shore and turned over. The motors were up on a wooden horse-like structure ready to go but taken off the boats while not in use for insurance purposes. Except one, and that was docked for her own personal use if she didn’t want to take the 32’ pontoon boat back and forth to the parking lot about 400 metres across the narrow section of the lake in front of the resort. All ten of her 16’ Nova Craft canoes were on the canoe rack where they were always stored when not in use. Her red kayak was up with the canoes too.

It rained for a few days so Charlene moved the kayak from the shoreline to the rack so mushrooms wouldn’t start growing under it. She didn’t like the idea that garter snakes would crawl under and tuck into the kayak to get out of the wet and get some warmth from the plastic. She had to try to get them out with the end of her paddle and that just made them madder as they put up a fuss for the location, location, location. May was when the snakes came out of hibernation in droves. For Charlene, droves meant any number over one. Between the garter snakes and the water snakes that surprised her by sunning on the pathway and on the docks by not looking like snakes until she almost stepped on them, Charlene was always close to her grossed out limit.

The little pontoon boat that she rented out to guests was still over at the parking lot. She would get her handy guy, Sam, to launch it by next week-end in case some of the few guests who ventured to cottage country for the usually cold and rainy Victoria Day long week-end wanted to get out on the lake. It was a great boat for a larger group to use instead of a fishing boat that couldn’t take as many people and it was great for kids or strollers. Charlene tried to imagine what would have happened if Sarah tried to get the stroller in a 14" fishing boat. Oh, it would be hilarious, she thought.

Earth to Sarah, she said.

Sarah was engrossed in Myeengun sitting on the area rug in the living room. He was engrossed in his hand and had it almost all the way into his mouth. Teething, Charlene guessed by the looks of the drool hanging down his chin. While the stuffies were in the dryer, Charlene put a stack of her empty food containers and lids and a wooden spoon in front of the little guy. He seemed happy to play with those and didn’t seem to miss his toys at all.

He’s probably missing his toys. When do you think they’ll be dry? Sarah asked.

When they’re dry. Back to the arrangement. Why did you have to call in for a Family Day if you have an arrangement with the band council for someone to watch Myeengun when you’re supposed to be at work?

Because that arrangement is only for the days when Patty is at work, not me. Patty doesn’t want any help on her days off. She’s the one who wanted a baby so she wants to take care of a baby. If she’s home and I’m off work, she’s in charge, and of course when she’s home and I’m at work she’s in charge. You get the picture. Anyway, since she wasn’t supposed to be at work today that deal doesn’t work, though I tried believe me. So no one would come to the house and watch him and besides, you and I haven’t caught up on anything really since you left in November to go to your money pit house out east.

I saw you at your place a few weeks ago, Charlene reminded her.

Yeah for an hour at most when you were between town chores, and if you remember, most of that hour was me walking up and down the hallway trying to calm a howling baby who, if you remember, you made cry with some googly face you made at him.

It wasn’t a googly face. It was my face that is especially for babies.

Whatever. You made him cry. And the rest of the time was spent with me upstairs dealing with that disaster. I mean, God! Remember that disgusting mess all down his pants and the front of me?

Charlene did remember and she could live off that memory if she wanted to. Sarah swore the whole way up the stairs holding the poor little guy at arms length as she gagged between swear words and yelled for her to come up to help her, which she did not.

So you didn’t have to call in for a Family Day.

I did have to, smarty pants, if I wanted to come here and catch up with you on everything since you left in November to go to your money pit house out east.

Wow I’m surprised you could remember that word for word having to take care of Myeengun and all the stress you said it causes you. I’m so impressed.

Sarah? Helloooo. Sarah?

Charlene loved that Sarah put on the big show that it was such a hardship for her to have the seven-month-old boy living with her and Patty. She could see that Sarah had a soft spot for the little guy who has been with them for the past five months. Sarah couldn’t seem to keep her eyes off him.

The arrangement only works, Sarah said when she turned back to Charlene, when Patty is on her scheduled days at work, four days in a row still, even when I’m on overtime or overnight if necessary. It’s been working out really well since we got him. I mean, since we have him temporarily, until something has been decided for the long term.

Charlene could see the blush on Sarah’s face. She better not push it with her and not mock her and remind her of all the conversations they had about her not wanting a baby and her lesbian partner wanting a baby. Charlene was so glad she and Patty got through the rough patch, a long rough patch, and were working through this baby thing together. She was also glad because that meant Sarah still lived with Patty in their house in the woods, not far from Espanola about a 20 minute drive from her, and no longer needed to spend days at a time at the resort just to get away from Patty. Charlene liked Sarah a lot, they had become friends, but she liked her house to herself more.

Don’t you still have lots of vacation time to use from last year? Charlene asked. You had weeks to use last Thanksgiving and then Vi was murdered and you couldn’t take time off.

Vi, Vivacious Vi, 85-years-old, was a guest who stayed at the resort last Thanksgiving who was killed by her sister-in law who claimed she stabbed Vi with a turkey thermometer as a mercy killing. Mary said she and her sister Bea were keeping an eye on Ethel, Vi’s younger sister, because Vi thought Ethel was going to kill her for her money. Mary told Charlene that she and Bea were supposed to stop Ethel from killing Vi and get good proof that Ethel was not only planning the murder, but actually going to go through with it. Mary said Vi told her she wanted Ethel in jail so she wouldn’t be able to hurt her or anyone else.

At the time of her death Vi and the other women were out in the woods behind the cottages out on a walk. Little did Vi know that was when Ethel planned to kill her, though not with a meat thermometer. She told Mary to get the carving knife from the kitchen and she did, but Mary said when she saw the look in Vi’s eyes as Ethel had a strong and vicious hold on her, she thrust the meat thermometer into her. She told Charlene and the police that she interpreted that look to mean Mary should help actually end her life since Vi told her she had cancer and only months to live. Mary said she thought Vi wanted her to have mercy and kill her rather than suffer Ethel’s assault and survive only to die of cancer shortly after.

Mary had been diagnosed with cancer too but she hadn’t told anyone except Charlene. She said she knew she would be sentenced to jail for what she had done but she also knew she wouldn’t be alive much longer. She died just a few weeks after Vi’s death while still in police custody.

Bea died the same day as Mary. She had been granted bail since she didn’t touch Vi and was able to convince the crown attorney, with Mary’s confession, that she wasn’t actually planning to murder Vi but just going along with Mary with the plan to try to make sure Ethel didn’t kill Vi. Bea was allowed to go back to Sault Ste Marie and live in the home she shared with Mary, that was once their parents’ home.

The house had been left to their deceased brother, William, Vi’s husband, and then to Vi. Just months before the trip to the resort, Vi changed the deed so Mary and Bea became the owners. She didn’t get the chance to tell them about the change before she died but Vi’s lawyer told them. Vi hoped the elderly sisters would sell the house to a land developer and be rich and enjoy their final days. But instead, Bea pined for Mary and died of a broken heart almost to the minute of Mary’s death.

The ownership of the house was passed from Mary and Bea to Barbara, Vi’s daughter. She decided not to sell the house and used some of the millions she inherited from her mother and converted it to a women’s shelter. She stayed in touch with Charlene by e-mail and told her that unfortunately, the house was always full.

Ethel was in prison and would remain there until the court date. She was 75 and showed no sign of slowing down. She would likely be found guilty and be in jail for many years since she told the judge at the preliminary inquiry she would have stabbed Vi herself if Mary didn’t get on with it.

She showed no remorse whatsoever. She was bitter and angry she planned the whole thing for nothing because all Vi’s money went to Vi’s daughter, and was not to be split between

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