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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)

TITLE: Does Rose...?
By Jan Ackerson
04/08/07


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August Singer spent ninety-nine years in robust health, fading only after a stroke confined him to bed. His peevish grandchildren had wearied of looking after him, so a nursing home was found, and it was there they assembled now.

“He won’t last much longer,” the doctor had said. So they waited; Ally glared at her sleeping grandfather, Viola stood near the door, her arms crossed, and Herb rifled through drawers, glancing often at August, who stubbornly continued to breathe.

“Herb, the will isn’t under his socks.” Ally grabbed his arm. “Why don’t you just ask him where it is?”

“Well, he’s not talking right now.” Herb bent over August. “You still alive, gramps?”

Viola tapped her foot. Herb returned to the drawers, and Ally poked her grandfather’s shoulder.

August opened one eye.

Ally yelped. “Herb, he’s awake! Talk to him!”

“He likes you better.”

Viola dripped with sarcasm. “Oh yes, he’s just dying to tell Ally where he’s hidden the will. Crazy coot, why’d he have to make a puzzle out of everything? To think of all the thousands I’ve wasted on this geriatric resort...”

“Stuff it, Viola. He’ll be dead soon, and you can spend your inheritance on more plastic surgery.”

A cough from the bed ended the argument. Ally cleared her throat. “Can you hear me, grandfather? WE HAVE A QUESTION FOR YOU!”

August sighed and closed his eyes.

“Wonderful, you’ve killed him.” Herb bent close again. “Nope, still breathing. Gramps! Where’s the will?”

August opened his eyes again. After a few seconds, he struggled to sit up.

Ally sprang into action. “Help us raise the bed, Viola.”

Viola sniffed. “How hard can it be? He weighs less than I do.”

Grumbling, Ally and Herb elevated August’s head and Herb spoke into his ear. “WHERE’S THE WILL?” August gestured feebly toward the nightstand.

“Give him that pen and paper, Ally.”

Ally placed a tablet in August’s hand and folded his fingers around the pen. “Grandfather,” she asked, “who knows where you put the will?”

August wrote in shaky letters, then closed his eyes for the last time. Herb snatched the paper and read it: ROSE DOES.

“Rose! Who’s Rose?” The trio rushed to the nurse’s station. A pretty nurse with Tori on her nametag smiled at them. Herb shoved the tablet at her. “Who’s Rose? Some old lady after my grandfather’s money? Where is she?”

Startled, Tori examined the paper. “I’m sorry, but we have no residents named Rose. Is Mr. Singer…”

“He’s dead. Do whatever you have to do. Call me if you find any legal papers.” Herb slapped a business card on the counter and they left, flipping open their cell phones.

Tori fingered the note and thought of August. Loneliness had drawn them together, and she had spent many hours delighting him with word puzzles and reading his Bible. I’ll miss you…She made the necessary calls, pocketed the note, then went to box up his belongings.

***


The head nurse greeted Tori when her shift began. “Mr. Singer’s grandson has called every day this week, checking if we found any papers. What a grouch!”

“Not a bit like his grandfather, huh? I have Mr. Singer’s things in storage—does he want them?”

“He says to throw them out. Poor old guy—they didn’t think much of him, did they?”

“Nope, just his money. I wonder where he hid the will…” Tori put her hands in her pockets, pulling out August’s note. ROSE DOES…I wonder…With a quickening heartbeat, Tori spent a few minutes at the computer, then rushed to the storage room.

***


Sol Buffet, probate attorney, squinted at Tori. “How did you find this document, Miss Forte?”

“Well,” Tori said, “Mr. Singer wrote it down, right before he died.”

Across the room, Viola sputtered. “You told us there was no resident named Rose!”

“There isn’t. Mr. Singer loved wordplay, so when you asked about the will, he made up a puzzle.”

“’Rose does?’ That’s not a puzzle!”

“But it is—and it’s not ‘does’, but the plural of ‘doe’—you know, the deer? Once I figured that out, I knew where to look. There’s only one chapter in the Bible—his favorite book—that mentions ‘rose’, the flower, and ‘does’, the animals. Song of Solomon, chapter two. And there it was!”

“Well, I’ve never handled such a short will. But it all seems to be in order: ‘If you’ve found this, the money’s yours.’ Congratulations, Miss Forte…”

All heads turned as Viola hit the floor.


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This article has been read 1276 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Leigh MacKelvey04/12/07
Very humurous! I enjoyed the dialogue between the grandchildren and the they way the "mystery" was solved through a word puzzle. Very clever writing!
Lynda Schultz 04/12/07
Nasty bunch of relatives, but I too loved what I imagine could be very realistic dialogue. Good job.
TJ Nickel04/12/07
Very nice. They say mystery is all about plot. Your plot is nice, but your characters are SO GOOD. In 750 words, I can see their life backwards and forwards from these events. Nice clue with discovery as well.
Helen Murray04/12/07
How beautiful! Why are we not all as bold as this wonderful old gentleman? Why are we not all as exquisite as this sweet Tori. They challenge us to live truly. I love a story with challenge and these characters inspire me.
Kevin Kindrick04/12/07
Hmm...Talk about - dare I say it - Poetic Justice.
Well done, and Thanks.

God bless,

Kevin
Helen Paynter04/12/07
What fun! I always marvel at where you ideas come from - did you think of the Bible passage and then construct a story around it, or decide there would be word-play and then dig through your Bible for inspiration? Either way, you have a winning formular.
Sheri Gordon04/12/07
Loved it, loved it, loved it. This was so much fun to read. And what a great character lesson -- good and bad. A wonderful mystery story.
Rita Garcia04/12/07
Your characters are so realistic. Great ending!
James Clem 04/13/07
Cryptic puzzle. Great characterization!
Elizabeth Baize 04/13/07
You worked so much detail into a short space!! I liked the way you portrayed the characters, and how you brought your story to a satisfying and clever conclusion.
Sara Harricharan 04/13/07
I LOVE IT! Yay for Tori! What a compassionate character, and I especially loved the puzzle that August created. Very clever-like the last line with Viola. ^_^ Great mystery!
Betty Castleberry04/13/07
Very good read. Your character portrayals are excellent. I felt like I knew the snooty grandkids. Thumbs up!
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/15/07
I loved especially the strong character development, shown only in a few words and the word play. Good triumphs over evil again!
Joanne Sher 04/15/07
Amazingly excellent characterization, and such a creative take on the subject. I just loved this!
Val Clark04/16/07
Great characterisation and sence of place. Intriguing story that kept my attention right to the end.
william price04/16/07
I'm not smart enough to answer your challenge, but I'm smart enough to know this is very, very good. Excellent job again. God bless.
Jacquelyn Horne04/16/07
Cute mystery here. Loved the way it turned out.
Cassie Memmer04/17/07
Excellent! Very clever too. I loved the way everything turned out. Had me trying to guess what else rose does could mean. I loved it!
Sandra Petersen 04/17/07
Ooh, I could've smacked those grandchildren upside the heads. Great job of showing their real characters.

A very good mystery. I kept looking at your clue, wondering if it was a scrambled word or a cryptogram, but then I reasoned that August wouldn't have enough presence of mind to come up with something like that. But 'Rose does' would be something a crossword lover might think.

The word count was a real challenge with a story like this. I had the feeling you could have given one or two more subtle hints but didn't have the space to do it. Great mystery.
Cheri Hardaway 04/17/07
Very clever indeed! I enjoyed your mystery very much! A wonderful display of talent. Blessings, Cheri
Myrna Noyes04/17/07
Absolutely enthralling mystery! The characterizations were perfect, and so was the ending! Excellent writing, as usual! :D
Julie Arduini04/17/07
This has class and how you do it in 750 words amazes me. I could picture it all. I loved this!
Shari Armstrong 04/18/07
Hehehe - perfect!!! :) hehehe -would have loved to see her hit the floor -with the others' jaws!
Tabiatha Tallent04/19/07
Great mystery. I loved the way it all came together at the end.
Bonnie Derksen04/25/07
I LOVED THIS! What a hoot.
You have an amazing way of describing your characters and carrying the conversation between them in a delightful way.
Thank you for this mystery entry. Very enjoyable indeed.