A Public Service From Your Friendly Local Mystery Writer

I’m not a morning person, until recently tending to read well into the night, but COVID-19 has been altering that. Beth has difficulty sleeping, so she’s often up around 3 am. I don’t get up that early, but an aging body with low back pain and a temperamental bladder often has me up an hour or so later. What follows is interesting. I generally go back to bed where I enter a twilight zone. I’m not exactly asleep, nor awake, but somewhere in between. It’s there that my creativity has a cup of decaf with my memories and I remember things long forgotten. Some of them slide back into whatever brain cell they reside in, while others pace around the figurative campfire until they morph into a story idea.


Three days before the deadline for Unmasked: A collection of stories about masks and what lies behind them last Saturday, I was in that place and an idea popped forth. Hours before the deadline, it was written, revised, proofed and sent. It may not be selected, but I’m quite satisfied with it. Close behind it came a new look at what I thought would be a juvenile mystery novel. I started it three years ago, but set it aside as some of the plot elements weren’t playing nice. I started looking at it again in the twilight zone and realized it was the missing short story in an anthology I am calling Hardscrabble Kids. It was just about one story from being long enough to feel marketable. Now the fourteen year old whose OCD cost him a big toe will finally have a home.

Scary things lurk in Maine cemeteries.

That brings me to today’s column. Beth and I have interesting and varied dinner conversations. She remains on Facebook, I left a couple months ago, so I get to listen to her mental squirming over what is posted there. Somehow we got on the subject of stuff that needed to be done. She’s a list maker and often has one that daunts her, me, not. I repeated something that is true, if a bit morbid; “You know, the day you die, all that stuff becomes someone else’s problem.” Surprisingly, she agreed. Anyhow, in the zone this morning, I remembered a song the Koster girls taught Kate, Sara and I to sing when we were kids, called the Worm Song. (https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=did+you+ever+think+when+the+hearse).

Since we writers do in plenty of souls, I guess in a bizarre way we’re performing a public service. That led me to start a list of the perks of being dead in no particular order.

1-No more bills.

2-No more bad hair days.

3-You’ll never have to make or change the bed.

4-Scam calls and crap mail are things of the past.

5-After the funeral (if you have one) no more visits from relatives you can’t stand.

6-Admonitions about clean underwear become meaningless.

7-Dreading the dentist is a thing of the past.

8-You’ll never have to cook or do housework again.

9-Who’s president will be immaterial.

10-No more tax returns.

11-You’ll never have to remember birthdays, what’s on the shopping list, or when the oil needs to be changed again.

12-whether the house is too hot or cold will be someone else’s problem, ditto whether the lawn needs mowing.

13-No more unexpected trips to the walk-in clinic because your cloth cutter ate part of your thumb. (Happened to Beth on Saturday)

This list could be endless, but you get the idea. What would you add to it?

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