The knock at the door interrupted my new story. Again. I was determined to complete this 1940s retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but between phone calls and errands, most of my story remained in my head.
My loveable rescue mutt started in on a tirade of protective barks when someone rang the doorbell.
Really? The Amazon delivery person was more than a little determined to get me to empty my porch. I put Rosie (aka Madam Barksalot) into her crate and went to the door.
Now, I live in the suburbs of Dallas, but even in my quiet neighborhood, I know better than to simply open my front door, broad daylight or not. But the fall wreath that I had put up last week completely blocked the peephole.
The best I could do was to crack the door open. I thought there was probably a door-to-door salesman there. Over the last couple of months, we’ve entertained cable salesmen, a roofer from down the street, and a fellow attempting to sell us new windows. Well, and a girl scout, but since she came bringing me extra thin mints, I won’t count her among the nuisances.
Either way, I wasn’t expecting dusty men with crumpled fedoras pushing their way into my house.
Instant terror. The thing of nightmares. Or my suspense stories.
Rosie let out a blitz of non-stop barks in the living room. What I wouldn’t give for her sharp little teeth chasing the men off. But I took comfort that sweet hubby was only out on a short walk, and dear daughter and her taser were in the next room. She’d probably even seen the men approaching the place. “Get out of my house.”
The taller one walked through the entry hall looking at my shelves and the pictures on the wall. He made it to the living room, took one glance at Rosie in her crate, and backed away. “Not ’til you tell us where it is.”
“Huh?” I guess my expression confused them. They looked at each other and then back at me. Not that I had any answers. “What is it?”
Rosie had finally stopped barking, and the first man shushed me. “Keep your dog calm.”
The second man stepped into my dining room. “Drawers in here.”
Only in the china cabinet. “Hey.” I held up my hands, but the first guy shushed me again.
The second man pulled out the wide drawer under the glassed cabinets, and, as I discovered several years ago, learned that the drawer has no stopping device. It came out of the slot, and heavy as it was with flatware and Christmas utensils, it fell to the floor, slamming into his toes. “Ow.” He hopped up and down on first one foot and then the other. His friend, the last one at the door, came to help, but the injured man shoved him away.
“Who you shoving?” The last man acted as though to tackle the hopping fellow.
His friend who had returned from the living room yelled at him. “Keep it down.”
They hadn’t closed my door behind them, and my neighbor across the street was out sweeping the acorns off of his sidewalk. He kept glancing in the direction of my doorway. That was good.
And with so much commotion, my daughter had probably already called 911.
I lowered my voice, hoping a calming tone was coming out. “Look, this is a quiet area with nosy neighbors. The police are probably already on their way”
The first one held his hands out toward me. “Ain’t no need for that lady. We just wants the location.”
Did they break into the wrong house? “Location to what? I don’t even know you.” What in the world were they talking about?
“We wants to know where to find the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, and don’t say you don’t know ’cause Chautona Havig done mailed choo the map.” The last fellow pointed a finger at me.
I would have to remember to thank Chautona, but I hadn’t gotten the mail yet. Had it come today? “But what if I don’t know where your mine is?” I almost said mind which would also have been appropriate.
At this point, I could see the lady who lived catty-corner to me join my across-the-street neighbor in open curiosity. I resisted the urge to wave. Wouldn’t want them to think I was okay with the men bursting in.
“Prove it.” This time, the first man pointed at me.
Were these guys for real? How was I supposed to prove that? But then, I’m a words person. Maybe I could reason with them? “Well, first, the mine is lost, right?”
“Yeah,” the trio chorused.
They might have been dressed like Indiana Jones, but they didn’t seem to be all that intelligent, though that’s a rather harsh thing for me to think. Still, I had few other options since neither the police nor my family members had made an appearance as yet. I pursued my line, “I’m at home here, so clearly I am not… lost, that is. Wouldn’t you agree?”
The expressions on the men’s faces dumbed up with wrinkles across their foreheads and their mouth’s looking like they’d just had a bite of months-old stew. “Uh, okay,” the third guy grunted.
“Second, do I look Dutch to you?” Okay, there might’ve been some Dutch ancestors way, way back in the family tree, but the question just intensified the confusion on the men’s faces. “I can prove to you that I am not.” I pulled out my phone and opened the app that had my family tree in it. Well, at least the first eight generations. “See here? Scottish.” I showed them the line from two of my grandparents. “It’s that way all around.” I didn’t mention the Native American, the French, or the German ancestors, but they couldn’t have handled anymore anyway.
Their faces looked like their brains were fairly about to pop as it was.
I casually wandered into the living room and the men followed me. “And you said it was the ‘Dutch man‘ goldmine, right?”
“I’m am happily female. Not a man.” I shrugged. “In conclusion, I am not lost, not Dutch, and not a man. But I do have a goldmine.” I neared the crate where my silent dog lay. Bright orange with tan markings, my Rosie can easily be described as gold.
I unlatched the door and flung it open. She immediately advanced on the trio with her protective bark and growl performance. “Madam Barksalot is my own personal goldmine.”
The men backed up, fairly falling over each other. “Cain’t you get her to quit.”
“Believe me, boys,” I shout over her earsplitting tirade. “I have tried.” Many times, but not so much in this case.
Rosie escorted them to the door. The post office deliverer was on the other side of the street, way down on the east end. I had to think of something quick before they noticed the truck. “You might give Denise Barela a holler. She lives out in California, and at one time, they had quite a lot of gold out there.” It was the first thing that I thought of and purely by accident. I really expected the police to have been here by now. They’re usually so quick.
The men glanced at each other one last time as a distant siren blared. Then they scrambled out the door and ran west, down the street and around the corner.
I gave my neighbors a wave and a thumbs-up as the siren grew closer. Then I shut the door and went to my daughter’s room. I tapped on the door and opened it a crack. “What did you tell the dispatcher, so I can connect the dots.”
She whirled around and pulled an earbud from one ear. “Did you need something?”
So much for the cavalry. And sure enough, the siren faded as he obviously passed my neighborhood. Thankfully, I hadn’t needed him.
But if the map they’d mention did end up here… well, Denise was pretty creative. She’d figure out what to do with it once she moved those fellows along. Check-in with Denise Barela tomorrow to see how she works with them.
I love these blog hops for the Ever After series! And these mysteries are so much fun. This blog hop celebrates the latest release from Rebecca Jones, The Lost Dutchman’s Secret. Here’s a little about the book:
There’s a deadly secret in them thar hills—and gold, or so they say.
Deeply in debt to a wealthy local, Charles Sinclair, Dorothy Hodges’ father finally promises she’ll pay and in gold, no less. If only Dorothy could take to take the promises he spins out of thin air and turn them into that gold, all would be well.
With the help of a strange, rumpled man, Dorothy does manage to bring payment to one of Sinclair’s sons only to discover it won’t pay off the debt. Will the next payment be enough? The next?
When Charles Sinclair ends up dead, Dorothy is the obvious prime suspect, but Sinclair’s son isn’t so certain. Together they work to clear her name and find the real murderer of the Superstitions, but will they find the answers buried in those hills?
Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. The Lost Dutchman’s Secret offers a retelling of “Rumplestilskin” that requires more digging than a miner searching for The Lost Dutchman Mine.
The Lost Dutchman’s Secret is available. And don’t miss entering the giveaway at the link below for an Amazon gift card! Yea!